It’s no secret that I am a working mom. It is something I am deeply proud of. I love being a lawyer, just as I love being a mom. But most nights, I do not get home until 7:00. If I start making a full dinner from scratch once I get home, we typically don’t sit down to eat until after 8:00. As much I’d love to tell you that I pre-plan our weekday meals, that would be a lie. There are weeks where I am great. There are lots of weeks where I am not.
I am not a fan of take-out or even eating out in general. It’s expensive. It’s not as healthy. And I usually end up feeling disappointed for overindulging or because of the quality of the food for the price. Plus two little boys in a restaurant can be exhausting. We try to avoid it whenever possible.
So on nights when we haven’t planned dinner, our go-to meal is a rotisserie chicken. The boys love it. It’s not ridiculously overpriced. It’s not wholly unhealthy. But like most things, I’d prefer to make it myself than buy a premade meal. Of course, there is no way I’d have time to roast a whole chicken on a weekday. But I still wanted to try out a homemade version. So last weekend, Maxie and I picked up a raw chicken and decided to make our own rotisserie chicken of sorts.
We all have our own comfort food. Whether its mash potatoes, pasta, or fast food, sometimes you just need a meal to make our day a little better. Jambalaya is ours.
The past week was challenging for our family. Max has hydronephrosis. He was diagnosed in the womb. At our 20 week ultrasound, the technician uttered a phrase you don’t want to hear–“abnormal scan.” Ar this time, the hydronephrosis was present in both of his kidneys, Of course, we had never heard of hydronephrosis. Basically, it meant that Max’s kidneys weren’t developing properly. We were told that 50% of the time, this type of hydronephrosis resolves itself. So a second ultrasound was scheduled for my 28 weeks of pregnancy.
At our second ultrasound, there was good and bad news. Max’s right kidney had resolved itself. It was developing just fine. But his left kidney hadn’t. It was twice the size of the right. It didn’t appear to be working at all. So we went to a specialist. We were told that once Max was a month old, Max would go back for testing to determine the severity of the issue and how to resolve it. If the left kidney was partially working, then it would be worth saving. Otherwise, we would assess whether it would make sense to remove the kidney altogether. For the rest of my pregnancy, there was nothing more to do. Just wait for Max show to up.
Then right on time, our Maxwell was born, happy and wide eyed. We made the one month appointment for Max’s kidney.
And then last week, the one month appointment arrived. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the news we were hoping for. Max’s left kidney hasn’t improved. It is twice the size of what it should be and does not appear to work. Because of this, the doctor recommends surgery to remove the kidney when Max is 5 or 6 months old. The idea of my baby being put under anesthesia makes my heart ache. I can’t imagine handing my baby to a doctor for surgery. It just hurts. So when we came home from the appointment, our family needed some comfort food. We needed to eat this jambalaya.
This recipe for jambalaya is quick and easy. There is low prep work. Just dice a couple of veggies, toss them in a pan, and let it simmer. You can alter the recipe so it can be as spicy or mild as you’d like. So when your heart is aching, you can eat a home cooked meal without too much complication. Plus, the assortment of vegetables makes the meal relatively healthy.
So after Max’s kidney appointment we ate this jambalaya as a family. And while it didn’t make the fact that Max has hydrondphrosis go away, it made us all feel a little bit better, even if it was just for the night.
Well, I had another baby! On December 15, 2016, little Maxwell decided he wasn’t going to wait another second and was born. And even though he was born on his due date, I was anything but prepared. See, JR was 12 days late. Yes, 12 days. While I certainly was not rooting for another almost two week late baby, I had convinced myself that Max would not be showing up anytime near the 15th. Perhaps sometime in the 20’s–like Christmas. But surely not on his due date. So when my water broke at 9:40 p.m. on December 14th, I immediately panicked (our house was a complete mess. I had lost my phone. I hadn’t done laundry in weeks.) But after a mere two and a half hours of labor, Maxwell was born. It was perfect.
Of course, now that Max is here, I should be in the “lose the baby weight” phase. But there was Christmas. Then New Years. And donuts are freaking delicious. Plus, who is going to eat all those Junior Mints?! And while I am technically down to my pre-Max weight (note: not pre-baby), my belly is squishy. It would be nice to be back to my law school size. Since it’s the beginning of the year, I can jump on the “new year new you” bandwagon. My social media has been swarmed with Whole30 posts so it is a constant reminder that I too need to be more aware of what I am eating if I want to see results.
That’s where this salad comes in. It’s healthy and quick to make. Plus, you can toss in as many vegetables you’d like, add chicken, salmon, etc., and make the salad more filling (and more of an entree v. side dish). But, regardless of what ingredients you put in the salad, it is truly the salad dressing that holds it all together. My friend Mel shared her dressing recipe with me, and now it is my go-to dressing. Ok, it is the only salad dressing I use these days. It’s light but full of flavor. And I can eat a salad and still feel healthy that it isn’t covered in a creamy, fattening dressing.
It’s been a while. Again. Still been making new recipes. Still forgetting to take pictures. I’ve been lazy.
But there is something I have been spending my time taking pictures of. Surprise! There is a new addition to our family. Three weeks ago, a little French bulldog moved into our house. Her name is Pancake.
It’s been an adventure. Neither of us have owned or trained a dog before so we enrolled into a puppy class. Pancake is becoming proficient at playing fetch, and she’s great at sitting, but now that she has learned that sitting equals treats, walking on a leash has become more difficult. She will walk a few steps, sit, and wait for a treat. It’s only been three weeks so hopefully she will get the hang of it soon.
Our kitchen also has experienced a new milestone. I finally made something using yeast! I’ve been saying for months that I wanted to learn how to make dough, but every time the opportunity arose, I opted for Pillsbury’s.
This lazy streak has come to an end! Matt is an avid woodworker (the best if you ask me!) and he subscribes to every woodworking show, blog, youtube channel. One of the woodworkers he follows had a post about making a pizza peel with a recipe for tomato pie which included a homemade crust. Matt took it as a sign that it was time for me to finally learn to work with yeast. Clever guy 🙂
I love this tomato pie recipe because of the simplicity of it. While I love a pizza piled with toppings, sometimes you crave the bare necessities. Plus, you make this pizza up-side-down. The cheese is the first topping with the sauce on top. This unique structure and simple ingredients enhances the flavor of the pizza. It was the perfect recipe for me to start my journey working with yeast. And we’ve now made this pizza over 10 times. I’d say it’s a keeper! And I now consider myself a “yeast expert.” Well, as long as it involves this recipe…
When it comes to holidays, I love the ones that aren’t hyper commercialized. So yes, that means I LOVE April Fools Day. Playing tricks on people is something I live for. And no, I do not need a holiday for that. But when our nation decides to celebrate it–yeah, sure. I’m in.
My co-worker Amber and I spent our April Fools Day playing tricks on our co-workers. Sure, it was fun switching our boss’s diet coke for lemon juice and creamer. But it only made my thirst for mayhem stronger. I needed more.
So, this year I decide that Matt would be the perfect target for a fake cake. I told Matt that I made him his favorite cake–a black forest cake.
But in reality, I took a balloon–blew it up and covered it with homemade icing. Matt was psyched that I made him a cake out of the blue. I gave him a knife and asked him to cut us both a piece of cake. And then….bam! The “cake” exploded in his face and icing went everywhere. It was awesome. I laughed hysterically, and Matt looked at me and said, “So, there is no cake?” And that was the best part. He was all excited for cake. And there none. Bahahaa.
All and all, it was a good April Fools Day. Messing with our co-workers with Amber was fun. Messing with Matt only made the day better. And really, what is was was a reminder that there is no need to take life so seriously. Sure, I definitely get stressed. I have mini-panic attacks at work over nothing. I freak out over little things. But at the end of the day, I need to remind myself that I need to just laugh it all off. And that’s why I love April Fools Day.
Besides making an exploding cake, I made this delicious eggplant dish! I watched this Italian tv show with my father-in-law and memorized the ingredients as well as I could. This recipe is easy to make and delicious to eat. Try it. You will thank me.
Remember picture day back in high school? It was such a big ordeal. Picking out the perfect outfit, applying gobs of makeup, and finding a hair-style that’s just right. Yes, very similar to Goldilock’s adventure. Unfortunately for me, every year my pictures turned out the same. Eyes mid-blink. Uncomfortable smile. Messy hair.
Today, we had picture day at work. Well, kinda. See, our firm hired two new employees who needed photos for our website. Since the photographer was already going to be around taking their pictures, I thought, “hey, this is a great opportunity for me to get a better picture.” Maybe I can just sneak in and get a new pic. [no worries. I got the thumbs up from our marketing coordinator].
Why did I need a new picture you ask? Yeah–I’m not the most photographic of individuals. It wasn’t my best work. Meaning I’m that girl who has been complaining about her work picture ever since it was taken.
Today was the third time I’ve had my picture professionally taken for work. Move over, Beyonce. There’s a new diva running this town. But, channeling my inner celebrity paid off. I got to look at my new work pictures, and while I won’t be auditioning for America’s Next Top Model anytime soon, I no longer looked frazzled.
Photographing soup has always been a bit of a challenge for me. If it isn’t full of chunky ingredients, a creamy soup looks bland. What I should do is buy some cute, unique bowls from Goodwill to jazz it up. But its so easy to get lazy when it comes laying out colorful and eye-catching backdrops for my website. Thankfully, this recipe is full of delicious chunky ingredients, so my fiestaware bowls sufficed. This spicy soup was delicious, easy to make, and can be ready in twenty minutes. The perfect meal after a long day of work!
It only took six months, but I finally feel like I have a real handle on my job. Instead of being perpetually on defense, I finally feel like I am on offense. Now, I can anticipate what needs to be done, understand where I am in a file, and no longer feel like I am constantly asking my boss questions (although, he may not agree. haha). It’s a good feeling. Unfortunately, I am not infallible. So I am not in the clear yet. I still spend a good amount of time reading statutes and learning something new about banking law. But, that’s the whole reason why I went into law. Everyday, there is something new to learn. (wow, yes. that is correct. i am that nerdy. gross). So, I’m in a good place.
In that some vein, I am getting far more comfortable with my cooking skills. I no longer stay clear of recipes that require multiple tools, crazy ingredients, and complicated steps. This recipe is not hella complicated but it is amazing delicious. It is a bit time consuming, but it is worth the extra time and effort. After making this, I felt on top of the world. Trust me, it’s a recipe you do not want to miss.
It’s that time of the year where everyone is either sick, getting over a sickness, or is about to be sick. No gusta. This sickness cloud sat over our house for a couple days last week. Matt couldn’t get out of bed. I went home from work early (a true sign of sickness–I’ve never called in sick or went home early from work since I was 16). Now that we can stomach food again, I had the urge to make some comfort food.
With my health back, I was ready for a challenge. I’ve been wanting to make homemade tomato pesto soup for quite some time after having a delicious tomato pesto at Crave, a local restaurant. And this recipe not only met my expectations, it surpassed it. To my surprise, this recipe isn’t as challenging as I thought it was going to be. Sure, there are multiple steps. You need a hand blender. And lots of tomatoes. But most of the work involving waiting rather than mincing and chopping.
Honestly, this soup may be the best thing I’ve made thus far. It tasted like Italy. So natural, fresh, and basily. Perfect. I couldn’t stop bragging about it. I texted pictures to family and friends. Blabbed about it at work. But it was so fucking good.
Ok, enough of my shameless face shoving. Go make your own batch so you can do the same!
Matt is a big snacker. This snacking habit has only been encouraged by my particular “house rules” when it comes to dishes in the wood shop. No glass, no fiestaware, and no silverware near the power tools. So Matt made his own wood bowls that he fills with chips (that later become full of wood chips. somehow that doesn’t deter him from eating his potato chips).
Periodically, I like to surprise Matt with new dips for his chip addiction. Last week was Matt’s half-birthday so I decided to try this olive pesto. I know, I know. Who celebrates half-birthdays? But it all started several years ago when Matt went out to his friends for a couple beers. It just so happened to be his actual half-birthday. Somehow, the guys started saying it was Matt’s actual birthday and despite the reality that bartenders look at your ID–the bartenders bought it. He had a night of free drinks, dancing on the bar, and running around ringing the birthday bell. Ever since, we celebrate Matt’s half-birthday. Complete with a half-cake and special dips.
This olive pesto was a fun twist on the traditional pesto that I love so much. It was quick and easy to make, and it would probably taste delicious mixed with pasta.
I grew up in a small town with a Kozy Kitchen and two American fast food burger joints. Any food that isn’t served in a diner is not served in my hometown. So when I got my driver’s license, my best friend and I drove to the “big town” a half hour away and ate at a Chinese restaurant. It tasted of freedom. Salty freedom followed by a fortune cookie. After three plates of chow mein, chicken, beef, and veggie dishes, we shoved 10 crab ragoons in our purses and munched on them on our parentless drive home. Ever since, Chinese food has always had a special meaning to me.
This beef and broccoli dish is easy to make and easy to prep in your crockpot to enjoy after a long day of work. The joy of a warm dinner with the freedom of no cooking.