Monday, March 29, 2010

Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ Chicken

I managed to make dinner again tonight.  Two days in a row is definitely a record for the past month.  I have several other meals planned for dinner this week, so I'm hoping week 10 cooperates with my plan.

Usually when I make pulled BBQ I use a pork shoulder (very fatty) or boston butt (less fatty).  These two cuts of meat produce a very tender and flavorful BBQ.  This time I wanted to try chicken because it was on sale at the store this week, and it tends to be more lean.  Plus, I have a plan to use the leftover BBQ chicken to make a BBQ chicken pizza for later in the week, if I'm honest the pizza is the whole reason I made this in the first place.  Our verdict was that we would probably prefer the chicken in the future.  It wasn't quite as flavorful or tender as the pork is when I cook it this way, but to us that was worth saving the extra calories and grease.  (When I do the pork I tend to cook it on low for 8-10 hours.)  If you aren't concerned about the overall calories, add a piece of cheddar cheese to your bun when serving... yum!  I usually serve these on whole wheat hamburger buns, but we decided to mix it up and try something new (and save a few calories) by using thin buns (found in the bread aisle).  Serve with your favorite picnic fare; sweet potato fries, potato salad, green beans, corn, pickles, coleslaw, or baked beans.

Pulled BBQ Chicken

-2-3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat (any cut of chicken would do here, thighs would probably be more moist and flavorful, but again, the b/s breasts were on sale this week, and overall we were going for a lean BBQ)
-1 onion chopped (optional)
-1 cup BBQ sauce, either bottled or homemade recipe below

Place onions (if using), chicken, and BBQ sauce in a slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 5 hours (or until chicken is tender).  Transfer chicken to a cutting board and shred with 2 forks.  (At this point most people would return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker and the juices and cook on high until the chicken is warmed through again).  (Here's how I do it, to remove even more of the fat from the finished product).  Heat the shredded chicken and 1 additional cup of BBQ sauce in a pan until warmed through.  Serve on your favorite buns, with your favorite sides.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

As is this recipe makes a ton, but exactly what I need to add 1 cup to the chicken in the slow cooker, and then another cup to the chicken when shredded.  If you will just be returning the chicken to the slow cooker with the juices then you can halve everything below.  If you like it REALLY sweet you can substitute ketchup for the tomato sauce.

-1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
-4 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
-6 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-4 Tbsp. honey
-4 Tbsp. hot sauce
-4 tsp. garlic powder
-2 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients.  Chill until using.  Will keep in refridgerator for up to 2 weeks.


10 weeks

Here's what is going on with me and the baby this week according to;

Though he's barely the size of a kumquat — a little over an inch or so long, crown to bottom — and weighs less than a quarter of an ounce, your baby has now completed the most critical portion of his development. This is the beginning of the so-called fetal period, a time when the tissues and organs in his body rapidly grow and mature.  He's swallowing fluid and kicking up a storm. Vital organs — including his kidneys, intestines, brain, and liver (now making red blood cells in place of the disappearing yolk sac) — are in place and starting to function, though they'll continue to develop throughout your pregnancy.  If you could take a peek inside your womb, you'd spot minute details, like tiny nails forming on fingers and toes (no more webbing) and peach-fuzz hair beginning to grow on tender skin.  In other developments: Your baby's limbs can bend now. His hands are flexed at the wrist and meet over his heart, and his feet may be long enough to meet in front of his body. The outline of his spine is clearly visible through translucent skin, and spinal nerves are beginning to stretch out from his spinal cord. Your baby's forehead temporarily bulges with his developing brain and sits very high on his head, which measures half the length of his body. From crown to rump, he's about 1 1/4 inches long. In the coming weeks, your baby will again double in size — to nearly 3 inches.

At your next prenatal visit, you may be able to hear your baby's rapid heartbeat with the help of a Doppler stethoscope, a handheld ultrasound device that your practitioner places on your belly. Many women say that the beating of their baby's tiny heart sounded like the thunder of galloping horses and hearing it for the first time was very moving.  Before you got pregnant, your uterus was the size of a small pear. By this week, it's as big as a grapefruit. You may or may not be ready for maternity wear now. Even if you're not there yet, your regular clothes are probably feeling uncomfortably tight and your blossoming breasts are straining the seams of your bra. The thickening in your midsection is most likely due to slight weight gain and bloating.

My doctor told me that in week 10 my hormones will be at their highest, so this is the week where I'm likely to feel the most nauseous, most tired, and most moody.  I still want to take a nap after lunch every day, but it's not anything unbearable.  I've kept a fairly busy schedule lately, so I haven't really had time to be tired.  I'm still having good days mixed in with bad days.  I am uncontrollably emotional... my fuse is VERY short, and any little thing can make me angry, or send me into a waterfall of tears.  I am definitely continuing to get thicker in my mid-section and my tummy is starting to get a little more pouchy.  I'm still wearing my same clothes, but the pressure on my stomach from some of my jeans is getting annoying.  I'll continue to stick to my looser pairs, and before long I'll probably be leaving my pants unbuttoned and using my bellaband.  This weekend I finally got to enjoy an Arby's roast beef and cheddar sandwich (my first one in at least 8 years) and it was AMAZING!!!!!!  I will definitely be wanting another one of those soon.  I also bought a bag of tater tots at the store, and will be making those one night when I'm feeling good.  Other than that my cravings are the same, I'm still not interested in sweet foods and am craving things that are meaty and salty.  An Arby's roast beef and cheddar is at the top of my list, followed by a pastrami and swiss, devilled eggs, egg salad, tater tots, and potato salad.  I had sushi this week on a dinner date with J (don't worry, I stuck to the cooked rolls) and that went over very well since it's pretty bland and easy on the tummy.  For the most part I'm still eating the same things, lots of pretzels, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, cottage cheese, apples, grapes, and now also canned corn and pears.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sausage, Pepper & Potato Stir Fry

Today I was feeling somewhat okay and braved cooking for the first time in weeks. It's funny that I didn't start with something more bland than smoked sausage, but it was on sale 3/$6 this week at the grocery store and I couldn't resist.

I have been stir frying sausage and peppers together for years.  I used to serve the combination with pierogies, but have recently switched to cubed potatoes.  I normally cut the vegetables into big chunks for this dish, but I've been very out of it lately (can I blame that on being pregnant?), and before I realized what I had done I had sliced all of the peppers and onions.  A few cloves of minced garlic is also great in here, but I was too lazy (after chopping everything else) to mess with the garlic today, and it was just fine without it.

Sausage, Pepper & Potato Stir Fry

-1 lb. turkey kielbasa or smoked sausage, sliced
-1 lb. red potatoes, cubed
-1 Tbsp. olive oil
-1 onion, largely diced
-1/2 each of green pepper, red pepper, yellow pepper, and orange pepper, largely diced
-2 Tbsp. brown sugar
-2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
-1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
-1/2 tsp. thyme
-fresh ground black pepper
-pinch or red pepper flakes
-1 cup chicken broth

Place potatoes in covered dish with 1/4 cup water, microwave for 8 minutes.  Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat.  Add peppers and onions and cook until they start to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add sausage and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.  Add potatoes and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.  Whisk together brown sugar, dijon mustard, thyme, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and chicken broth, pour mixture into skillet.  Cover and cook until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

our love story...

Jeremy's and my love story is featured on The Love Story Project blog today... hop on over and check it out.


Monday, March 22, 2010

9 weeks

According to here's what is happening with our little one this week;

Your new resident is nearly an inch long — about the size of a grape — and weighs just a fraction of an ounce. She's starting to look more and more human. Her essential body parts are accounted for, though they'll go through plenty of fine-tuning in the coming months. Other changes abound: Your baby's heart finishes dividing into four chambers, and the valves start to form — as do her tiny teeth. The embryonic "tail" is completely gone. Your baby's organs, muscles, and nerves are kicking into gear. The external sex organs are there but won't be distinguishable as male or female for another few weeks. Her eyes are fully formed, but her eyelids are fused shut and won't open until 27 weeks. She has tiny earlobes, and her mouth, nose, and nostrils are more distinct. The placenta is developed enough now to take over most of the critical job of producing hormones. Now that your baby's basic physiology is in place, she's poised for rapid weight gain.

As for me, I've been alternating between good and bad days still.  I thankfully felt mostly good all weekend while we were moving, but I think that might be in part that I was too busy to notice how I felt, and partly because I wasn't able to take my pre-natal vitamins (which make me nauseous) for 3 days because they were packed up.  Today I felt the WORST that I have this whole time, but I think that may be due to not getting much rest this weekend and busying myself with moving, cleaning, packing, and unpacking.  I still dry heave every now and then, especially in the mornings and late night, but I (THANKFULLY) still haven't physically thrown up.  I still get pretty tired in the middle of the day and want to take a nap, but it hasn't been bad enough for me to actually stop what I'm doing.  I'm still eating pretty much the same "safe" foods, but this weekend I did successfully manage to try a few more flavorful things, including a pulled BBQ sandwich and Shrimp Creole.  All of my clothes still fit, although I'm generally choosing to wear my (formerly) looser jeans because they are more comfortable than my tighter ones.  My middle is a little thicker and flabbier, but I don't think that would be noticeable to anyone other than me and Jeremy.  I had to start chewing gum, because I tend to develop an awful taste in my mouth over the course of the day that makes me feel sick if I'm not able to get rid of it right away.  My new cravings obesessions of what I NEED to have (and soon) are currently tater tots and ketchup, an Arby's roast beef sandwich, BBQ chicken pizza, cheese fries, potato salad, and a pastrami and swiss sandwich.  Maybe I'll get to have at least one of those sometime this week, but I've been trying not to indulge every craving that I have, or eat too much junk food, because I want to maintain my healthy lifestyle during pregnancy and after, and not develop too much of a taste for junk food.  I still don't really care for sweets, and would much rather have salty, savory, and cheesy.  My next doctor's appointment is scheduled for March 31, but I'm thinking of pushing it back about 2 weeks, because taking time off of work every 4 weeks to go to the doctor just seems a little excessive to me.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Our new home

On Monday we got the keys to our new home.  Our old place only had one bedroom, so we moved in order to have two bedrooms and enough extra room for the baby.  We loved our old place, and would have stayed there if I wasn't pregnant, but it is nice to have extra room now.  In our new place we have an extra bedroom, plus a whole extra room that we are using as the dinning room (in our old place we just had an eat in kitchen).  We definitely have more room now, but our place isn't spacious, but nice and cozy.  Our new place (like our old place) is a typical New Orleans shotgun double.  A shotgun means that our house goes straight back, from room to room and there aren't any hallways as the rooms just connect directly to each other.  Double means that the home is divided in two, our unit is the one on the right.

Our kitchen and bathroom are much smaller and older than the ones that we had in our old place, but those are probably my only two reservations about our new home.  The neighborhood is much nicer and quieter than our old neighborhood, and we even have some trees.  We are also within walking distance of a park that has a playground, which will be great for our child.  We are also within walking distance of the street car, and an excellent Thai restaurant and a Mediterranean restaurant.  Our new place also has a small back yard, which will be nice.  Perhaps my favorite thing about our new place though is the front porch, that is the one thing that we really wanted in a house before that we didn't have.  We're looking forward to spending evenings sitting on the porch, enjoying the weather, and socializing with our neighbors.

We made a few small trips moving boxes throughout the week, and today was our first day of really diving into moving.  Jeremy's parents helped us, and we were able to get most of our boxes, and most of our furniture all moved today.  This was a great head start, because tomorrow was our actual planned moving day.  We have a few more things to move, some cleaning to do, and then lots of unpacking to follow.  Once the unpacking is mostly done and our place is settled I'll post pictures of the inside.


Monday, March 15, 2010

8 weeks

Here's what is going on with our baby this week, according to

New this week: Webbed fingers and toes are poking out from your baby's hands and feet, his eyelids practically cover his eyes, breathing tubes extend from his throat to the branches of his developing lungs, and his "tail" is just about gone. In his brain, nerve cells are branching out to connect with one another, forming primitive neural pathways. You may be daydreaming about your baby as one sex or the other, but the external genitals still haven't developed enough to reveal whether you're having a boy or a girl. Either way, your baby — about the size of a kidney bean — is constantly moving and shifting, though you still can't feel it.

As for me, I'm still having good days and bad days.  I'll have a day where I feel pretty decent most of the day, and then I'll have a day (like Sunday) when I didn't get out of bed all day.  I still get pretty tired in the middle of the day, and fairly early in the evening.  I definitely don't think that my stomach is "showing" yet, but my waist line seems to slowly be getting thicker.  Maybe I should start measuring it, to actually record my progress.  I'm still eating mostly crackers, pretzels, grapes, oranges, chicken noodle soup, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, part-skim string cheese, cottage cheese, and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Not fully well rounded and nutritious, but I'm getting a decent amount of protein and calcium at least, plus some extra nutrients from my pre-natal vitamins.  As frustrating as it can be to feel bad all day, for several days in a row, without much relief over the last 3 weeks, I know that I don't have it all that bad.  Aside from a little dry heaving every now and then I'm not generally spending my days hanging over a toilet, thankfully.  I'm still craving all things meat, and had a half of a hamburger one day this week, and a whole turkey burger another day.  Sometimes meat will sit okay in my stomach, and sometimes it doesn't, it's a guessing game every time.  I'm still craving a big pulled BBQ sandwich, but now I'm also really craving a Chick-Fil-A grilled chicken sandwich, and a Fudrucker's burger.  I don't know if we even have Fudrucker's around here, but I'm going to find out.  I'm going to beg for a date to Chick-Fil-A until J gives in, maybe this weekend while we're moving and can't easily cook for ourselves at home... 


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pot-luck salads

After two days of feeling pretty good and almost normal I'm back to feeling kind of crummy again.  Although I really can't complain too much, because so many people have morning sickness so much worse than what I'm experiencing.  Tonight I made a couple of trusty cookout side dishes for tomorrow evening.  We will be going straight from work to a cookout to celebrate our friend Katie's birthday (happy early birthday Katie!).  I assembled both dishes, leaving the crunchy items (nuts, sesame seeds, and ramen noodles) on the side, to be stirred in just before serving, so they don't get soggy sitting in the fridge for 24 hours until the party.

I have a list of side dishes that can be served at room temperature, that are easy to prepare, and that crowds usually love.  Every time we go to a pot-luck I try to rotate between some of these tried and true favorites.  For tomorrow I decided upon Asian Coleslaw and Pesto Pasta Salad.  Both recipes are super easy, and super delicious!

Pesto Pasta Salad

For a different twist cheese tortellini could be used instead of the penne here, and the mozzarella could then be eliminated.  Sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, or artichoke hearts would also be a great addition to this salad.  This really is delicious warm or cold, but for a pot-luck it's usually easier to make ahead of time and then served chilled.

-1 box whole wheat penne pasta, cooked to al dente
-1 cup pesto sauce (store bought or make your own)
-1 cup pine nuts, toasted (not in the picture because I won't be adding them until tomorrow night)
-1 package grape tomatoes, sliced in half
-1 package boccocini, or 1 cup cubed soft mozzarella (use the good stuff here, it makes a difference)

Combine all ingredients and chill until serving.

What are your favorite "go to" pot-luck dishes?


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Broiled pineapple

I'm happy to report that for two days I have been feeling pretty good, and almost normal.  So good that today I ventured out to the gym for the first time in over two weeks.  It was nice to get my blood flowing again. 

As I mentioned before I've been craving meat like crazy since I've been pregnant, which is quite strange, because I'm very content being a vegetarian, or more accurately a pescatarian.  Today I couldn't take it any more, a co-worker brought in several leftover hamburgers that they had grilled the night before, and I decided that I HAD to have one... no bun, no cheese, just a big 'ole burger on a plate... and it was good!  My stomach gurgled like crazy for the two hours following, I'm sure as a result of not being used to the grease, hormones etc. that are in meat, it had been well over a year since I last had a hamburger.  It  was worth it though, and I'd do it all over again, in fact I may do it all over again and have a cheese burger at a cookout that we're going to this Friday night.

Since I was feeling better I decided to venture into the kitchen and attempt to cook something small after resorting to eating leftovers and canned food for days since I've been feeling ill.  I had a pineapple that I had bought on sale this week, and leftover ice cream from my birthday and decided that would be the perfect dessert.

I broiled the pineapple until it started to soften and brown (about 5-10 minutes)

And then plopped a nice scoop of ice cream on top... YUM!  This would be great having grilled the pineapple also, but I don't have a grill, or grill pan.

Jeremy ended up not being a big fan of this dessert, but I should have know, he's not really a fan of melted ice cream.  Me on the other hand, I love melted ice cream, and will let my ice cream sit out for 10 minutes before I eat it just so that it starts to melt.  My favorite desserts are usually the ones that combine a hot element with ice cream so that it melts, like brownie a la mode, bananas foster, apple pie a la mode and so on.

Do you like your ice cream melted, or frozen solid?  If you've had children, what types of foods did you crave while you were pregnant?


Monday, March 8, 2010

7 weeks

According to here's what is going on with our little one this week;

The big news this week: Hands and feet are emerging from developing arms and legs — although they look more like paddles at this point than the tiny, pudgy extremities you're daydreaming about holding and tickling. Technically, your baby is still considered an embryo and has something of a small tail, which is an extension of her tailbone. The tail will disappear within a few weeks, but that's the only thing getting smaller. Your baby has doubled in size since last week and now measures half an inch long, about the size of a blueberry. If you could see inside your womb, you'd spot eyelid folds partially covering her peepers, which already have some color, as well as the tip of her nose and tiny veins beneath parchment-thin skin. Both hemispheres of your baby's brain are growing, and her liver is churning out red blood cells until her bone marrow forms and takes over this role. She also has an appendix and a pancreas, which will eventually produce the hormone insulin to aid in digestion. A loop in your baby's growing intestines is bulging into her umbilical cord, which now has distinct blood vessels to carry oxygen and nutrients to and from her tiny body.

As for me, I'm settling into my third week of feeling nauseous all day, every day.  I have found a few tricks that are giving me a little relief from how bad it has been overall.  Per the advice of some friends I've stopped taking my pre-natal vitamins in the morning, and have now been taking them in the evening.  I'm also making a point to eat crackers before I even get out of bed.  And I've learned the importance of NEVER letting my stomach get to the point where I'm actually hungry, and of munching on a few crackers every hours or so.  I'm still eating mostly soup, crackers, green grapes, gingerale, ginger tea, grilled cheese, and peanut butter sandwiches, but I've ventured away from that routine a few times, usually with a poor end result.  I did figure out this week that part-skim mozzarella string cheese tastes amazing to me right now, and sits well in my tummy, it also helps to have more substance and some protein along with all of the empty carbs I've been eating.  This past weekend Jeremy told me that I am starting to look a little pregnant, which I take as an affectionate way of saying that my tummy is starting to be a little pudgy and not so firm.  Which I am dismayed by, because I just feel that it's too early to really be showing, or noticeably putting on weight.  All of my clothes still fit just fine, but I'm starting to think that I won't be wearing skinny jeans too much longer.  I'm still napping on the drive to work every day, but now I'm also really wishing I had a nap time after lunch.  I've also been falling asleep fairly early most nights, it's not unusual for me to be tired as early as 7:30 or 8 and ready to fall asleep (in my defense, we do get up at 5:30 every morning also).  And if you notice that my hair is wavy in the picture, that's the way I've been wearing it at least 6 days a week, and just letting it air dry.  When I'm feeling awful in the morning the thought of pointing a blow dryer at my head sounds like torture.  Not to mention I get to hit snooze an extra two times because I save time getting ready by not drying my hair.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Chana Masala

I made this classic Northern Indian dish today to serve as my lunch for the week.  This was not my best decision ever, considering that I've been feeling awful lately and mostly eating very bland foods.  The smell of the spices cooking would normally have been a very pleasing aroma to me, but it was all that I could do not to gag.  Now this will serve as Jeremy's lunch for the week, and I will stick to canned soup and saltines.  Serve with basmatti rice, naan, and cucumber raita for an authentic Indian dinner.  Next time I will double the tomatoes, because there weren't enough for my taste.

-1 tablespoon vegetable oil

-1 medium onion, diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely chopped
-1 tablespoon ground coriander
-2 teaspoons ground cumin
-2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper
-2 teaspoons ground turmeric
-1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
-2 teaspoons paprika
-1 teaspoon garam masala
-1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
-1 lb chickpeas, cooked until tender and drained
-1 teaspoon salt
-juice of 1/2 lemon

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and saute until soft (about 5 min).  Add garlic and ginger, saute until fragrant (30 sec- 1 min). Turn heat down to medium-low and add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, cloves, cinnamon, paprika and garam masala. Cook onion mixture with spices for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes and their juices, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan. Add the chickpeas, simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then stir in salt and lemon juice.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

6.5 weeks

we couldn't keep it a secret any longer!  we're expecting, and currently 6.5 weeks along!!!!  the due date is oct. 24.  we are thrilled!  today was our first doctor's appointment, we got to hear the heart beat and see our little kidney bean.

please join us in prayer for our little one, and for our preparation as parents.


Monday, March 1, 2010

6 weeks

According to here's what's going on with our little one this week;

This week's major developments: The nose, mouth, and ears that you'll spend so much time kissing in eight months are beginning to take shape. If you could see into your uterus, you'd find an oversize head and dark spots where your baby's eyes and nostrils are starting to form. His emerging ears are marked by small depressions on the sides of the head, and his arms and legs by protruding buds. His heart is beating about 100 to 160 times a minute — almost twice as fast as yours — and blood is beginning to course through his body. His intestines are developing, and the bud of tissue that will give rise to his lungs has appeared. His pituitary gland is forming, as are the rest of his brain, muscles, and bones. Right now, your baby is a quarter of an inch long, about the size of a lentil bean.

As for me this week, I'm still nauseous, living off of mostly sandwiches, soups, saltines, and gingerale.  I'm a little tired and nap on the hour long car ride to work every morning (isn't my husband amazing for allowing me to do this!!!!).  I'm moody, have a very short fuse, and get easily worked up over little things (again, my husband is AMAZING for loving me through this!!!).  And I'm gaseous (sorry if that's TMI)... every time I eat I burp for an hour afterwards, and these aren't normal burps, they are burps so disgusting that they could clear a room!  At least I'm not actually getting sick and "losing my lunch", I'll take nausea over that any day!!!!  I've started LOVING things that I don't normally eat or purchase... I eat an orange at least once a day everyday, and I've been going through a bag of green grapes every 2-3 days.  I've also started craving a few things... I really want some Taco Bell (and I never eat junk food, plus I'm a vegetarian)... I'd kill for a Seven Layer Burrito, a Chili Cheese Burrito, a Soft Taco Supreme, or a Mexican pizza right now (Do they still make all of those? I haven't eaten at a Taco Bell in YEARS!).  I made bean burritos the other night to try to satisfy myself, but it didn't take care of my desire, it paled in comparison to the grease of the real thing.  I've also been craving pizza, and not just any pizza, but either a BBQ Chicken Pizza or a Meat Lover's Pizza... sort of strange for a vegetarian... I keep thinking our baby is a boy because everything that I'm craving is meat.  Oh, and I saw a picture of a BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with pickles and sweet potato fries on a blog the other day and I've been dreaming about it ever since.  I already informed Jeremy that as soon as my nausea is gone that I WILL BE GETTING ONE OF THOSE.