Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Cassie's Cajun Crab & Spinach Stuffed Chicken

I made a wonderful dinner. I kept seeing all these cheese stuffed chicken recipes on Pinterest and while they looked good they just didn't have everything I was looking for in a stuffed chicken breast. So, I concocted my own!

  • 4 Chicken Breasts pounded out (about 1/4 inch)
  • 1/2 Package Fresh Spinach
  • 2 T. Butter
  • 1 Package Crab Meat (I used the imitation crab because I couldn't afford the real stuff).
  • 1/2 c. Shredded Cheese (any kind you want, I used half cheddar, half monteray jack)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • red pepper
  • paprika
  • chili powder
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • oregano

I started out by putting the 2T. butter in a skillet and melting it down on medium heat. I add all the seasonings to the melting butter (I didn't give amounts because we like things very spicy in our house and most people would use way less....so eyeball it). Then you dump the half package of spinach into the melted butter.
Use some tongs and start stirring and tossing the spinach until it cooks/wilts down. It goes quickly, maybe 2 minutes...it will look like this.

I put the spinach into a big bowl to cool and while that was going on, I had my kitchen helpers shred my cheese for me... (they got a bit carried away and we had a REALLY CHEESY dinner!) Then I cut the crab up (next time I will either cut it up much smaller or shred it). I add the shredded cheese and the crab to the spinach and stir until everything is mixed well.

Once you are all done with the chicken it is time to do some stuffing. I packeded as much as I could on the chicken (you need to be able to wrap the chicken all the way around your stuffing and close it with toothpicks or kitchen twine).

Once you get them all wrapped up, stick them in a baking dish/pan. I then added more of my seasonings to the top of the chicken. Then I stuck it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 40 - 45 minutes.

I had some filling left over so I put it in it's own baking dish and stuck it in the oven for the last 10 minutes. I spooned the extra on top! Roast some veggies to go with this and you have yourself an awesome dinner! It only took me about 15 minutes to put it all together. 

The next time I make it I will just put it together completely either that morning or the day before. It could be covered and stuck in the fridge until you are ready to bake it.

Oh, and make sure you take the toothpicks out before you eat it!

Cassie's Cajun Crab & Spinach Stuffed Chicken

Monday, January 14, 2013

Long Overdue Birth Story - VBA2C

 Birth Story

Faye’s birth story begins way before her actual birth. Faye has two older brothers, both of whom were born via c-section. My oldest son’s c-section was a failed induction (induced because of low amniotic fluid). I was on pitocen for 19 hours and had no dilation. Hugh Richard was born at 38w2d and weighed in at 8lbs. 2oz. and was 18 inches long. My second son was also a c-section, because I had had the first c-section. I also had gestational diabetes with him which was not controlled well with insulin. Because of that I had to have an amniocentesis to check lung development followed by a c-section at 37w3d. Owen Graham weighed in at 7lbs. 6oz. and was also 18 inches long.

On to Faye’s story. I found out I was pregnant in January of 2012. I knew right away that I wanted to try for a vaginal birth after two c-sections or a VBA2C. I was still with the practice that delivered both of my boys but they had merged with another practice and grown considerably. There were plusses to staying with them. The top of the line equipment that was “in house”, I never needed to go to the hospital for ultra sounds or labs or even to see a high risk OB if it was needed. The down side to all of that was the lack of personal care. I had to see a different OB every time I went in (there are 9 OB’s in that practice). No one ever remembered me even though I had been with them for over 8 years. I was just a number to them. There was not even a single visit that they bothered to read my chart before walking into the room. Every visit with them was like a trip on a conveyor belt…literally. They had a huge row of bathrooms for you to go in to leave your urine sample…all the bathrooms were connected to the lab. They had 6 ladies sitting at the check in desk. I had to answer the same questions each and every time I was there. They never looked at ME and how I was doing as a patient, I just fell into some crazy “if/then” procedure downward spiral.  When asked outright if they would work with me on having the VBA2C I was told no.

I stayed with them through my 22nd week of pregnancy. All the while I was researching my VBA2C and trying to find a provider that would work with me. There are very few OB’s out there that will work with you on this due to the risk and there are even fewer hospitals that will even let an OB. I stumbled on the ICAN website early in my pregnancy but there is so much info there that I didn’t find what I was looking for until around 18 weeks. I was looking for a local group that could refer me to an OB/hospital in my area that would work with me. University of Illinois Chicago would do VBA2C but they were just too far to get to to make them a reasonable choice.

I sent an e-mail off to the chapter leader for the closest ICAN group to me, explaining my history and what I was looking for. I didn’t hear back right away. I almost forgot I attempted contact with anyone. Then one day out of the blue I received an e-mail. There was an OB that was about 20 minutes from me that would do a VBA2C. Not only that but the hospital that he practices out of, has a top of the line NICU that accepts transfers from all the other local hospitals. This hospital also houses a branch of the Chicago Children’s Hospital. Finally, the icing on the cake….he was a solo practitioner, so I would get the individualized experience that I was looking for.

I scheduled an appointment to meet Dr. C when I was just shy of 24 weeks pregnant. He was everything I wanted in an OB. He told me my risks (which I already knew from all my research) and then he told me that yes he would work with me to have my VBA2C. I also mentioned to him that I had gestational diabetes with my first two pregnancies (knowing that that sometimes changes the game a bit…if a baby is perceived to be too big then they won’t let you deliver on your own. Dr. C was not worried about it since the boys were not huge. He had a let’s take it as it comes attitude, which I loved. He also told me that he would let me go as far as 41 weeks before he would have to intervene and since VBAC’s can’t be induced that would mean a c-section. That was fine with me though. 41 weeks is a fighting chance. VBA2C aside, most OB’s won’t let you go past 39 weeks with gestational diabetes.

Here is my last belly picture that we took before all the drama started!

Now that I had everything set up the best I possibly could let’s fast forward to September 4, 2012….I was 36w3d pregnant….I had gestational diabetes that was well controlled with diet (paleo/primal)….it was the day after Labor Day and my mom was watching the boys for the evening. Greg and I had plans to go to the store to get the baby a car seat. They were having their trade in event (bring in an old item off the list and get 25% off a new item) and our old car seat was due to expire in about 3 months.

I had not been feeling well since the night before. I had splurged on what I ate for dinner (pizza) and I thought my body was angry at me. I have having lots of cramping . After my mom came and got the boys around 5 pm I told Greg that I was going to get in the tub to see if that would make me feel better. I got in the tub and just tried to relax for a bit. The more I relaxed the more my back hurt…and not low like back labor…up high and on the left side. I had felt this pain before I knew what it was; kidney stones. Greg got home from work shortly after I realized what was going on and I had him help me out of the tub. I was still insistent on going to the store for the car seat first. I was in so much pain at this point that Greg had to push me through the store in a wheelchair because I couldn’t even walk. After all that they didn’t even have the seat I wanted but a store an hour in another direction did, so they put it on hold for us and away we went in the direction of the hospital. I called the OB’s office on the way to the hospital and they let the hospital know I was coming. After all was said and done I was admitted to the hospital for hydronephrosis (enlarged kidneys from a back up of urine) and kidney stones that evening.  I was also checked upon admission and I was only fingertip dilated and not effaced at all. I received lots of pain meds and IV fluids and straining of urine to catch stones. I started to lose my mucous plug on Thursday while in the hospital but the nurse said not to worry about it since there was no blood in it. I was discharged late in the day on Friday.

I went home and had a nice evening with Greg and my boys. We didn’t do anything special, we just were. Then I went to bed. Sometime in the middle of the night during one of my many bathroom runs I started to notice some cramping, nothing crazy, maybe like once an hour. My system also started to clean itself out during every one of these cramping/bathroom visits. Sometime around 7:00 am on Saturday I had to get up to go pee again, and as I sat up I thought I had waited too long and had peed myself because as I stood up from bed, my legs were wet all the way down. Then as I woke up a bit more I realized that 1) I had not suddenly lost the ability to hold my pee and 2) that my water just broke. I made it to the bathroom to clean up. I noticed that everything was nice and clear and there really was not that much. That meant that Faye’s head was “plugging the leak” so to speak. I woke Greg up at that point. All I said was Greg, my water just broke….I have never seen him jump out of bed so fast! It was kind of fun.

I did not call the OB at this point. I knew that with the news of my water breaking I would be put “on the clock” and was not interested in spending hours upon hours in the hospital.  My contractions picked up enough for me to start timing them around 9:00 am. They were very sporadic at first, some coming 5 minutes apart and some 15 minutes apart. I was exactly 37w0d pregnant.

We had nothing done at this point. The nursery was not done, we didn’t have bags packed, and I had numerous projects in various stages of completion around the house. We spent the day getting ready between contractions (thankfully Greg had made it up to the store for the car seat a couple of day prior). One of the projects that was on my list to do was to make the boys “big brother” shirts and to make a “little sister” onesie so my mom came over and helped me pick out fabric scraps and we printed out letter templates….she was going to work on the shirts for me while I was in the hospital.

The entire time my contractions are getting more regular and closer together. I would say I was about every 5 minutes or so at this point and having to breath though them. Once I was done messing around with fabric I sat down to relax a bit and concentrate on timing the contractions. They slowed down in frequency but got more intense. I was back to about 7 – 9 minutes apart. I decided now was a good time to shower and shave my legs. I had been timing contractions on contraction master and didn’t want to stop while I was in the shower so I set the computer up in the bathroom and had Hugh sit in there with me. All he had to do was hit the spacebar when a contraction started and ended.

So, the shower kicked my contractions into high gear. Some of them were only 1 – 2 minutes apart and hard core. I had to lean on the wall to get through them. I did have nice shaved legs when I was done though! My mom had left the house to get her things together and she got back just as I was getting out of the shower. This was very good because I had started throwing up with the contractions and decided it was time to go. This was about 4ish. We finished tossing stuff into a bag and I got dressed and we left for the hospital…which was still a 30 minute drive away. I called the OB on the way and told the answering service that I was on my way to the hospital.

I got to the hospital and we bypassed triage all together and they put me right in a delivery room. She said I looked like I was going to deliver in the wheelchair. Clothes came back off and I got on the bed to be monitored and checked and admitted. They had a nurse in there to do each thing because they thought I was so close. The baby looked great on the monitor, they were having trouble picking up the contractions on the monitor (not sure why) and I was only 3 cm and 100% +2 so, in reality not very far along. This was at 5:18 pm. My body had the shakes already though so I should have known I was going to go fast. The OB got there about 6:30 and checked me again and I was at a 5. I was not handling the contractions well at all. There was no down time between for me to center myself. I did have an amazing nurse though, that kept telling me how great I was doing and she said that I was handling the contractions well.  I was just shaking so bad and they were coming so hard and fast that I asked for an epidural. They paged the anesthesiologist and I got that right away. 

After the epidural was in they checked me again and I was an 8. They left the room to let me labor for a bit, soon I started to feel crazy pressure so when the nurse came back in I told her what I was feeling and the OB came in to check me. I was at a 10 with a lip of cervix left. They rolled me to the other side so that Faye’s head would put pressure on the lip to help it go away. About 5 minutes later I was ready to start pushing. I did some practice pushing with just the nurse…she helped me out by doing some perineal massage while I was pushing. I was making lots of progress though and once she started crowning they had the OB come in the room. I only pushed 2 times after he was there and she was out! I pushed for a total of 20 minutes (including all the practice pushing).

Faye was born at 9:10 pm on Saturday September 8, 2012.  She was put on my chest for some skin to skin time as well as to let her cord stop pulsing so it could be cut.

 She started nursing at 9:20 pm and was a huge pro. She knew just what to do and pretty much has not let up since.

 After about an hour she peed on me and passed her second round of meconium so they took her to clean her up and put a diaper on (and to clean me up). She weighed in at 6lbs. 12oz. and was 19 inches long. She is my longest and smallest baby.

I did have some tearing so once the placenta was delivered my OB stitched me up. Then they moved us to a mother/baby room and the rest is history. She is the calmest and sweetest baby and we are all entranced.
Here is Owen meeting Faye for the first time...
....and Hugh.
Here she is the day she came home from the hospital
And all snuggled up on me....she was so tiny that this newborn sleeper was much too big on her.

Faye Violet
September 8, 2012 – 9:10 pm
6 lbs. 12 oz. - 19 inches long

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Big White Elephant

I need to stop being so predictable! Why can't I just keep at it even if I have news...you know the blogging. I guess for me it is hard to find something to talk about when all I see is the big white elephant in the room (so to speak).

Well, things have been going great here. Owen has started preschool with Hugh and I started working in the office at the school 3 days a week.

I have totally fallen off my running resolution and I'm struggling with staying on the paleo eating plan.....all for good reason though....blah, blah, blah...I could keep going on..... but why? Everyone is now thinking about a Big White Elephant.....


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chipotle Chicken Stew

Today I am making a Chipotle Chicken Stew in the crock pot. I have had it once and it is soooo good. The ingredients are simple and flavors are rich.

Chipotle Chicken Stew

1-2 lbs. skinless chicken thighs
15 oz navy beans (or 1 can)
15 oz black beans (or 1 can)
1 can crushed or diced tomatoes, un-drained
1 ½  cups chicken broth/stock
½ cup orange juice
1 medium onion, diced
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
1 t. salt
1 t. ground cumin
1 bay leaf
Cilantro sprigs (optional)

Combine chicken, beans, tomatoes with juice, broth, OJ, onion, chipotle pepper, salt, cumin, and bay leaf in crock pot.

Cover; cook on low 7 -8 hours or on high 3.5 – 4 hours. Remove bay leaf and chicken bones. Gently shred the chicken meat with 2 forks. Garnish with cilantro sprigs if desired.

Makes about 6 servings

We really like spicy here so I added 2 chipotle peppers instead of one but the rest I did exactly as the recipe called for. My house smells amazing! We can't wait for dinner.
I wish there was a way to give credit for this recipe but I got it from someone, who got it from someone, etc... So make it and enjoy! 

Here is a quick picture of it in the crock pot....I will take another one when we sit down to eat tonight.

Oh, and I think I might put a wedge of lime in it when I serve it. I think the lime juice will just bring out all the flavors.

Okay, here is the crock pot after I have shredded the chicken. Next up picture ready to eat!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Running Challenge...week 1

I have challenged myself to run at least 1 mile every day for a year. It is going well so far but it is hard. I pretty much had a year off of running. I did have a few spurts here and there where I would go out but overall it has been a year (I had my calf injury last Jan.). I'm finding that it is like starting all over. I'm finding I have calf and achilles tightness and have to walk during my run to stretch it back out. I very much don't want to overdo it and get injured.

I'm going to stick to 1 mile per day for the first 3 weeks just to give my body time to adjust to running again. Then I will start tacking on more miles.

 All that being said....just going out this week has reminded me why I love running, and I'm sad that I have missed an entire year. It is too cold out for me to be barefoot so I'm running in my Soft Star Runamocs, which, as far as shoes go are great! I have lots of toe room and great ground feel even with with the trail soles. I would love to try the dashes but they are not in the budget right now. I really can't wait for warmer weather so I can go barefoot. Barefoot is my one true running love.

The personal interactive feedback I get from the ground; temperature, texture, hardness, it is all like a feast for my feet! It definitely makes me Run Smiley and makes my soul happy! Oh, and don't even get me started on puddles.....splashing through them and the mud makes you feel like a kid again! The squish between your toes is a feeling like none other!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

9 Years Ago Today....

Once upon a time a boy and a girl met in college. They had a pretty unconventional friendship to start.....yet the best of friends they became. They did everything together. They would stay up all night long fueled by bad coffee, and talking about life. One day they both realized it had changed and grown into much much more. In May of 2002 just after the semester of school had ended, the boy proposed to the girl. Both the boy and the girl had one semester left of school and they decided to set the wedding date for right after graduation. How the boy and girl ever managed to make it through their last semester while planning a wedding I will never know. Graduation came and went....two weeks later there dawned a cold January day. Mid day a beautiful light snow began to fall while all the friends and family of the boy and girl gathered to watch the boy and girl; who were best friends, get married. It was a perfect day. The guests were well fed and then given some bad music to listen and dance to. The boy and girl have since had two wonderful children to share their life with...a fun and happy home and more Love to share than they know what to do with have completed this family.

This girl has had the best 9 years ever because she has had the opportunity to share it with a perfect boy.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Busy Resolutioning and Reminiscing

Yeah, I'm pretty sure resolutioning is not a word but you get the point. I have been busy the past two days working on my resolutions/goals for the year. I have made a great shopping list and blank weekly menu plan.

  I have only filled in dinner for this week. I need to get on the rest of the meals.

The grocery store list is set up like the store (our store is set up crazy so we hit up dairy first and produce last). I have items I know we buy every week already on the list and lots of empty space for anything that comes up from the menu. I will be getting a years worth of grocery lists printed out tomorrow. I plan on binding them and putting a magnet on the back so I can keep it on the fridge.

I also made it out for my first run yesterday. I need to head out for today's run in a minute.

It seems most people who keep up with their blogs also do a recap for the year. My year was hard. I started it out tearing my calf muscle, then I found out I was pregnant on Valentines day, then I spent LOTS of time working on the planning committee for the Bridge to Bridge 5K/10K race that is held on Mother's Day weekend. The race went off and was a smashing success. A week later we had a private ultra sound to find out the gender of the baby. We had a stubborn one that would not give us a glimpse of the goods. A week later we found out we lost the baby. I delivered a beautiful baby boy that we named Luke. After that it was all I could do to keep my head above water. I threw myself into gardening and decorating projects. I also threw a fun birthday party for both of my boys. Making the cake and cake balls (red velvet) was a fun challenge.

Next I repainted the dining room and sewed myself some new curtains and painted the table.

 Then I put up some bulletin boards to display the boys' artwork.
 I sewed a Happy Birthday Sign to use for all our birthdays.
I made a huge list of things to do for the boys to keep them busy for the summer.
 I decided to make my house a bit more "green" by getting rid of paper products. I sewed rag bags and rags for our house and then loved the idea so much that I made one for 2 of my cousins and my mom.

I got my hands and feet dirty in the garden making a bunch of new flower beds.
 This is Luke's rose bush. It is surrounded by rocks that they boys painted.

 The rocks that the boys and I painted.

 I got my necklace with Luke's ashes in it.

G and I went on our first real vacation since our honeymoon....we made good use of the beach by remembering Luke.

 The boys played with bubbles....LOTS
We shampooed the carpets in the house, and as you can tell....they really needed it.

I had to sew a vest for a costume for Hugh. School wanted them to dress up as what they wanted to be when they grew up.....if you can't tell, Hugh wants to be a paleontologist.
Then it was almost Halloween and we decided to decorate the house with bats. I cut 100 bats out of paper and Hugh helped decorate.
Then I sewed the boys' Halloween costumes.

Then I painted the extra bedroom (one wall got chalkboard paint) and made curtains for that room.

I hit up goodwill and bought some ugly picture frames and spray painted them black to make a nice wall mural in our room.

Then it was time for Christmas and Christmas gifts to be made....
Here are some aprons I sewed for a friend and her two girls.

I took pictures of the boys and had some fun with the chalkboard painted wall.
I painted some awesome treasure chests for the boys for Christmas. I filled them with rocks that I had spray painted gold.

I accomplished lots of things and created lots of things but I still have a hole in my heart that can't be filled. I will always miss Luke.

On a side note....I know some of the pictures are turned, I'm still trying to fix that.