parmesan basil chicken patties

Thankfully this meal was salvaged! Just when you think everything is going smoothly and you confidently saunter about the house feeling like the most amazing new mom, you are snapped back into the reality of messy motherhood when you have a sleep-deprived moment. There I was cooking up the chicken patties and thinking I could briefly multi-task only to turn back around to the chicken and see them filling the entire kitchen with smoke! I had completely forgotten to turn down the heat to medium and had left the chicken to burn on high long enough to trigger the smoke alarms. David ran downstairs with Henry and the dogs as I stood there paralyzed not knowing what to do (this is my response to a crisis, which is a terrible response!!). Thankfully David snapped me out of my “playing possum” state by shouting turn the stove off, open the window, and flap a towel by the smoke detector. We were a jumbled mess as we tried to fix the kitchen drama, calm down the dogs, and soothe the baby. Luckily within a few  minutes the alarms stopped and the smoke cleared enough for it to no longer be scary. When we looked into the pan we were surprised to see that the chicken was burned but not so badly that we couldn’t still enjoy it for dinner. Despite the mishap dinner was still delicious!

Ingredients:

2 diced cloves garlic

1 bunch basil

1 tomato

1 diced bunch green onions

1/2  edamame

3/4 cup barley

10 ounces ground chicken

1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat a small pot of salted water to boiling on high. Add the barley to the pot of boiling water and cook 16 to 18 minutes, or until tender. Drain thoroughly and return to the pot. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir to combine. Set aside until it is time to plate the meal.  While the barley cooks, in another pot heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced garlic and the green onions and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the diced tomato, basil, edamame, and 1/4 cup of water. Bring mixture to a boil, once boiling cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until the barley is done about 12-15 minutes. In a bowl, combine the ground chicken, basil, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan cheese.  Create 4 patties and cook up in pan with two tablespoons of olive oil. Loosely cover the pan with tin foil and cook on MEDIUM (not high like we did!) for 4-6 minute per side. Once all elements  are prepared plate and enjoy!

spicy sausage & arugala naan pizza

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10 weeks.  That’s all that is possibly left until we meet out little guy.  In some ways, 10 weeks still feels luxurious and distant and in other instances it feels like a blink away. Of course we are excited for the day to come but there is always so much on the “to-do” list.  Regardless of our planning though, I am sure he will come whenever he is ready to grace us with his presence! This week, 30 weeks pregnant, marked a change in my energy level.  My second trimester energy high is starting to wane a bit and I am curious if the crushing first trimester exhaustion that I have had an extended reprieve from is returning. Getting through the day isn’t too challenging but I definitely feel the day on my bones when I ride home and in my muscles when I finally collapse on the couch. Quick and easy dinners are therefore a major necessity now. This latest naan pizza was so simple that it might become my next obsession.

Ingredients

4 Naan

tomato paste

ricotta cheese

1 Spicy Sausage

1 red onion

parmesan cheese

red pepper flakes, salt, pepper

olive oil

arugula

Preheat the oven to 425.  On a baking sheet lay out the 4 naan.  Mix 4 tablespoons of tomato paste with 4 tablespoons of water. Spread this mixture over the naan, leaving a little room at the edges for “crust.” Lay some thin slices of red onion on top of the sauce, crumple the ricotta cheese and scatter over sauce, sprinkle parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Remove sausage from casing and crumble and distribute over the 4 naan. Drizzle olive oil on each naan. Bake in the over for 16 minutes. Once the time is up, top each pizza with arugula, serve, and enjoy!

family celebration, vacation, and babymoon

Last week was a wonderful celebration!  My mom and dad invited all of us to join them on a Disney Cruise of the Caribbean for their 40th wedding anniversary. Planned a year in advance, it is hard to believe that we just finished this magical time together.  We were so lucky to partake in this incredible vacation and so lucky to be celebrating so many wonderful family moments. While on board we toasted to my parents and their beautiful commitment to one another over their many years of marriage, we sang happy birthday to Avery who recently turned three, we enjoyed being together as a family, and David and I enjoyed some quiet moments that we deemed our “babymoon.”

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We boarded the Disney Fantasy at Cape Canaveral  and spent two days at sea while we cruised down to St. Maarten. The ship was just beautiful. Disney is known for its attention to detail and its excellent customer service and in both of these areas they again excelled. Our dining staff, Yanina and Kaya, became instant friends and helped make our experience truly magical. Each day aboard, we explored all that the Fantasy had to offer from midship pools, to Broadway shows, to character encounters with Avery and Smith and so much more. Ending each night in one of the rotating dining rooms with Yanina and Kaya, we would recap our adventures and dine on lavish four course meals. It was a vacation fit for a king and I am not sure how much of the weight I gained is from the baby-to-be and how much was from the extravagant meals!  Regardless, it was well worth it as we all settled in to life on the Fantasy.

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Our first port of call was St. Maarten.  Here we departed from the cruise itinerary and Bryan became our guide. Having traveled extensively in the Caribbean when he flew for American Eagle, Bryan took us over to Maho Beach best known for its picturesque beach, delicious beach side bar, and the low flying planes overhead!

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To be that close to planes landing was actually quite amazing.  The bar showed the arrival times and people lined the beaches and paused from their swimming to watch the aircraft land. It was so cool!  This topped with warm clear blue water made our day in St. Maarten quite special.

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Our next morning, we woke up in St. Thomas to yet another beautifully warm and sunny day. We left the Fantasy early and boarded the Kon Tiki Island Boat Cruise. While aboard, we sang, danced, and partied our way to an isolated beach where we spent the afternoon soaking up the rays, enjoying our time together, and just relaxing.

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Our last stop was Disney’s Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. This island oasis was groomed in true Disney fashion. From their pathways, to the set up of the lounge chairs, to the island BBQ lunch, to the underwater reefs the island exuded care, relaxation, and fun. This was our longest day off the ship and we enjoyed every moment. David and I snorkeled in the morning.  It was so different snorkeling while pregnant.  At times, we would  be gliding along the ocean looking at schools of fish and then the little guy would move and bump and kick. I like to think all that movement was because he was enjoying the weightless swimming  in the sea. David and I would stop and say, “Wow so right now it is just you and me but very very soon baby makes three!” With only 88 days until the estimated date of arrival this trip marked our last vacation as “just the two of us.”  Thankfully we had plenty  of time with our niece and nephew to practice a little parenting this past seven days =)

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But really just being together as a family made the trip so special.  It is sad being home now in that it is so quiet.  I keep expecting to see someone come around the corner to say hello or to ask us to run off here or there on the ship. I am so thankful for last week and I am really looking forward to our next family gathering which will most likely include baby-to-be!

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vegetable barley soup

Last night David and I were set to watch a marathon of Homeland.  Finally realizing that our local library could save us a great deal of time and money, we have started to borrow television series instead of splurging on them ourselves. We donned our pajamas and curled up on the couch together each with a big bowl of our vegetable barley soup.  Covered in blankets, we enjoyed both the warm meal and the good drama.  Of course, being pregnant meant that our “marathon” of Homeland episodes was actually just one for the night as the meal combined with my sleepiness were the perfect combination for an early bedtime!

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Ingredients:

5 garlic cloves diced

4 onions diced

6 carrots diced

4 parsnips diced

6 celery sticks diced

1 cup of barley

1 bunch of kale, washed and torn roughly

2 cans of 28 oz diced tomatoes

6-8 cups of water

red pepper flakes, black pepper, salt

Cook the barley according to package. In a large dutch oven or deep soup pot, heat olive oil  and add the garlic. Toss together until garlic is fragrant. Add all of the vegetables (carrots, onions, parsnips, and celery) and mix together.  Add spices. I went heavy on the red pepper flakes and pepper to ensure ultimate flavor. Cover the vegetables and left cook for about 12-15 minutes. Stir occasionally.  Once the vegetables are translucent and cooked through, add the diced tomatoes and water. Bring to boil, and then simmer together for 15-20 minutes. Add in the kale and the cooked barley.  Enjoy!!

roasted chicken and root vegetables

The picture associated with this meal does not do it justice. I should have taken the shot before David carved the chicken, but the smells of the delicious meal had permeated the house for 90 minutes and we were ravenous to begin dinner. The chicken’s photo shoot was rushed but boy oh boy did we savor this meal. We actually even broke out into a little “fight” over the potatoes and whose plate was perhaps being too potato gluttonous! So even though this picture is a bit underwhelming, we had to post about the meal in order to add it to our growing list of delicious dinner options.

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Ingredients:

1  4lb chicken

salt, pepper

1 stick of butter

chicken stock

1-1.5lb of fingerling potatoes, cut in half lengthwise

4 carrots, cut into 1-2inch sections

2-3 yellow onions, cut into quarters

1 lemon

1 head of garlic

In a roasting pan create a “bed” of carrots, potatoes, and onions. Pour 1 cup of chicken stock over the bead of veggies. Rinse the chicken and stuff the chicken with the lemon cut in half and the head of garlic cut in half . Seal cavity with a toothpick. Bring the stick of butter to room temperature and smear all over the chicken, even between the skin and breast meat if possible. Generously sprinkle pepper and salt all over the chicken. Bake the chicken for 30 minutes at 425, then flip the chicken over (add more chicken broth if needed to avoid burning vegetables and baste chicken), bake the chicken for another 30 minutes, then flip the chicken over (add more chicken broth if needed to avoid burning vegetables and baste chicken), bake the chicken for a final 30 minutes. Take out of the oven and wrap tightly in aluminum foil for 20 minutes to let the juices set. Carve and serve with the roasted veggies!!

spicy pork & mustard green soup

My cravings primarily come in two categories: salty and spicy. I find myself picking the spiciest item on the menu or adding drizzles of Sriracha sauce to everything (including my lunchtime salads!). This little dude has a “hot” tooth and I find myself giving in to it every day.  Thankfully,David already was a spicy food eater otherwise this latest phase of food cravings would be miserable for him. I sort of want to try a chicken wing eating contest with him now to see who can handle the hottest of hot. Prior to the baby-to-be, I wasn’t a lightweight when it came to spice but I definitely feel a new level of spice competency! It is my latest “super power” perhaps?

Last night for dinner in order to tap into this craving, we cooked up a spicy pork and mustard green soup from Bon Appetit. With David helping as my sous chef, cleaning the greens and dicing the scallions, the dinner from beginning to end took no longer than 20 minutes to make. Super easy, spicy, and flavorful my craving was satiated….for now. (Though a drizzle of Sriracha really added just that little bit extra I needed).

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paella & pregnant winters

The Winter is a beautiful season in New England. Snow covers the trees, streets, and yards of every home, while people huddle with loved ones and friends to stay warm. The sun shines brightly most days with clear blue skies, but the temperatures remind you that winter prefers for you to stay indoors or to layer yourself.  I like to pretend sometimes that I live in the North Pole when the banks of snow are higher than my thighs. How rugged are we? I say as I take Buster and Bella out back to carve a path. This winter has been particularly snowy.  Snuggling indoors with David, we cook solely belly-warming meals like paella. Yet, this winter has turned me a bit against it. Part of me has started to ache for warmer temperatures and springtime rains. Perhaps being pregnant contributes to this a bit. Snowy streets are treacherous for me now. I worry a lot about falling down and what that could mean for the little one. Thankfully (knock on wood) I have avoided this seasonal hazard so far. This morning though, I was in a panic as I tried to climb the hill to my school and found myself sliding backward more than moving forward. While I definitely don’t want to “wish” winter away, I am getting ready for the Spring thaw to come our way.

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