Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Wow, its 2008 already! A new year always brings me energy, a fresh start. I try not to make resolutions because they always get thrown aside a few days (if they make it that long), but I like the idea of having a clean slate to work on areas in my life that I feel need improvement. I can't wait to see what adventures and surprises 2008 holds for me!

Les is working tonight but I got out and spent New Year's Eve with friends. We enjoyed laughter, games, and a few cocktails before toasting in the new year.

Two of my friends' boys were there and they were hamming it up for the camera.

J., Sabrina's son

A., Cheri's Son

The boys were excited to have their karate moves caught on camera.



After getting my butt kicked at Uno by a 6 year old (A.) I joined the adults for a few hilarious rounds of Taboo. Just before midnight we went outside to watch the fireworks above Mineo.

Fireworks Over Mineo

Cynthia & I

Romo, licking up the last few drops of sparkling wine
(the bottle was empty)

Cheers to 2008! I hope 2007 was good for you and that 2008 is even better!

Now playing: Regina Spektor - My Dear Acquaintance (A Happy New Year) [Non-Album Track]
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Another Christmas Has Passed

I can't believe Christmas is over already! So much preparation every year and Christmas Day is over before I know it. It was tough not being with my family this year, much more so than last year. Even though I was homesick we still managed to have a great Christmas.

I spent most of the 24th in the kitchen preparing my contributions for Christmas Dinner. I made my famous Cranberry Sauce, Pumpkin Pies, Green Bean Casserole, and Sweet Potatoes.

Angela's Famous Cranberry Sauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 12-ounce package Fresh or Frozen Cranberries, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup orange marmalade
  1. Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring to boil; add cranberries, return to boil.
  3. Add orange marmalade and stir until melted and incorporated.
  4. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Cover and cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate until serving time.

Pumpkin Pie

From the back of the Libby's Can
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz.) 100% pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  1. MIX sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
  2. POUR into pie shell.
  3. BAKE in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.
Green Bean Casserole
From the French's Fried Onion Can
  • 1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Campbell's® Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 pkgs. (9 oz. each) frozen cut green beans, thawed or 2 cans (14.5 oz.) cut green beans, drained
  • 1 1/3 cups French's® Original French Fried Onions
  1. Combine soup, milk and pepper in a 1 1/2 qt. baking dish; stir until blended. Stir in beans and 2/3 cup French's French Fried Onions.
  2. Bake at 350ºF for 30 minutes or until hot. Stir. Sprinkle with remaining 2/3 cup French Fried Onions. Bake 5 minutes or until onions are golden.
Brown Sugar-Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows
From Bon Appetit November 1994
  • 4 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes - peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2/3 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch ground ginger
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Arrange potatoes in 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Combine sugar, butter, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and ginger in heavy small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour over potatoes; toss to coat.
  2. Cover dish tightly with foil. Bake potatoes 50 minutes. Uncover; bake until potatoes are tender and syrup thickens slightly, basting occasionally, about 20 minutes.
  3. Increase oven temperature to 500°F. Top potatoes with marshmallows and nuts. Return to oven; bake until marshmallows begin to melt and nuts begin to brown, about 3 minutes.
On Christmas Eve we went to our friends' A & B's house for a party. We had a great time! Its hard to go wrong with good people, good food, good wine, and laughter.

Les and I spent a quiet Christmas morning together opening presents. We took turns opening our gifts to draw it out as long as possible. Santa was really good to us this year. Les' favorite gifts were his Nintendo DS and a couple of music books for his bass guitar. I got a red pea coat that I absolutely love! We also got a GPS from my parents that I can't wait to use.

Les really loves his Nintendo DS!

At around 3pm in the afternoon we headed to another friends' home for Christmas dinner. It was a small gathering, just four of us, but great company. It was nice to get to know C & A better. A is a great cook and we had an awesome meal! After dinner we broke out Taboo and Cranium and a couple bottles of wine. Before we knew it it was 9pm. We could have stayed later but Les had to work the next day so we headed home.

We ended the day by spending some time on the phone with our families back in California. It was so good to talk to everyone and find out that they loved their gifts! It is always a great feeling when you buy a gift for someone and they absolutely love it, even if it is something small.

Now I move on to plan a birthday party for my hubbie. His birthday is just a few days away so I need to get my butt in gear. Before I know it the new year will be here and I will be starting classes again. I can't wait to see what the next year holds for me!

Merry Christmas! Buon Natale!

Now playing: Evanescence - Snow White Queen
via FoxyTunes

Friday, December 21, 2007

Buried Treasure

This week has passed by in a bit of a blur. I wish I could say it is because I've been so busy or having so much fun but the truth is that I've spent most of the week sick in bed. I have a cold or the flu or something. I don't feel horrible, but since I haven't had much to do I've taken the opportunity to try and sleep off whatever is getting me.

Today I feel better. It annoys me to be sick and unproductive so today I decided to start organizing my office and cleaning out my files for the end of the year. As I was sorting through the papers on my desk I came across an envelope addressed to me at my first college address. My mom had sent me a bunch of old pictures. I've been planning on doing something creative with them for years and have toted them around in this envelope from place to place. Today I decided to scan them into my photo library. I thought I'd share them here as a piece of my history.

My Dad's High School Senior Portrait

My Mom & Dad Getting Married August 12, 1972 at the Mission San Luis Ray, Oceanside, CA

Their HUGE wedding party! (Les & I only had 2 attendants each)

Grandma Campbell (My Mom's Mom)
Picture taken by my Great Aunt Dolores

Grandpa Campbell (My Mom's Dad)
Picture taken by my Great Aunt Dolores

Now playing: Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Mad Russian's Christmas (Instrumental)
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I discovered Pylones in Paris. I LOVE their products - they are so much fun! Check out their online store. Their products range from quirky kitchen accessories to whimsical office supplies. I want one of everything!

It Doesn't Matter

Les' band, It Doesn't Matter, had their first gig Saturday night at a Restaurant/Hotel in Motta S. Anastasia!

While the band was setting up I meandered around outside and took a few pictures. It rained all morning and for a little while the clouds parted.

Mt. Etna with a fresh blanket of snow

We had a few hours to kill between setup and the gig so Les and I went to Etnapolis to finish up a bit of Christmas shopping. What a zoo! Think Wal-Mart on Black Friday. UGH! We found what we needed and got out!

Back at the restaurant we changed into our dinner clothes and Les worked on a sound check. Soon the party was going, dinner was over and the band was up!

It Doesn't Matter
Les, Terry, and John

He looks content on stage - yes?

The band did a great job and I had a really good time at the party! I think they already have a couple more gigs lined up. Hopefully word will spread and Les will earn enough to buy all of the new guitars and sound equipment he's been drooling over!

A bonus - Les made 30 Euro that night! They weren't expecting to get paid, but were handed the money at the end of the evening. Not only was it the band's first gig, but it was Les' first paying gig, ever!


Union strikes are one of the downsides of European living. Right now Italian gas stations are experiencing gas shortages and grocery store shelves are becoming sparse because truckers are on strike. They are using their trucks as barricades blocking roads, businesses, ports, and even entrances into Italy from France and Switzerland. Current reports expect this to last through Friday.

We have a quarter tank of gas in the car - enough to get to and from base at least once (maybe twice on fumes). At least we have enough for emergencies, but we won't be getting out to do anything fun for a few days. We also have enough food in the house to last through the weekend. Although the strikes are not directly harming us they are certainly inconvenient.

If you'd like to read more about what is happening in Italy here are a few news links to articles relating to the strikes:

Italy truck strike causes chaos - BBC News

Italian truck strike stops food, fuel supplies - Reuters

Italy's truck drivers defy back-to-work order and continue strike - International Herald Tribune

Italy: Truck drivers' strike brings country to a standstill - Adnkronos International

For more stories go to

On the upside - many of my friends are stranded at home too. Sheena and her daughter came over this morning and brought a friend who is visitingfrom the states. We popped in a movie, munched on popcorn and sipped hot spiced cider. I guess I can't complain too loudly.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mineo Market Day

A couple of weeks ago Sheena and I decided that we needed to start going back to the local market for two reasons:
  1. The quality of the produce (the stuff available at the base commissary is sad at best)
  2. To get out and experience Italian/Sicilian culture
This past Friday Sheena and I took our cameras to the market with us. We ended up exploring a bit of Mineo before we made our purchases. We started by visiting a panificio (bread store) where I picked up a loaf of fresh bread and a few almond biscotti.

Part of our weekly ritual is getting a hot drink at a local bar. We've decided to try all of them (one a week) to see which is our favorite.

As we were walking back toward the market Sheena saw a souvenir store that she wanted to visit. The owner of the store noticed our cameras and asked if we were there to take pictures of the Presepi. Many Sicilian towns display several Nativity scenes during the Christmas season. We asked the shopkeeper where to find them and she said to follow the kids. There were several groups of children around, apparently on field trips to see the Presepi so we followed them.

Mt. Etna from Mineo

After wandering the streets of Mineo we decided we better go back to the market before it closed. The vendors noticed our cameras and were more than willing to for "foto?"

One of my favorite vegetable vendors

I picked up a lot of yummy vegies - here are some of my finds:




I always buy too much at the markets but I can resist the smells, the colors, the freshness! Needless to say, we've been getting our vitamins from all of the vegies.

Now playing: Hilary McRae - Consider Me Gone
via FoxyTunes

Where does the time go?

Time has flown since we returned from vacation two and half weeks ago. We have been busy finishing up our Christmas shopping, going to Christmas parties, and spending time with friends.

I've been meaning to post a few of my favorite recipes that I've made recently. If you give them a try let me know how it goes!

Smoky Sweet Potato Chicken Stoup
From: Rachel Ray
Yield: 4 servings; Total time: 25 min
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 large onion - peeled and halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1-2 chipotle chili in adobo sauce - finely chopped, plus a spoon of sauce from the can
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 3/4 to 1 pound chicken tenders - cut into bite size pieces
  • 4 scallions - white and green parts thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves - a generous handful, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish - optional
  1. Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, about 2 turns of the pan.
  2. While soup pot heats, chop carrots in half lengthwise then slice into thin half moons. Add the carrots to the pot while it heats, stirring to coat the carrots in the oil. Chop and drop in celery and onion, chopping as small as you can, but don't make yourself crazy.. Add the garlic, chipotle, and adobo sauce and stir to combine. Season the veggies with salt, pepper, thyme, and bay leaf. Cook the veggies together 1 minute. Add the wine and reduce a minute. Add the stock to the pot, cover the pot, and raise heat to high. Bring the stoup to a boil, remove the cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into quarters lengthwise, then thinly slice into bite size pieces. Add the cut chicken and sweet potatoes and simmer 5 minutes until sweet potatoes are tender and chicken is cooked through. Turn the heat off and add the scallions and cilantro. Serve each portion of stoup with a dollop of sour cream on top.
Ma Po Tofu
From: Cooking Light Magazine
  • 1 pkg Firm Tofu
  • ½ c. Chicken Broth
  • 1 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Oyster Sauce
  • 1-2 tsp Chili Garlic Sauce
  • 4 oz. Ground Turkey or Chicken
  • 1 tbsp Grated Fresh Ginger
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 c. cooked brown rice
  • 1/3 c. chopped Green Onions
  1. Place tofu slices on several layers of paper towels, cover with additional paper towels. Place a dinner plate on top and let stand for 30 minutes. Remove plate and paper towels; cut into ½ inch cubes
  2. Combine broth, cornstarch, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and chili garlic sauce, stir with whisk.
  3. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add turkey, cook until done, stirring to crumble. Add Ginger & Garlic, cook 1 minute. Add tofu, cook 4 minutes or until golden. Add broth mixture to pan, bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat.
  4. Serve tofu mixture over brown rice. Sprinkle with onions.
Tortilla Soup
From: Cooking Light Magazine
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 3 c. Chicken Broth
  • 1 ½ c. chopped, cooked Chicken
  • 1 c. Water
  • 1 ½ tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tbsp Cumin
  • 1 (10 oz.) Ro-Tel - (undrained)
  • ½ c. Tortilla Chips, crushed
  • ¼ c. Shredded Jack Cheese
  • ¼ c. Chopped Cilantro
  • ¼ c. Chopped Avocado
  • 1/4 c. chopped green onions
  1. Heat large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add garlic, sauté 1 minute. Add broth and next 5 ingredients (through tomatos). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes. Ladle soup into each bowl; top with Chips, Cheese, Cilantro, and Avocado.
Pollo con Mojo de Ajo
From: Cooking Light Magazine
  • 4 Chicken Breasts
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • ¼ tsp Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, minced or sliced
  • ¾ c. Chicken Broth
  • 2 tsp Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1 tbsp Minced Fresh Cilantro
  1. Heat oil in skillet. Cook Chicken 6 minutes on each side, or until done. Remove from pan and keep warm.
  2. Melt butter in pan. Add garlic, cook 1 minute (do not brown). Add broth, bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook until mixture is reduced to ½ cup. (about 4 minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in lime juice & Cilantro. Serve sauce over chicken
Baked Cauliflower with Sliced Garlic, Lemon and Olive Oil
From: Emeril Live
Yield: 4 servings; Total time: 30 min
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 head cauliflower - broken into pieces
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 lemons
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the oil and add the garlic and cauliflower. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Squeeze juice of the lemons into the skillet and place lemon halves in skillet. Place into the oven for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Angela's Notes on Baked Cauliflower with Sliced Garlic, Lemon and Olive Oil: I picked up some beautiful purple and green cauliflower at the market and used a mixture of both. It was so good that even my husband, who is not a fan of "rabbit food" (as he calls vegetables) went back for seconds!

Buon Appetito!

A small disclaimer: I did not author the recipes or take the pictures in this post. My source for each is listed.

Now playing: Federico Aubele - Maria Jose
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Time Flies - Paris, Day 10

When we first arrived in Paris we felt like we had all of the time in the world. Ten days of vacation seemed like an eternity, but before we knew it, it was time to go home. We made so many wonderful memories.

Les and I got to celebrate a storybook romance anniversary in Paris - I will never forget it!

I got to reconnect with a friend that I hadn't seen in about ten years and it was awesome. I miss her so much!

We got to make a new friend - Mindy's husband, Arnaud. What a great guy! (You did good, Mindy!) I hope they both can come visit us in Sicily soon. Lucky for us we will see them again in March at a friend's wedding in Germany.

Before we left their apartment we realized that we didn't have any pictures of the four of us from the entire visit! Les snapped this one and I think we may have gotten a better one with Mindy's camera.

Arnaud, Mindy, Me, Les

A bonus: Mindy and Arnaud dropped us off at the airport TWICE! They dropped us off, we said our goodbyes and Les and I went inside and tried to find where to check in. I was starting to get stressed (we were a bit late for my comfort zone) and we heard Les' phone ringing. He didn't get it out of his pocket in time. A few seconds later I hear Mindy calling my name! She had come to find us because they realized we were at the wrong terminal.

We ran back out to the car, piled our luggage back in for the quick drive to the next terminal. Unloaded again, and said our goodbyes again, laughing all the way and joking about having to stay longer if we missed our flight. Sadly, we made our flight without any problems and had to say goodbye to Paris, Mindy, and Arnaud. Can't wait to see you again!

The moon rising as we flew back to Sicily

Now playing: Sonya Kitchell - I'm In Love With You
via FoxyTunes

Musee de l'Orangerie - Paris, Day 9, Part 2

The Musee de l'Orangerie is home to Claude Monet's famous Water Lilies. This series of paintings is made of up eight massive panels (6 ft. tall) designed specifically for the two oval rooms of the Orangerie.

Claude Monet (1840-1926) painted these masterpieces late in life, his eyesight failing from cataracts. It took him twelve years (1914-1926) to complete the series. He was 86 years old when he finished, but he didn't live to see them installed in the Orangerie in 1927.

The paintings are Claude Monet's impression of the pond in his garden in Giverny. Each of the panels shows different times of day. You can see the soft colors of early morning sunlight, afternoon clouds, and the vivid colors of sunset.

I was absolutely enthralled by these pieces. I had no idea that they were so big! I took a lot of pictures and luckily most of them turned out.

The lower level of the Orangerie houses several paintings by Renoir, Matisse, Piscasso, and others. I stumbled upon an artist whose work I really liked. I had never heard of him before - Chaim Soutine.

Chaim Soutine - Les Maisons

Chaim Soutine - La Table

Chaim Soutine - Le Village

Our minds were spinning (and our stomachs growling) as we left the Orangerie. We had seen so many amazing works of art that day that it was hard to absorb it all. We headed back to Mindy and Arnaud's apartment for dinner - Thanksgiving leftovers :) one of the best things about Thanksgiving!

They were both working late that evening so Les and I enjoyed our last evening in Paris with a bottle of Bougoulais and French TV. We were watching for a glimpse of Mindy on Star Academy (The French version of American Idol). She was playing the orchestra. Isn't that awesome?? We didn't see her on TV but it was cool knowing that she was there!