Clean Your Pantry- Chili Pasta

March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb. Unless you live in New England, like me. Then, you’re just stuck with that lion. 

This is today’s sky:



Yucky days like this always make me crave something yummy and warm. When trying to figure out what to make, we had 1 lb of ground beef, which usually would be plenty for our small family. However, we were having guests tonight and 1 lb wasn’t quite enough. 

I went down to the pantry to try and see what I could start clearing out. We have a TON of canned beans (thank you ShopRite can-can sale) and a TON of pasta. Immediately my brain went to work. Chili is one of my favorite “go-to’s” when needing to stretch meat further since the additional beans make the meal last longer. I decided I’d attempt to create a hybrid meal and it was gooooood! All of us had multiple servings and we will probably be making this again within just a few days. It was that good. 

Ingredients 

1 lb ground beef (or turkey) 

1 small onion, diced

1/2 c chopped celery 

28 oz canned diced tomatoes, undrained

2 15 oz cans beans (kidney or black beans work great!), drained and rinsed well 

1 c uncooked macaroni (elbows, ziti, whatever you have in your pantry!) 

1/2 t garlic powder

Chili powder to taste (I used 2 t, but we like a bit of spice) 

Sour cream or shredded cheese for garnish 

Directions 

1. Add meat, onion and celery to a medium pot. Cook until meat is browned and veggies are tender. Drain fat. 

2. Add canned diced tomatoes with liquid, beans, uncooked macaroni and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover.

3. Cook for 20 minutes, or until macaroni is tender, stirring often. 

4. Serve in bowls topped with sour cream or cheese! Or, if you’re dairy-free like me, as is! 



Try this recipe and let me know what you think! 

Clean Your Pantry Series

If you’re a regular reader, you know that we just found out my super smarty-pants husband just matched for a residency program in internal medicine. This also means, we’re moving! 

While I am sad to leave our family, friends and my hometown behind, I am also excited about our next adventure. One part I’m not looking forward to? Actually physically moving!  (Does anyone like that part???) I have an awesome pantry stocked with all sorts of things that I have couponed and gotten at great discounts. However, we are currently renting a family home. We will definitely need to downsize in our next place, which is fine, until I look at my pantry! Waaaa! 

So, I will be spending the next few weeks trying to get creative with my cooking. I will be cooking up meals using common pantry items that most people have on hand. This will be great because it’ll help clean our pantry, teach me new recipes, and save some money as I get creative with items we already have. 

Look for the first recipe coming later today! 

On Our First Birthday 

Sweet daughter, 

Today something truly momentous happened. You turned one. So did I, I suppose. One year of being your mommy has been my greatest adventure. Over the last year we’ve shared 365 days of sunrises and sunsets. We’ve shared laughter and cries. We’ve grown together and learned a lot. 

On the day you were born, nothing else mattered in the whole world except for you. For perhaps only a fraction of a second, you held the distinction of being the youngest person on Earth. And while a new miracle quickly took over that title, I was mesmerized. 

Some women have really hard pregnancies and some just don’t like being pregnant. While it certainly wasn’t the most relaxing nine months of my life, they were the most magical I had ever experienced. You were my little buddy, with me wherever I went. When the cold winter months hit, I’d wrap us up under a warm blanket and rub my belly, hoping against hope that you felt my love. I would talk to you constantly about everything I was seeing, hearing, and doing. You were my everything. But, then you were born. And I had to share you. 



Now, don’t get me wrong, I was so excited to share you with the world. I couldn’t wait for you to meet your amazing Daddy. I knew Grandma and Grandpa would be bursting at the seems to become grandparents. I couldn’t wait to lay you in your nursery, the same one that your great-grandmother raised your Poppy in. I wanted to be the best mommy, just like your Jammie was for me. Plus, I kinda sorta made you- and you were perfect- so I wanted to show you off. 

But, nonetheless, I was a bit sad at the loss of our secret little bond we had. So as they laid you in my arms, all I could think to say was, “Hi baby.” The time at the hospital passed in a blur and we were home before we knew it. 



Over the past year, I’ve come to realize that the secret little bond we had was nothing. When you call out for me in the night to come feed you, although I am tired and sleepy, I smile. You call for me. What magic. When you take a tumble, you reach out for me. When you decide you don’t want your diaper changed, or to be in your car seat, or to do whatever it is that we’re doing- you are soothed by my singing, my hugs, my love. 



You can be busily playing and smiling and the whole world thinks you’re happy, but I can tell that you’re secretly tired, or upset, or mad. As soon as I bring you to a quiet place, you dissolve into tears because you know you’re in a safe enough place to do so. You know Daddy and I will take care of you. 



You have learned such amazing things over the last year! You can walk, talk, and dance. You laugh and play peekaboo. You can roll a ball. You have a knack for taking off any shoe or sock we put on you. 



But, as much as you’ve learned, I’ve learned more. I’ve learned that sometimes the most wonderful moments occur at a 3am nursing session when I’m so tired I can barely function. You reach up, touch my cheek, and I’m cured. I’ve learned to slow down and to truly smell the roses, crunch the leaves and watch a bird sit in a tree, because nature is stunning, even in it’s simplest form. I’ve learned that our secret little bond of pregnancy is gone, and has been replaced by a much larger, much better one. I’ve learned that literally nothing matters unless I know you’re safe, cared for, and healthy. 



So while today we will place a candle on the top of your cake, Mommy will be there to help you, because it’s my birth-day and I couldn’t be more excited. 



Love always (and in all ways),

Mommy 

Pancake Cake 

A few weeks ago I wrote about the dreaded “V” word and how it had been making the rounds at our household. Vegan recipes have been a life-saver as we’ve dealt with Cupcake and me needing to avoid all dairy. There have been numerous occasions where we have made a vegan recipe and added meat to satisfy our omnivore family. My darling Cupcake is nearly one year old. We have been given the ok to trial her on some forms of dairy and yogurt has gone well. Since I am still nursing Cupcake, I am selfishly excited about the prospect of me being able to have dairy again. I am excited and hopeful that she will have outgrown her issues!  In the meantime, we have this cake that we affectionately call “Pancake Cake.”

A typical evening in the Momming Household looks like this:

I make dinner. Family eats. Dad bathes Cupcake and gets her ready for bed while I tidy up and prep Dad’s lunch for tomorrow. I meet them upstairs for a story or two. Daddy heads back downstairs to do the dishes while I nurse Cupcake to sleep. I join my hubby for an hour or two to hang out/watch tv/talk before bed. This routine works great for us.

Tonight, my hubby and I texted back and forth while I nursed that we’d like to bake a treat tonight once she went down for the night. By we, I mean I bake and he keeps me company. I was excited. Usually she nurses for 20 minutes, so I told him to preheat the oven so it’d be ready for me once she was done.

Cupcake must be headed into a growth spurt because she finally nodded off after 45 long minutes of nursing. She slightly roused as I went to put her in her crib. Usually she just wants an extra snuggle, but not tonight! “Me-me! Me-me!” she wailed. Now me-me is her term for nursing and all I could think was, what?!?! You are still hungry after a full dinner and a huge nursing sesh? Silly baby. You must be in the middle of a dream or something. So I tried snuggling her, but her me-me’s became louder and she was lifting up my shirt. I guess she was serious!

With only about an hour and a half until typical bedtime for Mommy and Daddy, I knew I had to encourage our baking along. I texted my hubby to take out a large bowl. I asked him to put in 1.5 cups of flour and 1 c of sugar just to, ya know, get it started. Cupcake was still nursing as if I never feed her, so I texted him the next ingredients. And the next. And the next. Before I knew it, he had made the whole darn thing!

Then, I got this:

He’s crazy. 

 Finally, after an HOUR AND A HALF- Cupcake stopped nursing. I stumbled downstairs (nursing an 11 month old for that long is no joke) and guzzled some water. Thankfully, I had a delightful cake to recover with! 

Oh, but wait, the oven decided to break (cue screams from horror movie). My hubby was so bummed after all of his hard work on his first ever cake. I couldn’t let that happen, so I poured the batter into two mugs, popped them in the microwave and voila! Cake in a cup! We topped it with a dollop of vanilla frosting. Amazing! 



Ingredients

  • 1.5 c flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt 
  • 1/3 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 t vanilla extract 
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 c water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. 
  3. Make three wells. Put the applesauce in one, vanilla in another and vinegar in the last. 
  4. Pour the water over the entire mixture
  5. Stir until mixed well
  6. Pour batter into greased 8×8 pan and bake 30-40 minutes 

Alternative Directions  

For cake in a mug, follow directions 2-5 as listed above. Pour batter into mug, leaving room for expansion (I filled about 2/3 of the mug). Bake for 1-2 minutes. Best served warm! Frosting melts on it, but it’s delicious. You can also top with hot fudge, chocolate chips, or maple syrup! 

Let me know what you think of this cake! Did you go the traditional route or did you make it in a mug? Leave a comment below! 

On Pins and Needles 

I’m just waiting. 

Waiting for the crying to start. Waiting to hear the tummy grumbles. Waiting. 

Who knew a bite of yogurt could evoke such fear? 

The first two weeks of Cupcake’s life were magic. Nursing hurt like all hell, but she was doing great. Within three days of leaving the hospital, she had gotten back up to birth weight, plus some. She ate like a champ. I was motivated to keep nursing until finally it stopped hurting. It was heaven and life was good.  

But it quickly became apparent that something was amiss. Cupcake spit up non-stop. We’d go through about 5-6 burp cloths a day and at least two wardrobe changes for all of us. My washing machine became my BFF. 

My friends meant well, but who wants to hold a pukey baby? The answer is almost no one. We tried every trick in the book, but it was getting worse. We held her upright after nursing. We let her sleep on an incline. Nothing helped. She was miserable. Admittedly, I was, too. 

I didn’t know how to help my baby. I felt like I was failing at this momming business. I spent hours and hours researching. I kept a food diary for two months to try and identify a link with when her spitting up was worst. We put her on Zantac to stop her potential reflux. Nothing was getting better. 

One night, as I changed my pajamas for the second time, I stumbled across a webpage that changed everything. I started reading about babies that have a cow’s milk protein intolerance (CMPI) These babies not only react to any dairy they ingest, they react to the cow’s milk proteins that get passed through breastmilk due to their mother’s diet.  Nursing mothers need to completely eliminate all forms of dairy from their diet if their baby has a CMPI. 

The difficulty is that a nursing mom can’t just stop eating dairy for a day to see a difference. It takes several weeks without these foods to notice a change. Additionally, dairy is hidden in SO many foods. As hard as it would be for this cheese and chocolate lover, I knew I had to try. I figured I had nothing to lose. If I went dairy-free for three weeks and there was no improvement, I wouldn’t be any worse off. At least I felt like I was finally doing something instead of just letting Cupcake be miserable. 

On August 10, I started my journey. I read every label in our house and knew which foods were “safe” (hint, hint, not many of them!). It was hard. I missed cheese. I wanted pizza and lasagna. I missed chocolate. I missed the freedom of ordering at a restaurant without having to talk to 5 different people to get my order right. 

However, within two weeks I noticed a change in my baby girl. She went from spitting up so many times a day I couldn’t even count, to just once or twice. She slept better. She seemed so much happier. I saw a lot less of my washing machine.  As time went on, she continued to improve. 

 I went to her next pediatrician appointment and told them what I was doing. They thought that her issues were strictly reflux and wanted to increase her prescription Zantac since she was growing and needed a higher dose. I declined.

Then came the inadvertent test in October. My husband and I had weaned Cupcake off her Zantac with no problems. We were at a party and, although I had checked the ingredients in one dish, I hadn’t checked closely enough and ended up eating some dairy. I had only has two bites when I realized. 

To try and make it a true test, I didn’t even mention it to my husband. I wanted to see if he observed any changes. Within 24 hours, Cupcake had spit up a few times, which she hadn’t done in quite some time. He definitely noticed the change in her and asked me if I had eaten anything strange! Thankfully, I had only ingested a small amount, so her symptoms stopped relatively quickly after one long night of not sleeping and quite a few tears. 

So I skipped all the dairy filled goodies of the holidays and had settled myself with the idea that I hadn’t had “real” pizza since August. Eating dairy-free was becoming easier and I was starting to not miss most of the foods I used to eat. 

Although I get the feeling the pediatrician might not totally agree with me, he’s being supportive. We found a dairy introduction guide to trial slightly before her first birthday, so that we could discuss the results at her one year appointment. 

So here I am. Waiting. 

I am about to give my daughter her first taste of dairy. If it goes well, we get to try butter next (yum!). If not, I willingly subjected my poor baby to the pain and discomfort that will follow.

Here goes nothing… 



Update: It has now been 24 hours since she had the yogurt. So far, all has been good! Totally as if nothing had happened. I am frightened to get too excited yet, but I am about to burst!!! 

A Day in the Life 

4 am: Cupcake wakes up and wants to nurse. Maybe hitting a growth spurt, because she feeds for 45 minutes! 

5:45am: Cupcake wakes up again. Hubby goes in to comfort her 

6:45: Cupcake up for the day! Make breakfast. Clean her up and change her. Play with her baby doll that she insists on carrying everywhere.

8:00: Get Cupcake and myself ready for the gym. Pack bags for both of us. 

8:30: Drop Cupcake off at “school” (gym daycare). Run and lift. Enjoy magical, peaceful, childless shower. Spoil myself and do my makeup AND blow dry my hair. 

10:30: Bring Cupcake home. She’s screaming cause she’s tired. Nurse her for 45 minutes. Put her in her crib to nap. 

11:16: My bottom hits the couch, and she’s wailing. I’m not going back up to feed her. She’s crying on and off. I hope and pray she’ll fall back asleep. 

11:35: Whiney cries turn consistent. I go to rescue her. She pooped. I change her and will her to go back to sleep with Jedi-mind tricks. 

11:45: My Jedi-mind tricks are not working. The force is strong with that one. She’s just giggling at me and trying to pet my face. She’s pointing around the room, “a this? A that?” This is an annoyed mommy. That is your crib, where you should still be napping. She gets so happy when she hears a bird. Nap time over. 

12 pm: Feed Cupcake lunch. She eats two bites of an apple and licks hummus off a piece of bread. I realize we don’t have anything in the house and eat a lunch of carrots and hummus. Good thing I ate my weight in cake last night, so my body has plenty to keep it going. 

12:20: Scan the flyer and my coupons to plan grocery store trip. Cupcake yells as loud as she can for about 10 minutes. I’m glad no one’s around for me to have to explain that literally nothing is wrong- she’s just yelling because she can! Fun! 

12:40: I pack Cupcake and I into the car and head to the grocery store. 

2:10: Attempt to bring in groceries. Cupcake wants to be held the whole time. At least she helps unpack the bags when it’s time! 



2:45: Snack time! Cupcake eats peanut butter, puffs, hummus and a piece of clementine 

3:00: I try to clean the house. Cupcake actually allows me to do this because she noticed a zipper on her hoodie. Note to self: always dress Cupcake with zippers. 

3:30: She got the hoodie off, so I’m done cleaning. We cuddle and read books instead. 



4:15: Best part of the day! Daddy gets home!! We enjoy the warmest weather we’ve seen since November and go on a walk. 

5:15: Cupcake is napping in the stroller, so my hubby sits outside while I go in and make dinner. We have homemade burgers with kale chips and pickles. Amazingly delicious for such a simple meal. Cupcake refuses to eat anything except pickles. 

6:00: Cupcake signs “All Done” and signals us that it is bedtime. Poor baby is so so so tired that she cries while I change her into pjs. She nurses, I sing, we cuddle, she goes to bed. 

7:00: Hubby and I plan her first birthday party. We get snacky and he offers to go out and get us a treat. I have eaten well all day, and hold strong. He makes us a berry protein shake that is amazingly delicious. 

8:00: We quickly tidy the house and get ready for bed. 

9:00: We like each other too much and we’re still up talking. Cupcake makes a peep. We realize we need to sleep before she wakes up for a nighttime feeding. We go to sleep. 



Happy National Pancake Day! 

What a difference a year makes! To celebrate one of the best days around last year, my husband took my verrrry pregnant self to IHOP for our free stack of pancakes. 

I was exactly 37 weeks pregnant and very much looked the part. I ordered my free pancakes…and a burger (extra pickles) and a root beer. 

Today we introduced Cupcake to pancakes. 



She was a bit suspicious of them at first. She had a taste or two and then wanted no part in it. This girl does not love sweets! We gave her a small taste of syrup and it was like we were trying to poison her! She hated it. 

Well, more for us! 🙂