Friday, December 02, 2016

O Christmas Tree: Pork with Apples and Lima Beans

We're big on traditions in our family.  I'm sure part of it is related to my anxiety disorder, but whatever the reason, we've passed this love of repeating the same things every year on to Thatkid.  

The Christmas season officially begins when Santa appears in the Macy's Day Parade.  And so, the weekend after Thanksgiving, we went to pick out our Christmas tree!

This year we went to a new Christmas tree farm.

Thatbaby was only mildly interested in the trees.  Or rather, he was interested....until he saw the tractor.

He has obviously entered the tractor phase of toddler-hood.  I couldn't get him off the thing.  I had to pull him screaming off so Thatkid could take a turn.

But we got our tree, and took it home to decorate.  Our decorating movie, as picked by Thatkid was Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  

And Thatbaby had his first taste of hot chocolate.  Which he loved.  Big surprise.

This year both boys helped decorate the tree,  Thatbaby got the nonbreakables, for the low hanging branches.  Mostly he brought them over and showed me where he wanted them.  Or put them on a branch for me to place.

Thatkid took the higher branches with more breakable ornaments.

And put the star on  the top.

Our finished tree!

And that's where our tree-trimming traditions end.  We don't have a special meal planned after, although that would be fun to incorporate.  Instead we had one of those "odds and ends" kind of dinners. For Christmas this year Thatboy and I are getting each other a new refrigerator, and I'll post more on that another time.  Just know that I'm trying to clear out our freezer now in anticipation for the new arrival.  We had both pork and lima beans in the freezer, which I felt could easily be combined with the overflowing bowl of apples on our counter.  Pork and beans, pork and apples, why not pork, beans AND apples?

This dish finds itself nicely spiced by a combination of sweet cider and some eastern flavors of lemongrass, tumeric, and curry.  It gives it a more exotic feel than your typical roast pork dish.  I especially love the addition of cider, which for me is a quintessential fall flavor.

Pork with Apples and Lima Beans
4 Tbsp canola oil
2lb pork fillets, sliced into thin strips
3 shallots, sliced
1 stalk lemongrass, sliced
2 yellow bell peppers, sliced
1 Tbsp tumeric
1 Tbsp curry powder
2 granny smith apples, cored and quartered
1 1/4 cups apple cider 
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cups frozen lima beans, thawed
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  1. Heat a wok over high heat.  Add 2 Tbsp canola oil and heat.  Add pork strips and saute until browned.  Remove pork from wok.
  2.  Add remaining oil to the wok and heat.  Add the shallots, lemongrass, and bell peppers and saute for 1 minute.
  3. Stir in the tumeric and curry powder and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the apples and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the cider to the wok and simmer until reduced by half.
  6. Add the chicken broth and again simmer until reduced by half.
  7. Stir in the beans, pork, and cilantro and season to taste.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Crave Wednesdays: Pan-Seared Shrimp Po' Boys

It's so hard to go back to work after a vacation, isn't it?  After a lovely 4 days of eating, running, and shopping, it seems unfair to have to return to normal. 

I hope your Thanksgiving made it equally as difficult to roll out of bed Monday morning!

We started bright and early with The Turkey Trot.  Due to the timing of the race, we ended up missing out on the first hour of the Macy's Day Parade.  As soon as we got to Thatmom's house, I found myself a place on the couch, pulled a throw over myself, and settled in.

After the parade, Thatboy, Thatkid, and TMIL headed to the movies while I made a quick lunch for Thatbaby and I.  Then it was naptime for him, and ice cream making time for me! 

We set up the tables, the moviegoers came home, and before too long the house was filled with family and food.
There was turkey, and stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry relish.  And even a challah shaped like a turkey~

We're also on to the next generation of the kids table.  The last member of the last kids table has graduated from college.  So now these guys get a table of their very own.

Having Thanksgiving at Thatmom's house means that there wasn't any leftover Thanksgiving food hanging around our house.  So we were right back into regular eating the very next night.  A lot of people do turkey sandwiches the day after Thanksgiving.  Here we did shrimp sandwiches!  You can't get much farther from turkey than that! 

Po' Boys are a traditional American food of a different sort.  Native to New Orleans, this sandwich is rumored to have been passed out to "poor boys" for free.  And though it's not tied to any particular holiday, it seems fitting to pair it with Thanksgiving, a holiday typically associated with feeding the hungry. 

It fed the hungry in my house this week.  Both the little guys LOVE shrimp.  Thatbaby can often be found sneaking shrimp off his brother's plate.  In this instance I left the hot sauce and Cajun seasoning off of their portions.  The rest of us got spiced shrimp paired with a sweet sauce and crusty bread.

Pan-Seared Shrimp Po' Boys (From Cooking Light)
1/2 cup canola mayonnaise
2 Tbsp  sweet pickle relish
1 Tbsp chopped shallots
1/2 tsp capers, chopped
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 1/2 tsp salt-free Cajun seasoning
1 lb peeled and deveined large shrimp
2 tsp olive oil
4 hoagie rolls
1/2 cup shredded romaine lettuce
12 thin slices tomato
4 thin slices red onion

  1. Combine mayo, relish, shallots, capers, and hot sauce in a small bowl. 
  2. Combine Cajun seasoning and shrimp in a bowl and toss well.
  3. Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil and swirl to coat.  Add shrimp to pan and cook 2 minutes each side until done.
  4. Cut each roll in half horizontally.  Top the bottom half of each roll with 2 Tbsp lettuce, 3 tomato slices, 1 onion slice, and one-fourth of the shrimp.
  5. Spread top half of each roll with about 2 Tbsp mayo mixture and place on top of sandwiches.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Mommy Mondays: Going from 3 to 4

There are a lot of benefits to having only one kid.

It's cheaper.  You can trade off on downtime with your partner.  Eventually you find a routine that works for all of you, and the birthday parties and sports practices.  As your child gets older, there's so much more you can do.  So why on earth would anyone want to start over again with a baby?  Add another to the mix?

The transition from one child to two can be daunting for parents.  I remember Thatboy being very concerned he wouldn't love Thatbaby as much as Thatkid.  How could he?  His heart was already as full as it could get.

Personally, I was unconcerned.  I don't think of the heart as something with walls.  It's more like a balloon, put more in it, and it just continues to expand.  For me, the transition to a family of four was almost...easy.

The adjustment from 2 people to 3 is a big one.  Your world as you know it changes.  Suddenly there are less hours in a day, and so much more to do.  There is much less spontaneity.  There's also an additional schedule to factor in.  Despite what anyone tells you about sleep, there is no way you can understand sleep deprivation until you experience it for yourself.

The adjustment from 3 to 4 is not nearly as life altering.  You've figured it out by then.  And instead of changing your world for the new addition, you find a way to fit them into the world you've created.  You've gotten used to a life with no spontaneity, and you've realized that no matter how bad sleep deprivation is, it will not last forever.  You also have an additional set of hands to help out.  Not with changing a diaper or anything that requires actual skill, but a small entertainer which gives you a minute of breathing room before the screaming of "MOOOOOMMMM MAKE HIM STOP" starts in.

Which is not to say that two children are easy.  You will wonder how you ever complained about lack of time before, because now the hours go by even faster and the to-do list is longer.  While you may not be called to entertain the children as often, you will be just as necessary to break up death defying stunts and acts of destruction to bodies, furniture, toys, or anything that doesn't move fast enough.  Man on man defense becomes a real thing.

But I think the thing that makes it all doable is experience.  Your first child is a scary, learning experience where you have no idea what to expect.  When you survive that, you can survive just about anything.  Even adding another child into the mix. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday Runday: OC Turkey Trot

There is no shortage of Turkey Trots available to run on Thanksgiving morning.  In fact, according to the race announcer (and I have not verified this) it's the second largest running day of the year. In San Diego alone there are at least 5 events.

BUT since we spend Thanksgiving in Orange County, I decided that it would be more convenient to run a Turkey Trot up there, instead of running in San Diego, heading home, and then rushing up to Thatmom's house.

The Orange County Turkey Trot was close, cheap, and easily accessible from the freeway, so that made the cut.  I chatted with Thatmom about running with me and she was all in.  Once Thatkid found out we were running, he wanted to join us.  Which meant less running, more walking, but if you haven't figured out by now, I never tell my little running buddy that he'd only slow me down.

The night before the race, Thatmom texted me to let me know that she had hurt her back and wouldn't be able to participate in the race.  With grandma out, Thatkid wasn't really gung ho on 3 miles, so on the way to race he asked if he could participate in the kid's race instead.

The race had a later start, which could be dangerous, so I was very appreciative of the brisk, fall weather that rolled in the day before.

The race had several corrals - "Elite" for 6-7 minute milers, 9-10 minute milers, "general" runners, walkers, and "strollers or things with wheels."  I jumped in to the 9-10 minute mile corral and got ready to run.

So this race, I can count on one hand the number of races I've run that are billed as "flat" which are definitely not flat.  Almost every "flat" race course has a couple little hills.  But this course was actually flat!

The course was out and back, around Irvine Valley College.  And the hilliest part of the entire thing was a speed bump we had to cross.

I can't say much about the course other than the fact it was flat and easy.  It wasn't the prettiest scenery around, but they definitely tried to jazz it up with an inflatable...arch?  I'm not sure the significance of the arch as it didn't coincide with any mile markers.

Between the first mile and the turnaround point there was a special aid station.  Water and whipped cream shooters! 

And then came the turnaround point.

The way back was obviously the same as the way out - whipped cream and inflatable arches along a nice, easy flat paved course.  Really, it was an easy enjoyable run.  Eavesdropping on other runners revealed that for many of them this was their first race.  And I would highly recommend it as a first race, with the caveat that it could have been a really hot miserable course if the weather wasn't quite so accomodating.

There was no great goodie bag or race swag at this race, but Suja was out in full force, which I always appreciate at a race.

And instead of a beer garden, there was pumpkin pie for all!  Two great ways to start the holiday right?  Running and pie?

After I finished my race, I hung out with the family for a bit until the kids races started.  They were broken down into age divisions.  Thatkid was slotted into the 5-7 year old division.  They ran 400 meters.

Thatkid is far from the fastest runner, but he runs his little heart out.

And he's so proud of his accomplishment.  Which makes me happy.  This time he was able to put his shirt on before the race started.  He wore it the rest of the day, until I made him change for dinner. He brought his medal to show every at our Thanksgiving meal.

It was a good race for both of us.  I love the fact that we can both take part in an activity.  My little running buddy makes these races a real family affair.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Crave Wednesday: Spicy Chicken Sandwiches with Cilantro-Lime Mayo

Do you know what today is?   Probably you don't.  It's a VERY important day in Thathouse.  Potentially more important than tomorrow.  Because while tomorrow may be a national holiday, today, TODAY is Thatboy's birthday. 

There are balloons on the floor and ceiling, presents on the table, cake on the counter.   And, by this evening, my mother in law will be in the house.  Yay?

Thatboy can't remember the last time he spent his birthday with his mother.  We know for sure that it has been 10 years since he's spent Thanksgiving with her.   For his sake, I hope she doesn't disappoint him too greatly.  For my sake, I hope the trip goes by really fast. 

Today we celebrate the man I love.  The father, husband, friend.

Tomorrow however?  Well, we'll still be celebrating him.  My family is kind of great that way.  But we'll also be celebrating the people who came to this country to escape persecution only to be embraced  and helped by the people who already lived here.

We will sit around tables with friends and family, enjoying their company and food - the universal common denominator.  We eat at times of celebration and sadness.  And it's hard to argue with your mother in law when your mouth is full of food!

I made turkey earlier this month and Thatboy worried he was going to be over turkey by the time Thanksgiving arrived.  He requested no more turkey this month.  So instead we've been having chicken.  Multiple times a week.  Apparently you can't be oversaturated with chicken.  Perhaps because it's so versatile?  Grilled, roasted, fried, baked, the possibilities are endless.   It can be sweet or savory, mild or spiced.  This sandwich takes a very southern concept - fried chicken with a kick from hot sauce, and gives it a southwestern twist with a tortilla chip crust and cilantro-lime mayo.  A far cry from your roast (or fried) turkey, it's a great alternative if you believe there's such a thing as "too much turkey."

Have a very happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Spicy Chicken Sandwiches with Cilantro-Lime Mayo (From Cooking Light)
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayo
2 Tbsp minced cilantro
1 tsp lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
3 Tbsp hot pepper sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp salt
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
4 chicken cutlets
4 1/2 oz baked tortilla chips
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 Kaiser rolls
4 lettuce leaves
2 Tbsp sliced green onions
  1. Prepare the mayo: combine mayo, cilantro, lime juice, and garlic in small bowl.
  2. Prepare chicken: combine hot pepper sauce, oregano, salt, and egg whites in a ziplock bag.  
  3. Add chicken to bag, seal and turn to cover.  Marinate in refrigerator at least 2 hours.
  4. Process tortilla chips in a food processor 1 minute or until ground.  Place in a shallow dish.
  5. Remove cutlets from bag and dredge in the ground chips.
  6. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add oil to the an, swirling to coat.  Add chicken to pan.  Cook 4 minutes each side, or until browned and done.
  7. Spread mayo evenly over cut sides of rolls.  
  8. Layer bottom half of each roll with a lettuce leaf, chicken cutlet, and 1/2 Tbsp green onions.  Cover with top of roll.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Mommy Mondays: 17 months

Weight: 26lbs 12oz (+ 18 lbs, 8 oz)
Height: 34"(+ 12.5")
Head: 18.8"

Sleep:  We're still all over the place.  Some nights no wakeups, some nights 4.  There's just no rhyme and reason.  And we're still dealing with early wakeups.  Usually before 6am.  This lack of night sleeping is perhaps why he still really thrives on 2 naps a day, instead of just one.  He has a hard time hanging till after lunch.  Put him in the car for 3 minutes after 9am and you've got a sleeping baby on your hands.

Eating: This month we are all about "geps" (grapes) and "ah boo" (apples).  Except for some reason he just likes to chew on apples and then spit them out.  Faaaaannntastic.  He also loves drinking out of  bottles and regular cups.  He signs water by touching his nose.

Best Moment: Halloween! He was just so into it.  So happy.  So confident and independent.  It showcased all his best qualities, and hearing him say "tih teh tee" (trick or treat) melted my heart.

Monthly Wisdom: Thatbrother was talking to me last week about how he's kind of bummed for me that I'll never have a daughter. Which is funny, because earlier that same week I was telling Thatboy how glad I am we have 2 boys.  I'm terribly close with Thatbrother - now.  But not so much when we were younger.  The way Thatkid always takes cares of his brother, includes him, wants to hug him and hang out with him just makes my heart sing.  I'm sure there are many benefits to having opposite sex children, but there are some pretty great ones related to same sex also. 

Goals for the Upcoming Month:
-  Somehow I've got to manage a visit from my mother in law while dealing with a non-sleeping baby who will have to share a room with me while she's here.  
- Thatbaby is fantastic with no, but has no words or signs for yes.  I'd really like him to be able to express yes.

Things Thatbaby is doing:
-  New words!  I think they may even be recognizable!  Kitty cat, belly button, grapes, eat, bye bye, ball, feet, eyes, Elle
- Animal sounds!  Woof for dog, mlow mlow for cat, open and closed mouth for fish
- He repeats noises that Thatkid makes. 
- Such a little dancer.  He mimics whatever dance moves you do.
- He loves a book called "if you're spooky and you know it" which is a Halloween twist on "If you're happy and you know it."  He claps his hands, stomps his feet, jumps up and down, dances, nods his hands, and tries to snap his fingers.
- He loves 5 little monkeys jumping on the bed.
- He's very into jumping.  He wants to jump in/on everything!  One of these days his feet may actually leave the ground.
- We refer to all his stuffed animals as his babies.  And he will give them kisses, hugs, and rock them.
 - He LOVES clothes and shoes.  Just like his brother.  He wants to be wearing shoes all the time.
- Speaking of shoes, he is officially in hard soled shoes.  Not by choice, but because he no longer fits in 24 month shoes and they don't make soft soles larger than that.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sunday Rundays: Keeping Up Supply

This is definitely a late-coming post.  Especially since although I'm still breastfeeding, since we're over a year I don't need to worry about my supply. 

BUT I do think this is especially helpful for anyone who is working on balancing that new mom stage with exercise.

Let's start at the very beginning.  Does exercise affect supply?  Well, there's no black and white answer to this.  Not even with the same person!

After Thatkid was born, I jumped right back into running and exercise.  And didn't notice a drop in supply.  In fact, I found that days I worked out, my supply actually increased.

After Thatbaby was born, different story.  I wasn't ready to jump right back in to anything.  And I definitely noticed a supply issue once I did start.

It was beyond frustrating.  Here I was trying to do something good for me - both my mental health and physical health, and it was having a negative impact on my ability to breastfeed.

I took a look at what I was eating, because the two biggest impacts on supply are usually calories and hydration.

And that's where I found my problem.  I wasn't starving myself by any means, but the foods that I was eating (a lot of) were not terribly high in calories.  I was taking in less than 1000 calories a day.  And burning through them when exercising.  It takes about 500 extra calories a day to make milk, and I did not have those extra calories.

And so I upped my calories, and my supply returned.    Of course it means that now, over a year later I'm still hanging on to an extra 10lbs!

This is one of those very individual choices - there's nothing wrong with choosing to keep your calories and weight down.  That's good for your mental and physical health too.  And everyone has their own line for what sacrifices they are willing to make in their breastfeeding journey.    But if you're struggling and trying to figure out why, take a look at what and how much you're eating.  It worked for me!