Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pregnancy - Fantasy vs Reality

Before I got pregnant, I had many ideas of what it would be like...
what I would do, how I would act, etc.

Quickly after getting knocked up, however,
those ideas went down the tube
as the reality of constant nausea and fatigue slapped me in the face.

Today I present some of my Pregnancy Fantasies and Realities.
I'm sure some of you fellow mommies, and mommies to be, can relate.

Fantasy #1:
I wouldn't sacrifice fashion and style.  
I would pull off my pregnancy looking effortlessly stylish like these ladies...

Maternity clothes are expensive!
I spend many of my days in comfy yoga pants and t-shirts.

My sloppy maternity wear

I mean, really, it's not like I was at the height of fashion pre-pregnancy
so this isn't too far off of my normal wardrobe.

Fantasy #2:
I would eat nothing but healthy, organic fruits and veggies
and non-processed food.

In the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, I was constantly nauseous.
The only thing I wanted to eat was salty, crunchy, carbs and junk food.
I seriously needed to eat a Happy Meal several times a week.  Gross.

Now that I'm almost in the 3rd trimester (YIKES!)
I've taken to eating healthier again.
But that's not to say I don't completely give in 
to my sweet tooth a little too often!

Fantasy #3:
I would regularly partake in the prenatal yoga & pilates classes
that always seemed like some secret club I couldn't be a part of.

I've been to one prenatal yoga class
and I'm lucky if I get a 30 minute walk in more than twice a week.

Yup, that's me....lying in bed with Reese's Pieces and M&M's.

Seriously, I didn't exercise much before I got pregnant,
so why did I think I would afterwards?


I guess the one major lesson I learned early on in pregnancy
is that most of it is completely out of my control.

My body will do as it pleases,
whether that's having a too small baby bump (as many strangers like to tell me)
or continue to give me heartburn with every. single. thing I eat.

I've learned to just take each day as it comes
because I never know what it may bring.
Which I guess is a principle I could use at any time,
pregnant or not.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Meatless Monday: Roasted Veggie Stacked Enchiladas

I mentioned these enchiladas from Two Peas & Their Pod last week
when I decided to make the butternut squash soup instead.
Eventually, I got around to making these and am I glad I did!

I've made several versions of enchiladas before
but have never tried stacking them.
The flavors are pretty much the same but I think it's a little more fun when they're stacked.
It's kinda like a mexican version of lasagna.
And it's easier to put together, 
since you don't have to worry about the tortillas cracking when you roll them up.

First, you roast up a tray full of veggies.
I used onion, orange bell pepper, zucchini, and yellow squash.
When they're done, let them cool to room temp.

To build your enchiladas,
start with some enchilada sauce in the bottom of your dish.
Then layer it with four small tortillas.
I cut mine to make them fit nicely.

Follow that with another layer of sauce,
a layer of veggies,
and a layer of cheese.

Repeat the process 3 more times.
Top with cheese, pop in the oven, 
and 30 minutes later you have this hot cheesy goodness.


I know these aren't the prettiest pictures around,
but my kitchen really sucks for photographing food.
There is no natural light whatsoever
and no matter where I stand, there's always a shadow.

Yet somehow, these enchiladas still look delicious
(despite some seriously lacking photography skills).

I'm too lazy to post the recipe here
so just head on over to Two Peas & Their Pod and get it there!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup with Ricotta

For the past few weeks, the weather here in LA has been oscillating 
between gorgeous sunny days and cold, drizzly days.
Toying with both our emotions and our sinuses.
I'm sure all of you in the midwest and east coast can really sympathize, right?

This week I had fully planned on making these veggie enchiladas,
but when the weather turned dreary 
I suddenly became obsessed with the idea of making butternut squash soup.
I did a quick search for a simple recipe, 
and fittingly chose this one from Simply Recipes.

Inspired by a butternut squash and ricotta tartine I'd had earlier at Le Pain Quotidien,
I decided to eliminate the apple and instead 
added a dollop of ricotta to give a touch of creamy texture.

Served with a thick slice of crusty bread, 
this soup made the perfect dinner to warm us up.

Butternut Squash Soup with Ricotta
Adapted from Simply Recipes

2 Tablespoons butter
1 large carrot, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 butternut squash (about 3 lbs), peeled, seeded, and cubed

4 cups vegetable broth
Pinches of nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, and pepper
Ricotta cheese
Scallions, for garnish

1. Melt butter in a dutch oven over med-high heat.  Careful not to let it brown.

2.  Add carrot, onion, and celery.  Saute for 5-8 minutes, letting the veggies soften but not brown.

3.  Add the squash and broth.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until squash and carrots are softened.  Puree in a blender or with immersion blender.

4.  Season with spices, adjusting to your taste.

5.  Serve soup in a bowl with a dollop of ricotta cheese.  Garnish with scallions.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Inspiration

As much as I don't really buy into Hallmark Holidays, I do think it's nice to set aside one special day to let your loved ones know what they mean to you.

Whether it's a spouse, family member, friend, or child, everyone likes to hear that they're loved.

Here is some of my inspiration for V-day with my hubby.

1.  DIY heart garlands.
I think I'll make some of these and write on each heart a different reason why I love my husband.
Then maybe I'll hang them in his closet or bathroom to surprise him when he gets up in the morning.

2.  Homemade dinner.
Instead of going to an overpriced and crowded restaurant on V-Day, 
I plan on making this Steak with Drunken Mushrooms.
They say the way to man's heart is through his stomach, right?

3.  Decadent dessert.
We'll top off our evening with these delicious Dark Chocolate Brownies with Raspberries,
and maybe add a scoop of ice cream on the side.

Are you planning anything special for your loved ones?

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Pizza That Broke Me

Alternate titles for this post included:
The 2 Hour Pizza
The Pizza That Made Me Cry
I Hate Rolling Out Pizza Dough.

Let's just say that Wednesday night dinner didn't go so smoothly this week.

It all started around 6:00, when the hubby texted me that he was on his way home.
I took my pizza dough out of the fridge so it could sit for 20 minutes before being rolled out
and started roasting a head of garlic to be used in the white sauce.

About 30 minutes later I started to roll out the pizza dough.
Now, pizza dough can be a little tricky.  A little....annoying... to work with.
You'll roll it out and it'll shrink back in, taking your 12 inch pizza back to a 6 inch pizza.
When that happens, you need to let the dough rest about 5 minutes before rolling it out again.

So about 30 minutes later I finally had my dough rolled out to where I wanted it.
There it sat on my floured cutting board, waiting to be transferred to the pan.
I tore out a piece of parchment paper.
And it kept rolling back up on me.  Like 5 times before I finally got it to stay.
(Why don't they sell parchment paper sheets??)
Then I carefully lifted the dough off the cutting board and put it on the parchment.
But it kinda landed half on/half off the paper.
I tried to fix it, but the dough was sticking to the paper
and it just ended up a complete mess.


So I took a deep breath, 
trying not to be annoyed that I just spent 45 minutes on this pizza dough
that now sat in a lump on my counter.

I thought I'd try rolling out the dough ON the parchment paper,
thereby eliminating the whole transferring issue.
But that just ended with a sheet of crinkled up paper
and that damn ball of pizza dough.

At this point, my short temper and pregnancy hormones took over.
I slammed the rolling pin down,
curled up in a ball on the couch,
and cried.

Yes, I cried over pizza dough.

My grand vision of starting dinner early so it would be ready shortly after my husband got home
had not-so-swiftly gone down the tubes.
By now, over an hour had gone by and we were no closer to dinner.

So my loving, caring, wonderful husband hugged me,
told me it would all be okay, and got up to tackle the pizza dough
while I gave myself a time-out and took a hot shower.

I came out of the shower to find a nicely rolled out pizza crust
topped with my white sauce and veggies,
and realized once again that I have the best husband ever.

And 30 minutes later we were eating dinner.

Now, if I haven't scared you away from making pizza with this story,
or if you're a master pizza dough roller-outer,
you may want to give this pizza a try because it turned out really well.
The white sauce was a nice touch, with a creamy garlicky flavor,
and lots of crunchy healthy veggies on top.

Veggie Pizza

1 ball pizza dough
1 cup ricotta
1 head of garlic
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
about 8 oz mozzarella, sliced
veggies, such as carrots, broccoli, yellow squash, and onions
(but really you can use whatever you want)

1.  Cut the top off the head of garlic.  Put garlic into a glass baking dish and drizzle with olive oil, making sure it gets down between the cloves.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, roll out your pizza dough to the desired size.  Or cry and have your husband do it.

3.  When garlic is done, take out of the oven and scoop out the cloves into a bowl.  Then turn the oven up to 450.  Mash garlic together with the ricotta.  Season with salt & pepper.  I also drizzled some of the oil at the bottom of the baking dish into the sauce.

4.  Spread the white sauce over the pizza crust, leaving a 1 inch border.

5.  Top with veggies.  Then top with sliced mozzarella.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper.

6.  Bake at 450 for about 30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.