Saturday, November 28, 2009

Let the Whirlwind Begin!

It's time for interview season to begin. I'm currently in the airport waiting for my flight to DC (it was much cheaper than flying into BWI). I'll be using my parents as a home base as I drive up and down the East Coast for the interviews. It'll be a lot of traveling, but I'm excited. It's hard to believe, but med school's almost over and we'll be embarking on our next chapter (residency) in just a few months.

Needless to say, I doubt I'll have much time for trying new recipes over the coming weeks. Who knows though, I may have a weekend cooking binge. My mood's always fluctuating.

My darling husband took me to the airport this morning at 4:30 am. I have a 6 am flight. He's such a night owl. He decided to completely skip going to bed last night and just wait to take me to the airport. Whatever works for him. He kindly asked me not to call him during my layover. Why hunny, you don't want me to wake you up? :p

Alright ladies and gents, "see" you in Baltimore!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Parchment Paper

Have you ever read a recipe and ignored the instruction to line the pan with parchment paper? I did all of the time! I didn't own any parchment paper and I figured if I just used enough cookie spray, I wouldn't miss it. This weekend was the first time I lined my cookie sheets with parchment paper. Oh. My. God. what a difference! I'm sold. I don't think I'm ever baking without parchment paper ever again. The cookies cooked more evenly, came off of the cookie sheet with ease, and clean up was a cinch! So, if you bake anything and don't own parchment paper yet, go out, buy some, try it, and just tell me how much you love it!


We haven't made snickerdoodles for so long, Joe and I were forgetting how yummy they were. We only made half a batch and I'm glad for that, otherwise I think we'd eat the full batch just the two of us.

I found this recipe in a cookbook distributed by my grandmother's church.

1 1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 3/4 cup flour
cinnamon sugar to coat (random mixture each time for me)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix butter, sugar, and eggs. Add other ingredients. Roll dough into balls and coat with cinnamon sugar mixture. I find the dough easier to work with if it's been refrigerated for an hour or so.

Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 8-10 minutes.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chocolate Cherry Cookies


I've been on the hunt for espresso powder since I made a peanut butter torte but I didn't want to pay for shipping to order it online. Last week I visited the Williams Sonoma store, and lo and behold, there it was. Since I finally had some espresso powder I knew I had to make something. Off I went to my google Reader and found these cookies from 17 and Baking. I'm not a fan of chocolate cake, so I've always steered away from chocolate cookies. These cookies have completely changed my mind! I absolutely loved the addition of dried cherries.

I'm debating on making these for some holiday gatherings in Baltimore. The recipe calls for melted chocolate, which I can easily do with my chocolate melting pot, but I won't have that at my parents. Next time I make this I may try using a boxed brownie mix and somehow adapting it to make cookies. I've never done that, so I'm sure I'll be doing lots of googling.

Either way, here's the recipe for the above delicious-ness!


1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
5 oz bittersweet chocolate
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
8 tbsp (1 stick) butter
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp espresso powder
4 oz semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup (4.5 oz) dried cherries, chopped


Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar and set aside.

Melt the bittersweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, and butter in a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir frequently and remove from heat. Allow chocolate to cool for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed. Add the sugar and beat until the eggs triple in volume and hold the lines of the whisk, about ten minutes. Add the espresso powder and beat another minute.

Add the melted and cooled chocolate to the eggs on low speed. Beat until incorporated, then add the dry ingredients, chocolate chips, and dried cherries. Beat until just combined – do not overmix. Finish mixing by hand with a rubber spatula. The batter will be very runny (honestly, it wasn't too runny for me). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. For large cookies, use two tablespoons to scoop the batter into large mounds. Place 2″ apart on sheet and bake 12-15 minutes. For small cookies, scoop the batter with two teaspoons and bake 8-10 minutes. The cookies puff in the oven and fall a bit once removed. Let cool on the sheets. (I cooled mine on racks).

Triple Layer Pumpkin Spice Pie

Photo from Kraft's website.

I didn't actually taste the pie, so I wasn't going to blog about it, but given the raves Joe's coworkers told him to pass along to me, I figured it was worth sharing. I picked up some more pumpkin spice pudding, so might make another one that I can actually taste (It was too pretty to send it with Joe missing a slice). Either way, it was super easy to make. The only thing is the pudding, pumpkin spice, is seasonal and only found at Wal-Mart.

Recipe from Kraft Foods


2 pkg. (3.4 oz. each) JELL-O Pumpkin Spice Flavor Instant Pudding
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 cups cold milk
1 HONEY MAID Graham Pie Crust (6 oz.)
1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed, divided


BEAT dry pudding mixes, cinnamon and milk with whisk 2 min.; spread 1-1/2 cups onto bottom of crust.

STIR 1-1/2 cups COOL WHIP into remaining pudding until well blended. Spread over layer in crust; top with remaining COOL WHIP.


You can top with caramelized pecans, but that was just too much work for that night.

The Girl in the Pink Shirt

Yesterday was my first real interview day. I read somewhere that in general interview applicants should dress fairly conservative when interviewing for residency. E.g. black or gray suit and light/neutral colored shirt. Ideally, I would have loved to purchase a purple suit but, 1. that's not conservative enough and 2. I couldn't find any in talls. So I went with the boring black suit. I tried it on with my white shirt, and then a cream sweater, and it was just way too boring for me. With my personality, I feel I need some color and spunk. I have an array of shells and such, so yesterday I went with the pink button down. I honestly wasn't expecting to be the only one in a color shirt, but lo and behold I was. Now you may ask, "are you being too bold for interviews." I think not. At least three people commented on how they liked my pink shirt. So if the pink shirt helps me stand out and be remembered when they're doing their rank lists, I'll stick to the colors and keep the white and cream in the closet.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Banana Muffins - Nutella Optional

I may have found my new go-to recipe for banana bread/muffins. I've read that it's more accurate to weigh dry ingredients than measure them. I'm still not convinced I used the proper amount of flour. I based my measurements off of King Arthur's site. Per King Arthur's site, 1 cup of all purpose flour is 4.25 ounces. The recipe called for 3 cups of flours, but based on King Arthur's measurement, I only had about 2.5 cups (mind you, my 4 cup measuring cup also probably isn't the most accurate). My brief Googling of flour weights showed conversions up to 4.75 ounces per cup, so I'm not sure. Either way, I think this was the perfect amount of flour for the recipe.

I put about 3/4 tsp of nutella in 6 muffins (sandwhiched between two scoops of batter). OMG, I wish I put nutella in every one! I thought it would be too rich for a breakfast bread with the nutella, but nope!

Recipe adapted from Food Network.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (a must, I think this is what made the recipe!)
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (I used 1/2 cup apple sauce and 1/2 cup oil)
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 ripe bananas, pealed and mashed
Nutella (optional)


(Recipe says it'll make 18 muffins, but it made 24 for me).

Preheat oven 325. Line muffin cups with liners.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl to blend. Beat the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the banana. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Bake the muffins on the middle rack until the tops are golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out with no crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a rack and cool. If you make them with nutella, I recommend eating them warm or putting them in the microwave for a couple seconds.


Buffalo Chicken Dip

The Baltimore Nesties call this "crack dip" because it's so addicting. I heard so much about it I finally decided to give a try. I loved it! And an added bonus, Joe liked it too. This is definitely more an appetizer than a meal, but since we didn't have any parties coming up, I made it into a meal. I followed MrsNDM's recipe on Baltimore Nestie's Cooking Blog. Since it was only the two of us, I halved the original recipe and think it would still be plenty for a party of 6 or so. I preferred celery and carrots as the dippers over bread and tortilla chips.


4 cups boiled, shredded chicken breast
12-oz bottle Frank’s Buffalo Wing sauce (not hot sauce)
1 cup ranch or blue cheese dressing (I used ranch, not a big blue cheese fan)
16 oz cream cheese (2 packages, softened – not low fat b/c the texture is different)
1 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar and loved it!)


Mix the softened cream cheese with the wing sauce and ranch dressing until all lumps are gone (either with a whisk or an electric mixer). Add in the boiled, shredded chicken. Mix well.

Pour into casserole dish (at least 8×8), sprinkle cheese on top, and cover with foil. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the cheese is bubbly in the center (another 10 minutes or so).

Serve hot with tortillas, bread, or veggie.

Note: Can also be done in a crockpot.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Brownies

Delicious and super easy to make. I can't take credit for the idea, but definitely don't mind sharing it.

1 bag of pumpkin spice kisses (only found at Target)
1/2 - 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I only used 1/2 but think I should have used 1 tsp)
1 boxed brownie mix

Make brownie mix as directed, add pumpkin pie spice stir. Pour brownies into greased pan. Whatever size you desire.

Peel and melt the kisses in the microwave. Do use high, the chocolate can burn. Patience my dears! Stir the kisses. Once melted, dollop on top of the brownies. Take a toothpick and run it through the brownies and chocolate to marbleize the chocolate.

Bake as directed on the package. Enjoy!

Monday, November 16, 2009

So That's Over With

Thank goodness! To become a physician, one must take several licensing exams, also known as steps. Step 2 has two parts--a multiple choice "clinical knowledge" test and a hands on "clinical skills" test. The clinical skills test is only offered at 5 locations in the US, hence why I'm in Houston. Before I continue, I must thank Google for the free wi-fi in airports this holiday season, or else I'd still be bored waiting for my flight.

So today, I spent 8 hours interviewing standardized patients (SP's) and writing notes. It's supposed to test our clinical skills, but it really doesn't. The SP's are trained to observe whether or not we listen to the heart in four spots, shine a light in their eye, etc. Basically, we students just have to go through the motions to get the credit for performing the exam. And that's exactly what I did. I couldn't tell you whether or not my patient with high blood pressure had arterial nicking in the back of his eyes, but he thinks I looked back there. I couldn't tell you if my patient who complained of a fast heart rate had an irregular rhythm, but she thinks I listened long enough to tell. The fact of the matter, it's all an act. They tell us in the beginning to be cautious with the exam and realize the SP goes through this 12 times. I wouldn't feel comfortable diagnosing half of my patients today with the exam I did. Now you ask, why didn't you do a better exam? I didn't have time. It's either make sure you go through all of the motions and get the points for the motions, or actually take your time, get the findings, but exceed the 15 minute limit and get docked points. What would you do? Needless to say, the patient's life isn't hanging on my exam.

Ok, so along with my above gripes, let's talk about the expense of the exam. It's easy to find, so I'll just put it out there. For me, it cost $1200 for the exam itself (I think it's since gone up). Yes, that's right, I didn't accidentally add an extra zero. To fly to Houston, it cost me about $250 and then another $65 for my hotel. So for 8 hours of making sure I'm "clinically competent" I had to dish out $1500 because US med schools don't do a good enough of a job ensuring this (note sarcasm). We're not allowed to leave the testing area for breaks, so they provide lunch. For $1500, you'd think it would be a very decent lunch. Umm...not really. Someone made spaghetti with meat sauce. They put together their own lunch meat tray with slimy turkey, and someone made a salad. Now don't get me wrong, all of this food is perfectly fine, but for $1500, I was expecting something like Panera lunch boxes. I guess then that's favoring certain chains and USMLE doesn't want that.

Oh well. I'm just happy it's done and God-willing I passed and won't have to do it again.

I'm also hoping I don't have the same travel nightmares tonight as I experience yesterday!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


What a travel day it's been. I know it's not anybody's fault, but man, it's been a rough day.

Let's start in Omaha. My flight was scheduled to leave Omaha at 10:15. Yeah. I didn't leave Omaha until 2 pm. Our plane was coming from Denver, which had a fair amount of snow last night, so the plane had to de-ice--the first reason for a delay. Well, as the plane was in line to de-ice, they discovered a mechanical problem and the plane returned to the gate. All of the passengers switched to a new plane and finally, the plane made it to Omaha.

In the meantime, my flight from Denver to Houston was in the air without me. Customer service wasn't at the gate yet, so I called Frontier's phone customer service. I wanted to make sure they put my name down for the next flight leaving Denver to Houston. Phone customer service says only customer service in the airport can do that since I've already checked in. WHAT?!?! Umm, to me that just doesn't make any sense. Customer service wasn't at the gate yet and I wasn't about to go back past security.

By this time, the plane has arrived in Omaha and we start to board. My seat is 20D. Guess what, this is a smaller plane and there is no row 20!!! They didn't reassign our seats. No big deal, we just had open seating to expedite take off.

Three hours after scheduled arrival and 30 minutes before my new flight to Houston, I arrived in Denver. The boarding pass Frontier printed me in Omaha said my flight to Houston would be departing out of gate 42. Conveniently, this was the same gate our flight from Omaha used. I walk out and see that the gate sign says this flight is going to Phoenix. Ok, no big deal, airlines change gates all of the time. I proceed to the departure board and what does it say? My flight's cancelled!!! Now I start panicking. Joe just checked the web and told me it's still on time. What's going on? So I go back to the gate where the Omaha flight parked that currently says that plane's going to Phoenix and ask what's up. "Oh, I'm sorry miss. The departure board is wrong, as is the sign behind me. This is your gate for an on-time departure to Houston." What!?!?!? Of course it is, because that makes so much sense.

I finally make it to Houston. The hotel where I'm staying has a free shuttle from the airport. Sweet. Or so I thought. Lord only knows where the shuttle was, but I ended up waiting over 1.5 hours for the shuttle. Of course I kept calling the hotel and they kept telling me it was on it's way. I still don't know where the shuttle was, but I know I'm currently in the hotel and that's what matters. I'll take my exam tomorrow and kick butt. I'm just hoping my flight karma doesn't carry over to tomorrow's trip back to Omaha. I don't know if I can handle another 12 hour travel day.

Chili with Pumpkin

Delicious and nice and hearty! I found this on Things That Make You Go mmmm and definitely agree, you really can't taste the pumpkin. I rarely use ground turkey since I like the flavor of beef, but with all of the seasonings, I can't even tell it's turkey and not beef. I followed the recipe to a tee and will do the same when I make it next year. Picky food guy Joe refused to try it, but I really think he'd like it. Maybe next year. I froze half of the batch, and based on the fact that it's chili, I think it'll taste just as yummy when I defrost it.

Turkey Pumpkin Chili
from Cara's Carvings, serves 4-6

1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 medium sized bell peppers, diced (I used 1 red and 1 green)
1 lb ground turkey
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp Mexican oregano (I used regular oregano)
1 small can diced green chili peppers
15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
14 oz can diced tomatoes
15 oz can pumpkin puree, or 2 cups homemade


1. Spray a large pot with nonstick cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until just softened. Add the garlic and bell peppers, and cook about 5 minutes more until tender. Add the ground turkey and cook until browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Season with salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and oregano.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes to blend flavors.

Or, just brown the turkey with the seasonings and combine with remaining ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serve with your favorite chili toppings - cilantro, green onion, cheese, sour cream, etc. Makes 4 very generous servings - perfect if you're not eating this with any cornbread or other sides.

Can't Quite Run Yet

So yesterday I took a leap and gave running a try. My goal was 5 minutes. Yeah, I lasted about 1 minute. I still had pain in my knee, but in a different spot. I'm thinking the pain is due to the inflammation left over from the surgery. So, I must continue to be patient and still do biking and walking. That said, I'm not having pain with those activities anymore, so at the very least, surgery has been some benefit.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I have a shopping problem. There I said it. It's inherited. Mom will take credit and will agree that her mom loved to shop too.

I don't have credit card debt, fortunately, (just school debt =() but when I get a coupon for a store, I feel compelled to shop, even if I don't need anything. Right now I have an extra 30% off from Kohl's. I might be able to pick up one or two Christmas presents, but otherwise, I'd just be spending money on myself. It's so hard to drive past the Kohl's everyday on my way home. I'm really going to try to be a good girl, but who knows. I keep thinking of things I could possibly use, but aren't necessary. I used to be such a good saver. What happened? Oh that's right, I don't really have an income to save.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Elliptical Success!

It's been exactly 11 weeks since my knee surgery and I almost feel completely back to "normal." I still can't squat down to patient's level and stay there for a couple of minutes, but that will come. Otherwise, I'm not having pain, the swelling's gone, I can go up and down steps with out pain, and pretty much everything else.

Over the weekend I used the elliptical for 25 minutes at various inclines, resistances, etc, and then again today. I'm happy to announce the pain I used to get after 5 minutes is not there! Both times I did notice a slight dull ache around 15-17 minutes, but nothing near the sharp pains I used to have. I know I still need to keep up my strengthening exercises and I don't want to irritate the inflammation that's still healing by causing more, so I think I'll limit my elliptical workouts to once a week. I'm getting excited that I might actually be able to run again in the near future, but I don't want to get ahead of myself. For now, I'll still focus on my strengthening while the deep down inflammation of surgery is still healing.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I Used to be Religious

I started to write a long post, but then I realized I think I just need to get my thoughts out quick and dirty.

I can't remember the last time I went to church.

I like to blame my religious decline on the fact that my husband doesn't go to church, but I know it's really not that...I went by myself for years.

I envy two of my dearest friends who have a confidence in their faith that I once had but lost.

I still consider myself Catholic, but I truly wish women had a more active role in the church and I do not like the Church's history. I never felt left out of the Catholic Church as a female until the most recent Conclave to elect Pope Benedict and I realized not a single female had a vote.

I've thought about trying services at different denominations, but each Sunday comes around and I still don't go. For some reason, I don't think switching denominations is my answer. I need to look at religion as what it is today, not the horrors it brought to people in the past. The Crusades and Salem Witch Trials are over, but who's to say something like that won't ever happen again? Religion has done a lot of good, but it's also caused too many deaths to mention and very narrow mindsets. I need to stop focusing on the negative aspects of religion and start finding the beauty in it again.

I miss my faith and the strength I'd find in it. Another dear friend always says, "faith takes work." I haven't been putting the work in, I know. I keep waiting for a major revelation and perhaps I need to get out of my PJ's and go back to church to get it. And who knows, perhaps I truly do need to look into a different denomination.

Any comments, readings, suggestions, criticism, etc appreciated.

50 in 2009

I've decided to up my book goal from 25 to 50 books this year. I will say audio books have greatly helped me. I just finished listening to book 43 today. That leaves me just over 7 weeks of the year (OMG, only seven weeks left?!?!) to read/listen to 7 books. I'm already a third through The Thirteenth Tale and with interview season, I have lots of driving, so many hours to listen to books. It'll be about a book a week, but with the audio books, I think I can do it. I'm not going to lie, I will be choosing easy reads until I get to 50, but after that I can't wait to pick up the newest in the Outlander series - Echo in the Bone!

Everyone else, happy reading!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Butternut Squash Cake

This is the first time I made a cake with squash, but we do it with carrots and pumpkin all of the time, so why not squash? It was only ok. I know this will sound weird, but the cake reminds me of Famous Dave's corn muffins. I think it's a little too dense for a cake, but that's just me. This was also the first time I made brown sugar icing. Honestly, I think it tasted very similar to marshmallow. It complemented the cake, but was so so sticky! It also took lots of mixing. I swear I mixed the icing at least 20 minutes to get the egg whites to peak. Overall, I'm glad I tried this cake, but I'm not adding it to my list of go-to recipes.

Recipe adapted from


* 1/2 cup butter, softened
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 cup packed brown sugar
* 2 eggs
* 1 cup mashed, cooked butternut squash
* 1 teaspoon maple flavoring (I used vanilla extract)
* 3 cups cake flour
* 4 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 cup milk
* 1 cup chopped walnuts (omitted)

* 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
* 3 egg whites
* 6 tablespoons water
* 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add squash and maple flavoring; mix well. Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir in walnuts. Pour into two greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans.
2. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.
3. For frosting, combine the brown sugar, egg whites, water, cream of tartar and salt in a heavy saucepan. With a portable mixer, beat on low speed for 1 minute. Continue beating over low heat until a thermometer reads 160 degrees F, about 8-10 minutes.
4. Pour frosting into a large mixing bowl; add vanilla. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 (more like 20 for me) minutes. Spread between layers and over top and sides of cake.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Just Wrong, Downright Wrong

Once again, money has power. WHY OH WHY does a corporation on Wall Street get H1N1 vaccines before hospitals or doctors' offices? Goldman Sachs Receives H1N1 I really hope Goldman Sachs decides to donate their supply to local hospitals given most Wall Street individuals don't fall into the high risk category.

Ok, stepping off my soap box.

Nascar Institute

Ever wonder how people get involved in Nascar and trained to be on the pit crew, etc? Well, lo and behold, Nascar has its own training institute just for that. Who knew? The things I learn from patients =)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Honey Mustard Kielbasa & Potatoes

The Baltimore Nesties started a recipe blog and when I saw this this recipe posted I knew I had to try it. I love absolutely all of the ingredients, but never had honey mustard with my kielbasa. The recipe calls for cubed potatoes, but in an effort to save time, I used canned sliced new potatoes. I loved this dish! Joe didn't like the potatoes so much, but loved the kielbasa, so I think I'll double the meat (or 1/2 the potatoes) the next time I make it.

Nestie Gracie2762 adapted it from Kraft Foods

3/4 cup dry white wine (I used cooking sherry)
1/4 cup Honey Mustard (I used Ken's Steakhouse)
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 lb. kielbasa, cut into thin slices
4 medium potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (I used 3 cans of sliced new potatoes)
1 large onion, sliced (I probably only used about 1/2)

PREHEAT oven to 400°F. Mix wine, mustard and brown sugar until well blended.
MIX kielbasa, potatoes and onion in roasting pan. Drizzle with wine mixture; toss to coat.
BAKE 50 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, if desired. I usually put the broiler on for a few minutes at the end to get the kielbasa crisp. It tastes even better leftover!


I will preface this post by recognizing that I'm very fortunate to have my hair. It's thick, it has a nice wave when I want it, and holds curls and styles well. That being said, it's been driving me crazy this past 1.5 years. My attempt to get
back to my natural color was definitely too dark and now I have roots. They're noticeable to me but I wouldn't care if I wasn't going on residency interviews next month. I think I'd feel much more confident if I wasn't worried about my roots during my interview, so I'm going to try the temporary dye route again. This time though, I'm going to look for a color with "ash" and keep my fingers crossed my hair doesn't turn red again.

So, onto my bangs. I go back and forth on whether or not I want bangs. Depending on my rotation and how many hours I work, I'm finding I put my hair in a ponytail quite frequently. When my hair's in a ponytail, I like the bangs since I think it gives me a more polished and professional look. That being said, I'm having the darnest time maintaining them. Last time between hair cuts, I trimmed them myself and the stylist definitely noticed--I took too much off. Yesterday my bangs were driving me crazy because they kept falling in my face and blocking my sight, so I paid for a bang trim. Mind you, this wasn't my normal girl since I just want to the closest salon, but now I feel she cut too much. It was fine last night, but now after I slept I feel they're too short. Ugh. I really just wish I could find a happy medium. I pinned them back today and I might just keep trying to grow them out for a while and start over in 6 months or so. We'll see how my mood goes.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Apple Cider Doughnut Holes

Well, these were a semi-fail. This was my first attempt making donuts and since I didn't have a biscuit cutter I decided to make doughnut holes instead. I burnt the first batch I fried, so then I turned down the heat and was extra diligent about making sure I didn't leave them in the oil too long. Well, that failed since half of the batch was basically raw dough still. Oh well, perhaps better luck next time. These are definitely a sugar high, but overall I thought they were pretty yummy and worth making sometime again, but probably years from now. Who knows. And, I was excited to use my immersion blender yet again!


* 2 red apples, such as Cortland or McIntosh
* 2 1/2 cups apple cider
* 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
* 4 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 3 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
* 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
* 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
* 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
* 1/4 cup buttermilk
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
* Vegetable oil, for frying


Core and coarsely chop the apples (do not peel). Combine with 1 1/2 cups cider in a medium saucepan over medium heat; cover and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the apples are tender and the cider is almost completely reduced, about 5 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth. Measure the sauce; you should have 1 cup. (Boil to reduce further, if necessary.) Let cool slightly.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in a medium bowl.

Beat 2/3 cup granulated sugar and the shortening in another bowl with a mixer on medium speed until sandy. Beat in the egg and yolk, then gradually mix in the applesauce, scraping the bowl. Beat in half of the flour mixture, then the buttermilk and vanilla, and then the remaining flour mixture. Mix to make a sticky dough; do not overmix.

Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper and pat into a 7-by-11-inch rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: Simmer the remaining 1 cup cider in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to 1/4 cup. Whisk in the confectioners' sugar until smooth and glossy, then set aside. Mix the remaining 1 cup granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a shallow bowl; set aside for the topping.

Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Cut the chilled dough into 12 rounds, using a floured 2 1/2- or 3-inch biscuit cutter, then cut out the middles with a 1-inch cutter (or use a doughnut cutter). Slip 2 or 3 doughnuts at a time into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side, adjusting the heat as needed. Transfer to the paper towels to drain.

Dip one side of each doughnut in the cider glaze, letting the excess drip off; dip just the glazed side in the cinnamon-sugar or roll all over in cinnamon-sugar, if desired. Serve warm.

Oh, the apple cider takes at least twice as long to reduce as the recipe calls for. Here's the recipe from Food Network. Apple Cider Doughnuts

Acorn Squash and Apple Soup

I've been in a soup mood lately and since I've never cooked with acorn squash before, I decided to give this recipe a try. It's only ehh...honestly I think it taste more liked warmed apple sauce with a couple extra flavors thrown in. I doubt I'll make it again. I mixed some plain yogurt in with the soup and I think it definitely made it taste better. I might shred some chicken and add that to give me some more protein, plus I think it'll complement the apple flavoring.

2 medium acorn squash seeded & halved
1 quart Kitchen Basics Chicken Stock (Store was out of stock, so I used broth)
3 each green apples peeled and diced
2/3 cup chopped onion
1 1/3 cups apple cider
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root peeled & grated
1 1/3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
White pepper to taste / Yogurt or sour cream & chives (garnish)

Bake squash about 45 minutes at 350°. Allow to cool; cut in half, remove seeds and core. Combine stock, apples and onion in stockpot or dutch oven. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Add squash pulp, apple cider, lemon juice and ginger. Cover and simmer until ingredients are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Season with pepper if desired. Puree soup in batches in blender or processor (I used my new immersion blender, loved it!). Ladle into bowls. Garnish with yogurt or sour cream and chives.

Kitchen Basics Recipe

Slow-Cooker Lasagna

Another recipe from Kraft foods. I thought it needed more flavor, but Joe didn't. I turned on the slow cooker before I left for work, so it was on low for over 8 hours. That's definitely too long and I think that's why it dried it out. I wouldn't push six hours if you're going to make it. I'd also only use 1/2 pound of ground beef next time since I thought it was too meaty.


1 lb. ground beef (I'd recommend 1/2 pound)
1 jar (26 oz.) spaghetti sauce
1 cup water
1 container (15 oz.) BREAKSTONE'S or KNUDSEN Ricotta Cheese
1 pkg. (7 oz.) KRAFT 2% Milk Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
1/4 cup KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
1 egg
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (I used 1 tbsp of dried parsley flakes)
6 lasagna noodles, uncooked


BROWN meat in large skillet; drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce and water. Mix ricotta, 1-1/2 cups mozzarella, 2 Tbsp. Parmesan, egg and parsley.

SPOON 1 cup meat sauce into slow cooker; top with layers of half each of the noodles, broken to fit; and cheese mixture. Cover with 2 cups meat sauce. Top with remaining noodles, broken to fit; cheese mixture and meat sauce. Cover with lid.

COOK on LOW 4 to 6 hours or until liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses; let stand, covered, 10 min. or until melted.

(Second photo from Kraft's website)

Slow-Cooker Lasagna
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