Thursday, October 30, 2008

Spooky Cookie Cake

Gabe and I are invited to a Halloween party on Halloween night. I have to bring a dessert, so I did some online searching for cute Halloween ideas. There were tons of them, but most of them you need about 10 hours and some artistic ability to complete them. I just wanted something simple. So I found a cute cookie cake idea and decided to try it out. I started out by using the Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe I got from my friend. Instead of making cookie balls, I put all of the dough in a throw away foil pizza pan (12" size) and spread it out.
This is what it looked like before going in the oven:

I baked it at the same temperature she gave and just watched it for timing. I think I ended up baking it between 35-40mins. (note-after tasting it, it could have been less-it was a little over done for my taste). I think the recipe I found called for decorating it right after coming out of the oven. I decided to decorate it the following day.
For the decorating, I started by spreading about 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter on top of the cookie (I microwaved it a little to melt it a bit). Then I sprinkled M&M's (halloween ones) and salted peanuts on top. To finish it, I used some vanilla frosting to create a spiderweb design on the cookie (I melted it a bit and used a baggie with a cut corner for piping it on). Here's the final result:

And after trying it, it was very tasty!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Early Thanksgiving

Last night in Buffalo, we had basically an early Thanksgiving. My cousin turned 40 early last week so this was her birthday dinner and my Aunt found out she's working on Thanksgiving day so she'll miss out on dinner. So, the birthday dinner became Thanksgiving-just a month early. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls-and apple pie and peanut butter pie for dessert. And of course it was all homemade! It was SO yummy!! Unfortunately, there were no leftovers so no turkey sandwiches for us this week :( I'm actually happy with how it all worked out. Gabe and I alternate Thanksgiving-one year in Buffalo with my family then the next year in Rochester with his. This is our Rochester year so it was nice to have a Buffalo Thanksgiving dinner as well since we won't have it for the actual holiday. It's scary to think that it'll be November this weekend-that means the holidays are right around the corner! But, I did start Christmas shopping over the weekend so that's always a good thing!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Party #1

Last night we had our first Halloween party of this year. My friend, Megan, and her husband have been having an annual party for the past few years. So we went to Buffalo for the weekend and went to the party last night. It was a good time! Gabe and I aren't really all that great of thinking of costume ideas and we hate to spend the money on something you'll wear once. So our costumes were courtesy of my work:

Gabe was Dr. Seymour Butz-Proctologist and I was Dr. Mel Practice-Plastic Surgeon. The party was fun-they had karaoke, lots of food, and the Sabres game on.

I brought a new dish to pass, which I got from my friend's blog, Heather Drive. It's a dip and turned out pretty good!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1/3 cup brown sugar-

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar-

3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:1. In a small sauce pan, melt butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Stir continuously until the brown sugar dissolves.

2. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract. Set aside to cool.

3. Beat the softened cream cheese and confectioner's sugar for 1 minute.

4. Slowly beat in the cooled butter/brown sugar mixture. Beat for an additional minute.

5. Stir in the chocolate chips.

6. Pour mixture into serving bowl and refrigerate. (Note: The mixture will be very liquid-like at first. Refrigeration is necessary to make it a better consistency. If you are running short on time, you can also throw the mixture into the freezer for a little bit.)

7. Garnish with additional chips (optional). (I used a spoon to scoop and position extra chips on the top of the dip. This is what my aunt did and I think it makes for better presentation.)Serve with vanilla wafers or graham crackers.(Another note: After refrigeration for an extended period of time, your dip will be very solid and un-dippable--your wafers or graham crackers will break! To achieve the best consistency, remove from the refrigerator 15-30 minutes prior to serving.)

Everyone enjoyed the dip-I used vanilla wafer cookies and chocolate Pirouline cookies (the rolled up wafer ones with filling in the middle). The only thing I didn't care for was I could taste the cream cheese-which I'm not a huge fan of, so for myself I might tweak that a bit.

We have another Halloween party coming up Friday!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Easy Chicken Bake

Tonight I'm making one of my favorite dinners. We haven't had it in a really long time so I can't wait to dig in!

Easy Chicken Bake
1 pkg Stove Top stuffing mix
1 cup hot water
1 1/2 lb boneless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/3 cup sour cream
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and drained (you can omit/change these)

Preheat oven to 400. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the dry stuffing mix evenly on the bottom of a 9x13" baking dish; set aside. Add hot water to remaining stuffing mix and stir until just moistened.

Place chicken over dry stuffing mix in dish. Mix soup, sour cream, and vegetables. Spoon over chicken. Top with prepared stuffing.

Bake 30min. or until chicken is cooked through.

Oh, did I mention this is off of the stove top stuffing box?!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pride and Prejudice

Last night, Gabe and I went to see a viewing of the musical "Pride and Prejudice". It's based on the novel by Jane Austen and the composers are trying to get it on Broadway (his Mom is a HUGE Jane Austen fan and got us the tickets). So they had a viewing at Eastman Theater last night. What they did differently is that the orchestra was onstage instead of in the orchestra pit and there wasn't any set. The cast was made up of the same people they would take to Broadway but in the viewing they were able to carry their scripts with them. It was a one night only affair-red carpet and all!

Overall it was very good. I've never read the book (shame on me) so I wasn't very informed on the plot but it wasn't all that hard to follow. The cast did very well-they had only rehearsed a few times and I was very surprised at how many of them had their part memorized already. One neat thing they did was they incorporated Jane Austen writing the novel into the musical. She was in the entire production and it was pretty cool how they added her in here and there-it was like seeing her thoughts come alive as she was writing.

So, if it makes it to Broadway, it'll be interesting to see how it really comes to life-the sets they use, the staging, etc. And hey, it may be my first trip to NYC!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Suzy Homemaker!

Yes, that was me today! After getting home from the mall I decided to try making two things I've never made before.

First, was homemade applesauce. Never have done it myself, but how hard can it really be? I didn't have a recipe that I used-I looked at a few online and just sort of "winged it" myself.

8 apples-peeled and cored (I used a combinated of McIntosh and Cortland-peeled them then used an apple slicer that you push on the apple-pops out the core and cuts it into 8 pieces)
1 cup water
cinnamon (I used a few dashes out of the jar)
sugar (not sure how much I used-just added to taste-probably 1/4 cup or so?)

After getting the apples ready, I put them in a large saucepan (it was full to the top with the apples). I put in water and turned the flame on medium (note: really I think you're supposed to use about a cup-I filled up the pot about 3/4 of the way and as the apples cooked I started pouring the water out until there was about an inch left in the pan-I just didn't think they would cook with a full pan of apples but only a small layer of water. The inch I left in the pan stayed in the pan for good.) I let the apples cook until tender then removed from heat. I added cinnamon and some sugar and mashed until I got the consistency desired (I like it a little chunky). That's it! It didn't make much for using 8 apples, but what I tasted was fantastic! Can't wait to have some more! And it was really easy!

While the apples were cooking, I tried another recipe. You'll never guess where I found it-on the back of a hot chocolate packet! Thought it was kind of weird, but intriguing too! Since I'm a peanut butter freak, I had to try it!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 stick butter softened
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup hot cocoa mix (It was roughly 2 packets of mix-I used Nestle rich chocolate)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup finely chopped peanuts (I used about 3/4 cup and it was more than enough)

Line a baking sheet or plate with waxed paper (I used saran wrap instead). Beat butter, peanut butter, and vanilla until creamy. Stir in cocoa mix and sugar until well mixed. Put peanuts into a shallow dish. Roll batter into 1 inch balls and roll into peanuts. Place on baking sheet and refrigerate until firm. Makes 24 truffles (mine made around 30).

Again-super easy. I haven't tried a finished one yet since they are in the fridge still, but I tasted the batter and it was pretty good which surprised me! You never know what you'll get from a hot cocoa recipe!

3 months!

We've been married 3 months today! Again, not sure where the time went since then!

We had a pretty low-key weekend. We went to the public market with Gabe's parents yesterday. Gabe had to go into work so I did some much needed house cleaning. Then we went out for dinner last night and watched "Semi-Pro" when we got home (it was just ok).

Today we went to the mall with Gabe's sister and our niece and nephew. For our wedding, we got our nephew, Owen, a gift card to build-a-bear. So today we all went to see him make his bear. It was the first time there for all of us and it was really cute. He picked out a really soft bear and we watched/helped them stuff the bear. Then he put in a giggle sound and heart into the bear. He made a birth certificate for the bear and they bought a cute soccer outfit to dress it in. Very cute idea for kids-I think he had fun!

After that, we grabbed some subs for dinner and I made a few things (see other posts from today). Amazing Race starts shortly so we'll be watching that! And we'll be "celebrating" by eating a piece of wedding shower cake!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I'm somewhat of a reader. I like reading good books, but hate picking them out myself. I usually read books that people recommend to me-I just get too overwhelmed to pick out my own for some reason. There are just too many out there to choose from and reading those tiny excerpts on the back do nothing for me!!

Anyways, about 2 years ago now (the start of my last teaching year) I joined a young adult book club with fellow teachers in my school. I read a lot of decent books (of course I can't remember any of the names!) and this started my love of the "Twilight" saga.

A LOT of my students were reading this book called "Twilight". So our group decided to read it so we could talk to the students about it. Let me tell you-amazing book! First of all-its huge-about 600 pages! Second-it's a vampire story-not usually my cup of tea, but this book was addicting! It's a very easy read and one of those you can't put down! After finishing book one, I started book two called "New Moon". Same thing-huge and addicting!

Since then, the final 2 books of the series came out-"Eclipse" which I think I read early this year and "Breaking Dawn" which just released in early August. I just finished "Breaking Dawn" tonight-so I'm officially done with the series. Four great books! I'm a little sad that the saga is over now-I loved looking forward to the next book release. But I have something to look forward to-the movie "Twilight" is coming out in Nov! So I can't wait to see that!

Now to find my next good book to read-any suggestions??

Monday, October 13, 2008

Road Trip

Well we just got home from our weekend roadtrip. We went to Hartford, CT for my cousin's wedding. My Mom and Aunt drove to our house Sat morning and we all drove together from here. We left around 10:30am and arrived in CT at 3:30pm. It was a pretty easy drive-all expressway which was nice. We stayed at the Residence Inn Marriott-you wouldn't believe the rooms! They were like an apartment! On the first floor was a kitchen, seating area and living room, then you went up a few stairs (they called it a loft set up) to the bedroom and bathroom area. It was HUGE! We thought we had the wrong room at first, but apparently they are all that large. Gabe asked an employee and the building used to be an apartment building. I guess the layouts are all different, but size wise, most of the rooms are that big-or bigger. My cousin's room was 2 full stories-2 bedrooms and 2 baths. Theirs was really big.

So Saturday after we got in, we went to a comedy club for dinner with most of the family and some friends who were all there for the wedding. The headliner was hysterical-she was very funny. After that, a ton of people went to my cousin's room to hang out so we stayed there about an hour and a half.

Sunday we went to the mall there which was pretty big. The wedding started at 4:30 at a local park-I did a reading in the ceremony. Then the reception was in the restaurant that was within our hotel (also where the comedy club was). Everything was very nice. We had a good time. I was surprised at how many people traveled in for the wedding-it was amazing-people from GA, VA, NY, NH-lots of travelers. And my other cousin came who just returned from Iraq so it was great to see him and his family since it's been a few years.

Today we woke up, had breakfast in the hotel (free hot breakfast) with a lot of people from the wedding-mostly family. Then we hit the road at noon and got home around 5pm. So a pretty busy weekend but it was fun. Glad to be home and out of the car though! Back to work tomorrow-yuck.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Busy Week

This week is just busy! Something going on every night this week. Monday and Tuesday night I went to the gym. Today I had a nail appt. Tomorrow we're going for dinner to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday, and Friday I have a purse party. On top of that, we're going to CT this weekend so I have to pack for that as well! It makes me tired just reading it all!

Speaking of the gym, last night I took a new class my gym is offering called Zumba. It was so much fun! It's a cardio class that's based on latin dancing. It's hard to explain because it's not ballroom type dancing, but you do moves from the salsa, merengue, cha-cha, etc. It was a blast and it was packed! They just started it up last week and only offer it 3 times a week so the class was very crowded. It was tons of fun though so I hope to continue that if I can!

Nothing else really new to report on here-we ordered our wedding album so we're just waiting to hear when it's finished. That's about it-not too exciting, just busy!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Peanut Butter Chex Mix

My family is big into Chex Mix-the good homemade stuff! So we saw this recipe over the weekend and gave it a try: (sorry no pics this time-I didn't have my camera with me!)

Peanut Butter Chex Mix
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp creamy peanut butter
4 cups chex cereal (we used rice chex)
2 cups mini pretzels (we used the small sticks and broke them into smaller pieces)
1/3 cup peanuts (we used mixed nuts)

Put cereal, pretzels and nuts in a large bowl.
Put butter, honey, and peanut butter in a microwave bowl. Heat until melted and smooth.
Pour melted mixture over cereal mixture and stir/toss until coated.
Dump everything into a baking pan (we sprayed ours with non-stick spray) and spread out into a single layer. Bake at 175 for an hour and a half.

(note: we made a whole box of cereal and just tripled the rest of the ingredients-it wasn't the exact proportions, but the cereal was still evenly coated.)

This came out pretty well. Next time I think we would use less honey and/or more peanut butter because it tastes more like honey than peanut butter to me. It's still very good, but needs a little tweaking next time.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

In Buffalo

We're in Buffalo right now for a weekend visit. We came in on Friday night and went to see my cousins-my Mom was babysitting them. Yesterday, Gabe played golf with my Dad in the morning, then we met up later with my Dad for his birthday lunch at Famous Dave's near the Galleria mall. It was our first time there and it was pretty good. I had the lunch/early bird combo platter that had pulled pork, corn on the cob, a corn muffin, and choice of side (I had the mashed sweet potatoes). Pretty tasty!

Speaking of birthdays, it's ironic that his family birthdays and my family birthdays all clump together. My Dad's is 10/6, his Dad's is 10/10. My Mom's is 3/30, his Mom's is 4/6 and mine is 4/12. Then his sister and her husband are both in July and a day apart. Funny how that worked out!

Anyways, last night we didn't do much of anything-we watched the move "The Great Debaters" with Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker-it was pretty good. After lunch, we were pretty much slugs! Today I'm meeting a girlfriend for Starbucks around noon then we'll head home-do some grocery shopping and probably watch some of the Bills game. Then back to work tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Well, we got a new driveway put in on Monday! They came a few weeks ago and tore out the old one and put down some new stone. It had to settle for a few weeks. They came on Monday and put the new blacktop down. It looks awesome! The only bad thing is we can't park/drive on it for a whole week! But it looks really good!!

Can you tell how exciting my life is right now when I'm posting about a driveway?! Haha!