Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Best Bran Muffins

Finally. A bran muffin I can get behind.

But really. As delicious as they are, they still fall squarely into the mid-week breakfast, guiltless toddler snack, "healthy muffin" category. Definitely not the "cream the butter with the sugar", unfrosted cupcake kind of muffin. With a 2:1 bran to flour ratio they also carry some heft, but I'm telling you, they're the best I've baked to date. Don't skip the sprinkling of sugar just before baking, and you kinda sorta have to plan ahead if you're going to make these, since the batter has to rest overnight.   

Best Bran Muffins  
from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook
*Note: I skipped the currants entirely with delicious results.


1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces/70 grams) dried currants
3/4 cup (6 ounces/173 grams) water
1 1/2 cups (7 1/4 ounces/206 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups (4 ounces/115 grams) bran, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 medium ripe banana
2 large eggs
1 cup (7 1/8 ounces/200 grams) canola oil
2/3 cup (5 ounces/142 grams) packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (2 ounces/63 grams) molasses
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces/340 grams) buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Raw, granulated or crystal sugar for sprinkling


1. Combine the currants and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over med-high heat, and cook until very soft, 10-15 minutes. Reduce the heat as needed to keep the water at a simmer. Drain, transfer to a small bowl and cool to room temp. *As I mentioned above in my note, I skipped the currants and this step.*

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and baking soda into a large bowl. Stir in the bran and salt. Set aside.

3. In a medium size bowl, mash up the banana (you should have about 1/3 cup) very well with a fork. Add the eggs, oil, brown sugar and molasses. Whisk the mixture until well blended, and then mix in the buttermilk and vanilla.

4. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour in your banana-buttermilk mixture. Add the currants at this point if you're using them. Gently fold everything together just until everything is combined. If you over mix at this point, your muffins will be tough and rubbery. 

5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in the fridge overnight.

6. When you're ready to bake them, preheat the oven to 375. Scoop the batter into a paper lined muffin tin, using about 1/2 cup batter per muffin. The recipe says this makes 12 muffins, but I ended up with 16. Sprinkle the tops with some bran flakes and a generous scattering of raw or granulated sugar. Bake for 24-26 minutes. They should be golden and baked through. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack at least 10 minutes before attempting to take them out of the pan.

Best eaten the same day, but they keep for a day or two. I keep them through the next day and toss whatever is left into a ziploc bag and into the freezer. You can reheat at 12 second intervals in the microwave for a quick breakfast on one of "those mornings" or an afternoon snack.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Berry Cobbler with Cornmeal Dumplings


I've been trying for weeks to get this posted, but life had other plans. We've mourned the loss of two friends who left this world much too soon, and celebrated Sam's return to work after 5 months on disability. In the midst of everything, I managed to make this Berry Cobbler with Cornmeal Dumplings three times. Though, that's really not as ambitious as it sounds since, as it turns out, this cobbler is the perfect dumping grounds for all of those berries you bought on sale, but never got around to using. Which is...the story of my life. As I sit here now, I'm pretty darn sure I could gather up another 6 cups of sad looking berries and throw this together during naptime.

It's also a great dessert for anyone going through chemo or who has a compromised immune system right now. The summer months can be tough when fresh fruits and veggies are off-limits. Not only is this packed with vitamins and nutrients, but it can be enjoyed by everyone. An added bonus in our house.

And yes, I know, I could freeze all those berries before they reached the point of despair. But even if I was capable of that sort of forethought, freezer space in my house is coveted and reserved these days mainly for breastmilk, popsicles and emergency dinners. In that order.

Mixed Berry Cobbler with Cornmeal Dumplings


 For the Filling:
6 cups (about 2 pounds) mixed berries- raspberries, blackberries, blueberries 
   (go easy on the strawberries since they're so watery when baked)
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar

For the Dumplings:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup heavy cream


1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Make the filling. Mix the berries, flour and sugar right in a 2 quart baking dish. No need to dirty up an extra bowl. Put this on a baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for 25-30 minutes, until it's bubbling at the edges. 

3. Meanwhile, make the dumplings. Mix the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a medium sized bowl. Add about half of the cream, give it a few stirs, then push the mixture to one side of the bowl. Pour the rest of the cream into the bowl and gently fold it all together just until the dry ingredients are moistened.

4. When the filling is ready, use two spoons to drop lumps of dough, about a heaping tablespoon each, all over the hot fruit. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the dumplings are nice and brown.

This can be served hot, warm or at room temperature. Whipped cream or ice cream are always nice.

recipe source: Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts by Alice Medrich (love this book)


Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Very Happy Father's Day!

Sam was released from the hospital just in time to celebrate Father's Day. And by celebrate, I mean nap on the couch all day. But that's fine with us. We're just glad he's home.

Happy Father's Day to all the step-dads, uncles, granddads and dads out there. Especially this one.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Back in the Hospital

Sam woke up very sick early Friday morning, and, after a brief ambulance ride, was admitted to the ICU. Another pseudomonas infection (now cipro resistant), but this time it jumped into his blood stream and sent him into septic shock and acute kidney failure. He was released from the ICU yesterday, and is now on the cardiac floor for an irregular heartbeat. Lots of stuff going on. Bottom line- he was very sick, but he's going to be OK.  If you haven't heard from either of us during the last few days, this is why. We'll likely be here all week. A big thank you to my sister-in-law, Charlotte Tripson, for helping me out with the night shift so I can be with my babies.

And speaking of babies~ let's lighten the mood here with some pictures. It's almost time to try some solids so we've been practicing sitting in our seat.

Alice Ann, almost 4 months old

Jack, almost 4 months old

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

White Chicken Chili

A good friend of mine recently sent me Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. It grabbed my attention from the first paragraph, and by the second, stole my heart. I LOVED this book. (thank you, thank you, thank you Carrie Cowen!) I wish I could wipe out my bank account and send a copy to all of my friends. It's just that good. If you love food. If you love wine. If you fight to maintain strong relationships with friends and family. If you're a little too familiar with the joy and heartbreak of trying to conceive. If you're yearning for an honest voice that will leaving you laughing out loud and wiping away tears, Shauna Niequist is your girl. I love her. And I want to be her friend.

It's not your typical cookbook. No glossy food porn photos or any of those action shots of the author "cooking" in the kitchen. Just a compilation of short stories and treasured recipes. They all sound delicious, but I was particularly drawn to the White Chicken Chili. Only four ingredients? Ready in about 30 minutes? Um, yea. Just one bite and I knew I was adding this to our summer dinner rotation.

White Chicken Chili


1-1.5 lbs chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces (white or dark meat, doesn't matter)
1 (16 oz) container of fresh salsa (you can use jarred, but fresh tastes better)
2 cans white beans (she calls for 4, I like 2)  
4 cups chicken broth

Top with sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado, crushed tortilla chips (I have a current love affair going on with Late Summer brand Hint of Lime. Hey. I'm breastfeeding), whatever you want really.


1. Heat a dutch oven to medium heat and cook the chicken until almost cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the salsa and beans, including the bean liquid, and broth.

2. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally.

3. Simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Monday, May 12, 2014


Sam was discharged from Moffitt late Friday afternoon, just in time to celebrate our 5th year anniversary with some spaghetti on the couch. My mom kept the kids, and it was a wonderful, quiet night at home. He's still in a substantial amount of pain from the inflamed area in his lung were the pseudomonas has settled in, but the doctors have assured us that this will subside. We want to thank you all for your prayers and your offers to help during this past week.

5 years ago, one hot May day at Oak Alley Plantation. A gospel choir sang "Oh Happy Day!" from the balcony as we walked up the aisle.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

In the Hospital

So Sam was admitted to Moffitt yesterday with a high fever, awful sore throat and shortness of breath. He had about 10 straight days of feeling pretty good, but things started tanking over the weekend. He has pneumonia, likely brought on by a stubborn pseudomonas infection that seems to have taken up residence in his right lung. They did a bronchoscopy this morning to gather more information in order to treat him better. He's been in a fair amount of pain and not really able to eat. But he has access to great pain meds and a whole assortment of smoothies blended up right here on the transplant floor. We're hoping he starts feeling better soon so we can be out of here before our anniversary on Friday (5 years!!). We wanted to go away for a night, but this wasn't exactly what we had in mind. As always, thanks for all the love, prayers and support.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

My Favorite Guacamole

This guacamole comes from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. It may not be authentic, but to me, it's perfection. Scale it up or down, depending on the size of your crowd. It makes about 3 cups. Pair it with a pitcher of these and you really can't go wrong. Happy {early} Cinco de Mayo!!
Ina's Amazing Guacamole


4 ripe Haas avocados 
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice  
8 dashes Tabasco sauce (optional, I leave it out)
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion  
1 large garlic clove, minced 
1 teaspoon kosher salt  
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 
1 medium tomato, seeded and finely chopped  

1. Halve and pit the avocados. Scoop the flesh into a bowl. Add the lemon juice, Tabasco (if using), onion, garlic and salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

2. Using a sharp knife, slice through the avocados in the bowl until they are finely diced. Smoosh it up with the back of a spoon if you like it a little more creamy. Add the tomatoes and gently toss to combine. Adjust your salt and pepper as needed.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter Ya'll

After what seemed to be a very eventful past two weeks, we were happy to have things settle down and be able to celebrate Easter with family and friends. Sam has been in the hospital again, and even after being transferred to Tampa and discharged, we're still not able to pinpoint specifically what continues to make him so ill. But today was a good day. This is a picture of Jack with our bunny cakes before we left for my in-laws house for Easter dinner. The cakes were inspired by one I saw on Pinterest. Of course.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sweet Potatoes Roasted in Coconut Oil

We eat a ton of sweet potatoes in our house. I found these on Food52, and they've since become a family favorite. They're quick, simple and delicious. So, of course, I had to share.

Sweet Potatoes Roasted in Coconut Oil

2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Spread potatoes onto a large baking sheet and drizzle with coconut oil. Using your hands, thoroughly mix potatoes until each piece is coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Roast until tender and golden, 40-45 minutes, stirring once halfway through.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Happy 2nd "Birthday" Sam!

It's hard to believe it's been two years since Sam's allogeneic stem cell transplant. For the most part he's doing well, though we're still dealing with some graft-vs-host issues along with recurring infections. April 3 will always be a very special day in our house, and we remain forever grateful to our anonymous stem cell donor who gave Sam another chance at life. Sound like something you might be interested in? BE THE MATCH!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Strawberry Icebox Pie

Hello friends...I'm still here! But *wow* what a month! Between Sam being sick and trying to work out caring for two children, it's been a little nuts. Sam has actually been home from work on short term disability until his body can fully recover from this last bout of pseudomonas. As wonderful as it is to have him share this special time with us at home, I'm anxious for him to recover and for things to get back to "normal". Like most men, he doesn't do very well sitting around too much.  And it would be nice to do my morning workout without the inappropriate commentary ;)

I wanted to post this recipe for Strawberry Icebox pie before strawberry season passes us by entirely. I found it in Southern Living last year, and it's become a family favorite. It tastes like a deliciously creamy, fresh strawberry milkshake in a salty-sweet crust.

Strawberry Icebox Pie

*Note- You will be most successful with slicing this pie if you serve it semi-frozen. It can be made well in advance and kept in the freezer. Set it out at least 30 minutes before serving. Store any leftovers in the freezer. Also, the crust layer is quite thick, which is fine with me, but if you don't want it to be such a dominant factor either use a deep dish pie pan or don't use all of the crust mixture.


2 cups finely crushed pretzel sticks 
3/4 cup butter, melted 
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar 
2 cups sliced fresh Florida strawberries 
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk 
1/2 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons plus 1 tsp. strawberry gelatin (1/2 of a 3-oz. package) 
2 cups whipping cream, divided 
1/3 cup sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Stir together first 3 ingredients and firmly press into a lightly greased 10-inch pie plate. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool completely.

2. Process strawberries in a food processor until finely chopped, stopping to scrape down sides as needed.

3. Beat condensed milk and next 2 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer with a whisk attachment until smooth. Add strawberries and beat at low speed just until blended. Transfer to a large bowl.

4. Beat 3/4 cup whipping cream at high speed until soft peaks form and gently fold whipped cream into strawberry mixture. Spoon into prepared, cooled crust. Cover and freeze 8 to 12 hours or until firm.

5. Beat remaining 1 1/4 cups whipping cream at high speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Spread over pie. Freeze 1 hour or until whipped cream is firm.

Monday, February 10, 2014

It's A Girl!!!

Meet Alice Ann
Born February 7, 2014
8lbs 2oz
20 1/2 inches

We're all back home and doing great. She's such a calm, happy baby and has truly been a complete joy. Even Jack is over the moon for his new little sister.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Nigella Lawson's Banana Bread

This is my favorite recipe for a simple, old-fashioned banana bread. No glaze, no chocolate, no streusel topping. And not overly sweet. I discovered this recipe in college in what's come to be one of my favorite baking books, Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess. I've changed it up only slightly by omitting the 1/2 cup of bourbon soaked raisins, which aren't necessarily a bad thing, but Sam prefers it without, and I'm a little uptight about feeding them to a toddler. I know a lot of people prefer quick breads like this one warm out of the oven, but I think it's so much better the following day and even a couple days after, once all the flavors have settled. Completely up to you.

Still on baby watch, and everyone's been sick around here except for me. Stay tuned!

Nigella Lawson's Banana Bread


1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
4 small or 3 large, very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 325. Coat a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray. Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium-sized bowl and combine well.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the melted butter and sugar until well blended. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the mashed bananas. Next stir in the walnuts and vanilla. Gently fold in the flour mixture, one third at a time, stirring just enough to incorporate the flour, but not too much or your bread will be rubbery.

3. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan, and bake on the middle rack of your oven for 60-75 minutes (mine was done at 60 minutes). You'll know when it's done when you insert a sharp knife or toothpick in the center and it comes out with hardly any crumbs clinging to it.

4. Let cool on a cooling rack at least 15 minutes before attempting to slice. Leave in the pan and store covered, at room temp.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

One Pot Sausage, Kale and White Bean Pasta

Another one pot pasta dish. I don't often cook with sausage or bacon these days, but I felt this was a good exception. The original recipe called for 1 lb of hot Italian sausage, but I subbed in mild Italian turkey sausage. If you're cooking for small children be sure to chop your greens up small before adding them to the pot. Jack loved the flavorful sauce mixed with the bite sized pasta, and it warmed my heart to see kale being gulped down without a protest. This comes together fast, so be sure to have all your ingredients ready.

39 weeks pregnant today! Anxiously waiting, but enjoying the calm before the storm. Hope to have some good news soon.

One Pot Sausage, Kale and White Bean


2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb Italian sausage (hot/mild, pork/turkey, your call) casings removed
1 onion
1 (15-oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
8 oz (2 1/4 cups) medium shells or orecchiette (something bite-sized that will capture the sauce)
12 oz kale, stemmed and chopped small
1 oz (1/2 cup) parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Salt & pepper


1. Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until lightly browned, 5-7 minutes. Add onion and beans and cook until onion is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Stir in broth and water and bring to a boil. Stir in pasta and half of your kale. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 4 minutes. Add remaining kale on top of pasta, without stirring, and continue to cook until kale is just tender, about 4 more minutes.

3. Stir to incorporate kale into pasta. Simmer uncovered until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the pasta is cooked, 4 to 8 more minutes. Off the heat, stir in the cheese and remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.    

recipe source: Cook's Country

Friday, January 24, 2014

{Make Ahead} Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls

Before things get too crazy around here, I wanted to share these Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls I made for Christmas morning. Not only are they so, so good, with a dough that is gorgeous and dreamy to work with, but they can also be made ahead of time- as in weeks, if not months ahead. So here you go.

Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls
But just so we're all on the same page- these are not the over-the-top, sugar coma-inducing Cinnabon type cinnamon rolls you buy in the mall. They're much more restrained (and I mean that in the very best way possible) and won't leave you feeling *too* guilty about filling your family up on butter and sugar before 10am. Hey, it was Christmas.


For the Dough:
3/4 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled 
3 large eggs, lightly beaten 
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
1/4 cup sugar 
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant or rapid-rise yeast 
1 teaspoon salt 

For the Filling: 
1 stick softened butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar 
2 teaspoons cinnamon 

For the glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 


1. Gently warm the buttermilk on the stovetop or in the microwave (at 20 second intervals- you want it about the same temp as you would run for a baby's bath).  Whisk together the warm buttermilk and 6 tablespoons of the melted butter.

2. In a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook (I couldn't find mine and used the paddle- worked great), mix 4 cups of the flour, the sugar, yeast, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and mix until the dough comes together, about 1 minute.

3. Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If, after 5 minutes, more flour is needed, add the remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough clears the side of the bowl but sticks to the bottom. (I didn't have to use the extra flour).

4. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball, about 1 minute. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. (Let's talk a minute about a "warm place". My house is typically about 75 degrees which isn't warm enough to move things along. If it's warm outside, I'll set the bowl on the back porch. If it's cold, I create a warm place by turning my oven to the lowest setting before I start the recipe, letting it heat up and then shut it off. By the time the dough is ready for this step, the oven has cooled to a nice warm temp. You can also set a pan of boiling water on the bottom rack of your oven and shut the door. Just some ideas.) With my warm oven method, my dough was doubled in 1 hour and 45 minutes. 

5. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured counter and press or roll it into a 12 by 16 inch rectangle. (I cut out a 12 x 16 parchment square and taped it to the counter so I knew my exact dimensions and didn't have to worry about it sticking to the countertop). Spread the softened butter carefully over the dough and sprinkle the brown sugar mixture, leaving a 1/2 inch border along the top and bottom edges. Gently press the filling to make it adhere to the buttered dough as best you can.

6. Starting at the long side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder and pinch the seam closed. Gently stretch and roll the cylinder until it is 18 inches long and has an even diameter. Slice into 12 evenly sized rolls—use a serrated knife or bench scraper. Arrange the rolls cut-side down in a greased 9 by 13 inch metal baking dish.

*Now, you have three options. You can proceed and bake them the same day, refrigerate them overnight and bake them off tomorrow or freeze them at this point to rise and bake later.

To bake them today:

Wrap tightly with a lightly greased layer of plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the rolls have nearly doubled in size and are pressed against one another, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake until the rolls are golden and puffed, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 5-10 minutes and glaze.  

To refrigerate and bake them tomorrow:

Wrap tightly with a lightly greased layer of plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 16 hours. Before baking, let the rolls sit at room temperature until they have nearly doubled in size and are pressed against one another, 2-4 hours, depending on the temperature of your house. Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake until the rolls are golden and puffed, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 5-10 minutes and glaze.  

To freeze and bake at a later date:

Wrap tightly with a lightly greased layer of plastic wrap and top a tightly sealed layer of tin foil. Freeze. Before baking, let the rolls sit at room temperature until they have nearly doubled in size and are pressed against one another, 9-11 hours, depending on the temperature of your house. (I pulled mine out the night before and baked them 11 hours later. They were perfect.) Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake until the rolls are golden and puffed, 25 to 30 minutes.  Let cool 5-10 minutes and glaze.  

Proceed with Glaze:

Whisk the cream cheese, remaining 3 tablespoons buttermilk (or milk) and vanilla together until thick and smooth. Sift the confectioners' sugar over the mixture and whisk until smooth, about 30 seconds. Remove the rolls onto a serving platter (or leave them right in the pan like I did) and drizzle with glaze.

recipe source: America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Handbook and Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Do Not Be Afraid

This comes from Ann Voskamp's facebook page this morning and I thought I'd share it with you. Maybe you need a reminder too?

I've been thinking a lot lately about how different this pregnancy is from my first. Not so much physically, but mentally. Emotionally. I had no clue really about what I was getting in to the first time around. My due date was March 16, 2011, and I put full faith in everything going down as it should on that day. You can assume my shock when my water broke three weeks early, the night Sam and I returned from Moffitt where we learned about his diagnosis.

Of course, this time around is different. Life has settled. But as this pregnancy comes to a close, I find myself anxious. Yes, even fearful. Fearing the known. I know now firsthand the fuzziness of due dates, moving through my days and nights, wondering if it will happen within the next 5 minutes or the next 5 weeks. Fearing even the process. (Lord please let my husband stay healthy enough to be by my side.) And certainly fearing the aftermath of caring for another newborn.

But, you see, I'm torn. Because there truly is a miracle in my belly at this very moment I type. A baby I've prayed so very hard for. And I don't want fear to cloud out my joy. So my prayers are for courage in the face of whatever lies ahead. And right now, these words are scratched out on post-its around the house.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Creamy Spinach Crock Pot Chicken

 A small part of me cringes to even post this recipe. For me, it's one step up from ordering Dominos. But let's face it. We all have those days when dinner is just not on our radar. With baby's arrival just weeks (days?) away, I've been making a real effort to try to find crock pot dinners that will actually get eaten...maybe even enjoyed? So many have been downright awful, but this one sent Sam back up for seconds and resulted in a clean plate from Jack. Was it mind blowing? No. But it's crazy simple, has protein, something green and doesn't end up in the trash. Makes you want to run out and buy the ingredients right now, huh? I'm just being honest. But really, I will be making this again. 

Creamy Spinach Crock Pot Chicken


4 chicken breasts
1 packet dry Zesty Italian dressing mix
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese
2 cans low-sodium Cream of Chicken soup
a couple large handfuls of baby spinach, chopped


1. Combine cream cheese and soup in a small saucepan over low heat and cook until melted thoroughly combined. 

2. Place chicken in crock pot and sprinkle with Italian dressing. Pour soup mixture over chicken and cook for 4 hours on low.

3. Remove just the chicken and slice, cube or shred the meat. Set aside. Stir chopped spinach into remaining "sauce" in crock pot and cook until wilted, about 10 minutes. Add chicken back in and stir gently to combine. Serve over rice or noodles. 


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Happy New Year, Friends!

What a crazy few weeks. Forgive me for keeping you all out of the loop. In early December, we found out Sam had some enlarged lymph nodes in his neck that were troubling his doctor. Moffitt scheduled a PET scan two days before Christmas to take a closer look. Not wanting to alarm anyone, we decided not to say anything. The results came back negative for cancer, though Moffitt wanted to surgically remove them and have them biopsied just to be sure. But after consulting with his previous transplant doctor at Sloan-Kettering, the decision was made to leave them be and reevaluate the situation in three months. Personally, I want them removed, but it's not my body and ultimately Sam made the final decision. This is me stepping back. A new phase in "caregiving" for me, and not always easy.

Regardless of all the distractions, we actually did have a great holiday. Sam finished up his infusion on Christmas Day to treat his pseudomonas, and was really beginning to feel better. On New Year's Day, though, he started running a high fever which led to a 6 day hospital stay. Fearing infection, they removed the PICC line, but in the end, it turned out to be a bad case of RSV. Yes, the respiratory virus typically seen in small children and infants. Of all the illnesses to catch right now. He's been released, and is getting home infusions every 12 hours. Hopefully the virus clears soon. As of today, I'm 36 weeks pregnant. I delivered Jack at 37 weeks, which, I know, may not mean anything, but we have to at least consider the possibility.

So that's what's been going on. I've been having a terrible time trying to string coherent sentences together so, again, please forgive me for the delay.

And thank you, so very much, for taking the time to read this little blog and continuing to follow us on our journey. Like so many of you, we are so excited for what 2014 has in store for our family. Happy New Year, Friends!

a little jello on new year's day