What to Have on Hand for Yourself After Baby is Born

I realize I haven't posted in a bit but really I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. A combination of staying at my parents while waiting for Baby Girl to arrive, a family emergency involving my father in law being hospitalized overseas while on vacation, and the baby finally coming kept me away from my computer longer than I expected.

Our newest wee one arrived on May 16th after a brief induced labor. It was the first time I've made it this far- 39 weeks. She was 7 lbs, 3 oz and it is strange to see her wearing outfits that didn't fit her older sister until she was 6 weeks old! She's eating well and I'm happy to say I had my 3rd natural childbirth.

There are lists upon lists out there of what to buy for baby and getting ready to bring baby home. But what about mom? In preparation for my 3rd child I knew what to have on hand so for the uninitiated here is a list of basics that are good to have waiting for you at home. (I apologize in advance if some of this contains TMI.)

- Tylenol
- Motrin (this helps with inflammation and can also help with breast tenderness and inflammation if you become engorged)
- Stool softener (ahh- yes the not so pleasant fun of post natal life that no one likes to talk about. You may have to get stitches. And if you do you'll be happy you had these on hand.)
- Pads. (There will be bleeding. Have them on hand.)
- Instant heat packs or a hot water bottle. Helpful for both bottom pain and breast pain.
- Ice packs. Same deal- bottom and breast engorgement.
- A bucket. (There is something about hormone readjustment after birth that can make some women relive their first trimester nausea. Sadly, I am one of them. So I keep a bucket nearby.)
- A hand pump. (Many breastfeeding mothers will rent a hospital grade pump. These are great. However, in the first few weeks as your nipples adjust to their new job they may be too tender for the pump. I found that a hand pump allowed me to relieve some pressure without feeling like I needed to bite down on a leather strap. I particularly like the Avent handpump. )
- Tank tops. (I was never one to spend a lot on nursing shirts/bras. I have two bras but let's be realistic. If I'm at home I probably am just going to have my shirt pulled down. Tank tops work great, pick up a few cheap and you won't care when you're covered in spitup and leaking milk. )
- Food. Breastfeeding makes me ravenous so I stocked the cupboards ahead of time with one handed snacks like granola bars (I made mine using this recipe), presliced and frozen homemade loaves of bread that I could microwave one at a time, popsicles (they make me happy and are easier to eat than ice cream) and loads of cut up fruit. I also made some mason jar salads for quick lunches.

Hope this helps soon to be moms out there. It will all even out in the first few weeks. (If it counts for anything I am typing this with a Mombo pillow around me and am currently breastfeeding.) What did you like to have on hand for after birth?


Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse

It seems only fitting that I post this on the 34th anniversary of Ben & Jerry's opening in Vermont. My husband and I are avid ice cream lovers. A pint of Ben & Jerry's is one of the main line items on our "entertainment budget" along with a movie from Redbox. But alas, it's just not good for our waistlines to eat a pint that often. I've seen several versions of this recipe on Pinterest but we are a little lazy here and don't refreeze the recipe after blending it. This leaves us with a rich and delectable mousse-like treat. One that we don't feel bad about indulging in.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse
(serves 4 small dishes, or 2 adults who really want a pint to eat)

2 bananas
1 large spoonful of peanut butter (about 1.5 TBS, you can add more to taste)
1 TBS unsweetened good quality cocoa (don't skimp- the result is way better with a quality cocoa)

1. Slice up 2 bananas and put them in the freezer for at least an hour. Since my motto is "Be Prepared" I just keep a perpetual supply of frozen banana slices. What can I say, I like instant satisfaction and I have a child who is teething and enjoys eating frosty treats.

2. Take the frozen bananas and throw them in a food processor fitted with a blade attachement. Pulverize them until they are gravelly looking. Don't worry if they're not smooth. The peanut butter will smooth them out. 

3. Add a large spoonful of peanut butter. Add more if you want a stronger peanut butter taste. Blend again. If the mousse isn't whipping smooth add a tiny bit more. 

 4. Add a tablespoon of good quality unsweetened cocoa powder. Blend.

5. Spoon into bowls and serve. Enjoy your frosty confection. If you prefer you can also scoop into popsicle molds and make popsicles with this recipe. 


Spinach and Mushroom Biscuits

It's been one of those weeks. After going to the hospital Tuesday night thinking "it was time" I was discharged. Sure my contractions were 2 minutes apart but I stopped dilating shortly before I hit 4 cm so I was sent on my merry way. Since then we've been in limbo. My son came in a little over an hour from the time that my water broke and I realized I was in labor. My daughter was born in less than 4 hours from my water breaking and it would have been faster if they hadn't slowed me down with medication because of a low heart rate. So, living about 1 hour and 15 minutes from the hospital has caused much logistical planning and some nights spent at my parents house (10 minutes from the hospital). After deciding to "brave" it tonight at home I was rummaging through the fridge trying to figure out what I needed to cook that wouldn't last if we were out of the house for another three days. Finding some hard boiled eggs, spinach & mushrooms I decided that biscuits were the best vehicle for them.

Lately I've had a love affair with biscuits. I bake batch after batch, smothering them in jam and butter. It might even qualify as a fetish. And I couldn't be happier with this Spinach & Mushroom version. My husband proclaimed them "awesome" and they will be on a regular rotation here because they contain the correct combo of speed, ease, and low cost.

Spinach Mushroom Biscuits
(Makes 8 biscuits- there will be extra spinach mushroom filling to eat as a side for lunch the next day)
Just want to make plain biscuits- gather the ingredients up through the asteriks & follow instructions below!

2 cups flour
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
6 TBS butter
1 cup buttermilk (you could use regular milk but the buttermilk is sooo good!)
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1/2 lg shallot
1 TBS oil
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
8 oz spinach
2 hard boiled eggs

1. Preheat oven to 450. In your mixer combine 2 cups flour, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1 TBS baking powder.

Run the mixer for a minute to blend it all. 
Take the 6 TBS cold butter and chop it into little pieces.

Throw it into the mixer a couple pieces at a time with the blade running. 

The little butter chunks will start to get mashed into the flour. 

Measure out a cup of buttermilk. You could use regular dairy but the buttermilk flavor is amazing and incomparable.

Add the buttermilk into the mixer and mix until combined and sticky. There will still be tiny chunks of butter. This is ok. 

Flour a cutting board to dump the dough onto.

Using a spatula, put a chunk of dough onto the flour. If you're making plain biscuits you can dump the whole batch out- if you'll be doing the spinach mushroom filling it's easiest to work with one quarter of the dough at a time. 

For the filling, chop half of a shallot finely. Saute in a tablespoon of olive oil. 

Pre-sliced mushrooms were on sale so that is what I bought. I threw them into the food processor quickly to mince them so that they would be "filling-sized". 

Saute the shallots and the mushrooms together until golden brown. Add 1/4 cup of white wine (optional). Add salt and pepper. 

Add 8 oz spinach. I roughly chopped mine. Stir a few times. You want it to wilt. 

Once the spinach has wilted turn the heat up a tiny bit just to evaporate any excess liquid in the pan. 

Dice up two hard boiled eggs. Toss them into the pan with the spinach and mushrooms and turn off the heat. Toss to combine. 

My sous chef was growing restless and kept trying to pull down my pants so I gave her the mixer attachment to lick. I think she likes biscuits too. :) 

Ok, back to the biscuit dough. You've already put a quarter of it onto your flour covered board. Use your palms to gently flatten it. Do NOT roll it out. Rolling it out presses all the air out and they won't puff up all pretty. 

Now fold it in half and flip it so that the top side is now down in the flour. Flatten it again and repeat this step about 2 more times. This helps to add air so that the layers bake up fluffy. 

At this point my hands were covered in flour and the sous chef kept yelling for daddy so I missed a photo. With the dough flat you want to spread one side of it with some of the mushroom and spinach filling. Then, fold the other side over to cover the filled side. 

Filled and folded over. 

Flatten it out a little bit more, gently- so that the filling doesn't come out. 

Use a pint glass top to cut the biscuits out. Same deal if you decided not to fill them. It is very important to just push the pint glass straight down without twisting it. You should hear a little burping noise when you push down. That is good! It means your biscuits have air in them and will puff up (can you tell that puffing up is a really good thing yet?). Do not twist the glass. Twisting the glass as you cut crimps the edges and will yield flat dense biscuits. 

Your biscuits should look like this:

Repeat the above process until you've used all your dough. You will probably have some leftover filling. That's fine. You can serve extra with the biscuits or save it for lunch the next day. I like to spread it on crackers.

You can also make calzone shaped biscuits if you feel more comfortable. Just put some filling on and stretch the dough over.

Bake at 450 for 8 minutes. They will look delectable and golden brown when they come out. 

If you chose to not fill the biscuits and make plain ones they'll look lovely and golden too! I make these all the time- the height and the fluffiness is my ideal drool-worthy biscuit. 

Serve immediately. They taste best warm. Enjoy!

Spinach Mushroom Biscuits


Freezer Burritos

The 9th month of pregnancy. A time when every moment feels like it could be my "last" pre-baby. Every time I leave the house I feel like I may not be the next one back into it. Go bags are packed. Dinners are made in crockpots and simmered all day- I even leave tupperware next to the pot in case we aren't the ones to get to it for dinner! 
My husband is of the "caveman" variety. He does best with a hearty dinner. He is a champ at being a dad and getting up in the middle of the night when the cries roll in but his mood suffers if there is not a big meal in his stomach. Enter the freezer burrito. We don't buy a lot of prepared food at all. In fact, I don't know the last time I purchased a TV dinner or frozen meal. Unless you count tater tots, which we all have a weakness for. I love the idea of frozen burritos but if you just look at the the labels on the store bought they're horrifyingly bad for you. Early in my employment history I worked my way through several restaurants and learned the art of the kitchen assembly line. Freezer burritos take me a little less than an hour  to make and when you're starving and don't feel like cooking you'll be glad you have them. 

Just looking in the freezer and seeing the waiting "quick meal" freezer burritos I feel more at ease about the baby coming. 

I'm listing the recipe here just for reference and pricing but realistically you can make numerous changes to these and adapt them to your taste. I use both rice and beans in the burritos to make them a heavier meal substitute. The salsa is optional but I highly recommend it because as the burrito microwaves it "hydrates" the burrito and adds a nice moisture.

Beef, Bean & Rice Freezer Burritos ($10.24 for the whole recipe- $1.02/burrito- equivalent to most grocery "convenience" burritos but much healthier)

2 lbs ground beef (Mine was $2.69/lb plus a $1.50 off end of shelf life coupon) $3.88
1 packet taco seasoning .59
12 oz salsa (24 oz can 2.69) $1.35
6 oz block of cheese shredded (I buy a 32 oz block for $8.49) $1.62
1/2 15 oz can of black beans (I save the other half for another recipe- can is .89) .45 
1 bag of Success Boil in Bag Rice (6/$3.98) .66
10 White Flour Tortillas (I used Ortega) $1.69
10 tinfoil squares
10 plastic wrap squares

1. Brown the ground beef according to your taco seasoning directions.  

After draining off the fat, add the called for amount of water and the seasoning and simmer on the stove until cooked according to package directions. 

While the beef is cooking you'll want to set up your "assembly line". You will need 10 squares of plastic wrap and 10 squares of tinfoil. It may seem like overkill to use both but trust me the finished product will freeze better and stay fresher this way. In addition, you won't need to worry about freezer burn or excess moisture from icy buildup. 

Make the squares roughly the size of your tortillas. 

Once you get going you're going to get into a groove, so set yourself up for success. I hang the squares over the edge of a cabinet, alternating tinfoil and plastic wrap so they don't stick together. I get all 10 sets hung up and once I get making the burritos it's super easy to grab a set off and wrap.

My tinfoil-plastic wrap station.

Tortillas and beef are ready to go. 

I set up a prep pan with the beans, shredded cheese, salsa and rice in it. This keeps everything together and makes it easier to clean up later. 
2. Once you have all your supplies set up, lay out a piece of plastic wrap and put a tortilla down on it.  Spread with a spoonful of salsa and put a sprinkle of cheese on it.

I use a scale to measure out my other ingredients so that all of the burritos are roughly the same size but you don't have to be this precise. I do not cook the beans- I just rinse them. I've found that cooking them makes them really mushy and they will cook when they get microwaved later. I use roughly 4 oz of meat and 1.5 oz of beans. 

Add 1.5 oz of rice. 

Dump it all onto the burrito and use a spoon to spread it out so that it's easier to roll up. 

You want to fold in the sides to hold in the filling and then roll upwards. Keep a couple fingers on it to keep it sealed when you are done rolling. 

Really quickly tuck the plastic wrap over the burrito roll it up leaving the ends of the plastic wrap hanging. 

Twist the ends so that it looks like a tootsie roll. Trust me this makes them much much easier to open later after they're frozen.

Tuck the tootsie roll ends under and place on the tinfoil. I use the shiny side in since the dull side is easier to read writing on. 

Label the burritos with the date made and any ingredient notes. 

Repeat until you've made all 10 burritos. Here's a happy finished stack of burritos on my counter.

Put the burritos in your freezer and feel very very proud of yourself. To serve unwrap the tinfoil and plastic wrap, put on a plate and microwave for 3 minutes. 

Nothing says preparation like quick dinners lined up in the freezer.