Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cricut Cake?

I'm honestly intrigued by this product. I don't have any experience with the original cricut, but the concept is a good one, especially for teachers and scrapbookers. The machines are just so darn expensive! I think the cake machine itself is close to $300, and that's not including all of the additional patterns. I like to bake and this would definitely make some of my cakes more dynamic, but for the cost, it's definitely not something I'll be purchasing. I'm really curious to see a cake decorated with cricut cake in person though.

I'd love to include a link to the cricut cake site, but it's under maintenance right now. Boo.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Protect Your Kids from the Sun

While it's rainy, windy, and 43 degrees in Omaha as I post this, I know there are plenty of other places where people are welcoming spring and soaking up the rays. While we pediatricians definitely encourage outdoor activity, please be sure to protect your kids from the sun. Make it a routine each spring to check the expiration date on your sunscreen and toss the ones that have expired. Believe me, I know from personal experience that sunscreen can actually expire.

Again, topic copied from American Academy of Pediatric's Healthy Children.

What's the best way to protect my child in the sun?

Follow these simple rules to protect your family from sunburns now and from skin cancer later in life.

* Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight. Find shade under a tree, umbrella, or the stroller canopy.
* When possible, dress yourself and your kids in cool, comfortable clothing that covers the body, like lightweight cotton pants, long-sleeved shirts, and hats.
* Select clothes made with a tight weave - they protect better than clothes with a looser weave. If you’re not sure how tight a fabric’s weave is, hold it up to see how much light shines through. The less light, the better.
* Wear a hat or cap with a brim that faces forward to shield the face.
* Limit your sun exposure between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm, when UV rays are strongest.
* Wear sunglasses with at least 99% UV protection (look for child-sized sunglasses with UV protection for your child). - UVB!
* Use sunscreen.
* Set a good example. You can be the best teacher by practicing sun protection yourself. Teach all members of your family how to protect their skin and eyes.


Sunscreen can help protect the skin from sunburn and some skin cancers, but only if used correctly. Keep in mind that sunscreen should be used for sun protection, not as a reason to stay in the sun longer.

How to Pick Sunscreen

* Use a sunscreen that says “broad-spectrum” on the label - that means it will screen out both UVB and UVA rays.
* Use a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15. The higher the SPF, the more UVB protection the sunscreen has.
* Look for the new UVA “star” rating system on the label. - this is news to me!
o One star is low UVA protection.
o Two stars is medium protection.
o Three stars is high protection.
o Four stars is the highest UVA protection available in an over-the-counter sunscreen product.
* For sensitive areas of the body, such as the nose, cheeks, tops of the ears, and the shoulders, choose a sunscreen or sunblock with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. While these products usually stay visible on the skin even after you rub them in, some now come in fun colors that kids enjoy.

Sunscreen for Babies

* For Babies younger than 6 months. Use sunscreen on small areas of the body, such as the face and the backs of the hands, if protective clothing and shade are not available.
* For babies older than 6 months. Apply to all areas of the body, but be careful around the eyes. If your baby rubs sunscreen into her eyes, wipe the eyes and hands clean with a damp cloth. If the sunscreen irritates her skin, try a different brand or try a sunscreen stick or sunscreen or sunblock with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. If a rash develops, talk with your child’s doctor.

How to apply sunscreen

* Use enough sunscreen to cover all exposed areas, especially the face, nose, ears, feet, and hands and even the backs of the knees. Rub it in well.
* Put sunscreen on 30 minutes before going outdoors. It needs time to absorb into the skin.
* Use sunscreen any time you or your child might sunburn. Remember that you can get sunburn even on cloudy days. Also, UV rays can bounce back from water, sand, snow, and concrete so make sure you’re protected.
* Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. Sunscreen wears off after swimming, sweating, or just from soaking into the skin.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I like to stock pile

I'm attempting homemade pitas for the first time today. I just used my last packet of yeast and immediately thought, "Better put that on the grocery list." The fact of the matter, I don't use yeast all that often, but I like having it on hand for spur of the moment baking like this morning. The other fact of the matter, we're moving in three weeks! I really need to adjust my stock-piling attitude or we'll be moving cross country will way too many kitchen goods.

I have two cans of pumpkin in the cupboard. I probably should use them up so we don't have to move them, but I'm worried about another pumpkin shortage. What if I want to make something this fall and I can't find any in the stores? Yes, I've become obsessed with cooking and thinking way too far ahead. I probably should just use them up.

Here's to trying to empty our pantry!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fix It Friday - 51

Time for another Friday of editing fun. I used Coffeeshop's painted borders for this one. I don't want to become dependent on actions, but I definitely love how they put everything in one place!

Left is the original, right is my edit. The photo was pretty darn good SOOC, so it didn't take much.

Glad I know how to edit

I try not to dwell on it, but now that I'm learning more about photography, I realize how disappointed I am in most of my wedding photos. Really, if he just manually white balanced, I think I'd be so much happier. Well, at least I have the rights to my photos and can edit them myself.

Mom wanted to print out a picture of my brother from my wedding. Before I emailed it to her I realized I HAD to edit it. I couldn't stand how red it was, or "warm" as the photographer would say.

The left is my photographer's and the right is mine. Yes, it took about 30 minutes of editing, and I don't expect my photographer to spend 30 minutes on each photo, but you get the point. Ugh. I'm still not completely satisfied with the skin tone, but it's much better (to me at least).

*Photo by Daniel Henry

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies

Good, but not to die for. Personally, I think the cheesecake needed some more peanut butter. I'm glad I gave these a try, but still sticking with my go-to peanut butter brownies from my aunt.

Recipe from Kraft Foods


1 pkg. (19 to 21 oz.) brownie mix (13x9-inch pan size)
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 cups thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping (omitted)
20 maraschino cherries (omitted)


HEAT oven to 350ºF.

PREPARE brownie batter as directed on package. Spoon into 20 paper-lined muffin cups.

BEAT cream cheese, sugar, egg, peanut butter and vanilla with mixer until blended. Spoon 1 rounded Tbsp. into center of batter in each cup, pressing down slightly into batter. Bake 30 min. or until centers are set. Cool.

SERVE topped with COOL WHIP and cherries.

The Battle of the Labyrinth

The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #4) The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It was definitely nice to reconnect with Percy and his friends. I wish I had something more profound to say, but not really. It was good, enjoyable, still kind of Harry Potter-esque, and now I want to run out and find how the series ends.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lemon Curd

Where have I been? Oh my goodness, this stuff is delicious! I'm using as a filling for a bread, but this would also make a great cake filling, or even on top an English muffin. I'm sure it's not the most healthy topping out there though.

Recipe adapted from All Recipes


3 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar (I used vanilla sugar because I had some on hand)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (3-4 lemons)
2 tablespoons lemon zest (the original recipe calls for one, but it wasn't lemony enough for me, so I added another)


1. Pull your double boiler out from the back of your cabinet
2. Beat eggs and sugar in top of double boiler.
3. Add remaining ingredients. Stir
4. Cook over simmering water for about 15 minutes, until thickened, stirring occasionally.

I assume you want to let it cool before using, so that's my plan.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Face of Death

The Face of Death The Face of Death by Cody McFadyen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I didn't know this book was a sequel until I was about a third into it. I may have missed some references to the first book, but I really don't feel as if reading the first book is necessary to enjoy this book.

I'm learning more and more that I enjoy crime/mystery books. McFadyen did a wonderful job with character development and the characters were so strong! I personally didn't think it was predictable.

The subject matter includes pedophilia and the sexual assault of children. I can't recall any extremely graphic childhood scenes, but I know some like to avoid books with child sexual abuse.

View all my reviews >>

The Right Size Bicycle

Here's the first kid safety post. With the warmer weather, your kids might be asking to ride their bikes more often. Here are some tips to keep in mind!

Choosing the Right Size Bicycle

A bicycle of the wrong size may cause your child to lose control and be injured. Any bike must be the correct size for the child for whom it is bought. To keep your child safe, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following:

1. Do not push your child to ride a 2-wheeled bike until he or she is ready, at about age 5.

2. Take your child with you when you shop for the bike, so that he or she can try it out. The value of a properly fitting bike far outweighs the value of surprising your child with a new bike.

3. Buy a bike that is the right size, not one your child has to “grow into.” Oversized bikes are especially dangerous.

4. How to test any style of bike for proper fit
  • Sitting on the seat with hands on the handlebar, your child must be able to place the balls of both feet on the ground.
  • Straddling the center bar, your child should be able to stand with both feet flat on the ground with about a 1-inch clearance between the crotch and the bar.
  • When buying a bike with hand brakes for an older child, make sure that the child can comfortably grasp the brakes and apply sufficient pressure to stop the bike.
5. A helmet should be standard equipment. Whenever buying a bike, be sure you have a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)-approved helmet for your child.

6. Consider the child’s coordination and desire to learn to ride. Stick with coaster brakes until your child is older and more experienced.

Last Updated 4/2/2010
Source TIPP—The Injury Prevention Program (Copyright © 1994 American Academy of Pediatrics)

Copied from AAP.

Kid Safety

As a future pediatrician, I'm going to try a new thing with my blog--kid safety. Once a week I'll try to post tips on here. A lot of them will be directly from the American Academy of Pediatrics Parenting Site, Healthy Children. I know not all of you have kids, but I'm a firm believer in education and it'll help anyone who's in contact with kids.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Easy Pasta Salad!

Believe it or not, I've never made pasta salad before. Last week a friend had a little cookout and asked me to bring a side dish, so pasta salad it was.

This isn't really a recipe from any particular site, but it was inspired by Kraft Foods. The beauty of this salad, it's completely customizable--just add whatever veggies you like.

1 1 lb box pasta, cooked and drained (I used whole wheat)
1 cucumber, sliced and cut into fours
1/2-1 pint cherry/grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon red onion, diced (probably could have used a little more)
2/3 cup - 1 cup Italian dressing or vinaigrette
Roughly 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste


Combine all of the ingredients and let sit in fridge for at least 3 hours before serving. I found the key is the Italian dressing and pasta, everything else is interchangeable. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pregnancy Dream?

Hubsters and I both know we want children, but right now isn't really the ideal time to stop preventing. However, it still seems I have babies on the brain. Heck, two of my best friends are due in the next two months, I can't help it.

Well, two nights ago I dreamed that Joe and I were pregnant. In the dream we didn't really know we were pregnant, we just kind of showed up at the hospital with me in labor and a bump that grew overnight. So, we go into labor, do the normal things, and what do I deliver?!? A SHITZU! Yes, I gave birth to a dog! Needless to say, my dreams are hardly ever boring.

So, maybe this is a sign it's time for a dog, or that I've been worrying about my parents' dog.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Women, Food, and God

Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I think my expectations were too high going into this book. As a teenager, I struggled with anorexia, which later turned into compulsive eating. Having gone through therapy, a lot of Roth's ideas were not new to me. She hit the nail on the head, but nothing really jumped out and spoke to me personally.

I've also been struggling with my faith for a year to two. I really took the title to heart. I think I was hoping this book would show me a way to reconnect with my faith or that I'm feeling distant in my faith because of my history of disordered eating. That wasn't the case.

I think this book could be spiritual and beneficial for some, but it wasn't for me.

View all my reviews >>

Friday, April 16, 2010

Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

After discovering the wonderfulness of dried cherries and chocolate in cookies, I knew these would be a winner. I used dark chocolate chips, and definitely would go with the dark over milk chocolate. Along with being delicious, the cookies were so moist! This is definitely a cookie recipe that's sticking around. I might add a little cinnamon the next time I make them, but we'll see.

Recipe from Cooking Light's Jan/Feb 2010 issue.

  • 1.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1.5 ounces whole-wheat flour (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used dark chocolate chips)
  • Cooking spray (or parchment paper)

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours and next 3 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk.

3. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat; add brown sugar, stirring until smooth. Add sugar mixture to flour mixture; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add cherries, vanilla, and egg; beat until combined. Fold in chocolate. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes. Cool on pans 3 minutes or until almost firm. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.

Fix It Friday - 50

Time for another week of I Heart Face's Fix It Friday's. Here's the original:

And here are my edits:

First, I used CoffeeShop's perfect portrait action (left). And I wanted to have some fun trying other actions, so I played around with the butterscotch action (right).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mango Salsa

I am so glad it's spring time finally! I'm in such a better mood when it's warm and sunny out. This salsa makes an excellent dip. I also used it as a topping for my grilled chicken. Deliciousness! My avocado was very ripe, so it's didn't really stay diced--it mostly mashed up when I stirred everything.

Recipe inspired by Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes


2 Mangoes, diced
1 plum tomato, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (I may try more next time)
1 clove of garlic, minced (may try two next time)
1 avocado, diced (may try two if serving to a crowd)
1 lime, juice only
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or more)
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste


Combine all ingredients. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Parental Warning-Sex

I know that none of the parents of my future patients reads this blog, but I'm still putting it out there.

As your kid's pediatrician, I will be asking them about sexual activity and contraception. As much as I would love all my teenage patients to remain abstinent, I've seen enough teenage pregnancies to know it's not the case. I won't shove contraception down their throats, but I'll bring it up.

For example...

I was getting the history of a 16 year old girl with abdominal pain. Mom happened to be out of the room and I thought what an excellent opportunity to ask about sex. No, it wasn't the first thing out of my mouth.

I get the history, I ask about medications, allergies, etc. Then casually I say, "Have you ever had sex?" This patient responded no. So in the next breath and just as casual I said, "Ok, but if you do decide to have sex, it's important you use a condom to prevent STDs and pregnancy." And then I moved onto the next part of the history. To me, that's not overbearing, but just enough to put it in the girl's head. Education is the first step in prevention. What got to me a little though, this girl looked shock that a 20-something almost doctor was telling her to use condoms. To me, that's scary and makes me wonder if her parents are in denial.

And just to add, while this was a great education opportunity, when a 16 year old female presents with abdominal pain, it's important to think of pregnancy, so I wasn't just finishing for an opportunity to talk about contraception.

Banana Cream Cheesecake

Photo from Kraft Foods

Here's another recipe I've been meaning to try for ages. Personally, I think it's a wonderful combination of banana and cheesecake. And in fact, the crust is to die for! Like most of my baking right now, I shared it with my class mates--nothing but raves! I think I'm going to add this to the cycle of desserts I make for parties. Enjoy!

Recipe copied from Kraft Foods


1 pkg. (2-layer size) white cake mix, divided
4 eggs, divided
3 Tbsp. oil
2/3 cup packed brown sugar, divided
2 bananas, sliced (I used 3)
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1-1/2 cups milk
1-1/2 cups thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping


HEAT oven to 300ºF. Reserve 1 cup dry cake mix. Mix remaining cake mix with 1 egg, oil and 1/3 cup sugar with mixer. (Mixture will be crumbly.) Press onto bottom and 1 inch up sides of greased 13x9-inch baking pan; top with bananas.

BEAT cream cheese and remaining sugar with mixer. Add reserved cake mix, remaining eggs and lemon juice; beat 1 min. Blend in milk. (Batter will be very thin.) Pour into crust.

BAKE 45 to 50 to min. or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 4 hours. Top with COOL WHIP. Refrigerate leftovers.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cannoli Cakes

Joe and I are from Baltimore and if you've ever been in Baltimore and had a Vaccaro's cannoli, you'd know they're hard to top. I saw this recipe on King Arthur Flour's website and wanted to give it a try. Honestly, it's only eh. The cake was way too dense for my liking and had an egg taste. The cannoli topping seemed like something was missing. I used low fat ricotta cheese, so that might be it, but I haven't made cannoli filling enough to really know what it needs. If you're not from Baltimore and never really tried a cannoli, this could be a good start for you.

I'm also using this photo as an entry for this week's photo challenge on I Heart Faces.

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour


Cannoli Cake
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup or 3 1/2 ounces granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) or 4 ounces butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup or 4 1/4 ounces King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup or 2 ounces orange liqueur (such as Triple Sec) for brushing (omitted)
Cannoli Topping

* 1 cup or 8 ounces ricotta cheese
* 1/2 cup or 2 ounces confectioners' sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* pinch of salt
* 1 cup or 8 ounces whipping cream, whipped and chilled
* 1 cup or 6 ounces semisweet mini chocolate chips
* 1/2 cup finely chopped salted pistachios (omitted)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange 12 metal muffin tins on a cookie sheet.

Beat the eggs, sugar and salt on medium high speed for 5 minutes until thick. Gently fold in the melted, cooled butter and flour until no lumps remain. Divide the batter evenly among the pans.

Bake for 15-18 minutes until lightly golden brown on the edges and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, cool completely. If using a muffin tin, remove the cakes to a wire rack to cool, don't leave them in the pan as they will steam and get soggy.

Gently brush each cake with some of the orange liqueur and repeat until all liqueur is used up. Set the cakes aside while you prepare the filling. (omitted)

Combine the ricotta, sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium mixing bowl until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream, mini chocolate chips and chopped pistachios until evenly incorporated.

Store cannoli topping in the fridge for at least 20-30 minutes. Using a cookie or muffin scoop or large spoon, evenly divide the ricotta filling over the 12 cakes just before serving. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I, Mona Lisa

I, Mona Lisa I, Mona Lisa by Jeanne Kalogridis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book. It had been a couple of months since I read historical fiction, and what a way to welcome me back! The characters were strong, the plot suspenseful, and let's add a love story in there too. Some historical fiction is too similar to a textbook, this definitely is not!

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bailey's Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found this recipe on Books n Cooks and decided to give it a try. I'm not a coconut fan, so I omitted that. I personally didn't like the Bailey's. I thought it took away from the divinity of a chocolate chip cookie. However, I really liked the texture using cake flour produced. I think I'll have to try adapting a chocolate chip recipe and use cake flour one of these days.


1/2 c. unsalted butter
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. Bailey’s original Irish cream liquor
2 1/4 c. cake flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 c. coconut (omitted)


  • Preheat oven to 375F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugars and eggs on high-speed until fluffy.
  • Add vanilla and Bailey’s until combined.
  • Add cake flour, baking soda and salt.
  • With a rubber spatula, fold in chocolate chips and coconut.
  • Using a tablespoon, drop dough on prepared baking sheets.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Me, a dog person?!?!?

I've never really considered myself a dog person. I think it all started when I "saved" Chrissy from being euthanized by my aunt and Chrissy proceeded to pee on my bed, bite my ankles, etc. As an 8 year old, I never understood why Chrissy didn't love me. In my mind, it was it was me who kept her from being killed. But that's another story. Long story short, I'll pet dogs, I'll be nice to dogs, I'll even eventually have a dog, but I've never been one to really let a dog capture my heart.

That was until Bella came along. My parents got Bella about a year ago and I immediately fell in love. She actually liked me! She would cuddle with me, she didn't pee on my bed, and she didn't bite me. Still, I didn't think I was fully converted to being a "dog person."

Last night mom called me to let me know that Bella wasn't acting right and wouldn't open her mouth. They took her to the vet and the vet suspected a broken jaw. This morning Bella went to the doggie dentist and the x-rays confirmed the broken jaw. She needed surgery to fix it.

Ok, now let's go back to practical, non-dog-person Amanda. I've heard stories of people dropping thousands of dollars into their pets and I truly thought they were crazy. I mean, come on now, it's a dog! Imagine what else you could do with that money.

And then there was Bella. As soon as we heard the vet suspected a broken jaw, we knew repair would be costly, but I couldn't even imagine not fixing it. She's a part of our family now, she deserves it. And, fact of the matter, if we didn't fix it, she'd likely be unable to eat and eventually die. OMG, I'm turning into one of those people who drop some major bucks on their dog! (Ok, it's not actually my money, but I'm really feeling for my parents and so glad they went through with the surgery).

So, my family's friendly, spunky, little shitzu had her first visit to the doggie dentist and had jaw surgery today. We still haven't figured out how it happened, and we probably never will. We've found her on the kitchen table recently, so we're wondering if she fell from the kitchen table and landed on her jaw. The doggie dentist said they most often see broken jaws from abuse and kicking, but her fracture line isn't the typical abuse line, plus no one in the house kicked her. Who knows. No matter how she did it, it won't change the fact that she broke her jaw.

She'll have to eat soft foods from the next 4-6 weeks and never be able to play with hard toys again (her teeth are loose too and might not heal, time will tell). They're supposedly giving her pain pills that will mostly keep her sedated for the next 4-6 weeks, but Mom says she seems almost back to her crazy, energetic self and she's not due for another pill until the morning. She's not allowed out of my parents sight and will have to be crated when they go to work =( Plus, she has to wear a doggie cone.

I never thought I'd say this about a dog, but I feel for her. I really hope she's not in too much pain and she goes back to being her happy, spunky self after she's recovered.

I don't know if I'm a complete convert yet, but I do think I'm one step closer to being a dog person...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Entertainment of House Hunting

If you haven't picked up yet, Joe and I are moving oh so soon since I'll be starting my residency in Delaware in June. Ideally, we'd like to buy a house in the area, so Joe and I flew out East last weekend. We found a couple of places in which we could definitely see ourselves and appreciated the feel of some neighborhoods. We don't want to put in an offer on a home until Joe finds a job back East. Can I tell you how hard it is to find a job 1200 miles away? And poor Joe just went through all of this 3 years ago when he moved to Nebraska, but I digress.

This is the first time house hunting for both of us, I didn't realize how entertaining it could be! Let's start with this house.
From the start, Joe and knew we didn't like the awnings on the windows, but they can be easily removed. Really, we should have stopped at the awnings and moved on. However, Joe and I only have pictures to work with right now, so we decided to check it out.

We pull into the driveway and immediately see a street sign in the back yard. No, not past the back yard and on an adjacent street, in the backyard. We don't know if they stole it or what, but they took the time to stabilize it in the ground with concrete and all. That was our second sign.

The first level of the home wasn't too bad. We didn't like the flooring of the entryway, but that's easy to change. Then we go upstairs. The former owners LOVED borders. No big deal, but I wish I took a picture because the borders went completely across the air registers. I guess it took too much time to trim around the air register. But, wait, it gets better. They didn't trim around the registers, but they did slice the border at each opening. I know I'm really not doing a good job explaining this--just imagine taking an exacto knife over each slot. Now imagine air blowing through the registers. Yes, it was like attaching a ribbon to a fan to show it works. Sigh.

For various reasons, we're not going to go with this home, but I couldn't help but laugh at the borders and air registers.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Roast Chicken with Balsamic Bell Peppers

I've been getting Cooking Light for almost 6 months now and I finally got around to trying a recipe. I didn't like/have all of the ingredients (like fennel seeds), but the core of the recipe is the same. I monitored the chicken temperature more carefully than ever before, and OMG, I've been overcooking my chicken for years! What a difference properly cooked chicken makes! Overall, I liked the recipe, but it probably won't enter my cycle of regulars.

Recipe adapted from Jan/Feb 2010 issue of Cooking Light


3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed (omitted)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
4 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Cooking spray
1 thinly sliced red pepper
1 thinly sliced green pepper
1 thinly sliced red onion
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (I didn't have fresh on hand)
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 450.
2. Heat a ea a large skillet over medium0high heat. Combine 1/2 teaspoon salt, fennel seeds, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, garlic powder, and oregano. Brush chicken with 1 1/2 teaspoons oil; sprinkle spice rub over chicken. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes or until bronwed. Turn chicken over; cook 1 minute. Arrange chicken in an 11x7 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes or until done (more like 20 for me).

3. Heat remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers, shallots (I used red onions here), and rosemary; saute 3 minutes. Stir in broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Stir in vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 3 minutes (longer for me), stirring frequently. Serve bell pepper mixture over chicken.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Recipe copied from Baking Illustrated, pages 384-385.

I have mixed feelings on this cake. It was yummy and rich, but I don't think I liked the texture. I love hazelnut flavor, but I didn't really like the nutty texture the hazelnuts brought to the cake. My classmates didn't seem to mind, however. This cake greatly reminds me of the Ferrero Rocher candies. So, if you like them, I'd definitely give this cake a try.

I think the most time consuming part is toasting and peeling the hazelnuts. I did that as soon as I bought the hazelnuts and stored them for a couple of weeks before I finally got around to making the cake.


6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/3 cups hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, and toasted again
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
5 large eggs, separated, plus 1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon salt
Confectioner's sugar for dusting


1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 9-inch spring-form pan.

2. Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally to speed up the process. Remove the bowl from the heat and cool to room temperature.

3. Place the hazelnuts, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and the flour in a food processor.   Process until the nuts are finely ground, 15-20 1 second pulses.

4. Beat the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer set at medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, beating until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the 6 egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the cooled chocolate and beat just until blended in. Stir in the ground hazelnuts.

5. Put the egg whites and the salt in a large, clean bowl and beat with the mixer until you form stiff peaks. With a rubber spatula, fold in a third of the egg whites to the chocolate-nut mixture. Carefully fold in the remaining whites in two batches, taking care not to deflate the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

6. Bake until a toothpick or thin skewer inserted halfway between the center and the outer rim of the cake comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. (The center of the cake will still be moist). Remove the pan from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack, about 3 hours. Just before serving, dust with confectioner's sugar.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I don't know what Joe's high school put in their calzones, but he can't go 6 months without him saying how much he loved them. When he was talking about them two weeks ago, I decided it was finally time I tried making them myself.

My favorite type of pizza is supreme, so I knew I wanted lots of ingredients in mine. Joe, on the other hand, really only likes pepperoni, so that's what his had. That was the beauty of these, I could make the calzones with whatever combination of ingredients I wanted.

A couple of hours before you actually want to eat, start the pizza dough.

1/2 green pepper
1/2 red pepper
1/2 red onion
1/2 lb ground Italian Sausage
About 30 pepperonis
2 Cups Kraft Italian Cheese Blend
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

For my supreme filling, I browned 1/2 green pepper, 1/3 red pepper, 1/2 red onion, and 1/2 pound of ground Italian sausage.

Once the pizza dough has risen, divide the dough into four balls. Flour your surface. Roll or pat each ball into a rough circle. I haven't mastered the rolling pin yet, so I tried flattening by hand. Next time I'm going to try the rolling pin. Once rolled, sprinkle the dough with a tad of oregano.

To fill the calzone, place about a quarter cup of cheese, then line with pepperonis or supreme mix, add another 1/4 cup of cheese. Fold over and seal. I like to brush my calzones with a little egg--beat an egg and 1 tablespoon of water, you'll have extra wash.  Sprinkle with a tad bit more oregano.

Place calzones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake 12-15 minutes until browned. Hubsters doesn't like his with pizza sauce, but I do.

This makes about 4 large calzones.

Onion Goggles?

I've been meaning to make an order from King Arthur Flour's website for months now. I subscribe to their food blog, and they are always making yummy things. Until Thursday they have free shipping on orders over $60, so I knew it was finally time to peruse the website. They have tons of wonderful things on there, but I truly dropped my jaw when I saw these "onion goggles."
As much as I despise cutting onions (just because I bawl every time), I didn't order them. I wanted baking ingredients instead, so I decided to save my money. I will say though, I might just have to put them on my Christmas list for next year.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

For Christians, today is Easter-a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

When Lent started, instead of giving something up, I said I wanted to work on my faith and go to church weekly. The truth is, I didn't go to church once during Lent. I'm not even sure I'm going to go today. I did abstain from meat on Fridays. While I know it's not much and it's not fasting, it was nice to be aware of why I chose the vegetarian option.

I've never felt so distant in my faith before. For the longest time, I enjoyed the rituals of the Catholic faith. Right now, I don't feel like the Catholic Church is what I want. I like rituals, but I don't like the heirarchy and sometimes I feel so distant from the Church leaders. The fact is, I need to start exploring different denominations. Faith has always been an important part of my life and I've drifted way too far from it. Here's my fear and reluctance...I'm moving in 6 weeks. I feel that if I'm going to make this serious spiritual journey, I want to start it in a church where I can stay. However, I'm getting impatient. I'll see what happens with time.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My Top Three

Prior to Match Day, I didn't want to talk much about where I liked, where I wanted to go, etc. Although I changed the settings so people couldn't find my blog through search engines, I still didn't want programs reading about my thoughts before they submitted their rank lists and all.

Now that the Match is over, I can talk more frankly.

Fortunately for me, pediatrics isn't a super competitive specialty and everyone says students matching into pediatrics generally get one of their top three choices. Since Joe and I heard that from so many people, we mentally prepared ourselves for mostly the top three.

So, what were they?

1. A.I. duPont Children's Hospital, part of Jefferson Medical College
2. University of Maryland
3. Penn State, Milton Hershey Children's Hospital

A couple of weeks prior to the match, my gut was telling me I'd match at University of Maryland. I liked duPont so much and since it was my first choice, I basically said I wouldn't be lucky enough to get it. Plus, while I liked Maryland, I didn't love it, but I liked that it was in Baltimore. I truly thought I wasn't going to be fortunate enough to get my number one. The week of the match, I woke up one morning and was like, "you're going to match at duPont." I don't know where it came from, but I didn't want to let it permeate my thoughts too much. I like to set my emotions up so that I'm pleasantly surprised, rather than disappointed.

Joe on the other hand, he was convinced we were matching at Hershey for more pessimistic reasons. Of the top 3, it was the furthest from Baltimore and the most rural. Being in Central Pennsylvania and more rural, it probably meant it had the fewest job opportunities for Joe. Like me, he likes to be prepared for the worst. At the same time though, he said, "I haven't mentally prepared myself for anything past number 3, so let's hope we don't go lower."

Confession time though--I absolutely LOVED my number 6. So we skipped numbers 4 and 5 and landed in King's Daughters Children's Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia, I'd be just as happy as getting duPont. So, why was it so low? It was 5 hours without traffic from Baltimore. Yes, it's still closer than Omaha, Nebraska, but we really wanted to be closer and I could be just as happy at the 5 above.

Needless to say, we're ecstatic we got duPont!

Fix It Friday - 49

Again late, but better than never, eh?

Left is the original, and the right is my edit.  I decided to add some flair this week.

After using Coffee Shop's Perfect Portrait action, I used Shadowhouse Creation's layer mask and filled the color to purple. I wanted some texture, so I used Coffee Shop's texture applicator action to add Shaddowhouse's Baybou Blue texture. The action adds a layer mask, so I used that to and a soft brush to remove the texture over the face.

I still need practice figuring out skin tones. Every week I'm not satisfied. Maybe eventually I'll get it.

Friday, April 2, 2010

I miss my bed.

Joe and I are staying with our families as we house hunt in Delaware. I'm very glad we have a place to stay, but the past two nights I've slept horribly. I don't know if I'm subconsciously stressed about the move, finding a house, becoming a doctor, being responsible for patients, or if it's just the beds. There's nothing like the bed you're used to. I miss it.

As part of finding a house, some other things need to fall into place. So if you have any job dust for my dear husband, please send them our way!
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