Saturday, November 14, 2015

Apple Cups

I still had leftover apples from when I went apple picking last month.  I was wondering what to do with them, when I realized I had leftover homestyle biscuits from the monkey bread.  With these two things in hand, I decided to make apple cups!

2-3 apples (I used Fuji)
**1 package homestyle biscuits (the package I used had 10 biscuits)
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp brown sugar

Peel the apples, and cut them into cubes.  Place them into a large skillet, adding the butter.  Once the butter is melted, add 1 tbsp brown sugar.  Sauté on low heat while you prepare the biscuits.
Take one biscuit, and using the palm of your hand to flatten it.  Take a second biscuit and place it along one edge, again spreading using the palm of your hand.  Place the biscuit into a well-greased cupcake pan, with the seam on the pan.
Scoop the apple mixture into the cups until filled.  Make sure that you do not over fill the cups, as the biscuits will rise and push some of the mixture upwards.
Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes, or the biscuits have browned.
Let cool for about 10 minutes, then transfer the apple cups.  During this time, use the leftover butter in your pan and add the brown sugar to it, 1 tbsp at a time, until there is no butter left in the pan and the brown sugar is completely melted.  Spoon the mixture over the top of the apple cups.  If the mixture becomes hard, just heat it up again!  I had to heat mine three time.  If you really are not a fan of sugar, then you can also skip this step.

My suggestion is to serve warm.


**Each cup uses two biscuits.  I made 5 cups and used a little under 3 apples.  Please adjust the recipe accordingly (ie. doubling if you are serving more than 5 people).

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Chocolate Monkey Bread

When my Grandma Ellen and Grandpa Arnold were here a few weeks ago, they gave me a recipe for a walnut and raisin monkey bread.  Seeing that I do not like either of those, I decided to change it and make a chocolate monkey bread.  I was in a rush yesterday when I was making it, and definitely did not follow the recipe. That being said, I still think it turned out really well, therefore, here is the altered recipe.

3 containers of 7.5 oz homestyle biscuits
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1.5 cups chocolate chips (I used 1 cup but thought it could have used more)
1/4 cup melted butter


  1. Grease a fluted bundt-pan
  2. Cut the biscuits into quarters
  3. In a large ziplock bag or bowl, put in the light brown sugar and cinnamon.  Then place the quarters in the bag/ bowl and coat
  4. Place a layer of biscuit quarters on the bottom of the pan, followed by chocolate chips.  Repeat, ending with a layer of biscuits on the top.  Don't worry, only about 1/2 of the pan will be full.
  5. Pour half of the melted butter evenly over the top
  6. Spoon in about 2 tbsp of the leftover brown sugar mixture until the mixture is all brown, and pour evenly over the top.
  7. Bake in the oven, at 350, for about 30 minutes.  The dough should be completely cooked through, and the top of the monkey bread will be brown.
  8. Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then flip it upside down onto a plate or server.
  9. Eat right out of the oven, or heat up before eating.  It is good at room temperature, but fantastic when it is warm.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Heart Walk 2015

Today was the day that I attended my first Heart Walk, or any other American Heart Association event, alone.  For some, it may not seem like that big of a deal, and it isn't, but it was another step towards independence for me.  I have been involved with the American Heart Association since I was about 5 years old.  It holds a place in my heart, and I love attending and participating in their events.  Some of you may not know that I was born with Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect.  I have undergone many minor surgeries, and two open-heart surgeries.  My last surgery was 10 1/2 years ago, where I received a porcine pulmonary valve.  This has allowed for me to be "normal", to ke up with my peers physically.  About three years ago, I was told that I have another series of problems, a side effect from the Tetralogy.  I live with my heart problems everyday, but I do not let it define me.  I am a healthy, normal 22 year-old, attending graduate school, with the goal of obtaining my Ph.D. in the biomedical sciences.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Grand baby Cakes Vanilla cake with Whipped Chocolate Frosting

I received the Grandbaby Cakes cookbook by Jocelyn Adams last week, and I couldn't have been more ecstatic to bake.

I set out with the intention of fully following the recipe, I swear I did, but I ran out of sugar!  I went to the market two times this week to get all of the right ingredients, and didn't realize that I was low on granulated sugar.  I also didn't realize that one box of confectioners sugar was not enough for the recipe.  That being said, I have become pretty good at substitutions.

Here's the recipe:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Caramel Apple Blondies

Now that I have a total of 8 apples, 6 Fuji from the orchard and 2 Gala lying around in the house, I have to use them before they rot.  The answer? Baking of course!  I wanted to bake blondies with apples in the middles, but I did not find a recipe for that, so I modified one by Chocolate with Grace to produce Caramel Apple Blondies; a caramel, apple gooeyness that is to be desired by all!

A layer of blondies, followed by a layer of caramel and sautéed apples, and a blondie coating to finish.  How can you say no to this?
Now that you know you will never be able to resist, here's the recipe!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Fall with apples and pumpkins!

Hey everyone!
Today I finally went to Chiles Orchard to go apple and pumpkin picking!  I have been wanting to go for a few weeks now, but haven't had the time.  I do not remember having gone apple or pumpkin picking before, but I am told that I have been pumpkin picking.

It was a lot of fun!  The patch was a bit picked over, leaving all of the good apples up high.  Being that I am short, I was unable to pick all of the gorgeous looking Fuji apples.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs

This past weekend was my moms birthday, and seeing as it was a big birthday, the whole family met-up in the midwest to celebrate.  Given the fact that I haven't seen my family in over 3 months, and I love to bake, I decided to make cut-out sugar cookies.  I wanted these cookies to taste perfect, and didn't have the time to make mistakes, so I used Martha Stewarts Sugar Cookie Recipe; the one my mom has been using for years.

Having never made cut-out sugar cookies before, I learned a lot:
1. You can't color just the dough, you must also color your hands if you want pretty, colorful cookies!
2. Using a wine bottle works great as a rolling pin.  I know that I can buy an inexpensive one, but this was a lot more fun.
Yes, the wine bottle was empty

3. When making cut-outs that are more flimsy, make the dough about twice as thick.  This helps ensure that they don't break (or at least that they won't break as easily).
In this case, I am referring to the X's and O's.  It was much easier to transfer them when they were thicker.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

S'mores coffee

In honor of national coffee day yesterday, I trekked through the torrential downpour to Dunkin Donuts and got free coffee.  Seeing how it was almost 4 pm, I saved it for today, and I am glad I did! Grandbaby Cakes posted a S'mores coffee recipe, and I decided to make it this morning.  It was fantastic, and a fabulous way to drink coffee.  I definitely recommend that you try it.

I am going to copy the link for the recipe below.  I only had minion graham crackers on hand so I just crushed them in a napkin for the graham cracker layer.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Soft Chocolate Pudding Butterscotch Chips

That's right, I've baked again!  I have been on this kick where I refuse to follow any recipe.  There is definitely a learning curve when you decide to start modifying recipes.  Of all the cooke recipes I have modified, this is absolutely my favorite and an absolute make again!



Football season started about 2 weeks ago, and it is a whole new world to me.  Football is similar to a religion down here, and it is a new way of living for me.  Last Saturday was the first Hoos home football game of the season, and everybody flocked to the stadium for the game.  I went out and studied for the day (of course) and the line of cars heading to the stadium was backed up for traffic lights.  That doesn't include the parking lots full of tents, open trunks, and loads of food, or the hoards of people walking towards the stadium.  This was all three hours before the game started.

Yesterday, I decided to join those hoards of people as I went to my "first" college football game. I say "first" because I went to a Claremont-Mudd-Scripps vs. Pomona-Pitzer game but it is not the same.  College students were allover the roads yesterday with signs saying "Parking $20" or "Parking $20 plus free use of the bathroom", and "Cheap parking here".  It was shocking!  Students trying to make money off of game day by charging for expensive "cheap" parking.  Yet, people pay them to park at their apartment complex or house without a second thought.  I was still in for another shock of the day, however.  What I did not realize was that going to a football game meant standing up for four hours straight.  Needless to say, I am still exhausted today.  It was a lot of fun to watch the game, and see the school pride.  I guess I need to learn the UVA cheer for next time.  Despite being exhausted, I am glad that I went and got to experience something new.

It is going to take me a very long time to get used to football season, but who knows, maybe I will become  a football fan like everybody else...

Monday, September 7, 2015

Spaghetti Squash with a feta cheese tomato cream sauce

I spent about an hour making food today for dinner and leftover meals.  I baked two butternut squash, frozen peas and carrots, and corn, and chopped up some squash and zucchini.  Then I made a "cream" sauce.  It was fantastic!  However, I would have thought that two 3 lb. butternut squash and all those veggies would have created more than three meals!  Here are my recipes to make this yourself (and I definitely recommend that you do).

Spaghetti Squash:
Place squash in a pyrex dish
Pre-heat oven to 350
While the oven is preheating, place the squash in the pyrex and put it in the oven
When the oven is pre-heated, take out the spaghetti squash and cut it in half.  I always cut it in half width-wise, but you can cut it in half length-wise.
Scoop out all of the seeds
In the bottom of the pyrex dish, pour in a bit of olive oil and sprinkle some oregano underneath where you are going to put the spaghetti squash
Place the spaghetti squash in the pyrex dish up-side down
Bake for 45 minutes

Use a fork and make your spaghetti!  I am too impatient to wait for the spaghetti squash to cool down, so I usually burn my hand.  However, you could also use a paper towel to hold the spaghetti squash halves.

Feta cheese tomato cream sauce:
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/8 cup mild cheddar
1/3 cup skim milk
grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup tomato sauce (I used hunts garlic and herb)

Add feta cheese to a pot, then put in the mild cheddar and milk
Heat until the cheese won't melt anymore, and all ingredients are mixed
Turn burner off and then let it thicken
Cover the top with Parmesan cheese
Add the tomato sauce and then heat and stir until thoroughly mixed

If you want a thicker tomato sauce I would either double the cheese/ half the tomato sauce or use heavy cream instead of milk!

2/3 cup frozen peas and carrots
2/3 cup frozen corn
~1/3 squash
~1/3 zucchini

Chop up the squash and zucchini
In a large pan, add the frozen peas and carrots, and corn
Add 3/4 cup water and cook on low/med until the water has evaporated
Add in the zucchini and squash and cook on low for ~5 mins (time may vary depending on how big you chopped veggies)

Add the spaghetti squash then the sauce to the large pot, stir and serve.  Enjoy!

Let me know if you have any questions!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

How Do You Learn in Grad School?

I'm almost done with week three of my first graduate school class and I'm starting to realize that learning is different. It is no longer about the memorization or how well you know the material, but it's about how well you understand it and how you can apply it. It is no longer just learning about what has been done and what has been learned, but it's about learning how to take what we know and apply it to something new. It's about trying to learn more. Science is never complete, and science isn't always right. A paper we were supposed to read for class today was retracted because of an abnormal change in the cell line (a change in the proteins it was expressing) that caused the whole paper to come into question. Science that looks to be possible, and was replicated, isn't always accurate. It is important to follow all experiments through, and if you're using cell lines then it's important to characterize it periodically. After talking to my mother today she compared it to doing the IB program. What's important about science is that you always want to be moving forward, and you always want to be teaching; teaching your classmates, teaching the science world, teaching the community.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Hi everyone!

I know it has been a while since I have posted, but I got slammed at school this week.  I learned a few very valuable lessons though, including the fact that I need to work harder.  That is okay though, live and learn.  I have been eating a lot of good food lately that I thought I would share with you!

First, I made "spaghetti" and meatballs last week.  It was fantastic!  I added 9 frozen turkey meatballs to a pot with tomato sauce, and heated for 20 minutes.  I then made 1/2 a box of pasta.  I used elbows because I had half a box leftover, but you can use your favorite kind!  Dish the food out into three portions.  I then mixed in a big pinch of mozzarella, mild cheddar, and Parmesan cheese.  It was fantastic!  I also suggest a small side of bread to mop up any extra tomato sauce :)

Next are dumplings from Marco and Luca.  They are supposed to be the best dumplings around, however I was very disappointed to learn that they had a very small menu, only ~6 choices.  The noodles were all pre-made and the dumplings were store-bought and frozen.  However, I am glad I tried them and they were pretty yummy.  The sauce was, unfortunately, spicy and so my mouth was on fire by the end of lunch.

Next, are the Afghan kebabs that I got with my friend Beth for completing a question-set we had due Friday at midnight.  We had this terribly difficult paper to read for school this week; it took ~1 to read, ~5 hours to understand, and ~5 hours to complete the questions.  Anyways, we celebrated with chicken, a veggie filled-turnover, bread, and vino.

That's all for now! Another post on food to come shortly :)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Addicted to Coffee

The time has finally come where I join the millions of Americans who are addicted to coffee.  It only took me until my third year of college to drink coffee, and my first year of grad school to become addicted.  I will not leave my apartment weekday morning without my cup of coffee.  Some days all I need is half a cup before I feel jittery, other days I need the whole cup.  It is amazing how only a little amount of coffee can affect me...
I never thought I would see this day-- I can't believe I am a coffee addict now.  Lets hope I can keep it at one cup a day!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

I made the most wonderful muffins today!  In fact, I made a healthy version of Handle the Heats Ultimate Muffins.  I strongly suggest making these.  If you do not like peanut butter, than you can take the peanut butter out of the recipe.  Additionally, if you do not want to add the protein powder, use 2 cups of flour.

1 1/3 cup flour
1 scoop (1/3 cup) protein powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 cup (low-fat) buttermilk
1/4 cup applesauce
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup chocolate chips and ~1/4 cup for the top
1/2 cup creamy, natural peanut butter

Mix together the buttermilk, applesauce, egg, and vanilla.  In a bowl, add the sugars, flour, protein powder, and baking powder.  I added the peanut butter to the dry ingredients (however it is probably better to add it to the wet ones).  Mix the wet ingredients and add it to the dry ones.  Stir until combined.  Add in the chocolate chips.

Divide the batter into 12 muffin tin cups.  Add 5-6 chocolate chips to the top each of muffin.  Bake at 450 for 5 minutes, then decrease the temperature to 400.  Bake for an additional 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.

These muffins are absolutely amazing, and are a definite make again.

Nutrition per cupcake:
223 calories
6.4 g protein
8.5 g fat
20 g sugar
32 g carbohydrates
1.1 g fiber
(I have the full macromolecule break-down..let me know if you want it!)

Sunday, August 9, 2015


I have finally decided that it is time to explore Charlottesville.  On the top of the list, bakeries and ice cream shops!  I am starting with bakeries.  First, I visited Sweethaus.  Here, I tried three different cupcakes.  This place seems most similar to My Delight Cupcakery in Claremont, CA because of their wide variety of cupcake flavors.  It was pretty good, very sweet (which is fine by me); however their cakes were just a bit dry.  I would definitely go back, just not every week.

Top: double chocolate
lower left: salted caramel
lower right: cookie dough

Next, I heard about a place called MarieBette Cafe & Bakery where I tried une pain au chocolate.  Their croissants are supposed to as good as Europe's.  Now, it has been a lot of years since I've tried a chocolate croissant but it was really good.  In fact, there was a warmish, gooey chocolate center.  Definitely worth going back to.  In fact, I think I want to bring my college friends here when they come to visit!

Whelp, that's all for now! Until next time...

The River James

Hi everyone,

I went tubing on The River James yesterday with other people from my program.  We spent about 3.5 hours on the river.  It was a good bonding experience.  From tubing down the river with two women I have been hanging out with, paddling out of the seaweed, up stream and to the other side of the river to laze with the rest of the group, to connecting almost all of our 36 tubes together, to scraping against and trying to go around all the rocks.  I could not have asked for a better bonding experience!

Sunday, August 2, 2015



A blog post to update you on my weekend.

I went to the DMV.  I got there at 7:45 am and left an hour later.  I was amazed at how fast I got out.  I did not have to take the written test as I had a valid California license (yeah!).  Since I was done early, I was second in line to get my car wash at the dealer and was in and out in 15 minutes.  Next, I went to Costco.  Costco just opened on Thursday; I am happy it is here but wish it was here a month ago.  I bought 2 large cheese pizzas, salad, chicken breasts, chicken broth, etc.

Last night, a group of people came over from my program.  We had so much fun!  We spent a lot of time laughing and talking.  It was different hanging out with a group of people who are all research scientists; it was great because we laughed at each others jokes and noticed little things about the Prince & Me (the movie we watched) that nobody else would have noticed.  I hope that we all get to hang out again soon.

By the way, these are the cupcakes I served.  You can see the process of frosting them, moving clockwise from 11 to 10 o'clock.

Today, I tried my crockpot for the first time.  The lentils came out perfectly, but the chicken breasts were a bit dry.  It will take some time learn how to use it properly.

Additionally, I went to a Pure Barre class today.  It worked all of my muscles.  I can't wait to see how I feel tomorrow (and no, that is not sarcastic).  I liked it enough that I bought a 10 pack.  As I am not sure what my spending looks like, I am going to try and go once a week until I get on my feet.

This week is going to be very busy, I am attending a Cardiovascular conference!  My first one as a graduate student.

That's all for now! More to come soon.

Friday, July 31, 2015


Hi everyone!

It has, again, been a busy week.  We went to the Fralin Art Museum at UVA this week to enhance our observation skills.  The point is to observe the outcomes of our experiments as a whole, and not look solely for the outcome we want.  I then went to dinner with a few of the other first years--I think we are starting to bond (at least I sincerely hope so).  In fact, I invited a few over tomorrow night for dinner and a movie.

I am very excited for everyone to come tomorrow, and in preparation I baked oreo cupcakes.  I modified a recipe from Roxana's Home Baking.  It made one dozen cupcakes!

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup skim milk, room temperature
12 oreo cookies

1. Mix butter and sugar
2. Add in vanilla and eggs, one at a time
3. Add in the baking powder
4. Alternate adding in the flour and milk.  I added 1/2 flour, 1/2 milk, 1/2 flour, milk, and the rest of the flour.
5. Stop mixing when all of the flour is added
6. Place cupcake liners in the cupcake tin
7. Put an Oreo at the bottom of the cupcake liner
8. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes

I will say that the cupcakes were denser than I would have liked.  Most likely it is due to not bringing all of the ingredients to room temperature.  My suggestion is to use 2/3 cups milk and add chocolate chips!  I just hope that the people coming over tomorrow will like them!

I am going to include the link to the original recipe, because I think the original recipe was probably amazing.

Now, I just have to figure out what I am serving for dinner.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


It has been one busy week, or at the very least I am exhausted!  I have been sitting in front of the computer all week analyzing slides for my project.  I am excited to see the results next week, but I cannot continuously sit in front of the computer like I have been recently.  This is making me think long and hard about my next possible rotations.  The biggest question I have right now is, can I join a non-cardiovascular research lab and be happy?  Or, will I feel as though I have let myself down.  I am going to be grappling with this question for the next few days as I contact professors who do not study the heart.  For my sanity though, and to try to find my true passion in graduate school, I am afraid that I need to rotate in a non-cardiovascular lab (I also think I will fall in love with it).

I have also been meeting new people, and went over to a friends house last night with a bunch of first-years to play GAMES!  It has been so long since I have had a game night.  I learned how to play Jungle Speed (which can turn "violent" because you are trying to grab the totem pole in the middle), and Settlers of Catan.  It was great to be out with people my own age and to spend the evening having fun and laughing.

Lastly, it wouldn't be me if I didn't try to bake this week!  This is the second time I have used my kitchen aid mixer.  I baked chocolate muffins with protein powder in the hopes that it will keep me full from breakfast to lunch.

They are very good.  Light and moist.  Don't be afraid to add a little less milk to make them thicker, or add chocolate chips!

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 12 oz evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2.5 scoops protein powder (I used vanilla Designer Whey)
  • 3/4 cup milk
Add the ingredients in this order.  I made 25 muffins, and cooked them at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

That is all for now!  Off to do laundry and the like :)

Friday, July 10, 2015

First Week

I officially started my Ph.D. program this week at UVa.  It has been great to get back in to the lab, but very different from Dr. Wiley's lab.  There is definitely a learning curve, as I have little background in cardiology.  I know that is hard to believe, but when it comes to the specifics it is true.  My first rotation is looking at atherosclerosis, or plaque build up, in the heart.  I feel like the "scared" first-year.  However, I think I am finally on the cusp of learning, and becoming more confident in the lab.

I cannot wait for this weekend.  While I have a lot of to accomplish, I am looking forward to finding the gym and getting some rest.  Hopefully I will meet some people this weekend (maybe even somebody who would like to see the Minion movie with me!).

That's all for now!


Tuesday, June 9, 2015


It is 3 weeks until I move to Virginia, and I went into a baking frenzy today.  Why? I needed to figure out the best recipe to make m & m cookies.  A few weeks ago, I made the "perfect" m & m cookie by perfect-palate.  Everybody loved them, but there was something not quite right.  I was determined to figure it out.

Today, I re-made the perfect-palate cookies.  Last time, I had to use full-sized m & m's because I couldn't find the mini ones, therefore I used full-sized chocolate chips.  Today, I made them exactly as the recipe called for, using 1 cup of mini m & m's.  I also made Averie's soft m & m chocolate cookies.  I used 2/3 cup mini m & m's and a handful of normal-sized m & m's (a bag of mini m & m's doesn't get you too far these days...).  Additionally, I used 1/2 vanilla pudding mix and 1/2 cornstarch.

Now comes the hard part: which one is best!

First, they look amazing!

Second, they taste great!  It has taken me a few days to decide which of these two cookies I like better...The first cookie is soft and chewy, and the second cookie is even softer.  However, the second cookie I found to be a *just* bit dense for my liking.  Therefore, I believe that the first cookie is better, ONLY if it is made with mini m & m's (that being said, I would make both again in a heart beat).

Until next time!