Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls

Like I shared earlier, Aaron and I spent last weekend making cinnamon rolls. We made the dough Saturday evening and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. That helps cut down on the process, since it takes about two hours to get the dough ready.

In the morning we ate breakfast and then got busy.

Here is Aaron sprinkling the cinnamon and sugar onto half of the dough. We made sure to cover every inch so no one ends up with an end roll that doesn't have enough cinnamon.

The second batch rising and waiting for the oven to open up.

Cooling down. As you can see we had already started eating them.

The recipe says it will make about seven pans (with seven cinnamon rolls each), but we have found it makes ten pans, with a couple leftover (which we baked in a bowl). I keep thinking maybe our cinnamon rolls aren't fat enough, but if they got any bigger they would be bursting out of the pan.

It was our second time making this recipe and it was definitely easier this time around. I'm sure you could split the recipe in half or quarters, but if you are putting in the work you might as well make a lot!  They are nice to give to friends and still taste amazing after being frozen (frosting and all). This may just become a yearly tradition for us.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to hop on here and wish everyone a very merry Christmas.  We have a very white Christmas in Madison and are having a day full of presents, delicious food, and drinks. After a week off, I am finally recovering from the semester and checking to see if my grades are posted every day!

Aaron and I have been enjoying time off together by making ten pans of cinnamon rolls and watching a lot of movies. We have also delivered said cinnamon rolls to friends and coworkers and enjoyed catching up with them and driving through the snow filled country (now that the roads are relatively clear).

I hope everyone's holiday is as relaxing and happy as mine!

**This is the best picture we could get together from my iPhone.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Snowed In.

As I'm sure no one failed to notice, there was a huge winter storm this week. There was rain, sleet, high winds, and lots of snow. We got the wind and snow part of the deal in Madison.

The snow began to fall Wednesday night and didn't stop until Friday morning. Luckily Aaron and I had already planned to spend Thursday at home, relaxing together to celebrate the end of my third semester in grad school. Turns out Aaron did not need to take the day off: everything in Madison was basically closed. If they weren't, they realized their mistake and closed early.

The snow was heavy and caused a lot of power outages. We were lucky enough to just have some flickering lights! Many of my friends had flights that were canceled and delayed travel plans, but I think they have all reached their homes safely.

Today we are turning this pot full of dough into delicious cinnamon rolls and delivering them to whoever we can find who is still in the area. We will keep a couple of pans for ourselves, but with over a pound of butter in the recipe, we don't need to keep very many! I recommend making them yourself sometime, you won't regret it: Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Roll Recipe.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Not for kids.
It has been a rough week, so I just wanted to post this cheery picture of eggnog that I drank on Sunday night and promptly got a stomach ache because it was so rich.

I know I am not alone in saying I was extremely saddened by the shooting that took place in Connecticut last Friday. I don't have much to say beyond the fact that for all of the wonderful things about the United States, I am disappointed by how easy it is to do something so terrible and how often it happens. I have considered both sides of the issue, but it is impossible to argue with the number of deaths by gun in the U.S. compared with other countries.

Between working on my final papers, I read many articles and opinion posts about the shooting and gun control laws. My favorite one was this: Stay in your heart, no matter how painful.

Today (hopefully), my group will turn in our final cost-benefit analysis project and there will definitely be a drink to celebrate that!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

This week brought to you by: Cookies

It is officially the last week of my semester. Between now and next Wednesday I will turn in two projects and two papers and say adios to the semester from hell. I have already given two in class presentations this week and have one more tomorrow.  Not all of the work is the best I've ever done but it will be done, which is the important part right now!

Aaron decided to make cookies on Monday night while I was at a group meeting on campus. I think he is getting bored of watching stupid videos on youtube while I do school work (maybe). The reason we don't ever buy or make cookies is I ate three of them yesterday. At the end of the semester my scrutiny of what will make my body feel good becomes very blurred. Good thing we also had a raw kale and cabbage salad for dinner: Kale, cabbage, and carrot salad. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Baby tree.

We got this baby Christmas tree on Sunday night after I spent all weekend (and by all I mean I had a couple of hours to shower and sleep in between but basically Friday night to Sunday night*) hanging out with my Cost-Benefit Analysis group. I needed some Christmas cheer.

We decided to get a real tree for three reasons:
1) We are staying in Madison for Christmas so we can't go without a tree like we did last year.
2) We have nowhere in our tiny apartment to store a fake one.
3) Our parents never let us have a real tree and now we get to choose for ourselves and we need to fill the gap in our childhood. Also, I remember being traumatized by how my parents wouldn't let us put up our tree until Christmas Eve. Well ours was up on December 2nd! So take that traumatized childhood. I'm rebelling.

We decided to get a baby tree because it was so cute sitting outside of Whole Foods!

Also it was just a lot less of a commitment than a big one... no tree stand, only one string of lights, a lot cheaper. Its like how couples get a puppy when they aren't ready to commit to a baby.

I love it! I hope it survives until December 25th. My track record on plants isn't so good.

* so you can see how good I look after marathon project writing in that photo, right?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Thanksgiving Break

Happy Thanksgiving one week and two days later! The work has been piling up and finally reaching its peak point for the last two weeks of school. I have hardly had time to shower let alone think about blogging. I'm currently waiting for a group my classmates to come over so we can work on a project indefinitely, so I thought I would post some pictures from Thanksgiving.

There was singing.
Saying hi to Ruth and Sean in New York.
Missing our other cousins!
Waiting for food!
Great Bingo prizes.

More great prizes.
Aaron learning that toddlers don't actually eat things you prepare for them.
Apple pie making.
Someone's extra large piece. 
One of my best high school friends got married.

It was great to see most of our family and catch up with some high school friends I haven't seen in what feels like forever. We had a little too much fun and all of the food left me with a stomach ache!

Although I was too busy traveling and doing homework over the break to post anything about being thankful, I have been reminding myself all week how thankful I am to be at this point in my life. Sometimes I can't believe it is my life, and not in a good way (non-stop homework and studying can take people to dark places). But when I really think about it, I am so lucky to be going to grad school practically for free, having many opportunities open up for the life I want to live, and have a wonderful husband and family on top of it all.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cooking Wish List

Photo from the NY Times.
I know everyone says you should appreciate every day of your life, but this semester I am extremely guilty of looking toward the end of December and hoping the days in between go as quickly as possible. It may have to do with the ridiculous work load I got myself into this fall, but there is something else as well: I miss cooking!

In my other life I was obviously meant to cook elaborate meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I am so lucky to have Aaron to make sure I eat more than canned soup and toast while in grad school (or, ahem, frozen fish sticks, a staple of my undergraduate diet), but one of the things I miss the most about working full time was how I could come home and NOT do homework, but cook a nice dinner (even if it was just for myself). I try to keep recipes easy and cheap for Aaron, since we are often tight on dinner making time and I guess its not really fair to give him a 20 step recipe just because I think it sounds fun.

In the mean time I have been saving recipes like crazy and dreaming of December 20th when I will be finished with all of my course work and can cram as many recipes into winter break as possible.

We already have plans to make cinnamon rolls and cranberry upside down coffee cake (the best brunch/dessert that has so much sugar in it it can only be eaten once a year). The cranberries are already in the freezer, purchased at the Farmer's Market over the weekend. Did you know Wisconsin is a big cranberry producer?

Also on my cooking wish-list are the following recipes:

Chocolate Pie: I love chocolate pie and this one is made with tofu, so its totally appropriate as the main course for Christmas dinner right?

Chilaquiles: I ate these all the time in Mexico and want to try making them at home. There are just no substitutes at the Mexican restaurants in Madison. I saw them made on the Food Channel a couple of days ago while I was at the gym and I was practically drooling on the machine.

Shepard's Pie: I made this once in my life and topped it with sweet potatoes (vegetarian/vegan versions typically use some combo of lentils and veggies instead of beef). I want to try it again with a more complex recipe with regular mashed potatoes on top... there is something so appealing about a casserole topped with a thick layer of mashed potatoes. I have two recipes in mind: Swiss Chard and Lentil Shepard's Pie and Vegan Shepard's Pie.

Squash on Toast: This recipe is from the ABC Kitchen in New York. Ruth and I ate lunch there and had their "crab toast." They just have a knack for putting stuff on toast and making it delicious. We have about 7 squash on top of our fridge right now begging to be roasted, mashed, mixed with carmelized onions, and heaped onto toast.

Something with Farro: I've been eyeing farro for a long time and have never bought it or cooked with it. I'm thinking a risotto like dish is the best option, or using it in a salad.

There will also be waffles, but that is more of Aaron's specialty. Maybe we'll even try our hand at bagel making. Admittedly not the healthiest of cooking wish lists, but there will be plenty of exercising and green smoothies happening as well.

All of this food talk is making me hungry. Time to get back to work and stop day dreaming about cooking and baking. Looking forward to Thanksgiving when I will have dairy and beer for the first time in over a month (thats right I gave up beer and dairy in Wisconsin and survived a whole month, be impressed).

Monday, November 12, 2012

Indoor Bike Racing

A couple weeks ago I convinced Aaron to sign up for an indoor bike race with the team we road with quite a few times over the past season. My friend Becky said it was "super fun" because you get to put your bike on a trainer and see how fast you can go. I was convinced (I'll take any chance I can get to ride my bike in November). It was a 24 hour team relay with members taking hour longer shifts, so Aaron and I signed up for one hour each on Saturday afternoon.

I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to take my hour since I had been so sick. On Saturday my antibiotics were kicking in and I was feeling a little better, so I decided I could handle an hour bike ride. After all, I had ridden for twice as long many times and this would be a flat course. 

Well, I was totally wrong. This was not like hopping on the bikes at the gym for a little cardio. This was not even close to a leisurely bike ride and what I thought would be super fun was actually super hard. Within ten minutes of my hour I was exhausted and thought I was going to have to get off. I am proud of myself for pushing through the whole hour and challenging myself to keep my miles per hour up, although in retrospect it probably wasn't good for my healing body. I thought I was going to die, but I didn't, and it only took 45 minutes for me to say that I would be willing to do it again.

Not so sure about Aaron though... he got a hilly course.

Someone is a lot happier than the other... 

The screen keeping track of how fast and how far everyone has gone.
It was a cool event and great fundraiser and hopefully I can convince Aaron to do it again in the winter. I don't think I will be taking more than one shift though... my butt still hurts. 

Our team finished in 4th place, which they called "the best of the rest" (because the top 3 teams were serious/professional/tri-athelete crazy in shape people). Also I was probably the only person ever who has done this race without real biking shoes.

Saturday morning was also the last outdoor Farmer's Market of the year! It will be nice to sleep in a little bit on Saturday mornings, but I will miss all of the great deals. We stocked up on honey, jam, and squash.

Friday, November 9, 2012

My First Z-pak

The elusive z-pak.

I woke up very early Tuesday morning because my throat felt like it was on fire. It only got more fun when I starting running a fever, combined with being super sore from TRX the previous day. I couldn't tell what was body aches and what was sore muscles. It was rough! My fever finally broke around 9 p.m. which I assumed was a signal that Barack Obama would be re-elected president (and he was!).

Well, Barack Obama's re-election somehow didn't heal me and my throat continued to throb away. Anyway, I tried to be an adult about the whole thing and continue with my school work (although I missed two classes). Given the fever I assumed my flu shot had not actually worked and I was suffering from a mild flu.

It has only been getting worse and I had a rough time being at work today. My co-workers were sure I had strep-throat and I decided it was time to go to a doctor as what I had imagined to be the worst sore throat ever on Tuesday had somehow gotten worse and worse every day.

Surprise surprise, I do not have strep-throat (but they still had to stick cotton swabs down my throat to be sure). I also don't have mono. What I do have is some bacteria living in my throat. I think the fever and red throat gave it away. The doctor offered me a z-pak, which apparently has magical abilities that I have only heard about from others.

A couple years ago I was sick for over two weeks and had a terrible sinus infection but they still wouldn't give me a z-pak. All I had to do this time was have a sore throat for 4 days. The sore throat also earned me a fast track at the clinic somehow and I didn't have to wait for an hour like everyone else. Magical!

If the z-pak is as awesome as everyone says it is, I should start feeling better by tomorrow. Here's to hoping. Now I need to go buy some coconut milk ice-cream to eat for dinner.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Weekend Instagram

 Badger Hockey Game vs. Colorado College- we lost in over time. Bummer, but it was a good game!

 Coffee shop on our street finally has almond milk (AND they have decaf chai).

 First batch of spiced walnuts for the holiday season.

Split pea soup, cooked all day in the slow cooker.

What did you do this weekend? I refrained from taking photos of my books/computer screen.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sparty vs. Bucky Badger

This time last Saturday we were at a cold football game at Camp Randall. Michigan State was playing the Badgers, so a group of Aaron's family came to see the game. The game was boring and low scoring, but they were rewarded with an overtime win! Luckily we were seated in the MSU section, so we got to enjoy the excitement. 

It is always great to show family around Madison, since we've been living here for two years and haven't had too many visitors. Besides the football game, the weekend was rounded out by some time drinking and dancing at the Essen Haus (not every Grandma can handle a boot... but she was still under 80 and letting loose) and a great dinner at Harvest. I had an exam to study for so I couldn't join in all of the rest of the fun, but it was great to finally get to a football game this year.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Its Halloween and while we weren't able to dress up or go to any Halloween parties over the weekend AND won't be having any Halloween candy, we did carve the pumpkin we picked last weekend.

As you can tell, we are not the creative people who make beautiful, amazing, jack-o-lantern works of art. My main goal when carving a pumpkin is to get all of the seeds out so I can have a great snack.