A Final Word

I just realized I’ve been posting in a new blog all this time and I never came here to tell those of you that read this one where I went! I love my food blog, but unfortunately with working full time and having an almost six month old (he is almost SIX MONTHS OLD already! Can you believe it?), I just don’t have the time for cooking/photographing recipes or the money to be eating out for restaurant posts all the time anymore.

Plus, I’ve been feeling the need to write about more than just food, especially since becoming a mom, so that’s what I’m doing at my new place: a little bit of everything. I hope you’ll follow me there, but if just the food is your thing, I totally understand!

I’ve also changed my Twitter handle; I can now be found as @LenoreWait.

You can still contact me by email at either OrlndoFoodie@gmail.com or at LenoreWait@gmail.com

And for my new blog….you can find it here, on Blogger, under it’s title of Mommy, Wait! (get the play on words?)

I’ve also got a facebook page for the new blog, so if FB is your thing, find me here!

And as one last thing, I’ve got a huuuuuge favor to ask you all, because you rock so much. My little guy is part of the Gerber Milestones contest to win a $10,000 Gerber Life College Plan and/or a chance to be in a Gerber ad, and I’d love for you to vote once (or daily, really, that’d be the best!) for him! You can find the link below:

Hayden’s Gerber Milestones Entry!

Strawberry Rhubarb Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream

I love the strawberry and rhubarb combination. Love it. However, I hadn’t had it in years. In fact, until recently I’d only had it a few times in my life at all! I never had rhubarb growing up, and didn’t even know what it looked like until I moved to the UK right after graduating college. C and I were living about a mile from his parents during that time, and we would visit them every other Sunday for dinner. His mom cooked the traditional English Sunday dinner, including meat of some sort (a roast, usually), vegetables (brussel sprouts and carrots were some of my favorites!), and potatoes prepared in at least two ways (boiled, roasted, mashed, you name it). In addition, she always made dessert, again usually something traditionally English. I got to try so many things that I’d never had before, some of which I’d never even heard of! My favorites, though, were her rice pudding (I still to this day cannot replicate it; she bakes it, and it is not the usual creamy substance that you think of when you consider rice pudding. It is more….solid?…and you can serve it with some milk or cream poured over it; no matter how many times I make it, it never comes out like hers!) and her rhubarb crumble. So, so good. I raved about it so much, in fact, that she bought me rhubarb for myself and taught me how to prepare it (and not to eat the leaves…those are poisonous, you know!).

Annnnnnyway. I started tweeting about finding rhubarb locally a few weeks ago, and got into a Twitter conversation about it with Terri (@lovenconfection), Angie (@bigbearswife), and Christine (@CookTheStory). I finally packed H into the car and headed to Whole Foods a few days later in search of some. I’d come up with a recipe idea and I was determined to try it out. Lo and behold, I found rhubarb at Whole Foods! Woohoo! But folks…that stuff was not cheap! I was surprised at how heavy it was when it came to pay for it, but luckily I bought the perfect amount for my dozen cupcakes and the topping.

I wanted to combine rhubarb and strawberry for the traditional aspect of the flavors, but instead of a crumble decided to create a cupcake. Even though rhubarb is fairly tart on its own, I felt like the addition of lemon to the dessert would make it even better (and in my opinion, it totally did!). The cake part of this cupcake is very dense; I wanted it to be able to hold up to the chunks of strawberry and rhubarb throughout without falling apart when you take a bite. If you prefer a lighter cake, you could easily substitute your favorite yellow or lemon cake recipe and just stir in the fruit at the end. There is lemon juice and zest in the cake itself, and then it is topped with a simple but delicious lemon buttercream frosting. I left a hole in the center of the frosting, though, so that I could add an extra touch and top the cupcakes with a strawberry rhubarb compote. It just adds that extra tang and cuts through the sugar in the buttercream.

Recipe:
Strawberry Rhubarb Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream & Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
Makes 1 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

1 cup sugar
1 stick butter
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp flour
1 cup rhubarb, diced
1 cup strawberries, diced
zest of one lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice

For the lemon buttercream:

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 stick butter, softened
zest and juice of two lemons
yellow food coloring (optional)

For the compote:

1 cup strawberries, diced
1 cup rhubarb, diced
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp powdered sugar

Directions:

For the cupcakes:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put liners into cupcake pan.
2. In a small bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the salt, and the baking powder. Stir with a fork to aerate and break up any lumps.
3. In a separate bowl, using a mixer on medium low speed, cream the butter and sugar until combined and lightened in color.
4. Add the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time, mixing until combined.
5. Add the sour cream and mix just until no more white streaks show.
6. Gradually add the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, until fully combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl if needed.
7. Mix in the lemon zest and juice.
8. In another small bowl (or the same one you mixed the flour in!), stir the diced strawberries and rhubarb with the remaining 2 tbsp of flour. This will help keep the fruit from sinking to the bottom of the cupcakes while baking.
9. Stir in the fruit by hand.
10. Divide the batter evenly in the lined cupcake pan.
11. Bake for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

For the lemon buttercream:

1. Using an electric mixer on medium to medium-high speed, cream the butter until lightened in color, about two minutes.
2. Gradually add the powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly with each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
3. Mix in the lemon zest and juice.
4. If desired, add yellow food coloring (I used 8 drops of yellow gel coloring).
Note: If the frosting is too thick for your liking, you can add a tablespoon or two of whole milk to thin it out.

For the compote:

1. In a medium saucepan on medium low heat, combine the diced fruit, water, and powdered sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
2. Heat until the mixture is thickened and has reached your desired consistency, about 15-20 minutes.
3. Cool at room temperature and then store in the refrigerator until used.

Note: When decorating the cupcakes, I used a large star tip to pipe two circles of frosting on each cupcake, then stored them in the refrigerator for a couple of hours so that the frosting would firm up before spooning the compote into the center.

These cupcakes seriously scream summer to me, and I hope you enjoy them as much as we did at our house!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheerio Treats

This recipe is so tasty and so easy to make! I surprised myself at how well they turned out the very first time I tried them since I’d only made regular Rice Krispie treats once before in my entire life. These are a great snack to tuck in a lunch box or just to grab in the afternoon, but they also make for a satisfying chocolatey dessert in the evening. The peanut butter flavor is just present enough in these treats; it doesn’t overpower the flavor of the Chocolate Cheerios, only complements it. These bars turn out so quickly, I’ve found they are the perfect dessert to make when a last minute pot luck or other event pops up. I know I almost always have the ingredients on hand!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheerio Treats

Ingredients:

1 bag (10 oz) marshmallows – I find the mini ones melt quicker, so I normally use those
1 box (11.25 oz) Chocolate Cheerios
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Skippy Natural, but you can use whatever brand you prefer!)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Recipe:

1. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 glass baking pan with either butter or cooking spray. For easy slicing, you can also line the pan with parchment paper before greasing.

2. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the peanut butter and stir until smooth. Add the marshmallows and stir until the marshmallows are just melted and combined with the butter and peanut butter.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and, working fairly quickly, pour the Chocolate Cheerios into the pot and stir until they are evenly coated with the marshmallow mixture.

4. Pour the Cheerios mixture into the glass baking pan, pressing it down as evenly as possible with a spatula. I’ve also found that if I wet my hands I can press the cereal down more firmly without getting everything stuck to me.

5. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top, lightly pressing them into the cereal.

6. Let harden until cool and then remove from the pan. Slice into bars and serve.

I’ve found these bars will keep quite awhile if put into a sealed container. Have you made a variation on the traditional Rice Krispie Treat? What flavor combination did you try?

Mother’s Day Events in Orlando

I’ve written posts the last couple of weeks regarding upcoming weekend events, so I thought I’d do the same this week but focus specifically on the various eateries in town that are offering specials for Mother’s Day on Sunday. This is my very first Mother’s Day as a mom, so I’m a bit overly excited, I think. It is also the day that my younger sister graduate from Rollins College, so overall it is going to be a great day for us! My entire family is attending her graduation ceremony, and then we are all having a great lunch to celebrate both her achievement and Mother’s Day at Bosphorous in Winter Park. I am so excited!!

Below I’ve listed just a few of the special food events going on around town for Mother’s Day. If you are interested in any of them, I highly recommend contacting the location ASAP to make reservations!

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

The Mother’s Day special at Fleming’s this year sounds delicious! Fleming’s is offering a three-course prix fixe brunch for $34.95 per person, which is a pretty great deal. The entree options all sound tantalizing, from the Filet Mignon Benedict, to the Prime Rib or New Orleans-Style French Toast. Plus, who can resist White Chocolate Bread Pudding or Creme Brulee for dessert?

In addition to brunch, each mother will receive a $25 dining card to use on a future visit to Fleming’s Steakhouse.

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar has locations in both Dr. Phillips and Winter Park and will be serving brunch on Mother’s Day from 11:30am until 3:00pm. You can make reservations at their website.

The Rosen Centre Hotel

The Rosen Centre Hotel, located on International Drive, is offering what sounds to be an incredible Mother’s Day Brunch Buffet from 11:00am until 5:00pm on Sunday. You can view the full menu listing here, but it includes some amazing dishes such as Braised Short Ribs with Fingerling Potatoes & Pinot Noir Sauce, Nutella Pancakes, and Grilled Mahi with Chardonnay Cream & Fresh Dill. In addition to the entrees and breakfast items offered, there is going to be a sushi station, a tapas station, an antipasto display, a seafood station, and much more! Not only does the food sound incredible, the price of the buffet includes unlimited mimosas and champagne!

The Rosen Centre brunch is $39.95 per person ($16.95 for children), and reservations can be made by calling 407-996-9840 ext. 3593 or by clicking here.

Wolfgang Puck Dining Room

The Dining Room at the Wolfgang Puck Cafe at Downtown Disney’s West Side is offering a special dinner menu for Mother’s Day at a price of $45.95 per person. For this price, each person receives a three course meal and a glass of Moscato. The Cafe portion of the restaurant (downstairs) is also offering a few special entrees just for Mother’s Day, including an Herb Chicken and Papardelle dish. The regular menu is also available at both locations. To book reservations, call 407-938-9653.

Universal Orlando Mother’s Day Brunches

The Universal Orlando Resort is offering three different Mother’s Day brunch options this year, one at each of their three resorts. The Kitchen at the Hard Rock Hotel is holding a brunch buffet from 7am until 1pm for $30 per person ($12 for children). Offerings include omelet and parfait stations and other traditional brunch fare (full menu here).

The Royal Pacific Resort is holding brunch in their Wantilan Pavilion for $52 per person ($26 for children) from 11am until 1pm. In addition to the buffet featuring a carving station, raw bar, and south pacific display (full menu here), there will also be entertainment in the form of the Hawaii Past & Present show, face painters, and balloon artists.

Mother’s Day Brunch at Portofino Bay will take place from 9:00am until 2:30pm at Mama Della’s Ristorante. Prices are $34 for adults and $17 for children, and the menu choices include tons of elevated comfort foods such as truffle meat loaf, gorgonzola and robiola macaroni and cheese, and shellfish pot pie. Traditional breakfast dishes will also be available, as well as a vast table of retro-style desserts (full menu here). Complimentary champagne will also be served to those of drinking age.

To make a reservation for any of these Universal Orlando events, call 407-503-DINE.

Enzian Theater

The Enzian Theater in Maitland is offering an awesome, one-of-a-kind experience for Mother’s Day. The event will begin with brunch and live music at 10am and will end with a showing of My Fair Lady at 11am. Single adult admission for this event is $35 for adults and $20 for children. VIP tables of two or four can also be purchased for $110 and $220 respectively, and both include unlimited champagne and mimosas. You can contact the Enzian for further information at 407-629-0054.

Jack’s Place

Jack’s Place, located inside the Rosen Plaza Hotel on International Drive, is offering a three course dinner menu for $41.95 per person from 5:30pm until 10:30pm on Mother’s Day. The menu includes a warm duck salad, bacon wrapped Florida red snapper, and a chocolate silk dessert. Their regular menu is also available. To make reservations at Jack’s Place, call 407-996-1787.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to list all of the Mother’s Day dining options available this year in the Orlando area (motherhood calls!), so if you are particularly excited about one that you don’t see listed here, please feel free to leave the information in the comments and I’ll be glad to add it to my list!

Happy Mother’s Day!!

This Weekend In Orlando…

This coming weekend is another one full of great events for food lovers here in Orlando! It starts today, in fact, with the first day of Orlando Restaurant Week, and continues with the Winter Garden Harvest Festival, numerous farmer’s markets, and three Food Truck Bazaars!

Orlando Restaurant Week

I have looked forward to the 2012 Orlando Restaurant Week all year! Last year, I took full advantage of the various amazing deals that were offered and tried several restaurants that I had not been able to previously. My favorite last year was (the now-closed) McCormick & Schmick’s. We liked it so much, in fact, that we tried both the lunch and dinner menus! Restaurant Week is a great opportunity to sample the menus of restaurants you perhaps weren’t sure if you’d like, or that you may not be able to afford on a regular basis, because of the great two or three course prix fixe menus that they offer during this period. Lunches are offered for either $10 or $15, and dinners run $10, $15, $25, or $35. No matter which one you choose, they all seem to be amazing deals this year, and there are some highly rated and talked about venues on the lists this year. Some of these include K Restaurant in College Park, Matteo’s Ristorante on International Drive, Fleming’s Steakhouse and Morton’s Steakhouse in Dr. Phillips, and Copper Canyon, The Capital Grille, Taverna Opa, and The Oceanaire Seafood Room all at Pointe Orlando. Additionally, this year The Daily City’s Food Truck Bazaar is also featured under the $10 dinner option! Links to all of the available prix fixe menus can be found here.

Planning to go to one or more of the Orlando Restaurant Week spots? Let me know where you’re going, and how it is after you’ve been! I’m going to try a few myself, obviously, but I won’t be able to make it to them all.

Orlando Restaurant Week 2012 runs from May 3rd until May 12th.

Winter Garden Harvest Festival

On Saturday, May 5th, is the very first Winter Garden Harvest Festival, brought to the area by A Local Folkus, LLC, the City of Winter Garden, and Slow Food Orlando. The festival will be located in downtown Winter Garden, right next to the regular weekly farmer’s market, and focuses on celebrating local food. In addition to the live entertainment, activities, demonstrations, and vendors during the day, there is a Farm to Table dinner being held in the evening. This dinner will feature local chefs and local produce, and will include cocktails, wine, beer, and music. Tickets for the $75 dinner can be purchased here.

The Winter Garden Harvest Festival sounds like it is going to be an amazing event, full of just what Orlando needs – more attention paid to the awesome talent and resources that we have right here in our own city.

Farmers’ Markets

If you want to go to a farmers’ market in Orlando on the weekend, odds are there is one near you on at least one of the days. Obviously, some markets are better than others, depending on what you are looking for, but they all offer an opportunity to get outside on a weekend morning and mingle with your neighbors, which is never a bad thing! Here is a list of some of the markets in town; if you know of one that isn’t listed, please let me know in the comments and I will add it!

Winter Park Farmers’ Market – Saturday mornings from 7am until 1pm.
This market is wonderful. There is produce galore, freshly baked bread, local cheese, plus much, much more. There are also several ready-made food vendors, so come for breakfast and eat while you walk around!

Lake Eola Farmers’ Market - Sundays from 10am until 4pm

Winter Garden Farmers’ MarketSaturdays from 9am until 2pm

Sand Lake Farmers Market – Saturdays from 9am until 2pm

Maitland Lake Lily Farmers’ Market - Saturdays from 9am until 2pm

Hunters Creek Farmers’ Market – Saturdays from 9am until 2pm

Most of the vendors at the markets will only take cash, so make sure you stop by an ATM on your way!

Food Truck Bazaars

This weekend there is not one, not two, but three Food Truck Bazaars! Formed by The Daily City, the Food Truck Bazaars are a great way to get the family and friends together, support your local food trucks, and have an awesome meal. On Friday, May 4th, the Food Truck Bazaar will be at the Kissimmee Civic Center from 5pm until 8pm. On Saturday, May 5th, also from 5pm to 8pm, the food trucks are headed to downtown Sanford, and on Sunday, May 6th, they’ll be in Orange City at John’s Appliances (911 S. Volusia Avenue). Most trucks do take cards, but it is recommended that you bring your own chairs.

Want more information? Click one of the above links, or follow @TheDailyCity or @FoodTruckBazaar on Twitter!

Know of a food event taking place this weekend that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@Orlndofoodie)!

Have an awesome weekend, everyone!

Food Events Galore!

April seems to be the “it” month for food events in Orlando, doesn’t it? There was Taste of Winter Park, Taste of College Park, multiple Food Truck Bazaars, and this coming, final weekend is no exception! There are four major events going on this weekend, and I encourage you to visit at least one or two of them; they all seem like such fun!

The Festival of Chocolate

The Festival of Chocolate runs from Friday, April 27th through Sunday, April 29th at the UCF Arena. The event includes activities for adults and children alike, so bring the whole family if you can! Tickets are $15 for adults and $9 for children (for one day at the festival) and include entrance to most of the competitions and demonstrations throughout the festival. Advance ticket purchases through the website also include entry into a drawing to help judge the “Best of” chocolate indulgence competition (for adults) and in the ice cream eating and cookie stacking competitions (for children). Several vendors will also be present and selling their best confectioneries all in exchange for “chocolate chip” coins that can be purchased either in advance or at the festival itself ($1 = 1 coin).

Want to make your experience at the festival even more exciting? Sign up for one of the chocolate classes that are being offered! For $20, you can take a class in such topics as creating gumpaste roses, making chocolate truffles, cupcake decorating, and many more. There are also chocolate and wine pairings throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday that cost an additioal $10 (and are obviously for guests 21 and older only).

On Friday night only, visitors to the Festival can see The Cocoa Couture Fashion Show at 8:00pm. What a cool way to start the weekend!

The thing that excites me the most about the event, though? The free demonstrations! I can’t wait to see Chef David Ramirez from the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort talk about and demonstrate the art of chocolate showpiece making, and also to see Chef David Arnold of MTI Culinary Arts talk about making savory dishes from chocolate (something new for me!).

If you want to purchase tickets to the Festival of Chocolate, you can follow this link here.

 

Winestock

On Friday night, April 27th, in Altamonte Springs’ Cranes Roost Park is Winestock 2012. The event is from 7pm until 10pm, with ticket costs of $30 in advance and $40 on the day of. There will be live music and plenty of wine and craft beer to go around. In addition, several local restaurants (including Cafe Murano and Rangetsu) will have food available for an additional charge. Tickets for Winestock can be purchased here or at Cork & Olive on Lake Mary Blvd in Lake Mary.

 

Central Florida Food Blogger Bake Sale

This event is one for a great cause. My friends Julie (from The Little Kitchen) and Katie (of Katie’s Cucina) have organized this amazing bake sale to benefit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign as part of the National Food Blogger Bake Sale.

Julie, Katie, and several other local food bloggers will be set up on Saturday, April 28th from 10am until 1pm at 427 S. New York Ave in Winter Park outside of the Winter Park Harvest Festival offices. Last year they raised $1300 through their bake sale; this year they have upped their goal to $2000. I was unable to participate this year, but I will definitely be stopping by to purchase some goodies and help them reach their goal!

A few of the bloggers are also taking pre-orders for baked goods, and Julie is even willing to ship some of her amazing treats for a donation of $100! For more information, visit Julie’s blog post here and Katie’s post here.

The Great American Pie Festival

On Saturday, April 28th, and Sunday, April 29th, the Great American Pie Festival is taking over downtown Celebration! The Never-Ending Pie Buffet ($10 for adults and $5 for children) is the biggest draw for the festival, but there will also be numerous demonstrations, entertainment, pie decorating, and (of course!) a pie eating contest!

For those of you with children, there is a children’s area that offers activities (pie making and eating), bounce houses, and crafts. The children’s area has a fee of $10 per child.

Also, if you follow the pie festival on Twitter and Facebook, they are giving away sets of two pie buffet tickets each day!

Each evening there will also be an awards ceremony for the Crisco National Pie Championships (at least one of these has been aired on the Food Network in the past), with the amateur awards on Saturday and the professional and junior awards on Sunday.

For a full schedule of the festival’s various activities, click here.

Taste of Pointe Orlando

On Sunday, April 29th, from 2pm until 5pm, most of the restaurants at Pointe Orlando are gathering together to offer a taste of the venue for those who purchase tickets. Popular local eateries including Copper Canyon Grill, Maggiano’s Little Italy, and Taverna Opa will all be offering samplings of their menu items; it’s sure to be a fun (albeit filling!) event!

Tickets for Taste of Pointe Orlando are $30 and can be purchased here.

 

The Daily City Food Truck Bazaar

This week’s food truck bazaar is on Sunday, April 29th, in downtown Avalon Park from 5pm until 8pm. This event always promises great food and a great time. Bring chairs and be ready to meet lots of fellow foodies and eat amazing food! In the past, there have been anywhere from 8 up to 30 plus trucks at the bazaar, so there is always something for everyone. Bring the whole family! You can read about my first trip to a Daily City Food Truck Bazaar here.

 

 

This is just a sampling of the events going on around town this weekend! Are you planning to attend any of them? Let me know in the comments, and maybe I will see you there!

The Arrival of My Little Foodie

I’m back! And while I don’t have any real recipes for this post (but have a bunch of recipes and restaurants to share once the posts get written!), I do have some super cute baby photos and a birth story to share, which are just as good if not better in my opinion (if that’s your sort of thing, anyway)!

I can’t believe my little foodie is already six weeks old today! Time has just FLOWN by in a series of wonderful, sleep-deprived moments.

And now…birth story. If that isn’t of interest, move on (not that I’ll share gory details, but still…)!

I was due March 13th, and had been told at my 38 week appointment that while I was progressing dilation-wise, the baby was still high up and probably wouldn’t be showing his face any time soon, so I was expecting to go at least until my due date. I’d been having quite a bit of back pain for the last couple of weeks, but I have a condition that affects my spine so I was just attributing any pain to that and the weight of the ever-growing baby. The morning of March 5th, I ended up leaving work at around 4:45am (my shift ended at 5:30am) because my back pain and cramping was starting to become a bit more uncomfortable. I didn’t think I was in labor, but I wanted to head home and rest just in case. Apparently after I left that morning my co-workers started placing bets as to how many hours it would be before I was in the hospital. C went to work that day, and all day I updated him on the length of my contractions (which weren’t hurting, just uncomfortable) and how far apart they were. We ended up going in to the hospital late that night because, even though I wasn’t in a lot of pain, the contractions had held steady for at least six hours at that point. That night I was monitored, checked, and sent home with a muscle relaxer and a diagnosis of “false labor.” I went home so frustrated; we had thought our little guy was about to make his appearance!

Wednesday morning I had my 39 week appointment. Everything went as usual and I was feeling uncomfortable due to my back pain again but otherwise I felt great. The elephant-size swelling that had taken up residence in my feet and ankles over the previous few weeks had even disappeared! So, imagine my surprise when I lugged myself onto the exam table and the nurse told me my blood pressure was high for the first time my entire pregnancy!

“No worries,” she said. “You’re probably just a little nervous because you’re so close to the end now. We’ll take it again later and it’ll be fine, I’m sure.”

Okay, cool. Bring in the doc, then! The doctor came in, checked me, and I’d progressed again. We talked about my trip to the hospital and my level of discomfort, and then he said words I was absolutely not expecting. “I’d like to induce you this week, due to your back issues. I’m worried about him getting much bigger and you having difficulties with labor because of it.”

I always swore I would NOT be induced strictly due to discomfort, no matter how far along I was. I didn’t want to be induced at all,  really, because I’d heard horror stories about how much more painful it is and I wanted to go as naturally as possible. But, if the doctor said that’s what he wanted to do, I wasn’t going to argue. Plus, I was already almost 4 centimeters dilated, so I hoped the induction process wouldn’t be too lengthy or difficult. And I had another couple of days to prepare myself and walk like crazy and try to go into labor on my own! No big deal, it’d totally happen. Except…not so much. The doctor left us in the exam room while they went to schedule the induction with the hospital. While he was gone, the nurse came back in to check my blood pressure. Still high. Crap. She left again, then came back to move us to another room so that that exam room could be used for another patient. So, we waited some more. Nurse arrived again, took my blood pressure again. High again. Double crap. She then said she’d be back after checking to see “what the doctor wants to do”.

What do you mean ‘what the doctor wants to do’??? He wants to induce me in a couple of days! Right???

Wrong. The doctor came in a few minutes later to say that, since my blood pressure wasn’t going down, he just wanted to induce me that day to be safe. So, we should leave his office and head for the hospital; they’d be ready for me there. WHAT?!?!? My first response, after a giant gulp, was “well…can I go home and get my bag first?” Haha. I was so worried about my bag! We were told that was fine, just to get there whenever we could, so we left the doctor’s office, headed to Target to grab a few snacks for hubby’s bag and a couple of sandwiches (neither of us had eaten yet that day, and we knew that once we got to the hospital I wouldn’t be allowed to eat for quite a while), then headed home and grabbed our bags and headed to the hospital.

We checked into the hospital around noon and I was brought into a room on the Labor & Delivery floor shortly afterwards. I changed into a gown, met with my nurse, a midwife, and the anesthesiologist (who I assured would not need to help me, but explained my autoimmune issue to him just in case), and then I waited. They started my pitocin and antibiotics at 1:40pm, and we waited some more. I turned the Food Network on and just chatted with hubby for the next few hours in between nurse visits and monitoring. I was contracting, but it just felt like uncomfortable cramping so I really was doing well. My parents came to visit at about six o’clock, and C went to get some dinner in the cafeteria at that point (I kept insisting I didn’t care if he ate in the room with me, but he refused to do so). While my parents were visiting, I winced a few times in discomfort, but again, nothing serious. I will say, though, that the entire time my contractions were never more than three minutes apart.

After my parents left is when things started to get a bit serious for me. C and I decided to go walk the halls, so the nurse helped me with the wireless monitors and gave me a second gown (I really didn’t want anyone to see my butt if possible; little did I know how little I would care about such things in a few more hours!), and off we went! It was at that point that my pain started to increase with each contraction. I was able to walk through them at the beginning of our tour, but by the second time around the floor I was having to stop and double over every time one hit. We eventually went back to the room and I got back into bed; the pain from the contractions themselves wasn’t too horrible, but the pain in my lower spine and SI joints was getting increasingly worse and was almost at the point where it was just sticking around and refusing to wane between contractions. Plus, my contractions were super close together at that point – usually only a minute or two apart. I remember telling C, over and over at that point, “this isn’t going to work for me!” Haha…like I had an option at that point! The next time the nurse came in, I asked if there was any sort of pain management option that was not an epidural. She said they could put some medicine through my IV that “wouldn’t take away the pain, but would make [me] feel drunk so I wouldn’t notice it as much.” I told her to start it, stat.

You guys. That medicine was crazy. First of all, she was darn right when she said it didn’t ease the pain. Second of all, it didn’t make me feel drunk, it made me hallucinate! I kept half dozing off in between contractions and thinking I was saying all these things to hubby that I wasn’t really saying. At the same time, though, half of my brain was cognizant of the fact that I probably wasn’t really saying them, so I didn’t ask him anything because I was afraid of repeating myself! Turns out, though, I still asked him the same question (I don’t remember what it was, though) at least six times…oops. While I was busy alternating between hallucinating and contracting, hubby sat by my bed and read his book in between my contractions!

I ended up giving up a short time later and asking for an epidural. Having it put in didn’t hurt at all, despite what I’d been told previously, but then…it didn’t work! It sort of numbed my right leg, but my left leg and the left side of my lower back were completely normal. I kept telling the nurse that, because I was now in pain in my lower back and it was just not easing up, and she kept telling me I just needed to lie on my left side so gravity would make the epidural work better. No one seemed to believe me as I continued to tell them it wasn’t working (“this just isn’t going to work for me” became my phrase of the night, haha…I’m sure my nurse thought I was absolutely insane), so the anesthesiologist came back three times and gave me C-section level drug injections each time, with nothing changing in my pain relief!

Finally, finally, around 2am or so, they gave me another epidural. Hubby says that I actually ended up getting three separate ones, but I only remember two of them. This time, it worked! Hallelujah! Everything I’d heard came true; I couldn’t feel athingfrom the waist down! It was hilarious. I kept telling hubby over and over about it. I think, at that point, I was just so happy the pain was gone that everything entertained me. Over the next two hours, I progressed pretty quickly, from 6cm to 10cm (probably because I was no longer tensing up in pain every time I had a contraction!), and at 4am the nurse told me it was time to start pushing. Woohoo! I asked her how long first time moms usually push for. She told me anywhere between one and three hours. Ugh. Not so woohoo. That motivated me, though, and I was ready to get going!

At that point, my epidural had partially worn off, so I could feel my legs again and the contractions were painful but not overwhelming. I was actually glad that I could feel it at that point, because it helped me with the pushing (plus, with the end in sight, it just didn’t seem quite as bad anymore). On my third contraction of pushing, though, things started to feel a little funny. My heart started racing, and at first I figured “well uh, hello…you are trying to push out a baby, of course your heart is racing,” so I didn’t say anything. Next, though, as I leaned forward to start pushing again, I felt really sick out of nowhere. As I was asking the nurse for a bucket, I then felt a weird wooshing in my ears and told her that I didn’t think I could hear very well. Apparently that was a bad sign, because all of a sudden buttons were being pushed, I was told to stop pushing (which is NOT EASY BY THE WAY), and I was lying on my side with an oxygen mask on. My blood pressure had dropped to 80/50 for some reason, causing my heart rate to increase and baby’s to go down – not good. As I tried to concentrate on breathing and not pushing, my room filled with nurses and doctors while they decided what to do next. They stabilized both of us and decided I ought to push some more. They had attached an internal monitor to the baby’s head so they were able to closely monitor his heart rate.

Back to pushing I went. Little guy cooperated until the nurse had me change positions, at which point even I could audibly hear his heart rate slow considerably again. She put me back on my side and doctors were called in again. This time the doctor on call from my actual practice was there (she’d been in the middle of a c-section previously), and everyone kept talking back and forth about whether or not they should just do a c-section for me to get baby out. I finally asked what was going on, and the doctor explained that it seemed that the cord was wrapped around the baby in some way that, when I pushed in certain ways or he moved into certain positions, it was causing the issues with his heart rate. At that point, I didn’t care what they did, I just wanted him out safe and sound. I told them that, and the doctor decided that since she was there we would go ahead and have me try pushing again and see if we could get him out that way.

At that point I was extra motivated, but gosh you guys, that is hard work. I mean….duh. I knew it would be, but sheesh. I will say, though, I made it through the entire thing without yelling at hubby once! I did, apparently, yell “I can’t $(%^(@ do this anymore!!!!!!!” during my very last push, as my little guy came out…and luckily, I didn’t have to. I do feel bad for other first time moms down the hall, though…I was pretty loud. Oops. It wasn’t as bad as I made it sound, I swear! Our little ball of cuteness came out with his cord wrapped around his body and his neck, but after a quick check he was proclaimed perfectly fine! Hubby and I laughed, cried, and watched until he was cleaned up, checked again, and brought over to my arms. I did it! He did it. No….we did it.

Hayden was born at 4:59am on March 8th, 2012. He weighed 7 pounds, 11 ounces, was 21 inches long, and had a full (cone-shaped) head of brown hair. We couldn’t be happier, especially since we are finally starting to work out the whole sleep thing!!

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Red Velvet Cupcakes – Recipe

Updated with new photos on February 13, 2012

I know this isn’t a new post, but there are several forthcoming! However, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner (okay, it’s tomorrow…yikes!) and everything red velvet popping up all over the place, I wanted to share the Red Velvet Cupcakes that I made for C’s “Cupid & Cupcakes” event at work since they came out so cute (if I do say so myself!). This is SUCH an easy recipe, and they turn out absolutely fantastic every time. I never get a chance to try out new cupcake flavors on C’s co-workers anymore because they are always requesting these ones!

I frosted these using a disposable pastry bag and a large star tip, then pressed an unwrapped Hershey’s kiss in the center and sprinkled them with both red and pink colored sugar.

C found me these adorable cupcake papers at Target; they are red with colored hearts around the sides, and on the bottom they say “Be Mine.” Hard to see in these photos, but they are super cute, trust me!

If you end up making these for your valentine (or for any other reason!) I’d love to hear how they turn out! The recipes for both the cupcakes and the cream cheese frosting are in my original post below.

Originally posted on Blogger on July 24, 2011

I made red velvet cupcakes last weekend for my 1000 Cooks for the Cure Party (well, I attempted to make pink velvet cupcakes, actually…they came out as more fuschia-ish in the end…but I used my normal red velvet recipe for them), and I was going to include all of my party recipes in one post, but then realized that would have ended up being the world’s longest post. Sooooo we’re breaking it down.
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An Anniversary and a Weekend at Walt Disney World (part one)

My blog isn’t quite a year old yet, so this isn’t THAT kind of anniversary…it is an even bigger, better one, to me at least. On this date five years ago, I married my very best friend. We had an amazing small ceremony on the Disney Wonder and were able to spend four days cruising the Bahamas with 30 of our closest friends and family members. As a couple, we’ve been through an amazing number of changes in just five short years, including living in England, moving back to the States, buying pets, a house, a car, and even a motorcycle. We’ve done green card applications and both ended up in jobs that we never saw ourselves in. Plus the normal ups and downs that every married couple experiences. At the end of the day, I am so happy to have had him by my side for the entire time.

We had originally planned to celebrate five years of marriage aboard Disney’s newest ship, the Disney Dream, but we are getting an even better gift this year (baby boy! Eep!) so we canceled it and went to Walt Disney World for the weekend instead. Not a bad trade, for sure. We spent two nights staying at Disney’s Pop Century Resort and because we were able to get a great deal on the Disney Dining Plan we ate some great meals(and some just okay ones). We also took advantage of the monthly payment plan option for Florida residents and purchased annual passes to the parks! I’m so excited to be able to go back as often as we want for the next year.

C had to work on Friday morning, so we arrived at the resort mid-afternoon and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and checking out the resort. After a short nap (I’d worked the night before), we headed off to the Yacht Club Resort for dinner at The Captain’s Grille. We had eaten here once before about a year ago, but enjoyed it so much we decided to return. We even ordered the exact same entrees this time around! The Yacht and Beach Club Resorts also hold a bit of a special place for us because we stayed there on our honeymoon after the cruise five years ago.

The Captain’s Grille, fitting with its setting inside the Yacht Club, is a fairly casual full-service restaurant decorated in a nautical style. The walls are adorned with various ship accessories, the tabletops are wood with nautical flags painted on them, and there are model ships scattered throughout the dining room. It is a themed restaurant without being too hokey, in my opinion. I love it.

As part of our dining plan we were both able to order a non-alcoholic beverage, an entrée, and a dessert. On previous trips we normally order an appetizer to share and just pay for it, but this time we decided to forgo it to make sure we could finish the rest of our meals. I do know, though,that in the past I loved the Green Goddess Salad at Captain’s Grille, and it took a lot for me to resist it this time around! Instead, we asked for some bread to tide us over until the entrees arrived. We were given a basket of warm brown bread and a dish of butter with sea salt sprinkled over it. It was simple yet oh so good, and I had to push it to the other side of the table so that I didn’t fill up on it.

C ordered a Sam Adams for his beverage (befitting a New England style restaurant, of course) and I had a Minute Maid Light Pomegranate Lemonade. I have never seen this flavor of Minute Maid Light anywhere else, but it is deliciously tart and sweet all at the same time.

For entrees, C had the Mustard-Rubbed New York Strip (ordered medium rare) and I had the Snow Crab Legs. Heaven on a freakin’ plate for both of us, let me tell you. C’s steak was cooked slightly unevenly, but even with that error he loved every bite and couldn’t say enough good things about the fingerling potatoes and cipollini onions that came alongside it. He is a guy who likes his steak well-seasoned but otherwise plain so that he can taste the meat, so I was shocked when I saw him repeatedly dipping into the spiced veal jus. Until I tried a bit myself…super good!

My snow crab legs were, as always, delicious and messy. I ate every last morsel, leaving the corn and most of the boiled potatoes on my plate. Who needs corn and potatoes when you have crab legs dipped in drawn butter? I mean…come on.

We were a little disappointed when the desserts had changed since our last visit, but I know that after mine arrived, at least, I was no longer disappointed. In the past we’d enjoyed the key lime tart and the apple tarte tatin, but this time we ordered the Hazelnut Gianduja Chocolate and the Blueberry Cherry Pie. C wolfed down his dessert (of course, he will gobble up anything that is made of chocolate!), and I just could not stop eating my pie. It was full of delicious, juicy berries, the bottom crust was nice and thin, and the crumble topping was generous and in perfect proportion to the fruit. The sorbet that came on the side was a nice temperature contrast, but I barely touched it, frankly, in favor of devouring more of the pie itself.

Our server was super sweet, and gave us the take home package of mini lemon poppyseed cakes (so so so so good, by the way) with a Happy Anniversary balloon attached to it! Overall, our meal at Captain’s Grille was fabulous, and was a perfect start to our mini anniversary getaway. We also ate at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant and spent the day at Magic Kingdom, but that’ll have to wait until my next post. :)

What is your favorite restaurant on Walt Disney World property? Is there one that you have to eat at every time you visit?

 

Turkey & Brie Panini (plus some blabbing)

My husband reminded me a few days ago that it had been a month since I last posted on here. Yikes. A month? Seriously? I swore the last time I posted that I wouldn’t let so much time elapse between posts again, but here we are. Oops. I’d love to say that life just got in my way, and in a way that’s true, but sheesh. This blog means more to me than to completely let it slide, so I spent a couple of nights at work last week making a calendar of post ideas and post dates that I WILL actually stick to. Of course, at this point I’m seven and a half months pregnant and working 50ish hours a week to save time for my maternity leave but still! The blog must go on….or something like that.

Speaking of being seven months pregnant, holy cow! I’m seven months pregnant already! This time has seriously flown by, and while I’m anxious to meet our little guy (did I mention it’s a boy? If not…hey guys, it’s a boy!), I will miss being pregnant a little bit. You know, aside from the back pain, and the food aversions (which haven’t helped my blog!), and the fatigue. All the good stuff will be missed. But! We’re having a baby really, really soon! Eek! We’ve been finishing up his nursery lately (with a nautical/pirate-y theme) and starting to wash all of those teeny tiny little clothes (we’ve been given SO many clothes!) and putting together car seats and strollers and cribs and swings and such, and it is really just so much fun. Now we just need our little guy to make his appearance in about seven weeks!

We celebrated our last holidays as a twosome this year, and as a result we treated each other a bit more than usual in the gift department. One of my awesome gifts from C was a Cuisinart Griddler. I had been eyeing it for ages, and now that I have one I am totally in love! Not only is it the best Panini press I have ever tried (I love that instead of hinges it raises up so it doesn’t squish your sandwich on one end like my old sandwich press did!), it also unfolds and becomes both an electric grill and an electric griddle. My next step, of course, will be to purchase the separate waffle plates so that it can also work as a waffle maker…love it!!

We’ve been pressing pretty much anything we can think of between bread these days, but one of my favorites (aside from simple salami and havarti…SO GOOD) is my copycat sandwich from Press 101, a panini restaurant in the Dr. Phillips area here in Orlando. I ordered it a few years ago for the first time at the suggestion of my realtor, actually, and it is a combination of flavors I never would have gone for on my own. This sandwich is an awesome combination of turkey breast, tart green apples, melty brie cheese, and honey mustard, and it is seriously delicious bite after bite. I like it best made in a panini press, but you could also make it toasted like a grilled cheese in a frying pan. I’ve loosely listed the ingredients here so that you can alter the proportions to your personal taste and based on the number of sandwiches you are making.

Turkey & Brie Panini

Ingredients:

Thinly sliced or shaved oven-roasted deli turkey

Brie cheese (I leave the rind on, but you can certainly remove it if youprefer)

Granny Smith apple, core removed and thinly sliced

Honey mustard, either store bought or homemade

Thick crusty white bread (I used an artisan ciabatta loaf from my local Target bakery)

Directions:

1. Slice the bread into two thick slices, then spread both slices generously with honey mustard.

2. Layer the bottom piece of bread with a thin layer of Brie, then a layer of apple slices, then the turkey, and more apples. I like to put a couple of thin pieces of Brie on the top slice as well to make sure everything sticks together well.

3. Spray the bottom plate of your panini press with cooking spray and then place the sandwich on it. Lightly spray the top of the sandwich before closing the press. Let grill for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the bread is nice and toasty!

4. Enjoy :)

This sandwich is hearty enough by itself but would also be great with a cup of soup or a salad on the side. If you try it out, I’d love to hear what you think of the ingredient combination!