white bean, turkey and kale chili

I’ve been pretty open about the struggles we’re facing at the Mitchell home (read more about that here), but I wanted to also share how I’m working through it and finding ways to function as a zombie, sleep deprived mother/wife. Cleaning is half-ass, workouts are slow and tired (or nonexistent), clean clothes sit in a pile for an undetermined timeframe, showers are…well, those haven’t changed. I absolutely refuse to go a day without showering. If Ryan wasn’t so busy studying for the PE, I would be able to lean on him for help in the kitchen – but I can’t. So…dinner is up to me!

Gone are the days of multiple complex recipes for dinner. What I look for in a recipe is anything that tastes good, but requires the least amount of time/effort. My slow cooker has been my bff lately, but I’ll save my favorite slow cooker recipes for another blog post. Today I’m sharing one of my go-to stove top recipes, an adapted version of Giada’s White Bean and Chicken Chili. This recipe is easy, cheap and it tastes delicious! My adapted version is below. I’m allergic to cumin, so I omitted that ingredient from my recipe – but feel free to throw it in! Hope you enjoy this chili as much as we do!

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Ingredients

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 large onions, chopped

6 garlic cloves, minced

4 pounds ground turkey

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

2 tablespoons fennel seeds

2 tablespoons dried oregano

4 teaspoons chili powder (I make my own chili powder to omit the cumin)

6 tablespoons flour

4 (15-ounce cans) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

2 bunches of kale, stems removed, leaves chopped into bite size pieces

3 cups frozen corn

8 cups low-sodium chicken stock

Black pepper for seasoning

1 cup grated parmesan cheese (or cheddar)

1/2 cup chopped green onion

1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes

Sliced avocado, to taste

A few dollops of Greek Yogurt

Directions

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the ground turkey, 2 teaspoons salt, fennel seeds, oregano, and chili powder. Cook, stirring frequently, until the turkey is cooked through (about 12 minutes). Stir the flour into the turkey mixture. Add the beans, kale, corn, and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer, scraping up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer for 55-60 minutes until the liquid has reduced by about half and the chili has thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the chili into serving bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and chopped onion. We also like to add chopped tomatoes, a few avocado slices and a dollop of greek yogurt to our bowls of chili. The greek yogurt is the same idea as adding a dollop of sour cream, which is a common practice among chili-goers. It makes each bite just a tiny bit creamy and helps to tone down the acidic nature of the chili.

Suggested wine pairing – a Zinfandel or Syrah

sick baby, tired parents

When I made the decision to start this blog, I promised myself I’d be authentic. I don’t want to be one of those people who try to make life look picture perfect online when it’s really not.

So here we go…

Ryan and I are really struggling to keep it together right now. We are 100 percent in survival mode. I thought the survival phase passed when Porter started sleeping through the night at 10 weeks old, but oh how I was wrong.

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I clearly had NO idea what I was getting myself into when I brought this “little” bundle of baby home with me last September. Just when Porter started sleeping for 11 hours a night, he got his first cold and started waking up every two hours again. After that first cold, he picked up another cold — which lead to a double ear infection, followed by teething pain and then a reflux flare-up. The icing on the cake was last night when it became clear that he’s getting ANOTHER COLD. Either that, or allergies. I know it’s debatable whether babies can have allergies, but I was an asthmatic in the crib, so I’m a baby/allergy believer. Poor little guy is so stuffy, he (and I) were up All. Night. Long. My sleep was so terrible last night that when I got up this morning, I felt like it was still yesterday.

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I never imagined that Porter would be almost seven months old and is still waking up all night. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing this whole mama thing all wrong, even though I know in my head that sick babies tend to sleep regress. What makes this even more difficult is that Ryan wakes up almost every time I get up, which is big problem because he’s prepping to take his PE (Professional Engineer) Exam in April. This test is intense and has a 50 percent pass rate. After working all day, he studies in the evenings and on weekends, which isn’t an easy schedule even if he were sleeping soundly. He does all of this, while still showing so much love and support to Porter and me. He really is dad/husband of the year in my book. When I count by blessings, he’s at the top of my list.

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As difficult as this sleep deprivation is, we’re mostly concerned for our poor baby son who is so uncomfortable. I’d say that’s the most profound change we’ve experienced since becoming parents – our primary concern is always our little creation. Our needs are secondary.

photo cred: Ashlee Gadd

photo cred: Ashlee Gadd

My soothing methods include:

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  • Nurse
  • Pacifier
  • Rock
  • Hold
  • Shush
  • Music
  • Sound machine
  • Humidifier
  • Drugs (Motrin and Benadryl)
  • Clear out his nose using saline and a bulb syringe (which he HATES)

Other than that, all we can do is wait for Porter to fight off this cold, and maybe one day, we’ll sleep again. Until then, we will continue to love and support our son, each other and remind ourselves that “This too shall pass.”

baby stuff attitude adjustment

B631Before Porter was born, I was what you might call a baby minimalist (aside from my fancy pants Bugaboo stroller). I felt that the baby industry was just an explosion of revenue streams luring pregnant mothers to register for and purchase items they don’t really need. I brought that attitude with me to Buy Buy Baby when I registered, where I had a full-on melt down in the bottle isle. B629BOOM – I nailed the cliche pregnant lady. But seriously though – I just couldn’t understand why there were so many darn bottles and nipples to choose from! I remember telling my mom how another mother told me just to wait and see what kind of bottle Porter liked – I chuckled and said, “Porter will like whichever bottle I decide to feed him in.” HA! Oh man was I misguided in my way of thinking…if only I had even the slightest clue what Porter would be like. 

Pre-Porter Attitude

I’ll just register for the Avent bottles. I’m sure they’ll be fine – the twins used that brand (my niece and nephew) and it worked for them. Plus, they don’t have all those annoying parts like the Dr. Brown’s bottles.

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Porter initially took the Avent bottle, but after one week decided he hated it. Porter was not one of those babies that ate every two hours during the day – try every hour or sometimes every 45 minutes during a growth spurt. I felt like a boob slave and was desperate for him to take a bottle so that I could get some relief. I ended up buying four different types of bottles – can you guess which one he liked best? Yep! The Dr. Brown’s bottles with “all those annoying parts.”

Pre-Porter Attitude

I’m definitely going to breastfeed, I just need to make sure Porter can get a good latch early on. Once the latch is established, breastfeeding will be easy.

Reality

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I got really lucky and Porter latched very successfully 30 minutes after my c-section. I never had any latching problems with him. However, I was severely misguided in my projected “ease” of breastfeeding once I got a good latch. Like I mentioned previously, Porter was a BIG eater. During those beginning weeks, I spent an unhealthy amount of time nursing on the couch watching TV. Thank heavens for On Demand. Nursing is a major commitment that caused emotional challenges I didn’t expect. Porter is six months old now and loves solids, so I think the most challenging nursing days are likely behind me. But wow – breastfeeding was far from “easy” for me during those beginning months.

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Pre-Porter Attitude

Why are there so many types of bassinets? Here, this one looks fine. I’ll register for that.

Reality

I ended up with a reflux baby, so Porter HATED being laid flat and still doesn’t like it to this day. Not long after being home, I caved and bought a Rock ‘n Play Sleeper.

Pre-Porter Attitude

I’m going to just use cloth diapers. My mom used cloth when I was a baby, and the cloth diapers now-a-days are so much better than they were back then. The Bum Genius ones make it so easy. You pay a pretty penny for them now, but they’ll save you so much money in the long run – plus there’s the environment and all that.

Reality

I was so sure I’d be using cloth exclusively (besides being out and about in public) that I told my mom and aunt that I did NOT want a “diaper drawing” at my baby shower. Silly Beth. While cloth is something we continue to use fairly frequently, we are in no way exclusive to cloth. Porter is extra sensitive to being wet when he’s in his cloth diapers, so there are days when I just don’t feel like changing him every 20 minutes because he slightly peed his pants. Also, sometimes I don’t feel like dealing with the grossness of the cloth/poo situation. I use cloth when I feel like it, disposable when I don’t.

Pre-Porter Attitude

I don’t need a bottle warmer – that’s so unnecessary. I will just warm the milk in a bowl of hot water.

Reality

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Porter was SO temperamental about milk temperature when bottle fed. He’s more mellow about it now, but back when I NEEDED some bottle feeding relief, he was extremely picky. Also, there wasn’t really an efficient way to thaw milk without a bottle warmer. There were times when I wanted Ryan to give Porter a bottle, but we couldn’t because all of the stored milk was frozen. My pre-baby attitude would say, “then just plan better and make sure you put frozen bottles in the frig a day before so they’ll thaw.” But seriously – you won’t ever understand until you have a baby of your own, but “planning ahead” when you don’t get any sleep is just not realistic. We bought a Dr. Brown’s bottle warmer and it changed our lives.

Pre-Porter Attitude

I’m not going to register for the fancy baby carrier everyone raves about, the Ergo. The baby K’tan is just fine and it’s only $50.

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During those early months, Porter wanted to be on me constantly. There were days when Porter would only sleep on my chest and wanted to be held ALL. DAY. LONG. While there were moments when I embraced the cuddles and thought it was the sweetest thing in the world, there were other moments when I needed my sanity and hands to make food, do dishes and clean up the messy clutter in the house that accumulated since Porter’s birth – enter baby carrier.

Many moms would tell me to “just wear the baby.” Ok, but Porter HATED the baby K’tan. He would scream his head off every time I put IMG_1186him in that thing. I eventually caved and bought an Ergobaby carrier. While Porter still isn’t a huge fan of being worn, he definitely tolerates the Ergo best. Furthermore, it’s the best carrier for my aching back.

Pre-Porter Attitude

I’m getting all of my nephew Emory’s old clothes, so there’s really no need for me to buy anything. Between Emory’s old stuff and gifts from the shower, I’ll be good.

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Reality

There were clothes I didn’t realize I needed until after Porter was born. Namely, newborn size and 0-3 sleepers. It’s so important to have tons of sleepers that fit your baby during those early weeks. He basically lived in his sleepers when he was first born. I also realized that I just have a certain way I like to dress Porter, and hand me downs can’t always give you the style you want for your baby. I am sort of anti-baby clothes in that I like to dress Porter like he’s a little man – I hate stuff with ducks, doggy’s and other crap on them. Just give me a baby polo, a pair of jeans and we’re good. Porter now wears a combination of Emory’s old clothes and stuff I bought for him.

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Pre-Porter Attitude

I’m going to make all of Porter’s food using my food processor. (I wouldn’t even splurge for a Baby Bullet, or something like that.)

Reality

Porter doesn’t like what I make! I know, so rude. He likes the baby food I buy from the store, even though it’s just veges/fruit and water. I don’t really get it. I bought a baby cook book, so I might try this again. But for now, we’re buying his food.

The biggest lesson learned is that all babies are different. There’s no way to know everything that your baby wants/needs until AFTER you have him/her. My goal is to keep my little guy happy and I’m willing to do or buy whatever it takes (within reason) to make that happen. IMG_0388

my thoughts on blogging

Blogs are everywhere. I feel like everyone and their mother is a “blogger.” Having spent six years in the world of public relations, I’m all too familiar with bloggers who blog mainly to get free stuff, or to build a “brand.” In fact, part of my job was reviewing blogs and deciding if they were “worth” the attention of some of my clients. I’m not sure where my blogger cynicism comes from, but it’s there. Being someone with a PR background, you’d think the idea of creating a blog to build a brand wouldn’t bother me – but for some reason it does. I was just watching a new show on E! called “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills” (insert judgement <here>) and I was laughing to myself during the episode where one of the main characters spent 30k on a “re-launch” party for her blog. It just seemed so disingenuous to me. I know it’s just a dumb show and that the producers probably made her have a party so they could try to have some sort of a plot, but still. (To be fair, I’m probably just jealous that I can’t drop 30k on a launch party for my blog)

But at the same time…

I love the idea of having an online platform to share and relate with friends, family and whoever finds my ordinary life interesting. So many of my best friends live far away, and I don’t see some family members as much as I should. So – I threw my cynicism out the window and started a blog – and here we are. Thanks for stopping by.