Hey ya'll! It is July 20th, 2015... a quiet Monday morning at my house. J is off to work and Cash is busy sleeping his Summer away like the teenager he is. He definitely got his sleeping habits from his Mama, but lately "pregnant Stormi" has been going to bed early and waking up early. I am 32 wks and some change with baby Stella, and I believe the "nesting" stage is beginning. Last night, I organized the diapers in her closet by size. I color coordinated Cash's school supplies for Kindergarten. I might be losing my mind...I'm usually not too much of an excessive planner. I like to have things organized, but I've never made an obsession out of it. I've always managed to "live in the moment" and not stress over details, but lately I've been oddly particular with the extra "nesting" time I've had on my hands.
One of the things I've been doing is planning some freezer meals to prep before the baby comes. I'm planning on preparing & freezing meals that can be easily thrown into the crockpot by my kitchen-illiterate husband during that first week of having baby home. I will share the list & recipes when I have them all sorted out!
Another project I've been working on is jarring some homemade seasonings. I always find myself using the same essential mixes of seasonings while cooking, so I came up with the bright idea to premix them and jar them myself. *side note: I obviously am not the first person to come up with this idea. I'm just extremely late and not much of a Pinterest person, and this idea came to me in a dream. Here's what I 've been working on so far.
* I use this on almost any Mexican dish or casserole that I prepare. Tacos, Enchiladas, Fajitas, Shredded meats in the crock pot, Taco Soup.. This works well with any of that!
*side note: I did NOT take measurements. Be approximate to your own taste. Taste as you go!
- Chili Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Salt & Pepper
* I use this on EVERYTHING. Everything. My go to for almost all dishes to add a little kick!
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Dried Thyme
- Cayenne Pepper
* This one is a give in. I don't have to list the ingredients because it's simply the very complex mixture of just Cinnamon & Sugar. My 5 year old LOVES Cinnamon Toast, and I got tired of constantly mixing the two together each time. You will use more sugar than cinnamon, because the cinnamon is over powering. Start with the sugar and then slowly spoon in and stir the cinnamon until it's the color & consistency that you want. I store it in a little half pint jar and it is SO easy for breakfast! I also sprinkle it on vanilla yogurt and my Cheerios sometimes. Get creative!
If you've followed my blog or you're my Facebook friend, you're probably already familiar with the fact that my sister is an amazing lifestyle photographer! She has taken our pictures for many years, and recently came to my house to snap some "maternity" pictures. I never took any pictures when I was pregnant with Cash six years ago. In fact, I thought it was kind of weird and would hide any time someone tried to take a picture of me pregnant (mind you: I was 140 lbs 9 months pregnant and soaking wet. Oh, to be young...) These days, I'm a lot bigger, but I thought it was necessary to photograph this belly journey, especially since it would be big brother's first "photo shoot" with his little sister. The shoot was easy & organic, and took no time at all. We took the pictures in the comfort of our own home, which beat the 100 degree Texas heat outside. I picked us some neutral outfits, my sister helped me with my hair and makeup, and the boys were obviously easy. People always privately message me asking how we come up with ideas for pictures, or how I get Cash to pose, or how they look so natural. If you asked my sister, she would tell you that it is because THEY ARE NATURAL. We don't stress or worry, we come up with an idea, and we try to get natural moments. I think it helps a lot that she is family so the comfortability makes it easier on my husband and crazy boy. Here are some of the shots!
The last pic was taken in Stella's room. I will do a full "room post" in a future blog. We are still waiting for her bedding to come in (which is sure to be the most gorgeous thing ever!) and the room will be almost complete and ready to put a baby in!
I've been craving everything these days, but one of my most serious cravings is Chinese food. My normal Chinese take out orders involve chicken, but of course pregnancy wants to change that up and have me crave Beef and Broccoli for the first time in my 25 years of existence. So the other day, I made my own beef and broccoli. And it was magical. Pure magic. I was too lazy to make my own fried rice (I do have a recipe and will post in a future blog! It uses day old rice and I didn't have any on hand!) so I forced my dear husband to drive through Panda Express and grab me some fried rice on his way home from work. Why not just order the Beef & Broccoli while you're at it, you ask? Because nothing tastes better than making it in your own kitchen!! Here is my recipe:
BEEF & BROCOLLI:
- 1/2 cup Soy Sauce
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons sherry
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger (easy to find and worth using fresh!)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound flank steak (I LOVE flank steak. I found this already trimmed and cut, but if you can't find it that way - trim of fat and cut very very thin)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound broccoli florets
- 1/4 cup beef broth
- 1/4 cup fish sauce (I use this in almost all Chinese dishes that I cook nearly NEVER, as well as a secret ingredient in Gumbo!)
- Salt (to taste)
1. In a bowl, mix together the soy sauce, cornstarch, sherry, brown sugar, ginger and garlic. Pour half the liquid over the sliced meat in a bowl and toss with your hands. Reserve the other half of the liquid and set aside
2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over high heat (My father in law is Chinese and bought me the best authentic wok ever but if you don't have one, a cast iron skillet would be great too!) Add the broccoli and stir for a minute. Remove to a plate.
3. Allow the skillet to get very hot again. With tongs, add the meat in a single layer. Spread out the meat as you add it to skillet, but do not stir for a good minute. (You want the meat to get as browned as possible in as short amount a time as possible.) Turn the meat to the other side and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove to a clean plate.
4. Pour the reserved sauce into the skillet along with the beef broth and fish sauce. Cook over high heat until it starts to thicken. Add the beef and broccoli back into the skillet and toss to coat. Season with salt if needed. Enjoy!
Last up, I have to address another one of my recent cravings - Sweet tea. Maybe it's because I've had to slack off on the Dr. Pepper lately, but I've been wanting fresh sweet tea over ice with almost every meal. Yes, it's easy to buy a big jug of Red Diamond from the grocery store, but it is NOT the same. We had fresh sweet tea with almost every meal when I was growing up, and it's something that I've craved a lot lately. Everyone has their own "recipe" for their idea of the best sweet tea, especially in the South. I'm not expert, but this is the one that works perfectly for me! You will NEVER want Red Diamond or any of that store bought nonsense ever again! Enjoy!
- 7 small tea bags, (I use Luzianne brand!)
- 4 cups boiling water
- 1 cup sugar
1. Place the tea bags in a large heatproof bowl or pot and pour in the freshly boiled water. Let steep for 5 minutes. Fill a large pitcher with 4 cups room-temperature water. Strain the hot tea into the pitcher and stir to combine.
2. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine ½ cup cold water with the sugar. Simmer until the sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Pour the sugar syrup into the tea to taste. Dissolving the sugar into the water ensures that you do not get big grains of sugar in your tea! Stir together, refrigerate and serve over ice.
P.S I'm having the hardest time picking out a "take home" outfit for Stella! I have so many options and I'm continuously getting more. It's been sooo long since I've been pregnant, so I want to make sure it's something small enough, something comfy and delicate for her new skin. What did you bring your baby home in?