Any information here on this blog, however useful, should not in any way be used as a substitute for seeking professional medical help.

For any illnesses or health issues you may have, PLEASE contact your healthcare provider.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Marbled Brownie Bars

There is no flavor combination in the world that I love more than peanut butter and chocolate.  In fact, when I meet people who don't like PB&C together, I'm tempted to grab them by the shoulders and shake them, while looking straight into their eyes and yelling, "Have you got any idea what you're missing?!?!?!?!"  Since most people find that type of behavior to be socially unacceptable, I just smile politely instead...

Anyway, if you love peanut butter and chocolate the way I do, you have GOT to try this recipe!!! I've actually doubled the original, since the original recipe made an incredibly small batch... ;D

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Marbled Brownie Bars (found at Tracey's Culinary Adventures)


For the Peanut Butter Cheesecake
  • 1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 c peanut butter
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 2 egg yolks (save the whites for the brownie batter recipe)
  • 2 tbsp milk
For the Brownie Batter
  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted 
  • 2 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg whites 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/3 c flour


(1)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray.  Line with parchment paper, if desired.  If using parchment paper, also spray this with cooking spray.

Making the Peanut Butter Cheesecake (if you're like me, and you forgot to let your cream cheese sit out to soften, get it out of the fridge and skip ahead to the brownie part and come back to this...)
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and cream cheese on medium until combined.
  2. Add peanut butter to the mixture, beat until fully incorporated.
  3. Add in the egg yolks and milk, beat until smooth. Set aside.
Making the Brownie Batter
  1. Combine cocoa powder, flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl.  Whisk to combine.
  2. In another mixing bowl, mix together the sugar and melted butter. (I do this by melting the butter in a microwave safe bowl, then adding the sugar to that bowl) 
  3. Add the eggs, egg whites, and vanilla.  Stir to combine.
  4. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together, stir until combined.
(2)  Smooth 2/3 to 3/4 of the brownie batter into the prepared pan.
(3)  Smooth all of the cheesecake mixture into a single layer on top of the brownie batter.
(4)  Drop remaining batter by the spoonful on top of the cheesecake mixture, then swirl them together using a knife.  Have fun with this part!!!
(5) Bake for 25-30 minutes (that cooking time reflects the use of a metal baking pan..it took me between 35-40 min in a Pyrex dish) or until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs.
(6)  Remove from oven, cool on a cooling rack.  Slice them into squares and try not to eat the whole pan at once!

Linking up at:

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Yarn-Wrapped Wreaths

Lately I have been having a wreath obsession and pinning all kinds of yarn & felt wreaths on Pinterest.. One for every season! The problem is, I live in a complex that is anti-creativity & sucks the fun out of life. We are not allowed to have wreaths, got fined for our pumpkins last fall, and would probably come home to burning crosses if we had the nerve to try setting out a welcome mat.

Needless to say, I hadn't bothered making any of these awesome wreaths, having nowhere to put them.  I had some extra time on my hands and I love randomly giving gifts to people in my life, so I decided I'd finally give wreath-making a go.  Even if I can't enjoy them, I can enjoy making them, and let others enjoy looking at them :)

Here are two of  my finished products:

Links to blog posts with easy felt flower tutorials can be found here.

And... always remember.  Hot glue guns are just that - HOT.  Pay attention to what you're doing, or you'll end up like me:

YOWZA.  I fried my left pointer finger to a crisp.  Thank God I'm right-handed...

Here are a few other DIY wreaths I have pinned, just to spark your creativity:

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

So, You're Tired of Waiting at the Doctor's Office: Tips and Tricks to Make Your Appointments Go Smoothly

Please excuse me as I deviate from my normal cooking and crafting content to share with you a topic that I feel confident you'll be interested in. Let me preface this by saying that I am not complaining in a roundabout way, by any means.  I'm simply sharing some life lessons of mine with you that I think you might be able to use.

My fellow Americans, it's time to admit it.  We are a nation of incredibly spoiled and impatient people.  Think about it... you get your email on your cellphone, you download books onto your Kindle, you use Google instead of the yellowpages or an encyclopedia (and the younger generation says, "what's an encyclopedia?"), we love fast food, we hate standing in line so much the self-checkout lane got invented, and watching commercials instead of fast-forwarding through them with your DVR seems like a eternity's worth of hassle.  Along these same lines, we have come to accept the fact that there are certain places where you will inevitably have to wait:  the DMV, the post office, interstate 440 in the afternoon, etc..  Some of you will add, "the doctor's office" to that list.  I'm here to tell you that it doesn't have to be that way.

After working in a doctor's office as an RN, and now doing clinical in one as an NP student, I have come by a few tricks for making a trip to the doctor as efficient as possible.  So, ladies and gents, I have compiled this list of my Top Five Tips to Make Your Doctor's Appointment Go Smoothly:

 1.  Ask for the first appointment of the morning.  Doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician's assistants inevitably get behind as the day goes on.  If they don't have to see anyone before they see you, they won't have had the chance to get behind yet.

2.  Early is on time, and on time is late.  Always show up to your appointments ten to fifteen minutes early.  There is always some kind of paperwork, or they're going to want to see your insurance card, make you settle your bill, etc.  If you are doing this at the time of your appointment, then you are late.  All of these things should be complete prior to your appointment time.  If you don't want to wait on them, don't make them wait on you.

3.  Do your paperwork the night before.  Many offices have some kind of paperwork they want you to do before you see the doctor.  A lot of these offices make this available on their website so that you can print it off and fill out before even setting foot in the office.  If they don't, you can always ask for the paperwork as you leave your appointment so that you'll have it for the next visit.  You could even call a few days prior and request they mail or fax the forms to you.  If you have the forms filled out before arriving, you save yourself (and the front office staff) a step.  On the same note, be prepared - hand the front office person your insurance card when you check in, instead of waiting until he/she calls your name.

4.  Plan enough time for the visit.  If you have multiple appointments in one day, make sure they are sufficiently spaced.  If you are visiting an office with notorious wait times, take the whole day off work.  If you know you have to pick up your kids from school in the afternoon, make it a morning appointment.  The more of a rush you are in, the more stress you will experience during the waiting that occurs.  Stressing yourself out unnecessarily isn't good for your mental or physical health.  This one doesn't save you any time, but it does save you some sanity.

Lastly, and most importantly:

5.  Be up front and direct with your concerns.  If you have any specific worries, concerns, or issues to discuss with the doctor, tell the doctor or nurse at the very beginning of the appointment.  The moment at the end of the appointment when the doctor is standing up to leave the room and asks you if you have any other questions is not the time to say, "Oh, by the way, little Susie's teacher thinks that she has ADHD..."  When you do this, you extend your visit time significantly, because the doctor will have to proceed with a line of questioning not previously addressed and may even have to do an additional physical exam.  This not only drags out your appointment, it also increases the wait time of every patient with an appointment scheduled later than yours.  If you make sure the doctor is aware of all of your topics for discussion at the beginning of the appointment, he/she will be able to more efficiently handle your concerns.

Try one or two of these out the next time you have to go to the doctor's office.  Hopefully they will help make your experience less frustrating!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Almost Too Easy To Be True No-Knead Bread

When I came across this recipe for "faster easier no-knead bread" at Savory Sweet Life, I thought for sure it was too easy, there had to be some catch.  In fact, when I pinned it to my Pinterest board, I actually typed out my caption, "too easy to be true."

Now, before this venture, I had never made bread.  I have always regarded it as one of those out-of-my-reach things, something too difficult, too involved, too time consuming for me.  Something I didn't have the right equipment for.  Something that beautiful, young-looking, stay-at-home homeschool soccer moms do whilst they also do laundry, walk the dog, pick the kids up from their play dates, and indulge in a relaxing yoga workout all at once.  (Yes, ladies of the blog-world, that is what I think all of you are.  Because that's what all of you seem like.  It's not an insult.  I'm jealous - I can't figure out how you do everything - staying awake for school seems hard enough to me...) So yeah, before now I'd always left bread-making to the SuperMom pro's.

I thought it would go great with some Spaghetti and Meatball Soup, so I got started on this the night before I was planning to make the soup. (side note, that soup was AMAZING, and you should definitely make it.)

Please excuse the bad quality iPhone photos you're about to experience...

Making the dough couldn't be quicker.  3 c flour, 2 tsp kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp instant (aka "rapid rise") yeast, with 1.5 c warm water poured over and stirred.  Cover with a wet dish cloth or plastic wrap and put in a warm place to rise overnight.

 I thought originally that making something that required doing a step the night before was just ridiculous and ambitious, but this is so quick and easy that I think it could be done daily without changing up your schedule too much.

After it rises, you should cut a piece of parchment paper the size of the bottom of your pot to put down in there.  Sprinkle flour on the dough so you can transfer it to the pot. Place in the oven with the (oven-safe) lid of the pot on, oven cold.  Turn on to 450 degrees, and set a timer for 30 minutes.  When your timer goes off, remove the lid and bake another 30 minutes.

Try to wait five minutes before cutting into it.  If you're like me, and as excited as I was, that part might be hard. :)
My poor, awkwardly misshapen loaf.

So there you have it, friends!!! Baking bread is not just for pioneer woman turned photographer SuperBlogMoms.  I can do it.  You can do it too!