Monday, August 29, 2011

20 weeks down, 20 weeks to go

I've hit the halfway mark of my pregnancy. It's getting awfully exciting these days. Here I am at 9 weeks (baby was the size of a cherry) and 19 weeks. The baby bump is currently in full effect:

Last week we went in for our ultrasound. Either someone was chopping onions nearby or my pregnancy hormones were kicking in because my eyes were tearing up the whole time. It was so amazing to see the little person in there. The ultrasound tech explained what she was examining, and everything appeared normal. I tend to worry...about everything so this put my mind a little more at ease. And then at the end, she asked if we wanted to know what we're having. Yes, please!...

We're having a girl!

Seeing her precious profile makes me want to sit up straighter. I don't want to squish her!

waving hello?

tiny baby foot!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

bits and bobs

  • I finally bought the makings for smores which I've been craving (along with every other sweet known to mankind). Now if only it'd cool off outside. Toasting marshmallows over the grill when it's 113 out just doesn't seem very pleasant.
  •  Just discovered a dark chocolate/caramel/sea salt candy bar at Trader Joe's. It's divine and messy and I bet it'd make uber-divine and uber-messy smores...
  • How great is this idea - watermelon salad in the form of "pizza"?! I'd definitely go the feta + mint route.
  • Even though I currently can't partake in adult beverages, I'm looking forward to celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary at Roy's for happy hour next week. It's "Hawaiian Fusion" cuisine and we ate at the one in Maui on our honeymoon. If you happen to have a Roy's near you, I'd highly recommend their "aloha" happy hour - great food and bev deals. It's one of the handful of chain restaurants we food snobs will eat at. Well, I'll gladly eat at more than my husband. How can you not like Carrabba's?!

Monday, August 22, 2011

make this now

I just got up from the dinner table and HAD to post about this dish. Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad. It's amazing. And it probably would have been even better if I had the requisite cilantro, or at least it would have looked prettier. But still, the flavors are wonderful - sweet roasted squash, nutty tahini, tart lemon, creamy chickpeas. It's perfect for this time of year - the transition from summer salad season to autumn squash season. (Granted, not here in Phoenix where it's supposed to hit a ridiculous 114 tomorrow. Not sure how our CSA farm is growing butternut squash...)

Here's the link!

Friday, August 19, 2011

cutest little cactus

A few weekends ago, we braved the heat (at 7am) to visit the Desert Botanical Gardens here in Phoenix. Our mission? To scope out plants for our front yard makeover...which may actually never happen due to minor life distractions like, oh I don't know, having a baby and working like crazy before said baby enters our lives?

I just wanted to share one little snap I took that morning. These pincushion cacti were scattered around the gardens, parked under big protective plants for shade. Smart thinking, guys. Aren't they just adorable with their little flower halos?! (I'm just practicing for the impending adorableness of baby-dom.)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

squash ribbon salad

A follow-up from yesterday. This may actually be my absolute favorite way to prepare/eat summer squash. A light vinegary salad to combat sweltering summer evenings. But just a warning - it needs to be prepared 2 hours ahead of mealtime. I forgot about that when I started making it last night. Doh!

Marinated Zucchini and Yellow Squash Salad
(adapted from Health Magazine, March 2009)

1/2 cup cider vinegar
4 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt, divided
2 lbs. zucchini and/or yellow squash
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 oz. part-skim mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4 inch cubes.
  • In a bowl, combine vinegar, sugar and 1/4 tsp. salt until sugar dissolves. Trim ends of zucchini and squash; cut into thin ribbons with a mandolin (1/16" thickness) or a harp-shaped peeler. Add to vinegar mixture. Cover and chill 2 hours.
  • In a food processor, add garlic, basil, lemon juice and olive oil, 1 Tbsp hot water and 1/4 tsp. salt. Process until smooth.
  • Drain squash and divide among 4 plates. Top with cubed mozzarella and drizzle with basil oil.

Note: I'm quite intrigued by all the squash ribbon salads out there. This one with feta and mint sounds especially delicious!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

stuffed summer squash

Being a CSA member has its ups and downs. The surprise of what's in this week's basket is fun. The challenge of putting together menus centered around the veggies is also fun. But week 6 of carrot-fest is not fun. The first few melons of the season are wonderous! Then a month of melons goes by and your melon-logged. Cucumbers are probably the most uninvited long-term guests. There's only so much you can do with a giant Armenian cucumber (especially when your husband doesn't even like cucumbers!)

It's summer, so in addition to being melon, cucumber and waning tomato season, summer squash season is in full effect. One can only eat so much grilled squash so recently I tried a fun new recipe - squash boats! Definitely a welcome addition to my squash repertoire.

Stuffed Squash with Turkey Sausage
(adapted from Simply Recipes)

6 medium zucchini or yellow squash
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 *healthy* Tbsp. dry white wine (I always add extra wine to recipes!)
1 lb. ground turkey
2 diced tomatoes (or a can of diced tomatoes, drained a little)
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil (or 1 Tbsp. dried)
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary (or dried)
A dash of fennel seeds
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper

  • Cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides, leaving shells about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick. Reserve about half of the insides.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Saute onion and garlic until soft. Add reserved squash insides and saute another 2 minutes. Pour out into a bowl.
  • Heat 1 Tbsp. of olive oil in the skillet. Add the ground turkey. Lightly brown the turkey, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Stir in the onion mixture. Add the wine. Stir in tomato, basil, rosemary and fennel and cook 1 minute longer. Remove mixture from heat and set aside.
  • When mixture has cooled, add cheese, egg, salt and pepper. Fill the squash shells with mixture. You're going to have some mixture left over - put it in a greased ramekin to bake alongside the squash. Place squash halves in a baking dish and pour water into the dish around the squash, about 1/4" deep. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, until golden brown. Remove squash from dish and serve while hot.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

vivid dreams

They say that when you're pregnant, you start having very vivid dreams. And I have noticed this, except I still have a hard time remembering them. The only dreams I tend to remember are on the traumatic end of the spectrum. Like the other night.

I had given birth, the baby was here! But we didn't have the crib put together yet. ...So I decided to lay the baby down on the ironing board.

As I get further along, I can't wait to see what other fearful parenting dreams my mind will concoct...

Friday, August 5, 2011

catching up

Life's been a bit hectic lately. Here's the run-down of what's been going on:

  • Vacationed in Europe for 2 weeks. It was great to tool around Belgium and the Netherlands but I've decided 2 weeks is a bit too long for me. As much as I love discovering new places and trying foreign foods, I'm still a homebody at heart.
  • We tried something new with Ginger when we went away. I couldn't bear to board her for 2 whole weeks so she stayed at home and got 3 daily visits from a pet sitter and a neighbor. She did pretty good and only started making messes the last few days. I guess she was getting mad about being alone. She's also developed an annoying barking habit since then. Every little noise outside puts her on high alert. Hopefully that dwindles the longer we're back/when the neighbors are done remodeling their house.
  • Just got back from a quick business trip across the country to my company's office. It was nice to actually have some human interaction - working from home can be a drag sometimes.
  • And the biggie...
  • I'm pregnant! With our first child! I'm currently 4 months along, feeling good, and rapidly expanding all of a sudden. I was lucky in that I never got terribly sick during the first trimester. I mostly didn't like drinking water or cooking. I can't believe my pregnancy is almost to the halfway mark. Just 11 more days until we find out if it's a boy or a girl! P.S. - I got pressured into finding out. I wanted to leave it a surprise just to be different, but practicality won out in the end!