Thursday, March 28, 2013

tasty thursdays

oh, how i love to cook. it's a labor of love and creativity with delicious rewards! every Thursday, i'll link up to some of our very favorite, tried-and-true recipes. thank goodness Nick and i have equally adventurous palates, with a penchant for bacon and buffalo chicken! i'm constantly on the lookout for 30-minute weeknight meals that make enough for leftover lunches, as well as more elaborate weekend feasts that make the whole house smell like a Williams & Sonoma store. 

while i do consider myself decently handy in the kitchen, i am not a food photographer by any means, so these photos are linked directly back to the blogs from whence they came! i'm also linking up to Taste and Tell's weekly round up

here are some of our favourites:

grilled chicken ranch cajun pasta
from plain chicken

image credit from Plain Chicken

this recipe calls for marinating the chicken at least two hours. i often make the marinade in the morning and let it soak into the chicken in the refrigerator all day. i also cook the chicken on a grill pan over medium for about 10 minutes per side, or until juices run clear. the flavors are unbelievable! 

bacon wrapped meatloaf with brown sugar ketchup glaze
originally from Pam Anderson, recipe from everyday gourmet

image credit from everyday gourmet

this could well be called "catch-a-husband-meatloaf". it only requires a little prep time, although like most meatloaves it does need to bake for at least one hour, so if i attempt this culinary delight on a tuesday night we may not end up eating until 8 pm. it is totally worth the wait, and the leftovers are even better.

southwest chicken salad
from taste of home

Southwest Chicken Salad Recipe
image credit from taste of home

this summery salad is popping with bright colors and zesty flavors! i have to confess that we usually just eat it out of a bowl - it's that good. i always double the cumin, salt, and chili powder, and sometimes add another tablespoon of lime juice. i also substitute fresh red peppers for the roasted sweet red pepper. 

beer and brown sugar kielbasa & sauerkraut
from brown eyed baker

image credit from brown eyed baker

it truly doesn't get better than this. you can use any type of kielbasa, but our absolute favorite comes from jo-mar provisions in the strip. their sausages (and bacon, and beef, and exotic meats of all kinds!) are fantastic. this is another recipe with very little morning prep required. after letting it simmer all day in its brown sugar and beer broth, you nestle each brat into a crusty bun slathered in spicy brown mustard. and you can practically hear the oompah band with every bite. (also, i'll gladly eat sauerkraut right out of the jar, but if we're grilling the kielbasa for a crowd, i still let the sauerkraut simmer in the beer and brown sugar for several hours. it softens that fermented cabbage flavor that some people sadly don't enjoy as much as i do, and, well, it's just plain delicious.)

and there you have it! believe me, there are plenty more favorites in our recipe rotation, with more added weekly given my slight addiction to cooking blogs. see you next week! 

Monday, March 25, 2013

six weeks!

bump watch: nada. a little more bloat, perhaps? i've always had a little pooch under my belly button, and now i'm resigned that it's not going anywhere anytime soon. 
sweet pea: is now the size of a blueberry, at a quarter-inch long! and that DHA in my prenatals better be doing its thing, because baby's brain cells are growing at 100 cells per minute.  limb buds are growing and those tiny little kidneys are working! 
Fetal Development Week 7
best moment: watching The Business of Being Born, a documentary produced by Ricki Lake about how the birthing culture in the US is totally out of whack with the rest of the world. okay, the phrase "birthing culture" makes me gag a little, but it was fascinating to see how the hospital birth i've always envisioned is in many ways counterproductive to how our bodies naturally function during birth. the most intriguing aspect was watching many first-time mothers (who weren't total crunchy granola hippies) deliver naturally without screaming their heads off. i'm definitely leaning more this way! 
symptoms: tired, tired, tired. i wake up wanting to go back to sleep, and am usually in bed by 10 pm. yesterday i snuck in a glorious nap from 5:30 to 6:30. between working, making dinner and the occasional load of laundry, i just can't keep my eyes open (i can't imagine what it's like for moms who already have a little one!). little waves of nausea too - nowhere close to having to puke, thank goodness. 
cravings: cottage cheese, beef jerky, and bacon. i worked on Saturday morning, and on my way home i had a sudden irresistible hankering for a Wendy's Baconator. i've never had one in my life so i don't know why i suddenly had to have one then, but i did. i had only ever seen the commercials for the triple or quadruple-patty abominations, so imagine my delight in finding out they do actually come in single patty versions. ANGELS WERE SINGING. IT WAS GLORIOUS. 
what i miss: sushi. 
looking forward to: our first prenatal appointment (and hopefully ultrasound)! it's not for another month and it seems like a lifetime away. tomorrow night, we have orientation at the midwife center so at least we'll get a little taste of what's to come! 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


it's probably one of the more acceptable vices to have, this insatiable appetite for books. and it's hard unthinkable to only be reading one at a time. the only gripes i've had with books are 1) not having room in my purse to tote around multiples, 2) the awful dilemma of bringing enough reading material on a trip without exceeding the checked luggage weight limit, and 3) trying (and failing) to remember what page i'm on, because i can never get my act together enough to use bookmarks. 

thus imagine my delight when my dear auntie kris gave nick & i each our own kindle for a wedding present. hundreds of books at the switch of a button! magical page-remembering (even if i fall asleep while reading)! the ability to borrow e-books from our local library so i have a steady stream of free reading fodder without even leaving the house! 

so enamored was i with this convenience that i didn't set foot in an actual library for months. until yesterday. yesterday, i drove down the winding brick road to the tiny branch library in downtown crafton (a downtown marked by an independent donut shop, an antique shop, a dollar store, the police station, and a few hole-in-the-wall bars). walking inside, i inhaled the musty aroma of quiet afternoons, softened page corners, sharp-eyed and low-voiced librarians. they could bottle this wise perfume and sell it as scope for the imagination, i think. 

and so, my love affair with libraries waxes on. bibilophilia ... i just can't quit you.

Monday, March 18, 2013

melted what?!?

greetings and salutations! it's been a few years since i tried my hand at this blogging business, and the impulse to chronicle the ups & downs of this crazy life has struck again. throughout high school and college, i joined the hordes on xanga, and now that i'm older and wiser (ha!), we'll try blogger on for size. 

so, why blog? the reasons are two-fold. first, to keep in touch with far-flung family and friends. second, to record each day as it happens -- from a quick overview of the daily grind to in-depth processing of life-changing events. and what does this all have to do with melted smoosh?

File:Pietrosu Mare.jpg

this gorgeous view of the Romanian mountains takes me right back to the days of braces, social awkwardness, bushy eyebrows and mood swings circa 1999. the bright spot in the midst of all this thirteen-year-old turmoil was an incredible week-long trip around Romania with some fantastic members of the World Vision family. we toured orphanages, ate wild boar, marveled at Ceausescu's palace, and fell in love with the breathtaking countryside and passionate people of the Carpathian mountains. our bumbling efforts to speak Romanian were met with bright smiles (and sometimes belly laughs). in fact, the word that i remember most is forever cemented in my mind due to its inevitable mispronunciation: "mulÅ£umesc", which means "thank you". the correct pronunciation is something along the lines of "mool-tzoo-MESK" -- but one of our more phonetically-challenged group members just could not wrap his tongue around it. 

thus, "melted smoosh" was born, and to me it symbolizes a whole lifetime of gratitude -- for God's relentless saving grace, for my handsome hardworking (and adorably nerdy) husband, for my fabulous friends, and family who continually lives out the dangerous joy of unconditional love.

for all of them, i say: melted smoosh!