Thursday, December 22, 2016

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 12: Italian Sausage Subs

For the 12th (and final) meal of Christmas:

Italian Sausage Subs

1 package Italian sausage links
1 green bell pepper (chopped or sliced)
1 red bell pepper (chopped or sliced)
1 cup red wine (I use pinot noir)
Season with garlic powder & dried basil

8 hrs on low. Cut up sausage and stuff into Italian loaves or a hoagie and top with parmesan cheese.

My family loves these - hopefully yours will too!

So, that's it. My 12 meals of Christmas. How about that blogging follow through? I made at least 2 of each meal to make a total of 26 meals and I spent less than $200.

Monday, December 19, 2016

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 11: Mushroom Chicken & Rice

For the eleventh meal of Christmas:

Mushroom Chicken & Rice

I have a thing for mushrooms and I've been told that it's just gross and wrong because they are a fungus, but whatever, man (husband), I like them. And since I do the cooking I force the rest of my family to eat this fungus as well. And I'll be honest, the picture is not pretty but it tastes very good, even to the mushroom haters.

1 can cream of mushroom
1 packet onion dip mix
3-4 chicken breasts
8 oz. Sliced mushrooms
1 cup water

8 hrs on low. Serve over rice. You can add an extra cup of water and cook 1 cup of rice on the crock pot for the last hour of cooking but I prefer my rice cooker. It cooks the rice to perfection.

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 10: Caribbean Jerk Chicken

For the 10th meal of Christmas:

Caribbean Jerk Chicken 

This is one that is obnoxiously easy but one of our favorite marinades so it almost always makes the cut.

1 bottle Lawry's Caribbean Jerk marinade
4-5 chicken breasts

Thaw and grill. Serve with rice or on a bunch with BBQ sauce. It is spicey and sweet and just yummy.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 9: Pulled Pork

For the ninth meal of Christmas:

Pulled Pork

We have a slight obsession with this meal. One, because it's easy. Two, because it's delicious. Three, because of the leftovers. And it's easy. Did I mention that?

3 lb. Pork loin
1 packet Memphis BBQ Pit seasoning
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup water

8 hours on low. Shred and serve on rolls, buns, or stuff in a baked sweet potato. Add some Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce and you're set.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 8: Brown Sugar Salmon

For the eighth meal of Christmas...

Brown Sugar Salmon

This is my kids' most favorite way to eat salmon. They gobble this up so fast.

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. Brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
A little pepper

Mix together and marinate a bag of salmon filets or a whole cut of salmon, whichever you prefer or is on sale.

Bake at 400 for 12 minutes. Leftovers are great warm or cold...if there are any.

Friday, December 16, 2016

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 7: Spanish Dirty Rice

For the seventh meal of Christmas...

Spanish Dirty Rice

1 box Spanish rice, cooked
1.5 lbs of ground beef, cooked with garlic, Chile powder, cumin, salt & pepper

Mix together. Thaw, warm & serve topped with cheese, salsa, cilantro and chips.

It is obnoxiously easy.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 6: Simple Spaghetti & Meatballs

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Simple Spaghetti & Meatballs 

I do have a fancy spaghetti sauce I like to make but when I'm making 26 meals, certain ones get simplified. Like this one.

2 jars of your favorite prepared marinara sauce
1 bag meatballs
1 Bay leaf

6 hrs on low. Serve with spaghetti noodles.

Because spaghetti always sounds good and because the kids will always eat it, Simple Spaghetti & Meatballs almost always makes the freezer meal list.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Oh, My Loves...

Emmie is 4 months old. She's pretty amazing but to be honest, she is our hardest baby. She finally likes Darren so I'm able to leave the house without her giving him a hard time but she still won't take a bottle and that has been a struggle because I keep getting thrush - we're probably just passing it back and forth ever so discretely. Or, get this. My doctor thinks it could just be inflamed milk ducts.

She thinks this because 1.) Emmie hasn't shown symptoms, and 2.) I was on an anti-fungal for two weeks and it got better then got drastically worse. Even though this has never happened before she said bodies get tired and worn out the longer and more times we do things. True dat, sister. So we're kind of stuck in a wait and see situation. Fun times. 

So back to Emmie. She is not a great napper and takes about 3 or 4 cat naps throughout the day (much like Maci did) and wakes up twice each night. We moved her crib to our room so she could get used to it and she does pretty well, then ends up in our bed after her second wake up of the night then she sleeps pretty solid. (I have to wake her up every morning so we can get Isaiah off to school. Crazy girl.) She's pretty go-with-the-flow as long as I'm around. She is very particular about who holds her and how they hold her. Unless it's me then she doesn't care - total mama's girl. 

Isaiah and Maci are pretty much her favorite people. They can get all up in her face and she just laughs and laughs. She rolls over both ways and scoots around on her back. She loves to suck on her hands and fingers and her eyes light up when I sing to her. She toots like there's no tomorrow and squeals when she's got something to say. And, you guys, the hair is STILL red! She's our little firecracker.

I keep thinking I should have her more on a schedule or better routine but I do this with every baby. I think I spoil the babies. Oh well, they end up being well-adjusted eventually.

Emmie is funny because she sleeps better when we're out and about. She loves her car seat and stroller the most, is mesmerized by Christmas lights, and has a really sweet personality...unless she's angry.

Oh and we keep waiting for the novelty to wear off with Isaiah and Maci but it has not. Emmie is still the coolest person in the family.

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 5: Orange Meatballs

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Orange Meatballs & Rice

1 bag meatballs (26 count)
1 bottle orange chicken  sauce

4 hrs on low. Serve over rice.

We love meatballs in the slow cooker because they can be dinner or a party food. And our kids will always eat them. So, bonus.

Sweet & sour (BBQ sauce and grape jelly), Sweet & spicey (grape jelly & chili sauce), teriyaki sauce, BBQ sauce, orange sauce...we eat them all the ways and love them.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 4: Savory Pork Loin

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Savory Pork Loin

3 lb. pork loin
1 packet "pot roast" seasoning
1 can French onion
1 cup water

8 hrs on low

I served this with roasted broccoli & sweet potatoes and stuffing. We loved it - rich and hearty and perfect for these cold December nights.

My Kid Is Smart, But He's Not a Genius

As moms, we can see our kids in that sweet-pea-apple-of-my-eye sort if way. So much so that we can tend to see them through rose-colored lenses, exaggerating their strengths and talents so much that we may be doing them a disservice. (Or just flat out lying on Facebook.)

Lately, I have been so proud of my boy. He was placed in the highest reading group in kindergarten and since getting his glasses has jumped 5 units immediately and then a unit a day thereafter.

 I am so proud - he is a fantastic reader. I have been so proud that I took to social media to brag about him. Now, what I said was true and I am very proud, but here's the thing - he's still 5, he's still a kindergartener, and he's still learning. He is smart but he's not a genius. 

After my post a friend suggested getting him tested for a gifted/honors program at school. I asked his teacher about it and she said:

"Well, the deadline for testing has passed already..."

And then, bless her sweet soul:

"But that program isn't just for reading, it's for all around academics and problem solving."

I had to laugh at myself! It was as if she was saying, "He's a high reader but he's not a genius. Pump the breaks, lady." 

This is why (Well, one of the reasons) I'm so thankful for teachers. They see our kids as just that...KIDS. Not the center of the universe. Since he's my first born, it's easier for me to get wrapped up in thinking he's smarter than he is.

Isaiah's teacher has been so great for him, she has gone above and beyond to work with him and the other students in class. As a classroom volunteer I have seen the strides each kid has made in a matter of months. 

And while every accomplishment they make and every goal that's met should be celebrated, it also should be expected. Why? because we're raising these little humans to one day be big humans and that is simply how the world works. There are things exoected out of you. You don't get a cookie for every good deed or work assignment you complete. 

So if you're proud of them, be proud. Brag a little. But be realistic. If your child is successful at their grade level, be proud. Don't exaggerate. And, for goodness sake, don't overly celebrate what is expected of them.

Monday, December 12, 2016

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 3: Winger's & Waffles

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Winger's and Waffles

If you've never had Winger's chicken, you're missing out. Our love affair with this restaurant started when Darren and I were in college and I found the best recipe for the sauce on the interwebs a few years ago. Pair it with waffles and game. over.

For this meal buy and store your favorite waffle mix in the pantry.

Buy 1 bag of frozen popcorn chicken and in a bag freeze the Winger's sauce:

1  1/2 c brown sugar
6 Tbsp. Frank's hot sauce
2 Tbsp. water

Defrost and heat up sauce until the sugar is dissolved and everything is combined. Make waffles and chicken according to package instructions. Add some butter and syrup to your waffle, top with chicken, add Winger's sauce and LIVE YOUR LIFE. 


Sunday, December 11, 2016

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 2: Pad Thai

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Pad Thai

This is one of those meals my family is obsessed with. Having it prepped as one of my freezer meals helps me out tremendously.

Here's what I do:

In one bag, freeze 3 thinly sliced chicken  breasts (or shrimp or tofu), 1-2 thinly sliced zucchinis, 1 thinly sliced carrot, and half a bunch of chopped green onion. Add a little garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

In bag 2, mix the contents for the sauce - 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 1/4 cup fish sauce, 1/2 brown sugar.

Store rice noodles in the pantry.

To prepare, defrost everything. Pour hot water over rice noodles in a bowl. In a small sauce pan, heat up sauce until sugar is dissolved and everything is combined. In a wok, heat up a few Tbsp of EVOO and add chicken and veggies. Toss around until cooked. Add strained rice noodles. Toss. Add sauce. Toss. Add a scrambled egg. Toss.

Serve with a squeeze of lime and top with chopped peanuts.

I always freeze some egg rolls with this too.

It seriously tastes as good as takeout and is 1/3 of the cost. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 1: Roasted Red Peppers & Sausage on Texas Toast

This week I completed 26 meals for under $200. Instead of doing a long list of meals and grocery items, I thought I'd share the different meals I made individually. And I'm calling it the 12 meals of Christmas...because I'm so clever.

So. [Ahem...]

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 

Roasted Red Peppers & Sausage 
on Texas Toast

1 lb. cooked ground Italian sausage
1 jar roasted red peppers
8 oz. of tomato sauce

6 hrs. on low in the crock pot

Prepare Texas Toast according to package (5 minutes at 425).

Top toast with sausage and peppers and top with cheese.

It's yummy. The end.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

How I'm Sort of Losing the Baby Weight

One question I've been getting often is: how are you losing the baby weight? I think I'm actually getting it more this time around than I did with my other two (and with those babies I was actually trying) and it's funny because this time around, every time I get an urge to get back in shape/get healthy/take my body back/etc. I end up with mastitis or thrush. For realz. I must just dress well or I'm simply strung out on coffee and no sleep.
Regardless. I'm going there. I decided to show my post-partum belly pics.
Top: 4 months post-partum
Bottom: 3 months post-partum

Left: 1 month post-partum
Right: 2 months post-partum
I'll be honest, I'm not unhappy with how far my body has come even if I'm not at my goal weight or as fit as I want to be. It's taken me three babies but this time I've learned to really go easy on myself. I just had a baby, it takes time to get back into shape. After having babies I have followed programs like P90X and Insanity, but this time around I'm operating on a do-what-I-can-when-I-can mentality...and it's working. I only have about 5-7 lbs. left to lose and can wear most of my pre-pregnancy pants (though, I did split a pair down the booty - good times). It's not extreme, I can't promise fast results for anyone but here is my one piece of advice for how I'm sort of losing the baby weight:
Yep, that's it. TA-DA. I eat when I want and I eat mostly healthy food. I eat cookies and I eat spinach - I eat bread and I eat veggies. The only diet restriction I have is no-dairy because of Emmie's intolerance but other than that, I don't even think twice about what I eat. The only shake I use is Orgain Slim and I love it just so I can get a quick protein-packed breakfast on busy mornings (no on likes a hangry mama).
As far as exercise, I have a couple of yoga DVDs I do here and there as well as some high intensity interval workouts that I have written down (they take about 20 minutes). I attend a kickboxing class when I can but mostly just love to run (read: jog slowly) for a few miles. Realistically, I probably workout 3 times a week...maybe. It's not much but it's where I'm at and for now, I'm okay with that. I mean, there's still 6 months until summer, right?