The first time one of The Husband’s friends called to say, “Cat… I met a girl. I think I want to marry her. You’d love her… she’s just like you” I chuckled to myself and said, “oh, aren’t you sweet.” He was in the UAE at the time and asked that I speak with the girl, explain how it was going to be… what lies ahead of a woman called to serve our country as the wife to a military man. They married last year before he deployed to parts unknown and will be having a ceremony in October, where The Husband will stand as best man. I’m couldn’t be happier for them.
It happened again a couple months ago. The phone rang and on the other end was one of The Husband’s troops. “Hey, Cat. I found a girl. You’d love her- she’s just like you! Now… how do I keep her?” The Husband got bonus points that night. How cute to get not one, but two calls from guys excited to have someone in their life as wonderful as me! You know that nonsense didn’t come from me… that was The Husband bragging about how good he has it.
On the drive home from my parent’s house Friday night (we get the results of the biopsy today) my phone rang, but I ignored it knowing how much The Husband hates me driving and talking at the same time. I was greeted with a voice mail when I got home, “Cat. It’s me (The Troop). I’m going to ask her to marry me. I need to talk to you. The Husband says you’ll be home late tonight, can you call me?” We played phone tag until Saturday evening, when The Troop got off duty. We talked for an hour and half… catching up on things going on and finally tackled the subject at hand. Can you marry someone after knowing them for 5 months?
I’m not the best person to ask, as The Husband and I met 5 days before he asked me to marry him (and obviously I agreed). We were married 14 months later and now that 7 1/2 years has passed… well, we’re still happy and in love. It sounds so cliche, but when you know… you know. I told The Troop our little love tale, he told me how much he adored this girl who reminded him so much of me. “She’s so old-fashioned… but she’s tough, you know? She doesn’t take crap from anyone… just dishes it back out. She’s funny… oh, Cat- she’s so funny. You two would have so much fun together. She loves to cook too… but her biscuits and gravy don’t hold a candle to yours… don’t worry- I told her… she wants to come and learn how you make yours. She’s so supportive. No matter what I want to do, she’s supportive. She’s even talked me into going back to school- just like you did for The Husband. She makes me believe in myself. Wow. I just didn’t think this would ever happen to me, you know? She’s like… perfect.” Perfect, indeed.
We talked about how to handle deployments, what the protocol was. We talked about his Catholic mom and their decision to have a Christian wedding (I too, had a Christian wedding and married a Catholic). I listened, gave advice where asked. He thanked me for being supportive of his decision and listening to him. I heard wonderful stories about how much The Troop learned about marriage from The Husband. Funny stories I hadn’t ever heard. The Husband got mega bonus points that night… and a favorite dinner too!
The Husband loves steak, but we try to be mindful of our hearts so we only do steak on occasion. We’re definitely more of a chicken household. During the summer, we always have a bunch of fresh herbs laying around so I’ll pile them all on our cutting board, chop them up and mix them with a little lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper. I’ve tried the marinade with whole chicken breast, chicken cutlets and chicken tenders… but for some reason, it just tastes better with little chicken nuggets (I’m sure it’s because I like burndt ends). It doesn’t take long to marinate, so mix it in a bowl, start the charcoal and enjoy soon after!
A Cat’s Pajamas Original Recipe
2 chicken breasts, cut into nuggets (bite sized)
About 1/2 to 3/4 c mixed fresh herbs, chopped
(Parsley, Basil, Sage, Thyme, Rosemary… whatever you have leftover or in the garden)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Zest of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 c light oil
Salt and pepper to taste (usually about 1/2 t salt, 1 t pepper)
Combine all of the herbs, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl that you trust your husband to take outside to the grill (in our house, this means something metal and cheap). Put the chicken nuggets in the marinade and massage the marinade and chicken together for a little bit (about 20-30 seconds). Set aside at room temperature while the coals come to temperature. Grill about 2 minutes per side, remove from the grill and serve.
The Best (healthy) Mac & Cheese Ever
A Cat’s Pajamas Original Recipe
1 lb multi-grain rotini, penne or shells
3 T butter
1/2 of a small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 T flour
2 1/2 c milk
1 t chicken base (or 1 chicken bullion cube)
1 (8 oz) block 2% extra sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
5 scrapes fresh nutmeg (about 1/4 t)
Salt and pepper to taste (1/2 t salt, 1 t pepper)
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until tender. Add flour, stirring quickly until incorporated (only about 10-15 seconds). Whisk in milk and chicken base (I don’t always whisk… I use my trusty spatula), season with nutmeg, salt and pepper keeping over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the milk just starts to boil. Stir the milk mixture vigorously and let the milk boil for about 1 minute. Turn the heat to low, add the cubed cheese and stir until cheese is melted.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Mix pasta and cheese sauce together. Occasionally I’ll add roasted red peppers, spinach or chopped tomatoes. I was feeling generous towards The Husband that night, so I didn’t make him eat veggies in his mac and cheese.
We had Deb’s salad with buttermilk dressing too. I added a couple chopped scallions, chopped carrots and cucumbers. It was fantastic. Make it. You’ll love it.