Thursday, July 24, 2014

Making a move and my awesome salad

Hello Crushers!

Today is the last day that I had to pack a lunch for my full-time job with the international medical society that I work for. Tomorrow we are all going out to lunch as a treat, so this is it. I'm sure I will pack a million more lunches in my lifetime between traveling, camping, Steve and our kids. That's a lot of PBJ!

This morning I rushed around the kitchen getting last minute things done (yes, I had to touch up my toe-nail polish) and making my lunch. I did not think very hard about doing it. Mostly this was my inner thought process: I should take an apple. And some cantaloupe before the cantaloupe goes bad. Take the last piece of string cheese - hope Steve doesn't mind! Oh, there's that lettuce from the garden. Steve is going to pick more lettuce, so I should eat that up. What to put on the lettuce? Cucumbers from the farmer's market? OK! Ooooh! There's leftover chicken from last night's Asian Ginger Chicken (Wildtree)! Score! Do I have time to slice a tomato? No. Bummer."

My tomato-less salad.
I will be making a career change to stay at home mom (SAHM)/part-time professor/something new that I'll tell you about soon. The last time I changed jobs, I had more of a "See ya! Don't get between me and the door!" feeling. I was burned out and needed something new. Four years later and I am married with a baby and a much healthier me! I can only imagine what the next four years are going to look like!

This is why I have mixed emotions about leaving my job. I enjoy the people I work with and the tasks I do. I have been able to travel to far-off, exciting places and eat incredible foods (kangaroo anyone?). However, I get to be home more as Ellie's mama, and you can't beat that.

For the men and women who have to work or choose to work and can't be home, I am impressed by everything you do for your family. For the full-time and part-time stay-at-home moms and dads, I'm impressed by everything you do for your family. I'm not judging anyone; this is just what works best for our family at this time. I'm sure you're doing the same.

Before the school year starts again and I go back to being Prof. W, we are going to take some time to relax up at our cabin. My dad is getting to build his dream garage up there and we will be there to help (and shop and swim and fish!). It's the perfect place to recharge out batteries. Hopefully, I will have another career move to share with you soon. More on that later. For now, I'm going to enjoy my salad and stop being so contemplative because really, it's a salad. It's not the first and won't be the last. Plus, I got stuff to do!

In the meantime, here is how I made the chicken:
I followed the recipe for Grilled Asian Ginger Chicken and made it into a freezer meal. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the veggies thawed out. They weren't soggy like I thought they would be. Instead of grilling them because we ran out of time, we just cooked them in a frying pan on the stovetop. They were DELICIOUS with some brown rice and frozen sherbert for dessert. Yum!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Virtual Running Date No. 50: A Camping we will go!

Good morning, Crushers!

If this was a running date (and I've been cleared for running again - whoot!), I'd tell you all about our camping trip.

We got back from our camping trip on Sunday night, and I would like to say it was a total success. We had perfect weather - upper 70's-low 80's - and less mosquitoes than I thought. Like many northern states, Wisconsin could claim that the mosquito is the state bird during summer. I'm glad it's really the robin though. I digress...

View from top of the fire watch tower.
People told us to our face that we were nuts for taking a 3 month old camping. I even thought it when I saw how packed our SUV was just to take two adults and one tiny person to Peninsula State Park for 2 nights. So. Much. Stuff. We may cave and get a minivan before you know it. Or a truck. Anyway...

We camped with our friends Adam and Erin and their three girls (ages 5, 3, and 1.5). They camp like pros and bring everything you could possibly need for five families. Now that's some awesome preparation. The only things we forgot were a light blankie for Ellie and a bottle brush. Not too bad for our first camping trip with a kiddo!
Hiking with Ellie! (Yes, she had a hat, but I took it off for the photo)
 Our eggs and sausages with the chopped up veggies made breakfast easy. Erin and Adam had noodles with their girls the night before, so they asked if we could add them to some of the eggs. Scrambled eggs and noodles? Apparently it's a family recipe from their German heritage. No matter, it was surprisingly delicious! The breakfast cookies were also a hit. Only four ingredients and it was nice to just have a quick breakfast before packing up the tent!
Playing in the shade with daddy!

Erin made tacos and had all the fixings for dinner. Tacos while camping? OK! Again, delicious. We had a picnic lunch by the beach after seeing a lighthouse and climbing a fire watch tower. Camping was great.

Now to do it all over again next weekend... We are nuts.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Camp cooking: Breakfast "cookies" and food prep

Hello Crushers,

Note: Yes, this is Friday, so technically there should be a Faith-filled Friday blog post, but I switched it up and did that yesterday. Here is a recipe instead.

As you know, Steve and I love being outdoors. This includes camping. This means we're taking our 3-month-old daughter camping this weekend. This probably means we're half nuts.

I'm really OK with that.

We're camping with some friends who have 3 girls under the age of 6, so we'll all just be kid wranglers. They've done this tons of times, so if we start letting our novice show, they can help guide us to where we need to go. I'm very thankful that they are also experienced camping cooks and are making tacos for us on Saturday night! WIN!

Since we're dividing up the cooking duties, we have breakfast to make. We're going to do omelets on our little propane stove top. In order to make this as headache free as possible, I chopped up a bunch of veggies ahead of time and put them in little plastic food containers. Although, I've been moving toward more glass containers at home, I'm sticking with plastic for camping because a) it's lighter and b) I don't care as much if I drop or break it.

We are packing eggs, cheese, butter, milk, cooking spray, diced peppers, diced onions, other veggies for snacking, PBJ fixings, and these breakfast "cookies" that I found on the Internet thanks to Pinterest. Unfortunately, the link doesn't go to the same recipe. It goes to some paleo breakfast bars with almond flour, so I have no idea who to attribute this recipe to. Since I didn't follow the recipe exactly anyway, here is my version of breakfast cookies.

Breakfast "cookies"
2-3 Very ripe bananas
1.5 cups oats (I used old fashioned oats)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 tsp-ish cinnamon

Directions:
Peel and mash the bananas in a bowl. I found it easier to break the banana in pieces first. Stir in the oats, applesauce and cinnamon. Then you can either add the raisins or save them to sprinkle on top. Since I was making these at 10:30 p.m. last night, I ended up baking these in a greased 13 x 9 pan so they're more like bars than cookies. I sprinkled the raisins on top instead of mixing them in because I thought it looked nice.

See?

YUM!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Because cancer sucks, that's why.

Hey Crushers,

Today is not a food-based blog post. Today is a day that we all need to lift some people up in prayer. Why? Because cancer freakin' sucks, that's why. So we're going to have a Faith-filled Friday a bit early.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  - Psalm 121:1-2

Liz, over at A Mothership Down, cracks me up. She is Nolan's mommy and a fantastic writer. Most of the time she shares witty, and hilarious, observations on life. motherhood, and her baby's fantastic hair. Today's blog post was neither witty, nor hilarious. Today's blog post was from one mama for another. As part of this new tribe called motherhood, I want to share it too.

Please take the time to read about Saiorse's story and CareAline products that help make life a little more comfortable for people with various diseases including cancer. I had a central line in my chest as a 10-year-old while fighting osteomyelitis (a bone infection), and it always felt in the way. This product would have been so helpful back in 1994. (I know I posted 1993 as a commenter on A Mothership Down, but I just realized my math was bad.)

If you feel moved to donate to get this product to more people, please feel free to do so. They have an indegogo page for fundraising. I donated because a) I could have used this product, b) I nearly cried into my coffee cup thinking about how strong this mama is to honor her daughter by helping more people and c) CANCER SUCKS.

I know too many people who have or are battled/ing chronic diseases and cancer that it makes me feel like I'm the common denominator. Fortunately, for me, that's not the case. Unfortunately, that means we all know too many people battling diseases that require PICC or central lines.


If you're still feeling giving, please also consider donating to my cousin's 2014 24-hour Booty Ride (it's a bike ride) page. Jim has biked over 3,000 miles to prepare for this event to honor his wife who has been battling breast cancer for over 2 years. They were supposed to be the photographers for our wedding when Mari was diagnosed. We quickly had to scramble to find other photographers (thanks Emily and Jon!) while they dove into the world of chemo, radiation, side effects, hair loss, and all the ups and downs of cancer treatment. We got to see them just a few weeks ago when they visited from NC, and let me tell you that I have rarely seen such a beautiful spirit!

Let's all lift our friends and family who are battling cancer. Ask God to surround them with love and care and healing in whatever form that might be. Let's ask to guide their medical staff and uplift their caregivers. And if the unthinkable happens, let's ask that they are welcomed into Heaven and Jesus' open arms.

Go ahead now and get some Kleenex and hug some people. You know you want to.

Monday, July 14, 2014

And we're back...

Hello Crushers!
Sorry for the nearly three months (tomorrow!) of silence. I've been a little busy with a brand new person taking up most of time and attention. Wait I take that back. I'm not sorry. I'm LOVING my daughter, and don't mind her taking up my time. She's pretty amazing.

Hi, I'm Ellie. Nice to meet you.
She has captivated our hearts and minds since the day we met her. And she took her sweet time getting here, too! Must take after her mother...

In addition to all things baby, Steve and I have been balancing a lot more of the cooking. He's a pretty awesome cook. And I've been learning how to eat all sorts of things one handed!

Last night we made patty melts on the grill. YUM! We used the recipe for Wildtree's Best Burgers, grilled them, and then toasted buttered bread on the grill and added some delicious, melty cheddar. I should have taken a picture, but with a baby in one arm and a sandwich in the other, I did not have the ability to take a picture!

More amazing food has happened like fried chicken, skillet lasagna, potato soups and lots of garden veggies! I'll try and post more often now, but we'll see. I may be dropping down to a part time worker, but that doesn't mean I won't be a busy Mama! Start a neighborhood association? Travel up north and camping? Re-do my syllabi for this coming year? Get back into running? Continue with Friday devotions? And be the best mama I can be? Challenge accepted!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Faith-filled Friday: Patience and grilling

Hello Crushers!

Yes, I'm still here. The baby has not decided to pick her birthday yet, so we have reached full term at 40 weeks!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. - Galatians 5:22-23
We are very fortunate that our baby has made it to full term and we "shouldn't expect" any major developmental problems that preemie babies would have. Other than the gestational diabetes, I have been very blessed to have a relatively uneventful pregnancy. We've been so, so blessed!

Last night, Steve caught me talking to her. I was doing nursery rhymes to see how many I remember. I started joking that I hope she gets Steve's memory for songs and his singing voice. But I hope she gets my skin, arms, hair and ability to remember names. And our love of food and cooking and nature. And Steve's ears. And my grandpa's memory for places. And Steve's grandma's craftiness. And our moms' patience. And so many qualities that I don't even know if you can pass on to another person! 

While we wait for her arrival, Steve is planning on grilling out tonight thanks to the beautiful weather we're having! It's in the 60's today! We can sit out on our back patio and grill up some pork chops, asparagus and maybe even try some hassleback potatoes on the grill. I'll let you know how they turn out!

If you don't hear from me for a little while, it'll be because Baby Girl has finally decided to show up. Otherwise, I'll work on that patience part and catch you on Monday for a Virtual Running Date! Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pasta Redemption

Good morning, Crushers!

The pasta debacle of the past few days has been resolved. We made the recipe last night and it was delicious! I'm so glad I found this recipe and tried it. There are a few modifications that I made because of personal preference and ingredients that I chose to use. It probably has 10x the calories that you actually need, but if you stick to the portion size, it's not so bad. I had to stick to the serving size because I'm only allowed so many carbs, but that works to my advantage!

Here is the original recipe for Sweet and Creamy Bacon and Sausage Linguine. And here's what I did:
Ingredients:
1 box of pasta (I used spaghetti since it was on sale instead of linguine)
1 pound of Italian turkey sausage, browned and crumbled
6 slices of bacon, chopped up into small-ish pieces (I could have made them even been smaller)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp honey
1/4-ish tsp Penzey's Berbere seasoning (you do not need much at all!)
Black pepper to taste
1/2 lemon, juice and zest
1 1/2 - 2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 bag of spinach, washed and dried
3-4 Roma tomatoes, diced
As much Reggano Parmesan cheese as you want 

Directions:


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare pasta according to package instructions. Make sure you don't let the pasta cook too long or it gets gross. Plus, you're going to be adding sauce, so watch out!

In a large pan (hello favorite Calphalon pan!), brown sausage and bacon. Remove sausage and bacon, leave drippings in pan. NOTE: I was worried about this step since you're going to be adding butter and heavy cream later. Instead, I think I'd either keep the drippings or the butter, but not do both next time. By the time this was done, so was my pasta. I just drained the pasta and moved the sausage and bacon into the pot with the noodles and stirred them so they wouldn't stick together. Why make another pan dirty?!

The pasta and meat is waiting for the delicious sauce!
Stir in chicken broth, butter (see note above) and honey. Season to taste with Berbere and pepper. I left out the salt since that seemed like overkill. Continue cooking until chicken stock is reduced by half. I'm always amazed at how quickly that reduces!

Stir in lemon juice and zest. Stir in heavy cream and simmer until it coats the back of a spoon. Honestly, I probably did not wait long enough before adding the spinach, but I was getting really hungry. Plus, I was using a cool silicone coated spoon, so nothing sticks to that thing! Add baby spinach and stir until wilted. This doesn't take very long.

And here's the healthiest ingredient becoming not as healthy...
I waited until the last minute to stir in the diced tomatoes because I left the seeds in and didn't want them to get too mushy. They look prettier when they're not all mushed up.

Ready to be eaten!
Pour the sauce mixture over the bacon, sausage and linguine and stir until thick and sticks to noodles. Again, I probably did not wait long enough, but I was hungry. What can I say? Plate it up and top with as much Parmesan cheese as you'd like.

Source
This will DEFINITELY be made again at our house. I loved it and so did Steve. I thought we'd end up arguing over who was going to take the leftovers to work for lunch, but fortunately it made enough for lots of leftovers! This would be a great dish to serve at a party since you could probably make the sauce without the drippings and use veggie broth in case you have vegetarian guests. It would be so good!

Peel-a-head: I will get to make myself a whole pan of these strawberry shortcake bars. I can't wait!