Friday, January 18, 2013

Monthly Menu & Freezer Meals

My first trial of freezer meals and a monthly menu was a success! Our family has become a lot less wasteful with our leftovers (if we have any). And we've definitely had far less meals outside of the house, though a new baby kind of influences that too! After my most recent trip to the grocery store, I made 10+ more freezer meals as well as stocking up on my meats and other perishables to make meals in the future. First, I made my monthly calendar (which is started mid-month for no particular reason other than I've been busy with my newborn). Below is my menu:

I make designated days for leftovers.  Any other leftovers I use for lunches for my daughter and myself, and occasionally my husband will take some to work also.  

For my freezer meals I made bags of vegetables again to be unthawed and thrown in the slow cooker along with some meat.  See my post "Freezer Meal Trial 1" for more details on my vege packs.

In addition to meals, I have frozen some side dishes.  I have made sweet potato fries, as well as potato wedges.  
My potato wedge recipe goes GREAT with meatballs.  Here is the recipe:

1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp crushed garlic (10-12 cloves)
1 tsp dill
1/2 tsp thyme
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 tsp dijon
6-7 small red potatoes cubed

Mix all the ingredients in ziplock bag and freeze.

When you are ready to cook, bake at 475 for 25 minutes or until desired potato tenderness.  And make sure to cover with foil, and then remove the foil for the last 5 minutes to allow browning.  
For the crockpot lasagna (so easy to throw together), see my recipes page.
The Teriyaki Chicken freezer recipe is:

4 cups of chopped carrots
1 red onion
1 large can of pineapple and juice
4 garlic cloves minced
1 cup teriyaki sauce

I do NOT freeze my vegetables with my meats.  I buy all my chicken frozen, and all my other red meat I buy fresh and then use my vacuum seal food saver and freeze it. 

Broccoli Salad Recipe (from
2 heads fresh broccoli
1 red onion
1/2 lb bacon (2-3 pieces)
3/4 cup raisins or craisins
3/4 cup sliced almonds
For the dressing: 
1 cup mayo
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
Ground Beef & Baked Bean Casserole (This is delicious!  And acquired from the Deen Bros.)
1 lb ground beef
2- 15 oz cans of baked beans
1 cup tomatoes
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp dijon
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
5 slices of bacon (to cover the top of the casserole)
--(the Deen bros use 2 onions chopped, but I prefer this casserole without the onion)

Heat the oven to 350.
Spray casserole dish with non-stick spray
Brown the ground beef.
Once the meat is cooked, add remaining ingredients except bacon. Mix and pour into casserole dish and cover with bacon slices.
Cover final dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
Then uncover and heat to broil until bacon is crisp!

This is a delicious casserole and is now one of our favorites at home!
Chicken Nacho Recipe: Crockpot 

2-3 pieces of chicken breast
1 8oz cream cheese
1 can of black beans
1 can of corn
1 1/2 cup of salsa
Add some taco seasoning for flavor.

Cook in the crockpot for 6-8 hours on low.  Allow to sit and cool for a short period of time after cooking to thicken.  Pour of chips.  Can be paired with guacamole, or rice.  
The chicken enchilada casserole recipe can be found on the Pinch of Yum Blog  
Crockpot Chicken Pineapple Recipe:
3-4 chicken breasts
1 can of pineapple with juice
1 medium onion
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
Cook for 6-8 hours on low.
Chicken Pot Pie:
I make the pie with uncooked crust, and freeze for a later meal.  

I buy foil pie dishes from the dollar store (make sure they have lids).  You can make your own dough (but that has been my enemy in the kitchen so I buy the pre made pie crust from pillsbury)  

Cook 1 lb of chicken breast and spice it with salt, pepper, and thyme.
Once the chicken is cooked, add 
-1 lb of vegetables (I add carrots, celery, peas, and red potatoes)
-1 can of cream of chicken
-1/3 cup of milk.  And mix on low heat.  
Once all your ingredients are mixed well and cooked, line the pie foil dish with one crust.  Add your pie filling.  Place the second crust on top, and fold edges over and in.  
Make sure to poke some holes in the top of your pie for ventilation when you cook.  Then cover and freeze.  When I am ready to cook, I place frozen pie in the oven at 425 for 60 minutes.  You want to make sure your crust bakes thoroughly so that the underneath is not raw.  

I place my fillet on a piece of foil.
Salt and Pepper fillet
Cut up 1 lemon, and place slices on top of fillet
Lastly, add 4 Tbsp of butter to the top.  And cover with foil.  
I bake my salmon like this and it is super tasty!
My frozen meats:


Saturday, January 12, 2013

We opened our ETSY shop!

Please go visit our Etsy shop, Madison and Miley's Corner: MileyandMadisonCrafts!!!

I've got a bunch of crochet items ready to send out!  And we have some monthly printable's to take cute photo's of your little one's each month as they grow their first year!!  I hope you enjoy our shop!  Leave me some feedback and let me know what your favorite items are!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Madison's 2nd Birthday

We just celebrated Madison's second birthday!  It turned out fabulous!  Here are a few pictures from the party which was Minnie Mouse theme: Pink, Black & White.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Miley's Birth Story

My husband and I made our third trip to L&D for preterm labor contractions.  I was 37 weeks, 6 days along in my pregnancy.  Upon our arrival, my contractions were irregular.  My blood tests were normal, and I was only dilated 1 cm (same as the week before) and effaced 70%.  The on-call doctor gave me three options, go home, receive some Morphine to ease the pain/discomfort of the contractions, or have a c-section.  As my husband and I discussed the options, we initially opted for Morphine.  As time went on, my contractions got more regular, and more painful.  And Miley's heart rate spiked at 180bpm for 30 minutes, no explanation why.  As the nurses brought in the morphine, I changed my mind and told them I would like some more time and to speak with the doctor again.  I also asked them to call my OB because it felt like the three doctors we have seen over the course of my L&D visits had told us different things.  I told my husband that I felt morphine would be just a temporary intervention, just like all the other medications that I had been prescribed over the course of the last 6 weeks trying to keep me comfortable and keep baby in, so we opted to not have morphine.  Next, I asked the on-call doctor about the c section.  We were all hesitate for me to go home as my contractions were becoming more regular and we were afraid I'd be back in L&D not long after I got home.  I wanted reassurance that if I allowed the c section to occur that day that baby was "safe" and I would not be putting my baby in danger for selfish reasons (all my pain and discomfort).  Little did I know how much I would regret this decision in just a few short hours.

As my c section began, my husband recorded the experience.  We both were so very excited as Madison's birth was a wonderful experience for us.  As my doctor began working, she said my uterus was so thinned out in one area, that Miley's head was definitely not in my pelvis where it should have been even though she was head down, and you could see right through it (they showed the nurses Miley's hair right through my uterus).  It was this discovery that made my doctors and my family very thankful we opted for the c section that day, because the contractions I was having could have led to rupture of my uterus.  And it also confirmed that I was not and would never be a candidate for a VBAC (if I can have anymore children).

Miley Ann was born Sunday, December 2nd 2012 at 1642 via c section.  She was beautiful.  7 lbs 10 oz, 20 inches.  But she (in my opinion) took longer than Madison to turn from blue to pink.  After they cleaned Miley up, the nurse brought her over and laid her on my chest/neck for skin to skin while they finished closing my incision.  I could believe how amazing it felt to hold my new little girl and how beautiful she was.  After surgery my family and I went to recovery.  Miley did breastfeed a little.  As the nurses and my husband were doing her footprints, the nurse continually worried about Miley's coloring and grunting (when she breathed).  They decided to try some manual CPAP treatment to help her oxygen levels/breathing rate.  Shortly later, they told me they were taking Miley and my husband to the nursery to continue treatment.  After 30 minutes of treatment, with little improvement, they contacted another hospital with a NICU, intubated my darling girl, and next thing I knew they were transferring her.  My husband came in visibly crying, and the doctor came in to talk to me and let me know what was going on at which point I started to bawl.  My husband and daughter were taken by ambulance to the NICU, and my dad and I followed in another ambulance a short time later.

The next several hours (including the ambulance ride) are a blur.  The anesthetics had made me vomit multiple times that I received several different anti-nausea medications that made me sleepy and I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore.  I awoke around 3am, 11 hours after my daughter was born.  I was told I needed to pump my breasts as soon as possible to get my milk production going, and then I could go up to the NICU to see my daughter.

The next 4 days I spent being escorted in a wheelchair up to my daughter's room all day and night.  We had to stay in separate rooms because I will still an inpatient recovering from surgery.  We quickly established a routine without hesitation.  And the hope was to take our sweet angel home the day I would be discharged from the hospital.  I worked with lactation services, and continued to pump and breastfeed Miley.  Meanwhile, a night nurse who was working with us kept insisting that it was my fault Miley was doing so poorly because I was not producing enough milk and that we should be bottle feeding her.  She totally crushed my confidence as a mom that night, even though I showed her how much milk I was in fact producing.  (8 ounces in a 5 minute pumping session, which is unheard of according to my other NICU nurses in the first 24 hours).  I tried explaining my milk supply to this nurse, and how my first daughter only nursed 5-10 minutes on one breast per feeding because my supply was so excessive.  The main issue with Miley was that after she latched, she could only suck 2-4 times before she started choking.  So I tried pumping beforehand to take some of that milk load off with my letdown (which this same nurse also scolded me for, saying I was taking away milk from my baby).  I tried multiple positions to help Miley not drown in milk, but it was apparent to me, as her mom, that she just simply couldn't remember to breath in between sucking.  Much to my dismay and to please the nurse, we gave Miley a bottle of breastmilk, however, she did not want to latch onto it, and then had the same issue as she did with nursing.  So the nurse proceeded to say, well I just can't believe that, I need to see it for myself, and proceeded to take my child and try to bottle feed her.  It wasn't until then that this same nurse said, oh, she (Miley) is having a hard time with the suck, swallow and breath of eating.

Unfortunately during her NICU stay, she did not gain any weight, despite our weight counts before and after feeds showed she was getting milk.  And currently, at 1 week 2 days old, Miley has still not gained any weight.  In order to be discharged, Miley had to pass the 1 1/2 hour car seat test.  They buckle her in the carseat and her oxygen saturation's and EKG are monitored and must maintain a certain level the entire test in order for her to be released.  We had a few drops in her saturation's, but think it was due to placement of the monitor (which occurred anytime we lifted her out of her table crib, jostling of the cords).  Although hesitant, the pediatrician released us under weight watch over the weekend.  And sadly, as of Monday, Miley has not gained any weight.  Our family pediatrician is giving us until Thursday for Miley to gain weight, and if we are not successful, she will have to be admitted and we will likely have to take her home with a feeding tube which means she will require around the clock care from her mama.

Meanwhile, we are waking (trying to anyway) Miley every 2-3 hours to eat.  I try breastfeeding, which most times barely lasts 5 minutes before she doses off to sleep despite stripping her down and trying to stimulate her and using a wet, cool cloth.  And then we are giving her a bottle, which takes 30 minutes to an hour to get her to drink.  We're lucky if we can get her to drink 2 ounces from the bottle in one feed (plus whatever she gets from mommy).

I knew I'd have more confidence as a mom this time, and I am astounded by the bond my daughter and I have had since birth.  It was apparent to me the first time I saw and held her in the NICU that she knew who I was.  However, I am feeling horribly guilty and inadequate now as I watch my little girl struggle with each feed.  And it breaks my heart to know she is not gaining any weight and there might not be much I can do without intervention.  But we are hopeful.

UPDATE: Miley is 5 weeks tomorrow and is doing well now with weight gain!  Thank goodness.  We are about a pound OVER birth weight (she's breastfeeding great now!).  However, my little love bug has a cold :-( She has lost her little voice, one of the saddest sounds ever, or lack thereof.  Dr. said its not RSV so hopefully we can just keep nursing her back to health!  Poor thing just cant catch a break.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Baby M's Room

For my second daughter, I thought I would spend LESS money this time, and make what I wanted as far as room decor.  I looked at custom order sets and although they are beautiful and tailored to the consumer's desire, I just couldn't allow myself to spend that kind of cash.  So I followed an online tutorial and made my own crib bumpers (a pattern for this is provided by  And I am extremely happy how they came out!  I then decided to make my own curtains, and bench cushions to match.

The cushions are a set of six, and I used piping for the yellow border.

Below, the curtains are made of the brown polka dot fabric and lined with a thick thermal backing.

Christmas Wreath

After some pinterest inspiration.  I made my own wreath this year.  I used a styrofoam circle, spray painted it silver.  And then cut out 6 large firm felt snowflakes, arranged them on the styrofoam and pinned them down.  Next, I took glitter snowflakes of various sizes (bought from the dollar tree) and hot glued them on top of one another.  And here it is:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Freezer Meals Trial 1

***See my NEW blog post with more recipes and freezer/meal ideas!***

So I made my first crockpot freezer meals today.  I did a huge shopping trip to winco then spent about two hours prepping and bagging everything.  I have 10 freezer meals made to start myself off.  We'll see how this goes!  But so far, I'm pretty happy how its turned out.  The proportions look great for our family and I love that all my produce is fresh and everything is cut up and ready to be thrown into the crockpot!

Some of my vegetables all chopped

Teriyaki Mix (None of my mixes have the meat, I keep that separate).  The teriyaki mix has yellow onions, broccoli, and carrots with 1/2 cup of Teriyaki sauce.

This chicken crockpot mix is carrots, red potatoes, and celery.  And we love the flavor of "Crockery Gourmet; Seasoning Mix for chicken".  I used one cup of each vegetable in my freezer bag, then froze.  When I'm ready to use it, I unthaw it along with 3 frozen chicken breasts (I buy the 20lb bag of chicken breasts by Foster Farms from Costco).  It takes about 3-4 hours to unthaw it all, then throw it in the crockpot with your desired seasoning mix (I use HALF of the package for one bag) and cook.  This serves three people.  And I usually cook some biscuits to serve with it.  One of our favorites for the weekends!

This beef stew mix has celery, carrots, yellow onion and red potatoes.  And I use McCormick Hearty Beef Stew slower cooker mix.  

These are my ten freezer meals.  The top two bags are a Healthy BBQ Chicken.  I followed Healthy Mama BBQ Chicken

I also buy ground beef, and pork roasts in large portions from costco, divide them up in 1 lb bags for later use, using my vacuum seal food saver.  I love having meat on hand to save me from going to the grocery store.  I always date the date it was frozen and make sure I use it within 3 months.  One of my frozen bags of ground beef is always seasoned for meatballs.  You can see my other post that has the information for the meatballs, but they are simple and always delicious.  They go well with a red potato wedge seasoned with olive oil, garlic and Rosemary or Parmesan.

Some other meals I like to make with the frozen ground beef which are easy and quick to prepare are Mexican Casserole and Stuffed Red Bell Peppers.

The Mexican Casserole is 1 lb of ground beef browned, then add 1 can (8 oz) of tomato sauce, 1 cup of salsa, 1 teaspoon of chile powder, and 2 cans of kidney beans.  Mix in a pan, then throw it in the oven for 40 minutes.  Then throw on some cheddar and jack cheese for a few minutes in the oven, and dinner is served.  We like to add some sour cream to top it off, and occasionally eat it like a nacho with some chips.  Easy, quick, and tastes great!