Everyday recipes, life and craziness from Jen's house.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Helen's BBQ Meatballs and a Walk Down Memory Lane

June 17, 1995
BBQ Meatballs
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1-1/2 c. oats
½ c. milk
1 egg
½ chopped onion
1/2 t. garlic powder
¾ t. pepper
1 t. salt

Mix all ingredients together and form into 12 meatballs.  Place in a greased 9x13 baking pan.  Pour sauce over meatballs.  Cover with tin foil and bake at 350* for 1-1/2 hours. This recipe is easily doubled (or even tripled!)  just remember to double (or triple!) the sauce.  Enjoy~

BBQ Sauce
1 c. ketchup
¾ c. brown sugar
1 T. liquid smoke
1/2 t. garlic powder
½ onion, chopped

Mix all ingredients together and pour over uncooked meatballs.

This is my mother-in-law Helen’s recipe.  She made these meatballs one of the first times I visited their house in Iowa.  16 years later, I still enjoy when she makes them!  Since Jeff and I just celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary, I decided to take a walk down memory lane.  We didn’t have the typical dating life, engagement, wedding or even first year of marriage.  (I think most military families can relate!) I’m not sure what I expected, but my life has turned out far better than I ever imagined! 

Dating:  Jeff and I met in Wiesbaden, Germany.  We were both in the Army and lived in the same barracks building.  One Saturday night in February 1994, Jeff and I went to a party together.  Two days later, he left for Norway for about 3 weeks.  The day he returned from Norway, there he was knocking on my door, still smelling like wood smoke, asking if I’d like to watch a movie. And the rest is history!  During the months we dated, we spent time apart due to Army life…field problems and work schedules.  (Throw in two broken arms from a bike accident and a 30 day convalescent leave to Maine)  

Engagement:  In March of 1995, Jeff’s two years in Germany were up and he was on his way to Ft. Rucker, Alabama for training and then on to Ft. Benning, Georgia.  I was due to move to Ft. Riley, Kansas in January 1995.    One night shortly after Jeff left Germany, I got a phone call from him.  You have to remember that this was before everyone cell phones…in my barracks there was one phone per floor, which was sitting on the floor in the hallway.  No table, no chair, just a phone sitting on the floor.  So there I was, in my pajamas, sitting on the floor in the hallway talking on the phone when Jeff asked me to marry him!  We decided to get married on June 17, 1995 in Maine and he would send me my engagement ring.  A week or so later, I got my engagement ring in the mail!  While I was waiting for my ring, I stalked the mail room every day.  I would check it at lunch, just in case, and then beg to leave work just a little bit early so I could check again.  Then one day, it was there!  I was officially engaged, ring and all!  I have never run into anyone else who received their engagement ring in the mail!    

Our wedding:  My parents pretty much planned our wedding (thanks Mum and Dad!)  I told them the date, the church I wanted to be married in, the color of flowers for bouquets and away they went!  I flew to Maine on Sunday, bought my wedding dress on Tuesday, Jeff flew in on Wednesday, bought our wedding rings on Thursday, his parents few in on Friday and we got married on Saturday.  I flew back to Germany on Thursday and Jeff flew back to Georgia on Friday.  Call it a whirl-wind wedding, but it was perfect!  Beautiful weather, beautiful church, beautiful reception at my parent’s house on the ocean.  I have such happy memories of our wedding…even though my mum fell down in the church and hurt her thumb.  In all of the pictures, she has her thumb up, Fonzie style…not because she thought she was cool, but because her thumb hurt!

Our first year of marriage:  We lived apart for the first 6 months of being married.  I lived in Germany, Jeff lived in Georgia.  On Christmas Day 1995, I left Germany.  Thanks, Kathy Silver for driving me to the airport!   I finally arrived in Iowa Christmas night and Jeff and I had our first married Christmas together.  1996 began with us living in a small apartment in Columbus, Georgia.  Jeff was on flight status and had a crazy schedule with lots of TDY’s, schools and field time…in short, he was gone a lot!  However, he was home on our first anniversary, 17 June 1996, which was spent with dinner out and tickets to an Olympic softball game a few weeks later.

And so there you have it,  the highlights of dating, getting engaged, getting married and our first year together!  All brought to you by my mother-in-law’s meatballs.

These are not my meatballs, they are from PW.
 I am at the car dealership...waiting for my car to be serviced and I forgot my SD card with my meatball pictures!  So, PW's picture will have to do!  :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Orange Couscous Salad

 I love salads...green salads, pasta salads, potato salads...all kinds of salads!  Especially in the summer time when it's hot.  There's nothing like having a cold salad for dinner as a meal, or along with some sort of grilled meat.  Yumm.  Check out my other Couscous salad recipe!  Couscous Salad

So last week, I wanted to make some couscous salad, however, I was out of feta cheese, which in my opinion, goes very well with couscous in a salad.  Instead, I googled couscous salad recipes and found this one from Eat Better America.  And of course, I changed up the recipe to fit my tastes.  This salad is a define "make again."  In fact, I can't wait to make it again this week! 

Couscous Fruit Salad

1 (10 ounce) package plain uncooked couscous

 1 orange, zested and juiced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 T. olive oil
3/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 t. oregano
1 t. parsley
3 green onions, sliced (white and green part)
1/4 c. dried cranberries (Craisins)
1/4 c. raisins
1/4 c. green grapes, quartered
1 can Mandarin oranges, drained
2 T. sliced almonds

Cook the couscous according to the package directions.  Fluff with a fork and set aside.

Zest the orange and lemon into a small bowl.  After zesting, juice the orange and lemon.  Add the olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano and parsley.  Whisk the ingredients together.

Mix the green onions, dried cranberries, raisins, grapes and almonds together with the couscous.  Add the dressing and mix together.  Fold in the Mandarin oranges.  Chill and serve.  Enjoy~

Monday, June 6, 2011

Rhubarb Cherry Crisp

The Miller Family has been on the road for the past 10 days.  Jeff did an awesome job planning our trip.  He did all of the research on places to stay and items of interest to see, which made our trip very smooth.  On Day 1, we drove up to Iowa for Jeff's 25th High School Reunion pulling our RV. 
Class of 1986 Dunlap High School
We stayed in Dunlap, Iowa for a few days and then loaded everything and everyone (including Jeff's parents) into the truck and headed to South Dakota still pulling the RV! 
Corn Palace
The Badlands
JP and the Jackalope at Wall Drug

We traveled to Mitchell to see the Corn Palace, then to Wall to see Wall Drug, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site and the Badlands and then stayed 3 nights in Rapid City. 
My best girlfriends at Flintstone Village! 
From there we went to Sturgis, Deadwood, went in a gold mine and panned for gold, we went to Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Flintstone Village, Reptile Gardens and the Wind Cave. 
Mount Rushmore
Dinosaur Park in Rapid City
Wind Cave
Day 8 took us back to Mitchell and then finally we headed back to Dunlap on Day 9.  This morning we packed up the Miller family and drove home to Kansas.  Whew...  It was nice to finally pull into our driveway.  

10 days, 2,000+ miles, 3 different campgrounds, lots of good times and laughs~

And, I also got to see my friend Beckie Graham from high school.  She was visiting the Black Hills with her family.  We got to eat lunch together...it was so great to see her!  Hopefully we'll be able to get together a little more often than every 23 years!  :)
Beckie and Jen
While on vacation, I like to buy local cookbooks.  You know the ones...they are usually spiral bound cookbooks that are put together by some group trying to raise money.  I LOVE these cookbooks.  To me, they are "real" cooking.  Don't get me wrong, I like the fancy cookbooks, too...the glossy pictures, the expensive ingredients, the directions that are pages long and it takes hours to actually cook the recipe.  But the spiral bound ones...well...  They are full of real recipes that real people make.  They're family recipes, recipes that make it to family picnics or get-togethers.  Recipes that remind people of good times.  Good home cooking.  I picked up one of these spiral bound cookbooks in South Dakota.

This cookbook, South Dakota Centennial Cookbook 1889-1989 is awesome!  It has a ton of recipes (282 pages) and lots of interesting tidbits about South Dakota's history and heritage.  It also has a yummy recipe.  Rhubarb Cherry Crisp. I knew it would be perfect to make tonight, since I had raided my father-in-law's rhubarb patch this morning before we left Iowa.  And it was perfect.  No TLS (Tastes like S***) here.  In fact, I got two thumbs up from my boys and was told it was a "make again." 

Rhubarb Cherry Crisp (adapted from Faye (Mrs. Kent) Freichs)

1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup melted butter
5 cups sliced rhubarb
1 can cherry pie filling

Combine the oatmeal, flours, sugar, brown sugar and salt.  Pour the melted butter into the mixture and stir with a fork.  The mixture will be crumbly.  Spread half of the mixture into a greased 9x13 inch plan.  Spread the rhubarb over the crumbs and spoon the cherry pie filling over the rhubarb.  Sprinkle the rest of the crumbs on top of the cherry pie filling.  Bake at 350* for 45 minutes.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.