Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pregnancy First Trimester

It's been so long since I've blogged, food or otherwise...long past due and I wanted to journal my trimesters of pregnancy.  I'll split it into 3 posts, one for first tri, one for second, and third.  Still have 5 weeks minimum left to go so there's more journey to get through, but I thought it'd be fun to share how I've felt and things experienced, uncensored with no glamorizing of pregnancy! :)

My pregnancy…a Christmas gift to never forget!

It all started on December 24, 2012.  It was just over a year since I stopped taking birth control or using any form of protection.  In November, my period was 16 days late, so I took 2 at home pregnancy tests that turned up negative.  Of course, I felt like it was just a waste of money to buy those tests from then on after my period came in November. Well, December came and by December 24, I was about 8 days late for my period again.  I didn’t think anything of it, just contributing it to stress and the holidays.  But my mother in law insisted that I try taking a test or two because I was having cramping and spotting but no menstrual period for almost a week.  She insisted that I do so, and even offered to pay for the tests.  So, I went to Safeway to get last-minute Christmas groceries on Christmas Eve and popped two tests in my cart.  Well, we all went off to Christmas Eve church service before I even took a test.  I remember drinking Starbucks thinking “This might be my last one for a while!” but I didn’t really believe it yet. 

When we got back, I squeezed in a test while dinner was being prepared.  I always thought I’d see just that one line and throw away the test.  Today was different.  Within no time at all, there were two pink lines.  TWO!  I couldn’t believe it.  I felt shaky, teary, and excited all at the same time.  I called Dwight in to tell him, and he popped my bubble by calmly saying, “You have to take another one tomorrow to be sure.”  It’s like he didn't believe it just yet!  But I knew.  I just knew!  I guess a mom knowsJ.  I told my mother-in-law, step-father-in-law, and brother-in-law who were there for dinner.  The next morning at 5:30 AM, just as hubby was driving away for work (on Christmas day!!), I took my second test.  I was right all along, baby Droze was for real!  I made an appointment to go to the doctor on December 26 to get everything confirmed and make sure the spotting and cramping was OK.  There is no feeling to describe the first time you’re pregnant and you didn’t even expect it to be that soon! (We thought a year or more later).

Well, at the doctor they found a gestational sac and counted me at about 6 weeks along.  The doctor told me that because we just saw the sac and no fetus yet, it’s not a guarantee that the pregnancy will last.  And that was the first time I ever thought about miscarriage.  And it wouldn’t be the last.

Fears, doubts, uncomfortable stuff:

After my 6 week appointment, I started taking prenatal vitamins right away.  I was nervous about being pregnant, not telling anyone at work yet except one person, and feeling very tired.  Just a few days after starting the vitamin, my system started stopping up and constipation hit me like a ton of bricks.  Little did I know that it would be constantly plaguing me all the way into 2nd trimester!  I was very thankful to not have any signs of morning sickness, just the worst exhaustion.  It was so hard to keep my secret at work because of being so tired, and my clothes felt uncomfortable so I had to start wearing yoga pants or leggings every day. 

When we got to 8 weeks, Dwight came with me to our appointment.  We got to see our lil one for the first time on the ultrasound, and we got a steady and healthy heartbeat.  That day is the day I got 5 vials of blood taken at once, and an uncomfortable 2-sample cup urine test!  What a day!  And it’s also the day we got our Pack & Play for baby.  Since my 6 week appointment, I was still suffering a yeast infection (which I had never had in my whole life until pregnancy...booOooo!) and at 8 week appointment I had to give in and start taking the over-counter prescription to fix it. 

In the midst of battling the yeast infection & constipation, not to mention fall-on-my-desk fatigue, one Saturday night at the end of January I had the scare of my life.  We had just got back from visiting my parents in Lincoln and were going to stay the night at my mother-in-law Wendy’s.  It was about 8:30 and we brought back dinner to eat and were planning to just relax.  I felt a funny feeling and went to use the bathroom.  I had some fresh blood, not a lot, but enough to scare me.  For the next day, I spent the time worrying, praying, calling the nurse & doctor advice line, and barely moving for fear of getting worse.  My sister-in-law took me to the doctor on Monday and they ran an ultrasound and baby was just fine, heart beating steadily.  To my relief, everything went back to normal starting that afternoon.  I had never been so scared before, so uncertain and worried about my little one. It was really and truly some of the worst couple days of my life. I learned so fast to empathize with those who have had losses in pregnancy OR even just difficulties that cause so much anxiety. 

Well, 10 weeks came and went, and soon we were at my 12 week appointment.  I loved seeing my little one each time on the screen, so bouncy now and looking much less like a blob.  We got to choose a midwife, and she has been wonderful so far.  After my 12-week appointment I told the office and everyone was happy albeit not too surprised.  I guess the yoga pants and frequent trips to the bathroom gave it awayJ.  Soon after, at 13 weeks, on Valentine’s day we announced baby’s coming to the rest of friends and family.  Since very early on, we knew that our good friends Holly and Jordan would be having a baby too just two weeks ahead.  What an exciting time for both of us to go through together!  I was so happy to have reached the end of the first trimester, and looking forward to maybe getting back some energy and growing a little more of a bump.

So what are my thoughts on the first trimester?

100% honestly not really fun.  I had so much anxiety over baby being safe or healthy and also I just felt cold, miserable, tired, and not very hungry.  I had an accounting class and business management class online and struggled to keep up with those, although I can proudly say I did finish them :)  I dealt with feeling anxious over being ready to be a parent, having finances in order, what to do with work, and how to keep my daily routine.  Now at 35 weeks, I can look back and say I DID IT-- as far as worked, came home, tried my best to keep up on my house, and tried to not be a worrier! :)  I would do it all over again for the blessing of a child, despite it not being the most glamorous time of my life.  

More to come about 2nd trimester!  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Zucchini, Potato, and Squash Casserole

Lately I have felt like I am in a food rut!  Pasta, potatoes, tacos...blah.  All of those foods are good in and of themselves, but sometimes you just have to do something different! Plus, it's now FALL!  Boots & leggings time! And comfort food time.  

 Last Friday my husband stopped by Boa Vista orchards on the way home from work.  We have the privilege of living 15 minutes from Apple Hill, a wonderful area of orchards and vendors just beyond Placerville on the way to Lake Tahoe.  For $11, he picked up a good amount of apples, squash, zucchini, and potatoes!  Since we aren't able to eat everything in one day, I needed to use up some of the vegetables for dinner this week.  I decided to try and make a casserole/layered vegetable dish.  This is completely made up and ended up being quite tasty.  It's super-easy to put together on a weeknight OR on a weekend for a side dish for entertaining!  Here goes:

Cheesy Zucchini, Potato, and Squash layer/casserole 

Servings:  3-4 at least.  Use more ingredients for a thicker casserole but keep in mind baking time will be longer to cook through

Sliced Zucchini (1-2)
Sliced Yellow squash (1-2)
Sliced Russet Potatoes (2-3)
Shredded cheddar cheese (I used a block cheese and shredded it)
Salt, pepper, herbs, garlic powder, etc.
Olive oil
1-2 bullion cubes dissolved in a few tablespoons of hot water
Chopped fresh shallots or onions

Directions:  Super easy.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spread a very thin layer of olive oil on the bottom of a large baking dish (9x13).  Begin with a layer of potatoes.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, herbs, and all seasonings of your choice.  Add some layers of zucchini and squash.  Season as you go on each layer.  

I also sprinkled finely-diced onions on the vegetables:

Top the veggies with shredded cheese, the amount up to your personal preference.  I used a brand from Safeway called Open Nature, mild cheddar cheese. It melts very smooth and it's also not dyed any yellow or orange color, so it comes out white and very natural looking:

Continue to layer until a few times. On your last layer of choice, use the shredded cheese as the last item as it will melt and brown very nicely. 
The next step is to take the bullion that you have dissolved in a few tablespoons of very hot water and sprinkle it evenly on top, letting the liquid drip through the veggies.  I used my favorite Rapunzel salt-free vegan bullion:


Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for at least 15 minutes.  I'm such a throw-together cook, I don't monitor my cook times as well as I should, so I'm sorry it's not perfectly accurate.  I used a fork to check the softness of the potatoes.  At the very end, I set my oven on BROIL for just a few minutes to get that nice golden-brown crust on the cheese and veggies.  

The finished product looks like this:

We just ate this as is, but you could serve with some crusty bread and a salad for a great vegetarian dinner.  Or, use this dish as a tasty side for entrees.  If you prefer more creaminess, a roux-based cheese sauce made with a little flour, butter, cream cheese, and shredded cheese of your choice would be great!  Perfect for those chilly fall days.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cassie Craves: Macaroni and Cheese-Stuffed Tomatoes

Here's a fantastic looking recipe!

Cassie Craves: Macaroni and Cheese-Stuffed Tomatoes: Ever since I was a little girl, I've loved eating macaroni and cheese with a side of sliced and salted tomatoes. I don't know what it is I e...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper YUM

Lately we have been eating a lot of homemade sandwich spreads, whether it be hummus or red pepper.  It has so nicely elimitated the need for cheese or faux lunchmeat on sandwiches, which saves me $ on groceries and is healthier.  I'm going to apologize in advance for no pictures.  I have had such a bad habit of not taking enough pictures because I'm always cooking these things on the fly.  One interesting fact:  I usually HATE red peppers, roasted or raw.  I absolutely loved this spread, and roasting the pepper at home makes such a difference.  Here goes:

Roasted Red Pepper spread
 (adjust amounts according to how much you need)

1 Red Bell pepper
Sundried tomatoes (I use Trader Joe's, dried, not packed in oil)
Olive Oil
Italian Seasoning
Ground black pepper
2-3 cloves garlic (or less if you are sensitive to it)

Easy Directions:

Cut the pepper into relatively flat pieces.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and turn the broiler setting on in the oven.  Place the pepper pieces on the baking sheet and place about 4 inches from the broiler and roast for about 10 minutes.  The pepper pieces should have the lovely black crisp on them and the smell is amazing. 

Take the pepper pieces out of the oven and place them on a plate.  Cover the plate tightly with plastic wrap for about 15 minutes.  This will allow the skin to cool and it will peel right off.

Blend the peeled pepper with a handful of sundried tomatoes, seasonings to taste (I'm very generous with the italian seasoning), about a tablespoon or so of lemon juice, the garlic cloves, and olive oil.  I don't measure the olive oil exactly.  I usually gauge how much I put in by the texture the mixture is blending to.  I like the spread to slightly resemble pesto (a little oily with some texture). 

This will keep for a couple days in the fridge.  It is delicious on sandwiches, or you could use it for pasta or protein entrees.  Enjoy!


Monday, April 30, 2012

EASY awesome HOMEMADE calzones!

So this weekend was crazy active!  Sunday morning we were up at 7:00 to go golfing from 8-12, and then we came home and tried to take a short nap and then cleaned the entire house upside down.  Adding to that we went out for an errand and BOY did I NOT feel like cooking when I got home, but we had already eaten lunch out earlier and I'm not keen on eating out more than once a day unless we're on vacation.  So we tried something fun and different for dinner:  homemade Calzone!  Using my favorite Fleischmann's Pizza Yeast, I made one packet recipe of dough and it was just scrumptious.  Thanks to Dwight for helping put the Calzone together! 

Here's the easy recipe:

1 package Fleischmann's Pizza Yeast
Lots of Italian Seasoning/ herbs (no measurements, just however much you love!)
Lots of fresh chopped garlic
Olive Oil
Parmesan cheese
Butler soy Curls (or chicken, whatever you prefer)
Any other toppings/ fillings you like


Follow the Pizza yeast directions for one batch, on the back of the packet.  The only revisions I make are adding lots of fresh rosemary chopped and/or lots of dry italian seasoning and also use a little extra salt so the dough isn't so bland.

Stretch the dough out to an even thickness and start with spreading sauce, then add all of the other toppings and fold dough over, pinching corners together to stick.  My husband was so nice to do this part for me!  The wrestlin' of the dough:-)

Spray a rectangular cookie sheet/baking pan and transfer the huge hot-pocket (that's what it reminded me of) on the pan.  Brush the top with olive oil (this part is very important because it helps the calzone come out crispier & browned), sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and a little extra salt and herbs if you like.

Bake from 400- 425 until golden.  I baked it at 425 for about 6 minutes on the lower rack, then transferred to middle rack and baked on 400 until golden brown, just kept an eye on it and made sure it didn't burn.

Soooo easy & soooo delicious! 

This recipe makes plenty for two.  A Calzone of this size easily could cost $20 at a restaurant, $14 bargain priced.  I think my ingredients might have totaled $5.00 at the most.  Here's what I had to look forward to for lunch today:

And here's how yummy it looks on the plate:


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Trying Foods i HATE

So I have not blogged for a long time!  I have been trying to update my blog name and take more pictures.  Hopefully I'll be back in the swing of things shortly.  For today, I wanted to share a simple and yummy healthy recipe I threw together for work lunch today.  I have decided to try to incorporate foods I do NOT like the taste of, but are highly nutritional, in order to not miss out on any more nutrients!  So this week I am trying bell peppers.  I abhore them, especially raw--which will be my next step.  For today, I lightly cooked red bell peppers and later this week I will try a yellow bell pepper ...*gasp* RAW.  I am probably going to get some vegan ranch to go with it.  Here's today's easy recipe:

Cooked brown rice
Red bell pepper (1)
Soy Sauce
Veggie sausage or tofu

Sautee the red bell peppers, sliced into strips, in some olive oil & add soy sauce for flavor.  Add the tofu or veggie sausage as well.  Sautee only until the bell peppers are just cooked.  Add to the cooked rice & you have a quick, easy rice bowl packed with good nutrition.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Kitchen Klutz!

I would love to someday be considered a gourmet cook.  But sometimes I wonder if it skipped me to be a SAFE cook!  Before I got married, I lived at home with family and had an expert Grandma and mom cook that I should have definately soaked up more advice from and time with in the kitchen.  But since that didn't happen for one reason or another (school, relationship, having FUN out of the house), I ended up starting to cook a few years into my relationship with Dwight.  I'd make Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner, and occasional recipes.  Then after marriage, being on my own forced me to try it all.   I've realized that even though my food comes out good, there's often some mistakes or general klutziness that happens before the finished product. 

Of course, the standard set-the-fire-alarm off has happened to many.  But I wonder if any of you have left your stove burner ever so slightly on, so that gas leaks out?  Mmm-hmm, I'm guilty.  The scariest part of that incident is that I returned home from work around 5:00 pm the NEXT day, to realize my whole apartment smelled like gas and that we'd slept with the burner slightly on.  SCARY!  After a panicky call to my husband at his work, I aired out the place and went promply to Home Depot to buy a gas detector.  Of course I got teased with the "you tried to kill us!!" from my husband, but he was so calm and sweet about it.  Phew! So this may explain my current OCD with checking all of my burners every night. 

Significant kitchen mishap #2:  I learned real quick that potato peels and garbage disposals are NOT friends.  I peeled enough potatos to make a large pyrex baking dish of cubed potatos with sausage.  One of my favorite, delicious dishes and so easy to make.  Except that I peeled TONS of potatos and figured, "whatever, gotta get rid of 'um somehow," and proceeded to turn on my garbage disposal only to make a gross pond of brownish water in my sink.  This gave me anxiety through the roof, because we were moving from our aparment in three weeks and the last thing I wanted was a broken garbage disposal or a plumber bill.  Thank goodness for google and my husband--I learned from google that it is a plumber's nightmare and I learned from my husband that I should tell everyone to marry a handyman!  Gahhh! Lesson learned.

However, my most scary and ridiculously idiotic mishap came after we just moved into our new rental house.  We now have the old school coil electric stove, instead of the gas burners that almost snuffed us out in our old apartment (!!).  And we also have no microwave.  This combination proved fatal to my awesome large pyrex mixing bowl.  I was mixing together a quick batch of homemade chocolate-chip cookies to bring to my parents' for lunch, and when it came time to add butter, I realized it wasn't soft enough.  So, foregoing logical thought, I dropped a stick of butter into my pyrex mixing bowl, cranked the coils up to HIGH, and figured, "oh it'll just take a sec to melt this butter down a bit."  I placed the pyrex on the stovetop, and within what felt like seconds of me turning away from the stove, I heard a POP!! and turned around to see that my pyrex was completely blown to shards, and butter was promptly melting on the stovetop. 


The worst part of the ordeal was not losing my pyrex, or having my husband stifle laughter because I was very emotionally disturbed by my mistake.  It was leaving the lid to a delicious homemade pot of soup off to let it cool. 

The soup was right next to the pyrex.  Yup, go figure.  The soup had to be thrown away because the shards were small in some spots and I cut myself just trying to clean them up. 

At least we'd already eaten big bowls of the soup for dinner that night before I decided to blow glass up at random!

Well, on a positive note, I've taken these random "lessons" to heart and these particular mistakes won't be repeated.  I've decided to not let my klutziness and general airheaded demeanor not get in the way of my love for food and cooking.  Let's just hope these adventures diminish in frequency over time!