Thursday, October 11, 2012

keep it spicy

I really like to cook. No, that's not right: I LOVE to cook. I just never have the time anymore! So when this meal comes into rotation, I get so excited! It's hard to find recipes that are meant for two. These don't skip on flavor, and the ingredients are usually already in your kitchen, just add jalapenos to your usual shopping trip.

I love jalapeno poppers and all things spicy. Tonight I'm making Jalapeno Popper Chicken & Garlic and Cayenne Green Beans. This is one of our favorite dinners around here. It's great because you can really do it with three chicken breasts so if there is just the two of you for dinner, one of you gets it for lunch the next day! The green beans have become my favorite because the cayenne adds just enough bite and the pecans give it real texture. Crunch & Spicy = yummmy. Someday when I'm actually feeding small children I will really miss this dinner.

I found the recipe for the chicken on pinterest and subsequently on  this blog. The green beans recipe came out of a foodnetwork cookbook and you can find it on their website here.
Jalapeno Popper Chicken (Serves 2 or 3)
1/2 cup panko
2 tsp. canola oil
1.5 – 2 tsp. taco seasoning
1 egg
2 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (we used 2%)
1-2 jalapeƱo peppers, seeds and ribs removed, minced
2 chicken breasts (or three)

Preheat the oven to 375 and place an ovenproof rack onto a rimmed baking dish. Spray with cooking oil.

In a small skillet over medium heat, combine the panko with the canola oil. Cook, stirring often, until the panko is golden and crispy. Place in a shallow bowl or dish. To the panko, add the taco seasoning* and stir to combine.

In another shallow bowl or dish, lightly beat an egg. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and jalapeƱos.

Using a small utility knife, cut a pocket into the side of each chicken breast, or horizontally slice the chicken through the center, until it is almost butterflied. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper, and then divide the cream cheese mixture evenly between each chicken breast’s pocket. Use toothpicks to secure, if necessary.

Dip the chicken pieces one at a time first into the egg, and then into the panko mixture, making sure to coat the chicken completely. Place the chicken on the prepared baking rack and cook for about 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Garlic Green Beans
Toast 4 sliced garlic cloves and a pinch of cayenne pepper in a skillet with butter. Add 1 1/4 pounds green beans, season with salt and a pinch of sugar and cook 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water, cover and cook 6 minutes, then uncover and boil until the water evaporates. Season with salt and pepper and toss with chopped pecans.  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

three things i'm learning about keeping a marriage and a family

Even though I'm a new mom, I sometimes forget that I'm a newlywed too! Well by my standards anyway. We have been married for a month over a year now so I think it still counts! I understand why people wait to have children for a few years after they marry: it's tough! We weren't planning on having a darling baby this early in our marriage, in fact we were planning to wait for a few more years. God had a better plan though, and we cannot imagine a morning without our Mia.

The first years of marriage come with their own tough lessons without adding baby drama to the mix. It is hard 'becoming one' with someone, even if you have dated them for years (we were married after five years of dating). True love is really put to the test throughout the pregnancy, in the labor & delivery room, and at 2, 4, & 6 am feedings. We conceived a whole month after our wedding, so I started off my pregnancy and marriage very emotionally (honestly I was an Emotional Emily all three trimesters). My husband was very generous with me, he learned early on that the only way to keep me happy was to send me for a nap or to tuck me in for good.

Disclaimer: I do not have a perfect marriage and I don't claim to be any sort of expert on relationships or parenting. There are things that I have learned that are important for me to share (this is more for me than for any reader). These are things that people told me were important to learn, but I didn't realize how important until I had to live through it.

First, Sharing responsibilities is extremely important. Maybe I am the only wife/mom (unlikely) but I can feel stress rolling right off of me when I see my husband taking the trash out, vacuuming, or changing a diaper. There are days when I am so exhausted and overwhelmed and Adam knows that I am on autopilot, but watching him help out relaxes me instantly. Early on in our marriage it was hard for me to learn to share chores: not because I want to do more but because I want them done my way! Once I learned (still learning) to give up control I realized that when a chore is done it's done! That's it! Hallelujah!

We also share responsibilities in parenting. We both feel that a dad and a mom are equally important to raising a child and that nothing should be exclusive to the mother (except breastfeeding, obviously). My husband is confused when other dads shy away from doing diapers or get nervous about being alone with a baby. He enjoys taking care of Mia, I can trust him to take care of her exclusively at any point in time. He has found his own soothing ways with her. He could swaddle, bathe, feed, and play just as well as I can. Of course I love love love spending time with my little girl but it's so nice to know he can take her off my hands when I need a break! When we first found out we were parents, a couple that we're close to gave us this advice, and I am so glad!

Second, Quality Time, Quality Time, Quality Time. I said 'Time' 3x because it's important. Any new mom or dad can tell you that there is no such thing as personal time anymore. Now that is rough on a new marriage. After I have poured myself out to my child, to work, and to spending time with God, how do I find the time to spend with my husband? It's impossible! Last night we randomly woke up in the middle of the night and talked for an hour or so just to catch up with each other before falling back asleep. Before the baby we always practiced 'Monday Date Night'. Now it's a distant memory. I am learning that is so important to make time for each other (it's not like we'll regret it!) and to let my spouse know that I want to be more available. This is one place where having a shared interest comes in handy. I am trying to understand a few of my husbands hobbies (I am a fumbler with video games or sports), but I think he appreciates my efforts and we have fun if nothing else. When all else fails, there's netflix.

Third, Acknowledging your spouse's roles outside of parenting. Before I was a mom, I was (and am) many things. I enjoy being involved in my church, I like to cook, I like messing around with pictures and graphics. I love zumba, academics, and I can enjoy an opera or a good basketball game. I love meeting new people and I love roadtrips. I feel loved when my husband compliments me (what wife doesn't?) about my being a mother. Its great! But I have noticed that it is important to me that he recognizes that I wear other hats as well. I think he feels the same way. He likes his talents to be appreciated and his ideas to be valued and his roles outside of 'fatherhood' to be recognized too.

Ah, now I feel better. I am not any sort of blogger, and I have no idea what I'm doing. But sometimes on a late night like this it's nice to organize my thoughts and reflect. Someday I'll look back and read these posts and wonder what on earth I was thinking, but I am a documenter, and I have to account for the things I'm learning. Thank you for being patient with me.