Victoria and my not so little secrets

Baby boy is six weeks old today. Let’s have a moment of celebration that not only have I managed to keep two children alive, in addition to myself, I haven’t gone completely off-the-wall insane (yet).

I have a feeling that’s all going to change pretty soon though. 

For starters, I make my return to work in just a little over a week. Yeah, that maternity leave seriously flew by. It’s something I’m really, really looking forward to, but also am pretty damn scared about. What if I magically forgot how to do my job in the almost eight weeks I’ve been off? What if my brain is so permeated with sleep deprivation and baby boogers that I sound like a complete moron when I come back? That’s the thing about dedicating your college education to the English language, people kind of expect you to sound the part. Know what’s not included in that part? Baby talk. Poopy talk. Booger talk. 

Not to mention I just picked up my bridesmaid dress yesterday for my best friend’s wedding. I made the really stupid mistake of trying it on. Surprisingly, it zipped, but I wouldn’t say it «fit.» I’m a few pounds shy of my pre-pregnancy weight which explains the slightly snug waist. Which is fine, I have four months to shed those last straggling pounds, what’s panicking me is when the hell I’m going to be able to WORK on said pounds. Before I went and got all knocked up I was going to spin classes two or three times a week at 5 a.m. or running a few miles on my lunch break. But with two kids now, one who would rather scream or stare at my face than sleep, how am I supposed to have enough energy to not just work out at 5 a.m., but to pull my ass out of bed? 

By the time a child reaches twoish, you kind of forget how hard newborns are. How chaotic and determined they are to shit (literally) all over your schedule or any plans you thought you’d made. 

Maybe I can convince the bride to let me wear a maid of honor moo moo instead?

Which leads me to one last thing. 

My boobs.

I’m pretty much over them already. Trust me, I get the allure of big boobs to those of you who don’t have them. They’re supposed to be all sexified and hot and who doesn’t like a little cleavage? Well, ladies, let me tell you, there’s a really, really big difference in some peek-a-boo boobage and a mountain range located directly under your chin. Who knew I’d have a built in chin rest?

But let me fill you in on something. Coming from a busty-most-of-her-life gal, I seriously fantasize over having small boobs. If it were up to me (and I was able to lose, say, 50 pounds so they wouldn’t look weird on me), I would be like an A cup. The bras are cute, they ALWAYS have those sizes and you can lean forward on a flat surface (like a desk or table) without facing the ever-challenging conundrum of «do I prop them up and give everyone an eyeful or do I shove them under and cut off circulation to my upper body?»

I seriously dream of the day I can get a minimum of two cup sizes sucked out of my chest, JUST so I can get back into the first four letters of the alphabet. 

So with a gift card to good ole’ Vikki Secrets, I happily grabbed the six different bra styles in my size and scurried off to a changing room to torture my boobs (I mean, try to find them a new home). I kid you not, half of the bras were push-up bras. And not the type that provides the lift a large-chested woman needs, but the kind that has enough padding in it to serve as a pillow for my newborn. Seriously, I’m in triple digits and letters my daughter can’t even make it to when she’s singing her A-B-E’s and we’re still padding those? 

There was even a bra that promised to add TWO cup sizes to my chest in my already-comical giant size. 

Seriously? 

Vikki can’t be bothered to make cutesy lingerie that my giant-ass boobs will fit into but she went to the trouble to make a bra that can add two cup sizes to my already-crowded chest area?

Makes sense.

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My Superbowl Sunday picks … for eating of course

I owe you all a serious apology.

It didn’t even occur to me until two days ago while talking to my dad that this Sunday was THE Sunday.

Superbowl Sunday to be precise.

No, it’s not THE Sunday of the year because I’m obsessed with football (I’m not, at all, in the slightest actually), but instead because it’s like the one day of the year you get to turn any lunch or dinner into a dip and it’s perfectly acceptable.

Rather than repeat recipes, I decided to photo bomb
you with pictures of my children. Please enjoy.

Not only that, but you can actually eat teeny weeny appetizers ALL day and consider it breakfast, lunch and dinner. Oh and did I mention the desserts? There’s no such thing as too decadent.

Unfortunately, I’ve been slacking and didn’t have a chance to put together something uber special to post before the big day. So instead, I’m going to kindly direct your attention (and growling stomachs) to a few of my prior recipes that are sure to impress on game day, meat eaters and vegans alike. And once I actually figure out what the heck I’m making I’ll fill ya’ll in on that too.

In the mood for something filling but prefer to eat it on a chip? Let me recommend the following three dips:

  1. Vegan Pizza Dip: One scoop of this pizza dip and you will absolutely swoon. You won’t care that it’s loaded with vegan cream cheese or mock pepperoni, all you’ll be concerned with is grabbing another bread stick to scoop up all this deliciousness. The best part about this recipe is that you can cater it to whatever your pizza preferences are, from pepperoni to sausage to all veggies!
  2. Jalapeno Popper Dip: Who needs to stuff a pepper and bread it when you can throw all the ingredients into a casserole dish and make a ridiculously easy and delicious dip? This one will be a serious hit for anyone who likes a little kick to their dip.
  3. Spinach Artichoke Dip: This spinach artichoke dip will squelch any craving you had for the old days. It’s creamy, loaded with artichokes and has the right amount of spinach. It’s got veggies, so it must be good for you, right?
Braeburn is resting up for the big day.

And if for some reason dips aren’t your thing (aka you’re crazy):

  1. Stuffed (with mushrooms) Mushrooms: I’ve never stuffed a mushroom before, so if you haven’t lost your stuffed mushroom virginity yet might I suggest you hop on this bandwagon now? They’re so so so simple, yet you’d never be able to guess how easy they were — or that they’re vegan!
  2. Macaroni and Cheese Bites: If you REALLLLLLY feel the need to add something healthy into your superbowl line-up, might I suggest these mac and cheese bites stuffed with your favorite veggie? From broccoli to carrots, you can sneak anything into these baked bites of cheesy goodness.

  3. Buffalo Chickpea Chili: What would Superbowl Sunday be if it didn’t include some sort of hearty stewy goodness? If the regular red bean variety isn’t your style, I suggest giving this chili chock full of pasta, buffalo sauce and chickpeas a whirl. The best part? It cooks in the crock pot, so you can walk away from this and focus on more important things … 

Like desserts: 

  1. Vegan Peanut Butter Brownies: These have just enough peanut butter in them to take the edge off the your decadent dessert craving, but they’re not overpowering so you can basically eat the entire pan. Oh, and the vanilla frosting on top certainly doesn’t hurt either.
  2. Flawless Fudge: This is a kick-ass recipe for (get ready) vegan fudge that requires NO candy thermometer. I know, amazing right? I’ve heard fudge can be tricky, but this chocolatey version was super simple and uber rich.
  3. Cheesecake Bites: If you’re wanting to impress your superbowl crowd, but still appeal to a variety of flavor palates, I recommend trying your hand at backing some cheesecake bites. Because they’re travel-size (aka ‘fun’ size), they set up much faster. And as a bonus? You can customize each one with some delicious lime curd, strawberry preserves or a melted chocolate chip! 

What’s on your menu for Superbowl Sunday?

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New Vegan Style Clam Chowder and a little male bonding

I’m sure you’ve all been dying with suspense to find out what we made for Superbowl Sunday.

Was it some sort of fancy dip? Did we turn some mundane entree into a trendy appetizer? Perhaps we spruced up a fan favorite?

Braeburn enjoying some football with papaw

Alas, we went with something tried, true and traditional.

New England Style Clam Chowder.

Minus the clams. And the cream. And all the other animal-riddled ingredients.

I’m sure you’re wondering how the heck you go about making «clam» chowder without any clams, but you’d be pleasantly surprised by how well the combination of diced oyster mushrooms and portobellos fit into the chowder. I know, I know, fungus doesn’t seem like it could replace a clam, but it really, really does.

I’m not going to lie. The making of this chowder was slightly arduous, but the end result was so close to the original dish that this is the kind of thing you make an exception for.

So get out your fungi, soy creamer, your favorite seaweed and some cashews, because vegan clam chowder is coming to a dinner table near you.

New Vegan Style Clam Chowder
(serves 6-8)
Ingredients:
16 oz raw cashews (soak in water overnight to use the next day)
2 cups plain almond milk
2 cups plain soy creamer
1 cup vegetable broth
1 stick vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 tsp liquid smoke
1 cup vegan bacon bits
4-6 Yukon Gold potatoes (diced)
1 medium onion (diced)
1 cup diced celery
2 TBS minced garlic
6 oz oyster mushrooms
2 large portobello caps
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp onion powder
4 TBS arame seaweed
Olive oil to cook with

Directions:
Soak cashews overnight in water (you want them softened for the puree). Next, peel and dice potatoes and boil on medium to high heat until tender. Take half of these cooked potatoes and set aside. Place the other half in a food processor with your soaked cashews and 2 cups of almond milk and blend until it forms a nice puree. If your processor gets bulked up easily just do two batches instead of one big one. Dice up your mushrooms, onion and celery and minced garlic and cook in a saute pan with a little olive oil on medium heat for 15 minutes. In a large stock pot, pour in cashew, milk, potato puree and add creamer, vegetable broth, stick of butter, liquid smoke and nutritional yeast. Stir in paprika, onion powder, seaweed, bacon bits and remaining potato chunks. Cook on low to medium heat. Add in contents from the saute pan and cook until desired warmth is reached (about 10 minutes or so). Serve with a slice of crusty bread!

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