Culinary Creations for Cupid’s Holiday

What happens when your spouse has to work during the entire Valentine’s day weekend? You figure out other ways to be romantic. This time around I did the planning and it included a tasty late-night meal, a roaring fire in the old fireplace and a romantic comedy.

One of my favorite love languages is definitely food. If I feed you a good meal I am extending my love and care for you. From my heart to your belly. Especially now, while I am preggers, the need to find good, hearty meals has only escalated. No more queasiness, bring on the appetite and bring on the food ideas.

That’s why I’ve long since been a fan of Pinterest, it’s my favorite time-suck and free-time-absorber. Great for when I need a mental break from the usual, or as a fall-asleep aid late at night. But like so many people, I pin and pin but do I actually do?  This year I am striving to find more time for creativity and more time to focus on doing and not just pinning. Therefore, this weekend I did it, I made myself a promise that I needed to start diving into my food board and pulling up some tasty recipes.

I found three distinct winners, all heavy on pasta and cheese. Because you see the baby needs pasta and cheese, or so my cravings tell me. And my spouse, bless his heart, is willing to try what I make.

Valentine’s day winner: Creamy Shrimp and Mushroom pasta. Had I not been so hungry I would have taken some proper photos. But we will rely on those originally posted to Julia’s food blog.

Courtesy of Julia's food blog.

Courtesy of Julia’s food blog.

Why was this little carb marvel a crowd-pleaser? Because it combined a hearty pasta and a creamy flavorful sauce with seafood. I did learn that no matter how tempting the monetary savings of buying peel and cook shrimp, just do yourself a favor and buy ones that have already been prepped. Please, save yourself the frozen fingers and pile of exoskeletons in your kitchen. I would definitely make it again, though I need to find a better way to reheat it, let’s just say it turns a bit thick and clumpy, but ever delicious.

Gratuitous Valentine's Day fireplace photo.

Gratuitous Valentine’s Day fireplace photo.

Since Adam also worked on Sunday my cooking inspiration continued another day. The next recipe I tried was :

Creamy Parmesan Tomato Spinach Tortellini Soup

Yay, I remembered to take a photo before eating!

Yay, I remembered to take a photo before eating!

Not only was it easy to make, it’s quite delicious. Even Henry ate some, though he made sure to pluck off any seen bits of spinach. It definitely thickened upon standing (plus I couldn’t help but add more tortellini to the soup.) Hearty soup that just gets better the next day with simple ingredients: tomatoes (check), spinach (check), parmesan (check), tortellini (CHECK!)

And because I was on a roll I made one more meal during Henry’s mega nap (4.5 hours is unheard of, but it does allow me some creative cooking time. Thanks little buddy!)

The last recipe I tried is called:

Caprese Lasagna Roll Ups

Courtesy of the Tastes Better from Scratch Blog.

Courtesy of the Tastes Better from Scratch Blog.

This recipe was definitely a test in improvision. I reviewed all my ingredients. I thought through the cooking process. I just didn’t focus on the sheer volume of shredded cheese and parmesan this recipe required. Who needs 3.5 cups of shredded mozzarella?! (This recipe.) Who used up all of her parmesan? (This girl.) Luckily I also had some shredded cheddar to toss in for good measure, so my overall cheese quantities worked, even if my math was off for starters. I topped this lovely dish off with some spinach florentine pasta sauce and we devoured it like the other two recipes.

I can tell my food cravings are leading the charge in the kitchen, for it wasn’t until I was mostly done with the last recipe that I realized I was making all pasta, and two of my dishes used tomato, cheese, pasta and spinach. But no one is complaining.

Advertisements

Setting Goals & Hopes for 2015

I started writing the title of this post as “Setting Goals & Expectations for 2015,” but I quickly realized that will not be accurate. Now that we formally announced baby #2 being on its way this July I realize that expectations are the first thing to shift and change. With it comes a new set of challenges and adjustments we’ll all need to make, not just me, but Adam and Henry as well. For some reason I think the pets will be okay.

So instead of setting high expectations and then disappointing myself daily I am going to shift those to goals and expectations to goals and hopes. Largely inspired by my Evil Twin, and fellow blogger Jacqui, you really need to read “Dear self (a letter for 2015).”

Therefore, without further delay, here are my goals/hopes for this year.

1. Begin to workout again. I am no longer looking to be in the top five of my work’s daily mile challenge; I just need to be healthy and gain some muscle tone again.  Once the weather thaws  Maya and I can pick up where we left off with our walks. But I cannot turn into a plump marshmallow this winter. Now that the constant queasy feeling will be subsiding soon I am looking to start something new, prenatal yoga. Here is the one I’ll try.

2. Find time for me. I know what happens, it happens to me from time to time. I get so wrapped up in routine I forget to take time to rest and relax, to sit still and read or work on art projects. The results end up being a miserable me. The one that snaps at people and feels annoyed while awake. I don’t like her, and neither do you.100_6624

So I will try the following:

Read 10 books in 2015. That doesn’t sound like much BUT, Goodreads sadly informed me that I only read six in 2014. That’s embarrassing, I have a bookworm son, why don’t I practice the same? What happens if I don’t make my goal of 10? Nothing, it’s a goal but I will not let it eat away at me if I end up with less books read. They are still books read and that in itself is an accomplishment.

Be artsy. I pin ideas on Pinterest all the time. I whisper “I can make that” so many times at art fairs. So why don’t I do something about it? I know this one is harder than picking up a book, so I won’t set a quantitative goal, but I will do my best to carve out some “artsy” time this year, even post baby. Nothing big, nothing complicated, but definitely rewarding (a few canvases for the baby’s room and a big city canvas for Henry’s big boy room, those are my hopes.)

3. Eat healthier. I typically do a descent job eating healthy, but first trimester is a bitch. I have to think ahead about what I can eat, will it still sound good after work? Once I cook it, will it still smell good to me? When I eat it, will I be able to finish it? This time around things are more unpredictable. What is a craving one day becomes a horrid experience the next. I am worse than a toddler. Once the queasy feeling subsides in the next week or so, I can start to focus on flavors and seasoning as well as variety.

Courtesy of Red Tricycle.

Courtesy of Red Tricycle.

4. Leave the house. Yeah this will be a huge post-baby challenge for me. When Henry was a newborn I became so worried about leaving the house I became afraid of him crying in public. So much angst, I started to stay home too much during my maternity leave. Those days I don’t want to relive. Thankfully there is Henry now, the little kid who likes to go places and do things. Thankfully this will get us out of the house, whether to the park, Children’s museum, or the library. Don’t worry we’ll get it figured out even with a newborn in tow.

5. Stop stressing myself out. I am an only child and thereby I must set goals that are too complicated to complete, or too far out of reach and then I make myself feel badly about it. Well this year I am going to step back and think twice about my goals and hopes for the year. I am free to adjust them as necessary and as long as I find balance between restful things, creative things and things I need to do I think I’ll be a happier me.

Here is to a new and exciting year.