About Me

I grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where I also attended college and met the love of my life. I lived in NYC for five years with my husband and Westie, Mack Brown before recently moving all the way across the country to Los Angeles. I'm an amateur chef, total foodie, lover of Westies, sports fanatic and self-proclaimed book worm. You'll find a little bit of all these things I love on this blog. And...most importantly, I'm a new mom to the most precious baby boy, Austn Robert, born this past October.





Austin Robert

Austin Robert

Mack Brown

Mack Brown

Monday, October 29, 2012

Menu Monday

Happy Monday everyone!  I'm sitting here with the cutest baby boy on the planet this morning watching the weather channel and praying for all our east coast family and friends as Hurricane Sandy approaches.  But, in an attempt to take all of our minds off of Frankenstorm, here's a cute picture of my boy this morning...

And, what we're eating this week...

Chicken with Goat Cheese and Basil
Sauteed Green Beans

Beef, Black Bean & Zucchini Chili
{get the recipe here}

Roast Chicken from Whole Foods

Leftover Chili Night

Sushi Night

Stay safe East Coasters!  We love you guys.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

We are Family

You don't choose your family.  They are God's gift to you, as you are to them.  
~Desmond Tutu

The first 2 weeks of Baby Austin's life have been filled with lots of fun visitors. 

My mom, Austin's Nana, was his first visitor.  She also stayed with us for the first week of his life, and helped us get off to a great start.  Thanks again for all your help, Nana!!

Austin + Nana
Uncle Scooter came to meet Austin when he was only 1 day old.

Austin + Uncle Scooter
My Aunt Cindy and Uncle Brian stopped by LA on their way to Vegas when Austin was about 1 week old.  It was so special that they got to meet him right after his arrival!

Austin + Aunt Cindy + Mack :) 
Austin + Uncle Brian
And, this past weekend we also had lots of visits from some of our LA family.

Austin + Aunt Allison
Austin + Uncle AJ
Austin + Aunt Jenna
Austin + Uncle Scott
Austin + Uncle Ryan

Our little Austin Bear is so loved already.  

Friday, October 19, 2012

Due Date Dinner

A lot of people record their birth stories on their blogs.  I always swore I wouldn't be one of those people.  And, I'm going to keep that promise.  But, I did want to write about the day leading up to Austin's birth because it's one I don't ever want to forget...

Baby Austin was due on October 9th, and when I woke up on the morning of the 9th feeling totally normal, I just knew I was going to have a late baby.  So, I did a little cleaning around the house in the morning to distract myself, met Brad at his office for lunch, talked to my mom on the phone for a good hour, and then headed home to get ready for dinner with Brad.  We had decided earlier in the morning {on the advice of a friend} to have one last nice, long dinner out together before the baby arrived, and it was no longer just us.

At 7pm, we had dinner at a delicious Italian restaurant in our neighborhood called Angelini Osteria, and stuffed ourselves full of delicious food.  I had a caprese salad, duck ragu tagliatelle, and a chocolate tart for dessert.  Brad had the beef tartare, the duck ragu tagliatelle, and profiteroles.  Everything was absolutely delicious.

After dinner we headed home, and I watched NCIS: Los Angeles on the couch while Brad did some work in the bedroom.  After the show, I got up to use the bathroom and felt a gush of warm water.  Sure enough, my water had broken.  I was shocked.  In our birthing class, our teacher had repeatedly told us that very few women's waters actually break before going into labor.  My pregnancy had been blessedly normal, so I figured like most women, my labor would begin with contractions.  Wrong.

After my water broke, the contractions started coming really close together and were getting stronger quickly.  So, instead of laboring at home, like we had planned, we quickly collected our bags, dropped the dog off at day care, and headed to the hospital.

Sure enough I was in labor.  And...skipping ahead to 16 hours later {phew}, we were blessed with the most beautiful baby boy, Austin Robert, born only one day after his due date.

So our secret to initiating labor?  Not spicy food, not food rubs....go on a due date dinner!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mack + Austin

Give a boy a dog and you've furnished him a playmate.
-Berton Braley

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Easiest Mac 'n Cheese You'll Ever Make

One of my biggest "cravings" during pregnancy was macaroni and cheese.  I could have probably eaten it for every meal.  So when I came across a pin on Pinterest the other day for "Revolutionary Mac 'n Cheese," I pinned it right away, and promised myself I would make it for lunch sometime soon.

Well, I made finally made it a few weeks ago, and I'm now a believer.  What makes this macaroni and cheese so special is that you boil the noodles right in the milk, so there is no straining needed.  Plus there are only 3 ingredients: noodles, milk and cheese {plus a little salt, but that doesn't count}.

I made a large single-sized portion, but double this recipe and you have an easy and quick side dish.  You'll want to serve the macaroni and cheese right away, and feel free to add more milk if you like your mac 'n cheese on the thinner side.

The Easiest Mac 'n Cheese You'll Ever Make

1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup elbow noodles
1/2 cup cheese of your choice {I used cheddar}
1/4 tsp. salt

In a small sauce pan, bring the milk to a boil.  Add the noodles, and reduce the heat to medium.  Keep an eye on the noodles the entire time they are cooking, and stir frequently.  You may need to reduce the heat slightly to give the noodles a chance to cook, depending on how hot your stovetop gets.  Once the noodles are cooked to al dente, add the cheese and stir.  Serve immediately.

Next time I'm going to try using a different cheese and adding a dash of cayenne pepper! Yummm.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

He's Here!

Austin Robert Haugen
Born October 10, 2012
2:16 pm PST
9 lbs. 3 oz. & 22 in. long

We are head over heels for this little guy.
And, so blessed.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Slow Cooker Beef, Zucchini & Black Bean Chili

My love affair with chili {especially during the cooler months}, has been well documented on this blog here and here.  But, as many times as I have made chili,  this was my first time ever making chili in the slow cooker.  I made it on Sunday morning {the prep time consisted of no more than 10 minutes}, put it on low and then spent the rest of day the day watching football, running errands, and enjoying the beautiful fall day outside with Brad and Mack.  I didn't have to think about dinner again until we were ready to eat later that evening.  Perfect.

Oh, and it's really, really yummy.  And, unless you're cooking for a crowd, it makes lots of leftovers.

Beef, Zucchini & Black Bean Chili

1-1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
3 zucchini, halved and sliced into 1/2-in. pieces
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 {28 oz.} can fire-roasted, diced tomatoes
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt &1/2 tsp. pepper

Add all the above ingredients into the slow cooker.  Stir everything together.  {Don't worry if the chili seems really thick, this is a really meaty chili, and the slow cooker will release moisture from the ingredients as it cooks.}

Place the lid on the slow cooker, and cook on low for 7-8 hours.  Stir once halfway through the cooking process.

Serve with your choice of toppings.  We chose fiesta blend cheese, sour cream and homemade tortilla strips.  Avocado would also be delicious.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Menu Monday

Happy Monday everyone!  This is a pretty big week for us since Baby H is due soon and my mom is coming to stay with us starting Thursday, so it's a little bit hard to focus on a weekly menu :)  But, since we really have no way of knowing when our little man will make his arrival, here's the planned menu for the week.

Leftover Beef, Black Bean & Zucchini Chili
{check back tomorrow for the recipe!}

Baked Chicken Parmesan & Roasted Broccoli

Creamy Shrimp with Corn & Poblanos

Slow Cooker Lime Chicken Taco Salads


What are you cooking up this week?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Slow Cooker Honey-Sesame Chicken

Confession: There are no sesame seeds in my version of this recipe.  So technically I should call this more like Honey-Soy Chicken, BUT I did intend for there to be sesame seeds, and next time {if I remember to purchase them at the grocery store...}, there will be :)  In the the ingredients, I included the sesame seeds to help you remember to buy them at the store, and so that you can actually end up making Honey-SESAME chicken :)

This recipe, by the way, is delicious and way faster than most slow cooker recipes.  I only had to cook the chicken 3 1/2 hours on low and it came out perfectly.  If you want to speed it even further along, you could cook the chicken on high and lower your cooking time to about 1-1/2 hours.  Perfect for those days when you might have forgotten to defrost your meat overnight.  You can defrost during the day, throw it quickly in the slow cooker for a couple hours, go get somethings done around the house, and then come back to a delicious, home-cooked meal!

Slow Cooker Honey-Sesame Chicken
Serves 2-3 people

1-1/4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup honey
1/4 low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. ketchup
2 tbsp. onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tbsp. water + 3-1/2 tsp. corn starch 
sesame seeds

In a small bowl, combine the honey, soy sauce, canola oil, ketchup, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Stir.

In the crock pot, add the chicken breasts, and pour the honey-soy mixtures over top.  Turn the crock pot on low, and cook for 3-1/2 hours; or to cook the chicken faster, turn the slow cooker on high, and cook for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Remove the chicken from the slow cooker, leaving the sauce behind.  Turn the heat up to high {unless you were already cooking the chicken on high, of course}.  Mix together the water and corn starch, and add the mixture to the sauce.  Stir consistently for about 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly.  

Turn off the heat, and add the chicken back into the sauce.  Toss to combine.  Sprinkle the chicken with sesame seeds.

Serve with brown rice and any veggie of your choice.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Belly

OCTOBER!  It's finally here.  I've been anxiously awaiting this month since January when we first discovered I was pregnant.  We are beyond excited and ready to finally meet our baby boy!

One of my favorite parts of this pregnancy has been watching our little man grow and grow and watching my belly grow and grow along with him.  It's so funny now to look back at pictures from even a few months ago now and think about how big I felt THEN. {That belly had nothing on the belly now!}

I've been working on a timeline of "the belly" for the past couple of days, mostly so that B and I can look back on this time years from now and remember, and so that our boy will have a chance to see how he grew and grew inside mommy's belly.  BUT, I thought you all might enjoy looking at the timeline as well, especially since many of you have come along on this journey with us ever since our big announcement.

So, here it is.  THE BELLY TIMELINE....

13 Weeks

14 Weeks

17 Weeks

19 Weeks

22 Weeks

23 Weeks

25 Weeks

26 Weeks

28 Weeks

28 Weeks

29 Weeks

30 Weeks

32 Weeks

33 Weeks

36 Weeks

37 Weeks

38 Weeks
Grow baby grow!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chicken Stir-Fry Wraps

This dish is very similar to Beef Bulgogi, but with chicken instead of beef.  Like Beef Bulgogi, we eat it this dish by wrapping the stir fry in butter lettuce to make lettuce wraps, which keeps the meal lower in calories and carbs, but it would, of course, work just as well with rice on the side.  

As always, I tweaked the original recipe slightly to serve two instead of four people.  I really just decreased the amount of chicken used, but we always eat all the vegetables, just the two of us, so I would increase the amount of onion and red pepper as well if you are making this for four or more.  1-1/2 lbs of chicken, 2 red peppers, and 1-1/2 onions should increase the dish enough to serve four without having to increase the marinade.

Chicken Stir-Fry Wraps

1lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 
halved horizontally & thinly sliced
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, sliced thinly
1 large red bell pepper, sliced thinly
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 tsp. peeled, fresh ginger, minced or grated
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 tbsp. soy sauce
3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1-1/2 tsp. cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp. water
1 head of butter lettuce

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Add the chicken to the skillet, and cook all the way through.  You may want to cook the chicken in two separate batches, depending on the size skillet you are using.  Once cooked, transfer the chicken to a plate, and set aside.

Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet, and toss in the vegetables.  Stir constantly until the onions are tender.  This will take about 4 to 6 minutes.  

Reduce the heat to medium, and add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes.  Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Finally, stir in the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and cornstarch mixture.  Remove the skillet from the heat and add the chicken back in to the mix.  Toss to coat.

Serve with lettuce cups or rice.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Menu Monday

Last week was one of those week's where we didn't necessarily stick to our menu, so this week's menu is basically a repeat of last.  Oh well.  At least I don't have to make a big grocery store run today :)  What are you eating this week?


Bieber Concert

Bieber Concert

Slow Cooker Beef, Black Bean, & Zucchini Chili

Slow Cooker Sesame Chicken