I’m not going to pretend that I am a master Chef… but after many years of burnt casseroles, tasteless vegetables, questionable meats and watching my mom cook up a storm… I have worked hard to make my husband happy when it comes time to ring the dinner bell (breakfast, lunch and dessert bell too). However, just when I think I’m ready to debut my latest creation on “Top Chef” this whole baby thing has thrown a wrench in my prep time.
So… below are three of my favorite EASY recipes that take very little time and are big enough to feed a family! Enjoy!
(Lasagna in a crockpot– what?!? Slow cooker recipes are the best kind of recipes for those of us with little ones… I can prepare it during Cash’s nap and it’s ready by his bedtime– hello life savor!)
- 1 lb. of ground meat (Vegetarians can substitute black beans)
- 1 pk taco seasoning
- 16 oz salsa
- 16 oz jar of Alfredo sauce
- 2 cups of shredded Monterey jack/cheddar blend
- 2 cups of shredded Mexican cheese
- 12-14 uncooked lasagna noodles (no boil lasagna)
*special shout to my sister Jennifer (aka the Dip/Slow Cooker Queen — for the original version of this recipe… this is my modified version.
Brown the beef with taco seasoning (or black beans for vegetarian option). Be sure to “butter” the crockpot before you do the following. Put a thin layer of the salsa on the bottom of slow cooker then stir the rest of the salsa in with meat (or beans).
Mix the Alfredo sauce with all the cheese and now you are ready to begin layering.
Lay about three noodles down (I break them up to make them fit the “slow cooker shape” and then top with 1/2 of the cheese mixture.
Lay three more noodles down and top with 1/2 of the meat (or beans) mixture.
and repeat both layers.
When finished with all your layers pour 1/3 cup of water over the top.
Cover and cover on low for 4 1/2-5 hours
(yep… tis true another slow cooker recipe)
- 4 thawed chicken breasts (cut in bit size pieces)
- 2 cups stovetop stuffing
- 1 can of cream of chicken soup (you can substitute cream of mushroom soup)
- 1/2 can of chicken broth
- 1/2 cup of sour cream
Mix soups and sour cream together in separate bowl. Coat pan (with butter or preferred product). Lay chicken at the bottom of slow cooker. Make the next layer the dry Stove Top Stuffing. Top with the soup/sour cream mixture. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours.
SMART DOG CASSEROLE
- 1 package of Smart Dogs (Smart Dogs are amazing vegetarian hot dogs– but you can substitute your favorite hotdog in this recipe)
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 package of corn bread (and any ingredients needed) * I use Marie Callender’s Organic Corn Bread mix — just add water *
- 3 can of your favorite baked beans
- 1/3 cup of brown sugar
- 1/3 cup of BBQ sauce
Cut up hot dogs in bite size pieces and sauté on stove top with butter. In separate bowl mix BBQ sauce and brown sugar and beans. Add the beans mixture to the sautéed hot dogs on the stove top… once heated put it in a casserole dish. In a separate bowl make the cornbread mixture and pour that overtop of the beans/hot dog mixture that has been placed in casserole dish.
Bake at 425 for 25-30 minutes.
FIVE months… insert foot in mouth!
(you officially are obsessed with your feet)
You have been very busy this month… and I’m not just talking about music classes, play dates, picnics and trips to Los Angeles. I’m talking rolling over, discovering your toes and cutting TWO teeth. You have been so busy learning how to use your hands and body that I think you forgot how to sleep through the night. Well, who can blame you? After all, if I was discovering all that goodness, I wouldn’t want to sleep either.
Teething was not your finest moment, and as a mom, it was hard not being able to make the pain go away. Thankfully, 5 days later you were smiling and showing off your new “big boy” smile. It’s the same smile you flaunt every time you role over!
You and I have been making trips to Los Angeles for my auditions and meetings, and you have been an angel every step of the way (even on the six hour car ride). We have had a ton of mommy/son time this month while Daddy stayed busy traveling to NYC and France for work.
While in LA, you met so many new faces and were reunited with some of your favorite faces: Nana, Aunt Lyndsy and Uncle Schram. They all continue to say the same thing… that you are so fun to be around! (Your father and I agree)
(meeting Teyonah and Corey)
Aunt Lyndsy not only welcomed us and our car load of cribs, play mats, bathtubs, toys and strollers, but she babysat you during my acting classes, auditions, photos shoots and meetings. We owe Aunt Lyndsy big time! You love her and laugh at everything she does! You are already ladies man!
(Aunt Lyndsy time is the best time)
Speaking of laughing, you are obsessed with “Itsy-Bitsy Spider!” It’s a guaranteed good time for you and has come in handy during many a photo shoot and post bath time diaper change.
While we were in LA, Nana flew across the country to visit us and help take care of you! Your father and I are forever grateful for Nana and her flexibility and willingness to help at the drop of a hat. We were able to play tourist while she visited, and you loved every second of it. From checking out the walk of fame, Hollywood Boulevard and The Santa Monica Pier to visiting and shopping in Beverly Hills and becoming an “Oscar Award” winning 5 month old, you had quite the month!
While LA was very exciting, we have been staying busy in San Francisco too with your girlfriends Emory and Maya, as well as Superbowl parities, playdates, picnics in Alamo Square (aka the “Full House” park) and music classes with your friend Cade!
(Alamo Square, San Francisco)
(music class with Cade)
Some stats: at your Four Month check up you were just under 20 pounds and measured at 29″! When strangers ask us how you old we always get the same reaction… after the jaw drop they normally say “wow, big boy”.
Things I don’t want to ever forget about this magical month: How everything goes from hand to mouth (especially your feet), how excited you were when we toured Hollywood– you laughed, sang and were mesmerized the whole time, the smile you give me when you wake from your nap, the pterodactyl dinosaur sounds you make when you are super excited, how loud you get when you are tired, the dimples on your hands and the “fat” rolls on your wrists, how curious you are about the dog and cat and light fixtures and most of all how every night this month you fell asleep in my arms!
Aunt Jenine sent us this poem. 5 months into motherhood and I already know it to be true…
Ten Things Your Mom Never Told You
You made her cry… a lot.
She wanted the last piece of pie
She was always afraid
She Knows she’s not perfect
She watched you as you slept
She carried you a lot longer than nine months
It broker her heart every time you cried.
She put you first
She would do it all again
Two weeks ago, my husband and I took a road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles. During this time, when we weren’t doting over our son or admiring the beautiful scenery, we were having deep thought provoking conversations about life.
Monday, I made that same road trip, this time without my husband. Road trips always seem to offer me perspective, inspiration and restless leg syndrome. In any case, this quiet time gave me a moment to reflect on our conversations and the themes that keep coming up in our lives.
This quote came to mind and inspired todays post…
“Live without pretending. Love without depending, Listen without defending and Speak without offending.”
To be offended and to offend is a tricky thing. In general, I think we all tend to take things too personally.
How many times a day, a week or a year do you think someone mistreated you? Maybe it was the cashier, your husband, your sister, your friend or your boss… The harsh reality is that, while we all need to be thoughtful and mindful, chances are that person wasn’t purposely trying to hurt you. In fact, they probably didn’t even know they hurt you.
Can you recall a time when a loved one or a co-worker told you that you had offended or upset them? I bet in 75% of those circumstances you couldn’t (a) recall the “said” situation, (b) you were dealing with other issues that same day, (c) you had other visions for their complaint and concern or (d) you genuinely believed in what you said or did. After all, while I believe everyone deserves a heartfelt apology if their feelings are hurt, we need to ask ourselves if we are just being too sensitive. The truth of that matter is just because you are offended doesn’t necessarily mean you are right.
When Devin and I got married there were so many acts of kindness and selflessness. We thank God everyday for the many blessings our marriage brought. However, we couldn’t help but laugh (and cry) about the things some people said and did or didn’t do or didn’t say. It was our wedding, our moment, and yet some people had no problem letting us know our day didn’t necessarily align with their vision. It was so disheartening then and still is. However, this situation and unfortunately several other situations, have taught us that we can’t change how people treat us or what they say about us. All we can do is change the way we react.
“Knowing he’s easily offended, I offered him earplugs, rather than curbing my vulgarity. Who said I don’t love my fellow man?”
― Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not FOR SALE
Today Cash turns 4 months old!
I wish I could freeze time… it’s all going so fast. It was just one year ago we found out we were pregnant!
It has been a very eventful two months. So eventful, I didn’t have time to write at all during your third month! Sorry buddy! So todays post is dedicated to month THREE AND FOUR!
You are the BEST!
Your father and I stare at you while you sleep and talk about how much we love you.
We fight over who gets to push your stroller, change your diaper or sing you to sleep (well, in your dad’s case, “rap” you to sleep).
Your “publicity tour” began at 8 weeks old…
You traveled across the country and back meeting sooooo many people, and they all seem to share our sentiment. One word everyone used to describe you when they met you (besides “cute… huge, chubby, large and big”) was content.
You are officially a “traveling baby!” You were a rock star on your first flight and have flown 3 times since. Officially following in your parents footsteps from “west side to west side,” you transitioned perfectly from sunny Los Angeles to snowy New York.
You are our little west side to west sider.
We took you to NYC in the dead of winter where you rode in countless taxi’s, sat in on mommy’s acting classes, met some of your/our most favorite people in the world and learned to love your travel bed and your cheeks being pinched. The New York trip was so special for us to see so many people make you such a priority and swoon over you.
Unfortunately, your first road trip didn’t go as well as your first flight. On our trip from NYC to Pittsburgh you started to form an opinion about being stuck in a car seat… but lucky for you, at the end of the road trip you were reunited with your Nana and Aunt Jen and got to meet so many others… Aunt Jenine, Aunt Erin, Aunt Dona, Aunt Diane, all of your amazing Grandparents, all of your family, and all of our high school friends…
and who can forget your new “Aunts,” Missy, Nikki, Dana and Kelly… who all showered you with love, hugs and gifts.
However, as much as you enjoyed meeting all of those special people, something tells us you enjoyed your time with Cuz D and Cuz B the most. Your father and I are so grateful to our nephews Donovan and Brayden for showing you so much love and attention during their Christmas break! We reminded them everyday how you will look up to them, love them and count on them to be role models.
* Jeremiah 1:5 *
Since the day your father and I found out you were “on the way,” God has showered us with support and blessings. It was so important to us to have you dedicated at church the first chance we got, and…
WHAT. A DAY. IT. WAS.
You were dedicated at Amplify Church in Pittsburgh, PA. Pastor Lee Kricher, who married your father and I and who was a major influence in my upbringing, performed the dedication and service. If that isn’t special enough, you shared the stage with his granddaughter who is one of mommy’s dearest friend’s daughter.
Twenty of your closest family members shared this amazing moment with us!
After a magical Christmas and New Years, hundreds of new friends and out growing EVERY article of clothing I packed for you, your six week publicity tour ended, and we headed back to San Francisco.
As things quieted down, we were able to recognize all of your three AND four month “baby mile stones”… cooing, grabbing, laughing, trying to roll over, neck and back strength, sleeping in your crib, becoming aware of everything around you, acclimating to scheduled naps, forming opinions about toys, music, and mommy and daddy’s jokes…
Your favorite moments are when daddy reads you, “Green Eggs & Ham” and when I sing you “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” These are two sure ways to see your toothless, ear to ear smile that melts our hearts!
Just when we think we can’t love you anymore, you grab ahold of our hand with your little fingers, look us in the eye and smile. Our wish as parents is that we will not take these moments for grated and that we will always take time to hold hands and smile! Happy Four Months!
Being an actress and performer has given me the opportunity to do some really cool things. For the last several years, I have had the privilege of hosting an amazing event dedicated to young women and their dreams. It’s an honor to be the national host for National American Miss, one of the countries most prestigious and talked about youth pageants. As a dreamer myself, it is awesome to be given a platform where I can inspire young women to stay the course and follow their dreams.
I know when most people hear the word pageant they are skeptical and somewhat judgmental of what pageantry represents and what it can actually do for young ladies pursuing professional careers.
Reality television shows and silly “stage mom” stories have done a number on how people view pageants. And while I can’t speak for every pageant, I have been involved with National American Miss long enough to know that this organization (and the people that created it) firmly believe in the ability to turn little girls into confident young women, who are no longer just dreamers but who are achievers. This particular pageant system goes beyond crowns and banners and provides training and experiences that equip the contestants with valuable skills such as how to speak in front of a large audience, remain poised under pressure and ace an interview. In addition to these hard skills the program provides resume and job application experience, affords young women countless opportunities to give back to their communities, entertainment industry exposure, college scholarships, cash awards, strong academic influence and a sisterhood that often lasts a lifetime.
… if that isn’t enough to prove this organization is not your “typical pageant” contestants under the age of thirteen are not allowed to wear make up and unlike many televised pageants, there never has been and never will be a swimsuit competition. It is so refreshing to watch young women thrive in an atmosphere that not only encourages confidence but it encourages kids to just be kids.
Who is a “pageant girl”?
There is a list a mile long of noteworthy women who got their start in pageantry: Beyonce, Halle Berry, Oprah, Diane Sawyer, Vanessa Williams, Deborah Norville, Nancy O’Dell, Eva Longoria, Demi Lovato and even yours truly… I’m a former Miss Pennsylvania Teen and proud of it! I can trace some of my proudest accomplishments back to this pageant moment… not to mention some of my most prized friendships.
Organizations like National American Miss inspire young women to dream big and it gives them the platform to hone their skills and build their confidence.
Thank you, National American Miss for giving me the opportunity to meet your amazing City, State and National delegates and for giving young ladies a safe positive environment to grow.
Dear National American Miss Girls– You inspire me! I am in awe of your talents and abilities, your desire to change the world, and your dedication to your dreams! Don’t ever give up!
Preston Cash Hanna is TWO MONTHS OLD!
- length: 25″
- weight: 15 pounds (no that is not a typo… our son is large and in charge)
It has been an eventful month for you!
A month of discoveries…
You have discovered your voice!!! You are loud and proud of your gurgles and coos. You love to “talk,” and you have mommy and daddy’s full attention when you do!
You have not only discovered your voice, you have discovered your hands… and you can’t keep them out of your mouth. As you suck on them and explore, I sense a little bit of frustration. I think it’s because you are searching for your thumb but haven’t quite figured it out yet. Chances are you will find it buddy… keep trying.
Since your sensory skills have kicked in, your dad and I make sure to give you plenty of “gym time” on your play mat with mirrors, mobiles and rattles! Boy oh boy, do you love the mirror (like father like son). You love your play mat!
Together you and I have discovered an official bed time! 8pm sharp. Sometimes you fall asleep the minute I lay you down. Other times you talk yourself to sleep, which of course, makes me want to lie next to you and hear all about your day. I check on you every fifteen minutes. Selfishly, I love to watch you peacefully sleep with your hands over your head… simply adorable.
You and I spend every day together, and you have become quite the morning lover. You wake up every morning between 6:30am and 9am, and after you have had your breakfast (and sometimes during), you smile from ear to ear and can’t wait to tell me all about your night. Your coos and your smile melt my heart. There is no better way to wake up!
You and I are discovering all kinds of blessing in this city, and we are taking advantage of the beautiful California weather. Since you love your stroller, and I love the exercise, we have daily activities which include either taking walks, shopping or going out for coffee or lunch.
This month you are starting to discover just how many people love you! Not only did you get a special visit from Aunt Jen, but you have become quite the ladies man. Lyndsy and Rachel both flew in just to spend time with you too! You enjoyed getting spoiled by all three of them, and your father and I feel blessed that our son is such a priority in all of their busy lives! Thank you Aunt Jen, Rachel and Lyndsy for making all three of us feel so special!
My son, you and your discoveries make me so happy!
“Wee little baby fresh from God’s arms,
you light up the world with your sweet baby charms.
May God bless you with love and with grace,
and may joy always shine on your dear little face.”
Two weeks ago during my “mom’s group” meeting at church, one of the mothers explained that in the book she was reading, the author encourages the readers to look for and enjoy the “sunsets” in their lives…The things that remind you how beautiful life is.
As a new mom, it’s easy for my days to become a blur of feedings, diapers and… well… more feedings. I know this time with my new little family is infinitely precious and full of once in a lifetime moments I want to be fully present for, so for last two weeks, I have made a conscious effort to start “clocking” and really soaking up my sunsets…
My son’s smile
A cross country visit from my big sister.
Sunday lunch with my husband while the sun shines on us.
Homemade pumpkin bread that makes my hubby happy.
A killer pair of shoes.
An afternoon stroll along the water with my son.
Iced coffee from Philz Coffee.
Amazing friends that fly in from all over the country to meet our newborn.
My weekly “Moms Group” meeting.
A good Doctors report.
Brunch with husband and sister watching the hustle of tourists and locals at the Ferry Building.
My son, my son, my son!
I love my sunsets…
I’m so glad I’m finally taking time to watch the sunsets. I have so much to be thankful for…
Today you are ONE MONTH OLD! Where did the time go? It seems like yesterday we found out we were pregnant! It’s been a month of firsts for you and for us…
After your birth, you and daddy went to do the essentials with the Pediatrician: height, weight, bath, and your first shot… all the important stuff to keep you healthy and safe. You and I were reunited in the recovery room, and from that moment, I haven’t left your side. The hospital was pretty uneventful for you. You slept the entire time! Your father and I would stare at you and wait for you to wake up, even for a second, so we could hold you and love on you. You proved to be a prenatal nurse favorite. They all told us how “cute” you were and that you were “such a good baby.” Obviously, we agreed!
When we came home you made things very easy on us!
My favorite time with you is feeding time, especially in the middle of the night when it’s just you and me, and you are sleepy and needy and hold on to my hand as you nurse. You make all kinds of funny noises… lots of grunting and a sound your father and I have yet to define. We agree it sounds very similar to Woody The Woodpecker’s laugh!
You take after your dad when it comes to timing. You are ready to eat every three hours to the minute (never late for a meal).
You take after me in the morning. You’re a little fussy, but it doesn’t last two long.
You are a very big boy. Your doctor says your growth is “off the charts.” In fact, you never were able to wear any of your newborn clothing. At one month old, you are in sizes 3-6 months.
You LOVE bath time, long walks in your stroller, car rides and falling asleep on my lap. You love when your daddy raps to you (go figure) and when mommy sings “You Are My Sunshine.” You are mesmerized by Nana’s voice (she helped take care of you all month) and are prayed for by many friends and family members all over the country.
I steel as many kisses from you as possible because I know there will come a day when you say, “Mom, stop kissing me.”
One small request sweet boy… Please don’t grow up too fast!
We love you very much! Welcome to the world, and Happy One Month, Cash!
Sweet Baby Boy Adventures
As little boys begin to grow,
you find they’re always on the go.
Imagining that they might be
off sailing far across the sea.
Or driving sports cars in a race,
then flying rockets into space…
They’d rather play than take a nap,
and tend to squirm when on a lap,
preferring mud and catching bugs
to getting kissed or giving hugs.
But that times still a while away,
and peekaboo’s the game to play…
For now, just hold that sweet boy tight,
enjoying every new delight,
each coo, each laugh, each little grin,
with each new day that you begin -
A busy world of fun for you
has just arrived in baby blue.
- author unknown
When I was little I thought my mom had magic hands. I never told her because I didn’t want to ruin the magic. I can remember, if I had a stomachache, I would ask her to “rub my tummy,” and the minute she did, I instantly felt better.
Thirty some years later, the magic still exists. As I came out of my c-section surgery 3 weeks ago, she was there to hold my hand, and once again, I instantly felt better.
Throughout my hospital recovery she never left my side. She was there helping me brush my hair, wash my face or talking me through the pain. When my mom is around I always feel safe and loved.
My mom flew across the country, not just because she wanted to meet her new grandson, but because she is a MOTHER, and being a mother is a job that never ends. Caring for me (and my husband) 3000 miles away from her family and friends is really how she spent the last month of her life. She rarely got to pick up the baby as she was busy walking our dog, cooking us food, running to the grocery store, tending to my pain, cleaning the house, doing the laundry and taking out the trash.
With a healthy baby in my arms and a successful c section recovery… it was time for her to head back to Pittsburgh to take care of her other grand kids, daughters, husband and friends… She left on Saturday morning. Devin took her to airport early in the morning, and when I woke up and saw her bags where out of the bathroom and the living room, I felt an overwhelming sense of emptiness.
Devin and I seem to be finding our stride to the best of our ability without her here, and we are adjusting to not having the extra hands in the house. We have also tried to adjust to not having the extra love, support and kindness she brought into our house, however, we have been less successful at that. In fact, there are moments of quiet in the apartment, and we both will recognize how much we miss her and needed her.
We both miss her terribly… And I KNOW Cash misses her too.
Mom – Thank you for selflessly giving more than a month of your life to take care of us. I know it wasn’t the glamorous trip to California that I promised. We are forever grateful to you and miss you… and your obsession with Pittsburgh, your need to play board games and “Words With Friends” all the time, your ability to talk through every movie and TV SHOW, your fascination with burping the baby and your need to have food made “your way”… But most of all, we miss your cooking :) and your positive outlook on our progress as parents and your ability to make everyone in the house (even the cat and dog) feel so LOVED! Thank you for teaching us so many valuable lessons! We love and miss you.
My mom is an amazing cook! She spent a month cooking us dinners and lunches… so I thought it is only fitting to include one of her specialty recipes in this post!
Nana’s Chicken Piccata
2-4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp grate parmesan cheese
1/3 cup of flour
salt and pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp of butter
1/2 cup chicken stock or dry white wine
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup of capers
1/4 cup of fresh parsley
put chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound them with meat hammer to 1/4″ thickness
mix flour, salt, petter and parmesan. rinse the chicken in water and then dredge them thoroughly in the flour mixture until coated.
heat olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet on medium. add half of the chicken, do not crowd the pan. brown well on each side (at least 3 min. per side). remove the chicken from the pan and then repeat with other chicken breasts. cover with foil to keep warm while you prepare the sauce.
add the chicken stock (or white wine), lemon juice, and capers to pan. use spatula to scrape up the browned bits. reduce the sauce by half, whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. plate the chicken and serve with sauce poured over the chicken. sprinkle with parsley
*** when my mom makes it, she serves it over angel hair… ENJOY
On September 25th, 2014 at 10:34 a.m. our son Preston Cash Hanna was born!
During week 38 of my pregnancy Cash started to make his way “down and out”… however our busy little boy got a little turned around (he obviously gets his sense of direction from his dad) and ended up in the breech position by week 39. Since we were towards the end of the pregnancy our doctor set us up for a scheduled cesarian.
So on September 25th we entered the hospital at 8:00 a.m. and four days later we walked out of the hospital with a gift from God.
Our lives are now changed forever, and for the better.
We would like for you to meet Cash.
Cash was born in San Francisco, CA at CPMC
It was an amazing experience and we are grateful to the doctors, nursers and staff for all their help, insight and care.
Bringing Cash home from the hospital was so exciting (and scary).
Thank God Nana (my mom) who was visiting from Pittsburgh, PA didn’t get a return plane ticket…
We are so grateful to have her here with us… to help us… to cook for us… to clean for us… but most importantly to love on our little man. Cash loves Nana
Everyday we learn from our son.
Everyday we are humbled by this blessing.
And everyday we get a little more sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
I am so in love!