100% whole wheat waffles {Tasty Thursday}

100% Whole Wheat Waffles

When I was single, I used to always say that I wanted breakfast-for-dinner at my wedding reception. Fortunately, I found a man completely amenable to the idea [I had him at “bacon”], but apparently this concept is a little tricky when it comes to parents and caterers; and so, unfortunately, we had to scrap that idea in lieu of more traditional fare. No regrets.

And yet, Ryan and I are still madly in love…with breakfast food. We talk about Sunday brunch all week: I am constantly coming up with new egg creations, and he pretty much thinks about cinnamon rolls 24/7.

Last night we had a scrumptious dinner of natural bacon, eggs with steak/spinach/gouda, and nearly-perfect WAFFLES! Instagram-ed proof:

waffle 2

This waffle recipe is my mothers [tweaked a bit by me], and it is *fantastic*. Fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside. They are ridiculously easy, BUT you must put the batter together in advance (12 to 24 hours before you want to cook them). So, mix these up tonight to enjoy tomorrow morning.

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Whole Wheat Waffles

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour [you could sub all-purpose]

1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast [like, the kind for bread machines]

1 3/4 to 2 cups milk

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Process

1. The night or day before: whisk together all of the dry ingredients (flours, salt, sugar, yeast). In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining wet ingredients (milk, butter, eggs, vanilla). Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry until batter has no more dry spots. It may be a little lumpy.

2. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

3. Make waffles according to manufacturers directions. Serve warm with real maple syrup.

meal plan: week of Jan. 28

Before I get into this week’s plan, I thought I’d review some of the new recipe’s I tried last week:

Slow cooker Asian Beef and Broccoli: Both were very good. Simple. Easy. Satisfying. I think the beef might be a good thing to bring to families with new babies, perhaps with less spice (although it wasn’t too spicy at all, but I hear kids can be picky about such things). I am going to file this away, because I currently know approximately 1,268 pregnant women.

Chickpea Curry: Wow! Ryan and I were both surprised at how much we liked this *very simple* and cheap dish, although I did get all “allrecipes” with this and made some adjustments: added minced garlic and fresh ginger to the sauteed onions; tripled the garam masala; served it over whole wheat couscous instead of rice

Quinoa Spinach Mac ‘n Cheese: This was good, but not stellar. We’ll probably make it again, though.

Sherried Tomato Soup: VERY good. VERY easy. Note: it makes a ton. I halved the recipe, and we were still eating leftovers for a few days. Related, it re-heats superbly. This will be our new go-to tomato bisque.

Butternut and Squash Pasta: YUMMMMMMMMMMM!!! Adjustments we made: no walnuts, whole wheat shells instead of orecchiette. I made a special trip to Yoder Meats to get some sundried tomato chicken sausage, but they were all out, so I substituted their mozzarella sausage, which was okay, but I think it would be better with a different type. Ugh, and when I got home I saw that Yoder Meats’ sausage had MSG and nitrates. So much for paying a little extra for “local” and higher quality.

Alright, onto this week:

Monday- chili and cornbread with a salad [Teasing me, Ryan said, “aren’t you going to make homemade Fritos?” Eyeroll.]

Tuesday- family dinner

Wednesday- breakfast-for-dinner, featuring waffles and some sort of egg thing

Thursday- lentil loaf and broccoli. I use a recipe similar to this, but with homemade ketchup.

Friday- bean and rice burritos, some sort of veggie on the side

 

Gerard

[Note: I have been very indecisive about whether to actually press the publish button or not. If you’re reading this, I guess I chose vulnerability.]

This post is going to stray quite far from my usual superficial-on-the-blog self. It gets personal and even a little controversial [I know, I know…]. You’ve been warned.

Last week Ryan and I were blessed to find out we were expecting a baby. Words cannot begin to do justice to our excitement and gratitude! Due to nursing, my cycles had just returned, so we were humbled and thrilled that we conceived so quickly. We didn’t tell anyone, but we were going about our days with giddy grins and dreams of the future. We scoured the internet for the perfect “Big Sister” tshirt for Philomena, plotted how we were going to announce to our families, made our first appointment with our nurse-midwife. I even began a Word document of potential names [all very Catholic and obscure, of course.]

We just kept thanking the Lord and St. Gerard (who we had been asking to intercede on our behalf) over and over again. Tempering our joy was the reality of a few couples very close to our hearts, who have had difficulty conceiving and maintaining pregnancy. We started praying even more fervently for them, because it is the only thing we can do, and even more, we believe it is the most important thing to do.

Tuesday, January 22 was the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. Every year this day is particularly solemn for me, as I spend it thinking about and praying for the 50 million babies who have lost their lives due to abortion. My heart aches for every single mother and father who made this decision- for their healing, for the difficulties that led them to this act. This year was especially poignant and moving, in that I had this innocent life growing inside me, and although I had only known about him for a few days, I would still give anything to keep him safe. This little baby was only the size of a poppyseed, yet he had a soul, and a mommy and daddy who were madly in love with him.

That evening as I prepared dinner, I listened to an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air. The first guest was a woman journalist, who had an abortion last year in her 20th week of pregnancy. She was quite obviously very intelligent, well-spoken, and well-informed on the issue. Her words struck me deeply for a few reasons. First, she didn’t even attempt to use any euphemisms for the life she chose to end. She plainly called the being in her uterus a baby, and even used the pronoun “him,” for in fact, she was far enough along to know the gender. She had two chosen sonograms, in which she was able to see clearly all the baby’s human parts and features.

Also, she wasn’t having an abortion because she was poor, the victim of rape, or even very young. She was married with a child, and indeed, she and her husband desired another baby. She kept saying over and over again that this was a “wanted baby.” The reality, however, is that she wanted baby, just not this baby. For you see, this particular baby had a serious neurological condition. She didn’t give the details or name of the disease, but the baby’s chances of making it to full-term were questionable, and if he did survive he would have a painful struggle with the condition.

She repeatedly explained that it was her parental “instinct” that led her to end the pregnancy: “And so to us, it was actually – it was a terrible choice; it was a heart-wrenching one. But it was also a simple one because as his parents, we chose what we believed was best for him, to prevent him from knowing a life of pain. And that was, in fact, quite a quick choice we were able to make as well, within minutes of my doctor giving us the terrible news. It was also almost an instinctive response about the choice that we would make.”

When I heard these words, I started crying. The depths of my soul ached for this little boy, his life ended, because his parents thought (instantly!) his death was better than a life with possible pain. And I was filled with anger at our world, our society that has built such a stronghold into this worldview, in that these well-intentioned, honest parents had the “instinct” that it is better NOT to live than to live a life that is less than ideal, a life that is marked by suffering. And I hurt very much for this woman, who was so reviled by the thought of suffering that she chose to kill her own son. And it seemed opposite from my experience, in that every parent I know would give their own lives in a heartbeat to save the life of their child.

Of course it is a mother’s instinct to shield her child from pain [the mere thought of Philomena enduring even trivial hurt is enough to send me into a panic], but to choose the death of the child to avoid the possibility of pain? What if this boy was diagnosed with the disease when he was 10 years old? Or 5? Or a few months old? Would her instinct have been the same? If it had been, she’d be in prison right now.

The purpose of this rambling is not to point fingers at this woman, because, as I said earlier, she is merely a reflection of our society that claims to prefer death over a life that does not meet some arbitrary ideal that is devoid of suffering.

But really, are any of us immune to suffering in some form or another? I know a lot of people who have extraordinary pain and suffering- even very young children- and they have just as much dignity as I do. And quite frankly, they teach me quite a bit about what it truly means to live, not just muddle through our days.

Ryan and I discussed the interview at length throughout the evening. I kept tearing up and saying, “don’t people know? Don’t they know that every. single. life. has immense beauty! Even with the suffering. Often because of the suffering.”

I remember in prayer that night literally holding my stomach and telling our little poppyseed just how wanted, how loved he was, no matter the difficulties he would face.

The next morning I woke up to miscarrying the little baby, confirmed by a subsequent visit to the doctor. Blessedly, Ryan left work immediately, and we spent the day praying and mourning the loss of our little life, who though we didn’t know the gender, we aptly named Gerard. Some people might find it strange that we named our miscarried baby. However, even though he was only in our lives a few weeks, he has an immortal soul and is just as much a person as 13-month-old Philomena.

After my rant the night before about beauty and suffering, the Lord allowed us to experience both the next day (albeit in a small way). Without doubt, Gerard is beautiful. God allowed us to be co-creators with Him, and He knit this tiny being in the secret of my womb (Psalm 139:13). We were blessed with a few short weeks with him here on earth, but Gerard will live forever: I pray fervently some day we will meet him in the heavenly Kingdom. And our slight taste of mourning is nothing compared to what many others have endured, but it was a reminder of the presence of Christ, the One who gives meaning to all of our suffering. Without Him, even our greatest acts, like the creation of life, are nothing.

I didn’t write this post to incite pity. Honestly, we’re okay. We’ve had a tough few days, but we also have been celebrating the gift of our little Gerard. There are couples who have had multiple miscarriages, or who have had them much later in the pregnancy, which no doubt brings immensely more pain, both physical and emotional. I would never want to take away from their significant trials.

I honestly don’t know why I wrote all this. It would have sufficed to say:

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21

mena with baby

meal plan: week of Jan. 21

Monday- random soup frozen long ago, rescued from the freezer

Tuesday- slow cooker asian beef and broccoli 

Wednesday- family dinner

Thursday- chickpea curry (inspiration here), probably with a salad

Friday- quinoa and spinach “mac ‘n cheese” (kinda) and homemade creamy tomato soup (inspiration here)

Saturday- I hope to make a sausage/squash pasta similar to this recipe, graciously shared by Jackie

7 Quick Takes from the Laziest Blogger in the History of the World

[And she’s also a bit hyperbolic.]

7_quick_takes_sm1

1. I haven’t done any blogging in quite awhile. Not even the easy of the easiest meal plans. Basically, I fall into this rut: “oh, I have this idea for a post!” Immediately followed by thoughts like: “ooooooor I could watch some White Collar [shameful, I know] on Netflix….or take a nap….or just zone out looking at clothes and shoes online.”

2. Zoning out for the win every. time.

3. Last week Ryan got pretty sick. Like, he even missed a few days of work. Thankfully, Philomena and I have been spared. I think this is primarily due to nursing [for her] and copious amounts of fruits and vegetables and vitamin C [for me]. I have been obsessively taking our temperatures throughout the day, because I am so paranoid of being “that mom” who infects everyone else, so if either of us even get close to 99.1, our already homebody lifestyle will become downright hermit.

4. My first Monday of teaching this semester I was pulled over and issued a $175 (!!!!!) ticket for “failure to maintain lanes” [I was doing my make-up and veered a bit onto the shoulder], then this Monday I was rear-ended in the Starbucks drive-through lane. This is why I rarely leave the house.

5. Ryan and I make great efforts not to watch TV around Philomena, so as not to encourage her to model our own predilection for such base forms of entertainment. Nevertheless, yesterday was just a rough day AND I discovered I was three episodes behind on Parenthood [how how how did this happen??] AND she took a very insufficient nap. Thus, I broke down and shamefully indulged myself for 42 minutes. However, our little lady is seriously obsessed with banging the keys on the computer [I wonder where she sees this all time time?], so no matter where I held/set the laptop, her sticky little phalanges would find their way to the keys. Finally, I came up with this solution:

photo-4

Did it work? Nope. She still got to the laptop, but at least each time it would take her awhile, so I was able to keep up with the Bravermans in spurts.

6. Apparently my previous 7 Quick Takes had a misleading title, because many of you commented [mostly to my face, although a few of you bravely “really” commented] that you thought I was going to include a picture of my middle-school self. Oops. Sorry.

7. Never one to disappoint my loyals, you’re welcome:

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I’m the hottie on the right. It really is shocking that I was never one of the cool kids.

And here is the requisite link to Jen.

recipe: michelle’s meatloaf + homemade ketchup {tasty thursday}

Meatloaf and Homemade Ketchup

Let me be clear from the start, this is not exactly my first-Atlanta-roommate Michelle’s meatloaf, because I’ve tweaked it quite a bit over the years, but it certainly emerges from her inspiration.

And she taught me two very important lessons about meatloaf:

meatloaf 2

Growing up, my mom always put the meat concoction in actual bread-loaf pan; however, all the excess grease would collect at the bottom [naaaaaaasty]. Speaking of grease, I actually think 85/15 or 80/20 beef creates a more moist meatloaf. For this particular meal, I had to use 90/10, because that’s all I had. [My family goes together to buy a locally raised grass-fed cow, and we ask that all the ground beef be processed leanly. Usually this is ideal, with the exception of meatloaf.]

Anyway, the next lesson is infinitely important:

meatloaf 3

It’s become a cliche, but bacon does, indeed, make everything better. Michelle would put the bacon on the bottom of the loaf, but I like it a little crispier, so I put it on top.

Aaaand, I know this is obnoxious, but I also like to make my own ketchup. It is easy and fantastic. Not at all necessary for this recipe, but highly encouraged.

Here goes:

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Meatloaf

Ingredients

1 ½ lbs ground beef

1/3 cup, plus 2 Tablespoons ketchup (recipe below, or use any ‘ol kind)

1 egg

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup finely diced green pepper

1/4 cup finely diced onion

3 pieces of bread torn apart*

5 to 6 pieces of bacon (raw)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Mix everything together, except the bacon and 2 T of ketchup.

3. Mold into a loaf in a roasting pan.

4. Spread the 2 T of ketchup on top, and wrap with bacon.

5. Bake covered for 40 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.

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Ketchup

Adapted from this recipe at Heavenly Homemakers.

12 ounces tomato paste

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon*

scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves*

scant 1/4 teaspoon allspice

pinch of cayenne

3 Tablespoons maple syrup

Method

1. Mix everything together well.

2. Store in an airtight container (like a jar) in a refrigerator. It should last up to 2 weeks, but you can always freeze extra.

Note: this makes very thick ketchup, so if you want it a little thinner (especially if you use it in a squeeze bottle), just add water a Tablespoon at a time until desired consistency.

*IMPORTANT UPDATE: After making this recipe soooo many times, there are a few things I have changed. The bread torn apart is great, but I have also just pulverized some almonds in my food processor (about 1/2 cup after processing) and added that. It makes the texture slightly different, but it is still excellent.

Regarding the ketchup- I think I have decided that this recipe has too many spices. Lately, I’ve been eliminating the cloves and just doing an 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon. It is still very flavorful.

meal plan: week of Jan 7

Since so many of you [no one, actually] were upset to see this series take a Christmas hiatus, it’s back. You’re welcome.

Monday- cabbage/potato/bean hash thing

Tuesday- meatloaf [recipe forthcoming, if I remember to take pictures] with mashed potatoes (or maybe sweet potato fries?) and broccoli

Wednesday- family dinner

Thursday- pizza night (maybe a barbecue chicken and a veggie)

Friday- lentil “snobby” joes, probably with a salad