Sunday, March 27

The End, Finally (Homemade Samoas)

Well, folks, we did it.  My classmates and I are officially nurses!!  Last Saturday was our exit exam, and I passed with flying colors (not to brag, haha).  It was a crazy, wild ride, and while I can't honestly say that I enjoyed every second of it, I'm definitely grateful for the experience.  

So now that insanity is over, I'm recovering from a year of no sleep and mucho stress.  This past week has been blissfully relaxing.  I should start working in May, once I take the boards and get my license, but until then I have a few things going on that I'll share over the next few weeks.  I have some new ideas on where to take the blog, and I hope that my readers (all three of you, haha) will be excited.  More about that later.  On to the main event!

Thursday, March 10

My Little Sister... (Homemade Tagalongs)

My little sister turns 21 today.  21.  The age of adulthood.  And drinking.  And gambling.  And generally having fun in a legal-ish type way.

But first, before all of that, I had to make her something to celebrate with.  Rachel loooooooves peanut butter.  Loves it with a capital L.  So, taking this all into consideration, I made her my homemade version of our favorite Girl Scout cookie, the Tagalong (also known as Peanut Butter Patties.  Original Tagalongs and Samoas, however are the best.  You can read about the GS cookie bakeries and varieties here, if you're so inclined.)

This had nothing to do with my love of peanut butter and chocolate.  This was solely for the purpose of making my little sister happy.  I'm pleased to report that these cookies are deliciously like the originals.  I only had one, just for testing purposes. 

Seriously, just one.

Handful.  :o)

Happy birthday, little sister!!!

Homemade Tagalongs
(from the wonderful Love and Olive Oil)

 1 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups white flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

1-1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

12 oz milk chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips (your preference)
1-1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preheat your oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Cream the butter and sugar and slowly add the flour, baking powder and salt (this way it won't make too much of a mess).  The dough will form a ball in the bottom of the bowl.  Chill the dough for 15 minutes, then roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into 1 to 1-1/2 inch circles.  You could do this part by hand if you had a really good eye, but let's face it, I don't, so I used the cookie cutter.  Place on the lined sheets, close together because they won't spread very much.  Bake for 12-13 minutes, until the edges are browned.  Place the cookie sheets on a wire rack, and press a thumb-sized indentation into the middle (this is where the peanut butter will go), then transfer off the sheet onto the racks.  Save your parchment paper.

Once the cookies cool, stir together the peanut butter, powdered sugar, pinch of salt and vanilla into a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave for 20-40 seconds, until the mixture is soft enough to pipe.  Put the peanut butter mixture into a pastry bag or a plastic baggie with the corner snipped off and pipe a small amount into the middle of the cookie (about 1 teaspoon, depending on the size of your cookies).  I used a knife to spread the peanut butter until it was flattened.  As the peanut butter mixture hardens,  in a small bowl, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave (usually 2 rounds of 30 seconds will do) or over a double boiler.  Stir in the vegetable oil.  Place your saved parchment paper under your wire rack.  Dip the top of each cookie into the chocolate, and place on the wire rack to harden.  
Store in a cool place, if you have any left to actually store.  :o)

Friday, March 4

Tortellini Love (Santa Fe Chicken Tortellini)

School is almost over.  In 15 more days, I will have successfully completed the requirements (I hope) to graduate this program, sit for the NCLEX and become a Registered Nurse.  We are soooooo close.  I can feel it.  I can taste it.  I can see it.  Over the past few weeks, my classmates and I have been stumbling around, exhausted, overworked and stressed to the max.  Now, this is changing a little.  We smile a little bit more.  We look at each other with the fondness that you feel for people with whom you realize your time is short.  Our time is short, both with each other and in our busy days. 

Because of this, I've been trying to cook things that are easy and self-contained.  I'm a fan of the casserole.  The one pot meal.  The one bowl brownies.  If it can be scooped onto my plate and eaten together, I'm a fan.  Who wants to fuss with side dishes?  
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