Wednesday, June 30

Ogres have layers. (Chocolate Layer Ice Cream Cake)

Onions have layers.

This cake has neither ogres or onions, but it does have layers. Layers of ice cream and chocolate yumminess. Earlier this week, we had a little dinner party with our very good friends and their beautiful new baby girl. That day, it was hot. When I say hot, I mean, 95 degrees. I'll look for any excuse to eat ice cream, and this seemed like a great opportunity to break out the blue binder o' recipes and see what it had to say about ice cream. I found this little gem a few pages past the pineapple slush. I'd never made it before, but it was one of those things that my mom handed me and said "Look how easy this is! Wouldn't this be really good....?"

And it was. On both counts.

Chocolate Layer Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

12 vanilla ice cream sandwiches (rectangular kind)
1 tub whipped topping (thawed)
1 box instant chocolate pudding
8 Oreo cookies
1/2 cup chocolate fudge topping
mini chocolate chips

Chop the Oreos into small pieces. Mix 1 cup whipped topping, the fudge topping, the instant pudding and the Oreo pieces.

Lay four sandwiches side by side to form the bottom layer. Cover with half the pudding mix. Lay four more sandwiches on the chocolate layer and cover with the remaining pudding mix. Lay the remaining four sandwiches on top to form the cake. Ice with the rest of the whipped topping, top with mini chocolate chips. Keep frozen until 10 minutes before serving. Eat fast - but not tooooo fast....


Sunday, June 27

Summer Sunday... (Pineapple Slush)

It's been a crazy kind of first week back to school! Monday and Tuesday are full classroom days, and the rest of the week we're out in the hospitals with real patients, doing real things. I think that my favorite rotation is going to be the maternity clinical - babies! I'm a little baby crazy right now, as a married 26 year old woman living in a house with two empty bedrooms. I read through the maternity textbook and alternate between a teary eyed "awwwww" and a horrified "what happens to you?!?" My other favorite rotation is going to be the mental health clinical. I'm at a mental health facility for children and adolescents. One of the kids there is autistic, and I'm looking forward to spending some time with him again next week and seeing if I can make a connection. In any case, the whole experience is going to be interesting!

It's also been in the 90s here all week - summer has officially begun! Summer for me marks the beginning of frozen treat season. My favorite frozen treat is pineapple slush. My mom made this all the time when I was a kid, in the rectangular, beige tupperware container with the with the puffed up opaque lid. Every time we saw her get out that plastic container, we knew what was coming - slush!! Now that I have my own plastic containers, it's time to start our own summertime traditions. So, without further ado...

Pineapple Slush!
(I usually halve this recipe, since there are only two of us and we have limited freezer space, but you can make as much or as little as you want.)
4 cups water
4 cups white sugar
46 oz pineapple juice
6 oz frozen orange juice concentrate
1/2 cup lemon juice (fresh squeezed is best)

In a large saucepan over the stove, completely dissolve the sugar into the water over med-low heat. Add the remaining ingredients, whisk until mixed and the frozen OJ melts. Remove from heat, allow to cool. Transfer to a wide mouthed freezer safe container, freeze until solid (usually 8 hours or overnight). Remove from freezer, scrape the mixture and spoon into a glass. Top with grapefruit soda. As kids, we always used Squirt, but I haven't been able to find that recently, so I go with the Wegman's brand. 7Up/Sierra Mist works too, but isn't as special. This is definitely a straw and spoon treat!

(Helps you pretend you're in Hawaii...)

Sunday, June 20

Happy Father's Day! (Chocolate Peanut Butter Candy)

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there...mine especially!

We don't look related, do we?

I made my dad a special something for today - Gramma K's chocolate peanut butter fudge. You hear the story about how everyone thinks that their grandmothers make the best chocolate chip cookies from their secret recipes, only to discover that the cookies are made from the recipe on the back of the Toll House bag. This story is kind of like that.

Growing up, my sibs and I had access to 2 kinds of fudge - the fudge Gramma Krepich made (our dad's mom), and the fudge everyone else made (read: mostly our two older cousins who always went crazy with fudge and Christmas cookies). Now, I'm not a fudge-crazed person, like my brother, who scarfs down every piece of the rich chocolaty stuff within a 5 mile radius. I always like Gramma K's fudge better - to me, the flavor was more pure and it wasn't as sickly sweet. When my grandparents moved into the assisted living facility and I realized that there wouldn't be any more fudge, I asked my dad to get me the recipe. When he sent it to me, I was so devastated that I never made it until today.

It's not really fudge. It's just candy.

Now, deep down, I always knew this. The stuff is just too different from fudge to really be fudge. But still...I expected something different. Something with more - pizzazz. But all last week, thinking about what to get for Father's Day, I realized that this would be a great opportunity to try making it. And sure enough, though whatever I made is definitely not fudge, it certainly is delicious.

And so, without further ado...

Nom nom nom nom nom

Gramma K's Chocolate Peanut Butter Candy
16 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate
16 oz peanut butter morsels (I used Reese's)

Grease an 8x8 glass baking dish, then line with waxed paper. (Don't skip the first step. I did, and I was sorry. Gramma knows best.) In a double boiler, melt the chocolate, pour into the pan. Allow to cool (but not all the way, otherwise the two layers won't combine correctly). In a clean double boiler, melt the peanut butter morsels. Pour over the chocolate layer. Chill for several hours, until set. Remove from pan, peel off waxed paper and cut into bite sized pieces. Enjoy childhood for a few more minutes.

Layla's too sleepy to care that she can't have chocolate.

Friday, June 18

Coo Coo for Coconuts! (Coconut Drop Cookies)

The muffins that I made the other day were a big hit with hubby; I, personally, thought it was the coconut streusel that sealed the deal. I love coconut. Love everything about coconut. You can drink it, bake it, sprinkle it, roll iced things in it - there is nothing you can do with coconut that I will not adore. Aaaaaand, since I already had my oven on today for bread...coconut cookies it is!!

Coo Coo for Coconut Cookies
1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1-1/3 cups shredded coconut

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl; set aside. Beat the butter and both sugars until creamy, then add the vanilla and egg. Slowly add the flour mixture until combined. Add the coconut. Drop by the heaping teaspoon onto a lined baking sheet, about 2-3 inches apart (they will spread quite a bit). Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Try not to eat them all before you're done!

Wednesday, June 16

Turtles and Muffins (Strawberry Colada Muffins)

(Like the new look? I got creative today!)

So cute when they're little!

Hubby and I had a day off together yesterday, and we spent it at the shore. We found this little guy on the sand down by the water. Adorably awesome! I wanted to keep him, by Bob made me send him back to the sea...

Inspired by the turtle, I found my recipe for caramel-chocolate-pecan brownies, and I was all set to make turtles for turtles, but's hot. It's not the kind of weather for 15 pound, buttery brownies. So I was instead inspired by the sand and the surf (OK, so we live in New Jersey, and the surf isn't like "surf", but well, ya know...) and I felt that we needed something tropical to nom on. Luckily, on the same page in my big blue binder o' recipes, was a muffin recipe. I pulled out my trusty glass bowl, grabbed the coconut from the top shelf of the cabinet and - voila - strawberry colada muffins!

Strawberry Colada Muffins
(This recipe makes the BEST muffins I've ever had, soft and moist and delicious, so sometimes I use it for other kinds of muffins. I used my new jumbo muffin pan and made 6, but you can easily use the standard 12 cup pan and have a dozen.)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
strawberry jam
1/4 cup coconut
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Combine coconut, 1 tbsp flour, brown sugar and 1 tbsp oil in a small bowl until thoroughly mixed; set aside. Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, combine egg, milk and oil, add at once to dry ingredients and stir only until dry ingredients are moist. Spoon into muffin cups to 1/3 full. Drop 1 tsp-1tbsp jam into the center, cover and seal with remaining batter until 2/3 full. Top with 1 tbsp of the coconut mixture, pat down into the batter. Bake at 375 for 16-20 minutes.

Nom nom nom! :-)

Sunday, June 13

Butterscotch Ganache, oh my gosh! (Pierogis & Blondies)

OK, so hubby came up with the title for this one.

Today I made blondies with butterscotch ganache and pierogies for dessert. Or, maybe it was supposed to be the other way around. Anyway, whichever way you eat it, they were both delicious!

This recipe I adapted from Real Simple. I can't find the original on their website, and I changed it up a bit anyway. Next time I would use ground beef instead of the meatballs (the original called for chorizo or Italian sausage).

Meatie Potato Pierogi
1 package potato & onion pierogi
3/4 pound meatballs, sausage or ground beef/turkey
8 oz marinara sauce
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 red onion
shredded mozzarella cheese

Brown the ground beef, meatballs or sausage in a skillet. Drain the fat off, add the onion and the sauce. Cook until sauce is bubbly, then add tomato. Prepare the pierogi (I boiled them, but you could also saute them with some garlic). Plate the pierogi, top with the meat sauce, sprinkle mozzarella on top.

Butterscotch Blondies

This recipe I adapted from one of my favorite food blogs, smitten kitchen, which is fabulous site for newbie foodies like me. The link should take you to her recipe, but check out everything on the blog, it all looks amazing!

I added mini chocolate chips to the blondie base and topped the entire thing with butterscotch ganache. I doubled the amount of ganache I thought I would need, but it turned out that I could have made do with the usual amount, so that's what I'm going to post. Double or halve however you want.

8 tbsp butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
pinch salt
1 cup flour
3/4 ish cup mini chocolate chips

Beat the butter and brown sugar together until smooth, then add egg, vanilla and salt (I made these by hand, since it didn't seem to warrant dirtying the stand mixer). Mix in flour until completely combined (batter will be a little soupy). Add chocolate chips. Bake at 350 for 25-27 minutes in a lightly buttered 8x8 glass pan.

3/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup heavy cream

Put the chips in a glass or stainless bowl. Heat cream on the stove just until it boils, stirring constantly. Quickly pour the boiling cream over the chips, stirring until melted and combined. Let stand until cool before drizzling over the blondies. Ganache will run off the sides, giving it a decadent dripping effect.

Let stand until cool. Eat! (As if you could resist all that...)

The Not So Humble Pie Pie Contest has officially come to a close, and Ms. Humble is going to name the winner this week. Cross your fingers for me! If I win, I'll post the recipe for my famous Cinnamon Yum Yums. If I don't win, I'll be sad and dejected, then post the recipe for the Yum Yums. Oh please please please please!! :-)

Saturday, June 12

Toast & Chairs (Bob's Blueberry Toast)

Our house is now completely painted! I would have taken pictures of my hard work, but the color is so light that it doesn't show up very well. It looks very finished in person, though!

I said that I would post a picture of the blueberry toast that B eats every morning on the homemade bread. I broke out the good china for these pictures, haha.

Bob's Blueberry Toast
2 pieces of bread, lightly toasted
cream cheese
cinnamon and sugar

Assemble as listed above. Yum!

Also, I spent the day recovering our ugly antique chairs. They were handed down to my husband from Great Uncle So-and-so, and could be nice chairs, if it weren't for the hideous upholstery job. I recovered them with some fabric from Joann Fabrics and some trim. OK, that's a lie. I recovered one. It was such a pain, especially around the corners, that I gave up for one day and will cover the second tomorrow. The transformation is striking, though.

Ugly chairs.

Not quite as ugly chair. I'll tackle the next one tomorrow. :-)

Thursday, June 10

Vaaaaaacation!! (White Bread)

OK, not an exciting vacation, but a break nonetheless. Grades have been posted, I passed in the manner in which I expected, so now it's time for some project fun. Today's project: bread!

Yes, I make my own bread. No, it is not hard. Back in March, I had to do a project for one of my classes that involved changing a health-related behavior. After doing a little bit of research, I decided to eliminate high fructose corn syrup from my diet. It turns out that it is NOT the same as sugar and fine in moderation, like the commercials tell you. (Go figure- they're funded by the corn people.) Check out this study down at Princeton on HFCS. The first attempt was to eliminate it entirely, which sounded really great on paper, until I discovered that Rita's Italian Ice contains pretty much nothing but ice and HFCS. Sadness. So, I decided that I would eliminate HFCS from my diet with the exception of Rita's. (Which we don't eat TOO much, maybe once a week or so, so I figured it was safe.)

Wednesday, June 9

Almost there...

(They're just as heavy as they look!)
One final down, one to go. The first was at 10 am and the second isn't until 2.45, so I'm sitting in the library with my trusty computer, thinking of all the things I'm going to do over the break. The nursing program that I'm in is a second degree, accelerated program, which means that the lib ed credits from my first bachelor's degree (in psychology & sociology) all transfer and I only have to take the nursing classes, which are accelerated in a 1 year, 4 quarter format. The first quarter will be over once I take this exam, and then we'll have 11 days of freedom until the craziness starts again. So far, my to-do list during this time includes:

1. Sleep past 7 am. Even just sleep to 7.35 would be acceptable.
2. Paint the remaining white walls on the first floor of our house. I can't have white walls - they scream out "paint me! any color you want!" I'm going to be painting the living room and dining room a cream color (they already have blue/green accents) and the hallway by the kitchen salmon (to match the upstairs hallway). This will be difficult in places because someone who lived here before us painted the hallway with what looks like an extra-rough roller, giving the walls an awful stucco-esque appearance. I don't know how I'm going to do this, but I can imagine it involves sanding something.
3. Bake butterscotch blondies. This was inspired by the elderly gentleman who sat beside us at the Phillies game on Monday eating a TastyKake butterscotch krimpet (in 6 bites! twice as much as the normal 3!). I figured, as delicious as they are, I can certainly make a batch that taste just as good and aren't full of chemical preservatives.
4. Recover the antique chairs we have that would be awesome if it weren't for the ugly yellow-green fabric and the squeaky springs.
5. Plant some flowers in our front yard. This is a scary thing for me. First, I hate bugs and dirt, so gardening will probably never become a full time hobby. Second, I kill things, especially green things that need water. Sooo...this should be interesting.

I'm sure more things will be added to this list, but I think this is a pretty good start. Bring on the freedom!

Tuesday, June 8

Like opening a new can of paint....oh the possibilities!

Aaahhh! It's like a clean white wall, or an empty mixing bowl. This empty blog stretches out in front of my fingers, waiting to be written on, obsessed over, peppered with pictures, generally infused with life, and (perhaps) even read. Alas, all that will have to wait one more day, as I'm supposed to be studying for my two exams that will happen bright and early tomorrow. Procrastination? Definitely.

But just because we're already here, let's start out with a short story. It's about a girl who was working at a crappy sales job (though surrounded with mostly wonderful people). She was stressed out, irritated, unfulfilled and getting fat. Her wonderful, supportive, and always well-meaning husband suggested that, just perhaps, she needed a change. So after much soul searching, pondering and second guessing, she enrolled in nursing school, quit her job and never looked back.

Yes, you guessed it, that girl is me. I took 6 weeks between leaving my job in February and starting school in March to reassess my life and figure out what makes me happy. During that time I got a dog and a cookbook, both of which have been huge parts of my newly found joy. So far I've completed 11 weeks of nursing school, learned what it means to be married to a wonderful man, discovered the joys of loving a dog, and created many yummy (and not so yummy) experiments in my kitchen.

This, my little corner of existence, will be where I share my failures and successes. But not until tomorrow after my exam. Until then, I leave you with this:

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." -Thomas Edison

(Cutest pup in the world, right there in my backyard!)

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