Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fig, Caramelized Onion, and Bacon Pizza with Arugula

Yesterday's Workout:
3 mile run
Shoulder/chest circuit

When I walked into the grocery store and saw figs were on sale last week, I knew I wanted pizza. Have you ever had figs on a pizza before? When combined with savory ingredients, it can be glorious. Caramelized onions are the easiest thing the whip up on the stove and make for a great pizza topper. Bacon, same deal. The addition of peppery arugula balances everything out really well and adds a nice fluffy crunch with every bite. Plus, it's pretty - really pretty. Brent was enamored.


Fig, Caramelized Onion, and Bacon Pizza with Arugula

Ingredients:
1 lb raw pizza dough (can be found in the deli section of the grocery store)
1/2 Tbsp cornmeal
6 Tbsp fig spread or jam
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
2 ounces cranberry/cinnamon or regular goat cheese, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp oil
2 strips bacon, diced
6 black figs, thinly sliced
3 C arugula, tossed in 1 tbsp oil and lightly sprinkled with salt

Preparation:
  • Allow pizza dough to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes; this makes it less elastic and easier to work with.
  • Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour a large piece of parchment paper and roll the dough out as thin as possible (about a 10" x 17" rectangle if using a baking sheet). Sprinkle a baking sheet evenly with cornmeal to prevent it from sticking to the pan when cooked. Taking the parchment paper by either end, flip the dough over to transfer onto the baking sheet. It comes off easily from the parchment paper this way. Lightly oil the dough and sprinkle with salt.
  • Spoon the fig spread over the pizza dough and spread evenly using the back of the spoon. Place the mozzarella slices and goat cheese slices evenly over the pizza. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until crust is light golden brown and cheese is bubbling.
  • While the pizza is cooking, melt the butter and oil over low heat and add the onions. Cook on low, stirring often to prevent burning, until browned and caramelized. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  • While the onions are caramelizing, cook the diced bacon in a small frying pan over medium heat. Transfer to a paper towel and set aside.
  • When the pizza has cooked, remove from the oven. Evenly spread the caramelized onions, bacon bits, and sliced figs over the pizza. Return to the oven for 1 additional minute. Remove and evenly pile the arugula over the pizza.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Second Trimester Recap

Weeks 14-17: As promised, my energy returned during the second trimester, which came at a good time because we traveled with my mom and stepdad to Chicago and Michigan during this time to visit Brent's family and celebrate our baby news. They threw us a wonderful baby shower, and it became quite surreal to be opening up gifts for our baby that day. At this point in time, it was still really early on, I wasn't even close to showing, we had no idea what the gender was and hadn't gotten a chance to put together our registry yet, but I was blown away by how generous and thoughtful my in-laws and their families were. Brent's aunt is a sewing master, and she gifted our baby with so many amazing handmade outfits and blankets - I did everything to fight back tears that day, let me tell ya. I think my saving grace was when we opened up a package from Brent's cousin with two books inside: Go the F*ck to Sleep and Sh*tty Mom. Apparently, that was supposed to be a gift for us that we opened when we got home, but it got mixed in with the baby gifts - let's just say, everyone had a pretty good laugh! This all opened up a can of worms when we returned home because all I could thing about was putting the nursery together. I went out the following week and purchased Seventh Generation detergent so I could do my first load of baby clothes. It was all the motivation I needed to begin our registry, and I pretty much ate, slept, and breathed baby everything for the entire month of May. Reality did eventually kick in, and life resumed as normal, I promise I'm not entirely crazy.

Weeks 18-22: The big happening during this period of time was being able to find out the gender, which also happened to mark the halfway point in the pregnancy. We were beyond excited to hear the ultrasound technician say we were having a little boy. We sort of had an inkling from our 12 week ultrasound...we may or may not have seen a third leg during that scan...but we were ecstatic nonetheless to have it officially confirmed! If you ask me, I think I started showing a wee bump around the 19/20 week mark, and I was way more excited about it than I expected to be. Brent and my mom would laugh at me because they thought I was crazy, and Brent was convinced he looked more pregnant than I did.


Yeah, I know, we're ridiculous...

On a more serious note, I had a mini freak out during this time. One day, I started experiencing really bad abdominal cramping, so bad that I was curled up in fetal position for the night, and I started to feel like I was having contractions. Googling this shit is like the worst idea one could have, but when you're pregnant, no one accuses you of being the most with-it you'll ever be. So of course, I jump to the conclusion that I must be going through preterm labor, was on the phone with the nurse crying, and was told as long as I'm not experiencing bleeding, that I was okay, and to just drink as much water as I could and keep my feet up. Brent was on the ready all night in case he had to whisk me off to the hospital. By the next morning, I woke up feeling completely normal (thank God)...and when I looked in the mirror, I couldn't believe my eyes. It also began to make sense why my abdominal region was in such discomfort - it was being stretched by a little baby wanting some more space!


Weeks 23-26: I'm at 26 weeks now and closing in on the end of the second trimester. My energy is still pretty high, so I've been taking advantage of that while I can. I'm still logging in about 20 miles a week, slow and steady of course, and I'll be starting prenatal yoga classes next week that will go through early September. I've heard some really great feedback about prenatal yoga from my friend, Lauren, who had her baby boy in April, so I'm really looking forward to trying it out. The bump is growing by the day, and I love everything about it! My friend, Allyson, gifted me with a tankini to get me through the summer so that I don't have to endure any weird looks while donning my belly in a string bikini.


I really haven't had any sort of cravings this trimester - I tend to love all food these days - but I will say, it gets harder to say "no" to foods I wouldn't normally eat (i.e. ice cream, pasta salad, and baked goods), so I'm rolling with it, and indulging every now and then. I'll worry about losing baby weight later! We made this cookies and cream ice cream using coconut milk last week, and I have to say, that is one indulgence I will never regret - and I highly recommend you try it yourself.

We have started to get some of the nursery put together. We're trying to buy the furniture little by little, and after my baby shower next month, we will take care of everything else.  At my 25 week appointment, I found out I'm up a total of 15 lbs so far since pre-pregnancy, so right on track in the healthy range. So far, I really can't complain because I have had no discomforts (after my bump emerged), and while it's been a hot summer, I've managed to coast by with lots of water, frozen lemonade, central air, and light maxi dresses.

Some things I'm really looking forward to over the final three months are:

- my baby shower next month
- starting prenatal yoga
- attending my friend's wedding up in Maine...sporting the bump on the dance floor, obviously!
- being able to wrap up things at work before maternity leave
- setting up the rest of the nursery
- going on a "Babymoon"...we haven't quite gotten around to planning this yet, it'll likely be a weekend getaway to a nearby New England coastal town where we can relax, hang out on the beach, go to dinner, walk around, and soak in the final moments of being a twosome. If anyone has recommendations, please let me know!
- meeting our baby boy for the first time, of course! I'm surprisingly not at all nervous about labor and delivery. In a weird way, I'm looking forward to it, because I know the prize at the end is going to be more than worth it :-)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Weekend Recap

Yesterday's Workout:
4.5 miles

Sunday mornings are becoming my new favorite time of the week. I wake up early and hit the track for a jog. It was cooler out than it had been the past few weekends and overcast - perfect running weather. I laced up and rocked my new workout gear. I felt great and ended up doing 4.5 miles at about a 10:00 mile pace. Toward the end, the back of my right leg started to feel a little tight, so I went home and stretched it out - I think I might have experienced the first real sciatic pain of the pregnancy so far but nothing a deep stretch couldn't fix.

For breakfast, I wanted to do something a little different than my usual yogurt/fruit/granola, so I tried out this recipe for a blueberry dutch baby pancake. It's basically a cross between a giant pancake and thick crepe, loaded with fresh blueberries and baked in the oven. It was fantastic.


For lunch, we hopped in the car and headed to my mom's to take her and my aunt out for their birthdays. Jasper loves going to visit and couldn't get us in the car fast enough!


I stepped foot in Olive Garden for the first time in like seven years. The salad was just as good as I remembered - yes, I know it's a bag of salad mix tossed in Good-Seasons-esque dressing, but it's just so good. The breadsticks were way more buttery and salty than I had remembered. And the food - eh, it was so-so. I got the most non-creative meal on the menu because everything else seemed to come with their calorific alfredo sauce. I got cavatappi pasta with their tomato pomodoro sauce and a side of meatballs. The pasta, I could have made at home myself, and the meatballs I'm convinced were defrosted and reheated, served without sauce - what the heck, right? Who serves meatballs without some kind of marinara to coat them? I filled up on the salad before the meal, so I didn't eat much of the pasta anyways. So basically, I think I'm good with Olive Garden for another seven years after I finish the leftovers at lunch today.

One of my favorite parts of the weekend was throwing on my painting gear, blasting music on the deck, and going to town on my new...


...outdoor bar! My stepdad built it for me as an early birthday present, and I absolutely LOVE it! Now all I need is some nice acrylic drinkware, and I'll be all set! I think I'll be making a trip to Pier 1 and Home Goods this week to scope it out. He still has to add the shingled roof, but he wanted me to paint it before he did that. I went with a flat white color, and I only ended up doing one coat - I kind of like the vintage look that one coat of paint gives. I might distress it by taking sandpaper to some of the edges, but we'll see. I can't wait to get some use out of it at my baby shower next month!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Frozen Chocolate Covered Banana Bites with Sea Salt

I feel like this probably shouldn't even be a real recipe considering it's just dipping frozen banana chunks into chocolate and sprinkling with sea salt but whatever. It's damn good and worth its own post, if just for the homemade magic shell alone. Feel free to try with other fruits: pineapple, strawberry, and mango are next up on my list!



Frozen Chocolate Covered Banana Bites with Sea Salt

Ingredients:
3 ripe bananas, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 cup chocolate chips
2 Tbsp coconut oil
Sea salt
Creamy peanut butter, optional
Toothpicks

Preparation:

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sliced bananas onto the parchment paper and stick a toothpick through the middle of each. Put the baking sheet in the freezer for about an hour, until frozen.
  • To make the magic shell, add the chocolate chips and coconut oil to a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir and continue to microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring in between, until fully melted. 
  • When the bananas are finished freezing, dip each one into the magic shell to coat and place back onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle sea salt over the tops. For optional deliciousness, add a dollop of peanut butter to the top of each banana bite. Return to the freezer for 15 minutes to allow the magic shell to set. Store the chocolate covered banana bites in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a week. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Weekend Recap

Yesterday's Workout:
1.5 mile walk with Jasper
Cardio/Arm Circuit:
1.5 mile run
1 x 12 tricep overhead extension
1 x 12 tricep dips
1 x 12 tricep kickbacks
1 x 12 skull crushes
1 x 12 bicep curl
1 x 12 alternating bicep curl, each arm
1 x 12 hammer curls
1 x 12 alternating hammer curls, each arm
*Repeat circuit for a total of 2 rounds

This was one of those rare weekends where we had no plans. We were all "wow, this is great, we can get a few things done during the day, cook a really exquisite meal and rent some movies Saturday night, enjoy the freedom of relaxation that will be a distant memory in just a few short months..." I don't know why we still think this is even a possibility anymore. See, I have it in my head that while I have all this energy still, I need to harvest it and take advantage of it while I can...before the days of weeble wobble, swollen joints, and extreme exhaustion kick in. Until that happens, I find it very hard to just sit back and relax. And all the while, my poor husband has to put up with me. He's likely counting down the days until the nesting period begins - to be completely honest, so am I!

We did manage to sneak out for a little date night on Friday. It was one of those split second decisions, it was 6 o'clock, we mumbled about how neither of us wanted anything that we had in the fridge, we didn't want to cook, and by 6:30, we were sitting at Wayside Inn. Our meal was fantastic! I had mixed greens in an apple cider/yogurt dressing to start, parmesan-crusted chicken breast with green beans and delmonico potatoes for my entree, and Indian pudding for dessert. Brent got clam chowder to start, a lobster roll for dinner, and also got the Indian pudding for dessert. We went halfsies on our entrees because both of us were having trouble deciding between the lobster roll and the chicken, so it worked out perfect! I had never tried Indian pudding before, so I was intrigued how the texture would be. It was like the entire fall season exploded in my mouth all that once...a.k.a. it was phenomenal.


Our town has their Farmer's Market every Saturday morning, so we ventured over to check it out. We scored some fresh veggies, dog treats, and the most delicious peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies you will ever have made by a local baker.


So when I pulled in the driveway on Friday afternoon, I saw a giant box sitting on the front step, which could mean only one thing...the crib came. Nothing makes this more real than putting together the crib, my friends. So this became our Saturday afternoon.




From start to finish, it took a little over an hour to assemble. Brent did most of it, I was only needed to hold the sides up at the end. Jasper was, of course, right there in the middle of it all, making sure everything was done to his standards. We went with this crib, for the reviews and the price, and we love it now that it's all set up! I'm not posting any "after" pictures yet because I plan on doing a whole nursery reveal post later on. After all that work, the pup was tired and assumed his usual napping position.


My mom came over for lunch, and we sat outside catching up and planning my baby shower. She brought her little Yorkie with her. Dogs love this lady.


Sunday, we took Jasper for a walk in the morning before it got too hot, ran a million and one errands, cleaned the house, and finally we were able to sit and enjoy the weather over some drinks in the afternoon. Brent is becoming a frozen virgin drink PRO these days. He concocted this pina colada for me yesterday, and it was so refreshing!


While he sat and enjoyed his gin and tonic...


Then he made dinner: spice rubbed ribeye with grilled zucchini and summer squash served with pesto that we got at the farmer's market. I'm spoiled!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The multi-functional pregnancy pillow

Yesterday's Workout:
3 miles
Shoulder and chest circuit

One of the most common complaints during pregnancy is the ability to sleep comfortably. As if the soft cheese, cold cuts, sushi, and alcohol restrictions weren't enough, there are even rules on how to properly sleep while pregnant...on your side, ladies - particularly the left. P.S. am I the only person who sings Beyonce when I hear that phrase?

Anyway, have you ever tried to sleep on your side for 7 hours straight, one hip stacked on top of the other? It's horrible. So the rave in pregnancy world are these special pillows that make it easier and more comfortable to sleep on your side.  There are a few different ones out there, but the one my coworker lent me is the Snoogle. And it just happens to look like a giant hook worm. The most comfortable hook worm you will ever cuddle up to.

I'm a stomach sleeper all the way, and up until now, I haven't had much trouble sleeping this way. I've managed to find a way that I can extend my knee out to the side to prop my hip up so that I'm sort of tilted to the side but still on my stomach at the same time without applying too much pressure to my belly. I'm basically a magician.

But now that I'm not too far from entering the third trimester, even my magical position is getting to be tough. I find myself constantly shifting, making sure I'm not putting too much pressure on my stomach region. I can also feel the baby movements a lot easier when I'm on my stomach, and this alone can keep me up for hours in the middle of the night. Enter: the hook worm snoogle. I've used it a handful of times this trimester, but mostly just when I'm feeling growing pains and know I need a restful night of sleep where I don't move. It can get a little warm snuggling next to a giant hook worm all night, and I tend to forget about it until I'm already in bed and don't want to get back up to walk the 5 feet to the closet where it's stored.

I'm lucky that my coworker was kind enough to donate it to my comfortable pregnancy cause because for about $60, it seems like it would be a giant waste of money, especially since I can't imagine women use it for more than a total of 6 months of their entire life. BUT if you have a dog and you are pregnant or planning to be pregnant, I highly encourage you to splurge the $60 on the snoogle. It turns out, it's multi-functional. Not only does it serve as a pregnancy pillow, but it makes a very comfortable dog bed.


Leave it to this guy, I tell ya.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Blueberry & Chocolate Chip Banana Bread with Cream Cheese Swirl

Yesterday's Workout:
5 miles

Because the world doesn't already have enough banana bread recipes - seriously, I think half of the blogs I read on a daily basis have posted their own assortment of banana bread recipes in the past two days - and I'm only going to add to it.


On Friday morning, I noticed I had 3 almost overly ripe bananas sitting in a bowl on my counter, and what else do you do with 3 brown, mushy bananas? Make banana bread, duh. The tropical storm was going to be hitting us at any moment, so I thought it would be a good excuse to turn my oven on for the first time in 3 weeks. I don't know about you, but when it's 90 degrees out, I refuse to turn on my oven. Not gonna happen. But lucky for me, 4th of July was a chilly wash-out.

I love good old-fashioned plain banana bread, but I had about a handful of blueberries left in the fridge and half a bag of mini chocolate chips left over from the week before when I made chocolate dipped bananas (that recipe is coming soon). Bananas, blueberries, and chocolate are a threesome made in heaven. But add a cream cheese swirl to that? Oh my. We tore into the bread immediately after it came out of the oven, and by Monday morning, all that was left was a 2 inch cube...you know how that happens. You go back to cut a little piece, then you go back to cut a little more, then a little more, and before you know it, there's one tiny bite-size piece remaining that will sit on the plate for days because no one wants to be the one to finish it and have to wash the plate. I'm never ashamed to be the person that takes the last piece.


Blueberry & Chocolate Chip Banana Bread with Cream Cheese Swirl

Ingredients:
1/2 C melted butter or coconut oil
3/4 C white granulated sugar
1/4 C brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 C vanilla non-fat Greek yogurt
3 small bananas, mashed
1 1/2 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 C blueberries
1/2 C chocolate chips
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 350° degrees. Grease and lightly flour a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars. Add the eggs, vanilla, yogurt, and bananas. Mix well to combine.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in the blueberries and chocolate chips.
  • In a separate small bowl, mix together the cream cheese and 1/4 C sugar. 
  • To the loaf pan, pour half the banana bread batter and spread evenly. On top of that, add the cream cheese layer and spread evenly. Pour the remaining half of the banana bread batter over the cream cheese layer, spreading evenly and smoothing the top. 
  • Bake for 1 hour, until golden brown on the top.