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Stuff I’ve Cooked Recently

I keep seeing posts on Facebook and Twitter where people are begging for dinner ideas.  I usually end up stalking these posts and find a couple of things I can add to my list.  This summer I’ve been trying to make at least one new dish a week with the goal being I can find at least a few dishes to add into our regular rotation.  I’ve even made a Pinterest board where I’m giving feedback on dishes/crafts I’ve tried that I’ve found from the site.  So here’s a list of some of the new dishes that have made their way into our rotation:

Honey Spiced Chicken Thighs

from hollywoodifshecould.net

photo from hollywoodifshecould.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We ALWAYS have chicken thighs in our house.  I’ve learned over the years to prefer them to chicken breasts because they are a lot more forgiving when you are experimenting.  They don’t dry out like chicken breasts and they have more flavor even with just a simple marinade.  I picked this recipe because it’s all stuff I have in my cabinet – which is very important when I’m struggling to figure out what I’m going to cook.  These thighs were great!  Joel and Josh both ate them up and asked to have them in a regular rotation.  My only edit I would make is to use a little less honey than the recipe calls for.  I thought that the honey was SO liquidly (nope, that’s not a word and I don’t care) that with a little less, it would hopefully not be a mess all over my pan.  I had just picked up the honey that weekend from the farmer’s market so it was REALLY fresh.  I don’t know if that matters.

Couscous Salad with Black Beans, Mushrooms, and Corn

photo from marthastewart.com

photo from marthastewart.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When corn is fresh and in season, I do whatever I can to find great recipes with corn.  This came recommended from a friend on one of those Facebook posts.  One of the reasons I decided to make this particular dish is because I was running into Big Lots to grab some 4th of July decor and I noticed they have a grocery section!  They had some fancy brand of couscous (Red Mill, I believe) for a couple of dollars and I decided to go ahead and get it.  This was a quick and easy dinner that uses all fresh ingredients.  I didn’t add the jalapeno in the dish but I did cut some up and put it in a bowl for Joel and Josh.  Lila didn’t really care for the couscous but I think that’s a texture thing for her.  The avocado was the perfect touch!  My only complaint is that I felt like I had to eat a TON to feel full.  Joel and Josh both agreed that this would be better if it was a side to some actual meat.  So I’m going to try it again as a side dish to some grilled chicken (thighs!).

Rice, Beans, and Okra

photo from foodnetwork.com This isn't actually a picture of what I cook but it was the only thing that looked closest

photo from foodnetwork.com
This isn’t actually a picture of what I cook but it was the only picture that looked closest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I don’t know the exact name of this recipe.  It all started from something my MIL made when she came to stay at our house when I was in the last few weeks (after my due date) of my pregnancy.  This was kinda just a throw in of anything she could find.  My MIL is really creative when it comes to stuff like this and now after tweaking this a bit, it’s become one of our favorite recipes.  It’s also a vegetarian dish but it needs nothing else to accompany it.  Find a large bowl and start layering:

  • White rice (we use a rice cooker because it turns out that it makes rice one billion times better than I can on the stove. Considering how much we eat rice, we get our money’s worth.  We just bought this one because our cheap one from Walgreens finally died after 5 years.)
  • Black beans – I add some (about half ) diced onion to a pot with some canola oil.  As they cook down, I add in cumin and curry spices and then I dump the entire can of black beans (with the juices) in the pot and let it simmer.
  • Slimey Okra – I know this sounds gross, but it is my absolute favorite.  It’s more like a healthier version of bhindi (which is basically the Indian non-breaded version of fried okra).  I slice onion (usually a whole one and then I slice up the other half from the beans) and start sauteing it in a pan with a lid with some canola oil.  The goal of this dish is to steam the veggies.  The trick to getting your okra nice and slimy is to cut it and let it dry for a few hours before you start cooking.  I usually slice it up during nap time and then just let it dry out on a cookie sheet with some paper towels underneath it.  Once you get the onions going, add the okra and put the top on.  You want to cook this on a low simmer because you don’t want to actually fry the okra.  As it cooks down, you’ll start to see the okra stick together and then you know it’s getting perfect.  Add salt at the end to taste.
  • Shredded SHARP cheddar cheese – I find some sharp white cheddar in the deli area (although we’ve used the regular yellow sharp cheese in the dairy aisle and it works fine).  When my MIL first made this dish for us, I happened to have some fancy white sharp cheddar cheese from Earth Fare and it was the star of the dish.  So I try adding new fancy cheeses (as long as they are on sale and I remember to buy some).
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Cilantro

Pile all of this on top of each other and you have a delicious dinner.  This is SO filling for not only me but for Joel’s siblings.  They eat like horses and this fills everyone up and gives us leftovers for lunch the next day.

 

I know that I love reading about what you are cooking/eating – because honestly, cooking has become kinda fun for me so I’m always attempting to try new recipes (at least one a week) so I’m not just cooking the same 5 things over and over again.  So, now that I’m going to try posting our dinners, you should too!

 

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St. Louis Recap (lots of baby pics)

We adventured to St. Louis this past week which I was super excited about because (1) we got out of Indiana and (2) I reeeealy like St. Louis.  It was actually our first choice when we were looking at new places to move.  So I was kinda pumped to have a long trip there.  Joel was in a workshop all day near our hotel so Lila and I mainly just hung out by ourselves during the day.  Of course, she slept most of the time so I was locked in our hotel room.  Thankfully, we were in a “suite” type room with a door separating the living area from the bedroom/bathroom so Lila got her own “room” and so did we.

Throughout the days, I was trying to come up with fun things to do which is hard when you have a kid that takes two two hour naps throughout the day and then wants to pass out at 7pm.

I'm on a boat. (heh)

I’m on a boat. (heh)

I did take her swimming for the first time.  Which, considering I’m already a little nervous about the baby and water, taking her to the pool by myself was quite a feat.  (By the way, that towel was my first hooded towel I’ve made and it went so well that I think those might become my new baby gifts!  I have a feeling Lila will have a collection of them soon.)  She LOVES bath time and hanging out in the tub, so I figured she would love a swimming pool.

WHAT IS THIS GIANT BATHTUB??

WHAT IS THIS GIANT BATHTUB??

Nope, turns out she was pretty nervous at first.  Then she fiiiinaly relaxed.

You can push me now.

You can push me now.

She never really got into the whole splashing thing, but one step at a time I suppose.  I don’t think there is anything cuter than a kid in a swimsuit because everything is just SO TINY.  She looks like a little person here and it’s pretty darn adorable, if you ask me.  We had a few friends pass down some old clothes their girls outgrew and so Lila has a summer collection of about 15 swimsuits.  I…don’t even know.  I’m going to try and embroider on some of them for practice’s sake and then I have a feeling goodwill will be getting a healthy supply of baby swimwear.

The only downsides about traveling for us is that Lila likes to have teeth break through whenever we aren’t in our own home where I can heavily medicate and don’t have to worry about her waking anyone but me and Joel.  She had 4 come through when we were in Florida/Georgia for Christmas and in St. Louis, her molar finally made its way to the surface.  On a positive side, I have found out what works really well for her.  If it’s the middle of the night crying I do a dose of Tylenol (Advil hasn’t ever really helped for the massive breakthroughs), 3-4 Hyland’s Teething Tablets, and rub some Orajel Naturals (which doesn’t have the benzocaine in it) on her gums.  A nurse friend of mine referred to it as the Holy Trinity of Teething.  It was the only thing that helped to calm her down and let her sleep.  Which if it helps the baby to sleep, then I’d do it all over again.

Body with a Baby

All my life, I have been aware of the way I look.  Aren’t we all like that?  I’ve never been the chubby kid or had an inappropriately extra amount of weight on me.  I think it’s because I learned at an early age that skinny = pretty.  People (guys in particular) like girls who are skinny and who doesn’t want people to like them?  Growing up, I was always best friends with the pretty girl.  She had all the attention lavished on her (mainly because she hit puberty first and it didn’t totally screw her over like the rest of us) and I was happy to be her sidekick.  It wasn’t until I was well into high school that guys started paying attention to me.  I was shocked and had no idea how to respond to this sort of attention.  In some weird way, I guess it boosted my self-esteem enough to let me know I COULD be a pretty girl, but it would also help if I could fit in size 2’s.  So I did.  I fit into the 2’s.  Though my weight fluxuated over the next decade (and puberty finally gave me some hips), I edged into the 4’s, content to stay there for eternity.

And then I got pregnant.

I’m not going to lie – it is hard watching your body completely morph before your eyes.  I keep telling myself that the number on the scale is SUPPOSED to get bigger (and it does – don’t worry) but it’s really difficult to watch it jump up suddenly one day (damn the home ec students for bringing me cheesecake AND oreo delight in ONE DAY).  I confided in a friend about this and she just brushed me off saying that I need to get over it.  To me, that’s the equivalent of telling a smoker to just quit smoking.  As if it’s that easy.

And it’s really hard being pregnant because people WANT to know how much weight I’ve gained and they constantly comment on how “big” or “small” I am.  My feelings on it are so conflicted because I want this baby to grow and get big, but I want to stay small.  I admit it – I’m vain.  And I care about what I look like.

I almost hate that I’m having a girl because I dread passing this vainity down to her.  I saw a segment on the Today show years ago and have never forgotten the interview with a mother who wrote this book for her daughter.

 

You'd be so Pretty if...

It is such a telling title.  “I’d be so pretty if…” I worked out more – I didn’t eat that extra serving – My hair was totally different.  I believe we all do this – pass by windows and anything else to show our reflection and silently criticize our clothing, shape, or hair.  And for those of you who are mothers or who know mothers of girls, I think this could be a valuable asset to any library. I know I plan on purchasing it in the next few years.