Thursday, May 23, 2013

Pregnancy Woes

Baby G. Oh Baby G. He's driving my crazy. We had an ultrasound on Tuesday (21st) and he's hanging out, head down, feet up. Which means his head is sitting directly on my pelvic bone. And that sucks. The pressure... it feels like I have a 3 day old burrito lodged in my intestines.

He weighed 1 pound 7 ounces which is normal. He's the size of a rutabaga. A what? See the picture? That's what it looks like (probably without the googly eyes if you were at the grocery store.) So a pound and a half... which means that over the next 15 weeks the kiddo has to gain what, about 7 pounds? That's about 2 pounds a week. Or maybe it's exponential? I need a chart!! I found a chart! I'll probably graph it.. and convert it those grams to pounds for the next blog. :)
The doctor & ultrasound technician said that everything looks great and the baby is measuring perfectly!! That makes me feel good. I am growing a human being inside me! It's so weird to really sit back and think about it. I'm a little creeped out now.  

My super pregnant friend (as in, due next Friday!!!) found this gem. I ordered one. It can't get here quick enough. (It'll arrive Friday thanks to Amazon Prime.) The pillow with ice pack is also perfect after pregnancy. When I have a migraine I like having an ice pack on my neck.

Can I just add how amazing Amazon Prime 2-day shipping is? That makes the $79 yearly fee worth it, aside from all the movies and tv shows I can watch online.
I have been experience nasty heart burn and "morning sickness" around 4pm each day. It's a killer and I can't figure out how to fix it. On the weekends I can lay down and sleep for 20 minutes and that seems to help. Carbs aren't helping, Apple Juice helps a little... but I just feel like crap. And I don't like it.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Nailed It! My Butter Braid fail!

So wow... I had big hope for making my own Butter Braid. And it was a big ole pile of fail. As Jason and I were making it and it wasn't going well, he commented that I might have my own "Nailed It." I like to show him the Pinterest board of Nailed It have compiled. I never thought I would try something and fail so miserably at something that seemed fairly easy. But I did.

So here's what I've been craving.

Here's the recipe I found and picture of what I wanted mine to look like.

And here's how it turned out.

The recipe calls for 1 cup of brown sugar. The mixture was so thin I kept adding in more brown sugar - probably 2 cups. And I don't remember seeing it in the recipe, but honestly, you should let the mixture sit for alike an hour to really thicken up and cool. That could have been a good suggestion. The mixture still probably would have melted out during the cooking process. Can I try again? Eh, probably. Can I get it to turn out? Probably. Will I? Nope. I'd rather found some school age children selling Butter Braids and buy a dozen of the stupid $12 braids. Trust me, when I fail in the kitchen I don't like it. I throw some things away every once in a while. I've made some ok tasting but awful looking concoctions I couldn't continue to eat. I have made some awful tasting things too. It happens, but I don't like baking fails. Baking is supposed to be easy. It's chemistry. Butter Braids though? It's an ART. I'm not artsy. I'm scientific and would like to stick with something that's just measure, mix, pour, bake.

Sooo... the truth? That I didn't know? This weekend I was talking to my sister about it and she mentioned how she would use Puff Pastry. Uh, like totally, that's what the recipe calls for! And I'm like, isn't Phyllo Dough the same as Puff Pastry? Uh. No? It's not? Ohhhhhh.... that's probably what went wrong. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day & Working Mothers

All in all, it was a great Mother's Day. You know, until the work panic/anxiety attack set in around 10pm. But work is another subject for another time.

On Saturday I took Monday to training. She's actually doing well. There were only 2 other dogs there, and in comparison to one dog (V) and V's owner, Monday and me are a-ok. I'm still learning, Monday is still learning, but it's amazing the difference the (shock) collar has over a pinch collar. I even got Monday to "place" on a folding chair. Her behavior at home is much better. We'll test it tomorrow when the plumber is here to 

Jason mowed the yard Saturday evening and I put together the Tator Tot Casseroles. We also went out to dinner - the Olive Garden. Helpful hint - sit at the bar! The place was crowded (no surprise), but the bar was empty. We sat there and was in and out within an hour. I kept my eye on a table was seated right after us and we were already working on our entrees when they were finally given their salads. We even got dessert! We don't usually get dessert so it's a nice treat.

When we got home I attempted the Butter Braids. It was a big ole fail.That's another blog I'm working on! 

Sunday morning when I woke up, Jason asked what I wanted for breakfast. He had asked the day before and even told me if he didn't know how to make it, he would go buy it. :) He made me blueberry pancakes and freshly squeeze apple juice. He must have really cleaned the juicer well too! (Just kidding, we had some apple juice in the fridge.) He got me a card and he ordered me a nee Tervis Tumbler. I drink out of those daily. We have Cardinal ones and I bought him a Superman one. Then we went to the movies to see Iron Man 3! When we got home we took a quick nap. It was nice and relaxing. I got some work done and he served me dinner. Salad and Tator Tot casserole. It was a great day. 

I saw this interesting article about the differences in Mom's today verses back then. It's a lot of charts and graphs. 

I was talking to my friend, D, and she reminded me I need to work hard(er) these next few months and that when the baby comes I''l appreciate the time off, but I'll also appreciate going back to work because I'm not meant to be a stay at home mom. She appreciates going to work, engineering things, and getting home and being a mom. 

A day late, but Happy Mother's day to all mom's! I can't wait to see what next year brings!

Meat Snobs

Jason and I are meat snobs. We are. It's our vice. And it's not always pretty, especially for our budget. A little over a year ago while we were out to eat and enjoying a so-so steak dinner, we figured that buying good quality steak would be cheaper than going out to eat and paying $19.99 each for a so-so meal.

We love Omaha Steaks and Kansas City Steaks. It's crazy ridiculous. I keep my eye out for Omaha groupons and KC offers a lot of deals online. My favorite company of the two is the KC one. Why? Because shipping is $5 and quick. (Since it's coming from KC.) Omaha shipping, while sometimes having better overall costs to their price per pound, runs around $25 each order. Usually the Omaha groupons have a free shipping option. But the Omaha groupons (and a lot of Omaha packages) come with too many extras. Desserts that we don't need, hamburgers, hot dogs, side dishes.
I do love the Kansas City Hot Dogs. They have been some of the best hot dog's I've had. Aside from the Nathan's hot dogs at Sams Club. Seriously - do they cook those in crack? In fact, we went to Sams Club one Sunday mostly so I could get a hot dog. And they were sold out. This pregnant lady almost went postal. I might have cried a little. :(

One of my friends discovered an Crooked Creek Beef, an all natural beef farm near St. Louis and bought meat last year from them. They cows are raised drug, antibiotic, steroid, and hormone free or in other words, the old fashion way our ancestors and cavemen used to do it. Jason and I talked about it, and decided to go ahead and purchase a quarter-cow. It's 115 pounds of beef. We get to decide how it's processed and it'll be a mixture of t-bones, porterhouse, rib eye, sirloin, round steaks/roasts, chuck steak/roasts, sirloin/rump roasts, stew meat, and lean ground beef. And when it's processed (in the beginning of July), we'll probably be acquiring a new deep freeze. I plan to stock up the deep freeze with lots of casseroles for after the baby is born. We will very well the last half of this year!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Tater Tot Casserole

One of my other childhood favorite meals was Tater Tot Casserole. The best part of the casserole is the Tots!! :) It's really easy to make, and they make great casseroles to make ahead and freeze. I've handed them out before and my friends love them.
Note - I only know how to make this in bulk! The below makes 2 8x8 casserole size dishes and is based on measurements from store bought ingredients.

Turkey Tater Tot Casserole

  • 2 lbs ground turkey (Sam's Club sells this quantity in 2.5 pounds, that's ok.)
  • 1 packet of French Onion Soup
  • 2-3 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 white onion, diced ~ 1 cup or 6 diced ounces
  • garlic, salt & pepper to taste
  • 24 ounces frozen mixed veggies (corn, peas, green beans, carrots)
  • 1 - 10 ounce can of Cream of XYZ soup. I prefer Cream of Mushroom but it doesn't matter.
  • Lots of Tater Tots (Almost 2 pounds)
Brown/Cook the ground turkey, french onion soup (packet only, don't follow the directions), Worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt & pepper. Once it's about half done, add the diced onion.
Once completely cooked, drain the mixture above. (I let it cool. At this point you could put it straight into a glass 9x13 or 2 glass 8x8s for dinner right away.)
In a bowl, mix together the mixed veggies & soup (do not add milk/water.)
In pan, spread the meat mixture evenly across the bottom. Spread the veggie & soup mixture on top of that. Cover with Tots.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes. Since the meat is already cooked, your end goal is cooked tater tots.
I usually chill the casseroles and then freeze. Make sure to defrost 24-hours ahead of time.

For the nutritional value - see this post.
Notes - The ground turkey, french onion soup, and Worcestershire sauce can be replaced with ground beef. Since ground turkey does not have flavor, the soup & Worcestershire is used to flavor it. You could still use the the soup packet & Worcestershire to flavor ground beef.
If you grab the wrong bag of mixed veggies, be a good mom and pick out the lima beans.
I think my mom used to make this and throw it right in the oven. I know she froze some. I really only make this on a weekend (in bulk) and freeze some and cook one later that weekend.
Lots of dishes are created - I would recommend doing this bulk cooking on a rainy day when your husband isn't mowing the lawn. That way he can help clean up!
I made 6 of these today. Since I knew I would be making a lot of freezer meals this summer for after the baby is born, I purchased the Gladware 8x8s off Amazon. It's about $2/container. I was purchasing foil containers, but I don't like how the foil containers are super flimsy.
Today's recipe/cost included:
6-gladware containers ($2/each)
5-pounds ground turkey ($14.95 - SC)
2 packets French Onion Soup ($1.08 WM)
1 onion ($1.25/1.58 pounds)
72 ounces mixed veggies ($5.28 SC)
26 ounces Cream of Mushroom soup ($1.98 WM)
10 ounce Cream of Mushroom soup ($1.00 WM)
8 pounds Tater Tots ($6.98 SC)
SC = Sam's Club, WM = Walmart. I didn't use all 8 pounds of Tater Tots. Just under one pound each container. I'll estimate 6 pounds at $5.25.
Total cost for 6 casseroles = $44.52 or $7.42 each casserole or $5.42 without the fancy pants gladware container.  I didn't include the cost for garlic, salt & pepper, or Worcestershire sauce. I used 5 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce  - one tablespoon per pound. If not made in bulk, the cost would go up. I think a pound of Tater Tots cost around $2 at the grocery store. I could have reduced cost by using non-name brand soup. I did use non-name brand veggies & french onion soup.
One of these is for a friend moving to town, one is our dinner, and the other 4 will be saved for a Potluck Pool Party Exchange in a couple weeks. I'll have to make a couple more at that time too.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Stuffed Peppers 2013

I don't stray far from some of my favorite dishes. Stuffed Peppers are a favorite  and easy. In fact, so easy, my husband can make them. By himself! We tag team it and make them together. It provides a good time to talk about our day. I chop the onion and cut the tops off the peppers while he starts browning the meat. He then cleans out the peppers while I drain the meat, add the onion & diced peppers, and seasonings. He'll blanch the peppers and line the pans with foil.... it's a good team effort to get dinner made.

I've already blogged about stuffed peppers before, and you can find the other recipe here. My other stuffed pepper recipe.

Here's tonight's recipe.

Stuffed Peppers in 2013

  • 6 green bell peppers
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • chili powder, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, garlic to taste
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup uncooked rice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • marinara sauce (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (optional)
The Peppers
Cut the tops off the green peppers. Dice the tops to add back to the mixture.
Clean out the peppers with a spoon. Don't puncture the bottom.
Place peppers in boiling water. Cook the pepper for 5-10 minutes to soften. If you skip this important step your pepper will still be raw after baking.
Drain peppers and place in foil lined pan. We use our loaf pans because the peppers stay upright.
The Stuffing
Start browning the beef. I like to add around a teaspoon of each of those seasonings listed above to flavor the meat.
Drain the meat and add the onion & chopped green pepper tops.
Add the Worcestershire sauce.
Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the rice, water, and diced tomatoes w/ juice. We prefer fire roasted.
Cover and let cook 10-15 minutes. Add a little more water if the rice is not covered with water.
Add the marinara sauce to the mixture. Stir well.
Stuff the peppers with the mixture and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. You can add the cheese to the top before baking, or mix the cheese into the mixture.

Enjoy :)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Nursery for Baby G

Deciding on a nursery set has been the most difficult choice ever. What makes it hard is knowing the sky is the limit with cost (ha!). In truth, we can afford a lot of things, but I have no desire to spend money. Especially a lot of money. As Jason said, the child's bed shouldn't cost more than our bed.

After months of looking at furniture and discussing costs and the future, we finally decided on a set from Wal-mart. The Carter's Child of Mine Brookline set. The crib is 4-in-1 and will covert to a toddler bed, full size bed, and rocket ship. The dresser should hopefully last the kid through college (at UMR of course). The reviews were great so we took a chance and ordered it. The best feature of getting something from Wal-mart is the Ship-to-Store option. I don't understand why Target hasn't caught up. I'm not going to pay $40 to ship a dresser if you choose to sell the other items in store.

Today Baby G is 22 weeks. I'm not over half way done cooking this little guy! He's quite a kicker. Today he kicked me so hard I thought it was going to be like Alien and he was going to bust through my stomach. I never actually saw Alien, I just know the scene was mocked in Spaceballs. Yes, that's right, my scary movie knowledge comes from spoofs. May the Swartz be with you! (This joke was funnier when I wrote it yesterday on May 4th.)

It was a busy weekend. We managed to knock almost everything off our To Do list. We picked up the dresser from Wal-mart. We went to Carters to return all the girls clothes we bought and exchange them for boy clothes. We picked out mostly 9-month & 12-month clothes. I know at the baby shower people will probably gift a lot of 0-3 months. We'll take inventory after the baby shower to determine what else we need and then hit up Once Upon a Child to finish the infant wardrobe.

We also made it to Target to finish our baby registry. I'm much happier with Target instead of Babies R Us. BRU is expensive and the store is entirely overwhelming. Target has like 1/8th of the store dedicated to baby and it's much easier to get through. We got through there within an hour.

Then we headed to Cotton Babies to complete and edit our registry there. We already have a stash of 29 cloth diapers so there aren't a lot left to purchase. But, we do have quite a lot on the registry there that we'll still need to complete the cloth diapering accessory stash (such as wipes & diaper pail).

Future plans include hopefully painting the weekend of Memorial Day. We have to paint the guest room and convert it to my office. That means the bed is being removed from that room! We'll be replacing it in the future with a futon. Then we'll get the current office turned into the nursery. We haven't decided on colors yet.

Mom's Carrot Casserole

Many many many years ago, I remember eating mom's carrot casserole. She didn't make it often, but when she did it was one of my favorites! (Along with Texas Potatoes, Chicken 'n Rice, and Lasagna.)

So maybe a year or so ago I thought I'd attempt it. It didn't turn out well. Instead of a smooth and creamy cheese & carrot mixture, it was like carrot, cheese, and sand. The carrots weren't mushy enough and were kinda gritty. Total fail. And big disappointment. My taste buds had much higher expectations and I totally let them down.

So tonight - attempt number two. Instead of using my Ninja to mush the carrots, I broke out my food processor. (Bridal Shower gift from Mom & Grandma!) Every girl should own one of these. It's a kitchen must have!

I already have high hopes for my carrot casserole. The cooked carrots & butter was a much smoother consistency. And I'm not sure what recipe I found online last time, but I know I didn't look for my mom's recipe.

Mom's Carrot Casserole
A Paula Dean approved recipe (because it has a stick of butter)
  • 1lb carrots, peeled & sliced
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups grated cheese
Cook the carrots in boiling water until tender. Around 15-20 minutes.
In a food processor pulverize the carrots and butter together. Add eggs & milk until blended.

Add Cheese & mix by hand. (I dumped into another bowl and let it cool another 10 minutes so the cheese didn't automatically melt.)
Dump mixture into a grease casserole dish.
Back at 350 for 40 minutes.

ENJOY!! :)
I had to cook it a little longer and recommend 50-55 minutes. You want it to brown a little on the top.