lamb, mint, and pea orecchiette

We have been so lucky.  Since Henry was born we have been able to avoid cooking in the kitchen for almost 3 weeks. Our nearest and dearest friends have taken amazing care of us and have brought over nutritious and delicious meals. From chicken pot pie, to kale salad, to fajitas, to lemon pepper chicken, to homemade pizzas, to stir fries, and so many more, we have truly been overwhelmed by the love and care of our friends. It cannot be stressed how amazing it was to not have to think about, worry about, or shop for dinner.  We were really able to focus on Henry and figuring out his needs and were able to avoid the frenzy of cooking and juggling the baby. Unfortunately, preparing dinner has now become a daunting task and I feel quite shy about being in the kitchen and trying to make sure Henry isn’t having a meltdown. But timing dinner and naps is unreliable at this early stage. Thankfully, our friends, Lauren and Mark, have helped us with this big transition. They currently use Blue Apron as a weekly meal delivery service and generously gave us a free week trial of meals. We received our package yesterday and everything was fresh and perfectly portioned. All I needed to do was mix it up on the stove top and enjoy. With Henry as my sous chef, we prepped and cooked our first Blue Apron recipe and we loved it!  It was so simple and the recipe was complete in 20 minutes.  This service is perfect for new families and David and I are thinking about extending our membership now.

The service provides you with recipe cards for each meal that you can then use again in the future if you decide not to use the delivery service again. So it is a win-win situation!

 

Henry was an excellent sous chef in his rocking chair on the floor. I kept holding my breathe and hoping he would stay content while I told him what I was doing on the counter and stove top. Hopefully in the future he can help his momma out with a little more of a hands on approach.

Ingredients:

Orecchiette Pasta

English peas

3 cloves of garlic

1 bunch of mint

1 lemon (for zest and juice)

1 purple spring onion

8oz ground lamb

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

 

Cook the pasta and reserve 1 cup of water. In a pan, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil and saute diced onion and diced garlic cloves for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Add the ground lamb and cook through. Season with salt and pepper. Add peas, 2 teaspoons of lemon zest, squeezed lemon juice, butter, Parmesan cheese, and cooked pasta. Add the reserved water slowly to create a light sauce. Cook together for 2-3 minutes, serve and enjoy!

vanilla milkshake, the latest craving

It seems like it has been a few months since I could pinpoint a craving. Yes, I am always hungry but I have yet to send David out in the middle of the night to grab me this or that. Nor have I eaten the same meal or snack for multiple days in a row. The first trimester was my craving center. From spicy pad thai to pickles, I needed these items and craved them but rarely did I actually give in to my desires on a daily basis. Instead, I would distract myself with something I hoped would be a healthy alternative and move on.

Unfortunately, 9 months later that early craving bug has kicked back in and this time it doesn’t like to be distracted or denied! Vanilla Milkshakes have become my calling. I think about them probably 90% of the day (especially since I am home from school now and impatiently waiting for this little one). I think about the next one I am going to have, the one that I am currently having, and then ponder which of my milkshakes has been the ultimate shake. While I am a bit worried about the fat and sugar content, my baby brain keeps telling me “Hey it’s calcium.”  With about 1 week to go until the little man’s arrival, I am going to give into this craving. How much damage can it do me at this point??  (Yes, I am very skeptical too about this).

Regardless, it seems my baby (and/or just me) is in the need of some TLC that can only come in the form of a vanilla milkshake. Cheers to you baby!

Ingredients:

2 scoops of vanilla ice cream

1/2 cup of non-fat milk

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

Mix all ingredients into a blender, pour into your favorite glass, and enjoy!

braised chicken thighs with tomatillo sauce

Last night we were a little adventurous. We knew we wanted to cook something that could last a few nights but we wanted it to be a new recipe which is always a little risky. What if we make a huge batch of something nasty?  Do we push through it all week long or decide to throw away a perfectly good meal because we don’t find it to our liking? Having had a lot of red meat lately (which I have been craving!), we settled on a chicken dish. A lot of pregnant women have an aversion to chicken.  While I don’t hate it right now, neither do I go searching for it. This added an additional element of surprise to dinner: would I be able to even tolerate the meal based on its protein?  The answer was thankfully a resounding yes. As a one pot meal, it practically cooked itself and it was so flavorful and simple to piece together that I am sure it will get added to our rotation of repeat meals.

Ingredients:

6 bone in chicken thighs

3 cups of chicken stock

3 jars of salsa verde (approx 5-10oz)

1 jalapeno diced

1 carrot diced

3 garlic cloves diced

1 yellow onion diced

2 bay leaves

Olive oil

Canola oil

Salt and Pepper

Start by heating up a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of canola oil in a braising pot. When the oils are almost smoking, add the chicken thighs which should be seasoned with salt and pepper skin down until the skin is browned (approx 5-7 minutes). Flip the chicken over and add in the onion, jalapeno, garlic, bay leaves, carrot to the pot for about 5 minutes or until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add in the salsa verde and the chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 1 hour. Serve in a bowl over rice and with warmed tortillas.

teriyaki salmon

This week I have been SO hungry!  I have just eaten through our pantry and refrigerator all day long.  Perhaps it is a growing week for the baby or perhaps it is just me being a fatty-pants but my hunger has been insatiable. I just finished dinner and seriously could eat an entire bowl of macaroni and cheese if it were offered. Part of me even wants to beg David to make it now as I write this! I am starting my 37 week this week and have so far gained 33 pounds. It took awhile to get to a place where I just accepted the rising number on the scale but  I am here now!  That being said, I did feel it was important for us to make a healthy dinner choice tonight after my week of binging of salty and sweet treats.  So we cooked up a quick and easy teriyaki baked salmon with our favorite kale salad.

Ingredients:

Teriyaki sauce

Brown sugar

12-16oz wild salmon

garlic clove

 

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Mix together in a bowl the teriyaki sauce, chopped garlic cloves, and brown sugar. Marinate the salmon for at least 15 minutes in the marinade.

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Place the salmon on a baking sheet and pre-heat the oven to 450. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until the salmon is cooked through and flaky.

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Then enjoy a super simple and delicious meal!

mezzaluna spinach soup

Not only is the school year coming to a close which is a whirlwind time but for the past two weeks, David and I have been fighting off a nasty cold. Our evenings have been consumed with sneezing, coughing, and trying to go to bed early. Yet, with the piles of grading calling to me from my work bag, I have tried to balance my need/desire for rest with the never-ending task of providing students with feedback on their assignments.  This has left dinners in a black hole. Last week, we simply pillaged our pantry. Which allowed us to eat through stocked items and goods that should have been eaten earlier but which also meant that we ate too many cheeseburgers and random meals for people trying to reinforce their immune systems. Finally on Sunday, there was (a) time and (b) ability to go grocery shopping. The only dilemma that remained was our low energy. We decided that since there was still a chill in the evening air that soup was probably our best bet. It would warm us up, include healthier ingredients than our depleted pantry, and would be quick and easy to pull together. This giant bowl of soup has sustained us thus far and hopefully after this week, we will both be in a place to rejoin the living.

1 box mezzaluna tortellini pasta

1 can 28oz diced tomatoes

6-8 cups vegetable stock

1 can white beans

1 bag of baby spinach

1 onion diced

3 garlic gloves diced

salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

Parmesan cheese

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In a large pot, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil until fragrant and translucent. About 3-5 minutes.

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Add the broth, spices to taste, diced tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta and beans and simmer with a partially open lid until pasta is cooked to al dente. Add in a stir spinach until wilted.

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Serve with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

asian roasted brussels sprouts

I love Brussels Sprouts.  It could be because those little cabbages are super cute but the flavor always hits the spot. They could be cooked in any fashion and I would probably enjoy them. Recently at my friend Rodney’s house, he roasted them with some Asian flavors and this really enhanced this side dish for me. Prepared this way, they were so light and fresh. In an attempt to replicate this dish, I roasted some Brussels Sprouts last night and have now found my latest obsession. Seriously though I crave them now at every meal!

Ingredients:

1-2 lbs Brussels Sprouts, cut in half

juice of half of lemon

olive oil

salt and pepper

1/3 cup of fish sauce

1/4 cup of water

red pepper flakes

1/4 suagr

1 garlic cloves

Preheat the oven to 400.  On a roasting pan, toss the sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Lay the sprouts soft side down so that they really roast up and darken. Bake them for 20-25 minutes. In a bowl, toss together the vinaigrette ingredients. When the sprouts are done, toss them with the vinaigrette and serve.  It is seriously so easy and insanely flavorful!

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spicy dr. pepper pulled pork

When David was elbow deep in plaster and fixing our kitchen ceiling, I felt a little useless (post to follow soon about the Home Improvement Project). I know I am pregnant and I can’t be standing on ladders or near a work site, but I still wanted to help him. David’s weakness is Dr. Pepper. If left to his own devices he would drink himself silly.  Rhee Drummond , of the Pioneer Woman cooking empire, has an interesting pulled pork recipe with Dr. Pepper as a main ingredient. Dashing out to Whole Foods, I bought my supplies and put together the recipe. So as David plastered and painted, the pulled pork cooked slowly in the oven bathing the home in a delicious aroma. It was quite a nice Sunday after all. David was excited with the progress he was making on the project and I was thrilled that even though it was a DIY project that it would in fact be complete within the confines of the week. The rain outside made working inside desirable and the meal basting in the oven promised a scrumptious dinner to end on. And, it was.

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strawberry scones

I can’t remember the last time we baked. Since there is not a lot of self control in our home when it comes to sweets, we try to avoid bringing them in the house in general. So sad, right? But of course, it is important to constantly remind myself that I need to watch the intake, keep sugars to a minimum, and eat meaningful calories. Nevertheless, looking through our pantry,  it became apparent that we had just the right ingredients to bake scones. Even though energy is a major commodity these days for me, I decided to expend a little in order to later enjoy a delicious scone while sitting with my feet propped up. The recipe from Eat, Live, Run was simple to follow and my first batch of strawberry scones were quite successful!  Every morning since, I have been very thankful to my former self for making these delicious treats that my current self can enjoy. Besides, it is made with whole grain and strawberries so it can’t be too “bad” for me, right?

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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!

advisory party

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This afternoon I was anxious about lunch. My advisees, (9 students who I support and advise throughout the duration of their high school experience) wanted to go off campus for lunch. Not just that, but they wanted to go to Shake Shack which is notoriously crowded.  Of course, the idea of lunch off campus was totally appealing, but the reality of getting everyone there, fed, and back in time for their next class was intimidating. Despite my concerns, I went with it. Why not?  I mean my time with them is so limited and we enjoy our time together so much that I got in the car and drove over to our luncheon.

Once there it became apparent that they not only invited me to lunch to enjoy burgers together but also to celebrate the baby-to-be.  They brought “It’s a Boy” balloons and a celebration cake that said “Congratulations” in blue to the table and were too cute with their surprise. They giddily shared how they planned the whole thing and how they tried so hard not to ruin the surprise. There thoughtfulness was truly touching.  The night before this surprise, I had shared with David how hard it feels sometimes to be the first friend in my primary friend circle to have a baby. Not only will a baby change the friend dynamics but I sometimes feel like this momentous event in which my body and my life will forever be defined as “before” and “after” baby is moving by fairly unnoticed. Of course, I in no means expect constant celebration but it sometimes feels that talking about the baby-to-be among friends isn’t always popular.  Rationally I know that life gets in the way of life and that everyone is busy with the events, family, and moments that are most directly connected to them, but it meant so much to me today to celebrate and share with my advisees.  I am going to be devastated when this group of talented, kind, and funny students graduate in another year but I am so thankful to have gotten to know them so well and to share in their journey, just as they have shared in mine.

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