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Hungry Heart: January 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012

18 Week Update

Little Baby T is 18 weeks old!

4 Weeks
18 Weeks!
Baby T: is 5 1/2 inches and 7 ounces. About the size of a bell pepper or a sweet potato!
I also think maybe I felt the baby move a few times, but I am not really sure. Its hard to tell whats going on in there....

Weight: So far I have gained 7 pounds, but I get officially weighed at the doctor's office tomorrow.

Cravings:  Guacamole, Doritos, eggs

I'm currently obsessing over two baby related things; the nursery, and whether or not to find out the sex of Baby T.

I just can't decide what furniture to put in our nursery. I found a crib I love but can't decide on dressers or a changing table.
Which leads me to the next dilemma...

Whether or not to find out if Baby T is a boy or a girl?
I have been leaning towards not finding out. I'm not exactly sure why, I think I just want to be surprised when our baby is born.
It would be easier to decorate the nursery, but I am not really concerned about that.
(Mom and sisters would disagree, as they really, really want to go shopping!)

Tomorrow we have an anatomy sonogram scheduled, so we have to decide soon!
I am also really anxious to see that Baby T is developing properly, and I don't anticipate sleeping very well tonight.

Looking forward to seeing Baby T!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Back with a Vengenace

It's back!

My appetite, that is.
I'm finally back into the swing of cooking.

After gaining 3 pounds through my first 12 weeks of pregnancy, I gained 4 at my last appointment.
In 4 weeks!
I was a a little freaked out, but the nurse assured me I was well within the normal weight gain range.

I don't expect the results to be much different at my 18 week appointment on Tuesday.

Here's what we've been eating lately:

On Sunday I made a full on turkey dinner.
Mashed potatoes, stuffing, squash, the works.The standout was the gravy. SO good!
We have been using the leftovers throughout week.

I lightened dinner up a bit on Monday with homemade tzatziki dip served over spinach, with lots of veggies and some chicken breast.

Tuesday was pork tenderloin. Pork tenderloin is one of my favorites, and I have been having a hard time finding it in our grocery store lately. All they seem to have is pre-marinated loins injected with "up to 10% solution". Gross. I was psyched to see this all natural one in the store over the weekend.

This was the best pork tenderloin I have ever cooked. The flavors were simply honey and Dijon mustard, which were ok.
But the outside had a nice brown crust and the inside was moist and a touch pink.
I give credit to my cast iron skillet and meat thermometer.
Seared on the stove and then finished in the oven at 350 until the pork was 150.

I ate the more cooked ends, Jerry ate the pinker middle
I was also a fan of last night's dinner.
Jerry has been eating turkey leftovers all week, but I still had lots of turkey left over.
When I saw this recipe, I knew it was for me:

Food Network Magazine's Thai Chicken Soup

Onions, red peppers, curry paste, garlic, turkey stock, and coconut milk with thin rice noodles

Obviously I used turkey instead of chicken. I also added some freshly grated ginger and I substituted light coconut milk for regular.
It has 1/3 of the calories and fat of regular coconut milk.

This was delicious! Next time I would add a touch more curry paste or a little sriracha for extra spice.

What yummy things have you been cooking and eating this week?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lighter Pot Pie

Last week I was in the mood for a pot pie.
Now I don't know if you've ever looked at the calories and fat in a pot pie, but it isn't pretty.
Must be the 'gravy encased in pie crust' the puts it over the edge.

In the past I have made this lighter version of a pot pie, and it is one of my and Jerry's favorites.

(Note: this is not exactly what I would call a healthy meal. More like a lighter version of a really unhealthy one).

The first step in making this dish a little healthier is ditching the pie crust, and substituting puff pastry. You can usually find this near the desserts or fruit in the freezer section. 
Puff pastry certainly isn't a health food, but it is slightly better than a pie crust, and it will only be going on the top of our pies. 

One sheet of puff pastry thaws in about 30 minutes, so take it out of the freezer while you prepare your filling.

You can put pretty much anything you like in the filling of your pot pie. 
I went a little traditional with diced chicken and vegetables seasoned with sage and thyme. 

  • I sauteed half a yellow onion, 2 stalks of celery, and two carrots with one tablespoon olive oil and two tablespoons of butter. I added about 1/4 teaspoon of dried sage and 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme, plus salt and pepper. 
  • I added about 3/4 pound of diced chicken and cooked until almost done. 
  • To make the gravy, sprinkle in 2-3 tablespoons of flour, and whisk into vegetables. (It will look a little like paste). Cook for a few minutes, then whisk in 2 cups of chicken stock. 
  • At this point I added some frozen peas, corn, and pearl onions. 
  • Once the gravy came up to a bubble I turned it to low and added lots of chopped parsley.
Next I rolled out my puff pastry.

I cut a piece to fit over the top of my oven safe soup bowls.
Then added my filling, and placed the pastry on top.

I used an egg wash on top so the pastry would get nice and brown.
I also cut the leftovers into triangle and baked those as well.

Into the oven at 375 for about 10 minutes, or until a nice golden brown.

If you don't have oven safe soup bowls (these were made for French onion soup), its not a problem.
Just cut the pastry into the desired shape, and bake on a cookie sheet until brown. Then just top your soup bowl with them.

I'm not going to lie, the light flaky, buttery crust was the best part of this.
I did really enjoy the filling, but the puff pastry is the best part.

I wasn't a huge fan of the pearl onions, but I am willing to bet they were Jerry's favorite part.
I felt that the chopped onion was enough, so feel free to leave them out. Or add/remove any vegetables you want. I would have like asparagus in this.

You could add a puff pastry topper to any kind of soup, stew, or chili you want.
In fact, I will.
The package always comes with two pieces of puff pastry  :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Foodies Love Charleston

It just happened to be restaurant week in Charleston when we were there last weekend.
What perfect timing!
We got to eat at two pretty fancy restaurants for a pretty reasonable price.

Unfortunately, I am not really comfortable taking photos at super fancy restaurants.

McCrady's was birthday dinner on Friday night.
The building is on the National Historic Registry and and the menu was designed by James Beard Award Winning Chef Sean Brock.

It was an amazing dinner, where I had rutabaga bisque, pork belly, and chocolate mousse with a beet gel.

We had dinner at the slightly less fancy Magnolia's on Saturday night.
I had a tasty grit cake and perfectly cooked salmon there, but dinner at McCrady's was a just a touch better.

I think my favorite meal in Charleston was Sunday brunch at Hominy Grill.

This place is a local favorite, serving classic Southern food, by James Beard winning chef Bill Neal.

We had some southern fare on our trip (grits, crab, fried oysters), but I was really excited for a Southern breakfast!

Lauren and the boys started off the hour long wait with some Bloody Mary's.
Turns out the wait was only 15 minutes.
Also turns out the boys do not like Bloody Mary's.

Lauren made sure they didn't go to waste.

She only finished two :)

For brunch I got smothered eggs.
Poached eggs over a biscuit with ham and covered in mushroom gravy. 
(This was my one food cheat of the weekend. I ate soft eggs, generally not recommended for pregnant women. I just couldn't resist runny yolks on a fresh biscuit!)

This may have been the best breakfast I have ever had. I am certainly no expert on biscuits, but this biscuit was amazing. Light and fluffy and perfect for soaking up egg yolk and gravy.
Even the home fries were delicious, crispy and perfectly seasoned.

As delicious as the Big Nasty Biscuit that Brett and Jerry got for breakfast?

Featured on an episode of Man v. Food

A piece of fried chicken between a biscuit and covered with another Southern staple, sausage gravy.
Jerry said it was delicious, and cleaned his plate.
And ate a side of bacon. 

We finished brunch with a Hominy Grill specialty, chocolate pudding.

The chocolate pudding was featured on Food Network's Best Thing I Ever Ate: Chocolate
It was one of Alton Brown's favorites.
He was not joking. This pudding was intense! It tasted like a cross between a truffle filling and a really dense mousse. Super smooth and very chocolaty.
I inhaled this pudding an probably could have eaten another one.
Absolutely one of the best desserts I have ever had.

Overall the food in Charleston was outstanding.

If you are looking for a weekend getaway full of history, charm, and food, I highly recommend Charleston!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

#30 is Nice

Who knew turning 30 could be so much fun?

Wild Dunes, our resort on the beach
Birthday Girls
Broad St, Charleston
For Sumter

I'm so grateful to be able to share birthdays with my twin.
And thanks to Jerry and Brett for such a wonderful birthday!

Tomorrow I will go over all the delicious things we ate, and a beautiful plantation garden tour that Jerry and I took.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Squash and Potato Soup

Jerry and I are headed out of town this weekend. 
We are celebrating mine and Lauren's 30th birthday in Charleston, SC.

Jerry and Brett planned the trip for us, and picked the destination.
I am psyched to go to Charleston. I hear it is charming and historical, and quite the foodie town.

I am going to eat and take photos for 3 days straight.

Whenever Jer and I are going to be away for the weekend, I try to clear the fridge of random leftovers, or use up pantry items.
Last night's dinner was leftovers (ok, Jer had leftovers and I had a bowl of cereal and some carrots).

But Wednesday's dinner was random interesting.

I made a Squash and Potato Soup.
With pear and sharp cheddar.
Strange, but quite tasty.

I sauteed onion, garlic, a 1/4 teaspoon of rubbed sage and a pinch of cayenne pepper in one tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter.
Then I added 2 cups of diced potato and 1 diced pear. I added a tablespoon of flour and let it cook for a minute.
Next was 3 cups of vegetable broth and 1 cup of skim milk.
Once it came to a bubble I added one cup of pureed frozen butternut squash. (Store bought wold be fine).

After the soup cooked for about 30 minutes and the potatoes were soft, I pureed the whole thing with my stick blender.
I stirred in one cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese.

I topped the soup with a little more grated cheddar and some leftover bacon from our BLTs last week.

I loved the salty bacon on top of the smooth, slightly sweet soup.
Next time I would add a little more squash, and a little more sage.
(I love squash and sage, it reminds me of Thanksgiving).

Have a lovely weekend!
Be back next week with tons of pics from the trip.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Feeling the "Burn"

I had some mild pregnancy symptoms in my first trimester:
  • a little nausea that wasn't bad as long as I kept food in my stomach. I was lucky enough to never actually get sick
  • acne for a few weeks, especially by my jawline. This has since calmed down a little.
  • sore boobs
  • lack of interest in food
  • some digestive issues (I won't go into detail on those, but I have never been so aware of my digestive system in my life)
  • and the usual fatigue
Thankfully almost most of these symptoms have faded now that Baby T is 15 weeks.
Except one.


I have had heartburn from almost the day that I got pregnant.
It has nothing to do with the tiny little one growing inside me. Yet.

I have suffered from acid reflux (GERD) since I was 21.
I blame it on all the cheap gin I drank in college.

I have always been able to manage my heartburn with a prescription PPI (Nexium, Prilosec, etc).
Unfortunately, you cannot take those medications while pregnant, as they can cause birth defects.

At first I thought I might be ok, since my heartburn has always been worse when I drink coffee or alcohol. Since I haven't been drinking either of those, I thought my symptoms might not be so bad.
It doesn't seem to make any difference what foods I eat, I have heartburn nearly every single day.

For now I am managing to get by just chewing Tums or chugging Maalox. But I am a little concerned about when Baby T actually starts to cause the heartburn.
How could it possibly get worse?!

That being said, I have stopped limiting things in my diet that might give me heartburn (orange juice, tomatoes, spicy food).
I'm going to get heartburn anyway, I might as well eat what I like.

Take last night's dinner:

Layered bean dip with plenty of jalapenos.
I made my own re-fried black beans with onion, garlic, jalapenos, and spices.
I layered it in a dish with cheese, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, homemade guacamole, and sour cream.
Eaten with blue corn chips as utensils.

Here are a few of my other heartburn inducing meals from last week:

A Five Guys Little Cheeseburger and fries

Scrambles eggs with onion, ham, tomatoes, avocado, and covered in hot sauce
The most delicious BLT ever; with avocado, onion, and Sriracha sauce

I have a feeling the heartburn is sticking around for the next few months.....

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Greens and Beans

I don't think greens and beans are a Utica phenomenon, but they certainly are popular in central New York.
Almost every Italian restaurant in the city has greens and beans on their lunch menu.
We sure do love our escarole around here. 

Greens and beans are actually really easy to make, and only takes about 20-30 minutes from start to finish.
Plus, they are pretty healthy, complete meal.

Greens and Beans
about 4 servings

  • 2 heads escarole, chopped and rinsed (or one large bag of spinach)*
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Tbls olive oil
  • pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese, to taste
  • chicken or vegetable stock, about 1 cup
Saute the olive oil, onion, red pepper flakes until soft.
Add garlic and saute for a few more minutes. 

While the onions are cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil. Quickly blanch the escarole (about 2 minutes), drain, and add to the pan with the onions. You may want to do this in a few batches.

Once all the escarole is in the saute pan, add the stock, beans, and cheese.
Cook for about 5-10 minutes, med/med-low, uncovered.
If you like your greens a little 'soupy' feel free to add more stock. 

I used spinach for my greens (see note below)

First time using the new 12 inch saute pan Jerry got me for Christmas!

This is a great, inexpensive, one pot dinner.
You get carbs and protein from the beans, good fat from the olive oil, and lots of nutrition from the greens. Its loaded with fiber and would be great for Meatless Monday.
Perfect with a nice crusty piece of multi-grain bread, too.

*Escarole can be a little bitter, and blanching it takes away some of the bitterness.  If the bitterness doesn't bother you, feel free to skip this step. You can also skip this step if you are using spinach.
Simply add the raw greens to the pan once the onions and garlic are cooked. Add the stock, cover, and cook until the greens are wilted. Then add your beans and cheese.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fancy Shootin'

I mentioned the other day that I got a new Canon EOS Rebel T2i camera for Christmas.

So far, I love it.

And I also love the new f/1.8 fixed 50mm lens my sister bought me to go with it.

I am seriously impressed with all the pictures it has taken so far.
This lens is supposed to be great for low light, portraits, and food photography.

Lauren also got me the book Plate to Pixel. Its all about food photography and food styling. Can't wait to learn how to make my food photos look even better!

Here are a few shots I have taken with the new camera and lens:

Last night's dinner of greens and beans*

Cowgirl CeCi!

Christmas Brett

Can't wait to take more photos!

*Let me know if you are interested in the greens and beans 'recipe' and I'll post it tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Lost the Love

You may have noticed in the previous few months, Hungry Heart wasn't all that focused on food and fitness.
Its been very difficult to write blog posts and not mention that I was pregnant.

Especially since for the first 10 weeks of the pregnancy, food was not appealing to me.

I fell out of love with food.

I didn't have particularly bad morning sickness, but food just didn't look good to me.
I had to force myself to eat, and let Jerry do a lot of the cooking.
I stopping reading food blogs, and I stopped watching Food Network.

My lack of interest in food made it difficult to blog.

Fortunately, now that I 14 weeks pregnant, my appetite is finally coming back.

Though the first trimester of pregnancy (13 weeks), I have gained almost 4 pounds.
I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but from what I have read, it is completely normal.

I will dig up my week 4 photo for comparison later this week.
I am just starting to get a little bump, and only a couple pairs of my pre-pregnancy pants still button.

I've been really grateful to get some of my appetite back this week.
I've even been doing a little more cooking lately.

Yesterday's dinner was stuffed shells, leftover from New Year's dinner, and a big side salad.

While I am pregnant, the blog will still be about food, and a healthy lifestyle.
But obviously, it will also be about my pregnancy.

Along with food, recipes, and fun, I will give weekly pregnancy updates.

I hope you'll stick with me for this new adventure as we wait for Baby T!

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Christmas Wish

Happy 2012!

Is anyone else excited to start the new year?  
2011 was pretty good to Jerry and I, but I can't wait to see was 2012 will bring. 

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

I felt very spoiled this Christmas. I got to spend the holiday with lots of family, and it was wonderful catching up with old friends.  

I had many favorite Christmas moments, but here are a few of my favorites:
  • Christmas morning with Jerry. Sitting by the tree, eating babka, and opening presents. Especially my new Canon EOS Rebel T2i!
  • Food traditions with the family! Christmas Eve pierogi, Christmas breakfast of pannetone french toast and Prosecco, and many many cookies!

  •  Catching up with friends. It so nice to spend time with old friends (and their adorable children!)
  •  Decorating the tree with Jerry. One of my most favorite holiday traditions. My favorite ornament on the tree is one my Mom gave us when we got married.
    It is a Wishing Ball.


    Every year Jerry and I write down a wish and put in the ball.

    I love reflecting on the previous year's wish. 
    Here is our wish from 2011:

    A Growing Family

    I am so happy to announce that our wish for 2011 came true. 

    Jerry and I are expecting little Baby T on July 2, 2012!

    Cheers to Christmas wishes and an exciting new year!