Thursday, September 30, 2010


This morning I went for a run. I saw several interesting things: I saw a lawn care company that pulled a trailer full of equipment behind a minivan. I saw a squirrel with no tail, it was sad.  (Side note: A couple weeks ago I saw a bird with one leg. Well, it had two legs but one was broken so it hopped around quite content on one leg. My friend (Kendra) told me it would be eaten soon, circle of life.)

And then I saw this...

It stopped me in my running tracks...

Where did it come from?

Is it lost?

Is it a fake decoration that got blown off of someone's porch?

It must be lonely all by itself. An outcast in the midst of all these palm trees...

All these thoughts and questions ran through my head as I stood staring at the leaf, looking like a crazy person, wishing I had a camera to document my discovery.

It must have blown in from Tennessee. That is the only logical conclusion I can come to. It traveled all the way down to Florida to interrupt my run and remind me that Fall is taking place in other parts of the world.

I guess the good news is Starbucks has their Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Are there hayrides in Florida?

In class I've met a couple from Europe, I've been bringing them information for a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains over fall break/reading week. It's funny trying to explain hayride to someone who has never heard of it. I think the appeal was lost on them...

"It's a big trailer filled with hay, you sit on it and a tractor pulls you around."

They just smiled and nodded.

"No hayride? There's a festival going on in Gatlinburg that has free hayrides!" I pressed on.

Again they smiled and nodded.

"I love hayrides! Have you heard of John Deere?"

More smiles and nods.

In order to spend my time looking up Gatlinburg activities and contemplating the change of seasons, I need simple dinners. This dinner recipe is probably too easy to post, but it is for all the people who struggle on a daily basis for meal options. Here is a quick, easy, tasty and healthy option.

Black Beans and Rice

- 1 can black beans
- 1 can tomatoes and green chiles
- 1/2 cup onions, chopped
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 cup brown rice, dried
- 2 cups water
- dash of salt
- Cheese (optional)
- Sour Cream (optional)

For the Rice: Bring 2 cups water and salt to a boil. Add brown rice. Once it comes to a boil a second time, lower temperature to low. Simmer for 20 minutes with the lid closed. Remove rice off the heat and let sit with the lid closed for another 10 minutes. Remove lid and fluff with a fork.

For the Beans: In a large skillet on medium heat, saute a tiny bit of olive oil (I used olive oil spray) and onions until onions are almost translucent. Add minced garlic. Continue to saute until onions are translucent. Add black beans (drain half the liquid) and tomatoes (use all liquid). Cook for 3-4 minutes.

Serve over brown rice. Top with cheese and sour cream. Quick and easy!

Monday, September 27, 2010

How To Make Egg Rolls

My Italian heritage gets a lot of attention. Most of the kids in my family were given Italian names. Francesca, Gina, Frankie Valentine...One child was given a Hebrew name...Ethan. After giving birth to 4 children my mom was finally able to give a child a non-Italian name. She picked Ethan. Cute right? The poor child got ridiculed! My dad got in the habit of calling Ethan, "Ethan Tyler Joseph Johnson Smith Guerrieri." When Ethan went off to kindergarten the teacher asked him his name. Ethan responded, "Ethan Tyler Joseph Johnson Smith Guerrieri." The poor child got in trouble and my dad had to go in to school and explain that Ethan wasn't trying to be smart...he just didn't know his real name.
Here he is with his hater blockers on... I don't really know what that means...

Here he is without his hater blockers...And yes, he dresses even more ridiculous then this on a regular basis.

Anyway, I did inherit my love for tofu from my mom's side. I grew up eating it. I think it's delicious. Some of you may think tofu is disgusting, if you do, it's probably because you haven't tried it seasoned right. I'll have my mom make you some tofu. My mom also liked to make this green gunky soup. It was disgusting (sorry mom!). But don't worry. This post isn't on green gunky soup. It's on Tofu Egg Rolls!

It's super easy and fun and makes you feel fancy as an egg roll can make you feel.
Are you ready to try?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I ran a 5k and I came in second!!

Some of you are thinking, "wow this girl is hardcore!" Others are...well...waiting for the rest of the story.

First of all, shame on everyone who doesn't think I would place second in a 5k! All those cupcakes make me run fast.

So it all started this morning at 7:40 when me and my friend Lindsey (and our crazy enthused fans, aka our husbands) arrived in South Daytona for the 12th annual 5k.
We've been running the couch to 5k, I'm in week 5, I wish I would have stayed on the couch...
See those guys with 0% body fat? I was actually 3 steps in front of them and missed being in this picture.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Amish Tradition

I think it's sweet that Bradley has my blog set as his home page. Whenever or wherever he gets on the internet the first thing he sees is my girly, flowery, sweet-filled blog. I am more embarrassed by it than he is...especially when we are in class filled with smart seminary people who don't like girly, silliness. I don't know that they would have a problem with flowers or sweets, but I can imagine that they would rather read Calvin's Institutes than a post on cupcakes and the light it brings into my life. And you know what, that's okay. Even though I do believe that a cupcake can truly light up anybody's life.

But, this post is not about cupcakes. It is about chocolate and peanut butter. The relationship between chocolate and peanut butter is a beautiful thing. They are meant to go together, created for each other, the perfect marriage of salty and sweet. I'm bringing you chocolate and peanut butter in the form of a whoopie pie!

According to Amish tradition (and wikipedia, a completely reliable source), Amish women would bake their men (husbands, brothers, sons) these treats and pack them in their lunch box. When lunch time came and the farmers opened their lunch they would shout, "whoopie!" Hence comes the name, Whoopie Pie.

My desire for you is to make your own dessert and exclaim, "whoopie!" Because such an outburst of joy over chocolate and peanut butter is indeed warranted.

Speaking of one point in my life my family owned an Amish buggy...another story for another time...


Peanut Butter and Chocolate Whoopie Pies
From Bakerella and Whoopie Pies

Classic Chocolate Whoopie

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a bowl, sift together, flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
  • In another bowl, beat butter, shortening and sugar with a mixer on low until just combined. Increase speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes.
  • Add egg and vanilla and beat for two more minutes.
  • Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk and beat on low until incorporated. Repeat with remaining flour and milk and beat until combined.
  • Using a tablespoon, drop batter on baking sheet two inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes each or until pies spring back when pressed gently.
  • Remove from oven and cool for about five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.
1 Tbsp of batter should make about 48 two-inch cakes or 24 pies.
2 Tbsp of batter should make about 30 four-inch cakes or 15 pies.

Salty Peanut Butter Filling

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Beat peanut butter and butter on low until creamy using a mixer.
  • Add sugar and salt and beat on low to incorporate. Increase speed to medium and beat for about four minutes until the filling is light and fluffy.
  • Spread filling on flat side on one cooled cake. Top it with a second cake and press gently.
Store whoopie pies in an airtight container.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Directionally Challenged

Do you want to hear another Terrible Tuesday story?  It all started on my drive to class, I was singing along to the local country music station when I realized I had passed my exit. A combination of driving in the fast lane, the radio, my singing, and a semi truck added about 10 extra minutes to my morning drive. The result was an extra $1 in tolls and I missed being able to get to the bookstore for my morning coffee from Calvin's Coffee Contraption. Being in a relatively good mood I complained only 3-4 minutes and went on with my day.

4:55 p.m. finally arrive and I jumped in my car excited about getting home 5 minutes earlier, so I could lay on the couch 5 minutes longer, before I had to go on my couch to 5k run. I called Bradley and talked to him for about 15 minutes...evidently I can't multitask. Because I suddenly realized that I didn't know where I was! I had gone the opposite direction for 15 minutes and racked up $4 in tolls!!!! (I apologize for the multiple explanation points, I believe that if you can't convey emotion without the use of caps or excessive explanation points than your point is most likely not worth making...but it's just one of those days). This time I blamed Bradley, the turning lane and the cell phone.  Let's just say my complaining lasted more than 3-4 minutes.

FAIL. Two Tuesdays in a row.  Coffee making and driving are too hard for me.

But you know what's not too hard for me or for you?

Making a cake mix fancy! (Like how I transitioned there?)

Last night I posted pictures of the cupcakes from the UT vs. Florida football game, but I didn't get to post the recipe.

I'll admit it's been hard for me to find a really good cake recipes. I have found a chocolate cake recipe I really like, I found a brownie recipe that is to die for, and a buttercream that makes it really hard to try try anything new.  But I still really like box cake mixes...

So here is a little box cake embellishment for your cupcakes.

Fancy Cake Mix
From What's New Cupcake

1 box cake mix
1 cup buttermilk (in replace of the water)
Vegetable oil (the amount on the box)
4 eggs (in replace of the amount called for on the box)

Combine all the ingredients and follow the directions on the box. And then congratulate yourself on living your life to the fullest and making perfectly yummy cupcakes. Even someone who can't remember to put coffee beans in the coffee maker and is directionally challenged (after driving that route for a month) can do this. That's the moral of this story and my word of encouragement. 

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Rocky Top

My friend/roommate (she will always be referred to as my roommate) Kendra left today to return to East Tennessee.  We had a great time hanging at the beach, watching FRIENDS, and eating (I even made her run the couch to 5k one day, and she blogged about it). We had a baking adventure during the UT vs. Florida game on Saturday.

We also made some gator cupcakes (get it? Florida gators, I don't mean to state the obvious, but I just want to make sure we're on the same page)...

We made 4 gators and decided that it was WAY too much work and switched to hippos.

I think this cross-eyed little guy is cute! 

Just in case you are confused, UT's mascot is not the hippo. Hippos were just for fun. The Power T's were ruined and we were to exhausted to care, thus the orange and white piping, which turned out pretty cool if you ask me.

Rocky top you'll always be Home Sweet Home to me
Good ol' Rocky Top
Rocky Top Tennessee!

*Begin Slow Chant*
*a little faster*
Go Vols Go!

(These are better with 100, 000 fans)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Terrible Tuesday

I'm so tired I'm delirious. The last thing I should be doing is writing a blog post. What I should be doing is either reading or sleeping. But, alas, I'm blogging...and then I'll be sleeping. Let me put this in perspective for you...this morning I woke up from a bad night's sleep (I kept running through John Frame's Doctrine of God, His miracles and Decrees through my head...over and over...not in a good way, in a way that was exhausting...also too much caffeine too late), stumbled into the kitchen to make some coffee (too much work to program that contraption) and managed to dress myself without opening my eyes (I looked great, just my husband). When I went to pour myself a cup of coffee I realized I had forgotten to put the coffee grounds in the maker. GREAT. Just what I needed on this lovely/terrible morning. I really do wish I could tell you I wake up and burst into song, "I'm smellin' coffee, birds are singing just out side, here comes your mercy, streamin' in with the morning light..." (Chris Rice anyone?). But I don't. I don't smell coffee. I just have a cup of non-caffeinated hot water. Take the words of my husband (who thought it was quite funny that I didn't have coffee), "You really aren't a morning person."

Well, I did manage to make it to school just in time to realize that I hadn't brought my binders for either of my classes. What the heck was I carrying in my bag?!  Not the stuff I needed. I kept telling myself I was a winner (which probably just affirms the fact that I'm the opposite of a winner) and graduate school was just sucking the fun out of me. Sucking the fun I tell you!

It will all be okay though...because KENDRA is coming tomorrow!

Who is Kendra? One of my college roommates who will rock your socks off (is that still a cool expression?) while explaining the absurdity of organic produce and the importance of domestic beef. All that to say is she is a lot of laughs, a superb rapper and pocket size so I can take her everywhere with me.

I would be preparing for her arrival, but as of right now, I'm too tired. Thankfully, I've got a blog full of recipes (shameless plug)! I might bust out this, this, or this. Any suggestions?

Okay, I'm going to bed.

Oh, I apologize for all the parenthetical I said, I'm tired (and I really like parentheses).

Monday, September 13, 2010

Too much chocolate? never!

Exercise is a dirty word... Every time I hear it, I wash my mouth out with chocolate. - unknown <-- that's funny.
I'm about to share with you the mother of all chocolate desserts. It is the most decadent chocolate brownie of all time. It is chocolate, upon chocolate, upon chocolate, dipped in chocolate (yes, I'm tearing up). Not only is it loads of rich chocolate, but it's fun size!
How amazing are these!!  I tell you what that Pioneer Woman is a genius.

After making this dessert I promptly went out and ran week 3, day 2 of the couch to 5 k. The chocolate definitely slowed me down. But I was guilt-free and lovin' cream.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Kid in a candy store

I love making cupcakes when there are going to be kids to eat them. Their reactions to cupcakes, candy and colorful decorations mimic my own reaction. Their little eyes get really big, a squeal of delight escapes their lips, and a pudgy little hand reaches out to grab the closest brightly-colored, sugar-filled cupcake. The adults, on the other hand, walk by a cupcake and say, "Oh this is not good for my waistline!" Or "Oh no, you shouldn't have."  I didn't bring the cupcakes for you silly, I brought them for the kid inside of you!

Yesterday, I had the wonderful opportunity of making dessert for a ministry and I was so excited to see little girls there! "Wow!" They said, when they saw all the cupcakes. The choices overwhelmed them and it took all of two minutes to make a decision. That's exactly how I would feel if I saw a table of frosted cupcakes...but maybe it's because I am just a kid in a candy store. It makes me happy when I see unabashed excitement over sweets (for all you adults, you can eat a salad for breakfast).

These next cupcakes are for all the hungry people out there! They are made especially thinking of my Dad and sister Gina who have a strong affection for king size snickers. Fun size? Please! Hand me a King size!

The chocolate cake recipe is delicious!

Topped with a Salted Caramel Butter Cream and sprinkled with snickers and a caramel drizzle...don't you feel a little giddy?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I'm a guest post writer!!

Hey guess what! I wrote a guest post for Iowa Girl Eats (or half of a guest post)! You can read it here (it's the second half of the post)

Monday, September 6, 2010

No work today!

Happy Labor Day!! I hope you have a fun/relaxing day planned for this happy Monday! Can you believe it's Labor Day already? Does that mean it's a fashion faux pas to wear white now? Does that rule still apply if you live in Florida and it is ridiculously hot and summer like?

Anyway...I have some sweet cooking/baking adventures coming up that I can't wait to share! But not today...because today you need to check out this. Click on the link. You know you want to. Do it, do it! Don't you love peer pressure? Don't worry! It's not a virus. It's my new blog Seminary Sayings! It is co-written with my adorably hubby and therefore is serious fun (or a mixture of serious and fun). I hope you like it!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I'm craving a...

I haven't cooked or baked anything since starting school. I did make breakfast for dinner one evening, cereal another night, and every man for himself the rest of the week. It's just been a little bit of an adjustment being in school full time, but I am loving every minute of it. As I'm writing this I'm hungry. I need to eat. But I don't have anything in my kitchen that I want to eat (isn't that the ultimate food/kitchen problem). What I really want to eat is a Chocolate Chip Cookie. There is something so irresistible with a soft, warm chocolate chip cookie. My stomach is growling. Great.

Now, I can practice self control with many a baked good, but that self control is destroyed with the presence of a plethora of chocolate chip cookies. I eat them for breakfast with a cup of coffee. Please tell me I'm not the only one?

I'll admit with a great deal of humility, that I make THE BEST chocolate chip cookies. My secret? A true master never gives away her secret! That's why they are the BEST.

Okay, okay, I use the recipe that is straight off the back of the nestle toll house bag. Why reinvent the wheel?

Since it will be more convenient for you to use the recipe straight off the bag, I won't post it here. The only thing I do to kick it up a notch is adding pecans and coconut. delicious. Monica would love it.

Huh? A few friends (hint) got that reference.