Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The difference one year can make

So here we are in February of 2013 and I'm in the final weeks of pregnancy. As my husband and I patiently await the arrival of our little boy I've been working on a collection of funny things that have happened to me in my pregnancy that are normal things but they are the things that other people don't warn you about. I pulled out a notebook so I could organize my thoughts (I still do better with pen and paper) and was flipping through it to see if there was anything else written in it and I came across one lonely page in it with writing. Rewind to December of 2011 and my husband and I learned that I was pregnant and then found out I miscarried in a matter of 10 days. We were devastated and didn't let very many people know about our situation. I had to have a D&C on 12/30/11 and had to be out of work for two weeks. A week after going back to work, I still felt alone and just depressed in general. There was nothing anyone could say or do to take away the pain so I pulled out a notebook and put my pen down and wrote. My feelings came out in the form of this poem:

Gentle breezes make me think of you, 
our little one we never knew
We learned of your presence and our world became bright
but you were meant for our hearts and not for our sight
You were taken from us much to soon
a precious flower never meant to bloom

We will never know, boy or girl
Would your hair be straight or have a curl
Would you have your daddy's eyes, bright and brown
Would you have your mommy's nose, cute and round
We will never know these things about you
No matter how much we both wanted to
You were taken from us much to soon
a precious flower never meant to bloom

Our hearts are heavy now that you're gone
But we put on a smile and try to move on
We will never forget you even though you weren't here long
A parents love for their child is solid and strong
Even though you arent with us and we must be apart
We carry you forever, deep in our heart
You were taken from us much to soon
a precious flower never meant to bloom.

-Victoria Sumrall 1/22/12

Now here we are just over a year later and I'm 36 weeks pregnant today. It's amazing how in a year you can go from complete devastation and despair to being happier than you thought possible. A year may seem like a long time if you're going through the hardest part right now, but just remember it will get better and know that what ever you are going through may always hurt. Reading that poem that I wrote still makes me tear up a year later even though I'm going to be a mom in less than a month. It's ok to not be ok, but just remember it will get better.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Halfway Homemade: Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken

 Things you'll need:

Supplies:
Crockpot
Large Bowl
Medium Pot

Groceries:
4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
1 (20 oz) Can of Pineapple Chunks*
1 (18 oz) bottle of BBQ Sauce (I use Sweet Baby Rays Original)
2 Tbsp Honey (optional)
6-8 Kaiser Rolls (or any type of buns...Hawaiian Rolls are great with this if you're in the mood to spend a little extra...I'm usually not in that mood though :) )

(*You can use crushed pineapple but I use the chunks and either put them in a quart sized bag and crush them myself with a rolling pin by tapping them while holding the open end of the bag up a little so nothing leaks out OR by just squeezing them in my hand. I do this because I feel like I get more juice with the chunks than the crushed...I could be wrong but that's how I do it)

Get your crockpot out and put your crushed pineapple chunks as the first layer. (Including the juice from the can and from crushing them)

Boil your chicken in your medium pot until cooked all the way through. When cooked through, drain the water and take one breast, put it into your large bowl filled with water so it cools down enough to handle. Ripping one breast into about 4 pieces makes it easier to handle and cools it quicker. Go ahead and turn your crockpot on low.
(I know some people think "I'll just cook it in the crockpot and skip this step." but if you don't boil it you can't properly shred it. If you cook them whole in the crockpot it's going to be a hot sloppy mess when you try to shred it. Also, it turns out more like chicken chunks than shredded chicken...taking the time to boil and shred the chicken is worth it, trust me.)

Shred your chicken directly into your crockpot. You can do it by hand or some people have told me they use a food processor. We don't have a food processor so I don't know how that turns out...I do it by hand and it works just fine.

Squirt in your bottle of BBQ sauce and your honey and mix it all together. 

Put the lid on your crockpot and let it cook on low for about 3 hours.

When ready, toast up your rolls/buns and pile on the pulled chicken. We enjoy salad and a warm bean and cheese dip when we have this dish. I'll post a recipe for the warm bean and cheese dip next so stay tuned!

If you decide to try this recipe (or have any suggestions) please let me know! Thanks!



Sunday, August 19, 2012

Halfway Homemade: "Whey" Yummy Protein Bars


So lately I have been trying to find snack foods that are yummy and filling without having tons of ingredients that I don't know what they are. I don't know about where anyone else lives but, here in small town USA, we don't have a wide variety of food stores. I searched online and finally came across some recipes. I changed it up some to accommodate the ingredients I had in my home and to make everything the right consistency. 


THINGS YOU'LL NEED:
  • 4 scoops of whey protein powder (vanilla or chocolate) (I use chocolate)
  • 2 cups of plain oats
  • 5 TBS of peanut butter (alternatives at the end of this post)
  • 1/2 C  of milk (or almond milk or water)
 
Put the protein powder and oats in a large bowl
 
Put the milk in a microwave safe bowl and add the peanut butter.
Microwave for 30-45 seconds. (Just long enough to slightly soften the peanut butter)
 
Add the milk and peanut butter to the powder and oats and mix with a spoon until everything looks the same. 

Spray a baking dish (9x12) with some cooking spray and add the protein bar mix to it. 

Pat the mixture flat and put in the refrigerator for two hours.
 
After the two hours, take it out and cut up your bars. 
This recipe should yield about 8 decent sized bars.
 
 
NOW...The way listed above is the right way to do it...they turn out delicious! The way I am about to explain is the way I did it that generated some interest on my Facebook after posting a status about them.

3 scoops of chocolate whey protein powder
1 cup of apples and cinnamon oatmeal (from a pack)
2 1/2 TBS peanut butter
1/4 C milk

Now, I know this sounds strange, but I had less protein powder than I thought and no plain oats. I got a little ahead of myself and started adding stuff and microwaving before I realized I was a little short on ingredients. Follow the steps above for preparing these. 
 
In my not paying attention...I added 1/2 C milk instead of 1/4 cup so mine did NOT harden correctly...I can still cut them and eat them and they are SUPER DELICIOUS but, they  are SUPER GOOEY and when I try to pick them up they kind of just go limp and get stuck to the plate I have them on so it turns in to me eating protein bar pieces haha!

The finished product for the Chocolate Apple Cinnamon Peanut Butter Protein Bars are "whey" yummy....get it...whey yummy...way yummy...yea...anyways
 
 
I think next time I may try chunky peanut butter. Also, if you are allergic to peanuts (or just don't like it like my friend Katie over at Simply Put) you can use one of these alternatives.
  • Soy Nut Butter
  • Sunflower Butter
  • Barney Butter
  • Almond Butter (or other nut butters)
  • Nutella 
Now, before you make it with one of those alternatives and come back saying it didn't taste right, I have NEVER used anything other than peanut butter to make these. I just googled alternatives for PB for all my non-PB loving readers.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Halfway Homemade: Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

So, my friend Katie over at Simply Put... made this recipe a few weeks ago and it looked super delicious so I decided to give it a try. I did a few things differently than how she did it so I figured I'd post my way and give you a link to her page so you can use both of them to create your own delicious stuffed pasta!

Things you will need:
-1 regular sized bag of baby spinach
-1 jar of tomato pasta sauce
-1 box of jumbo shells
-1 regular size tub of ricotta cheese
-1 bag of mozzarella cheese
-1 TBS of garlic powder
-9x12 baking dish
-Enough tin foil to cover the baking dish

What to do:
Chop (or tear) your spinach in to smaller pieces.
Add the entire tub of ricotta cheese and half the bag of mozzarella (1 cup) and the garlic powder.
Stir it all up until it is creamy.
*This took a little longer than I thought it would. Once you get to the point where in your mind you're saying, "This will never get creamy! Why am I doing this?!" just stir it a litttttle bit longer and it will be creamy...I promise!
Up next, boil your noodles. Stir them often to keep them from sticking. I used a spatula to stir and if they got looped up in each other, I picked them out with the spatula and gently pulled them apart with a fork. 
*Seriously...gentle...you don't want them to tear*

Drain your noodles
While waiting for your noodles to be cool enough to handle, pour half of your tomato sauce on the bottom of your cooking dish.

Preheat your oven to 375.

Then, it's time to stuff em! I tried a few different ways of stuffing them and this is the best way I found. 

Step one:
Get the noodle in your hand with the ends near the tips of your fingers and the palm of your hand.
Step two:
Gently squeeze the noodle
*One side should make a "U" shape.*
Step three:
Get a spoon full of your spinach and ricotta mix and place your spoon in the noodle with the "U" lined up with the base of the spoon.
Step four:
Turn the noodle so that where the "U" is, is at the tips of your fingers.
Step five:
Using the noodle, gently slide the spoon out while applying light pressure to "scrape" the contents into your noodle.
Step 6:
Lightly squeeze your noodle shut so that is spreads the filling throughout.
Repeat these steps until you have filled your pan with stuffed shells. (Approximately 30)
*I used all of my spinach and ricotta mix and filled my pan but I had about 8 plain noodles left over*
Cover your noodles with the rest of the tomato sauce. I tried to make sure that all the noodles had at least a light coating because I didn't want the noodles to get over cooked in the oven and hard.
Then, top the tomato sauce with the rest of the mozzarella cheese.
Cover your dish with tin foil.
Then pop it in the oven and let it bake for 30 minutes.
When you take it out, take off the tin foil and marvel in the beauty of this delicious dish you just made!

I made plates with 4 noodles each then drizzled the sauce from the bottom on top of them.
This is how yummy the look on the inside.
Eat and enjoy!

If you try this recipe let me know how you liked it or if you did anything differently!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Halfway Homemade: Bacon & Tomato Bagel with Simple Squash Casserole

It's that time of the year again! All of the wonderful things we planted in our garden are starting to ripen! We picked a few tomatoes and squash a few days ago and then forgot they were there. We needed to use them before they went bad so my husband came up with the sandwich part of this and the casserole is a recipe that was given to me by someone I work with. 

Thinks you need:
Bacon & Tomato Sandwich:
-Bagels (we used onion)
-Cream cheese
-Bacon (we used 2 pieces for each sandwich)
- 2-3 Tomatoes

Simple Squash Casserole:
- 5-6 Squash
-Ritz crackers (one roll crushed)
-1/2 cup chopped onion (I used one whole vidalia onion since they are small)
-2 eggs
-1 stick of butter (melted) (You will also need some unmelted butter for cooking your squash and onions)
-1 TBS of sugar
-1/2 TSP of pepper
(1 TSP of salt was on the original recipe but we try our best to avoid cooking with salt)

Tomato and Bacon Bagel:
*This was my husbands idea and it turned out wonderful*

All you have to do for this is toast your bagels, cook your bacon, and slice up your tomato. 

I set our up like this so that we could build our own sandwiches.

Smear some cream cheese on your bagel and build your sandwich to your liking with however much bacon and tomato as you would like.



Simple Squash Casserole:

Preheat your oven to 350.

Cut your squash up into chunks that are no more that 1/2 inch thick and chop your onion in to small pieces and put it all in a pan with some butter (not the melted butter, that comes later). Stick a lid on top of the pan to keep moisture in but stir frequently to get it all stirred up and so nothing gets stuck or burned on the bottom.

Once your squash is tender dump it all in a bowl and mash it up (like you would with potatoes). Once it is all mashed, add your two eggs, 1 TBS of sugar, and 1/2 TSP of pepper (also, if you are wanting to use the salt, add the salt at this time.)

Mix it all up and then put it in a baking dish (I used a 9x9). Make sure the top is even and pour your crushed crackers evenly over the top. Then, cover them with the melted butter. Put the casserole into your oven and just kind of watch for the top to look golden...almost like the top is slightly toasted. I pulled ours out before it was completely "toasted" but it was fine.

Then put a serving on your plate.


You will wind up with a delicious meal that has fresh food in it. I think the most rewarding part of this meal is that it consisted of food that we had grown. We tilled the land, made the rows, weeded it, watered it, and picked it. 


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Halfway Homemade: Biscuits and Gravy

I just so happened to wake up before my husband last Sunday and decided to make him a nice breakfast to wake up to. I decided good ole biscuits and gravy would be the best choice. I have never made homemade biscuits (except the kind that comes in a can if that counts) so I looked online at recipes and used the simplest parts of each recipe and made them all in to one.

Things you need:
- 2 1/4 cups of biquick
- 2/3 cup of milk
-Country Gravy mix
-2 cups of water

What to do:

Preheat oven to 450.

Add the bisquick and milk in a large bowl.
Mix it all up
Then knead the dough for about 30 seconds and then pull pieces off that are about palm size and the roll them into balls.
*COAT YOUR HANDS WITH BISQUICK POWDER OFTEN OR IT WILL STICK TO YOU LIKE NOBODIES BUSINESS!*

I made 9 biscuits with this dough. 
Spread your dough balls out on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 9 minutes (or until golden on top)
Then you can make your gravy. All you have to do is follow the directions on the back of the pack and you wind up with some yummy gravy.
Cut your biscuits in half
Spread some gravy on em
and enjoy.

One of the recipes I found called for you to roll the dough out to 1/2 inch in thickness and then cookie cut rounds out but, I don't have a rolling pin or a cookie cutter.

I guess a better name for this blog would have been "Biscuit Balls and Gravy" but how appetizing does that really sound? 

These turned out delicious and the hubby was thrilled when he woke up to a delicious hot breakfast and I impressed him with my ability to make biscuits using powder and milk instead of just opening a can!

If you try this out let me know how it goes!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pop Chips

So, while at work last week I went up to the cafeteria to find a snack. On my way up the stairs I was thinking of getting some fruit but then I decided I'd rather have something crunchy but I knew the salad bar still wasn't set up so I figured I'd probably wind up with a bag of chips which sounded delicious but my brain was having a battle with itself since I'm trying to eat better during the day.

*I have tried counting calories, and no carbs, and all kinds of other diets but I just can't make them stick so I have been trying to eat as healthy as I can all day and then make a dinner using low cal ingredients. I use the stairs at work and walk on my breaks.*

Any who, I got upstairs and started looking at all the goodies they had in the cafeteria and to my surprise I found something called Pop Chips. I decided on the Sweet Potato flavor because well, sweet potatoes are good for you...right? I was so excited. They came in this cute little bag.
The chips are $1.19 but most healthy foods are more expensive. When I opened the bag I was a little disappointed though because It seemed like I paid about $1 for air and $0.19 for chips but hey, I wanted to try them.
They are cute little round chips with a great crunch and flavor though!
I finished the bag in about 30 minutes (I had to snag a chip in between transcribing reports when I could) and surprisingly they were a nice FILLING snack and they didn't have many calories. You can find out more about them at www.popchips.com . I really enjoyed these and while I was skeptical about paying $1.19 for so few chips, it was totally worth it and I WILL be buying more of these! 

Hope you can find some and try them because I sure am glad I did! If you do try any of them, let me know what you think about them!

(I was in no way compensated for my thoughts on this snack or mentioning their website. All views expressed in this are my own and I only mentioned the website so that if anyone is interested in trying them they can use the site to find a store near them that sells them or order them from the site. I claim no rights to this product or anything contained within the company's website.)