Sunday, August 26, 2012


Sadly, my Summer has ended. It's back to school for me. I am excited to start teaching two new classes and many new students. It will be my first year not teaching freshman or Algebra 1. I know that most teachers dread that class, but I like to think that I had mastered it. I would have gladly taught it this year, but instead I'll be teaching more seniors.

In an effort to extend the Summer (no, it didn't work) my dessert this week is.....

Strawberry Shortcake Cake

Oven 350

6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Butter a 10-inch pie plate. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl. Put butter and 1 cup sugar in mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low; mix in egg, milk, and vanilla.

Gradually mix in flour mixture. Transfer batter to buttered pie plate.

Arrange strawberries on top of batter, cut sides down and as close together as possible. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries. Bake cake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Bake until cake is golden and firm to touch, about 1 hour. Let cool in pie plate on wire rack. Cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


My husband's grandmother passed away this week. It wasn't unexpected, but it's never easy. We are comforted that she is no longer in pain and is finally with her husband. I have many fond memories of my husband's grandparents (taking them shopping at Walmart, painting their living room, hearing the story of how they met when he ruined her new white shoes) and I will never forget the way his grandmother called everyone "honeybun." When my husband would talk to his friends about his grandmother and they would ask, "Which one?" He'd always respond, "Honeybun." Everyone knew her as this feisty (and sometimes nagging, "Ivan...") woman who knew what she wanted. She will be missed by all.

In honor of Honeybun......

Honeybun Cake

Oven 325

1 box yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine cake mix, eggs, sour cream, and oil until well blended; set aside. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl. Spread half of the cake mixture into a 9 x13 cake pan. Sprinkle with half of the brown sugar mix, covering the entire cake.

Spread the rest of the cake batter over and top with the remaining brown sugar mix. Use a knife and swirl the batter. Bake at 325 for 45-50 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean.

Make the glaze: combine powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth and pour over the hot cake (right when it comes out of the oven).

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Understanding Hives

I finally understand.

It's unfortunate that it took the events of this week for me to do so, but I finally understand why people say that their pets are like their children. Miss Bailey broke away from her leash, after being called by a dumb lady standing in a very busy street, and my mind raced in a million possible directions all leading to having to get her before she was hit by a car.

With help from my husband and family members (although the dumb lady in the street did keep calling Miss Bailey) we were able to get her safely back on the leash. I looked down at my skinned up leg and dirty hands (I fell pretty hard onto the pavement and dirt when attempting to grab her) and I didn't feel any pain. My adrenaline was so high that I didn't even think about it.

In the car ride home, I broke into tears looking back at her sitting staring out the window. I can't imagine our lives without her. (Note to anyone who knew me before: Yes, I realize this goes against everything I ever said about not liking animals). In fact, I was so upset about the situation that I broke out in hives, possibly a first for me. I always knew how much having a puppy would mean to my husband, but I never knew how much having a puppy would change me.

Our garden has been doing fairly well (Eggplants: classic and white, Acorn Squash, Yellow Squash, many herbs, and a few green tomatoes so far). So, in an effort to use up some of the abundant eggplant I'm making a savory dish this weekend.

White Eggplant Bruschette
adapted from Gourmet March 2006

1 baguette
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 garlic cloves, whole clove left unpeeled
2 small white eggplants
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.
Cut off and discard 1 end of baguette, then cut 12 (1/4-inch-thick) crosswise slices from baguette (reserve remainder for another use). Lightly brush 1 side of each slice with some oil (about 1 tablespoon total) and arrange, oiled sides up, on a baking sheet. Toast until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. While toasts are still warm, rub oiled sides with cut side of garlic clove half, then transfer to a rack to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
 Halve eggplants lengthwise and make shallow 1/2-inch-long incisions all over cut sides with tip of a paring knife. Arrange eggplants, cut sides up (without crowding), in a shallow baking dish and add unpeeled garlic clove. Sprinkle thyme, rosemary, oregano, sea salt, and pepper over eggplant, then drizzle eggplant and garlic with 2 tablespoons oil.
Bake until garlic is very tender, 30 to 35 minutes, then transfer garlic to a cutting board and continue to bake eggplant until very tender, 20 to 25 minutes more. When garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze flesh from peel onto cutting board.
Transfer eggplant to cutting board and let stand until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Scrape out flesh with a spoon onto cutting board, discarding peel. Finely chop eggplant and garlic together and transfer to a bowl. Add parsley and remaining tablespoon oil, then stir until combined well. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

Top toasts with eggplant mixture and sprinkle with cheese.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

What does 30 taste like?

My husband turned 30 on Saturday. His day started with a scavenger hunt during which he called his friend Nick in Korea, was surprised by his Godmother Michele, had breakfast at one of his favorite restaurants, participated in a beer tasting at a local brewery, and tried the new Oreo coffee at Dunkin Donuts.

All of this was an elaborate way to get him out of the house, it worked but I was thinking about all the adventures he was taking and wishing I could have been there to see him get each new clue and surprise.

While he was gone I set up our sun porch with everything for a beer tasting (and root beer tasting).

I asked each guest/couple to bring a chilled 6-pack of a unique/favorite beer. I had beer bottle openers with 30 on them and a full snack table.

We ended up with about 30 different varieties of beer and 5 of root beer.

I put up different pictures of beer slogans and directions for the beer tasting. I also put up a beer tasting vocabulary list. Each guest received a tasting card to fill out with beers to remember or beers to forget. There was a voting bin at the end.

There was plenty of seating out on the porch and in the yard.

We also had the fire pit area for seating. When it got later guests gathered around the fire.

For dinner I had a grilled cheese truck pull into our driveway and serve dinner to guests.

Everyone was surprised and the food was great!

Our dining room table became a dessert table with all of his favorite desserts (chocolate chip cookies, blueberry chocolate chip bars, Oreo cookies, Shock top cake shots, Chocolate cake shots, a trifle made by his sister Samantha, and cupcakes made by my sister Audrey).

One of the desserts on the dessert table:

Blueberry Craisin Chocolate Chip Bars
adapted from

Oven 350
1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 all purpose flour
1/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup blueberry craisins

Spray a 9x9 baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar for about 3 minutes, or until fluffy. Add the vanilla. Once incorporated, add the salt, flour, and oats. Blend until well incorporated, then remove from mixer and stir in the chocolate chips and Craisins. Press into the baking dish , smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake 25-35 minutes (or until golden brown on the top). Cool completely on a wire rack before removing from the pan and cutting into bars.