Thursday, November 22, 2012

So Thankful

So we had taquitos tonight - it was weird not having turkey, but that is coming Saturday.  The photos below are from my friend Lisa's "Pumpkin Tasting Party" and no I didn't bring Pumpkin Foot Cake.

This is not how this photo started...#brotherly/sisterly love

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I'm back, but by now I'm sure you know not to get worried when I am silent for weeks on end.

But y'all I was compelled to type because of a discovery that has just made my life in Scotland so much brighter. And with it getting dark here by 4 pm, I'm in dire need.

I found canned crescent rolls in my local Tesco and I am beside myself.

Seriously.  You don't appreciate canned bread until you move to Scotland, mention Pilsbury, and they have no idea what you're talking about.  Or maybe I have just assumed they didn't carry it like other staples (corn tortillas, chopped green chiles, jalapenos, Bisquick etc) and just now noticed them the first time.  Now I can actually make Pizza Roll-ups or Easy Pizza.  See, even though it is 2:17 pm and the sun is starting to set, I can deal.

On to other important things:

1. I've been meal planning for the rest of this week and next while the kids are napping and I have one more day to fill: next Thursday.  You are probably now thinking to yourself, isn't that Thanksgiving?  Isn't she obviously preparing a spectacular Thanksgiving meal for her family?  And the answer would be no because we are celebrating Thanksgiving on Saturday - heresy I know, but when you're celebrating a holiday that basically stems from the fact that you're not living in Britain anymore and you currently live in Britain, no one is too bothered by what day you celebrate it.  So back to my dilemma, I need a meal for Thursday.  Here is my criteria: quick, easy, makes enough to have leftovers the next day, not chicken, little to no handling of raw meat required - help me.  Thanks and gig 'em (like how I associate myself with Texas A&M only after an epic football victory?  Call me two percenter)

2. Elizabeth is having a Thanksgiving Linky Party, so here is my scalloped potato recipe I mentioned last Thanksgiving post. I dislike mashed potatoes, so this was my substitute, and it was a huge hit.

Scalloped Potatoes
recipe adapted from my mom-in-law
*warning: this recipe is not exact and I'm using the "metric" system.  I'll do my best to convert it for you

(insert laughter here if you know me well)

--6 jacket potatoes or Maris Pipers (not sure what the American equivalent would be off of the top of my head - not Idaho or new potatoes...sorry that isn't very helpful, but maybe Yukon gold or something similar?)
--300 mL double cream though I don't use all of it (I think I'd use about 8 - 10 oz of half and half  or heavy cream or a combo of both (is there something in between?) if I was in America)
--250 g cheddar (2 cups)
--salt and pepper

1. Wash your potatoes - hopefully that is obvious, but just in case...
2. Thinly slice them (I keep the skin on)
3. Spray baking dish (9X13?)
4. Layer potatoes, sprinkle salt and pepper (optional: my mom-in-law also adds nutmeg at this stage), dot with butter, sprinkle cheese
5. Repeat layering till dish is full (ending with the cheese)
6. Pour cream over top
7. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees F/200 degrees C for 45 min
8. Take off foil and bake for 15 more minutes or until golden and bubbly

3. Embracing the Camera with Emily today:

Seth and I are matchy-matchy today not on purpose (though this secretly delights me) but due to the fact that I'm ridiculously behind on laundry (as evidenced by the background of the photo).

And this photo so that Avery doesn't feel left out and to show  my laundry progress.
#Baby steps.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

{Embrace the Camera} Meeska Mooska

It was a typical Tuesday evening.  Taylor was washing the dishes, I was sweeping up the remnants of dinner, Ave was bouncing in the jumperoo, and Seth was contentedly playing with the fridge phonics - you know, "M!" says mmmm! "M!" says mmmm! Every letter makes a sound! "M!" says mmmm!  

I hadn't noticed the annoying yet educational chanting wasn't blaring in the background fighting over the staccato nursery rhymes of the jumperoo  until I heard Seth dramatically exclaim, "oh no!"  It was in that voice he uses for playing pretend, so I nudged Taylor to make sure he wasn't missing this, and quietly we watched Seth play out his pretend scenario.

"Goofy, I can't reach the Chocolate Buttons!"  Seth exclaimed pointing to the shiny purple packet of sweets on top of our refrigerator - stored where little hands couldn't help themselves whenever the desire for chocolate arose (I'm talking about Seth here not me...just to clarify).  He hadn't satisfactorily fulfilled the vegetable quota at dinner, and so no dessert was on the menu that night.

Oblivious to the nosy parents eavesdropping at the other end of the kitchen, his one-sided dialogue continued,  "How bout a Mouse-ca-tool?"

"Oh TOODLES!  I need some (pause, finger to chin)... bouncy shoes!"

At that point Mom and Dad stepped in - forget the bouncy shoes, Dad is plenty tall enough.  You're getting a Chocolate Button for being so stinking cute.

My Junior Mouseketeer and me

Monday, October 22, 2012

{Meal Plan Monday} Edition I bet Beatrix Potter would've loved Chicken Tacos

Last weekend we went to the Lake District with some of our favorite families in Edinburgh.  All 12 of us crammed into a quaint farmhouse outside of Bowness-on-Windermere super close to Beatrix Potter's house. (I took zero pictures - so lame, I know.)  Ironically Avery's nickname changed on this trip from Hunca Munca to Thumper due to her nocturnal leg motion that kept us up from 2-4 am.  I'm still incredulous that she can sleep through that.  Thank you iPhone sound machine app for saving the rest of our trip.

Since we were staying 3 nights, each family was in charge of one dinner.  Lisa made inside out lasagna - a healthy hit.  Seth actually ate cooked spinach. Wait a minute, that means I actually ate cooked spinach.  I haven't gotten the recipe yet, but it entails, chopped tomatoes, diced onion, spinach, minced garlic, sliced mushrooms, pastoff, and ricotta. So good.  Sarah made the ever popular chili.  I'm pretty sure I ate 3 helpings on my baked potato - it was perfect autumn comfort food. And so I decided to make the crock pot chicken tacos that we're obsessed with these days.  I poured in a whole bag of Costco boneless skinless chicken breasts, taco seasoning to cover the top of the chicken, and 3 cans of chopped tomatoes in Sarah's gigantor crock pot (read: American sized).  The leftover chicken ended up stretching to 24 meals total over the week, so I thought I'd post some more ways to use this deliciously easy crock pot recipe.

So you have Chicken Tacos/Chalupas

Chicken Enchiladas - this is not the usual recipe I use, but it's pretty close.  Sub your crock pot chicken for the cooked chicken

Cowboy Chicken Casserole - this is one of Taylor's favorite meals, but it takes a ridiculous amount of time to make it, so I fix it about once a year.  Can we say wife of the year?
This week I made it with the crock pot chicken and used a can of cream of mushroom soup instead of making it from scratch like the recipe has you do, and it was so simple.  This recipe now has the potential of becoming a regular in the Ince household.

Chicken Enchilada Soup - this tastes really similar to Chili's Chicken Enchilada soup - it's especially good with salsa in it.

And recently I found this recipe for Chicken Taquitos which I going to try next.


What we've been up to lately in iPhone photos:

Avery working on her moves for So You Think You Can Dance

This boy is in constant motion - it's hard to get a photo of him even when he's sitting down.
He requisitioned this community bowl of guac for himself - he is definitely from Texas y'all.

Laid back Avery Girl crammed in the middle of two other car seats for  a trip to our second home (also know n as Costco )

Seth's first taste of Ants on a Log - he loved it contrary to his facial expression in the photo

Holdy-Holdy still happens on a regular basis 

Making Pumpkin Nutella bread

I'm in need of some new crock pot recipes since we're getting sick of Mexican food (I can't believe I just typed that) so send them my way!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

{Monday Meal Plan} Edition The Inces are under the weather

I realize it's Wednesday - sorry if you were relying on my post to help you plan.  I didn't get any  frantic emails, so I think it's safe to say you didn't miss it.  And that maybe MMP has run it's course...?

Seth was sick last week, so we pretty much ate Chicken Soup all week - that is all of us but Seth because he apparently doesn't like it.  And that is allowed when you're sick.

I caught this fun little bug from him on Sunday in the form of chills and hacking cough, so Taylor took over cooking dinner this week, and two of my best friends at Blacket brought me Chicken Soup and yummy muffins - they and a few others are how we cope living far away from our moms.  Thank you dear friends.

So for now, I leave you with a very pressing question:

What the heck is this?

It came in our organic produce box I was telling y'all about last week, and I haven't the slightest idea what it is or what to do with it.  Help!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

{Monday Meal Plan} Edition our new favorite meal and some other food

Apparently Tuesday is the new Monday...

My friend, Heather, is the local community garden guru and is always out tirelessly tending the garden at our flat complex.  I love going in there while Seth is running around outside because she explains which vegetable is where and gives me fresh peas to snack on.

Y'all.  I don't like peas.

At least I thought I didn't because I grew up thinking they came frozen in a bag from the grocery store (thawed and cooked of course, but it's not the same!) and not from an actual garden.  When the peas come out is about the time Seth wanders over - I can't get him to eat sugar snap peas from the grocery store, but he'll eat them out in the garden by the handfuls which emphasizes my earlier point.  Home grown vegetables are the best.  And I know I sound like I immediately signed up for a plot of our own in our little community garden, but then you remembered I have a 27 month old and 6 month old (and that I don't care much for dirt) and realized of course that didn't happen.  So we resorted to the next best thing.  Heather recently let me in on a local organic farm that delivers boxes of veggies to your door if you make an order online.  I was excited to try it out and support a local farm, and they did not disappoint.  Baffle, yes. Disappoint, no.  Here is our box:

Since we're pretending it's still Monday, we can also pretend that I took a photo, right? (Please refer back to the part where I said I have a 27 month old and a 6 month old not to mention I had another baking session with my Chilean girlfriends and hosted tea in my flat for my N. American girlfriends.  And Avery just started eating solids, and Seth just started potty training.  It's a revolving door over here at the Inces -  glorious pandemonium.)

(Taylor says I am queen of disclaimers.  I have no idea what he's talking about.)

I really wish I had remembered to take a photo though because it was so colorful with the apples, pears, lettuce, broccoli, kale and green beans. (Now you may be thinking to yourself that sounds like a little bit of red (apples) and a lot of green (everything else) which really isn't that colorful, but you'd be wrong.  The kale and green beans were purple.  I was intrigued by the purple kale which I had not seen before, but the purple green beans  really stuck out because, you know, they're called green beans.  Both were excellent and the green beans actually turned green when I cooked them.  I will post Taylor's recipe for green beans next week - they are amazing!

Enough rambling; here's the plan:

Monday: Shredded Chicken Chalupas - this was definitely our favorite meal of the week (possibly our favorite meal of the past few months).

It is easy and delicious.  Seth inhaled his.  Taylor asked me to make it once a week. (This has become my new goal, to make meals that Taylor requests for me to make weekly though I guess that would put an end to my {Monday Meal Plan} (maybe not a bad idea??)).

The recipe comes from Susannah:

1. Place boneless chicken breasts in the bottom of your crock pot (mine holds about 5)
2. Sprinkle a packet of taco seasoning all over them (I used my homemade taco seasoning and probably used more that typical taco seasoning packet - use to your taste.)
3. Dump a can of diced tomatoes on top.
4.  Cook on low 4-6 hours or till chicken is cooked through.
5.  Shred chicken with forks and serve on whatever you want!

I fried tortillas to make chalupas and we ate the shredded chicken in the chalupa with guacamole, shredded cheddar, sour cream, salsa, and pickled jalapenos.  You could also use hard taco shells, or eat it on a salad - versatile for leftovers which is a plus for crock pot meals since they typically make a lot.

I paired this with roasted bell pepper as our veg (Taylor put his on his chalupa), and also made Cilantro Lime Rice which I've been chomping at the bit to try.  I am in love with cilantro, lime, and rice, so I knew I would like it - the only problem was I am unable to cooke brown rice correctly.  It is one of my Achilles Heels in the kitchen.  So it was a bit chewy, but the flavor was great.  Next time I will try it with white rice.

Tuesday: Tilapia (sprinkled herbs on top and put a dollop of herb (pronounced with the "h" in the UK) butter on each fillet (pronounced fill-et in the UK - I am still trying to get used to these things...), quinoa with lemon juice, and purple kale - wash and dry, cut leafy part  from stalk, put on rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle olive oil and sea salt, roast on 375 for 10 minutes or till it looks crispy and eat dipped in balsamic vinegar - yum!  This was a delicious and fairly healthy meal, but Taylor was still hungry after we finished...

Friday: Made the most decadent dessert from Elizabeth's website for a women's tea I attended.

Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bite

They may be the best thing I've ever put in my mouth (dessert-wise - if you know me well, you know I'd pick a steak over dessert any day).  I made my into bites instead of bars because they are so rich (and to make them stretch for the tea).  They were pretty easy to make.  Scotland dwellers sub plain digestives for the graham crackers.  Crushing the digestives was the most labor intensive part.  My friend Doreen is a genius and reminded me I could use a food processor instead of my hand.

I'm looking for some more easy crock pot recipes to try - send some my way if you have any you love!

Have a great week!  

Avery's first meal

She still prefers her thumb

Story time with Daddy

Monday, September 10, 2012

{Monday Meal Plan} Edition September Soup Night

Last Monday I started reading through the whole Bible.

In 4 months.

While I've done this in a year (before I had children), this is going to be super speed. Taylor challenged a couple of his guy friends to do it and didn't ask me to join them so I wouldn't feel pressured since I'm so busy.  I told him I don't have time to read for an hour each day, but then it dawned on me if I'm following the Word made flesh, why not spend a big chunk of my day reading the Word? It should be my priority - my house will get cleaned eventually and my kids can listen along with me for some of it. I listen to the dramatized version when I am nursing and when I clean up my kitchen after meals.

Even though this is a huge time commitment and I have a really busy schedule (you know, changin' diapers and all), I found that somehow the Lord seemed to create more space in my days last week.  I've felt less hurried and harried and still have been able to stay on top of all of my responsibilities.  Soup Night (explained more in detail below) resumed this month after a summer hiatus and Taylor was amazed to find when he got home 30 min before it started that the house was calm and peaceful, kitchen was clean, soup was made, and I wasn't frantically scurrying around our flat doing last minute cleaning.  And that, my friends, is a miracle.

So, if you want to join us, you are not too far behind to jump in because they accidentally included the Apocrypha on the original plan, so it will be shortened once they take it out, and it won't really feel like you're a week behind.  Email me if you want the plan!

And for the other plan:

Meal Plan:

Monday: Chicken Piccata - I am in love with chicken piccata though this is my first attempt at making it.  It's a healthier version than you can find on because it doesn't call for butter, but it was still delicious.  Taylor asked me if I would make this once a week.  And we all know with my raw chicken phobia that that is unlikely, but he loved it so much, I just may.

We even had dessert because my friend, Tamara asked me to teach her how to make cookies.  She is from Chile and isn't familiar with this type of baking, so we made these together.  She wants to make cupcakes next week because her daughter's b-day is coming up, so if you have any good cupcake recipes, please send them my way!

Tuesday: leftovers - we took the leftover BBQ chicken, shredded it, and ate it on baked potatoes with cheese and sour cream - yum!  I love being able to change up my leftovers enough to make it feel like a different meal without having to do a lot of work because if you have to do a lot of work, it kind of negates the point of leftovers in the first place...right?

Wednesday: Every first Monday of the month during the school year we host "Soup Night" in our flat for our community.  Our friend Andrej says, " you know that song, Everybody's Working for the Weekend? That's how I feel about Soup Night." So getting back into the swing of cooking for possibly 30+ people was a bit intimidating especially since this was my first attempt to do it as a mother of 2, but the Lord blessed this flat with rest and both kids took 3 hour naps that overlapped almost the whole time.  And I've learned a few things over the past two years of hosting this:

Chop everything the night before.

So literally all I had to do this morning was pour everything in the pots and let them simmer.  It was so easy, a 2 year old could do it.

So I enlisted one:

Beyond excited to help Mommy cook -
don't worry Tutu and Mia, my stove isn't on!:)

Proud Little Chef

We made Pasta e Fagioli (above) - I omitted the beef and pasta (wasn't sure what to call it when people asked me what soup it was :))


Potato Chowder - I omitted the corn.
That's a lot of soup y'all.
This is before the yummy cheesy goodness was added.  I only had one serving left of this soup - I think it was a hit!

After tripling each recipe, we had one and a half recipes worth of Pasta e Fagioli left and one serving of the chowder left.  Since we typically have  soup leftover, I added the beef and pasta to the Pasta e Fagioli for Thursday's dinner, so we'd feel like we were eating a different meal.  I froze the rest.

Saturday: Spaghetti - I make a ton of sauce and then use what's left to make Lasagne the next day.

Sunday: Lasagne, duh.
My mom has the best ever spaghetti and lasagne recipe she gleaned from an Italian neighbor way back when. I'm waiting on a text to see if I can divulge these recipes. :)  I make them often, so they'll show up eventually if she says yes!

Happy Monday!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sock it to me

I was reading my friend Melanie's  Fashion Friday post today. Taylor's laughing right now because emailing back and forth about the pros and cons of the white denim jacket vs the classic denim jacket doesn't quite merit friendship in his eyes.  But in the blog world it totally does...right?

Anyway, today she posted these socks.  And while they are adorable (especially the ones with the ruffle) and I would totally get great wear out of them living in Scotland, they cost $26.95.


For a pair of socks.

Which is more than I am willing to spend on a shirt (that everyone can actually see) let alone a pair of socks that are hidden under my cute boots that I could apparently only afford because Santa Claus provides my socks each year in my stocking.  This may explain why I am out of touch with typical sock prices??  I am also cracking up at the description: "designed by Texas artist Stephanie Nance." While I'm sure she is a lovely person, since when are we interested in who designed our socks?

When they cost $26.95, that's when.

I just want to know what else they will do for me besides keep my feet dry and toasty (and let's not forget cute) because to get me to buy them at $26.95, they better do my laundry too.  Just sayin'.

Maybe it's $26.95 for all 3 pair?  I'm still incredulous. Did I miss the part where this company is like Toms and by purchasing these socks, I'm providing socks for a sock-less child somewhere cold for the rest of their life?

If so, Santa...need any stocking stuffer ideas...?

Check out Melanie's blog if you like clothes and being up on current trends but dislike braving the mall.  And more importantly because she's really funny.

Happy Friday Y'all!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kids Say the Darndest Things Part II

For my original Kids Say the Darndest Things post click here.

Now that Seth can talk never stops talking, we are starting to accumulate these for ourselves.

The latest installment:

Picture us, on holiday in the Highlands.

It's a quiet morning and the four of us are sitting around the breakfast table.  Taylor and I are lingering over our coffee, Seth is in the high chair between us, and Avery is on the floor in her car seat (the bouncy wouldn't fit in our packed-to-the-gills car).

Seth has started to talk a lot, and it cracks us up to ask him questions - I love seeing how his brain works.

I leaned over to him and asked, "Seppy what is Mommy's job?" curious to see if he even knew what I meant.

Oh, he did.

He turned to look at me and without any irony in his two year old voice and twanged,

Changin' diapers.

Taylor and I about died right then and there but before we could, had to ask the next obvious question.

"Seth, what is Daddy's job?" he looked carefully back and forth at each of us and said,

Reading the Bible.

Yes, Seth.  You are exactly right.

Embracing the Camera with Emily today...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

{Monday Meal Planning} Edition my favorite summer meal

Here is last week's meal plan for borrowing:

It's upside down; I'm not sure why. Maybe it's rebelling since I didn't actually follow it.

Monday: BBQ chicken, potato salad, corn casserole, watermelon - this is one of my favorite summer meals.  You will thank me for every single dish.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken - recipe from sister in law, Sus

1. Place 4-6 chicken breasts in bottom of slow cooker
2. Squirt BBQ sauce on top of it until it's thoroughly covered (Scotland peeps - that is about one container of HP's; I used woodsmoked flavour)
3. Sprinkle brown sugar on top
4. Shake some worchestershire on top of that
5. Turn slow cooker on low and leave for 5 or 6 hours or till chicken is thoroughly cooked
I omitted steps 3 and 4 because I was lazy curious to see if I could make this a 3 step process, and really didn't want the extra sugar.  Efficiency and healthy eating are key in this household obviously.  

And it tasted just as good to me this way.

I HATE potato salad.  And I try to use the word "hate" sparingly - it is saved for sin, and Satan, and potato salad.  That is how much I hate it.  I don't really care for potatoes, and I will not eat mayonnaise, but when my friend, Rachael, made this potato salad for her daughter's b-day party last year, I felt like it was calling my name which is weird because I HATE potato salad and potatoes can't talk.  Rachael is a foodie and loves to cook, so I figured I needed to try it even though I would probably gag on the mayo once I tasted it.  I didn't. 


This is the best potato salad I have ever eaten. And my friends always beg me for the recipe whenever I make it.

Dockside Potato Salad - recipe from my friend Rachael which she got from someone else
5-6 medium red potatoes
1/4 c finely chopped onion
1/4 c finely chopped celery
1 dill pickle, chopped
2 T dried parsley (I didn't have this much left in my parsely spice jar, but it still tasted fine)
6 strips of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled (I have never made it with bacon because I never plan ahead enough when I make this - Rachael made hers with bacon I think, and let's be serious, bacon makes everything taste better)
1/2-1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 1/2 T vinegar (I used white wine)
4 T veg oil
1-1 1/4 c mayo ( I sub sour cream because even though I liked Rachael's with mayo, I can't actually eat something I've made that has mayo in it. I know, I've got issues.)

Cook potatoes in salted water till tender. Cool in fridge.  Cut into bite sized pieces. Mix in next 5 ingredients. Add salt and pepper, vinegar and oil and mix gently with a wooden spoon - does it actually have to be wooden?  Not sure.  Add mayo sour cream till well mixed. Refrigerate several hours before serving.

Corn casserole.  Definitely the best and unhealthiest (is this a word?) way to eat corn.  A staple at the Thanksgiving table and all BBQs.

My friend, Kristen, immediately emailed me after my first meal plan Monday accusing me of recipe blasphemy for not including this. Please forgive me for holding out on you.  

Corn Casserole - from my mom
stick of butter (1/2 a cup people)
box of Jiffy cornbread mix (Lupe Pintos carries it - it will cost you an arm and a leg fellow Scotland dwellers, but it is worth it)
1 can corn, undrained
1 can cream style corn
3 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).    
2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  
3. Pour into greased 10X13 baking dish.
4. Bake for 25 min uncovered - this is a lie; it always takes at least 30 even as much as 40 minutes - till toothpick comes out clean.

Watermelon  - if Seth Ince is in the vicinity, hide this or it will all be singlehandedly consumed by his 2 year old watermelon loving self.

Wow.  I've only gotten through Monday and I feel as though I've divulged so many of my culinary secrets.  I may not have anything more to offer for subsequent MMP posts.

Tuesday: Scratched today's meal because the sun, the glorious sun was out, so we had to BBQ instead.  I did make Ree's grilled zucchini and it was so good.  On another note, I faced my raw meat fears and formed hamburgers with my bare hands.  They were good, but I never want to do that again.

Wednesday: take out

Thursday: leftovers (this post is starting to feel like that line in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days when someone says, "you should call him and tell him everything you had to eat today."I do realize that I am doing that, but I just can't stop.)

Friday: Our French friend, JP, who is a chef at a Michelin star restaurant came to dinner.  No I wasn't intimidated at all to cook for him, why do you ask?  

That's because I had Taylor do it.

Contrary to my plan we had pesto chicken - I omit the prosciutto because that would mean I actually have to touch the raw chicken  
pasta - heat up sliced garlic and red pepper flakes in a couple of Tbsp of olive oil for a minute or two then toss it with pasta - easy and delish

Brussel sprouts - JP jumped in while Taylor was making this and added salt and pepper and chicken stock - it was amazing!)

Sunday: leftovers

Have a great week y'all!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Avery's 3rd month

3 Month Milestones:

Rolling over (front to back)
Jet lag has ruined my good sleeping habits and I'm back to 8:30 - 4:30 - boo!

I am 3 months old today!

Wow, it took a lot of work to get everyone looking in the general direction of the camera for this family photo!

With my pool buddy, Gigi (great grandma)

I am very talkative these days...

I get it from my Daddy!

First Father's Day (with Poppa, Sadie and Seth)

We love Aunt Kait!

Now that I'm back in Edinburgh, I need my long sleeves  and "Baby Legs" - thanks Jenni!

Thanks for my cute bow Aunt Kait

My first visit to New College

3 Month Photo Shoot by Poppa

Monday, August 27, 2012

{Monday Meal Planning} Edition there is a Meal Plan this week

We're back on for {Monday Meal Planning} and I'm liking it better already! I can't tell you how often my meal plan changed throughout the week (you can probably see the eraser marks!).  You may be asking yourself does this then render meal planning useless, and the answer is no.  I still stuck to the actual recipes, and it reduced my unplanned grocery store trips; I just tweaked it as the week went on and plans changed (read: I didn't feel like cooking).  It turned out that I had more leftovers than planned at the beginning of the week which made it unnecessary to make all of my meals - woot.  We may or may not have had chicken nuggets Sunday night to stretch out the last of the leftovers...

Here it is:

Monday - can we say comfort food? I was looking for a one dish meal that was portable since we offered to bring dinner over to our friend's house.  Our friends are British and have 2 young boys, so a family friendly meal that everyone would enjoy that required a casserole dish was in order. I had pulled this recipe from PW awhile back and when I came across it while meal planning, it met all of my criteria.  And it was a hit!  The best part of the meal was when I overheard their 7 year old saying to his mum, "this meal was lovely." Taylor absolutely loved it too and Seth ate it without much coercing though I'm pretty sure there was a promise of getting to play with the aforementioned 7 year old's matchbox cars if he ate all of his dinner.

Tuesday - this was a last minute meal because we didn't end up having enough leftovers from the night before and more importantly I had ground beef in the fridge that had to be used immediately.  Taco Salad is one of my go to easy meals because I usually have all of the ingredients on hand - spinach, tomatoes, onions, salsa, taco seasoning, tortilla chips, cheese, avocados for guac, pickled jalapenos and sour cream - and it takes no time to throw it together. My Mexican rice recipe is adapted from my sister, Leti.  She makes the BEST rice ever.  She taught me how to make it back when I was in high school, but she doesn't use measurements, and that was before I was really interested in cooking, and let's be honest, at 15, I probably wasn't paying very close attention.  I've adapted her recipe because I can't quite get it right, and let's again be honest, if you've never had her amazing rice, this will still seem really good to you.

Easy Mexican Rice 
Bring 3 cups of water to boil. Throw in 1 and 1/2 c of white rice (maybe brown could be subbed, but the water to rice ratio will be probably be different).  Add in some garlic salt, cumin, and lots of the key ingredient: Knorr's Caldo de Tomate (aka Tomato Bouillon). Sorry for my lack of measurements - my only advice is err on less is more with the garlic and more is more on the Caldo de Tomate; the cumin falls in the middle.  It may take a few times to get it just right and then muscle memory takes over and it will be great every time!

Wednesday - I posted this a few weeks ago, but didn't end up making it because of our impromptu BBQ.  It was delicious, but when I had it on leftovers night, I added more balsamic vinegar to it, and it was even better!

Saturday - saw this on Elizabeth's website and knew I had to try it.  I'm always looking for seafood recipes.  It was fresh and easy to make - a perfect summer dish.  Taylor raved about this one too; Seth however was not a fan.  I think this was his first introduction to shrimp and he kept spitting it out.  He loved the "pastoff" (Sethish for pasta) and tomatoes though.

We resume our monthly Soup Night next week, so if you have any dynamite soup recipes that are easy to make for 30 people, leave a comment please!

What Seth does while I make dinner

Monday, August 20, 2012

{Monday Meal Planning} Edition not sure this one counts

As I cooked through my meal plan last week, I realized I neglected to take the season into account.  It's typically cold and rainy for most of the year in Edinburgh, so soup, pot roast, anything baked in the oven works year round.  Well summer decided to (finally!) show up so, and I laughed as we sweated through eating pot roast and the madras chicken especially since the oven made our house feel like we were eating outside in Houston in August.

Oh wait.  I have no idea what that feels like because that would be crazy.

I thought of those of you in 100 degree heat and was jealous because it is much cooler in your house than mine because even though it was only in the upper 60s here, we don't have the modern miracle known as AC.

In addition to all of this, I scrapped my Thursday meal (pray for my baby portobello's!) because friends invited us to BBQ grill (I will hold onto my Texas lingo) last minute, so chicken fajita marinade was quickly made, chicken was marinated for a quarter of the time it was supposed to be and mushrooms, bell pepper and cherry tomatoes were skewered as fast as humanly possible so I could get out of my stifling flat and into the cool summer evening.

So Monday Meal Planning is still in it's trial and error phase which may or may not last it's whole lifetime.  Here are the tweaks for next week...

I will post my meal plan the week after I actually use it which does indeed mean that there will be no meal plan this week.  Sorry for those of you who were counting on not having to meal plan this week, but then again last week was my first edition, so unless you're brand new to the blog, you probably didn't hold your breath for this becoming a regular thing.  Next week I will post my plan from this week.  This way I can let you know what worked, what didn't, any adjustments I made to recipes, any last minute drop everything and BBQ because if there is blue sky in Edinburgh that's just what you do, and most importantly so you don't know who's coming to my flat for dinner each week and when we're not here for dinner because that's kinda creepy.  This even gives me the chance to post pictures with recipes...

if my camera is charged...

and if I remember.

Oh and I'm considering adding a grocery list after all.  We'll see.

Since I'm leaving your meal plan empty, here are a few of my secrets:

-- interesting side if you're cooking Mexican food (I am a big fan of rice which you will soon find out if I keep this weekly meal plan post going - seriously, if I had to eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be rice)
-- love my friend, Elizabeth's website.  I'm using one of her recipes this week!
-- I've probably posted this before but I am OBSESSED with these cupcakes.
-- and you can't go wrong with Pioneer Woman.  Anyone who can make me excited about making zucchini is a cooking genius.
-- my chicken fajita marinade recipe:

Chicken Fajita Marinade ( can't remember where I got it - maybe??)
4 servings

1/4 c beer
1/3 c lime juice
3 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
1 T brown sugar
1 T Worchestershire
1 T cilantro, minced (I left this out cause we didn't have any in the fridge.  Shocking, I know - I couldn't believe it either)
1/2 cumin

Throw it all in a ziplock with 4 chicken breasts and marinate in fridge for 2 hours

Have a great week y'all!