Saturday, October 29, 2011

Visions of Sugarplums....

It's almost Halloween.
You know what that means.
Christmas is coming!

I've been starting to get the Christmas itch and it was amped up big time yesterday after spending some time with my cousin who might be the biggest fan of Christmas ever.
It started with Glade commercials advertising holiday scents.
Two months.... that seems like an awfully long time but it's going to fly by.
October literally disappeared in the blink of an eye.

But back to Christmas stuff in a moment.
I have an exam in a few hours (yes, I should be cramming) so this won't be a long post.
I was invited to join Sigma Theta Tau, an honours nursing society!
I joined, paid my dues. Literally. $100 worth.
But well worth it as it'll look good on my resume when I start applying for jobs and it's a good place to start networking.

Before I get dressed and leave to write the final exam for this history course (side note: I got a 90 on the paper I spent 3 weeks slaving away on so now I'm not super worried about the exam, though I probably should be), I want to share with you something I am quite excited about.
It's a new challenge I've set for myself.
After this exam, I have 2 assignments and 1 exam left for this semester.
The entire month of December I will have 1 exam (and work, obviously).
With that amount of free time I am going to turn this apartment into Santa's workshop but I also want to get back into baking in a big way.
I am challenging myself to bake 25 different cookies (or baked goods in general) as a countdown to Christmas challenge.
It'll be a busy December.

Exam time!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Banana Bread with an Oreo Twist

I think I bake banana bread more than anything else.
It's so easy, so good, and so necessary when there is a bunch of bananas slowly turning black in your fruit bowl.
Usually I go heavy on the chocolate chips or do chocolate chip variations (Easter themed banana bread with mini eggs is really good) but on Sunday night, as I mixed up my batter, I realized I had no chocolate at all.
I could have made a basic loaf but I like a challenge (and like chocolate even more) so I scoured the cupboards until I found a box of oreo cookie crumbs.
I debated between mixing the crumbs into the batter but thought a simple crust might be a nice compromise.
Even better? You don't need to add butter to the crumbs to make a crust. Simply cover the bottom of the loaf pan with the crumbs then spoon the batter on top!

*This is a Betty Crocker recipe that I adapted.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a loaf pan and cover the bottom with oreo cookie crumbs.
  • In a bowl, cream 1/2 cup of butter with 1 cup of powdered sugar and 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Stir in 2 eggs until well blended. Add in 4 medium bananas, 1/2 cup sour cream, and 1 tsp vanilla.
  • Stir in 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp salt. Mix until combined then pour batter over the oreo crumbs.
  • Bake for an hour and 15 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

A different spin on banana bread.

I just finished 4 hours of editing a group paper that's due today by midnight so I am ready to take a little break from work before I hae to start studying for my exam on Saturday.
I'd like to do a little bit of wedding prep but I'm not sure how much I could feasibly do.
A few weeks ago I printed out 50 save-the-date cards so I'll likely need to figure out exactly how many cards I'll need, print out the remainder, then start putting the finishing touches on them.
That'll be my arts and crafts project to look forward to once this blitz of school work is done on Saturday!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Oh hi, remember me?

It's been awhile.
But you'll have to believe me when I say it's me, not you.
School has taken over my life in recent weeks but the light at the end of  the tunnel is getting brighter.
I just handed in a history essay that has taken up every free moment of my time for the past two weeks.
Tuesday I hand in a group paper and then on Saturday I have the final exam for my history elective.
Then things will get a bit easier, at least temporarily.

Here's what you've missed:

My sister had a birthday and my best friend made her an incredible cake! After asking what her favourite kind of cake was my sister replied, "I'm not a huge fan of cake. Honestly I'd prefer a big plate of nachos."
So she got the best of both worlds. 
So cool.
And the carrot cake underneath was delicious.

 I also made pulled pork and cheddar biscuits to go with it. I think that may have been the last thing I posted about. I didn't have jalapenos for the biscuits so I added a dash of cayenne pepper to spice them up.

A few nights ago I asked John what he wanted for dinner and he asked if we had any Kraft dinner.
We didn't.
So having an excuse to not write my essay any more drop right into my lap, I decided to make mac and cheese myself.
We only had spaghetti (John cleaned out the cupboards cause we had a moth infestation and he ended up throwing out a lot of our stuff) but it worked well enough.
I melted cheddar and mozarella cheese into milk then added the cooked pasta.
It was pretty good!

One night this week I decided to make a nicer dinner (again, needed a good reason to not have to sit in front of my laptop for hours). I went with a fall-themed chicken and stuffed chicken breasts with brie, bacon, and apple slices.
The flavours worked really well together, not to mention the fact that bacon makes everything taste better.

In other news -
I found (and subsequently purchased) my wedding dress!
Well to be clear my mom purchased my wedding dress (thanks mom!) but wow!
I made an appointment last Saturday to go and try on some dresses to get an idea of what style would look best.
The second dress I tried on was the one.
It happened so fast!
I wasn't expecting to walk out of the store with a dress but it's been purchased.
I want to put up pictures but I also want to wait and do the big reveal in August.
And I also don't want John to see it.
I did cave and show him a not-so-great picture from a phone but that's all.
Ohhhhhhhhh man, so very very exciting!
It's beautiful.
I'm going to go look at the pictures of it again.
And take my banana bread out of the oven!
And then finish my group paper section :(

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits

Nothing compliments pulled pork quite like a good biscuit to soak up all that sauce.
I usually stick to a basic buttermilk biscuit but this time around I want to spice it up a bit.
I'm going to follow this recipe (from for jalapeno cheddar biscuits to fill with delicious, delicious pulled pork.

1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F.
2. Whisk 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp salt in a medium bowl to combine. Add 1/2 cup shredded cheese and incorporate.
3. Cut in 8 tbsp butter with a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
4. Make a well in the center. Whisk 3/4 cup yogurt and 1/3 cup milk in a small bowl to combine. Add 3 jalapeƱos, seeded and diced.
5. Pour into the well and mix with a fork, adding a tablespoon or so of additional milk if needed to form a moist sticky dough.
6. Drop 12 heaping tablespoons of the dough onto a ungreased baking sheet spacing the biscuits about 2 inches apart.
7. Bake until the tops are tipped with golden brown about 20 minutes.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving/Birthday Long Weekend

Happy belated Thanksgiving!
It's a day late but it's also Thanksgiving Monday (aka stay in your PJs all day Monday) so I'm not that late.

This week there haven't been any posts because I have barely had time to sit still let alone make anything worth blogging about.
Monday I worked, Tuesday I went from the hospital straight to work, Wednesday I worked 2 shifts, Thursday I worked then went to the hospital for an overnight shift, then Friday I had a midterm then Thanksgiv'r.
Saturday John and I went for an adventure picnic to the Terracotta Badlands and to the Forks of the Credit River. I had been feeling somewhat nauseous on the drive up so I didn't get to appreciate the badlands to their full extent. I did start to feel a lot better once we found a nice shaded spot under a tree overlooking Kettle Lake at the Forks of the Credit.

Plus serrano ham and havarti on foccacia with a can of Dr. Pepper never hurt anyone.

Saturday night we went out to The Hoxton for my little sister's birthday.
Hard to believe she's 24!
Yesterday was her birthday so we celebrated with turkey and stuffing and cake and pie.
You can't see it too well in this photo but her cake (courtesy of my best friend over at Blondie's Bakery)  incredible - a carrot cake plate of nachos!
Better pictures to follow.

This week: I'm making pulled pork (right now), have a few nights off (which mean essay writing but also blog post - hurray!) and then my first wedding dress adventure on Saturday! Ah!
I also want to make jalapeno cheddar biscuits but seeing as it's a holiday I'm not optimistic that the grocery stores are open and I'm even less optomistic that Shoppers Drug Mart has jalapeno peppers....

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Casserole Night

Yesterday a sweet ol' pup made her way to that big backyard in the sky.
John's family said goodbye to their dog, Molly, after 14 years.
Pets become part of our families so to lose them is to lose a family member.

She was a beautiful dog with those sad eyes and a loving personality.
She will be missed but remembered always.

I've been crazy busy so I think I might start pre-posting in an effort to keep my ramblings from occuring only once a week.
I started my new job yesterday and it's wonderful.
I teach swimming lessons at a kid's rehab hospital and, apart from getting to work with kids, one of the perks is that the water in the pool is like a bath tub. It's beautiful.
I love that they operate on a reverse-integration policy so they register kids with different abilities first (Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down's Syndrome to name a few of the more common) and then open up any remaining spots to the general public in the area.
As a result there is a nice mix of abilities and the learning opportunities for the kids and for the instructors are immense.
My mom (who I like to think of as the Equity Ambassador to the world) would be so proud.

What else?
I told you about my night shift at the hospital, about picking up any and every shift at (other) work this past week.... I slept for 12 hours last night. John and I went out for dinner then came home to watch a movie (Jim Gaffigen stand-up on Netflix). I fell asleep on the couch at 9:30 pm.
Woke up and moved into bed at 10.
Woke up this morning at 10 am.
Not only is 10 am like a solid 4 hour sleep in for me, but I rarely sleep for more than maybe 10 hours.
My body is quite happy this morning.

 Besides falling asleep before 10 pm, I think now that I am on the closer-to-30 side of my 20s my vision is starting to go.
I am an over-reactor and a slight hypochondriac (see this post for confirmation of both) so I just assume I have some sort of macular degeneration or a brain tumour in my occipital lobe.

I like to prepare for the worst.

Anyway, I need to go get my eyes checked when I get some free time. Not today. Today is my first day with NO obligations in a long time so I'm enjoying it as is.
It could be that being tired is just making me feel wonky-eyed or it could mean always wanting reading glasses has finally sunk deep enough into my subconcious mind that I'm creating symptoms.
I do have this really annoying floater in my right eye though...

I want to make these cupcakes, EXACTLY the way they are made to look in this picture.
Damn you, Betty Crocker and your craftiness.

Then I want to make this.
Maybe tonight.
Note: This picture is actually of a different recipe but I couldn't find a picture of the one I want to make so this visual will have to do.

From Everyday Food:
(picture of Scalloped Potato & Leek recipe on

  • Preheat oven to 425. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat. Add 2 leeks (sliced, white and light green parts only), and 3 celery stalks (sliced). Cook until softened, about 8 minutes.
  • Add in 2 pkgs frozen artichokes, 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth, and 1 bar Neufchatel cheese (just use cream cheese like I plan on doing).
  • Remove skillet from heat and add in 2 tbsp lemon juice and salt and pepper.
  • Brush a baking dish with 1 tbsp oil. Arrange 1 medium russet potato, very thinly sliced, along the bottom of the baking dish and top with the artichoke mixture. Top the artichoke mixture with another 1 medium russet potatoes, very thinly sliced, and brush with 2 tbsp oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Bake until sauce is bubbling and potatoes are gold and tender, about 35-40 minutes.