Saturday, November 8, 2014

Lasagna Soup

I thought I had blogged this, but can't find it. 

I made this very delicious soup last February. And I aim to make a soup every Sunday because well, I have time on Sundays, and it gives us leftovers for lunch for a few days. And soup is delicious. 

So here's the recipe for Lasagna Soup. It's a Paul Dean recipe. I left out the extra stick of butter. She makes it in a Dutch Oven. I do it in a stock pot and plan to do it in my new RockCrok once I get one. 

Shameless Plug - Need anything Pampered Chef related? I'm hosing a show on November 22. You can order on and have it delivered to my house or your house. You can go here and type in my name and then place your order. No pressure people. None. :-) 

Anyway, the soup. It's tasty! I'll update with a picture shortly. 

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground chuck
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced, plus 2 cloves smashed
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 (32 oz) box chicken broth
  • 2 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups lasagna noodles, broken
  • 1 (5 oz) package grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 thin French baguette
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


Directions
In a large Dutch oven, combine ground chuck, onion, bell pepper and 3 cloves minced garlic. Cook over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until beef is browned and crumbles. Drain well.

Stir in thyme, brown sugar, broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add noodles, and simmer until noodles are tender. Stir in Parmesan cheese.

Preheat broiler. Ladle soup into 8 to 10 ovenproof bowls. Evenly sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Broil soups, 6-inches from heat, 3 to 4 minutes, until cheese is browned and bubbly. Add a garlic crostini slice on top. Serve immediately.

For the garlic crostini:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cut bread into 1/4-inch round slices. Place on baking sheet and brush each slice with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper; place in oven and bake until golden and crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Rub each side with 2 smashed garlic cloves.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Way overdue!!

It's been 6 long weeks without posting. So hopefully I can start getting in one a week again or so. 

In general, things are great. Super busy, but work is going well, Liam is still thriving at Daycare, he's walking now and it's crazy! The kitchen cabinets are baby-proofed, the trashcan too. I've almost adjusted and stopped trying to yank things open without using the "key". At at work when I go to open the silverware jar, I first try to "push down" the drawer holder. 

Recipe wise, I've made a few things here and there, but mostly been sticking with what's in the freezer. I recently made Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Chili. It was amazing and I'll post that recipe this week. 

We had some family pics taken a few weeks ago. Liam didn't want to smile, we were lucky he looked at the camera at all! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

It's time for change

I'm starting this blog on Wednesday September 10, but want to wait a week or so to post it.... 

While work is big on healthier choices from food to getting in exercise, it's not really about work (and earning gift cards). It's about me. I need to make a change. And I'm finally ready to do it. Mentally at least. Hopefully my body is ready too. 

Work has helped kick my butt back in gear. Seeing some of my numbers on my recent blood work this year (I've had my blood drawn 3 times) has helped. My total cholesterol is actually OK. I have no idea how that happened. My LDL and HDL could be better. My glucose fasting is on the upper level. It's supposed to be under 99. I'm always borderline, 99, 101, 102. I don't want Type 2 diabetes. I had enough finger poking while I had GD. I just really don't want to do it again. Though I should be following the Diabetes Diet. But that's later. 

Out for a walk
First up, just getting back in the groove. It started with some walks around the neighborhood and on the treadmill. I got the Polar H7 so I could really track my workouts (and um, get points for them.) So I scheduled 10 days of treadmill walking for 30 days. I started on 9/10. 

Thursday 9/11
Treadmill walking went well tonight. The Biggest Loser was on so I watched that. It's always good motivation. If they can push a weighted ball up a steep beach hill, I can manage to hang out on the treadmill and walk for 30 minutes! 

I was intrigued by the shirts they initially wore. They have their weight on their shirt. Can you imagine if we had technology (and a stupid law) to wear such a shirt? We'd be a much healthier and less obese nation. Maybe. Every morning you wake up, put your shirt on, and it displays your current weight. 

For my company, if you have your bloodwork completed and measurements taken, you can earn more points. One of them is having a healthy BMI. I was riding with my coworker and she commented that her BMI is too low and she actually needs to gain weight. (Of course, being a good coworker I offered her some of mine.) While I'm not ignorant to other people's problems, I forget that being underweight is a problem for many reasons too. And gaining weight by eating the right things is just as hard as eating the right things to lose weight. 
~~~~~

So my general plan is to walk on the treadmill 11 days. I have it on my google calendar. I actually created a new calendar just for workouts. Then I want to start pushing it harder - doing Beach Body programs. Jason and I own almost all of them. I'm going to start with the 10 minute trainer for at least two weeks. I didn't want to write down too much. Just make it through a couple weeks at a time. 

So right now, just work outs. I hope by the beginning of October to be putting more thought into my diet. But I don't want to get burnt out. I also don't have the extra time right now to put a lot of time into planning meals and eating healthier. It's hard work. And I still want to join a few extra Oreos. :)

~~~~~

So a week later? How am I doing? I managed to get in quite a few walks, one outside. I've missed a few walks too. I've had a recurrent ear and throat thing. It holds me back. It's 8:20 and I'm  about to fall asleep. Luckily, I have an appointment tomorrow with an Ears, Nose, and Throat doctor. I'm dreaming big and hoping to walk out with drained ears and a non-sore throat. However, I imagine it'll be a few visits. I've already had two rounds of antibiotics and I can't imagine what "chemical" cure they have. It's onto the physical things - ice pick in the ear, tube insertion. I was reading about adult tubes, they are usually only kept in 4-6 weeks, unlike pediatric tubes which can be left in up to year.

Diet wise, we've made some small changes. No more ice cream. When I want something sweet, I get an applesauce. Maybe I add some cheerios. Maybe a handful of Triscuits. They have this new flavor - Cinnamon Sugar. SOOOOO yummy!

So hopefully these next few weeks go well. I feel confident that I am ready for these changes, but I know that my sickness is hindering some of my work outs. I just need to get my ears drained and throat clear.

So wish me luck!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Long Time.... again

I am BUSY. My free time? What free time?! 

I pretty much haven't blogged since I started my new job, 6 weeks ago! 6 weeks! And it's going so well. Wait. 7 weeks! I just completed my 7th week. I am accomplishing quite a bit, I actually just finished my Priority To-Do list on Friday morning. I am very glad that I waited to go back to work when I was ready. Had I gone back too soon, I think I would have been burnt out or not as focused. 

Work aside, a big milestone came and went! I have a 1 year old!!! He can feed himself -- but it's not perfect. He is 20 pounds and 30 inches. He actually hasn't grown much in the past month. But he's still on track and eating well. He LOVES daycare! I think it's the Cheerio's. He also gets to paint. I think they paint almost every day. But hey, I don't have to deal with clean up! 

Jason and I have been very busy. We're a good team. I couldn't do it without him, he couldn't do it without me. A few weeks ago we were working on folding laundry when my parents stopped by to visit. Before they got there Jason asked if he thought my dad would help fold. After I stopped laughing and changed my pants (cause you know, I peed them from laughing so hard...) But anyway... yea... I didn't witness dad helping too much. So they visited and Jason & I finished our laundry folding. On the way home Dad commented to Mom that he could have helped more when we (me and my siblings) were younger. 

I am very lucky to have found Jason and for him to help as much as he does. Today we made 44 breakfast burritos. And prepped stuffed peppers for tomorrow. And got dinner together - we had Time For Dinner's Buffalo Turkey Burgers and grilled up the Mojito Chicken for Liam and later. We also grilled a ton of veggies. 

I have the recipe for burritos and some other things to post. When I get time. Like in 18 years when Liam goes off to college. His September birthday means I get to pay an extra year of daycare before he starts Kindergarten. Oh goodie. 

Work is encouraging a lot of healthy habits. They give us all Fitbits. Jason and I each have a Flex now. Here we are taking Liam for a walk yesterday. We try to get in 10,000 steps a day. It's hard. Even with walking on the treadmill and a walk around the neighborhood, I didn't get my 10k yesterday. We took another walk today, and I'm currently at 9,985. I'll get the rest of my steps in a few moments. 

I hope to start working out again soon. Liam goes to bed around 7ish. I'm still having to put him to bed, but my time is getting shorter and shorter. I'm hoping to work out after he gets to bed. But I also want to watch my favorite TV shows as they start back up. Who knows, I might just have to give up all TV. :( 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The right person for the job

The first week of work..... always so much training! I filled out all the paperwork, read the company handbook, completed over 20 training modules, and completed my 8-hr OSHA Hazwoper refresher. I also started working on some projects. 

I get to take advantage of the $5,000 Dependent Care Account. For those who don't know, it's money taken out pre-tax you can use to pay for daycare expenses. HR emailed me to double check that I knew there were only 11 pay periods left in the year and it would be $455 a paycheck that's taken out. Yep, I'm aware! And daycare will cost us $5,760 the rest of the year. It's currently $240/week. Once I get him potty trained it drops to $195/week. Here's hoping sooner than later! 

Back to all the training. One of the most important phrases I stumbled across in the handbook and a few other modules is that As important is using the right tool for the job, the "available" person might not the "right" person for the job. 

This made me think about how work is assigned. Not so much at the company I am currently at, but at other companies or other departments. Just because you have a job that needs done, doesn't mean the one person available is even capable of doing the job. And in the end, that costs the company time and money. 

So new job, big changes. Liam has started daycare. He's been sick. Twice. He's missed three days of 10. The first week was a practice week and on Tuesday night he started throwing up. On me. Then he projectile vomited all over me. It was amazing. So I kept him home Wednesday so he could sleep in his own bed, but he would have been fine to attend daycare. 

This week, my first week of work. On Wednesday when I picked him up he had a cough. Little phlegm in the back of his throat. When he finally went to bed, he would sleep for 20 minutes and then be up. Around midnight he had a fever, and I figured he had an ear infection because he'd be asleep in my arms, but wake up crying out when placed flat in his crib. At some point it was determined Jason was going to have to stay home and he took over the sleeping - Liam slept on Jason the rest of the night. Liam also refused to eat. 

The next morning, still a fever and Jason stayed home. He got Liam to the doctor who confirmed a double ear infection. My mom was able to come over during the day to "nap" with Liam. He still required being held upright to sleep. He was in a better mood when I got home from work. 

Friday Morning
He slept through the night, but still had a fever. I was able to stay home on Friday. My boss is awesome! My job is awesome. I felt bad even asking, but I did. I had some training to finish, so I could easily do that at home. Liam slept most of the day and allowed me to get my Hazwoper done. 

Liam is still a little feverish, but doing so much better. Along with the antibiotic, we're giving him tylenol/motrin. I'm also diffusing oils in his room (RC, Peppermint, Eucalyptus radiata, and Thieves). I'm also rubbing RC and Peppermint on his back and chest, and rubbing Melaleuca and Melrose around his ears. He's also still getting his own Mix rolled on his feet twice a day. 

Dinner this past week was frozen meals, easy things like Grilled Cheese & Tomato soup, and we picked up Thai food once night. Having frozen meals helped with time after work. It's been interesting to juggle the mornings and evenings. I'll get the hang of it. 

Jason sent me flowers for my first week! Gorgeous on my desk. And yes, I have a window! It's huge... I feel like a vampire and have to close the blinds - to much natural sunlight I'm not used to it. 

I've started to take things to work and make my cubicle my own. And the office is so quiet! The phone barely rings, I sit in a large room with four other people and it's so nice and quiet. 

I'm excited for this new opportunity, new company, new experiences! The company is big on health and fitness and I'll actually be given a FitBit to start tracking my steps/workouts/sleep. Yea, track my sleep.... LOL. Hopefully with Liam going to bed around 7 each night I might be able to begin working out after he goes to bed. I need to figure out how I'll also work in time to see Dave. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

June was a busy month!

It's been around 6 weeks since I last posted! So much happened in June! Lots of traveling, a wedding, and a JOB OFFER!!! :) 

I traveled to the Lake of the Ozarks with my mom for a girls (and Liam) trip. Then Jason and I went to Rapid City, SD for a work thing. I was fortunate they let Liam and me go too! We got to kinda see Mt. Rushmore. It was a little foggy. We also stopped by Dinosaur Park. It was Liam's first time flying and he did well! 




For Father's Day weekend we headed to Lake of the Ozarks with my parents. Liam got his first boat ride! We had a great time, except for the car ride. Liam was teething during most of June. He got his two bottom teeth in and his top two are coming in soon.

During this time I also was interviewing and submitting more job applications. I think one day I submitted a dozen, and had two big interviews before leaving for vacation. I was fortunate to have my sister and sister-in-law help babysit during those! One resulted in an offer! 

Then we headed to Florida. We bit the (savings) bullet and purchased a time share week, we really lucked into finding one available. My parents and grandma own weeks 25 & 26, and we managed to get a week 26 unit. Which usually will include Fourth of July and will almost always include our wedding anniversary. Here's Liam on our lanai looking at our beach and gulf front view. Our unit is larger than most and feels a lot more open! It's wonderful! 

We also had a wedding to attend! My grandmother got married to her long time friend, Harry. Harry lost his wife about the same time grandpa died, and months later they were announcing their engagement. My brother and sister-in-law were able to fly in, and we were all together in Florida for a few days. 

Here's a picture of the Reed & Guilford's. 


On the way to wedding, I received wonderful news - a verbal offer for a new job! I accepted the offer (faxed it in on vacation) and start in the next few weeks. It's environmental consulting and a job similar to what I did at GES in Richmond, Virginia. I'm waiting on all the standard items, background check, drug test, verification I graduated high school & college.... all those normal things most companies do. Liam will be going to daycare starting July 14 and I expect to start that week or the following week. It'll be a huge change going back to work. Sometimes I am nervous, sometimes I am anxious. I know I'm ready to go back to work, but juggling the household, baby, and a new company will probably lead to a few stressful days. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Banana Oatmeal Pancakes - Baby Food

I made Bisquick pancakes a few weeks ago and made Liam a few. He liked them, but I wasn't fond of the crap in them. I've been searching for an easier and healthier recipe for Liam. I finally found an easy Banana Oatmeal Pancake recipe. These are dairy free which is what I've been really looking for. They can be gluten free and all those other things free if you need them to be.

I doubled the recipe and froze some. I heat one pancake up for about 30 seconds, cut it into small pieces and serve with apple sauce. Liam loves this for breakfast.

Ingredients
  • 2 large or 3 small bananas, mashed 
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted 
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 tbsp sugar 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1 cup oat flour 
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt 
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground 
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg, ground 

Directions
  1. Mash bananas and mix the melted butter, lemon juice, and sugar together. 
  2. Add the eggs and mix. 
  3. Mix together the dry ingredients and add to the wet ingredients. 
  4. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes. (This allows the oatmeal to absorb some liquid.) 
  5. Make pancakes on griddle like normal. These take a little bit longer to cook, they are thicker. Keep the skillet/griddle on a lower heat. 
Notes:
I added a teaspoon of vanilla extract to these to enhance the flavor.
To make Oat Flour - I used my Ninja chopper to grind up (non-instant) oatmeal into a flour.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

What a wonderful weekend I've had! Nice and relaxing and Liam has cooperated with his sleep schedule. First he slept 9 full hours on Thursday night! After a hellacious Thursday night where he was up every 2 hours, it was well needed for both him and me! 

Liam slept ok Friday night, he was up off and on between 1:30-4:00 AM and Jason and I traded back and forth handling that. 

On Friday night I got flowers! Jason said it was the "Start of my Mother's Day Weekend." I get a whole weekend!?!? 

On Saturday morning I went for my monthly massage. These are my favorite splurge I get! Since being a Stay At Home Mom (or Unemployed Engineer), our budget is very tight. This is probably something I should cut, but we are doing ok so at the moment I'm making the massage/budget work. :) 

When I got home from my massage, I had an Edible Arrangement! These are my favorite! I forgot to take a picture of it without the plastic. I didn't even start eating it until Sunday. I took it all apart, putting the fruit into tupperware. It was taking up a lot of room in the fridge. 

Liam went down for nap, and I took a quick nap and showered. We (Liam and I) went to meet my mom and sister for a 4 o'clock dinner at Joe Boccardi's. I wanted to eat early so Liam wouldn't get too fussy waiting, and I really hate waiting too. Liam was a little fussy, his grandma helped contain him so I could eat. 

When I got home from dinner Jason and I headed to Walmart and Target before Liam's bedtime. He took some extra time to go down - probably because of the lateness and extra stimulation from the stores. 

He got another five hours of sleep and was up real quick for 10 minutes at 3:30 AM and then again around 7. Jason got up with him at 7 and I kept on sleeping. :) I got my presents, a cute Snoopy from Liam and his first coloring! It's pretty adorable. Jason got me a "mom" necklace. Liam went back down from 9-11. 

We've had a nice relaxing day. I ate some fruit, Jason got me a soda, we had lunch, fed Liam, Liam went back down for nap at 2:30, and I made him pancakes. I'm just hanging out, watching episodes of 24 on Amazon Prime. 

Dinner tonight is Steaks, Corn on the Cob, and veggies. For this week's menu, I plan to make potato soup, beef stroganoff, some of the Time for Dinner meals. It's supposed to rain all week so it will be pretty cool and I can use the oven. 

Liam is growing so much! He's 19 pounds and 28 inches long. We're going to have to get a new car seat soon - his car seat goes up to 30-inches or 30-pounds. He's almost crawling on all fours. He's able to army crawl all over. We installed a baby corral in our living room to keep him away from the TV and TV stand. He has a much larger area to play in too. 

Liam coloring his first picture

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Morning Rolls (Sticky Buns)

One of my favorite treats growing up was when mom made these morning rolls. They were sweet, sticky, pull apart rolls that she would make for special occasions. She made them for me recently when she spent the weekend (um... back in October?)

I don't normally try to make my favorite mom dishes because I'm afraid I'll mess it up and it'll never be the same. I did succeed at the Carrot Casserole, but I still won't touch her lasagna! I've been craving these rolls though, and well, figured it's about time I made them myself. 

I have searched online for a similar recipe, but the ones I find don't have the pudding mix as an ingredient. Which I think it what makes these really amazing. I included her recipe below and my adjustment for a smaller batch. As much as I could eat 24 of these, I decided that making a smaller batch would be better for me and Jason's waistline. 

Mom's Morning Rolls
Ingredients
  • 1 package frozen bread rolls (24 count)
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C margarine
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 small box Non-Instant Butterscotch Pudding Mix (Dry)
  • 1/2 C chopped pecans (optional, but wouldn't skip it)
  • 1/2 C raisins (optional, and very good addition!)
Directions
  1. Cook sugar, margarine, and cinnamon until bubbly. 
  2. Grease 9x12 pan or bundt pan. 
  3. Sprinkle pecans and/or raisins in bottom of pan. 
  4. Place Frozen Rolls in the pan, on top of pecans
  5. Sprinkle the dry pudding mix over and between the rolls.
  6. Pour hot sugar mixture evenly over the rolls. 
  7. Cover tightly with foil or plastic wrap. 
  8. Let sit overnight. DO NOT REFRIGERATE. (The rolls won't rise.)  
  9. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. 
  10. Invert pan onto plate/platter. 

To make a 9x9 pan for two people.
Use:
  • 9 frozen bread rolls
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 C margarine
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 small box Non-Instant Butterscotch Pudding Mix (Dry)
  • 1/4 C chopped pecans
  • 1/4 C raisins
Follow the instructions above and bake for the same amount of time. 

NOTES
  • I put the pudding mix in a small container and coated each roll with the pudding mixture, then dumped the box around the rolls. 
  • Once cooked, I inverted these into a non-stick skillet. It made clean up a lot easier because I didn't dump any sticky sauce all over the counter, and the non-stick skillet was easy to clean. 




Thursday, April 10, 2014

Homemade SpaghettiOs

I admit I love the taste of SpaghettiOs. The sweet sugary sauce, those mini noodles... but I know it's full of crap. The sugar, the sodium, the preservatives. When I stumbled across a homemade recipe on Pinterest, I knew I had to try it. I originally made these about a year ago, but never blogged about it. (That I can find.) 

The great thing about these is you can control everything that goes into them. If you need gluten free pasta, or want to use a whole grain. You can use skim milk or low fat cheese, and can make it as spicy as you want! I added meatballs this time. It's also a fairly quick recipe, taking about 20-25 minutes from start to finish. 

This recipe is very forgiving too. You can add extra milk (on accident or on purpose), you could use a different small noodle, add more cheese, less cheese, more butter, no pepper, extra pepper, ect. Whatever you think will work. 

Homemade SpaghettiO’s

Ingredients
  • 8 oz ditalini pasta (or other small pasta)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions
  1. Cook the pasta, to al dente (about 10 minutes).
  2. Heat the olive oil in a  large saute' pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. 
  3. Stir in the tomato sauce, water, tomato paste, salt, pepper, sugar and butter. Heat, while stirring, until the butter is melted. 
  4. Slowly stir in the milk, then turn the heat to low. Simmer at low heat for 10 minutes.
  5. Stir the shredded cheese into the soup until melted. 
  6. Drain the pasta and add it to the soup. OR, you can transfer it to a serving bowl and add the "soup" to the pasta. Stir to combine. 
Notes:
I added meatballs to mine. The Sam's Club meatballs are delicious and I had some leftover and needed to use them up. 
I messed up and added 1 cup of milk instead of 1/4 cup. My finished product is a little runny, but the meatballs helped absorb some of that extra fluid. 
I added 3 pinches of red pepper flakes to make it a little more spicy. It goes a long way so don't add too much!
I had leftover crushed tomatoes in my fridge to use up, so I used that instead of Tomato Sauce. Not really a huge difference.
This freezes well. You can make a double batch and freeze for later.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

My friend Lisa brought me and my husband (and newborn baby Liam) a Twice Baked Potato Casserole. It was delicious. Super rich, loaded with cheesey potato goodness. The 9x13 dish must have weighed 3 pounds. It was amazing.

I wasn't able to find a decent recipe that mimicked what she gave us, so I thought I'd just wing it. 

Initial Notes:
Bake the potatoes the night (or two) before hand. Let them set back up in the fridge and get cold. They are easier to cut and won't fall apart in your hands. 
Cut everything before putting them together. 
Put the kiddo down for a nap - it takes a bit to assemble. Seriously, make sure he's napping. 
When cleaning up, don't drop all the pots and pans in the sink while you are washing them. No, really. It might be better to just leave the dishes for your husband. 
This recipe is not healthy. Don't eat it too often. It's loaded with CHEESE. And more CHEESE. 
If you don't like cheese, this is not for you. I'm not sure this blog is for you if you don't like cheese. We can't be friends, sorry. 

This makes two deep 9x13s. I recently purchased these foil pans (and lids) from Sam's Club. My Gladware bakeware is no longer available in 8x8s, so I went with the cheaper method of foil pans. They take up a bit more room in the freezer, require larger portions, leave more leftovers, but the cost savings is the best overall deal. 

So my recipe. 

Ingredients
  • 3 pound bag of Russets potatoes (baked)
  • 1 pound of bacon (cooked and crumbled)
  • 1.5 pounds of Cubed velvetta cheese (is it cheese? eh..) 
  • 1-2 sticks of butter - sliced very thin
  • 2 bricks of cream cheese
  • 16-ounce container sour cream
  • Shredded cheese - pick any flavor
  • green onions

Directions

  1. Bake the potatoes - I clean mine really well, prick with a fork, and coat with olive oil and salt. Then bake an hour or so at 400 degrees F. I did let mine cool in the fridge (for two days). They were much easier to dice up. 
  2. Cook the bacon to crispy. I prefer to cut the bacon up and then cook it.
  3. Dice the baked potatoes. (While you're cooking the bacon.) 
  4. Use a mixer to mix together the sour cream and cream cheese. Mix in additional spices if you want - dill dressing packet, garlic, chili powder, ect. Whatever flavor you want to go for. 
  5. This is a layering dish - Put a layer of potatoes, a few pieces of butter, around 1/4 of a stick, then spread some cubed velvetta cheese and spoon fulls of the sour cream/cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle a little bacon, shredded cheese, and green onions on top. Then repeat the layer. 
  6. Bake the dish at 375 degrees F for around 30-40 minutes. 
I froze the other dish, defrosted for a day, and then baked. The longer you bake, the softer the potatoes become. If you want to cheat, you can skip the potatoes and purchase the Ore Ida diced potatoes instead. Or has brown potatoes. You'll want to make sure your velvetta is diced smaller than the potatoes, you want the cheese to melt around it. 

This was a delicious dish, but I won't be making it again anytime soon. The velvetta is expensive, the dish is time consuming, and it's very high in calories. You can probably use some different ingredients to make it lower cal, but it's more so just so addicting to eat. 


Monday, April 7, 2014

Sirloin Steaks & Au Gratin Potato Puffs

I made the most delicious steaks the other night! It helps that I used Crooked Creek Beef, but I also tried a new marinade. And it was very delicious!!! I can't wait to use this marinade again. 

Sirloin Steak
Ingredients
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 8 ounces Apple Juice
  • 1 or 2 beef top sirloin steak (about 3 pounds and around 1- 2 inches thick)
Directions
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a large ziplock bag. It'll smell like a Japanese Hibachi grill. And you're mouth will start watering!
  2. Add the meat. Sirloin is a tougher meat and requires a lot longer marinating then an hour before grilling. I let this marinate 6 hours, but you can do 24 hours. 
  3. Grill to your liking. (I prefer medium rare.)
The meat was tender, delicious, it did not have a strong flavor of the marinade. If you have smaller steaks, you can half the marinade ingredients. 

We served this with a steam bag of broccoli and cheese and the Omaha Steak Au Gratin potatoes. Since they were the last of what we had, I started looking for a copy cat recipe. I found one, and plan to try it out at some point. I think instead of rolling in just Parmesan, I will add some bread crumbs. 

  • 8 large baking potatoes 
  • 1/3 cup dried onion 
  • 8 ounces cream cheese -- may use low fat 
  • 8 ounces sour cream -- may use low fat 
  • 2 tablespoons butter 
  • salt -- to taste 
  • fresh ground black pepper -- to taste 
  • Parmesan cheese -- for coating balls 
  1. Bake potatoes, either in oven or microwave, Cool, peel and shred. (I use shredder on my Salad shooter) In a large bowl combine dried onion, sour cream, cream cheese, butter and seasonings. Mix in shredded potatoes until well combined. 
  2. Take an ice cream scoop and dip out mixture and roll into a ball. Roll the potato ball in Parmesan cheese until well coated and place on a cookie sheet. Continue making balls until all mixture is gone. Cover and freeze. Once frozen the balls can be placed in plastic bags or containers and stored in freezer. 
  3. To use, remove as many as needed and place on a cookie sheet. Bake in 350°F. oven for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. 
Original poster's hint: I have baked all the potato balls at the same time. Cooled and then placed in the freezer. To use, if you choose to do it this way, then just reheat in the microwave. These are delicious, and a family favorite. 

The recipe says it makes 8, but I think with the large potatoes and ingredients, you can get 16 decent sized balls, having 2 per serving. They might be more manageable too. I'll update once I make them! Might be a week or two. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Time for Dinner

My neighbor Facebook checked-in to this place a few weeks ago. I looked at their website and while not the most cost effective (for me), decided to check it out. I managed to sucker my friend Dee and my mom (with my sister as her chef) into going with me. :) 

Time for Dinner is where you can make your own freezer meals without the hassle of planning, shopping, chopping, portioning, and clean up. Each month they have a different menu with around a dozen different dishes and a dessert. The best deal is to choose 6 dishes to make for $125 (plus tax.) Each dish is 6-portions so you're getting 36 portions for around $3.50 a portion. I can cook cheaper by doing it all myself, but I also wouldn't branch out and make some of the meals they offer. It's nice to have other dishes besides Tater Tot Casseroles, Enchiladas, Stuffed Shells, Spaghetti Sauce, and red meat in the freezer. It also is a lot less time consuming, which is one of their main selling points. When I do my bulk cooking, I spend probably 4-5 hours doing 6 dishes from scratch. 

One of the moms we encountered on Saturday said her family wouldn't eat if it wasn't for this place. Time for Dinner has been open for 10 years! I was surprised since it was the first time I had been there, and only recently heard of it. They had this type of place in Richmond, Virginia that I never got a chance to check out. One of my Richmond friends said the place has since closed. 

It's really easy. You choose the date you want to attend, and then "order" the meals you plan to make. For April, I chose Crab Cakes, two Chicken Parmigiana, Jumbo Stuffed Shells, Pollo Queso Fundido, and Sunset Pork Tenderloin. I avoided choosing red meat dishes since I still have over 100 pounds of red meat in my freezer. I chose my order before making Stuffed Shells myself. For April they had a special where if you ordered 6 meals, you got a free half dish of Butterscotch Brownies. Which, you have to "cream" the butter and sugar by hand. I'm taking a hand mixer next time. May's special is you get $10 off. And they have a loyalty program - if you go 6 times/6 meals each, you get 20% off the 7th time. I was looking at their Facebook page and it looks like in June-July-August they run some of the best deals. Which makes sense because no one wants to fire up their oven in the summer months! 

When we showed up, we checked in and paid, and they gave us a quick tour. My sister and I started at the Crab Cake station. All the ingredients are laid out in front of you, and the instructions are printed (in large font) and easy to follow. They even include the obvious instructions like when to put on latex gloves or which utensil (spatula versus whisk) to use. Except for the meat, you can add extra veggies or leave out the cheese if you want. 

You make your dishes in two oblong aluminum pans, they are 12.5 inches by 6.5 inches. I like that they are already broke into two dishes, this makes it easier for one or two people to eat, instead of making a large dish. TFD has stickers to place on the pans, one in front for easy "freezer view", and another larger one on top with instructions. The sticker on front is an excellent idea - I need to do this in my own deep freeze! You can see below what my freezer looks like. I know the three large pans are stuffed shells, mostly because my two tater tot casseroles are in the other freezer. 

It took us around two hours to make our 6.5 dishes. My sister and I jumped on the Brownie station early because we figured most people would wait until last to make theirs. We were right, Dee had to wait a few extra minutes. We weren't the last to leave either, but I think one mom made around 20 dishes. I saw her making like 10 pretzel chickens. :) 

Some additional notes - 
Some of the spices are included in the dish, but don't be afraid to ask for more! I was making the Chicken Parmigiana and realized I was missing garlic and pepper. I asked and I received. 

One of my dishes was a pork tenderloin with a rub. You made the rub in a ziplock bag. I helped my sister with hers and the rub wasn't mixing well. Instead of making my rub "wet", I just wrote what I needed to add at home (water and hot sauce) to finish it out. I figure I could wisk it better than I could mix it in a ziplock bag. 

If you have kids that can help, bring them. A few moms did have their kids with them, some were helpful, some were bored. I think it's a helpful way for children to learn how to put a dish together. I know my mom started me young. I plan to start Liam young too, he needs to learn to cook! 

I look forward to doing this again. We are on a strict budget though and I need to figure out how to work it it, at least every two months or so.

I'm already thinking ahead to Florida vacation at the end of June and think I'll be taking a few frozen meals with us. That way I won't have to buy a ton of ingredients and worry about cooking a few nights. I know our Florida vacation is going to be very busy already.  

I took the time to make a list of our freezer stash to put on our upstairs fridge for meal planning purposes. Since sometimes I meal plan in bed, using my iPad, I'm including the list here for my laziness. 
5 cups of Chili 2 Mozzarella Cheese - 1 lb each
13 cups of Black Bean Soup 2 Eggos - 8 packs
3 Stuffed Shells 2 Butter Braids
2 Tater Tot Casseroles 1 Bertolli Chicken Florentine & Farfalle 
1 Lasagna 7 Hamburger Buns
1 Sloppy Joe 3 Hot Dog Buns
3 Chicken Huts 1 Pork Butt
4 Spaghetti Sauce 1 Loaf of banana/blueberry bread
14 Twice Baked Potatoes 15 Chicken Sausages 
4 Carmel Apple Tartlets 5 Hot Dogs
1 Garlic Bread (8 count) Toasted Ravioli
3 Small French Loafs Mozzarella Sticks
1 frozen DiGiorno pizza French Fries
1 lbs of Bacon Tater Tots 
1 loafs of Bread Meatballs
1 Tortellini
Chicken 
2lb & 5 oz package of Chicken Breasts
Time for Dinner Dishes
1 Butterscotch Brownies 2 Sunset Pork Tenderloin
4 Chicken Parmigiana 1 Pretzel Chicken
2 Crab Cakes 1 Carmel Apple French Toast
2 Jumbo Stuffed Shells 1 Venetian Mac & Cheese
2 Pollo Queso Fundido 1 Garlic & Herb Pasta - Side Dish
Red Meat
37 1-pound ground beef 5 Stew Meat - 1 lb each
15 Hamburger Patties 3 Sirloin Tip Steaks (2 packs)
3 Flat Iron Steak 2 Sirloin Steak
7 Rib Eye Steak (3-2-2 packs) 1 Beef Brisket
2 Porterhouse Steak (2 packs) 4 Chuck Steaks
5 T-Bone Steak (2-2-1 packs) 3 London Broil
1 Round Steak (3 packs) 3 Cube Steaks (3 packs)
1 Rump Roast

Friday, April 4, 2014

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

These past few days I have concentrated more on meal planning, and thinking a week ahead for dinners. This helps in using what we have in the deep freeze, especially as I make more freezer meals and fill it up!
When I make crock-pot meals, I usually don't start cooking them until around noon. I try to prep the crock-pot ingredients (chopping) the night before. It makes it easier to throw together. 

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
Ingredients
  • 6 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes (I only found this in large cans.) 
  • 1 7-ounce can tomatillo salsa verde
  • 3 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 (15 oz) cans black beans
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 small corn tortillas, torn or cut into small pieces 
  • 2 small onions (approx 2 cups)
  • 2 jalapenos (seeds and veins removed)
  • 1 large bell pepper
  • juice of a fresh lime
  • 2-4 TBSP fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • crunchy tortilla chips
Directions
  1. Get out the big crock-pot. 
  2. Add the chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, salsa verde, tomato paste, pepper and spices to the crock pot and mix together. 
  3. Add the chicken, onions, peppers, and tortilla pieces. 
  4. The soup will cook either 6 hours on high or 10 hours on Low. During the last hour or two, add the lime juice and cilantro. 
  5. Dish into bowls and add cheese, crushed up tortilla chips, avocado, anything else you want! Serve with Sweet Corn Cakes.






Sweet Corn Cakes

When Liam was born my parents came over and made Tacos for us. The tacos were good, but mom made Corn Cakes! I love the corn cakes at Chevy's and always ask for extra. 

Mom had found a bag mix at the grocery store and you added a can of cream corn. I haven't been able to find the mix (which probably is $2-$4 anyway), but I did find a recipe to make them from "scratch". There's a lot of recipes where you use corn meal, corn flour, corn, and like 10 other ingredients. And I found an easy three "ingredient" one. Butter, Jiffy Mix, and Canned Cream Corn. While it's not the healthiest recipe, it's a good treat with a mexican dish.  

Sweet Corn Cake (Mini Muffins)
Ingredients
  • One 15-ounce can Cream Corn
  • One box Jiffy Corn Bread Mix
  • One stick of butter - melted
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F
  2. Melt butter (if you missed it listed above.)
  3. Mix the three ingredients together
  4. Spoon mixture into mini-muffin tin. OR you can use a glass bread loaf pan.
  5. Bake Mini-Muffins for 20 minutes, or the loaf pan for 25 minutes. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Shells

I love Italian food. Just love it. Thanks to my mom! I add garlic to everything. Except breakfast items.

So I have been wanting to do some more bulk cooking. And I figured I'd give Stuffed Shells a try. They are time consuming so I wanted to do a bulk. Liam has been cooperating with his napping so I've been able to get more things done while he's napping.

I looked on pinterest for recipes and using some of the basics I found, here's mine.

Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Ingredients


Filling/Stuffing

  • 1 15-oz. container ricotta
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (OR, 2 ounces of fresh spinach leaves chopped, and sauteed with garlic.) 
  • Garlic
  • Salt & Pepper
You'll also need
  • A large box of jumbo pasta shells
  • Additional shredded mozzarella
  • Around 4 cups (20-26 ounces) of Pasta Sauce (I made my meat sauce, without the meat.) 
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta shells to al dente, you want them firm enough to handle. Drain and set aside to cool.
  2. While pasta cooks, in a large bowl, stir together ricotta, mozzarella, egg, spinach, and S&P, garlic to taste.
  3. Preheat oven to 375ºF. (You can do this first, but my oven preheats quickly and I'm slow at stuffing shells.)
  4. Spread 1 cup spaghetti sauce over bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Stuff shells with cheese mixture and place in dish. Spoon remaining sauce over shells and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.
  5. Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake about 10 minutes longer, until bubbly and cheese begins to brown.
I made these in bulk. I did the filling times four and slowly boiled shells and stuffed them. I used two full boxes of jumbo shells. It resulted in 86 shells. I made a set of 20 in a 9x13 which we ate for dinner. Then I made four foil pans full, a 20-count, two 15-counts, and a 16 count. 


 Spinach & garlic, mixed into the ricotta cheese mixture.
Stuffing shells & adding more pasta sauce


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Chicken Huts

One our favorite recipes are chicken huts. They are simple to make and very delicious. We recently had them given to us during a "Potluck Exchange" and they included a can of Cream of Chicken Soup. Which made them EVEN BETTER!!! 

They freeze well so I decided to make them in bulk. 

Chicken Huts
Ingredients:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • (2) 10 oz. cans of  cooked chicken (in the grocery store by  the canned tuna)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • (2) 8 oz. cans crescent rolls
  • 2 T melted butter
  • 2 T sesame seeds  (or bread crumbs)
  • green onions (optional)

Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
  3. Open and drain canned chicken well. 
  4. Blend cream cheese, salt & pepper, chicken and green onions (optional) and mix well. 
  5. Separate each can of crescent rolls into 4 rectangles (pat severed part together). Cut each rectangular in half. (Tip - Use a pizza cutter.)
  6. Put a large spoonful of chicken mixture into each or rectangle of dough. 
  7. Pull 4 corners of dough to top of center of chicken mixture. Press corners together. 
  8. Brush top with melted butter, sprinkle with sesame seeds (or bread crumbs). 
  9. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until brown and toasted on top.
  10. (Optional)  Heat up a can of cream of chicken soup (do not add milk/water.) Spoon over huts. 
Notes:
Mixing together the ingredients
The originally recipe did not call for cutting the crescent rectangular into two. The picture posted shows the difference in size. The larger ones are very filling, almost too big, which is weird since you can eat two of the smaller ones. 

You don't have to use the soup. It's optional. I like it. 

To make them in bulk, I used:
Sam's Club Canned Chicken - It is a 5-pack of 13-ounce cans. 
One Schnucks brand Canned Chicken - 10 ounces
4 - 8-ounce Cream Cheese
5 Cans of 8-count Crescent rolls
Small bunch of green onions. 

I made four large ones (for dinner and leftovers tonight) and 48 small ones. Then I ate four of them. Yea, I did. I am freezing in groups of 8.
The crescent roll - cut into two. Add the chicken mixture, then pinch together the corners. 
Add caption

Unbaked and Baked comparison. They really puff up.



Here's the four "large ones". I didn't cut the crescent rolls into two squares.
This is a 9x13 pan, so you can imagine how larger they are.
We had asparagus and salad as a side. 


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Schedule and meal planning

Liam is almost falling into a schedule! It's great. Bedtime is at 8pm, he's asleep by 8:30. He has been waking in the middle of the night - no big deal. And then he usually is up between 6:30-7:00am. He'll get changed, eat, sometimes play, and go back to bed until 9:30-10am. Then we start going down for nap at 12:15 and he'll sleep anywhere between an hour to three. It depends on how much I was able to stimulate him during the morning. (I've been doing better at this too.) 

His schedule means I can get a LOT more done around the house. Except vacuuming. Sorry husband. It means I have time to do laundry from wash-dry-fold-put away! And now with the warmer weather I'm excited to hang it up outside! 

It also means I have more time to meal plan. Meal planning is important. It helps keep our grocery budget on track and also helps me utilize what we have in the freezer. It also keeps us from eating out! That helps our restaurant budget. This week I made Stuffed Peppers and Crockpot Chicken Legs. I haven't been blogging about my food recipes as much because I've been making the same ole same ole. 

Next week I hope to make Chicken Huts and Stuffed Shells. I've never done stuffed shells before. Hopefully it goes well. I'm also going to need to make more spaghetti meat sauce

I'll also need to pick a new food for Liam next week. I think it'll be green beans.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Just raising a baby

It's been a month since I last blogged! So much has happened! Liam is growing like a weed! Between his 5-month and 6-month checkup he shot up two inches. At his six month appointment on April 6, he weighed 17 pounds and 5 ounces and was 27.5 inches long! 

The past six months have been amazing. I've really enjoyed watching Liam grow and develop. He's rolling all the way over now, and sometimes will sleep on his stomach. He's learned who mom and dad are, he smiles when he sees Monday and Grandma. As much as I love being home, not worrying about the stress of a job and all, I do miss work. I miss adult interaction. I miss going outside the home. Sometimes I go a day or two without leaving the house. I've tried to increase my workouts to twice a week and am waiting for the warm weather so Liam and I can hit the walking trails. 

I've had a few job interviews, and most recently was the top five of 50 applicants. That made me feel good. I'm hoping the right job comes along like around September. That way I have the entire summer off. I spend a lot of time looking for jobs to apply to. Now that Liam is napping I have more quiet time to job search.

Jason and I have switched back to a cash budget, and I'm working harder at meal planning. We've been doing well with eating in and eating out of our deep freeze. I'm looking to make more freezer meals, but we have a lot of other things to go through first. 

I sometimes feel like I go go go. Even when Jason gets home from work and he can help with Liam, there's still stuff to do. Like making dinner, or folding laundry (we do around 6-7 loads a week now, instead of 2), cleaning up something, making a list for something else. Some evenings I get to just sit and do nothing, but I feel like those are few and far between. Since Jason is studying for the PE on the weekends, I'm on baby duty then too. I try to leave him be because passing is huge and I want him to pass. The easiest has been to just leave the house (with Liam.) If I go somewhere else then Jason won't hear him fussing or crying if he's protesting a nap. 

I have a new recipe to post. It's easy, I think you can figure it out by the picture and don't need instructions. But if you do, the steps are listed below. 

How to make a Baby Burrito
1) Get a baby
2) Place on blanket and start rolling
3) Roll all the way up!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mom vs Dad - Time Differences

I stumbled across this article. Why Mom's Time Is Different From Dad's Time

It takes me 30-minutes to an hour to get Liam to sleep at night. And then sometimes 5 minutes of Dad time. Last night during bedtime Jason vacuumed. It doesn't take long to vacuum, and I really really hate doing it, but I would have rather vacuumed then nursed Liam to sleep. (And he didn't need Dad last night.) 

I find that some points of the article to be true. But not completely related to my household. While I do a lot of putting to bed (I have the boobs afterall to do it,) Jason will have helped with bathtime and/or changing him into PJs and a nighttime diapers. Then while I'm sitting in the nursery playing Candy Crush and nursing Liam, Jason will finish cleaning up the kitchen or like last night, vacuum. He's also in charge of trash so Wednesday night he'll get that ready and out the door. 

I'm on Level 425 in Candy Crush. I'm over 100 levels ahead of Jason, who used to be ahead of me (before September.) I estimate I spend over an hour a day playing Candy Crush, and another two hours or so online reading crap (really, it's crap), and looking at Facebook. I wish my FB were online as much as I am during the day. I base all these numbers on the fact that I spend around average 2.5 hours a day nursing and and 30 minutes pumping. 

I used to feel very overwhelmed because I wasn't able to accomplish anything during the day, except keeping Liam clean and fed. But now, with his longer sleep schedule and nap times, I have some time to clean up the kitchen, do laundry, and even MOP. I also have a little more time to blog and job search. 

And today's naptime was a big fail. Took an hour and a half to get him to sleep.....for an hour... and he's up. 

But he's adorable. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Banana Blueberry Bread (Dairy Free)

I had some bananas and it took me a few tries to find a banana bread recipe that didn't have milk in it. I found this recipe and altered it. The recipe says it's very forgiving, which it is, and which is good because I made a handful of errors. The bread shouldn't have turned out at all, but it did and it's delicious! 

This makes two loaves.

Banana Blueberry Bread
Ingredients
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 5-6 medium bananas. mashed
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2-3 cups fresh/frozen blueberries
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two loaf pans with non-stick spray. Line the pans with parchment paper (see photo). 
  2. Beat sugar and oil in a bowl. Add eggs and mashed banana.
  3. Sift together dry ingredients and fold into banana mixture alternately with orange juice.
  4. Fold in blueberries.
  5. Pour batter into loaf pans.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour depending 
  7. upon pan size. A toothpick inserted in the center which comes out clean is the best indicator that the loaf is fully baked.
  8. Cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Napping Protests & Parental Choices

So I started this post ages ago. And obviously, since I didn't have any free time, I wasn't able to get it done. 

My child refuses to nap. It's such a struggle. He's sleep on average, 10.5 hours a day. Everything I read says he should be getting 15. HA! 

Sometimes I can luck out, and after an hour of trying and breastfeeding him to sleep, he'll be asleep for 2 hours. Of course, that first hour was on my lap, so I wasn't able to get anything done. He takes a bunch of one-hour naps throughout the day. Usually four. And usually in my lap. If I move him, he wakes. And he is a cranky little man when he wakes.

One day he'll go to day care, and hopefully they will fix him. Or I ruined him for day care providers for the first month or so.

Continuing....

He's napping! It's not perfect, but he will sleep 10-11 hours at night, and then take 2-3 hours of nap during the day, usually a nice chunk in the afternoon.

He's growing, he's five months old already! He weighs 16.2 pounds (40%) and is 26.25 inches long (47%). He's started to sleep better at night, and with the aid of our new camera, it's a lot easier to check on him when he is sleeping. Recently we've had some 8 hour sleeps! It's been amazing.

Instead of spending money on a lot of a baby monitor that has video, and a little screen, I did some more research on cameras that people are using as baby monitors. I decided on a Foscam camera. It's not the best camera out there, but for the price, it works really well. And you can download the iPad app so you can use it (and control it) on your iPad.

Here's some shots we've collected.
I caught Jason taking a nap!!

We've started to be very fortunate with the sleeping. He's soothing himself to sleep. I've put him down for both naps and nighttime while he's still awake. Most of the time he will play a little, and suck his thumb and then fall asleep. Every once in awhile he'll start crying and I'll have to go pick him up and nurse him some more.

He still has a few fussy moments here and there, but he's a very happy baby. He loves his Jumperoo, and he loves playing in his crib or on his play mat.

Playing. (In color because the lights are on!) 
I do want to get rid of the Rock 'N Play, he's almost out grown it, and I'm hoping that the crib transition is permanent. And the RNP only has a 20 pound weight limit. But he's all snuggled in there, so it's nice and comfy for him.

It's nice that he's been able to be home these first few months. Hopefully by the time I find an amazing job and get him into daycare it'll be past flu season and maybe he won't get sick too quickly. A gal can dream, right?
Trying to fall asleep, by playing.

Baby Food
We had to give Liam his first foods a week ago. It was prunes. And he liked it. Luckily we were able to scale back, and he hasn't needed them the past few days. However, it was a big milestone and he'll be eating food soon. I didn't want to give him non-milk before 6 months, but I was out of choices. The doctor wants me to wait a few more weeks, but he is ready. He has all the signs, and he ate the prunes up really well.

I plan to make my own baby food. It's actually not that hard and not that time consuming. It also can be much healthier. This website is amazing with tips and ideas. I actually have both the printed book and kindle edition. And most of the info can be found on the website. Even with buying a few extra things, like some dedicated none-BPA ice cube trays, it's much cheaper to make your own. They even make refillable pouches now so you don't have to buy that squeezable baby food.

And he's awake. Napped for 2 hours and 20 minutes. :)

But he fell back asleep.... so I let him be. He needs all his energy to give his babysitter a good workout tonight!