Monday Meal Planning 2.10

I've hit the point in pregnancy where my eyes are definitely bigger than my stomach. I get starving hungry, but my stomach is pretty squished right now (and sometimes getting kicked), so I can only eat a small amount at a time. This means that I have to eat several times a day to prevent falling into a sniveling, starving mess, because I don't handle being that hungry very well. I've also hit the point of pregnancy (or possibly just life) where easier is better. I just don't have the energy to do a whole lot at a time, so my meals are getting pretty simple in scope. Not that they were every very difficult, just that I'm using this as more of a consideration when I'm picking out recipes for the week.

Monday: Rice Fried Vegetables

This was a pretty tasty and relatively easy dish to make. We used white rice instead of brown (because I fell asleep on the couch after work instead of starting the rice which takes about an hour to make), spinach instead of kale (because we had it on hand), and left out the peas (because Aaron's not a huge fan). Very easy, aside from a little chopping and satisfied my craving for veggies. I'm sure you could substitute any vegetables you have on hand and it will be just as good. Just watch out for spitting ginger - as soon as I put it in the pan it started sputtering and flying everywhere, and hot ginger hitting bare skin is not exactly pleasant. I don't know how to solve this problem, though, so from now on I'll just throw in the ginger and cover it quickly with a lid.

Tuesday: Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Coconut Rice

Again, easy and delicious. It also fits with my near-constant curry craving. The craving is near-constant because there are times when I'm craving Mexican food instead. At least Aaron knows how to easily please me when I whine about being hungry.

Anyway, this recipe has been on my too-cook list for a while, mostly because of the curry but also because of the sweet potatoes which are something else I can never get enough of. It took me less than 10 minutes to get the stuff ready to throw in the crock pot, and the normal amount of time to cook the rice, so it definitely fit my "simple" requirement for the week.

Wednesday: Appetizers for dinner

OK, so I lied when I said I had only two near-constant cravings. The third is bread, which has been a constant throughout my whole pregnancy thus far. So I put together dinner with two toppings for bread: Spinach Artichoke Dip and Bruschetta. I halved the Spinach Artichoke recipe except for the artichokes because Aaron and I both LOVE artichokes, and it worked out perfectly.

For the Bruschetta, I simply chop up a couple of tomatoes (romas are usually what I use, but whatever looks best at the store will work), mix with garlic, olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, and chopped basil. I also brush the bread with a little garlic infused olive oil and broil until toasted. Yummy!

Thursday: Beef Stroganoff with buttered noodles, Green Beans

This is my mom's recipe and it's one of my favorites. It's also incredibly easy, so that's why it made the menu this week.

Slice up some beef (desired amount, but about a half pound sirloin steak is what I use for Aaron and I) into thin strips. Also cut into thin strips: one medium onion and one medium green pepper. Quarter some button mushrooms. Heat some oil or butter in a skillet and saute onions, mushrooms and green peppers until tender. Toss in the beef and cook until desired doneness (is that even a word?). Next mix together some Dijon mustard and sour cream, with the ratio to your taste and usually depending on how much you like mustard. I usually mix together a cup of sour cream and a couple of tablespoons of mustard. Throw this into the pan and stir to melt and coat. Serve over lightly buttered egg noodles with steamed green beans on the side.

And....that's all she wrote this week because we ate out two nights and tonight we're eating leftovers from yesterday's shower (which was wonderful, and I will update as soon as someone sends some pictures).

Soon to Shower

Despite the fact that we already have quite a bit of baby stuff and are getting nervous about where we're going to put it all, I am getting super excited about my baby shower happening this weekend. Mostly because I get to see a bunch of friends that I haven't seen in quite a while, but also because all I feel like doing lately is celebrating this baby. I know I've said this many times before, but I really just can't wait to meet her.

My best friend is throwing the shower, and I haven't seen her since last August. I'm hoping she can make another trip when the baby gets here, because I can't imagine my baby not knowing the person who has been in my life as long as or longer than most of my immediate family. My college roommate is also making the trip (and bringing her husband to entertain Aaron during the shower), and it's been nearly two years since I've seen her. I really miss my friends, so I'm excited to spend time with them, even if I'm going to have limited time to spend with each of them.

I'm sure I'll have plenty of pictures to post come Sunday, which hopefully I'm much better at remembering than belly shots. Geez.

Living the Good Life

I'm home today, enjoying a well-deserved day off, and watching all kinds of shows on TLC about babies. Life is pretty darn good right now.

The baby is kicking and squirming, doing her favorite new trick: pushing on my ribs with whatever body part she has handy in the location. The only way to avoid the rib kick is to sit up very straight, so my posture is sure to benefit from this new development. It's been fun lately watching waves of baby movement across my belly, except she stops doing it whenever anyone but me is paying attention. This greatly upsets my sister, and to a lesser extent because he has actually seen and felt her move a few times, because all she really wants is to feel the baby kick.

There are all sorts of baby related activities going on over the 7 weeks until the baby is due to arrive: a hospital tour tonight, my shower on Saturday, a shower from my co-workers a week from tomorrow, a breast feeding class a week from Thursday, a prenatal visit with the pediatrician, calls and visits to be made to day care centers, and doctors visits out the wazoo. Both Aaron and I are getting so excited that it's hard to concentrate on anything else, let alone want to do anything not baby-related in some way. I just can't wait to meet her.

I'll update with a belly picture tonight or tomorrow. We've been lax on taking the pictures as we've been super busy with the rest of life lately. It's definitely time to get on the pictures because there's not much time yet.

Monday meal Planning 2.9

Hungry and Tired Edition

The first time today started it was, if not at my favorite time, my favorite way to start the day: the baby kicking and twisting and generally feeling like she was playing in my belly. Too bad it was at 1 a.m. When my day started the second time, at around 6:30 a.m., it started in my second favorite way: hearing Aaron singing in the shower. I love when he starts the day in such a good mood that he just can't contain it. It's seriously awesome.

Then my stomach started growling, because if there's one thing I am lately, it's HUNGRY. So I'm going to type this up real quick-like so I can go shovel some breakfast into my mouth to calm the growling monster residing somewhere around where my stomach is supposed to be.

Monday: Chicken Fajita Tostadas w/Cilantro Lime Rice

The tostadas were absolutely delicious (and as a bonus, healthy too), and with a seemingly constant supply of cilantro and limes in our kitchen, this rice recipe may replace our usual rice side that we serve with Mexican dishes.

Tuesday: Portobello, Broccoli, and Red-Pepper Melts

We were apparently into "Melts" this week, what with these and the tostadas. These were delicious, and you could easily substitute other vegetables and cheeses depending on what you have on hand.

Wednesday: Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken, Roasted Cauliflower, and Salad

We were three for three with new recipes being delicious this week. This one is simple: season chicken breasts (boneless, skinless) with pepper, wrap with thin slices of prosciutto (about 2 slices per breast), place on a baking sheet and rub with a little bit of olive oil.

Then cut a head of cauliflower into florets, toss with olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Put both the chicken and the cauliflower into a 450-degree oven and roast for about 20 minutes, stirring the cauliflower occasionally.

Thursday: Aaron's Famous Stir-fry

This is just a stir-fry made with whatever veggies we have on hand, with added teriyaki sauce near the end, served over brown rice. Delicious and yummy.

Friday: Dinner out, and of course we pick the one night this week when the weather was crappy and the roads were icy. At least it was with good company and everything tasted wonderful.

And now the week begins. Why do Mondays always have to get here so soon?

Weekend Baking 1.9

This weekend we're headed out of town (only about an hour out of town, actually) to visit Aaron's grandparents and extended family for Easter. We usually go on Saturday night so that we can attend Easter services with his grandma and grandpa, but seeing as how I can barely sleep comfortably in my own bed, he's decided not to try to make me sleep in a strange bed and then have to spend the day interacting with his whole family. Nice guy; much nicer than I am, because I make him do just that about once a year, and my family is a heck of a lot bigger, louder, and more obnoxious than his.

Anyway, the big event for the day other than going to church is what his grandma calls "Easter Brunch", but what is actually more like "Late Easter Dinner". I always bake something to take, and I was having a hard time deciding what exactly I should take this year. Usually I bake a coffee cake to eat Easter morning, so that's definitely out. I kept pondering what to take until I was driving myself batty, until I ran across a recipe for Carrot Cake at The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Now, I usually don't take something I've never made before, so I was a bit worried. Then I realized that everything I've ever made from Ree's site has been absolutely delicious, so really I don't have much to worry about. I'm going to make it in bundt form to make it look a bit fancier (that and I'm still a little wary of my pyrex pans, what with the whole explosion incident and all), and I am really looking forward to trying it.

And now for something almost completely different: I have a question for all of you. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, my boss is leaving our place of employment. We're doing a going away lunch for her, and even though she told us not to do anything special, I want to bake something for the occasion. I bake a lot for the people at work, and my boss especially loves it when I bring things in. Since she's leaving this will be, most likely, the last time I bake for her, so I can't not bake, right?

Anyway, I've decided to bake a giant chocolate chip cookie, but I'm not sure where to find a really good recipe. So here's where you all come in. Do you have a good giant chocolate chip cookie recipe, or know where to find one? Please, share or point me in the right direction! I want to make sure that her last homemade treat from me is a great one.

Not Dead

Just busy. Also, tired and really, really busy.

Some randomness to fill this space:

1. Tonight we did something we've never done before: we met with a realtor. We're thinking of maybe buying a house. That is, if we aren't quitting our jobs and moving out of town (another possibility). Apparently it's time to make some big decisions.

2. I had a doctor's appointment yesterday, and everything is still looking good. Heartbeat is strong, baby is stubborn, but also head down so that's good. I'm just hoping she stay that way *knocks on wood*.

3. Also baby related: she has started kicking me in the ribs at about 5 or 5:30 every morning. And she won't stop unless I get up. She is seemingly not just stubborn but opinionated and I'm proud. Proud and tired.

4. Do you know what I hate? When a commercial for a scary movie is scary enough to give me nightmares. Enter the preview for "Shutter". The girl's head falling off? Freaks me out. These commercials are not necessary. The show "Paranormal State" also has commercials that give me nightmares. I may be 28 and afraid of the dark, but these commercials aren't helping me get over that fact any faster.

5. Back about 2 years ago, and still a little now, I was a huge fan of Sudoku. More than that, I was pretty addicted. I still go through phases where I like to play, but not nearly as often as I used to. Then, the other day I was online and found Kakuro, and now I'm addicted to yet another numbers/logic game. It's great! If you like Sudoku you should definitely try it out.

6. Most importantly (or nearly so): Everyone loved the mint oreo truffles. Seriously, loved. I've given out the recipe several times. And not only are they that good, they're also incredibly easy to make. I may have to make them again for an Easter dessert this weekend, just shaping them into an egg shape and making the chocolate coating a pastel color.

Monday Meal Planning 2.8

Hey! We actually cooked a little this week! Edition

I don't want to jinx it, but besides being slightly uncomfortable (which, from what I read, can be expected at 32 weeks of pregnancy) I'm feeling pretty good lately. Well, other than experiencing a slight case of Aaron's cold at the end of last week, that is. So, due to feeling pretty good, and having a little energy, I was able to plan and cook 5 meals last week.

Amazing, right?

Here goes:

Monday: Brats, coleslaw, and fries

We cook brats on the stovetop, according to package directions, and then slice them in half length-wise. We use small sub buns, grilled, and spread on some spicy brown mustard and top the brats with some bread and butter pickles. Yum! I make coleslaw from scratch, and there are tons of recipes out there, but store-bought is nearly as good, and way easier. Easier is better is my mantra lately. Fries are the frozen variety, doctored up with some olive oil and steak seasoning.

Tuesday: Portobello Pitas and salad

Here's a yummy meal idea from last month's Everyday Food: Slice up some portobello caps (I scraped off the gills from the underside of the mushroom with a spoon first), and toss them with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add corn and sliced red onions, salt and pepper, and toss. Roast this mixture and then split it up over 2 to 4 pita halves. Top with jack cheese and put in the oven until the cheese melts. We just served these with a tossed salad.

Wednesday: Asian Beef Skewers with steamed and salted edamame

A household favorite, made even better this time by using some fresh pineapple we had in the house instead of canned as we usually use.

Thursday: Prosciutto Pasta, garlic bread, and salad

Here's another household favorite, and I can't believe I haven't shared this one before.

Prepare penne pasta as directed on package. While pasta is cooking, in a saute pan, melt 2 Tbsp. butter. When butter is bubbly, add 2 oz. prosciutto, chopped. Cook for 30 seconds, and then add one 28-oz. can Italian diced tomatoes, 1/3 cup half and half, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Drain pasta and return to pan. Pour sauce over top and toss to coat. Top portions with parmesan cheese if desired.

: Macaroni and cheese, salad, and garlic bread

Even though Aaron isn't a fan of pasta for dinner on consecutive days, he gave in when I was sick on Friday and in the mood for comfort food. We bought a double portion container of Stauffer's macaroni and cheese, leftover salad from earlier in the week, and the second half of the box of garlic bread from the night before. Easy and delicious.

And there you have it. Almost a whole week of meals. I kind of feel like a superwoman after all that work! I'm easily impressed with myself at this point.

Weekend Baking 1.8.5

So, yeah. I'm not making that Lemon-Swirled Cheesecake this weekend, even if it is super delicious. I forgot that Monday is St. Patty's Day, and since remembering have changed my plans: I'm making Mint Oreo Truffles for the St. Patrick's Day potluck we're having on Monday. Because, everything from Bakerella looks fabulous, and it's about time I try out one of her recipes. I'll let you know how they turn out.

Weekend Baking 1.8

This week I have a recipe for you that looks impressive, tastes amazing, is easy to make, and is low fat and low calorie. I've taken this to many a picnic or 4th of July party, but it's also good this time of year when you're yearning for something summery-tasting because winter just really needs to go away.

This recipe is Lemon-Swirled Cheesecake.

If you like cheesecake, you'll love this. Promise.

Updates from Week 31

Here I am in my 31st week, and I'm still not getting any better at taking belly shots on a regular basis. I totally missed last week, and we forgot last night (too busy taking care of a very sick Aaron), but this shot is from Sunday.

Aaron is obsessed with my belly now, and if it's showing at all I can't tear his attention away from it. It's kind of cute, actually. He insisted on taking some bare belly shots, which I hadn't done before. As you can see, I have a slight linea negra, but (knock wood) no stretch marks yet. You can also see the hole from my belly button piercing. If I could go back to talk to my 19 year old self, I would tell her that it's not worth it - no one would really ever see it, and then you're left with a hole in your belly button that's slowly stretching out the more pregnant you get. My belly button has also not popped yet, but it's incredibly shallow now.

The baby has been very active the past few weeks, and that's been a lot of fun. She's actually kicking me right now as I type. After each of my multiple bathroom trips a night, I lay down and give my belly a quick, soft rub, and she gives me a lazy reassurance kick in return. Last night we had a new pregnancy development - I went for my 2:30 a.m. bathroom trip, and when I looked in the mirror I noticed two small wet spots. I've apparently started leaking a bit.

Another fun thing that happened earlier last night was that my belly was completely lopsided. The baby likes to hang out on the left side of my belly, and she's now big enough (about 3 pounds and 15 inches long) that we're starting to be able to see where she is. I know that seeing a random body part traveling across my belly isn't far away. She stayed on my left side for a little while before moving on again. We're constantly amazed by these seemingly simple, normal things.

It's all very surreal because pregnancy was such an abstract idea for so long. We'd been talking about that future baby since long before we were married and now she's almost here. I'm really, actually pregnant. It still blows my mind.

Meal Planning Monday FAIL

So, yeah. We ate out most of last week. We're sucking at this meal planning thing. The only meal I made was a large pot of macaroni and cheese which we've been eating ever since.

I take that back; we made Lemon-Roasted Chicken last night, and it turned out pretty good. If you actually like chicken, unlike me, you might even say it was delicious. We made it with the orzo listed in the recipe, but not the arugula because they only sell it by the 1/2 ounce around here, in with the herbs, and it's really expensive. I'm eating leftover chicken on a salad for lunch today, so the leftovers are really useful too.

After a stressful week last week I had a hard time relaxing this weekend, and didn't get anything done that I had planned. This week is not looking to be any better, so I need some help. What should I do to relax? Any suggestions? Because my usual glass of wine and a steaming hot bath aren't allowed right now.

Weekend Baking 1.7

Super Secret Recipe Edition

I have two super secret recipes, but I'm going to share one of them today. The other one is not mine to share (Aaron's Great-Grandpa's Chili Recipe) and I don't even know all the ingredients, so I can't share it even if I wanted to.

The one I am going to share is my semi-famous (among Aaron, my sister, and my co-workers) Banana Bread. This recipe is pretty sweet, and makes two big loaves of bread. Aaron always gets mad if I make it and he can't have a slice a few minutes out of the oven. This is because it's excellent when it's still warm, but I like it even better at room temperature. The other cool thing? It freezes well. So, since it makes two loaves, you can have one for now and freeze the other for later when you're craving it again. That is, if you can wait to eat the second one, which is usually pretty hard for us to do.

Anyway, here it is:

Helen's Banana Bread

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, at room temperature (do not substitute margarine)
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. sour milk*
5 overripe bananas, mashed**
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. walnuts (optional)
Topping: Brown sugar, cinnamon, and chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Stir in sour milk and bananas. Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder, and mix into the wet ingredients. Add walnuts, if you're using them.

Pour into two greased loaf pans, and sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, and walnuts (if you're using them). Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan on a wire rack, and enjoy!

*To sour milk, place 1 Tbsp. lemon juice in a liquid measure, and add milk to 3/4 cup. Let sit for 10 minutes before adding to the batter.

**I make this using my Kitchenaid Mixer and its paddle attachment, and instead of mashing the bananas before I add them, I just put them in whole and the paddle mashes them up plenty.

My brain is too tired to think of a title this morning

It has been one hell of a week, and it's nearly over, thank God! I don't think I've ever been more excited for a weekend to come, especially when the only thing I have to look forward to, besides our prenatal class, is taking care of a whiny, sick husband. Still better than anything that has happened this week.

Including a haircut that, while sort of cute, is not what I asked for. Score another one for the universe against me this week. I now officially look like a mom. A very conservative, preppy mom. All I'm missing is my pearls, huge diamond, and an SUV.

I'll post pictures, including my 30 weeks belly shot (which hasn't been shot yet because I haven't wanted to record my tear-stained face which has been a part of every night this week), tonight, along with a weekend baking recipe - my top-secret banana bread recipe that is super delicious. So delicious that I couldn't resist it calling for me the morning of my first glucose screening, which I subsequently failed. I'm pretty sure it's the banana bread's fault. I'm not holding that against it though, it's too good.

Just 8 more hours, and I'm done for the week. Woohoo!

Strike 3, I'm Out

On top of the 6 needle sticks and bailing boss, I had a really crappy morning. Of course.

Last night I made a pan of brownies, instead of the chocolate cake, for work today. After I went to sleep Aaron covered them when cool and set them on a burner on the stove. This morning he went to make rice to go with his lunch, but turned on the wrong burner. I caught this mistake about 2 minutes after it happened, turned off the burner, moved the pan to the other side of the stove, and just as Aaron came out to see what I was nagging him about, the pan exploded.

Like, shards of glass flying through the air exploded.

Oh, and did I mention that I was in the middle of getting ready and so was just in my underwear?

Well, we both freaked, and Aaron rushed me into the bathroom to check out the damage. Luckily (very, very luckily) I only have a few small cuts on my belly and legs, but I couldn't stop crying for about 2 hours. Aaron, who usually gives me a hard time if I call him more than once a day while he's at work, has called me 6 times so far today.

I feel pretty bad for both of us, and even though I know everything is alright and it isn't liable to happen again, I'm steering clear of the kitchen today.

I called the doctor to see if I should come in, but they said that as long as I only have superficial cuts and scrapes (which I do), then they're not worried. And, the nurse added, it's really too bad because I could have eaten as many as those brownies as I wanted to, because my results came back and I'm not diabetic!

Thank the Lord! Who totally owed me one today.

It could be worse: I could be my sister's boyfriend who came six inches from death over the weekend. But that's a story for another day.

When it rains crap...

it really pours.

Today was my 3-hour glucose test (no results yet, but so far I'm not too worried). I got to the lab at around 8:30 this morning, had my first blood draw (of four) at 8:40, drank the glucola (fruit punch flavored this time - the orange is better), and then sat around the waiting room for the next three hours, punctuated only by 3 blood draws on the hour each hour. Fun, right? It actually wasn't too horrible, except for the one phlebotomist who kept rolling my veins (so that was 2 extra needle sticks), and I'm actually glad I was there instead of at work.

Which is where my boss quit today.

She's one of the main reasons I've stayed in my current job for so long, is an excellent boss, and I'm really going to miss her. I got the news via email when I got back from the lab and burst into tears. I'm happy for her, but sad she's leaving. The 2nd in command at work left last week, so we're pretty much without leadership now.

Tomorrow is going to be super fun.

To make it a little less painful, I'm taking in chocolate cake. That should fix everything, right? Please tell me it will.

Monday Meal Planning 2.7

We've done a horrible job of meal planning the past couple of weeks. Add to that a weekend out of town and I don't have too much to write about this week again. But here are the few recipes I have to recommend:

Monday: Chicken Korma and rice

We've been on an Indian kick lately due to a fantastic Indian restaurant we've found nearby. Unfortunately, the fantastic Indian restaurant is also fairly expensive, so I decided to try cooking an easier dish at home. This isn't incredibly authentic, but it is quite tasty. I also added 2 small zucchini, sliced, and about 1/2 tsp. salt when I put in the chicken and tomatoes. I served it with long grain rice made with chicken broth instead of water.

Aaron claimed this is one of the best meals I've ever made. I really enjoyed it, too, so I'm highly recommending this recipe. The only thing we were missing was naan.

Tuesday: Burritos

We had burritos with ground beef (browned and made with taco seasoning), lettuce, onions, my secret recipe Mexican rice (under Wednesday on that post), and Ree's Pico de Gallo. Yum!

Wednesday: Pierogis with Sauerkraut, Onions and Mushrooms

This one's pretty simple, and full of good flavors. Add some chopped onion and sliced mushrooms to oil you've heated in a large skillet. Saute until the onions are transparent and the mushrooms are soft. Cook the pierogis according to package directions (we used potato and onion pierogi), and add to the pan along with a can of sauerkraut. Heat through, and serve! The only thing that would have made this better would have been some Polish sausage.

Thursday: Macaroni and Cheese with Grape Tomatoes and steamed Green Beans

The macaroni and cheese recipe is under Friday on that post. This week we're adding some grape tomatoes that have been halved and roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper. For some extra veggies we'll have steamed green beans on the side. Yum!

Friday: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and roasted broccoli

Aaron noted that it has been a while since I made him meatloaf, so his wish is being granted. This is by far our favorite meatloaf recipe, and the leftovers reheat well.

...and there you have it, another work week full of recipes. We're doing much better with the planning this week, so I should have another round of recipes next week. Enjoy!
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