It feels unbelievable but we are already nearing the end of my maternity leave. Next Thursday, I will put on a pencil skirt and blazer and head into the office for the first time in the year 2017. While I cherish my time off, it will be nice to get into a routine and begin navigating life as a working mom of two.
Knowing that my time with my little babies will be severely reduced, I do not want spend what time I have at home cooking complicated recipes. Sure, I do enjoy cooking, and there will be nights where I will look forward to tedious chopping and whisking. But most nights, I want to be able to cuddle my babies until I put them down for bed.
This means that I will need to rely more on the help of others in order to get dinner on the table. And no, I am not talking about ordering take-out, Matt 🙂 So when I stumbled upon this roast beef recipe, I knew it would be making the rounds once I return to work.
What I love most about this roast is how little prep work there is. I can rub the meat before I head off to work, drop it in the dutch oven, and simply ask Matt or our nanny to toss it in the oven 2 hours before dinner. And they basically just have to turn on the oven, turn down the heat of the oven (or turn it off) and that’s it.
And that rub, wow! Matt and I both gushed over how flavorful it was. I liked it so much I have incorporated it into other recipes. The tartness of the mustard with the saltiness of the spices is a perfect combination that compliments beef so well. And while I love that this recipe calls for a cheaper cut of beef, the rub can be used on a nicer cut as well.
We paired our beef with some green beans and sweet potatoes and had a full, well-rounded meal without too much hassle. Both Matt and JR had seconds, which officially places this dish in the “make again” category. Something that will be manageable even during the work week.
Do you have a “go-to” meal when you have guests over for dinner? It use to be that once I sent out the text inviting friends over for dinner, the next thing I would do is panic. What am I going to serve these people? It has to be something relatively easy. After all, I have two kids, both of which would prefer to be held at all times. This certainly complicates cooking. So there cannot be multiple steps and a multitude of ingredients. I need a meal that I can put together in under 10 minutes and that I can step away from without ruining it (so I can pick up a crying baby mid-cooking).
But guests are coming over. So I don’t want the meal to look too simple and plain. I need a meal that has the illusion of fanciness. After several years of searching, I have finally found my go-to meal: meatloaf medallions.
Ok, yes, this is meatloaf. At first glance, meatloaf may seem like it isn’t anything special–possibly even boring. Something your grandmother made that you covered in ketchup. However, meatloaf is relatively simple to make. There isn’t a huge list of uncommon ingredients. There are only a few steps before it is completed and ready to be served. Mix it together and toss it in the oven so you can focus on that messy house you need to clean before guests arrived.
But this isn’t just meatloaf. These are mini, single-serving meatloaves wrapped in bacon and topped with fried onions. Just enough flare to spice up a typical, every day meal to make them worthy of company.
So now when we invite friends over for dinner, there is a good chance this is what we will serve. I am happy to report that we have only received rave reviews thus far.
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.
In late 2014, we got a huge surprise–I was pregnant. We weren’t exactly trying to get pregnant, but we also weren’t trying not to, just playing our own version of Russian roulette which turned out to be successful a bit faster than we anticipated. Of course, Matt was over the moon. He had wanted to be a baby daddy since forever and the news that it finally was a reality was the perfect news. I was a little scared of the unknown but excited to have a baby to kiss and cuddle with.
Lucky for me, I had a generally easy pregnancy. I slowly got fatter and fatter around my belly, but no morning sickness, no food aversion, no cravings. Instead, my feet swelled. By 7 months, my shoes no longer could fit and when I wore high-heels for work, I looked like Miss Piggie. Nothing like fat feet to make your whole body look unbelievably more large and prego. Even though my swollen feet looked painful, typically they weren’t too uncomfortable, beyond feeling tight. Plus, Matt massaged them every night 😉
We decided not to find out the sex of the baby until Toastie (our womb name for JR) was born. For us, it was a no brainer. The sex of your baby is one of the most genuine surprises in your life, and we didn’t want to ruin the surprise until Toastie was ready to fall out. The anticipation of finding out what Toastie was wasn’t too difficult….until Toastie decided to be late. 12 days late (with labor starting at 11 days late). Those days were easily the hardest part of my pregnancy.
The due date was July 12th. Sure, it is common knowledge that calculating due dates is not an exact science. And I am certain I said that catch phrase over and over again once the calendar said July 1st (mostly to my boss, who was starting to come to terms with the reality that I would be out of the office for two months). Still, when July 12th came and went, we were disappointed. Every day after July 12th, I would wake up a bit disheartened that I was getting ready for work instead of getting ready for labor. (for some reason, I was convinced that I would go into labor in the middle of the night–I didn’t).
We tried everything to induce labor. Sex, walking, running, spicy food, acupuncture (three times). Nothing worked (we didn’t try the castor oil–I just couldn’t bring myself to risk it). Every day I would run 2 miles. But this baby was stubborn. He had his own agenda. But then it was Thursday, July 23rd.
I woke up on Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 6:00 a.m. and it felt like I had peed myself. I was quite certain it was my water breaking, but the entire area wasn’t saturated, so I started to doubt myself and wondered if maybe I just sweated an ungodly amount over the night (pregnancy can be gross).
Sure, this baby was already 11 days past the due date. But after 11 days, and thinking everything was “a sign that labor was around the corner” and then feeling disappointed when I was still pregnant, I was starting to feel like I was going to die pregnant. Plus, weren’t contractions suppose to come with my water breaking? I felt just like I had every other day of pregnancy—completely fine. I needed a second opinion.
I woke Matt up and told him what happened. He smiled, “we are going to have a baby today!” And he was right (ok, well he was born on the 24th but close enough). After only 5 and half hours of labor, I caught my baby as he floated up from the water towards me like a torpedo. We are so blessed. I had the birthing experience I wanted–a non-medicated, water birth–and a beautiful, healthy baby boy.
Since we gave birth at a birth center, we were discharged 5 hours after JR was born. I know, this sounds shocking to most people (and even I was hesitant about it) but it was natural and organic.
Matthew Anthony Jr. (who we lovingly call JR) was born July 24, 2015 at 2:43 a.m. at 7 lbs 6 oz and 20 inches. And our life has become better for it.
Wow, its been over two years since I last posted. To be honest, my sabbatical from blogging was unintentional. It started with my laptop breaking. Not sure what happened, but it no longer turned on. Matt said it would cost too much to fix it so it sat in the tv stand for the past couple of years, collecting dust while I was essentially computer-less. And then I forgot the password to sign into my blog account. So my attempts to sign into my blog on Matt’s desktop was unsuccessful. But then on December, 2015 (two years from my last post!), my work gave me a glorious, gold MacBook. It took way too many guesses, but I finally cracked my password (but to be honest, I have once again forgotten it-thank God it is saved to my new computer). Remembering how to navigate wordpress…still not up to par yet. Ugh, technology is hard.
Gosh, my life has completely transformed. Most notably, I became a mom.
And I would post more, but for some reason, pictures won’t upload into wordpress. Seriously, wordpress is anything but user-friendly. After fighting with it for over an hour, I’m throwing my hands up. You win, wordpress. I’ll be back to struggle with you tomorrow.