Wednesday, October 27, 2010


This week I met a lot of old friends and made some new ones. I met Kate and Dave for a late lunch on Thursday (we all agreed that we need to switch that to a Friday next month). Yesterday, the Lavelle's came to visit (our landlord family who we missed so much)! We carved pumpkins and gave the "grand" tour of our new place.

Bridget kept a watchful eye, I think she must have had many HGTV ideas running through her mind. She'll be on my list of people to call when we actually buy a new house, her design skills will come in handy.

Beth and Jayce carved an excellent Yoda jack-o-lantern(really Jayce just supervised, Beth did all the work). And Jason kept us entertained with some interesting YouTube music videos (I'm still not sure about that second Style Council video).

Then we went to a bonfire at Amy (a co-worker of my husband's) and Chuck's house. We met a lot of interesting and fun people, roasted some marshmallows, and watched an entire ladder burn in the bonfire!

Happy Halloween everybody!

Walnut Cake with Praline Frosting
from Cooking Light Magazine September 2008

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup 1% low-fat buttermilk
6 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted
Cooking spray

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons 1% low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
Dash of salt
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted

Oven 350

To prepare cake, weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring well with a whisk.

Place butter, sugar, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl; beat at medium-high speed with a mixer until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in egg white. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Fold in walnuts. Scrape batter into a 13 x 9–inch pan coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 350° for 28 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

To prepare frosting, place brown sugar, milk, butter, corn syrup, and dash of salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook 2 minutes.

Scrape brown sugar mixture into a bowl. Add remaining 2 tablespoons milk and powdered sugar; beat with a mixer at high speed 2 minutes or until slightly cooled and thick. Beat in vanilla.

Spread frosting in an even layer over cooled cake; sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Let the cake stand until the frosting sets (mine set very quickly); cut into squares.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Clear Expectations

Is it too much to ask that a teacher teaching teachers have clear expectations?!?!? I found myself in a bit of an emotional breakdown after my second graduate class this week. In both classes I asked the teachers to clarify their expectations for projects/assignments due next week. In both cases the teachers dismissed my request as if I was more of an annoyance then they wanted to deal with. I wanted to say, "It's not my fault that you don't know what you want. You assigned this project, so clarify what is due?!?! No need to give me an attitude and act like I forgot what you already said. You never said anything!!!!"

Then to top it all off, one of the teachers assigned an obscene amount of homework (about 80 questions - a paragraph long each, and a lesson plan in a new format). I stressed myself out getting it all done for Wednesday, spent way too much time on it, and then I get to class and she doesn't even look at it! She doesn't collect it, we don't talk about it, and then she has the nerve to say that she is going to go over how to write a lesson plan for the last hour of class. What?!?! The lesson plan was due that day, why are you going over how to write one on the day it is due? And then I look around and only two of us have actually done all the homework. Everyone else wrote in chicken scratch on notebook paper a few answers and a rough lesson plan.I was beyond upset and beyond overwhelmed. Is this what being a graduate student is? Someone needs to tell these teachers that they needs to practice what they preach!

Luckily, my weekend class went better. The teacher was upfront with everything that would be due over the next three weekends and what his expectations were. I even got to ask questions that he actually answered. He modeled perfectly during his lessons the way that teachers should teach.

Rum Raisin Apple Pie
from Gourmet Magazine November 2006

3 tablespoons dark rum
1/3 cup raisins
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 medium apples (2 Gala, 2 Granny Smith, and 2 McIntosh)
Pastry dough for double crust pie (homemade or premade)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons milk
1 tablespoon sanding sugar

Bring rum with raisins to a boil in a 1-quart heavy saucepan, then remove from heat and let stand, covered, 1 hour. * This can be done 1 day ahead, cooled completely, and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

Put oven rack in middle position with a large heavy baking sheet on rack and preheat oven to 425F.

Rub together brown sugar, flour, zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt with your fingers in a large bowl until no lumps remain.

Peel and core apples, then cut into 1/2 inch-wide wedges and add to sugar mixture, tossing gently to coat. Add raisins with any liquid and toss until combined.

* If using homemade crust: Roll out larger piece of dough into a 13-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate and trim edge, leaving a 1/2 inch overhang. Chill shell while rolling out top crust. Roll out smaller piece of dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into an 11-inch round.

Spoon filling evenly into shell, then dot top with butter. Brush pastry overhang with some of milk, then cover pie with pastry round. Trim pastry flush with edge of pie plate using kitchen shears, then press edges together and crimp decoratively.

Lightly brush top of pie with some of remaining milk and sprinkle all over with sanding sugar. Cut 3 steam vents in top crust with a small sharp knife.

Bake pie on hot baking sheet 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375F and continue to bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 45 to 50 minutes more. Cool pie on a rack to warm or room temperature, about 1 1/2 hours.

* Pie can be made 8 hours ahead and kept, uncovered, at room temperature.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Official Resident

Two and a half hours and $400 later my husband and I, and our cars, are officially residents of our new state. Why is the DMV so depressing and hostile? Not only is it not a pleasant looking place, but everyone is so overwhelmed and angry. They make you wait for an obscene amount of time and then charge you a crazy amount of money. Thanks to Kate and Kelley for keeping me occupied with texts!

My two sister-in-laws have birthdays this week. So I made a rich chocolate cake for their birthday celebration.

*Warning: This cake is neither healthy nor good for you, but it does taste good!

Chocolate Stout Cake
from Bon Appetit September 2002
Oven 350

2 cups stout (such as Guinness)
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups all purpose flour
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sour cream

2 cups whipping cream
1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

For cake:

Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray. (**I made 2 - 8inch round cakes and 16 cupcakes with this recipe) Line with parchment paper. Spray paper.

Bring 2 cups stout and 2 cups butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed.

Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter equally among prepared pans.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 35 minutes.

Transfer cakes to rack; cool 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack and cool completely.

For icing:

Bring cream to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate chips and whisk until melted and smooth.

Refrigerate until icing is spreadable, stirring every 30 minutes, about 2 hours. Place 1 cake layer on plate.

Spread 2/3 cup icing over. Top with second cake layer. Spread 2/3 cup icing over. Top with third cake layer. Spread remaining icing over top and sides of cake. (** I just did a two layer cake and left the rest of the icing for the cupcakes).

*Thank you Kelley for taking this picture, forgot the camera!

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I have had some crazy substitute teachers in my classroom. Any time my co-teacher was out at Old School I prayed that I'd have a sub who actually did something, something helpful that is. I've had ones who sat in the back of the room, ones who texted during class, and ones who just wouldn't shut up. There had been good ones, too. You just remember the bad ones more.

My first experience with a substitute for my co-teacher at New School was great! He came to see me at the beginning of the day to see if I needed anything copied or corrected before class. Then he asked me if I liked baking and cooking....yes.....Was he a stalker??? NO, just the father of the Editor In Chief of Food Network Magazine!!!!! He then hands me a copy of the magazine and tells me all about his family. Needless to say, I subscribed to the magazine when I got home. Wait, you think that's it? Nope, it gets better......he's a retired high school math teacher! Baking/Cooking and Math!I promptly emailed my co-teacher and informed her that if she wanted to be out again it was okay with me. She tried to convince me that she picked him based on our compatibility, wouldn't that be nice?

Peanut Butter Chip Brownies
adapted from Hershey's recipe for peanut butter chip cookies
Oven 350
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 sticks butter or margarine, softened
2 cups sugar or 1 cup Splenda Sugar Blend
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10-oz. package Peanut Butter Chips

In bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In mixer blend together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; blend well.

Gradually add flour mixture. Stir in peanut butter chips.

Spray a 9 x 11 baking dish with nonstick spray. Spread mixture evenly in dish.

Bake in oven for about 40 minutes (I would check after 30 and then continue if needed).

Cool completely and then cut.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Reading Rainbow and Friends

An eighth of the school year is went by so fast! This week was a long one, not so much because of teaching, but because of everything else going on. My masters classes are not what I had expected, they seem more like Reading Rainbow, at times.

For example, for the first hour of class on Wednesday night my teacher read children's books to us(ie Stone Soup, Alexander and the No Good Horrible Day, etc)as examples of how to read to the class. Although all very good books for K-5 graders, I will not be reading them to my high school math classes. It would be more helpful to me if I was in classes with only high school teacher "wannabes" (yes, I am the only actual teacher in my classes) instead of pre-k and elementary teacher "wannabes."

On a good note, I got to visit with Kate and Dave! I have missed them SO MUCH! We had a great time over dinner and drinks. We got caught up on funny stories and some much needed venting. I can't wait to see them again!

Pumpkin "As you Like it" Bread

Oven: 350
2 cups canned pumpkin
3 cups sugar*
1 cup water
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon**
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

*You may substitute 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce for 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup oil
** You can substitute 3 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice for cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves
***You can add a variety of things to this bread. Some ideas: 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup pecans, 1 cup mini chocolate chips, etc

In mixer combine pumpkin, sugar, water, oil, and eggs. Blend well.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Stir together and gradually add to pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth. If you are adding any additions (raisins, nuts, etc) fold in now.

Spray two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray. Evenly divide batter between two pans. I sprinkled walnuts on top of the bread with raisins and nuts in it.

Bake 60-70 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10-15 minutes. Invert breads onto cooling rack.

Serve plain, with butter, or try the cream cheese frosting from my previous post (Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies).