Shrimp & Crab Macaroni and Cheese – Recipe

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups Barilla elbow noodles
3 tablespoons organic sweet cream butter ( plus some for greasing)
2 tablespoons King Arthur all purpose flour
2 cups organic half-n-half
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 pinch cayenne pepper
4 cups Sharp cheddar cheese, grated & 2 cups Provolone/Mozzarella cheese , shredded
2 pinches kosher salt, to taste
2 pinches freshly ground black pepper, to taste
cooked shrimp, patted dry (tails removed)
1/2 cup crabmeat ( fresh, frozen or 12 g can, well drained)
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

DIRECTIONS:
In a pot of salted water, cook macaroni until tender, about 8 – 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly butter an 8 x 8 baking dish and set aside.
In a large sauce pot, add the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Using a whisk, slowly add the milk and cook until it thickens.
Remove the sauce from heat and mix in the half-n-half, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper. Add 3/4 of the Cheddar cheese and the Provolone/ Mozzarella cheese. When the macaroni is cooked, drain it well. Add to it, the shrimp, crab and basil and gently add the white sauce. Spoon macaroni mixture into the prepared baking dish.
Top with the remaining Cheddar and Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until the top is lightly golden.

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Seventeen Weeks and Counting ! – The 411

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BABY STATS:

How your baby’s growing

My baby’s skeleton is changing from soft cartilage to bone, and the umbilical cord — her lifeline to the placenta — is growing stronger and thicker. The baby weighs 5 ounces now (about as much as a turnip), and she’s around 5 inches long from head to bottom. She can move her joints, and her sweat glands are starting to develop.

How Mommy’s life’s changing

Starting to feel a bit off balance? As your belly grows, your center of gravity changes, so you may begin to occasionally feel a little unsteady on your feet. Try to avoid situations with a high risk of falling. Wear low-heeled shoes to reduce your risk of taking a tumble; trauma to your abdomen could be dangerous for you and your baby.

You may also notice your eyes becoming drier. Using over-the-counter lubricating drops may help. If your contact lenses become uncomfortable, try wearing them for shorter stretches of time. If you still have discomfort, switch to glasses until after you give birth.

How Far Along?

Seventeen Weeks Zero Days

How Big Is The Little One?

My baby is the size of a Turnip !  She should weigh about 5 ounces.

Total Weight Gain / Loss?

I have lost two pounds

Maternity Clothes?

I am still wearing my normal clothing, which are still too big.  I will be glad when I pop so that I can rock my maternity jeans I bought months ago.

Sleep?

I still have off and on insomnia.   It is currently 4 am and I am up writing this blog post.

Best Moment of the Week?

Last week, I vacationed in Las Vegas with my mom and then headed to New York this week.  On Monday, I had my 16 week anatomy scan and all was well.   I got to see my little one and boy has she grown !  Her legs and arms are so long and she has the cutest long fingers.  On Tuesday, I got to tour the hospital where I will be delivering my baby girl. It was a relief to be able to envision everything.  On Wednesday, I had my monthly OB appointment with Dr. Karamitsos and everything is going well.  He had to move my delivery date back three days because the date I wanted conflicts with the days he is in the hospital and I refuse to deliver with any other doctor.   So instead of a Friday, I will deliver on a Monday. I guess the exciting part of my week was meeting Fantasia Barrino and her band in the lobby of my hotel, as they were staying there this week too.

Symptoms?

I still have no appetite and have to eat by force every four hours.  I re-injured my achilles tendonitis yesterday as I started up the stairs.  My right heel popped and then I felt this burn.  I have my foot wrapped in ACE bandage and if it doesn’t feel any better by Sunday, I am going to the emergency room at the hospital by my mom’s old residence and let them treat it.  Hopefully they can inject it with cortisone, if it is not detrimental to my baby.  I can not imagine having to deal with heel pain while gaining weight with this pregnancy over the next five months.  It took over six months for my heels to heal when this happened over the summer.

I have an increased sense of urinary urgency.  My placenta is low lying and my baby likes to lie at the bottom of my uterus and doesn’t see a need to move up.  Although my placenta has moved up quite a bit since the last scan, the doctors are not worried and feel as the uterus rises, the issue will hopefully resolve itself.

Food Cravings?

I have no appetite.  I have no real cravings this week….  The only dish I have given thought to is swiss steak, so I will get my mom to make some maybe next week when I can fathom eating steak.

Food Aversions?

Salty foods and sugary treats.

Gender?

Baby girl who still has no name !  Any suggestions?

Labor Signs?

None…

What I Miss?

The occasional glass of wine

What I Am Looking Forward To?

Holding my daughter and trying on all these outfits and little tees I have bought her.  I look forward to seeing her in her first church outfit I bought her from Gymboree.
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Bump?

Still no real bump… just a pouch.   I am 4.5 months pregnant and still no real bump.  Maybe I will not end up looking like Orca or Shamu !  🙂
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Navel In/Out?

In

Baby Purchases?

I ordered five or six onesie/ legging sets from Carters since they were 70% off.  I only bought NB size.   I do not want to purchase a bunch of clothing that she will quickly outgrown and not get a change to wear, so I bought gowns, tees, and onesies.  I am avoiding any clothing with snaps.  It is too much work !

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Sixteen Week Level Two Scan – The 411

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Yesterday, I had my level two sonogram at Lenox Hill Hospital- Black Hall.   My baby is a drama queen apparently.  As you can see above, as soon as the doctor put the wand on my belly, Little Miss covered her face !

All was well with her scan and after, I met with my high risk doc, Dr. Eran Borenstein, and he went over the scan results and explained what will take place at my next scan at 20 weeks.

After the appointment, my driver dropped my mom and I off at my car which was parked at a garage near my old apartment on the UES.  We drove out to Secaucus NJ to eat lunch and check into the hotel outside the city for the next few nights.   I ran into Fantasia Barino and her band in the lobby and I chatted with them for a bit before heading upstairs to my suite.

They are performing at the Prudential Center on Thursday night.

This morning, my mom and I came into Manhattan and did a little shopping prior to my tour of the hospital birthing center.   I was pleasantly surprised during the tour and love the rooms and the staff was really nice, cordial and engaging.  The hospital as the top security system in the nation.  I was relieved that I won’t have to worry about my privacy being compromised and my child coming up missing !

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Tomorrow, I have a prenatal appointment with Dr. Karamitsos and will get a script for my breast pump. I am not sure what the appointment will entail.

Here are some pics of my darling little Queen !

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Southern Flaky Biscuits with Chocolate Gravy – Recipe

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon lard
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter, frozen
  • 1 teaspoon bacon drippings
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet with 1/2 teaspoon of lard.
  2. Mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl. Grate the frozen butter and 2 tablespoons frozen lard into the flour mixture with a cheese grater; stir lightly 1 or 2 times to mix. With your fingers, make a well in the middle of the flour mixture, and pour the bacon drippings and buttermilk into the well. With just the tips of your fingers, stir lightly and quickly to just bring the dough together before the butter and lard melt. Dough will be sticky.
  3. Scrape dough out onto a floured surface, and gently pat the dough flat. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour, and fold it in half; pat down, fold again, and repeat until you have folded the dough 4 or 5 times. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a square about 1 inch thick. Cut the biscuit dough into rounds with a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter or the floured edge of a drinking glass by pushing straight down (twisting the cutter will seal the edge and keep the biscuits from rising). Lay the biscuits onto the prepared baking sheet so the edges just touch.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until risen and lightly golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

 

Southern Style Chocolate Gravy

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions:

  1. Whisk the cocoa, flour, and sugar together in a bowl until there are no lumps. Pour the milk into the mixture and whisk until well incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until its consistency is similar to gravy, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir the butter and vanilla into the mixture until the butter is melted. Serve immediately.

Sixteen Weeks ! – The 411

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In the next few weeks, my baby will double her weight and add inches to her length. Right now, she’s about the size of an avocado: 4 1/2 inches long (head to rump) and 3 1/2 ounces. Her legs are much more developed, her head is more erect than it has been, and her eyes have moved closer to the front of her head. Her ears are close to their final position, too. The patterning of her scalp has begun, though her locks aren’t recognizable yet. She’s even started growing toenails. And there’s a lot happening inside as well. For example, her heart is now pumping about 25 quarts of blood each day, and this amount will continue to increase as my baby continues to develop.

How Moms life’s changing

The top of the uterus is about halfway between the pubic bone and navel, and the round ligaments that support it are thickening and stretching as it grows. Mom is probably feeling a whole lot better as she settles into pregnancy, too. Less nausea, fewer mood swings, and “glowing” skin contribute to an overall sense of well-being.

Soon Mom will experience one of the most wonderful moments of pregnancy — feeling the baby move. While some women notice “quickening” as early as 16 weeks, many don’t feel their baby move until about 18 weeks or more. (And if this is the first baby, don’t be too impatient — you may not be aware of your baby’s movements until 20 weeks or so.) The earliest movements may feel like little flutters, gas bubbles, or even like popcorn popping. Over the following weeks they’ll grow stronger and you’ll be able to feel them much more frequently.

BABY STATS:

How Far Along?

16 weeks (4 months)

How Big Is The Little One?

My mini me is the size of an avocado

Total Weight Gain / Loss?

I have remained pretty stable and bounce between 2 pounds

Maternity Clothes?

I am still in my regular clothes, which are really baggy given the 16 pound loss the first few months of pregnancy.

Sleep?

I find that I am tired at night now.  I attribute it to the higher energy levels now that morning sickness has wained.

Best Moment of the Week?

My mother and I are in Las Vegas all week.  The most exciting thing I have done all week, aside from house hunting with our realtor here yesterday, was the Michael Jackson One Cirque De Soleil show.   It was soooo amazing !   Today, we are taking a VIP Tour of the Hoover Dam.  My mom wanted to go by helicopter, but I have already done one helicopter ride a few months ago and that was enough for a lifetime !

Symptoms?

I urinate more frequently now and I still have no real appetite.  I am eating every 4 hours on a schedule to make sure I eat, but I am not hungry at all. Since being pregnant, instead of being constipated, my bowels work overtime !  I guess now, they are doing what they are supposed to do normally, but its weird going to bathroom after every major meal.  Two-three times a day is a bit much, but my tummy is not bloated so I guess its a good thing !

Food Cravings?

Cheesesteak

Food Aversions?

Still salt and sugar

Gender?

Baby Girl

Labor Signs?

None

What I Miss?

The occasional mixed drink or glass of wine.

What I Am Looking Forward To?

Finally starting to show instead of looking like I have fat tummy.

Bump?

Still a little pouch that is higher up that it was before.

Navel In/Out?

In

Mommy/Baby Purchases?

I have been doing a bit too much shopping during these internet sales   Carter’s had a 70% off sale so I bought a bunch of onesies with matching leggings, dresses from Gymboree, and some other clothing from other sites.  I get notices from http://www.hip2save.com and the sales are ridiculous ! 🙂

Carrier Genetic Screenings: What Parents Need to Know

blood vials for carrier genetic screenings

If you’re trying to get pregnant or even just starting to think about it, you’re probably doing everything you can to increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. There are lots of things you can do to improve those chances, like taking prenatal vitamins before you even try to conceive, and gathering important personal health information including your family’s medical history. Your doctor may also offer certain tests and screenings.

One screening your doctor may talk to you about is often called “carrier screening.” These tests, which can be done before you conceive or during pregnancy, can tell you if you are at risk of passing along certain genetic diseases that you may not have yourself, like Tay Sachs or cystic fibrosis. You may know certain diseases run in your family, or you may not. A screening can let you know if you are a carrier. So which — if any — should you get done, and when? The answer is different for everyone.

What is a genetic disease?

Everyone has two sets of DNA (one from mom and one from dad). When a sperm (carrying dad’s DNA) fertilizes an egg (containing mom’s DNA), those two sets of DNA combine to make a new mixture — the unique genetics of your baby! Your baby’s genetics will determine your child’s hair and eye color, height and all sorts of other traits.

A genetic disease is when one or both of a person’s sets of DNA have a mutation (a change from the usual), which could make him more prone to developing health conditions. Some mutations are harmless, others only slightly boost the risk of a condition (for example, make it a little bit more likely your child will get diabetes much later in life), while other mutations can cause more serious diseases or developmental problems starting at birth.

What does it mean to be a genetic “carrier”?

Rarely, a condition (like Huntington’s disease) can be caused by a mutation in just one set of DNA. But in most cases — including cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease — it takes a mutation in both sets of DNA for a person to actually be affected by a genetic disease. So if you have a mutation in just one set, you’re what’s known as a “carrier”: You’re carrying the mutation but have no signs of the disease.

So what’s a carrier screening?

A carrier screening tests whether you or your partner is a carrier for any common genetic diseases. It’s a blood test, which requires a quick prick to draw some blood from your arm. If both you and your partner are carriers, and you both pass the mutation-carrying DNA along to a baby, the baby could end up with a full-fledged version of the disease — so this test looks at the odds of that occurring.

Who should get one?

Anyone can be a carrier of a genetic disease, but there are certain people who are more at risk of carrying a disease-causing genetic mutation. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends if you are planning to have a child — or are already pregnant — you get a screening for particular diseases if you or your partner have the following ancestry in your family tree:

  • Ashkenazi Jews:  Tay–Sachs disease, Canavan disease, familial dysautonomia and cystic fibrosis
  • African, Mediterranean and Southeast Asian heritage: Thalassemias and sickle cell disease
  • Non-Hispanic whites: Cystic fibrosis
  • Family histories: Anyone who has a family history of genetic diseases — a cousin who had cystic fibrosis or Tay-Sachs disease, for instance — should be screened for those diseases, as well (they’re more likely to be a carrier)

With the growing number of mutations and diseases that carrier screening can test for, the National Society for Genetic Counselors now recommends that every couple considering having children are at least offered carrier testing by their healthcare provider. But the group also suggests that couples talk with a doctor or genetic counselor before getting the testing to make sure they understand what’s being tested for and what the results would mean. Ultimately, it’s up to a couple to make an informed decision about whether getting carrier testing is useful for them.

When is it done?

Genetic carrier screening can be done when you’re just in the planning stages of starting a family, while you’re actively trying to conceive or once you’ve gotten a positive pregnancy test. That said, if you’re interested in the test, the earlier you get it done, the more likely doctors can do something if they do detect that you’re carrying a mutation.

How is it done?

Once a sample of your blood is taken, DNA will be isolated in a lab from your blood cells, so that any mutations that are being tested for can be detected. Because most hospitals have to send your blood to an off-site laboratory to do carrier testing, it will likely take between one and two weeks to get your results.

Typically, a mom-to-be gets tested first, and if her results suggest she’s carrying a disease-linked mutation, then dad can get testing later. But in some cases — like those where there’s a family history and a woman is already pregnant — a doctor might recommend getting both parents tested simultaneously to speed things up.

What diseases can it screen for?

Current carrier screenings can test for dozens of diseases, and the number is growing every year with advances in science. Here are a few of the most common diseases to test for:

If you’re interested in carrier screening, you might decide which mutations you should test for by carefully considering your and your partner’s risk factors, as well as how you’ll use the information about each disease. A conversation with a healthcare provider or genetic counselor can be helpful at this stage.

What are the odds of our baby having a disease if we test positive?

Even if both you and your partner test positive as carriers of the same genetic mutation, there’s still only a one in four (or 25 percent) chance that your baby will have the disease. That’s because each of you has two sets of DNA — which means you each have a second, healthy copy. And if the baby inherits the healthy copy from one or both of you, they won’t have the disease (although your child may be a carrier).

If you get a carrier screening, you might discover that your baby probably won’t have some of the more common diseases that doctors can test for. But you should know that current tests don’t cover all mutations. There are many hundreds of diseases that doctors can’t yet test for, though the science is improving all the time.

Is there anything we can do if we test positive?

The most powerful time to get information from carrier screening is before you’re even pregnant. That’s because if you and your partner do test positive as carriers of a genetic disease, you may choose to work with fertility doctors to discuss your options. For example, technology now exists that can test the DNA of embryos created via IVF to see whether they have a particular mutation (this is called preimplantation genetic diagnosis).

If you get a carrier screening done later — perhaps after you’re already pregnant — a positive result can mean more tests to see whether your baby is affected (remember, there’s only a one in four chance that a fetus inherits both copies of the mutation from you and your partner).

Any discussion about whether you’re going to get a carrier screening done in the first place should include a conversation about what you would do if these results come back positive. If you do decide to get one done, a positive test can be valuable to help you think ahead and plan financially. It could also lead to early treatments for the disease before the baby is born.

Genetic counseling

Even if you don’t talk to a genetic counselor before proceeding with carrier screening, most healthcare practitioners will refer you to one to help you interpret your results and decide what to do with any information you obtain. As more and more tests become available, understanding what they mean can be confusing — genetic counselors are trained in helping you sort through the available information to make sense of it.

If your results are fairly straightforward, and your obstetrician is comfortable with genetic screening, he may perform this counseling on his own. But if you’re confused about anything or want to talk through your options with someone else, it’s always your right to ask to see a genetic counselor — most hospitals have one on staff and your insurance should cover your visit.

Hospital Tour Arranged – The 411

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Today, I spoke with the Nurse Coordinator at Lenox Hill Hospital about my delivery / birth plans and because the tours were full on the days I am in the city, she graciously offered to arrange a private tour for me at my convenience as well as set up a meeting with Media Relations/ Legal to get the proper authorizations in place for the film crew to come in to film my procedure and stay in the hospital.  I spoke with the Executive Suite Director and got the rates for my stay in the Executive Suite.  I learned that the suite is the same one Beyonce gave birth in and several other noted persons. The Executive Suites are $800-2000 per night. A private room is $700 per night so either way, I am going to have to pay out of pocket for my five day stay unless I want a semi private room, which I don’t. Yay ! Another ridiculous expense! I want my mom to be able to stay over night but hell, a room at the Waldorf Astoria only costs me $299 a night !

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While it was interesting, I could really care less.  I am concerned with MY comfort, care, and the safety of my child and family while I am there.  I refuse to let them take my baby out of my sight !  lol.   I am paranoid about her being switched at birth LOL…  I am terrible.

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Given my anxiety about being comfortable at the hospital and getting five star treatment, I arranged to do the tour early.  I am not going to take any of the class offerings, as I have hired a Doula and she will provide me with class sessions on topics I feel I need.

I am excited to be able to do the tour while I am in New York week after next.  My mom and I are leaving for Las Vegas for a whole week on Monday.  While I am there, I have arranged to tour the city and prominent neighborhoods to look for a property and see if I even like it there.   There are two neighborhoods that I am really interested in seeing.  It should be a fun day touring homes.