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Ham Hocks and Beans

  
Just because I can see the sun doesn’t mean I can feel it.  It’s that time of year!  Well, if it can’t be warm and toasty outside, I can get warm and toasty inside.

This is the kind of soup/stew that puts a fire in your belly.  Not the kind that has you reaching for the Tums, but the kind that warms from your belly to your toes.  The kind that makes me want to sit back, sigh with contentment, and get out a good book.  Or, more realistically, gives me the energy to chase around two toddlers.  

Wishing you warmth and a full belly!

Ham Hocks and Beans

  • 1 lb pinto beans, rinsed well and picked over
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (I used red)
  • 2 jalapeños, cut in half lengthwise 
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Chicken stock (or water)
  • 3 smoked ham hocks
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place rinsed beans in a large bowl or pot and fill with water until it’s about 1 inch above the beans.  Let sit at least overnight.
  2. The next day, drain the beans and set aside.
  3. Add oil, onion, celery, and peppers to a large pot and cook, stirring often, until veggies are translucent (about 5 mins).  Add cumin, baking soda, and enough chicken stock to cover the beans by about an inch.  Nestle in the ham hocks, and bring to a low simmer. 
  4. Cook low and slow, stirring every so often, until beans are soft.  This will take a couple of hours, so add chicken stock as needed.
  5. Once beans are soft, discard jalapeños, and set ham hocks to the side to cool.  Stir in tomatoes and shredded carrot.
  6. Once cool enough to handle, remove meat from the ham hocks and return the meat to the pot.  Cook an additional 10 minutes or until the carrot is soft.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Enjoy with a glass of wine and a good crusty bread.  Cheers!

The Secret to Awesome Grilled Cheese

  
Really- who doesn’t love a good grilled cheese sandwich? If you know someone, you should disown them.  You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life!  

This isn’t a recipe, really.  But it is a method.  A delicious, crispy, melty method.  One that takes a good grilled sandwich and makes it awesome.  

Hope you love this method as much as we do!

The Method

1. Gather ingredients.  Good bread, real butter, and your favorite melty cheese- cheddar, Swiss, Gouda, whatever.  And… Grated Parmesan. Not the stuff from the green can.  The GOOD stuff.

2. You know the drill- butter bread, put cheese between the two slices (butter side out) and grill until golden.  BUT WAIT! Before you put the butter side to the pan, sprinkle it with 1/2 to 1 tsp grated Parmesan. Grill slow and low until golden brown outside and melty inside.

3.  Please let it cool a bit before biting into your awesome grilled cheese.  Burned taste buds are duds!

Taco tip

  
Talk about a short post!  When making hard-shelled tacos, you don’t need a fancy plate or those flat bottomed shells.  All you need is a clip.  We have tacos just about every week because they’re so quick and easy.  Enjoy!

Taco Tip Tuesday!

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Here’s a quick tip for your Tuesday.  And it just happens to involve a taco.  We were having tacos for dinner, and I only had one hand available to build my tacos.  I had to come up with a way to hold the shells upright while filling it with goodies.  So, I used a chip clip.

Hope you’re having a great Tuesday!

Weenie Boats

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Once in a while, you just have to make one of those really weird things that you ate growing up.  This is one of those things.  Sleep deprivation messes with your mind.  It makes you dream up weird stuff using the leftovers in the fridge.  The leftovers used in this recipe were hot dogs (why are there always more dogs than buns?), mashed potatoes from the previous night’s potroast dinner, and cheese left over from taco night.

This dish might just surprise you.  It’s stinkin’ easy to throw together, and tastes great!  Salty, creamy, and savory.  Yum!

My mom worked full time an hour away from home growing up.  By the time she got home, it was time to throw dinner together, eat, and get ready for bed.  She needed things that were easy, but that the kiddos would eat.  I think we just liked saying “Weenie”.  Hee hee.

What kinds of weird recipes did your mom feed you?

Weenie Boats

  • Hot Dogs, boiled and hot (I like the all-beef kind)
  • Mashed potatoes, about 1/4c per hot dog
  • Cheddar Cheese, a thin slice, one per hot dog
  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Slice each hotdog lengthwise, but not all the way through.  Place it cut side-down on a greased cookie sheet.
  3. Mound heated mashed potatoes on top.  This is where your playing with play-dough skills really shine.
  4. Top each mashed potato mound with cheese.
  5. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 1 minute.  Really, it depends on your broiler and how far from the heat source the pan is.  Just keep and eye on it because burnt weenie boats are not good weenie boats.

Belly Bump Update (weeks 33 to 36)

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This was a month full of fun!  As you can see from the photos, the belly is growing double-time!  By week 36, my belly is beginning to drop.  Getting closer!

At 33 weeks, we had another growth scan.  Our little Aidan was FINALLY ready to show us his profile.  Little stinker!  First, he showed us his cute little nose and his lips…

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And here is his handsome profile.  If you look closely, you can see that he has his little nose pressed up against the membrane that separates him from Nadia.

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And, yes, our little ones are still breech, and are still sitting with their heads together.  My goodness, they like to conspire!

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Babies were estimated to be 4.0 lbs (Aidan) and 3.6 lbs (Nadia).

We started going in for Nonstress Tests (NSTs) this month at 32 weeks.  Every week, we went in to the hospital and 3 monitors were placed on my belly.  One for Aidan’s heartbeat, one for Nadia’s heartbeat, and one to check for contractions.

Our first couple of weeks went very well.  They are looking for the babies’ heartbeats to accelerate at least 15 beats for 15 seconds.  Both babies passed with flying colors weeks 33 through 34…

Then week 35 happened.  Nadia quit behaving.  She didn’t want to accelerate no matter what they did to her.  When babies are not quite responding to Mom nudging them from the outside, the nurse brings in a little instrument that buzzes them.  She didn’t want to wake up for that, either!  Luckily, she barely passed.  My doctor decided to increase the frequency of the NSTs, so then we went in every 3-4 days.

The next NST, Nadia FAILED.  Our one hour appointment turned into a 5 hour hospital visit.  We were taken down to Ultrasound and a Biophysical Profile (BPP) was performed.  Each baby had 30 minutes to practice breathing 3 times, make 3 tonal (flexing) movements, and 2 gross (big) movements.  Both babies passed this test.

A few days later, Nadia failed again.  The doctor ordered a high level ultrasound at 36 weeks to try and determine what was going on.  In this ultrasound, they did the BPP again, measured bloodflow, and took growth measurements.  Aidan was estimated to be 5.1 lbs, but Nadia was only estimated to be 4.1 lbs.  The scans also showed that the bloodflow from her placenta was restricted.  We continued testing every few days, and the doctor put me on orders to only work from home so I was closer to the hospital if I noticed the kiddos weren’t moving as much.  I was also told to be prepared in case we had to do an emergency delivery to get Nadia out.

Thankfully, working from home seemed to do the trick!  With less stress, Nadia began to perk up and is now passing her NSTs.  She doesn’t have a lot of belly fat, so we have to be prepared for her to spend a little time in the NICU while her body learns to regulate blood sugars and temperature.

Most twins are born between weeks 33 and 35.  Here we are at 36+ and still cooking!  My doctor scheduled a C-Section for us on Thursday, March 20th, when I am 38 weeks.  That’s the plan as long as babies don’t decide to come before then!  We are praying they are a bit more patient, and that Miss Nadia decides to pack on some baby fat between now and then. 🙂

Microwave Omelet

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I read somewhere that eating a protein-packed breakfast prevents unhealthy snacking at night (Click Here for the article).  I don’t know about you, but I feel like the Cookie Monster at night!  I do great during the day, but after dinner, no matter how large or nutritious dinner was, I still feel hungry.  What’s wrong with me?  Maybe I’m not getting enough protein the morning.

Let’s get real for a second here.  No matter how much we plan in advance, mornings before work are always a rush, aren’t they?  Just when I think to myself, Hey cool!  I have 10 minutes before we have to leave for carpool! My husband walks into the room and tells me we have to get gas on the way.  Or that the cat just threw up on the carpet.  You know.  Fun stuff.

Hard boiled eggs are a great idea, but I don’t normally plan that far in advance.  PB&J is another go-to-breakfast for me.  But sometimes, I need something different.  I need something filling.  I need something REAL.  Real easy, that is!

This recipe is done in under 3 minutes.  Really!  And its good.  Sometimes, I put in leftover veggies from the night before.  Last week, I made a tomato-kale saute with onions and garlic.  The leftovers were wonderful in an omelet with Parmesan.  This morning, I made a classic ham and cheese.  If you use leftovers, be sure to warm them up before putting them in.

I hope you enjoy this recipe– and that it will help you to get in a quick, healthy, filling breakfast so you are ready to face the day! 🙂

Microwave Omelet

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  • Nonstick spray
  • Microwave-safe bowl
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 1/2 tsp water
  • Filling (1 Tbsp cheese, a slice or two of lunch meat, leftovers, whatever is on hand)
  1. Spray a small bowl with nonstick spray.  Add the egg, salt, pepper and water.  Whip well.
  2. Microwave on high 1 minute.  Check the bottom to make sure it’s done.  If not, flip the egg and microwave another 30 seconds.
  3. Place fillings on one side.  Cover bowl with a plate and return to microwave.  Microwave another 10 seconds, then let stand 10 seconds.  Once the cheese is melted, it’s done!
  4. Flip the plain side over the filling side and slide the whole thing out onto the plate.  Enjoy!