Sunday, July 31, 2011

Update of sorts!

It's been officially 6 weeks (almost 7 actually) since the hysterectomy. Thankfully, I am getting to the point where I am thankful for having gone this route. Those first few weeks were iffy - between the pain and then the subsequent infection I ended up with, getting up hourly to use the bathroom during the night, the insomnia, and the mood swings, I was really questioning if I had made the right decision.

But I am coming around now - I think I am finally getting over the hump, so to speak. The pain is gone, the infection is gone, I am not up every hour during the night anymore, thanks to the HRT therapy my moods have stabilized. I feel good. There I said - I feel good.

I've heard the real turning point in recovery is about 6 months after surgery. With how good I feel right now, I can't imagine how much better I'll be in another 4.5 months.

Along with the HRT therapy, I've been taking my multivitamins and some other supplements and I am noticing some changes in how my body feels overall. And it's a good thing. Even Trev said yesterday that I seem happier and better. He said I don't yell as much, which made me really happy, because I hate being a yeller.

I am still coming to terms with the emotional side of things - I see new babies or pregnancy announcements and it still cuts like a knife. But it's getting better slowly...

I was planning on starting school this coming year to become a Doula and Breastfeeding Counselor, but I've decided to put that on hold. Right now, I can't see myself being able to be around pregnant women or babies on a regular basis. Not that I would do anything wrong, but I think it would hurt so much. Maybe in time that will change, but for now I've decided that I will put that on  hold and explore some other options.

A Winner of a Dinner!

Tonight I bring another recipe to you that is an absolute keeper! Again, this recipe is courtesy of "Taste of Home" magazine. This recipe is from Caryn Ross, of Norman, Oklahoma - she was a top winner in the "Real Women of Philadelphia Casting Competition", thanks to this recipe!

Sassy Tailgate Sandwiches

Prep: 10 minutes + standing time
Bake: 20 minutes
Yield: 1 dozen

12 Hawaiian sweet rolls, split
1 lb. shaved black forest ham
12 oz. Gruyere cheese, sliced
1 tub (8oz.) Philadelphia Chive and Onion Cream Cheese
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup grated parmesean cheese
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp dried minced onion

(Now here is where I'll tell you about the changes I made to the recipe. Instead of Gruyere cheese, I got baby  Swiss at the deli counter and had it sliced fairly thin. Also, I didn't have dried minced onion on hand, so I used a couple teaspoons of onion powder.)

1. Arrange bottoms of rolls in a greased 13x9 inch baking dish. Layer with ham and cheese. Spread each roll top with cream cheese, and place over cheese/ham/bottom roll. 

2. In a small bowl, combine the butter, Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce and onion. Pour over sandwiches. Let stand for at least 20 minutes. 

3. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until heated through. 

So, no we weren't tailgating but these little sandwiches were ever-so-yummy! So simple and yet delicious and filling. 

The next time I make these, (which I might add would be good for brunch, lunch, dinner, to take to parties, etc), I am going to keep everything the same but try some good smoked turkey instead of ham. 

As for the kids, Vicky wasn't really thrilled with them but Trevor ate two of them, which is always a good sign. 

So these sandwiches get a two thumbs up from this mama! :-)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Back in the game!

Tonight I was back in the game after last night's flop! I made Bacon-Swiss Penne from the August 2011 "Taste of Home" Magazine.

Unfortunately, I didn't get pictures this time because I was late getting started. Oops - guess that is what happens when you nap till 5pm. LOL!

Without further ado, here is the recipe.

Bacon-Swiss Penne
Prep: 35 minutes
Bake: 30 minutes
Yield: 10 servings

12 oz. uncooked penne pasta
13 bacon strips
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tbsp butter
6 green onions, chopped
3 tbsp all purpose flour
4 cups 2% milk
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
11/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme

Topping:
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tbsp butter, melted

1. Cook penne according to the package directions.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon in batches over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels; drain, reserving 4 tsp. drippings. Crumble bacon and set aside. 

3. Saute chicken in butter and drippings until no longer pink. Add onions; cook 1 minutes longer. Stir in flour until blended; gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheeses, peas, pepper, thyme and bacon. 

4. Drain penne, add to chicken mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to a greased 9x13in. baking dish. In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs and butter; sprinkle over top. Bake uncovered. at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.

This recipe gets two thumbs up from this mama! It was a huge hit! We are already thinking of ways that we might change up the basic recipe because it seems like it could be very versatile! 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Busted!!!

Tonight I made the Chicken with Shallot Sauce recipe and it was a bust! Unfortunately, several things went wrong with this one. 


1. It called for 6 slices of bacon. Hubby accidentally picked up maple flavored bacon and that horribly fake maple flavor just totally ruined it for me. 

2. It also called for 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar, which I normally love. However, in this recipe, it was way overkill. 

3. I made glazed baby carrots for a "side"...unfortunately, after cooking those lil bugger for almost an hour, they were still hard. Why is it those stupid baby carrots take a year and day to cook? This isn't the first time I've had issues with them. The last time I did a pot roast in the crock pot all day (seriously 8 hours) and those damn lil carrots were like hard rocks! What gives? I should note though that the glaze was fabulous. I cooked the carrots in half chicken stock and half apple juice and when I thought they were done, almost an hour later, added brown sugar and butter. 

So all in all, dinner was a flop. Would I try the recipe again? I am not sure - if I did, I would have to some major tweaking! 

Chicken with Shallot Sauce gets a big thumbs down! 




Thursday, July 28, 2011

Let's get cookin'!

Today is day three of making new recipes and I am really enjoying it. I admit, I live for this kind of stuff. I love the challenge of trying new recipes - different and possibly new ingredients - new cuisines that I've never attempted before. 

Tonight I made Thai Shrimp - I found the recipe in the August 2011 "Taste of Home" magazine. I tweaked the recipe a bit though. If you would like to find the original recipe, check out the magazine. 

Here is my version:

1 lb. uncooked, peeled, deveined shrimp (large or jumbo)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp lime juice, divided
1 shallot, chopped
1 tsp minced fresh ginger root
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
10 cherry tomatoes (I couldn't get cherry tomatoes, so I used 20 grape tomatoes) halved
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 coconut milk
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1. Sprinkle shrimp with salt, pepper and 1 tbsp lime juice. 
Ok, so this picture is before the salt/pepper/lime. I bought frozen shrimp, just to keep this recipe budget-friendly and cleaned them myself. 

2. In a large skillet, (I used cast iron because I think it's the best thing since sliced bread pretty much), saute the shallot, ginger and garlic in olive oil for 1 minute. Add shrimp; cook and stir for 2-3 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. 

3. Add tomatoes, stock, coconut milk, curry powder, pepper flakes and remaining lime juice to the skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes until sauce is slightly reduced, stirring occasionally. Add shrimp; heat through. Serve with white rice.


And the final product:

This was incredibly good. Not one for the kids unless they enjoy hot and spicy foods. This was even a bit spicy for Karl,I think next time I'll bring the 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes down to 1/4 of a tsp. But this is definitely a keeper! And has really spurred my desire to try more Thai cuisine. 

I'd definitely give this one two thumbs up!!!

On top of that today I also made my first bath of freezer jam ever. I can't believe how incredibly simple it is. It has to sit for 24 hours before I can refrigerate or freeze it, so I can't have any till Saturday and the wait is killing me! LOL! 

Up for tomorrow's supper is: 

Chicken with Shallot Sauce

Be on the look-out for the next blog post! 






Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Menu Planning & New Recipes to Share

I am attempting to menu plan for this week. I am honestly not sure how long this will last - I seem to always have the best of intentions but follow-thru sometimes can be lacking.

Last night I made, "Ranch Chicken Packets", which is a recipe I found on the Tasty Kitchen website. 

Here is the recipe:

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients: 
2 cups cooked chicken, diced small
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons ranch dressing
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 packages crescent rolls
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

(8-10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, optional)

Preparation:
Mix chicken, cream cheese, ranch dressing and shredded cheddar cheese together(and bacon if used). Taste mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll crescent rolls. Each tube will contain 4 rectangles of dough. Press dough along the diagonal perforations so that the rectangle halves till not separate. Place about 1/3 cup of the chicken into the center of one half of the rectangle. Fold the other half over and seal edges tightly. 

Brush each packet with melted butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Place packets on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. 

(Filling can be made ahead and frozen till ready to use. Place filling mixture in a freezer bag. Place bread crumbs in another bag and attach to filling bag. Freeze. To serve, thaw chicken mixture and proceed as directed.)

Last night was the first time I've put bacon in it and it was fabulous. The crescent rolls give it that buttery flavor and the ranch chicken mixture with the bacon is delicious. Trevor ate two last night and finished up 1 and half this morning for breakfast! LOL! 

Tonight I made another new recipe that I found in the current issue of "Taste of Home" magazine. 

Steak Terriyaki Quesadillas

Prep Time: 20 minutes + marinating
Grill: 15 minutes
Yield: 18 wedges

1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/2  cup chicken stock (it called for broth but I prefer using stock - think it gives a better flavor)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp minced fresh ginger root
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 garlic clove, minced
1 beef top sirloin steak (about 3/4 pound) 

Mix first six ingredients and set aside 3 tbsp for the filling. Pour remaining mixture into a large resealable bag. Add the steak, seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to marinate. (I marinated mine for about 4 hours)

Drain steak and discard marinade. Grill steak (I grilled mine on my Foreman grill inside). 

1/2 cup crushed pineapple (recipe called for fresh pineapple, but I think the canned was actually better)
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper

Remove steak from grill and cool slightly, cut into bite-size pieces. In a large bowl, combine pineapple, red onion, green pepper and beef. 

2 cups shredded mozzarella 
6 tortillas (large) 

Sprinkle half the cheese over 3 of the tortillas. Using a slotted spoon, top with beef mixture. Drizzle with remaining soy mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Top with remaining tortillas. 

Grill over medium heat for 1-2 minutes on each side or until cheese is melted. Immediately cut into six wedges and serve immediately. (I actually did this part in my large cast iron skillet)

The kids weren't too keen on these because of the pineapple and other veggies but Karl and I thought they were absolutely fabulous. I served these with a side of tortilla chips and a raspberry lime salsa that was to die for. This recipe will definitely be a keeper for us. 

Here is the menu for the rest of the week:

Baja Chicken Sliders
Tailgate Sandwiches
Bacon Swiss Penne
Thai Shrimp
Roasted Butternut Linguine 
Chicken with Shallot Sauce

The only regret I have in the past two nights it that I didn't take pictures along the way - always so much more fun to see the recipes as you go! :-) Hopefully as the week progresses I can get pictures as I make our suppers and then blog about it. 

Let me know if you decide to try either of these recipes - I'd love to find out what you thought about them. 

Enjoy!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bittersweet time...

This weekend I decided I had stared long enough at the enormous piles of outgrown clothes of Victoria's. I had started saving them at some point last year in case we had another child. And for the past month, every time I went into the basement, there they were - staring me in the face - an all too real reminder that there never would be another baby in this house. There would never be an opportunity for another daughter of mine to wear these clothes. So Karl and I bagged them all up - in total there was about 8 bags of clothes - 95% of it was Victoria's - and Karl took it to Catholic Charities. It was a bittersweet moment for me ...