Friday, December 20, 2013

A New PICC Line



Sam has tested positive for pseudomonas so they placed a PICC line this morning and he'll be getting Cefepime infusions for the next 7 days. Great timing, right? A Christmas morning trip to ambulatory infusion. Only Sam. We don't care though. Whatever it takes to kick this illness.

  

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sugar Saucers



I am in love with these cookies. There is nothing extraordinary about them, but in my opinion, they are just what a simple Christmas cookie should taste like. Obviously, you could change up the adornments and they could fit into most any holiday or celebration. The original recipe calls for very large cookies, but I kept mine on the smallish side. It's up to you, but your baking time will change accordingly.

Sugar Saucers

Note: If you're going to make small cookies, be prepared for a huge batch of cookies. You could always make just half the recipe or freeze half the dough to use later. It also keeps in the fridge for 3 days if you want to break up the process. Just let the dough soften up a bit on the counter before attempting to scoop and shape your cookies.

Ingredients
4 cups (600g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (340g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (120ml) canola oil
1 cup (225g) granulated sugar
1 cup (200g) confectioners’ sugar
2 large eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
rainbow sprinkles or colored sugar, for decorating

Directions
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter on medium speed for about a minute. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the oil, and then add the two sugars, the eggs, and the vanilla. Make sure to stir well after each addition. Slowly add the flour mixture, about a quarter at a time. Mix just until the flour disappears. The dough will be soft. Refrigerate for at least an hour before proceeding (up to 3 days).

3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

4. Scoop and shape the dough into balls. Mine were about 1-inch. Roll each ball in rainbow sprinkles or colored sugar until thoroughly coated.  Place them on the baking sheet with enough room for them to spread a bit (I got a dozen cookie balls per sheet). Use your fingers to flatten each ball slightly.
Bake for 12-20 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies (mine were done in 12-13 minutes). Bake until the edges start to turn golden. Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

"Sprinkles are my favorite!"



 recipe source:  Piece of Cake: Home Baking Made Simple by David Muniz, David Lesniak and Rachel Allen via Lottie + Doof

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

One Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs Florentine



That's right. One pot. Everything cooks together. The sauce, the meatballs and the pasta. And it's really good. I'm not sure what's going on at your house, but it's a little hectic over here. And that's with us curtailing much of the usual Christmas craziness. I've had this recipe tagged for months, and after several failed attempts at slow cooker dinners (if you want to see a grown man shudder ask Sam about my crockpot bbq pulled chicken) I was happy to hit on something relatively quick and simple. Now, before we get too excited, there is still the part where you're shaping and frying roughly 36 mini meatballs. I don't know about you, but I hate frying meatballs. With a passion. I know, I know. I'm a nice Italian girl from New Jersey. I'm supposed to be born loving this sort of thing- or so Sam loves to remind me. But it's time consuming. And messy. And getting them to "brown on all sides" is tedious work for a Tuesday night. But I thought I'd be a sport since everything else about this recipe is pretty streamlined. Dinner was on the table within 35 minutes, and everyone was happy! happy! happy!

One Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs Florentine

*Note- When I do find myself frying meatballs, I always try to use a large pot with high sides like the enameled cast iron one shown in the picture. This cuts down slightly on the oily, splattered mess. Also, and this is just a personal preference, next time I'd use either all ground beef or even ground turkey- though not too lean. We're not big pork people and you can definitely taste the ground pork in the meat mixture.

Ingredients
1 pound meatloaf mix
3 ounces (3 cups) baby spinach, chopped (this means measure, then chop)  
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs  
1 egg, lightly beaten  
5 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and Pepper  
1 tablespoon olive oil  
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes  
2 cups water 
8 oz uncooked spaghetti, broken in half  
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil


Directions  
1. Combine meat, 1 cup of the chopped spinach, panko, egg, half of the garlic. and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Mix gently until everything is incorporated. Form into small, 1-inch meat balls. You should get about 3 dozen. Heat oil in a large 12-inch skillet or pot over medium-high heat until smoking. Cook the meatballs until well browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.  

2. Add remaining garlic to skillet, cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in tomatoes, water, spaghetti and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and stir often until spaghetti begins to soften, about 7 minutes. Add meatballs and continue to simmer, covered, until meatballs and spaghetti are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add remaining 2 cups of chopped spinach and chopped basil. Season with salt and pepper.

recipe source: Cook's Country Dec/Jan 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013

The First Sunday of Advent


Brisket, latkes and donuts to celebrate the first Sunday of Advent. And yes, that's our elf, George. This year he's joining us at the table each night for a *very* brief scripture reading. It's Jack's job to make sure George sits still and pays attention. He loves it.

Sam has been very sick. I'm honestly not sure he's completely recovered from his bout of pneumonia. His counts were very low so they gave him a Neupogen shot last week to help boost him back up. We're praying this helps. This nagging cough and extreme exhaustion has haunted him for 3 months now, and it's really wearing him down. Prayers for peace and healing are much appreciated. Happy Holidays friends!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Brussels Sprout Salad with Cheddar, Pecans & Apple



I saw this recipe in the latest edition of Cook's Country, one of my most favorite cooking magazines. I looked at the relatively short list of ingredients and directions and thought this would be a great weeknight side dish. Just a word of caution- prepping all those brussels sprouts takes some time! Plan accordingly. And this also made a HUGE batch, so unless you're feeding a crowd, only make half. But it was really good. Sam loved it. Jack wouldn't have any part of it, and that's fine. I set him aside some nuts, cheese and apples.

Brussels Sprout Salad with Cheddar, Pecans & Apple


Ingredients 

3 tablespoons lemon juice  
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard  
1 small shallot, minced 
1 garlic clove, minced  
Salt and pepper 
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil  
2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved, and sliced very thin 
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)  
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (no need to peel)
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped


Directions 
1. Whisk lemon juice, mustard, shallot, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in large bowl. Gradually whisk in oil until incorporated. Toss shredded brussels sprouts with vinaigrette, and let sit for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

2. Fold in cheddar, apple, and pecans. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Martha Stewart's Chocolate Sugar Cookies



I made these delicious chocolate sugar cookies for a little Halloween fun at a recent play date. The kids enjoyed frosting, decorating and eating the chocolate bats, and I'll definitely be making these again come Christmas and Valentine's Day. Since I'm supposed to be staying off my feet right now, I split up the process over a few days. This really works best for this type of cookie anyway since the dough absolutely must chill to retain it's shape. Mix the dough up one day...roll, shape and bake the next. They'll keep for a few days stored in an airtight container. There was no way I was getting into royal icing and piping tips so I mixed up a simple tinted buttercream for the kids to spread on them instead. And, of course, there were sprinkles.

A big thanks to my good friend, Lauren Williams, for inspiring this project with her very thoughtful "house arrest" care package- filled with fancy cooking magazines for me and a set of bat cookie cutters for Jack. Thanks twin!


Chocolate Sugar Cookies

*Note: Before you begin, be sure to clear out some space in your freezer to fit at least one tray of cookies. The cookies will need to be well chilled prior to baking in order to retain their shape.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark blend)
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 

Directions

1. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt into a bowl.

2. With a mixer on medium-high speed, cream together the butter and confectioners' sugar using the paddle attachment. Continue to mix until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and gradually mix in the flour mixture. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill at least an hour or overnight.

3. Cut the dough in half, stashing one half in the refrigerator. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch think. I always roll out cookie dough between a sheet of parchment paper placed right on the counter and a piece of plastic wrap placed on top. This makes it easy to transfer the whole thing to the refrigerator should it become too warm, and alleviates the need to keep adding unnecessary amounts of flour to prevent sticking. I do the same with pie crust, but that's another post. You want to keep the dough as cold as possible, so work quickly. Stamp out your chosen cut-outs and transfer to parchment lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Chill in the freezer at least 15 minutes. If at any time during the process, the dough becomes too soft to work with, chill for 10 minutes and then proceed. Repeat with the remaining dough. Any scraps can be chilled, rolled and rerolled with delicious results. 

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place cookies in the oven, right from the freezer, and bake until crisp, about 8-10 minutes depending on their size/shape. Cool completely on wire racks. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment paper in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. 



happy kiddos
Recipe source: cookies- Martha Stewart's Cookies cookbook, frosting- this recipe (halved and tinted orange) from the Novice Chef blog


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dang Cancer. One Mom's Journey Through Mesothelioma


I was recently contacted by an amazing cancer survivor, Heather Von St. James, who shared her story with me. She had just given birth to her daughter when she found out she had mesothelioma, and was given just 15 months to live. Her story is extraordinary. Take 4 minutes to check it out.


For more information on mesothelioma, go to www.mesothelioma.com.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Another Hospital Stay. My Turn.


my expertly placed iv
So now I guess it's my turn. I was admitted to the hospital Sunday afternoon after experiencing mild contractions about 10 minutes apart and feeling lots of pressure in my lower abdomen- very alarming at 24 weeks pregnant. I really didn't want to go in, but I also didn't want to be irresponsible with the life of our baby. They gave me iv fluids and medication to stop the contractions. According to the nurses, I'm a 1/2 centimeter dilated. The baby is doing great, kicking and moving like crazy. It was just an overnight stay, and I'm back home with instructions to drink LOTS of water, slow down and take it easy. Sam, of course, is very worried and, if you ask me, getting a little too comfortable with his new "caregiver" role- taking a little too much pleasure in ordering me around and making decisions for our family. I keep asking him "Is this what I do to you!?". His response is always an emphatic "YES!!".

Though I certainly would have preferred none of this to have happened, one of the hidden blessings was having a "trial run" before the big day in February. I think we were completely caught off guard by how emotional it was to be back in labor and delivery. When I was being admitted, I looked down and realized I was wearing the same exact outfit the night I went into labor with Jack- the same day we learned about Sam's cancer. As they were wheeling me up to the floor, all the fear/excitement/anxiety came flooding back. I'm not sure we've completely processed how traumatic that experience truly was. I'm not sure we ever will. But I'm glad we got to revisit and acknowledge some of those emotions and feelings, and hopefully work through some things before this baby's arrival.

So. Until then. We'll be laying low for awhile. You probably won't see me chasing Jack around the park anytime soon, and I'll probably be cooking with my crockpot and watching way more Thomas videos than I'd like. And speaking of crockpots- please feel free to send me your family's favorite slow cooker recipes. My collection is dismal and I'm always on the lookout.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Paula Deen's Very Veggie Braised Greens



Don't get me wrong, we love a traditional pot of southern greens cooked down with salty/smokey pork fat, but since we eat them often enough, I had to find a healthier cooking method. I came across this version a few years back in Paula's Southern Cooking Bible, and I've been making them this way ever since. Yes, I know, there's still a stick of butter- it is Paula after all- but it's necessary for texture and flavor and the recipe makes a big pot. These greens are easy to toss together during nap time, just needing to be gently reheated right before dinner. They are a staple on veggie night where I serve them alongside mac & cheese, sliced tomatoes and cornbread. Also, keep this recipe in mind for Thanksgiving, especially if you have any vegetarians coming to the house. Cook up a pot a few days ahead of time, and get a jump on that crazy long to-do list. Such a great feeling!

Paula Deen's Very Veggie Braised Greens

Ingredients
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 - 2 1/2 lbs mixed greens (like turnip greens, collards, and/or mustard greens), stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
Pepper vinegar for serving

Directions
1. In a large dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring often.

2. Add the broth and salt and bring to a gentle simmer. Add your greens, a handful at a time, stirring after each addition, letting it wilt down a bit before adding more. Once all the greens have been added, cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are silken and tender, usually about 50-60 minutes. Pass the pepper vinegar at the table.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Back Home!


 

We're finally back home. They debated placing a PICC line, but settled on sending Sam home with a peripheral line to administer his antibiotics. This may not be the ideal way to wake up in the morning, but it's just for a few days. Thanks again for all the love and support.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Update on Sam

We're being discharged this afternoon! It's been a roller coaster of events trying to get us out of here, but, finally, the Infectious Disease, Bone Marrow Transplant and Pulmonary teams have come to a consensus. Sam's been clear of fevers for 48 hours and his cough has greatly improved. They want to discharge him, but need us to stay local. He still needs 3 more days of IV antibiotics since they found pseudomonas in his lungs, and they're concerned about his elevated tacrolimus level. As soon as this level comes down, we can return home and have his antibiotics administered via home health. So that's the plan for now. A lot of detail, but I know many of you have been asking for an update.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A New Adventure: Admitted to Moffitt



Sam was admitted to Moffitt yesterday afternoon. We've visited the clinic countless times for outpatient appointments, but this is his first overnight stay. As many of you know, he's been sick for weeks. He was running a fever all day long during our appointment here on Wednesday, though they went ahead with his scheduled tests and scans. We got the results back that same day- still in remission!- though he definitely still has pneumonia and now the rhinovirus. We were sent home with some new antibiotics and instructions for controlling Sam's fever. Yesterday, they called and asked if we could please drive back over to have Sam admitted. Frustrating. But ultimately, we're trying to stay focused on getting Sam better. And that long drive over was a great opportunity to talk about how much his current work schedule is *not* working for our family. Well, I guess I did most of the talking. But in all seriousness, 10 hour work days, in between hospital stays, are just no longer an option. We'll be here through the weekend. And likely beyond, though we're trying not to think about that. One day at a time. Yay for remission!! And Go Gators!!    

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My {Current} Favorite Pregnancy Workout




Sam and I have a full day at Moffitt today. He's been really sick for the past few weeks so hopefully we'll leave with some answers and an effective treatment plan. Usually days like today include an extraordinary amount of time just sitting around waiting. So. While I wait, I thought I'd post about something new. We've covered cancer, food, and parenting. It's time for a pregnancy post don't ya think? Specifically, my attempts to stay "fit" during pregnancy.

Now, I am all about exercising and staying active while I'm pregnant. Nothing too extreme. I've miscarried in the past, so I tend to avoid anything too jarring or harsh on my body. I know some women train for races, lift heavy weights, and pretty much go about their business like there isn't another human being occupying their body, but not me. I tend toward more gentler workouts and swimming/walking routines. I love exercise dvds- pregnant or not- and have amassed quite a collection. My current favorite is Tracy Anderson's Pregnancy Project. It's a set of 9 dvds- a new workout for each month of pregnancy- and was filmed in real time during her last pregnancy. It's an awesome combo of stretches and light weight work (she never lifts more than 3 lbs) which might sound mild, but always leaves me sweating and pleasantly exhausted. And I love how the workouts change for each stage of your pregnancy. The first three months focus on just getting you moving and work through any nausea you may be experiencing. I'm on Month 5 right now where she steps it up a bit, focusing on strengthening your arms and butt. The last three workouts are focused on opening your hips and staying strong to prepare for delivery. Each one is about 30-40 minutes so it's never overwhelming. When Sam is home and feeling well he'll do it with me, and Jack has become well acquainted with "Tracy". Every morning he asks me, "Is mama gonna do her exercises?". Every. Morning. My weekly workout typically shakes out to be 3-4 dvd workouts and 6 miles of walking. I'm still gaining weight like a champ, but I feel amazing. If you're pregnant, thinking about getting pregnant or need a great gift for someone who is pregnant- consider this dvd set. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Apple Prune Crisp



Prunes? I know. Stick with me on this. It's delicious. And quick. You chop up some apples- leaving the skins on!- mix with a few other ingredients, and before you know it, the house smells amazing and you're pulling a soul satisfying, autumn dessert from the oven. Serve it with ice cream, whipped cream or leave it plain. I even had some for breakfast topped with a little yogurt. It lasts for a few days and the topping stays nice and crunchy. I love making fruit desserts like this one for my family- loaded with great stuff from the apples, prunes, oats and nuts.

Apple Prune Crisp

*Note: This recipe calls for chopped nuts. I try to keep a big bag of chopped, toasted nuts in my freezer at all times since it's one of those steps I really don't like doing. Chop up a few cups of your favorite baking nut- I use pecans, mostly- and toast them for 8-10 mins at 350 degrees. Cool them down and stash them in a Ziploc Freezer bag. No need to thaw them, toss them right in. Come holiday time, you'll be so glad you did this. Also, in my opinion, toasting your nuts first makes every recipe taste better- especially pecan pie- but that's a different post. And, if the prunes truly bother you, leave them out. It's my own addition. I've officially become one of "those moms", trying to up my family's fiber count every chance I get. This is an easy one since they melt right into the apples.

Ingredients

For the topping:
1/2 cup flour 
1/2 cup rolled oats 
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup sugar 
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the filling:
1/2 cup coarsely chopped prunes 
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, depending on the tartness of the apples 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
7 medium apples 

Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, optional

Directions 

Position rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Generously butter a 2-quart, 2-inch deep baking dish.

To make the topping: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.

To make the filling: Quarter and core the apples. Cut each quarter into 3 or 4 chunks. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the prunes, cinnamon, and sugar.

Scrape the mixture into the buttered baking dish and spread it evenly. Distribute the crumbly topping evenly over the apples. Bake for 1 1/4-1 1/2 hours, until the topping is crisp and browned and the juices are bubbling and thickened. (If your apples were a little dry, you may not see any juices until the very end of the baking time.) Serve warm or cold with the topping of your choice.



recipe source: modified from Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts by Alice Medrich

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Harvest!

I like to think of these as miracle carrots, as they survived months of being trampled by a toddler. Jack was very proud of his harvest, though, the carrots themselves were pretty bitter and not all that good. I chopped them up and added them to a great Veggie Beef Soup that I will share with you soon.





Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sweet and Sour Chicken


 
 
We have fallen in love with this sweet and sour chicken. It's like your favorite takeout but so much better and without all the grease. I served it with brown rice and broccoli. I was hesitant when I saw all the sugar in the recipe, but when Jack gobbled up his broccoli that I had topped with a little sauce- I was sold.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

*Be sure to start this recipe well before dinner time. After you saute up the chicken pieces, it all bakes in the oven for an hour. I thought this would result in dried out, chewy chicken but I was all wrong about that. A few things could easily be done ahead that would make this come together faster, and I plan on experimenting with finishing it all off in the slow cooker. I'll update the post if it's a success.   

Ingredients 

For the Chicken: 
 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 large eggs, beaten
 1/4 cup vegetable oil 

For the Sauce: 
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. While the oil is heating, cut the chicken into bite-size 1-inch pieces. Season well with salt and pepper. Place the cornstarch in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Add the chicken to the bag, carefully seal, and toss to coat. Whisk the eggs together in a shallow pie plate. Dip half of the the cornstarch-coated chicken pieces into the beaten egg and place them carefully in a single layer in the hot skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes until golden brown, then flip each piece over to cook the other side. Make sure you get some good color on the pieces but don't be concerned with cooking them all the way through. Place in a single layer in a large baking dish and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.
  3. Mix the sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl and pour over the chicken in the baking dish. Bake for one hour, uncovered, turning the chicken once or twice while cooking to coat evenly with sauce. Serve over hot, steamed rice.

recipe source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Gwyneth Paltrow's Healthy Blueberry Muffins



I guess it depends on your definition of "healthy" as to whether or not you agree with GP on these muffins, but regardless, they're good.  She uses spelt flour (which I never have on hand) but all-purpose is a perfectly fine substitute if you don't have gluten issues. She also tries to avoid refined white sugar so she sweetens them up with some agave and maple syrup. The maple syrup makes them taste like blueberry pancake muffins. They come from her cookbook, My Father's Daughter where she tells wonderful stories about her father, Bruce, who died a few years back from cancer, along with her struggles with getting her children to eat well. I can't say I agree with all of her opinions, and if you were to stock your pantry with the items she suggests it would cost a small fortune, but it's still one of my favorite cookbooks. I should also add that her mom, Blythe Danner, has her own recipe for blueberry muffins included in the book (much more traditional with butter and eggs) that Gwyneth regularly requested while pregnant. Why on earth didn't I write about those instead? Just try these. Then we'll talk.  

Gwyneth Paltrow's Healthy Blueberry Muffins

*Note: These are also egg-free, dairy-free and vegan. If you're into that sort of thing.

Ingredients

1/2 cup vegetable oil 
1/2 cup soymilk  
1/2 cup pure maple syrup 
1/4 cup light agave nectar 
1 teaspoon vanilla  
1 cup white spelt flour  (I used all-purpose)
1 cup whole spelt flour (I used whole-wheat)  
2 teaspoons baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt  
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Directions

Heat oven to 375°. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Whisk oil, soymilk, maple syrup and agave in a bowl. Combine flours, baking powder and salt in another bowl. Carefully stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Do NOT overmix. Gently fold in the blueberries. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake until muffins are golden brown and a knife comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.







recipe source: slightly modified from My Father's Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Creamy Garlic Alfredo Sauce



I made this last week on one of those nights when dinner barely made it to the table. It was a minimal effort operation and we were all shocked by the results. This alfredo sauce may not be authentic, but it's absolutely delicious. In a halfhearted attempt to add some nutrients, I paired it with some simple steamed veggies . Next time I think I'll add some steamed, chopped broccoli right to the sauce.


Fast & Easy Creamy Garlic Alfredo Sauce

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
4 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut cubes
1 cup milk
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

In a medium pot or skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly- don't let the garlic burn. Add the cream cheese, stirring with a whisk until the mixture is smooth. It may look curdled, but with constant whisking for 2-3 minutes, it should come together to form a smooth, creamy paste. If your cream cheese wasn't completely softened this might take a bit longer. Add the milk gradually, about 1/4 cup at a time, whisking constantly until each addition is incorporated fully into the sauce. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, pepper and salt. Stir until the cheese is melted and cook 1-2 minutes more. Serve immediately over hot, cooked noodles.



 
recipe source: Sweet Pea Chef

Friday, August 30, 2013

Home from the Hospital and Ina's Easy Tomato Soup

Sam's been home for a few days now. He spent a full week in the hospital. It would have been longer, had we not fought to be discharged (with our oncologist on our side). I swear, the hospital has a way of turning me into such an unpleasant person. I guess this is something I should consider working on, since we seem to be there on a regular basis. The upside is that we have a renewed sense of how wonderful our everyday life is and how much we truly love our home. It's so easy, even after everything we've been through, to get bogged down in the everyday stuff. Oh, but when that stuff is gone. You miss it. The meal planning, the bath time, the "what do you feel like doing this weekend?". The little things. Like cooking this soup.

I've been making this soup from Ina's latest cookbook Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust for a while now, and every time I do, it's a huge hit. I'll never forget the first time I made it. I followed her recipe exactly, topping each bowl with the adorable grilled cheese "croutons" she makes to go with it. I wish I had taken a picture of Sam and Jack staring at their bowls. Finally Sam asked, "Babe, this looks amazing, but where's my sandwich?" and Jack spent the next ten minutes trying to fish them out with his fingers. Needless to say, we are not a grilled cheese crouton house. Lesson learned. Now I serve this up in bowls with a big platter of sandwich halves in the middle of the table and everyone's happy.


grilled cheese croutons. never again.

Ina's Easy Tomato Soup

*Note: Out of sheer laziness, I've tried to skip the step of cooking the orzo separate and just add it to the soup. This never works out, and always results in haphazardly cooked pasta- some crunchy, some complete mush. If you think it's your lucky night, go ahead and try it and be sure to tell me exactly what you did. I'm not sure what it is, but some nights I read the step to get out an extra pan to boil water and equate it to being ordered outside to run a mile. Ridiculous, I know. And the spinach is my addition. Great way to "sneak" in some cancer fighting greens. 

3 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
1 Tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 cups chicken stock
1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup orzo (or other tiny pasta shape)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2-3 handfuls of fresh, chopped spinach (optional)

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring every now and then until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a medium pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for 7 minutes. (It will finish cooking in the soup.) Drain the orzo and add it to the soup. Stir in the cream and spinach, return the soup to a simmer and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently.  

*Like most any soup, this can be made a few days in advance. You could make it on the weekend, cool it down a bit, and stash it away in the fridge. Tuesday night dinner now consists of making grilled cheese sandwiches and reheating a pot of delicious, homemade soup. Just a suggestion.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Pneumonia and RSV

The tests have come back, and Sam has pneumonia. They also told us this morning that he tested positive for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). This can present as the common cold in most adults and children, but can make babies and the immune-compromised very ill. I know many of you have asked about visiting Sam, but we'd really like you to think twice about it, especially if you have small children at home. Also, if you're sick or feel like you might be getting sick, I'm asking you to please be cautious when you're around Sam for the next few months while he finishes these last rounds of chemo. I know we can't control everything, but since I have Sam, Jack and now this new baby on the way to worry about, I'm sure going to give it my best shot.

Sam has been feeling a little better today. He hasn't had a fever yet, and he actually ate some bites of toast for breakfast. We had to tease him last night when his night nurse came in with his Coumadin as I was trying to get him to drink his chocolate Ensure. Poor Sam. Thank you again for all of your wonderful support (especially Amelia Graves for the Chelsea's delivery and Sarah Starr for the delicious risotto- wow, I need that recipe!)

sleepy

Thanks Ben & Courtney Ellis for the delicious strawberries from Sheri's Berries!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Back in the Hospital

Sam started feeling bad Tuesday afternoon, and when he spiked a 102 fever we headed to the ER. He has been getting chemo again to help offset some of the gvhd complications that have been becoming more and more of an issue over the past few months. He's still in remission though, still completely cancer-free, but his doctors thought he would benefit from 4 rounds of Rituxan. He handled the first round OK. His counts dropped, but he rebounded fine. His second round was two weeks ago, and all was going well until late Tuesday. They're fairly certain that whatever is going on is the result of his suppressed immune system. We keep reminding ourselves we've walked through much worse, and whether it's an infection of some sort or viral meningitis- we've been there before. We should know more over the next few days. IRMC may not be Sloan-Kettering, but we thank God for Dr. McGarry and an awesome team of nurses. And thank you so much for all of your prayers and words of encouragement. It definitely makes a world of difference when you're stuck in a hospital room. Hopefully I'll have more to report soon.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Adventures in 3 Day Potty Training

It's been two weeks now since we made the decision to start potty training Jack. He's 2 1/2, some say this is way too early, some crazies say I'm already too late, but for our family- the timing was perfect. Honestly, I wasn't going to even venture into this territory until he was 3. I don't mind diapers. They're convenient and easy. No searching for clean restrooms or toting a potty along with us wherever we go. But it was time. He was ready. He had been ready. And by the time he's 3 we'll have a newborn in the house. I wanted to make sure I set him up to be as successful as possible. For me, that meant not only being sure he was up for it, but also making sure I was capable of being fully present and well rested to give him the attention and patience I knew would be required.

Since I had no idea where to start, I researched several methods. I knew this would be a major milestone, and I didn't feel comfortable just winging it. We had purchased a potty chair a long time ago, and he'd been playing and sitting on it for months with no pressure to actually use it. After talking with several friends and reading several blogs, I decided on Lora Jensen's 3 Day Potty Training. She has potty trained her 5 boys and 1 girl with this method, and helped thousands of other parents do the same. Her plan is detailed in a $25 e-book which I highly recommend. Along with the e-book you get complete access to her HelpDesk where she answers any and all of your potty training questions and concerns. Apparently, this is supposed to be a universal method and can work for most any child, but I can't speak to that claim. I can say for sure though, this method worked for us. We had a highly motivated, 2 1/2 year old boy, and by late morning on Day 1, it "clicked". Of course, there were accidents. But we've been completely diaper-free for two weeks now (both day and night), and we're not looking back.

Like I said, if you go with this method, purchasing her e-book is a must. Here are some highlights from our experience.

Prepare! I chose a time to start potty training when I knew we wouldn't have much going on. We were back and settled from summer vacation. Sam wouldn't be gone on any out of town trips. I made sure to completely clear out a block of 3 days. No classes. No play dates. No errands. I planned simple dinners (make ahead, take-out, husband cooks). I put workouts on hold. I spent the weeks leading up to the "big day" talking up the whole process like it was going to be the highlight of our summer. "Pretty soon, we're going to start potty training!!! We're going to throw these baby diapers away, and you're going to go pee pee and poopies on the potty!!! Doesn't that sound fun!?!? And when you go on the potty, we're going to get special treats!! We'll have M&Ms! And stickers! And coloring pages! And even some special surprises!!". All in the same voice I might use to describe an upcoming trip to Disney World. He would always say "Can we do that now, mama!?" which I would follow up with, "Not right now, but soon when we start our potty training". Seriously, this went on for weeks. Meanwhile, I was gathering supplies- special prizes, underpants with his favorite characters on them, juice boxes and special snacks, mattress covers and extra sheets, and lots of activities we could do together during those 3 days. Also, I was psyching myself up. That pep talk wasn't just for him.

Day 1. So the day finally arrived. I had actually planned on starting on a Tuesday, but I opened my eyes Monday morning and thought "let's do this". I went and got him from his crib (yes, he's still in a crib which adds a whole other dimension to the process) and took off that last diaper (way more emotional than I anticipated). Then I made the big announcement. "Today is a very special day!! We finally start our potty training!!". He was so excited. The first thing he said- "And we'll have M&Ms!!!". I had a small stack of freshly laundered underpants for him to choose from, and I brought him downstairs where we ceremoniously threw out some diapers. She insists on having you and your child throw away every last diaper in the house and car for reasons both symbolic (out with the old!) and practical (there's no turning back or giving in without breaking down and buying more). I just couldn't do this. We're on a budget with another baby on the way. Any loose diapers were getting stored away for baby #2. I did, however, clear my diaper bag and purse of any beat up and misshaped stragglers, which he joyfully threw in the trash. About 15 minutes later, I took him to the bathroom where I had placed the potty (now its permanent home- no dragging it all over the house- bathroom business was to be done in the bathroom) and explained the most important lesson he would learn over the next few days. "From now on, we're going to go peep pee and poopies on the potty. We don't want to go in our new underpants. We want to go on the potty! Make sure you let mama know if you feel pee pee or poopies coming so we can go on the potty". Then we walked out. I may not be completely on board with all of Lora Jensen's thinking, but this is my most favorite part of her method. There is absolutely NO asking "Do you have to go pee pee?". You're not wrangling them onto the toilet every 15 minutes to "try". You're teaching them to pay attention to their own body signals and alert you in enough time to make it to the potty. There will be accidents. Many accidents. But once it "clicks" and you hear them shout "Mama, mama I have to go pee pee" you know you're on your way.

He preceded to pee in his underpants 5 minutes after this conversation. I was right there next to him, saw what was happening and said "Oh, we want to go pee pee on the potty now. Here we go! Let's go!" and quickly ushered him into the bathroom and onto the potty. The idea is to not leave their side for 3 whole days in order to "catch" these accidents and bring them to the potty to either finish or at least get your point across. We put on a fresh pair of underpants, and I again explained, in a very happy, upbeat voice, what I expected of him. I also added how important it was that we keep Thomas "nice and dry" (he was wearing Thomas underpants). We spent the next few hours loading up on fluids (you want lots of potty opportunities) and doing fun activities together. Every 5 minutes or so I would say "Remember to let mama know if you feel pee pees coming". This is important. They need the constant reminders. This will also drive you, and probably your child, absolutely insane. He was so annoyed with me by the end of that first day ("Mama, I don't have to!!") but I kept at it. He was doing so well by late morning (successfully peeing on the potty 3 times) that I let him play with the iPad- a very special treat. What a mistake! He was so engrossed in what he was doing he proceeded to pee right on the couch without so much as looking up. I made sure the rest of our activities during training were fun, but not that "all-encompassing, ignore the world around you" kind of fun. Thankfully that was his last accident on Day 1. I started pulling back on his fluids about 2 hours before his nap (he sleeps every day from about 1pm-4pm). Though I put on a very brave face, I didn't hold out a lot of hope for dry sheets during naptime/nighttime. I had heard and read about how hard it could be for boys to stay dry while sleeping. Miraculously, he slept for 3 solid hours and woke up dry. I couldn't believe it and made a great big fuss.

We continued our training for the rest of the day. I had given our night time routine a bit of an overhaul over the past few weeks. He was used to getting about 8 oz of milk pretty much right before bed, and I knew, for him to have any chance of overnight success, this was going to have to stop. I think it may have been harder on me than him. We hadn't changed our routine since I stopped nursing him at 13 months. Yes, he asked for milk and yes, it broke my heart to offer him a small cup of water, but after three nights of asking it was our new routine. I'm glad I did this weeks beforehand and didn't try to change too many things at once. By the time our training started, he was drinking just a few small sips of water before bed and hadn't asked for milk in weeks. I know this might sound mean. It's summer and it's hot and here I am talking about limiting a toddler's fluids. It's really not like that. Up until about 7pm he can drink whatever he wants, but to get him to bed at a decent hour and set him up for a successful night, I have to limit his fluids at some point. This worked for us.

Day 2.  I was completely shocked to find a dry crib on the morning of Day 2. Was I being punked? How was this possible? This was followed by tons of praise and a prompt trip to the potty. He peed a river and we went about our day. So far, we had two accidents in two days. Not bad at all. One thing she stresses is the importance of a high fiber diet so they can poop easily and not be in pain or straining on the potty. I may have taken her advice a little too far. Jack had been playing with his trains most of the morning and I will never forget seeing him sprint to the bathroom calling "Mama, mama, I have to go NOW". He didn't make it. That was accident #3 and it was a big one. Lesson learned. We had another dry nap that day.

Day 3. He woke up dry again. This was a great day. No accidents and he successfully pooped on the potty. Sam went to sit for chemo in the morning and was home for the rest of the day. It was awesome having him here with us, even though he napped most of the day on the couch. My parents had bought Jack a special toy for the first time he pooped on the potty. He was so excited and so proud of himself. At this point, I was feeling really tired. Even though he was doing amazing, it was still a very demanding three days. Any doubts I may have had about this method or him maybe not being quite ready were pushed out when I saw how he embraced it and how proud he was with himself.

Here he is after getting his special toy, Cranky the Crane (he's a Thomas fanatic).



Day 4 and Beyond. We stayed in most of the day, went to dinner at my in-laws and brought the potty with us. Jack let us know when he had to pee (twice!) and was so proud when everyone made a fuss. This was also his first nighttime accident. I almost anticipated it. The night went late and he was drinking more than usual. I went in to get him the next morning at 6am and he was sound asleep, completely dry. I could wake him up or let him sleep. I let him sleep. By 6:30, the crib was wet. Any nighttime accidents we've had since then have been under the same conditions, when we're out of our usual routine. And they always happen between 6am and 6:30am. Our whole nighttime routine, in general, has been extended by about 45 minutes which includes several trips to the bathroom. Some nights, this can be incredibly exhausting. We walk that fine line between wanting to listen to his earnest requests to pee while putting our foot down to countless potty trips to stretch out bedtime. We've gotten it down to 3-4 trips with lights out at 9pm. It's a little later than I'd like, but for now, I'll take it.

I will say, we had an awful day around Day 7. He had three accidents in one morning. This is when the HelpDesk that came along with the e-book purchase was so helpful. I sent Ms. Jensen an email explaining the situation and asking what I should do and she answered me back within 24 hours. Amazing! She encouraged me to be sure to keep up with my over-the-top praise (which I had been slacking on) and to not react in any way to his accidents, take him in the bathroom, clean him up and go about the day. No praise, but absolutely no negativity either. Worked like a charm! I had naively thought that once he was trained, he was trained and that was basically it. So, so wrong. So I'm still praising. And I will be for a while. Maybe not 3 M&Ms every single time, but certainly big hugs and lots of attention. I make it very clear what kind of behavior gets my attention. And he's doing great. It's still a process. For better or worse, we learn something new every time we venture out to a restaurant, store, someone's house or an outdoor event and each time we get a little more confident. I say we, but it's mostly me. And that mini van we just bought is definitely coming in handy. While we're driving he'll call out from his car seat that he has to go pee pee. I always have the potty with me and there's plenty of room to pass through to the back and maneuver around. We've gotten a lot of jokes, but I'm telling you, it's made life so much easier.

Anyway. Potty training is tricky business. I really hesitated to write this post since we really didn't have an awful time, as I know many parents do. But it's our story and it's real, and if I helped only one person than my business here is done. Best of luck!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Weeknight Peach Crisp



Oh, I know. It's been so long. We're still here. It's been a very busy summer, and I'll catch you all up soon, but I just wanted to quickly share with you this crazy good recipe for one of the simplest peach crisps you will ever make. Forget the tedious task of peeling peaches and you mix it up right in the baking dish. I brought it to family the dinner last week and it was a big hit.

Weeknight Peach Crisp

For the Filling
2 1/2 lbs peaches, halved, pitted and cut into bite-size chunks (6 cups)
3 Tablespoons flour
1/3 to 2/3 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of your peaches)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Topping
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions
Position rack in the lower third of your oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil.


Mix the peaches with the flour, sugar, and cinnamon right in a 2 quart baking dish. Place the dish on the lined baking sheet, to catch any drips, and bake for 25-30 minutes.

While the peaches are baking, thoroughly mix all of the ingredients for the topping in a medium size bowl.

When the peaches are finished baking, carefully remove from the oven and sprinkle the topping evenly over the peaches. Increase the oven temp to 400 degrees and bake for 15-20 more minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the topping is nice and brown. This is delicious hot, warm or at room temperature.


recipe source: Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts by Alice Medrich

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Oh. Did you want dinner tonight?




Saw this on Pinterest and had to share.  Am I the only one who can't seem to get it together lately? It's definitely time to dust off the crockpot. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fudgy Texas Sheet Cake

I've made a lot of texas sheet cakes, and this is, most definitely, my best one yet. It's the perfect sort of dessert to bring along to your next bbq. Especially if there's vanilla ice cream involved.


Fudgy Texas Sheet Cake

Cake
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. white sugar
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 t. vanilla
1/4 c. sour cream
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
4 T. unsalted butter
3/4 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. water
1/2 c. dutch-process cocoa powder

Icing
8 T. butter (one stick)
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. dutch-process cocoa powder
1 T. corn syrup
3 c. powdered sugar
1 T. vanilla
1 c. toasted pecans, chopped (don't skip toasting them! they're so much better this way)

For the Cake:
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 18″ x 13″ baking sheet. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the whole eggs, yolks, vanilla and sour cream until smooth.

2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the chocolate, butter, oil, cocoa, and water in a large, stirring occasionally until smooth, 3-5 minutes. Whisk the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture just until incorporated. Whisk the egg mixture into the batter, then pour into the baking sheet. Bake 18-20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack. *Be sure all of your icing ingredients are measured out so you'll be ready to pour the cooked icing over the hot cake*

For the Icing:
3. About 5 minutes before the cake is done, heat the butter, cream, cocoa, and corn syrup in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until smooth. Off the heat, whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Spread the warm icing evenly over the hot cake and sprinkle with the pecans. Let the cake cool for about an hour, then refrigerate until the icing is set, about one more hour.  This cake is even better the 2nd day so do yourself a favor and bake it ahead of time and stash it away in the fridge (tightly covered). Be sure to let it come to room temp before serving.

Serves 16, at least



recipe source: Cook's Country

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Eat to Defeat Cancer

A few months back I heard a TED talk given by Dr. William Li that completely captured my attention. It's titled "Can We Eat To Starve Cancer?", and in it he says this:

"The obvious thing is to think about what we could remove from our diet. But I took a completely opposite approach and began asking: What could we be adding to our diet that could boost the body’s defense system? In other words, can we eat to starve cancer?”

I love the idea of turning the focus from the negativity of what we shouldn't be eating (processed food! dairy! red meat! GMOs!) to a more proactive approach of what we should be eating. It's amazing, just with that simple shift in thinking, what's been making its way into the kitchen and onto our table. Listen for yourself and see what you think. For Dr. Li's complete list of Eat to Defeat Cancer foods click here.



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pasta with Summer Veggies



I've spent a lot of time this year rethinking the way I feed my family. Mealtime can be hard. While Sam will eat absolutely anything I put in front of him, and at least pretend to enjoy it, Jack is a different story. We now have this little person with very big opinions joining us for dinner every night. And while sometimes this can be incredibly joyous, like the other night when he took a bite of chocolate pecan pie and said "ooo, that's good pie mama", other times...not so much. Finding healthy, family friendly dinner ideas has been my mission. In the past, I hated making the same thing twice since I have so many recipes to try and love discovering new things. This would drive Sam nuts. If he loved something he had no idea if and when he'd ever see it again, and now with Jack it's downright impossible. I'm finally succumbing to the rotation. Not necessarily a weekly rotation. Maybe a bi or tri-weekly set of recipes that can be changed up seasonally, with one night a week *or so* worked in to try something new. The recipe below for Pasta with Summer Veggies will definitely be added. I actually shocked Sam and made it more than once when we were living in New York. Now that we're home, and can pick most of the veggies and herbs from our garden out back it tastes even better.

Pasta with Summer Veggies

Ingredients

4 ounces uncooked ziti or other small pasta shape (I use large elbows or wagon wheels) 
1 tablespoon olive oil  
2 cups chopped yellow squash, diced small
1 cup chopped zucchini, diced small
1/2 cup chopped onion, diced small
2 cups chopped tomato, diced small
2 garlic cloves, minced 
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil 
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano 
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided 
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup (2 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese 
1 large egg, lightly beaten  


Directions

1. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.

2. Preheat oven to 400°.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan. Add squash, zucchini, and onion and sauté  for 5 minutes. Add tomato and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in pasta, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, the herbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper.

4. Combine ricotta, remaining salt, and the egg. Stir into pasta mixture. Coat an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray and dump in your pasta mixture. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until bubbly and browned.

small dice veggies


recipe source: Cooking Light

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

atlantic beach pie

I recently heard about this pie on NPR. It's from Crook's Corner restaurant in Chapel Hill, NC, and it is awesome. Somewhere between lemon icebox and key lime. It may be one of the simplest pies I've ever made, making it my new go-to summer pie.

Atlantic Beach Pie

for the crust:
1 1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar

for the filling:
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

for the topping:
freshly whipped cream (sweetened with a few tablespoons of powdered sugar and a dash of vanilla)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Crush the crackers finely, but not to dust. I put them in a large ziploc and used my hands to crush them up. A good mix of small and fine crumbs makes the best crust. Add the sugar, then knead in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough. Press into a 9 inch pie pan. Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 18 minutes or until the crust just begins to turn golden brown.
While the crust is cooling, beat the egg yolks into the milk, then beat in the citrus juice. Be sure to completely combine these ingredients. Pour into the shell (which doesn't have to be all the way cooled) and bake for 16 minutes until the filling has set. The pie needs to be completely cold to be sliced. Serve with fresh whipped cream.


the morning after, last lone sliver


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

lookin' good sam!

So a year ago, this past weekend, my best friend got married in Alpharetta, GA and we missed it. Well. They skyped us in. Here we were in Sam's hospital room, just 11 days after transplant. He was running a high fever that day, but buttoned up his dress shirt over his hospital gown and smiled bravely for our friends.

long distance bridesmaid
This past Saturday night, exactly one year later, we found ourselves at another very special wedding. We spent much of the night on the dance floor. After missing 6 weddings since Sam's diagnosis we had a lot to make up for. There's only one clear picture of the both of us from the night, and I love it. I just can't believe how far Sam has come and how wonderful he looks.

.
one year post transplant

Friday, April 5, 2013

Day +365!!

Wednesday, April 3 marked one whole year since Sam's stem cell transplant at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. Though our vision for the day (relaxing somewhere beautiful with Jack) and the reality of the day (long and grueling with plenty of pokes and prods) could not have been further off, it's A-OK because we just got the news that everything looks GREAT and Sam continues to be disease free!! And...as if that wasn't enough. We were also given the paperwork that will put us in contact with our donor! The National Marrow Donor Program prohibits donors and recipients from meeting until at least a year post-transplant. We are beyond excited to have the chance to personally thank the woman who's done so much for our family. And thank you ALL for supporting us every step of the way.

Remember this? What a difference a year can make.



Wednesday, March 27, 2013

goodbye sweet boy

As told by Waylon's parents:

"Let the children come to me, and not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Mark 10:12

Waylon has gone home to his Father in Heaven. We were blessed to watch over one of God's children for a short time. Our son was surrounded by unending love and devotion. We can't thank our family and friends enough for their love and devotion to us and to Waylon throughout these last six months. Please pray for all the families and for Waylon.
We will celebrate his life on Friday, 11am at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Okeechobee. At 10 am we will receive family and friends.
Will and Lauren



If you are still interested in helping the family, please don't hesitate to contact Sam or me. Here is a link to more information.