Sunday, September 11, 2016

Mama's Dirty Rice

Y'all! I come to you today bearing food! Well, not food, but a really amazing, mouth watering recipe. Close enough, right?

My mama has made this dish for as long as I could remember. My more prevalent memories of this dish are of it being served as a side at Thanksgiving and Christmas but whenever mama had the excuse to make it, she made it.

If you don't know, dirty rice is a Cajun/Creole dish. The original recipe calls for chicken livers or giblets...but what mom is gonna expect her kids to eat that, right? I'm not sure if my mom tweaked the recipe after she got it from my MawMaw or if this is MawMaw's recipe...either way, they tweaked it and made it a family thing and now I'm feeling the need to pass it on...(I think I might be committing a Southern sin by doing that)...

Even though today was my first day making this by myself, I've watched mama make it thousands of times. Though, I did have to call her for the oven directions...hey, everybody forgets something every once in a while.

Prep: 25 minutes     Total Cook Time: 45 minutes     Yield: 10-12 servings

1 lb. Jimmy Dean regular seasoned sausage, cooked
1 small onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 can Campbell's French Onion Soup
1 can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup
1.5 cups white, long grain rice

Cooking Instructions:
To make it easier on yourself, make sure your sausage is thawed before you start to saute your vegetables, that way you can do it at the same time.

Get your sausage going in a cast iron skillet. I just love cooking with cast iron. My mama always told my daddy to NEVER ever buy her kitchen gadgets as gifts but I hope that my husband picks up on the fact that I love to cook...maybe he'll get me Ree Drummond's Timeless Cast Iron Skillet for Christmas...wink wink Taylor ;)

You can saute your vegetables at the same time you're cooking the sausage to eliminate cook time. You'll want to keep them going until they're soft and translucent. I've like my vegetable chopped smaller and add a dash of salt and pepper to the skillet. It's your choice to use butter or oil but I like using Canola oil.

You'll need to rinse your rice before adding it to the casserole dish. 

Put everything together in the casserole dish, this is an 8x8 but you can always adjust the recipe for a larger dish.

When everything is mixed together, cover it tightly with aluminum foil and put it a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. You'll want to stir it around after half the cooking time has elapsed to avoid getting crunchy rice on the top. Cover it back up and continue cooking until the rice is done. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the dish and the amount of rice you use.

Like I said, my mom always served this a side but I could eat it all by itself. I hope you enjoy!

Butter and Biscuits,
Mrs. B

Friday, September 9, 2016

Review on Central Texas Waterparks

Hey y'all!

Even though summer is nearly over (does summer ever actually end in Texas?) and the water parks are now closed, I figured I'd offer my review for those of you who didn't get to go or for those who are moving here in time for next summer.

The day we pulled into Fort Hood, it was so dang hot, I literally felt like my skin was melting off...and it was 6:00 in the evening! As Taylor and his friends were unhooking the car, I was hiding behind the moving truck to avoid the late afternoon sun. The very next day, we hit the pool to avoid the heat.

Taylor has always wanted to go to Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, Texas but they were quite expensive and little too far of a drive so we decided to check out the water parks closer to us.

The first one we went to was the Lions Club Aquatics Center in Killeen, Texas. It's only a few miles drive from Hood and is the newer facility of the parks we frequented this summer. In my opinion, it's also the cleanest and most well kept. I would give 4/5 stars. They have what I call a toilet bowl slide, which after reluctantly climbing four flights of stairs I found was my favorite. It shoots you out into the bowl and you go around and around until you eventually fall through the hole into the pool at the bottom. The water falls constantly into the pool below and by the time you actually go through the hole, you're so dizzy that swimming to the stairs is kind of disorienting. The other three slides are super fun too, but the speed is slower and the lines are longer. They also have an awesome kids section, a wade pool, a 3 foot pool and a larger pool that extends to, I believe, 13 feet.

We also went to the Lions Junctions Family Water Park in Temple, Texas but I have to say, honestly, it was not the best. I would give 2/5 stars. The water smelled overwhelmingly like bleach and the life guards had no cares about children who were running around without parents breaking the rules. I did not go on their slides but my husband said they weren't that fast and not much of a thrill. If you're looking for a place where lifeguards don't watch your children, I would come here.
Image result for lions club aquatic park

The second park we went to wasn't exactly my favorite but they had a lazy river which is always a plus for me. Summer Fun Water Park in Belton, Texas has a lot to offer if you're willing to pay a little more. I would give 4/5 stars. It was twice the price per person as the Lions Club but it was worth it. The lazy river is the best. They only have three slides, one tube slide that shoots out into the lazy river and two twin slides that come out into the bigger pool. One plus about this park is that you can bring your own food in, even though the concessions stand is very reasonably priced.
Image result for summer fun water park in belton texas

Last and most definitely my favorite was Hawaiian Falls Water Park in Waco, Texas. The price was a little more hefty than the other three and it's an hour's drive from Fort Hood but it was well worth it and definitely deserves 5/5 stars! They have quite a few attractions that other parks in the CenTex area don't have, one of them being a wave pool. The lazy river is twice as long compared to Summer Fun and while you're floating the day away you get inundated by Christian music playing all across the park. It's the best. The staff seems to really care about the guests. The only downside is that the day we were there, there concessions stand wasn't open and even if they had been open we would have broke the bank trying to buy lunch. Luckily, they allow coolers and outside food and have a large, shaded picnic pavilion to eat under.

Image result for hawaiian falls waco Image result for hawaiian falls waco

I hope you can use my honest reviews to your advantage next summer!

Butter and Biscuits,
Mrs. B

Thursday, September 8, 2016

I Still Don't Understand The Military

Hey y'all!

This post is inspired by my recent confusion about the spousal side of the military. My disclaimer is that I love my husband and what he does for our country, and that I love our military.

BUT there are so many things I heard about military spouses that it practically scared me to befriend anyone. The entire year my husband was in Korea, I worked full time and kept to myself. Even though I lived with my parents, I didn't attend any family events on Fort Gordon, other than going to the pool with my niece and nephew.

We only dated for roughly three months before getting married and as soon as we got married I was scouring Facebook pages and blogs trying to learn any and everything I could about being a military spouse. In the process of doing this, I ran into some really good advice, while also running into some really ugly-hearted women. There was one point where I was so lost that I decided to create a survey for the members of the Army Wife 101 Q&A page to take. Mostly, I made it for myself, but I also wanted to try and help other wives who were just as lost as I was. I ran into criticism that bit me so hard, I almost wanted to tuck my tail in and give up. Some women obliged and took the survey while others commented with snarly comments like, "You have no place doing're totally new to this...your man isn't even a Specialist yet!" Which was true, he was still a Private.

I feel there are some stereotypes about military wives that need to be put to rest...

1) We are NOT Dependas!
- Most of you will agree that the majority of military spouses stay home and take care of children, right? I'd say more like...half. I've met some really wonderful ladies who are developed in their careers and don't depend on their husband's income. Most of us will tell you that finding work after moving to a new duty station is actually very hard...most certifications don't transfer from state to state. I've met soldiers who will tell you that they're completely okay with their wives not working because the soldier is the reason their wife's career was uprooted in the first place. So S-T-O-P with the dependapotomas crap.

2) You do NOT have to dress to the nine's to go to the commissary...
- When we first got married, I came upon a post that said something like "Military spouses dare not go out in public without looking their absolute best, it's embarrassing to their husbands." Okay, I kind of get it...but in the three months we've been at Hood, I cannot tell you how many times I ran into the commissary for a few forgotten items in gym shorts, a 3 year old t-shirt and a messy bun, accompanied by no make-up. Nobody looked at me funny, nobody stared...nobody said "OMG, look at her, she's embarrassing her husband!" I'm just an average, everyday woman who forgot something at the grocery store and I don't need to wear  the latest Kardashian approved dress to go get some dang milk. Get over that one, too.

3) We pop out kids for the extra money...
- Wait, what? Do we? Is that something we do now? I thought people had children because they want to expand their families. Well, I have a condition that makes it hard to we won't be receiving any extra money any time soon...darn.

4) The whole wearing the rank thing
- Just don't do it.

5) We knew what we were getting into when we married the guy
- Nope...I sure as hell didn't. When I met Taylor, I was looking for friends, and it quickly turned into love which has been the greatest adventure of my life. I will never understand why people say this, I mean, in a way, there has to be some type of expectation about deployments and such but there are so many unknowns in everyday life that it's absolutely cruel to say that we knew what we were getting into.

6) Our marriages are doomed and everybody cheats on deployments
- Nope, nope, nope. When you get married, you take vows. Vows to love each other through sickness and health, through the good and bad, to be committed to one another. If your marriage fell apart, I can tell you right now it's because one of you or both of you weren't in it 100%. Your hearts (not your body parts) have to be in it. Our marriages aren't doomed because our husbands are owned by the military. We're not doomed because they're gone all the time. And the whole cheating thing, I've seen on Facebook where plenty of people say that "Korea ruined my marriage". No, no it didn't. If you aren't aware, Korea is a normal tour for most intelligence related MOS (going by what my husband told me). I've seen ladies say that their husbands cheated while in Korea because it was a thing that soldiers do while they are there, like a tourism going to see the Eiffel Tower in France is on my bucket list so cheating on my husband in a foreign country must also be on there no, y'all. Just no. Korea did not make your husband cheat, there's such a thing called situational awareness. Your man didn't just cheat because he went to Korea. He cheated because he wasn't strong enough to not cheat. BTW...Taylor spent 12 months in Korea and didn't cheat on me, so it's not a "thing they do in Korea".

I think I've cleared up my own confusion for now...

Butter and Biscuits,
Mrs. B