Sunday, January 30, 2011

Outlander, Round 2

Outlander (Outlander, #1)Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ah, it was so nice being with Jaime and Claire again. I download this off of iTunes, and let me tell you how annoying it was finding where I left off. The tracks are only every hour or more and on my iPod, it would play for 5 minutes and they go back to the beginning and I had to fast forward to where I left off.

Regardless, if you like historical fiction and aren't daunted by a thick novel, go delve into the world of Outlander.

View all my reviews

Black Swan

Last weekend Joe and I went to see Black Swan. I have mixed feelings on the movie. I definitely agree that Natalie Portman did a great job acting, but I felt the ending left me hanging. I'm pretty sure I know what happened, but I could have been wrong. The movie is a little disturbing, but I loved watching the ballet and it was just enough to keep me at the edge of my seat.

On the movie topic, I can't believe how expensive the theaters have gotten! I think I'll prefer to just by the DVD, and it'll still be cheaper than going to the movies.

Gooey Chocolate Butter Cake

If you're the least bit experiencing PMS, GO MAKE THIS NOW! I'm not a fan of chocolate cake, but this is closer to a delicious brownie than chocolate cake. I can't even describe how delicious this is warmed with vanilla ice cream on top. Thank you Paula Deen!

Recipe originally seen in Food Network's magazine, but it's also on Paula Deen's website.


Butter, for greasing pan, plus 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, melted, divided
1 (18.25-ounce) package chocolate cake mix
3 eggs, divided
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3 to 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped nuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, 1 egg, and 8 tablespoons (1 stick) melted butter, and stir until well blended. Pat mixture into prepared pan and set aside. In a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the remaining 2 eggs, and the cocoa powder. Lower the speed of the mixer, and add the powdered sugar. Continue beating until ingredients are well mixed. Slowly add the remaining 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of melted butter, and the vanilla, continuing to beat the mixture until smooth. Stir in nuts with a rubber spatula. Spread filling over cake mixture in pan.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the cake; the center should still be a little gooey when finished baking. Let cake partially cool on a wire rack before cutting into pieces.

Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

Saturday, January 29, 2011

No-Bake Peanut Butter Tart

Recipe from Joy the Baker

I'm not going to lie, this was a little to rich for me. I usually love anything peanut butter, but I felt like a fat cow after eating it. My friend said it was great with chocolate ice cream and she didn't think it was too rich, so to each their own.

Joy used a nine inch tart pan, I only have a eleven inch pan, so I increased the ingredients accordingly.

First I found the area of a 9 inch circle (63.6 inches) and then the area of a 11 inch circle (95 inches). To find the ratio to increase...95/63.5 = 1.5...let's hope I have enough ingredients...

Nope, I only have one block of cream cheese, which is 8 ounces. 8/6 = I'll just increase the other ingredients by 1.33 instead.

Why did I do all of this math? I'm really not sure. I'm just a nerd like that.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Tart, adapted from Martha Stewart

For the Crust:
2 cup graham cracker crumbs
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
pinch of salt

For the Filling:
2 1/3 cups heavy cream, divided
1 and 1/3 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cups +1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk

Crust the graham crackers in a food processor, in a plastic back with a rolling pin or with your hands in a bowl. Make sure they are very well crumbled with no large chunks remaining. Add the melted butter and stir thoroughly, making sure all of the crumbs receive some butter love. Pour the graham cracker and butter mixture into a 9-inch tart shell with a removable bottom. Press the mixture along the sides of the tart pan and along the bottom until evenly coated. Carefully place the tart pan in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

To make the filling combine the peanut butter, softened cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk in the bowl of an electric mixer fit with a paddle attachment. You can also use the food processor if you’d like.

Blend the three ingredients until thoroughly incorporated, but don’t over blend or some liquids will separate.

In a separate bowl, whip 1 cup of heavy cream to soft peaks. Add the whipped cream to the peanut butter mixture and fold together until well incorporated.

Remove the tart pan from the freezer and spoon in the peanut butter filling. Spread evenly.

Whip up the remaining cup of heavy cream to stiff peaks and add to the top of the peanut butter filling. Refrigerate for at least two hours, or overnight.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tuscan Whole Wheat Herb Bread

I don't know if I didn't cook it long enough, or if the texture just wasn't for me, but I give this a C. That being said, my coworkers loved it, so to each her own. It's definitely a dense bread.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

1 1/3 cups Warm Water (105 to 115 degreesF
1 pkg. active dry yeast or 21/4 t.
2 T of your favoriate herb. (thyme, sage, basil or oregano or all together making the 2 T.
1T dried rosemary
1 tsp thyme
1 teaspoon parsley
1 tsp basil
1 1/2 t. salt (kosher preferred)
1 t. sugar or honey (or to taste)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 6 ounces
2 to 2 1/2 cups bread flour 8.5 ounces
2 tablespoon baker's dry milk

In a large bowl, stir together the warm water, yeast, oil spices and sugar. Let mix stand for 5 minutes.
Using a wooden spoon or mixer stir in the whole wheat flour about 1/2 cup at a time, stir in the bread flour as well until most of the flour has been absorbed and the dough forms a ball.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in the remaining dough to bake the ball moderately stiff, smooth and elastic (6 to 8 min).
Shape the dough into a ball, then place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until double.

Punch down, let rest for 10 min. Lightly grease a baking sheet, shape dough 8X4. let rise again.

Slash loaf and place in a 375 degree oven for about 25 to 30. Cover with foil if necessary for the last 15 min to prevent over browning.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kielbasa Cabbage Soup

Delicious! I used kielbasa instead of sausage, and definitely recommend it.

Recipe found on Ice Cream and Wine

Sausage, Cabbage & Apple Soup
Adapted from: Taste of Home Heartwarming Soups (submitted by M. Wolff, Indiana)

3 cups coleslaw mix - I just used plain cabbage
2 medium carrots, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds - I omitted this, not a fan!
2 tablespoons butter
1 carton (32 oz.) chicken broth - I used low sodium
16 oz. fully cooked kielbasa, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium unpeeled Granny Smith apples, chopped (I omitted)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon coriander

In a stockpot, saute cabbage, carrots, onion, celery (and caraway seeds, if using) in butter for 5-8 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Yield: 6 servings

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Summoning

The Summoning (Darkest Powers, #1)The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

With such high ratings, I was expecting more. I want to know what happens next, but I'm not sure I'll take the time to read the rest of the series.
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Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

I know butternut squash isn't really in season anymore, and I apologize for being so late posting fall's recipes, but damn, life got busy! If you like curry, even just a little bit, definitely give this soup a try--it was delicious! I loved eating it with some naan. In an effort to save time, I bought pre-cut squash, which made this pretty darn easy to make.

Recipe copied from Skinny Taste

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup
Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 4 • Serving Size: 9 fl oz (a little more than 1 cup) • Points: 2 pts
Calories: 108 • Fat: 4.9 g • Protein: 2.1 g • Carb: 14.6 g • Fiber: 3.6 g

* 1 tsp olive oil
* 1/2 tsp roasted cumin
* 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
* 3/4tsp - 2 tsp madras curry powder (depending on palate)
* 1/2 medium onion, minced
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 16 oz (about 2 cups) chopped peeled butternut squash
* 1 cup light coconut milk
* 3 cups fat free vegetable or chicken broth
* salt and fresh pepper to taste
* chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Add oil to a medium soup pot, on medium heat. When oil is hot add onion, garlic and sauté. Add roasted cumin, masala and curry powder and mix well cooking another minute. Add broth, light coconut milk, butternut squash and cook covered until squash is soft, 12-15 minutes. Remove cover and using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. Season with salt and fresh pepper and serve with fresh cilantro.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Historian

The HistorianThe Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have mixed opinions on this book. I loved the first 3/4 of it, but quickly became disappointed. The ending didn't bother me, it was getting there. I felt Kostova kept the mystery alive greatly for the majority of the book, and then handed us too much plot resolution at once.

View all my reviews

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Baking Withdrawal

I'm wrapping up a week of vacation and I didn't try a single new recipe, I'm going through withdrawal a little! You might remember we recently bought a house. Well, being an intern and setting up home is not the easiest thing to do. I spent most of my vacation working around the house and unpacking some boxes. There are still tons of boxes to unpack, but we need our master bedroom furniture to come in so we can get things a little more organized first. And we're still waiting on our living room furniture =( Thank goodness we using our old bedroom set for our spare room, or we'd be sleeping on the floor.

Before I can dive back into tackling more recipes, we need our kitchen! After living here for almost a month, I was happy to find my spices this week. I've been contemplating on baking tonight, but I just don't have any counter space to do prep work yet. The kitchen has definitely become the dumping ground for the tools and boxes. On a better note, I've solved my "kitchen dilemna." Since we didn't win the recent Mega Millions, a new kitchen just isn't in the budget for us right now. So, we've decided to go with an island.

It has a leaf we can use as a breakfast bar too. I'll be so excited when I get my kitchen floor back and we can set this up. However, I'm definitely not looking forward to the time and frustration it's going to take to assemble it.

I'm so happy with our other house projects. We've finished our basement and Dad added an office for me down there. I've bought 3 bookcases to fill and a winged back chair to make it have a semi-library feel too. Oh, and if you're thinking about crown molding, do it! Dad added it to our living and dining rooms, what a special touch! I'd love to show more pictures, but hubby requests I don't share everything with the virtual world. I can respect that. Oh, and can I just say how blessed we are that my Dad's a contractor?

Stitch Pink Update

You might remember that I cross-stitched some patterns for a quilt DMC was putting together. If not, here's the link to remind ya :p

DMC announced that the quilt is finished =) If you'd like to bid on it, please check out eBay after Jan 8, 2011. “Crafts –> Handcrafted Finished Pieces –> Quilt” All proceeds go towards the Susan G. Komen Fund.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Star Wars Sugar Cookies - Well Just Sugar Cookies

One of these days I'm going to get the knack of making cut out sugar cookies. I attempted to use our Star Wars cookie cutters, yeah I just stink and making cut outs. Regardless, this recipe was amazing!

Recipe from Pioneer Woman


* 2 whole Large Eggs
* 1 cup Canola Oil
* 2 sticks Butter, Softened
* 1 cup Sugar, Plus Extra For Sprinkling 7 oz
* 1 cup Powdered Sugar 4 oz
* 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
* 4 cups Plus 2 Tablespoons, All-purpose Flour 17.7 ounces
* 1 teaspoon Salt
* 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
* 1 teaspoon Cream Of Tartar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together eggs, oil, butter, sugars, and vanilla.

Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate dough one hour.

Using a cookie scoop, drop balls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

Smear a dab of butter all over the bottom of a glass, then dip the glass in granulated sugar. Use the glass to flatten each ball of dough, dipping again into the sugar each time. Repeat until all are flattened.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, until cookies are just barely turning brown. Don’t overbrown!

Allow to cool before eating. Cookies are ultra crumbly!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year, New Resolutions

Happy New Year Everyone! 2010 has been very busy for us, but we're managing.

A lot of my resolutions this year, will probably be just modifications from last year. Let's look back first....

2010 Resolutions

1. Become a doctor and start a pediatric residency.
- Check

2. Finish our wedding scrapbook by our two year anniversary.
- Hides my head in shame... Maybe by our three year anniversary?

3. Spend less money on non-essentials and finally be able to start saving.
- So so. This is definitely something I still need work on.

4. Work on spending less at the grocery store.
- Again, so so. It's definitely better when I meal plan.

5. Return to my natural hair color.
- Check! Now I have to keep fighting the urge to highlight it.

6. Focus on learning more about photography. I've taken a lot of food photos this year, but I'd like some better people ones.
- So so....I'm still only taking pictures of food.

7. Continue working on my faith.
- Fail. I'll carry this on into 2011

8. Cross stitch more. I read A LOT this past year and my other hobbies really fell to the wayside.
- Yup =)

9. Run 30 minutes. I'd love to be able to get back to running, we'll see how my knee feels about this.
- I was up to about 15 minutes before residency started getting super crazy and working out took a major back seat.

This year I'm going to take on fewer resolutions.

1. Work on my faith some more.

2. Continue to grow in our marriage.

3. Cherish our new home and life together.
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