Monday, July 29, 2013

Secret Recipe Club: Honey Glazed Chicken

For the month of July's Secret Recipe Club I was assigned to Sally's blog, "Bewitching Kitchen". Sally is Brazilian born and raised and has lived all around the world, from the U.S. to France as well! You can get a taste of all those international flavors when you take a peak at her massive, and amazing, recipe index.

As I started browsing through, making mental notes about "maybes" for this month, I was getting so many great ideas! I found myself earmarking Beef and Broccoli, the Mediterranean Skewers, the gorgeous Baguettes, some Classic Dinner Rolls, French Style Rolls (see a bread theme?!), OMG Biscoff Cookies, drool worthy Macaroni and Cheese, Pork Ragu, Pulled Pork, Chicken in Peanut Mole Sauce, Honey Glazed Chicken Legs oh and SO much more (I didn't even add any from the soups, salads, and side dishes!!) There are so many incredible recipes to choose from!

I ended up going with the honey glazed chicken, and used boneless skinless chicken breasts since that's what I had available but would highly recommend using skin-on chicken (your choice) for this recipe - so you can get that gorgeous dark caramelization you'll see in the photos on Sally's blog. This is a great chicken recipe either way! Yumm!


 Honey Glazed Chicken Breasts from Bewitching Kitchen

Ingredients
1/4 cup + 1 tsp honey
2 Tbs + 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
4 chicken breasts (or 4 legs or 8 thighs) - with skin on

Directions
  1. Make the glaze by mixing all the honey, lemon juice, and soy sauce.  Sprinkle the chicken legs with salt and pepper, then use a brush to cover them with the glaze.  Place the chicken legs on a baking sheet, skin-side down, cover with aluminum foil, and slow roast at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes. 
  2. Flip the pieces to have the skin side up, brush some more of the glaze over, cover with aluminum foil again, and continue cooking for  another 40-45 minutes. 
  3. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees, remove the aluminum foil and roast until the skin is dark brown, 10 to 15  minutes.












Sunday, July 28, 2013

32 Weeks and Counting!

7/23/13 - Today we are 31w2d and last night I received 5 of the packages of e-bay orders of clothing I'd ordered (told you I over did it - there are many more coming!) I had such a good time going through each package, and making sure everything matched the order, rating the seller, looking for the few stains that needed treating, and then taking everything down to be washed. I spent a little while scrubbing out any of the small stains I did find - and most were from one particular lot; I could tell they hadn't been treated or cared for quite as well as the other items I received, but pretty much all of the stains came out without any issue so that was good! I ran 1 large load and 1 medium sized load of clothes - everything from size newborn through 18 months. I ended up mostly with size 0-3 and 3-6 months out of those clothing lots. I've noticed, for some reason, size 9 months is mysteriously missing from almost all of the lots of clothing I've bought that are supposed to cover 3-12 months, or somewhere in that range. I'm wondering if there is a reason, or it's just a weird coincidence! Do babies seem to skip over that size?! I know some of what I bought will definitely not be the right season (although I can always layer with long sleeve onesies if I really want to use something that is otherwise summery), and there are a few pieces I probably won't use just because I have so many items to pick from, I can be choosey - so I might go ahead and sort through everything once the rest of the packages arrive and pick out the pieces I don't think I will need to reduce the amount that needs to be put away into the drawers and boxes! The stack of 6 month sized clothing is very full! I left a few things to line dry last night, and I have another package that should be arriving today to go through. This one has a lot of the "little stuff" - socks, hats, shoes, hairbands, etc. I'll have to give all the hairbands I've received a wash too - I hadn't really thought about that before! It was amazing to me, pulling each little piece of clothing out of the dryer and imagining that these items are going to be on a tiny human being in the next couple of months...! Some of them look so much like doll clothes to me! I probably have enough to sell about half of what I have and still have plenty of clothing to work with... It's like Christmas, opening up each package, seeing what great pieces are mixed in, and sorting through them all - I would be a happy camper working at Goodwill and sorting clothes all day! :) I got some REALLY cute dresses in the clothes from yesterday. I can't wait to get the chance to use them! I've noticed there are a couple themes too with the baby clothes - aside from "daddy's girl" type themes, and "little sister" themes, there are a lot of pink and grey leopard print, and monkeys!

Miss Lindsey is very wiggly again this morning - bumping around and making my belly dance and change shape. I imagine she's starting to feel rather constricted in there, and just hope she stays put in the head down position for the remainder of the pregnancy which may only be about 7 weeks more at the most - since we have a Single Uterine Artery they may very well decide to induce by 39 weeks if I'm still pregnant at that point. I asked about that briefly at my last OB appointment and she confirmed that is fairly standard, but it all depends on how things are going, and how baby looks. Those last few weeks are going to be a bit nerve wracking for me - SUA babies have a slightly increased risk of stillbirth and I'm not going to feel at ease until I can see her in my arms and know she's ok... As of 32 weeks only FIVE more until full-term! I can't wait to reach that point!! Once we hit full term, and as long as everything has been looking good at her growth scans, I am going to start sitting on a birthing ball and hitting the treadmill, trying to help prep my body for labor, whenever that may be. I am hoping for another smooth and easy singleton delivery similar to my last singleton delivery - which was honestly the best delivery experience I've had of all of them. So fingers are crossed! :) My next OB appointment is scheduled for Friday, August 9th at 3:30pm. After that it will probably be one more 2 weeks after, and then weekly until she comes!! YIKES! My dad is throwing our "cyber-shower" on August 11th, and after that we'll pick up whatever we still need (which is probably the stroller and crib combo, and we still need to pick out a crib) and then we should be pretty much set - just have to get the rest of the clothes sorted and put away and finish the d├ęcor in the nursery. I have to clear out a cabinet for bottles and pump "extras" in the kitchen, and make room for baby bath tub and soaps, lotions, etc. in the bathroom. I think they can all just be stored inside the bathtub and pulled out when needed. At least that's my plan - I could probably find some space in my walk-in closet if needed too.

I'm counting down until Friday - I can't wait! My friend is driving from Alabama and picking me up mid-day and we're driving to North Carolina for 2 nights and a surrogacy get together. I am so excited to see some friends I haven't seen in AGES and hang out with others in the surrogacy community. I haven't had a chance to do that in way too long. :)

7/24/13 - 31w3d today! Only one more day or working this week and then off to North Carolina! I am super excited! There were two more big boxes of clothes for me to sort through and wash when I got home last night, so that kept me busy while I watched an episode of Hell's Kitchen. I had my first load all set, ran it, and then went down to swap clothes and found blue stains on almost half of the items in the load! I was so mad! I had to sit there and spray stain remover on everything and throw it all back in the wash again... I rubbed a few of my knuckles pretty raw trying to scrub out the stains. I still don't know for sure what bled in the load of laundry - but anything even remotely blue in color was pulled out to line dry and will go in my "get rid of pile". I don't need that happening again, thank you very much! At least it all came out when it was washed again. The boxes of clothes have taken over the nursery at the moment, and I'm looking forward to getting the dowel rod hung in the armoire which will give me some more hanging space, and getting the rest of the clothes I've ordered in so I can finish sorting everything and put the larger sizes away in the attic or basement after they've been washed. I am definitely going to have to purge at least some of it in the smaller sizes, there's just no way I'll need all of it! I have a few things I need to get listed on craigslist sometime in the next week or so anyway to try to continue the attempts at cleaning out some of the things that have been laying around the house unused for too long - just taking up space.

I'll be gone this weekend, so no crib hunting probably until the next weekend. That will be just after Kent's started back to school! I can't believe school starts so soon... I am feeling rather unprepared for it. I still don't know when his open house is, and we haven't heard back from his school counselor to make sure he has a schedule set up. I know they can take care of schedules on the first day if necessary, but it would be nice for him to have that in place and have an idea of what's happening on his first day. It will be enough of an adjustment to be in high school and at a completely new building. Hopefully he'll run into a few friends he knows from middle school.

I had ordered a couple nursing tops and nightgowns and those just arrived too, so I will probably throw a few of the hospital items I need into a bag in the next couple weeks as well. I know I don't need that much, but I wanted to have my own comfy clothes for after delivery and wanted a good nursing top and nightgown to choose from. I like having my own socks and slippers too, and my own shampoo and "beauty items". Other than a cell phone charger, some snacks, and some vending machine change, that's usually about all I need to have so it won't take much space or take long to assemble. I've debated on whether or not to bother bringing a diaper bag to the hospital. It's rather unlikely that we'll need to stop on the way home, and all baby should need is car seat, going home outfit, and a blanket to cover her up in the car... but I may very well bring the whole thing anyway... this is me we're talking about after all.

July is really flying by - it is going to be August in no time at all and we'll be into a whole new routine with school and soccer starting back up. I think I'm in denial. I can't even really think about the fact that Kent will be in high school in a matter of DAYS at this point... how is that even possible?! Especially after having him homeschooled the past year, it's going to be a big adjustment all around.

7/29/13 - We made it to 32 weeks (32w1d today!) and I had a really good time in North Carolina over the weekend with friends. I had a couple big contractions while we were there - it was pretty hot and we did a fair amount of walking and the combination resulted in at least a couple contractions that had me pausing to take a breath. Water and taking a break was enough to get them to stop though, so that was a relief!! I am hoping for 6 more weeks with this little one, though I wouldn't be super surprised to go longer - 38 weeks is just my mental "goal" at the moment. 36 weeks is the next milestone week to get to - so just 4 more to get to that point! By then we'll be almost all the way through August!! I'm trying not to wish away the days, they just seem to fly by whether I am thinking about it or not. Summer is just a busy time of year. Kent comes home tomorrow afternoon and I can't wait to see him! Then we have Lindsey's first growth ultrasound on Wednesday and I'm excited to see her again, and anxious to hear how everything looks at this point and what the plan will be for additional follow up appointments. I'm going to be a little bit on pins and needles until she's here safe and sound. So far (knock on something) everything has gone really well, but that "slightly increased risk of stillbirth" with 2-vessel cords is constantly looming in the background of my mind...

I have a few more packages of baby clothes to go through when I get home tonight - I got home around 8:30pm last night and after unpacking it was pretty much time for bed; Kenneth looked pretty much exhausted, like he hadn't slept that well while I was gone. I didn't sleep that great either, but I sure did love those big soft covers on the beds at the Marriott! :)

According to Baby Center:

How your baby's growing:

By now, your baby weighs 3 3/4 pounds (about the size of a large jicama) and is about 16.7 inches long, taking up a lot of space in your uterus. You're gaining about a pound a week and roughly half of that goes right to your baby. In fact, she'll gain a third to half of her birth weight during the next 7 weeks as she fattens up for survival outside the womb. She now has toenails, fingernails, and real hair (or at least respectable peach fuzz). Her skin is becoming soft and smooth as she plumps up in preparation for birth.

 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Surprise Banana Cake


I have made this cake recipe a couple times now, and had very different, but equally delicious, results with my baking attempts! The first time I halved the recipe, and I can't remember if I used overripe bananas that had been thawed (which is usually what I use for any recipe calling for bananas) or if I had some that hadn't yet been frozen. In any event, I remember that one came out a little bit fluffier in texture than this one, and I also frosted the first one whereas I left this one unadorned. You will have fairly thin pieces of cake if you use the full recipe and a 9x13 pan, but they are somewhat dense in consistency and really don't need to be any thicker than they come out! I really love this recipe and ate a couple small pieces not long after it had cooled, and then a couple more the next day! I had to take this one to work to share so I wouldn't end up eating the whole thing. It comes out moist, sweet, and is a very tasty treat. This is a great way to use up those extra ripe bananas you have laying around! I omit the nuts as we prefer banana breads and cakes without them most of the time. If you want to frost this cake, I've included my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe below.
Surprise Banana Cake by tomg on AllRecipes
Ingredients
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs
4 ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 
Directions 
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour one 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
  2. Cream together the butter and the sugar.
  3. Add eggs, bananas, flour, soda, salt, nuts, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly and pour batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool and frost cake (if desired).

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients
1/8 cup butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, beat all frosting ingredients together with an electric mixer until well-combined and smooth (taste test and adjust as necessary). Frost cake when it is cooled completely. 


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Chicken 'N Pasta Primavera


One of our assignments as an AllRecipes Brand Ambassador this month was to try out Birds Eye's new Recipe Ready products. I selected this recipe to test out and am glad I did! Kenneth and I both really enjoyed this meal, and it was super simple for a weeknight dinner. I used Prego Homestyle Alfredo sauce and it was delicious! Definitely pick a good alfredo sauce that you will enjoy, as that is where pretty much all of the flavor comes from. The frozen veggie mix just makes this quick and convenient, and adds some nice bright colors to the pasta, chicken, and sauce. My husband who initially looked at me very skeptically and informed me that carrots did NOT belong with alfredo (and subsequently repeated this about 5 more times) when he first saw his plate changed his tune about half way into his meal. He decided carrots were just fine with alfredo after all. :)

This was a delicious meal and would be great with a crisp salad and some garlic bread!

Chicken 'N Pasta Primavera from  on AllRecipes
  
Ingredients 
1 TBS olive oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken, thinly sliced
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste 
1 (12-oz) bag Birds Eye® Recipe Ready Primavera Blend
1 cup prepared Alfredo pasta sauce
8 ounces fettuccine, cooked according to package directions 
Shredded parmesan cheese (for topping)
                  
Directions 
  1. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes or until cooked through. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  2. Add Recipe Ready Primavera Blend and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until just tender. Stir in pasta sauce and bring to a boil. Add cooked fettuccine noodles and toss to coat. If there is not enough sauce to coat everything, add a little more until mixture reaches desired consistency. Remove from heat.
  3. Serve with a sprinkling of shredded parmesan cheese and season with additional black pepper if desired. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Macaroni, Cheese and Meat


This is a family favorite recipe that we've been using since we were first married. It was in the little handmade recipe book from my mother-in-law Donna. This is super simple comfort food, and is pretty much the only dinner meal that Kenneth will ever cook! It's one of his favorites and if he's on dinner duty this is the one I can expect to be pulled out - not that I mind; I always enjoy it and it reheats really well; the leftovers always disappear pretty quickly!

Macaroni, Cheese and Meat

Ingredients
2 cups dry elbow macaroni noodles
1 lb ground beef
salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 1/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese (more to taste)

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare macaroni noodles according to package directions.
  3. Meanwhile, cook ground beef and the diced onion in a large non-stick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Drain grease after meat has cooked through, if needed, and season with desired seasonings (I use about 1/8 tsp salt and pepper, and 1/2 tsp garlic powder).
  4. In a 4-quart baking dish combine cooked noodles, beef mixture, diced tomatoes, and 2 cups of the cheddar cheese. Stir gently until evenly combined. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
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Monday, July 22, 2013

31 weeks - counting down to baby Lindsey

I have a lot on my mind today (7/16 30w2d) and so I'm starting my 31 week post a little early and will add to it until it's time to actually post! :) I have had a few days of fairly regular Braxton hicks contractions and quite a bit of low pressure - although it still feels like baby girl is up in my lungs. These two things amp up my anxiety level and I wish the contractions would lay off for another 3 weeks or so... I have discovered that after the twins early arrival last delivery, I am on "high alert" this time around. Every twinge or cramp, or something just not feeling "normal" has me asking myself a million questions about what it could mean, what did I do to cause it, is it stopping, have I been drinking enough water... My belly just gets really tight all of a sudden, it's not usually painful - just bothersome and worrisome.

I have been on a E-Bay baby clothes shopping spree and may have had a little bit too much fun finding great deals on lots of tiny, cute things for baby's first 12 months or so. Last night Kenneth and I finished going through everything in the nursery that needed to be "de-tagged" and washed; so all the clothes, socks, bibs, cloths, blankets, booties, mittens, and hats are piled up in the laundry basket and I'm going to run them through the wash tonight. I ordered some Dreft last week to wash baby things in, so I should be all set! I ordered a delicates wash bag too for future baby clothes laundry - someone suggested those for tiny things like socks and booties (which have a tendency to wander off from the dryer it seems), so hopefully that will help us keep track and not lose too many little things! I'm pretty sure there's no way I'm going to fit everything I've bought in addition to what we've been gifted into the closet and dresser, so I'll have to wash everything and then separate out the larger sizes to store until she's ready to wear them.

I ordered some more clothes hangers for the nursery, along with some closet organizers that separate out the different sizes, and 3 organizing baskets which will be a huge help. I need to stop by Home Depot and look for a hanger rod support piece - the armoire we bought has a spot along the top for a dowel to hang for additional hanging space, but only one of the support pieces was there. It looks like it should be a pretty inexpensive piece if I can locate one. I'll probably stop on my way home tonight. Once I have those items I should be able to make good progress in finishing up with clothing and miscellaneous "little things" getting organized and put away. I'm hoping the boys finished attaching the hutch to the base of the dresser / changing table so we can get that pushed up against the wall and I can start getting all of the diapering items loaded into it, along with the stack of baby books I have piled up on the floor which will go in the hutch portion.

Next it'll be time to take down the old curtains, put up the news ones, and take a look at the current wall art pieces I have and figure out the best way to arrange them. The butterfly mobile I ordered should be headed our way in the next couple days too - and I can't wait to see it! Kenneth and I took a look at a few possible cribs, but haven't made up our mind about whether we'll buy a convertible crib and use that for her bed when it's time, or just get a crib that will last a couple years until we can use the bed that came with the other furniture which is what I think makes the most sense. I'm not in a rush to get one, but at the same time I can't wait to put the bedding set out and see the whole room tied together. :)

Miss Lindsey is being VERY wiggly today - it seems she's been wriggling and rolling since about 10:00am this morning, and it's 1:30 now. I'm beginning to wonder how much in-utero activity lends itself to meaning a very active baby. Something I read said it indicates a baby that will be fussy and irritable. Let's hope that's not the case for this punkin!

I am looking forward to getting out of here and heading home - lots of things I'd like to work on this evening!

******************

It's Thursday (7/18/13) - creeping ever closer to that 31 week roll-over. I have an OB appointment tomorrow and am going to at least mention some of my anxiety about possible pre-term delivery after my early delivery with the twins, and mention the Braxton-hicks and pressure I've been feeling. You'd think I'd never done this before, but I just want some reassurance that it's all normal and ok at this point in the pregnancy. I'm feeling huge, as usual, and am curious how large I'm measuring now and wonder if I'm still measuring 2 weeks ahead. I'd be a little surprised if I'm not.

My co-workers threw me a surprise baby shower yesterday at the office and we were gifted with a very generous gift card (which will most likely be buying the stroller / car seat combo!) along with some fantastic hand-me-downs from one of my co-workers who has two little girls, the youngest is 20 months so they had some smaller baby gear and toys along with bags of clothes and blankets! I sorted through most of that last night and put everything 24 months and larger in one box, and everything smaller in the hamper to be washed. Maybe I'll get a chance to run a load this evening, but it might have to wait until the weekend. I think my favorite gift was a hand-made crocheted blanket with pinks and purples. It's so soft and just gorgeous! It's huge too! For now it will look pretty hanging at the edge of the bassinet until it's time to put it to use.

I keep thinking how different things are this time compared to with Kent. We made do with very little and that was fine by us, our family helped get us most of the essentials second hand and we were appreciative and made good use of what we were given. We had just the basics and nothing more; probably not a large wardrobe for him, and I know we didn't have much furniture in his nursery. I think just his crib and an older changing table for diapers, wipes, rags, etc. I don't even remember what I used to hold his clothes. I don't think we had a dresser in his room initially, but maybe we did. I'm pretty sure we just used regular towels when we bathed him most of the time, and he didn't have sleep sacks or the wearable blankets. We have so much more already this time for Miss Lindsey - I am able to indulge my shopping desires, and we have been given a LOT from friends this time. I didn't have many friends since we'd just gotten back from Africa when we were pregnant with Kent, and we were high school students so the friends we did have certainly weren't going to throw us a baby shower! It's just so different this time, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to buy the little extras if I want to, and grateful for the generosity of our friends and family, and then I feel a little guilty that Kent didn't get the same treatment. I just need to make sure he continues to feel loved and appreciated and make sure he lets us know if he ever feels otherwise.

I have been browsing through my Pinterest boards and was reminded of this incredibly cool gift idea I saw here that I think I am going to duplicate with Ziploc bags, for quick on the go changes. These are perfect to throw in the diaper bag! I think they are such a cool idea and are super sweet gift ideas too. I will put a diaper, small plastic bag for dirty diaper (I saw a recommendation somewhere to use doggie bags for this and think that would work really well!), an individually wrapped hand sanitizer wipe, and a onesie. I'll have a travel pack of wipes in the diaper bag always, along with cream, and a small bottle of powder but think having all those other items in individual bags will be super handy!! I had read somewhere else about keeping 1-2 changes of clothes in Ziploc bags in the diaper bag, because when you need the clean one then you have a place for the dirty clothes - so I am combining the two ideas. The original post also recommends disposal changing pads - we'll see how things go, I may decide I want some of those too - but have received two of the travel changing pads, so think those will work well and can just be wiped down after use with a baby wipe if they get dirty during a change.

I keep finding myself looking things up - like how often to bathe a newborn, what are the diapering station essentials, what do you need in a diaper bag, etc. I feel like I have forgotten pretty much everything! I know in my head we'll figure it out as we go along, and I survived just fine without the internet with Kent and things will work themselves out once baby arrives - I know a lot of what she needs will depend on her specifically, and what works, and what doesn't and there's only so much I can really prepare! Doesn't stop my head from spinning and thinking through all the possibilities though... sigh. Hopefully as the weeks tick by and we get closer to her arrival date I will just take it one day at a time!!

7/19/13 - Today was my almost 31 week OB appointment. I am measuring 32 weeks, all my vitals were good, and I had another very nice OB. We talked about a few impending delivery type things and she was very good - answered all my questions and took plenty of time to make sure we covered everything I wanted to talk about. She offered reassurance that there is no reason to worry about a pre-term delivery just because the twins came early. We touched on VBACing and she checked and couldn't find my delivery records in the files from the c-section with the twins (and they like to be able to review them prior to a VBAC attempt which makes sense to me!), so we requested those again as well. We talked about contraception after delivery, and whether or not we had a car seat for baby... it is so SURREAL to be talking about those things and knowing it's not just to talk about them, but because they will be things that are done or will come into play in the not so distant future! My next appointment will be 2-3 weeks from now, I'm probably going to schedule it for 3 weeks out since I have the ultrasound on the 31st. She said baby is head down based on feeling her, and she said she wouldn't be too worried about her being small or behind on growth, she doesn't feel small. That was nice to hear, though it will be extra reassuring to see actual measurements at the upcoming ultrasound. I got the curtains hung this evening in the nursery - that was fun! They look really good!! My first couple e-bay orders of baby clothes arrived and I washed them and got boxes out to sort them by size. Newborn and 0/3 - 3 months will go in the armoire. Everything else will be boxed up by size and we'll pull them out as we need them - at least that's my plan. :) I am curious to see how long we'll be able to use each different size - I know each child grows differently and a lot of it depends on their length - I know clothes are not all sized the same either, and just because something says "6 months" doesn't mean it won't fit earlier or later than that.

7/21/13 - Today we are officially 31 weeks! I love "roll-over" day! We took Kent to the airport yesterday and he arrived safely and I think he kind of enjoyed his solo flight. Kenneth and I are now kiddo free for about 10 days! We stayed up way too late on Saturday night just hanging out and watching some shows on Netflix and fell asleep on the couch. We slept in on Sunday morning which was wonderful, then after a lazy morning headed out to see a movie and enjoyed a big bucket of popcorn while we were there. We saw Red 2 - it was great! It was a fun and completely laid back. Now we just get to hang out at the house for the evening and then back to work on Monday morning! I'm excited for more of the lots of baby clothes I bought on e-bay to show up this week to be washed and sorted. I'm sure I bought too many things, but we'll use what we need and then pass them on or sell the ones we don't use later.

Only about 8-9 more weeks until we get to meet our little one! This next week will pass quickly, I'm sure. I'm only working for 4 days and then taking Friday off to head to North Carolina with a friend for a Surrogacy Together photo shoot! I am super excited about it and can't wait!!

Here are some nursery in progress pictures:
When we first brought the furniture home and were getting ready to put the pieces together.

Decoration - a hand-painted shelf with the lace bibs and bunny from Robin, a tea cup, and the "guess when baby will arrive" keepsake from the baby shower.

I got the curtains hung! The valances are from the bedding set, and my mother-in-law sewed the sheer curtains to go with them.

The changing station, in progress.

Still messy, but it's starting to come together!

The ribbon had been tied around a handmade crocheted blanket from a co-worker, I thought it was so sweet with Lindsey's initials on it, so I tied it around one of the bins.

The bassinet, and keeper of stuffed animals for the moment.

Starting to sort through the clothes we've been given and bought by size.

The crammed closet - mostly the larger items I'm waiting to open until after the rest of the nursery is put together!

A close up of the "guess when baby will arrive" keepsake from the shower.

Close-up of one of the valances.
7-21-13 31 weeks pregnant with baby Lindsey
 According to Baby Center:
How your baby's growing:
This week, your baby measures over 16 inches long. She weighs about 3 1/3 pounds (about the size of a coconut) and is heading into a growth spurt. She can turn her head from side to side, and her arms, legs, and body are beginning to plump out as needed fat accumulates underneath her skin. She's probably moving a lot, too, so you may have trouble sleeping because your baby's kicks and somersaults keep you up. Take comfort: All this moving is a sign that your baby is active and healthy.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Chicken and Rice


This is one of those "simple comfort food" dishes we love best around here. Easy to throw together, and you have a warm, cozy meal to enjoy in no time! It is easy to adjust to personal preferences using whichever add-ins you and your family like best. We added a can of peas and mushrooms to ours and all really enjoyed how this came out. The whole pan almost disappeared in one meal, and the leftovers were gone the next day! We served this up with some garlic Texas Toast, and a crisp salad would probably have gone very nicely with it as well.

Chicken and Rice adapted from Artsy Fartsy Mama
Serves: 4

Ingredients
1 TBS olive oil
9 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite sized pieces
3/4 - 1 packet Italian seasoning
1 can cream of or mushroom soup
1 cup uncooked rice (plus enough water to cook, per package directions)
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 can peas, drained
1 can mushrooms, drained

Directions
  1. Prepare rice, according to package directions. 
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. When heated, cook the chicken with a sprinkling of the Italian seasoning for about 10 minutes total, or until no longer pink in the middle. While the chicken is cooking, mix together the soup, remaining seasoning (to taste), half of the cheese and cooked rice in an 8x8 baking dish. Mix well. Stir in chicken pieces and top with remaining cheese.
  3. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or a little longer until cheese is completely melted if necessary. Serve hot, and enjoy!
Link Parties:
Motivate Me Monday
Melt in Your Mouth Monday
Marvelous Mondays


Friday, July 19, 2013

JELL-O Patriotic Mini Fruit Tarts




These are crazy easy, and super adorable mini desserts that are PERFECT for a potluck or get together of any kind. They look so pretty, and make for a great presentation! All you need are a couple simple ingredients and you're ready to go. You can customize these with different pudding fillings, different types of fruit, nut, or chocolate toppings, and try phyllo dough for the tart shell instead of pie crusts - easy to tweak and adjust!

I stuck to the original recipe, other than using sliced strawberries in place of the raspberries since that's what I could find the day I was shopping. I think almost any fruit combo would be yummy and look pretty with this base. It's very patriotic with the red and blue fruit to go with the white pudding though, depending on if you're looking for a themed presentation or not.

JELL-O Patriotic Mini Fruit Tarts by JELL-O on AllRecipes

Ingredients
1 (14.1 ounce) package ready-to-use refrigerated pie crusts
1 (3.4 ounce) package JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
1 cup cold milk
1/2 cup thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping
1 cup fresh raspberries (I used quartered strawberries)
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Directions
  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Spray 24 mini muffin pan cups lightly with cooking spray. Cut each pie crust into 12 wedges. Press 1 wedge up and around inside of each prepared cup to form shell, pressing edges of dough together as necessary to completely cover bottom and side of cup. Bake 10 to 12 min. or until golden brown; cool slightly. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.
  3. Meanwhile, beat pudding mix and milk in medium bowl with whisk 2 min. Stir in COOL WHIP; spoon into resealable plastic bag. Refrigerate until tart shells are cooled.
  4. Cut off one bottom of corner of filling bag; use to fill tart shells. Top with berries just before serving.
Link Parties:
The Weekend Potluck
Showcase Your Recipes
Pinterest Power Party


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Breakfast Banana Bundt Cake



This recipe is really fantastic!! We had a few very ripe bananas in need of baking or freezing - so baking it was! The original recipe includes a cream cheese frosting recipe which I have no doubt is a fantastic addition - but I really loved this recipe without any adornment. A light powdered sugar dusting might also be a nice touch for a little extra sweet - but I really didn't think it needed anything else. It came out moist, tender, perfectly flavorful, and absolutely delicious! Great for breakfast, a snack, or dessert. This will disappear in no time around our house I'm sure and I would definitely use it again - it would be great as a regular loaf of banana bread as well but it was nice to fix it as a cake for something a little different and special. :)

The original recipe calls for a 65-75 minute bake time, but mine was perfectly cooked through at 60 minutes so I would definitely check it at 60 minutes and only bake longer if necessary to help prevent overcooking, and keep the cake moist.

Breakfast Banana Bundt Cake adapted from I Am A Honey Bee
Makes 8-12 servings

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups cake flour
1 4-serving size pkg vanilla instant pudding (I used sugar free)
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed (I used 4 small)
1 cup sour cream

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a large Bundt Pan by generously buttering and then lightly dusting the sides with flour.
  2. Whisk the flours, pudding mix, baking soda, and salt together.
  3. Beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugars and beat at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract. Then add the eggs, one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each egg.
  4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the mashed bananas until well blended. Finally, mix in half the dry ingredients, all the sour cream, and then the rest of the flour mixture. Mix just until blended, be careful not to over-mix.
  5. Scrape the batter into the bundt pan, rap the pan on the counter to remove any bubbles from the batter, and smooth the top.
  6. Bake for approximately 60 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. Check the cake after about 30 minutes, if it is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with a foil tent.
  7. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before carefully removing cake from pan and placing directly on the rack to cool to room temp.
Link Parties:
Showcase Your Talent Thursday
BBQ Block Party
Show and Share Wednesday
What's Cookin' Wednesday




Wednesday, July 17, 2013

HERDEZ® Guajillo Chile Chicken Tacos



This recipe originally called for lobster (which I imagine would be FANTASTIC) but I used chicken, since my hubby isn't a huge seafood-at-home fan, and these were AMAZING. The flavor of the Herdez sauce was absolutely perfect - just the right amount of flavor and heat. I loved the light crunch of the grilled tortilla with the melty cheese, warm filling, and cool toppings. I added a drizzle of sour cream which was mixed with some of the Herdez tomatilla sauce and the whole meal was fantastic! Definite keeper - I really preferred the flavor of the Guajillo Chile sauce to normal taco seasoning, it was fresh tasting and not at all salty. Kenneth said that the tacos were a little "hard to handle" since they were folded in half and then grilled, instead of wrapped up like a burrito which would have made it easier to keep all the toppings inside. I think either way of wrapping is fine - I didn't find them to be all that messy, no more so than usual for a taco! :)

HERDEZ® Guajillo Chile Chicken Tacos adapted from QHHUNTERS on AllRecipes

Ingredients
3 chicken breast halves (9-12 ounces of chicken)
1 TBS olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup HERDEZ® Red Guajillo Chile Mexican Cooking Sauce
1 medium tomato, diced
4 flour tortillas, 8" size
1/2 cup shredded Colby-Jack cheese
1 small Hass avocado, sliced or diced
1/2 cup shredded lettuce

Directions

  1. Heat 1 TBS olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, dice the chicken into small, bite sized pieces. Add chicken to hot skillet and sprinkle with salt and pepper; cook for about 10 minutes or until no longer pink in the middle and lightly browned. In a medium bowl, combine the Herdez cooking sauce, diced tomato, and the cooked chicken.
  2. Lay out tortillas flat, on one half of each tortilla add 1/4 of the cheese and then 1/4 of the chicken mixture. Fold over the tops and gently place on a pre-heated indoor grill pan; grill until tortilla is lightly browned on each side and cheese is melted, about 1 minute per side.
  3. Garnish with avocado slices, lettuce, additional chopped tomatoes, and sour cream if desired.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

HERDEZ® Tomatillo Verde Huevos Rancheros



This was an incredibly filling and delicious meal. I scaled down for 1 and had this for lunch - it was so good! (My hubby does NOT like eggs, so he totally missed out!) Lots of fresh, tasty ingredients that worked very well together. The lightly spicy tomatillo sauce gives this excellent flavor. The original recipe calls for using fresh tomato and onion in the mixture that goes around the outside edge. I made it that way, but sauteed the onion, tomato, and sauce together which essentially created a salsa - so I figured just using salsa might be easier! It's up to you on how you want to prepare the veggie mixture for the outside - whatever method sounds best to you. If you opt for salsa instead of the fresh veggies, you will probably want to use a little less of the tomatillo sauce since the salsa will already have some seasoning / spice to it.

This is a wonderful meal that looks like a lot more effort than it actually takes to make it. It was delicious and I would definitely fix this again!

HERDEZ® Tomatillo Verde Huevos Rancheros adapted from ItalianSpice on AllRecipes

Ingredients
1/2 (12-ounce) jar HERDEZ® Tomatillo Verde Mexican Cooking Sauce, divided
4 ounces of sour cream
1/2 cup mild salsa (or use a combination or fresh onion and tomato instead, if desired)
1 avocado - peeled, pitted, and chopped
1 cup refried beans
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
4 flour tortillas
non-stick cooking spray
4 eggs

Directions
  1. Combine 3 ounces of the tomatilla cooking sauce and all of the sour cream in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Mix remaining cooking sauce with the salsa and avocado in a separate bowl (taste test as you add the cooking sauce to the salsa to make sure you get the right flavor and "heat" you're looking for - use less sauce if desired). Set aside.
  2. Heat refried beans with 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese in a bowl in the microwave until heated through - about 60 seconds; stir to evenly combine.
  3. Lay a tortilla onto a plate; spread tortilla with a 1/4 of the refried bean mixture, leaving about 1 inch of tortilla bare around the edge.
  4. Heat a skillet over medium to medium-high heat, spray with cooking spray; when heated, gently crack eggs into pan and cook until egg whites are firm on the bottom and starting to set on top, about 3 minutes; gently flip and cook eggs on the other side until whites are set, about 1-2 more minutes.
  5. Place a fried egg into the center of the tortilla on top of bean mixture. Sprinkle about 1-2 Tablespoons of remaining cheddar cheese (to taste) over the egg. Spoon a ring of the salsa mixture onto the bare edge of the tortilla and drizzle the whole thing with about a Tablespoon of sour cream mixture (or to taste). Repeat with remaining ingredients; serve hot.
Link Parties:
Share Your Stuff Tuesday