Friday, April 15, 2016

We're Having a Baby, So We're Eating Ramen (the Good Kind)

Baby girl is due in just over two weeks, so you can imagine that mind is filled with countless thoughts; thoughts of excitement, anticipation, preparation, and the unknown.  Thankfully, thoughts of dread have not made an appearance and I pray that they don't.  Let me clarify something-- although I do not dread the difficult times, it doesn't mean I do not anticipate them.  I know there will be moments (most likely in the quiet of the night) when I'm trying to figure out how to make my baby girl stop crying for not only my sanity, but also the courtesy of our poor neighbors. If whatever comes to mind doesn't work, I most likely will begin to cry too; and it'll be a girls cry-fest. Now doesn't that sound lovely?

All that paired with the countless messes, hair-tugs, and dirty diapers, I'd say I have the best time of my life to look forward to! Wouldn't you? All joking and sarcasm aside, I truly am excited for this next chapter in life. It's a challenge and a feeling that I can honestly say I've never felt before. It'll be such an adjustment adapting to life with a baby, but how awesome will it be to go through a daily routine WITH MY BABY?! Thankfully, I've been surrounded by people who for the most part send positive and loving vibes my way, and I'm grateful for that.

All that said, I won't be able to spend my days JUST staring at my child. I'll eventually have to create a routine that will allow me to go about my life, and that includes cooking! I've been making meals and freezing them, but I also know that I'll be in the mood for something quick and easy that I might not have prepared ahead of time.  A couple weeks ago I made a new favorite for Brian and I-- Ramen Bowls. They're actually well-balanced, packed with veggies and protein, and still offer a fun twist to your meals. The recipe is ridiculously simple and you'll be amazed that you can have such a beautiful meal with such little effort.

Ingredients

2 packs of ramen or ichiban noodles (I was going to go authentic with the ichiban but it was incredible similar ingredients-wise to Maruchan Top Ramen, so I went for the cheaper pack
2 baby bok choy, washed and halved lengthwise
1 can baby corn (you'll most likely find this in the international section)
1/2 cup purple cabbage, washed and shredded
1 medium carrot, peeled into slivers
1/2 lb chicken breast
Pinch of salt and pepper to taste
Dash of garlic powder
Optional light dusting of buttermilk ranch seasoning for chicken
1 tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
Optional poached or lightly boiled egg
1 scallion, sliced thin

Instructions

Follow instructions on the back of the ramen pack. Make sure you account for the number of packs you make. In the meantime, season chicken then in a small sauce pan over medium heat, drizzle olive oil, let pan get hot enough, and sear chicken until it is golden brown on each side (about 5 minutes). Once each side has some color, add a couple tablespoons of water, lower the heat to medium-low and cover the pan so that the steam cooks through the middle of the chicken. I tented the pan with aluminum foil. Once chicken is complete, in the same pan, sear the bok choy over medium-low heat starting with flat-side down. 

Once chicken and ramen are complete, grab a large soup bowl and go to town with the ingredients. Start by placing ramen and broth into the bowl. Top it in sections with each ingredient to give it a colorful and artistic look. If you're adding an egg, do so in the center of the bowl. Top with scallions, find some chopsticks and a deep spoon, and enjoy!



Monday, April 4, 2016

A Tale of Two Refrigerators

In the weeks leading up to the birth of our first baby (girl), I've been in an unforgiving state of sap. Everything makes me tear-up--mostly things that are just cute, happy, or inspiring. This morning, this did it for me.

Along with feeling like I'm walking on fluff, I've been in the ever-common NESTING state: an overwhelming desire to get your home ready for the baby, i.e. The urge to clean and organize.  I've made and completed to-do lists that normally take the back burner: consolidate gift bags/decorations, clean out and sell kitchen kit for business (I'm not selling the business, just some gadgets that I have not needed to use in years), and clean out and label my ever-growing spice drawer (for real, this needs to happen). If you know me personally, you know that I have good ideas and intentions, but getting the PUSH to take action can take a bit of time. That being said, once challenged or assisted with that push, I'm usually on a roll. The point of me telling you this is to stress that to-do lists are usually a joke for me, but lately I live by them--and I love it. Please tell me this won't leave me the way I wish pregnancy brain would. 

With all this nesting, you'd think that my fridge and pantry would be on-par, right? Wrong. In fact, both are disgraceful. I have one bursting at the seams with much needed organization, and another that is more sparse than a grocery store before the arrival of a blizzard. Unfortunately, the fridge is the latter. See proof in picture below.

Now, in all fairness, today is the day I'm going to put an end to it. But I figured I'd let you in on the secret that not all chefs ALWAYS have their fridge full of delectable, ready-to-eat items. Sometimes life gets in the way for no reason other than the fact that I VERY RARELY just don't feel like going to the store. It's so bad that I didn't have to worry about leaving the fridge open to take the picture! That being said, I feel an unnecessary need to mention that somehow, I still managed to make my husband a hot (well-balanced) breakfast along with lunch for today. 👍 On the plus side, this gives me absolutely NO excuse to not give this fridge a good scrub-down. You'll notice in the picture that I followed through with that scrub-down!

Before: So, so sad. 
Cleaned fridge: I feel better now

After: What you see there is 3 meals and healthy snacks for the week. Everything is compartmentalized!

The purpose of this particular post is to act as a fresh start; a clean-slate if you will. One of the tasks on my to-do list is to take charge of my blog and not let so much time pass me by before I write another post-- I know, I know you've heard that before. The reason this is all resonating with me is because I'm understanding that when this little baby arrives, I'm going to have to hold on to what gives me joy and makes me ME for dear life. My life will be forever changed by my baby, but I don't want to let go of who I am.

A while back, my sweet husband posted a picture of a ramen bowl I made for dinner and many people ended up asking for a recipe. I STILL HAVEN'T POSTED IT! Don't ask me why. I've continuously used the lame excuse that I need to make it again during the day so I can take a picture with better lighting, yet never got around to it. The point is, I've added that to my to-do list and WILL post it this week. So please stay tuned.

Until then, thank you for listening to my sappy and vulnerable self be real about my kitchen and life thoughts. It's much appreciated.

Christina