September 2015 archive

pumpkin spice syrup for a homemade pumpkin spice latte

It is here!  It has arrived!  ‘Tis the season for all things pumpkin!

Cooler temperatures call for warmer drinks.  This pumpkin spice latte  syrup is perfect for your homemade pumpkin spice latte!  www.passthecookies.comI am a pumpkin lover.  Fall is wonderful because it brings cooler weather after our crazy hot and humid summer months, and SO MUCH PUMPKIN!  It is always exciting to see the pumpkin flavored items return to the stores and coffee shops.  Pumpkin breads, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pancake mix, pumpkin granola, pumpkin cinnamon rolls, pumpkin scones, etc, etc.  I thank Trader Joe’s for most of my pumpkin goods because they have a seriously wonderful plethora of pumpkin items.

Cooler temperatures call for warmer drinks.  This pumpkin spice latte  syrup is perfect for your homemade pumpkin spice latte!  www.passthecookies.com

Although I have a crazy love for pumpkin flavored foods, I had never had the famed pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks until last weekend.  I know, who am I?  The last one to the PSL boat ever.  I don’t drink coffee very often, I’m more of a tea person, but I have a definite appreciation for coffee and coffee drinks.  There are some days when tea just doesn’t do the trick and you need that cup of coffee (for some that just happens to be every day).

Cooler temperatures call for warmer drinks.  This pumpkin spice latte  syrup is perfect for your homemade pumpkin spice latte!  www.passthecookies.com

Since the PSL has had so much hype over the past few years I had high expectations going into it.  I thought the drink would taste like a cloud of smooth, milky coffee with a distinct pumpkin flavor.  I probably just set the bar way to high, but I was unimpressed.  I really wanted it to win big points and it definitely wasn’t my favorite drink on the menu.  Instead, I set out to create a tastier, cheaper version that I could have in the comfort of my own cozy home.  This DIY won big time.

Cooler temperatures call for warmer drinks.  This pumpkin spice latte  syrup is perfect for your homemade pumpkin spice latte!  www.passthecookies.com

Cooler temperatures call for warmer drinks.  This pumpkin spice latte  syrup is perfect for your homemade pumpkin spice latte!  www.passthecookies.com

You can adjust the amount of pumpkin spice syrup to your liking for a sweeter or less sweet cup of joe.  No fear fellow tea loves, added to a cup of chai tea, the pumpkin spice syrup makes a delicious pumpkin chai tea latte too.  If you want to use less sugar overall, replace the sugar with a sugar substitute or try substituting maple syrup for some of the sugar.  Coffee shops usually add vanilla syrup to their pumpkin spice lattes.  To imitate that we add a bit of vanilla extract.  If you like the vanilla flavor, up the amount of extract or pull out that vanilla coffee syrup we made earlier this year.

Cooler temperatures call for warmer drinks.  This pumpkin spice latte  syrup is perfect for your homemade pumpkin spice latte!  www.passthecookies.com

Mmmm, fall is wonderful.  Whip up this delicious pumpkiny treat, surround yourself with pumpkins, warm blankets, cozy socks and a view of those beautiful fall leaves and you have it made.  A slice of pumpkin bread on the side never hurt either.

Cooler temperatures call for warmer drinks.  This pumpkin spice latte  syrup is perfect for your homemade pumpkin spice latte!  www.passthecookies.com

Pumpkin Spice Syrup
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon or 4-5 cinnamon sticks (or a combination)
heavy 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon allspice
4 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte
1-2 tablespoons Pumpkin Spice Syrup
espresso, strongly brewed coffee, or strongly brewed chai tea
milk

To make the Pumpkin Spice Syrup
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir the ingredients together until the sugars dissolve. Lower the heat to low or medium heat and continue cooking for another 5-6 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Strain the mixture through a sieve or fine mesh. You can store the syrup in an airtight container for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator. The spices settle to the bottom so shake or stir well before each use.

To make your Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte
Note: Everyone has different ways they take their coffee so I’ll leave the proportions of coffee and milk up to you. A traditional latte would use about a 1 to 1 ratio of espresso or strong coffee and milk, but feel free to adjust based on your coffee preferences. 1-2 tablespoons of syrup is usually good for a 10-12 oz mug, but you can adjust that based on the size of your mug and your preference for sweetness. The syrup is also great in regular coffee if you don’t want a latte and makes a great pumpkin chai tea latte.

If you have a milk frother: Heat and froth your milk according to your milk frother’s instructions.

If you do not have a milk frother: Pour more milk than you need for your latte into a microwave-safe cup, bowl or jar. Shake the jar with all of your might or whisk the milk in your cup/bowl as hard as you can until you create milk foam. Heat up the milk in the microwave until the milk is hot.

Pour your hot coffee/espresso/chai and 1-2 tablespoons of the pumpkin spice syrup into your mug. Hold the milk foam in your cup back with a spoon and pour the warm milk into your mug. Stir your coffee to mix the milk with the pumpkin spice syrup and coffee. Spoon the milk foam on top and sprinkle with cinnamon. If you have whipped cream around, by all means plop some of that on top too. After all, there’s only one PSL season a year. Put on your coziest sweater and enjoy the fall weather and your homemade PSL!

Based on A Beautiful Mess and Annie’s Eats

Cooler temperatures call for warmer drinks.  This pumpkin spice latte  syrup is perfect for your homemade pumpkin spice latte!  www.passthecookies.com

link love

It is almost the weekend.  I can see it.  It is waving from afar saying “come closer, come closer,” and I am just crawling towards it.

link love 9-24-2015

via

Here are some links for you to peruse as you crawl closer to the weekend too.  Let’s hope it is a speedy crawl.

Now that fall is in full swing and pumpkin-flavored everything lines the shelves, Starbucks has come out with their first new drink in 4 years.  Hint, it isn’t pumpkin.  Inspired by the milk left behind after your morning bowl of cereal (or your midnight bowl, if you are Will ;) ), the Toasted Graham Latte is the new seasonal coffee drink for all the non-PSL lovers.

Speaking of pumpkin, look at these amazing chinoiserie pumpkins.  Yes, chinoiserie pumpkins.  Talk about crafty.  As you can probably tell from some of the dishes and linens I use, I love blue and white.  I want to make one.

Where do all of these pumpkins come from, you might ask.  Not from The Great Pumpkin Desert, Charlie Brown.  I had to.  But really, this article and map detail where pumpkins grow in the US and it is pretty interesting.

And since we are on the subject of pumpkins, let’s talk about Halloween.  I bet you thought your Harry Potter outfit was great, just wait until we can have real invisibility cloaks.  Wouldn’t that be the coolest?!

Last but not least, I have been loving travel photography lately.  It makes me want to get out and travel all the time.  I want to visit the US West and the Pacific Northwest and all of the wonderful National Parks.  Alas, since that is not a great option right now, I look at beautiful pictures, like these, instead.

fall bucket list

Fall Bucket List 2015

Fall is here and it seems like everyone and their grandmother is excited about it!  I definitely am!  I’m excited about the cooler weather, the colorful leaves, the pumpkin spices, and the cozy blankets and sweaters.  Fall can trigger sentimental memories for me.  Will and I started dating in the fall, then got engaged in the fall.  Football games are in the fall and remind me of the football games I attended as an undergraduate.  Apple cider, warm food and cozy memories remind me of family and slow Sunday afternoons growing up.  While I am a big tradition person and always want to continue fall traditions I grew up with and those that Will and I have now made, I also want to make sure I experience the season to the fullest extent and try new things!  This year I made a fall bucket list so I can check of the fun activities, new or traditional, that I want to do.  I have added to this list about every day this week, so I’m sure it will keep growing as the season continues, but here it is for now!  What’s on your fall bucket list?  I’ll check in to see how we did at the end of the season :)

fall bucket list 2015

-go apple picking
-go on a walk and crunch leaves
-drink hot apple cider
-wear scarves and boots
-make a new pumpkin treat
-try a new recipe
-pick pumpkins at a pumpkin patch or at the farmer’s market
-visit the mountains
-go to a cozy coffee shop with friends
-send a fall care package
-make a fall craft
-go on a picnic
-go on a hike
-roast pumpkin seeds
-have a cozy night in
-take photos in the leaves
-go to the State Fair
-enjoy a sunset
-spend time with family
-remember to be thankful

apple cider doughnut muffins with cinnamon sugar, maple whiskey glaze, and apple cider glaze

Fall officially starts this week! Are you as excited as I am?  Granted it was still about 89 degrees today but it is cooling down and we are starting to have crisp mornings!

Apple cider doughnut muffins are a perfect little easy breakfast treat.

In lieu of the arrival of autumn and our recent apple picking trip, we have apple cider doughnut muffins today!  I have a love for apple cider that does not necessarily have much to do with the drink itself.  While apple cider is delicious, it is the memories I associate with it that make it a comforting fall treat.

Apple cider doughnut muffins are a perfect little easy breakfast treat.

My dad loves fall, the cool days and flavors that come with it.  I think his ideal day would be one cool enough for him to don a sweater, heat up some apple cider on the stove, complete with homemade mulling spices, and sit on the chilly porch with a good book.

Growing up, my dad worked from home one day a week.  On crisp fall days he would meet my siblings and me after school at the bus stop with mugs of piping hot apple cider.  As we walked with him into the house the aroma of cinnamon, cloves and allspice filled our noses.  These mulling spices, hidden in the cider on the stovetop, also adorned a small warming cup that was heated from below by a candle.  On Tuesdays in the fall, that candle and warming cup lived in my dad’s home office, releasing the calming spiced scent all day, so that when we ran up the stairs to greet him we were enveloped by the warm smell of fall and a big, sweatered hug.

Apple cider doughnut muffins are a perfect little easy breakfast treat.

Those scents and memories were the inspiration for these apple cider doughnut muffins.  Fresh out of the oven, covered in cinnamon sugar, maple whiskey glaze, or apple cider glaze, these doughnut muffins are perfect alongside a mug of hot apple cider or a cup of coffee (even a pumpkin spice latte, dare we go full on fall).  They are filled with the spices that remind me of my dad’s mulling spices and the slight taste of that comforting apple cider that I grew up loving, at the bus stop or not.

Apple cider doughnut muffins are a perfect little easy breakfast treat.

If you have a doughnut pan, these work well piped into each ring, but they are just as good in mini muffin shapes.  And since they are mini we can eat more of them.  That’s how it works, right?

Apple cider doughnut muffins are a perfect little easy breakfast treat.

Mixing cider with butter for the cinnamon sugar topping enhances the apple flavor of the doughnut muffins and adds an element of depth.  Don’t skimp on the cinnamon sugar topping, if you use it.  No one ever complained about a doughnut or a muffin with too much cinnamon sugar (is there such a thing?).  The maple whiskey glaze has a great flavor, with the slightest bite of whiskey and warmth from the maple syrup.  The apple cider glaze rounds out the doughnut muffins perfectly, adding a bit more cider flavor and some extra cinnamon sweetness.  I tried to pick a favorite topping, and really got close, but I couldn’t decide.  I’ll let you make your own decision.

Apple cider doughnut muffins are a perfect little easy breakfast treat.

These doughnut muffins are easy and come together quickly in the morning, before anyone has the chance to squelch their hunger with a bowl of cereal.   They make a beautiful fall treat to serve warm to guests.  Apple cider doughnut muffins have the density of a cake doughnut and the structure of a muffin.  We have hidden some whole wheat flour in them for a lower guilt option that no one will be able to detect.  Using only all-purpose flour works just fine too.

Here’s to crisp mornings, childhood memories, mulling spices, hot apple cider and some apple cider doughnut muffins to go alongside it all.

Apple Cider Doughnut Muffins
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup + 1 tablespoon apple cider
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 egg

Cinnamon Sugar Topping
3 tablespoons butter
¼ cup apple cider
1/3 cup sugar
1 ½ cup cinnamon

Maple Whiskey Glaze
1 ½ cups plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon whiskey (or maple flavored whiskey if you are going all out)
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon milk

Apple Cider Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted (add more to make the glaze thicker)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons apple cider
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and spray a mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small pot on the stove, melt the butter. Stir in the cider and set aside to cool.

While the mixture is cooling, whisk together the flours, baking powder, sea salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Whisk the sugar, honey and egg into the cooled butter mixture until the ingredients are evenly combined.

Stir together wet and dry ingredients just until combined. Over-mixing will make your doughnut muffins tough.

Pour the batter into the muffin cups, filling them until they are about 2/3 full. Bake for 7 minutes. Allow to cool 1 minute before transferring the doughnut muffins onto a cooling rack. Meanwhile, make topping and/or glaze. The toppings make enough to cover about 1 batch of doughnut muffins. If you want to use a combination of toppings, half or quarter the recipes.

Cinnamon Sugar Topping
In a small saucepan (or bowl, if using the microwave), melt the butter and stir in apple cider. In another small bowl, mix together cinnamon and sugar.

To assemble with cinnamon sugar topping
Quickly dip each doughnut muffin in the butter-cider mixture and roll in the cinnamon sugar. Place back on the cooling rack.

Maple Whiskey Glaze
Whisk together the powdered sugar, whiskey, maple syrup and milk until the mixture is smooth and a bit runny. You can add more milk to thin the glaze or more powdered sugar to thicken it, depending on the consistency you prefer.

Apple Cider Glaze
Whisk together the powdered sugar, cinnamon, apple cider and milk until the mixture is smooth and a bit runny. As with the maple whiskey glaze, you can add more milk to thin the glaze or more powdered sugar to thicken it.

To assemble with glaze
Dip each doughnut muffin in the glaze and place back on the cooling rack. You can drizzle additional glaze on them with a spoon or fork.

These are best when served the same day, slightly warm. If storing leftovers, lightly cover, if at all.  If you do not serve the cinnamon sugared ones the same day, they may become syrupy.  If you know you will not serve them the same day you make them, wait to coat the doughnut muffins until right before you serve them.

Doughnuts adapted from here.  Maple Whiskey Glaze adapted from here.  Apple Cider Glaze from here.

apple picking

There are a few quintessential things that remind me of fall.  Apples, hot apple cider with mulling spices, pumpkins and ANYTHING pumpkin flavored (count me in), sweaters, boots, deep colors, and colorful, crunchy leaves.  Not even September 21st yet and we’ve already nailed a few of those :)

Pass the Cookies - The start of fall means it's time for some apple picking!  www.passthecookies.com

Over the long Labor Day weekend, Will and I traveled to a pick-your-own apple orchard.  It was the first picking weekend for the farm and it was bustling!  They had rows and rows of different apple trees to choose from.  Granny Smith, Gala, Fuji and Golden Delicious were in season when we were there but they told us that Arkansas Blacks and a few other varieties would be ripe in the coming month.  That might call for a return trip ;)

No matter the season I eat at least one apple a day, sometimes two.  But there is something even more wonderful when apples are in season and we can get a bag of fresh ones at the farmer’s market, or in this case, the orchard!

Pass the Cookies - The start of fall means it's time for some apple picking!  www.passthecookies.com

Pass the Cookies - The start of fall means it's time for some apple picking!  www.passthecookies.com

When we got our basket the workers told us we could pick up to a peck of apples.  A peck?  I have heard of a peck but how were we supposed to know what that meant in terms of number or weight?  We looked around and consulted our friend Google to find out that a peck of apples is 11 pounds.  11 POUNDS OF APPLES!  Unless we were each eating 4 apples a day there is no way we would make it through 11 pounds of apples before they go bad.  I mean I can handle two a day, but holy cow.  We ended up filling our bag with about 5 pounds and had plenty to share.

Pass the Cookies - The start of fall means it's time for some apple picking!  www.passthecookies.com

Pass the Cookies - The start of fall means it's time for some apple picking!  www.passthecookies.com

After we picked and weighed our apples we ventured into the little general store on the property.  It was filled with anything apple related you can think of.  Trivets?  Got ‘em.  Tshirts? Got those too.  Want an apple sippy cup for your child?  Don’t worry, they have those too.  Everything apple ever.  Every few hours they would pull out the apple press and demonstrate how they pressed apples straight from the tree into fresh cider.  They sold quick breads and warm turnovers and had a caramel apple station.  One of the best treats they had though was the apple cider slushy.  So delicious.  It was perfect for when the sun came out on our not-quite-yet-fall day.  Mmmm.  I’d take another one of those right about now, please.

Pass the Cookies - The start of fall means it's time for some apple picking!  www.passthecookies.com

Pass the Cookies - The start of fall means it's time for some apple picking!  www.passthecookies.com

I’m ready to embrace fall – let all of the apple and pumpkin recipes and crafts begin!  Apple picking was a great start to our fall and a fun outdoor activity for these cooler days.  I will neither confirm nor deny that I spent part of our time there skipping through the orchard rows like a child and trying to find a spot on the stack of hay bales to climb.  Life should be fun, right?  Apple picking sure was :)

Pass the Cookies - The start of fall means it's time for some apple picking!  www.passthecookies.comShirt-J.Crew from last year (similar) | Jeans-Loft | Boots-Hunter | Scarf-Paris souvenir (similar, similar) | Bracelet-gift (similar) | Nail Polish-Essie

 

homemade almond butter and pecan peanut cinnamon butter

It finally feels like fall outside!

Almond butter and pecan cinnamon butter are easy, delicious and healthy spread.September decided to show itself today with cool temperatures, wonderful breezes and bright blue skies full of fluffy white clouds.  I know it is not officially fall yet, according to the calendar and the autumnal equinox, but I am so ready for it to cool down and feel like fall.  I have already broken into the pumpkin and the apple cider.  Can’t the weather conform to my mood?  I wish.

Almond butter and pecan cinnamon butter are easy, delicious and healthy spread.Almond butter and pecan peanut cinnamon butter are so delicious and are great healthy spreads for any season.  They are thick but spreadable, perfect for huge slices of multigrain toast with granola and honey, apple slices, celery, or just straight off of the spoon or out of the jar (no judgement).  They are easy to customize to your preferences and so addicting.  We have made a jar or two every weekend for the past few weeks now and, between the two of us, manage to go through a whole 8-oz jar in one week.  Looking at the pictures makes me want to grab a spoon right now.

Almond butter and pecan cinnamon butter are easy, delicious and healthy spread.

Toasting the nuts is key.  It lends to a deeper flavor and warm nuts always seems easier to break down into nut butter.  Maybe the heat aids in the process?  This is about the easiest recipe ever.  All you need are nuts, a bit of salt and honey, if you prefer, and the patience to make sure your food processor doesn’t vibrate right off the counter or overheat.  Yes, off the counter.  Those little appliances have minds of their own and just jump right off the counter if you aren’t watching them.  Watch out!

Almond butter and pecan cinnamon butter are easy, delicious and healthy spread.

Almond Pecan Butter
2/3 cup almonds, toasted
1/3 cup pecans, toasted
salt (optional)
honey (optional)

Pecan Peanut Cinnamon Butter
2/3 cup pecans, toasted
1/3 cup peanuts, toasted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
salt (optional)
honey (optional)

Each recipe makes about 8 ounces of nut butter (plus a bit more for tasting)

Place the nuts, hot from being toasted, in the bowl of a food processor. I have found that the heat from the toasted nuts helps the process. Pulse constantly on high for 5-8 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl and fold the top and the bottom every now and then. It may take longer than 8 minutes if your food processor is not as strong. At first it will look like you need to add oil. I haven’t needed to add oil. Don’t give up! It will take longer than you think but just keep processing until the nuts become the texture of peanut butter. Once the mixture is the correct texture you can add honey and/or salt to taste. A bit of sea salt really brings out the flavors and honey is divine in the pecan peanut cinnamon butter. Transfer your nut butter to a container or jar.  Slather your nut butter on everything in sight and eat straight from very large spoons.  These nut butters keep best in the fridge.

Almond butter and pecan cinnamon butter are easy, delicious and healthy spread.

link love

Hey there, Friday.  Nice to see you again.  Does it feel like Wednesday to anyone?  Just me?  I think the long weekend/short week threw me off, but I’ll take it all the time!

link love 9-10-2015

 

[via]

Some link love for your weekend from some of my favorite nooks of the internet this week:

I’m stoked about fall.  Is it here yet?  Is it here yet?  Don’t worry, I have already broken out the pumpkin bread.  This fall lookbook of calligraphed items is wonderful.  All of the colors are spot on.  I especially love the “morning, pumpkin” mug.  So great.

This NY artist has created a map of Manhattan from different written directions people have given him.  It is a cool project and an interesting look at how to put directions together in this day of digital mapping.

I know this one is a bit late for the anniversary, but this interactive map of the New Orleans flooding during Katrina is pretty amazing in the scariest ways.  I’ve never been to the Big Easy, but I have heard great things and I really want to visit and experience all of the culture and food.

Since we were in London not too long ago, here is a great collection of photos from an Londoner who photographed the rainy city in puddles.

While we are across the pond, let’s take a look at the current Covent Garden art installation, shall we?  100,000 white balloons will fill the space, pulsing with light, until September 27th.  Where can I find this in the US?

Finally, some pictures of what now stands in the place of the Twin Towers and Flight 93, as we remember September 11, 2001.

Happy Friday and happy weekending, everyone!  I hope it is full of fall decorations, scents and activities even if the weather still says it is summer.

med school spouse survival kit

Now that almost everyone is back in school, school and dorm supplies are still everywhere.  Parents and students descended upon the stores, snagging folders, paper, lunch boxes, futons and pretty much anything you can fit in a cozy 12’x12′ cinder block home.  While everyone else has just gotten settled in and used to the school schedule again, med school has been back in session for more than a month.

Med students need some of the same school supplies as undergrads and high school students, with some extras (stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, you know), but as the spouse of a medical student, there are supplies I like to have to help with the school year too.  I am no expert, but with one year of experience in the field, these are the main tools in my Med School Spouse Survival Kit.

Pass the Cookies - A Med School Spouse Survival Kit should include a coffee maker, headphones, an eye mask and a calendar.  www.passthecookies.com

A coffee pot and lots and lots of coffee – These are some of the basic necessities for any medical student and/or spouse.  There are a lot of late night (or all-night) study sessions paired with early morning classes for the student or work for the spouse.  Caffeine is great for this combination. Even better is a coffee pot you can program to start at a certain time, so all you have to do is pull your groggy self out of bed and pour it in a travel mug on your way out the door.

An eye mask to wear at night – With medical school comes late nights of studying.  With late nights of studying comes a lack of sleep.  Our apartment is small, so when Will studies in one room, the light streams through our glass bedroom doors (who thought that was a good idea?).  In order to get a little more sleep myself, I keep this eye mask near the bed.  I LOVE it.  It has saved me from staying awake for many all-night study sessions.  I have the one pictured above, which is nice and puffy, but I also like these two Breakfast at Tiffany’s masks (1, 2) and this monogrammed one.

Headphones – Often times Will will listen to his med school lectures on double speed.  I have no idea how he understands anything the professor is saying, because it all sounds like a jumble to me.  Nevermind that there are also some functions of the human body I never care to hear about again.  Headphones make this situation oh so amiable.  Will can wear headphones and listen to his babbling professors, or I can wear headphones to block out the information I don’t want to hear – or both!  Headphones for the win!

A wall calendar – A wall calendar comes in handy for jotting down midterm and test dates, clinical weeks, social activities (med school related and not) and academic schedules.  Even when I’m not in Will’s classes to hear the schedule, I can still see when he has a big test coming up or a holiday from classes.  This one is similar to the one we keep on our fridge, but I think this chalkboard calendar decal is great too.

Pass the Cookies - A Med School Spouse Survival Kit should include cookbooks with quick, easy, budget-friendly recipes.  www.passthecookies.com

Since medical students don’t have much time or money, cookbooks for quick, easy and budget-friendly meals are always well-used.  Will does a great job of pitching in and helping me with the cooking, but on nights before a big test neither of us wants to spend much time getting dinner on the table.  These are some great cookbooks with healthy, easy and cheap recipes for our weekly menu.

The Brokeass Gourmet Cookbook - Pardon my French.  I love this cookbook.  It is a great budget cookbook with dishes that are good enough to serve to guests.  Some of them take more ingredients or time, some are very quick.  Great for the med student and med student spouse on a budget.

Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That? – Ina Garten always pulls through.  Growing up, my family had almost all of her cookbooks.  On the quest for easy meals that still taste great, this cookbook is a winner.  Her recipes are easy to whip up so you have time to get back to studying the endocrine system…or hearing about it from the other room.

Sheet Pan Suppers – We make a lot of one dish meals, including sheet pan suppers.  One dish meals are my favorite.  Less dirty dishes, quicker cooking times, often healthy dishes and great flavor medleys.  While we don’t have this cookbook yet, I have heard great things about it and since we basically made the meal pictured on the cover for dinner tonight, I have a feeling it would be super useful.  In the same realm, Martha Stewart’s One Pot cookbook looks great too.

Pass the Cookies - A Med School Spouse Survival Kit should include social activities and hobbies, some new, some old.  www.passthecookies.com

One of the most important parts of your Med School Spouse Survival Kit are your hobbies.  With your significant other engulfed in studies most nights, you will have time to explore new hobbies and delve deeper into your existing hobbies.  These will occupy your time while your doctor-to-be rattles off words you don’t understand and studies for yet another exam or clinical skills test.  Over the past year, these are some of the tools I have used to expand the hobbies in my kit.

Photography:  My trusty Canon camera is my favorite tool for photography at this point, but my iPhone is useful when I want a quick picture or when I am out and about and don’t want to lug around my big camera.  I have the Canon EOS Rebel T3i, but it looks like they have discontinued that model.  The T5i linked looks a comparable newer model.

Baking (for my newest hobby: this blog!): I have a lot of baking equipment and utensils.  My KitchenAid mixer is my favorite kitchen appliance and I don’t know what I would do without it.  Make fewer cookies?  That sounds terrible.  I also use a Silpat all the time for baking cookies, granola, or anything else in a sheet pan.  It is like reusable parchment paper that helps baked goods cook evenly.  The end products slide right off the Silpat.

Needlepoint:  I know, this sounds like a boring hobby for retired people, but don’t look down on it just yet!  I learned how to needlepoint from my roommate in our sophomore year of college and have made two needlepoint belts for Will and a few key chains.  With my other hobbies, there isn’t too much time left for needlepointing but it is still a great relaxing one to do on car trips and during tv shows.

While this is a good start to any medical student spouse’s survival kit, it is also important to enjoy the intangibles.  Never take for granted any time you can spend together when your med student doesn’t have an upcoming test; social activities together or with your own friends should always be included; and taking a night, a day, or a weekend to relax, forget about the loans and tests, and treat yourselves is something that no med student or med student’s spouse should forget to do.  I’m still no expert, but as the spouse of an MS2, I’m much more prepared than I was at the start of Will’s first year of med school.  These are some of the items I (and we) have found that make our lives easier.  Maybe my next addition will be Medical Terms for Dummies, although I pretty much learn those along the way ;)

This post includes Amazon affiliate links.  None of the products are sponsored and all opinions are my own.

sally lunn bread with honey butter

I’m a little afraid of baking with yeast.

This delicious, soft and slightly sweet Sally Lunn bread with easy honey butter is a great stepping stone to yeasted baked goods.

I have had a lot of fails and only a few successes. It is temperamental, that yeast. Mixed with liquid that is too hot, it will die, too cold though and it wont proof correctly. So many times I have anticipated gorgeous golden loaves of bread or rolls, only to end up with dense, stout results. I go through the reasons for my bread struggles in my head. Maybe I kneaded the dough too much, maybe the yeast died, maybe there wasn’t enough yeast; it is difficult to know.

This delicious, soft and slightly sweet Sally Lunn bread with easy honey butter is a great stepping stone to yeasted baked goods.

I want to get better at yeast breads, but sometimes I’m reluctant to spend a whole day or two waiting for the dough to rise just to end up with a failed product. Sally Lunn bread was a great start. Little ol’ Sally made some dang good and bread.

This delicious, soft and slightly sweet Sally Lunn bread with easy honey butter is a great stepping stone to yeasted baked goods.

The bread resembles a brioche loaf, is easy and takes only an hour and a half to rise before it goes in the oven, not the days that most yeasted goods require. The sweet smell of yeast and butter fills the house (or apartment, in our case) and the loaf comes out of the oven with a beautiful golden sheen.

This delicious, soft and slightly sweet Sally Lunn bread with easy honey butter is a great stepping stone to yeasted baked goods.

This delicious, soft and slightly sweet Sally Lunn bread with easy honey butter is a great stepping stone to yeasted baked goods.

It is best to wait for the bread to cool before slicing, but sometimes you can’t resist. Sweet honey butter is slathered on top of thick slices of warm, fresh bread, melting before you can get it to your mouth.  A golden crust holds the slightly sweet bread together as the butter soaks into the small nooks and crannies in the bread’s surface. Honey butter is the easiest way to make your guests think you are fancy, when you really just mixed together two ingredients you already had lying around. I won’t tell.

This delicious, soft and slightly sweet Sally Lunn bread with easy honey butter is a great stepping stone to yeasted baked goods.

This delicious, soft and slightly sweet Sally Lunn bread with easy honey butter is a great stepping stone to yeasted baked goods.

This bread is my stepping-stone to baking with yeast. It is a baby step but certainly one that made me feel good. I’ll take the little victories on the way to the end goal, especially the easy and delicious ones. Yes, please.

Sally Lunn Bread
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/8 teaspoon (1/2 packet) active dry yeast
¾ cup milk
4 tablespoons butter, salted, plus more for finishing
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine ¾ cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk and butter together until the liquid is warm, not hot (you don’t want to kill the yeast). The butter doesn’t have to be fully melted. Slowly pour the warm ingredients into the dry mixture and mix for about 2 minutes. Add the egg, egg yolk and ½ cup flour and mix for another 2 minutes. Add the last ¾ cup flour and beat until the dough is smooth.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for an hour or until doubled.

While the dough rises, butter and flour a loaf pan. Once the dough has doubled, pour it into the prepared pan. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray and cover the loaf pan. Let the dough rise for 30 more minutes. After about 25 minutes preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. If your bread starts to get dark on top before the inside is fully cooked, cover the pan with aluminum foil and continue to bake.

Remove the bread from the oven and, while it is still hot, rub butter on the top of the bread (everyone likes a little more butter). Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack.

Honey Butter
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
1 tablespoon honey

Stir the honey into the butter until the honey is completely and evenly incorporated.  Serve with fresh slices of bread.

This delicious, soft and slightly sweet Sally Lunn bread with easy honey butter is a great stepping stone to yeasted baked goods.

england part III: cambridge

While we were staying in London we took a day trip to Cambridge.  Only a short train ride outside of London, Cambridge was a quaint, beautiful university town with gorgeous buildings lining the street and the River Cam.  Below are some of our photos from the day, walking around town and punting on the river.  We loved Cambridge, it was a wonderful day trip from busy London.

We took the train from London to spend a day in beautiful Cambridge and loved every part of it.

Cambridge University is made up of multiple colleges.  Historically, students stayed in the college that corresponded to their course of studies and lived, dined and took classes in that specific college.  Nowadays, students can choose their college (to a degree) and while they still live and dine there, they take courses across many colleges.  Some of the colleges charged money to tour or view their grounds (which I thought was absolutely absurd).  We found a few that were free for visitors and explored all of the ivy-covered corners.

We took the train from London to spend a day in beautiful Cambridge and loved every part of it.

We took the train from London to spend a day in beautiful Cambridge and loved every part of it.

We took the train from London to spend a day in beautiful Cambridge and loved every part of it.

I matched the flowers that day :)

We took the train from London to spend a day in beautiful Cambridge and loved every part of it.

We took the train from London to spend a day in beautiful Cambridge and loved every part of it.

We took the train from London to spend a day in beautiful Cambridge and loved every part of it.

In the afternoon we went on a punt on the river, with our local punter and tour guide, Pip.  We barraded Pip with questions and he patiently answered and gave us more information than we remember.  He probably thought we were the craziest Americans he had ever met.  We rode along behind of all of the college buildings, sometimes referred to as “the Backs,” because you see the backsides of the colleges.  Pip explained which famous scholars lived in the different colleges.  He explained the history and beginnings of the Cambridge, Oxford rivalry as we passed Darwin’s house and the college where Stephen Hawking lived, among many others.

We took the train from London to spend a day in beautiful Cambridge and loved every part of it.

We took the train from London to spend a day in beautiful Cambridge and loved every part of it.

As we understand it, and as we experienced, punting is when someone with a guides a boat up and down the waterways by pushing off the bottom of the river with a long stick.  While the punters make the job look easy, our group had a much more difficult time keeping the boat moving in the right direction than they did when given the chance.  On our attempts, we ended up going backwards, in a wall, against another boat, you know, safe.

We took the train from London to spend a day in beautiful Cambridge and loved every part of it.

We took the train from London to spend a day in beautiful Cambridge and loved every part of it.Cambridge, Cambridge, beautiful Cambridge.  Let’s do it again, maybe Oxford next time?