Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Back to Disgusted...

At least once a year, if not twice, I reach the point where I just feel disgusted with my body. Well, the time has come again. The problem is, I'm not to the point where I have the motivation to do something about it. I tried committing myself to working out 3 times a week, but then I got sick and took off, so I'm out of sync again. I know I'm reaching for excuses, but I want to get my thyroid checked. I'm always tired and I truly think I experienced a bout of depression this winter. I'm also hesitant to actually go ask for blood work because then I find out for sure it's my diet and lack of exercise that has brought me back to this point. I have to find the motivation to do something soon, or I'll have to go buy new clothes. I used to use working out as an aid to my love of sweets and baking, but I just haven't made the time. I had time tonight, but my knee was truly sore and swollen. I took the easy way out and gardened instead. I can keep finding excuses, but I need to stop. I need to get rid of this sugar craving and be more aware if I'm eating emotionally. Regardless, I think I need to stop baking and pick up one of my other hobbies.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Weird legs...

You may or may not remember I've had knee pain in the past.  Well, it seems my leg muscles are all messed up, well not very symetrical at least.  This weekend I wore a little heel when going out.  Oddly, my hamstring and calf on my right leg are sore.  Why only my right leg since I was wearing the same shoes on both feet?  Who knows.  Like I said, my legs are messed up.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Twelve Sharp

Twelve Sharp (Stephanie Plum, #12)Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this one more than the others. While I always enjoy the comedy and mystery, this story felt more personal since one of the major characters was involved instead of Stephanie looking for a stranger.
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Monday, April 18, 2011


The LacunaThe Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think this book may be too long to listen too, or else I just wasn't intrigued enough. I've learned about the anti-communism crazy in the United States decades ago, and I think Kingsolver did a painted a great description of an artist living through that period. It makes me sad that I think our country still alienates individuals and uses media to destroy people's personal lives, but I digress. In general, I just think the book was too long. I felt the character development in the first half could have been shaved down a little and I still would have received a great message in the end.
View all my reviews

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Whole Grain Brownies

Yes, you read the title correctly. I too didn't quite believe it either. Instead of using white flour, the recipe uses white whole wheat flour. It still has all of the butter and sugar you'd expect in a brownie recipe. The recipe recommends letting the brownies sit overnight to let the wheat bran relax. I agree, I could taste a difference. That being said, when I make brownies, I want to eat them then and now. I really don't think adding whole wheat flour adds a ton of nutritional benefit to negate the wonderfulness of brownies, so I'll just stick to regular brownies. That being said, these were delicious. Some of my coworkers thought they tasted "coffee-y" and that's probably from the espresso powder. I personally thought the espresso powder brought out the other flavors. This is a great recipe, I'd just use white flour instead so that I don't have to wait for the bran to relax.

Recipe from King Arthur


* 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, I didn't soften mine since I have to melt it anyway.
* 2 cup or 15 ounces light brown sugar
* 3/4 cup or 2 1/4 ounces Dutch-process cocoa
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional but recommended
* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
* 4 large eggs
* 1.5 cups or 6 1/4 ounces King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour, organic preferred
* 2 cups or 12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan; line the pan with parchment paper if desired.

2. In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine.

3. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly just till it's hot (about 110°F to 120°F) but not bubbling. Don't worry if it separates; just stir it briefly to recombine a bit. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.

4. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder if using, and vanilla.

5. Add the eggs, stirring till smooth.

6. Then add the flour and chips, again stirring till smooth. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.

7. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes, until a cake tester or sharp knife poked into the center reveals wet crumbs, but not raw batter. The brownies should feel set on the edges and in the center. Remove them from the oven, and cool completely on a rack.

8. Cover and let sit overnight before cutting and serving; this gives the bran a chance to soften and become "invisible" in your mouth.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Nutella Cream Cheese Brownies

I didn't have a chance to take a photo of these, but Lovin the Oven has a beautiful one.

I made these for my brother's confirmation last weekend. I didn't have Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa, so I just used the regular unsweetened cocoa powder. These were yummy, but I think they would have been amazing with the dark cocoa powder, oh well. I added dark chocolate chips to try to get the dark chocolate flavor. It didn't quite get the flavor, but I liked the texture of the chips. I really liked the blend of Nutella and chocolate.

Recipe adapted from Lovin the Oven


Cream Cheese Topping

* 5 oz Philly Cream Cheese
* 2 tbs softened butter
* 1/4 cup granulated sugar - 1.75 ounces
* 1 egg
* 1 tbs flour
* 1/2 cup Nutella

Brownie Batter

* 3/4 cups all purpose flour - 3.19 ounces
* 1/3 cup Hersheys Special Dark Cocoa - 1 ounce
* 1/2 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/2 stick of softened butter
* 1 cup granulated sugar - 7 ounces
* 1 tsp vanilla
* 2 large eggs
* 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips


1. Pre-heat oven to 350'
2. Grease and line a 8 x 8 baking pan with cooking spray.

Cream cheese frosting

1. Cream together butter, sugar and flour. Add cream cheese and mix/blend until smooth. Scrape bowl and add the egg and beat until the topping is nice and creamy. Scrap bowl and add Nutella, beat about one minute or until the Nutella is mixed into the cream cheese mixture completely.
2. Set topping aside and mix brownie batter.

Brownie batter

1. Sift flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder into a medium sized bowl.
2. In a small bowl cream sugar and 1/2 stick of butter, add eggs one at a time, beat well then add vanilla.
3. Fold egg, sugar, butter and vanilla mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients.
4. Spread 3/4 of the brownie batter into the bottom of an 8 x 8 baking dish.
5. Randomly dollop the cream cheese topping over the brownie batter.
6. Randomly dollop the rest of the brownie batter on top of the cream cheese batter. Swirl with the tip of a knife.
7. Bake at 350 for 40 to 50 minutes.

Catholic Dilemma Update

This past summer I blogged about my "Catholic Dilemma," regarding my brother asking me to be his confirmation sponsor. I ultimately decided to decline and he understood. He was confirmed last weekend. I'm glad I made the decision to not be his sponsor because I'm still not in the proper place with my faith. I haven't worked on it, other than meditating, and he deserves better. Ultimately, my grandfather sponsored him.

I look at my brother's faith right now and I see me when I was his age. He's so sure of his faith, and I was too. I think as I've gotten older and learned more history, I've become less comfortable with the Church. I don't think there is a single moment that distanced me from the Catholic Church, but the most recent papal conclave stands out in my mind. That's when it hit me that not a single female helped decide on the new leader of the Church. I've still yet to make a real effort to establish my faith in another denomination or go back to Mass, but hopefully I will again someday. Ten years ago I never thought I'd be this distant in my faith. Time does crazy things.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Irish Soda Bread

Along with making some Irish Stew for St. Patrick's Day, I wanted to give soda bread a try. I know there are many variations and some say it's been too Americanized, but I definitely enjoyed this recipe.

Baking the soda bread was not without it's adventures though. The recipe says to brush with the buttermilk before baking, well that resulted in this burnt piece of work. I thought I had time to take a shower while the bread baked, there's nothing like hearing the smoke alarm go off while you're washing your hair. Alas, I fortunately had enough ingredients and whipped up another.

I've reading Wise Man's Fear right now. The characters eat a lot of stew and bread, so I've been craving stew and bread too. I tried two other soda bread recipes since, and they're just not the same. We'll see if I get called in this weekend and that will probably determine if I make another batch of this particular one. I think I like it so much because it definitely has a nice touch of butter.

Recipe from AllRecipes

* 4 cups all-purpose flour - 17 ounces
* 4 tablespoons white sugar
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 tablespoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup butter, softened
* 1 cup buttermilk
* 1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet. Use a sharp knife to cut an 'X' into the top of the loaf.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 30 to 50 minutes.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Muffins/Cookies

When I saw this recipe, I immediately thought, "oh chocolate and cherries, I must try this!" To be honest, I was quite disappointed in this recipe. First, the title call it a muffin, so I was expecting a muffin texture. Instead, they are definitely closer to a cookie. Second, I thought there were too many ingredients and not enough batter. Mind you, I used dried cherries and I may have used too much, but I didn't think so. Overall, these were only mediocre. My mom and friend liked them though, so if the recipe sounds good to you, I'd still give it a try.

Recipe adapted from Cooking, originally Weldon Russell's recipe

1.5 cups self-rising flour - 6.4 ounces
1/2 cup white whole wheat - 2 ounces
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup ground almonds - 0.84 ounces
1/3 cup packed brown sugar - 2.5 ounces
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup chocolate chips - I used dark chocolate, I'd recommend about 3/4 cup
1 cup bottled or canned red cherries, pitted and drained - I used 1 cup of dried cherries, I'd recommend only 1/2-3/4 cup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 6-cup large muffin pan.* Sift the flour and allspice into a large bowl. Stir in the almonds, sugar, egg, butter, buttermilk, chocolate, and cherries. Mix lightly with a fork until just combined.

Spoon the mixture evenly into the prepared muffin pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of one of the muffins comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool further.

Serve warm or cool.

*These were not a muffing consistency for me at all. If I'd make them again, I'd just use a cookie sheet.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

April Showers

My showers right now are currently whines...

Joe and I have been fairly fortunate financially. Tonight I realized that since we've moved into our new house, we've truly been living paycheck to paycheck. You may think this means we can't afford our mortgage payment, but that's not the case. Since moving in, we've taken on a new expense/project practically every month. Right now our only debt is my car, my student loans, and our mortgage, and I want to keep it that way. I realized tonight how much I need to cut back on my spending. I don't have expensive taste, but in general, if I want a new fancy plate for food pics, I buy it. If I want a new book and know I'll keep it, I buy it. If I want a chick-fil-a milkshake, I buy (except since Ash Wednesday, come on Easter!). As the Today Show has constantly told us, these things add up. So, last week I decided that April is going to be my month of cutting back. I'm not going to spend money on anything but food or a household essential. If I'm going to try a new recipe, I'm going to try real hard to make it one that both of us will eat, or for an event, and it can't have expensive ingredients. I love baking, but often it's just for me, and then I take in the baked goods to work. That's fine, but it's an unnecessary expense.

So far, I've veered slightly. I bought a study guide for my next licensing exam. I also bought some silk flowers for a flower arrangement for the house. I justified the flowers that they're for the house.

I'm going to try really hard to cut back on spending this month. Right now our freezer is full, so I'll also work on going through every meal in there before restocking.

I do have a caveat to this though. Last week I mentioned that I want to work out three times a week for the next four weeks and if I stick to my goal, I'll buy myself some reward. I'm in week two, and I'm on track, so I'm still going to buy that reward if I stick to it. Last night I was craving oreos, I popped in Jillian Micheal's DVD instead. Tonight I went for the oreos. Tomorrow I'll work out.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

ABC's of Me

I saw this over on Michelle's Blog and thought I'd do it too. A. Age: 27 B. Bed size: Queen C. Chore you hate: All but cooking D. Dogs: None yet, maybe this summer, but hubby and I agree we have to find one that doesn't shed. E. Essential start to your day: Breakfast F. Favorite color: Purple G. Gold or silver: Gold H. Height: 5'10" I. Instruments: I used to play the flute, but not anymore J. Job title: Pediatric Resident K. Kids: Hopefully some day. L. Live: Back in Maryland! M. Mom’s name: Terri, with an I! N. Nicknames: My family calls me Mandy and my mom sometimes calls me smoke, we still have yet to figure out how I got that one. O. Overnight hospital stays: At least one weekend a month, but closer to 2-3 times a month for call. For my health, maybe when I was a wee little one. P. Pet peeve: People taking on too much but still staying they can do something for me. I'd rather just be told no. Q. Quote from a movie: Ask Joe, I'm horrible with movie quotes. R. Right or left handed: Right S. Siblings: 1 younger brother T. Time you wake up: Changes every 4 weeks with a change in rotation. Next week, probably 6:30. U. Underwear: Jockey V. Vegetables you dislike: Not too huge of a fan of brussels sprouts. W. What makes you run late: Hitting snooze 1 too many times X. X-Rays you’ve had: Left elbow, both wrists, back, dental x-rays, and multiple chest xray's. Y. Yummy food you make: Baked goods. Z. Zoo- favorite animal: Butterflies! Some zoo's have them.
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