Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cravings Satisfied!

It turns out, pregnancy has given me all sorts of crazy cravings for things I would normally never indulge in, like my recent lust for fettuccine alfredo (something I formerly despised!).

Though good nutrition is still my first priority, as I want baby to get the very best start! Not wanting to use pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever I want, but also not wanting to feel completely deprived of these sudden food desires, my goal has been to make them as wholesome and healthful as possible, which generally means I cook them myself. So was the case with this traditionally rich pasta dish.

First thing I did was to turn to my trusted cookbook, The Best Light Recipe by America's Test Kitchen. Not only did it provide a wonderful looking, lighter version of fettuccine alfredo, but I had once loaned the book to my mom and she left a little note in the book saying how much her and my dad had enjoyed this particular recipe. Finally, seeing that each serving was a reasonable 300 calories, I was sold!

Grabbing all the fresh ingredients I needed from the store, I was ready to try my hand at my very own alfredo sauce.

The list of ingredients is short, though it's important to follow directions carefully. Because of this, I would highly recommend reading through the directions ahead of time, to yield the very best results.

With that said, I was so pleased with the finished product! Not being a previous lover of this particular pasta, I am now completely smitten! A splurge meal I will definitely keep in my back pocket. Just serve up with a side salad and you've got yourself a lovely meal for entertaining your dearest friends!

3/4 cup half and half
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cornstarch
9 ounces fresh fettuccine
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated fine (about 1 cup)
Ground black pepper
I also added 2 Tablespoons of sun dried tomato pesto

1. Bring 6 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Using a ladle, fill four individual serving bowls with about 1/2 cup of the boiling water each; set the bowls aside to warm. (really important step to avoid pasta from cooling too quickly)
2. Meanwhile, bring 1/2 cup of the half-and-half, nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a simmer in a large saucepan. Whisk the cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup half-and-half together, then whisk it into the simmering mixture. Continue to simmer the sauce, whisking constantly, until it has thickened, about 1 minute. Cover and set the pot off the heat.
3. Stir 1 tablespoon salt and pasta into the boiling water and cook, stirring constantly until al dente, about 1-2 minutes. Reserving 3/4 cup of the pasta coking water, drain the pasta.
4. Return the half-and-half mixture to medium-low heat and whisk in 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Slowly whisk in the Parmesan. Add the pesto, incorporating well. Add the pasta and cook, coating the pasta evenly with the sauce, until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 1 minute. Season with pepper to taste. Working quickly, empty the serving bowls of water, divide the pasta among the bowls and serve. Enjoy!

Friday, May 27, 2011

{BabyBump} Week 14

First trimester: Check! I am officially one-third through this pregnancy and feeling wonderful! As I shared here, my energy is back in full swing and I'm feeling like myself again.

Our little sweetie is growing like a weed, measuring around 3 1/2 inches, about the size of a lemon. And can now do things like squint, frown and suck their tiny thumb. How cute is that?! Ah, we just love this little one so much! So much in fact, I don't even mind that I'm now sporting this awkward tummy (totally worth it!).

Besides some major nesting instincts, an undeniable craving for pasta (big plans to satisfy that this weekend!) and needing to spruce up my summer wardrobe to accomodate my new figure, all is well with the Hansens!

Hope you have some fun plans for the holiday weekend! We've got a busy one, full of three parties and hopefully a complete front yard overhaul (more to come on that!). Have a good one!

PS-my sciatic pain is completely gone! Biggest praise ever!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Happy Place

With a two hour break in my afternoon yesterday, I lounged in my cozzies and enjoyed some of my favorite things. You could say I was in my happy place!

With a craving for some hearty pasta lately, I referenced my copy of America's Test Kitchen Light & Healthy. A gift from one of my dearest friends when I graduated college.

While savoring a few of these tasty treats...

And delighting in the sweet aroma of these...

And of course, enjoying the company of this pretty girl!

Then while flipping through my cookbook, I came across these thoughtful recipe notes my friend included in the book. Oh, how I miss that girl!

Sometimes it's just good to escape from the hustle and bustle for a few hours.

The End!

Stir-fry Savvy

Back in college, I cooked stir fry all.the.time.! We loved it, but for some reason it's been a while since this favorite has appeared on our menu. Though for the past three days I've had a craving, so on our meal plan it went. I was delighted!

You should know, this post isn't going to be about a one-of-a-kind combination of asian flavors. In fact, any novice cook could probably whip up these ingredients with some success. What I do have to offer is a perfected technique and I would love to share!

You should know that I came to these stir fry conclusions by my own trial and error in my early cooking days and I'm all the wiser for those mishaps. And thank goodness, because now I can whip up a delicious stir fry anytime the mood strikes.

1 lb Pork loin
2 bell peppers (mixed colors)
1 red onion
2 cups mushrooms
Favorite asian marinade/sauce like Yoshida's
Sesame seeds
Oil (I prefer canola, but peanut works great too)
Brown rice


1. If using pork, it is really important to marinade your meat. I like to marinade overnight to ensure the flavors are absorbed well.
2. Next you want to prep your vegetables. Slice peppers and onions and make sure mushrooms are washed well. To save yourself some hassle while cooking, go ahead and toss some marinade/sauce with your veggies and coat nicely.
3. Take your meat out of the marinade and slice into super thin pieces. It will cook faster and retain a lot of moisture this way.
4. Now the most important step: place your wok (or similar style pan) on high heat, letting the pan get really hot. Add a few teaspoons of oil, making sure you have chosen one that has a high smoke point so it doesn't burn. Let the oil bead up, 1 minute or less. This will tell you the pan is hot enough.
5. Now you want to toss your meat into the wok, making sure it lays in a thin layer. After about 20-30 seconds, begin tossing the pork with a wooden spoon. Cook until browned and cooked through, about 1-2 minutes.
6. Place the pork on a seperate dish. Now toss your veggies in the wok, using the same method as the pork. You want to be sure not to crowd the pan. If you have too many veggies, just split them in half and cook in two batches. When veggies start to brown, toss the pork back in and mix well. (Note: the veggies will cook down a bit)
7. Serve over brown rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Enjoy you perfectly crisp and flavorful meal!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Welcome Back!

That's what I said to myself yesterday afternoon when for the first time in, oh, 10 weeks, I had the gusto to grocery shop, run errands, meal plan, clean and organize the fridge and pantry, and completely deep clean the downstairs...without several naps. And it felt good!

While I would consider my 1st trimester relatively easy, the lack of energy was the hardest adjustment because it completely threw me off a normal routine. For several weeks I was pretty hard on myself, thinking, "Why can't I seem to keep up with the house cleaning and laundry and normal workouts?". And then someone reminded me of a very important fact: growing a person takes A LOT of energy! Makes sense when you put it that way. So I let go of needing my house to be perfectly organized and relied on my husband for a lot.

But you better believe I was doing a happy dance yesterday when my body wasn't begging to go back to bed at 2pm! All I can attribute this new found energy to is the glorious 2nd trimester I've just entered! I'm looking forward to having a clean house again and I'm sure my husband will be glad to relinquish lunch making duties. Fingers crossed we'll even be able to finish up the long list of home improvements that we temporarily set on the back burner!

Watch out because this girl just entered the nesting phase of pregnancy!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Taking Advantage

 I do believe late Spring is one of my favorite times of year! Particularly here in California, where the fresh produce is plenty and some of my all-time favorites make an appearance, namely: apricots, nectarines and strawberries! The possibilities for healthy snacking and cooking are endless and I try to take full advantage of the delicious fare.

This week I am especially enjoying a combo of my favorite Greek yogurt, topped with sliced apricots and a drizzle of agave nectar. It is a lovely combination that keeps me feeling nourished for hours (which is pretty rare these days!). You would be crazy not to give it a try!

Happy snacking!


Monday, May 23, 2011

A Crippled Weekend

Well, this weekend was somewhat of a bust. Unfortunately, Friday afternoon I severely tweaked my low back and spent the majority of my weekend laid up on my couch, completely helpless. Most movement was painful, so I had to rely on Chris for everything. By the way, not so fun for a type-A person like myself.

Though it wasn't a complete loss, as I had plenty of time to look into birthing classes, prenatal yoga studios in my area, update our Amazon baby registry and catch up on all my cooking magazines that have been piling up. I suppose sometimes, a forced break is exactly what you need to catch up on those kind of things.

Thankfully, by Sunday evening I was feeling good enough to get out of the house for a wedding. It was a beautiful event at the Citizen Hotel downtown and I am so glad I didn't miss it!

Hoping your weekend was a bit more eventful than mine. Happy Monday!


Saturday, May 21, 2011

How I Almost Had a Panic Attack

Last night was fairly eventful here at our casa. Picture this:

I woke up at 1:30 last night to a horrible dream. Since I am an extremely vivid dreamer, I was totally shaken up. It also occurred to me that I had to pee (nothing new these days). But my sciatic was absolutely horrendous. So bad in fact, I debated not getting up for the bathroom because I wasn't sure I could even get out of bed without serious pain. I simultaneously realized that Chris was not in bed yet (really weird) and that we forgot to close the garage door last night.

Forcing myself to roll out of bed so I could have Chris close the garage, I hear the dogs begin to bark. And immediately following, a few loud knocks on our garage door. Can we say heart jumping out of chest? I hobbled over to the landing to check if Chris had fallen asleep on the couch, only to find he is nowhere in sight. And then I hear the knock again. Panicked, I shuffle to the front bedroom so I can look out the window, wanting to see if there is a car or something out there. Nothing. At this point the dogs barking is louder and more aggressive (obviously they were scared, too). Of course horrible things are now going through my head. When suddenly I hear Chris shout loudly, "Who the hell is there?". In a tone I might add, even surprised me since he never yells, though it certainly would have startled an intruder.

Turns out it was our neighbor coming to let us know we had left our garage door open. Chris immediately thanked him and apologized profusely for yelling at him. Thankfully, he was completely understanding.

Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure I almost had a heart attack.

Apparently, Chris had just turned the lights out downstairs and was coming up to bed when the dogs started barking. He thought he was hearing things with the first knock, but the second one totally threw him off guard (remember it was 1:30 am), which is why his reaction was so forceful.

A very strange night indeed.

Friday, May 20, 2011

{BabyBump} Week 13

This week our sweet pea is the size of a peach and already has tiny fingerprints. It's amazing to think that those same little fingers we will spend so much time kissing in a few months now have their own unique set of prints!

The most exciting thing I experienced this week was a little belly emerging! Enough that it can actually be seen through certain clothes. The sudden "pop" might be due to my uterus tilting forward, as it was previously retroverted (the culprit for my sciatic pain). But that's just my guess. Either way, I'm just happy that baby's growth is finally becoming present in my appearance! I think it makes this whole journey that much more real for me.

On a few random notes:
  • My hormones are still raging like those of a teenage boy, with me getting irrationally angry at bad drivers and crying for no reason at all.
  • I was the happiest girl when last week, one of my clients brought me a batch of my favorite peanut butter and jam cookies!
  • For the first time yesterday, I had to break out my belly band because my favorite pair of jeans wouldn't button comfortably. I may have gotten unexpectedly excited about that.
  • A sweet lady I work with just gave me a bunch of her maternity clothes! I am so excited, especially since most of it is really cute and flowy and doesn't look at all "maternity", which I wish to avoid like the plague. Of course, I don't need them quite yet, but it did inspire me to dig through my closet in search of more comfortable things to wear while I'm in this awkward, transitional stage. Amazing what you can find buried in your own closet!
  • My husband informed me last night that he thinks this baby is a girl because I've been quite "sassy" lately...
Hope you have an amazing weekend!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Steamy Alternative

I have to admit, recently quitting caffeine cold turkey was WAY easier than I expected! Even though doctors will say a cup of coffee a day is fine while you're pregnant, it suddenly seemed less appealing to me (very strange!). Plus, I found a delicious alternative to satisfy the occasional craving for something warm and yummy. Allow me to introduce you to my new "regular", a non-fat hazelnut steamer. It's basically a latte sans the espresso and I am a big fan! In fact, even after baby, I may still be drinking these if I need an afternoon fix, simply because too much caffeine after the morning hours gets me all jittery. Perfect solution!

Have you ever had a steamer? I know of several marathoners who drink them for the extra calcium boost.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

One Month and Counting!

 Wow, with the last few months flying right by, we are now only one month away from our Seattle trip! In addition to celebrating our 3rd anniversary, this trip is also what we are affectionately calling our "babymoon".  Needless to say, we are getting so excited about enjoying our last romantic getaway together before baby comes in the fall. Because I'm certain that once we're back, we'll be busy preparing for our little one's arrival! 

With just a few weeks left to plan, we've just about got all reservations in place, we've settled on a few day trips and our list of restaurants and bakeries to try is a plenty (and of course, additional suggestions are always welcome!)! I am now on the hunt for good portable recipes to pack for the road, because I am not about to chow down on fast food the whole way there! I'm thinking yummy wraps, salads, granola-ish bars and such since we will have a cooler. Healthy recommendations would be gratefully welcome!


Monday, May 16, 2011

Totally Worth It

Happy Monday, loves! Trusting your weekend was full of fun and adventurous things. Ours consisted of a fabulous couples massage, lunching with my husband, followed by an entire afternoon of lounging in my cozzies (while hubby did yard work), catching up on our Hulu queue and a lovely dinner get together with some dear friends! While I didn't exactly get everything on my to-do list checked off, I haven't felt this relaxed in a long time, so I'm thinking it was worth it! I hope you, too had a pampered weekend!


Friday, May 13, 2011

{BabyBump} Week 12

At just over 2 inches long, baby is now the size of a plum! Can you believe that? I have a little plum-sized baby in there! I can't help but continue to be amazed at how fast our little one is growing!

For the most part, I've felt really great this week. Over the last two weeks or so I am slowly getting my energy back and needing less naps these days. Hooray for being more productive! Intense cravings have subsided a bit, though my overall hunger has once again ramped up. And if I'm being completely honest, if it was possible (and healthy) we would have a steak every night! All I can say is, this baby must be a meat eater because before pregnancy, I hardly (if ever) craved red meat.

And then there's the hormones. Oh , the hormones...my dear, dear husband!

The bad news this week (ahem, besides said mood swings) is that my sciatic pain is at an all-time high. But the wonderful news, tomorrow I get my first mommy-to-be massage!!! I am stoked! Hopefully having my low back worked on will alleviate some of the discomfort.

When we first told our parents we were expecting, Chris' mom gave us (yes, us!) certificates for monthly massages through the duration of my pregnancy. Is that not the most wonderful thing you have ever heard?! So, one Saturday a month (and actually, twice in October and 3 times in November) hubby and I will be spending our Saturday morning together at Geri's Garden Spa being pampered. Pure bliss!

Wishing you a lovely and extraordinary weekend!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Oh, Avocado!

How can something so simple and healthy look so utterly drool-worthy? I simply must make myself these avocado toasts, and very soon!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Playing Catch Up

Because baby news has been a secret for well over a month, there is a bit I want to catch you up on! And because starting Friday I will be posting a weekly pregnancy update, including belly pic, I thought it might be best to give you some perspective.

This is basically my before belly. While I was 7 weeks 3 days pregnant here (my birthday weekend!) I wasn't showing yet (unless you count bloating). This is where I said goodbye to my abs:)

And this was last week's pic at 11 weeks. This was the week I noticed my belly had started to fill out a bit, as in, it is impossible to suck it in even if I wanted to!

It has been wonderfully crazy to watch my body begin to change as our baby grows! Can't even imagine what 5 months from now will look like! Stay tuned for more updates!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mom's Day as a Mom-to-Be

Now that my big secret is out, lets talk about Mother's Day!

As I shared Friday, my mom and I did the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Saturday morning, followed by breakfast and pedicures. It was a lovely, relaxing day just hanging out with my mom. Sunday was an equally restful day, ending with a perfect dinner of fish tacos at my parent's house!


But I have to tell you, I was totally surprised by my husband and parents! Because beyond the super thoughtful texts and calls I got Sunday morning wishing me a "Happy 1st Mother's Day", I certainly wasn't expecting gifts! But once again, they exceeded all expectations and made me feel so special!

Early Sunday afternoon I was surprised by my Mom and Dad at my front door, with all the makings for a new lovely arrangement for our front door! For as long as I can remember, I have loved the Asparagus Fern my mom has on her porch, so she cut hers in half and replanted it for me, in addition to these gorgeous lillies and greens! Isn't it awesome?! I love how large that pot is! It definitely says, "Welcome to our home!" :) 

And then my sweet husband came home with the exact patio umbrella I've been eyeing for weeks (make that months!) for our back yard! He said it would serve as motivation for us to get the rest of our soon-to-be outdoor oasis completed! That man sure does know how to romance this girl:)

Thank you to my family who made this the best "1st Mother's Day" ever! This baby is definitely loved!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy {Nine Month} News!

Sweet friends and readers, it is my indescribable joy to share with you that Chris and I are expecting!! Our little miracle is due November 23 (the day before Thanksgiving!), making me 12 weeks along. And believe me, this has been the hardest secret I've ever had to keep! We are simply over the moon and cannot wait to meet our little one this fall!

As I'm about to enter my second trimester, I must confess, these first few months have been wonderfully easy and for that I am incredibly thankful, and pray my pregnancy continues that way! Aside from being ravenously hungry and craving lots of hamburgers, Chinese food (both of which I've only occasionally given in to) and chocolate milk (which I have almost daily), a bit of sciatic pain and a need to nap every single day, I've had absolutely no sign of morning sickness or nausea as long as I eat regularly. My waistline is slowly disappearing and baby is growing fast and furious!

We are already so in love and absolutely amazed at how much our babe is loved and adored by friends and family! What a blessing to have such a wonderful support team encouraging us during this time. I have honestly never felt so blessed in my entire life! There is so much I would love to share and would be completely honored if you joined along in this journey with us.

PS~We found out we were pregnant on April Fools Day! Even though we were trying to conceive, I was sure someone was playing a prank on me:)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother's Day Weekend

Happy Friday, lovelies! What are you doing to celebrate the Mom in your life this weekend?

My mom and I are continuing our tradition of the Susan G. Komen 5K tomorrow and then I am treating her to a pedicure Sunday. With the weather forecast predicting a sunny few days, it should be a lovely little weekend celebrating the Best Mom Ever!

Wishing a happy Mother's day to all the mommies and mommies-to-be out there! Have a good one!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Currently Loving

The past few months I have found myself secretly wanting a beach cruiser. I think it all started after our anniversary trip last year when we rented them in Lake Tahoe for the day and leisurely rode around several beaches for an afternoon. We had so much fun!

It would definitely be a splurge because I already have a really great road bike, which I love! Though I picture a cruiser being more suitable for a Saturday morning ride to our local coffeee shop while dressed in shorts and flip flops (maybe with a basket to hold goods from the farmers market, too:).

Let's see if I can find a good enough deal to convince my husband of such a purchase!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It Finally Happened...

My roses came back in full bloom!!

But before I get ahead of myself, allow me to refresh your memory. Back in January I was advised to prune our way-overgrown rose bushes from this:

All the way down to this:

And to be honest, I wasn't convinced they would really come back with a vengeance this spring.

But then I had some hope when I noticed a little growth in late February:

Though still not enough to make me a believer. That is until what seemed like overnight the rose bushes were suddenly full and lush green. And finally, last month I notices an abundance of these:

Sorry no picture of the rose bushes as a whole, but believe me, they are so much healthier than in picture #1 up on top. And within a few sunshine-filled days, I was graced with these amazing blooms lining my front yard:

Again, sorry for the lack of pics of the whole thing! Just imagine these multiplied by twenty and you will start to get a mental picture.

Last weekend I cut two dozen roses (pictured above) and spread them in arrangements throughout the house, and then cut another dozen for my mom, and incredibly, I hardly dented the abundance of flowers left!I think it's safe to say there will definitely be no shortage of fresh blooms in my home for the next several months. Happy day!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Design on a Dime: Pretty Glass Lamp

Want to see something pretty? Take a peek at the new addition to my cozy room! Ahh, the lovely gourd-shaped glass lamp I've been in search of for more months than I care to recount. And it's purple!

The best part about my find (and the real reason I'm showing it to you)...wait for it...I snagged this baby for just eight beans at a thrift store last weekend! Finding the exact thing you're looking for at a steal of a deal-priceless!

Now if I could just find a round pedestal side table for that corner...

How about you? Find any great purchases on the cheap lately?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Major Fail

So it's May. And I didn't post a single blog last week {hanging head in shame}. I think it's safe to say the month of April was a slight blogging fail. I won't even bore you with the details of how much Chris and I worked last week, or how I had an awful stomach flu or how I just had no energy to type. Because they sound so lame.

But I'm here to make up for it by way of this virtual bouquet of roses I picked from my garden, especially for you! That certainly gets me back in your blogging good graces, right? You know you want to sniff your monitor, and I don't blame you, they smell something heavenly!

Perfect, so let's move on and hope that the month of May has more regular and exciting posts ahead! I promise it will! Wishing you a wonderful Monday!
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