Parmigiano Reggiano Pesto Loaf

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

*In partnership with Parmesan.com.  Thank you, thank you for supporting the brands that help make this blog possible. 

If you have spent any time in on my Instagram or blog, you have probably figured out that I love bread.  Bread is a magical thing in our home.  I still remember the intense satisfaction from my very first loaf of bread (that worked), and continue to feel a fantastic sense of pleasure that comes from pulling a gorgeous loaf out of the oven. 

This has been increased by my addiction to the Great British Bake Off.  In fact, I have made a few breads that look like this in response to their showstopping bakes.  This bread is a very easy focaccia bread base with an amazing Parmigianno Reggiano, fresh basil and toasted pine nut swirl.  

It is gorgeous, it is delicious, and it is surprisingly easy.  Don't be afraid of all the braiding. I promise it is easier than it looks.  Just be sure to get real parmesan.  It add serious flavor that a knock off just won't bring.  Check the rind for the characteristic pin-dot markings to be sure you are getting the real thing.  


Herb Focaccia Bread:

Bread Dough:

1 Tbs active dry yeast
1 Tbs sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 - 4 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp of each of the following:  rosemary, sage, basil and oregano


Filling:

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, chopped
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp garlic powder (optional)

In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of the sugar on top of a the water and give it a quick stir to dissolve it.  Let it stand at room temperature for 10 minutes until it is foamy. 

Add the sugar, 1/4 cup of the olive oil, salt and 1 cup of the flour.  Stir for 1-2 minutes.  Switch to the dough hook and beat in the rest of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time until the dough begins to pull away from the bowl.  Add flour until the dough is soft and slightly sticky. 

Cover with a damp towel and let it sit for about 20 minutes. 


While it is sitting, fill 3 small bowls with the basil, pine nuts and cheese.  

Divide the dough into 3 equal balls and roll them out, one at a time, on a clean, floured surface.  Roll them into a rectangle (approximately 12x8), with the long side running parallel to you.  Sprinkle 1/3 of each of the fillings evenly over the dough rectangle, then roll it up, lengthwise (or away from you, so that you get a long skinny roll).  Put 1 or 2 slashes in it, lengthwise, running from end to end, leaving about 1/2 inch not slashed at the top and bottom of the roll.  

Once you have prepped all three dough balls, carefully braid them together, and place them on a 

Cover with greased plastic wrap, and let rise for another 30-45 minutes, until it is getting relatively puffy.  

About 10 minutes before your second rise finishes, preheat your oven to 425°F.  


Bake for 30-35 minutes until the internal temperature has reached 190°F on a meat thermometer, and the outside is nicely browned.  


Let cool for 5 minutes, then serve immediately.  




35 Weeks Pregnancy with Twins

Monday, November 20, 2017


I made it, you guys!  I don't actually deliver until next week, but one of the big goals was to get to 35 weeks.  According to a friend who has been a NICU nurse for about 40 years, twin boys (particularly identical), do much better if they have hit that milestone.  36 weeks is even better (and 37 is best, but scheduling wise didn't end up being an option for me), so I am hopeful I will make it to this weekend when I am scheduled for a c-section.

If you watched my insta-stories last Saturday, you would have seen that I went to the hospital for observation.  Here is a little more on that, in case you missed it and for my own documentation purposes.

Adam and I had been sitting on the couch working, and I kept having contractions.  They didn't hurt, but they were tight and pretty obvious.  After half an hour or so, I started timing them, and they were close enough together that I was nervous enough to call my doctor's office.  It was 8:00PM or so, so it was just the doctor on call, whom I had never met.  She told me it might be a good idea to go in, because I am having twins, but if I wanted to, I could just go to bed, and see if they subsided.

Well, by the time I had brushed my teeth, they were 3-5 minutes apart (not painful, but definitely present), and I decided to go in.  So I put shoes on, kissed Adam goodbye and drove to the hospital.

They admitted me, got me on a fluid IV, and told me they would monitor me for an hour.  If the contractions subsided, they would send me home around midnight.  They monitored me, and about 15 minutes before my time limit was up, I started having big, regular contractions.

So then they had the resident doctor come in, and do an ultrasound for position of babies and stuff, and because they were both breech (and still are), he told me that they would have me sign the waiver for a c-section.

There I was, alone, sleeping family at home, hoping just to get monitored, being told I might have twins the next morning.  I was kind of freaking out.  Also, I hate IV's and really wanted them to take it out and send me home so I could go sleep (it was about midnight at this point, and I had been up since six or so that morning, so I was totally exhausted).

They gave me more fluids, some medication to stop the contractions and monitored me for the next two or so hours.  Finally, after what seemed like hours, the nurse came back in and told me that if I hadn't dilated further, and the contractions weren't hurting, that I could go home. I hadn't dilated from the contractions, so I was discharged.  Hooray!

When I arrived home, I immediately climbed into bed, and then about 3 minutes later, heard Fox crying.  Adam went into check on him, and he had thrown up all over his bed.  So at 3AM, we changed sheets, PJs and wiped him off.  Then about 30 minutes later, he threw up again, so we got to do it again.  Needless to say, we didn't get much sleep.  It was insane, and felt a little like an initiation into parenthood with three children...

I told my mom about my hospital visit, and she decided to come up here two weeks early to keep me off my feet, and help take care of Fox.  It has been so wonderful.

This past week was pretty uneventful, with a few good doctor's appointments, and a lot of couch sitting.   It has been so fun to have my mom around to talk with, and to take Fox on outings.  I had a few contractions over the weekend, but I am taking great measures to try not to go into labor.  Hopefully I can make it to the end of next week when I am schedule to deliver.

Also, if you are wondering why they are delivering me so early, the risk of still-birth goes up significantly once you hit 37 weeks with identical twins (because many identical twins share a placenta, and the placenta can only support two large babies for so long), so to minimize the risk, they gave me the 36-37 week window, and the way the schedule worked out for getting a c-section, they are doing it at the beginning of my 36th week of pregnancy.

Hopefully we can still avoid NICU time with this delivery date, and maybe Baby A will flip in the next week so I can avoid the c-section... Guess we will see!  Thanks for all your good wishes, thoughts and prayers this pregnancy!  They have been much appreciated!

Weekly Menu Plan

Monday, November 13, 2017

I haven't posted one of these in a while.  Not because I haven't been cooking, but because I haven't been photographing my cooking adventures.  This house is really hard to take photos in, because the walls are sort of a green color, and makes everything a weird shade of yellow green, so I have had to play around until I finally found a place where I can take decent food photos.  

This is actually a mash of the last 3 weeks of cooking, because I didn't make everything on the list each week, but these were delicious and I enjoyed eating each one.  Hopefully this will give you some ideas of delicious things you can make with your family!  Some of them were really quick and easy.  


White Bean and Bacon Soup (vegetarian if you leave out the bacon) - I had made this in the past, and hadn't loved it, but then I made it again last week, and totally fell in love with it.  Even Fox ate it just fine (the bacon helped...).  
BBQ Chicken Salad (make some ahead of time) - I used a BBQ pulled pork on this, and it was delicious.  I love the dressing and having so many veggies in a meal.  
Ramen Cabbage Salad (vegetarian, vegan, 30 minute meal) - This is one of the cheapest meals you can make.  I keep a few Asian kitchen staples around (like sesame oil, rice vinegar and soy sauce), so I can make this most anytime.  It is delicious and super easy.  And Fox loved dipping the noodles in the sauce.  
Broccoli Potato Soup (vegetarian, vegan) - Nice and hearty for a cold night.  
Pesto Pasta with Peppers and Onions (vegetarian, 30 minute meal) - I LOVE this dish.  It is so good and really filling.  The pesto in the sauce is a win for sure.  
Sundried tomato soup (vegetarian) - A classic in our house.  Serve it with toast, and everyone goes wild.  
Vegetable Lasagna (vegetarian) - Not the most amazing lasagna I have ever had, but it was pretty decent.  I love a good melted cheese on top.  

34 Weeks Pregnant with Twins

Friday, November 10, 2017

sweater: thredup ($10 off your first order through this link)// skirt: h&m (it is actually on sale for $8)    
(I totally thought this sweater would fit to the very end of this pregnancy.  It still fits, but just barely!)

I say this every week, but I can't believe how close I am!  In a regular pregnancy, this is close, but not that close, but in this case, I am only two weeks away from delivering (but it really could be any day, because twins).

I scheduled my c-section last week so now it is for real going to be during my 36th week.  That sounds really early, but with twins, that is pretty normal, and like I mentioned in my last pregnancy update, getting them past 35 weeks is great, and anytime after that is usually okay.  My doctor is recommending between the 36th and 37th week, to lower the chances of a still-birth (which goes up drastically after 37 weeks, because your placenta can start to break down and not support two babies anymore).

They may need a little NICU time, being born this early, but hopefully not too much.  Twins tend to develop more quickly than singles, too, so they are usually more able to handle being out of the womb early.

I am currently scheduled for a c-section, because both babies were breech at my last appointment with my OB, but we had a little miracle and he is now head down, as of yesterday, so if he will stay there, I can most likely do a vaginal delivery.  They are both pretty wiggly, so there is a chance he could flip a few more times before I deliver.  So sadly, no guarantees.

Last week, when I went in for a growth ultrasound, they said that the twins are weighing about 4 lbs and 5 lbs, respectively (although the tech followed that up by saying that it could be up to a pound and a half off)!  I am thrilled to hear they are so big.  I am trying to do my best to eat a lot these last few weeks to help fatten them up a little before birth.

I am feeling surprisingly good.  Not too many contractions, thankfully, and overall able to eat most anything.  I do have to be careful not to eat anything a few hours before bed, because the heartburn is still an issue sometimes, but medication has made it SO much better.

My clothing selections are shrinking in an incredible way, and I lose a few shirts every week, because they no longer cover my belly, but with only a few weeks left, I don't actually care that much.  I have a pretty dress that Merrick bought for me for my birthday that will last to the end (it is a maxi dress), so if all else fails, I have that.

I also have packed most of my hospital bag, which is a relief to have done.  A few last things that need to go in there, but those are things I use everyday and can't pack until we actually leave (my hairbrush, deodorant, etc).

Funny story from this week.  I think I drank too much water too close to bed, and I couldn't get comfortable because of the heartburn.  So I propped up my pillows and must have fallen asleep soon thereafter.  What felt like seconds later, Adam was climbing out of bed, asking me if I was okay.  He isn't the type to have weird dreams or talk in his sleep, so I was pretty confused.

Then he told me his side of the bed was all wet, and was asking if my water broke.  After a few seconds of assessment, I didn't feel anything to indicate that, but once he dug around on the bed a little, he found my water bottle, open and apparently dumping water all the bedspread, sheets and his legs.  I guess I had grabbed it right before I fell asleep, and then didn't put it back on the nightstand.  It has been slowly draining over his legs for almost 2 hours before it woke him up.  Whoops!

So we did a quick sheet change (thankfully our mattress protector is great and the mattress wasn't wet at all), and were back to bed in about 5 minutes.  A sort of funny story, but I think we were both relieved that my water had not broken.  Stay in there for another two weeks, dudes!

I am a little terrified that we are so close, but also really excited to be in the final stretch!  We can't wait to meet these babies in just a few short weeks!

32 Weeks Pregnant with Twins

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


* as a quick note, I have written a bunch of these, and then didn't have the energy to go and take a photo to go along, so they never got posted.  This was a lame selfie, and I hope to do better at the end of this week... but I thought it would be fun to share an update whether the photo is lousy or not.  

This mark felt like a big milestone.  Every week that I am still pregnant is a good thing with these babies.  Premature labor is pretty common for twin pregnancies, and comes with a lot of risks.  Each week that I get to check off is less time they will hopefully have to spend in the NICU (we, like all parents, are hoping for no time at all), more time they have to develop on their own, and gain weight (which means better eating, better sleeping, and healthier, typically).

A friend from church is a retired NICU nurse, and she said if I can make it to 35 weeks, I should be okay to deliver at any point.  There are no guarantees, of course, which is becoming the norm for this pregnancy, but I have a much better chance of taking my babies home with me if they make it to that point.  That is in 3 weeks, which is super hard for me to believe.  And I am getting super excited.

When I first found out that we were having twins, I felt super overwhelmed.  I try to roll with the punches as they come, in life, but it felt like way more than I could handle.  Especially since we just moved, Adam started a new job, and we are now living in a large house, vs a small apartment with way more cleaning and responsibilities inside and out.  Also, Adam works quite far away from where we are currently living, so that is a concern that we will continue to look into as these babies are born and grow.

I have finished most of the important stuff that needed to get done like sponsored projects, grocery essentials run, Fox's room projects and washing baby clothes, so I am hoping to take it pretty easy the next couple weeks, to try to delay delivery as long as possible.

As for how I am feeling currently, emotions are running a little higher than usual, as I am trying to balance the stress of knowing they might come early if I do too much, but feeling the pressure to get stuff done before they come.  It is a tricky balance.  Thankfully, I haven't cried too much.  The occasional breakdown, but feeling relatively sane for how pregnant I am.

When I went in for my last growth ultrasound (3 weeks ago), the tech said that the babies were measuring around 3 pounds each, which felt so big, but we are hoping they will be around 5 or 6 pounds when they are born, so I feel like we are already doing pretty well!

And one last thing, it is amazing how my clothes are fitting.  Clothes that were fine a week or so ago are suddenly way too small!  My belly is just getting huge, and pretty soon, I will be wearing tunics and dresses exclusively, because none of my shirts will be long enough!  I kid you not.  I will make sure to document the hugeness, so we can all be astonished together!

Happy Wednesday!
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