Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sausage, Peppers, Onions, and Potato Bake

I swear my husband is more into this 52 new recipes than I am.  He spends his days browsing the internet for new recipes to use, and links them to me in texts. Here is a Shawn find. It was really delicious, although the kids didn't care for it much. This is recipe 5 out of 52 new recipes in 2017.

Sausage, Peppers, Onions, and Potato Bake

2 tsp olive oil
2 pounds Italian sausage links, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
4 lg potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
2 lg green bell peppers, seeded and cut into wedges
2 lg red bell peppers, seeded and cut into wedges
3 lg onions cut into wedges
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tsp Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a large skillet over med. heat, and cook and stir the sausage until browned. Transfer the cooked sausage to a large baking dish. Pour 1/4 cup olive oil into the skillet, and cook the potatoes, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes.
Place the potatoes into the baking dish, leaving some oil.
Cook and stir the green and red peppers and onions in the hot skillet until they are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetables to the baking dish. Pour wine and chicken stock over the vegetables and sausage, and sprinkle with Italian seasoning, salt, an d pepper.  Gently stir the sausage, potatoes, and vegetables together.
Bake in the preheated oven until hot and bubbling, 20-25 minutes, and serve hot.

Quick and Easy Pizza Crust

I love homemade pizza, but if I'm being honest, I cheat when we make it.  I either make the dough in my bread machine or buy pre-made pizza crusts at the store. We were having everyone over for dinner one night, making homemade pizzas, and Shawn decided we use some of our store bought crusts and try this recipe he found. The pizza crusts I made, blew the store bought crust completely out of the water. The crazy thing is, it wasn't even a lot of work! Here's recipe 4 of our 52 New Recipes in 2017.

Quick and Easy Pizza Crust

1 (.25) package active dry yeast
1 tsp white sugar
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
Stir in flour, salt, and oil. Mix until smooth. Let rest for 5 minutes.
Spread out and add desired pizza toppings. Bake for 15-20 minutes and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

This will make one pizza.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Trip to Columbia, South Carolina - Video

As promised, I would try to enjoy the trip, and get as much of it in pictures, stories, and videos as I could. I think I achieved just that. It was a wonderful trip.

Here's the video I put together of our fun girls trip.

Trip to Columbia, South Carolina - Day 3 & 4

Thursday, January 12th

Another day, that we were up very early. I don't think the bugle call woke us Thursday though. I think we were so exhausted that we slept right through it.  Thankfully our alarms on our phones woke us up. We got around slowly, and I probably drank twice the coffee that morning. We did make it down to breakfast and then out to Hilton Field still quite early. It looked so packed and we had to park much further away than we did the day before, but when we got up to the lines, they were much shorter, and in fact we jumped to a line on the other side and didn't end up waiting at all. Inside, the bleachers were a little fuller, making us move further up the bleachers than the day before, but we still had a great view, so I can't complain at all.

We sat in the bleachers chit chatting and taking in every minute.

We could see the soldiers on the far end of the field in a clearing through the trees.  They were hard to see but you could see them sparkle. That's the best way to describe it. They were all in their dress blues and the sunlight reflecting from their shiny shoes, and the metal badges on their coat made them sparkle from so far away.  They may have been invisible to us if it weren't for that sparkle.

All morning long, we had been getting these snapchats from Andy. I saved them because I wasn't sure if he was saving them, and wanted to make sure he'd have these in the future. Andy and his friends he met at Basic.

Soon, out came the Army band. I was a band geek in high school. I played the flute in the marching/pep band as well as symphonic band. I thought I'd go on to play in college and maybe even after that, but life had other plans for me. It all worked out ok though, because high school band is where I met my husband.  Shawn played the bari sax in the school jazz band.  Anyway, when that Army band came out, I was in Heaven. I loved it!

As they played and entertained us, the soldiers came marching out. Once again, they'd almost have been invisible if it weren't for that sparkle.  If you look closely you can see them coming down the field.

The ceremony was obviously much more formal than the one the day before. But it was pretty amazing too. I cried a lot. 

After it was over, we could all go down to the end of the field and collect our soldiers. When we got to Andy he was standing near a friend and bunk mate. We met the friend and his wonderful family.

Also, when my dad died, we started seeing orbs appear in some pictures. We were told by several people that it could be him. I like to think it's true and that he was right there with us, laughing, crying, hugging, and just being so proud of our boy.

Ok, so I'm by no means a uniform chaser. I'm an extremely happy, married mom of 4 kids, but I'm well aware how hot a man in uniform can be, and just because I'm happily married, doesn't mean I can't look and appreciate a gorgeous man... I mean yum!

After graduation, Andy was allowed to leave base as long as he was back by 8pm. Even though this was the case, we went back to our rooms for a quick potty trip and so Andy could eat some leftover Popeyes.

Andy was pregaming because right after these pictures were taken we left to find Waffle House since he'd never had it before.

After we all had our bellies full of waffles, grits, eggs, bacon, and all the way hashbrowns, we went off to find a mall at Andy's request.  He was looking for some shoes.  I wish I'd have known exactly what he was looking for when we went because he left empty handed.

After a nice walk around the mall, we found a Starbucks and then went to the State Capital building to walk around.

For dinner, Andy had wanted to try a restaurant he'd heard a lot about, called Cookout.  We don't have anything like it here, so we didn't quite know what to expect.  It ended up being amazing! I loved that you could mix and match to make your own basket of what you wanted and it was cheap. I paid less for my meal there, including a milk shake, than I do for my large sized big mac meal at McDonalds. We definitely a Cookout here in my town.

After dinner we laid around in Mom's room before we had to take Andy back. This goodbye was even harder than the night before because he'd be leaving and we'd be leaving and we won't be together again until April. There were lots of hugs and many more tears.

We drove him back to the barracks and then headed back to the hotel. Mom wanted bottled water so we went to snack and soda machines in the hotel, but they were sold out, so we headed back out to the car to find a gas station. While driving around looking for a gas station we drove by the barracks again and noticed a lot of soldiers outside. I mean a lot! We parked the car and walked up thinking maybe we'd find our boy and get a little more time. He was inside and another company was outside. We had to look though, especially after him telling us about the night before. We finally found a gas station and bought some junk food and drinks and headed back to our hotel.  We talked and hung out for a while before going to bed.

Friday, January 13th

We got up so early on Friday! My flight out of Charleston was at around 10:00. We didn't know what to expect at the Charleston airport. Was it a big airport? What would returning the car entail? What would security be like? How busy would it be? I needed to be there around 7:30 to return the car. We had a 1 1/2 hour to 2 hour drive from Columbia, South Carolina to Charleston, South Carolina. We decided to leave around 5:30 am but didn't know what happened on base at that early hour.

They had barricaded off main roads for an early morning run.  We couldn't find our way out. We actually needed to make a quick stop at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Visitor Center on base so that mom could talk to them about the heater in our room. They were so nice and refunded her a night. We finally found our way, but I think it was because we drove around so long that they were starting to take the barricades down. On to the highway we went.

The whole ride to Charleston, my stomach was in knots about my first time flying alone.  Not only would I be flying alone but I was changing planes in Houston, Texas at a very large airport and then landing but not changing planes in Dallas.  I didn't want to get lost or miss my flight in Houston. I was such a mess. Towards the end of the car ride to the airport, I was so concentrated on not pooping my pants, that I forgot to fill up the car with gas until we were in line to return it.  The nice ladies at National (the place we rented the car from) told us where we could find a gas station. We left, filled up the car, came back, and returned the car, quickly and smoothly.

The airport at Charleston is quite small. At least what I saw of it was. I hugged Mom and Court, and they set off on their Charleston adventure. I headed in to go through security. My purse was flagged, which was new to me.  Apparently all of the change I had collected in my coin purse during this trip made it difficult to see what was what in my wallet through the x-ray machine. A TSA lady dumped the change into a bucket, sorted through it and poured it right back into my wallet. Even with this tiny hiccup, everyone was so friendly. I didn't encounter any mean or grumpy people on this entire trip. Not even in the TSA at any airport I was at, and they can get a bad rap for that.

While sitting at the airport, I snap chatted a little bit with my brother who was on his way, by bus, to Virginia for AIT.

The flights home were all easy and I had no issues navigating the Houston airport. I did get stuck next to a young man on the way to Houston, maybe mid 20s, that had never flown before and was very scared. He bailed out of his seat as we were taxi-ing away from the terminal only to be told by the flight attendant to sit back down.  They gave him a trash bag for puking and a cold wet rag for the back of his neck.  Thank goodness he didn't need the trash bag.

There was a cute flight attendant.

On the way home from Dallas we had a little trouble with a valve on the engine.

That made me a bit nervous, but it was all good. They got us all fixed up and on our way. A little delayed but better than nothing.  I was just so glad to get home and see my family.

Trip to Columbia, South Carolina - Day 2

Wednesday, January 11th

My sister and I set alarms to get up nice and early.  Turns out, there was no need.  The bugle calls right outside our window woke us up well before our alarms went off. We got up and watched all of the soldiers running through the parking lot and up and down the street.

We got dressed and mom came down to our room where we sipped some coffee before heading down to breakfast. We ate a nice quick breakfast before heading down to the field where family day was going to be held.

We got to Hilton Field nice and early, but the line out front was incredible. We parked and walked up to stand in line.

It turned out that the line wasn't as bad as it had seemed and we were through pretty quickly and even got really great seats. As we sat there, the music blared from the stereo system. It was all sad, sentimental, music about soldiers and the Army.  Lots of stuff that made us cry. We could see so many people in the tree line.

Right on time, with stands full of people waiting for their soldiers to make their appearance, the family day ceremony began. There were speakers who talked about how much our soldiers have changed while they were there.  We watched a group of soldiers become citizens of the US.

Pretty soon it was time for us to see our soldiers.  I'm pretty sure my mom and sister had watched videos about what would happen next. I, however, had not.  I didn't go out of my way to not watch them, just never saw them pop up in my feed or anything, so I was truly surprised.

The speaker said that we were to cheer to have our soldiers come out. Everyone started clapping, whooping and hollering, and stomping on those metal bleachers.

What happened next was truly amazing!

Loud music started playing and smoke started bouncing across the field.

Pretty soon the whole field was filled with smoke and then, as it started to clear, we saw our soldiers.

It was honestly, the coolest thing I've ever gotten to see. It gave me chills and of course I cried too. 

Then, we saw our soldiers.

After the ceremony was over, we got to go get our soldier.  The soldiers were not allowed to leave base, but that was exactly why we got a hotel on base.  When we got to Andy, he told us that he had to hurry back to his room and change, because he was about to get baptized.  

We hurried over and huddled around a pool in the hallway to watch Andy and a few other people get baptized. We truly got more than we bargained for in this wonderful experience.

After the baptism, we had to get this boy some food. He went to change and then off to Popeye's we went.

We ate the Popeye's up in our room where we could sit and relax for a little bit.

After a short rest and filling our bellies we decided to go out and see what this base had to offer.  

First, we went to the big PX. Andy wanted to look around and we were able to pick up some souvenirs in there. I was surprised at how it was like a Dillards and Walmart all rolled into one.

After getting a little shopping in, we were off for another adventure.  We are museum people.  We grew up going to museums everywhere we went, so when we found out there was a museum on base, we had to go.

This museum was packed with history about Fort Jackson and lots of hands on displays.

Outside there were so many different tanks and other old vehicles to look at.

While we were standing outside looking at all the different old vehicles, there was a bugle call and a group of soldiers took off running across the street.  We asked Andy if he needed to do anything and he said not yet but would need to salute at the next one. We stayed put and sure enough, a few minutes later the bugle started again and from across the street there was a canon blast and then they soldier that had run across the street started taking down the flag. It was really neat to get to see.  We were in the right place at the right time.

After the museum we walked around base a little longer.  Exploring what turned out to be, as I was told on the airplane, a cute little base. It was beautiful.  There were palm trees everywhere, neat little buildings, this amazing energy. I was able to see how people can get so drawn into a place like that.

After all of the walking around we decided to jump in the car and find dinner.  I had a small panic attack along the way. I think that I'm quite allergic to all of the gorgeous holly bushes they had on base.  I was fine as long as I wasn't messing with them, but standing in them, touching them, taking their pictures up close and personal made me itchy and at one point even made my tongue and throat itch. If you've ever had anaphylaxis, you become a paranoid about that sort of thing. I pull the car over took some deep breaths to calm myself down and was soon back to normal.  The restaurant we were headed to though, seemed to be closed down for HVAC renovations, so we ended up going back to the PX and grabbing food in the food court. Mom and I got Arby's and Court and Andy ate Taco Bell. We took the food back to our hotel to eat and relax before it was time to take Andy back.

We'd gotten to spend the whole day with Andy, and would get to do the same again tomorrow, but goodbyes are hard... even when they are only actually see you laters. There were a few tears and lots of hugs then we hurried Andy back to his barracks. (He told us later that we should have stuck around and watched them all get smoked. I guess they made them run in place and stuff for a little bit as soon as they returned.)

We went back to our rooms and hung out with mom for a bit. Then after she decided she was tired and went to bed, Court and I, hit up the snack machine downstairs, and watched TV while eating junk and talking until way too late at night, but you know how sisters can be.