Wednesday, February 29, 2012

{February Foodfest} I Heart Brussel Sprouts

Wow,  no excuse for my lack of blogging this Monday.  But does Monday ever need an excuse?

It was a big day though, my c-section has now been scheduled for March 16th.  So glad to have an end in sight!  It was agony waiting the extra 3 whole days for Seth to come :).  At least there is one benefit to having a c-section.  Thankfully my doctor agreed with our plan to let me try for a natural delivery if Baby Girl decides to make her debut before the 16th - since she'd be more than a week early at that point, it's more likely she'll be small enough to be safe for me to deliver that way, so we're praying she comes on her own March 15th!

As for our February budget update, on Monday we were down to 6 pounds and 2 p left for this month after a quick run to Tesco for bread and then to Sainsbury's for Brussel sprouts cause, y'all,  when they brought our grocery order Sunday night, the only item they didn't have for our order was Brussel sprouts.  I was beside myself.  I had been looking forward to them for two weeks!  Since we haven't been doing grocery orders this month due to my lack of budgeting at the beginning of the month, I was having to live without because our little neighborhood Tesco doesn't carry them.  And they are definitely my most constant pregnancy craving.  I could go make some right now (and it's 3:40 pm).  I just got sad cause we're not having them for dinner tonight, but I guess they don't really "go" with cheese enchiladas and black bean soup.  I'm big on food "going together." It's kind of like middle school.

So, Brussel sprouts - does that seem like a weird craving?  I like them a lot when I'm not pregnant too, but the difference is when I am pregnant, we eat them at least 2 times a week - that is when I haven't gone crazy with the grocery budget.  And I assure you, the craving has nothing to do with living in Britain.  For those of you that didn't know, they are obsessed too, but we have very different methods of preparing them.  When asking my British friends about what they eat for Christmas dinner, Brussel sprouts are always on the list and usually one of their favorite dishes.  It's kind of like pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. They couldn't believe it when I told them the first time I even tried Brussel sprouts was in my late 20s.  To my knowledge, my mom has never made them.  Because of my lack of experience, I jumped on the Brussel sprouts are disgusting bandwagon early.  I think I was indoctrinated through the countless readings of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs  (Brussel sprouts and gorgonzola only for the whole day?!)

But I have been reformed!

Here is the recipe if you're a fellow Brussel sprout lover or want to get over your unfounded Brussel sprout prejudice - I dare you!

The Most Delicious and Easy Brussel Sprouts Ever
recipe by my mom-in-law: thanks Susan for making this pregnancy so happy!

You're on your own for measurements because I am in the land of the metric system.

1 bag of Brussel sprouts (280g I think - but to Americans, believe me I know how unhelpful this is)  already trimmed and washed because due to my lack of exposure, I wouldn't even know what part of the sprout you are even suppose to trim off. And I'm 9 months pregnant - I'm all about time management in the kitchen.
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
some crushed red pepper - you decide how much spice you want; it doesn't take a lot
EVOO - depends on how many sprouts you're using.  I start out with about 2 T and then add if they're getting too dry

Cut the sprouts in half while EVOO is heating up in a skillet on med-hi heat.

Add garlic and stir for a bit (maybe 30 seconds so it has time to flavor the oil).

Add sprouts and sprinkle red pepper.

Stir fry till desired done-ness (did I just make up a word?)  Ahh I just realized I left my black beans simmering on the stove for too long.  Be right back!

Whew - dinner disaster averted.

So I like to cook my sprouts till the cut side is kind of browned.  They usually end up cooking for about 20 minutes.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

3 years

Remembering our first baby girl today...

Tristan Joy Ince
February 28, 2009

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3

"...we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope..." Romans 5:3-4

Friday, February 24, 2012

{February Foodfest} Less than a week to go

(With the grocery budget, not the pregnancy.)

I think we're going to make it folks.

I just tallied our budget as of today, and we have 9 pounds (aka "quid") and 37 pence (aka "p" for those of you unfamiliar with British currency slang) left to spend on groceries this month.  That may not seem like a lot, but it includes a grocery order that I did online and will be delivered on Sunday, so we will have 9.37 for our last 4 days to cover any ingredients I may be missing for my meal plan that week.  And no I haven't made it already even though I ordered my groceries for the week - why do you ask?

Don't worry, I've gotten this far haven't I?  And we've reached 36 weeks of pregnancy today so the inevitable daily walk to Tesco will just help move things along faster, right?

March will be a fresh start!  And then a few weeks into it, I will have a baby and meal planning, budgeting, cooking in general will completely go out the window will be graciously taken over by my hubby (and the nice folks at church who have offered to bring us meals for 2 weeks).

On a more exciting note, the Ince family was spontaneous today and decided on a whim to take advantage of the beautiful day God gave us and skipped town for a jaunt in the neighboring royal burgh (pronounce "burra") of Linlithgow, home of Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots (not to be confused with her English cousin "Bloody Mary").

Because we went in the middle of the day on a Friday (in February no less), we had the ruined palace to ourselves - it was a blast!  Seth ran from room to room exclaiming, "OH WOW!" at every fireplace or bed of rocks he came across.  I can't wait to go back when I'm not 9 months pregnant and can really explore all of the nooks and crannies (and make it up all of the millions of stairs to actually see the whole place) with them.

Our admission was free thanks to the Heritage Scotland passes we bought last year, and we even got a discount in the gift shop, so we splurged and bought Seth a plastic sword after discovering it would only cost 2 quid!  He didn't really get the concept and kept unsheathing it and trying to use it as a  flute, so Taylor gave him a little sword fighting lesson while I skipped to the loo.  Taylor recounted to me when I got back that mid lesson, Seth spotted a picture of Queen Mary on a sandwich board, dropped his sword, ran over toward her squealing, "Mary!" like she was his long lost best friend.  He thought Seth was going to plant a kiss right there on the sandwich board. I explained to him that there is a picture of her in one of his children's books and I had told him her name.  Once.  Now every time he looks at that book, when he gets to the page with her on it, he gets super excited and squeals, "Mary!"  I was so tickled that he recognized her here and had the same excited reaction.  It almost makes me want to name his baby sister "Mary." But not really.

I will post photos tomorrow - having computer issues at the moment and this pregnant mama needs to go to bed!

Happy Friday, y'all!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

{February Foodfest} Recipes with a South Carolina flair

For our first anniversary back in 2007, Taylor and I had a weekend away in Charleston, SC.  Thanks to his parents, we stayed at the amazing Two Meeting Street Inn.

How cute is Taylor in this picture?  Love him.

It was all you could dream of when thinking vacation to Charleston and we had a great time - especially eating!  I came away from there with two dynamite recipes that I wanted to share (one being the reason for Monday's inevitable run to Tesco).  (I have to say that I was able to avoid it today - I texted Taylor instead - blessed husband to the rescue).

We would eat our breakfast on the wrap-around porch each morning.  It was divine - the atmosphere and the food!

This first recipe was my favorite thing they served for breakfast.  And I have to say, I can be difficult to please when it comes to breakfast.  I basically stick with oatmeal or pancakes because I am obsessed with carbs am very particular about how I will eat eggs - no cooked yolk thank you very much - which rules out everything, but fried over-easy and that's not fancy enough for Charleston.

Sausage Wellington
serves 24 (great for freezing!)

3 lbs sausage
2 T onion, grated
1/2 t sage
16 oz cream cheese
1 c shredded cheddar
1 can sliced mushrooms, pureed
3 pkg puff pastry sheets, thawed
2 pkg Hollandaise sauce mix
1 c butter
2 c milk
dash of Tabasco
18 slices tomato

1. Brown sausage, add onions, and sage.  Drain fat.  Add cream cheese and mix well.  Add cheddar.
2. Cut each pastry sheet into quarters. Put 1 heaping T of sausage mixture in the center of each square and fold pastry over to form a triangle; seal edges with fork.
3.  Bake pastries for 30 minutes at 400 degrees F.
4. While pastries are baking, in a saucepan, mix Hollandaise sauce mix, butter, milk and tabasco until sauce is thickened.  Pour over cooked pastry.

So yeah, my recipe doesn't say what to do with the mushrooms or tomato.  My guess is that the idea of pureed canned mushrooms grossed me out, so I left them out, and I think the tomato is supposed to be a garnish.  Be creative!:)

When we lived in Charlotte,  my cheerleaders, would beg me to make this second recipe each week for our Bible study lunch meetings.  They are a fun take off of brownies or blondies (the recipe not my cheerleaders).  Oooh, I could really go for a blondie right now actually - please comment with a good recipe if you have one!

Orange Brownies 
From Pillsbury Bake-Off

1 1/2 c flour
2 c sugar
1 t salt
1 c butter, softened
4 eggs
2 t pure orange extract
1 t grated orange zest

1 c powdered sugar
2 T OJ
1 t grated orange zest

Grease a 13x9x2 in pan and reserve.  In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, and salt.  Add buter, eggs, extract, and zest, and beat with an electric mixer till well blended.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or till light golden brown and set.  Remove from oven and pierce top of entire cake with fork.  (I actually used a toothpick instead because the fork was pulling up the cake too much).

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Stir till smooth.  Pour over hot cake.  Cool cake and cut into small squares.

These are yummy garnished with a single raspberry on each square.  I would take a picture of mine, but they are devoid of raspberries because it's the end of the month though if you've been reading along this month, apparently it wouldn't matter if it was the beginning of the month either!  Plus, I used a pan that was too small, so they came out too tall and thick - more like cake.  Tasted great, but legit Orange Brownies are thin.  I wouldn't want to steer you wrong.

Our first anniversary

This was definitely during that phase of I am a newlywed, so I must chop my hair.  Bad idea jeans, Robin.

As you can see in older posts, I haven't succumbed to that during the fairly new-ish stage of motherhood, maybe because Seth isn't a hair-puller.  Pray that Baby Girl is the same because, wow, that Mom cut doesn't look good on me!

Embracing the Camera (back in 2007) with Emily...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

{February Foodfest} Pancake Day

I am still recovering from Monday, so last night we decided on a whim to celebrate "Pancake Day" which is a national holiday in Britain akin to Fat Tuesday.  But not really.  Basically the point is to use up all of the food you won't be using during Lent.  What did they eat back when this tradition started if they were trying to get rid of flour, milk, and eggs?

I am baffled.

(Please set me straight, Scottish friends if I have this all wrong - I don't want to misrepresent you!)

But we definitely ate pancakes last night because well, they're easy, and I had recently made a big batch of "bisquick" since I can't buy it premade here.

Here is the recipe especially for my sis-in-law, Saray, who loves it and can't get it in Israel either and for any Scots out there that want to take a stab at making pancakes instead of buying them premade at Sainsburys.  This, by the way, was so weird to an American to see packaged pancakes sitting in the bread aisle.  Right up there with the unrefrigerated eggs!

Culture shock.

Home Baking Mix (not quite as good as Bisquick, but the best I can do here in Edinburgh)

6 c flour
3 T baking powder
2 T powdered sugar
1 1/2 t salt
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 c plus 1 T canola oil

Mix dry ingredients.  Using a mixer, slowly stir in oil and mix till all lumps are gone.

To make pancakes, use 2 c of above mix, 2 eggs and 1 c milk though I have to say the pancakes were a little thick, so maybe add more milk...I also add almond extract.

If you have more time and want the best pancakes ever, this is my favorite pancake recipe.  We make these almost every Saturday, but just to warn you, they take forever to cook!

Buttermilk Pancakes (aka "Pancakes that worked" as dubbed by my friend Caroline though the name hardly does them justice)

Start off with 2 c flour.

Then add 3 t baking powder.

Next, 1 t salt.

And can't forget the 1/2 c sugar.

Then add 1/2 c oil - I use vegetable.

And mix in 1 egg (don't worry, they are refrigerated once they get to my house!).

Add your vanilla next. Caroline didn't specify in her recipe or Taylor forgot to write it down (he copied it from a recipe card she had taped on the inside of one of their kitchen cabinets); I think I use about tablespoon, maybe more.  I guess it will depend on your affinity for vanilla.

Last but certainly not least, 4 c buttermilk.  This is the key ingredient as well as the culprit in why it takes so long for them to cook.


I won't tell you what Seth calls pancakes because it's not a nice word in Spanish (if that gives you any clue), but I can tell you, the second he sees one of us standing at the stove, flipping these babies, he's beside himself to have one.

I could just eat him up!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

{February Foodfest} Yeah, not about food

Big President's Day fail on my part.  But since it was a holiday, I can count it as a weekend...right?  And I wasn't planning on blogging on the weekends.  Can we say justification?

Here is what my holiday was like yesterday (apparently they don't care about President's Day in Britain):

1. emptied dishwasher/did dishes/loaded dishes/swept
2. vacuumed - not so easy when you're almost 9 months pregnant
3. playdate - at our house
4. laundry - my dryer is 3 floors down, and in another building which requires me to access it from outside- again, not so easy when almost 9 months pregnant
5. hiked to Tesco for the elusive missing ingredient for dinner (oranges)
6. made dinner - not sure why this took me ALL of nap time (2-4) to do, but it did and then some, maybe because I couldn't use the blender or mixer during nap time for fear it would wake the Kracken.  You bet I was on the phone to Taylor at 5:30 begging asking when he'd be home (our neighbors were coming over at 6 for dinner).
7. cleaned up toys with Seth's help - does including your toddler on this make the process take four times as long for anyone else or is it just me?
8. collapsed in a heap on the couch when Taylor got home and instructed from there last minute preparations - he is the best!  He also let me lie on the couch (we have one in our kitchen though I use the term very lightly.  It's more like a sad excuse for a seat that you see in a doctor's office) while he cleaned up the whole kitchen which even though I completely cleaned up after myself when I made dinner, still somehow looked like a science project gone very wrong.

So yeah, no time to blog.  I went to bed by 9 pm which is unheard of for me.

I guess missing one day of the February Foodfest Challenge has made me feel rebellious and so I'm not going to post about food today either.  I know. It is kind of killing the "first child" in me.

Today, my friends, we have reached a new level of Angel Baby.  Remember this post? And especially this one?

Well after lunch, Seth was playing in his room while I was folding laundry in another.  I could hear him playing with his trucks and was glad that he was entertaining himself so well because I could tell toward the end of lunch he was getting sleepy but it was too early to put him down.   After a few minutes, I noticed the truck sounds had ceased, and he was saying, "night night" which is what he calls his pacifiers.  I only let him use them when he is in bed and that is where they are typically housed, but as I mention in my Long Tall Texan post last year, Seth is quite tall for his age and really has no problems reaching into the crib for his contraband (aka night nights) to use at will unless I remember to put them far up against the wall. So I walked into his room to see if he was ready for his nap




Most moms have trouble with their 20 month olds climbing out of their cribs.  Mine likes to get in it when he's ready to sleep.

There are no words.

Friday, February 17, 2012

{February Foodfest} Meal Planning

Are you a meal planner?

I am a flaky meal planner.  I love the idea of thinking out our dinners ahead of time, adding the ingredients I lack to my online grocery order so I never have to step foot in the grocery store, and not having to worry about dinner each day.  But this doesn't happen very often.  Part of it is the dilemma of what if on that day I don't actually feel like eating that?  And apparently I like schlepping Seth to the grocery store every day for the one vital ingredient we need for the recipe I've stumbled across on one of the blogs I follow that my pregnant self has to have tonight!  I think part of me actually loves the thrill of finding a yummy recipe and discovering I have all of the ingredients already, or we could just call it what it is: procrastination.

A couple of years ago, in attempt to be more organized (and let's be honest, an excuse to buy stationery), I asked for a meal plan organizer for Christmas.  My mom-in-law commissioned our favorite stationer, Lisa, to create the elusive idea I had given her, and they came up with a cute design that included my plan for the week on one side and room to write my grocery list on the other.  It was so helpful and fun to write out, but it's in a box in my parents-in law's attic along with the rest of our house, so I haven't been very motivated to do this here.  Stationery is a big motivator in my life.

With our first world crisis, my need for meal planning has arisen once again, so I made my own meal plan sheet that I saved into a PDF so I can print it off each week.  Don't let me fool you, I am not computer savvy at all.  Anyone could easily do this as you will soon see evidenced by my photo.  It has been REVOLUTIONARY for my stress level.  It's definitely nowhere near as cute as my original one, but it works just the same (I'm using a separate pad of paper for my grocery list).  Or you could actually order a real one - here is an example I saw on another blog recently.

Here is an example from this week.  I wrote it all out, and then realized I needed to swap two of the days, and knowing that I wanted to post it here. I rewrote it so you would think I was neat and organized, and then Seth got ahold of it, so I guess an arrow would have sufficed (and given me five minutes of my life back).

You can see Seth's handiwork at the bottom half.
At least he knew to draw on the paper and not the counter, right?

I'd stick around a little longer, but as you can see, I didn't really plan for today, and we don't have sufficient leftovers, so I'm off to find a recipe online and then inevitably walk Seth to the grocery store to get our lone missing ingredient.  Old habits die hard.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

{February Foodfest} Staples

Like I mentioned, in our first world crisis this month, we have food, but I just haven't planned any meals out ahead of time and we are now officially down to: 77.74 pounds left in our budget after replenishing our fruit supply and meeting my pregnancy craving for bruschetta.

I've gotten pretty good over the years about knowing what staples are needed in the Ince household, so I have those to work with but usually have a bigger budget to build my meals around them.

Here are our must haves:
whole milk
1% milk
cheddar cheese (I buy a huge block at Costco about every other month)
lemon juice
Worcestershire sauce
stuff to make salsa
stuff to make spaghetti
stuff to make granola bars
romaine, croutons, and homemade dressing (a garlicky one and a sweet one) - we eat salad almost every night
frozen chicken
frozen salmon
frozen peas
taco seasoning
black, kidney, and cannelloni beans
canned chopped green chiles
cream of mushroom soup
cream of chicken soup
sour cream
green apples
brussel sprouts (I know, right?!  My weirdest pregnancy craving - I will devote a whole post to this soon.)

On any given day I could typically put together spaghetti, Italian stir fry, chicken enchiladas, some sort of meal with salmon as the main course, pasta e fagioli soup, taco salad, or if worse comes to worst grilled cheese.  Not that I have anything against grilled cheese - give me just about any carb paired with cheese and I'll be happy.  It just doesn't scream dinner to me and apparently I like loud food for dinner.  Or something like that.

What, you ask, is Italian stir fry?  Only the easiest dinner known to man.  Yes, I will gladly share the recipe.

Italian Stir Fry 
(This recipe was made up in college by my friend, Audrey, and perfected by my mom)

For this recipe to work for you, your own household food staples must include:

chicken breasts (for this recipe, you need 4 - I exclusively use boneless chicken breast for all of my recipes calling for chicken - it has to do with my weirdness when it comes to poultry and a severe dislike for dark meat)
diced tomatoes
dried or ground oregano (I prefer ground, but can't find it here)
garlic salt
Italian dressing (I make my own - recipe to follow)
rice or some type of pasta for four (I prefer rice - it is less maintenance than pasta.  Wow, I may have just reached a new level of laziness. My mom makes it with bow tie pasta which is great too, but more work - you know that really complicated extra step of having to transfer the cooked pasta to the strainer?  On a less ridiculous note, I also prefer rice because it soaks up the sauce better, but even though my mom and I use the same recipe and she uses pasta - hers tastes way better than mine)

Disclaimer:  I don't have precise measurements, so for this to be a helpful recipe, you have to be confident about using spices.

1. Start rice.

While rice is cooking:

1. Cube chicken, fretting about all of the raw chicken you are touching and how you're going to turn on the faucet to wash your hands without contaminating something else along the way.  No?  Just me?

2. In a large skillet, heat up Italian dressing (this will act as your olive oil) on med-hi heat.  Add chicken.  Stir every so often and season with garlic salt and oregano (use as much as you think your family would want - we love garlic in this house, so I use a lot.)

3. Once chicken is cooked through, dump in can of diced tomatoes.  Add garlic salt and oregano until it seems like the right amount.  Once it is seasoned to your liking and heated through, serve on top of rice, pair a vegetable with it and voila!  dinner is served.

Italian Dressing
(This recipe is adapted from Taylor's Paw Paw's Caesar salad dressing - I just omit the raw egg yolk because I'm pregnant, and let's be honest, I fear all things poultry related that are uncooked)

3 cloves garlic, minced - I use huge cloves
1/4 c olive oil (aka EVOO - I only use extra virgin, but not entirely sure why - apparently I take Ina Garten's every word as gospel and have adopted Rachael Ray's food slang)
1/4 c vinegar (I change it up every so often.  The original recipe uses apple cider, but I prefer white wine or balsamic)
5 shakes Worcestershire sauce
1 lemon, juiced (I use a heaping table spoon of lemon juice from the bottle)
egg yolk (I omit - apparently if you put the yolk in first, then pour the vinegar over it it "cooks" it.  Call me skeptical.)

Sorry for the lack of photos in the post.  I think I do have pictures on my camera of this meal, but my camera battery is dead and, "I can't believe I can't find the charger!"

P for the c!

What are some staples you have to have in your fridge or pantry?  Wish I knew how to do a linky so we could share that better!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

{February Food Challenge} Trifle is NOT a trifle

In Britain, we celebrate the Super Bowl on the Monday following it.  That is if we aren't committed enough to stay up through the 5 hour time difference to see two teams we have no connection with play each other in the biggest game of their lives (at least for this year).  Who am I kidding? Taylor and I would still probably wait till the next day to watch it at a normal hour even if it was the Texans v. the Cowboys.  So yeah, being the football fans that we are, the Inces are 2 for 2 in Monday Super Bowl watching.  I am proud to say that I did stay off of Facebook all of Sunday and Monday to make sure that I didn't find out ahead of time who won.  The sad thing is,  we left before the game was over in order to put to Seth to bed on time, and it was days later that I even remembered to ask Taylor who won.  But this post isn't about football, it's about food!

What I was really excited about with this whole Super Bowl business was having a fun excuse to get together with our American friends and share good food and fellowship. Though I am not usually tempted by sugar - I have more of a "savory tooth" (wow that sounds like some sort of prehistoric animal, scary) than a sweet tooth - this pregnancy has changed all of that.  You see, I'd typically forego dessert to have room for a second helping of the main course.  Not anymore.  I had a feeling this baby was a girl with my newfound affinity for all things sweet.

I had seen a recipe for Berry Trifle on my friend, Elizabeth's blog, and it immediately grabbed my attention because my grandmother makes a killer trifle, and I already had half a pound cake leftover from dinner with friends a few nights before that I knew needed to be taken care of quickly before I took care of it

I am all about not only cooking/baking to satisfy my cravings, but also practical cooking.  Half the dessert was already made.  No brainer - trifle it is!

I made my grocery order complete with the 2 pounds (as in weight not currency) of berries it called for though it considerably increased how many pounds (currency not weight) I spent on the order.  I think this may have contributed to the predicament I have put us in this month.  Since berries are a luxury item in the Ince household, I gently reminded Taylor not to eat them in his oatmeal as they were all needed for my Super Bowl dessert.

I made the trifle with a few changes:

Berry Trifle

omitted the liqueur
used almond pound cake instead
didn't refrigerate 4-24 hours before serving because that would have taken too much forethought.  One hour in the fridge turned out to be enough though I am sure it's better if you can leave it in longer.

Almond Pound Cake (you will only need half of it for the trifle):

1 1/2 c butter (3 American sticks)
3 c flour
3 c sugar
6 eggs
t almond extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Put all ingredients in Kitchen Aid mixer using paddle attachment for about 4-5 minutes (or if you're in Britain lamenting that you had to leave your Kitchen Aid in a box in your parents-in-law's attic, use your pathetic one speed, 4 pounds sterling Sainsbury's Basic mixer until it all looks mixed or your arm feels like it's going to fall off).  Pour in greased bundt cake pan.  Bake for 1 hour.

Patting myself on the back, I even cut out the pieces of "sad" cake for Taylor to eat later.  Almond pound cake is one of his favorite desserts, and I was so proud of myself for how thoughtful it was of me to set it aside for him. Hmph - I am sensing a theme in my life lately.

We took the trifle to the party, and it was a hit.  Our gracious host even tried to talk Taylor into leaving the rest of it at their flat, and they'd return the bowl later in the week.  Quickly I found some tupperware and left a heaping portion for them because I wasn't about to leave all of it.  This baby needs trifle!

We had enough leftover to offer some to our babysitter the next night (Tuesday).  I only slightly panicked when she texted me:

"Just gonna say don't invite people back for dessert because there may or may not be any..."

I immediately had inner-dialogue going on about how I expressly left it for her, she deserved all of it because she babysits for free, I can make some more...I bet there is at least some left.

I was able to contain myself and wait until she was gone to check and see if there was any left.  There was - victory!  I noted there was a little more that one serving and that Taylor and I could share it after dinner one night that we didn't have guests over.

By Thursday, the trifle was calling to me.  I really wanted to eat my portion after lunch but decided that I should practice self-control and wait to share it with Taylor after dinner.  I had the passing thought, what if he gets to it before then and eats it all by himself?  I quickly dismissed it as silly and neurotic.  He wouldn't do that to his pregnant wife.  I had saved it all of this time for the both of us, surely he wouldn't just eat it all himself.

Thursdays Taylor works from home.  After our team meeting for our job, we took turns watching Seth so that we could each work a bit.  When I handed Seth off to Taylor so that I could start dinner, I noticed one of my pet peeves.  A sink full of dirty dishes before I started cooking.  As I approached the sink, imagine my horror (highlighted by my pregnancy) to see the empty trifle bowl sitting there, full of water swirling with whipped cream/folded together with mascarpone and lemon zest.  I'll leave my reaction up to your imagination.  And no, there wasn't any profanity involved just righteous indignation.  Lord, help me.

Taylor was dumbfounded.

"You don't even like dessert, Robin."

"I am pregnant Taylor.  I like everything!"

Y'all.  I cannot tell  you how sad I was at the prospect of missing out on this trifle and how mad I was at Taylor.  How could he do this to me?  I thought pitifully to myself.  While I am thinking this, our buzzer rings.  Taylor, seeing a chance for escape, grabs Seth and heads downstairs to open the door because "our unlock the door button didn't work."  Our neightbor, Liz, had stopped by and was holding out the largest, gooiest piece of chocolate cake leftover from her birthday the night before and was wondering if we might want it.

"Um, yes please!"Taylor said as he whisked the cake away and ran back up the stairs triumphantly handing me the peace piece offering sent straight from God through his precious messenger, Liz.  I bet she had no idea how much a piece of chocolate cake would bless a prenant woman and her marriage that day.

After dinner, we shared it.  And y'all.  I'm pretty sure I haven't ever been more excited about a piece of chocolate cake in my life.

For those of you who don't think the Lord cares about the little things, rest assured that the proof is in the pudding.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

{February Foodfest} Valentine's Edition

Happy Valentine's Day!

In honor of Valentine's Day, I cooked breakfast for my two Valentines.

This may not seem like a big deal, but in order to stay sane, this wife and mama does cold breakfast during the week.  Read: yogurt, granola, fruit, and toast though I do always have a loaf of banana, pumpkin, lemon, sour cream maple, or other type of breakfast-y bread in the fridge which can be heated up in the microwave if anyone is feeling the need for a "hot breakfast." Oh and instant oatmeal is an option too.  I am just not a morning person and need my cup of coffee before I can handle demands or conversation of any kind.  My boys wake up ravenous on most days, so a Continental Breakfast works for all.  I stumble around the kitchen pouring Seth's granola into his yogurt as Taylor makes coffee as fast as humanly possible.

This morning I got up at the usual 7 am and amazingly had time to put together a breakfast taco for Taylor and Nutella Puff Pastry Treats for all before the boys asked for a morsel of food, and all this before my cup of coffee.

It was a Valentine's Day Miracle.  

My cute Valentines! I love you to pieces!

Unsure about his Nutella treat

Finally made his way to the filling - jackpot!

I think he liked it...

Valentine's Day "John John"

He kept repeating, "John John" as he would look down or grab part of his outfit.
I am going to be sad once he turns two and is too old to wear them anymore!

But God demonstrates His own LOVE for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ DIED for us.
Romans 5:8

I can't think of a better example of love than that - my prayer is that whether or not you have an earthly Valentine this year, that you would know the love of the Father for YOU.  

Happy Valentine's Day!

Click here for my Valentine's Day Post from last year written by my friend, Pam,
If you missed it, read it for a good laugh!

Monday, February 13, 2012

{February Foodfest} A Brief History

So for my first post, I give to you a brief history of food:

Those of you who know me well know that I LOVE to eat (and not just when I'm pregnant).   My guy friends in high school got a kick out of suggesting that we eat at Taco Bell during off-campus lunch to see how many tacos I would consume in our 25 minute window between Health and Yearbook (in case your curious that would typically be 3 taco supremes, 1 chicken soft taco, and a chili cheese burrito...or two).  And for an ironic side note because those that don't know me are probably now wondering about my weight in high school, I totally won the top student award for health class at awards night that year.

This is the only high school picture I could find (I'm on the left).

This is really the reason why I like cooking today. Because I love being in total control of what's for dinner not my affinity for Taco Bell or health class.

I grew up with a mom who is a great cook and a dad who is a master at the grill.  Family dinner around the table was non-negotiable during the week, and my siblings and I eagerly complied with this tradition.  All six of us (plus at least 2 or 3 friends who wanted to "miss the traffic" on their way home from school) would crowd around the table passing the guacamole, dropping silverware, singing crazy versions of Grace (Adams Family rendition anyone?), and devouring our food with minimal conversation because who wanted to stop long enough between bites?  I am a steady person, uneasily ruffled even as a teenager, but the one thing that could change my mood faster than anything in my adolescence was getting home from sports practice, walking into the house by which I could immediately detect the menu by the smell wafting through the door, and deducing it was something I didn't like.  Because I loved almost everything my mom made, I would get so disappointed every Blue Moon this happened (read: meatloaf - which to her credit is more edible than any other meatloaf I've come across and Cornish game hen - my husband thinks I'm totally crazy not to like this).  So you could kind of say food is my Achilles Heel.  Maybe I shouldn't let out such a big secret...

Eating around the dinner table (obviously middle school - yikes!)

As soon as I moved into my first apartment my sophomore year in college and realized I didn't want to hate Chick-Fil-A by the end of my college career, I got on the phone with my mom and learned to make a few recipes myself.  She was thrilled that I was finally showing an interest in cooking.

My college roomies and me (right)

By the time Taylor and I were married 5 years later, I had all of my favorite recipes of my mom's down except for tacos - fear of hot grease spitting at me has won over my longtime love. I'm sure that my waistline and more importantly my heart are thankful for this.   Soon after I astonished Taylor with my cooking ability (you see, when my mom's around, I don't have the need to cook, so since I was living with my parents while engaged, he didn't even know I knew what a spatula was), I ventured into finding recipes on my own.

I quickly realized I knew nothing about food.

Every time I cracked open Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals, I would be at a loss to find one recipe that I already had all of the ingredients for.  Many times I hadn't a clue what that particular missing ingredient even was - chipotle's in adobo sauce anyone?  And we're talking Rachael Ray here not Julia Child.  She is known for being everyday cook-friendly.  So not only was I humbled by my lack of food knowledge, but it would take me 3 hours to make a 30 minute meal.  Not kidding.  Taylor was so patient with me after we learned the trick of eating an appetizer and drinking a glass of wine while we cooked.

Our first year of marriage
Eating in Germany,

Eating in Prague,

Eating in Austria

Today, I am still no Julia Child, but I am confident in how to stock my fridge, freezer, side freezer, and pantry to be able to make most recipes I find online or in 30 Minute Meals...though it still takes me a full hour.  Personally I think it should be renamed "30 Minute Meals if you have your very own Sous Chef." Maybe I should write Rachael a letter...

So even though we're in a grocery budget mini crises, it's absolutely a first world food crisis.  I mean, thankfully our fridge, freezer, side freezer, and pantry are packed (and should be seeing how I already spent most of our budget), but the challenge is being creative enough with what we have to make meals for the next 16 days.
Our British sized fridge
This is actually twice the size of most we see here -
one of the redeeming qualities of our otherwise uninspiring flat 
Pretty stocked as of today

Our fruit bowl is looking pretty sad already.
Seth is holding one of our three remaining lemons - no scurvy for this house!

And as I mentioned before with my food related mood-swings (and being pregnant to boot), it will be interesting to see if I can pull this off and still make food worth eating.  We could just eat beans and rice all month (and will if that means staying on budget), but I think I am up to the task to avoid that at all costs.  This will make February much more pleasant for all members of the Ince family.  And it is the month of love, right?

PS - Happy 21st Birthday to my brother Craig!!!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

{February Foodfest} Budget Blunder

My blogging has been rather abysmal in 2012, so I've decided to do a revised version of The Nester's 31 Days Challenge.  In October, she encourages you to post every day about the same topic for a whole month to help get in the writing groove which I am obviously in desperate need of.  I missed my chance to do that back in the Fall  because I spent too much time creating my "button" for it and didn't have enough leftover energy to actually write anything - I blame it on pregnancy.  So here is a go at it for February.

Hey, I know it's already 10 days into the month - I've never claimed to be a perfectionist, People.  I won't even be posting on Sunday (and maybe not Saturday either), so if you were freaked out before at the thought of one topic for a whole month, may your fears be allayed because seriously it will be like "18 Days" "12 Days" instead of "31 Days" or something lame like that.  And February is a short month to boot.

Baby steps.

So drum roll please.  My topic is (for those of you who didn't read the title)...


I'm 34 weeks pregnant.  It's all I think about.

And to be completely honest, the real culprit for inciting my February Food Blogfest is my grocery budget.  A few nights ago, I realized to my horror that a week into the month, I had spent almost our whole grocery budget.  Oh Costco, what have you done to me?! Like we're talking I have 84 pounds left to spend for the whole month.

84 pounds.

(That is 84 British Pounds Sterling not 84 pounds of money).

And I'm no math genius, but I have never done anything remotely like this before in case you're wondering.  I have a system!  Where did I go wrong?!  In January, I had an 80 pound surplus in my grocery budget!

Pride goeth before the fall.

I'm still quite in shock actually, but I thought it would be fun to chronicle how I am able to stay within the budget for the rest of the month.  And to get tips from you guys.  And accountability.  And garner sympathy so that you'll invite us over for dinner.

So for the rest of the month get ready for everything food at the Ince Household - recipes, meal planning, cooking in a foreign country, pregnancy cravings, and advice on labeling homemade dessert in the fridge so your husband doesn't eat it before you get the chance - all the while staying within my 84 pound budget.  Pray for me.

Bon Apetit!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

{Embrace the Camera} Mama and Baby Girl at 33 weeks

My friend, Sarah, is an amazing aspiring photographer.  She was kind enough to take over shooting Seth's month to month photos for the first year of his life once we moved to Edinburgh. I had grand  plans of posting my favorite from each month under my photos button, but I hate uploading photos onto blogger, so yeah, he's 20 months old now, and I've done zero.  I'm sure once Baby #2 comes, I'll be on it.


Anyway, Sarah is building up her photography portfolio and asked if we could do some fun pregnancy pics, and being obsessed with photos, of course I said yes!  I was not on top of this when I was pregnant with Seth, so I was thrilled at the chance to get some with Baby Girl.

Here are some of my favs:

She knows my obsession with nests well!:)

Headband I got Baby Girl on Etsy - it will be fun to post a pic of her actually wearing it in the coming months!

33 week bump 
Seth already loves his little sister
Sarah had a tough time getting this shot because he kept kissing my tummy over and over - so precious!

Check out the red nose - it was freezing outside when we took these!

Love that sweet boy

Oh and please leave a comment if you have fun ideas for newborn pictures once Baby Girl comes in March!  Thanks Y'all!

Embracing the Camera with Emily today: