Chicken Parmesan Stuffed Garlic Bread

I saw this recipe on Tasty and decided to try it. I adapted it a bit, as I found that there was some excess of ingredients and that my way of stuffing the garlic bread may be easier. My pregnancy brain forgot to take pictures at every step, so there is no picture of the finished product, but let me tell you, it was definitely yummy! I would definitely use this recipe to make cheesy garlic bread, too!

Prep Time: ~20 minutes

Feeds: ~4 people (would work as a great appetizer)

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 large (or 2 small) chicken breast, boneless & skinless
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2-3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup oil, for frying
  • 1 large baguette (I used sourdough, but french is the norm)
  • 10–12 mozzarella slices
  • marinara sauce 

 

Garlic butter ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup melted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan, grated

fried chicken

Thinly slice the chicken breast (about 1-centimeter-thickstrips). Place the flour, eggs, and bread crumbs into 3 separate bowls. Coat each chicken strip with flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat to 350˚F and preheat oven to 350°F. Fry the breaded chicken strips until both sides are golden brown. Remove from heat and drain on a paper towel.

Tasty’s way to stuff: Slice the baguette into thirds or fourths (each baguette piece should
be roughly the same length of the fried chicken strips). 
Hollow out the insides of the baguette pieces with a knife. Lay two slices of mozzarella on top of each other with a 1-inch overlap. Place a chicken strip on the overlapping region, then fold the mozzarella tightly around the chicken. Push the rolled chicken strips into a baguette piece. Chicken parm garlic breadSlice the stuffed baguette pieces into 1-inch slices, then place them tightly side-by-side on a baking sheet lined with foil.

My way to stuff: Slice the baguette
lengthwise
and then cut into about 2 inch pieces. Hollow out the middle of the baguette. Wrap each piece of chicken in a slice of mozzarella and place inside the the pieces of baguette. Use a toothpick to hold each piece together.garlic sauce

In a small bowl, mix together ingredients for garlic butter. Brush the garlic butter evenly over the baguette slices, making sure some drips in between the slices.

Wrap the foil over the re-assembled baguette and bake for 20–25 minutes, until cheese is melted and the top is starting to brown. Remove the foil and serve with marinara!

Grandma Paramore’s Chicken Pot Pie

I was craving some chicken pot pie. It has been cooler in Seattle this week, so I thought it would be the perfect time to make it. It is a pretty easy dish to make, especially as you can use frozen and canned veggies. I used a frozen peas and diced carrots mix and canned sweet corn.

Prep Time: ~30 minutes (including chicken cooking time)

Feeds: 6-8 people

 

Chicken Mixture Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth (from boiling chicken)
  • 1-2 cup veggies (peas, carrots, corn, etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon onion

Boil and chop chicken. Spray a 2.5 quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Add soup and broth to dish and mix. Stir in chicken and veggies. Pre-heat oven to 425°.

Mixture

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 cup self rising flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 stick butter, melted

Mix topping and pour over chicken mixture. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes until top is golden brown.

Topping

34 Week Pregnancy Reflection

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Well, the babies will be delivered by c-section whenever they decide it is their time! The doctor is glad that we made it to 34 weeks without having to try to stop labor. It’s hard to believe that after months of waiting, the babies can now come at any time in the next 3.5 weeks! Since we are so close, I decided to take some time to reflect on our pregnancy and go back through my pregnancy journal.

First Trimester:

  • Looking back now, it was obvious I was pregnant, but I didn’t know the signs of early pregnancy. When Derek and I moved from San Jose to Seattle, I was begging him to stop every hour so I could use the restroom. Normally I have a decent bladder, so we were both frustrated. Then, soon after moving here, Derek and I went for a short couple mile run that had a hill. I couldn’t make it up the hill! I started crying not sure why I felt so out of shape!
  • To tell Derek we were expecting, I gave him the things I could no longer have –  the cat litter bags (risk of toxoplasmosis) and Dr. Pepper 10 (aspartame). I also gave him an apple seed (the size of the babies at 5 weeks) and because I still hadn’t made it obvious – the pregnancy test. I should also mention I was so excited to pick him up from work and tell him that I got pulled over for speeding. Oops…
  • Once we found out we were having twins, we oscillated between being excited and nervous.
  • Twins moms often have trouble gaining the recommended pregnancy weight – 35-45 pounds (25-35 for singletons). Maybe this is because with higher pregnancy hormones they tend to have morning sickness. I lost weight the first trimester and struggled with trouble sleeping, digestive issues, bloating, nausea, and dizziness. I usually only threw up first thing in the morning, but I did have one embarrassing moment when I threw up in the middle of my fingerprint appointment. Twin moms might also struggle with the weight gain because they feel full earlier with all the baby in their belly (a twin uterus at 32 weeks is about the size of a singleton uterus at 40 weeks). If I were to do it again, I would worry less about healthy eating and portion sizes at the beginning. I made a big deal of eating the serving size of snacks. Girl needs her Smartfood white cheddar popcorn, Cheez-its, and Oreos in whatever quantity she is hungry for if she is going to gain weight!

Second Trimester:

  • At the beginning, I still had morning sickness. Once that went away, I understood why people talk so highly about the second trimester! Some of my clothing no longer fit, and I was emotional. I experienced some round ligament pain, pelvic floor pain when I tried to run and hike, and a few bouts of food poisoning. However, overall, it was nice to feel like a person again!
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At 6 months pregnant, we hiked 8 miles with 1800 foot elevation gain to Poo Poo Point. 
  • My parents bought me prenatal yoga classes for my birthday and going to the classes made my body feel so much better! It was also nice to hang out with other pregnant ladies!
  • I began nannying for a 4 month old. Her parents have become close friends, and they are a great resource! I got to see baby toys and gear in use and ask a million questions about eating, sleeping, tummy time, etc. They were super supportive of my needs of working while pregnant and even passed along diapers, bottles, gear, and clothes.

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16 week ultrasound
16 week ultrasound
  • It was annoying that every stranger would tell me how small I was for being due in September and having twins.

Third Trimester:

  • I began feeling really pregnant this trimester and having trouble sleeping through the night. I would wake up every few hours because I needed to pee, had heartburn (no matter what I ate for dinner), back pain, etc. Unfortunately, I often couldn’t fall back asleep. I was lucky that I stopped working July 29, so after dropping Derek off at the bus stop every morning, I would go back to bed for 45-90 minutes.
  • Derek and I savored our last few months as a family of 2.

Rainier 2

Rainier
Mt. Rainier
  • Derek got to feel and see babies kick and began reading to the babies so they would recognize his voice once they are born.

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Me and dad.JPG
27 weeks pregnant
  • I am getting pretty tired of going to the doctor. Throughout the pregnancy, we had ultrasounds almost once a month because that is the only way to accurately track each babies’ growth. In the average singleton pregnancy, there are only 2 ultrasounds – one in the first trimester to confirm due date (around 6-10 weeks) and one to check anatomy and determine sex (around 18-20 weeks). Then, at doctor appointments the OB would measure baby growth through fundal height. However, in the case of multiples, a fundal height measurement would only tell the overall size of both babies, and it wouldn’t indicate if there was a large discrepancy in the two babies’ growths. My 33-38 week weekly doctor appointments are about 3 hours due to the BPP, NST, and doctor visit. That being said, we have had a pretty easy twin pregnancy, and I am grateful that with the many doctor visits, Derek has good insurance, and I set up a HSA when I worked in Florida.
  • Average gestation for twins is 36 weeks (full term is considered 37 weeks). 36 weeks would put our due date at Fri. Sept 2. Maybe we will have Labor Day babies, who share a birthday with my parents’ wedding anniversary (Sept. 5)!

Nursery

The nursery was a fun project, as we are excited for the babies to move in, and, it is the first room we have completely finished from beginning to end. Derek and I painted multiple coats on the ceiling to hide what looks like was once a navy blue ceiling. In the future, my grandma says we should use the ceiling paint that goes on pink, blue, or purple and changes to white after it dries to make the process easier. We were lucky that our families were willing to paint the walls and trim, so it was one less part of the project for us. We took off the old baseboards, with plans of moving them down, as there was a gap between the floor and the baseboard from old carpet. However, because the house was rented for over 25 years before we moved in, there was a lot of paint and caulk build up on the wall. We decided that instead of sanding it down, we would buy new baseboards that were higher than this lip.

This baseboard project was a lot easier than the one we did on our first house in Gainesville, thanks to our experience and some new tools. We picked out MDF baseboard from our local lumber store. We then painted it with a semi-gloss white to match the trim around the doors and windows. We measured all the walls and used a chop saw (Derek’s PhD graduation present from his dad!) to make the cuts. This was much quicker than using a table saw and miter saw, and the cuts are probably also a little smoother! We also decided to buy a brad nail gun, as we will eventually be replacing all of the baseboards to match the nursery. This gadget has nail depth adjustability and was a life saver. It was super quick, and Derek didn’t have to worry about hammering his thumb! In the name of teamwork, I was the stud finder, and Derek was the nailer. Afterwards, Derek laid a bead of caulk, and I wiped it down with my wet cloth. Finally, we touched up the baseboard paint in a few places, and we love how the freshly painted and caulked trim makes the grey walls pop and the room really look finished!

Crib 2

Bookshelf

Paint and Baseboards

Dresser and rug.JPG

Maternal Fetal Medicine Follow Up

After our 32 week appointment with my OB, we had a follow up appointment at maternal fetal medicine due to the twins’ weight discrepancy and Twin A’s small size. I had a pretty detailed ultrasound, looking at each baby’s organs, growth, cord blood flow, and amniotic fluid. Everything looked good, and there were a few surprises. I got to see a baby drinking amniotic fluid, holding her leg, licking her hand and cord, etc.

34 week 3d ultrasound
Twin A playing with her cord

It also appeared that I might only have one placenta, which would make the babies mo/di and not di/di. It is also another argument for a c-section. Either way, there is a 33% chance that our babies are actually identical.

Zygosity (twin type) is not as simple as having 1 or 2 placentas. According to Multiples of America, “more important than the placenta itself are the fetal membranes, which can be helpful in determining twin type. They are the thin membranes filled with fluid that surround the fetus and are attached to the placenta. The amnion is the inner membrane, and the chorion is the outer membrane. A shared amnion always means monozygotic twins, but is very rare. Two amnions and one chorion also means monozygotic twins. If there are two amnions and two chorions the twin type can be either mono- or dizygotic.

Fraternal or dizygotic twins will always have two placentas, as the two eggs implant separately into the uterus. However, if the eggs implant close together the placentas can become fused and take on the appearance of one placenta. Twins can then be mislabeled monozygotic.

However, identical twins do not always have one placenta. Monozygotic twins come from an egg that splits into two. The timing of the split will determine the number of placentas. If the split happens after the egg has already implanted into the uterus, there will be one placenta. If the split happens earlier, before implantation, then the two eggs can implant separately into the uterus and form two separate placentas. The twins will still be identical.”

Derek and I met with the director of fetal medicine, and he felt that at this point we don’t have need for concern about the babies’ sizes or discordance. The babies were 4 pounds 10 ounces and 4 pounds 9 ounces. This puts them in the 21st and 20th percentiles respectively, and obviously doesn’t show much weight discordance. The doctor gave us some information about why the weight formulas have a 15% margin of error. Bone measurements are fairly accurate measurements, but a squishy abdomen is not. If a baby is getting squished, then this part of the formula could be off. He also stressed that again the percentiles are compared to singletons and twins tend to be smaller.

The doctor said that they really only start worrying if the babies’ weights are 20% apart, a baby suddenly just stops growing, there isn’t good cord blood flow, or there isn’t enough amniotic fluid. When there isn’t enough cord blood flow, the blood goes to the brain and the heart and the other organs and limbs don’t grow; the kidneys don’t process as much amniotic fluid, which manifests as a low fluid pocket for the baby.

As our babies aren’t presenting with any of these issues, he recommended that I only need to see my OB once a week for non-stress tests (NSTs), which measure fetal movement, fetal heart rate, and uterine contractions, or biophysical profiles (BPPs), which is an ultrasound to measure amniotic fluid, fetal muscle tone, fetal heart rate, and fetal breathing. At this point, the doctor does not feel that we need to consider delivering the babies early to get them more nutrients outside the womb. As well, I do not need to have extra appointments with the OB or fetal medicine. We will have another growth ultrasound at 36.5 weeks.

Pre-Babies Housework

While the Drayer family and the Kimutis/Bryan families live far away, we have been lucky that they have been willing to come help with projects before the babies arrive. Derek’s dad and stepmom, June, visited a few times in April and May. June painted the nursery, while Darryl helped Derek remove the studs, put up the header, and run new electrical that has opened up the doorway from the family room to the dining room.

Darryl opening doorway.JPG

 

My dad and I both had off the same week in June, so my dad offered to visit and help with some house projects. It was nice to spend time with him. We discovered that thimbleberry bushes run along almost one whole side of our property, and we acquired a free grill that we cooked some yummy burgers and corn on. In 2 days, my dad got a lot done! He was able to do a lot of the little projects that have been adding up. And, he was helpful with things I shouldn’t be doing like moving some boxes to storage and mowing the lawn and spraying the wasps’ nest in the yard.

  • Fixed back door latch issue
  • Replaced bathroom fan because the old one only worked intermittently and cleaned the bathroom ceiling while he was up there
  • Installed a shelf above the washing machine
  • Temporarily fixed the garage door
  • Re-ran the dog’s invisible fence along the outside of the garage so we wouldn’t have wires going through the inside of the garage
  • Moved towel bars in both bathrooms to configurations that actually made sense

At the end of July, my mom and dad, my mom’s 2 sisters and brother in law, and my grandma all came to visit. My parents generously offered to drive their Chevy Traverse out here and trade it for my Ford Focus, as Derek and I have been searching for a larger car that would fit 2 babies and 2 big dogs. With 6 family members in town, I felt like I had a painting, yard maintenance, and cleaning crew! Since I was still working this week, they asked me to just leave them a to do list, and they did an awesome job with it!

  • Weeded, edged, and added to my gardens
  • Tore out some thorny bushes in front of the house because we would like to plant evergreens along the front for privacy and to block road noise
  • Painted the master bedroom walls, ceiling, and trim
  • Refinished 2 ice chests that we use as bedside tables and my hope chest
  • Hung curtains in the family room and nursery
  • Hung pictures all over the house
  • Re-arranged the family room so it would feel more open
  • Fixed the leaking kitchen sink

Our house would not have come so far in the 4 months we have lived in it without the help of our family, and we are incredibly grateful!

 

Who Needs Walls?

One of the things with old houses is they defined spaces much more narrowly than current new construction.  While there is some appeal to having a function for every room, Michelle and I both enjoy having some of that open feel that is currently in vogue.  The house had a large dining area, but it was so segregated from the other rooms, it felt small.

IMG_4663

Michelle did really like the arch look of the doorway, but we thought that opening it up would really make the dining room live a lot larger. In theory, tearing down a wall like this is a really simple process: you knock a hole in the drywall, pull off the sheet rock, then tear down the studs.  However this process can be complicated by a couple of considerations.  One of the most obvious is the question: Is this wall load bearing?  The second issue we had to contend with was outlets and light switches in the wall we were set to remove.

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Leaving these considerations for later, our first weekend in the house we got to work starting the demo process.

After we got most of the sheet rock out of the way, we started considering those issues I just mentioned.  The question as to whether a wall is load bearing isn’t always straight forward, especially in older homes.  Exterior walls are going to always be load bearing, and interior walls that run parallel to the roof line tend to be load bearing as well.  We got into the attic space to check the structure of the roof, and it was pretty clear that load was being transferred onto the wall in question.  We also had a contractor come out to look at it and confirm our suspicions.

As a brief aside, general contractors can be a great resource.  We found a great guy who was willing to come consult for free on the notion that it would eventually turn into some paid work (it did).

After determining the wall was indeed load bearing, I did quite a bit of research on the appropriate wall structure to span the space in question.  I looked at the code for the dimensions for lumber to span the space in question and went with that.  We ended up using 2x8s for the header to keep the roof from falling down. My dad came into town to help finish demo, rewire, and reconstruction.

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Rewiring the outlets and lights was a challenge with the house being a mix of knob and tube and modern romex, but that’s a story for another time.  Once we got the wiring sorted out, we were ready to pull out the studs and remaining sheet rock.  The challenge with this process is to keep the house from falling down during the time in which the original studs are gone and before the replacement header and associated wall structure can be put up.  We bought a bunch of 2x4s to use as braces under the roof joists to take up the weight that the existing wall was originally holding.

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We were pretty confident in our support system, but still wanted to minimize the amount of time relying on it.  We constructed our header on the ground before pulling down the existing wall.  In general, you want your header to have the same width as your wall.  Due to variances in lumber, placing two 2x8s side by side was a bit off on the correct width.  We were able to find some thin MDF (medium-density fiberboard) to place between our 2x8s in order to get the appropriate width.  Once this was done we quickly tore out the studs and got our header in place.  This process was a little difficult, but two people made it possible.  I was able the hold the header in place while my dad placed the supporting studs.  Once the header was in place, we pulled out the supports.  IMG_4860

From there we hung new sheet rock and corner bead.  While mudding and texturing is definitely something a home owner can do, I long ago decided it was not something I would do.  So we called our helpful contractor from earlier and they did the mudding work.  They still have to come back to finish the texture work, but our new entry to the dining room is nearly done! From there it’s just paint and trim.

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32 Weeks

32 week baby bump.jpg

Derek got to come with me to my 32 week ultrasound and doctor appointment. Naomi is on my left side in the frank breech position, and we actually saw an image of her head and foot right next to each other! Maybe she is going to be a gymnast or diver?!  Norah was transverse with her head by Naomi’s (uh oh they are already plotting world domination!) and her body lying along the top of my uterus. Because they both are up top, it explains why my heartburn has been so bad, and I have felt so full! Because they are both still refusing to turn head down, there is now a pretty high likelihood that I will have a c-section, so we talked a lot about what happens if I go into labor before my scheduled c-section and more details about what the c-section would look like.brrechNaomi is also now in the 24th percentile (3 pounds 10 ounces) which is a drop from the 25th. Norah moved from the 32nd percentile to the 34th percentile (4 pounds). As Naomi is small and there is a 10% difference between the babies, we are going to maternal fetal medicine to get a 2nd opinion/more detailed ultrasound. In utero weights are all based on a formula (which includes femur length, head circumference, and abdomen circumference), so it’s not an exact science. Naomi’s size could be because she isn’t getting enough nutrients (and we could do a scan of the cord to see if the marginal cord insertion is the problem) or that she is just going to be a smaller person (or just is going to be a peanut at birth like her mama). If the maternal fetal medicine docs are concerned we may have more doctors appointments (2 a week starting at 34 weeks instead of 1 a week). Also, if the difference between the twins continues to grow, my doctor may decide to deliver the babies early so Naomi can get the nutrients outside the womb that she isn’t getting inside.

My doctor really wants the babies to make it to 34 weeks (August 19). If I go into labor in the next week then they will try to stop labor and give me steroids to beef up the babies’  lungs. Any time after 34 weeks, we can go to the hospital and they will do an “urgent c-section” (not considered an emergency c-section). I am hoping for 36 weeks (Sept. 2) because then they will have good school birthdays (Sept. 1 is the cutoff here), and they will probably not have to spend any time in the NICU.