Pre-Baby Freezer Meals: Ground Beef

To hear how we did all of these meals and more in two days see my blog earlier this week Pre-baby Freezer meals: chicken.

While Luke and I went to birth class on Saturday night, Stina cooked up 10 lbs of ground beef in our cast irons on the stovetop. Thank You! It seemed like a lot of meat but it was just the right amount for all that we made. The meat was split into two parts ziplocs. Half went into preparing my tomato meat sauce. I have never made such a huge helping of meat sauce in my life! The mixture of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, meat, and seasoning took up both my large boiling pot and my medium sauce pan. I went through ALL of my diced tomato cans in the house.

While that mixture cooked down we got to work on the other ground beef meals. Luke is good with portions and has a way of folding burritos into an envelope shape that holds well. So Luke showed Matt how to portion out beans, cheese, and meat and the two of them assembled. Once a stack of burritos were piled I took them to the cast iron to be sealed by slightly grilling both sides. Then Stina took the pile of burritos, wrapped them in foil, and put them into ziplocs.

It was fun to have such an assembly line going.

Once the meat sauce cooked down and cooled off  we assembled lasagnas and pasta bakes.  In the end I had only enough sauce leftover for two spaghetti meals.

As I said in my last post, I will not put recipes and instructions here. I am waiting to see which meals really worked out well after cooking before sharing them with all of you.

Hint 2: Buy disposable freezer protection for your meals: tin foil, foil trays, plastic wrap, and freezer ziploc bags. Most meals that will go in the oven were put in foil trays then wrapped in plastic wrap- a tip from Stina.

Ground Beef Meals:

Ground Beef Chili

– crock pot meal

-add canned beans

-serve with corn bread, over potato, or with eggs as omelette etc.

 

Spaghetti/meat sauce

-sauce defrosted on stove top or in crockpot

serve over pasta

Beef and Bean and Cheese Burritos

-easily microwaved

-serve with fresh veggies: salsa, avocado, etc.


Beef and Spinach Lasagna/Pasta Bake

-put in oven to cook

-serve with salad

 

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Pre-Baby Day-cation

With our crazy busy lives it’s been difficult to go on proper dates; let alone vacation. Luke and I haven’t had an official vacation since last year’s spring break trip to New York City.

With three weeks to due-date we decided we would get in one last pre-baby day-cation. We planned to travel to Seattle; only two hours from us. We left mid-morning and arrive in the city by noon time.

We drove straight to our destination: MoPop formally known as EMP; right next to the space needle and monorail. The Experience Music Project was a modern music and culture museum which hosted concerts and festivals year round. It was known for it’s interactive exhibits especially the sound lab where you could record music in studios and play instruments of all varieties. I was lucky to go to the museum for a college end of the year party and was able to return later bringing my brother and mother as well. Luke has never been and we thought this would be a great place to spend the day.

It’s been a few years since I have explored Seattle and of course that means some changes. EMP is now called MoPop. It still has plenty of interactive exhibits, music festivals, and the sound lab, but now the focus shifted to a wider Museum of Popular Culture.

We started with the indie-gaming exhibit.  We read he history of gaming technology and tried out demos of recent games put out by local and independent gaming programmers. Luke probably had more fun than me but I appreciated the history and art of programming.

After this we explored the third or basement floor exhibits of sci-fiction and horror. We were happy to see props from some of our favorite sci-fi movies and shows including light-sabers and hover boards. Luke enjoyed guessing which weapons came from which sci-fi shows and confirming it using the computer database. We glimpsed quickly through the horror exhibit and headed back upstairs .

I loved the way the fantasy exhibit was designed. You open a huge wooden door to pine needles on the floor of a dimly lite forest, in the center is a large tree made of silver dragon scales. Highlights of this exhibit include costumes, art, and weaponry from many famous fantasy movies as well as many interactive programs, one allowed you to create your own fantasy world map.

The traveling star-trek exhibit is a celebration of 50 years of the TV series(es) and movies. I only in the last year watched a few TV episodes via netflix and have seen the most recent movies. Luke who knows more of the star trek world  enjoyed the exhibit but was not impressed enough for the five extra dollars to view it in comparison to the rest of the museum.

Other than these, we explored the exhibit detailing the history of guitar technology over time; especially amplifying sound and the creation of electric guitars. Luke liked the guitar tree, a staple piece of the museum. However we were a little disappointed to see the third floor interactions with the tree, where you can use computer screens to play guitars on the tree, did not seem to be working. We also walked around the sound lab, which was very busy with high school students on field trips.

We left the museum a little before closing time, drove South to Olympia where we had dinner at a brewpub. Afterwards Luke treated me to a late night (well at least for us) movie date to see Beauty and the Beast before we headed home. A very full day-cation before baby Greene arrives.

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Pre-baby Freezer Meals: Chicken

A couple of weekends ago my brother and sister-in-law came to visit us for the weekend. While Luke and my brother Matt did yard work Stina and I did major meal prep.

I started research into typical freezer meal recipes via pintrest but quickly realized many of the meals are not in our normal routine. I decided instead I would convert our normal meals into freezer meals.

Now this may seem like a lot of work but post-baby we will be adjusting to new life changes. A sense of familiarity in our diet could be beneficial for everyone, including Baby Greene. With a little research it didn’t take long to change stove top meals into oven or crockpot options instead.

The deep freeze arrived on Thursday; Luke and I went to Costco before family arrived on Friday. The next day Stina and I got to work. We found it best to categorize meals by the type of meat; so that is what I will do to share these meals with all of you.

We bought bulk chicken breasts of which a few were whole or cubed and left raw to go in a crockpot. The rest were cooked in crockpots on high. The meat was so tender and moist that it took little effort with a few forks to shred it when done.

I am not going to provide the recipes for all of these meals, many of them are already easy to find online. Once we actually defrost them and cook them up, I will see what worked well and possibly write up recipes and instructions then. But I will give tips and hints along the way.

Hint 1: add dairy products later: other than cheese, it is best to add sour cream, Alfredo, etc. to the meal once it’s cooked for awhile in the crockpot, just as dairy can curdle if it gets too hot, the contents can separate in the freezer as well.

 Chicken Meals:

Broccoli Alfredo and shredded chicken:

-crockpot meal

– Alfredo added later

-to be served with pasta or over a baked potato

Buffalo shredded chicken:

-crockpot meal

-sour cream added later

-to be served with baked potato or as part of a salad

Shredded chicken enchilada soup

-crockpot meal

– sour cream added later

Shredded chicken, spinach, and cheese enchiladas

-oven meal

Cubed chicken curry

– crockpot meal

-coconut/milk to be added later

-to be served with rice

Mustard chicken breasts:

-crockpot

-to be served with salad

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What you won’t see

You may have noticed through the past 8 months, yes we are to 36 weeks now, I have not been posting belly bump photos or sharing progress on baby Greene’s size in comparison to fruit or vegetables. I haven’t done any pregnancy photo shoots either. You might have thought this was because we’ve been so busy with other life events. In reality the lack of pictures, what you haven’t seen, it intentional.

Our current culture says the more social media sites you keep up with the more the expectation for tweets, casual pictures, comments, check-ins and so on. It’s easy to get caught up in those expectations; to be allured into creating a false identity that says your life is pintrest-able.

I have the right to post about every second of this pregnancy in mass details to everyone as the social media world expects and our culture deems normal. But, I reserve the right to withhold information as well.

I remember life before social media; before we became the connected generation of the over-informed. My childhood is documented on video tapes and Kodak film (even slides), and is re-told in the memories my parents and grandparents share. Their stories bring it all to life.

I have the privilege, for the most part, of sharing what I want of my life and childhood. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have my whole life documented, not just for close family but for the world online.

I want to respect my child’s privacy, and his childhood by not posting every milestone and moment.

So what you won’t see are the naked bath tub shots, the diaper-as-only clothing times; the diaper messes, the drawings on the wall, or food all over the face.  Those to me are personal, memories of motherhood to share with close family and friends, in conversations, in person.

Those moments may be cute, funny, or receive sympathy for us as the parents, but could cause anger and embarrassment for our son when he is older.  The children of our generation have little to no control over what moments of their childhood are shared with the world. We as the parents have to do what we feel is right to preserve a sense of privacy.

There are plenty of beautiful moments of our new adventure as a growing family that I will gladly share with all of you. But fair warning, there are plenty as well that you won’t see.

the list

Blame it on nesting instinct or my naturally task-driven personality, but my entire focus has been on a list of what needs to be done before baby Greene comes. Fortunately my wonderful husband understand this motivation and is faithfully plugging away at this list even as a write. Meanwhile I struggle with not being able fulfill these goals by myself, being pregnant has taught me to ask for help, to admit limitations, and to let go of control. Hard lesson for sure.

Now, some items on this list are time sensitive, like finalizing a birth plan, or buying items for hospital bags. Still others, especially house projects, are not absolutely necessary right now. But boy do they feel like it. From the gnarled trees in the backyard, to the unpainted wall in the kitchen, to the minimal furniture in the living room, to the pile of boxes in the family/dining room. They all are important and all of them need to get done, and done now.

I guess the fear is that once this little boy is born all plans and house work will go out the window. It’s easy to feel this way. Everyone says life completely changes once you have a child, now I’m not sure if that’s meant to be advice or encouragement, either way it feels a little vague and ominous, but I understand the intent.

Our birth class coach said, the projects and house work will always be there, they will be right there, waiting for us to finish them whenever we are ready. Even the nursery doesn’t have to be completely decorated right away. What won’t be there after this child is born is our “single life”, our per-parent selves will be gone, forever.

So I realized yes, we need to move forward on projects, and we need to plug away at that list on the fridge, but we also need to find time. Time to rest, time to relax, time with each other. Whether that’s playing a short game after dinner, going to sonic on a Thursday night, or taking an hour out of our weekend to go miniature golfing; we need to still connect with each other. We need quality time that has nothing to do with major life adjustments of the last 9 months, both for our relationship and for ourselves. We need to enjoy these last few weeks with our pre-parent identities.

Right now that time doesn’t come naturally, we have to plan for it, put it in our calendar then not feel guilty about taking that time. But, in the grand scheme I recognize this time together is more important, more memorable, more rewarding than accomplishing the list on the fridge.

mini-golf

As I mentioned in my Easter post, this past weekend Luke and I took time to check out the local mini-golf place.

I grew up close to several well established mini golf places with both indoor and outdoor courses. I realize being in SoCal I was more than a little spoiled and overwhelmed by  entertainment options. Luke and I, before this past weekend, had only gone mini-golfing twice together. Once before we got married, because we felt it was a date we should do as part of our “dating” story-line. And the second time with family in Oregon after my brother’s graduation for more on this see 2013 vacation part 1 .

So it is not something we have done often, nor something I’d say I’m good at. Still we thought it’d be a fun and easy short date before our birth class.

We got to the Shankz Miniaturize Gold and for $ 9.00 a person, cheaper for seniors and kids, and got our balls and clubs, a great deal. Walking up a set of stairs we found the 18 hole indoor course.

Everything is covered in glow in the dark paint and hit with black lights;  the artwork on the walls we found pretty impressive. For only one course it was packed with decorations challenges and fun. The course is split into three themed areas: first underwater, then jungle, then last dinosaur. Classic music from Ray Charles, to Elivs, to Johnny Cash played in the background as we move from hole to hole.

It was a quiet day and we were alone on the course which helped us feel no pressure and take our time. Even if we did have to wait there were plenty of benches for sitting along the way. We didn’t keep exact score but I felt it was one of my best games, I was able to get most holes even with obstacles in 2-3 moves.

After our round we checked out the arcade, which although not extensive, included several classic favorites including donkey kong, pac man, galaga, pin ball, air hockey and more. We know where to go if we want a little classic game competition.

We had a great time and know it’s worth the short trip and money, a great date activity. We’ll probably go again and hopefully next time bring along some family to enjoy the fun.

My pictures really don’t do the place justice, this is the first time I’ve tried taking pictures with glow in the dark and black light. If you want a better idea of what the course looks like check out their website by clicking on the link found in their name above.

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Happy Easter 2017!

Happy Easter everyone!

It’s hard to believe that a year ago we were off on our spring break New York City vacation. For more on our whirlwind three day NYC trip last year, start with the blog post: NYC Day 1 financial district. We didn’t know it then, but that was our last vacation before Baby Greene, and it was a memorable one.

flowers from last weekend’s shower

This Easter weekend has been much slower and easier. We had the BBQ Orgeon Shower last weekend and next weekend will have my brother and sister-in-law at our place to help us with a few projects.

So we have been enjoying the sunshine, and working on house projects. The project line up for this weekend includes cutting down the brittle mossy walnut trees close to the back end of the house. When we moved in half of the branches were down from winter wind storms; we knew it was only a matter of time before the rest of trees came with. Another project is getting shelving painted and installed in the nursery. I am, as you can imagine, anxious to organize the baby room with all of the wonderful items we have received from showers and our registry.

But we are also taking time for fun. Like every year, I made hot crossed buns with cream cheese icing for the holiday weekend breakfasts. For Easter we are doing a simple brunch of hot cross buns and berry salad with bacon and eggs. The original plan was a bacon, spinach, and tomato quiche but the oven element died at the end of my hot crossed bun baking session on Thursday, so we’ll be without an oven for a few days.

We decided also to go on a date on Saturday to check out the black light mini-golf place in town. More on this to come.

We know that we have many years of Easter egg hunts and traditional Easter events with family coming very soon so we are perfectly comfortable keeping this year simple.

How are you spending your holiday weekend?

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