April’s Freezer Meals

Hey hey! How are things? I’m checking in to share the recipes from this month’s freezer meals group and talk a little about what’s going on with food in our household.

The group skipped March, and like me, I’m guessing everyone had empty freezers ready to be stuffed with delicious meals. Seven ladies were in for this month, and we met on Monday night for assembly. After putting Finley down, I grabbed my meat in gallon baggies, some food I prepped ahead of time for assembly, and a cookie sheet and headed out the door.

Before meeting, the super woman who organizes this whole operation informed us we’d need to bring the following meats: 2 lbs raw chicken breasts, 2 cups cooked diced chicken, 1 lb cooked Italian sausage, 1 lb cooked ground turkey, and 3 total lbs of cooked ground beef. On Monday morning, my mom (who was visiting for the weekend), Finley and I made the trek to Whole Foods in Madison to buy meat.

To back up a smidge, the super woman who did the shopping dropped off 10 lbs of onions, 2 heads of celery, and 7 boxes of chicken flavored rice for me to prep before Monday. It was quite fortunate that my mom was in town and likes doing stuff in the kitchen, because she helped me with the dicing and sautéing. 

The assembly took only an hour or so. I was responsible for putting together the bags of food for the Pasta Fagioli and labeling the cans of broth and kidney beans with everyone’s name and the meal it goes with. Everyone had come with gallon baggies with their names and the meal on each. This system, or each person putting together all seven of the same meal, works well, and as I said, went really fast.

So the recipes – here they are! I haven’t made any, so I can’t vouch for what’s good or not, but they all sound great.

Breaded Ranch Chicken

Pizza Casserole

Pasta Fagioli

Poppyseed Chicken Casserole

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Emily’s Sloppy Joe Recipe (no link)

  • 1.5 lbs. ground beef
  • 3/4 cup finely diced green pepper
  • 3/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 can Healthy Request tomato soup
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tbs yellow mustard
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • small drizzle of maple syrup
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: Saute green pepper, onion, celery and garlic. Brown meat. Add all other ingredients. Let simmer for 30-45 minutes.

Italian Rice Bake (no link)

  • 1 package chicken flavored rice
  • 1 lb Italian sausage (sweet)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 1/2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese

Instructions: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare rice according to box. Brown the meat, sprinkling with onion powder as it cooks. Combine rice, sausage, marinara sauce, and seasonings. Put into greased baking dish. Pour extra sauce over top if desired and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Sadly, some of these freezer meals may sit in our freezer for a while, as Brody and I have officially started eating Paleo/Primal. We’re not 100%, especially me – I’ve cheated a bunch. Brody, though, has been. From what I’ve read, following this lifestyle is quite personal – what works for you may or may not work for others. In essence, we’ve cut out all grains and processed foods. We’re still eating dairy, and I highly doubt will ever go the raw route.

I had already been transitioning into this way of eating, and it hasn’t been very difficult. Being home full time, I’m surrounded by the food I buy, so as long as a package of Oreo’s or Wheat Thins doesn’t end up in my shopping cart, I don’t have access to it. Brody, on the other hand, has faced some obstacles. On Monday he sent me pictures of amazing looking desserts from his office, and on Wednesday he went to the Brewers game to which he was handed a beer as he walked on to the bus.

I’ll keep you posted on our journey and on the freezer meals we eat.

Happy Friday!

I’m in Another Monthly Food “Group”

If you’ve been reading about my life for a while, you know that I get together with a fabulous group of women once a month to eat food, share the recipes, drink wine, and enjoy each other’s company. I love our monthly Wine and Recipe get togethers!

Two ladies in this group are also in a Freezer Meal group. They explained it to me and suggested I give it a shot. After speaking to Brody about it, I told them to count me in.

This was my first month doing it, and I sadly couldn’t even attend “the” event (explained later), but here’s the gist of it.

One (super) woman in the group compiles recipes from everyone else as possible meals for the month. Last month there were categories, like breakfast, Crock Pot, and soup, with two options in each. We have a private Facebook page, and everyone voted for their favorite option.

Once the meals are decided, said (super) woman does the shopping for the majority of the ingredients. Considering there are nine ladies in the group, that’s a lot of food! She also tells us what we need to bring to “the” event. This month, everyone had to bring one pound of raw chicken breasts, two cups of cooked cubed chicken, one pound of cooked Italian sausage, and one pound of thinly sliced raw steak. The meat cost me about $25, and we all owed (super) woman $28! Only $28! Seven meals for under $60!

This month’s night of assembly met on the last day of February at 7:30pm. You can tell these are all moms because it starts after the kiddos go to bed. Unfortunately, this was the day Finley had a fever and went to the doctor. It ended up being teething and has been the beginning of a very rough time for her (and us).

Anyways, back to the food. My meals were put together by the rest of the group, and a friend dropped them off after around 9:30pm. Apparently the whole production is like a well-oiled machine, and I can’t wait to be a part of it in March.

Here are the recipes and links to the freezer meals from February:

Teriyaki Pork Chops
*I used chicken breasts but they dried out a little. I’d like to make this again but with boneless pork chops.

Szechuan Steak Stir Fry
*I made this already and it was really good. However we used frozen veggies, and if I made it again, I’d use fresh or somehow get some of the water out of the frozen.

Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup
*I’m making this for dinner tonight!

Chicken Pot Pie
*This one is SOO good! I made it for dinner on Sunday and have been eating it for lunch. Not the healthiest but great comfort food.

Parmesan Sage Meatloaf

Baked Brownie Oatmeal
*I’ve been eating this for breakfast and loving it. This morning I heated up a square and then added a dollop of peanut butter to the top. Finley likes it too!

Quinoa Chili

If I didn’t add a comment under the recipe, it’s because I haven’t made it yet. This month I’ve been a little too excited to try everything – next month I may need to pace myself and spread the meals out. Or not.

It’s been so convenient to have these meals all ready to go in my freezer. Although it does require a little planning ahead (i.e. taking the food out to thaw), everything is done! No extra runs to the store for a missing ingredient. Not that that’s ever happened to me. Not like that happened last week when I was making tacos and didn’t have seasoning…and had been at the store earlier that day.

I hope to share the freezer meals I come home with every month.

Questions:
Do you stock your freezer with food or meals?
Are you or do you know someone in a freezer meal group?

Wine and Recipe: Crock Pot Chicken

Oh hey! Long time no chat (other than the very quick Finley Photo Dump post from yesterday). I didn’t plan on taking such a long break from posting, but it happened. I’ve had ideas for posts floating around in my brain for the last few weeks, but actually writing them out has been pushed aside. I swear “Blog post” has been on my daily to-do list for a while now. This is one I’m super excited to share because I think it may be useful to some of you!

Last month’s Wine and Recipe was a winner. Some may even say “Winner winner chicken dinner!” Ha! Such a bad joke but so appropriate. Mel hosted, and as a working and pregnant mama (her daughter is 19 months and she’s due in March), time is precious. Plus, using a Crock Pot is so dang easy!

I have to admit, I wasn’t overly psyched for this Wine and Recipe initially. I was worried all the dishes would be too similar. Was I wrong! The food was amazing, and I’ve already made four of the recipes. Brody has also been a fan, which has been a welcome surprise. He’s not a huge fan of the Crock Pot (texture issue and the infamous Crock Pot smell). But, he’s gobbled all of these up with a smile on his face. So without further ado, the recipes!

Crock Pot Thai Chicken
This was my contribution, and according to Mel’s husband (who sampled all of the dishes), mine took first place for the night. Considering there are THREE ingredients, one of them being the chicken, I’d say that’s pretty awesome. There are more ingredients if you make the rice…which I highly recommend you do. Instead of TJ’s peanut vinegarette, I used a peanut dipping sauce by Bankok. Love this dish! The link above brings you to Iowa Girl Eats, the creator of this yummy concoction.

Enchilada Crock Pot Chicken
This one is also way easy and has a short list of ingredients. We ate this chicken deliciousness, courtesy of Nicole, on sliced baguette rounds and tortilla chips. When I made it a week after W&R, I also ended up eating it in a whole wheat wrap. There’s a container of it in my freezer, and I’m hoping it thaws well for a future quick appetizer.

Ingredients:
-2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs
-10 oz. can red enchilada sauce
-2 8 oz. blocks of cream cheese (I used reduced fat)
-4 cups Monetary jack cheese

Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken
Everyone loves buffalo sauce, right? Another easy-peasy recipe for you. Thanks, Amber!

Ingredients:
-3 lb. bag frozen chicken breasts
-1 packet ranch dip powder
-1 bottle of Frank’s hot sauce

Place frozen chicken, ranch powder, and Frank’s hot sauce in the Crock Pot and cook on low for 10 hours. Shred chicken and serve with crumbled bleu cheese, chopped celery, and lettuce leaves.

Crock Pot Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
Kathy likes bacon. How can you go wrong with bacon? This is a heavy dish, but in a good way – definite comfort food. Unlike the buffalo chicken recipe, this is not one you’d make in the summer. This is a winter dish all the way. I made it for Brody and I the week after W&R, and we both agreed it’d be nice with some peas mixed in at the end for some vegetables and pops of sweetness.

Ingredients:
-3 cloves of garlic
-1 package of ranch dressing mix
-1 10.75 oz. can condensed cream of chicken soup
-1 cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
-1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
-1/2 cup of bacon
-3 cups of pasta

Spray inside of Crock Pot. Cook and chop bacon. Add chicken breasts. Mix together garlic, ranch dressing mix, cream of chicken soup, Greek yogurt, and bacon in a small bowl. Pour mixture over chicken. Cook on high for 3.5 hours or low for 6-7 hours. When chicken is done, cook pasta and mix into chicken.

Spicy Ginger Chicken
Laura has this recipe in her regular rotation, and with three boys, she’s got lots of mouths to feed and keep happy. We love ginger in our house, so I knew I’d be making this one. It was a great, healthy, and surprisingly light dish.

Ingredients:
-2.5-3 lbs. drumsticks and/or boneless, skinless thighs
-2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes
-2 tbs. quick cooking tapioca
-1 tbs. grated fresh ginger
-1 tbs. fresh chopped cilantro or parsley
-4 cloves of garlic, minced
-2 tsp. packed brown sugar
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

Place chicken in Crock Pot. Drain tomatoes, reserving juice from one can. In a medium bowl, combines tomatoes and reserved juice, tapioca, ginger, cilantro/parsley, garlic, brown sugar, salt and crushed red pepper. Pour suave over chicken and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3-3.5 hours. Serve chicken over couscous or rice.

Chicken Risotto
I know what you’re thinking: Busy moms don’t have time for risotto! You’re right. We don’t. This faux risotto won’t fool anyone, but it’s still a great meal. Thanks for sharing this one Emily!

Ingredients:
-1 1/4 lbs. chicken breasts, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
-1/2 cup finely chopped onion
-1/2 cup shredded carrot
-1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
-2 cups of water
-2 cups uncooked instant white rice
-2 tbs. butter (which Emily actually didn’t include)
-1 10.75 oz. can of cream of chicken soup
-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Mix chicken, onion, carrot, garlic and water in Crock Pot and cook on low for 6-7 hours. Stir in rice and butter. Increase heat to high, cover, and cook for 5 minutes until rice is tender. Stir in soup and cheese. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes.

I have a few more to share, but I think I’ll do a part two post to share those. It’s almost 9pm, and I need to dream feed the little lady before I turn in for the night. I really hope you try one, two, or all of these amazing chicken recipes! We have another Wine and Recipe next week already, and the theme is pizza. I’m so excited! I like food way too much.

A Day in the Life with Finley [11-11-2013]

Just over a month ago, I did one of these posts. Not only are things changing a little as Finley gets older, but I’m now watching a 17 month old part time. This shows what a pretty typical Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday (the days I watch Adalyn) is like for me.

6:33am I hear Finley talking to herself. She slept very well last night: 6:15pm to 2am (with a dream feed at 8:30pm), 2:30am to 3:45am (Brody got her back to sleep – yay Dad!), and 4:15am to 6:30am. Brody goes to get her and bring her to hang out in our bed for a bit.

6:35am Finley soaked through her diaper so I get up to change her while Brody showers. Question to moms: During the night, if your little one didn’t poop or have diaper rash, do you change his/her diaper?

6:45am I brew coffee, pick up clutter, and do a few dishes while Finley hangs out in her Bumbo. Brody comes down to make breakfast and “chat” with Finley.

7:10am My coffee is done, and I pour myself a cup to sip on while I nurse Fin.

7:20am She’s not very hungry and barely nurses, so into the bouncer she goes.

7:30am The dogs get let out to pee, and I make a yogurt mess bowl for breakfast and continue drinking coffee.
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8:00am Finley and I play on the floor waiting for Adalyn.
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8:18am Finley rubs her eyes, and it’s been over an hour and a half of awake time. I put her down for nap #1. As an experiment, I use the swaddle strap to see if it makes any difference in the length of this nap.
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8:25am Adalyn arrives, and I put her in the high chair to finish eating her breakfast. However instead of eating the English muffin with peanut butter, she licks the peanut butter off and gets it all over her face.

8:45am The rain has turned to snow. Adalyn and I stare out the window at it (while I cry inside a little…I dislike the cold that comes with winter and snow).

9:03am Finley is awake. It’s a 42 minute nap – better than last week’s 28 minute ones. Maybe the strap did help.

9:35am Finley nurses. Adalyn has started carrying around her blanket – her nap time is coming up soon.

9:55am I put Adalyn down in the pack ‘n play in our guest room. Finley and I play in her room. I put away her clothes from the laundry basket.

10:15am It’s impossible to shower when both Finley and Adalyn are awake. I bring the bouncer into the bathroom for Fin to play in while I shower. She starts to fuss right as the conditioner (and fistfuls of my hair) go down the drain.

10:30 Fin and I read books in her room after a failed attempt to nap. She’s not ready yet.

10:45am Now she’s ready for nap #2. I put her in the swaddle strap again.

11:15am FOOD! I need food badly. My small-ish breakfast four hours ago wore off an hour ago. I make egg salad and put it on a wheat high fiber tortilla and have a small apple on the side.
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I’m still hungry (no surprise) and eat a Sierra Trail Mix Clif bar. It satisfies my sweet tooth and fills me up.
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12:15pm I get dinner cooking in the slow cooker; we’re having Iowa Girl Eat’s Crock Pot Thai chicken.

12:30pm Adalyn wakes up from her nap, and it’s lunch time for her.
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12:45pm Finley wakes up, gets a clean diaper, and plays on her favorite mat.
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1:00pm I clean up Adalyn’s face and hands and change her diaper. Finley hangs out on a blanket on her tummy.

1:20pm Adalyn’s mom, my friend, arrives and we catch up.

1:54pm Finley nurses and I respond to text messages.

2:10pm We go upstairs to have some quiet time in the nursery. I read a few books to Fin, including one of my favorites: Hand Hand Fingers Thumb.

2:33pm Nap time for Fin.

2:45pm Snack time for Mama! I have a handful of tortilla chips with a BLT dip and then an orange. I definitely did not eat enough fruit this weekend.

3:10pm After folding a load of laundry, I sit down to watch an episode of Parenthood.

3:20pm Finley’s eyes open. I attempt to soothe her back to sleep but to no avail.

3:30pm We bundle up for a trip to Woodman’s.

4:22pm We’re home from the store. I put away the groceries and Finley jumps around.
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4:45pm I nurse Finley. She again eats for a short period of time – strange.

5:06pm Diaper and outfit change required – poop everywhere.

5:15pm I attempt to put Finley down for a nap (it’d be #4) but she was not interested. I decide to not fight it and let her have a longer awake period. This means she’ll be ready for bed around 6:20pm (three hours after the last nap ended).

5:20pm Brody gets home!

5:45pm Rubba-dubba-dub, Finley’s in the tub.

6:00pm Brody reads a few books to Fin before saying goodnight to her.

6:15pm I change Fin’s pajamas (she spit up all over the first pair she was in), put her in a sleep sack, and sing “Twinkle Twinkle” to her.

6:35pm Finley falls asleep.

6:45pm I finish making dinner, and Brody and I eat while watching The West Wing.

7:30pm We continue relaxing on the couch but switch to The Voice.
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8:49 Normally I dream feed Finley around now, but she has woken up, and instead of soothing her back to sleep, I feed her.

9:30pm Bedtime for Mama.

Questions:
What’s the best part of your day?
What’d you eat for lunch and dinner yesterday?

Meals of the Week [9/16 - 9/22]

Now that I’m staying home full time and we don’t have my income, we’re trying to be smarter with money. One way we can do that is with meal planning and avoid falling into the takeout trap from places like Chipotle, Panera, or Salvatore’s.

Brody and I did our weekly trip to Woodman’s (at probably the worst time ever) yesterday, and I am very excited for our meals this week.

Burgers on the Grill
Brody makes a mean burger, and I don’t see us grilling much anymore with fall approaching. He puts lots of spices, Worcestershire sauce, and other lovelies to doctor up the ground chuck. Nestled between a toasted kaiser roll with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and ketchup, it’ll be a farewell to summer meal. On the side, we’ll probably have Bush’s baked beans.

Enchiladas
Tacos are a staple at our house, so it’s nice to mix it up with something a little different. I use ground beef (from Jacobson Brothers), cheddar cheese, and red enchilada sauce. I keep it simple.

Chicken Florentine Pasta
While Brody and Finley slept yesterday morning, I caught an episode of The Pioneer Woman featuring 16 minute meals. While I’m sure what takes her 16 minutes will take me 32, I was intrigued by this pasta recipe. Plus I’d get to use up all of the tomatoes from my plant.

Beef with Snow Peas
This was another 16 minute meal by Ree, and I knew Brody would be on board with this one. It uses flank steak, which I have never used in a stir fry. We don’t get any beef products from Woodman’s, so I’ll have to swing by Costco this week to pick up the two-packs they have of flank steak.

Banana Muffins
I’ll probably be the only one who eats these, and they will be great for breakfasts. I’ve been into muffins lately instead of toast: sweet potato muffins, zucchini muffins, and now banana muffins. My plans were to make pumpkin muffins (those will happen late next week), but Woodman’s had bags of overly ripe bananas for 99 cents, and I knew I had a banana muffin recipe in my binder that I had never tried. These aren’t super healthy, but it’s also not like eating dessert for breakfast. Just to make sure they were okay, I tested one. Yup, they’re okay. Actually, pretty perfect: chewy outside and soft inside. I did omit the nuts because I spread copious amounts of peanut butter on them anyways.

Questions:
Do you like grocery shopping and meal planning?
What are you making this week that you’re excited about?

Non-Baby Topics (No Lie…Not Even One Picture)

Let’s chat about something other than sleep, breastmilk, and all other baby-related topics.

First up, TV! Now that I’m home full-time, I’ve been watching more TV (should I be ashamed?), or at least having it on in the background. Brody and I also continue to watch our shows at night.

My daytime TV starts with The Today Show. I was embarrassingly excited when they announced that Carson Daly is joining the team!!!!
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I always defend Carson when Brody pokes fun of him on The Voice and thought he was fantastic when he was a guest host for The Today Show a month ago.

I also regularly watch What Not To Wear and The Chew, both of which I DVR. Sometimes I’ll see an episode of Long Island Medium or The Dr. Oz Show.

At night, Brody and I have a handful of shows we’re into. This section demands a list:

1) Have you seen The Newsroom? If not, you have to watch it.
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It’s in its second season and is SO well done. The writer and producer, Aaron Sorkin, also created Sports Night and The West Wing. The show gives a (fictional) behind the scenes look at producing a nightly news program. The characters are well-developed, and the plot is just smart.

2) Sons of Anarchy started up again, and we watched the first episode the other night. I forgot how violent that show is: anal rape, torture porn, drowning in a tub of urine. Oy! And I’m sure all of the S.O.A. and Fifty Shades of Grey fans out there heard that Charlie Hunnam will be Christian Grey in the film version of the very popular trilogy (which I never read).
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3) The Food Truck Road Race is another one we keep up with. Quite a 180 from S.O.A., right? Tyler Florence hosts this show, and I’m guessing the title gives away the premise.

4) Brody started watched Revolution on Netflix on his own, and I got sucked in a couple weekends ago about ten episodes into the first season. We enjoyed Lost, and this is by the same writer, JJ Abrams. It’s a slightly futuristic setting in which the “lights went out.” No power, no electricity…well, sort of. This is the perfect lazy weekend show.

Second non-baby discussion point, FOOD!

Last weekend, Brody was gone, and a kind friend brought over soup for me. One less meal to figure out? Awesome! The soup (with kale, ground turkey, and carrots) was delicious, and with the cooler temps, I’m ready to start making more comfort foods. I found the recipe my friend used (link above) and made myself a batch. Instead of rice, I added some potatoes that were on their last legs. It was the perfect quick and healthy lunch for me last week.

I was craving something sweet (no surprise) I found this protein powder peanut butter cookies. They were what you’d expect from a healthy cookie, but I actually prefer this protein powder cookie dough. Brody came home, saw the cookies thinking they were “real”, and got excited. I quickly intercepted his reaching hand – he would’ve spit the cookie out and given me that “I can’t believe you eat this” look. Because I’m an awesome wife, I made “real” cookies for him this morning…with peanut butter, and butter, and sugar. Smitten Kitchen has the best cookie recipes, so I followed hers. Peanut butter cookies for the win! I broke my rule (more of a guideline) of not eating chocolate before noon and had two. Then I had two after lunch. I’ll probably have more before the day is done.

This is kind of food related: a commercial was shot at my house on Wednesday. Like a legit commercial that will air on TV (only on the east coast, though). How did this come to be? A neighbor of mine knows the woman who was responsible for finding locations for breakfast sausage company’s commercial. My neighbor suggested my house since they were looking for a kitchen space with a breakfast bar. Out of a handful of houses, mine was one of three selected! A crew of thirty some people arrived at 7:30am and occupied the entire first floor of my house. Lots of cars and an RV lined the streets around my house, camera and lighting equipment was set up inside and outside, and there was a food buffet outside…cause that’s when you know it’s the real deal.
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They left at 8:00pm (after doing a very good job of cleaning my house) and handed over a nice check. Plus, they left a package of breakfast sausage in the freezer for us! It was a very cool and unique experience.

Third and final topic, exercise. I’m kind of back on that horse; this past week I went to kickboxing on Tuesday, Zumba on Wednesday, and ran three miles on Friday. My body feels good, but I can definitely tell something is different with my knees. They ache when I crouch down and stand up, even if I hadn’t recently worked out. Also, I don’t notice it’s any worse after running. Pregnancy can affect ligaments, and I’m guessing that’s what is going on. I also need new shoes. It could be that.

I didn’t even mention “she who will not be named” once. Bet you didn’t think I could do it? It was hard.

Questions:
What show(s) are you into?
What’s the best thing you’ve made recently?
What’s been your go-to way to exercise recently?

Lately: Cooking and Baking

Good Tuesday morning!

Ever since Finley was born, I have been less than stellar at planning and making dinners. Here are my excuses:

1) It’s hard because her nap schedule is unpredictable – sometimes she sleeps an hour and sometimes it’s three. Often times she’s awake or going down right when I’d need to be making dinner.

2) Turning on the oven when it’s 80+ degrees out is no fun.

3) Many of my go-to meals aren’t summer-y enough.

I’m starting to get better, though, which is funny because all of the above three excuses still apply. I do enjoy cooking and baking, so I’ve started become better at using my free time in the morning (i.e. not just watching The Today Show and reading blogs while she sleeps).

What have I been making?

Banana-Oatmeal Bread
Last week Wednesday, I had a bunch of overripe bananas just screaming at me to be used. Of course I turned to my favorite banana bread recipe. I doubled the recipe, as one loaf was going to fellow blogger and mama of adorable Bennett, Nicole. All was going well until I pulled the two loaves out of the oven and realized…I never added the OATMEAL (obviously hilarious as it is banana-OATMEAL bread) or milk. Leaving out those two ingredients kind of canceled each other out because it still tasted good (just a little drier). On Monday morning during one of Finley’s naps, I used the last three ripe bananas and correctly made a loaf. Said loaf was brought to Nicole’s yesterday.

Spinach Lasagna Rolls
After coming home with a baby, I was so thankful for the generosity of my friends who brought food for meals (and this may have been why I slacked in the kitchen for so many weeks!). We had enchiladas (thanks Mel!), egg muffins (amazing stuff Jena!), lasagna from Gino’s, bags of Target trail mix, etc. I was able to pay it forward to Nicole and Jena this week. I emailed each mama, giving them a bunch of meal and dessert options. Besides the banana-oatmeal bread, Nicole chose Skinnytaste’s Spinach Lasagna Rolls. I first heard about these from Bridget, as this is her go-to meal to bring to her friends with new babies. They were very easy to make, and I followed the recipe almost exactly. Changes I made: I used regular ricotta instead of fat free and added chopped tomatoes and a few spices to the sauce. I’ve never made these before, so I hope they tasted okay!

Pineapple Cashew Fried Rice
Jena requested this meal, and I was psyched to make it again. At the last Wine and Recipe, it was a hit. Although it is a little time consuming with multiple steps, it is so worth it. I love the use of coconut oil and milk – it gives the dish great flavor. Even my husband who HATES coconut loved the serving I left for him. He was actually upset I didn’t leave him a larger portion – ha! Anyways, I also cooked up a couple chicken breasts for some protein for Jena, but it would also be delicious with edamame or shrimp.

No Bake Peanut Butter S’mores
So I am mildly obsessed with Jessica’s blog; her food is amazing, she has beautiful pictures, and she is freaking hilarious. I found this one while going through all of her dessert recipes and immediately added it to the sweet options for the mamas. Jena picked it, and I got to baking. However, as the title states, there’s no baking involved. This accommodates my #2 reason nicely. The simplicity and decadence of this recipe drew me in. OMG people! Make these now, please. Jena was kind enough to cut out a square for me when I dropped them off. I was happy because I had really wanted to try them but would’ve felt ridiculous dropping off a pan of dessert with a square missing. “Hi, I’m Angie, and I have no self control when it comes to chocolate.” They should stay refrigerated, though, especially if it’s warm and/or humid because they will get a little too soft.

Avocado Basil Garlic Pasta
I’ve made this before and blogged about it, but I really think it’s such a fantastic summer meal. While Finley was napping this morning, I assembled this meal for tonight. Everything screams summer: bacon (perfect for using leftovers from BLTs…if that’s a problem you have), tomatoes, basil, and avocados. The warm pasta over the avocado creates a thin sauce, and the lemon adds a brightness. Plus, don’t the food judges on shows like Chopped always talk about acid in a dish? I am forever appreciative to Nicole from Wine and Recipe for sharing this dish with the gang last summer.

Tuna Salad
During Finley’s second nap of the morning (do you see a pattern here?), I made Brody’s mom’s tuna salad. For a guy who hates hard boiled eggs and the smell of drained tuna, it amazes me how he’ll gobble this up. But hey, I am not complaining because I love it too. The mystery ingredients are the relish and pickled watermelon rind. I’ve also blogged about this before, so click on the title if you want the recipe to go my earlier post.

I’ve been bad about taking food pictures. For whatever reason, all I want to do is take pictures of Finley – ha! Like this one…

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Finley taking up the whole shopping cart at a grocery store in northern Wisconsin

And this one…
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Finley being an escape artist and getting that hand out of her swaddle sack

And just one more.
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Finley sleeping in my arms after getting her two month shots

Maybe, if you want to see what these recipes look like, you should make them because then you get to eat them too. It’s a win-win!

Happy eating!

What’s New?

Hi, guys! Happy Saturday!

How about this week’s weather, huh? I’m sure everyone is getting sick of talking about the heat and humidity, but it was no joke. Finley and I ventured out a little here and there but spent most of our time inside. The front that came through is a welcome relief – the air conditioner finally gets a break. I love having the windows open in the summer.

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Finley is starting to like her vibrating bouncer more when awake.

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A few times she’s been in it (again, while awake) and content for up to ten minutes. Ten minutes = a shower, an unloaded dishwasher, or a load of folded laundry. It also makes me glad that we’re using the stuff we received as gifts.

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Our grocery store had one of the new Chobani flavors.

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The apricot was good but not mind blowing. My favorites are still blood orange (so refreshing) and mango (I love all things mango).

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I haven’t been cooking much due to Finley and the heat, but I did give a new recipe a shot for this month’s Wine and Recipe get together: pineapple cashew fried rice.

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I’ve started following a few more recipe blogs, including How Sweet It Is. She writes with a great voice (sassy, sarcastic, and fun), and her recipes always sound and look amazing. Everyone at Wine and Recipe seemed to really like the fried rice – I can’t wait to try more of her recipes!

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Finley has continued to have more visitors and gifts. She is one lucky girl! Guests this week included a dog park friend, a Wine and Recipe friend and her two boys, the twins I had watched for the last five years and their mom, my coworker/carpooler who put together the Emergency Transportation Delivery Kit, and now Finley’s aunt (Brody’s sister) and her fiancé.

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We had a fun day yesterday with Aunt Erin and Uncle Dan in town, and Finley went to her first two breweries: Karben4 and Ale Asylum. I was reminded of Sweet Home Alabama: “You have a baby…in a bar.”

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Finley slept the whole time. I only had one beer, a red ale, at Karben4 and then chugged water the rest of the afternoon.

For dinner we went to Eldorado’s. Not sure if I mentioned it here but I had been pining for a blackberry margarita ever since being done with pregnancy. Well my craving was satisfied last night. This was the picture I sent to Bridget last night as she had previously agreed to FaceTime with me if I couldn’t find someone to go with. She’s so nice!
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Don’t worry – I’m not getting Finley drunk off my breastmilk. My beer was at 1:30pm and the drink at 7:30 with lots of food and water.

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And last and MOST IMPORTANTLY, my dear friend Jena, with whom I was fortunate enough to be pregnant with at the same time, had her baby last night!

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I am so happy for them! In the past, I was always thrilled for my friends when they had their kids, but it feels so different now that I have my own. When I got the text this morning, I got a little weepy (but in a good way!). It’s also pretty cool that our two kids are exactly one month apart.

So that’s what’s new around here.

Pregnancy Update: Week 41

How far along? 41 weeks, so overdue by a week.
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Baby’s size? The website I had been referring to stops giving comparative fruits and vegetables after 40 weeks. Maybe there’s one that starts comparing her to animals? Household objects?

Weight gained? I am holding steady at 25 lbs.

Stretch marks? None.

Sleep? Some nights are better than others. Saturday morning I slept until almost 8am – that almost never happens. Brody’s sleep, on the other hand, has been suffering big time. I have apparently become a snore monster. Truth: I woke myself up at least once because of my own snoring.

Best moment(s) this week? Giving birth…psych. That didn’t happen, but it would’ve been cool. For real, though – good times: getting to the dog park every day, going to see This is the End with Brody on Saturday afternoon, trying new recipes, meeting up with Jeana and Nicole, reading on the back patio, hanging out with Brody after work (and not being worried about grading), and, of course, hearing Baby’s heartbeat at our now bi-weekly appointments. It’s the little things.

Miss anything? The usual: stomach sleeping, changing sleeping positions while sleeping, red wine (and sangria), blah blah blah.

Looking forward to? Seeing our baby and finally telling everyone her name.

Movement? She’s still squirming in there.

Food cravings? This isn’t exactly a craving but more of an anti-aversion; I ate chicken breasts! Now it wasn’t a whole chicken breasts as that still makes me want to gag. I made sweet and sour chicken (bite-size pieces), and I ate it and liked it.
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Anything making you queasy or sick? Food commercials – I can’t watch them. Everything savory looks disgusting. Everything sweet still looks good, though.

Exercise? Lots of walking still. One day this week I made it to the dog park in the morning and again with Jena when she was done with work. I got to the gym one day for some treadmill walking and elliptical action.

Gender? Girl.

Labor signs? Lots of Braxton Hicks, lost my mucus plug (sorry if that’s TMI), some crampiness, some lower back aches, slightly dilated and effaced, and brief “twinges” of pain. Two nights this week I woke up thinking (and hoping) that my water had broke. Unfortunately it was just sweat that had formed between my thighs and knees from how I lie in bed. Both embarrassing and disappointing.

Symptoms? I don’t even know how to answer this one anymore.

Belly button in or out? Out. The timer says I’m done, but Baby hasn’t heard the buzzer. Lame metaphor? Yes.

Wedding rings on or off? Off at night and on for most of the day. I don’t wear it to the dog park because my hands swell when walking in the warmer temps.

INDUCTION
Now that I’m d-day plus seven days, the i-word has been tossed around a lot by me, friends, and my doctor. Before my due date, Brody and I had decided to hold off and avoid induction interventions.

Suddenly at my appointment on Thursday (three days after EDD), I found myself open to the idea of inducing using a prostaglandin. The three of us discussed even doing it that next weekend or early next week. My doctor was not pressuring me but was open if I waned to do it.

As we drove away, Brody (unintentionally) asked a loaded question: But I thought you wanted to wait?

After a nights sleep, some additional thought, and a little research, I decided to not schedule anything, and Brody supports that decision. I believe the pressure of “the due date,” my boredom at home, everyone’s well-intentioned texts and calls (don’t take that the wrong way friends and family – keep checking in!!!), and knowing I had the power to meet her in three-ish days got to me.

From what I’ve read, inducing can bring on a slew of interventions that I would like to avoid if possible. Obviously I’m open to whatever is necessary to have a safe and healthy baby, but the big two I hope to avoid are having a C-section and getting Pitocin.

In my free time this week, I read about lots of “natural” induction options, and have tried a handful. On Saturday morning, I decided to give reflexology a shot.

Reflexology is based on the belief that certain points in a person’s hands and feet correspond with body parts and organs, including the uterus. I made an appointment at Reflexions and decided that even if nothing happened from it, at least it’d be a relaxing 60 minutes.

The reflexologist was nice enough to have a chair for me instead of asking me to go on the table.
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She also does fertility and prenatal massages, so she had the background knowledge to realize us pregnant ladies aren’t supposed to be on our backs for long. My feet were propped up with pillows, and she sat on the floor while working on my feet, ankles, and lower legs.

After the hour was up (which flew by!), she showed me three pressure points I could continue to work on that connect to the uterus: one on the bottom of each foot, one above the inside ankle bone on each foot, and the webbing between the thumb and first finger.

Considering it’s Monday, I wouldn’t say the reflexology session induced labor, but it sure felt great and was, as I had hoped, very relaxing.

I have a doctor’s appointment today at noon, so we’ll see how I’m progressing and what the future plans may be.

Hope you have a wonderful Monday!

Questions:
Have you ever tried any more “alternative” medicine (besides massage and chiropractic care)?
To the mamas out there – What brought on labor for you?

My Weekend Through Websites

Confession: I spent a considerable time on the couch this weekend.

I guess I have a couple valid excuses:
1) This was my first weekend of summer vacation
2) I am 40 weeks pregnant (due date is today – June 10!!!!)

It’s difficult for me to do just one thing at a time, and this even extends to my down time. Often times while I’m on the couch, I’m also reading a magazine or a book or on my phone or iPad.

To peek into my weekend and life, I thought it’d be interesting to share ten (of the many) websites I visited.

1) Skinnytaste’s Cheeseburger Casserole

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I ended up making this for dinner last night. So good and so easy.

2) Buzzfeed article about a beauty blogger’s facial gone bad
I won’t share any pictures, but seriously a crazy story.

3) Adoption website
I have never met these people, but they are friends of a friend. Their website was on Facebook, and I loved reading the story of their family. They seem like amazing parents with a great life, and I hope they find another child to adopt.

4) The Shu Box’s birth story
Reading birth stories is obviously interesting to me. Mine will be unlike anyone else’s, but I enjoy reading about all of the possibilities.

5) Ellie Krieger’s Salmon Cakes

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I’ve never made any seafood cake, and I liked how few ingredients this required. Plus, when I asked Brody if he would try it, he said yes. This will be a nice summer meal with a big salad on the side.

6) How to induce labor naturally
You know how I mentioned today is my due date? Well now that school is done, Brody and I are ready – like REALLY ready – to meet this baby. I am willing to give some of these a shot, like eating pineapple, but not others, such as drinking castor oil or nipple stimulation (which I’ve read can bring on very strong contractions that can be potentially dangerous).

7) Essential oils on Amazon
Brody and I have plans to spend time outside and up north at my cottage this summer with Baby. A week ago, he asked about bug spray for babies. I hadn’t really looked into it yet (but my initial reaction was “All those funky chemicals on a newborn? No thank you.”) when a fellow teacher with three kids randomly brought it up. She said she uses essential oils on her kids and suggested looking at a starter kit on Amazon. Apparently lemongrass can be especially effective. I haven’t ordered anything yet but it’s in my cart.

8) Brody used my iPad
Friday night’s couch time involved the fifth game in the Blackhawks’ series against the L.A. Kings. In case you don’t follow hockey, the winner of this series goes on to play for the Stanley Cup. After double overtime, the Hawks won Friday’s game, ending the series 4-1. I went to bed before the end but heard Brody cheer. He apparently was doing a little post-game reading on my iPad Saturday morning.

9) Parade of Homes
On Sunday after lunch, Brody and I headed to Bristol Gardens (in Sun Prairie) and Westridge (in Waunakee) to check out houses. We had free tickets, and it seemed like a fun way to spend a few hours. It was…but my feet, hips, and butt were tired by the end. We are hoping to sell our house in a year and move, so it’s been fun to look at houses. In particular, we loved the house by Duren; it had more natural wood than what I normally like as I typically prefer white wide baseboards, but it was beautiful.

10) Costco
Saturday late morning was my friend Jena’s baby shower! I texted the hosts to offer my last minute help, and luckily they took me up on my offer. For dessert, I picked up a cake from Costco, but I needed to make sure they were open before the shower started (they were). I chose the red velvet, and it was a winner! I had a piece at the party and another one after dinner. Sidenote: My sugar intake is a little ridiculous right now.

As I was finishing up this post, this alert popped up on my phone – ha!
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I remember putting this day in my calendar back in October, thinking it was SO far away. According to my calendar, she’ll be arriving in twenty minutes. Ya, that’s not happening. I also find the automatic alerts, especially in this situation, hilarious.

I hope you had a fabulous weekend!

Questions:
What website(s) did you visit this weekend?
Do you multitask when relaxing also?