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How far along are you? 15 weeks 1 day (every day counts!)
Cravings? I haven’t really had any strong cravings, but Caesar salads, chicken and homemade sno cones (ice and fizzy water blended with lemon juice and stevia in the Vitamix) have been on regular rotation around here
Weight Gain: 10 pounds
Fears: We have our 19/20 week ultrasound scheduled for October 6th and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Will our baby look normal and healthy? Will they find anything wrong? Now that we’ve hit a bit of a stride with good reports and good news lately, it’s scary to think about getting more nerve-inducing news. I’m constantly being reminded that it’s something I need to turn over to God daily.
Generally Feeling: Nausea hit me hardest starting at 11 weeks. I’m finally starting to have some better days, but I can’t say I feel normal yet. Sometimes I’m starving, sometimes I can’t stand the sight of food. It’s so strange! Thankfully I’ve gotten my energy back and can stay up past 8 pm.
Looking Forward To: Feeling the baby move! There have been a couple times when I think I may have already felt it, but I am looking forward to feeling it more consistently and with certainty. At my 12 week ultrasound we found out my placenta was posterior, meaning I should start feeling him/her sooner rather than later.
What I’ve Been Loving: After our 11 week appointment and hearing the baby’s heartbeat on the doppler, I caved and bought a doppler to use at home. It’s by far the best $50 I ever spent, and being able to hear this little one’s heart beating gives me such a sense of peace and relief!
Sleep: Not the greatest. Between the trips to the bathroom and trying to get comfortable on my side, I toss and turn quite a bit.
Maternity Clothes? Not many! I did cave and start wearing my one pair of maternity jeans, but other than that I’ve been able to get by with dresses and skirts with stretchy waistbands and shift dresses that are comfortable.
Boy or Girl: We find out October 6th! We’ve been toying with the idea of finding out but not telling anyone else. I’ll let you know what we decide!

Thank you for your continued encouragement and prayers! It’s been a daily struggle to continue to trust that this baby is healthy and to finally allow myself to get excited, plan for March 2nd and think about the future. Day by day I’ve been getting more excited for this little one to join our family and I’m so thankful for all of you who have continued to pray for us on this journey.

Madison

Baked Chicken Tenders 4 | Espresso and CreamRemember when I mentioned that I’m working with Food Should Taste Good to create some great recipes for game day? Well today marks the second installment  of this three part series and boy is the recipe I have to share with you good. Although the recipe for these chicken strips only makes two it can easily be doubled, tripled or even quadrupled depending on how many people you have coming over to watch the game. Since it was just Joe and me watching football this weekend, I kept the serving size to two.

I’m a huge fan of a certain chicken-based southern fast food chain that makes the world’s best chicken sandwiches. When I did a little digging, I found out that the key to their juicy, flavorful chicken is to marinade the chicken in pickle juice before cooking. Or, at least that’s what the internet told me. I’ve since started deploying that same strategy at home and it’s amazing how well it works! It’s a step I included when making these Tortilla-Crusted Baked Chicken Strips and it makes all the difference. The chicken is so juicy and flavorful, not dry in the least bit.

After marinading the chicken in pickle juice for at least 12 hours, I cut the boneless, skinless chicken breasts into strips and coated them in a mixture of crushed Food Should Taste Good multigrain tortilla chips and panko bread crumbs, along with a little salt, pepper and cayenne for a little kick.

Personally, I love that these chicken strips are baked, not fried, but still have a ton of crunch thanks to the crushed tortilla chips and panko. And to make things a little extra special, I served these with a simple sriracha aioli, which is really just a fancy name for a flavored mayonnaise.

Baked Chicken Tenders 3 | Espresso and Cream

Tortilla-Crusted Baked Chicken Strips with Sriracha Aioli
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup dill pickle juice (from a jar of dill pickles)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups Food Should Taste Good multigrain tortilla chips, finely crushed
  • 1 cup plain panko bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne
  • Sriracha Aioli
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha
Instructions
  1. Place chicken breasts and pickle juice in a plastic air-tight container or zip-top bag and allow chicken to marinade 24 hours or at least 12 hours.
  2. Heat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.
  3. Cut each chicken breast into 4 or 5 strips. Place egg in a shallow bowl. In a second shallow bowl, combine crushed tortilla chips, panko, kosher salt, pepper and cayenne.
  4. Dip chicken in egg, followed by the tortilla mixture. Place coated chicken strips on baking sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until chicken is baked through and no pink remains.
  5. To make Sriracha Aioli: Stir together the mayonnaise and sriracha in a small bowl. Serve with chicken strips.

This post is brought to you in partnership with Food Should Taste Good. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Early this summer, before I was pregnant, Joe, my mom and I planned a long weekend trip to California wine country. All along, I told myself that if I wasn’t pregnant on our trip, I would think of it as a consolation prize, and if I was pregnant and couldn’t drink, I would be celebrating our baby. Truth be told, I got super sick the first 24 hours of our trip, throwing up three times. Thankfully drinking a little extra water and keeping a full stomach seemed to help!

So, while I might not have gotten to drink my way through Napa and Sonoma, I certainly enjoyed the weather, the food and the beautiful scenery that California has to offer. I think I may have asked Joe 15 times if we can find a way to move to California, but the real estate prices alone scared me away! I think we’ll just stick to visiting for now.

We visited more places than what’s included below, but for your sake I only listed places we loved and would certainly visit again! Check it out:

FLY
We flew on our beloved Delta Airlines and took a nonstop flight from Minneapolis to Sacramento. I know a lot of people fly into San Fran when they visit wine country, but we’ve flown into Sacramento twice and wouldn’t do it any other way. The airport is quiet, lines are short and traffic is pretty minimal.

STAY
Villagio Inn and Spa in Yountville
We have stayed in Yountville both times we’ve visited the area and highly recommend it! It’s quiet and quaint and is home to some of the area’s most amazing restaurants, like The French Laundry, Ad Hoc, Bouchon and Bouchon Bakery. The hotel had the most wonderful breakfast every morning and a beautiful pool with cabanas and comfortable lounge chairs. Staying there was a bit on the pricey side, but we got one room for the three of us, which made it more reasonable.

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EAT
Redd Wood in Yountville (below)
Located in Yountville, this Italian restaurant had great pizzas and pastas as well as salads. The menu was a nice mix of fresh and inventive while also classic and comforting. We all had the meatballs and they were to die for!

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Mustard’s Grill in Yountville
We ate there last time we visited the area, and it was just as good this time around. Joe had a Mongolian pork chop that I am determined to recreate. Yum!

The Red Grape in Sonoma
We ate here on a whim the night we arrived and we were starving. Great pizzas and salads and a beautiful patio!

Joe Madison GOtts

Gotts

Gott’s Roadside in St. Helena (above)
I appreciate a good burger place, but I really appreciate a burger place that also has amazing salads and healthier options. Joe and my mom got burgers and I had the chicken sandwich, all of which were amazing. I also had a killer kale and Romaine lettuce salad that helped the meal from feeling too heavy.

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Bouchon Bakery (above)
Of course we couldn’t resist! Go first thing in the morning and avoid the lines for the best selection.

DRINK
Hall Winery in St. Helena and Rutherfod (below)
We visited the Hall Rutherford location last time we were in California and had the most amazing experience. This time we visited their St. Helena location (which is larger and less exclusive) and it didn’t disappoint! Hall wines are a favorite of ours, especially their Kathryn Hall Cabernet which is crazy expensive but totally delicious. (My doctor gave me permission to have a sip or two, and this was one of the sips I decided to splurge on!)

Tastings at Hall are more premium tasting experiences ($40/$60 per person depending on your tour) but worth every penny. Make reservations in advance!

Hall Wines

JoeMadisonHall1

Mom Madison Joe Hall

Ram’s Gate Winery in Sonoma
My childhood friend, Emily, works out in California with her husband, Cody. Emily works at Ram’s Gate Winery so of course we had to go visit! It was a bit of a trek out there but totally worth the extra miles! It was by far the most beautiful winery we visited and the view, food and wine were delicious. If you can, make a point to get out there on your trip.

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VISIT
Healdsburg (below)
This was about an hour drive from where we were, but I was dying to visit this adorable little town, having read about it in magazines and on the web multiple times. We enjoyed an afternoon in Healdsburg browsing shops and walking around. We drank great coffee at Flying Goat Coffee and got our first baby item for Baby H (a Sophie the giraffe since we couldn’t find any cute gender-neutral clothing) at Cupcake Children & Maternity. We also make a little trek to Jimtown Store, which was filled with charm. I wish we had been there over lunch because the menu looked amazing!

Jimtown
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! If you have any Napa/Sonoma recommendations to add to the list, please feel free to include them below. There are so many places to visit that it’s hard to get a great list in a single trip!

Madison

PS: See our last trip to wine country (2 years ago!) HERE.

 

 

photoThe first evidence of a growing bump! (above)

Hello again! I feel like it’s been forever since I checked in with you all. California wine country was absolutely wonderful and I plan to put a full travel post together soon, but travel posts always take me such a long time. In the meantime, let’s sit down and have some good old fashioned girl talk about babies, body image and maternity fashion, shall we?

I’ve always been so excited to be pregnant and have a family of my own, especially given the rocky road we’ve journeyed to have this baby, but, given my body image struggles of the past, I was more than a little nervous about seeing my body grow and change over the 9+ months of pregnancy.

I don’t want this to come across as complaining in any way, because as I mentioned we are so very thankful,  but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that seeing your body grow and change and having it be out of your control can be extremely unsettling at times, especially when you have a rocky body-image past.  I’ve been careful to watch what I say and monitor my thought processes about my growing body, appreciating what my body is doing (growing a human!) rather than what scares me, like the extra pounds and squishy bits that weren’t there before.

One of the things that’s been helpful is to buy and wear clothing that fits my body in its current state, rather than trying to fit into items that used to fit a certain way and now fit quite different. Since I’m on the tall side, I’m just barely showing shy of 15 weeks, meaning most maternity clothes don’t seem necessary but some of my old favorites (especially the waist-defining dresses I love) don’t fit, either.

Last week I went shopping and picked up a handful of dresses from Banana Republic and Gap Outlet that are looser and stretchy, meaning my bump will have some room to grow. I also picked up a shift dress from Anthropologie that I should be able to wear for months to come.

As far as maternity clothes go, I would love your suggestions! I recently splurged on a dress from Hatch Collection (the Afternoon Dress in black if you’re interested) which felt like a total indulgence. Since wearing Hatch exclusively isn’t in the budget, I would love to hear where you found the best fun, trendy and affordable maternity pieces. Anywhere I should be looking ?

Madison

Healthy Mexican Chicken Soup 1 | Espresso and CreamI know it’s August, and I’m supposed to be posting all about summer produce and salads and using up the last of what summer has to give us. But here in Minnesota, we’re experiencing a bit of a cool down that has me convinced fall weather is just around the corner, which means we’ve got football and sweaters and comfort food to look forward to, along with about 10,000 different ways to eat pumpkin. Believe me, I’m excited.

Today, in honor of cooler temps and the start of college football season I’m kicking things off with a soup recipe that’s healthy, easy and incredibly filling. Every time I make soup, I wonder why I don’t make soup more often. I think somewhere deep down inside I have this idea that soup has to be difficult, when in reality it’s just a matter of throwing whatever you have on hand together into a single dish.

One of my biggest requirements when it comes to soup is that it has to be thick, not watery. I don’t mind the flavor of broth-based soups, but when it comes to eating soup for dinner, I believe soup has to be thick and hearty in order to really satisfy. Instead of adding cream to this soup, I blended up a can of white beans into the base to give the soup thickness and body without adding a lot of fat. An added bonus? The beans provide fiber and extra protein, in addition to the chicken.

I hope you all have a wonderful Labor Day weekend and watch more football than humanly possible! Also, don’t forget to enter the Food Should Taste Good giveaway before time runs out!

Healthy Mexican Chicken Soup | Espresso and Cream

 

Healthy Mexican Chicken Soup for Two
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans, drained but not rinsed
  • 2 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • Juice from ½ of a lime
  • Additional fresh cilantro, shredded Mexican blend cheese and tortilla chips, if desired
Instructions
  1. In a medium stockpot over medium high heat, heat olive oil. Add onion to pot and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until onions are tender and translucent. Add garlic and cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Add the cumin, salt, pepper and cayenne to the soup and cook 1 minute more, stirring frequently.
  2. Pour chicken broth into pot along with the beans. Use an immersion blender to blend the mixture until nearly smooth but some texture still remains. (Alternately, you could use a blender, just make sure the liquid isn't hot.)
  3. Add the chicken, cilantro and lime juice to the soup and bring mixture to a simmer. Spoon into bowls. Top with additional cilantro, shredded cheese and tortilla chips, if desired.

 

 

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