Salsa Chicken Bowls

Never go to the grocery store without a list…especially after you have a baby.  I couldn’t remember the ingredients for a new recipe to save my life, and I just got lucky with what I had on hand with this one!  And I was still missing the cilantro.  But, it still tasted great, but the bowl would’ve tasted better with some cilantro and other fixin’s.  My inspiration for this one was the chicken rice bowls at Taco Bell.  I haven’t had one in years, but I thought I could recreate my own chicken rice bowl at home.

One app that we’ve found very helpful is called OurGroceries.  It was shared with me by my awesome sister-in-law.  There are plenty of “To Do” and grocery list apps out there, but this one is by far the most helpful.  You can link/share the list between as many people as you’d like.  So Nate can add items to the list and I can see the same list on my phone.  No matter who goes to the store that day, we both have THE LIST!  Easy peasy.

Spicy Chicken Bowls - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife


Ingredients
1 lb of chicken breast
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 jar of salsa
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups of rice
2-3 tablespoons Taco Seasoning (I concocted my own blend)
1 cup sour cream

Optional Ingredients
Cilantro
Green Onions
Shredded Cheese
Corn
Peppers
Lettuce

Directions
-Add raw chicken to crock pot and pour the soup and salsa over the top.  Sprinkle your taco seasoning over the sauce, and cook on LOW for 4-5 hours.

-Shred the chicken at the end and add the sour cream.  Stir to combine.

-Serve over rice and beans, and top with whatever fixin’s you like!

iParenting

According to Mr. Webster the definition of “parent” is:

  • one that begets or brings forth offspring  
  • a person who brings up and cares for another 
  • an animal or plant that is regarded in relation to its offspring 
  • the material or source from which something is derived 

And the definition of “parenting” is:

  • the raising of a child by its parents
  • the act or process of becoming a parent
  • the taking care of someone in the manner of a parent       

If only parenting was as simple as it’s definition.  The definition of parenting could actually take up the whole dictionary if you ask me.  Just look around the web at all the advice and guides to parenting books…people make money trying to explain parenting!  The reality is, you can find advice and opinions that point anyway you want them too.  Of course there are the obvious do’s and don’ts of parenting.  Like don’t leave your baby alone in the bath tub or do hug and kiss your child every day.  Then there are somethings that come up after experience and after you’ve been exposed to a new perspective.  And you realize the only way to be a good parent is to make certain sacrifices for the well being of your child.

Before having a baby my husband and I always made comments like “we are going to make our child play outside” or “our child is not going to be one of “those” children who is glued to an iPad.”  Simple enough right? No.

What I’ve realized over the past couple months, as my baby has become more and more aware of what we are doing around him, it’s inevitable that he will use technology more than we’d like…unless we set an example, starting now.  My husband and I are always on our phones, ipads, or watching TV.  I’ve even noticed during feeding sessions, that I am playing on an app, Dillon will look at me, wondering what I am up to, realizes whatever I’m doing is more interesting than what he is doing, and so he wants to check it out.  So even from his extremely young age, he is starting to learn and see how often we use our technology.  How can we expect him to play with toys and play outside, if we ourselves are always playing with apps? Well guess what, our phones are NOT more interesting than what he is doing.  I want him to know that I think he is more important and by far more interesting than whatever is going on on my phone.  We’ve got to set the example.

We’ve always gone on walks and of course we play with him all the time.  And we would NEVER choose a phone call or playing a game over taking care of him. This is not at all suggesting that we do that.  But I would like to challenge myself to “put down the phone” or “put down the iPad” whenever I can.  Especially during feedings…I want to focus on Dillon, and make sure that time is HIS time.  It is OUR time and it will only be OUR time for so long. 

This is part of parenting.  Recognizing something that will influence the life and personality of your child, deciding if it’s sending the right message, and doing something about it if it is not. And setting an example for how you’d prefer them to be.  You are never going to prevent every little thing or bad habit so there is no use in stressing over it.  But when you’ve realized an area that you could work on to better your child, you best do it!

So this is me, challenging myself to be a “parent” and not an “iParent.”

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Here is a quick one for you.  Great for potlucks, picnics, or week day lunches.  This is really a no-fuss side that if you can boil water, you should have NO problems giving a try!

Mediterranean Pasta Salad - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Mediterranean Pasta Salad - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Ingredients
1 lb rotini pasta, al dente (or your favorite pasta salad pasta)
1 16 oz sundried tomato vinaigrette (I used Kraft)
1 8 oz jar of sundried tomatos in oil, drained, rinced, and chopped
1 14.5 oz can of artichoke quarters, drained and chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 small  red onion, diced
8 oz of feta cheese
2 teaspoons dried oregano

Directions
Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl or tupper ware and that’s it. 

Store in the fridge.

*This pasta salad tastes better if you make the night before and let it chill in the refrigerator.  It tastes even better 2 days later!

Sweet and Sour Pork

Source: Coleen’s Recipes

I asked Nate what he thought about this dish and his exact comment was “It tastes like Chinese takeout…only better?” and then he told me to be sure to make it again.  And he was right, it did taste like Chinese take out only better.  Most of us who love Chinese takeout, love to not think about how it was prepared.  But, lets be honest people, Chinese takeout is NOT good for you.  You could argue that it is good for the soul and good for comfort, but eventually suffering a heart attack doesn’t comfort me at all!  Well, here is a great alternative!  Serve it on top of brown rice and again, you’re skipping the fried rice you may have opted for at the takeout counter.  I’m also thinking, this sauce would be great with chicken and/or shrimp.  Enjoy!

Sweet and Sour Pork - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Ingredients
2-3 pound lean pork roast
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup white vinegar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons ketchup
20 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained


Directions

-Brown the pork roast on all sides and place in crock pot

-Mix the rest of the ingredients in a small sauce pot and bring to a boil.  Then pour into the same crock pot.

-Cook on low for at least 4 hours or until tender (I went for 5!).  Spoon the sauce over the meat every so often, but not needed.

-At the last 30 minutes, add some corn starch to thicken the sauce (I added 3 tablespoons of corn starch mixed with 3 tablespoons of cold water)

-Brown the pork roast on all sides and put it in your slow cooker. Mix everything else and bring it to a boil, then pour it over the meat.
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-Cook on low for 4 hours or until very tender (spoon the sauce over the meat every once in a while).
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-Serve over rice.

4 Months

Is it just me or is every month going by faster and faster?  It seems like before I know it, this boy is going to be a year old!  Things have gotten SO much better.  In the early weeks when people told me it would get better, I had such a hard time believing them.  But, they were right!  Things are awesome now.  I think the missing link was me going back to work.  

Being back at work has made me so happy!  I love waking up in the morning to an adorable and giggly baby, getting ready, dropping D off at daycare, going to work, interacting with adults, eating lunch without the fear of a baby going nuts-o, picking up my adorable giggly baby at the end of the day, and just hanging out the rest of the night until bedtime.  It’s exhausting, but I love it!  I always knew I was a people person, but if these 4 months have taught me anything it‘s that I NEED to be around people.  I get my energy from other people and being alone all day is just really hard for me to do.  I wouldn’t trade the first 4 months though, I’ve learned so much about myself, my husband, my baby, my family, and my friends…what an awesome and rewarding experience! 

The only downside to being back at work is me having to pump more.  If you would’ve told me before I was pregnant that I would LOVE breastfeeding, I would‘ve called you crazy.  But seriously, I love it.  Even though breastfeeding is a full-time job in itself, it is something between me and my baby.  That only we share.  It is our time and I love when he looks up at me.  He is just so darn cute!!  Pumping on the other hand is just so…not personal or intimate.  It’s more like work.  But it has made me appreciate the times that I can feed Dillon even more than I did before.

Pumping is going well though, so I can’t complain.  It’s nice to be able to pump what I need to send to daycare plus an extra bag of milk to freeze.  I’ve got a nice stock pile going and it makes me feel good to add to it!  I’ve been getting a few blocked milk ducts lately and I think it has something to do with how much I’ve been pumping all of the sudden.  I‘ve been making sure to “empty” the boob and apply heat when needed.  But the other day I could not get any relief and it freakin HURT!  So I went to my favorite baby momma advice site (http://www.babycenter.com) and did some reading on the message boards.  And came across the “white dot” method…holy crap did it work!!!  I’m talking INSTANT relief.

Then there’s my galactocele.  This lovely, 4 cm, cystic milk bag, lump, thing in my left boob.  When Nate and I first found this lump we freaked out.  I immediately made an appointment with the OB, which lead to an ultrasound at a radiologists, and then another radiologist appointment to get it drained and biopsied.  But then they recommended to wait until I was done breastfeeding because the risk of infection is much higher and they didn’t want me to develop a milk fistula (sp?)…so they did a mammogram (ouch, but if I can handle popping out a baby this wasn’t bad at all) to verify it was a galactocele.  And they pretty much did.  So now we just leave it be, hope it doesn’t grow bigger or get infected, and it may go away on it’s own once I’m done with the boob juice.

Speaking of being able to pop out a baby…does anyone else compare everything that MAY hurt to labor?  I’ve found myself thinking “this can’t be any worse than labor” or “there is no way this could hurt more than pushing a baby” and I can instantly relax.  Like when getting blood drawn or a mammogram.  It’s like nothing is that big of a deal now that I‘ve experienced labor…and even that wasn’t so bad!

Dillon has to be the cutest baby in the entire world!  Or is it just me? 🙂

I can’t believe how much he has changed since we came home from the hospital.  Looking back over the pictures, I can hardly recognize him in them!  He is so darn cute, I can’t stand it.  He has finally started to laugh.  And they are the big cackling laughs, they are the best.  He is very stingy with them though, it’s hard to squeeze one out of him.  But once he does, man, it’s so great!  He is super smiley and loves everyone.  He has gotten so curious about everything and puts everything in his mouth.  He even tried to eat my cheek the other day…weirdo.  He also has this cute AMAZEMENT look that he does.  When Nate or I click our tongue, Dillon looks at us like “OMG that was so cool!!”  or “WOW!   I can’t believe you can do that, how do you do that?”  He has figured out how to kick and splash at bath time, so we will be moving the little tub into the big tub.  He loves for us to squirt him with water.  He is almost ready for the stroller without his car seat and he’s been loving the lightweight stroller, woohoo! 

We love putting Dillon in his highchair and eating dinner as a family.  I can not wait to start him on solids, which will probably be at 4 months.  We’ve noticed he’s been really interested in what we are eating, has been salivating like it’s his job, and I’ve noticed he’s gotten more control over his tongue lately.  So I think he is almost ready, but I don’t want to start him too early.  The pediatrician gave us the OK at his last appointment to start at 4 months with rice cereal. EEEeeeeeee!  He’s growing so fast.

(16 weeks, he had his first bowl of rice cereal and loved it!! And he also got his first ear infection, but has handled it like a boss!)

I find myself imagining Dillon learning all these new things and accomplishing milestones.  I don’t want to hurry him in growing.  But I am SO excited to start feeding him foods and trying new foods out.  I’m looking forward to him rolling over for the first time, HE IS SO CLOSE.  And wow, when he can sit up or crawl.  Gosh, just dreaming over him learning these new things is so fun and amazing.  I was so proud and happy when he could grab his own hands, who knows what rolling over will feel like.  It has to be good 🙂

Having a baby really teaches you to enjoy and appreciate the simple things.  Like grins or your baby whacking a toy for the first time.  Who know something so simple could make you so happy and delighted?  I‘ve got to cut myself off, I could type forever about this kid!  Enjoy the pictures:

  

Easy Meat, Veggies, and Potatoes

Adapted from: Saving Makes Cents

This is a recipe that has been floating around Pinterest and I’ve been meaning to try for almost a year.  I thought it looked too simple to be true, but it’s not…it is as simple as it sounds!  And my goodness, flavorful.  I added a few ingredients of my own to give it a little something special so feel free to play around with this dish!  What’s also great about this recipe is you can change up the veggies depending on what’s in season or whatever you have a taste for.  And don’t tell Nate, but I definitely tasted a whole spoonful of the sauce…three times.  I know…so bad.



Easy Meat, Veggies, and Potatoes - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife



Ingredients
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, raw
Green beans (any veggie like broccoli, asparagus, or brussel sprouts)
New, Red, or Baby Potatoes, cubed
1 packet of italian dressing mix
1 stick of butter, melted
salt
pepper

Add ons
capers
fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Directions
-Preheat over to 350 degrees F
-Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper
-Arrange the meat, potatoes, and vegetables in a 9×13 casserole dish
-Sprinkle the packet of italian dressing mix over the whole dish
-Spoon butter over the chicken, potatoes, and vegetables
-Add Ons – I added capers and lemon juice to the green beans, and sprinkled some brown sugar over the chicken.
-Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour (recipe says to cover with foil, but I skipped that and the dish turned out fine!)

Crock Pot Corn on the Cob

Source: Practical Stewardship

Crock pot corn?  Yea you heard me.  This is my new favorite way to prepare corn on the cob.  I can’t wait to experiment with the seasonings to go with it!  The corn turned out tender and juicy, and was a sinch to make.  And unwrapping the corn from the foil was like opening up a present! Ahh, this is making me crave more corn.
Crock Pot Corn on the Cob - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Ingredients
-6 corn on the cob, shucked
-4 tablespoons butter, melted
-1 tablespoon garlic, minced
-1 teaspoon italian seasoning
-6 sheets of foil

Directions
-Shuck the corn.

-Mix butter, garlic, italian seasoning, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

-Place each ear of corn on a sheet of foil and fold the sides up so when to pour the butter mixture over, it doesn’t spill out.

-Drizzle a spoonful of the butter mixture over each ear of corn.

-Wrap the foil around the corn so that the juices won’t run out and place each in the crock pot.

-Cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours.

Zesty Italian Potatoes

Another Pinterest find.  But I can not find the original source, so if someone knows it, please email it to me so I can give credit where credit is due!  Ever since having a baby, cooking has been a challenge.  Just getting to the grocery store takes some serious determination, and this has only happened once with baby in tow.  So I have been forced to get back to basics and find even simpler recipes to get us back in the groove with our new way of life with a  baby.  Oh, and living on one paycheck for 3 months has also made CHEAP a new MUST when trying a new recipe.

These potatoes flip the bill…cheap and easy.  And yes, of course, yummy…but that should be a given right?  I’ve found myself using zesty italian and regular italian dressing mixes on so many meals now.  Whenever I see it on sale I buy a ton of them to keep on hand!  It goes great with most veggies and meats…with the help of some melted butter.

Zesty Italian Potatoes - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

   

Zesty Italian Potatoes - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife



Ingredients
-1 bag baby potatoes (or cube up some red potatoes)
-1 package zesty Italian dressing mix
-extra virgin olive oil
-minced onion
-salt
-pepper
-grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
-Place potatoes in large bowl
-Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle entire package of zesty Italian dressing mix, a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, and 2 pinches of minced onion.
-Stir to coat evenly
-Spread potatoes on baking sheet
-Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until fork tender.
-Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
Enjoy!


Spicy Pork Tenderloin

Source:  Add a Pinch

Pork is not a staple in our house.  Reason?  Because Nate’s job revolves around pork.  If you saw, touched, smelled, and tasted pork all day, would you ever crave it for a meal?  Don’t think so.  In fact, we often shudder at the thought of eating pork…especially barbecue or ribs.  Every now and then, we think we would enjoy a barbecue sandwich, only to order one, take a bite, and immediately regret our decision.  It’s actually funny when this happens, because we do it to ourselves.  People often ask us what our favorite foods are and our answer is usually “Well, a shorter list would be what we don’t eat, and that’s pork!”  Except bacon, love us some bacon!

While in the grocery store and noticed how inexpensive pork tenderloins are and couldn’t remember a pork tenderloin that I had eaten ever being bad.  So I decided to take a whack at it.  This recipe was so delicious, easy, and saucy.  If you do not like your food spicy, you can easily control the heat level with the amount of sriracha sauce you add to the mix.  We will definitely make this over and over.  I’m excited to try it on the grill once the weather warms up.  Nate even commented that the meat was cooked perfectly…thank you very much 🙂  

Spicy Pork Tenderloin - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife


Spicy Pork Tenderloin - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife


Ingredients
-1 3-4 pound pork tenderloin
-½ cup barbecue sauce
-¼ cup grape jelly
-2 tablespoons Sriracha Sauce
-2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1 teaspoon ground black pepper


Directions
Place pork tenderloin into a large ziploc bag.

Whisk together barbecue sauce, grape jelly, sriracha sauce, worcestershire, garlic and pepper. Pour half of barbecue sauce into the ziploc bag with pork tenderloin. 

Remove excess air from zip top bag and seal. Place in the fridge for at least an hour…overnight is best.  Cover and save the extra barbecue sauce in the fridge as well.

Bake or grill pork tenderloins until they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. (I baked mine for 25 minutes at 400 degrees and then turned the heat down to 350 degrees for another 15-20 minutes)

Remove from oven or grill and wrap with aluminum foil (to keep warm) for five to ten minutes.

Brush with some of the extra sauce and serve with extra sauce on the side.

3 Months

I remember in the beginning thinking it would take FOREVER to make it to 3 months, and here we are!  What a journey it has been.  Things have definitely gotten better.  I still struggle with anxiety sometimes, but I’m hoping that will ease up as time goes on and we get onto a routine.  Another huge part of my anxiety and feeling overwhelmed is being alone so much and on the weekends.  It would be SO nice if Nate and I could have the same days off for once in our lives…one day.  And I’ve learned that I get my energy comes from being around other people, so when I’m alone and isolated, it really drags me down.  But what seems so crazy to me is feeling alone even though you have a baby…a person with you at all times, but can still feel so lonely.  Anyhoo, enough with that!

Dillon is still growing like a weed, happy and healthy!  He weighed in at 16 lb 5 oz at his last check up! haha  And we’ve gotten the OK from the doctor to start him on solids at 4 months…rice cereal.  We’ve been putting him in his high chair already which has been awesome.  We are able to all eat at the table together again and as long as we are talking (or entertaining) Dillon has a great time!  He is obsessed with this caterpillar toy…I’ve already gotten 2 replacements.  His hair is still coming in but we have no idea which color it is going to be.  His head is tie-dye at the moment.  His giggles are starting to happen more often and longer, we are still waiting on him to burst out laughing, he is so close!  He grins all the time and they are my favorite.  I don’t know how anyone would make it as a parent without those smiles and giggles!

We’ve been putting him in the jumperoo and he absolutely loves it.  He has been waiting for the freedom to jump around, so we decided to give it a try.  I’ve only let him stay in for 15 minutes because I don’t want him to get overtired.  We roll up a blanket behind him for extra support.  He is pushing up with his arms during tummy time and is starting to like tummy time (YEY!).  He bats and grabs on to toys, play time is becoming more and more fun each day.

He has started daycare and has done marvelously!  The teachers have all commented on how happy he is and how well he has done…like he’s done it before!  So that takes away some of the mommy guilt.  I start work on Thursday and of course I have my reservations on that, but I’m hoping it will be a great thing.  Dillon also has his first cold and probably corresponds with starting daycare.  Holy snot.  Somehow, D makes sniffles and sneezes so darn cute though.  And he has always laughed when he sneezes, so it is funny that he is giggling his way through a cold…except when I suction his nose.  He gets PISSED…then sneezes.  It’s pitiful!  He loves listening to stories and loves looking at the pictures.  It has amazed me how alert he has been his whole life.  He is mellow about it though thank goodness.

There is so much advice out there and I’ve realized that is a part of what intimidates me.  So I’ve decided to cut back on the baby books and Googling.  I’ve gotten this far by going off of Dillon’s cues and my instincts, and he is happy and alive!  So my goal now is just to have a happy and healthy baby…and do things at a pace that doesn’t stress me or him out.  So much of parenting is trial and error. If and when he is ever NOT happy, then I’ll figure out how to get him back on track.  So until then poof be gone intimidating, anxiety-causing books!

First time in the highchair

Murica

Jumperoo

Visiting Daddy at work! Aka sleeping.

Meeting Roy!

When he discovered his nose…!