Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes & Kale

I can’t believe I have been withholding this recipe from you lovely people for so long. Please don’t hate me. I have been way too busy enjoying it, like, every other week. Thank God my husband loves it just as much.  I don’t know what I would do if he asked me to stop making it. That will never happen, though. I’m sure of it.

Chicken stew sweet potatoes kale

Reasons why I love this dish:

1. It is healthy

2. It is the most delicious stew I have ever tasted. Seriously, I feel like my tastebuds are doing the Electric Slide every time a bite goes in.

3. It will last me 3 days…and I DO NOT tire of it, even after that long.

4. It is super easy to make.

5. I can make bone broth from the carcass and innards after I am done with the chicken.

Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Kale

2 tablespoons butter

1 large yellow onion, sliced thin

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons flour

2 quarts chicken stock

1 whole, organic chicken, innards removed

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1.5-2 inch cubes

about 6-9 kales leaves

fresh parsley, finely chopped

Cooked white rice to serve with stew

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large (oven-safe) stock pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Cook onions until they are soft, then add garlic and stir around until it’s nice and fragrant (about 30 seconds).  Add flour and stir around for another 30 seconds or so. Slowly add chicken stock and stir to get all the flour bits off of the bottom. Submerge the chicken in the stock, add the salt and pepper, and add the sweet potato cubes around the chicken. Bring to simmer.

When the stew is simmering, cover stock pot and place in oven. The cooking time will depend on the weight of the chicken. For a 3lb chicken, an hour will do. I had to cook a 4lb bird for 1.5 hours last week.

When the chicken is done, remove the pot from the oven. Let the covered pot rest while you are cooking your rice. Carefully remove the chicken to a plate or large cutting board.  Cut or tear the kale into bit-sized pieces and add to the stew, along with the parsley. What we like to do is serve the stew over rice and eat the legs the first night. When we are finished with dinner, we go back and shred the meat from the bone then toss it in the stew and refrigerate for the next night.

The next night, I like to use some of the stock in the stew to make the rice. More flavor, baby! Anyway, we eat this for at least 2 nights, sometimes even 3.  It could serve about 6 in one night, though.

chicken stew sweet potato kale

 

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

 

 

Take a look at my succulents

Succulents.

I don’t know why, but  that word sounds downright dirty to me. In spite of their grown-up, dirty sounding name, they can be the cutest little plants I have ever seen. I mean, have you seen the teeny-tiny, adorable containers they come in at the store?! So little. So cute.

SucculentsThis little leggy one on the end is my favorite…Elephant Bush. I have another one sitting on my piano that I’ve had for about 6 months.

Elephant BushSuch a pretty plant. The best thing about it is that it doesn’t require much from me. Just a big drink of water every two weeks or so, and a spot in my brightest room.

SucculentsThese little guys are sitting on my dining room table.  I have no idea what that spiky flower thing is, but I love it.

SucculentsI definitely recommend keeping some of these guys around. They don’t require too much attention and they add so much to any room.

SucculentsOkay, I’m done showing off my succulents. Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Backyard Chickens?

My husband and I have really been considering adding a small flock (if 3 or 4 can be considered a flock) of chickens to our backyard.  Two years ago, I couldn’t imagine myself typing those words, but now I am finding it harder and harder to go on living without these amazing little birds in my life.  Now, if my mom is reading this she’s probably raising an eyebrow, wondering what in the world the Arizona sun has done to her poor daughter’s brain.

It’s fried, mom.  Like an egg! Speaking of eggs…chickens lay those things. I like eggs. What I don’t like is spending $5 a week on a dozen organic “cage free” eggs.  It makes me sad. If I had chickens, they would give me eggs in exchange for a little love and attention. So there.

Also, chickens are funny and entertaining. And yes, this is really one of the reasons I would like to keep chickens.

My one concern, and I’ll admit, it’s a big one, is that my dog will kill all the chickens. I imagine those words running through his little brain the second he sees them…”kill all the chickens”.  It’s not that he’s hungry, he just has such a strong prey drive and likes to kill everything that moves. Except people. And other dogs. It’s scary.

The Stuff of Nightmares.

The Stuff of Nightmares.

Oddly enough (I say that, but it’s really not that odd since it’s chick season), all of my favorite homestead bloggers have been blogging about keeping backyard chickens! Just thought I’d share a few here in case any of you are considering becoming a crazy chicken lady, like myself.

6 Reasons to Keep Backyard Chickens

Keeping Backyard Chickens 101

The Basics of Backyard Chickens

(and just because I love to eat cookie dough) The Number One Reason Why YOU Need Chickens

On top of that, I have been reading A Chicken in Every Yard and The Urban Homestead.

And if my friends and family aren’t quite convinced that I’ve gone completely crazy, I’m looking into urban beekeeping. Yep. It’s true.

 

Not-so-bad-for-you Banana Pancakes

I don’t get a chance to drift into deep sleep very often with a toddler and a newborn around the house, so I have tons of dreams (that is, if dreams could be measured in weight).  I normally dream about a TV series that I’m watching since when I do get to watch a TV series it’s normally catching up with the first half of the season by watching 6 episodes in one day. I also dream about books that I’m reading. I happen to be reading A Chicken in Every Yard: The Urban Farm Store’s Guide to Chicken Keeping and also catching up on Black Sails.  So my dreams last night were pretty interesting. No joke, chicken pirates. Yep.

Anyway, that has nothing to do with the banana pancakes I made this morning. I just felt like giving Milo a little treat. He likes for me to cut the pancake into four sections, then make little peanut butter sandwiches with the sections.  Not quite as messy as syrup, and much better for him.

Banana Pancakes Recipe

 

I decided to call these “not-so-bad-for-you” because this recipe uses coconut palm sugar and coconut oil, as opposed to regular sugar and butter or vegetable oil.  Of course, you could sub those ingredients in, however, you would then just have banana pancakes instead of my awesome version.  Okay, so here goes…

Not-so-bad-for-you Banana Pancakes

1 cup self-rising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar

2 bananas

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg, beaten

1/3 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon coconut oil (liquified) 

Heat cast iron skillet (or pan of your choice) over medium-high heat.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and coconut palm sugar together. In a smaller bowl, mash bananas and mix in vanilla extract. Add egg, milk, and coconut oil to banana mixture, mix well, then add to dry ingredients, mixing only until incorporated.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring spoon, measure a little less than 1/4 a cup of batter and pour into skillet. Smooth out with back of spoon. Cook until bubbles form on top of pancake. Flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Serve with syrup or peanut butter!

Banana Pancake Recipe

 

These pancakes are nice and fluffy, not flat like normal pancakes, so make sure to wait for those bubbles to form on top so it gets cooked all the way though. You might need to play with the heat settings if it’s getting too brown before the bubbles form.

Enjoy your weekend!

 

I see green things!

It’s been exactly one week since I put my seeds in the ground and I am finally seeing tiny seedlings making their way up towards the sunlight! I didn’t see anything at first glance, but after watering I saw a little corn stalk poking through, then a little thyme plant, then finally, the beginnings of a beautiful baby beet!

Beet Seedling

Beet Seedling – 7 days to germination.

Growing things is something that is truly rewarding every step of the way, for me, at least.  Anytime I do something in my garden, I feel productive, like I’ve really accomplished something important, which makes me happy. It’s kind of like raising children without all of the whining, ouchies, and dirty diapers. Speaking of that last one, I need to wrap this up.

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!

The beginning of our summer garden

Arizona Summer Garden March

My wonderful husband finally got around to building me one of my 3′ x 6′ raised garden beds! I still need another two for our zucchini, summer squash, more corn, and watermelons, but I got this one started just in time. I am a little sad that I forgot to start my tomatoes last month, but I am currently looking for some USDA organic plants, so if anyone in the Yuma area knows of any, let me know! I know the Sunrise Farmers Market had them in October, but I didn’t need them then.

Anyway, as you can see, I forgot to get markers, so I am currently using oblong rocks found in the gravel part of my yard to mark my veggie rows. From left to right (left is west facing) I have golden bantam sweet corn, green okra, some nasturtium, blue lake bush beans, pronto beets, sweet basil, thyme, italian parsley, and carrots.  My veggie seeds come from Seeds of Change and my herb seeds come from Zziggysgal.  I used a soil mixture of half compost, half topsoil.  I am hoping that Sam gets the sprinkler system guy out to our house soon so I can get the beds hooked up.  As soon as he builds the other beds, which needs to be done by 15 March, I will plant more corn, sugar snap peas, marketmore cucumbers, dark star zucchini, sugar baby watermelons, and yellow crookneck squash, probably some more nasturtium and herbs as well.

I got Milo some zohar f-1 sunflowers to plant along our front yard fence line, so I am excited about that! I hope to instill the same love of gardening that I am developing and nurturing in myself in him too.  I’ve heard that sunflowers are a great place to start with kids, oh and beans.

I will update as little green things begin to push their way up above the surface of the soil in search of the life-giving sunshine. Have a great Friday and an even better weekend!

My personal journey with breastfeeding…so far

Oh, breastfeeding. People talk about how amazing and easy (compared to making bottles) this incredibly natural act is. I must say, though, it truly is incredibly difficult those first few weeks, way beyond the difficulty of childbirth. Breastfeeding has taught me what it really means to sacrifice myself for the sake of my child. I wanted to give up every single day. I would watch the clock nervously, knowing that the next feeding was just a few short hours away. I began to resent my daughter’s cry of hunger..really. It was that bad. I hated breastfeeding. I am pretty sure that the only thing that kept me going was my own stubbornness.  I wanted to prove to myself that I could nourish my baby all on my own, like it was supposed to be done. So I kept going. Let’s start at the beginning:

Week 1

The first week really was amazing. As you might have read HERE, I had the perfect birth experience and went home the very next day to a house full of people I love making me food and keeping me company. I was sore, but I accepted that as part of the breastfeeding experience and went along happily.  At Charlie’s 1 week appointment, she had gained 4 oz. YES! I was doing it right! I was thrilled and encouraged to keep going. So I did.

Week 2

The second week was a little rougher. Instead of just being sore, I found out that Charlie had a really shallow latch and she was actually hurting me. I watched countless videos and read many, many articles to learn how to correct it, but it just seem to get worse.  I figured she was just little and awkward and she just needed some time to grow a bit, so I kept going.

Week 3

Weeks 3 and 4 were the bottom of the pit for me. On Sunday I decided I was feeling good enough to deep clean my house and rearrange my living room (I was only 16 days postpartum).  I also cooked a wonderful dinner for our friends, the Witte’s.  The next day I woke up with angry red lines running down my left breast, an achy body, and chills.

Mastitis.

Sam was set to leave for a night the next day, so I prayed with all my might that this infection would leave my body in time. I swallowed 3 or 4 raw garlic cloves and took the hottest shower I could stand while giving myself the most painful deep tissue breast massage that I could manage. As bad as it hurt, I made Charlie nurse the left breast as often as possible. I guess God really supported my decision to breastfeed because he honored my request and the next day I woke up feeling brand new! Sam’s first night away was hard though. It was hard managing my two year old and taking care of the baby too. He was coming home the next day, but I was still stressed to the max. Well guess what else causes mastitis…stress. So Wednesday morning begins with more aches and pains and more angry red marks. I was ready this time. I took a few mega-doses of vitamin C, swallowed a few raw garlic cloves and a tablespoon of raw, local honey, took more hot showers with more painful deep-tissue massages, nursed the heck out of the infected side, and rested. I managed to kick it again. But then I started to ask myself why I was subjecting myself to this torture.  I mean, Milo had been formula-fed and he turned out great! I kept my thoughts to myself though, because Sam was beginning to see my frustration with breastfeeding and if he even so much as hinted towards me giving her formula I was going to light him on fire.

Week 4

The mastitis was gone, but Charlie’s latch was really starting to injure me. It hurt so bad that I thought I had thrush. Every time she would suck, it would feel like she was sucking fire and broken glass out of my nipple. Every muscle in my body was tense during feedings. I was like a dead person after rigor mortis has set in. My husband was really starting to get concerned and one day decided to make that “off-limits” suggestion. I ripped into him like a momma bear ripping into a curious camper who got too close to her cub. It was so bad that I don’t even remember what I said. I decided it was time to see a lactation consultant.

The first thing the LC wanted to do was weigh her. So, I stripped her down and placed her on the scale and watched the numbers nervously. Eight pounds, 10 ounces. WHAT?? This girl was, by no means, lacking food. As bad as it hurt, and as shallow as her latch was, she was getting all the food she needed. The LC was floored at her weight gain (she was 6 pounds, 5 ounces at birth and this was just a few short weeks later).  So she wanted to watch me nurse. Of course, Charlie actually latched perfectly in the presence of the LC (something she had only managed to do once before), making me look like a big, dumb idiot for coming in at all.  She gave me a few helpful tips (best one – do not hesitate to get her to the boob when she opens wide!) and sent me on my way.

Week 5

Five weeks into this and it still felt like I was nursing a barracuda.  I reached a breaking point in the middle of week five. After what felt like an assault on my chest, my sweet baby laid across my tummy, sleeping soundly with milk, the evidence of the assault, dripping from her mouth, like a vampire who had just had a delicious meal.  I took my computer out and searched the words I’d been trying to avoid this whole time: best organic formulas.  In my mind, I was failing.  **Note – there is nothing wrong with formula. It was just a personal goal for me to nourish my baby by breastfeeding** I spent about an hour researching formulas and finally decided on one that I thought was best.  I was too tired to go get my wallet to place the order so I resolved to do it in the morning and tried to get some sleep.  This was also the week that the disgusting and incredibly ridiculous article about breastfeeding not being all that better than formula came out.  So, I felt a little more justified, even though I knew deep down that it was a load of horse crap.

What happened over that night, I cannot explain.  When I woke up the next day, Charlie was nursing perfectly. It was comfortable, she was happy, I was, for the first time, happy to feed her. It was amazing, and kind of scary. I kept waiting for the pain to come, but it never did. And it has been great ever since then.

They say it normally goes like that. If you just stick to it those first few weeks, drag yourself to hell and back, then it will just get better one day. And that is what happened for me! It just got better, and now I love it. I love nursing her. I look forward to when she wants to eat and sometimes even offer her the breast before it’s “time”.  The best part of this whole thing is that I have not had to give her one drop of formula. She has been completely nourished by me and me alone! I accomplished what I wanted to for her and for me.

I’m writing this to keep a record for myself, but also to encourage any momma out there who is struggling through those first few weeks.  Don’t give up. If you can, avoid giving your baby formula (it’s not a sin, and it won’t kill the baby, but it will probably hinder your breastfeeding relationship). Keep going!! It does get better. I hated hearing that. Everyone kept saying it and I was in so much pain that I just wanted to slap the caring expression right off of their face.  But it’s true. I hated breastfeeding. I would say that out loud every time I was doing it. I kept thinking how easy it was to feed Milo…put the weird powdery stuff in the bottle, add filtered water, shake, stick bottle in mouth, done.  But now that we are over that terrible hump, breastfeeding is much easier than formula feeding ever was. When she wakes up in the middle of the night, I simply turn over and nurse her, both of us laying down and still asleep. That’s productive multitasking right there..sleeping and feeding baby at the same time.

If I can do it with my terrible attitude and tendency to never follow through, anyone can do it.  And it’s so worth it.

** another note – we all do what works for our families. This post was not meant to offend anyone who did not succeed or who decided to formula-feed.  It’s just my personal experience that I wanted to share to encourage any mother who finds herself on the brink of giving up. **

Winner of Ginger Mail Giveaway!!

Hi! I am happy to announce the winner of the Ginger Mail giveaway is…

Sara (sarammcgowanATgmailDOTcom)!!!

Congrats, Sara! I will be contacting you via email to collect your info, but if I don’t hear anything from you in the next 48 hours, then I have to pass the prize on to the next. Sad face, I know, so check your email!

In other news, I have some fun things coming up, including my experience with taking my own placenta! It’s not as gross as it sounds, trust me. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!

Charlie’s Birthday

I can hardly believe that she’s here! It’s even harder to believe that I’m about to tell you about my completely perfect, complication-free hospital birth.  You see, I had planned a natural birth from the start. I hired a doula, I got a midwife, and I read all of the books, but I don’t think I ever believed that I was actually going to go through with it. I wanted to, but I just didn’t have faith in myself.

The night of my baby shower, I had some kind of panic attack. I was 38 weeks pregnant, sleeping soundly, when I was awoken by a slightly painful contraction that set off a 30 minute panic episode.  I was shaking uncontrollably as I packed a hospital bag (with 5 sets of pajamas, might I add. So not only was I panicking, but it seems that I was also having some kind of mental breakdown).  I decided to jump in the shower to try to relax and regroup.  I started asking myself why I was panicking then I remembered why I was so scared of a natural birth. The only contractions I had ever felt were the pitocin-induced piggy-back contractions I endured for 3 or 4 hours during my labor with Milo.  It was the worst pain of my life and I couldn’t catch a break from them since they were one on top of the other.  That little episode had me questioning, for the first time in my pregnancy, why I wanted to have a natural, pain-medication free child birth. Yes, that is right. I had not even thought it through before 38 week pregnant. My advice to other expectant mothers: don’t do that.

After a few days or so of over-thinking the whole ordeal, I decided to just let it go and let whatever happen just…happen! Really, that is how I function best. I like to think I’m a good planner, but in the end, I normally just throw my hands up and say, “Whatever…it’s gonna happen how it’s gonna happen”.  And it did.

Five nights after that little episode, at about 12am on the 17th, I started having contractions that were 2 minutes apart. Now, they say, “Oh, you’ll know when they are labor contractions”. I don’t want to scare anyone, but I did not know these were labor contractions.  In fact, I told myself that they couldn’t be labor contractions because it was 12 in the morning and Sam’s parents couldn’t possibly make the trip at that hour and I didn’t want to wake up my midwife, doula, husband, or 2-year old, so I got into a hot bath and decided to call my doula. We went back and forth about what to do and eventually decided to wait it out for another hour (I was already 5cm dilated according to my Dr. appt 2 days prior) to see what happened.  When I got off the phone with her, I kept telling myself that I can’t go into labor tonight. I needed to sleep and to be well-rested and not completely terrified before I went into real labor.  So my contractions tapered off. They went from 2 minutes to 5 then to 10 minutes apart, then eventually they stopped. My son came into our room at about that time, so I snuggled up with him and got about 6 wonderful hours of sleep.

The second I opened my eyes at 6:22am I had a contraction…then 2 minutes later, another one…and another one. I can’t really say they were painful.  I think words like “pressure” and “intense” would work better to describe what I was feeling, but not painful. One of my well-meaning friends commented about how some women have “painless” contractions. To that I say “ha ha” and “no”. I think I could have looked at them as painful, but my outlook on the whole thing had somehow shifted and suddenly all of those books that I read were helping me.  I was choosing to view the contractions as something I needed to work with rather than fight against. I was remembering to relax with each one and to visualize my body opening up with each contraction.  I was really surprising myself with how calm and collected I was during the whole thing. And I’m getting ahead of myself, so back up…

I decided to call my midwife at about 7:30 and she wanted me to come to the hospital immediately since I was already so dilated.  Sam came home from work and I drove us to the hospital (had a few contractions on the way). I didn’t really think I was in active labor. I actually didn’t even bring my bags to the hospital.  When I got to triage, they informed me that they already had a room for me. I felt the pressure at this point…the pressure to actually be in active labor. I mean, they already had a room for me and here are all these poor girls in triage being monitored for another few hours and I get to skip in line and go to a delivery room! Lucky for me, midwife checked and I was at 7cm, so I wasn’t going back home.  We called everyone, the in-laws, doula, parents, and everyone got moving.  Sam came back to the hospital with our son and we all just kind of sat around while I had contractions 2-3 minutes apart for the next 3 hours.

My midwife, me, and my doula…about 30 minutes before Charlie was born.

My midwife, me, and my doula…about 30 minutes before Charlie was born.

Milo wasn’t supposed to actually stay for the delivery, but it just happened that way, and I’m glad it did.  Close to the end, around 9cm, when contractions got super intense, he was a wonderful distraction.  He was so sweet and concerned and he was constantly saying things to make me laugh.  At about 11:45am it was time to push. So, for me, this is where things got painful.  I only pushed for 5 minutes, but it was a painful 5 minutes.  On a scale of 1-10, I’d say my pain was at an 8…or 9.  We had planned for me to reach down, grab her and immediately put her on my chest while the cord stayed attached for however long it took to stop pulsing, but when her little head emerged, the cord was wrapped twice around, so the midwife had to cut it.  I actually ended up getting a little squeamish as I was pushing her out and when the midwife told me to grab her, I took one look and said “ew, no!”.  Haha…I know that sounds terrible, but I was off somewhere else trying to deal with the pain internally as I had been doing all along. I eventually (like 20 seconds later) took her and held her for a long time and it was perfect.

Charlie's Birthday 1

Soon after I delivered her, they brought me lunch and there was a huge brownie sitting on the tray. Let me tell you something…that hospital brownie was, and still is to this day, the best brownie I have ever tasted. I don’t know if it’s because I was physically exhausted from pushing a baby out or if the baker at the hospital is just that amazing, but I want another one. I have dreamt about that brownie several times since that day.  A couple hours after I delivered her, I was up and walking around. I felt great! Nursing was going great, too.  I kept wondering when something bad was going to happen, but it didn’t.  The only thing that kind of irked me was the little gathering of nurses outside my door who were discussing, rather loudly, my decision to opt out of the eye ointment and hep B vaccine and how I needed to sign a letter of consent saying if she dies, it’s my fault and blah blah blah.  Okay, thanks, now go away.

Proud Dad! He finally has a little princess.

Proud Dad! He finally has a little princess.

So that’s the story of how Charlie was born!  She is now 13 days old, eats like a pig, poops like a horse, and is the sweetest little girl I will ever know.  We are all so in love with her, especially Milo.  He always asks to hold her (actually he says “ho-me” when he wants to hold her) and he just stares at her.  I know he’s only two, but you can totally see all of the love and adoration in his eyes. He is just as captivated as we are.

Andrea Hauck Photography

Photo by Andrea Hauck

Ginger Mail **Giveaway**

Alright, you lovely people, I have an adorable giveaway this month from Ginger P Designs.  If you haven’t heard of this wonderful little paper company, then definitely check out the link. They offer invitations, greeting cards, place cards, menu cards, and so much more with designs that are clean and simple.  They also have this neat little mailing service called Ginger Mail which sends you a little package of greeting cards (related to upcoming holidays), a cute little calendar for the month, and other adorable stationary items every 6 weeks!

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE the idea of this mailing service.  I am the type of person who always intends on sending that birthday card, but never actually picks it up at the store. The day comes, then goes, and I am, once again, that mediocre friend who didn’t send a birthday card.  I’ll share with you the Ginger mail I received for the December 1st mailing:

December Ginger Mail

 

There was also a shopping list notepad, but I have been using that religiously, so it’s almost gone.

I’m giving away the January 15th mailing which includes lots of Valentine’s Day goodies and a few other fun things.  To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment below along with your email address (so I know how to contact you if you win).  The giveaway is open from today until Friday, 1/31 at 12am MST.  The winner will be announced and contacted Friday morning and will have 48 hours to claim the prize.

In the meantime, check out these adorable freebie printables from Ginger P Designs….Valentine’s Day Wine Labels!!

Valentine's Day Wine Labels

Photo from gingerpdesigns.com

You can find another Valentine’s Day printable, and some fun Mother’s and Father’s day printables too!

**Giveaway open to residents of US, Canada, and UK. Disclosure: I did receive these items for free to review, however, I am not receiving any other compensation**