Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bacon Pasta Salad



I know we are transitioning into fall, but I have got to share this awesome pasta salad recipe with you.  The first time I had I could not get enough.  My mother-in-law made it for my baby shower and I had to make it a few other times during my pregnancy because I just needed it. It is easily adaptable to your taste but this is the version that I absolutely adore.  
First, start by cooking the chicken.  I like to bake it in a baking dish with a little salt and pepper.  For three chicken breasts, I usually pop them in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  I like to make chicken for soups and pasta salads because it stays moist and doesn't have any hard edges to it, you know like when you grill it, love the flavor but there are hard edges.  Anyways, cook yo chicken. 
 I cooked some pasta (penne) while the chicken cooked.
 I also prepped my veggies.  How pretty are these peppers!?
 Chop 'em up.
Along with a green onion. 
I checked the chicken by cutting the biggest piece in half.  They were done although it doesn't look like it in this picture.  
So I sliced them into bite sized pieces.  
Then I baked, yes baked the bacon.  Have you tried the baking method to making bacon yet!? Oh my goodness, do it.  I hate HATE cooking bacon so this is just perfect for me. Just line a baking sheet (with sides to technically a jelly roll pan) with foil, lay the bacon on the foil in a single layer,  pop it into a cold oven, turn the oven to 400 degrees and cook for 12-17 minutes depending on how crispy you like your bacon.  Some people say you should use wire racks, I have tried this and both methods have the same result.  I hated cleaning the wire racks so I stopped doing it that way.  
 While the bacon cooked, I made the dressing.  It is so easy.  Starts with mayo.
 White sugar
 And a little vinegar.
 Quickly whisk it together  and set aside for a bit.
 I added the pasta, carrots, peppers, onions and chicken into a large (LARGE) bowl.  Preferably not the one that you are serving in because it will get really messy when you stir things together.
 Oh yeah, then I added cheese too. Cheese is always good in my book.
 Then the bacon was done…so I stole the grease.  Yes the grease of the bacon, and added it to the dressing.  I didn't say this was health food.  It is bacon pasta salad for a reason.
 Season it up with lots of black pepper, to taste of course.
 And a little bit of salt--be easy on the salt since there is bacon (and bacon grease) in the salad.
 I crumbled the bacon and added it to the pasta salad party.
 Which as you can see, I transferred to a different bowl to stir.
 And then poured the majority of the dressing over the whole thing.  I gave it a stir and decided it needed a little more dressing since it will soak up some of the moisture while it sits.  So I added a bit more and gave it a stir.
 I poured it back into the serving bowl
And topped it with additional cheese and bacon.

I am so in love with this pasta salad!  It is sweet and salty with lots of different textures!  Like I said, feel free to customize it to your liking.  I have a feeling if you are into tomatoes, they would be great in this pasta salad as well!


Bacon Pasta Salad 

3 chicken breasts
1 pound pasta (I use penne)
1 pound bacon
2 peppers (red, yellow or green), diced
4 green onions, chopped
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cupe mayo
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons vinegar (apple cider or white work)
Reserved bacon grease
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place three chicken breasts in an oven safe baking dish, season with salt and pepper.  Put into the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle.  Set the chicken aside to cool.  Once the chicken is cooled so you can touch it, slice into bite-sized pieces.

Shut the oven off and open to cool.

While the chicken cooks, cook the pasta to the instructions on the box--for al dente pasta.  Drain and set the pasta aside for a bit.

Once the oven is cool, line a baking sheet with sides (jelly roll pan) with tin foil and place 1 pound of bacon in a single layer on the tin foil.  Note: I don't have a baking sheet big enough for this so I use two.  Place the bacon into the oven and turn the oven on to 400 degrees.  Cook the bacon for 12-17 minutes or until done to your liking.  Once bacon is done, reserve the grease in a dish and crumble the bacon.

Once the bacon grease has cooled, prepare the pasta salad dressing.  In a medium bowl, add the mayo, sugar, vinegar, reserved bacon grease and salt and pepper.  Set aside for now.

Add the pasta, chicken, bacon (all but 2 tablespoons or so), peppers, onions and cheese (all but 2 tablespoons or so) into a large bowl--not the one you will be serving in as it will get messy when you mix things.  Pour the majority of the dressing over everything and stir to coat.  Evaluate how coated things are--if you think it needs more moisture, add more dressing.  Keep in mind that the pasta will soak up some of the moisture while in the refrigerator.

Once things are combined, you can enjoy it right away or pop it in the fridge.  Note that the flavors develop in the fridge as it sits, I would suggest making this a day a head of time.  Also, if you have extra dressing and you make it a day before, keep the dressing in a small container and add it the next day if things dried out over night.

When ready to serve, pour into a large serving bowl and top with additional shredded cheese and bacon.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from my mother-in-law :)





Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Addison's Birth Story

On August 22nd, my mom (who insisted on coming with me to my doctor’s appointment) and I went to Maple Grove to have my blood pressure checked. It had been high for the last few weeks and I was put on bed rest to keep it at bay.  At that appointment, my “other doctor” Dr. Moghaddam, said that the baby would be better in than out at this point and she was recommending that I be induced.  I wasn’t surprised as during our last appointment she sent me to labor and delivery for monitoring. It ended up leveling out and I was sent home but she did mentioned induction on my way out the door.  Dr. Moghaddam left the room to make a call to the hospital to see if they could accommodate us that day.  She came back and told us that they could not but we should call the hospital at 6:00 pm. the next day to see if there was space for us.  She said either way, we would start the process tomorrow it just depended on how many beds were available at 6.  


I called Aaron on the way home and told him the news.  He wasn’t surprised either, excited, yes, surprised no.  We got home that evening and finished packing our bags and cleaning the house up a bit.  It was pretty surreal going to bed that evening knowing that it would be the last time we would be a family of two under the same roof.


The next day I was at home and it drug.on.forever.  Which is understandable when you are waiting to go to the hospital to have a baby! I took the longest shower ever since I was told to savor those moments as showers will never be the same after you have kids. I'm so glad I did because now I take showers at lightning speed with the baby in the bathroom with me fearing that as soon as I put the shampoo in my hair she will start crying. So, advice to mamas-to-be soak up (literally) that last shower if you can!  

Moving on, FINALLY Aaron came home from work that day.  We called the hospital and were told that we should show up at 7:30 to start the process.  Aaron had already dropped Rem off at Nana and Papa’s and we were all packed and ready to go, so we decided to head to Maple Grove for dinner before checking into the hospital.  
One last picture before heading to the hospital.

There was so much anticipation on the drive.  We ended up eating at Granite City in Maple Grove, nothing fancy but delicious none-the-less.  I devoured the Spinach Dip like it was my job… I mean I was about to give birth, I needed my strength and I’m pretty sure the Spinach Dip delivered (see what I did there?).  
After dinner we made the quick drive to the Maple Grove Hospital and slipped into a front row parking spot.  It was much more anticlimactic than I thought it was going to be.  We weren’t racing into the parking lot, waddling in pain in the ER door and frantically pressing the buttons on the elevator.  We slowly walked through the front door and checked in at the desk.  Maybe next time we will have a little more action.  


Immediately after being checked in, we were put into a very large delivery room.  No windows but a huge, really huge room. 
I was told to change into a lovely pink frock with two holes in the front and we waited….and waited.  
I can’t recall what time I finally got my IV but it seemed like forever.  And when I did, the nurse lost my vein and had to redo it.  Suck.  Aaron watched until she had to start digging in my arm for the vein again.
We then watched about 6 episodes of Modern Family until they placed the medicine, Cervadil, in my cervix.  By that time I was ready to “sleep.”  Riiiight.  I was hooked up to cordless monitors: one on the baby and one on my contractions.  Every time I rolled over and got comfortable, the monitors would move and the sirens would go off.  Not exactly condusive to sleeping.  Meanwhile, Aaron was snoring like a grizzly bear (after asking if it was okay if he slept, he is cool like that) on the pull out bed/sofa next to me.  Humpf.  They asked if I wanted to take a sleeping pill and at about 1:30 I said yes but asked if things started to happen, would I be awake enough!?  The nurse just laughed and said yes.  I took the sleeping pill and slept for about 10 seconds.  Well, it was 1:30 when I took it and at 3:12, my water broke on it’s own.  I didn’t know what happened right away and thought I peed my pants.  After making it 9 months without peeing my pants I was a bit disappointed in myself until I sat up and it was a gush...that was not pee. The nurse helped me clean up in the bathroom a bit and we started to get really excited that things were happening.  

That’s when shit got real.  Like really real.  My contractions increased a lot on their own and from 3:12-7:30am or so, I thought I could do this...until I couldn’t.  
It was my plan to have a natural birth and now I laugh at myself for thinking that.  I don’t know how you mamas do it but BRAVO, contractions are no joke.  I cried Uncle and asked for an epidural after asking Aaron if he would still be proud of me.  He laughed and said of course and I said BRING ME THE EPIDURAL then.  We were told that the anesthesiologist was just finishing up and we would be next.  After I decided that I wanted an epidural the pain increased ten fold and I really wanted that epidural.  Our kind, kind nurse, Michelle (Chelle), gave me a bag of fluids and forced it into me so we could be ready when he was.  About 5 minutes later, my IV bag was almost empty and we were thinking we were ready for the goods.  I was told that the anesthesiologist just went into surgery.  I wanted to cry…but didn't.  3 minutes later he came in like a tornado, placed my epidural and went back into surgery.  It was amazing. I wasn’t scared to get it at all either which I was kind of surprised about.  I just...needed it.  


Aaron and the nurse took my heavy legs and plopped them back onto the bed and we waited...and waited.  Every few hours (I think?) they would check to see my progress.  It was slow but steady and to be honest I can’t remember how it went at this point.  Time didn’t really seem to pass since we didn’t have windows it all just seemed like it was one night.  Eventually, I think around 3-3:30pm Chelle told us that I was at a ten (!!) and I would need to labor down.  I had heard of that before but had no idea what that consisted of.  So we had a chat about how laboring down is good for first time moms who feel the urge to push but it is too early and pushing wouldn't do anything but tire me out.  So, Chelle helped me labor down, basically just giving more epidural so I didn’t feel the need to push so early.  


After laboring down for about a half and hour or hour, it was time to push at 4:00.  Let’s be honest, I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing but Chelle was an awesome coach.  She clearly had a ton of experience and knew exactly what I should be doing.  The baby was facing the correct way but everytime I would push she would turn her little head the wrong way.  So, Chelle had me pushing on my left side, right side, back and on all fours.  I have to say, I actually felt like an animal (horse/cow) pushing on all fours but really, it was probably the best position.  I pushed, and pushed and pushed.  My eyes were closed the entire time and I was “in the zone.”  I have to give it to my amazing husband for working just about as hard as I did the entire time.  When I was on my back he would help lift me up and at one point I felt his sweat fall from his face to mine.  He knew exactly what I needed, positive affirmations while leaving me alone in my head and telling me to “breathe babe” about every other minute.   He and my nurse would talk and I would say yes and no while keeping my eyes shut.  It was pretty intense.  


The doctor came in three times just to see how things are progressing and I knew that it was getting real when he came in and suited up.  Dr. Buss is the most kind, patient and soft spoken doctor  that I have ever met.  He was so calm and I appreciated that a lot.  When he came in, so did the slue of nurses who prepped things for when the baby came.  One of the nurses who came in said “oh it’s funny every time you push she tilts her little head and when you are done she just goes right back in.”  This is about the only time I opened my eyes and I just said “It’s not funny.”  And everyone had a good laugh about it...Chelle even said “No, Krysten, it isn’t funny, you're right.”  I love her.  


I pushed for a while longer and I was told that she was stuck from her ears up for 30 minutes.  Ultimately, Dr. Buss said that was good since she naturally stretched things so I didn’t tear as much as I could have.  Just when I didn’t think I could push any longer and there was talks about “we don’t want to use a vaccum” floating around the room, I told myself “I don’t want a c-section. I don't want a c-section...” and gave it all I had.  


Addison Faith Schwartz was born at 7:34 pm after 3.5 hours of pushing.  Thank God, Thank God.  They placed her to my chest immediately and it was so surreal. It was truly the best moment of my life. The emotions were just so raw and beautiful.  She was here, she was crying and...big.  She had a bit of a gurgle in her throat so they took her to get cleaned out.  Aaron went with her and all I could think of was she was big...I asked “Can someone tell me how big she is!?” and I got the reply of 8 lbs 14 oz.  That explains the pushing I guess...and 21.5 inches.  Big, healthy baby girl.  We are so blessed.  
They brought her back to me and put her on my chest and she blinked up at me with her sweet eyes and I cried and cried.  Our sweet baby girl, our rainbow baby, had arrived.  Aaron was by our side and I couldn’t help to notice his red eyes as well...for a man that doesn’t cry, that was about the sweetest thing ever.  We spent time just looking at her, kissing her and being a family.  It was a moment I will never, ever forget. Ever.  
Meanwhile, Dr. Buss waited to deliver my placenta which was pretty funny.  It basically fell out of me (sorry) and he held it up saying “this is the house your baby lived in for 9 months.”  I thought Aaron was going to puke.  Not necessary but I thought it was pretty cool.  Then he stitched me up...not very cool.  They shut off my epidural before and I felt.every.single.stich.  They say that you have your baby on your chest you won’t feel it...um bullshit.  Just saying.  Bull.Shit.  

At some point after she arrived Chelle came over and chatted with us for just a moment. Her shift ended at 6:00 but she wanted to stay until Addison was born. The whole labor we chatted about middle names and we told her that we were going to go with Faith, she thought it fit her perfectly. Also during this conversation I apologized for being mean to her. She said I wasn't but she could have been just being nice :)
After that we just hung out, Addison nursed for the first time which was great, just latched right on so that was awesome.  We waited two hours until my legs came to and I could go into the bathroom.  We called our parents which were still anxiously awaiting to come visit at 11:00 at night.  They ended up coming into the delivery room since we didn’t get move to the postpartum room until a little later.  
It was so fun to watch them meet their granddaughter.  Everyone was very excited and I was surprisingly not tired...mama adrenaline is real people. 
They stayed for just a little while and we were moved to post partum.  That wheelchair ride is what dreams are made of.  A tiny (well not so tiny) bundle in your arms, you all made it and are being whisked away to the new fresh room as a family.  


Once we go to the postpartum room they gave us a lowdown of what to expect for the next few hours and asked if I was hungry.  I was famished. I had two turkey sandwiches on a bun and they were the best things I have ever tasted.  I waited 9 months for deli turkey and it was worth it.  Then we went to bed...I think?


The next day I noticed I was having a ton of bleeding...or so I thought.  It was hard to tell since I had nothing to compare it to but when I went to the bathroom and there was blood all over the floor and toilet, I knew something was up.  It looked like there was a homicide in the bathroom.  I called the nurse in and apologized for the mess. She said it was her job and it seemed like a lot of blood.  She checked with the Charge Nurse who checked with my dr, Dr. Bobkins (my regular doctor) and yes, it was too much blood.  Dr. Bobkins said “we have to do something about it.”  Well, I didn’t know that would mean MANUALLY removing it.  In came three nurses and they held my legs down while Aaron held my arm/chest down and Dr. Bobkins went in to remove the clots.  Holy shit, that was the worst.  I actually made them stop because it hurt so bad, I didn’t think I could do it.  Dr. Bobkins said it was fine, was going to give me a little medicine but she would have to do it again.  Thirty minutes after they gave me the medicine, Dr. Bobkins came back in with her crew of nurses and went back in two more times to remove the clots...400 CCs of clots to be exact while saying “I’m sorry hun, I’m sorry” the entire time.  I wrathed in pain the entire time.  After, Dr. Bobkins said “well, I went in there…” and I said “with your WHOLE HAND!!!” And she just said, “yeah…but we got everything out and you will be much better.”  I thanked her for having small hands and we all laughed. After that I did feel much better and I’m glad...SO glad that was over.  
The reward for all of that was our families coming to visit.  
Aaron’s parents and sister and brother-in law came and my parents stopped by for a bit again as well. 


But, the cherry on the top of things were our nieces, Ava, Mya and Ivy coming to meet their cousin for the first time.  The girls are 4 and 1 and it was about the sweetest thing ever.  

They have been so so excited for “Baby Jake (from the Neverland Pirates)” as they called her and it was so fun for them to finally meet Addison.  


They were able to hold her (with assistance) and Mya asked “Auntie what does she smell like!?” I told her “heaven” and Mya replied with “SHE DOES!!!!!” And my heart melted.  
It was also so so special to see my sister (in law), Emily,  hold Addison for the first time.  She has prayed so fiercely for Addison and has been so there for us throughout this entire process.  Emily has yearned to be Auntie Em for a long time and it was so special to see things come full circle.  
It was also awesome to see my brother as an uncle, I have watched him be a daddy for 4 years now but to see him as an uncle was absolutely heartwarming.  It was so nice to have our families visit in the hospital.
Since Addison was on the bigger side when she was born they had to monitor her glucose levels before every feeding.  That was pretty annoying but, obviously had to be done.  So they poked her in the foot and took some blood before I fed her. She is so cool, she really didn't care.  To stop the testing she had to pass three in a row.  She would pass one then fail, then two, then fail so eventually we had to supplement her with a little formula along with breastfeeding.  We ended up using a dropper to supplement since I wanted to continue to breastfeed as well.

Then on top of things, she was looking a little “tan” and was tested for jaundice.  She had a slight case of jaundice and as a precaution we were given a prescription for a Billie Blanket that we had to pick up on our way home.  We were eventually discharged on Sunday and were finally on our way home!



We made it home Sunday evening billie blanket in tow.  
Holding your newborn that is strapped into the Billie Blanket isn't the easiest thing but it had to be done.  We are very lucky that she only needed to use the "blanket" for one night. 
The first night at home was very uneventful, we just swaddled her up in her Billie Blanket and we were good to go.  We were up a few times to feed her but all things said, everyone slept very well. We were happy to be home!
After a few days we went and picked up the dog and the family was back together again! Rem has been great with Addison. I'm a little nervous that he will eat her (he won't) and I don't like it when he is in her face but he has been fantastic.

Overall, we could not ask for a better birthing experience.  Although it didn’t go exactly like I thought it would, I was happy that I had an open mind and got the epidural.  I dont’ think I could have lasted that long pushing without it. I remembered my doctor saying that she is sad when moms come in with a mind frame of going natural and end up getting an epidural and not enjoying the birthing experience because they are disappointed with themselves. I really took that to heart and embraced the whole experience and tried to focus on "enjoying the process" rather than be sad about what I thought "my plan" was going to be.  
Either way, we have a healthy, happy baby that truly is a miracle from God.  We could not be more thankful for such an amazing blessing.  




Side Note: I am planning on posting more family/mommy related things as time goes on. Addison is a huge part of our lives and I'm looking forward to documenting and sharing things with you! I will also be posting more recipes and I have some fantastic ones up my sleeve, just you wait. I appreciate you all hanging in there during the radio silence of my pregnancy. I felt pretty terrible the entire 9 months and the last thing I wanted to do was eat let alone blog about what I was eating. Let's be honest, I don't think you would have enjoyed endless posts about Ramen and Kraft mac and cheese. For real, that's all I ate…for the most part.

Anyway, thanks for your support and I look forward to sharing more about our daily life with you all! And, recipes, lots and lots of recipes!!! Yay!