Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lean Mean Thirteen

Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum, #13)Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Yes, same old same old, but fun and mindless. Nice to listen on car rides.
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Strawberry Shortcake Jelly Roll

For Easter dinner, I also make this strawberry shortcake jelly roll. I'd give it a B. It definitely looked more yummy than I thought it was. I think the cream filling needed to be a little sweeter.

Recipe from Cook's Country, May 2011, p 33

Strawberry Filling:
1 1/2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

Cook strawberries and 6 tablespoons granulated sugar in large saucepain over medium heat, mashing occasionally with potato masher, until thick and jamlike, 10-15 minutes (mixture should measure 2 1/4 cups). Meanwhile, combine water, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and gelatin in small bowl and let stand until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Stir gelatin mixture into hot strawberry mixture until dissolved. Transfer to large bowl and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.

Cream Filling:
1/2 cup sugar, minus 6 tablespoons of sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
4 ounces of mascarpone cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

With electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip cream, mascarpone, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.

Makes one 11-inch log; Any flavor of jam can be used here. For an added treat, sprinkle 2 cups fresh berries over the jam before rolling up the cake. This cake looks pretty and tastes good when served with dollops of fresh whipped cream and fresh berries.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour 3.19 ounces
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
5 large eggs , at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar - 5.25 ounces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract - I used 1/2 vanilla bean
1 1/4 cups fruit jam
Confectioners' sugar for dusting

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 12 by 18-inch rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil spray, then line with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.

2. Whip the eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until foamy, 1 to 3 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium and slowly add the sugar in a steady stream. Increase the speed to high and continue to beat until the eggs are very thick and a pale yellow color, 5 to 10 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.

3. Sift the flour mixture over the beaten eggs and fold in using a large rubber spatula until no traces of flour remain.

4. Following the photos, pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and spread out to an even thickness. Bake until the cake feels firm and springs back when touched, 10 to 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

5. Before cooling, run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen, then flip the cake out onto a large sheet of parchment paper (slightly longer than the cake). Gently peel off the parchment paper attached to the bottom of the cake and roll the cake and parchment up into a log and let cool for 15 minutes.

6. Gently unroll the cake and spread on the jam, leaving a 1-inch border at the edges. Re-roll the cake gently but snugly around the jam, leaving the parchment behind as you go. Trim the ends, then transfer the cake to a platter. Let the cake cool completely, then dust with confectioners’ sugar before slicing and serving.

To Make Ahead

The rolled cake can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for up to 1 day.

Gently unroll cake and spread with strawberry mixture, leaving 1 inch border around edges. Top with whipped cream and reroll cake snugly, leaving parchment behind. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cola-Pineapple Ham

Way back in April Joe and I hosted Easter Dinner for our parents. (Yes, I'm still that behind on blogging). I opted to make this ham. It was the first time making a ham. Overall, the ham was definitely yummy, but nothing in comparison to a Honey Baked Ham. Would I make it again? Sure. But honestly, there are so many recipes out there I'd try another recipe "just because."

Recipe from Steamy Kitchen
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes per pound

11-12 pound bone-in ham with natural juices
2 1/2 cups grape juice, divided
2 1/2 cups cola, divided
20-ounce can of sliced pineapple (you'll need both the juice and the pineapple)
2 cups brown sugar

Let the ham stand at room temperature for 90 minutes.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Set the rack at the lowest position. Rinse and pat dry the ham. Using a sharp knife, score the skin of the ham in a criss-cross pattern. Place ham in a roasting pan. Pour just 1 1/2 cups of the cola and 1 1/2 cups of grape juice into the pan and add additional water if necessary to bring the liquid level to 1/2 inch. Cover the pan tightly with tin foil. Roast in oven for 2 3/4 to 3 hours (about 15 minutes per pound) or until the internal temperature of the ham reaches 100 degrees F.

While the ham is cooking, prepare the glaze. Combine the remaining 1 cup grape juice, 1 cup cola, the juice from the pineapple (reserve the pineapple slices for later) and the brown sugar in a small sauce pot and simmer on low for 20 minutes, until it becomes thick and glossy. Let stand at room temperature until ready to use (as the glaze cools, it will thicken up, making it easier to brush on the ham).

Take the ham out of the oven when it reaches the first internal temperature of 100 degrees F. Turn the oven to 425 degrees F. Brush the ham with about 1/4 of the glaze all over. Use toothpicks to stud the ham with the sliced pineapple, if desired. Once the oven comes to temperature, return the ham, uncovered to oven. Bake for 15 minutes until the liquid is bubbly and the ham has turned to a nice, deep golden brown. The internal temperature of the ham should be 140 degrees F.

Remove ham to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes.

Return the remaining glaze to the stove on medium-low heat to warm the glaze up for serving. Carve and slice the ham, drizzle a bit of the cola glaze on each plate.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Three Years and Still Going Strong!

Three years ago today I married my best friend. I love you!

Surprisingly we both have off of work today. We really just plan on hanging out and relaxing. Gifts? We're considering Winston and his start-up supplies our gift to each other. I'm a bad wife though, and I didn't get a card...maybe I can use a blank one from the basement. Oops. Well, really, I'm just not a card person.

Two Years, One Year

Monday, June 27, 2011

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

This was my first time using browned butter. The cookies were yummy, but honestly, it was too much effort to brown the butter. Regardless, my coworkers loved them!

Recipe from Picky Palate


2 sticks (1 cup) butter
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar - 9.38 ounces
1/4 cup granulated sugar - 1.75 ounces
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour - 11.33 ounces
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Fleur de Sel or sea salt
One 10-ounce bag chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and line a large baking sheet with a silpat liner or parchment paper
2. Place butter into a medium saucepan over medium heat, swirling pan to melt. Once melted watch carefully. Butter will foam, boil then little brown bits will start to form around sides and bottom of pan. Once butter turns a golden brown and has a very nutty aroma, remove from heat. I transfer mine to a bowl so cooking stops. Let cool for 5 minutes.
3. Place both sugars into stand or electric mixer. Add brown butter and mix until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing until well combined. Place flour, baking soda and Fleur de Sel/sea salt into a large bowl. Slowly add to wet ingredients then add in chocolate chips, mixing until just combined. Scoop dough onto prepared baking sheet with a medium sized cookie scoop and sprinkle tops with additional Fleur de Sel/sea salt. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, until cooked through. Let cool for 5 minutes then transfer to cooling rack.

Makes 3 dozen cookies

Summer is for Weddings

Last weekend some more dear friends tied the knot. They had a beautiful day and an awesome party afterwards. Congrats Megan and Joe!

As an aside, the pic with Joe and me shows me I really need to stand up straight, that's probably why my shoulders and neck hurt so much all of the time.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Spaghetti Meat Sauce

I'm always looking to try new recipes that Joe will eat, and he approved of this sauce :-) It was yummy, but honestly, just as good as some of the pre-made canned sauces.

Recipe from Pennies On A Platter

Yield: About 10 servings

1 lb sweet Italian sausage
3/4 lb lean ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped - 2 tablespoon dried
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp dried
dash of nutmeg

In a Dutch oven, heat the sausage, ground beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until the meat is cooked through. Drain any excess grease, if necessary. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce and water and cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Source: AllRecipes

Thursday, June 23, 2011

1 Down, 2 to Go

Yesterday morning I finished my last shift as an intern! So, I'm 1/3 of the way through my residency. I admit, it's hard to believe I've finished a year of residency already. Overall, the year went quickly; but don't get me wrong though, there were months (especially the winter) where I thought it was dragging on. It's humbling to reflect on how much I've learned this year and how far I've come in patient care, yet I know I have SO SO much more to learn. Residency is exhausting, but it's definitely rewarding. I now have a few days off until I start second year. I hope to be as lazy as possible.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Woman In White

The Woman in WhiteThe Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really should have stopped listening to this about 12 hours in, but I felt like I invested so much time already, I should keep going. I know it's received rave reviews, but man, was this book boring. I felt like the story was repetitive and the mystery didn't keep me at the edge of my seat. I liked the time period, but the writing was too slow paced for me.
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Monday, June 20, 2011

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Bars

I didn't get a chance to take a photo of this delicious dessert, but the recipe link has a marvelous one if you're taste buds desire. Over all, I'd give this dessert a B+. It was yummy, but honestly, I would have liked the cheesecake to be a little more rich. However, it was a huge hit at a cookout.

Recipe from Tasty Kitchen


1 pound Oreo Cookies
4 TablespoonsUnsalted Butter, melted
24 ounces, weight Cream Cheese, At Room Temperature
3/4 cups Granulated Sugar - 4.67 ounces
3/4 cups Sour Cream At Room Temperature
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoonSalt
3 whole Large Eggs, At Room Temperature

Preparation Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a 9 x 13-inch pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides (I spray mine with cooking spray).

2. Make the crust: place 28 Oreos in a food processor and process until finely ground. Pour into a large bowl, add the melted butter, and stir with a flexible spatula until all crumbs are moistened. Place the cookie-crumb mixture in the lined pan and, using your fingers, press the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire cooling rack (leave the oven on) while you make the filling. Snap the remaining Oreos in half, put them in the food processor, and turn on and off quickly a few times, just until the cookies are roughly chopped.

3. Make the filling: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese and sugar until well blended, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a flexible spatula and beat again until uniform. Beat in sour cream, vanilla and salt. Scrape down the bowl and mix again. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. After beating in the last egg, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat one more time, to make sure the mixture is fully combined. Stir in chopped Oreos with the same spatula.

4. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the baked cookie crust, smooth the top with the spatula, and bake for 40 minutes, until the filling is set around the edges but still slightly wobbly in the center when you gently shake the pan. Remove the pan to a wire rack to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. When cool, cover it with foil and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours. (I chill mine overnight.)

5. To cut, use the foil overhang to lift the cheesecake out of the pan and place on a large cutting board. Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the cheesecake into bars, rinsing off the knife with hot water and wiping it dry between each cut. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Yield: 24 bars


This was my first time making Pesto. It was so easy and yummy! My favorite use so far is on a pizza, which I hope to blog soon. Now I'm anxiously awaiting more basil growth so I can make another batch.

Recipe from Simply Recipes


2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.
2. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Serve with pasta, baked potatoes, as a spread on sandwiches, as a pizza sauce, and multiple other ways.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Rest and Relaxation

If you haven't picked up on it yet, I'll be the first to admit I'm a little bit of an over achiever and probably have too many hobbies. I'm on a rotation right now that I only work about 40-60 hours (instead of 60-80) a week and I actually have some down time during the day. Since I have more time, I've had in my mind I'll be able to accomplish more things around the house, etc. Despite working less this block, I'm still exhausted. I'm not good with just sitting and watching TV. For some reason, I feel guilty if I have idle time. Last night I realized I just need to stop trying to accomplish things and just rest. It doesn't help that I'm studying for my third licensing exam either. I've finally accepted that although I have more free time, since I'm studying for Step 3, I really don't and I need to stop thinking about what I want to bake, read, or cross stitch, and just go to bed at a reasonable time.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Berry Crumble/Crisp

Mind you, I'm about 2 months (if not more) behind on my blogging. Back in April I was craving some the joys of summer and opted to give a Berry crumble a try. The crumble topping, OMG, that was amazing! My filling, however, was way too soggy. Next time I might try more cornstarch. Since I loved the crumble top so much, I'm sure I'll be experimenting again some time.

Inspired by Sophisticated Gourment, Joy The Baker, and Pioneer Woman


* 2-½ cups Berries. I used black, blue, and strawberries
* 1 Tablespoon (Heaping) Corn Starch
* ⅔ cups Sugar - 4.75 ounces
* 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

* 3/4 cup All-purpose Flour - 3.19 ounces
* 1/4 cup almond flour - .85 ounces
* ¼ cups Sugar 1.75 ounces
* ¼ cups Brown Sugar - 1.81
* 1/2 cups Oats
* ¼ cups slivered almonds, I used chopped
* Dash Of Salt
* ¾ sticks Butter, Cut Into Small Pieces


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine (rinsed) berries, corn starch, 2/3 cups sugar, and vanilla. Stir and set aside.

In a separate bowl (or food processor) combine flour, 1/4 cup sugar, brown sugar, oats, pecans, dash of salt, and butter pieces. Cut together with a pastry cutter (or pulse in food processor) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add berry mixture to a small baking dish or pie pan. Sprinkle topping mixture all over the top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until topping is golden brown.

Allow to sit for ten minutes before serving. Scoop out with a spoon and top with sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Doggie Parents!

Joe's been wanting a dog for quite some time. When we lived in Nebraska, we couldn't have one in our co-op. After we bought a house I told Joe I wanted to get some things settled and wait until it was warm out before we went looking. Well, now it's summer and that meant the discussion of dog breed. Joe really wanted a puppy but I was worried about puppy mills. Joe did some research and ultimately found a breeder with whom we both felt comfortable. I'm hoping to rescue a dog one day, but for now, we'll start with a puppy :-)

Today we put a deposit on our Westie. He's only 7 weeks old right now, and we'll be able to pick him up in about 2 weeks. We haven't decided on a name yet.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Coconut Chicken Curry

Sometimes I'm not sure why I try to make Indian food at home, it never meets my expectations. At first I thought it was decent tasting, but the more I ate it, the more I realized I didn't like it. I can't figure out what it's missing, but maybe you'll enjoy it. I made mine stove top instead of the slow cooker, but even on the left overs after the flavors had time to seep, I wasn't too impressed.

Recipe from Tasty Kitchen


* 1 kilogram Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, Cut Into Large Cubes
* 1 whole Onion, Peeled And Halved
* 4 cloves Garlic, Peeled
* 1 whole Small Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Quartered
1 red pepper
* 1 can (6 ounces Can) Tomato Paste
* 1 can (about 400ml Can) Coconut Milk
* 1-½ teaspoon Salt
* 1 Tablespoon Curry Powder
* I Teaspoon Ground Ginger
* 1 Tablespoon Garam Masala (Indian Spice Mix)
* 2 whole Dry Red Chili Peppers (optional For Extra Heat))
* 2 Tablespoons Water
* 1-½ Tablespoon Cornstarch
* 1 bunch Coriander (optional, For Decoration)


1. Place chicken cubes inside the slow cooker.

2. Place the rest of the ingredients (except chili peppers, cornstarch, water and coriander) in a food processor bowl and process together until the mix is smooth(ish). Pour sauce mix on top of the chicken, mix well, add hot peppers if using any, then close the lid. Cook on low for 6 hours.

3. An hour before serving, mix together water and cornstarch until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Add to the chicken curry and mix well. Place the lid back on for the rest of the cooking time.

4. Serve on top of steaming white rice, something wonderfully aromatic like jasmine or basmati rice. Decorate with lots of chopped coriander. Inhale. So good!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Crestmont Inn

CrestmontCrestmont by Holly Weiss

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I tried, I really did, but I couldn't get through it. I felt like the author was holding my hand as she told the story, she left nothing for the imagination and the writing was basic. I was easily distracted reading it and eventually it just lost all of my attention.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Farmer's Market Love

I love Farmer's Markets. I wait all winter for it finally to be warm enough for fresh produce. Sometimes I feel like I spend a little more, but I love supporting my local farmers. In Omaha there was an awesome market just 2 miles from our house. Our new town has one, but it's not as large. Eventually I'll hop on the highway and go to the larger farmer's market, but I've loved what I found already!

I've fallen in love with Keye's Creamery and the icecream! It's rich and delicous. Another thing I love, I drive past the cows every day! I've only tried one of the cheeses, but I look forward to trying more.

I've also really enjoyed my few purchases from Dear Meadow Farm thus far. The premade pulled pork is out of this world!

Every Saturday, so of the Amish come by and set up shop as well.

On the left is a tomato plant and on the right a lettuce garden I purchased from the Amish. The lettuce garden required more water than I thought it would need, but I'm slowly nursing it back to health.

I admit, it's a little frustrating when I buy a pound of strawberries at the farmers market for $4 and then see them for $2 at the grocery store, but I have to remember I'm supporting local farmers. Yay for warm weather and fresh produce!
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