Saturday, November 28, 2009

Poor Animals!

Granted this is a promising article about Naked Mole Rats possibly holding some connection to the cure for cancer... But I mean, just read the photo's caption "Even though it is sensitive to touch, the naked mole rat doesn't even flinch when inflicted with burning acid" OMG! These poor defenceless animals. The article goes on to say "About 1,500 naked mole rats live in clear tanks connected by long tubes at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio" which is the largest colony in the US. These poor animals live for 30 years, vs the average 2 years that lab mice live. Can you imagine, 30 years in captivity?!? That's horrible!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Double Standards

This is absolutely horrible, as I'm sure everyone's heard of Adam Lambert's wild AMA performance. Well Adam Lambert appeared on CBS' The Early Show on Wednesday morning to address the controversy surrounding his kiss at the AMAs. Will this just disgusts me, the network blurred out the image of Lambert kissing his band member!!! EVEN THOUGH just moments later CBS shows the clip of Madonna and Britney making out at the VMA's and it's completely UNCENSORED! So let me get this strait, it's Ok to show girl-on-girl kissing, but not Ok to show a guy-on-guy kiss??? Hmm, I wonder is they know the meaning of double standard?!?

Happy Tofurkey Day!

So as I have my Thanksgiving Tofurkey in the oven baking away, I had to send a little Thanksgiving blog out... Now I have to admit, although Tofurkys taste wonderful, they look rather bland. Mr. Kevin Forbes, my newly minted vegan Thanksgiving hero, has offered an awesome solution to jazz that cruelty-free center piece of yours up!! And in the wonderful vegan tradition of sharing and vegan awesome wonderfulness, he has made a template (with complete directions) for everyone to print out and decorate their Tofurkys with! I think this is just too funny and am heading upstairs to print mine out right now. I can't wait to see the look on my husband's face when I bring the tofurkey to the table this year.

The holidays are always rough for us vegetarians. Most of the year, we get by well enough on our lentils, rice and Indian food. But whenever North American families get together, a turkey dinner is inevitable. And with the dinner, come the questions: “Don’t you miss steak?” “How do you get your protein?” Blah blah blah.A good way to avoid a lot of the hassles of the season is to get a Tofurky. It looks like a ham, tastes like a turkey (kind of), and is made entirely out of plants. With a slab of Tofurky on your plate, you can blend into the background of any extended family dinner. It’s like vegan camouflage!

But sometimes, that’s not enough. Sometimes, in the presence of so much carnivorousness, something primal is stirred. You see meat. You smell it. The caveman hunter wakes up inside of you, and you go on the prowl. In times like these, vaguely meatish soy product is not enough! You need...

... a Tofurky Disguise Kit! That’s right! By following these simple instructions, you can assemble a convincing disguise for your Tofurky, or other meat analogue. In a matter of minutes, your pretend turkey log will resemble a living, breathing, wild turkey! Then, you can hunt it, kill it, and fight your old man for the neck!

Here’s what you’ll need to assemble your very own Tofurky Disguise Kit!
Materials:
1. Tofurky Disguise Kit Template
2. 8.5” by 11” card stock or bristol board
3. Toothpicks
4. Scissors, tape, and a gluestick

Assembly Instructions:
Download and print out the template. You can print it in glorious full colour, or even in gritty black and white to create a mysterious Film Noir effect.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Apple Pie Coffee Cake

Apple Pie Coffee Cake

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup quick or whole oats (not instant)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup Sugar (Vegan is fine)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 Egg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:
3 tablespoons water
2 Apple Juice
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla (or half water half vanilla extract)
2 Medium Banannas (Mashed)

Topping:
2 Medium apples (any kind)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons coarse sugar, such as demerara or raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly spray or wipe the bottom and sides of a 8 X 8-inch springloaded pan with oil or cooking spray.

Mix the oats with the other dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and stir until moistened and completely combined, but don't overmix. Pour into the prepared pan (batter will be thick). Smooth batter throughout the pan, creating a small lip around the sides of the pan.

Dice apples and toss in the cinium and granulated sugar. Pour apple mixture in center of pan and gently smooth over dough. Sprinkle with the course sugar.

Bake for 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes. Eat and celebrate!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Banana Coffee Cake

Banana Coffee Cake From: FatFree Vegan
Banana Coffee Cake

1 tablespoon flax seeds, ground
4 tablespoons warm water
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup soy yogurt
1/3 cup vanilla soymilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup agave nectar
1 cup white whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 bananas

Preheat the oven to 375F and oil a pie pan or an 8-inch square baking dish.

Mix the ground flax seeds with the warm water and set aside to thicken.

Mix the turbinado sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Combine the soy yogurt, soymilk, vanilla, and agave nectar in a bowl. Add the flax mixture.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour the soy yogurt mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until combined. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and spread to cover the bottom. Slice the bananas and place the slices over the batter. Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon-sugar. Spread the remaining batter over the bananas. Sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-sugar. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cake appears set in the middle. Allow to cool for a few minutes before cutting into 6 slices and serving.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 211 Calories (kcal); 1g Total Fat; (5% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 49g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 308mg Sodium. Weight Watchers: 4 Flex Points.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Eggless Bananna Bread

3 ripe bananas
1/4 c. vegetable oil (I used 1/4 c. applesauce instead)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 c. sugar
2 c. flour (I used 1 c. all purpose and 1 c. whole wheat)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (I didn’t use nuts - didn’t have any)

Mash bananas (overripe make the best bread). Add oil, vanilla and sugar. Mix well. Sift flour, salt and soda together and add to banana mixture with walnuts if using. Mix until flour is blended in but do not overmix.

Put into loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees F. for 45-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan, then remove to rack to cool completely before cutting.

Notes: My substitutions are in blue. I made muffins vs. bread and baked about 20 minutes until my knife came out clean. I think next time I’ll make the bread. They turned out pretty delish.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

BBQ Black-Eyed Pea Collard Rolls

The Rolls

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 bunch of collard greens, 12 of the leaves set aside for rolling (pick out the biggest, nicest leaves of the bunch)

  • 1 t. oil

  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced thinly (I could not track 8 oz. of these down, so I used a 4-oz. mix of cremini, oyster, and portabellas)

  • 4 c. chopped collards

  • 1 15-oz. can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

  • 3 c. Backyard BBQ Sauce

DIRECTIONS

Slice off the stems of 12 nice collard leaves (run a knife alongside either side of the stem and then cut it out of the leaf). Boil a large pot of water. Submerge the 12 collard leaves into the boiling water and cook for 6 minutes. When done, use tongs to transfer them to a strainer and let cool. Handle with care!

Preheat a large skillet over medium, and cook the mushrooms in the oil for 5 minutes. Add the chopped collards. Cook for 7-10 minutes until the moisture has cooked off. Add the peas and cook through. Pour on 2 cups of the BBQ sauce and cook until the wateriness is gone. (5-10 minutes). Let cool.

Place a collard on a flat work surface with the side that has not been sliced facing you. Place some of the black-eyed peas mixture in the lower third of the collard. (The recipe says to put 2 T. in each roll, but I was able to generously use 1/4 c. in each, with some of the black-eyed pea mix still left over. It'll all depend on the size of your leaves though.) Fold the bottom up over the mixture, then fold in the sides. Roll the collard up, gently but firmly.

Roll all the collards. When ready to serve, spoon extra BBQ sauce over the rolls.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Black Bean Vegetable Soup

INGREDIENTS
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 1 onion, chopped
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 2 carrots, chopped
* 2 teaspoons chili powder
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 4 cups vegetable stock
* 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
* 1 (8.75 ounce) can whole kernel corn
* 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes

DIRECTIONS
1. In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; cook onion, garlic, and carrots, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Add chili powder and cumin; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add stock, 1 can of the beans, corn, and pepper; bring to boil.
2. Meanwhile, in food processor or blender, puree together tomatoes and remaining can of beans; add to pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until carrots are tender.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Crumb Cake

Crumb Cake

I’ve been looking for the perfect vegan crumb topping for a while now. Before today, my crumb toppings had always been sort of soggy, sort of greasy; more crummy than crumby. I wasn’t sure how to fix the problem.

About a month ago, I subscribed to Cook’s Illustrated. My mother used to get a subscription years ago that I loved, and but it’s taken me this long to finally get my own. Along with the magazine, they sent me their new cookbook The Best of America’s Test Kitchen: Best Recipes and Reviews 2008, and in it is a recipe for crumb cake. I read a little closer, and saw a technique for crumbs that I’d never tried before. I ran into the kitchen to try it out, and oh my, it worked! Perfect crumbs!

This is a veganized version of the recipe found in The Best Of. It’s easy to throw together with few simple ingredients (no specialty egg replacers), making it perfect for a weekend treat or a quick dessert or teatime cake for guests.

Crumb Cake

Crumb Cake
Serves 9 (8×8″ cake)

Crumb Topping
8 Tbs Earth Balance Margarine, melted
2/3 Cup Granulate Sugar*
1 tsp Molasses
3/4 tsp Cinnamon
1 Pinch Salt
1 3/4 Cup Flour (cake flour or all-purpose)

*The original recipe calls for 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1/3 cup brown sugar. I was out of brown sugar, so I used only granulated sugar with added molasses. Afterall, that’s how brown sugar is made commercially–they simply add molasses back into the sugar after processing.

Cake
1 1/4 Cups Flour
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1/3 Cup Canola Oil, or 6 Tbs Earth Balance Margarine, softened
1/3 Cup Soymilk + 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar (or lemon juice)
1 Tbs Cornstarch mixed with 1/4 Cup Water
1-2 tsp Vanilla Extract
Powdered Sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

Whisk the still-warm melted earth balance with the sugar, molasses, cinnamon and salt. Mix in the flour with a spoon, or your hands, until a thick dough forms, similar to the texture of cookie dough. Let sit to cool for about 10 minutes. It should be ready when after you’ve put together the batter for the cake.

Before making the crumbs

Line an 8×8 pan with aluminum foil (two sheets in a cross formation, leaving excess draped over the edges to help you remove the cake later). Spray with vegetable oil. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add oil, soymilk mixture, cornstarch mixture and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth, but do not overmix.

Add the batter to the lined pan. Begin to break apart the crumb mixture into smaller, pea sized pieces. You want to take chunks from the bowl and gently break off the crumbs, like so:

Making the crumbs

Cover the batter evenly with all the crumb mixture. It will seem like a lot! When I thought I had enough, I wasn’t even half-way through the mixture. Use it all, as the cake will expand and the crumb mixture is tasty. After all, this is crumb cake. Don’t be shy!

Crumbing the cake
Crumb cake has a lot of crumbs!

Bake for 40-50 minutes at 350ºF, or until the crumbs are slightly browned and a toothpick in the center of the cake comes out clean. Use the toothpick to push over a crumb or two in the middle an make sure the top doesn’t look gooey (I went the whole 50 minutes). Grab the aluminum foil and gently lift the cake out to cool for 20-30 minutes on a cooling rack. Give it a nice dusting of powdered sugar, slice and serve.

Crumb Cake, dusting

Wrap up any leftovers in plastic wrap. If there are any leftovers!

Crumb Cake

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Popstation Contest!

I like to sing but only while I am taking a shower or in the car driving so nobody can hear me. I always think to myself I wish I had talent to sing so that I could enter American Idol one day. I always envy people who can sing I envy them because they have talent.

Are you one of those people? You should really check out Popstation! Popstation is an online music site that is always looking for and displaying the hottest new talents. They award people like you with priceless recording experiences and the ability to be seen by the masses online. They feature songs in multiple genres and all the songs are rated by the audience, not judges like American Idol!

If you aren't sure if this is for you, visit the practice rooms. They have a song you can listen to and learn, then you can choose to listen to the vocals only or without vocals and sing it by yourself! This is great for seeing how you sound singing before you try out (don't you wish some people did this on American Idol?)

Everyone competes to win "The Big Deal." And this really is a big deal! Every three months one person wins a an all expense paid trip to NYC to stay in a super nice hotel and spend 2 days recording your music in a professional recording studio! Then after it is completely finished it will be on PopStation for the world to see!

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Popstation. All opinions are 100% mine.



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Rent-a-cops at the main gate

I'm shocked this is the first time I'm blogging about the rent-a-cops at the gates to base... Or at least I think it's the first time. I'm sooo not used to this, even though we've been here for 2 whole years... I mean Marine Bases are guarded by flippin Marine's... But apparently Navy Bases are guarded by freakin rent-a-cops who have total superiority issues.

So I pull up to the main gate tonight and see I pretty young blonde standing on the median. I hold my ID out by the edges so she can see the whole thing... And ofcourse she want to take it out of my hand and flip it over and inspect the back and front with her flash light. Then she waves her flashlight over the front of my car and says "Do you know that your tags are expired?" Uhh obviously I didn't unless I wouldn't be rolling through the front gate... Ok I lie, I probably would still go through the gate, but would just play stupid.

Ok so she's like "Where are you going this evening?" I tell her "I've got to pick my husband up" now mind you it's like 7pm. She says, "ok well i'm going to need to keep your ID and you need to pull your car over behind the guard shack and we're going to come peal your tags off your window and you can have a temporary pass right now to go pick up your husband" Uhhhhhhh ok?! First of all it's the freakin 18th... That means for the past 17 days my husband has been going through that same exact gate and no one gave a shit that his tags espired at the end of October...

And furthermore what irritates me... We got our freakin tags December 2008... That means that they should expire December 2009! Not October 2009. Lame... Very very lame.

Anywayz I was instructed to stay in my car till some guy meandered out of the freakin guard shack and physically removed my freakin base tags from my car with a freakin rasor... All the while they held my freakin Military ID card hostage like I was going to plow through the gate or come crap.

Very very lame... And thanx stupid blonde rent-a-cop for adding pointless crap to my already busy day tomorrow... Cuz you know, I just love waising hours in the stupid Pass Office.

Banana Muffins

    3 ripe bananas
    1/4 cup oil or melted margarine
    1 cup sugar
    2 cups flour
    1 tsp. salt
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1 cup chopped walnuts (optional—see other options listed below)

• Mash bananas (overripe ones make the best bread). Add oil/margarine and sugar. Mix well.
• Sift the flour, salt, and baking soda together and add to the banana mixture. Mix until the flour is blended (do not beat).
Pour into muffin pans or a bread pan and bake at 360°F until a toothpick comes out clean.

Optional: Add a handful of walnuts, oatmeal, raisins, chocolate chips, currants, coconut, or all of the above!

Makes 1 Dozen Muffins

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Spicy Tomato Ziti

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. chopped mushrooms
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1, 35-oz. can of chopped tomatoes, with their juice
1/2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. ziti or other tubular pasta
2 Tbsp. grated soy Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. minced fresh basil


Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and garlic and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to the package directions. Drain well. In a large serving bowl, toss the pasta with the sauce, soy Parmesan cheese and basil, then serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sweet polenta cake with caramelized apples & almonds

I found this super yummy recipe on www.eatingoutloud.com

I am a horrible sucker for cheap cookbooks -- they lure me in with their big colorful photos and promise of a few good recipes. The books are not written by any particular expert, merely 'edited by' a staffer with a passing interest in food.

The books are strategically placed into the bargain bins. And, I realize they are mass-produced for placement into such areas for those culinary minds looking for a few cheap thrills. Yet, I can't resist. I purchased the The Complete Book of Baking from such a bin several years ago, the temptation being the sweet polenta cake. It's been on my to-do list for some time and now I am able to mark it off.



The cake intrigued me mostly due to the use of polenta to make a cake. The batter contains almond flavoring and lemon zest along with a few currants, then it's topped with fresh apples and sliced almonds. To ensure it is rich, the batter is drizzled with melted butter and sugar before being placed into the oven -- how could I not resist making this?

The result is a moist yet dense cake boasting a light lemony-almond flavor. I'll admit, the currants do nothing for this other than to create specs in the cake. They are lost and useless. The top is interesting, slightly caramelized apples with a crunchy sugar crust adds a nice sweet texture. The cake itself has a large and firm crumb, a stronger texture than typical cakes. I enjoyed the change of pace and found it rustic, like something a friend's grandmother would make at a holiday dinner.

Sweet polenta cake
3/4 cup flour
1/2 polenta (or cornmeal)
1 tsp baking powder
zest from 1 lemon
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup soy milk
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup currants soaked in hot water for 20 mins and drained
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 apples peeled, thinly sliced
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 9" springform pan. In a bowl, add the flour, polenta, lemon zest, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat eggs and 1/2 cup sugar, then add soy milk and almond extract. Combine currants and 4 tablespoons butter. Slowly add the dry ingredients. When blended, pour into prepared pan.

Arrange apples in concentric circles on top of the batter. Sprinkle with slivered almonds. In a saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Pour over the apples, then sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup sugar.

Bake until the cake is puffed and golden, about 45 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes, then remove from the springform pan.

Although it was gone before these pics were taken, I created a topping from: 1/2 cup sour cream, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 tsp almond extract. A dollop of this mixture adds a nice sweet-tang.



I used polenta that had a slightly larger texture than cornmeal, which came through loud and clear. You can see the bits of polenta and the texture is defiently firmer. I kind of like it tough because it does stand out as something different.



Next time, I would likely remove the currants. I might try doing something different with the apples or possibly another fruit. The apples were tender but kind of blah -- they didn't stand up to the dominate flavors of lemon and almond. Once again, they were ok but kind of useless. Don't get me wrong, the cake is quite good :-)

I need to see what's next in this book. It's a generic baking book but all of the recipes have a very international flair to them, but the book isn't marketed in this way. There's Guiness Cake, or maybe Lekach, a Jewish honey cake. Hmmm, I need to give this some though ... and, I also need to give some thought to the MeMe I received. Yikes ... what info shall I divulge about myself?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What is a B Billet?

There are 3 different B billets (job slots). They are special duty jobs, and odds are your Marine will
have to do one at some point if he plans on making the Corps his career. You cannot do two B billets
back to back. The 3 positions are Instructor (does not include I&I), Recruiter, or MSG duty.

Jane Wayne Day

Every once in a while, a unit will decide to have "Jane Wayne
Day". It's an event designed to show family members a little
of what it takes to be a Marine. It is in NO way reflective of
the actual day-to-day grind of being, say, a pay clerk. It's
way more fun than that.

You'll want to wear tennis shoes and old jeans and a t-shirt.
You can wear your husband's cammies if they fit you. Just be
prepared to get DIRTY! There will be different events set up.
You may run an obstacle course, or fire blanks from an M-16.
You may get to take a ride in a hummer. What events you
have depend on the unit's resources. You'll probably wind up
with a few pictures of yourself in camo face paint, wearing a
flak jacket, with M-16 in hand. They make great Christmas
cards!!

Southwestern Black Bean Stew

Ingredients
* 1 package ground Boca
* 1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
* 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
* 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, undrained
* 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
* 1 1/2 cups water
* 1/2 cup sour cream
* 2 (8 ounce) packages shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions
In a slow cooker over low heat, combine the corn, beans, tomato paste and water and Taco Seasoning. Mix well. Add the ground Boca and the sour cream. Raise heat to high setting and simmer for 20 minutes. Pour into individual bowls and garnish with shredded cheddar cheese.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Chipotle Split-Pea Soup

Chipotle is a smoked jalapeño that adds a smoky flavor without the ham hock.

    2 cups dried split peas
    8 cups boiling water
    1 medium-sized onion, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 carrots, sliced diagonally
    1/2 cup chopped parsley
    1 tsp. chipotle, finely cut, to taste
    1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce

• Simmer the split peas in boiling water until soft, about 1 hour.
• Add the remaining ingredients and continue cooking until the vegetables are tender, adding more water as needed.

Makes 10 1-cup servings

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Skinny" Nachos

6 flour tortillas (6 inch), each cut into 8 wedges
1 pkg. (12 oz.) frozen BOCA Meatless Ground Burger
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
3/4 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Spread tortilla wedges onto baking sheet; spray with cooking spray. Bake 5 min. or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
MEANWHILE, mix ground burger, tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper in nonstick skillet; cook on medium heat 5 min. or until heated through, stirring occasionally.
ARRANGE 8 of the chips on each of 6 serving plates; top with 1/2 cup of the ground burger mixture and 2 Tbsp. of the cheese.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bean and Boca Burger Soup

Prep Time: 5 min
Total Time: 25 min
Makes: 8 servings, 1 cup each

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
1 pkg. (12 oz.) frozen BOCA Meatless Ground Burger
3 cups water
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce

MIX all ingredients in large saucepan or Dutch oven.
BRING to boil on medium-high heat; cover. Reduce heat to low; simmer 15 min., stirring occasionally.

Special Extra
Mix 1/2 cup light sour cream and 1 or 2 finely chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Add a dollop to each bowl of hot soup just before serving.

Veterans Day discounts and freebies!

In President Barack Obama's Veterans Day 209 Proclamation he wrote: "Caring for our veterans is more than a way of thanking them for their service. It is an obligation to our fellow citizens who have risked their lives to defend our freedom. This selflessness binds our fates with theirs, and recognizing those who were willing to give their last full measure of devotion for us is a debt of honor for every American."

While there is no way to fully repay a veteran for their service, many companies and organizations are coming forward this week to give back at least a little by offering free meals and deals. I have posted the offers I have come across so far, but feel free to let me know if you come across any others.

Denny's: Free Grand Slam for active, in-active, reserved or retired military. Valid between 6am-2pm. You need to show valid military ID. Offer is good only at participating restaurants in the Washington DC, Baltimore, Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Richmond areas.

Outback Steakhouse: Veterans or active Military Personnel who visit Outback Steakhouse on Veterans Day can receive a Free Blooming Onion and Drink.

Krispy Kreme: Veterans or active military personnel that visit a participating U.S. Krispy Kreme location on Veterans Day will receive a Free Doughnut of their choice.

Applebee's: Veterans and active-duty military personnel eat free at Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar Restaurants this Veterans Day. Veteran’s can choose one of six dishes for free. Show up in uniform, or bring a U.S. Uniform Services Identification Card, U.S. Uniform Services Retired Identification Card, Current Leave Statement, Veterans Organization Card or a photograph of yourself in uniform.

Uno's Chicago Grill: All members of the military who show up in uniform or with a service or veteran's ID to enjoy a buy-one-get-one-free entree or individual pizza on Veterans Day.

Golden Corral: On Monday November 16th Golden Corral will offer free "Thank You" dinner meals to active-duty military and veterans. The offer is good from 5pm to 9 pm.

Home Depot: All active-duty personnel, reservists, retired military, veterans and their families can get a 10% discount off purchases of up to $2,000. Offer good through Veterans Day. Must present a valid military identification at checkout.

Lowes: All active-duty personal, reservists, retired military personnel and immediate family members get a 10% discount on in-store purchases up to $5,000 through Sunday at Lowe's stores. To qualify, individuals must present a valid military ID or other proof of service.

Dollar General: All veterans, active duty military, National Guard and Reserve, and their immediate families will receive a 10% discount at Dollar General with a Veterans Day coupon. You can find the coupon in the November 1st Dollar General ad, or ask a Dollar General sales associate for the coupon.


Sam's Club: On Wednesday, Sam's Club stores across the country will distribute 25,000 Hugo brand canes free to military veterans in need of mobility assistance. Sam's Club membership is not required, but proof of service is.

Free Wedding Dress: Military brides can say "I do" in a free designer wedding gown. On Veterans Day Bridal store across the country are providing free gowns to military brides-to-be. In Hampton roads, Maya Couture in Norfolk will be giving out the free gowns. To qualify, brides must be engaged and either be on active duty in the military and have served in Iraq or Afghanistan or have a fiancé on active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan. Proof of service includes military ID or copy of deployment papers or orders. Dresses are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Natural Elements Spa & Salon: The Chesapeake spa is providing free services to Active duty military or veterans on Veterans Day from 10 AM - 9 PM. The Veterans interested in free services of Elemental Facial, Body Bliss Massage, and Hydrofying Hair must call Natural Elements Spa & Salon for their appointment. (757) 436-1141.

Virginia Air & Space Center: Free admission for veterans and retired military at the Virginia Air & Space Center. Now through Veterans Day.

Colonial Williamsburg : Free Admission for active duty military, guard and reservists, retirees, veterans and their dependents. Good through Veterans Day.

National Parks: All of the areas managed by the U.S. Department of Interior is offering free admission to any and everyone on Veterans Day. This includes all national parks, forests, and monuments.

Veterans Day Music: Amazon is offering free downloads of the "Veterans Day Honor" album. It is music by the Bands and Ensembles of the US Armed Forces.

Texas Roadhouse: I don't have a like to this offer, but an ad in Flagship News stated that all active duty & retired military and up to 5 friends or family member can receive a 10% discount with a valid ID.

To all the veterans and active duty members of the military, Thanks for your service.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Butternut Squash Risotto

Ingredients

6-8 cups chicken broth (use vegetable broth for vegetarian option)
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided into 4 Tbsp and 1 Tbsp
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups butternut squash, peeled, and finely diced
2 cups arborio rice (can substitute medium grained white rice, but arborio is preferred)
1 cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp chopped chives or garlic chives
Salt

Directions
1 Heat broth in medium sized saucepan and keep warm over low heat. Melt 4 Tbsp of butter in a large saucepan; add onion and butternut squash. Cook over medium heat until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

2 Add rice to onion and squash. Cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine. Cook, stirring constantly until wine has been absorbed by the rice or evaporated. Add a few ladles of broth, just enough to barely cover rice. Cook over medium heat until broth has been absorbed. Continue cooking and stirring rice, adding a little bit of broth at a time, cooking and stirring until it is absorbed, until the rice is tender, but still firm to the bite, about 15 to 20 minutes.

3 During the last minutes of cooking, add remaining tablespoon of butter, 1/3 cup Parmesan, and chives. At this point the rice should have a creamy consistency. Add salt to taste. Serve with remaining grated Parmesan.

Serves 4 to 6.

Happy 234th Birthday Marines!

During the American Revolution, many important political discussions took place in the inns and taverns of Philadelphia, including the founding of the Marine Corps.

A committee of the Continental Congress met at Tun Tavern to draft a resolution calling for two battalions of Marines able to fight for independence at sea and on shore.

The resolution was approved on November 10, 1775, officially forming the Continental Marines.

As the first order of business, Samuel Nicholas became Commandant of the newly formed Marines. Tun Tavern’s owner and popular patriot, Robert Mullan, became his first captain and recruiter. They began gathering support and were ready for action by early 1776.

Each year, the Marine Corps marks November 10th with a celebration of the brave spirit which compelled these men and thousands since to defend our country as United States Marines.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sweet Almond Coconut Polenta Pudding

Ingredients:
1 cup Polenta/Cornmeal
1 cup
Light brown sugar
2 cups water
2 cups soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon Almond extract
1/4 cup coconut

Optional for Garnishing
Extra Coconut
Almond slivers
Powdered sugar

Directions

  • In a non-stick deep pan, bring water and soy milk to a boil, add sugar, and once dissolved whisk in the cornmeal.
  • Allow to simmer on medium heat stirring gently with a wooden spoon.
  • It might take about 10min to thicken. Be careful when it starts to thicken as it will start to erupt volcanically.
  • Keep stirring until a thick paste-like consistency is obtained.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add the vanilla, coconut and almond extract
  • Pour in a round 8-9" glass dish.
  • Spread evenly in the dish.
  • Sprinkle with Powdered sugar, coconut and/or chopped nuts.
  • Allow to set. You can place it in the refrigerator when it is a bit cooled.
  • Cut into 8 triangle pieces.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Baby Einstein

Did you hear about the Baby Einstein recall a week or so ago, where they decided to recall all those overpriced "Baby Einstein" DVD's because they don't make your babies, well Einsteins? I think it's absolutely rediculous that parents would actually go out and spend a ton of money on these DVD's with the expectations that their kids are gunna wind up bein total genious'. We owned one... Just one... It was a 1st birthday gift from a neibhor... And I think my daughter watched it maybe 2 or 3 times... She was so uninterested in it. We wound up giving it to a friend with a younger child, who was no more impressed then I was. Anywho! I came across this blog by Confessions of a Mean Mommy on the subject that made me laugh and I had to share... Ehjoy!

So a totally hilarious thing came out recently in the news. Turns out that parents who bought the Baby Einstein videos (originally conceived by chic blonde Colorado mom and entrepreneur Julie Aigner Clark, who was Einstein-smart enough herself to sell out to Disney) can now ask for their money back. Because, you know, turns out the videos and DVDs and music CDs (wait for it…) don’t actually make your kids smarter.

Oh, dear God.

Read this piece, by Washington Times writer Marybeth Hicks. Hicks describes how the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) has pushed and pressed for several years now for Disney and Baby Einstein to just up and admit that the videos are pure entertainment, not the first stop on the road to Harvard. (Even better, Hicks quotes one of my favorite writers and bloggers, Jen Singer, owner of Mommasaid.net and author of the new Stop Second Guessing Yourself series of books, who is the go-to gal if you need a reality check on parenting).

So yeah, big surprise.

I first heard about this on the radio yesterday, in a brief segment on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer show. He took a couple calls, and seemed surprised that parents aren’t beating Disney’s doors down asking for their cash back. Again, no surprise here.

Because, uh, did anyone buy this stuff, seriously, in hopes that plopping your 6-month old in front of them would boost his IQ? I imagine some did, but not seriously. Just sort of in that, “well, this could give him a teeny edge, and couldn’t hurt, right?” kind of way.

Baby Einstein, and our old friend Julie Clark (who always included an annoying promo for herself and her products on the tapes, which my husband and I parody to this day… hi, I’m Julie Clark, founder of the Baby Einstein company, and I’m getting fabulously rich on the backs of your parental insecurities and competitive natures! Isn’t that great?!), dovetailed nicely with a general climate, in the parenting world, of edge-getting. Anything we could possibly do — or anything someone like Julie Clark soothingly coerced us into thinking we could do — we simply had to do.

It all seems so benign. And the videos themselves are, for sure. But the impulse behind them is anything but.

Listen, we had the whole collection of BI videos. Some bought, some gifts. The big boy loved it when we first showed him Baby Beethoven at about 8 months (that is, aside from a brief scene when a lion puppet plays a saxophone. He’d cry hysterically if we didn’t grab the remote and fast-forward. No idea why). But before long, those videos became a routine part of many days. First, all of the videos are about 30 minutes long. That’s a shower, with extra time to moisturize, deodorize, and get dressed in peace. Second, my son was mesmerized by most of them, and soon they became a clear signal that it was calming-down time. Video, then nap. Easy-peasy.

But I never expected him to hum Beethoven, then toddle to his play piano and start composing his own music. And while we both loved Baby Van Gogh, I don’t expect him to wander into a museum when he’s older and feel a pull toward the artist’s work thanks to his early exposure. They were just nice. Mild. Not jarring. No purple dinosaurs, no commercials.

I don’t want my money back, thanks.

But I am getting a good laugh, and that’s priceless.

Seven Layer Tortilla Pie

INGREDIENTS
* 2 (15 ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
* 1 cup salsa, divided
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
* 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
* 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
* 7 (8 inch) flour tortillas
* 2 cups shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
* 1 cup salsa
* 1/2 cup sour cream

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2. In a large bowl, mash pinto beans. Stir in 3/4 cup salsa and garlic.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together 1/4 cup salsa, cilantro, black beans and tomatoes.
4. Place 1 tortilla in a pie plate or tart dish. Spread 3/4 cup pinto bean mixture over tortilla to within 1/2 inch of edge. Top with 1/4 cup cheese, and cover with another tortilla. Spread with 2/3 cup black bean mixture, and top with 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat layering twice. Cover with remaining tortilla, and spread with remaining pinto bean mixture and cheese.
5. Cover with foil, and bake in preheated oven for about 40 minutes. Cut into wedges, and serve with salsa and sour cream.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Military "In-Dependent"

Each one may look different and each is wonderfully unique, But this we have in common:

Lots of moving...
Moving...
Moving...
Moving far from home...
Moving two cars, three kids and one dog...all riding with HER of course.
Moving sofas to basements because they won't go in THIS house; Moving curtains that won't fit; Moving jobs and certifications and professional development hours.
Moving away from friends;
Moving toward new friends;
Moving her most important luggage: her trunk full of memories.

Often waiting...
Waiting...
Waiting...
Waiting for housing.
Waiting for orders.
Waiting for deployments.
Waiting for phone calls.
Waiting for reunions.
Waiting for the new curtains to arrive.
Waiting for him to come home,
For dinner...AGAIN!

They call her 'Military Dependent', but she knows better:
She is fiercely In-Dependent.

She can balance a check book;
Handle the yard work;
Fix a noisy toilet;
Bury the family pet...

She is intimately familiar with drywall anchors and toggle bolts.
She can file the taxes;
Sell a house;
Buy a car;
Or set up a move...
.....all with ONE Power of Attorney.

She welcomes neighbors that don't welcome her.
She reinvents her career with every PCS; Locates a house in the desert, The Arctic, Or the deep south.
And learns to call them all 'home'.
She MAKES them all home.

Military Wives are somewhat hasty...
They leap into:
Decorating,
Leadership,
Volunteering,
Career alternatives,
Churches,
And friendships.
They don't have 15 years to get to know people.
Their roots are short but flexible.
They plant annuals for themselves and perennials for those who come after them.

Military Wives quickly learn to value each other:
They connect over coffee,
Rely on the spouse network,
Accept offers of friendship and favors.
Record addresses in pencil...

Military Wives have a common bond:
The Military Wife has a husband unlike other husbands; his commitment is unique.
He doesn't have a 'JOB'
He has a 'MISSION' that he can't just decide to quit...
He's on-call for his country 24/7.
But for her, he's the most unreliable guy in town!
His language is foreign
TDY
PCS
OPR
SOS
ACC
BDU
ACU
BAR
CIB
TAD
And so, a Military Wife is a translator for her family and his.
She is the long- distance link to keep them informed; the glue that holds them together.

A Military Wife has her moments:
She wants to wring his neck;
Dye his uniform pink;
Refuse to move to Siberia;
But she pulls herself together.
Give her a few days,
A travel brochure,
A long hot bath,
A pledge to the flag,
A wedding picture,
And she goes.
She packs.
She moves.
She follows.

Why?
What for?
How come?
You may think it is because she has lost her mind.
But actually it is because she has a HEART and a love for her husband,
Who puts duty first,
Who longs to deploy,
Who salutes the flag,
And whose boots in the doorway remind her that as long as he is her Military Husband, She will remain his military wife.
And would have it no other way.

Black Bean Salad

16 ounce can black beans
1 1/2 cups corn kernels
1/2 cup prepared salsa
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Drain beans; rinse and drain again. Place in bowl.
Add corn. Fold in salsa, lime juice and cilantro.
Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until
serving time. Serves 4-6.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mediterranean Vegan Flatbread Pizza

Ingredients
2 (8-inch) flour tortillas
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons vegan pizza sauce
1/2 cup very thinly sliced plum tomato (about 1 large tomato)
1/3 cup Mock ground beef (IE: Morningstar Farms Grillers Recipe Crumbles)
3 tablespoons finely chopped red or green bell pepper
2 tablespoons chopped red onion or sliced green onion
4 large pitted black olives, quartered lengthwise
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (optional)
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella-flavored soy cheese

Directions
1. Place tortillas on baking sheet. In small bowl stir together olive oil and garlic powder. Brush over tops of tortillas. Bake at 400°F for 8 to 9 minutes or until light brown and crisp.

2. Spread thin layer of pizza sauce over tortillas. Arrange tomato slices over sauce. Sprinkle the mock ground beef, pepper, onion, olives and parsley (if desired). Top with cheese. Bake at 400°F for 8 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dooms Day!!!

Ugh. I hate doomsday predictions, and I hate chicken littles. Combine the two and you're in for a world of scorn and ridicule! Graft that stupidity onto an ancient calendar and we're reaching levels of animosity reserved for only the most insidious perpetrators of arrogant Western though.

The world WILL NOT END in 2012! The damn Maya say so, their calendar says so, astronomers say so, archaeologists say so, and so does the dang Bible! No amount of morons looking for star happenings in galaxies light years away, no number of dumbass hollyweird movies, or Discovery Channel specials will change that!



Then we have the sandwich board loons. The "END IS NIGH" kind of folks. The Y2Kers, the Hale-Bop comet crazies, and the like. The ones who screamed that Bird Flu, then Swine Flu would be the eradication of humanity. If only it was, to get rid of the likes of them!

Seriously folks, its time to put down the funky purple kool-aid and get a grip!

Mankind can not possibly fathom the end of the world. I have no idea when it will happen, but I'm perfectly okay with saying Dec. 2012 ain't it. The fact a cycle in a millenial old calendar comes to a close on that date does not equate to the end of the world. If I know you and you espouse this belief, expect an ass beating come 2013, because I will be around and you will be a moron in need of a boot up side your behind!

Humble Crumble Pie

Ingredients
6 servings instant mashed potatoes
1/2 cup shredded Romano pecorino cheese
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 cups sliced celery
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 whole cloves
1 package (12 oz.) Morningstar Farms® Meal Starters™ Grillers® Recipe Crumbles™
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions
1. Follow the recipe per package directions for mashed potatoes, decreasing the margarine by half. Stir in cheese. Set aside.
2. In large saucepan, combine broth, carrots, onions, mushrooms, celery, corn, pepper, bay leaves and cloves. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender. Add MORNINGSTAR FARMS MEAL STARTERS GRILLERS RECIPE CRUMBLES. Mix well. Remove 1/2 cup of broth and mix with flour and slowly add back to the vegetable/crumble mixture. Simmer until thickened. Remove bay leaves.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Just what I want for Christmas!

Am I the only one who finds this weird? The NEX is selling statues of Obama. At no other time can I remember stores selling merchandise of past presidents... Ok maybe George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln (the guys on Mt. Rushmore)... But they were imprdalized in stone "to represent the first 150 years of American history. These presidents were selected because of their role in preserving the Republic and expanding its territory."
But I mean coffee mugs, plates, Tshirts, coins, now statues of this guy who in this
year since election has done NOTHING. I just find the "idol" level that people are holding this guy to, just WEIRD. And yeah yeah yeah... I get that he's our president... But all i'm sayin is that if McCain had won I would STILL find statues and plates and coffee mugs with his face on it just plane weird. And you know, I really wanted to give Lenox the benifit of the doubt. I would find this all less irritating if I saw they had some kind of "Presidents" line... But I searched and searched their website and found NOTHING. In all honestly, i'm just WAITING for someone to propose the gov. pay to have this guys ugly mug emordlized in stone.

Tuscan Tomato Pasta

Ingredients
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic,
1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes,
1/2 cup shredded carrot
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
1 cup Chik'n Strips
8 ounces spaghetti or fettuccine
2 tablespoons shaved Parmesan cheese

Directions
1. In large saucepan cook onion and garlic in hot oil until tender. Add mushrooms. Cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes or until tender.
2. Stir in undrained tomatoes, carrot, vinegar and basil. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes or until desired thickness. Stir in Chik'n Strips. Cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through.
3. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Toss tomato mixture with pasta. Sprinkle with cheese.

November is Military Family Month

ALMAR 039/08
R 121444z SEP 08
UNCLAS
MSGID/GENADMIN/CMC WASHINGTON DC//
SUBJ/MILITARY FAMILY MONTH//
GENTEXT/REMARKS/1. THIS NOVEMBER MARKS THE 13TH ANNUAL CELEBRATION
OF MILITARY FAMILY MONTH. SPONSORED BY THE ARMED SERVICES YMCA AND
ENDORSED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, THIS ANNUAL
OBSERVANCE PROVIDES AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE NATION TO RECOGNIZE THE
EXTRAORDINARY CONTRIBUTIONS AND DAILY SACRIFICES OF THE MILITARY
FAMILY.
2. THE STEADFAST DEDICATION OF OUR MARINE CORPS FAMILIES AND THEIR
UNSELFISH CONTRIBUTIONS TO OUR SUCCESS IS A CONSTANT SOURCE OF
INSPIRATION TO ALL. HEIGHTENED OPERATIONAL TEMPO, INCREASED
DEPLOYMENTS, AND FREQUENT RELOCATIONS ARE SOME OF THE MANY
CHALLENGES OUR FAMILIES FACE ON BEHALF OF OUR COUNTRY. DESPITE
THESE CHALLENGES, THE ESPRIT DE CORPS SHOWN BY OUR FAMILIES REFLECTS
A TRUE UNDERSTANDING OF THE DEDICATION AND COMMITMENT REQUIRED IN
PASSING THE LEGACY OF THE EAGLE, GLOBE, AND ANCHOR ON TO FUTURE
GENERATIONS.
3. THE FLEXIBILITY, STRENGTH, AND GRACE OF OUR MARINE CORPS
FAMILIES CONTRIBUTES TO OVERALL READINESS AND EXEMPLIFIES OUR MOTTO
- SEMPER FIDELIS.
4. COMMANDS ARE ENCOURAGED TO HONOR FAMILIES AND CELEBRATE THIS
OCCASION BY PLANNING APPROPRIATE SPECIAL EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES
THROUGHOUT THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER.
5. SEMPER FIDELIS, JAMES T. CONWAY, GENERAL, U.S. MARINE CORPS,
COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS.//

It was only a matter of time...


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Italian Sausage and Bean Stew with Polenta

Ingredients

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, undrained

2 cans (15 oz. each) cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
1 package Sausage Style Recipe Crumbles
1 package (16 oz.) prepared polenta cut into 1/4-inch slices


Directions
1.
In large saucepan combine olive oil, tomatoes, beans, and MORNINGSTAR FARMS Breakfast Patties. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
2.
Fry polenta slices in a large skillet in olive oil until golden and crusty, about 3 minutes per side. Spoon stew over polenta slices and serve immediately.

2010 Scholarships for Military Children Program opens TODAY!

October 29, 2009
By Tammy L. Moody,DeCA marketing and mass communication specialist

FORT LEE, Va. – The holidays are fast approaching, and they can be a fun family time as children away at college come home, and other students get their holiday break. It’s also a time for students and parents to apply for the 2010 Scholarships for Military Children Program that opens in November.

Scholarship applications will be available Nov. 3 in commissaries worldwide and online through a link at https://www.commissaries.com and directly at http://www.militaryscholar.org. Since the program began in 2000, it has awarded $7.3 million in scholarships to almost 5,000 children of service members.

The Nov. 3 scholarship kickoff coincides with National Military Family Month, and is an example of commissaries supporting their local communities by helping to improve the quality of life for military families, said Defense Commissary Agency Director and CEO Philip E. Sakowitz Jr.

“Being part of something that makes higher education more affordable for military families is thrilling, as we feel it makes a better future possible for their children,” he said. “The program awards $1,500 scholarships to well-rounded, accomplished service members’ children, enabling these families to save some on their children’s tuition.”

Only dependent, unmarried children, younger than age 21 (age 23 if enrolled as a full- time student at a college or university) of active duty personnel, Reserve, Guard and retired military members, survivors of service members who died while on active duty, or survivors of individuals who died while receiving retired pay from the military may apply for a scholarship. Eligibility is determined using DEERS, the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System database. Applicants should ensure that they, as well as their sponsor, are enrolled in the DEERS database and have a current ID card. The applicant must be planning to attend, or already be attending, an accredited college or university full time in the fall of 2010, or be enrolled in a program of studies designed to transfer directly into a four-year program.

Applicants should prepare to submit an essay on the following topic: “You can travel back in time; however, you cannot change events. What point in history would you visit and why?” Applications must be turned in to a commissary by close of business Feb. 17. At least one scholarship will be awarded at every commissary location with qualified applicants.

The scholarships program is administered by Fisher House Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to service members and their families. Scholarship Managers, a national, nonprofit, scholarship management services organization, manages and awards the scholarships. Commissary vendors, manufacturers, brokers, suppliers and the general public donate money to the program, and every dollar donated goes directly to funding the scholarships.

Check us out on the Web: http://www.commissaries.com, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Defense-Commissary-Agency/131694158961?ref=ts and http://twitter.com/TheCommissary
About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings worth about $3,300 annually for a family of four. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Norfolk Zoo-Boo 2009

I'll be honest, I was not that impressed. After already being PAYING members of the zoo, we had to pay another $4 per person ($12 for our family) to JUST to get into the zoo... This is what I don't understand... It usually costs $7 for non members to get into the place... They were charging $8 for this event... So then why were members essentially charged more, $4? Why not the dollar difference? See what I'm saying?

I just don't see what the draw is... Yeah the animals seemed more active then usual because the zookeepers had been throwing pumpkins into their cadges... And yeah my kid got SOME halloween candy... But not enough to make up for that extra $12 we had to pay... I'm kinda unsure where those extra entrance charges were going... Then my daughter spotted the bounce houses... And of course they were charging an additional dollar for that... So she went in there and bounced for all of 5 minutes... Then she HAD to feed the goats, whish was another dollar for food... And then the zoo-boo-choo-choo... Ugh... It's usually $2 a rider... Which is $2 too much in my opinion... But of course they were charging EVEN MORE to ride it during this event ($3)... And of course my daughter just HAD to go on it... So there was another $9 down the whole... All together we wound up forking out $23 for 2 hours of entertainment... For something that shouldn't have cost us anything... Lame... Well I guess you live and lean... I just wouldn't recomend this event to anyone.

Barbecued Seitan Ribz

1 cup vital wheat gluten
2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons tahini or other nut butter
1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
1 tablespoon soy sauce
about 1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly spray an 8x8 baking dish with canola oil. Mix the first 5 ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix the water with the nut butter, Liquid Smoke, and soy sauce and add it to the dry ingredients. Stir to mix well and then knead lightly in the bowl for a couple of minutes.

Put the dough into the baking dish and flatten it so that it evenly fills the pan. Take a sharp knife and cut it into 8 strips; then turn the pan and cut those strips in half to form 16 pieces:

Barbecued Seitan Ribz

Put it in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. While it's cooking prepare your grill.

Remove it from the oven and carefully re-cut each strip, going over each cut to make sure that the ribz will pull apart easily later. Generously brush the top with barbecue sauce. Take it to the grill and invert the whole baking dish onto the grill (or use a large spatula to lift the seitan out, placing it sauce-side down on the grill). Brush the top of the seitan with more sauce:

E brushing bbq sauce on Seitan Ribz

Watch it closely to make sure that it doesn't burn. When it's sufficiently brown on one side, turn over and cook the other side, adding more sauce, if necessary. When done, remove to a platter and cut or pull apart the individual ribs to serve.

Barbecued Seitan Ribz

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Vegetable Lasagna Alfredo

Ingredients

* 2 cups carrot, thinly sliced
* 2 cups zucchini, thinly sliced
* 8 ounces mushroom, sliced
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 3 garlic clove, pressed
* 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes
* 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
* 1 egg
* 1/4 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
* 1 (16 ounce) jar white alfredo sauce (use a good quality brand,or make your own)
* 3/4 cup milk
* 10 uncooked lasagna noodle
* 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

1. Preaheat oven to 350.
2. Heat oil in large skillet. Saute garlic, sliced vegetables, thyme, and pepper, until vegetables are crisp/tender(about 7 minutes).
3. Remove from heat and add drained tomatoes, set aside.
4. Combine ricotta cheese, egg and parmesan in separate bowl.
5. In another bowl, mix alfredo sauce and milk until smooth.
6. To assemble;spread 3/4 cup of alfredo sauce mixture in bottom of 9x13 pan. Top with half of the uncooked noodles, pressing noodles into sauce. Spread with half of the ricotta mixture, top that with half of the vegetable mixture, then half of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers beginning with 3/4 cup of sauce.
7. Pour remaining sauce over final layer. Cover with foil.
8. Bake 50 minutes, uncover and continue baking for 10 minutes.
9. Remove from oven, let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

El Día De Los Muertos!

History
November first begins the Dia de los Muertos (also known as "Day of the Dead") festivities with
All Saints Day in which the deceased children are honored and remembered. November second All Souls Day is for the remembrance of the adult dead. Dia de los Muertos combines these days to celebrate the the deceased and enjoy their memories. Dia de los Muertos is not at all scary, spooky or somber. The spirits of the deceased are thought to pay a visit to their families during Dia de los Muertos and the families prepare an altar for them.

The Altar
Before Dia de los Muertos, an area of the house is cleaned up and the furniture removed to make room for the altar. The altar consists at a minimum of a covered table, and
usually a few crates or boxes are added to it and covered to create open shelves and other raised display areas. The coverings used can vary from plain to vibrantly colored oil cloth. The altar is then set up with the appropriate ofrendas (offerings) for Dia de los Muertos.

Ofrendas (Offerings)
The offerings placed on the altar for Dia de los Muertos usually consist of a wash bowl, basin, razors, soa
p and other items the traveling spirit can use to clean-up after the journey. Pictures of the deceased are also placed on the altar as well as personal belongings for each person and any other offerings the deceased may enjoy such as a pack of cigarettes or a bottle of tequila. Candles are used to help light the way for the spirits as well as other decorative items such as papel picado (tissue paper cut-outs) wreaths, crosses and flowers. Certain Dia de los Muertos dishes are also placed on the altar to help feed and nourish the traveling souls. Some of these offerings also double as the four main elements of nature — earth, wind, water, and fire. These are represented by movable or light-weight items such as tissue paper cut-outs (wind,) a bowl of water, candles (fire) and food (crops, earth.)

"Day of the Dead" Recipes

  • Sugar Skulls
    The most popular "Dia de los Muertos" ofrenda is Sugar Skulls. Sugar skulls are a traditional folk art from Cen
    tral and Southern Mexico used to celebrate Day of the Dead. Mounds of colorful sugar skulls are sold by vendors in the village open air markets during the week preceding Day of the Dead. Increasing numbers of non-traditional colorful candies such as decorated chocolate skulls and other Halloween candies are now competing with the traditional sugar skulls, which are becoming harder and harder to find in Southern Mexico. The skulls are made of a sugar mixture that has been pressed into molds and then dried. The dried sugar skulls are decorated with icing and sometimes non-edible items such as colored foil, feathers or sequins. View some finished sugar skulls in the Sugar Skulls Gallery.

  • Pan de Muerto
    This sugary, sweet bread is enjoyed by the families of the deceased during Dia de los Muertos, as well as placed on the altar. The Pan de Muerto is a made into a loaf and and extra dough is fashioned into decorations resembling bones. The bread is baked, glazed and decorated with colored sugar.

  • Candied Pumpkin
    This sweet dish consists of fresh pumpkin slices that are cooked in a piloncillo glaze. The Candied Pumpkin is also enjoyed by the family during Dia de los Muertos as well as placed on the altar.

  • Chocolate Coffins and Skulls
    These chocolate items are a newer addition to the altars. They can be plain or decorated with other edible items such as colored sugar, brightly colored candies or sprinkles. Chocolate Coffins and Skulls can be bought pre-m
    ade or you can make them yourself.

  • Atole
    A hot cup of masa gruel known as Atole is used to nourish and warm the spirits when they return and/or when they leave.

Other Festivities
Mexican families also make a trip to the cemetaries during Dia de los Muertos to clean up the family members gravesites and decorate them as well. Many carts and and vendors are set up around the cemetaries to sell decorations and flowers for the gravesites. Local bands go around and play music for the deceased and the families. The larger cities often have parades with horses, dancers and musicians. The vendors take advantage of the large crowds during Dia de los Muertos and sell sugar skulls, candy coffins, and other "Day of the Dead" treats.