Archive for April, 2011

I am a crazy person

Lets evaluate some facts:

1) For the last 4 years, my career has been in medical reasearch

2) I have authorship on over 20 publications

3) I understand that even the strongest medical research has its limitations and that data can be misconstrued and/or misinterpreted

4) Under the IRB, pregnant women and fetus are a special class of subjects and are protected.  Thus, making it very difficult to conduct thorough research and make conclusions based off of clinical trials.

5) My doctors have seen thousands of pregnant women and delivered thousands of babies.  They have gone through medical school and have more experience than I will ever have.

So.  You would think from points 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 that I would be a good judge of what constitutes as ‘knowledge’ – that I know to be skeptical of some information and I should put my trust in valued sources, especially in the context of informed decision-making for my unborn child.

Does any of this stop me from googling crazy things and running to the doctors to check out some medical issue that was posted anonymously on the internet?!  NOPE.  DOESN’T EVEN SLOW ME DOWN!

Seriously.  Being pregnant has turned me into a crazy person.  Im convinced that it is beyond impossible to be a rational human being when you are pregnant. I can not help myself from being a nervous wreck over the smallest thing.  Its exhausting.  But luckily I have a rational husband and truly amazing doctors who listen to me spout crazy things and still respond thoughtfully. *sigh* Thank you, Phil.  Thank you, doctors.

Here is another peek at our little guy from this morning:

Ultrasounds pictures of the profile are getting pretty boring, huh? But everything is looking great.  The tech even pointed out all the hair he already has!! (Cant really see it in the picture above.) Phil and I both had a lot of hair when we were born, so its not a huge surprise, but I love hearing these little things! Very small puzzle pieces of the mystery person I have inside of me. So far we know: penis and hair.  Cant wait to find out everything else about him.

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Moving to B-town

Sorry, not that b-town.

We were down in Baltimore last weekend for our first apartment hunting trip.  We wanted to check out the area we were thinking about living in and check out how bad the commute was from downtown to Phil’s work.  We were looking to rent within a few blocks of Patterson Park (based off a little research and conversations with people who were already down there).  And once we got there, we absolutely loved the area and the commute was definitely doable! Score.

We saw about 10 properties.  And although we didnt expect to find something our very first trip,  we ended up putting in an application on the first house that we saw!  Apparently there were a few other applications in on the property, but obviously we were the most awesome.  We finalized the paper work this past Thursday!  It feels so good to have some housing set up for Baltimore!  I will send out a birth announcement/moving announcement in July (I dont want to post the address on the internet, but email me if you really want to know it).  Here are a few pictures until then:

These are pictures the owners sent me from after the original renovation.  There have been a few renters since then, but it is still very nice.  It is a ‘row house’  so its very long and skinny and has 3 floors. It also comes with parking in the back, which is key in this area.  I dont have any pictures of the basement level, but it is finished and will be a very cozy guest room for any visitors!  I am thrilled to live on a street where we can take barney right outside instead of going down 3 flights of stairs for every bathroom break!  And also to carry in groceries right in our back door.  Ahhh – the little things.

The park is only .2 miles away and the harbor is only a mile.  There are lots of restaurants and shops within walking distance.  And we cant wait to take advantage of all the downtown activities.  Not to mention root on my Orioles!!  Here is our street view:

Visitors (and baby-sitters) Welcome!

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Toasted Oats

This is kind of a silly recipe to post.  But since the original goal of all the recipes was to allow Phil to replicate what we normally eat, I thought I would include this.  This is more like ‘step-by-step assembly’, instead of a ‘recipe’.  I didnt even want to call it ‘granola’ since its just oats and none of the extra good stuff.  So now that I have everyone excited…Toasted Oats:

All I use are oats, canola oil, maple syrup, honey, and a dash of vanilla.  Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.  Then, I use a 1/3 measuring cup and fill it up with equal parts oil, honey, and maple syrup. And top it off with about 1 tsp of vanilla.

I line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and throw about 2 cups of old fashioned oats on it:

Then you just pour your honey-maple-oily goodness all over the oats and stir it all together:

Dont worry if not every oat has some stuff on it yet.  The mix will heat up, melt, and spread out in the oven.  And you will mix it periodically in the oven.  The final result will be crispy, delicious and sweet.  And by sweet, I mean totally awesome (and sugary). So go ahead and pop it in the oven at 250 degrees and set your timer for 7 minutes.

After 7 minutes, take it out and give it a good stir, trying to get as many of the oats covered in goo as you can.  Then put it back in for another 7 minutes.  Then take it out and stir. And then put it in for a remaining 7 minutes.  (So you have 21 minutes total, stirring twice).

Then just let it cool and store it in a airtight container!  I love yogurt, blueberries and oats in the morning.  Its my absolute go-to breakfast. This batch gets me through a whole week!

Here is an easy copy/paste version of the recipe:


~2 tablespoons of canola oil

~2 tablespoons maple syrup

~2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon of vanilla

2 cups old fashioned oats

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Mix first 3 ingredients (in a 1/3 measuring cup,  or bowl).  Top-off with 1 tsp of vanilla.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper and place oats on baking sheet.  Pour mix over oats and stir to coat oats best you can.  Place in oven and bake for 7 minutes.  Then take out and give it all a good stir.  Place in oven for another 7 minutes.  Then take out and give it another good stir.  Place in oven for a last 7 minutes.  Take out and let cool (oats will crisp as they cool).  Enjoy with yogurt and berries.

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29 weeks gestation

My belly is starting to become quite impressive:

Strangers arent shy about asking my due date anymore!  However, despite appearances, I guess I am measuring small?!  And my doctor told me to eat more.  I took that as a cue to eat a chocolate shake for dinner last night (probably not what she meant, but it was delicious).

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Mushroom-Herb and Pea Risotto

Risotto is a wonderfully easy dish to prepare.  ‘Risotto’ is actually the name of the process in which you cook the rice.  It involves lots of standing and stirring, but the result is worth it.  Before this fetus took over my body, this meal would most often appear on our dinner table after a particularly stressful day.  That is because I would use it as an excuse to stop and get a good bottle of dry white wine ‘for the risotto’ on my way home from work.  You really only need a bit of wine for the dish but, hey, once its open you dont want it to go to waste!  And then I would stand, and stir, and drink my wine and unwind.

These days, I omit the wine, and yell at Phil to go check the rice because my feet hurt and I dont want to stand there all night stirring.

Here is what you’ll need:

Arborio rice (white, short-grain, high-starch rice), chicken stock, mushrooms, frozen peas, onion, butter, thyme and sage.  I first start with the mushrooms.  I had 8 crimini mushrooms (also known as ‘baby-bellas’).  I wash them off with a damp paper towel, because I have heard that if you rinse them in a colendar then they absorb too much water?  I have no data to back this up or why it matters.  Some things I just go with…

This made about 2 cups of sliced mushrooms.  You can also find them pre-sliced and pre-washed, if you dont feel like dealing with them.  I saute these up in about 2 tablespoons of butter.  And I add in my herbs.  I use about 3/4 teaspoon of sage and 3/4 teaspoon of thyme.  This makes the risotto quite herb-y.  If you’re not sure of how herb-y you want it, Id start with 1/2 teaspoon each.

I let the mushrooms cook in the butter and herbs for 5-6 minutes on medium-low heat.  But I do not add any salt yet. If the pan starts getting a little dry, you could add in some olive oil or more butter.  Once the mushrooms have browned up a bit, then I add in a little salt.  This draws out excess liquid in the mushroom and you’ll notice more of a paste on the mushrooms with the herbs.  I have heard if you add the salt too soon, it will draw out the liquid before the mushrooms have developed any flavor.  Apparently this is troublesome? Again, data is lacking.

As the mushrooms cook, I dice up a half an onion. This yielded about 1 cup.

Once the mushrooms are done to your liking, put them in a bowl and attempt to keep as much herb-y sauce in the pan as you can.

Then you are ready to cook up your onions.

You can add a bit of olive oil if you need to at this step.  Saute onions for 4-5 minutes, until soft. And then add in your rice.  I had between 3/4 and 1 cup of rice for this dish.  I let the rice saute for another 2-3 minutes.

This would be an excellent time to add that wine I was talking about. About 1/4 – 1/2 cup.  (Then the rest of the bottle is for the chef!)  But its perfectly delicious without it.  So since Im fresh out – I proceed with the stock.  I had a 4 cup box of chicken stock on hand.  Often I have seen recipes calling for the stock to be heated to the temperature of the rice pan.  Therefore making the cook drag out another pan for heating and then ladling the stock from one pot to the other. This is apparently to eliminate the need for the stock to come up to the simmer temperature each time you add more and, thus, reduce the cooking time.  I did this once.  And decided Id rather increase the cooking time ever so slightly than to fuss with the additional pan.

Anyway, here is where we start the risotto process.  I add about 1.5 cups of stock to the pan and bring it to a low simmer.  I stir the rice slowly and often, but not continuously.  You only add a little bit of the stock at a time so that the rice grains stay close to each other and therefore create friction against each other.  This lets off the starch from the rice, which mixes with the stock and creates the ‘creamy’ texture that is synonymous with risotto. This is also why it is recommended you stir often – to agitate the rice to let off the starch.  If you didnt stir or if you dump in all the stock at once, you wouldnt have nearly as much release of the starch and thus, a non-‘creamy’ dish. It would be more like, well….rice.

So let the rice simmer in just enough liquid to cover and stir until almost all the liquid has been absorbed.  And then add more gradually, bringing the dish to a simmer each time.

Keep stirring and adding more stock until the rice is done to your liking.  This took about 3.5 to 4 cups for me (also depends on how much wine you added).  I like my rice pretty soft.  It cold be less liquid if you like it more al dente.  Once the last bit of liquid is being absorbed, add your mushrooms back in and add 1 cup of frozen peas.

Stir all together, add salt and pepper to taste. And you’re done!

Like I said, wonderfully easy to prepare.  It can even be done while a bit tipsy. In fact, its recommended.

Phil's serving topped with a 'sprinkle' of parmesan

Here is an easy copy/paste version of the recipe:


2 cups of sliced crimini mushroom (about 8 mushrooms)

2 tablespoons of butter

3/4 teaspoon of sage

3/4 teaspoon of thyme

1 cup diced onion (half a large onion)

3/4 – 1 cup of arborio rice

nearly 4 cups of chicken stock

1 cup of frozen peas

1/4 – 1/2 cup of dry white wine (optional)

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in large pan.  Saute sliced mushroom with dried herbs for 5-6 minutes (add salt towards end of this time).  Once mushrooms are done, put in bowl, leaving behind as much liquid/oil as possible and set aside.  Saute up diced onion in same pan (add more oil if need be) for 3-4 minutes, until soft.  Next add rice to pan and saute for an additional 3 or so minutes.  Add wine (optional).  Start adding stock to pan.  Start with 1.5 cups or just enough to cover the rice.  Bring to simmer and stir frequently until liquid has been absorbed.  Keep adding stock, about 1/2 cup at a time, until rice is done to your liking –  about 3.5 to 4 cups of stock.  Add the mushrooms back in and add in 1 cup of frozen peas.  Stir all together.  Add salt and pepper to your liking.  Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan.

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Hello, my name is Amy. And I am a food network junkie.

There I said it.  Though I am a bit ashamed to admit it, the food network actually taught me quite a bit about cooking.  I first started watching in grad school (basically when my meal plan from my parents ran out) and I could barely fry an egg.  Phil was actually the primary chef when I first got to Purdue; he taught me how to make hamburger helper.  After watching food network for a little while – I finally got the confidence to try and cook a few things for myself.  Im proud to say Ive come a long way over the years.  And I make a damn good fried egg.

The chipotle maple lettuce wraps are a spin-off of Rachel Ray’s Chipotle Cashew Chicken from like 2006.  It was an instant hit and has been a staple in our house from Purdue to Memphis to Jerz.  The meal varies each time I make it due to what is in my pantry and freezer, but the overall chipotle-maple flavor stays the same.  This is what I used the last time I made it:

Boston bibb lettuce, some red beans (instead of chicken), 2 peppers, brown rice, a small can of water chestnuts, maple syrup, chipotles in adobo sauce, walnuts (instead of cashews), garlic, cumin and onion power.

Since Im using brown rice and it takes awhile to cook, I get that started first.  I cook up about 3/4 cup of brown rice according to package directions.  Then I get started on the maple-chipotle filling.  First, I diced up the 2 peppers.  This was about 2 cups worth.

I toss those in the skillet with some oil to saute and add in my spices.

I used about 3/4 tsp of onion powder and 1/2 tsp of cumin.  But feel free to just use regular ol’ onions in your filling, too.  Phil isnt a fan, so I try to make a few of his favorite meals ‘onion free.’  Saute the peppers for 4-5 minutes on medium-low heat and them add in some garlic. About 2-3 cloves.  You can also add a bit of salt at this point, too.  But I wouldnt recommended pepper since you are getting so much heat from the chipotles later on.

Then I get started on my chipotles.  Chipotles are just smoked jalapeños. [How comes wordpress auto-corrects my jalapeños to have an ñ but doesn’t recognize the word chipotle?] They come in a small can in the ethnic aisle.  I only use about 3 tablespoons of chipotles minced up, so I put the remainder of the can into a bag and keep it in my freezer.  Therefore, my chiptoles look like this:

Its actually way easier to deal with them in this state than fresh out of the can.  I hate it when I have to make this meal with a fresh can, it can get very messy.  Regardless of if you are using frozen or canned chipotles, youll want to make sure you wash your hands as soon as you are done handling them!  They are jalapeños after all.   So anyway,  I mince up about 3 tablespoons of chipotles and toss them in the skillet.

Then I get to work on my pantry items.  The beans, water chestnuts, and walnuts.  I only used about half a can of beans this time.  I had red on hand, but Ive used black before, and the originally recipe called for chicken. Use whatever you what.  I rinse the water chestnuts (8oz can) and the beans and then toss everything into the pan.

Lastly, I thrown in 1/3 cup of maple syrup.  I didnt get any pictures of this process, but I assure you its in there.

Now dont forget about your rice!

Mine is usually done by now, but I check on it periodically.  Hopefully you did, too.  Once its done, I put it into a bowl and set aside until the rest of the meal is ready.  As I let the maple-chipotle simmer on low and cook all together,  I prepare the lettuce.  The boston bibb is an essential part of the ‘lettuce wrap.’  Its the only lettuce that is malleable for the nice little packages.  I have used romaine for this meal before but it makes more of a lettuce boat than a lettuce wrap.  So anyway, I tear off pieces and run a damp cloth over them to make sure they are clean enough for consumption.

Once the lettuce is ready, I put the maple-chipotle filling in a bowl and we are ready for dinner!  I fill each lettuce leaf up with some rice and filling and have plenty of paper towels standing by! They are messy!

Good stuff.  Make sure you have plenty of water, too.  They are sweet but very spicy!!!  Here is an easy copy/paste version of the recipe:


3/4 cup of brown rice

1 head of boston bibb lettuce

2 cups of diced bell peppers

2-3 cloves of garlic

8 oz of sliced water chestnuts

1/4 cup of cashews or walnuts

1/2 can of beans (or maybe 1 chicken breast?)

3 tablespoons of chipotles in adobo

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/2 tsp cumin

3/4 tsp onion powder

Cook rice according to package.  When done, place in bowl and set aside.  Saute up 2 cups of diced bell peppers in large skillet over medium heat for 4-5 minutes.  Add in 3/4 tsp of onion powder and 1/2 tsp of cumin.  Add in 2-3 cloves of minced garlic. Reduce heat to low.  Add in 3 tablespoons of minced chipotles. Rinse beans and water chestnuts, add to skillet.  Add in nuts and maple syrup.  Simmer all together on low for 5-10 minutes until mix is nice and gooey and delicious (and peppers are cooked to your liking).  Peel off individual lettuce leaves, use damp cloth to ensure they are clean.  Place chipotle-maple filing in bowl.  Assemble each lettuce wrap with a bit of rice and filling.  Enjoy!

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Baby Shower!

We had a beautiful shower hosted by my sister with lots of helps from my mom and mother-in-law!  It was an open-house at my parents new place and we had so many friends stop by to say hi.  We are so appreciative of all the support we have received from everyone as we prepare for the arrival of our little woz!

Lots of good food and the cutest decorations ever!

Annakate came from Nashville!!!

Phil had friends come, too!  My dad stocked some beer for the male crowd and Im happy to report they all survived their first baby shower.  Thanks for coming boys!!!  Proud Grandparents-to-be:

Lots of cute clothes, books, toys, and gear.  We are so thankful for all the wonderful gifts and it was so good seeing so many family and friends.  Its so crazy to think that the next time we are in Bloomington we will have a baby with us!!

Thank you Wendy, Mom and Char for a beautiful afternoon and Thanks to everyone who came by.  We feel like we are slowly but surely getting prepared for this little guy’s arrival.  We would be very lost without everyone’s love and support!!

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Yikes – I know I havent posted in a while.  But things are going well!  Im a little over 27 weeks now.  The weather has been so nice this weekend, Phil and I were out and about both days.  We went on a long walk on the ocean Saturday and a nice little hike this morning.  (This first picture below is actually from like a month ago, but it gives you that east shore ambiance im sure you are all craving).

We were hoping we could find someone on the trail smart enough to operate the camera on our phones so that we could get a family photo, but had no such luck (I use the term ‘we’ very loosely here, as phil had no interest in a family photo.)  So we have two separate pictures:

The shower last week in Indiana was absolutely wonderful!!  We had a great time and are so appreciative of all the people who came to say hi and wish us well.  I hope to post pictures from it soon!!  Unfortunately that sunday, half of my family had come down with the flu!!  Phil and I recovered and made it back to New Jersey late Monday night and we both took a few days working from home so we wouldnt get anyone else sick.  We are back to 100% and next weekend are heading down to Baltimore to see a few rental properties.  We are also slowly packing up boxes in the evenings and with any extra time, we are reading as many baby books as we can.

Less than 3 months to go!

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