Pasta Salad

I can’t believe I haven’t posted this recipe yet.  My sisters and I ate this ALL the time growing up.  Still do actually.  No one else’s pasta salad has ever come close to this one because it is the best!  It is the perfect dish to bring along to a cook out or potluck, or make a batch of it to eat throughout the week.  The salad takes almost no time to throw together, so when I’m in a pinch to make something this is my go-to side dish. 
1 lb box of tri-color spiral pasta
1 16 oz bottle Zesty Italian Salad Dressing (I use Kraft)
1/2 a 2.26 oz bottle of Salad Supreme Seasoning (I use McCormick)

Add whatever veggies you like or have on hand, chopped up of course. 
Green onion
Red Onion
Bell pepper

-Cook pasta according to package directions.
-Add all chopped vegetables, dressing, seasoning, and cooked pasta to a bowl or a food storage container.  Stir to combine.  
-Cover and refrigerate.  Eat once it is cool but flavors will develop more overnight.
*If mixed in a food storage container, it is fun to put the lid on and just shake it!  Fun job for the kiddos.

A Greek version:
Use Greek dressing instead of Zesty Italian
Add fresh basil or dried oregano instead of salad supreme
Add cherry tomatoes, olives, sweet peppers, feta cheese.


Week 13

How big is baby? The size of a peach!
Baby Development FYI:  Noodle’s about 2.9 inches long and weighs about .81 ounces, and — proportion-wise — the head’s now about 1/3 the size of it’s body (remember? It used to be bigger!). Can you believe it’s forming vocal cords and teeth?!  And even though blob’s still teeny, it already has fingerprints.  It’s intestines are moving from the umbilical cord to their more permanent place, in the tummy.

My body has been invaded, how’s that going?  My neck is back to normal.  Thank goodness, that was crazy.  I bought a Preggle, which is my new favorite pillow of all time.  My energy has returned for the most part.  I still get tired easily, but at least I can get my butt out of the chair and clean something.  My food aversions are backing off, somethings are still not appetizing, but I’ll take what I can get.  This week I’ve been getting super hungry, but get full after a small amount of food.  So I’ve been trying to eat many small meals throughout the day.

I’ve become more emotional and sentimental since being pregnant.  I used to never cry at movies or at tv shows, and while listening to a song…never!  I may have mentioned before, I cried at Men in Black 3.  Well, I’ve also cried when watching Beethoven and while watching Pollyanna on Sunday night.  Happy endings, I can’t take them anymore!!  And watching the news, if something horrible happened, I just can’t help but get teary.  Makes me feel like a dork, but whatever.

Still living in my yoga pants.  If I wanted…needed to wear jeans I’d have to wear them completely unbuttoned and unzipped with a Beband overtop.  Bebands are awesome, but I’ve been way more comfortable in the yoga pants.  I’m hoping to make it another 2 weeks before having to buy maternity clothes. 

At the end of the week I was really sleepy.  My body energy had returned but I was just so sleepy.  And I’ve started to get migraines.  Joy 🙂

What’s been on my mind?  This week I was contemplating cancelling our 1st trimester screening appointment.  We both just don’t care about the outcome, if our baby is born with a tail and 3 arms, we will love it anyway.  So we just asked ourselves if there is any point in testing for anything?  And after a TON of reading, I’ve learned there is a high change for false positives, so you can’t rely on the results anyway.  I would never do an amnio, so again, why do the first test?  *We decided to just do it anyways.  For the ultrasound mainly.

Crazy Cravings:  This weekend I had a massive craving, urge, need for Chick Fila’s sweet tea.  I went for an early lunch and got a large tea.  Then later that afternoon I went back for another large tea and decided to also get a gallon to go.  Such a good decision considering that was on Saturday and they are closed Sundays.  Chicken Nachos. Ice cream. Pasta. Pico Cheese.

On Saturday, I ate a whole tub of California Dip.  Which is 1 16 oz. tub of sour cream + 1 dry onion soup/dip packet stirred together.  I’ve also been craving a SMELL.  The smell of lavender.  I’ve bought soap and a car air freshener so far.  Have any of you craved the smell of something?

Appointments/Classes:  Signed up for labor & birth and breastfeeding classes, starting in October.  The 1st Trimester Screening turned out to be awesome!  It was the first appointment that Nate and I got to sit there and enjoy watching the ultrasound for a solid 30 minutes.  It was neat seeing the baby move around and wiggle it’s arms & legs & butt.  Nate couldn’t believe I wasn’t feeling any of the movements.  Everything about the baby is “normal” and we are so thankful.  

The finger prick, and by prick I mean milking, I couldn’t done without.  I thought they were going to prick my finger and be done.  Um, they literally milked my ring finger like an utter.  I should’ve known when the nurse started with “Hi.  How are you?  I sure hope you are a good bleeder!”

The OB check up was quick and easy.  Heard the heart beat and Nate and the doctor got to share hunting pictures.  Men.  Can’t take them anywhere!

Highlights: Hearing the heartbeat for the first time on Wednesday!  It’s funny with all the crazy symptoms, I know I’m pregnant, but hearing and seeing it, makes it feel so much more real.  

Of course the ultrasound on Friday during the 1st tri screening.

Getting my nails done this past weekend.  I rarely do anything to pamper myself and just thought it was time.  Never thought a manicure could be so relaxing.  It was hard not to fall asleep in the chair.  

Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff

I had a wicked craving for beef this week and came across this recipe on the one and only, Pinterest.  The first time I try a recipe, I like to follow the directions exactly.  Unless something just doesn’t make any sense.  So that is what I did with this one.  The flavor was warm, hearty, and delicious, but I think it could be kicked up a notch.  It satisfied my craving, and that was all I needed it to do.  I’m thinking about adding a packet of onion soup mix, a bay leaf, or something. The stroganoff was a little too liquidy, so next time, I will only use half the amount of broth…maybe.  But, when I asked the chef if he liked it and if I should keep the leftovers, he said “Yep.” 

Oh yea, speaking of him.  I may have mentioned before that he HATES the crock pot.  It really grinds his gears.  His argument is, any dish you prepare in a crock pot, he can make taste so much better using a pot or a pan. While he is right, he can make anything taste better, he is missing the beauty of the crock pot.  The convenience factor outweighs the lack of flavor and texture.  I’ve already had a premature “I told you so” moment.  I told him, I was willing to bet, once this baby is on the outside of my womb, he will think the crock pot is a lifesaver.  He thinks not, I am sure so.  Mark. My. Words.

Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff

1-2 lbs cub steak, cut into one-inch pieces; or 1-2 lbs stew beef, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cans condensed golden mushroom soup (no substitutes!)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 14 oz can beef broth
8 oz fresh mushrooms, cleaned & sliced
salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
Add the following ingredients to the crock pot and stir together: meat, soup, onion, worcestershire sauce, mushrooms, salt, pepper, and beef broth.
Cook on low for 5-6 hours -or- on high for 3 hours.
When you have 30 minutes left to go, stir in the cream cheese and sour cream.  Stir every 10 minutes until finishing cooking.

Serve over egg noodles, rice, or orzo.

I was so excited about my noticeable (to me) bump that I had to show Nate.  He poked the top of my belly and asked “Whoa, what is that?!” and my response…”Beef Stroganoff.”

Week 12

How big is baby? The size of a plum!

Baby Development FYI:  The average fetus at 12 weeks is about 2.1 inches long and .49 ounces. Now that it’s got pretty much all her parts, her main job is to keep on growing.  Most of the critical systems are fully formed! The blob’s about to enter the growth and maturation stage, in which it’s organs and tissues will grow and develop rapidly.  Sugar Plum Fairy is now developing it’s reflexes — if you poke the blob’s body, it’ll likely move.  She’s opening and closing her fingers and curling her toes, too.  The brain is developing fast!

My body has been invaded, how’s that going?  My energy is on it’s way back and my food aversions are slowly but surely disappearing.  I had chicken this weekend, which is a HUGE improvement.  And, I walked around Ikea without any rest breaks and only 1 potty break. Ikea is the WORST place to have to make multiple bathroom trips, so definitely got lucky with that.  My neck is killing me.  Even turning my head around to back out of a parking space is a challenge.  So going to try and figure out how to deal with that.  Any of you experience neck pain?

What’s been on my mind and in my dreams?  Mostly just looking forward to enjoying the 2nd trimester and my growing bump.  I’ve always been self conscious of my stomach, so I am determined to get over that.  I used to think all bare-belly bump pictures were disgusting, and some still are.  But I am choosing to share my bare-belly bump to get over my self-consciousness. 

Crazy Cravings:  M&M’s and cheese dip with pico de gallo mixed together is delicious!  Beef has been on my mind this week, and I can’t seem to get enough of it.  Which is a complete 360 from the meat aversions I was having.  Tuesday night, I had a craving for goat cheese dipped in balsamic vinegar.  And I can’t stand pop tarts anymore.

Appointments/Classes:  Can’t wait to see how much the blob has developed next week, since the last time we saw it.  I wish we could have an ultrasound every week!

Highlights: Went to Ikea this weekend with a friend and her little girl.  Picked up a dresser and floor lamp for the nursery.  The dresser is pretty uneventful, but the inside of the drawers are lined with a yellow and white striped pattern that is so sunny and happy, I had to have it!  The lamp…has an AWESOME button to click it on, and if you know me in “real” life, you know how much I love pushing buttons.

We already have our crib and crib bedding.  I unexpectedly found the crib on Craiglist for a GREAT price.  And I’ve had the bedding picked out for… over a year.  Yea, I’ve had baby fever for quite a while.  Nate surprised me with painting the nursery while I was in Chicago.  I had been home almost 24 hours before I noticed it, haha!  The green color is called “pea in a pod”…how perfect is that?

Dresser/Changing table.  Will add matching shelves above for added storage.

Crib is made by Pali.  Love the drawer on the bottom!

Sticking with a gender-neutral theme since we waiting to find out what the baby is.

Week 11

How big is baby? The size of a lime!

Baby Development FYI:  The Blob is about 1.6 inches long, and she’s got about a 1:1 head to body ratio. The Blob now weighs in at about .25 ounces. You can’t see it, but Blob’s moving fluidly and gracefully in there.  Blob’s skin is see-through, but it’s on her way to looking more like a baby.  The Blob’s fingers and toes aren’t webbed anymore.  Tooth buds, hair follicles and nail beds are forming.

My body has been invaded, how’s that going?  I think…don’t want to jinx it…but I think my energy is starting to creep back.  I’m starting to see a bump. It is more visible after I eat of course.  Yoga pants and skirts with yoga pant tops from Target have been a lifesaver so far.

What’s been on my mind and in my dreams?  This week I’ve been wondering how hard it is going to be to come  up with 2 full names.  Because we are not finding out the gender.  Will we have an “Ah HA!” moment, will certain names just grow on us over time, or will we like any at all?  I read an interesting piece of advice…if you could rename yourself, any name in the world, what would it be?  And if you wouldn’t use the name yourself, don’t use it to name your child 🙂

No noteworthy dreams, because sleeping has been difficult this week.  Lots of back pain and just uncomfortable.  And I am aware this is still just the beginning!

Crazy Cravings:  Spicy salsa.  Strawberries.  Milk.  Goat cheese. Big Mac’s (yea, plural is correct here), McDonalds barbecue sauce mixed with their sweet and sour sauce TRY IT, IT IS DELICIOUS!  I tried orange juice again this week and it no longer tastes like a Slim Jim.

Appointments/Classes:  Still anticipating the 1st trimester screening appointment and ultrasounds in 2 weeks.  And I have a teeth cleaning next week in case anyone cares about that 🙂

Highlights: How about a funny story?  I’ve been waking up to go to the bathroom 3-6 times a night.  Which is also effecting how well I am sleeping.  Until yesterday I thought I was completely coherent when I got up each time.  But while I was walking around yesterday, I noticed my pinky toe was really sore, and it got worse as the day went on.  So last night I finally complained to Nate about how my pinky toe was killing me.

That’s when Nate filled me in on the previous night’s events.  He said I got up to use the bathroom around 3:00am, and on the way I tripped & stubbed my toe on something.  I proceeded to yell “Oh Shit!!” and kick whatever it was across the room.  Then I continued on my merry way to the potty.  I remember getting up, but I do not remember the toe-stubbing incident, but lucky for Nate, there is proof…my toe.

**I’ll start posting “bump” pictures when I’m sure it isn’t just bloat 🙂  Probably next week!

Two-Timing Spaghetti Sauce

Today is Nate’s day off and we are going to see Spider Man tonight at the I-Max, double score!  I’m not sure who I’m more excited to see Andrew Garfield or Emma Stone.  Who doesn’t love Emma Stone?  Even though she has become more and more glammed up recently, I still like the girl-next-door look about her.  All that is keeping me from tonight is…well…my job!

On Friday I had a raging craving for homemade spaghetti sauce.  I think I even dreamed about it the night before.  So as soon as I got off work, I drove to the store and picked up some ingredients.  I haven’t cooked much…at all… since I’ve been pregnant.  Nothing is appetizing right now unless I’m craving it.  So it made sense to me to make a HUGE batch of sauce.  That way, I could freeze a ton of leftovers to later on.

Everyone has their own spaghetti sauce recipe that they love and I have made several sauces that were all fine, but wasn’t what I was looking for.  I finally nailed it!  I’ve got MY spaghetti sauce recipe.  I couldn’t stop eating spoonfuls of it out of the pot while it was simmering it was so stinkin’ good!

When I was adding the ingredients and popping the wine cork I couldn’t help but sneak a swig.  BIG MISTAKE…it was so delicious!  I had to force Nate to drink the rest of the bottle so I wouldn’t be tempted to have 10 more swigs that my blob would not appreciate.  (I know, I’m a terrible wife for forcing my husband to drink some wine 🙂
Two-Timing Spaghetti Sauce

Two-Timing Spaghetti Sauce

**This recipe makes about 12 cups of sauce, so feel free to half this recipe!

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 large carrots, finely chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lb ground sausage (I mix 1 package of hot and sweet sausage)
2 cups of red wine
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonade
2 6 oz tomato paste
2 28 oz whole peeled Roma tomatoes, crushed
2-4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
-In a large stock pot or sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add the carrot, celery, garlic, and onion.  Add a pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Cook and stir occasionally until the onions are translucent.

-Add the ground sausage to the same pot and break it up with a wooden spoon.  Cook and stir together with the veggies until the meat is cooked through.

-Pour in the red wine and stir together with the meat and veggies.  Scrape the bottom of the pot with the back of your spoon and let the wine cook for 1 minute.  Then add the tomato paste, whole-peeled tomatoes, parsley, and basil.  Stir together and bring to a simmer.  
-Reduce the heat to medium-low or low and simmer for at least 30 minutes until the sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally.  **The longer you simmer the better, I simmered for 1.5 hours.

FYI about Whole-peeled Roma Tomatoes – When shopping for a can of whole-peeled roma tomatoes it is easy to be fooled.  Some cans say “Whole-peeled Roma shaped Tomatoes”…which of course means, the tomatoes are not roma.  Feel free to buy these as well because they are cheaper, but just know they aren’t roma tomatoes. Also, do not take the common short cut of buying diced tomatoes.  They actually add more chemicals to the can to “preserve” the diced shape.  So when you add it to the sauce, the tomatoes don’t melt into the sauce like whole-peeled does.  Tricksters.  How do I crush and squeeze my whole tomatoes?  I dump the can(s) into a bowl and reach my  hand into the juice and squeeze each tomato submerged in the tomato juice.  I find if you do it this way, juice doesn’t squirt everywhere.

Homemade Pimento Cheese

Thank goodness my sister-in-law is also an excellent cook.  She makes awesome…well…everything!  This is her very own recipe for pimento cheese that can be used for the classic pimento cheese sandwich, a kicked-up grilled cheese, on toast, as a dip, or whatever else you like it with.  If you like to make baked cheese bread, sub the mozzarella with this stuff.

1 wedge (about 1/3 lb) mild or medium hoop cheddar, shredded
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons mayo
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2  teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3-1/2 teaspoon Cajun mix, depending on what your taste is!
1 oz jarred pimentos

Mix together the cheddar cheese, cream cheese, and mayo.  
Add pimentos and spices and stir until well mixed.  
Refrigerate for 1 hour.  (Don’t worry if it the spices seem to mild at first, the flavors will intensify in the fridge. If its too mild after an hour, add in some more spices and just mix again!)

Week 10

How big is baby? The size of a prune!


Baby Development FYI:  Now, it’s about 1.2 inches long and weighs about .14 ounces. The baby’s body length will almost double in the next three weeks. Baby has working arm joints, and her cartilage and bones are forming. Baby vital organs are fully developed and they’re starting to function. Baby fingernails and hair are starting to appear, too. Plus, it’s swallowing and kicking in there.

My body has been invaded, how’s that going?  Still super tired.  Just walking from the recliner to my bed at night really tuckers me out.  Very hungry, yet nothing tastes good.  Have started to feel round ligament pain, and have noticed a little pooch forming 🙂  I’ve gained 5 pounds since I’ve been pregnant which I guess is pretty good, and I’m pretty sure all the weight is in the boobs!  My hormones…holy moly…I watched Beethoven and Matilda the other night, and balled through the entire movies!

What’s been on my mind and in my dreams?  I’ve been dreaming about holding the baby and what it will be like to hug and cuddle with it.  Been wondering if I’m going to be motherly enough.  Even though I’ve already noticed motherly changes in my instincts and emotions, I just wonder what I’m going to be like as a mother.  Dreams have been vivid and some are down right crazy.  But I’m having trouble remembering them.  The only one I can remember was from a couple weeks ago, and it had Thor in it!

Crazy Cravings:  Cheese dip.  Passion fruit Tazo tea. Homemade spaghetti sauce. Corn dogs.  Pop tarts.  Glad to see I’m keeping it healthy huh?

Appointments/ClassesOur next appointment will be at 14 weeks.  In between then I’ll have some blood work done, but nothing major.  Nate and I have been reading over all the classes offered by the hospital and will sign up for some next week.  Did you know, they now offer dog classes for bringing home baby?  How helpful were the birthing classes to you mommas?

Highlights:  It was great going downtown for the 4th, watching Nate cook pigs on the street, and of course seeing the fireworks.  Usually, Nate is back in the kitchen and will drop by a table occasionally to talk with people.  So it was entertaining to watch him balance cooking the pigs and entertaining the crowds walking by.  I stood for a whole 2 hours, which is the longest I’ve stood, by far, since I’ve been pregnant.  As soon as the fireworks were over, we had to go.  My back and feet hurt, I felt like I was going to pass out, had to use the bathroom, and was so so tired.