Friday, February 28, 2014

Faith-filled Friday and Freezer Prep

Good morning Crushers,

Last night I had a "nesting" attack. However, instead of decorating and organizing (been there, done that), it was food preparation. You see, a number of our local grocery stores had good sales going on for meat. I'm kind of picky about what we buy and how much and what the cost is. If it's going to fill our stomachs, I want it to taste good and be good. Granted, I am not a 100% organically fed, free-range, those chickens live better than I do kind of person, but I do want things to be healthy.

My level of pickiness is NOWHERE near the level of God's when it came to Passover as described in Exodus 12. The first 11 passages describe how you pick out an animal (specifically a male lamb), how you cook it (roasted, not boiled), what to do with leftovers (share some with your neighbors if you can't eat a whole one and then burn the leftovers) and even how you eat it:
This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover. - Exodus 12:11
That's the most specific meal preparation I've ever read in the Bible. Obviously, it trumps my mom's holiday food prep or even good ol' Martha Stewart. This was meant as a sign to save the people of Israel from the final of the 10 plagues.

As Christians, we don't celebrate Passover. Instead we use Lent as a time to prepare our hearts and minds for Holy Week and a huge celebration at Easter. It's not all ashes and fish fries. It's a time for reflection and Bible study. Hopefully, you can take some time during March to get ready for Easter in April. Mine just happens to coincide with baby prep!

Part of our food prep between now and baby is stocking the freezer. Here is what I bought last night:
  • 1 6-lb pork butt roast (bone in) - I divided this in two 3 lb portions for a roast and pulled pork.
  • 1 3-lb package of chicken breasts - I sliced all the breasts in half or thirds and divided in two freezer bags
  • 1 package of chicken thighs (10 thighs) - I trimmed them all and divided in two freezer bags
  • 1 package of thin-sliced boneless pork chops - I divided them in two packages and seasoned one bag with Wildtree adobo seasoning and one with Wildtree garlic galore seasoning
  • 1 3lb pork roast (no bone) - I left this as is thinking that this would make a good crock pot meal or I could thaw it and slice it up for sandwiches.
After all the slicing, chopping, and butchering, I was pooped. I was supposed to make a meal for a friend who just had a baby, but you know what? She'll understand. She was me about a month ago (her baby was 2 weeks early). I will make her a lovely salad and bring her some soup-in-bag mixes. Healthy-ish and filling!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Virtual Running Date No. 43: Spoiler alert - Downton Abbey!

Hello Crushers!

Sorry for being so absent this past week, but it was a very busy week!

If this were a virtual running date, I would tell you about how Steve and I went to the Wauwatosa Woman's Club because they had a "bring a guest" event to see a guy perform as if you were having dinner with Winston Churchill. This guy was amazing in his portrayal and I can't believe how knowledge able he was!

The menu was not very British, but that's OK since Churchill seemed to spend a good amount of time in America between war efforts and his own travels. The menu included garden salads, beef tips, wild rice stuffed chicken breasts, 4 different kinds of potatoes, green beans, carrots, and pie and ice cream for dessert. It was delicious!

If we were on a virtual running date, I would confess that we went up to the Dells, again. I did not do much shopping, but I am totally going to buy this purse the moment I have a chance:

I know that buying it in plain black would be more versatile and I could use it all year long, but the stripes! And the coral bottom! And the cuteness! AH!

Anyway, as I said we went up to The Dells again so that Steve and the guys and gals (who didn't have kids along) went skiing while the rest of us took the little kids to the water park. It was a weekend filled with late nights, games, lots of laughing (and cocktails for the non-pregnant folks), and wonderful food. We each took a different meal and made food to feed 11 adults and 6 children of various ages (14 months to 5 years old). Here is what we did:

Dinner on Friday - on your own
Breakfast on Saturday - Jamie made French toast and sliced fruit
Lunch on Saturday - Adam and Erin L. brought all the fixings for a make-your-own sandwich bar with veggies, fruit, and chips/snacks
Dinner on Saturday - 1-2-3 Lasagna, garlic bread, salad and cookies and brownies for dessert (my sister-in-law made a vegetarian lasagna and she brought the bread and brownies)
Breakfast on Sunday - Adam O. made hash browns while Steve and I made blueberry pancakes and scrambled eggs. I also baked bacon for everyone. It was so easy and didn't require us to have another thing going on the stove top.

If this were a virtual running date and you hadn't watched Season 4 of Downton Abbey (DA) or the finale, I would tell you to stop reading right now. I LOVE this show and was glad that I got home in time to watch it. Sometimes PBS really has the best programs on. OK, now if you haven't seen it, you've all gone off to other blogs or work or e-mail, right? Good. Now, for the DA conversation...

My friend Courtney said that she did watch it, but was underwhelmed by the story line all season long. Granted, last season was a sob fest between Sybil dying, the house being in mourning and then Matthew's season finale fatal car accident. UGH! So many tears! This season only had me crying once for Anna when she was attacked. The "downstairs" crew had a much better season than the upstairs family. Upstairs had too much "will we save the estate with pig farming?" and "Is Mary allowed to smile or laugh?" and "Poor Edith" and "It's the jazz age!" Also, Shirley MacLaine's season finale appearance was kind of blah. And seriously, Lady Mary? "I don't mind lying." vs. "I can't lie to save Bates." attitude stunk. Pick one! Either you're going to put your big girl tiara on or you're not.

Downstairs had much more realness to it between Alfred's new position at the Ritz, Bates and Anna's relationship, and Mrs. Hughes as the keeper of all secrets. Mrs. Patmore's one-liners rivaled Lady Violet's and Isabel's banter! Bates' did-he-didn't-he intrigue and his other many talents for forgery and pick-pocketing came in quite handy as the Crawley's tried to salvage the Prince of Wales' reputation. The drama (Bates and Anna and Baxter vs. Barrow), the characters maturing (Daisy and Alfred), Mrs. Hughes being all tough and Carsen loosening up a bit. So much more interesting!

Agree with me? Disagree with me? Try and talk me out of buying the coral and striped bag? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Virtual Running Date No. 42: Baby Shower "treats"

Happy Monday Crushers!

I don't know about you, but my weekend was jam-packed with nieces and nephews and babies and showers and now we have SNOW showers. AGAIN! We're supposed to get 4-7 inches of snow. One of the girls in my office has to travel to Kuala Lumpur, and I have a feeling that she's going to be spending lots of time in airports over the next 36-48 hours!

Like I said, we did a lot of running around this weekend, but not in the "Hey, I went 3 miles" kind of way. We did a lot of laps around tables talking to people and thanking them for celebrating the soon-to-be-arriving Baby Girl. Our shower was so cute! It had a travel theme with Steve's and my family, and now I wish I had taken more photos. Fortunately, that's what sisters-in-law are for! Thanks to Melissa for all the wonderful pictures!

This blanket was made by Steve's grandma before she passed away.
It's perfect with bunnies since Baby Girl will be here in time for Easter!

Cupcake "rattles"

My sister and mom made this adorable diaper cake!

The tables all had maps on them along with diapers for messages and candy airplanes!

Salad bar!

All the good stuff I'm allowed to eat!

Later on when I was unpacking it all, I discovered that our baby received so many blankets!
Most of them were handmade! She can never be cold.

My foot compared to the tiny little socks!
And yes, I can still reach to paint my own toes...

Some very talented friends made these "treats" and bouquets out of
rolled up burp rags, wash cloths, bibs and onesies. So crafty!
I have to admit that I got all teary when I was unpacking them at home. I can't believe she's on her way! Well, then she gives me a good kick and I can totally believe it! HA!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Faith-filled Friday: Love is all around

Hello Crushers!

We had a very interesting day at our office yesterday. They are doing work on the floor above us. It sounds like drilling, sawing and dropping heavy objects. All. Day. Long. It's kind of ridiculous how loud it is. Fortunately, it's not an all day thing.

You know why? Because yesterday afternoon they hit a major pipe and there was water coming through our ceiling!

Fortunately, it wasn't over my desk. It was over the space between our cubicles, but there was some splashing going on. The ceiling tiles got all soggy and gross, and there was a real steady stream of water coming down. At the end of the day, we were all asked to clear our desks and cover our computers and phones with gigantic plastic bags.

My desk looked so empty. I took all my pictures down and hid them under my desk. I have a fun picture of Steve and I from our wedding up with the passage below on a post it next to it:

Scarcely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go - Solomon 3:4
I haven't put all of the photos back up yet. I might not do that for a little while, since the banging, sawing and clamor started up again about an hour ago. You never know when another pipe might break!

However, I did put that photo of us back up. After all, I found him. I will not let him go.

Whoever you're with today, whether it's a family member, your spouse or significant other, or friends (new or old), show them a little love today on Valentine's Day. For God so loved the world that he gave us his son. The least we can do is show extra love to each other today and every day.

Quilt update:
It's all done and waiting for a little baby to love it.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Feeling Quilty

So, I was all ready to finish up the baby quilt last night and have it ready to show you all on the blog. I was so proud of myself for finding this cute fabric and being all ready to go!

Then I got home and started pinning fabric realizing that I had bought too much. This is not a problem, but now what do I do with the other part? Also, why do I always set my hand down on a needle?!

Then it was 10 p.m. and I realized that I had sewn one side shut that I did not mean to sew shut. Then I didn't have yarn. I must have given it to my sister, who crochets. You can't put buttons on a baby blanket because they might chew it off and swallow it, so there goes that idea...

Anyway, I guess you will all have to wait another day or so for finished quilt pictures. It ain't happening today, crushers!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Virtual Running Date No. 41: FISH and Fashion

If this were a virtual running date, I would apologize that I didn't take pictures of all the cute little clothes I bought for baby girl over the weekend. My friends and I had a WONDERFUL time in the Wisconsin Dells at the Wilderness Resort. Seriously, if you go to the Dells, just go there. It usually has the best prices and it has an indoor water park with a "solar dome" or something like that where you can sit with your feet at the edge of the wave pool and pretend you're on the beach. Also, if you're not prego, you could probably order one of those margaritas the size of your head, too!

Note: I am in no way being paid to talk about the Wilderness Resort. I just really love it there.

We went shopping at the outlet mall and it was so much fun! I got two sweaters, a wrap dress and a pair of earrings for me (less than $30!), two pairs of pants for Steve and a bunch of baby clothes on clearance/sale. Oh the snuggly little outfits! SO CUTE!

It was so nice to just be with the girls and feel refreshed with good talks and helping each other solve problems like "What to do with toddlers to prevent feeling stuck inside in nasty weather?" or "What are some good ways we can think of to 'date' our husbands?" or "What are some new recipes we can mix in our with the usuals?" You want to solve problems? You put a bunch of ladies together, and we will figure it out. Or we will know how to research it. (One lady, Hi Susan, is a librarian at a university. She can find you stuff. Also, there's Pinterest, and we all know how to use it!)

Last night, I was blessed to come home and here Steve had worked on organizing the "crap room" in the basement, bought and installed a new mailbox, and has practically found us a new vehicle to replace his two-door truck. He was a busy man! Busy man needs a great dinner, right?

I found this recipe "The Very Best Fish Recipe Ever" on the blog Living Well Spending Less, and since it's a non-breaded fish, I thought I'd try it. We ate it with green beans and some stuffing, and I had a glass of milk - easy carb counting!

You can find the link to the recipe above. Of course, I didn't have all the exact ingredients, but what I did have tasted wonderful. You can either follow the link above or my version below. Steve said that this was the best non-breaded fish he's ever had, and he's kind of picky about his fish. This is definitely a "keeper".

Best Fish Recipe
4 fish fillets (1-2 pounds) - I used tilapia (prego safe fish)
3 slices of mozzarella cheese, crumbled
1/3 butter (you could probably use less)
1/4 cup mayo (the real stuff, not Miracle Whip)
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tsp dill
2 healthy dashes of Tabasco sauce (ok, it was more like 3)

Preheat the oven broiler. Grease the baking pan. I used a 9x13 Pyrex dish. Place the fish fillets in the dish so it's one layer. A little overlap is fine. Broil for 8 minutes or until the fish flakes. While that's in the broiler, mix all the other ingredients in a bowl.

Doesn't look like much yet...
When the fish is ready, put a layer of the spread over the top and broil for another 2-3 minutes. Serve up and enjoy!
Still looks like a blob (on the right), but tasted SO GOOD!

Serving suggestion: I don't think I either used enough fish or if this recipe could have done without the cheese. I think I'll skip the cheese next time or possibly just use the correct cheese. That would likely help.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Faith-filled Friday: Fellowship and French Onion Soup follow-up

Good morning!

I cannot tell you how excited I am for this weekend. I get to go to the Wisconsin Dells with a few of my girlfriends from college. We will spend our time together shopping and hanging out by the pool (it's the waterpark capital of the world - or so says they're marketing). We talk, stay up way too late, eat lots of taco dip, and talk some more. It's a whirlwind weekend, but it's so good to catch up with these ladies in person.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. - 2 Corinthians 13:14
Although we live in an age where I can keep up with these ladies by phone, e-mail, facebook, twitter, instagram and more, there is nothing like getting a hug or seeing each other face to face. We send e-mails for prayer requests and such, but being in the same place at the same time feels more powerful somehow. The fellowship is important. If you can, I encourage you to get together with some loved ones or make plans. It'll do you heart some good!

Add in a little shopping, and you've got a perfect girls weekend!

Follow up to yesterday's French Onion Soup:
The grilled cheese croutons totally worked!
Whole grain bread plus mozzarella cheese = a tasty alternative to gratinee!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Nursery sneak-peak and French Onion Soup revisited


One of my fitness and foodie blogger crushes was talking about doing some nesting/house repairs for the baby they're expecting over at Carrots N Cake. Tina and her husband, Mal, have big plans. Oh, and don't forget to check out their cute pug, Murphy!

Since there's lots of baby love going on with Baby Lincoln at Iowa Girl Eats and the baby that Jenna and her husband are expecting over at Eat, Live, Run , I thought I would share a nursery sneak peak with you all!

Here's a roundup of a few of the projects that I've done and totally filled up the walls:
Steve found this great map, which is flanked by art from Naptime Diaries and original art from my sister.

This is a Jen original that is going on the book shelf.

Remember when I figured out how to install a floating shelf?
I made the art on the right and just framed a greeting card on the left. The tea cup was my grandma's.

This is a total Pinterest copy-cat project. The lighting is funky here, but it works in the room.
Last, but not least, we assembled the crib! It's adorable. I'll give you a full tour after the baby shower in two weeks.
An early shower gift from my parents!

So, French Onion Soup. It only has about 8 grams of carbs per serving (so I could have a really big serving) and I'm allowed to eat a whole 45 grams for dinner to fit in my gestational diabetes diet! 15 g will be taken up by a wholesome glass of milk, but I'm thinking grilled cheese croutons for the other 15 grams...

Yes, I know that in this French Onion Soup version that I made last time, I was all about the gratinee process of melting cheese all over the place. Yes, I'm still pro-cheese. Have no fear, there will be cheese, but when you see these cute bites from Ina Garten, how could you resist? Also, I'll be omitting the wine. Obviously. No booze for me even if it's in the soup!

I'll let you know how it all turns out!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Virtual Running Date No. 40: Italian Beef Sandwiches

Good morning, Crushers!

If we were on a virtual running date this morning, I'd tell you to get back inside and put on a sweater. We would NOT be running today. It'd be very dangerous. It's another chilly day in Wisconsin. The news said that today's high is a whopping 17 degrees F. It was -5 when I woke up. No one likes or wants frostbite.

Fortunately, yesterday was spent all nice and cozy at home after church. We cleaned up a few more boxes from the move, I worked more on the baby quilt and we made Italian Beef Sandwiches for watching the Super Bowl. I must admit that I was looking forward to the food more than the game. I am not a Seattle Seahawks fan, but I do love Russel Wilson and appreciated the speed and athleticism of their team. Plus, I think the Broncos forgot that it was the Super Bowl or something. They obviously did not bring their A-game. I actually gave up on watching the game when Downton Abbey came on. At least there was more action!
I just need to go buy some fabric for the back!

Anyway, between sewing, catching commercials and other fancy moves by the Seahawks, we had these amazing sandwiches:
Yes, that's a bit of mozzarella cheese peeking out at you!

They were just the perfect amount of spicy and juicy! Plus, since I ate my open faced, I only used up one of my "3 carbs per meal" allowances. Then I could enjoy a few chips and guac, too. Yum!

Since we had such a low key weekend, I'll just share the recipe with you.

Italian Beef Sandwiches:
2-3 pounds of beef roast (you're cooking it low and slow, so you can pick a less fancy cut of beef)
1/2 cup water
1/2 jar of jalapeno peppers (or a milder pepper if that's your thing)
5-6 white mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1-2 tbsp of Wildtree Italian Dressing Mix or other Italian mix
Hamburger buns or rolls
As many thin slices of mozzarella cheese as you'd like

Gear you'll need: a Crockpot or slow cooker, measuring spoons, knife, cutting board, and will power.

Place the roast in the bottom of the slow cooker and pour in a the water. It doesn't have to be a lot, but just enough to make the bottom of the cooker wet. Then sprinkle the roast with the seasoning giving it a good coating. Put all of your sliced veggies and peppers on the roast. We even used some of the juice from the jalapenos. Let that mix cook for 4-6 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low. Since you're cooking it for so long with all these fantastic juices, you don't have to use a fancy cut of beef. It'll all become melty and tender.

About one hour to one half hour before you're going to dish up these great sandwiches, pull the meat out of the slow cooker and shred it. You can do this by using two forks and pulling them in opposite directions to pull the meat apart. At this point, you can trim off any fat, and return the meat back to the slow cooker for a bit longer. Give it a stir and try not to eat it directly out of the pot. Trust me, this is harder than it seems.

Serve up on buns or rolls with a slice of mozzarella cheese and even a pepper or two for garnish. Be prepared to use napkins because these things are juicy! It should make 6-8 servings. So maybe make that lots of napkins?

Gestational Diabetes trick:
Eat them open faced or bun-less with carrots or pickles so you can enjoy other Super Bowl snack carbs like a serving of veggie chips (15 g), 3 pizza rolls (13 g), and a glass of milk (15 g). If you have heartburn while prego, I really suggest the glass of milk or using a really mild pepper! Hot stuff!