Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Carroty Mac-n-Cheese

Katherine was a bear to try and teach to breast feed.  She would cry for up to an hour before latching on, if she even did that.  Stubborn?  I'd say so, just like her father. ;)  That said I still wanted to breast feed her so I turned to pumping as the next best option.  With Katherine at 5-months old I am still pumping four times a day and supplementing with formula as needed.  All this to say that I often times have long periods of time with nothing to do but stare off into space - at least when I pump before my bambinos wake up in the morning and after they go to bed at night.  I quickly tired of Facebook and checking email so I began reading recipes in search of new, yummy and fairly quick dishes to make.  Weelicious provided a link to this recipe on a list of their favorites from 2011 and it has proven a fast favorite with the two and under crowd in our house.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Whatcha Making Wednesdays: Carroty Mac and Cheese
(Three Many Cooks)
Makes 6 servings

2 cups whole wheat macaroni
2 1/2 cups coarsely grated carrot (about 8 small)
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F and grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Arrange a rack in the top third of the oven.
  2. Cook macaroni according to package instructions in a large pot of salted boiling water; add carrot 3 minutes before pasta is finished cooking; drain well.
  3. While pasta is hot, stir in all but 1/2 cup of the cheddar and the butter. In a bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, salt, mustard powder, and pepper. Fold mixture into the pasta.
  4. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar and the parmesan over the top. Bake until the casserole is firm to the touch and golden brown, about 30 minutes.

What Else?(from Three Many Cooks)
  • If you’re grating your cheddar cheese in the food processor, you don’t have to wash out the machine before grating the carrots. Or vice versa.
  • This is one of those macaroni and cheeses with an eggy custard base that puffs as it cooks, and is cut into squares to serve, like a casserole, as opposed to that gooey, creamy, stove-top béchamel sauce version. I know that some people have strong opinions about proper mac and cheese (I’m an equal opportunist myself), but thought I’d let you know what you’re getting.
  • You can vary the cheese to give this rather plain (if tasty) dish more personality. Gruyère, aged Cheddar, pecorino, and aged Gouda will all add a sophisticated allure that will raise it above mere kids’ food.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Happy half birthday, HB

It seems like everyday another friend posts about how quickly time is flying and that they can't believe their little person just turned one, or two, or three.  I find myself saying that same exact thing.  No matter what Kelly and I do, time seems to slip through our fingers.  Our little people are growing up way too fast.  I often wonder am I enjoying it enough, or savoring it enough?  I hope that by processing and recording a little bit of our busy life on my blog we can look back someday and enjoy it all again.

HB turned 18 months this past week - toddler-hood can be such a joy and a challenge; and I'm learning to enjoy the good moments because Lord knows a fit is just around the corner.  Much like the one pictured below.  This young man is getting really good at throwing himself on the floor.  These type of fits usually coincide with one of two things - either coming in from playing outside or being hungry.  Boy has no patience or grace for momma when his tummy is rumbling.

Our boy is a great eater though and that is a huge blessing.  He eats whatever Kelly and I eat and most often he eats it with gusto.  We are all about rubbing our peanut butter and jelly in our hair and on our neck.  Or our lasagna.  Heck, why not rub everything we eat all over our face, head and neck?

At 18 months, here are a few of the fun things our sweet boy can do:

  • Starting to form actual words - mama, dada, baby, dirty, go, baa, moo.  Oh, wait, the last two are animal sounds.  
  • Understands simple directions like "pick the toy up" or "give it to baby" or "sit on your bottom" or "go sit in your chair."
  • Still loves to cuddle on your lap before bedtime.  Usually this is coupled with looking through livestock magazines and making lots of animal noises.
  • Helps do chores outside.  He is surprisingly strong for someone sub three feet.  He tries dragging flakes of hay to the sheep pens or will grab whatever coffee can or bucket of grain he can.  He likes to keep it interesting too by randomly moving anything and everything within reach and relocating it.  This includes a drench gun, pliers, his own toys, and buckets.
  • Mimics mommy in the kitchen by grabbing spoons and bowls and "stirring" whatever he can.  He is at the fun height where he can grab things like knives off the counter when his forgetful tired mommy doesn't move them far enough away from the edge.
  • Starting to potty train, although it is going to require more consistency from momma and daddy to actually make this a concrete habit.  He has gone number one and two on the toilet, although the number two was more like a lucky save because he was headed for the living room when I made him sit on the toilet!
  • He loves to kiss his baby sister.  His kisses consist of placing his face on you and making the sound "mm."
  • As he grows the phrase "long and lean" comes to mind.  He weighed 26 pounds 4 ounces (50th percentile) and measured 34 inches long (90th percentile).  

He is definitely a goof ball and loves to laugh.  Please note the fire hat on backwards and the Twister game mat on the floor behind him.  We have not taught him to play this game yet but he loves to pull it out of the cupboard and drag it around.

HB, we love you so very much little buddy, and are so blessed to call you son.  While you occasionally make momma want to pull her hair out, we are both enamored with your charming smile, sweet offers of help and cuddly moments before bed.  We can already tell that there will be lots of laughter and fun ahead with you.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Crock Pot Beef Carnitas

Whatcha Making Wednesdays: Crock Pot Beef Carnitas

This recipe is seriously awesome.  One of the best crock pot recipes I've ever tried and definitely a new favorite BEEF recipe of mine!  My friend Lauren shared it with my sister and I  and we ended up making it for my parent's joint birthday lunch in September.  It obviously is now making regular appearances in the Wright household.  Try it, you won't regret it!


2 lbs flank steak (I want to try this with a top round steak aka London broil....I have a few in my freezer that need a destination!)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

for spice rub---
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

for serving---
corn tortillas
avocado slices
your favorite salsa


1.       Mix together all spices in a small bowl. Rub the spices all over your flank steak---be generous here! Then, place your steak at the bottom of your crock pot.

2.       Cover the steak with the chopped onions, bell peppers and jalapeno pepper. Turn heat on LOW and cook for 8 hours.

3.       After 8 hours, remove meat from crock pot and shred with a fork. It should be incredibly easy to shred. You can either stick the shredded meat back in the pot for another hour or serve as is.

4.       To serve, heat your corn tortillas in a skillet on the stove. Spoon some carnitas on a tortilla then top with salsa, avocado, cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

5.       Enjoy with a margarita for best result.


active time--10 min

total time---8 hours

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Play date at the "beach"

Throwback Thursday: Play date at the "beach"

Referring to our play date at the "beach" is a bit of a stretch.  Okay, a big stretch but we had fun anyway.  Our friends, Katie and Carson, hosted us for a mid-summer play date this past July.  HB is only two days older than Carson and they were both delivered in the same hospital.  If my memory serves, Katie and I actually  had the same due date.  I liked to refer to her as my pregnancy twin at that time.  It's fun to get together now since our boys are so close in age.

HB loved the water slide and sand table.  He ate so much sand that day I feared for his digestive tract.  No matter how many times I washed his mouth out with water he continued to go back for more.

Katherine was about six weeks old but I somehow failed to capture a picture of her on her first play date.  Truth be told though she didn't do much playing.  She napped on the patio table while the boys played and then napped some more while we snacked and played inside.  I also failed to capture a picture of Carson's cousins, Moses and Lancy, who stopped by with their mom Amy.  We love this whole family!  Thanks for a great time:)

Carson is trying to crawl up the water slide here because as I have learned with little boys, slides are meant to be crawled up.  Duh, mom.

It is seriously a feat to get more than one toddler to look at the camera at the same time and have them both look happy.

The awesome water and sand table I mentioned earlier.  Carson is showing HB how it's done.  Don't they look like two little old men?

HB is now getting his hands dirty along with throwing sand into Katie's beautiful lawn.  Sorry Katie!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Miscellany Monday

1.  I realized I haven't shared anything about our annual lamb sale...yet.  Kelly has been selling lambs he has raised for 20+ years but I'm not sure how long he has hosted a sale at the farm.  This year we sold 21 feeder lambs (feeder lambs weigh less than 100 pounds), four breeding ewes and three rams.  It poured rain early that morning - we were afraid it wasn't going to let up.  But it cooled things off nicely!  Here is a family picture, sans Katherine who was sleeping, with our Lot 1 lamb - we are pretty proud of him.

2.  I added an "About" page to La Ranchita.  You can check it out by selecting that tab which is right below the picture at the top of the main screen.  I am thinking about adding a Recipe Index page.  I didn't start my blog to share recipes but I've started posting them fairly regularly and cooking is definitely a passion of mine.  Thoughts?

3. I occasionally have a soapbox and I wanted to share this thought - I think the government regulates far too much including school lunch programs.  I don't even want to begin to imagine how much time has been spent debating how to provide (and fund) daily nutrition for American children.  As a parent I appreciate the concern, but do not think it is the job of the American government to provide breakfast and lunch, or even after school snacks for children.  At some  point parents should actually do their job.  I'm stepping off my soapbox now.

4.  If you are interested in what your child is being served in a public school lunch room, you may be interested in knowing that five new beef recipes have been develop and tested in schools and are now available.  To see more, including actual recipes, visit the newly updated Beef Nutrition website. Recipes include a beef wrap, chili, sloppy joes, Thai beef and rock and roll beef mash up.

5.  I started a new (to me) Beth Moore bible study in August on the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul.  Through the study I have been convicted about the ways I am beginning to teach my children about Christ.  I have begun asking myself about the ways I bring Jesus into our day - what am I doing to talk about Jesus and how am I teaching my children to begin praising Him?  I started playing a children's worship CD on a regular basis - not only is it soothing when my nerves are frayed but it has also been a sweet reminder of many songs I sang in Sunday School as a child.  I would love to hear your suggestions on incorporating teachings about Jesus into the routines you have with your small children.

Blessings as you start this week!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Katherine's Birth Story

It was Monday, May 20 and I woke up with a laundry list of errands I wanted to accomplish in town since I had an OB appointment that morning.  Kelly was on the second day of his shift so HB and I had the day to ourselves; running errands would surely make it pass quicker and I had plenty to do before Katherine came.  At my OB appointment Dr. Fernandez asked if I wanted her to strip my membrane.  I had requested this in my first pregnancy with HB and after experiencing the discomfort and pain once, I immediately told her no.  I also used Kelly being on shift partially as my excuse.  She would tell me the next morning in the hospital that she had a feeling today was the day since my husband was on shift and it “always seems to happen that way when someone’s spouse is working a shift.”  She checked my cervix and I was dilated to 3 centimeters which was a definite improvement after not being dilated at all the week prior.  Dr. Fernandez left and I was expecting a call with my induction date sometime later that day. 

HB and I loaded back up and headed to Chick-fil-A to refuel before scooting around town.  I loved when the lady who took our order asked when I was due and I replied “In four days…”  She smiled and wished me luck.  HB and I love us some Chick-fil-A and had come to make lunch here after my OB appointments somewhat of an irregular tradition.  After we both finished eating I let him explore the play room and then we left much to his disappointment.  I’m sure he would have loved to play for another hourJ  We headed to Saba’s to buy Kelly’s birthday present, picked up our pictures from Costco and returned a few items at Hobby Lobby.  I was preparing to start and finish a small craft project for Katherine’s room the next day so I need to exchange a few things.  Little did I know that this same project would still be incomplete a month after her birth.  I guess I should have started much sooner!

After finally arriving home and getting HB down for an afternoon nap, I putzed around the house putting things away and trying to tidy up in general.  I was mentally going over all the things I wanted to accomplish on Tuesday (May 21) because a good friend of mine, Sarah Geiger, had offered to keep HB for the day.  I was really looking forward to the day because Kelly would be home, HB would be busy playing and I was planning on making one last productive push to get stuff done around the house before Miss Katherine came.  After dinner, finishing up chores outside and getting HB to bed, I sat down in the recliner to rest and call Kelly.  I told him that I was pretty tired that night and my body felt a little weird but I just thought that it was the toll of running errands and that I was having some cramps after having my cervix checked.  I went to bed shortly after our phone call ended.

It was 12:50 am and I woke up to go to the bathroom, or so I thought.  I had a huge gush of liquid come out as soon as I sat down.  As groggy as I was, I thought wow, that was weird, and almost instantly I realized that my water just broke.  I changed my jammies and as soon as I sat down to call Kelly I had another gush of liquid come out.  I was totally ignorant when it came to being prepared for having my water break.  Before I changed a second time I texted Kelly, “I don’t think we will mop the floor after all tomorrow because my water just broke.”  After getting situated, I was planning on sitting in the recliner with the heating pad on my lower back because I was a little uncomfortable and planned on monitoring contractions for a bit before alerting the troops.  Contractions started rolling in.  Seven minutes apart.  Six. Five. Four.  And that’s where they hung out.  I immediately got scared about having my baby at home, by myself, so I started calling people.  Kelly hadn’t texted back yet so I called him and he didn’t answer.  I called my mom so she could make plans to get on the road in the morning.  She commented that I sounded scared.  I said, why yes, I am a bit.  And I called my friend Emily Rovey who was going to pick up HB and keep him until my mom got into town.  Emily was on her way over when Kelly called back.  He mistook the sound of my phone call for the tones at work and thought they were for someone else.  He assured me that he would be home in an hour (that’s how long it takes to drive home for him).

Emily arrived and I was still rushing around trying to get HB’s food together.  I had all his clothes set out but for some reason I still hadn’t packed them in a bag.  I packed his clothes and shoes and started pulling out food, bottles and snacks.  Note to self for next pregnancy: pack much sooner than the week you are due.  Painful contractions every four minutes make it much harder to focus and be efficient.  We went and woke up HB; at first he was kind of like “this party at 1am is fun mommy” but this soon escalated into tears of grogginess and confusion as we loaded him into the car seat in Emily’s car.  This scene right here raised my emotional level about 10 times higher than it was.  I was sad to see my oldest baby (he was only 13 months!) go and on top of that cry while leaving.  I also realized this was the last time it would just be him and I and I got sad about that too.  Emily offered to drive me to the hospital if Kelly didn’t arrive home soon and to call her if I needed.

Kelly pulled in the driveway about 15 minutes later.  My hospital bag was in the same condition HB’s bag was – empty.  Thankfully I managed to get everything packed before Kelly arrived because he was more wired than I was.  He came in the house and said “Let’s go babe” – I quickly asked him if he could load the hospital bag and car seat, you know, in case we needed a car seat to leave the hospital with Katherine.  J  All saracasm aside, hubby did great through this unexpected surprise in the middle of the night even after working a 48-hour shift and being up straight both nights.  I probably would have been a bit disorganized too if I were him.  We locked the house, loaded up in his truck and were off!  Okay, well, we were off to make a quick stop at Circle K so hubby could get some tobacco for his fix.  Now we were really off!  We were about 10 minutes away from the hospital when I asked Kelly if he could “just slow down a bit because he was scaring me.”  He informed me that he was just trying to get us to the hospital because he did not want to have this baby on the side of the road. 

As we pull up next to the Women and Infant Services entrance at Banner Estrella, my hubby notices a nurse preparing to enter the building.  This is a good thing because she could let us in this entrance! (Between midnight and 6am this entrance is locked and you have to enter the hospital at the Emergency Room…which is a bad thing because then you have a really long hallway between you and the maternity ward.)  He hollers out his window, “Miss!”  She does not hear him.  He hollers a second time.  Still no response from the nurse.  He puts his truck in park, part way has his head and upper body through his window and yells, “My wife is having a baby!” She turns and notices us – a couple of hillbilly’s trying to take the shortest route in the building.  I am a little embarrassed at this point and as he is yelling I was trying to gracefully exit the truck while mid-contraction.  Due to the contraction I was unable to ask him to refrain from yelling any more.  In retrospect though I loved my husband for getting me as close to possible as the building with as little walking as necessary.  The nurse, who was a labor and delivery nurse at that, not only let me in the building but walked me into triage and then went to let Kelly in the same entrance after parking so he didn’t have to go through the Emergency entrance.

After getting checked into triage, the nurse checked my cervix (I was a 4) and then tested the fluid to make sure it was amniotic fluid to confirm that my water had in fact actually broke.  I wish I could remember her name because she was totally cool.  And I feel totally like a 7th grader saying totally cool but she was.  She made me feel comfortable and at ease even though the contractions were already kicking my tail.  We were officially checked into the hospital at 3:15am.  My super cool triage nurse moved us into a delivery room where my delivery nurse Jaime (nope, this is not a spelling mistake) immediately got me hooked up to some fluids so we could do my epidural ASAP.  Sitting still for this epidural was more difficult than with HB’s because my contractions were already rolling in every two minutes at this point.  Yep folks, I said two minutes.  In the two hours since my water had broke my contractions had sped up immensely.  It seemed very fast at this point because I had contractions for almost 48 hours with HB before delivering him.  After my epidural, I settled in for a short nap.  I think Kelly would have appreciated an epidural too so his hospital couch/bed would have seemed more comfortable.  At a little after 5am Kelly started sending a few text messages out to family to give them an update.  My sister told Kelly that she woke up thinking that I was having my baby – she was right!  I sent a mass text a little after 6am and made sure to tell Miss Sarah that we would have to take a rain check for HB’s little play dateJ  Dr. Fernandez was on call overnight so she stopped by at 6:45 to see how things were progressing.  I was dilated to an 8 but still not ready.  She had a c-section scheduled for 7 so she was gonna have to go.  Boo.  Two babies in a row I have had a different doctor deliver them.  Jaime said good-bye (the shift change happened at 7am) and Christina my new delivery nurse said hello.  She checked me and informed me that I should press the call button should I feel any more pressure in my bottom.  It wasn’t but five minutes later that I told Kelly I was thinking I should call Christina.  I’m glad I did because after she checked me she told me I was ready to push!  She called the doctor and she started prepping for his arrival.

The shift change had just happened so it was a bit chaotic preparing to push.  I felt like I had every nurse from Labor and Delivery in my room although there were only five extra people aside from Kelly and I – Dr. Johnson, who would deliver Katherine, Christina, a student nurse, and two sweet nurses who would care for Katherine once she arrived.  The room felt a bit small at that point.  But I was focused, and ready to push.  At this point I kind of lost track of time because I could almost taste the victory of having my new daughter in my arms but start to finish I don’t think I was in active labor for very long.  I guess in thinking about it, the shift changed happened at 7:00am and I delivered at 7:12am, so nope, I wasn’t pushing for very long at all!  I so appreciated this at the time because I was in active labor with HB for almost two hours.  The process of pushing this time was also much more relaxed to me, I felt more calm, more like I knew what to expect.  I guess I did since this was round number two.  Before I knew it Katherine was out wailing in Dr. Johnson’s arms and I was elated.  She was more blue than I remembered HB being but she was certainly breathing just fine on her own.  My daughter.  My daughter was here.  It felt so sweet to whisper that to her – daughter. 

Katherine Beth Wright was born on Tuesday, May 21 at 7:12am.  She weighed seven pounds four ounces and measured 19 inches long.  And she had a head full of beautiful black hair, just like her brother, dad and myself. 

After she was cleaned up a bit and wrapped up like a burrito, I could focus on the next most important task of the morning: ordering breakfast.  Both times I’ve checked into the hospital to have my babies I have thought “Crap, I should have stopped and ate something because they’re not gonna feed me until I have this baby.”  I was hungry BEFORE I really got deep into labor so I certainly felt famished after.  Kelly and I were glad our baby was here safe, and were eager to get some rest and finish up the rigamaroo involved in hospital requirements.  We had stayed two nights in the hospital when we delivered HB and we really only wanted to stay one night this time.

Gosh as I sit here typing this almost five months later I am wondering how to wrap this birth story up.  In general, I felt more relaxed about the whole delivery process and I think I enjoyed it more with Katherine.  I was also not experiencing near as much back and hip pain this time around so that naturally made it easier to enjoy.  I was so grateful for having a positive experience though and was so looking forward to going home.  My mom and dad took HB for four days so I can adjust to life with a newborn again and try to start learning the breastfeeding process all over.  I actually experienced some sadness when my parents brought HB home to us because he was no longer my “baby” and he seemed so big in comparison to his sister.  I also experienced some guilt towards him because I wasn’t able to take care of his needs as quickly.  Despite the craziness of it all, and the fluctuation of my emotions, life quickly adjusted.  With Katherine at about six weeks I felt like a new normal was coming and now at four months we have definitely hit our stride having two children.  I am in love with both of them and so grateful to be their mom and wife to their daddy.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches

Whatcha Making Wednesday: Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches
Kindly adapted from Pioneer Woman

  • 12 whole Dinner Rolls Or Small Sandwich Buns (I used Rhodes frozen dinner rolls and "made" my own!  The sandwiches turned out to be more like sliders.)
  • 1 pound Thinly Shaved Roast Beef Or Ham (or Both!)
  • 1 pound Cheese (Provolone, Swiss, Mozzarella, Even Cheez Whiz...I used slices of whatever I had and needed to use up in my fridge)
  • 1/4 cup Mayonnaise
  • 3 Tablespoons Grated Onion (or 1 Tbsp Dried Onion Flakes))
  • 1 Tablespoon Poppy Seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon Spicy Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Horseradish Mayo Or Straight Prepared Horseradish
  •  Dash Of Worcestershire
  •  Optional Dressing Ingredients: Sriracha, Hot Sauce, Dried Onion Flakes Instead Of Fresh, Garlic Powder, Pepper, Etc.)

Preparation Instructions
  1. Slice rolls in half. Mix together mayo, grated onion, poppy seeds, spicy mustard, horseradish, and Worcestershire. Taste it and adjust ingredients however you wish.
  2. To assemble, generously spread dressing on top and bottom buns. Lay on roast beef or ham, then one or two slices of cheese (I cut them to fit the small buns.) I ended up using a small slice of provolone and cheddar.  I liked the ooey gooey mess they produced together.
  3. Wrap each sandwich in a foil square, and either keep in the fridge or bake right away. To bake the sandwiches, put them on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes. The buns should be slightly crusty and the cheese should be melted.

HB and I made a test run of these bad boys the night before Kelly got off shift.  HB seriously devoured his and I may have devoured the three on my plate too!  I ended up making another batch of freezer rolls for round number two the next night when Kelly was home.  I made enough for dinner one night and then had some extra in the fridge because my husband is a snacker.  He loves to come in from working outside and grab a quick snack and head back outside - these fit the bill perfectly!