Monday, April 21, 2008
Since I decided to make this for my McMoms "Cook-Off" night, actually measured everything out as I added it. But then I couldn't make it to the meeting anyway! (Long story - but the weather sucked, Jacob got a 103.7 fever, my mom was in her car stuck in a tornado somewhere between Azle and Aledo, and it was just best for me to be home.) But, since I had already made the meal to go, Jon was happy to have his favorite for a few days!
This is my "make-shift" recipe that is close to - although still not as good - Olive Garden's Sausage Peppers Rustica!
Penne Pasta, 3 ½ cups cooked; I use about 1/3rd of the 14.5 oz box of the Market Pantry/Target brand Penne Plus
Onion, 1 cup chopped: which is one small onion.
Peppers, 1 ½ cups chopped: I use a mixture of green, red, yellow, and/or orange peppers - the equivalent of about 2 total peppers of whatever color pepper is on sale at Sprouts that week! (Typically it is some leftover green pepper from another recipe earlier in the week and then a partial amount whatever color I have on hand - usually red.)
2 Pre-Cooked Sausage Links (We have used the Market Pantry/Target brand chicken sausage, which works well, but the BEST is Sprout's brand pre-cooked "Authentic Italian Sausage!!")
Olive Oil, 1 Tbsp
Garlic, 1 clove minced
Hunt's Four-Cheese Spaghetti Sauce, 26 oz can
Mozzarella Cheese (Probably around 1 cup total.)
Cook the penne pasta according the directions on the box. Chop the onion and peppers into thick slices. Slice the sausage links into approximately 1/2 thick slices. Warm 1 Tbsp olive oil and one clove of minced garlic in a deep skillet. Cook the onions and peppers until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the sausage and cook until heated, about 2 more minutes. Add the can of spaghetti sauce and stir well. Add the penne pasta until desired consistency is reached (we like it to be pretty "saucy”). Stir in about 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. (You don't want to add too much cheese now, as it will be all "stringy" as you are dishing out each serving.) Cover and simmer for a couple of minutes. Top each serving with more mozzarella or grated parmesan, if desired.
It is great served with the frozen garlic-cheese Texas Toast!
Sunday, April 13, 2008
We were trying to decide on a good name for our new baby, which we now know is a little BOY. The first name needs to be a good, strong Biblical name - like Caleb or Jacob. The middle name also needs to be a cool name, and it should honor someone special in the our lives. With the boys, Jacob ALAN honors my dad, and Caleb LUKE honors my mom's side of the family (Luke is her maiden name, but also works as a cool middle name too.)
Soooo.... **drum roll, please**.... For our new baby boy, we like the name:
Gabriel "Gabe" Elisha Seastrunk
Gabriel means "Champion of God." Gabriel is the name of the angel who appears to Mary to give her the news of her pregnancy and the impending birth of the Messiah.
Gabe is just a good, boyish name. We kind of think "Gabe Seastrunk" sounds like a good baseball player name! (Of course, if little Gabe doesn't want to play baseball, but rather get into music, drama, another sport, chess, whatever, we are down with that too.)
Elisha means "God is my help." Elisha was the disciple and successor of the prophet, Elijah. Elisha himself was a prophet who performed many miracles, including the resurrection of the dead. Elisha is also a dear little friend of ours.
In the Summer of 2001, Elisha was one of my patients while I was working as a Nurse Extern at Children's Medical Center of Dallas. He then had a rare blood disease - Wiskott Aldrich Syndrome. The treatment for this terrible disease called for a bone marrow transplant. Since he and his mother were "confined" to the walls of the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit in isolation for several months, I saw them everyday I was "on duty" for quite a while (and a few days when I was off, as Mary and I hung out a few times outside of the hospital).
(Elisha just prior to his Bone Marrow Transplant.)
(Elisha and I during the Summer of 2001 - a few weeks post-transplant.)
Being before the days of HIPPA and the fact that his mother, Mary, and I had a great connection, we all kept in touch over the years. In fact, Mary and Elisha were two of my first friends that I introduced Jon to at Hillcrest Church. Jon spent plenty of time during the Sunday night services chasing Elisha around the large room used for the non-traditional young adult service.
(Elisha and I "on a date" to see the Veggie Tales movie in 2002.)
Elisha battled hard in his life on Earth over the years. He developed acute (which progressed into chronic) Graft versus Host Disease (GVHD) due to the transplant. He has brought much joy to the world and to everyone who has had the honor of having their life's path cross his.
Unfortunately his battle on Earth came to an end February 4, 2006, however he became completely healed in Heaven, and God definitely got one more cool little angel. We can't wait to see him free from pain, without the need to take medications, and able to run (and have long beautiful hair!) there someday.
(2006 - not long before Elisha was completely healed.)
A year later, we had no idea that two precious boys would be brought into our lives! When I found out my due date, I knew that twins usually arrive a few weeks early, and thought that it would be "a little weird" if they arrived on the one year anniversary date of Elisha's arrival to Heaven. Well, when we found out that I had to have a scheduled c-section, I knew that would be out of the question, since the 4th was on a Sunday. My doctor set the date for February 5th.
Then my blood pressure began to go bonkers on the night of the 3rd, which landed me in the hospital with HELLP Syndrome on the 4th. Most of you know the story from there, but for those who don't:
IMMEDIATELY upon seeing my basic symptoms at the hospital - extremely high blood pressure (which was completely normal 4 days prior), 3+ protein in my urine (again - was ZERO 4 days prior!), and exaggerated reflexes (now at the point of complete clonus!) - they QUICKLY started me on Magnesium Sulfate and then had to do an immediate, emergent c-section. Thus, my boys were in fact born on February 4, 2007.
The birth of Jacob and Caleb and my survival of HELLP Syndrome on that particular day was yet another reminder that February 4th is a day of LIFE - not death. Our little buddy Elisha Henderson is ALIVE and well in his new body in Heaven.
So, that's the story of our little buddy. We miss him, but are so glad to honor his life through our newest little son - Gabriel Elisha Seastrunk.
What a bittersweet post! hehehe But seriously, this is all REALLY HAPPY NEWS!!
Saturday, April 12, 2008
b. Fairly healthy/nutritious
d. Easy to make (especially now that the twins are in our life!)
My friend, Sarah, wanted a few of my recipes a while back, so I typed them all up to send to her. I figured since they were all typed up, I might as well share the love! I've also added a couple other favorites.
Just FYI for those of you who think you are too busy to cook (I mean, really, who ISN'T?!) - all of these can be partially made ahead of time, as I do the bulk of my cooking/preparing during nap time. I prepare them early, keep the dish in the fridge, and then put the dish in the oven when Jon is on his way home. With the Garlic Lime Chicken, I have the chicken breasts with the spices on them in the fridge and then do the 5-10 minutes of prep work right before we eat. (The chicken actually tastes better with the spices "marinating" on them longer anyway!) With the Sausage Peppers Rustica, I have all of the veggies chopped and the penne pasta cooked - then I throw it all in the skillet right before we eat. Pretty much the same thing with Arroz con pollo.
Bon apetite, and let me know which you and your family like the best!
Baked Squash-Sausage Casserole
This recipe is great in the summer when squash is in season, found everywhere, and so cheap.
2 pounds yellow summer squash or zucchini (I use 1 pound of yellow and one pound of green zucchini squash)
3 tbsp chopped onion
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce (ok, I use like 2 tsp or more!)
2 tsp parsley flakes (I use about 3 tsp)
1 pound ground bulk sausage (I use the Owen's HOT sausage)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 slices of bread crumbs (I used about 4 slices of bread, getting a good solid layer over the casserole. I love the crunchy, buttery bread on top!)
Slice (and peel, if desired) squash into 1/2 inch pieces. Boil in water for 3 minutes or until tender. Drain. Meanwhile, brown sausage in skillet, then drain excess fat. In large bowl, mix together sausage, squash, onion, eggs, and seasonings. Pour into 1-quart buttered casserole dish. Mix melted butter with crumbs (just torn apart bread pieces - I keep them pretty large), and place over top of squash mixture. Bake at 350 degrees 35-40 minutes until browned. Makes 6 servings.
(We hate that we are going to have to "tone it down" this summer and use regular sausage and less Tabasco since the boys are eating more "big people food" this year! It's so good spicy. And it's - believe it or not - the leftovers are very good the next morning for breakfast! We oftentimes have it on a Thursday night with salad and fresh fruit, and then eat the leftovers Saturday morning for brunch with toast or baguette and orange marmalade - yum!)
My "make-shift" recipe that is close to (although not near as good) as Olive Garden's Sausage Peppers Rustica!
This is Jon's favorite thing that I make!
(I'll have to apologize now, as I don't have this recipe written down therefore cannot give it to you "exact" amounts. I've just made it so many times, that I just know what goes in it. I'll try to work on that, actually measuring all of the ingredients next time I make it. But for this time, well, it will be one pitiful recipe!)
EDIT on 04/21/08 - See my new blog posted today to get the REAL recipe!!!
Penne Pasta (I don't know exactly how much - just several handfuls! hehe But I would say I use about 1/3rd of the 14.5 oz box of the Market Pantry/Target brand Penne Plus)
One small onion, chopped
A mixture of green, red, yellow, or orange pepper - I would guess about the equivalent of 1 1/2 total peppers (Again, I seriously need to measure how much I am putting in, as I just chop until it looks about right!!) And I really do use whatever color pepper is on sale at Sprouts that week. Typically it is some leftover green pepper from another recipe and then a partial amount whatever color I have on hand - typically red pepper.
2 Sausage links (We have used the Market Pantry chicken sausage, which works well, but the BEST is Sprout's brand pre-cooked "Authentic Italian Sausage!!")
1 can of Hunt's Four-Cheese Spaghetti Sauce
Mozzarella Cheese (again, not sure, but probably around 1 cup total?)
Cook the penne pasta according the the directions on the box. Chop the onion and peppers. Slice the sausage links into approximately 1/2 thick slices. Warm about 1 Tbsp olive oil in a deep skillet. Cook the onions and peppers for about 5 minutes. Add the sausage and cook until heated. Add the can of spaghetti sauce and stir well. Add the penne pasta until desired consistency is reached (we like it to be pretty "saucy!"). Stir in about 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese. (You don't want to add too much cheese now, as it will be all "stringy" as you are dishing out each serving. Cover and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes. Top each serving with more mozzarella, if desired.
It is great served with the frozen garlic-cheese Texas Toast!
(Wasn't that a terrible "recipe?!" But trust me - it is AWESOME!!)
Arroz con pollo
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp margarine
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 cup chopped onion (I do about half of a decent sized onion - don't usually measure it.)
1/4 cup green bell pepper (Again, I chop about one whole average sized pepper, not measuring how much it is - I like lots of veggies in it though!!)
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 cup uncooked rice
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes (Of course, we use more - about one whole roma tomato.)
1/8 tsp saffron or tumeric (I oftentimes omit this if I don't have any fresh onhand - tastes the same to me.)
1/2 cup cooked green peas (I oftentimes omit this too - Jon likes it better sans peas. ;-))
Preheat oven to 350. Rinse chicken, cut off any extra fat, and set aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt margarine. Add garlic, black pepper, and paprika. Mix well. Remove from heat, and brush over chicken breasts. Place chicken in an oven-proof dish and bake, uncovered, 20 - 25 minutes, or until meant has turned white throughout. Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, saute the onion and green pepper in oil 5 -6 minutes or until soft. Then add rice and cook another 2 -3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, and saffron/tumeric and stir to mix. Cover and simmer over low heat about 20 minutes, until rice is cooked. (I stir it often and usually add a little more water a couple of times so that the rice stay moist and doesn't stick.) Add green peas (if desired) and cooked chicken with the remaining juices, and cook and additional 5 minutes.
I then make the Velveeta/Rotel queso dip (one small block and Velveeta melted with one can of Rotel) to pour over the top of each serving - makes it extra yummy!
You could also pour some "Man Bait" over it. I learned about "Man Bait" from a recipe I got in my MOPS group. It is 1 small block of Velveeta combined with one beer (Shiner Bock!), heated to a mild boil. (Velveeta and Beer? What guy doesn't love that?! Thus, "Man Bait.")
There's no great recipe here, but in the summer we also love to make what Jon calls my "Great Southern Dinner."
Black-eyed peas with sweet corn bread, fried potatoes and onions, fried okra, stuffed tomatoes (see recipe below), and corn on the cob.
This was my absolute favorite meal as a child; especially when the veggie all came fresh-picked from my Granny's garden or the farmer's market! This is still one of Jon and my favorites to this day. (Jon and I were both those types of weird children that never got the "memo" that veggies are "yucky," and hope to raise our boys the same way.)
2 large tomatoes
2 Tbsp fine dry bread crumbs
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (yes, the dry kind you put on pizza!)
1 Tbsp melted butter or margarine
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 375. Remove stems, core, and halve tomatoes crosswise. Place tomatoes, cut sides up in a baking dish. Combine bread crumbs, cheese, margarine/butter, and herbs. Sprinkle atop tomatoes. Bake 375 for 15-20 minutes, or until well heated.
(This is one of Jon, Jacob, and Caleb's favs!)
1 10-oz pkg frozen, chopped spinach (thawed and well drained)
1 16-oz container cottage cheese ( I use the 2% kind, but have also used the fat-free and whole, and they work fine too.)
1 cup Shredded Low-Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese (I use more - almost 2 cups!)
1 egg white
1 medium red pepper, chopped (I use green pepper instead often - it works fine and is a lot cheaper!)
1 envelope Good Seasonings Italian Dressing and Recipe Mix
20 jumbo macaroni shells (for filling), cooked and drained (Cook more than 20, as several will fall apart while cooking!)
1 jar or can of spaghetti sauce (I use the Hunt's Four Cheese 26-oz can)
Mix spinach, cottage cheese, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese, egg white, chopped red (or green pepper), and salad dressing in a large bowl until well blended. Spoon 1/2 of the sauce into a 13x9-inch baking dish. Fill each shell with 1 heaping Tbsp of the mixture, and arrange shells in baking dish. Spoon remaining sauce over shells and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. (This is where I go crazy with the cheese, adding more than the remaining 1/2 cup. I just add cheese to the top until the shells are well covered!) Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until heated thoroughly. (Sauce is bubbling.)
Brown 1 lb. of ground beef. Add 1 can of Rotel, 1 can of Ranch Style Beans (I use the kind with jalapeños added), 1 can of Cream of Mushroom Soup, and 1 can of Cream of Chicken Soup. Heat until mixture is warm. In a 9x13 casserole dish, layer torn flour tortilla pieces, the mixture above, and shredded cheddar cheese. Keep layering until mixture is completely used (three layers of tortilla-mixture-cheese). Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, until mixture is slightly bubbly.
Great with a green salad with ranch dressing!
King Ranch Chicken
This is the chicken and corn tortilla version of the above (Texas Lasagna).
Margarine or vegetable oil
1 medium bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can of Rotel
1 cup of cubed, cooked chicken
6 corn tortillas, torn into bite sized pieces (I can never get 6 to work - I always use about 8!)
1 cup of shredded Cheddar cheese (I think I use more than 1 cup too!)
Melt margarine or oil in large saucepan. Add bell pepper and onion; cook over medium heat until tender. Blend soup, Rotel, and chicken; heat through. Place a layer of 2 tortillas in bottom of 8x8 baking dish; top with 1/3 mixture, and then 1/3 cheese. Repeat 2 more times. Bake in a preheated 325 degree over for 40 minutes or until bubbling.
Garlic Lime Chicken
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp thyme
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (the recipe actually calls for 6 breasts, but we don't need that many AND the spices would not be near enough to cover 6, in my opinion. That being said, you may have some spices left over.)
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 Tbsp lime juice
In a bowl, mix together the first 7 ingredients. Sprinkle mixture on both sides of chicken breasts. In a skillet, heat butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Saute chicken until golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side. Turn down heat, remove chicken and add the lime juice and chicken broth to the pan, whisking up the browned bit off the bottom of the skillet. Keep cooking until sauce has reduced slightly. Add chicken back to the pan to thoroughly coat and serve.
We like it with steamed rice sprinkled with lemon pepper and some of the extra "sauce" on top, sliced avocado, and whatever other veggie we have. It's very good with my "Southwest Salad" (see below) or fresh green beans almondine (see below).
Combine 2 medium tomatoes, chopped; 2 ripe avocados, chopped; 1 16oz can of whole kernel corn; 1 16oz can of black beans (I like the ones with jalapeños added, when I can find them); 1/2 cup onions, chopped; 1 cup thick and chunky salsa (I use Pace); 2 Tbsp lime juice; 2 Tbsp olive oil; 4 Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
Fresh Green Beans Almondine
1 - 1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon pepper
3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
Remove ends from beans and string if necessary. Wash beans, and steam 1- 12 minutes or until crisp tender. Remove to serving dish. Melt butter and pour over beans. Add salt, lemon pepper, and toasted almonds. Toss well.
And, just for my angel boys...
Jacob and Caleb love almost everything that I have offered them. I am so blessed that my toddlers are not at all picky. However, from what I hear from friends, I pray that this does not change as they get a little older!! Some of their favorites include hummus, chicken/broccoli/rice/cheese casserole, creamed spinach, blueberry sauce, Gerber Pasta Pick-Ups (plus those are SO EASY for Mommy!), cantaloupe... the list goes on and on. But, like I said, we have yet to find anything that they won't eat. (However Jacob isn't a big fan of strawberries, believe it or not!) One of their favorite meals is Double-Cheese and Veggie Macaroni. I really can't feel bad about it, as it is cheap, easy, and pretty good for them!
Double-Cheese and Veggie Macaroni
1 pkg. Macaroni & Cheese Dinner
1/4 cup Italian Reduced Fat Dressing
2 small zucchini, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Prepare Mac & Cheese in large saucepan as directed on package. Meanwhile, heat dressing in large skillet on medium heat. Add zucchini; cook 5 min. or until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Add zucchini and tomatoes to prepared Dinner; mix well. Top with Cheddar cheese.
Wow - there are so many good recipes, but so many more are coming to mind! Some time I need to also post my recipe for Cheese Enchiladas, Eggplant Parmigiana, and Roasted Tomato Quesadillas too!
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
I had already posted all of this to our family website, McMoms (My Multiple Mommy's Group), and my MOPS group... so I totally forgot to do it here. (Aren't you feelin' the love?!)
I went back to the doctor on March 21.
(The boys went with us.)
(Mommy and Daddy's "self-portrait" while waiting on Dr. White.)
All was looking great with the pregnancy…
(Getting the sonogram to see Baby S!)
AND our beautiful, healthy LITTLE BOY!!
That’s right, folks – I am about to be the Momma of three boys! Baby Boy Seastrunk wasn't at all modest, so we are, according to Dr. White, 99.9999999% sure of it. It looks as if the Seastrunk Boys will take over the Keller Little League in a few years, making up 1/3 of a baseball team when they are in the same age category. We are super excited, and I am really thanking God that I am not a "girly girl" and actually love the outdoors, sports, fishing, etc, as I am sure I'll be getting my fair share over the next several years.
Caleb and Jacob were smiling, laughing, and clapping when we told them that they were getting a little brother. I am not sure if it was because Mommy and Daddy were really excited or if they understand more than we give them credit... either way, it was cute.
We have a few good names picked out but, as we did with the boys, are waiting to "release" THE ONE until we see how each choice rolls off of our tongues for a little while longer. I mean, how could we pick any boys names cooler than Jacob Alan and Caleb Luke?! ;-)
If anyone would like to see the sonogram, the video is below. It's 10 minutes long, so you might want to skim through if you decide to open it.
"Baby Boy Seastrunk" is very healthy and measuring just a few days ahead of schedule - as did the boys every sonogram.
I had a few problems early on, as you already know about if you read my previous posts, but all is going GREAT now. (Thanks for the prayers.) The only time I remember that I am pregnant is when "little guy" moves, when I catch myself REALLLLLY craving things I see in ads and hear on the radio, and at night when I can't sleep on my back or tummy. The second trimester is much easier than a twin pregnancy thus far!!
ALSO (as if that news wasn't big enough), we are now the proud owners of a mini-van - middle age has arrived! It's a 2008 Honda Odyssey in dark cherry pearl. Our growing family just could not fit another car seat into the Rav, but we must say that the minivan is pretty nice.
(Here are the boys enjoying their new ride.)
Also notice in the picture above that Caleb and Jacob are now FORWARD FACING!! Combining two big changes into one, we went ahead and faced them forward in their new ride - and I must say they LOVE IT!!
My only problem with the Odyssey is that Jon didn't follow my instructions. I told him that the only way he would get me to drive a mini-van before the age of 30 is if he had them add a rockin' sound system, spinners on the wheels, and a flame painted on the side. He said that he told them, but they must have messed up the order. hehehe Seriously, Jon did all of the research to pick the best vehicle for our needs and made all of the calls to get the best deal on getting the Rav traded in for the Odyssey. I have to give him MAJOR PROPS here, as he did a WONDERFUL job handling all of that for his family, in attempt to take any stress or worry from Baby S and me. I definitely an grateful for that.
I'll try to post another update in the next few days... famous last words, I know!
Anyway, come to out find out, I really should be making somewhere around $153,861. I think I need to write a letter to the BBB, as I talked to Jon about my salary increase, but have yet to see a dime of it. I get $5.00 a week, as Jon puts that in through direct deposit to keep my account active. That yearly salary adds up to a whopping $260!! He told me that all he could offer in his budget is room/board, food, and love. So he jokingly tells the boys sometimes to “give Momma a tip – she’s done good today!” And the boys will inevitably shoot me the absolutely most precious little grins.
Trust me, they ARE indeed the most beautiful smiles that any child ever in history has ever had. And I am NOT AT ALL biased…
Since I haven't blogged in SO LONG, I thought I'd go ahead and post a few here. There's really not much to update, but I'll work on one later.
Jacob proud of his artwork
Jacob shooting his famous "cheesy grin!"
And Caleb doing the same!
Jacob having fun with a box of tissues.
(I left the room for just a second to go "potty" and come back to this. I figure the tissue are GONE, so might as well let the boy have a little fun for a while!)
Caleb delirious after staying up past his bedtime to go Caucus with Mommy and Daddy!
Another silly Jacob grin!
And Caleb looking sweet - for once....
Jacob loving his horsey.
And Caleb loving what his Nan brought over to the house.
(No, he had never had them before, so I am not sure if he knew what they were at this point or not... but we did let him have TWO of them shortly after this picture. THAT'S when I should have had the camera out, but I was laughing too hard!)
Jacob playing with his Easter eggs.
And, again, not too sure what Caleb is up to!
Now do you see why I continue working for $5 a week?!
(By the way, there were WAY too many cute smile to choose from in the last month or so!!)
I might try to post a "REAL" update during nap time this afternoon. This was just more fun.