Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chickpea cakes

Another of my attempts to be more vegan - chickpea cakes. This recipe, again, from my vegan cousin, Rebecca.
1 can chickpeas (if your name is Jordan Page, someone should probably tell you they are called garbanzo beans so you don't go to three stores looking for them)
1/3 cup green onions
1/3 cup coconut milk (I used Almond milk)
2 tsp evaporated cane sugar (I used the regular stuff)
2/3 cup breadcrumbs, plus 1/4 for coating
1 tsp curry
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cumin
2/3 cup brown rice, cooked

In a food processor, combine the chickpeas and onions and pulse until fairly smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add milk, sugar, 2/3 cup breadcrumbs and spices. Then stir in brown rice. Mold into 10 patties and coat with remaining breadcrumbs. You are supposed to sear them in a bit of oil - but mine were falling apart, so I seared quickly and then finished in the oven.

I served the cakes over fresh spinach and topped with salsa, avacado and pumpkin seeds. Jordan was pretty crazy about these, but I felt like something was missing. I will definitely make them again - maybe increasing the amount of milk (needed more liquid), decreasing the amount of rice and playing around with the spices a bit.

It sure did look pretty!

Funny stuff my husband says

My husband is hilarious. In fact, that's what first attracted me to him when we met, and then started dating, 14 years ago. Yes, 14 years ago. He became even funnier when I got pregnant and funnier still when Addie was born. Here's a look at some of my favorite Jordanisms over the past year ...
  1. "Are you sure there's just one in there? Could it be hiding directly behind that one?" - at our first doctor's visit. Apparently he was terrified of twins.
  2. "So I'm going to be that guy, carrying a Vera Bradley bag on each arm into the hospital? Wait, nevermind, that pretty much sums up the rest of my life." - while I was packing bags for Addison and me for the hospital
  3. "What do you mean she doesn't really get any food the first few days of her life? She will have just been born - she'll be starving. I'm pretty sure she'll need a cheeseburger." - at breastfeeding class. Yes, he went to breastfeeding class with me, which I'm pretty sure qualifies him for enough brownie points for the rest of his life.
  4. "Is it really hot in here?" - watching *the* video during childbirth class. Surprisingly, he didn't pass out
  5. "How do they expect us to sleep the night before? That's like Christmas Eve on crack." - after scheduling our induction
  6. "Are there enough people in here? I'm pretty sure there aren't enough people in here." - when the nurse declared it time to start pushing
  7. He thinks it's super hilarious to sing "Express Yourself" at the top of his lungs when I'm pumping ...
  8. "How am I supposed to do this??? There is poop EVERYWHERE!" - overheard from Addison's room when he was, clearly, changing a diaper
  9. "I may not have pushed that baby out myself, but having her has made me WAY more emotional. Must be because she's a girl. Rubbing off on me." - for the record, it's super sweet that he tears up at Extreme Home Makeover, specials about dads and kids on ESPN, Parenthood, Grey's Anatomy ... yep, pretty much anything remotely emotional on TV ... after which he often says "I need to hold my baby"
  10. "Ready to get your nails did?" - Jordan is Addie's official manicurist
  11. "So we can give her cereal soon, right? Like Cheerios?" - and, yes, he was serious
  12. When I asked him if he ever reads this blog: "I don't need to. I live your blog."
I'm confident this is the first of many in the Jordanism series. Have any funny ones you'd like to share?

    Sunday, November 27, 2011

    To work or not to work?

    Whether a mom goes back to work after having a baby is an age-old question without a right or wrong answer. I only know the answer for myself and my own family (which I have come to after months of agonizing over it) and believe every mom has to come to her own conclusion. I respect and admire my mom friends who stay home full time and those who work full time - both have pros and cons and both are challenging. I feel for any woman who has had to make this choice - and especially for those who felt their situations didn't allow them to choose.
    Before I had a baby, and even when I was pregnant, I was convinced that the right answer for me was to work full time. I have always loved my career. I put my heart and soul into my job and over the years have really gained much of my identity from it. I love the people I work with and what the organization stands for. I have had an awesome opportunity to create my position and department and have made some great accomplishments over the last five years.

    I have NEVER pictured myself as the stay-at-home mom type. I just didn't think it was for me. My mom worked full time throughout my childhood and I was always proud of her for it. And I never wished she would do anything different - from her I learned that I could do and be anything I wanted to be. She must be superwoman because we always had homecooked meals and she never missed a production or special day at my school. But I also loved hanging out at my friends' houses whose moms were there with cookies when they got home from school. I thought it was cool that their moms could volunteer at the school or with other meaningful organizations or be readily available to hang out or go shopping with them. I wasn't jealous of what they had - just appreciative.

    The second I saw my baby's face, something in me shifted. Being at home with her for three months isn't enough for me. I haven't yearned to return to work like I thought I would. If I'm being realistic, and I am, her colic has made her a pretty high-maintenance baby. It's taken me three months to figure her out, and half the time, I still have no idea what she wants. Because of that, it's really hard for me to leave her with someone else. Will they be as patient as I would be? Will they know what her different cries mean? Will they be able to soothe her like I can?
    Also influencing my decision is our childcare situation. Thankfully, shortly after we told my parents we were pregnant, my mom told us she would really like to keep our baby for a while when I returned to work. The plan was for my mom to keep her full time until February, then we'd place her in childcare full time. We had two long-term childcare options, both with child development centers we felt really good about. They have both now told me they don't have room for her until summer. Our church's Mother's Day Out (available three days a week for part of the day) may or may not have room for her in February. My mom is a true Godsend and has said over and over again that she will keep Addie for as long as we want her to, as many days a week as we need. Sometimes she even asks me to go ahead and get back to work so she can start keeping her now! But we also struggle with not wanting to take over my mom's entire life with keeping our baby.

    So, couple my emotional state of mind with the childcare issues and I was pretty sure God was trying to tell me something. Honestly, what I have struggled with, more than the question of whether to return to work, is that maybe I didn't know myself very well after all. Not only have I gotten to know Addie very well over the last three months, I've been reintroduced to a different version of myself. I'm OK with my identity being "Addie's mom" - I even relish it - instead of a big fancy title. I like singing nursery rhymes and working on tummy time just as much as strategic planning. But I don't want to give up that other world completely. Even if right now I am content being home with Addie all the time, I think I would regret giving up that other part of myself.

    So the right answer for us is for me to work part time. I have been offered and accepted an awesome new job, working around 20 hours a week, mostly in the office and a bit from home, with people I like and admire. Though extremely difficult for me to leave a job, organization and people that I truly love, I am confident this is the right move for me. I will be able to keep ties to my profession, using my talents and learning from others who do what I do. I'll get to hang out with and brainstorm with adults. And I will be able to be at home with my baby. My mom will keep her while I'm at work until Addie's old enough to go to MDO. And even then I'm confident my mom will find reasons Addie needs to hang out with her instead of going to MDO some of the time.

    The other thing worth noting is that I have an incredibly supportive husband who has said to me from the beginning (after we ran the numbers and determined that, financially, we could look into me not working or just working part time) that he wants me to do whatever will make me happy. He likes the idea of me being the one to keep our baby. He also likes the idea of me keeping in touch with the adult world by working part time. Above all, I am extremely grateful that I have been able to choose what I want to do.

    I am excited about the next chapter in my life. I'm looking forward to my new career. I'm really looking forward to hanging out with Addie.

    Thursday, November 24, 2011

    Pies vs baby

    I posted briefly about this on Facebook, but the story is too good not to share in detail here as well.

    I was feeling a little like supermom yesterday, getting all my Thanksgiving baking/prep done during Addie's naps. I had put my final dishes, two chocolate pecan pies, in the oven about the time she woke from her afternoon nap. We played for awhile and then, glancing quickly at the timer on the pies, showing about 10 minutes left, I realized baby girl needed a diaper change. Apparently I took the diaper off a little too quickly ... she explosi-pooped pretty much everywhere. It was one of those where I was practically standing her on her head, trying to keep her from getting it all over herself ... that didn't so much work. Especially since it was all over me, too. And it was one of those where wipes alone weren't going to cut it. Homegirl needed a bath, which would mark her second of the day. And her darling "my first Thanksgiving"  outfit (as well as pretty much anything else that had been in her path) needed to go immediately in the wash since we were going to see family later that night and she, of course, needed to wear that exact outfit.

    So I wiped down the baby and myself, stripped her and the changing pad, left naked girl safely on the changing pad and got the bath ready, starting the washing machine on the way. About 8 minutes left on the pies. Have I mentioned that the pies wouldn't actually be done in 8 minutes, but would need topping added and be placed back in the oven? I gave baby girl the fastest bath in the history of the world. About 4 minutes left on the pies. Got her dressed. Put her on her playmat to hang out so I could finish up the pies and get them back in the oven. Have I also mentioned that I'm about to wet my pants?? I have found that since I've become a mom, I completely don't realize I have to go to the bathroom until I'm about to die. Too many other things going on. So I'm putting the topping on the pies and baby girl is SCREAMING. Time to eat. Naturally. The crying-so-hard-no-sound-is-coming-out kind of cry. I quickly finish the pies, put them back in the oven, run to the bathroom and then give her what she wants. Then I realize the pies will have to come out in 10 minutes ... and there's no way she'll be done eating in 10 minutes. We worked it out.

    So end of the story is that baby got clean and fed and was only mildly stressed out, and the outfit was washed and dried in time for dinner with family ... and I'll let you know how overdone the pies are later today. Supermom my foot.

    Happy Thanksgiving!!

    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    What a difference a year makes

    We put our Christmas tree up today and Jordan was lying underneath it looking at the lights with Addie when I was struck by how different my life is than this time last year. Last Thanksgiving was a tough time for me, though most wouldn't have known. Jordan and I had been hoping to get pregnant for about six months, and I was sad and frustrated that it hadn't happened yet. I wasn't exactly talking about it with anyone ... I personally was not in favor of sharing with everyone I knew that my husband and I were "trying" to have a baby ... to me, that feels a little like telling the world "my husband and I are having sex a whole lot ... so don't come by unannounced or anything."

    I had taken several negative pregnancy tests by that point and hit a low on Nov. 7. I remember the day very well because it had previously been a happy one - it was the day Jordan asked me to be his girlfriend when we were freshmen in high school. :) I remember sitting in the bathroom sobbing that morning and then having to pull myself together so we could get to church. The message that morning seemed to be crafted just for me. I don't remember all the details, but it was about giving up control to God. Notecards were distributed and the congregation was encouraged to write something on the card that each had been trying to control, and then place the card underneath a cross, relinquishing control to the Lord. No brainer for me. Writing on the card and placing it under the cross was the easy part. But at that moment I sincerely gave up control of my situation. After all, I hadn't exactly been successful in creating a baby myself.

    I put up our Christmas decorations last year a little wistfully. I had been sure I'd be pregnant by Thanksgiving. For the rest of November, I continued to pray about my situation, but instead of praying fervently for a baby, I prayed for God's perfect timing and for strength and peace for Jordan and me. OK, some of the time I still prayed fevently for a baby. And asked why we hadn't been given one yet. I had to hand over my situation to God every day, sometimes more than once. But I felt more peace about it, more reassurance than I ever had before.

    We celebrated my birthday and my dad's birthday in early December. I started feeling funny but didn't want to get my hopes up. Turns out my bizarre symptoms, which I thought were stress-related, could actually be signs of pregnancy - metallic taste in the mouth, bloody nose, light-headedness. On my way home from the gym on Dec. 7, I picked up a pregnancy test. I was so nervous I couldn't take it for almost an hour. In my anxiousness, I had grabbed the wrong kind - the kind that shows a plus or minus instead of the words pregnant or not pregnant. I took the test. It immediately showed a plus sign. We were incredulous. Jordan didn't believe it and told me to go out and buy the digital kind. I was way too embarrassed to go back in the same store and buy a second test, so he did it. It said pregnant.

    In the grand scheme of things, we were very lucky. I know many have to wait much longer to get pregnant or have to go through incredible lengths, sometimes quite different than they'd imagined, to get the family they have always dreamed of. And I do feel incredibly fortunate that we were able to get pregnant and that it was an easy, healthy pregnancy for me, resulting in a most-perfect baby. But, at the time, our situation was agonizing. I caught a small glimpse of what some of my friends have dealt with on a much larger scale.

    We told our parents about Baby Page just before Christmas but waited to tell family and friends until after our first doctor's appointment on Jan. 11, when she confirmed that there was, in fact, a tiny, healthy baby the size of a blueberry in my belly.

    When I packed up our Christmas decorations on New Year's Day last year, I was carrying a sweet secret, wondering what this tiny baby would look like. Whether it would be a boy or a girl. Hoping it would be healthy. I thought ahead to putting the decorations up the following year - this year - and that I'd have a baby by then. A sweet girl who enjoyed lying on our new tree skirt today, feeling its soft velvet and gazing up at all the twinkle lights. How very blessed am I.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Vegan Lasagna

    I mentioned in a previous post that my cousin and her family have been vegan for the past year. I think our whole family was surprised that her meat-and-potatoes loving husband was up for it, but he is just as dedicated as she is. My own meat-and-potatoes loving husband has told me many times over the past year "not to get any ideas" from Rebecca. Until it was his own idea.

    Since Addie was diagnosed with colic about 11 weeks ago, I have been off dairy. I've had to get a little creative with my cooking and haven't been able to go out to eat as much (which has actually been a good thing) but it honestly hasn't been as difficult as I'd originally thought. Of course, when you're doing something like that for a sweet, precious baby who looks at you like you're her favorite thing in the world (because you are), anything is possible. Since I do most of the cooking, Jordan hasn't been eating much dairy, either, and he also says it hasn't been bad at all.
    So we decided we'd give the whole less-meat-in-our-diets thing a try. We eat pretty healthy anyway, and Jordan's on a bit of a health kick right now, so the timing is perfect. My goal for now is to make a vegan dinner once or twice a week. My first official attempt was tonight - vegan lasagna. Here's the recipe I adapted from:
    Whole Wheat Lasagna with Italian "Sausage" and Peppers
    • 1 box of whole wheat or brown rice lasagna noodles
    • 1 (16-ounce) box of frozen spinach, thawed, squeeze excess water out
    • 2 (26-ounce) jars of vegan marinara (Morgan used a basil marinara)
    • 4 vegan Italian "sausages" cut into cubes
    • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
    • 2 T olive oil
    • Vegan shredded cheese (enough to sprinkle on top only)
    • 1 lb. extra firm tofu
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • 1 clove of garlic, minced
    • 2 heaping T nutritional yeast
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • Black pepper to taste
    • 4 T chopped sundried tomatoes
    • 1 cup (a few huge handfuls) chopped fresh basil
    • 1 tsp. dried oregano
    Press water out of tofu by wrapping in a clean towel, and placing a pot or pan on top for about 10-20 minutes
    1. Crumble the tofu in a bowl, and add lemon juice, garlic, nutritional yeast, sea salt, black pepper, sundried tomatoes, fresh basil, and dried oregano
    2. Using a potato masher, smash up the tofu really well until it resembles ricotta cheese in texture
    3. Set aside until ready to use
    4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water with 2 T olive oil to a boil, and cook noodles according to package (the oil will prevent the noodles from sticking together)
    5. Cook them for a few minutes less than suggested, so that they can finish cooking in the oven
    6. When noodles are done cooking, drain and rinse in cold water
    7. While the noodles are cooking, heat 2 T olive oil in a saute pan, and saute sausage a few minutes
    8. Use a potato masher to help crumble the sausage into slightly smaller pieces
    9. Add 2 jars of marinara sauce and 2 chopped green peppers to the pan, and let simmer about 10 minutes
    10. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
    11. In a rectangular pyrex glass dish, start layering your lasagna
    12. Start by adding a little sauce on the bottom, then 4 noodles, then sauce, spinach, tofu ricotta, 4 noodles, sauce, spinach, ricotta,4 noodles, and then end with sauce and cover the top with shredded vegan cheese (you should have 3 layers of noodles) Cover top of dish with foil, and bake for 30 minutes
    13. Uncover and cook an additional 10 minutes until cheese melts a little on top
    14. Let cool 5 minutes
    Here's what I did differently:
    I used oven-ready noodles. I don't have time for noodle cooking. I didn't think this recipe called for nearly enough vegetables, so I included eggplant, squash, red pepper, red onion and baby portobello mushrooms. I sauted those and then added the two jars of marinara and let it simmer for a bit. For the ricotta, I put the tofu, several handfuls of fresh spinach (used my spinach here instead of layering in the lasagna), the garlic, lemon juice, spices and sundried tomatoes in my food processor. That seemed a heck of a lot easier to me. I omitted the fake sausage - that kind of creeps me out to be honest.

    Lasagna was excellent - even Jordan loved it. The tofu ricotta was the best part - tasted exactly like cheese, and the flavors of the spinach, garlic and sundried tomatoes were delicious. Highly recommend! And I even remembered to take a picture - tasted much better than it looks!

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    I heart pumpkin

    My new favorite pumpkin recipe is actually a vegan pumpkin muffin, courtesy of my cousin Rebecca, whose family has been eating vegan for over a year now. She and her husband have both lost weight, and most impressively, vastly improved their cholesterol scores. More on being vegan later.

    Here's the recipe:
    1 cup canned pumpkin
    1/3 cup water
    1/3 cup canola oil (I used applesauce instead, and also add about 2 T extra flour to keep them from being too sticky from the applesauce)
    2 T ground flax seed
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I've also made with regular unbleached flour)
    1 1/3 cup sugar
    1 t baking powder
    1/2 t baking soda
    1/2 t cinnamon
    1/4 t nutmeg
    1/3 cup chocolate chips (or vegan carob chips if you want to be seriously vegan)

    I also add a dash of ginger and a dash of cloves. Preheat oven to 350. Spray muffin tin(s) - this makes 12 muffins or 24 mini-muffins. Mix together pumpkin, water, oil, flax seed and vanilla in a mixer. Add in flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Fold in the chocolate chips. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean (slightly less baking time for mini-muffins).

    I love any recipe that doesn't use the entire can of pumpkin because that gives me a great excuse to make pumpkin dip. Now, as I've said before, I don't really believe in measuring ... I had about half a can of pumpkin left after making these muffins. I added about 4 oz of cream cheese and then powdered sugar (probably a quarter to a third of a cup) and pumpkin pie spices to taste (about 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/4 nutmeg and 1/8 each of ginger and cloves). I serve with gingersnaps.

    Another favorite of mine is a pumpkin cookie with cream cheese icing, courtesy of either my friend Brenda or Paula ... or maybe both.
    2 cups flour
    1 1/2 t baking powder
    1 t baking soda
    1 T pumpkin pie spice
    2 eggs
    1 cup sugar
    1/2 cup canola oil (I use applesauce here, too, adding in more flour to cut the stickiness)
    1 cup canned pumpkin
    1 t vanilla

    Preheat oven to 325. Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices together. In an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar until smooth. On low speed, mix in the oil, pumpkin and vanilla until blended. Add in flour mixture. Bake cookies about 15 minutes. When cooled, top with cream cheese frosting (or just dust with powdered sugar instead). The frosting is 8 oz cream cheese, powdered sugar to taste (recipe calls for a small box) and milk to thin to consistency you want. These remind me of City Bite's pumpkin cookies. Yum.

    Next on my pumpkin to-do list is BrownEyedBaker's Pumpkin Scones - can't wait!

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Fall = chili

    My go-to chili when the weather turns colder is always my dad's recipe - it's easy, hearty and delicious (more on that in a later post). But I was intrigued when I saw a chili recipe on one of my new favorite blogs - Brown Eyed Baker - and decided to try it out - Hardcore Chili. Made it tonight and was very, very impressed. I usually make chili with ground beef, and this used blade steak (which I had never heard of but was easy to find at Crest). Now, I wasn't nearly as impressive as she is - I used canned beans (one can pinto, one can kidney) and did not go through roasting the chilis (used about a quarter cup of chili powder instead). The chili paste was excellent - loved the addition of the oregano and cocoa powder. Using beer to cook the beef added great flavor as well (I cooked the beef ahead of time to cut down on overall prep time tonight). Instead of cooking in a Dutch oven in the oven, I just simmered on the stovetop for two hours. Beef was so tender and flavors developed really nicely. I topped with sour cream and chopped cilantro. Delicious. This will definitely be a staple in the Page household this winter.

    Sunday, November 6, 2011

    One more week

    On a posting roll tonight ... and thought I'd save the difficult one for last.

    I have had an amazing three months home with my precious baby girl. This is my last week to be home with her, and I've been trying, quite unsuccessfully, all day not to get weepy about it. I have forced myself not to count down every week - I am really bad about anticipating how much time I have left of something instead of actually enjoying the time I have left - and I've done a pretty good job of it. Until now. I could never have anticipated how much I would love being a full-time mom. Or that this job is so demanding, and sometimes difficult, that it actually requires my full-time attention. I thought I'd be able to do lots of cooking, cleaning, crafting during her naps, or even when she was happy and awake. I was crazy.

    I thought three months at home would feel like an eternity - a good one, but still, a really long time. It has passed in a blur. The first weeks were full of uncertaintly, serious sleep deprivation and lots of phone calls to my mom to say " I have no idea what I'm doing" or "Do you remember this?" or "If you don't come over right now so I can take a nap, I will just die." There were lots of times where Addison and I would both be crying - she for whatever reason babies cry and me because I didn't know why she was crying. I used to laugh when I heard the "purple crying" commercials on the radio - the ones that tell you that when the baby is crying and you are frustrated, to place him/her in a safe place and walk away for a few minutes. I have repeated those words to myself, and laid Addie, crying, in her crib several times to regain my composure. Thanks to whoever makes those commercials.

    The next weeks were about gaining confidence and falling into a routine. And dealing with colic. I learned that I actually could get myself and my baby ready and out of the house, even if just to drive five minutes to my mom's house. I learned how to make my baby happy, or at least more comfortable, when she was crying or not feeling well. I found her natural rhythms for eating and sleeping, and tried to follow them.

    These last few weeks have been about watching her grow. She's become so much more interactive and observant. She's truly a little person. And I'd like to think of myself as a bit of a baby whisperer (although that only applies to my own baby - I'm confident a different baby would completely confound me). Jordan often says to me "I don't know how you do this every day" (particularly when she's fussy) and I can't imagine not doing it every day.

    Every minute has been about loving her more than I ever knew I was capable of loving. Of wanting, more than my next breath, for her to be happy, comfortable, fed, secure and to know how much I love her. I was getting us ready for a trip to Houston a few weeks ago to visit my grandma and I said to Jordan that I knew I had every toy, article of clothing, medication, etc. that Addie could possibly need for two days. But I had no idea if I'd remembered to pack underwear for myself. That's what being a mom is about.

    I worry that she will realize I'm not around when I drop her off at my mom's and go to work (I am eternally grateful to my mom for offering, and being so excited about, keeping Addie for the first few months I go back). I agonize that she'll miss me. I will miss her more than she will ever know.

    So this week I will hold her extra close. We'll take naps on the couch together (even though I've been trying to convince her to nap in her own bed for weeks). I'll probably cry a lot. And I'll remind myself that no matter where I am, I always get to be her full-time mom.

    Sunday dinner

    Super yummy dinner tonight - brisket, roated new potatoes and green beans. And a delicious Zin from Oklahoma's own StableRidge Winery.

    Brisket - this is Jordan's great-grandma's recipe:
    3-4 lb brisket
    Worchestershire sauce (that may or may not be spelled correctly)
    Liquid Smoke
    Garlic and onion powders
    Remember I don't exactly believe in measuring ... coat both sides of the brisket with each of the four ingredients. I use equal parts Worchestershire sauce and liquid smoke - enough to completely wet the brisket and spill out onto the pan as well (I use a jelly roll pan). Then sprinkle generously equal parts garlic and onion powders. I slow cook in my warming drawer (but a 250 degree oven works, too) for 5 to 6 hours, until tender. Jordan sliced it after about 6 hours, placed it back in the juice and cooked another hour. Made it extra juicy and tender.

    New potatoes
    I cut five potatoes into bite-sized chunks and placed in a ziploc baggie. I added two cloves chopped garlic, a palmful of dried rosemary, palmful of dried thyme, pepper and salt and about a T of olive oil. Shook all that together and then placed in a 9x13 and baked in a 450 degree oven for 35 minutes.

    Green beans
    I have finally perfected a recipe for fresh green beans that I love. It's the combo of several recipes I read online, along with my own twist. I saute a clove of chopped garlic in some olive oil until tender, then add the fresh green beans (tonight - just enough for one serving for each of us). I stir them in, getting them coated in the oil and garlic, for a few minutes. Then add about 1/4 cup of water and a palmful of brown sugar. I turn the heat down to simmer, place the lid on the pan and cook for about 5 minutes - until the beans are crisp tender.

    And for the wine ... we tasted (and bought) several of StableRidge Winery's (located in Stroud, Okla.) wines last November, literally about two weeks before we found out I was pregnant. So we hadn't exactly gotten to try them again. Tonight we had their Zinfandel, probably my favorite type of red wine. It's light like a Pinot Noir, but has the fruity quality of a Zin - makes for a nice combo. On their site, it's described as a "lightly oaked, smooth dry wine." It wasn't super dry, and the oak, like they say, is very light. Loved it! By the way, I consider myself a professional wine taster since I got an A in what my mother called my "drinking for credit" class at Oklahoma State. Most popular class among college seniors, it was actually called International Beverages in the Hotel/Restaurant School, but basically we did drink for credit. Although I will say it was a really challenging class - had to know all about the grapes, process for creating wine, countries where the wine was made, etc.

    Didn't exactly get a pic of the dinner, but I did get one of the wine :)

    Earthquake survivors

    Addie has a page in her baby book where I record all her "firsts" - first smile, first bath, first road trip, etc. There wasn't exactly a line for this, so today I added one in that said "12 weeks - first earthquake."

    I was feeding her last night around 11 (about an hour later than usual - trying to make this whole "fall back" thing, which clearly isn't in a baby's realm of understanding, a little easier for her) when I heard what I thought was an airplane flying very close to our house. Then everything started shaking. I immediately realized that it was an earthquake - there had been one in Pryor, Okla., early on Saturday morning so I'd been hearing about it all day. And I had "survived" another earthquake about a year ago. I think that one was close to Norman, Okla., and I was at work when it hit. I was sitting in my office with two of my co-workers when the building started shaking - now, this is a historic building (circa 1927) and my office is located in the cement-encased basement. So it was some serious shaking. It was relatively quick. The one last night was not.

    We have a twin bed in Addie's room, where I was sitting to feed her, and it our house was shaking so hard it was banging against the walls. The antique dresser in her room was banging the walls, too, and everything on it was moving. The shaking kept increasing, probably for the span of about of a minute, but it felt like forever. About the time I was about to yell for Jordan, and realized I should probably get up and find someplace safer for myself and my baby than the middle of her room, it stopped. I could feel tremors for another couple of minutes. Jordan appeared in the doorway wide-eyed. He had been in the living room and said he could see the walls swaying and that the light fixtures we all shaking.

    After debriefing for a few minutes, we were over it. Our dog, Izzy, was not. While I was finishing feeding Addie, who was completely unfazed by her first earthquake, Izzy came in to check on me and the baby - seriously, I had to show her the baby before she would back off - and then tried to climb on the bed with us. She stayed right next to me until I got in bed, and then immediately jumped in and layed right next to me. Even this morning she was still a bit shaken and clingy. Poor thing.

    On the news this morning we heard the quake was a 5.6. The biggest in Oklahoma's history. I can't wait to be the super obnoxious mom who tells Addie, "when I was just a month pregnant, we had the biggest blizzard in our history ... then I was 9 months pregnant during the hottest summer ever ... then we had the biggest earthquake ever when you were three months old." She'll love it. :)

    Saturday, November 5, 2011

    Addison Mae - 3 months

    I cannot believe I have a 3-month-old. The time has flown by, which anyone who is a parent tells you before you become a parent, and you believe them, but you have no idea how very fast the time flies until you become a parent yourself. Addie is changing so rapidly I feel like I can hardly keep up. I love watching all her firsts, watching her discover new things and watching her little personality develop. I get a little weepy when she outgrows her clothes or moves up to the next diaper size. I find myself simultaneously anticipating all the things she'll do next and wishing I could keep her just the age she is at the moment.
    Weight: around 11 pounds
    Length: around 22 1/2 inches
    New things in the past month:
    • Trying to suck her thumb - we're almost there
    • Sitting up in the Bumbo
    • Squealing. So close to a laugh.
    • Grabbing for/holding on to toys. And then trying to get them in her mouth
    • Sleeping for at least an 8-hour stretch at night, usually 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
    • Pushing herself all the way up when on her tummy. She's even rolled onto her back from her tummy twice, although I think the slant of the couch cushion may have had a little to do with it.
    • Her mom and dad. We're her favorites. Seriously, it's so amazing how she lights up for us, more so than for anyone else. I love being her mom.
    • Smiling.
    • Eating. I swear this kid would eat every 30 minutes if I offered.
    • Her evening "naked kicking routine." When she gets fussy late in the evening, she likes to be stripped down to just her diaper (she moves from crying to grinning as soon as we start taking her clothes off), laid on a super soft blanket and "kick it out"
    • Her stuffed blue octopus. Part of her ocean play mat. We don't leave the house without the octopus. He makes everything better.
    • Her super soft lamb that plays Jesus Loves Me. She prefers him to be part of her naked kicking routine. She likes to have him placed on her tummy, and she's just started hugging him. She's also started lighting up for other plush toys - anything that has a face is very exciting
    • Mirrors. She loves herself.
    • Books. Black and white, color, anything. Loves to be read to and look at the pictures.
    • The TV. Which I hate. She's just started noticing it and becomes riveted
    • Music. Jordan has started playing classical music on our stereo system and she is definitely a fan
    • The paci. Someday this will be a battle, but for now, I am so glad she likes it
    • Being swaddled.
    • Her white noise machine. Preferences are the ocean and rain settings. I keep saying that the first time we take this poor child to the ocean she's going to fall asleep immediately. She also loves the projections it makes on the ceiling.
    • Bathtime. Which had previously been a dislike. I end bathtime soaked because my girl has had so much fun splashing.
    • Tummy time, which had previously been a like. She's become so much more observant, so I think she hates that she can't see what's going on around her.
    • Being away from mom and dad. Like I said, we're her favorites
    • Being in the carseat. Although the bear hanging from the handle makes it a little more bearable. (ha)
    • When her tummy hurts. Stupid colic.
    • Naptime. Bedtime/sleeping at night is fine. She thinks naps are for wimps.

    Cookie monster

    So I know cupcakes are all the rage right now ... but I am obsessed with the good old-fashioned cookie.My all-time favorite cookie is my family's sugar cookie recipe. Part of it is the taste and part are all the memories I have of baking and eating these cookies with my favorite people. Cream 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup butter or margarine and 1 egg. Add 2 T milk, 1/2 t soda, 1 tsp vanilla and 2 1/2 cups flour. That's it - easiest dough ever. I usually prepare and then freeze the dough about a week ahead of when I'm actually planning to make the cookies. When you're ready to bake, roll out and cut out the cookies and then bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. I like my cookies to be soft, so I usually cut them a little thicker and bake for a little less time. For the icing, melt 1/3 cup butter or margarine and stir in a splash of milk, 1 t vanilla and powdered sugar until spreading consistency. I usually make the icing a little thicker than I want it so it will even out when I add food coloring. I love these cookies for any holiday, but Halloween, Christmas and Easter are when you're sure to find these at my house. Here are my Halloween cookies from this year (not as detailed as usual - I was impressed I even got them iced during Addie's naps)

    My new favorite blog, BrownEyedBaker, has blown me away with cookie recipes. Here are the ones I've tried recently (have I mentioned that being a mom has turned me into a crazed baker???):
    Peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies Seriously - all my favorite things in one little cookie. These are amazing. I could eat a dozen in one sitting. Chewy from the oatmeal, moist from the PB. So, so good.

    Thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies Better than Nestle. She says: "The secret to the thick and chewy cookies is the combination of using melted butter, an extra egg yolk, and a higher ratio of brown sugar to white sugar." My dough was a little runnier than I liked, so I added about 4 T more flour than the recipe called for. Next time I'd just add 2 extra. 

    Salted double chocolate peanut butter cookies Can you tell I love peanut butter and chocolate? I am not a huge fan of nuts in my cookies (that just made me laugh out loud), so I'd probably omit the peanuts next time - maybe add in peanut butter chips or Reese's pieces instead. I didn't try the salt on top.
    Happy cookies!

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    Southern Living faves

    I am a huge fan of Southern Living, especially the quick dinner ideas. Some of our recent favorites are:
    Grilled Peppers & Sausage with Cheese Grits, which we had for dinner tonight. Delish. Quick. Easy. I use jalepeno sausages from Sam's.

    Tuna Cakes with Creole Mayonnaise We love crab cakes, and this is very similar, but cheaper and easier. For the sauce, I use half mayo and half sour cream. I use creole seasoning and lemon juice, as in the recipe, but also add brown mustard, dill, lemon pepper and a dash of chipotle tabasco. Chopped green onions are a good addition, too. For a side, I usually slice a couple squashes and saute those with about a quarter of an onion till just tender. Then mix with sour cream, place in a baking dish, top with crushed corn flakes and bake at 400 for about 20 minutes.

    Grilled Chicken with Fresh Corn Cakes One of my all-time favorite recipes. So, so good. The bacon and arugula are great touches.

    And another favorite, not dinner but dessert ... Mocha Latte Cupcakes with Double Shot Latte Buttercream. The cake is super dense - almost a brownie texture - and the icing is to die for. Seriously just as good, if not better, than anything you can buy in a cupcake store.

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    The dirtiest word I know

    Colic. Sorry, probably thought this post was going to be a lot more exciting or at least a little racy, eh?
    Addie was diagnosed with colic at three weeks old. Which is also about the time Jordan and I completely lost our minds. We were glad to know what it was that was making our baby cry constantly, and that it was nothing serious, but that really didn't make dealing with it any easier. Colic usually entails digestion problems and, with a newborn's underdeveloped nervous system, basically means they have a very difficult time soothing themselves and cry inconsolably, sometimes for hours. In layman's terms - her tummy hurts and she cries about it.

    I felt a little ridiculous calling her doctor to say, "Um, I need an appointment because my baby is crying." What baby doesn't cry? But when I was trying to make an appointment for her, she was literally screaming so loud the nurse couldn't hear me on the phone - I think that encouraged her to get us in that day. Her doc told us that most babies outgrow colic by five to seven months. Even in our sleep-deprived state, we heard that and answered, "come again???" I remember Jordan saying something along the lines of, "we'll take six weeks instead."

    Well, 12 weeks in to her little life, she's still got it, although it's become better or we're just better at dealing with it. I am officially a professional at the 5 S's of soothing, we both swaddle like it's our second job (which it is - and we even did a bang-up job of swaddling in a very cramped space when she was screaming on an airplane a week ago) and we both bounce/rock constantly ... even when not holding the baby. We have also become extremely adept at finding white noise - the kitchen venthood is a favorite, followed closely by the vacuum cleaner and hair dryer. One night Jordan finally just layed Addie on the kitchen island (in her nap nanny, mind you) near the venthood.

    The worst part is knowing that she's in pain and not being able to fix it. And the second worst part is just when Jordan and I look at each other and breathe a little sigh of relief that she's over it, it comes back with a vengeance. On days like today, when she's been crying most of the afternoon and I'm hoping I can finish this post before she wakes and cries again, I just remind myself that she has many more happy days than unhappy and I'll see that sweet little smile again soon. That smile makes everything worth it.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Fish tacos and corn & black bean salad

    Since this is my first cooking post, I should explain that I don't really believe in measuring ingredients or following recipes to the letter. When I want to make something new, I usually check out several recipes and then add my own twist. Even though I like to cook, I think dinners, especially during the week, should take no more than 30 minutes to prepare. I don't do super weird/fancy ingredients - I want something realistic with ingredients I'd normally find in my fridge or pantry. And though I like to indulge as much as the next girl, I want something somewhat healthy with lots of color. My mom taught me that a good dinner is a colorful one - if everything on your plate is the same color, you're in trouble. And, Jordan's least favorite part about my cooking, I like to make dinners that last more than one night - he's forever asking me, "how many nights is this supposed to last us??"

    For the fish tacos, I marinated four, 4 oz tilapia fillets in a combination of lime juice (probably a couple tablespoons), vinegar (same amount as lime juice), cumin (about a palm-full), chili powder (same), lemon pepper (about half as much as the other spices) honey (about a tablespoon) and a couple dashes of chipotle tabasco sauce. I marinated for a few hours and then baked at 350 for about 10-12 minutes. I made a sauce of sour cream (non-dairy since I'm off dairy due to Addie's colic), lime juice, garlic and onion powder, chopped cilantro, cumin, chili powder and a couple more dashes of the chipotle tabasco. I flaked the fish with a fork, placed atop flour tortillas, added some cabbage/carrot mix and then the sauce.

    For a side, we grilled three ears of corn, drained and rinsed a can of black beans, chopped about half a red pepper and added a sauce of balsamic vinegar, lime juice, cilantro, garlic powder and more of the chipotle tabasco.
    Everything turned out great - I always know the dinner is a winner if Jordan is so engrossed in eating it that he can't stop to tell me it's good. Good spice on the fish and in the sauce. Some avacado in the sauce or sliced on the tacos would have been a nice addition. I could seriously eat the entire bowl of the salad in one sitting, but I'm pacing myself - it has a great tang from the vinegar and lime and nice smokey flavor from the grilled corn.

    Pictures of this dinner would have been nice ... but we ate it before I thought of that. Next time!