Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Crockpot Moroccan Lamb Stew

this post is way overdue.

a few weeks ago it snowed in portland and the entire city pretty much shut down. i'm learning to appreciate the little things spokane offered, like snow plows to clear the streets. seems that's a novelty here in p-town.

with all the snow ( a whole 6 inches - laughable by spokane standards) we got to work from home thursday, friday and monday that week. woohoo!!! and it also meant we wanted some yummy comfort food to warm our bellies on a surprisingly chilly day.

i had some lamb shanks leftover from this yummy lebanese dish i shared with you last year and decided to scour the internet for a lamb stew recipe that could cook slowly in the crockpot and not only make our apartment smell awesome but warm our bellies too.

i found the perfect recipe from seasoned taste and had (almost) all the ingredients on hand. score! so with a quick trip to the store, i threw all the ingredients into the crockpot and dinner was served a few hours later.

if it's cold where you live, you should probably go make this now. 


Crock Pot Moroccan Lamb Stew 
altered slightly from Seasoned Taste

2 lb lamb shanks
2 sweet onions, chopped
2 c carrots, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 large Granny Smith apple, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 c dried currants
1 tsp groun cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes, with juices
2 c chicken broth or stock
Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish

Add all ingredients to large Crock Pot -except fresh herbs – in order listed. Turn on low and cook for 8 hours.

Serve over quinoa or couscous. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bumpdate: 13 Weeks

i'm about a week and a half behind on posting (seeings as i'm 14 weeks, 3 days today, but thought i'd post another bumpdate!)

 picture source

how far along: 13 weeks 2 days

estimated due date: august 16, 2014

size of baby: baby "a" is the size of a tangerine

sleep: i'm sleeping so much better! still up once or twice to use the restroom, but that's down from what feels like a million times so I feel good.

total weight gain: 2 lbs (down a little from before...yah!)

symptoms: occasional headaches, but other than that feeling pretty good :)

movement: nope

maternity clothes: i've purchased a maternity/nursing bra (which i wrote about here!) and the bella band, but most of my clothes are still fitting....just a little snug ;0)

go to eats: nothing specific. still not loving meat, but i'm getting better. fruits, veggies and carbs are all awesome in my book.

best moment of the week: we got to see the baby again last thursday. everything looks great!

gender: we find out april 1st. hopefully the little nugget doesn't try and play an april fool's joke on his or her mama and papa.

what i wish people knew: i still don't look preggo yet, so i haven't really had any negative experiences. nothing i can think of :)

what i'm looking forward to: finding out the sex!

milestones: we've made it out of the first trimester. woohoo!!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes

who has been watching the olympics?? while the 2014 winter olympics have been surrounded in contraversy...i can't help but get sucked in. the opening ceremony was pretty great (minus a malfunction or two) and there's something about athletes from all around the world coming together to compete in healthy sporting events, when the world can, at times, appear to be a little crazy.

we watched the opening ceremony with some friends this past friday, and i decided to get a little festive and make some team usa cupcakes. and, what better cupcake to make than magnolia bakery cupcakes?

for those of you who live under a rock, magnolia bakery is a cupcake bakery in nyc made famous by a little show called sex and the city starring sarah jessica parker. my girlfriend's and i, after a night out on the town, or sometimes to start the night out, or simply just because, used to venture into the city, new york city that is, and snatch up the world's best cupcakes from magnolia. it's one of the things i miss the most about living in nyc.

so you bet my pregnant little heart that when i found the recipe for magnolia bakery cupcakes from their  the magnolia bakery cookbook, i was determined to find an excuse to make these. you, however, don't need an excuse to go make these. i mean they are magnolia bakery cupcakes. winter olympics or not, these need to be made. do it.  

Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cake with ButterCream Frosting
1c unsalted butter, softened
2 c sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 c self rising flour
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 c Vitamin D milk
1tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F.

Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake wrappers.
Cream butter until smooth and gradually add sugar. Beat until fluffy. Next, add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Combine flours and add to mixer in four parts, alternating with milk and vanilla.

Bake 20 – 25 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack.
Magnolia Bakery Buttercream Frosting

1 c unsalted butter, softened
8 c confectioner’s sugar
1/2 c Vitamin D milk
1tsp vanilla
Your favorite food coloring (optional!)

Place butter, milk, vanilla and 4c confectioner’s sugar in mixer and beat until smooth and creamy.
Add remaining confectioner’s sugar 1c at a time, until frosting has reached a spreadable consistency.
Add food coloring if desired.

Depending on the level of cupcake to frosting ration you like to use (I like lots of frosting to my cupcakes ;0p) you may (or may not) have frosting leftover. This will store for up to three days in an airtight container or one month in the freezer.

For more Magnolia Bakery yumminess check out The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook: Old Fashioned Recipes from New York’s Sweetest Bakery.

Monday, February 3, 2014

First Trimester Must-Haves

i promise this won't turn into a baby blog. well, maybe just a little.

but truth be told, the only thing i've wanted to eat for the past three months is pineapple, berries, and carrots. while my little nugget is slowly turning me into a vegetarian and is bound to have some killer eyesight (thanks carrots!) it leaves me with little material for this little food blog. unless you find it interesting that i can pretty much eat an entire pineapple in one day.

so instead, i bring you first trimester must-haves! otherwise known as what got me through the last three months....

1. the body shop shea butter. every pregnant lady's biggest fear is stretch marks. and while science has proven that really, whether or not you're going to get stretch marks is pretty much whether or not you won the genetic lottery, i don't know a single preggo out there that doesn't stock up on the shea, cocoa, whatever butter in an attempt to ward off those oh-so-sexy purple lines. i happen to love the shea butter from the body shop. it's fair trade, smells awesome and isn't quite as pricey as some other lines out there. so at the end of the day, even if i end up with stretch marks, at least i smell good, right?

2. yogi's mother to be tea. again, i'm not sure if this really works, but yogi's mother-to-be tea is said to promote a health pregnancy by preparing the uterus for child birth. it's main ingredient is raspberry leaf, which has traditionally been used by mid-wives and herbalist for centuries to prepare women for a healthy pregnancy and it also has spearmint, peppermint and fennel to help sooth any tummy aches you might have. i've been drinking this pretty much since the day we found out we were expecting and i haven't had any morning sickness. chalk that up to good luck, good fortune or this tea.

3. basic women's stella maternity and nursing bra from target. ladies be prepared to look sexy. one of the biggest symptoms i had through out my first trimester were sore girls (dad, if you're reading this, you might want to skip this part). boy oh boy did they hurt and holy cow are they ginormous. i read somewhere that if you're going to buy a bigger bra, you might as well, just go ahead and buy nursing bras. they're more comfortable (aka no underwire) and they're practical since you can use them after the baby arrives too. that way you're not spending money on bigger bras and then even more money later on. i wish i had read this earlier, because i didn't pick one of these bad boys up until about a week ago, and it's the most comfortable bra on earth. it's also really affordable at target. now if only they could figure out how to make them slightly more attractive, right?

4.Leachco Snoogle Total Body Pillow i actually have a love-hate relationship with the snoogle. it really is the most comfortable pillow on earth. it's helped my back pain (due primarily to my much larger girls) and rumor has it, when the big ol' belly comes into play it gets even more helpful. there is one downside to it, for me anyways. i toss and turn. a lot. and flip back and forth between my left and right side. tossing and turning with a large body pillow is not as easy as one might think it is.

5. a pregnancy book. this seems like a given to any mom-to-be, right? well here's a little piece of advice. don't go buy every single pregnancy book out there. (i wanted to, i really did), but honestly at the end of the day, they basically all have the same information. find one, that suits you, buy it, read it and keep it as a reference guide. then move on. trust me, soon enough you'll start worrying about all the "how do i actually take care of a real live baby books" and forget all about the "what the heck is happening to my body books." (side note: do convince dad to be to buy a pregnancy book....he'll need it when you're crying for no reason and can't explain to him that all the raging hormones coursing through your body are making you a raving lunatic! husband really liked The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be (New Father Series)

5. my girlfriend nicole.  i honestly don't know what i would have done without my girl, nicole. we only told family when we first found out, but husband quickly realized that i was going to need someone i could talk to, answer all my questions, ease all my fears, and honestly give it to me straight. one of the hardest things about being in portland during this time is that we don't have the support we would have had back in spokane. we don't have any family here and it's been much more difficult to meet people than we ever expected. i needed a support person to be there, through frankly a really emotional time for me. that was nicole. so i told her very early on and she has been my rock through the past weeks/months helping navigate all things pregnancy related. every single day, we text back and forth (she lives in LA, we're in Portland). she asks me daily, how i'm feeling, answers questions (she just had a little one last September, kaia, who is pretty much the cutest baby girl ever!) and has repeatedly told me "everything will be ok" "you'll figure it out" "trust your instincts." for some people, your "nicole" might be your mom, it might be your sister, or any other close girlfriend. it's someone, a daily presence who is there constantly reassuring you, checking in on you and making you feel special/ok/not like you're a crazy person. for that i'm forever grateful and i know she'll continue to be there for me through the next 6 months. nicole, you're a god-send!

so there you have it! my first trimester must-haves. i'm sure these vary from preggo to preggo, but this is what got me through those first 3 months.

**Some of the links above are Amazon affiliate links

Sunday, February 2, 2014

One Big Long First Trimester Recap

when one of my best girlfriend's found out she was pregnant last year, she blogged about her pregnancy through bumpdates every few weeks. i really enjoyed reading her little tidbits about her pregnancy and the things she was going through and found it such a cool way to track such a special time in your life. 

so i'm copying nicole here with these bumpdates that i've been writing since we found out we were pregnant on december 12th! these first few are all past tense, as i catch up to current day, and decided to lump them into one big long post for the sake of saving time (and sanity ;0). 

the 5 week bumpdate (12.14.13)

how far along: 5 weeks

estimated due date: august 16, 2014

size of baby: baby "a" is a sesame seed! or so my fun little "i'm expecting" app tells me so

sleep: i want to go to be every night starting around 7. if you ask me to do anything after 7 pm at night, there's a good chance i'll look at you like you have a third eyeball ;0)

total weight gain: 0

symptoms: besides the big missed period and extreme fatigue, super super sensitive boobs. please do not come near me, accidentally bump into me or god forbid i roll over onto my stomach while i'm sleeping, because i will probably yelp in pain. 

movement: nope

maternity clothes: nope

go to eats: i don't really have any cravings or anything. i'm just really really really thirsty. all. the. time.

best moment of the week: getting that positive on the pregnancy test and surprising husband. i will always remember his reaction. "SERIOUSLY!!!"

gender: we're already debating whether or not to find out. husband wants to be surprised...i go back and forth. we'll see who wins ;0)

what i wish people knew: this is probably more from before we found out we were pregnant, but if i'm being honest, husband and i didn't magically get pregnant overnight. we tried for several months. 8 to be exact. and one of the most difficult things, besides not being pregnant, month after month, was friends and family constantly asking "when are you going to have a baby?" "why don't you have a kid already?" "isn't it about time you two start a family" and so on. and while i know that no one meant to be hurtful or mean by asking these questions (they didn't even know we were trying!), it really is no one else's business but mine and my husbands, when we're going to start a family. and you never know if the person you're asking is trying....really really trying to have a baby, and for one reason or another can't get pregnant. because making a baby isn't as easy as the world makes it seem. 

so my promise to every woman out there, who may or may not be trying to get pregnant, is not to ask "when she plans on starting a family." because you never know...she may already be trying.

what i'm looking forward to: our first doctor's appointment and ultra sound on january 8th! 

milestones: being pregnant...that's a pretty big milestone i'd say ;0)

the 7 week bumpdate (12.28.13)

how far along: 7 weeks

estimated due date: august 16, 2014

size of baby: baby "a" is a blueberry!

sleep: oh how i wish i could sleep....i'm tired all the time, but as soon as it's time to go to bed, suddenly i'm cursed with insomnia. it also doesn't help that i have to pee 12 million times throughout the night and i know it's only going to get worse...eek!

total weight gain: 2 lbs....yikes!

symptoms: i had my first round of nausea today....i never actually got sick, but i almost wish i had, because the act of throwing up would have offered some kind of relief from the stomach churning that i felt all afternoon.

also the mood swings...poor husband. in less than 12 hours i had a meltdown about how we were going to be able to pay/take care of/provide for this little one (even though we both have great jobs with great pay and benefits, etc....but struggle like most young couples with student loan payments, wanting to buy a house, etc.) and then another one about the inevitable weight gain that will happen with being pregnant. the latter meltdown is an ongoing struggle for me, since i've already gained a considerable amount of weight (on top of weight gain since graduating college) in the past year (hello marriage 25) and have been struggling to lose this to begin with. i think this will be the hardest part for me to come to terms with seeing as i was already overweight (and unhappy about it) to begin with. but at the end of the day, this little one is 100% worth it, and i plan on addressing my weight gain concerns with my doctor.

movement: nope

maternity clothes: nope

go to eats: fruit. can't get enough strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and pineapple. orange juice tastes amazing as well.

best moment of the week: this was actually during week 6, but we bit the bullet and told our immediate family (parents and siblings) and then swore them all to utter secrecy until we tell everyone (probably at the 12 week mark). i made my dad cry (good cry!).

gender: we're already debating whether or not to find out. husband wants to be surprised...i go back and forth. we'll see who wins ;0)

what i wish people knew: i wish we could tell people!!! but i also really want to make it through the first trimester and into the "safety zone" before we tell people. 

what i'm looking forward to: our first doctor's appointment and ultra sound on january 8th! 

milestones: baby's heart is beating!

the 9 week bumpdate (1.11.14)

how far along: 9 weeks

estimated due date: august 16, 2014

size of baby: baby "a" is a cherry!

sleep: my insomnia has gotten MUCH better, but i'm still up 3 or 4 times a night to hit the porcelain king. it's a real joy. really.

total weight gain: 3 lbs....ugh!

symptoms: extreme fatigue, a little bit of nausea but no real puking (vivid i know), and the sore girls are back in action like woah. and those mood swings are killer man. i just hope my poor husband doesn't divorce me before the 9 months is up ;0)

movement: nope

maternity clothes: nope

go to eats: still loving the fruit. can't get enough strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and pineapple. i'm also really in love with veggies. if i have to eat all day to keep the nausea away at least i'm craving healthy food....except for my new intense love affair with cinnamon toast crunch, which to be honest is beyond weird. i didn't really eat cereal as a kid, definitely not as an adult, but holy wow am i loving myself some cinnamon toast crunch. mmmmm sugar!!!

best moment of the week: we got to see baby a for the first time last week! we had our ultra sound at 8 weeks, 4 days and everything looked great! baby has a super strong heartbeat (160 beats per minute) and is a teeny tiny little peanut.

gender: i mentioned that husband and i were debating finding out the sex (i'm for finding out, husband wants to be surprised)...i think i'm beginning to win the gender war!

what i wish people knew: i wish we could tell people!!! but i also really want to make it through the first trimester and into the "safety zone" before we tell people. 

what i'm looking forward to: grow baby grow! just a few more weeks and we can share the news! i'm really excited to make it public :)

milestones: baby is starting to look like a little human baby!

the 11 week bumpdate (11.29.14)

how far along: 11 weeks, 4 days

estimated due date: august 16, 2014

size of baby: baby "a" is the size of a fig

sleep: getting better....still up several times through out the night to use the porcelain king

total weight gain: 3 lbs....ugh!

symptoms: i'm feeling pretty good. i still have pretty crazy mood swings, but my husband is a champ!

movement: nope

maternity clothes: nope

go to eats: this baby has made me full on vegetarian for the most part. all i want are fruits and veggies. meat makes me gag. pasta's pretty tasty too (yah carbs!).

best moment of the week: we started to tell our friends this week! getting to spread the news has been more hiding or fake cocktails when we're out with friends. ;0)

gender: husband thinks boy. i think girl...only time will tell!

what i wish people knew: now that we've begun to tell people, i'm feeling pretty good. i'm sure there will be moments in the future that make me go "ugh! why do they ask that" but for now, i'm good.

what i'm looking forward to: grow baby grow! our 12 week doctor appointment is next week. hopefully we can hear the heartbeat!

milestones: all of baby's vital organs are formed...they just need to keep growing and getting stronger!

Saturday, February 1, 2014


i have been waiting for months to finally post this! husband and i are so excited to announce that coming mid-august the alexander family will be growing by one!

we are excited, over-joyed, terrified, nervous, happy and did i say excited! all at the same time. we can't wait to meet our new baby boy (according to husband) or girl (according to me ;0)) in august.

2013 was a great year, but i have a feeling 2014 just trumped it! ;0)