Category Archives: Food

Kylee is almost done!

Almost done! Can you believe it?! April 8th, 2015!

So amazing that there’s actually a date in which we will be done! It may not be forever though.. reasons later.

Kylee has had about 4-5 ear infections since she’s started feeding therapy. Four.to.five. i say this because, damnit, I lost count. In April she will also be seeing a new ENT who will hopefully decide tubes are the answer. We tried to convince her last ENT but, he was unreceptive. Went against what we felt was right and so now we have decided to go to a new guy. Either way, the ear infections have got to stop. They have added on almost another 2 weeks to her feeding therapy. But, there is an end in sight, which really is the point.

Our 830-330 monday-friday situation will end. With this end i feel Charlee will get more of the attention she needs (although her babysitters have been fantastic!) Her birthday is 4-2 and her birthday party is 3-29 (this sunday). i really want the whole day to be about her. We will be hush hush about Kylee being fed; upstairs with one person in attendance.

Her grandma Postma went through training last week and wrote a really gripping Facebook update:

I had the pleasure of spending my day with Kylee and participating in her feeding therapy. When Eric told me I needed to be trained so I could feed her I thought “whats to know? Can’t you just show me”. I now understand why he said plainly, (and “you” have to know Eric to appreciate this) “No”. I first got to observe behind a two way mirror “the process” and just thought OMG, you really want me to do this? It’s one bite of food, praise, toy for 5 secs, drink, praise, toy for 5 sec, drink, praise toy for 5 sec, and over again. Goal, complete the entire feeding in 9 mins..Holy Cow, its like a marathon, and if you don’t have the right rythm your screwed. Oh, and don’t forget to periodically weigh the drink to make sure you are giving her the right amount each time, and if she throws up, ignore it, wipe it up, and keep moving. As crazy as it sounds, Ky loves it and is doing awesome. We are so proud of her. I have to say though after spending the day with a room full of other children, all of whom have feeding tubes, and their parents, we are truly blessed to have such great medical care for our children right here in GR. Helen DeVos is something to brag about. All of the parents I met today live in other parts of the state, and some are staying at the Ronald McDonald house during the week. This feeding therapy program is only 1 of 8 in the whole nation! Tomorrow will be my second and last day of training, gotta tell you I’m a little nervous, this is not an easy job, but I am so happy I can be a part of it.

feeling grateful.

The hardest part about all of this is she needs to eat within 9 minutes to be truly successful. Why? Because the doctors have found out after 9 minutes she ‘feels’ full and doesn’t like the feeling. She then starts to throw up the food to clear that feeling.

I am not sure i can better phrase the process. Drink, drink, praise, toy, bite, praise, toy.. rinse and repeat. Unless it’s a drink only meal.. then drink, drink, praise, toy, drink, drink, praise, toy. Oh! and wait, if there’s a sign of gag/vomit/discomfort turn on mickey mouse clubhouse and then deal with a MMC zombie (as I call her).

I’ll admit, I thought I did well with her this week. i went 3 of 4 days. 2 of which i came off of closes (meaning, i had 3 hours of sleep). Luckily, Eric would watch the girls on our 2 hour breaks so I would come home to nap in between feedings.

Yes, she puked. Yes, it was hard to handle. Apparently, we also do not say ‘please’ or ‘thank you.’ We make demands. “Take a bite. Take a drink.” Not “Please, Kylee, for God’s sake, take a bite!” We, as parents and grandparents, are in charge, not you, you little 24 lb child of mine.

So, I did well. I fed her. Three days this week. Then, today, on my day off, I struggled. Today, she decided she would spit her drinks out. Let them leak onto her bib and laugh. Blow raspberries and laugh.

I heard, “ha, mom, you suck.” I got VERY overwhelmed.

Eric was in the kitchen. After the third drink-and-spit I said “I can’t do this”. I shook with emotion. Eric came over and filled in as i walked away.

I’m an emotionally charged person, always have been. This got me. Now, instead of puking (uncontrollably, and forgivable) she’s going to spit it out at-will? I think not.

“Ignore it,” Eric said.

“I’m trying!” I yelled.

Seriously, it is the hardest thing to do ever. It’s like ignoring someone punching you square in the heart. Like, wham! Haha! Breathe now, ma!

He fed her the rest of her last meal and I sat in the bathroom, moping. Feeling as if failure would surround us forever.

But, I have to realize. She’s 2 1/2. She’s going to do these things no matter if she’s able to eat or not. She will retaliate, test the waters, push the limits, cross lines. I have to know that. I just wish she KNEW how much eating is an importance. It is the most important thing in this home. Not only are her parents cooks/chefs we are advocates of eating. We love to eat, and she WILL too. It has to happen.

The bad news, if she doesn’t successfully progress into solid foods we will have to go back to feeding therapy. I know now, though, that we can make it happen. What I mean by all that is; how a 9 month old progresses from purees to solid foods is how Kylee should now progress. But, lets face it, she’s not so easily predicted. We may go back, and that’s ok.

She is ok, I am ok, Eric is ok, Charlee is ok.

WE will survive.

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Kylee’s first day

I don’t know how often I’ll be able to update on Kylee’s progress but now is as good a time as any to start.

First, I would like to say thank you for all the support and love. It means a lot to our family.

Eric took Kylee to her first intensive day after dropping off Charlee at her aunt’s. I work a lot of mornings right now so it’s more rough on Eric. I constantly tell him how amazing he is. He truly is what holds us all together.

Anyway, Kylee has been doing outpatient feeding therapy for a long while now. She was going every tuesday and thursday for about 30 mins in the morning. Charlee was allowed to be at these sessions because Eric sat in a 2-way-mirrored room and watched. So, Ky is no stranger to the feeding rooms, daycare-like “waiting room” and the kids that have come and gone.

During the day i text Eric and asked how it was going. He said he was bored, understandable, but that Kylee was doing well. He said he couldn’t wait to talk to me about it.

When i got home from work he whipped out a handy dandy note book and told me everything we are suppose to do (slightly overwhelming) and told me that kylee had done GREAT today. He said he even thinks that she may finish early (but lets not get ahead of ourselves.. this is day one). He said Kylee had eaten 6 oz of food. That’s a whole container and a half of baby food! She has never in the history of EVER eaten more than a 1/4 of a container of baby food. I started crying.

THEN he proceeded to tell me that the doctors told him she pukes up solid foods because she’s been on a bottle so long. When you drink out of a bottle for that long your tongue is use to going front to back. when you chew food your tongue goes side to side (i see you over there sticking out your tongue trying to see for yourself lol). Anyway, when she gets solid food in her mouth she just front-to-backs it down her throat which chokes her and makes her gag then throw it up. Unfortunately, we had to keep her on bottles this long because she wouldn’t eat a substantial amount of baby food. Because she has always been small (born 4 lbs) we had to be sure she was getting the optimal amount of calories. Therefore, she was unable to get rid of the liquid nutrition.

so then i cried.

Again.

Because FINALLY someone could say WHY this was happening, and with DAMN GOOD REASON. FINALLY, someone could say, THIS IS FIXABLE.

Eric ended our conversation by saying the doctors believe she will be off bottles completely by the end of the 8 weeks (or less!). So… yep.. i cried.

She wont be able to eat solid food quite so fast, because her tongue/mouth has to get use to moving the food around first. So after 3-4 months of the purees she should be able to then eat a piece of cookie, bacon, anything delicious.

I must admit I’m slightly apprehensive. If there’s one thing I know about Kylee it’s that she comes with a lot of “buts.” But, I’m way too happy to even think about those. I am just so excited for her. And I’m excited to cook for her! And I’m excited to MAYBE be able to feed her a piece of cake on her birthday.

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My little 80s munchkin!

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Oh.. you didn’t know?

So, i’m a kitchen manager. A kitchen manager at a pretty well known chain restaurant. My job is pretty chaotic and unpredictable (based on my location). In the past week we have fired/hired or thought about either. We have been busier than usual, which is awesome, but leaves very little time to spend with my family. Being a manager has, by far, been the most tiring, trying job of my life. If i open i get home in time to say good night and put my girls to bed. If i close i spend the day calculating what bottle to give when, when naps are and which doctors appointments are more important, if I mid I say good morning, leave and come back to a sleeping household. I just feel stuck sometimes. However, the crew i work with (kitchen, front of house, managerial) is amazingly supportive. I got myself into this job and i will keep myself there however long I’m wanted/needed.

(Semi-side note-My GM has been absolutely amazing working with my family and I… reasons to follow)

Kylee starts an intensive feeding program this week (Thursday to be exact). It is 830am until 245 pm. it is basically a JOB. And it is Monday through Friday for 8 weeks. We got through a heart surgery, and work constantly on any mile stones she may be behind, but this… this is a whole other beast. 8 weeks of constant feeding therapy? The icing on the cake is the program doesnt allow us to have Charlee there with us. So, that means a baby sitter any time both of us aren’t off of our jobs. So, Eric is going down to just weekends at his job, and I’m begging my GM to schedule me to be home so that we don’t have to pay for a babysitter; we can’t afford.

Luckily, we have lots of support from family, co-workers and friends to help. But, it’s still going to be a struggle.  I cant begin to explain the hopes i have for this program. If it doesn’t work…. I’m not sure what will.

A little update on the girls…

Kylee: 21 lbs 32″ (2 yrs old) and just about walking. She’s still very much behind on the walking but doing fantastically lately. She has been taking many more steps and letting go of supports. She seems to not have the confidence to let go of walls/ledges/shelves/walkers etc… We have a few videos of her walking towards Eric and it’s amazing. It’s just like the excitement we felt when she was first rolling/crawling etc..

Charlee: 20 lbs 11 oz 30″ (9 months old). Charlee is amazing. Although, not without her problems. Her little feets are still curved inwards. She doesnt sit herself up either, which is super frustrating. However, she does stand well, chat well, eat well and generally function without problem. She just seems to know mommy and daddy will sit her down or lay her down without problem. I think a lot of her issues come with us not knowing quite when things are supposed to happen. It’s already so weird for us that she weighs as much as she does. And she sits! Without assistance? And she can get herself across a room without crawling (she scoots on her bum). She seems to be very attached to me. When i leave the room she cries. This makes it very difficult to leave, but it reassures me that i am loved and needed.

In the coming weeks I can only hope for answered questions to Kylee’s eating habits and Charlee finally realizing she can sit herself up. Otherwise, i am surely reminded, that I asked for my children and will fight for whatever they need. Whether it be help, reassurance or just love. I am here for them!

Please keep Kylee’s progress in mind in the coming weeks! It would mean a lot!

In the mean time….

Try these recipes!

http://www.singingthroughtherain.net/2013/06/loaded-chicken-and-potatoes.html#_a5y_p=2916809

So good! especially with http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/jeff-mauro/bbq-kale-chips-recipe.html and seasoning on the potatoes!!

Also, my favorite and a WELL requested cookie

http://honestcooking.com/banana-chocolate-chip-cookies/

All are so so good! Even the Kale chips!

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Back on the Weight Watching Wagon

Well hello there! I bet you thought you wouldn’t hear from me for a while huh? Ya know with a newborn and a toddler and all. Lucky you (and me) my step-mom is staying with us for the week to help me out! So, I now have time to update! Plus, the girls are sleeping.

Since I’m no longer preggers I am back on Weight Watchers and trying to lose that baby weight. I’m back to being creative with flavors, manipulating recipes to be healthier and looking up ways to cut calories. In the past couple weeks I have made a couple recipes I’ve found online that are healthy and delicious. I thought I would share them here. These recipes are good for you and taste awesome. If there’s one thing I hate it’s things that taste like diet. I know that seems weird to say but I can taste when something is “low fat” or “fat free.” For instance, fat free ranch is disgusting, diet pop is terribly fake tasting, and there’s something about those water flavorers that are just awful. So, when I say something is good for you and tastes good I mean it!

I constantly check out SkinnyTaste for new recipes. Not only are they easy to follow but they are also Weight Watcher friendly. She includes the nutritional information and points for the program. I have made multiple things from the site and all but one have been really good. Eric even eats them and he hates anything good for you. Our favorite recipe from the site is the buffalo chicken lettuce wraps (that eric eats on a tortilla). But, since my step-mom is visiting I took advantage of someone else in the house eating shrimp! Eric won’t eat shrimp because of a friend who had a pet shrimp, now he feels that it’s like eating a dog (weirdo). I came across this recipe the other day and immediately decided we would try it. Today I made it! The changes I made to it were minimal. The shrimp I used allowed me to have 9 shrimp for 2 Weight Watchers points (Meijer brand, raw shell on, deveined). The hardest part was cutting the zucchini to mock noodles because I don’t have a nifty spiral vegetable slicer. I had to use a peeler to make slices then use a knife to make long strips (or julienne cuts). I also used 2 zucchini and one yellow squash for Lisa and I and doubled the original recipe. Lastly, I used basil flavored oil instead of regular.

Zucchini Noodles with Shrimp, Lemon and Tomatoes

serves 2

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon basil oil, divided
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
8-20 shrimp, deveined and de shelled
1-2 teaspoons garlic powder or 2 garlic cloves, mincedphoto (15)
2 medium zucchini, julienned or spiralized
1 medium yellow squash, julienned or spiralized
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes

Directions:

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the oil and crush red pepper flakes, add the shrimp and season with pinch salt and pepper; cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add half of the garlic and continue cooking 1 more minute, or until the shrimp is cooked through and opaque. Set aside on a dish. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil and garlic to the pan, cook 30 seconds then add the zucchini noodles and cook 1 1/2 minutes. Add the shrimp and tomatoes to the pan and squeeze the lemon over the dish. Remove from heat and serve.

When I put the recipe into my trusty Weight Watchers recipe builder it said that one serving was 7 points. The funny thing was a muffin i had had for breakfast was also 7 points! Can you believe how crazy it is that a small muffin can be the same amount of points as a large dish of shrimp “pasta?” It’s really mind boggling.

 

The second recipe I found wasn’t on SkinnyTaste but instead here. I was looking for a way to make a chocolate banana muffin without all the fat. I had heard of substituting apple sauce for the oil but had never tried it. Admittedly, I assumed you could definitely taste the difference and I am happy to say that is not true! These are really good muffins that even the diet haters will like. I made two changes to this recipe. One, I used regular all-purpose flour and two, I used stage 3 applesauce for babies! It was the only kind of applesauce we had in the house so I just went for it. Eric was slightly appalled but it didn’t stop him from eating half of the batch. I say, use what ya got! These are only 4 WW points for one muffin! Eat it with some fruit and you have yourself a good breakfast! 🙂

Double fudge banana muffins

Ingredients

1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup applesauce (I used Gerber stage 3 applesauce)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 ripe medium bananas)
1 cup AP flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark, but regular cocoa powder would also work)
1/4 cup Chocolate chips (optional)
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease muffin tin (the recipe makes 10 regular sized muffins or 5 in a big muffin tin). Whisk together the egg, sugar, applesauce, vanilla, and bananas. Mix the dry ingredients and add to the wet. Mix just until combined. Add some chocolate chips if you want. Bake for about 20-25 minutes for regular muffins or 25-30 minutes for big muffins.
Sadly, I don’t have a picture of the muffins. I know you’re disappointed, so am I. Next time I make them though, I will add it to this post.
Today I had my 2 week check up with my OB and it went great! I’m nice and healthy and my incision is healing great. Shockingly, to myself, I have lost a ton of weight since I had Charlee. I am currently down 27 lbs in less than 2 weeks. I say shockingly because after I had Kylee it took me 10 months to lose the 50 lbs I had gained. I was only actively trying to lose it for 6 months, but it was very discouraging and depressing to be as large as I had gotten. Either way, I’m on a healthy path and I feel better about it! If you happen to have awesome WW friendly recipes to share please do!
And a little side note: Charlee and Kylee are doing great! Charlee just sleeps, eats and poops right now and she’s weighing 7 lbs 11 oz! Kylee is responding about the same to having a sister, definitely doing more toddler-esque things (like getting into everything!) but she’s been pulling herself up on the furniture and we’re so proud of her!
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Homesickness (almost) cured by Chicken and Dumplings!

I’m feeling a little homesick and emotional.  I’ve been just blah lately. I hear some people get this way at the end of the 9 months of being a super human, growing another. Either way anytime I feel like this, I turn to food. It’s a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because food is damn good. It’s bad because most things I gravitate towards aren’t especially good for me. However, given that Wednesday is Miss Charlee’s arrival I decided to take my mood out on a mean pot of chicken and dumps! Chicken and dumplings, incase you’re offended, is what I mean.

The first time I ever had chicken and dumplings I fell in love. I fell truly, madly, deeply in love (yes, that’s a song). My southern family, the Baker side/my mom’s side, knows how to make this magical dish better than anyone ever. And no, you can’t make it better either, just stop now. I can’t even make it better. But, I do try. I tweak my recipe almost every time I make it. I only just started making it a little after Kylee was born and cried as I tasted it for the first time. I remembered watching my papa Baker standing over a large pot stirring and tasting and finally getting my hands on a large bowl hit me like a ton of bricks. It tasted so closely to his that I couldn’t hold back the tears. My grandpa suddenly passed away when I was in high school and I would ask for it every year on my birthday. After he passed I had a very hard time even thinking about it, much less asking for it to be made by anyone else. So, that’s why it took me so long to venture into making it myself. I really didn’t think it was at all possible that I could make something even remotely close. I was wrong though. Watching him and my grandma make this really taught me and instilled in me the power of the chicken and dumps. And boy am I lucky, as well as the hubby, he’s lucky too. ‘Cause these things are damn good.

One other memory I have of these is having them made for me by my great grandma in Tennessee when I was much much younger (my years smoosh together, I may have been 7, 8, 9, 10? who knows). My cousin and I hopped in the car with papa and headed down to see my great grandma and some other Baker/Webster family. A trip I will never forget and am very thankful that I had the opportunity to make. The drive was long but the trip went by fast. The hills were so high and the scenery was one I will never forget, but the chicken and dumplings were where it was at. My great grandma had long pieces of hand made dough rolled out and ready to be cooked. She could hardly even see, but that didn’t stop her from getting around the kitchen. She cut the pieces of dough down and slowly dropped them in the pot. I have never had them that way, and I don’t even think my papa could make it the same. I think you need special Tennessee water for it. 😉 Since then my great grandma has passed, but I will never ever forget that trip and her… and the giant ass bug on the ceiling of our room that made us leap to our feet on the bed freaking out until gramps came and caught it.

It’s truly amazing what food can do to a person. How one dish can transport them to different times of their life. I’m thankful every day for them.

 

Chicken and Dumplings

Whole Chicken

4 Tbs of butter, divided

2 stalks of celery (chopped)

2 carrots (peeled and chopped), or large handful of baby carrots (chopped)

1 medium white onion (or Vidalia- chopped), or half a large onion

2 large cloves of garlic (minced)

s/p

1 tablespoon Parsley flakes

Cayenne, to taste

Fresh herbs sage, rosemary, thyme, basil (optional), celery leaves (optional)

2 Bay Leaves

One large box chicken stock

2 tablespoons EVOO (optional)

2-3 cans premade biscuit dough (or make your own from scratch)

2 Tbs flour

2 Tbs saved skimmed chicken fat (see directions)

Water

 

Directions:

Melt 2 Tbs butter and EVOO in large pot or Dutch oven, chop vegetables sauté/sweat until just tender (start with carrot, they take the longest). Add small amount of s/p (add more at the end to taste) and parsley flakes to vegetables. Add whole chicken into pot pushing the vegetables to the outside to give the breast side a slight sear. Add chicken stock and water to just cover the chicken and bring to a boil with fresh herbs and bay leaf. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover, cook chicken until done (1.5-2 hours). Pull chicken out and set aside to cool. Bring stock to a boil again and reduce to medium heat. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste and pull out any large stems of herbs and bay leaves. Skim chicken fat off as it rises to the top of the broth, save 1-2 Tbs. In a small bowl mix flour, 2 Tbs of butter and 2 Tbs chicken fat until a roux is made. Mix all of these things well and then quickly whisk into stock to thicken (add all if you want it thicker, or less for thinner).  Shred chicken and add to stock. Cut/rip dough into small thumb size pieces (size and amount vary to your liking) and drop into broth cook until dough is cooked through. Taste and adjust seasonings. If its too thick, add more water or chicken stock then serve.

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Of course I must add that I do use the canned biscuit dough, a trick my papa always used and one that I find easy and delicious. But, by all means, make your own! I’m sure it’s easy, but like I said, there’s a certain flavor and memory I was going for. Also, I made the mistake once of buying honey flavored biscuits. They really ruined the whole thing for me, although Eric and his family swore they still tasted just as good I couldn’t help but be disappointed. I didn’t want sweet chicken and dumps! So, be careful and read the packaging of the darn biscuits! My mom and grandma swear my grandpa never used the dark meat of the chicken. That’s fine, if you’re picky, just use 4 chicken breasts instead. I personally like the dark meat in this dish. I feel like it imparts more flavor and juiciness that you sometimes miss from just using white meat. Not to mention… it’s cheaper to buy a whole chicken then to just get breasts, just sayin’.

I used 22 biscuits in this large pot and tomorrow the leftovers will be solid. When that happens I add a little water or chicken stock when re-heating and it’s not as dense anymore. Or just heat it up as is if you like it nice and thick. I know the thickness of this particular dish is sometimes controversial but, like I said, this is what I grew up with. And, to me, chicken and dumplings is not soup, it is more a stew. So, give it to me thick, or don’t give it to me at all!

Lastly, I want to add, if you have the time, make the chicken and stock a day ahead and then go about the rest of the dish the next day. It is much easier to get the fat off the top after it has completely cooled.

A special note to my grandma: I miss you and I wish I could visit before Charlee arrives! Every time I make this dish I think of you, your house, your love and your wonderful company. I know you made just as many dishes as papa did and I have so many food memories with you too! I love you and I hope we can visit asap when Charlee is big and strong enough to make the 2.5 hour drive :-D!

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Kylee’s first taste of the goodness! She loves it!!

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38 week rant and Mexi-Lasagna

Just incase you were wondering… I’m 38 weeks +2 days pregnant. It’s the only time I emphasize the +2 or +3. the rest of the weeks are just plain ol 31, 32, 33 etc… But, now, NOW it’s getting to me. 38+2 feels like.. OK, I’M OVER THIS. Every minute is uncomfortable and every sentence out of my mouth is probably a complaint. A friend of mine, a snarky mean jerk of a friend, said “suck it up you did this to yourself.” Ya, she’s right, but WAHHHHH. It shut me up for a little while, even if she was “kidding,” but now I’m back at it.

I’m exhausted. All the time. I have clothes to sort through and a 1 1/2 year old to take care of and all I can think about is when my next nap might happen. And I’m hungry. Always.Hungry. Then I get down on myself for eating, because I’m one pound away from hitting my “absolutely not going any higher than this number” weight. Then I go and get something else to eat because I know as soon as I give birth it’s back on Weight Watchers for this girl and bye bye ice cream, chocolate milk, taco bell and countless amounts of Oreos and bad decisions. I have to be wedding ready by September when my bestest friend gets married, and I refuse to walk down her aisle ashamed of what I’ve done to myself, again. lol

Then there’s this side of me that keeps creeping up that is completely and utterly terrified of having two children vying for my attention. I’ve been having mini anxiety attacks just thinking about it. Last night, as we were going to bed,  I said “Eric, one week from today it’s not going to be quiet anymore.. it’s going to be WAHH WAh WAHHA wahhh Waaaahhhh.” We both laughed when I finished with “what the hell were we thinking?” I know we’ll get through the first few rough months. We’ve gotten through the worst of the worst with Kylee. But, it’s still so daunting.

My mother in law also came by last night and was holding Kylee and kissing on her and I said something like “Charlee better hope she’s as cool as Kylee, or we’re gonna have problems.” It was a sideways comment that I’ve made before. But, my MIL said “it’s hard to believe you can love someone as much as her, isn’t it? But, you can and you will.” And it got me thinking about how I am completely unaware of how it is possible for a human being to love TWO beings the same. How can a heart be large enough? How can a person’s mind be strong enough and stable enough to worry about not one, but two children at the same time? I still worry that Kylee can breathe in her crib when she turns over in a weird position while she sleeps. I still sneak in her room wait for the sound of a breath and walk out. Is this possible? I guess I’ll be able to tell you in a about 6 days. Until then I’ll keep pondering.

Anyway, I actually do have a recipe to share! I’ve been making lots of things this week. 50% of which have been ruined by me being an idiot. I burnt an almond brittle the other day and gave up on another batch of dough. Last night, though, I made some mexi-lasagna. I think I over did it on the cumin and coriander I put in the chicken, but Eric said it was good. So, we’ll just go with that. I’ve made this a few times with leftover pulled pork, this time I made it with a rotisserie chicken from Meijer. Did you know the price of pork jumped up? At least this week, it’s 2x more than usual. Eric and I were appalled and decided to skip the pork loin this week.

This particular mexi-lasagna is made with roasted veggies blended with a can of enchilada sauce. And layered with chicken, cheese, tortillas, corn and black beans. You can really use whatever you want or omit whatever you want. It’s an easy weekday meal after you roast the veggies.

 

Mexican Lasagna II- photo 2 (42)

For sauce:

1 10 oz can enchilada sauce (hot or mild)

½ red onion, cut into large chunks or slices

1 Jalapeno, whole

2 roma tomatoes, whole

3-4 large cloves of garlic, left in skin

¼ cup Vegetable or canola oil

1 Tbs Kosher Salt

S/p to taste

Coat onion, jalapeno and tomatoes in oil and salt, roast at 350 for 35-40 mins or until soft and blistered, let cool. In a blender or food processer combine enchilada sauce and vegetables (de-stem jalapeno, squeeze roasted garlic from wrapper) and blend until smooth adjust flavor with salt and pepper to your taste.

For Lasagna:photo 1 (39)

3-4 cups leftover pulled pork or rotisserie chicken

3-4 cups shredded Mexican cheese

5 large flour tortillas

2 cups frozen corn

1 15.5 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

Roasted Veggie Enchilada sauce

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350

In a greased glass baking dish (9×9, 8×8 or something around the same size, round is best) assemble lasagna in the following order:

(Coat bottom of pan with light layer of sauce) one tortilla, meat, corn, black beans, cheese, sauce, repeat until you end with the last tortilla and then top with the rest of the sauce and cover with remaining cheese.photo 2 (41)

For best results; cover with foil and let sit for a couple hours in the fridge to set. Bake for 20 mins covered and then 10 mins uncovered or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly.

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A couple pointers on this recipe: I used up the remainder of my larger sized taco shells (I think they were 10 inch) first and then used 8 inch tortillas to finish. Either is fine. For the chicken, I pulled the meat off the carcass and shred it up into a medium sauce pan. I added a little bit of chicken stock, cumin, coriander, chili powder, salt and pepper and let it simmer. You don’t have to do this, but I look to add more flavor wherever I can. It would be fine to just shred the chicken and go for it! To the sauce I also added a roasted poblano pepper that I had on hand. The sauce was more spicy than usual but still delicious. If you find your sauce to be too spicy or acidic I’ve found that it helps to add a pinch of sugar. Like I said, there are TONS of ways to make this dish, which is also why it’s called #2 (II). This just happens to be my favorite because of the roasted veggies.

Enjoy kids! :oD

And wish me luck!

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Twisted Banana Cream Pie

I’m not sure if you all have seen the new flavors of Oreos. There’s chocolate chip cookie dough and marshmallow crispy (rice crispy treats). I’ll be the first to admit that when I’m pregnant I don’t hold back, as I should, food-wise. So, when I saw these I had to try them. Besides, the baby needs to try all flavors right? The Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough was admittedly mildly disappointing. Would I eat them again? Hell yes. But, it’s an Oreo, you really can’t go wrong. My friend told me to try the marshmallow crispy kind and promised it was better. Of course I had to then. And so I did. And so she was right! Even Eric said “these might be better than the original.” Do I agree? No. Sorry, but an original Oreo is sacred. You can’t make something like that better.

Yesterday, we bought our second package, as I’m very afraid “limited time” means “GONE TOMORROW.” And instead of buying things to make dinner, I bought the ingredients to make banana cream pie. Something I have been craving for a while. With perfectly ripened bananas waiting for me at home I knew it must be done. I also knew I had graham crackers at home for a perfect crust and Eric said he would help me on my mission to make a cream pie that would actually hold together rather than just run all over my plate. Yet, another culinary conundrum that has plagued me for quite some time.

Let me stop here and say that this is also a huge reason I love my husband so much. And why we get along so well. We have food in common. A loving relationship with eating, trying new things, and being creative in the kitchen. I am also grateful to have him in my life because he is the technical one in our relationship. While I’m throwing ideas around he is thinking of them scientifically/mathematically. When I screw up a dough recipe, he can tell me down to a 16th of a teaspoon what to add to fix it (and he has). When I’m freaking out because something is not working, he calmly takes over and problem solves for me. He really is my culinary counterpart. Along with my most favorite person ever for so many other reasons (but that’s a very long post that can wait for another day ;-)).

Anyway, back to the pie! So, we got home from the store and Eric and I eyed the Oreos, had one or two and watched some Dexter (new addiction). When we were about to start the pie Eric said.. “ya, know, instead of graham cracker crust…” and I stopped him and said “OREO CRUST?!?!” We had been thinking the exact same thing since we had gotten home. And that is how this delicious banana cream pie came to be.

 


photo 1 (38)

Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas, sliced

14-16 marshmallow crispy Oreos, coarsely ground up

2 Tablespoons butter, melted

1 package instant banana pudding

1 cup milk

2/3 cup heavy cream

¼ cup powdered sugar

3 cookies, crumbled (or more) to top

 

Directions:photo 2 (40)

Preheat oven to 360. Coarsely grind in food processor or smash the cookies and combine with melted butter. In a pie dish (sprayed with cooking spray is helpful) put the cookies in and pat down. Bake for 10 mins and let cool.

In the meantime beat the pudding mix and one cup of milk with hand mixer for 2 mins and store in fridge until the crust has cooled.

When you’re ready to build, whisk heavy cream with powdered sugar until stiff peaks are formed. Fold ¾ of the whipped cream into the pudding carefully.

Layer bananas (2, sliced) on the bottom, top with pudding, decorate with last banana and crumbled cookies.  Chill for a couple hours (if you can stand it). Use the rest of the whipped cream to top individual portions 🙂 Enjoy!

photo 3 (30)

I would love to say that this pie comes out in nice clean slices, but I would be lying. The pudding, however, does not run all over the place as it would have had I made the pudding to the box’s directions. It is a winner though and I urge you to try your favorite Oreo as a crust for a pie the next time you’re looking for something fun and different.

 

And on a side note.. I would like to share a picture I received from my dad and step mom last night…

20140310_175328Can you believe this masterpiece? Corned beef and cabbage sandwich! If you ever wondered where I get a huge chunk of my food passion from, this would be it. I often receive pics from my dad of the wonderful food he makes. It makes me homesick and hungry, and I love it. Also, I’m going to make corned beef this week or next because now I’m craving it! nom nom nom.

 

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Lemony Chicken Pasta and Baby Brain

There’s this lovely side effect to being pregnant. It’s called ‘Baby Brain.’ It’s terrible. It may be worse than peeing every 5 mins. But, definitely not as bad as heartburn. Either way, it sucks. It makes a frazzled mom feel even more frazzled with a side of straight up idiot. At work I start doing one thing and end up doing another, completely forgetting about the first task. I walk into coolers looking for an item and then grab everything but that item. I answer a phone and can’t answer a simple question. At home, I make bread and use the wrong amount of flour, I forget to set the timer on garlic bread and it burns, or I make pasta and half way through battling and swearing at the dough I realize I, once again, used the wrong amount of flour. Good thing flour and eggs aren’t very expensive or I may have just tossed tons of money into the garbage. And with my child, a few weeks ago I woke up feeling great and half way through my shower remembered Kylee had a feeding therapy appointment at that very moment! I’m telling you, this take over is terrible.

So, because of all my botched recipes, my terrible baby brain and being generally exhausted and lazy I haven’t been cooking anything new and sure haven’t been able to put a sentence together on this fine blog. In other words, I’m making excuses for taking naps. Lots and lots of naps. I should be napping now!

photo 1 (36)

Last night I forced Eric (aka asked him nicely) to help me make dinner. I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted lemon, chicken and fresh pasta. Especially since I received an amazing pasta drying rack for my birthday!! (THANK YOU!!) and I knew it would make the process a lot easier and organized. We went to the store in search of some white wine for the sauce (a beurre blanc <insert ridiculous french accent here>) and of course I was suddenly on a new path of “how about artichokes? and spinach?!” Nothing like a shopping trip to really get my creative juices flowing.. and my stomach growling. The hubs and I ended up putting together an amazingly delicious dinner and I would definitely eat it again, and again. I took some photos and decided I would share. It’s a pretty straight forward and easy dinner for anyone who knows how to make a beurre blanc, pasta and can saute some chicken.

Ingredients

3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half through the middle to make 6 thin pieces

Fresh fettuccine pasta (recipe is enough for 4-6)

1 6.5 oz jar of marinated artichoke hearts, choppedphoto 3 (28)

1-2 cups fresh spinach, chopped (use the amount you desire)

½-1 lemon, juiced (depends on juiciness of the lemon and how much you enjoy the flavor)

1 whole shallot, minced

3 Tablespoons of butter, cubed

¼ cup heavy cream

Italian blend seasoning, to taste (I used Mrs. Dash)

Salt and pepper to taste

Extra virgin olive oilphoto 2 (38)

Parmesan for garnish

Directions:

Bring a well-salted pot of water to a boil for noodles.

For Chicken:

Season chicken with Italian season, salt and pepper to your liking. Coat a large skillet with oil and heat until rippling. Sear chicken and cook through, about 2-3 minutes per side. Set aside.

For sauce:

Add a little more oil to the same pan on medium heat and sauté shallot until translucent. Deglaze with white wine and let simmer until reduced and alcohol has cooked off (about 3-5 mins). Add heavy cream, and lemon juice, stir, toss in artichokes, spinach, and warm through. Add butter a few pieces at a time and stir. Season with salt and pepper.photo 4 (19)

Cook pasta and toss in sauce. Plate with chicken, sliced diagonally, on top and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

For boxed/dried pasta, drop in water while the wine is reducing. Cook al dente.

For Fresh pasta drop in the water right at the end of cooking the sauce, 1-3 mins.

photo 3 (29) Yum yum yum!

Today for lunch I put an extra piece of chicken on a low fat bagel with spinach, cheese and mayo and had myself a delicious sandwich! Later I plan on some leftover butter noodles! I think this recipe would also be good with roasted red peppers or mushrooms. Or all of it! Or you could substitute fish for the chicken and have yourself a nice fancy seafood pasta. The possibilities are always endless.

Finally, Kylee wanted to say hi!

photo 1 (37)

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Stuffed Peppers and Snow Storms

Do you know how hard it is to get to the grocery store when you have a small child and there’s 100 feet of snow outside? (Yes, I’m slightly exaggerating…) Not to mention, Eric takes the car that can get through the snow to work every day and I’m stuck here with my Mazda which sits very low to the ground, inhibiting me from even getting out of my driveway, that keeps being plowed back in by the plow trucks. Anyway, as my dad would say “excuses, excuses.”

So, Monday night I braved the cold by myself and ventured to Meijer for groceries. I felt like I was skating down our main road and almost hit a truck, but hey.. I got my groceries! (and some frost bite, no big deal).

Yesterday I made my, sorta-famous-to-some-people (Jordan!), stuffed peppers. I’m realizing that almost all my savory recipes have some kind of “tex-mex” influence and this is really no different. But, they are damn good.

I have to preface this recipe with a warning that they’re a bit of a process to make. Reading the whole recipe through first is key. Get organized and get your mis en place in order before starting.

I also basically re-wrote this recipe last night because I had SO MUCH tomato sauce leftover, so I’m hoping this is a bit closer to what’s actually needed.

photo 1 (33)

Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon cumin

1 Tablespoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

2 teaspoons chili flakes

s/p to taste

1 teaspoon oregano

2 stalks of celery, diced

photo 2 (35)

½ large carrot, peeled and diced

½ large red onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2-3 roma tomatoes, diced

1 large green pepper, diced

1 lb of ground turkey

1 lb of chorizo

½ bunch of cilantro, minced

1 cup of cooked white rice

photo 3 (27)

2-3 Cups of Mexican shredded cheese, divided

1 teaspoon cumin

6-8 Large (sturdy) green/red/yellow/orange peppers

For sauce:

1 teaspoon coriander

½ teaspoon, or to taste, red pepper flake

s/p to taste

2 16 oz cans san marzano stewed tomatoes

1 16 oz can of tomato sauce

1 teaspoon Worcestershire

photo 4 (18)

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 clove of fresh garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

pinch of sugar tt

 Directions:

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

For peppers: Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Core and cut out ribs of peppers and boil for 5 mins. Stuff peppers equally with mixture. Place in 13×9 baking dish. Cover peppers in tomato sauce and top with remaining cheese.  Cook in 350 oven for 30 mins.

photo 1 (34)

Sauce: In a medium pot put stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and spices, bring to a boil and let simmer for 15 mins, then add in heavy cream. Keep on low heat while cooking the rest of the meal.

Meat mixture: Saute chorizo, drain, set aside. In the same pan sauté all vegetables (except garlic and tomatoes) with all spices. Add in ground turkey and cook until done. Toss back in the chorizo with tomatoes, garlic, and rice and cook on medium low for 5 mins. Adjust seasonings and add cilantro, 1 cup of cheese and 1 cup of sauce, stir.

Suggested side dishes are: black beans and corn, Mexican rice, tortilla chips, or a salad.

Serve with sour cream and extra tomato sauce.

photo 2 (36)

This was Eric’s plate, I thought he did a lovely job of making it look very pretty. 🙂 I use to put black beans in the meat mixture, but like I said, I re-wrote the recipe last night and decided the black beans just aren’t necessary and you have enough to stuff into those peppers. So, I made a side dish of black beans, corn, lime juice, lime zest, cilantro, salt and pepper and popped it into the microwave for about 2 minutes. He, and I, eat ours with tortilla chips, they add a nice crunchy texture to the mix. Eric’s dad even made some little nachos with the leftover meat mixture and sauce. I had enough stuffing to make another 2 peppers, but that’s also just enough to make a quick taco (or 5) today or tomorrow.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my darling daughter (who woke up at 5 am today) is running me ragged.

Enjoy!

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Homemade Ice Cream

I’m a believer. A believer of the power of an ice cream maker! My whole world is wide open now as I can’t seem to stop myself from dreaming of more flavors of ice cream. But, since I can’t (physically can not) eat a whole batch of ice cream in one sitting, I’ve only been able to make two flavors so far. One batch lasts Eric and I about a week, if we eat some every single night. In reality, I’m sure Eric could take down a batch in one day, but I threatened him that if he did I would be very angry with him.

Of course I started my new ice cream making obsession when I opened the biggest gift under the tree from the hubs. A Cuisinart frozen yogurt, ice cream and sorbet maker.  The clouds parted and the angels sung as I gleefullyripped it open and hugged the box. “Can we use it now?! CAN WE CAN WE!?” Yes, I’m like a child. A large, pregnant, chocolate-craving child. We attempted, that day, to make a dark chocolate sorbet. It didn’t turn out. Apparently you have to freeze the freezer part of the ice cream making contraption for 16+ hours first. I did it for 2. I’m impatient, I told you I was a child. So the next day, I re-attempted the sorbet and it turned out-ish. But, in my attempt to make it more chocolatey I added more chocolate, in the form of chips, and it was so rich we couldn’t actually eat it. I was sad. 

However, after a trip to the grocery store and finally gathering all the correct ingredients for some real, honest to goodness ice cream we found our new favorite frozen sweet thing.

So, here’s 2 recipes for you. Which are basically the same but taste completely different and delectable and rich and excuse me.. I need to go grab a spoonful…

Chocolate

Ingredients:

photo 1 (32)

¾ cup sugar

1 cup half and half

¼ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

3 egg yolks, beaten

¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips, or 2 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Combine sugar, half and half, salt, and cocoa powder in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a simmer. In a medium bowl beats egg yolks. Gradually stir in about 1/2 cup of the hot liquid and return to the saucepan. Heat until thickened, but do not boil. Remove from the heat, and stir in the chopped chocolate until photo 2 (34)chocolate is melted. Pour through a mesh strainer into a chilled bowl, and refrigerate for about two hours until cold, stirring occasionally.

When chocolate mixture has completely cooled, stir in the cream, and vanilla. Pour into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

Chocolate Peanut Butter

Ingredients:

(Same ingredients from chocolate ice cream except only 1/8 cup of chocolate chips)

1 cup smooth or chunky peanut butter, divided in half

2 Tablespoons of sugar

Directions:

Combine sugar, half and half, salt, and cocoa powder in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a simmer. In a medium bowl beats egg yolks. Gradually stir in about 1/2 cup of the hot liquid and return to the saucepan. Heat until thickened, but do not boil. Remove from the heat, and stir in the chopped chocolate and ½ cupphoto 3 (26) peanut butter until well combined. Pour into a chilled bowl, and refrigerate for about two hours until cold, stirring occasionally.

When chocolate mixture has completely cooled, stir in the cream, and vanilla. Pour into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. When just about done combine ½ cup of peanut butter and 2 tablespoons of sugar and microwave for 30 seconds. Pour, in an even stream, into the mixing ice cream. Let mix for a few more minutes and then store in freezer for a few hours until desired consistency.

 

photo 4 (17)

My finished product. It’s a little soft at this point so we store it in the freezer in an airtight container for a few hours and then have our hefty bowls after dinner. :oD

p.s. I’m aware the third picture looks like a butt. But, it’s funny…. I warned you, I’m still a child.

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