Teaching myself to cook, one recipe at a time.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich


Just about my favorite thing to eat during my first trimester was grilled cheese. I’m not talking anything fancy or sophisticated, simply white bread and American cheese, like this stock photo from somewhere on the Internet:

I just couldn’t get enough of them. I’ve never bought so much American cheese in my life.

During the second trimester, I was more open to changing things up a bit. I guess I was feeling a bit more energetic and a little less picky about food. I remembered that my amazing sister-in-law had once made me a pretty incredible pesto grilled cheese sandwich, so I set out to make something similar, based on a recipe that I’d found.

First, I started out with some bread. The recipe said Italian bread, but I liked the looks of this beauty from the Wegman’s bakery.


Butter one slice…


Then put it facedown on the grill or skillet, or whatever you’re using. Add a coat of prepared pesto sauce to the other side.


Then add a slice (or two, if you’re pregnant) of provolone cheese.


Then some tomato slices,


And some American cheese (I overdid the cheese a bit, I think).


Take another slice of bread and put pesto on one side,


Put it facedown on the sandwich, and then butter the other side.


Voila! Now just cook the sandwich as you would any other grilled cheese sandwich. Flip it once if you have it in a frying pan, or just close the lid if you’re using a George Foreman grill.


And there you have it!


Delicious. Simple. Quick. Easy clean up. Cheese.


Can’t ask for much more than that.

Monday, December 2, 2013

DIY Oatmeal Bath

Hello, everyone! It has been some time since my last post, mainly because I really haven’t had the energy or desire to cook much of anything, much less document and share. But the good news is that I’m near the end of pregnancy (28 days to go, according to the countdown widget on my phone!) and cooking may regain prominence. But then again, new moms aren’t known for having time or energy, either, so maybe not for a while.

That being said, I’m officially on maternity leave as of today. This means that you may get some more frequent posts out of me in the near future. I’m not doing any cooking to speak of, especially since I’m on modified bed rest, but I have plenty of pictures waiting to be posted about, so you may get lucky.

For me, one of the distinguishing features of being this late in the third trimester has been itching. It seems that no matter how much lotion I slather on and no matter how often, I still find myself itchy all over. I’ve taken to wearing hubby’s t-shirts and sweatshirts when I can because the restrictiveness of my own clothes seems to make it worse, especially since the temperature outside dropped and the heat came on.

34 weeks

Enter the oatmeal bath.

I read online that oatmeal baths are a great way to soothe itchiness that lotion doesn’t really take care of. I initially picked out an Aveeno product on Amazon, but then I rethought it based on the price. Next, I found myself googling homemade versions, and it turns out that they’re all over the internet. Even better, almost all of them seemed simple enough that a girl on modified bed rest could make them.

Of the recipes I looked at, one of my favorites was in this post by Alejandra on her blog, Always Order Dessert. I decided to copy it. I modified it a little bit, though.

First, start out by grinding up 4 cups of old fashioned oats. Most recipes specifically said to avoid quick or instant oats. Since my food processor is small, I ground up a cup at a time.



I dumped all of the ground oats into a big plastic container.


Next, measure out a cup of baking soda. According to Alejandra, this just acts as a natural, delicate cleanser in place of soap.


I just dumped it in my container with the ground oatmeal. If I had a bigger food processor, I would have mixed them together with that, but I settled for mixing by hand with a spoon.


But first, I added another ingredient. In the comments, someone had sworn by adding powdered milk to baths to increase their luxuriousness. So I did the same! I just added a full cup of it.


Here’s everything together!


Now, Alejandra had suggested adding dried lavender buds (also ground up). I couldn’t find any at the store, though I can’t say I tried too hard because I just wanted to be in and out. Regardless, I found lavender essential oil and decided to use that in conjunction with the oatmeal mixture.


I didn’t put the lavender essential oils in the container with the oatmeal mixture because I figured it’d clump. Maybe if I had a bigger food processor and could have spent some time getting it to distribute evenly, but I don’t. So I put a few drops straight into the warm bathwater. Not hot, because hot water dries out your skin (increasing itchiness), plus it’s not good for pregnant ladies, anyway.


And then I added a cupful of my oatmeal mixture.


Then I stopped taking pictures. Sorry.

First observation:

The lavender smells like heaven. I’ve always loved that scent.

Second observation:

The oatmeal, when first added to the water, looked a tiny bit like vomit. Then it dissolved, making the water milky and creamy.

Third observation:


It made for a really pleasant, luxurious bath. Really. I just soaked in it for 30 minutes, and the only thing that could have really made it better is if my bathtub was big enough for me actually submerge my big belly in it. And if I’d dimmed the lights and lit a bunch of candles. And added music. But I did read a book on my kindle and that was nice.

Final thought:

I didn’t grind the oatmeal as finely as I thought I had. Some of the courser bits ended up on the bottom of the bathtub, but they were easy to wipe up with a paper towel after I drained the water. Regardless, I’ll probably regrind everything before the next bath.

So, anyone who has been having any itchiness issues or just wants to paper themselves without spending much money, I recommend giving this a shot.