Daddy's Chicken Salad Recipe

When it comes to the kitchen, we all know it's mostly my domain. But there are somethings my husband does better than me. Since our daughter was born in May, he's been stepping up to the stove and trying his hand at learning more. He makes a mean chicken soup, and great egg salad. One of our favorite things to eat is chicken salad. There is just something great about it, isn't there?

Well, since my time is a bit more limited these days, I've been buying more rotisserie chickens, which means more chicken salad! Since that has been the case, my husband has been hard at work trying to perfect his craft. A couple of weeks ago when he made a few simple changes, we both got wide-eyed and said, "THIS IS IT!" So here it is, the chicken salad that has had me chickening out! 


Take the white meat from one rotisserie style chicken and chop it up finely. 


Then take one half and onion and dice it smalllllllll. 


And same thing for one large celery stalk. 


Okay, here are our secret ingredients, which, incidentally, aren't so secret anymore! Haha. 
Pepper relish, which my canners and I make and cajun seasoning, which just happens to have the best name in the history of cajun seasoning names...Slap Ya Mama. Too awesome right? 


So you add your secret ingredients, as well as some mayo, to all the rest of it. 




And then, I take a pretty picture of it to demonstrate that it happened.... 
And then you mix it!!! 



And then you serve it up RIGHT! 
So, this is how my husband eats his, with crackers and LOTS of pepperoncinis. I had mine with pretzel chips AND crackers and a pickle. Sandwiches work too, as well as chicken salad on a green salad....yum! How do you eat yours?! 

Daddy's Chicken Salad Recipe 

Time: 10 minutes, tops | Serves: 4 (makes 1 pint) | Difficulty: Easy! 

You will need: 

The white meat from a rotisserie chicken, diced 
1/2 white onion, finely diced 
1 big celery stalk, finely diced 
a couple of dashes cajun seasoning (to taste)
1 heaping tablespoon pepper relish
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste 

Method

In a small mixing bowl, combine ingredients and stir to fully combine. 

Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. 

Enjoy with someone you love! 

Stuff I Use: Coconut Oil

Now, I'm not one to get holy about my products or anything, but can I get a
"HALLELUJAH" for this product?! Perhaps I need to back up. Since my daughter was about five weeks old, I haven't been eating dairy because her system hated it and it was causing all kinds of unpleasantness. Way back before I was a parent ('round about February) I went on a little nesting/hoarding/food purchasing kick and bought some coconut oil. 

I put the stuff in my cupboard and promptly forgot about it. This is not entirely unusual for me. I just wanted the stuff, didn't know why, but had to have it. So, there it sat. 

Fast forward to just a few days ago when I struck with an intense brownie craving. Intense. I was searching and searching for a nondairy version of the recipe, but I was also being stubborn because I wanted it to be a "one bowl" recipe. Did I also mention that it had not include chocolate chips? Or baking chocolate. I was NOT going to the store. Maybe it was my mood that was intense and not the actual brownie craving, but either way.... 

Anyway, I FINALLY found a one bowl recipe for brownies with all the specified ingredients I wanted to use, but it called for butter. That was when I remembered the coconut oil in my cupboard. I subbed it out for the butter and in 40 minutes I had my nondairy, one bowl brownies. It was a magnificent moment. And the brownies? Divine! 

In case you were wondering, I used THIS RECIPE (which I found on Pinterest, which is my favorite thing with a "www" in front of it.) And now, I am firmly in the "god bless coconut oil" camp. It's some pretty awesome stuff for you nondairy people like me! Or even if you do like dairy, you might want to give it a try because it takes all kinds in this world, am I right? 

We Need To Talk: ACTUAL Family Values

I don't think I thought about what "family values" meant to me until I became a parent, which, honestly, is not surprising. With those words being thrown around so much by pundits on TV, it's easy to become confused and think that "family values" is a Republican thing. Even if it were, it shouldn't be. And this post isn't meant to be political in any way; the thing is, family values aren't political, they are personal. Personally? I'm a little pissed off about the way families are treated.

The thing is, I always thought that society was set up to support families. In fact, it used to make me angry as a person without children, mainly because I had to pay more taxes than those without children. So I thought when I had a child, that same society would be "family friendly"--boy was that silly.

Perhaps some of my disillusionment has to do with an article I read about how a woman was asked to pump breast milk in a utility closet. That really made me angry. And then I watched the documentary Breastmilk, which talks about how women aren't really set up to succeed with breastfeeding in the first place. Then there was everything leading up to the birthing experience which really could be so much better....

And forgive me while I take a moment to bitch openly about the lack of maternity leave in this country because six weeks just isn't enough. I took "maternity leave" as a new parent, which was unpaid because I am self employed. I lost a lot of money this summer, and although I wouldn't trade all the money in the world for the time I've spent with my daughter bonding and getting to know one another, I have to say, I feel that the society that espouses so much rhetoric surrounding the value of a family shouldn't leave me hanging like this. Not to mention there are a lot of mothers who don't even get that--unpaid or otherwise! My heart breaks for these mothers who have to make the best of going back to work when really they might like to be at home. At the least,  shouldn't we have the presence of choice?

Other countries give their women (and men!) a year to be at home. A year. And no, it's not socialist or asking too much, it's taking time (if you want to) during your baby's most formative stages to guide them along and not have to leave them in order to make ends meet. We aren't talking about a puppy, we're talking about the children who will become tomorrow's scientists, teachers, and politicians...so I think it's important. As mothers, when we do go back into the world trying our best to fulfill these strange "superwoman" roles that we feel compelled to emulate, we find that the world isn't really set up for us in the way we might have thought it would be.

For instance, there is no daycare at my gym... there used to be, but it wasn't profitable enough, so they cut it. Luckily, the women I work out with don't mind that my child (and the instructor's child) hang out at the front of our class as glorified mascots, but we are only two people--what does everyone else do?

All of this, and my child hasn't even reached her first birthday yet.

Don't get me wrong, individuals, like the ladies at my gym are awesome. When my child is fussy in the grocery, I don't get evil stares (at least not yet.) People have been generous to me and my husband and I am so grateful for this. But as far as the society goes, well, I think we've collectively got a long way to go in practicing what we preach. If what's truly important to the family structure is sitting down for a nightly dinner, or making sure that you can make your child's science fair or ballet recital, then why not have a society that allows us to make enough money working a traditional nine to five and makes sure we get weekends off? This shouldn't just be a privilege for the highly educated, or just plain lucky, should it?

I say these things as I am part of a generation who was raised largely by daycare providers, teachers, and coaches because both our parents had to work in order to make enough money. And this generation, many of whom never had the luxury of having one parent present at all times, has been called the most selfish, laziest, and entitled group of young people in history (which, honestly is just downright rude.)

Maybe we need to rethink the values we impose on families these days. Giving dads or moms who want to stay home with their kids the chance to do so might be a good idea. Having daycare at places where moms go (like the gym) might not be profitable, but it might promote greater physical and mental health for parent and child alike, and being breastfeeding and pumping friendly might cut down on the amount of stress for new moms.

So the next time you want to talk about family values, make sure you are prepared to recognize that the values of money, less time, and more hustle are firmly in conflict with maintaining dinners at home, bedtime routines, and quality family time. Maybe in a world where we can "have it all" we have lost sight of what we really need in order to help our families thrive.

We Need To Talk: Co-sleeping

I have been afraid to talk about co-sleeping since the day I brought my daughter home from the hospital. It's not really a secret why: they scare the hell out of you in the hospital about co-sleeping. They make you watch videos about SIDS and have a whole campaign about how to put your child to sleep (in their own crib or bassinet, on their back.) Also...let's be honest, some mommies will practically flay you for thinking that co-sleeping is at all safe. Fear is a motherf*cker.

What I found when I got home from the hospital was that when I put my baby down, she cried immediately. She felt alone. She wanted to be held. When we slept together, it was like magic, she slept practically through the night, and so did I. Surprisingly, I found that being separated from my daughter through the night was counterintuitive for me, and I didn't sleep as well either! But I didn't want to talk about it. I didn't want the judgment... I felt ashamed I guess.

I was afraid that, even though co-sleeping was clearly working well for us, I was "doing something wrong." Clearly, it was against medical advice...but it was instinctive, and I couldn't shake the feeling that what I was doing was right, at least for us. The funny thing was, I was totally against co-sleeping before my daughter was born. I didn't want a baby in my bed because I wanted that to be a space for my husband and I, and yet there she was, night after night.

We would wake, well rested. We would breastfeed seamlessly through the night. How many times did she wake to eat? I don't know because we were in sync and just doing the eating routine in tandem as we slumbered. Not that I didn't worry about SIDS, I did, and so did my husband. We made adjustments in our bed to be sure that we were practicing safe co-sleeping, including putting a bumper on the side of the bed to prevent falls. I also read up on safe co-sleeping positions (provided by my La Leche League book, which, strangely advocates co-sleeping.)

In time, both my husband and I got more comfortable with the arrangement. Maybe it was because I wasn't as sleep deprived as I had excepted to be. The system was working. Despite the fact that it was working though, I still felt this pressure to get her out of my bed. So I began to try by putting her in the bassinet when she fell asleep in the evenings. This led to two very frustrating weeks of trying to get my baby to do something that she clearly wasn't going to do. I was frustrated, she was unable to sleep and everyone suffered for it.

Then it occurred to me: my husband and I are the parents. No matter what the hospital says, or what other parents say, or any other external pressures, we have to do what works for us. She has demonstrated she isn't ready for her own bed and is still breastfeeding through the night...so why was I trying to fix something that wasn't broken? Some of this is my nature; over analyzing a situation is just what I do. But it doesn't always work.

I noticed that I felt imaginary judgment based on what I thought I should be doing with my child in regard to sleeping. But co-sleeping works, doesn't prevent my husband and I from having a healthy sex life, and we are all quite happy. So there it is. We plan on transitioning her to her own bed when she can sleep through the night without eating or when the time is right. I don't plan on having a two year old in my bed...

I'm not suggesting that everyone go out and co-sleep with their babies based on my great experience with it. What I am saying though is that mothers (and parents) have an instinct about what to do with their babies, and that following it isn't always a bad thing. For me, putting my newborn into a crib away from me wasn't right. I'm convinced that it was unnatural for us to be separated in this way. There are studies that back me up citing that it helps regulate the baby's body temperature and breathing patterns. In fact, it may even reduce the risk for SIDS. *

Most of all, I want to let other parents know that co-sleeping isn't barbaric or wholly dangerous. It's just culturally unacceptable in the United States. Around the world, lots of other cultures co-sleep as a matter of practice. In fact, our parents co-slept with us, and we seemed to have turned out just fine. So what is your experience? Did you co-sleep or put your baby in the crib? What was right for you? Share your experience (unashamed!) in the comments section below!

*If you are considering co-sleeping, please know that there are risk factors, including drug use, weight issues, and alcohol use that may be unsafe for babies. Know your risks and do your own research before co-sleeping with your child. 

5 Things That Make Me A Better Parent

Time away from my baby
I went 30 days without being separated from my child for a single second last month...and it resulted in a feeling of frustration which, inevitably, I took out on my husband. Babies are babies. They will have nights when they are fussy, days when they cry for what seems like no reason, and stretches of time when they only want Mommy to hold them; it's what they do as they develop. I find all of these things exponentially easier to deal with if I've had a couple hours without my baby.

Exercise
There is just nothing like sweating to make me feel good and ready to take on the day. It's a little me time, even though my baby comes along and sits in her bouncy chair. It's also a way to be social and connect with my friends. I love to get those good endorphins flowing. Exercise is also one of the ways that I ward off anxiety and who the heck wants an anxious mommy?

Venting 
Do I love my child more than anything? Of course I do! But that doesn't mean there aren't downsides to parenthood. Nothing gets under my skin more than parents who act as though they literally have nothing bad to report about the experience. <<LIARS!>> Venting about these things, and often being able to put a humorous spin on them makes them sort of *poof* go away.

And if you're in denial about these things, well then, I can't help you. What I can say is that bitching about breastfeeding made getting through the first six weeks a possibility. Joking with my mom about how my daughter was the "hugging terrorist" who wouldn't let me put her down last week made getting through those four days much easier. So go ahead--vent! No one is judging you (except maybe you!)

Sex
Makes me feel like a woman, not just a mom. It's essential. I know that there are a lot of women out there who don't resume sex right away (after the 6 week break of course), for a variety of reasons. For me, I need to reconnect with my husband because our marriage comes first. Happy marriage= happier child, and sex is a major part of that equation!

A drink here and there 
I am NOT trying to be a mommy martyr. And yes, I am breastfeeding. But a glass of wine or a beer here or there isn't going to get my baby drunk, nor is it going to hurt anything. What it will do is keep me from feeling deprived and resentful, which ultimately makes me a better parent. If you cut out drinking totally while breastfeeding, good for you, I hope it's a-working. It wouldn't work for me. 

Marriage After Baby

The path of parenthood is wrought with uncertainty, and not just where the baby is concerned. For me, before I became pregnant, I worried endlessly about what would happen to the state of my relationship with my husband if we were to introduce a third party (the child) into our marriage. Some of my fears turned out to be founded and others, well, they didn't pan out at all. Here's what I have found out in the first three months of having a baby as it relates to my marriage.

Fear: We would fight all the time
Reality: We fight about the same, which isn't all that much 
I was scared that the stress of having a child would cause us to fight more than normal...the truth is that my husband was very understanding of my stress postpartum. So when I had my two week melt down because I was feeling overwhelmed, (and unceremoniously attacked him for "going on runs" and "living life") it didn't turn into a fight at all. Why? Because my husband was extremely understanding that it was a difficult time.

Other than that, we haven't been fighting any more than normal, which really isn't all that much. The biggest thing here for any couple is having a constructive fighting style that allows you to resolve problems quickly.

Fear: We would never have sex again 
Reality: We have sex about the same, but like sexual ninjas 
Now we have to sneak away in our own home to have sex because our child seems to have this super stellar radar for whenever we are about to get busy and starts crying. So it's off to the living room, or bedroom, or whatever room we can stealthily sneak away to where our little one won't notice we've gone for a few moments of intimacy (usually while she's napping). Ninjas.

Does it sometimes take extra energy at the end of the day (or beginning of the day), yes. But it's also worth it to have those moments of carnal reconnection that are essential to a marriage. And the unexpected quickie here or there reminds me that besides being "mom and dad" we are first a couple.

Fear: Our social life would dry up, which would make us unhappy. 
Reality: We've never been busier. 
Our social life has blossomed with parenthood, which is a very unexpected surprise! People who have children are always willing to socialize, and now I understand why: adult human contact is sooo important. But I don't want to discount our friends who don't have children, but have been extra conscious about reaching out to us. The village has surrounded us, and it's amazing. Thank you, village.

Fear: We would turn into these super cheesy parent people. 
Reality: We haven't changed, we were already those people to begin with. 
We already sang silly songs about each other, stayed in on the weekends, and liked playing with toys (and gadgets) so honestly, not all that much has changed. We still have our strange senses of humor which I assume we will pass on to our child, and but for a few new child-oriented things, we are mostly the same. Turns out, we were already those cheesy parent people only we didn't know it!

Fear: I would be doing all the baby stuff and would resent my husband. 
Reality: We both do a lot, it's possible I do a bit more (breastfeeding), but we have different strengths. 
If a mother is staying at home while the husband works outside the home, and that same mother is breastfeeding, then it's cut and dry; mom is gonna have a little more work in the beginning. But I have been able to keep my resentments in check because my husband has been very helpful and loving toward our daughter. He changes diapers like a champ, and even dances for her when she cries.

Any time I have felt overwhelmed, I try to explain it to my husband, and he tires his best to help in any way he can--even if it's not baby related. The thing I have learned above all about my marriage since having a child is that we are truly a team. We bring different strengths to the table, which ultimately makes for a more well-rounded household and hopefully a well-rounded child.

What has changed for you and your husband since you brought home baby? Let me know in the comments sections below!!

Spicy Asian Noodle Recipe

There is a restaurant in Rehoboth Beach called Confucius, which is one of our very favorites. When we go we always get these spicy noodles, which are served cold and are amazingly flavorful. Nowadays, oddly enough, my husband and I are lucky to get away on dates fairly frequently (for having a 3 month old) but getting to Rehoboth in the summer between the traffic and the distance, not to mention the cost, can be a little impossible. 

But I had to have these noodles. Had. To. Have. Them. Because I can't have dairy. I must have the noodles. So, I had to figure it out and make them myself. I started working on a recipe and after a couple of tries, I'm really happy with what I've come up with. My friend Paul says that's pretty identical to what they serve at Confucius, which made me ecstatic. 

Either way, even if you've never tried said noodles, if you like spicy and you like Asian style cooking, then these noodles are for you. Not sure if I mentioned this, but they also take about 10 minutes. These make a great side dish or a main dish even. Great to bring to parties, and impress the pants off your friends with. And when they ask you where you got the recipe, you can tell them "Bossy Italian Wife." Because even if they are Asian style, they are still noodles, so as far as I am concerned, they're Italian in even the smallest of ways.... haha. 

I made a big batch of this recipe, but you can easily half it. It's really so yummy, though, that I don't suggest halfing it because leftovers are the best!!! A word about the chili paste, you can generally get it in the Asian section of the grocery, where you can also find the noodles. 

Spicy Asian Noodles 

Time: 10 minutes | Serves 6-8 | Difficulty: Easy 

You Will Need:

2- 8.8 ounce packages wheat pasta (you can also substitute linguine if you can't find them) 
4 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce 
2 tablespoons rice vinegar 
4 tablespoons chili paste 
A heaping handful of sesame seeds (I used black and white version) 

Method: 

Cook noodles according to manufacturer's directions, being careful not to overcook them. Drain and then rinse them in cold water. Place them in a big bowl. 

Add the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, chili paste and sesame seeds. Toss with tongs and taste, adjusting spice if your heart desires. 

Refrigerate until you are ready to serve. Enjoy!!!