And Then There Were Four

A little over three weeks ago we welcomed a beautiful baby girl to our family. Baby L. is sweet and surprising calm. Bear is a protective big sister already and eager to dole out kisses and head rubs at every chance she gets.

At first I worried that having a baby so close to Christmas would be difficult, but it made the holidays more joyful than they have ever been. Christmas feels like eons ago now, but I will remember it as a blizzard of cookies, sleepless nights, new baby cuddles, and all things Paw Patrol.

Of course, adding a second child to the family is one of the hardest things we have ever done. The guilt over diminishing time with our first plagues me. As does weariness from lack of sleep and the emotional roller coaster of the past few weeks. We have taken not one but two trips to the ER since returning home from the hospital, including one in an ambulance at 5:30 in the morning. I will never forget the sight of seeing five paramedics crowded around our tiny bathroom. Fortunately, we are all well and everything was fine on both accounts.

We are adjusting to our new normal now, as life soldiers on, and looking forward to the year ahead. Family and friends continue to spoil us with delicious meals and treats and I am slowly inching back into the kitchen. The Asian Chicken Slaw from the blog What’s Gabby Cooking was the first thing I cooked post pregnancy and Bear and I spent some quality time together in the kitchen last Sunday making Cherry and Maple Granola. Joel declared it the best granola he’s ever had. We’ve eaten it by the fistful, over plain yogurt, with a splash of cream, and sprinkled over Haagen-Dasz vanilla ice cream.

Happy 2019 from our family to yours!

Photo Credit: Auntie Sarah


Saturday

Asian Chicken Slaw (recipe from What’s Gabby Cooking)


Sunday

Cherry and Maple Granola (recipe from “Pull Up a Chair” by Tiffani Thiessen)

We substituted chopped pecans for the cashews.


(December 2018 – January 2019)

Checking Off the To Do List

I’m busy getting down to the last few items on my “to do” list before the baby arrives and thought I would get a jump start on posting last week’s menu. I spent the week savoring every minute with Bear. From preschool drop offs to art projects and reading books at home. I can’t believe our solo time together during the week is coming to an end. Joel pulled some long days at the office in preparation for paternity leave, so Bear and I were on our own for dinner four out of the five nights. I’m still amazed I got dinner on the table even one of those nights.

Next up on the “to do” list? Clean the coffee pot. Never mind the fact that I asked for a new one for Christmas. I haven’t had coffee in 9+ months (that’s nine!) and my first sip has to be perfection. Am I right? Hope you all have a lovely week.

The Menu


Sunday

Beef Lo Mein Noodles (recipe from Life Made Sweeter)

Sides: Braised/Sautéed red cabbage finished with butter, salt, and a splash of red wine vinegar


Monday

Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili (recipe from Food Network Kitchen)

We make this chili often and love it best topped with sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, and crushed tortilla chips. I find the chia seeds pointless and omit them.

Sides: Sliced vegetables and steamed kale (for those who like to top their chili with a healthy green)

 


Tuesday

 

Potato Basil Frittata (recipe from Ina Garten via Food Network)

Bear loved the fact that I used purple potatoes.

Sides: Roasted beets & sautéed sugar snap peas


Wednesday

Skillet Chicken with Creamy Spinach Artichoke Sauce (recipe from Cooking Classy)

We ate ours over brown rice for dinner and with pasta for lunch on Sunday. We liked it best over pasta.

Sides: Roasted cauliflower


Thursday

Leftovers


Friday

Leftovers


Saturday

Pumpkin Scones (recipe from Rachel-Snachel via Genius Kitchen)

Hot scones with icing, fresh sliced bananas, and leftover potato basil frittata for breakfast before ballet class.

Grilled Salmon Sandwiches (recipe from Ina Garten via Food Network)

These sandwiches are so easy and make the perfect quick dinner after an afternoon of sledding in the backyard.

Sides: Greens with vinaigrette + roasted broccoli & carrots


(Dec 9th, 2018 – Dec 15th, 2018)

T Minus One Week

Well. All I can say is that there is nothing quite like pregnancy to make a girl feel special. I have felt truly blessed by the support I’ve received over the past nine months. From friends and family who have offered to help with Bear, volunteered to run to the store to pick up food, asked if they can prepare food to stock our freezer, and checked in on me time and time again. To the older African American sales clerk at Von Maur who congratulated me profusely on my pregnancy and wanted to hear all about how I was feeling. To the Middle Eastern sales clerk, about my age, at Macy’s who got a huge smile on his face when he saw my bump and paused while handing me my purchases to say, “I pray you have a healthy baby.” To the woman who offered to get me a chair while I stood in a check out line on Saturday (am I seriously that big?!). To the two little old ladies who corned me at the mall last week to make sure I knew how radiant I looked. To my amazing coworkers who brought cookies and presented me with a signed card on my last day of work before maternity leave. And, of course, to the teenaged bagboy at the grocery store on Sunday who said, “Boy, you’re really stocking up on groceries… Good luck with your baby.” I wasn’t really stocking up. It was a normal trip to the grocery store but, of course, I blamed it on the baby. Honestly, it all brings tears to my eyes. Babies seem to bring communities together and a group of strangers who otherwise might not say more than a few words to one another. I am reminded that, no matter where we come from, the majority of us just want the same things. Peace, love, blessings for others, and a good family life.

I plan to sneak in one more blog post before the baby arrives but, if I don’t have a chance to get one out, thank you for reading. I plan to resume blogging again as soon as I am able to get back in the kitchen.

The Menu


Sunday

Leftovers


Monday

Sheet-Pan Chicken with Sourdough and Bacon (recipe from Justin Chapple at Food & Wine)

The picture was not pretty and I wasn’t in the mood for dinner, but Joel and Bear tell me this was good.

Sides: Greens with vinaigrette


Tuesday

Slow Roasted Pork Carnitas (recipe from Rick Bayless)

This is a simple, deliciously porky, recipe for carnitas from Rick Bayless. One of the supreme authorities on traditional Mexican cuisine. Also, this recipe couldn’t be easier. Place the pork in a baking dish, sprinkle some salt over the meat, pour in 1/3 cup water, cover, and bake for one hour. Then, instead of standing over the hot stove frying the meat, just turn up the oven, remove the foil, and let the meat brown. This isn’t a fancy recipe by any means. It’s just good old home cooking. We ate our carnitas topped with guacamole and sliced radishes.

Sides: Steamed Green Beans


Wednesday

Old Fashioned Chicken Soup (recipe from Food Network Kitchen) with Easy Homemade Egg Noodles (recipe from Tastes Better from Scratch)

I had big plans for Wednesday. Bear was supposed to go to a play group in the afternoon so I could get out and check some items off my to-do list. Then, Bear and Joel were supposed to head to my in-laws for dinner while I treated myself to a haircut (the last for a long while, I’m sure). Instead, Bear woke up and puked all over her bed. Of course that meant no play group, no shopping, and loads of laundry. It also meant that I was compelled to make homemade chicken noodle soup. So, you know, there went the afternoon!

This recipe for chicken soup, as long as you salt it to your preference, is so so good. The meat practically falls off the bones after simmering for an hour and the broth is rich and soothing. I like to add egg noodles to the soup, and I particularly love the egg noodle recipe I stumbled upon at the blog Tastes Better from Scratch. I recommend making a half batch, as the noodles puff up quite a bit when you drop them into the simmering broth.

Of course Bear was fine by dinner and refused to eat more than a few spoonful’s of the soup, but I was happy she felt better and I thoroughly enjoyed the fruits of my labor.

Sides: Smoked Gouda cheese and crackers


Thursday

Leftovers


Friday

Last day of work before maternity leave + dinner out


Saturday

Adults night out with appetizerss and games.


(Dec 2nd, 2018 – Dec 8th, 2018)

Six Pounds of Cookies

Aside from the fact that we made 3 (!) delicious batches of Christmas cookies last week, our week was extremely ordinary. The meals were so-so and, unbeknownst to me, it appears that we ate a lot of broccoli. I suppose a week of the sort should come as no surprise, as I am nearing the end of this pregnancy and feeling awfully large. My greatest desire this week is to lay on the couch and indulge in said Christmas cookies. Hope your week is as sweet as mine!

The Menu


Sunday

Beef and Cheddar Hand Pies (recipe from Martha Stewart)

Cornish Pasties (recipe from King Arthur Flour)

I don’t know what came over me on Sunday. I woke up with the notion that I simply HAD to get my hands on a steaming, buttery Cornish pasty. Feeling too exhausted to cook but unsure of how to actually satisfy my craving without making it myself, I trudged to the grocery store before dinner to pick up ingredients for Martha Stewart’s quick Beef and Cheddar Hand Pies. The recipe looked easy enough and I was sure I would have my pasties in no time. However, back at home, I happened to steal a glance at the ingredient list on the back of the Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry pack. Good Lord! Don’t look! Don’t ever look! How could I possibly feed that to my family on an ordinary Sunday night? I just couldn’t do it. I gritted my teeth, threw the pastry into the garbage can, and spent a few minutes stomping around the kitchen slamming cupboards. A ruined dinner plan really gets under my skin… you know? A quick search of the internet led me to a recipe from King Arthur Flour that included Cornish pasty dough. I set out to make the dough and gingerly folded the cooked filling from Martha’s recipe into each of the little disks. I baked the pasties according to the King Arthur recipe, and lo and behold… steaming, buttery pasties. Labor intensive but so worth it.

Sides: Steamed broccoli (there was no time for anything fancy)

We spent a better part of the afternoon making Soft Snickerdoodle Cookies, courtesy of Juju Bee at Genius Kitchen. Slightly under baked at 10 minutes, these cookies are delicious!


Monday

Chicken Wild Rice Casserole (recipe from Pinch of Yum)

A comforting Minnesota casserole with chicken, wild rice, and absolutely zero cans of condensed cream of “something” soup. I forgot to nudge my croutons down into the sauce. Hence the singed edges. This is a keeper for chilly wintery nights.

Sides: Steamed green beans


Tuesday

Sausage, Beans and Broccoli Rabe Soup (recipe from Rachael Ray via Food Network)

I had high hopes for this soup, but it wasn’t anything to write home about. First off, I had to substitute regular broccoli for the broccoli rabe and I added it far too soon. It nearly disintegrated in the soup. Also, the sausage I used was too mild. Spicy Italian sausage would have been better. I won’t make this again.

Sides: Greens with vinaigrette & sourdough toast with butter


Wednesday

Leftovers


Thursday

Salmon Burgers (recipe from Pinch of Yum)
This recipe as a whole, with the slaw and the salmon burgers (see recipe), is so darn delicious! It’s one of my favorites. But, I was low on energy tonight and could only muster the strength for the salmon burgers.

Sides: Buttered spinach pasta & roasted cauliflower


Friday

Leftovers… I think?


Saturday

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares (recipe from Teri D. at Genius Kitchen)

This is our new favorite Christmas candy recipe. The healthiest part of this confection is probably the full stick of butter but, it’s ok. Just go ahead and throw dietary caution to the wind. These little bars are so unbelievably delicious! I added two cups of plain Rice Krispies and I implore you to as well. The crunch pairs well with the spongy marshmallows and the creamy peanut butter. Also, we like these best straight out of the fridge.

Chocolate Mint Crackles (recipe from Marth Stewart)

This is the seventh year in a row that I’ve made these fudgy, powdered sugar capped beauties. My only advice is to substitute peppermint extract for the mint extract. I find that the mint extract is too harsh against the cocoa.

After baking all day, we opted for an easy dinner of pasta with boneless chicken breasts baked in Rao’s Marinara Sauce and smothered with parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. I also threw in a bunch of chopped kale to the pasta water near the end of cooking.


(Nov 25th, 2018 – Dec 1st, 2018)

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving came and went so quickly this year. We celebrated, as we always do, at Joel’s parent’s house with my family too. The food was delicious and the extra days off were much appreciated. I was in charge of relishes and sweet potatoes, so I brought my favorite 3-Ingredient Sweet Potato Casserole with Maple Pecans. It’s creamy, sweet, and completely vegan (if you’re in to that sort of thing). I suggest you bookmark the recipe for next year.

The Menu


Sunday

Leftovers


Monday

Cuba- Style Black Beans (recipe from Tiffani Thiessen via Cooking Channel) &

Cuban Fluffy White Rice (recipe from Juliann Esquivel via Just a Pinch Recipes)

The photo does not do this dinner justice, but it’s actually one of our absolute favorites. The beans are mild, perfectly cooked, and well seasoned every time, while the rice is truly addictive. Adding a smashed garlic clove, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and 1/4 cup of oil to the rice while it cooks renders it flavorful and glossy. As for the beans, I watched Tiffani make them on her cooking show a while ago and, if I remember correctly, she said that she got the recipe from the Cuban mother of her ex- backup dancer boyfriend. I’ve never been to Cuba but both of these recipes taste authentic to me. What may not be authentic, but still delicious, is topping your bowl of beans and rice with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese. Be sure to keep and eye on your beans while they cook, adding a bit of water each time the beans are no longer submerged.

Sides: Greens with vinaigrette & roasted sweet potatoes sprinkled with chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper


Tuesday

Sesame Noodles with Swiss Chard and Chicken (recipe adapted from Chrissy Tiegen by Alexandra Stafford at Food 52)

Another family favorite! The combination of tahini, soy sauce, garlic, and chili oil is superbly delicious. Throw in the fact that the chicken breasts are poached whole (no messy cutting boards!) and there’s a full bunch of swiss chard mingling among those slippery noodles and this meal has it all.

Sides: Red cabbage sautéed/ braised with a bit of water until tender and finished with a pat of butter, a splash of red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper


Wednesday

Leftovers


Thursday

Thanksgiving


Friday

A simple morning celebration with French Toast to honor Bear’s 3 1/2 Birthday + Thanksgiving Leftovers for dinner


Saturday

Thanksgiving leftovers with friends


(Nov 18th, 2018 – Nov 24th, 2018)