Sunday, September 30, 2012

I love the weekend.

This weekend I vowed to be productive starting right on Friday evening so I could somewhat relax with Husband when I went to visit. Our town used to have a Biggby a few years ago, but it didn't last long. However, this past week one opened its doors in a new location! Although their drinks are ridiculously expensive for the amount you actually get, I had a free drink birthday coupon and decided to take advantage of the opportunity with a festively fall Pumpkin Spiced Latte. 

How many times have I posted pictures or mentioned coffee drinks? 
Way too many, I'm sure. 
It's a slight obsession.
Now you all know that the way to my heart is through a froofy coffee drink. 

Saturday I headed over to the med school, where Husband I spent the majority of the afternoon catching up with each other and in the books. Husband took a little 10-minute study break with a friend to play a game of ping pong, which he ended up winning!

We decided to give Saturday night church a try at a place we've been experimenting with the past couple of weeks. Although it felt somewhat strange at first being at church at night, we realized that the scheduling is perfect for students. We are actually a little more chipper and aware of what's being said and taught later in the day and this way, Sunday mornings don't feel nearly as rushed.  After the service we went out for Thai for dinner at a place I was introduced to a few years ago and really liked. I was worried we'd have to fight for a table, it being Saturday night and all, but somehow we were the only ones there. 

Seriously, the only ones. 
The place was completely empty.
Maybe everyone was downtown at ArtPrize?
Either way, we weren't complaining.

Afterwards, we had planned on checking out some of the top ArtPrize venues, but at my request we returned to the med school. Husband has an exam on Monday and I want him to feel as confident as possible! 

This morning I was able to meet up with my best friend from high school for coffee at the Starbucks we've been going to for as long as I can remember. Six years maybe? Seven? Whenever we're both in the area, we make an effort to meet up there, sit in the comfy chairs, and catch up for what never seems like enough time. After that I headed over to Meijer to pick up some items for Husband (since he doesn't' have a car at med school and thus hardly makes it to the grocery store), over to the mall for some jeans (…because one of the annoying quirks about my town is that we don't have a mall…), and back to the med school. 

And this is what our afternoon has looked like thus far:

I love weekends. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Now, before Husband and I got married, I wasn't the hugest fan of snickerdoodles. I mean, they were alright and I'd eat them if they were in front of me (…really this happens with anything in the dessert category…well, except for Austrian sachertorte but that's another story…) but in my opinion they weren't really anything to write home about. Now those peanut butter cookies with Hershey's kisses pushed in the middle of them while they're still warm? Those to me are what snickerdoodles are to Husband - perfection in the form of a cookie. After Husband and I had been married for a while, I made him some regular snickerdoodles out of the blue. 

And he loved them. 
And for some reason, I never made them again. 

Until now. 

I saw these on Pinterest and knew they would be the first of (hopefully) many fall baked goods for me to prepare. Last year I overdosed a little on pumpkin by making this granola several times and got pretty sick of it. After this past summer of hot and humid weather, I'm welcoming autumn with open arms, which includes embracing pumpkin in my cuisine once again. 

I had frozen some pumpkin puree several months ago and was pleasantly surprised to find that when it thawed, it was still good. I gathered the rest of the ingredients as well as my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer and I was ready to go.

Isn't this cover cute? My mom got this as a birthday present for me during the first year Husband I were married. It's come in handy more than I ever thought, keeping dust at bay and holding accessories in the side pocket.

Cream the butter and sugar.
Add the pumpkin...yum...
Gather the dry ingredients…
…and whisk together.
Add the dry to the wet and mix it all up!
Cover with plastic wrap…
…and refrigerate for at least an hour to let it firm up.
In the meantime, gather the separate ingredients for the sugar coating and mix in a small bowl.
Prepare a large space and organize a semi-assembly line.
Take the dough out of the fridge and roll into 1.5-inch balls, rolling in the sugar mixture and then spreading evenly apart on the baking sheets.
This next part is sort of weird. The directions said to take a flat-bottomed glass, dip into water…
….then the sugar mix…
…and press lightly down on top of the dough balls. 
This gives the balls a slightly flattened top with a disk-like appearance. I'm not sure if it helps the baking process or something, but it certainly made the end product a success in the end, so I'm not questioning it. 
I baked them for about 14 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then I let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for about 3-5 minutes...
…and then transferred them to wire racks.
Of course I had to cut into one right away for a taste test…and it. was. delicious.
I pretty much had to tear myself away from the racks of chewy goodness to let them cool and prepared the next batch to be baked. The recipe is supposed to yield about 3-4 dozen depending on how you make them, and they definitely were closer to 4 dozen than 3 dozen. Luckily I was heading over to Husband's med school, so I bagged them all up and brought them to the school to have him share with fellow students. 
Needless to say, by the end of the weekend they were all gone! I think I will indulge my urges to bake now that I have a ready and willing audience of consumers :)

So here's the recipe all condensed:

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

For the cookies: 
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups flour *I used 2 cups all-purpose and 1 3/4 cups white 
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the coating: 
1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Dash of allspice

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin puree, then beat in the egg and vanilla.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir until fully incorporated. Cover and chill the dough for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liner. Mix the coating ingredients in a small bowl. Scoop equal dough balls and roll into the sugar mixture. Set on cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Dip the bottom of a flat drinking glass into water, then into the sugar mixture and use to slightly flatten the dough balls. Recoat the bottom of the glass in the sugar-spice mixture as needed.
Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until baked through. Let cool on the baking sheets about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Return and Update

A summary of life as of late:

Clockwise starting from upper left:

1) Husband texted me this photo he snapped the day he had to do a patient-simulated interview. I always love when he gets dressed up and I just think he's especially cute in that very official white coat. I was having a rough day of feeling unconfident about my academic abilities to conquer exams, but seeing this definitely made the day better.

2) On the morning of the last day of the week of exam chaos, I stopped by my favorite restaurants/bakeries downtown and got a froofy coffee to go. I was pleasantly surprised to see this unique little lid protector. Seriously made me love the place even more.

3) It was live mannequin night downtown on Friday so one of my co-workers and I were volunteered to sit in the storefront window for 1.5 hours…completely still. No movement. At all. Couple this with extreme sleep deprivation thanks to the chaotic week along with a pre-event celebratory drink with my co-worker and you've got a very, very entertaining show of me trying to keep it together while being stared at by passersby…

4) Countdown to our Christmas break trip! We've been saving up for years to be able to do this, and after our first semester of living apart (and the beginning of the much-dreaded Michigan winter) I think we'll be a little more than ready to spend some quality time together in tropical paradise :)

And then during church today I just had to capture some shots of Husband holding our friends' sweet baby boy (Husband actually snapped the one of the right - hence the different view). He was a bit fussy at the start, but Husband was determined to calm him down. And once he did, the kid was out. We stifled our laughter as he had some #2 issues going on (…during the quietest part of the service, I tell you…) and he woke up here and there to check out the surrounding environment, but for the majority of the time he stayed lying on his back in Husband's lap. I'm not even going to begin to tell you how much he cried when I tried holding him last time Jamie and I hung out… Maybe Husband is the baby whisperer and I'll have smooth sailing with our own offspring?

And as promised, I will be posting the recipe for pumpkin snickerdoodles at some point in the next couple of days - maybe tomorrow? 
Hang tight! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Be back in a flash.

A little heads up:

This is week I am going to be crazy busy preparing for three exams on top of my regular schedule and routine of clinicals, working, class work, etc. so things are going to be pretty quiet around here for the next few days. 

But hang tight! I'll be back soon with a recipe for some killer pumpkin cookies that were a huge hit with some of Husband's med student friends. 

Get excited.

Friday, September 14, 2012

coulda woulda shoulda

A few weeks ago, I posted this picture of my college ID cards on Facebook:

I mentioned how crazy it was that I had to get a new card because 1) the old one could no longer accommodate more fall and spring validation stickers after accumulating 5+ years of the buggers already and 2) my last name changed after I got married and it'd be nice to not have everyone think I'm crazy when the last name I say doesn't match up to the one of the card. When I decided to take the plunge and finally apply for a new one, I was told I wouldn't have to pay the replacement fee because that only applies to lost or damaged ID cards and mine was only a name change. I merrily went on my way, filling out the form and dropping it off at Registrar. 

So you can imagine my surprise when I look at my September bill and see a lovely $20 replacement ID card fee stamped smack dab on the invoice. What?

I marched over to Business Services, ready to argue my $20 back into my bank account when they tell me I'm in the wrong place (What do you mean wrong place? You're the ones who sent me this bill!) and that I have to go back to Registrar, where this whole fiasco started. 

So then I march on over to Registrar and proceed to explain my situation to the poor innocent girl behind the desk. She then directs me to the lady behind a big desk in charge of all college IDs, the third person to whom I explain my sob story in the name of $20. The lady patiently listens, promptly opens the drawer containing all of the replacement ID card applications, and quickly locates my paper. 

This is the point at which I'd like to turn back time because it does not kindly reflect my usual attention-to-detail characteristic in which I take pride.

Apparently, at the top of the application, in gigantic bold letters, it plainly states that the student must turn in the old ID card when retrieving the replacement or else he/she will be charged the $20 replacement fee to his/her student account. Oh yeah, and I didn't even check off the box indicating that the reason for the replacement was due to a name change, so they just assumed I had lost my other one. Bam. Humility

Quite humbly I profusely apologized for not adhering to the bold lettering and promptly handed the lady my beloved, well-stickered old ID card. Luckily I got my $20 (and pride) back in the end. 

So that was the end of my ID card troubles, right?

Yesterday I went to a snack shop on campus to get a drink and something to eat in between class and work. Toward the end of the summer, Husband had surprised me with money towards on-campus points of culinary interest such as this snack shop as well as coffee and cafeteria-type places with the hope that it would help take some pressure off of me with grocery shopping and preparing food. He also did this last year and it was (and already has been for this year) a HUGE help and I am so incredibly grateful.  

(To be noted, I've only used this year's account about 4-5 times with a total expense of less than $25 overall) 

When the cashier rang me up yesterday, she mentioned that I had about $7 left on my account. This was confusing to me, considering the amount Husband had told me he'd deposited definitely did not match up with the few times I'd actually used the account. I actually asked her to repeat the number two more times because I swore I heard her wrong (…she must have thought I was either partially deaf or just crazy…). 

So today I took a trip to Dining Services to see what was up. When the nice lady behind the desk pulled up my account, she looked at me and said, "You're not Preston, are you." Um, no, I am most definitely not. Turns out the number on my new ID card somehow linked up to some random kid's account and I'd been spending his money all this time! So where did that leave me? The lady had to go through a list of expenses with me as I scrambled to remember when I had made purchases from the various places around campus and guessed to the best of my ability. She told me she would deduct those expenses from my account, refund poor Preston's account, and email him to let him know that he in fact did not only have a measly $7 left after all. 

Was this whole thing over now?

She then sent me to Campus Safety to get yet ANOTHER ID card printed, this time with the correct number linked to my account. When I got there, the lady behind THAT desk took a look at my card and said I probably would have had to pay to get another one made anyway since the plastic backing was already starting to come off and the magnetic strip would have been rendered useless. 

MORAL OF THE STORY: I should have just kept my six year old ID card, copious amount of stickers and wrong last name and all

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The BEST (and easiest-to-make) muffins. Ever.

As promised in this post, I present to you…

…the recipe for my applesauce muffins!
I really can't take too much credit for these little nuggets of baked apple goodness since I definitely did not make the recipe up. In fact, I got this when I was a freshman in college while working through undergrad for the first time around, from a professor who decided to spend her sabbatical taking an English class for education majors (have I mentioned how many times I changed my mind while in college the first time around? I probably should have guessed I'd be back in school based on my track record of changing majors basically every semester up until the year I actually graduatedbut that's another story…). She made these awesome muffins for the class one day and everyone requested the recipe. Although you see the pictured recipe card for my organized cookbook, I do still have the original piece of paper I copied the recipe onto, grease and spill marks and all that have accumulated over the years. I've made these babies for plenty of picnics, showers, coffee dates with friends, lazy Saturday morning breakfasts…you name it. Even though they're simple and nothing too extraordinary, I feel like they're always a hit. 

Want to make some? It's so easy!

Gather the ingredients.
Plop in a bowl.
Stir stir stir
I used a measuring cup (1/4) to scoop out the batter into the greased tin.
Looking good already, right?
Bake…and then you get a delicious smelling kitchen plus some salivating-induced muffins!
A note on the flour: Although I have 1 cup of all purpose flour and only a 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour listed on the recipe card, I do usually measure out 3/4 cup of each. There's really not much difference - it just makes for a coarser texture since I'm using more of the whole wheat. Also, usually I use 100% whole wheat flour, but all I had on hand was white whole wheat flour that I use in my bread maker for baking homemade pizza dough (Husband isn't fond of the whole wheat texture in the pizza crust so I try to sneak in the whole grain using white whole wheat instead of completely all purpose flour). It actually reacted way differently in these muffins than what I expected. Most times they turn out darker and more dense than these lighter, fluffier ones. Either way, the recipe is still great, in my opinion!

Applesauce Muffins

1/2 cup oil (can substitute with more applesauce to cut down on fat)
1 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 cup all purpose flour OR 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour OR 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup natural, unsweetened applesauce
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice

Mix all ingredients in a bowl well.
Bake in muffin tin at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

two four

So I entered my 24th year of living yesterday.

I think my favorite text I received came from a good friend from college, who said something along the lines of wishing me a happy expulsion-from-the-womb day. We nurses really like the details of birthing, I guess. 

What did I do to celebrate over the past couple of days? Let's see…in semi-picture form!

- A friend and I went out to breakfast on Friday morning at my favorite place in town, where I indulged in coffee and a french toast bagel with maple cream cheese.

- Baked my "famous" applesauce muffins (recipe coming soon) and sewed up some burp cloths for a friend's baby shower at church 

- Okay, this has absolutely NOTHING to do with celebrating my birthday, but I had to put this in here somewhere… I'd been having the feeling like I had a canker sore on my tongue for the past couple of days but on Friday, it felt like I had several along the edge of my tongue. I looked in the mirror only to be completely disgusted to see these indents all over the sides of my tongue! 

Gross, right?

In full panic mode, I called Husband while ferociously scouring the Internet (so medically legit...) and discovered something called "scalloped tongue" that was eerily resembling what I had found in my mouth. Articles and websites kept referring to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, thyroid problems, and infections, all of which kept freaking me out. Long story short, after much discussion and scouring websites with Husband, we concluded I did in fact have scalloped tongue but it was more likely due to stress. Husband also discussed this with one of my brothers-in-law (a family practice doctor) and he concurred (as much as he could without having a full work-up of my medical history and reviewing my symptoms). Pretty much my body rejects the idea of me being under any sort of stress, this and the incidences with my weird keratoconjunctivitis-sicca-and-corneal-keratitis-ridden eyes being proof, so I really just need to calm. down. 

Oh, and Husband snapped some lovely screen shots during my post-scalloped-tongue-discovery meltdown of sorts.

So attractive.

Moving on…

- Went to the baby shower on Saturday morning
- Drove to see Husband
- Studied with Husband at the med school

- Watched some dancers at a Hispanic festival going on downtown with my mom, one of my sisters and her family - pictured are the most bold costumes of the day...

- Went back to studying at the med school with Husband (despite the fact that it was only about 70 degrees outside, he cranked that a/c up and took full advantage of it since he doesn't have any where he's living - hence the hoodie)

- Ate out at Bonefish Grill (where I worked my senior year of high school making some darn good money)
- Collapsed in bed 

It wasn't the most exciting of birthdays this year, but I expected that due to both my and Husband's chaotic schedules thanks to the world of academia. Husband and I sort of celebrated last weekend anyway with a gift, dinner, and some quiet time at home when he was able to come back for Saturday and Sunday. When it came down to it, I was just thankful to be able to spend time with him, as I always am whenever I get the chance. 

Here's to 24 years of life and many more!