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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Happy birthday to Lana!

Here is my birth story with my youngest, Lana:

I woke up Sunday at around 7:15 with a few little back pains, but I
figured they would go away. We had Mexican food Saturday night to
celebrate Kevin's birthday, so I figured it would go away when I
finally passed some gas (I had been having a lot of "contractions"
that ended up being from needing to fart, so I tried not to get my
hopes up.) I went to the bathroom and they didn't stop after I'd
farted, and I had really bad bloody show (like I was getting ready to
start my period), so I told dh and he was timing the contractions for
me. I got into the shower but he didn't stay there, and in my 15
minute shower I had 4 really powerful contractions (all in my back.)
I got out, got dressed and went downstairs. We figured they were
about 5 minutes apart, so I called the midwife who said she'd have to
call me back. My MIL and mom were here, so they were getting ready
for the day, and when they had finished getting ready before I got a
call back from the midwife, we decided to go ahead and go to the
birth center. We made Emily some french toast sticks and bagged some
cereal and headed out the door. I called again and talked to Kel, my
regular midwife, who said to come on in and get checked. We got there
at about 8 am and waited for awhile, another family was there, and we
talked to them in the waiting room. Their mama had the baby at 7:15,
but she needed stitches, so Kel was finishing up on those.

We realized they didn't see us come in, so my mom went out and rang
the doorbell to let them know we were here, and the birth assistant
came out, telling me Kel was finishing up, so we went to an exam room
and waited. She came out and checked me, saying that she wasn't sure
I was in labor because I was only 3-4 cm dilated and 90% effaced
(thank you EPO!) so she said I should go to the back labor room and
hang out for an hour or two, that she'd come to check on me and see
how things were going. I decided to have Emily snuggle and nurse to
make sure things kept going, and to have our last moments of her as
an only child before labor got really intense. She came back in about
an hour and said I was at 4-5 cm, still 90% effaced, but that there
was definitely something going on so she was going to admit us (which
at the Birth Center basically means we get to stay, lol. No paperwork
or anything.) When I got to 5 cm, I decided to try out the birthing
tub because the contractions were all in my back (even though baby
wasn't posterior) and Kevin tried sacral (sp?) pushes to counteract
the pressure, which helped a lot. Emily was in the room up to that
point, she had been nursing to jump start labor (while we were there
for the first hour, before we were admitted) and she had been doing
the breathing with me, she'd say, "Mama!" and then blow, blow, blow.
It was pretty cute. While I was waiting for the tub to fill up I was
sitting on the toilet in the bathroom and she would dip her hands in
the water and run over to put them on my belly. I was amazed at how
perceptive she was. My MIL and mom went off in search of swim
diapers, just in case, but Emily ended up leaving the room before I
got into the tub and didn't come back until the baby was born.

I labored in the tub for about an hour when I decided to try getting
out and doing other positions. We tried the dance position (leaning
against dh with arms around his neck) and I didn't really like that,
then we tried laying in bed on my side, on the birth ball while
rotating my hips, on hands and knees, butt in the air, every little
position I could think of, I tried it, and quickly discarded it after
each contraction. We refilled the tub with warm water and I got back
in like a woman on a mission (my midwife laughed at how fast I walked
back to the tub.) I progressed fairly quickly in the tub, my midwife
told me to try to butterfly my legs to make my pelvis bigger, so with
each contraction I did that and leaned forward while dh did some
symmetrical hand movements on my back. We did this position where I
leaned over the edge of tub, while still in it, my arm pits were
against the top of the edge of the tub, and I was holding myself up
with my knees, spread wide apart to get gravity into things. I felt
the need to push, but my midwife said I was only 8 cm and had a
little lip of cervix left, so I could do little baby pushes. The baby
pushes were not what my body was telling me to do, so she told me I
wasn't allowed to push anymore (bad mama, not listening!) so she told
me to do these little breaths where you pretend like you're blowing a
feather up, that it keeps you from pushing. She checked me again and
said I was at 9 cm, a little cervix left, but that there was a bag of
water in the way, so I laid back and she broke my water for me, which
came out clear. I got back into position at the end of the tub, and
got ready to push (she told me that if I felt like I needed to push
that I could.) With the next contraction I started pushing, and it
burned pretty bad, but I felt her head coming down the birth canal,
and the midwife said she was crowning. I couldn't get her out with
that contraction, and I felt pretty frustrated when I felt her head
go back in, but with the next contraction I tried to push the entire
time. Kel said that the head was out and she needed to do something
with the cord (I think move it so that she could have better access
at the baby) and then gave me the go to finish pushing and she was
out! I asked dh what time it was and he said 12:12 pm. We drained the
tub and I held baby while we waited for the placenta to be delivered
and for the cord to stop pulsing. While we were waiting, Lana decided
it was time to poop, and pooped for about 5 minutes straight (the
midwife and birth assistant were laughing because she just kept
pooping!) Kel checked me and said that I had two really small tears
that didn't need stitches (not bleeding, they were overlapping
themselves already so they would heal quickly) and that I looked
perfect. Lana has some bruising on her face, but other than that,
she's perfect. She just squeaked by needing a blood sugar test,
weighing in at 9 lbs 13 oz. She doesn't fit any of the newborn sized
cloth diapers I made and we had to loosen the straps on her car seat,
we were totally not prepared for a baby her size.

There were times during the labor that I thought I couldn't do it, in
fact I told my midwife and Kevin that I couldn't, but they just kept
telling me I could. I think I was 7 cm when I told them I wanted
drugs (to which my midwife said, "We don't have any drugs." which
they didn't, and I'm eternally grateful for because I was probably an
hour away from delivering her and would have kicked myself forever
after that!) I told Kevin he has to go get me a medal now, lol.

10/21/07 - 12:12 pm - 9 lbs 13 oz - 22 inches

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Birthday cake plans!

My 2 year old is turning 3 at the end of the month, and it's my husband's birthday the day before hers. His fave cake is red velvet, so I've been on the hunt for a dye free red velvet cake recipe (it was shared on my facebook in February, but I don't want to sift through 8 months of posts to find it!) I found one that looks tasty, and I'm going to fill them with the ganache from a second recipe. Here's the dye free cake recipe:

Natural Red Velvet Cupcakes

1 1/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Tablespoons Natural Cocoa Powder*
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 8.25-Ounce Can Water-Packed Sliced Beets
1/3 Cup Canola Oil
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

*VERY important, do not use dutch processed for this recipe

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line 12 cupcake tins with papers.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt so that all of the ingredients are evenly dispersed throughout the mixture. Set aside.

Get out your food processor or blender, and toss the entire contents of the can of beets, water included, into the machine. Process the beets for a solid 2 – 4 minutes, depending on how powerful your machine is, until completely smooth. Add in the oil, lemon juice, and vanilla, and pulse briefly to incorporate.

Pour the beet mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients, and mix just enough to combine. Equally distribute the batter between your prepared tins, and bake for 18 – 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before applying the mandatory “cream cheese” frosting.

Here is the recipe for the ganache:

Ganache Ingredients
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 cups heavy cream OR Silk creamer OR homemade Almond Creamer

Melt chocolate into cream in a double boiler over low heat, stirring constantly. pour into a large bowl and set in the fridge to cool, about 30 minutes. This should be thin enough to pipe but thick enough to hold a shape. Place into an icing bag fitted with the largest star tip or a filling tip.

Take a toothpick and poke the top of each cupcake. Swirl the toothpick around to create a ‘hole’ in the center of each cupcake, disturbing as little of the surface as possible. Pipe about 1 1/2 tbsp. of ganache into the center of each cupcake.

And of course, the necessary cream cheese frosting:

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
1/2 cup butter or margarine
8 oz. cream cheese OR Tofutti Cream Cheese OR cultured nut cheese
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Cream butter or margarine and cream cheese together until smooth. Add vanilla extract and beat till very smooth. Add powdered sugar. Spoon into piping bag and pipe onto cupcakes.

Return cupcakes to fridge for 30 minutes to set the frosting.

Sprinkle with red sugar, if desired.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta

Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta

Fresh diced chicken breast with a sauce that will knock your socks off!! Basil pesto pasta with a creamy feta cheese sauce.

I love pesto. I've had my mind blown by the idea of the different tastes that can come from mixing and matching the herbs and nuts used in the pesto, and whether or not you put cheese in it. Mint pecan pesto? Sounds tasty! I love a recipe that Rachael Ray had for parsley pesto. It's cheaper than using basil, and very fresh tasting.

I've mentioned the parsley pesto recipe here but I'm posting it again.

Parsley Pesto

2 cups parsley
3 oz jar or 1/4 c pignoli nuts (I leave these out, they're kind of expensive)
1 clove garlic, cracked away from skin (I generally use 2, we love garlic in our house!)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Combine parsley, pignoli nuts, and garlic in food processor or blender. Process and stream in about 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Remove paste to a large serving bowl, stir in pepper and grated cheese. Add the rest of the olive oil, stir to combine.

Super easy! Now, there have been times that I've just dumped everything into the blender and it's turned out great, so don't worry so much about the steps, this is really a fuss free dish. It's done in the time it takes to boil the water for the noodles (unless you have a fancy induction cook top, in which case, it's done before the noodles are al dente!)

Here's a recipe for basil pesto which is fantastic, and the best part about it is that it's made in bulk, so as long as you have noodles in your house, you'll always have a quick dinner!

Basic Basil Pesto
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups loosely packed fresh basil
2/3 cup good quality olive oil

With food processor running, drop in garlic and finely chop. Stop motor and add nuts, cheese, salt, pepper, and basil, then process until finely chopped. With motor running, add oil slowly, blending until incorporated. Store in a tight container in the fridge for up to a week. Or, put pesto in an ice cube tray and freeze. Store pesto cubes in a frozen bag and use on pasta, chicken and salads throughout the year!

So, for the most flavor, you can marinade the chicken in the basil pesto for 2-12 hours, grill it, then cut it up and toss with noodles and more pesto. I also like the idea of just grilling up the chicken while you're making the pesto in the blender and cooking the noodles, dicing it up, and tossing the whole meal together before serving it. I like this way too because I can reserve some of the chicken and noodles aside in case my youngest decides she hates something suddenly.

Now, if you've been reading this thinking, "But I was promised feta cheese!" I can give you an option for that too, I haven't forgotten that!

Here's what you'll need to pull the sauce together:
1 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 cup prepared basil pesto
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Stir cornstarch into a couple of tablespoons of chicken broth. Stir remaining chicken broth, pesto, and basil into the skillet, mix cornstarch mixture into the sauce, and cook until thickened. Add feta a few minutes before serving.

Amber Bock Sizzling Steak

Amber Bock Sizzling Steak
Customer Favorite! Our Signature lean and tender bistro steaks marinated in dark beer, brown sugar, and spices. Creates a rich flavor you'll never forget. Bag ***contains soy product

With fall upon us, the days of grilling are coming to a close (or in Arizona they're kicking into high gear!), I figured I'd share this recipe. You can do this under the broiler as well (personally I'd put a sear on it in the frying pan and then finish it off under the broiler if you're going to skip the grill totally)

I found this recipe here. I found another recipe that left out the red wine vinegar, but I think the vinegar is a great addition to the marinade, so I'm sharing this one, but you could always leave it out if you want to (or don't have it!) Now, I want to remind y'all, if you don't like Amber Bock, DON'T use that beer. Use a dark beer that you like, only cook with good booze!

12 ounces of a dark beer such as Amber Bock
3 Cloves of Garlic, Peeled and mashed
1/4 Cup Chopped Onion
1 TSP Fresh Ground Pepper
1/4 TSP Salt
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/4 TSP Cumin
1/4 TSP Dried Thyme
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar

Whisk together all Ingredients

Place steak in a safe container, such as Tupperware, and pour marinade over the steak

Put a lid on the container, and refrigerate for 6-12 hours, turning the steak over once.

Remove the steak from the marinade, and let it sit for about 1 hour before you grill it. This will bring the temperature of the meat closer to room temperature.

Before lighting the grill, spray on pam to prevent sticking.

Gas Grill Method: If you are using a gas grill, hopefully it has two burners. Heat the grill by turning one of the burners on high, and the other on medium-low. This will allow you to sear the steak and seal in the juices. Place the steak on the hot side of the grill for 1.5-2 minutes. Turn the steak over and cook for 2 minutes. Move the steak to the cooler side of the grill and cook it for about 7-8 minutes for medium rare. The internal temperature should reach about 135F degrees.

Charcoal Grill Method: Build a fire in 1/2 of the pit, and let the charcoal burn down; they will turn white, and you should not be able to hold your hand over the top of the grill for more than 1-2 seconds. Place the steak on the hot side of the grill for 1.5-2 minutes. Turn the steak over and cook for 2 minutes. Move the steak to the cooler side of the grill and cook it for about 7-8 minutes for medium rare. The internal temperature should reach about 135F degrees.

Let the steak rest by placing it on a plate and covering it with foil for about 2 minutes or so. This will help in making the steak tender and juicy because if you cut the steak too early, the juices will be hot, causing them to ooze out.

Now, these tips this recipe gives are really what takes a great steak and puts it over the top. Choosing a good cut, letting it come close to room temp, and letting it rest after cooking ensure a choosy, delicious steak. If you're going to put the time and effort into cooking a steak at home, make it worth your while!

Buffalo chicken

I mentioned buffalo chicken in my last post, and noticed that buffalo chicken was on one of the company's menus!


A healthier version of an American favorite! Boneless, skinless, all natural chicken breasts are flavored with a mild Buffalo wing marinade, then grilled or broiled and glazed with a kicked up lite Ranch dressing, finished with a sprinkling of Gorgonzola cheese.

This is the recipe I started making buffalo chicken with.

12 chicken tenders, about 12 ounces
1/2 cup Louisiana hot sauce
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Soak the chicken in the hot sauce in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Put the flour in a pie tin and season with salt and Cajun seasoning. Remove chicken from hot sauce, shake off excess, and dredge chicken in the flour. Set on a baking rack.

Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter has stopped bubbling, add the chicken tenders and cook until golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Serve warm with blue cheese dipping sauce and celery pieces.

I always had a hard time getting the coating to stay on without egg, so I got rid of the coating all together. Now, be careful, we used to just slap it in a frying pan and it was like someone sprayed pepper spray in the house (cooking is about trial and error, that was all error!) I now use my tabletop grill, which, if you don't have one, I highly suggest that you get one. They're fantastic, especially now that we live in Arizona and the last thing we need is something making us warmer!

So basically, my way of cooking it is marinade the chicken in your favorite hot sauce for about an hour (the longer you leave it in, the hotter it gets. Once I left it in for a day, it was almost too hot to eat!) Then I grill it. Healthy, delicious, inexpensive, and quick!

Buffalo Chicken Stuffed French Bread

With football season upon us, I thought this would be a fitting choice of a recipe to find :)

A pub favorite! We've combined flavors of Buffalo Chicken, bacon and Gorgonzola cheese. Stuffed into a crunchy French bread, the flavors melt together to make a tantalizing new baked sandwich! Sliced and served at your next halftime or tailgate party.

I found the recipe very quickly here.

4 boneless chicken breasts
1 cup ranch dressing
1 cup chili sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 loaf French bread
cayenne pepper

Change Measurements: US | Metric


Prep Time: 20 mins

Total Time: 35 mins

Cook the chicken breasts (I like to boil them) and then shred with two forks.

Mix cheese, ranch dressing, and chili sauce with the chicken.

Slice the french bread loaf lengthwise. Do not separate the two halves -- just butterfly it. Scoop out the soft bread filling, and break into little bits with your fingers.

Add the bread pieces in with the chicken mix, and stir well to get everything coated nicely.

Spoon all the chicken filling back into the french bread shells. Close the loaf together, and wrap tightly in foil.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes to melt the cheese.

When cool enough to handle, slice into rounds about 1 or 2 inches thick.

I'm definitely going to be trying this very soon! My husband loves buffalo chicken, especially mine because it's lower in fat than most places (and cheaper!) so I'm sure this is something he'll love.

Maple glazed roast pork

Here's my next choice of recipe to help others find.

Taste October! Our lean pork loin is roasted and glazed with a delicate blend of maple-flavored syrup, herbs, Dijon mustard and a touch of cider vinegar creating a sweet, yet savory, roast. Cooked until tender and succulent, the aromas fill the house after you pop in the oven and relax.

I found the recipe very quickly on here


2 1/2 pounds boneless pork loin roast
1 cup real maple syrup
4 tablespoons prepared Dijon-style mustard
2 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Stir together the maple syrup, mustard vinegar, soy sauce, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Place pork roast in a shallow roasting pan. Spread glaze evenly over pork roast.

Roast pork in the preheated oven uncovered, until internal temperature measured with a meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees F (70 degrees C), about 1 hour. Remove from oven, and let rest about 10 minutes before slicing to serve.

I will eventually try this, I'm very curious about the taste of it. If anyone tries it, let me know how it turns out!

Tested the recipe

So, I tested the first recipe, it came out pretty good! You didn't really need the butter, but like everything butter touches, it just made it better! We followed the recipe and let it marinade for 4 hours. Here it is on my tabletop grill:

I used breasts that weren't split, I really loved how that one looked like a heart. Grilled chicken is love, hee hee!

This is a pic of the finished grilled chicken:

Yeah, sure, you can eat that with some rice, and vegetables, call it a meal, but I decided to get a little different with it. Using one of the breasts (so half of that heart), I was going to make a salad with a friend. I wanted to grill the romaine (don't gasp with shock, I saw it on the food network and thought, well that could be good!) but she had a new lettuce knife that she was dying to try and got a little overzealous with it. Whatevs, I wasn't dying to try a totally grilled salad! I grilled 2 tomatoes that I cut in half, and an ear of corn. I cut the niblets off the corn and diced the grilled tomatoes, adding them to the romaine lettuce. I cut up the chicken breast and added a Sargento's salad finisher (this one was dried cranberries, pecans, and mozzarella asiago blend), and that was that. You heard me, NO DRESSING. It didn't need it. All the flavors blended and the textures were so great, it didn't need to be covered with anything. My friend agreed. Here's a pic of the salad:

The second way that I made this chicken was cut up and tossed with a stir fried bok choy. I mentioned in a previous post that I made "chicken" and broccoli stir fry. Well, the week that I made this chicken, I also made hot and sour soup. I bought too much bok choy, and had to figure out what to do with it! I enjoyed the glaze on the vegetables in the previous recipe, and since it was just me eating it, I went crazy. I followed the recipe and put the red pepper flakes in it. Umm, yeah, NOT DOING THAT AGAIN! It was super hot. I think I doubled the recipe but still used 1/4 tsp red pepper and it hurt the next day, I'll just put it that way. Here's the recipe again:

2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 head bok choy

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, cornstarch, vinegar, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Whisk until combined.
Cut the bok choy into 1/4-inch-thick pieces.
Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the oil. When almost smoking, add the vegetables, stir-frying for 1 minute. Add the broth and cook, scraping the bottom, until the vegetables are tender.

It was quick, and tasty, working with the sesame, ginger, and soy from the chicken as well. I don't think that I'll be using fresh ginger in this recipe again though, I don't like to bite into fresh ginger, so it'll be ground ginger from here on out!

So there's two other ways to serve this tasty chicken. I used half a breast with the bok choy and that was the perfect lunch size, so we were able to have 8 lunches out of the 4 breasts I marinaded with this. I think that's pretty awesome for those on a budget (we're stressing portion size here, 4 oz of chicken is roughly half a breast.)