Monday, April 28, 2014

Chicken, Broccoli, Whole Wheat Pasta

I'm still trying to maintain a high protein diet, but it's getting harder and harder when all I want is savory snacks and ice cream. :)  Baby B is measuring to be a bit smaller than Baby A - and therefore, I am trying to be mindful of what I eat. The doctors have emphasized that I need to eat as healthy as possible, and I must say, my trips to the grocery store have been few and far between. That said, I signed up for the Peapod grocery service and it's fantastic. I highly recommend it. I make a list on the app on my phone while lying in bed, and then place the order for whichever day fits my (or Jim's) schedule - I usually opt for the next day, pick up.

Jim picked up the recent order on Saturday. The only slight downside is that you don't really choose your own produce - so you don't know if you are getting 4 or 5 bananas (even though there is an option for "one banana" or a "4-5 count bunch"). There is, however, an option to select "green" or "ripe yellow" bananas. But at any rate, you don't know exactly what you are ordering.

I headed into the kitchen on Saturday afternoon and noticed two huge bunches of fresh broccoli - I normally would buy one small bunch. Needless to say, I googled a ton of recipe ideas for all this ridiculous broccoli I had. Rather than boiling all the nutrients out of the vegetable, I came up with this fancy little number.

Roasted Broccoli Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, toss fresh broccoli florets with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and garlic. Spread the broccoli out in an even layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until florets are tender enough to pierce the stems with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Squeeze lemon juice liberally over the broccoli before serving for a refreshing, tangy finish.

Now the broccoli is so yummy and warm and tangy that you could just snack on the broccoli by itself. However, being the carb-lover that I am (and needing protein), I decided to make a chicken, broccoli, pasta dish. I already had some grilled chicken in my fridge leftover from when I made the chili - so why not add some to the dish? It's all about improvising. :)

Pasta Dish Ingredients:

  • ½ pound whole wheat angel hair pasta, cooked al dente
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • ½ cup parmesan (optional)

Heat olive oil then add garlic, onion and lemon juice for about 10 minutes. While that is cooking, go ahead and start boiling your pasta for about 10 minutes.

Fold the roasted broccoli into the sauce until coated. Lastly, toss the wheat pasta and chicken with the 'sauce' and broccoli and top with lemon zest and parmesan, if you choose. I say 'sauce' because it's very light and almost doesn't really have a sauce, more like a coating. It's a light summer dish that really hits the spot.



Friday, April 25, 2014

More Post Baby Meals - White Chicken Chili

I am still trying to come up with a few recipes to diversify my post-baby meals after we return home from the hospital. Speaking of, a huge thanks to Katie P and Abby for sending over a few of their fav recipes. I will definitely try and tackle those! And what's funny - they are both pretty similar, so clearly I have to do make them. Don't get me wrong, I will be ALL ABOUT ordering pizza and tossing some burgers on the grill and everything, but it'll be nice to have the lasagna, stir fry and this protein-packed white chicken chili. 

I already have a post about ground beef chili, but this is very different - no red meat or ground beef and no tomatoes or tomato base whatsoever. This chili focuses on lean boneless chicken breasts, garbanzo beans, black beans and vegetable stock, as well as other seasonings and veggies like onions, celery, corn and spinach.

I basically took everything I had and threw it in the crockpot at the same's that easy. I browned up the chicken on the stove top first (missed the photo op) for some extra flavor. Then added my diced veggies, beans and vegetable stock. I literally let it sit for about 10 hours on low. The chicken falls apart and is so delicious. I can certainly see myself using the crockpot a lot more when the babies are here - even though it'll be kind of warm with the summer weather. Better than using the hot oven though! :)

This photo was about 7 hours of cooking...I let it go another 3 or so to really thicken up. I added a bit more salt and pepper at this point, I think. Now is actually a good time to taste test - see if you need more cumin or more spice.

I scooped a bowl full of this chili and added sliced avocado and some freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese. Low carb and high protein. Yum.

This one was an easy one...and a must try! It honestly reminded me of those "Set it...and forget it!" commercials.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Almost 37 Weeks - Still Pregnant!

I wanted to document how I am feeling since I am nearing the end of this pregnancy and what better way than by "journaling" here in my blog. :)

So here I am, quickly approaching 37 weeks and feeling wonderful. I am still pregnant, still growing and still wondering when A and B will arrive. I read a fellow twin-prego-blog the other day and she had a cool post about various pregnancy topics like food cravings and current symptoms...I really liked it!

Weight Gained: I've gained a total of 43 pounds so far. I am pretty much gaining about a lb each week at this point, so I don't expect to gain much more than 45 lbs total - not terrible for a twin pregnancy, but definitely on the higher end of the spectrum. 

Symptoms: Real hungry, physically tired, back pain, tingling hands (carpel tunnel), swelling and mild forgetfulness...

Contractions: I have been having contractions since like January...seriously. They of course have become increasingly more frequent and intense this month. Nothing is consistent though, and they are hard to "time and monitor" as the doctors suggest. They are more intense at night, but it feels more like really bad cramping and hardening of the belly. I guess I will "know when I know".

Swelling: The swelling is still bad – mostly confined to my feet and lower legs, but my hands have a bit of swelling as well. The resting helps, but doesn't cease it completely. I will be excited when I can wear my wedding rings again.

Blood Pressure: All very normal and very good! It is nice to be monitored every week (for the last few months), it really puts my mind at ease. 

Baby Movement: These two guys are always kicking up a storm! Me and Jim were at one of the Non-Stress Tests (NST) recently - which monitors their movement and heart rates. Basically three little contraptions go on my belly, two over each baby and one to monitor contractions. Well several times we heard a big "BOOM" and one of the babies kicked so hard it moved the monitor contraption off the correct spot over the baby. The sound was so loud. I think we have a future soccer sweeper on our hands. ;)

Food Cravings:  Throughout my entire pregnancy, all I've wanted is carbs (especially Italian) - which is not new for me. I have been loving cereal and ice cream - also not really new for me. I am thinking my body is craving calcium and that's how I am consuming it. I do take a calcium supplement with my prenatals each day. 

Food Aversions: Nothing in particular, not a huge fan of salads. But when I am eating them, they are fine. I just don't ever crave a salad.

Sleep: Sleep has been tough this past week. I used to sleep great while I was working everyday, but staying home has made sleeping quite difficult. I often wake up with intense contractions, which then I have to use the bathroom and then of course I am thirsty and sometimes even hungry. It's unfortunate because everyyyyybody says "rest now while you can"! Well, sadly, I can't. Hmph.

Stretch Marks: I have a few new small stretch marks right in the dead center of my belly, near my belly button. And it's also kind of numb feeling there. It's weird! I feel like now that the babies have dropped and they're still growing exponentially, I might be in for it these next few weeks! I have been using bio oil that my friend Nicole gave me. It is great for stretch marks, scars, or any markings on your skin. And bonus, it smells very nice. :)

Miss Anything? Sometimes sushi, the occasional glass of good red wine (mmm Gnarly Vine), mimosas on holidays or special occasions and sleeping on my stomach – the usual. 

Looking forward to: Meeting A and B, of course! I am also excited to start calling them by their names! Everyone has bets going for when these two will arrive and also what their names are going to be. And lastly, losing some of this weight so I can move a bit more comfortably and go for walks outside.

New Baby Items: Nothing new, just continuing to open and set up some items we got for the shower, like the baby bjorns. We are also trying to find a place for the bouncer seats, rock n plays and swings – there are two of everything! :)

Exercise: Bahaha what exercise? I literally talk for 5 minutes and am winded. But in all seriousness, Jimmy and I strolled to the grocery store the other day - during a rain shower. It was actually kind of humorous. My first outing in a week and I came home looking like a drowned rat. I am VERY excited to start walking outside with the babies in the stroller...and happy my mom will be here visiting with me to do that.

So there you have it. Still cookin these two in there. I have a solid 12-13 lbs of baby in my belly. I’m interested to see if they decide to make their appearance this week or wait until May 6th. I wonder if they will be April or May babies! Only time will tell!

Shaz, A and B

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Springtime Baking!

Even though I have been put on bed rest, I am still trying to do minor things around the house - like getting last minute nursery/baby items together or cooking light meals here and there. Therefore, I have decided I will do one 'light chore' each day. Now I am not saying I am going to go take out the trash or something crazy - rather, I will do a light load of laundry (something I can carry in my hands, like linens) or make an easy meal or bake something - one or the other.

While I've been laying around, I've been reading through food magazines to see what produce is currently in season. Of course there are strawberries and asparagus and artichokes, and then I saw rhubarb! My grandmother has been baking rhubarb pies for as long as I can remember. However - no one in my family ever really told me what rhubarb actually was - so like any normal kid, I stayed cleared of the rhubarb pie. What a waste! They are delicious.

Here's a preview of my strawberry/rhubarb pie:

Essentially rhubarb is a pinkish or magenta springtime 'fruit' and is very tart in flavor. It looks very similar to celery and it is perfect in pies and crisps which is how it got it's nickname of "pie plant". But you can also include rhubarb in say, a stir fry for not only color, but the wonderful tart flavor!

Ingredients for the Filling:
  • 3 1/2 cups rinsed and trimmed rhubarb (1/2 in thick)
  • 3 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled, halved 
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (optional - for glaze)
  • 1 tsp unsalted butter (optional)
As you can see, I opted to skip both the egg yolk glaze and the butter - the store-bought pie crust is plenty filling and the sweetness of the strawberries/sugar is enough without the butter.

I rinsed off my rhubarb stalks and cut off the ends. I then sliced them about a half inch thick...maybe a little smaller. I wanted to proceed with caution in case they didn't cook thoroughly enough in the oven. 

Then I added my halved-strawberries and ALL the other ingredients together in a bowl (excluding the egg and the butter if you chose to use those). "All other ingredients" included the brown sugar, white sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon. I reserved a tiny bit of cornstarch for the surface in case the strawberries were real juicy. 

*Note: I've read mixed reviews on this step - some people prefer to add some of the dry ingredients directly on the pie crust to prevent it from moistening and become soggy on the bottom - but this recipe called for it to be all mixed together. I will do a follow up and let you know if it was soggy/runny. And I will also ask my Gram what she does. :)

Here are all the ingredients mixed up, ready to add to the pie crust! Now this to me seemed like a very "filling" pie. I am used to blueberry pies which are simpler (no slicing and dicing involved) and it also seems like less filling in those - so I was nervous this would overflow and spill over in my oven. Happily, it did not. Maybe it's because of my cornstarch idea - who knows.

My lazy lattice top. I didn't do my usual "over/under" and also didn't use my fork around the edges. Man, I am getting lazy!

And here it is after it cooked for about 1 hour and 45 min. The recipe suggested preheating the oven to 400 degrees and bake the pie for 20 minutes. Then, turn down the heat to 350 and proceed to cook for another hour and 20 minutes. By that time, I was ready for bed.

I took some photos this morning when I woke up and it looks delicious! Much more solidified and cooled down at this point. I can't wait to dig in!! Jim and I are heading over my cousin's house tonight, Dennis and Brooke, for pizza. I am bringing the pie over for dessert. I hope it's good! I will need to bring some vanilla ice cream to accompany it. ;)

Here's a slice, served alongside some vanilla bean ice cream. It was delicious!

A and B are moving like crazy lately - I am thinking it won't be too much longer til they are here! With that said, we washed a ton of their bottles last night while the pie was cooking. Multi-taskers!!!


P.S. Flashback Photo!!

Here is my sister's strawberry/rhubarb pie she made in 2010!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy EASTER Sunday!!!

I woke up this morning and realized this is my LAST holiday being pregnant. Not that it's a huge difference being pregnant on a holiday or not, it's just something that came to mind. When not pregnant, you can travel, drink mimosas and  go for walks after dinner when you aren't on bed rest! Ha so instead, I am staying local, resting up and drinking mint water. It is hard to believe that next year, we are going to have two little boys running around (hopefully with their cousins up in Massachusetts).

This year, however, Jim and I are lucky to have visitors with us in DC. Theresa, Jim's sister and her roommate Ashley joined us this weekend. We saw some fun sites yesterday and also had a great Easter Dinner this afternoon. :)

I bought some more tulips for the occasion. Since these are still in dirt, I can transplant them outside and hopefully they'll grow back next year!

Today's Easter Dinner Menu:
  • Spiral Ham (9 lbs)
  • Baked Pineapple
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes
  • Sauteed Asparagus with Red Onion
Spiral Ham 

Jimbo glazed the ham...we just used the store bought package that came with it. It  required me to add water and let it come to a boil while constantly stirring. It smelled like cinnamon and was delicious! I cooked it about an hour and a half at 350 degrees. While in the oven, I also added a few sides so everything was ready to eat pretty quickly.

Mashed Potatoes

I used your typical old mashed potato recipe - peeled and diced up the potatoes (Jimbo did that) and then boiled them, drained them, mashed them up and added some milk/butter/salt/garlic salt/black pepper. While they were boiling, I added some garlic salt and salt.

Sweet Potatoes

Pretty similar situation here - Jim peeled and diced up the sweet potatoes, then I just drizzled some EVOO, salt and pepper and roasted them for about 45 minutes also at 350 degrees. Make sure to cover them so they cook up quickly.

Sauteed Asparagus with Red Onion

The asparagus was on sale at the store, so I bought two. I was originally going to roast it, but my oven filled up quickly. So I started with some EVOO in my pan, then added red onion for color, and some garlic. After about 4-5 minutes, I added the asparagus and turned the heat way down. I let them cook for about 15 minutes, stirring and flipping occasionally. I then squeezed about 4 slices of lemon on the asparagus prior to serving.

Baked Pineapple

What a hit this dish was....I was trying to think about something else to serve to make this "simple" meal more of a "holiday" meal. Jim really likes pineapple, so I googled a few pineapple side dishes. I came up with this Baked Pineapple dish and it was AWESOME. Super sweet and a perfect pairing with the ham.

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup white sugar
3 eggs, beaten
5 slices fresh white bread, crusts trimmed off and cubed
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, partially drained
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter with sugar. Add beaten eggs and beat all together w/ mixer.
3. Add in a pinch of salt, pineapple and bread (mixture will look curdled).
4. Pour mixture into a 1 1/2 quart ungreased casserole dish. Bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 60 minutes.

The ham (below) and the pineapple dish were the first two in the oven! 

And here's a look at the whole spread...

What a great meal. We had a fun, relaxing day. Now LET'S GO BRUINS!!

Happy Easter Everyone. Hope you are all able to enjoy a fantastic meal and be with those you love. :)


Site Seeing in DC!

We had a wonderful brunch on Saturday morning in Eastern Market. Jimmy and I used to love walking around Eastern Market when we lived here a few years ago. We decided to go to Tunnicliff's an old fav. :) We sat outside because it was beautiful out!

Happy early Birthday, T!!!  :)  4/22!

This freaken cake was GIGANTIC!

We walked through the flea market part of Eastern Market. There are some awesome vendors there. Jim bought a map of Massachusetts there from 1800. He liked it because it actually had Maynard listed on it, haha.

This little pup was just adorable...

Fun hats and iced coffees. :)

Classic Jimbo

My view throughout the day...haha.

We even met up with Liz and her fiance Bryan for mimosas!! :)  (Hi Liz!)