After carrying a baby with you all the time for 9 months, it certainly is strange when you have the baby and all of a sudden you aren’t pregnant anymore. I remember watching Lucia take a nap in her crib when she was freshly born, trying to wrap my head around the fact that I could set her down, like, all the way over there, in that crib. Don’t get me wrong, I am ready to be done being pregnant and there are many things about it that I won’t miss. What I will miss is that squirmy little feeling of the baby moving around. The comfort that someone is always with you. And I’ll miss the built in laundry folding and remote holding shelf. But not that much…can’t wait for baby!
We’ve celebrated his arrival with family and friends, the hospital bag is (mostly) packed, the crib is (mostly) put together and I’ve been waking up randomly and been having more trouble sleeping, surely prepping me for upcoming sleepless nights. Let’s do this.
Lucia is doing her prep: taking extra special care of baby and talking about her baby brother a lot. She also has been carrying her own ‘baby’ in her tummy the whole time I have been pregnant. Her ‘baby sister’ is sometimes Claire and other times Ella. She’ll say, “uh, do you hear my baby?” or “do you feel my baby kicking?” or “I can’t do that Mom, because the baby is in the way”. Now when I talk about her brother being born, she says that the ‘babies’ are being born, hers and mine. We will see if her baby turns into her special imaginary friend.And I’m doing my prep: making food to freeze. I loved having some good meals on hand the first time around. This time, I made the freezer meals over this past week, saving a portion to eat for dinner and freezing the rest. This meant that I wasn’t cooking double dinners this 90-100 + degree week.
First up: my grandparents’ spaghetti sauce. I know I can just buy sauce but this recipe is the best and worth the effort to make. We had this spaghetti many times growing up as one of our Sunday meals after church at Grandma and Grandpa’s with the whole fam. Simple ingredients and it’s all about the simmer time. A whopping 3.5 hours. In that time, those ingredients magically transform from basic into deliciousness. The best sauce to have on hand. Everyone in our family who makes it seems to have their own modifications, some use a crockpot, ground turkey or frozen onion and peppers to cut down on chopping. This is my version which is basically the original.
The Recipe: G and G’s Spaghetti Sauce
- 1 and a half pounds ground beef
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (Grandma leaves out cause Grandpa doesn’t like garlic but I put it in)
- 2 green peppers, chopped
- 28 ounces canned tomato (I use whole tomatoes and squish them with my hands)
- 28 ounces canned tomato sauce
- oregano (enough to cover the pot of sauce)
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large stock pan, start to cook meat over medium high heat. Season with salt and pepper.
- Once meat starts to brown, add onions, peppers and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Turn heat down to medium and saute until meat is browned and veggies are soft. Drain.
- Stir in tomatoes and tomato sauce. Cover surface of sauce with oregano.
- Bring to boil, turn down to simmer, cover and simmer for 3.5 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with spaghetti noodles or the Wallgren fave: angel hair pasta.
Next up was stuffed shells from www.5dollardinners.com:
The Recipe: Italian Stuffed Shells
- 1 and a half boxes jumbo pasta shells
- 2 26 oz cans or jars spaghetti sauce
- 1 box/bag frozen spinach
- 1 and a half pounds ground beef
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp each salt and pepper
- 2 eggs
- Cook pasta, drain, rinse with cold water (to keep from sticking together) and set aside.
- Spread enough pasta sauce to lightly cover the bottom of each pan. I separated the shells between 4 small pans to freeze and one to bake right away for dinner. I used just over half a jar of sauce total to cover the bottoms of the pans.
- Cook frozen spinach according to directions, drain and set aside.
- In large skillet, brown meat with onions, drain. Add the rest of the sauce, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir in spinach and eggs.
- Spoon meat mix into shells and place in baking dishes. Spoon any extra sauce over the shells to keep them moist while cooking. Freeze until you want to use them.
- When you’re ready to eat, bake about 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees. For the batch we ate right away, I topped with shredded cheddar cheese. For the freezer versions, I will probably make a ricotta cheese, cheddar cheese mix for the top to put on part way through baking.
I also made my go-to cheesy chicken enchiladas. You can find the recipe on my old blog here. I didn’t want to include dairy in the frozen version so I made a few modifications: I left the sour cream and cheese out from the filling (leaving just chicken inside), and didn’t put sour cream in the sauce or cheese on top. When I bake a batch, I will add cheddar cheese to the top before baking then serve with sour cream or plain yogurt. It ends up tasting pretty much the same.I wanted to make a few quick breakfast or snack options so I made some muffins and baked oatmeal squares to freeze as well. Both recipes are modified from 5 dollar dinners.
The Recipe: Whole Wheat Banana Strawberry Crumb Muffins
- 3 ripe bananas, mashed
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 1/4 cup applesauce
- 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup mashed strawberries
- 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp butter or margarine
- Preheat oven to 350. Grease 12 muffin tins or line with paper cups.
- In a large stand mixer or mixing bowl, beat together the bananas, sugar, egg, oil and applesauce. Beat in the whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gently fold in 1 cup of mashed strawberries.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the whole wheat flour, cinnamon and brown sugar. Cut in the butter with fork or pastry blender.
- Pour the batter into the greased muffin tin and then divide the topping evenly.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 18 to 22 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
- Let cool on wire rack. Freeze on baking tray for a few hours then put into freezer bags. Freezing on tray first keeps them from sticking to each other in the bags.
- The recipe says it makes 12 muffins but I made 12 muffins plus 24 mini ones with the batter.
The Recipe: Baked Blueberry Oatmeal
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 3 cups of quick cooking oats
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 cup fresh blueberries (I actually used 1 cup blueberry, 1 cup raspberry)
- In large mixing bowl, whisk 2 eggs, applesauce, sugar and milk. Once creamy, add oats, salt and baking powder and mix through. Fold in berries.
- Pour batter into greased 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle top with brown sugar and cinnamon. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Or to freeze: Let the oatmeal cool completely, cut into single serving sizes, and freeze individual portions on a baking tray a few hours then put in freezer bag.
- To Thaw: Drop the frozen oatmeal square into a bowl, and defrost it in the microwave for a minute, then warm it at regular temp for a minute. Serve with milk or yogurt.
So we’re all stocked up with food and ready to go. I need to remember to do freezer meals more often. Meanwhile, it’s still summer and we’ve been trying to soak it all in. This month has been a fun month of visitors for us…
We had a great fourth of July weekend with the Wilson staying at our place.Lucia always loves to play with her good pal Zeke and help take care of baby Annika. I thought it was funny how serious they all were in this photo.It was sooooo hot that weekend so we had to head to some water to cool off on the fourth. It turned into a beautiful night.Perfect night to enjoy some fourth of July fireworks. These painted pianos are around the city for the public to play. It’s fun to see people go for it and see them play or sing. Lucia wanted to take her turn. More visitors this month included Grandma, Grandpa and Aunt Terry. We had fun showing them around Portland. Here we were at an old elementary school turned hotel/restaurant/venue/movie theater for a movie and some dinner.This is what Lucia did when I asked her to smile. Pictured out, I guess, although she did ask me to take this one in the first place.Snuggle time with daddy. I liked this picture because it reminded me of one from when Lucia was only 6 weeks old or so…
Last week we had my cousin Anne and her little girl Sommar to visit then Matt’s brother Jeff a few days later.This week warmed up to over 100 degrees for a few days and in the 90’s a whole bunch of other days so we’ve been trying to take some breaks from our house and keep cool at splash parks, rivers, places with air conditioning, etc. Yesterday we cooled off at the Sandy River, a serene spot amidst the trees about 30 minutes from our house. I love living so close to such natural beauty.