Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Love Anthony

Love Anthony by Lisa Genova

An interesting read about that covers life, death, autism, infidelity, and friendship... among other things.  I enjoyed this one.

Book description from Amazon:

I’m always hearing about how my brain doesn’t work right…But it doesn’t feel broken to me.

Olivia Donatelli’s dream of a “normal” life shattered when her son, Anthony, was diagnosed with autism at age three. He didn’t speak. He hated to be touched. He almost never made eye contact. And just as Olivia was starting to realize that happiness and autism could coexist, Anthony was gone.

Now she’s alone on Nantucket, desperate to find meaning in her son’s short life, when a chance encounter with another woman brings Anthony alive again in a most unexpected way.
In a warm, deeply human story reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Daniel Isn’t Talking,New York Times bestselling author Lisa Genova offers us two unforgettable women on the verge of change and the irrepressible young boy with autism whose unique wisdom helps them both find the courage to move on.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Cadbury Mini Egg Blondies

Cadbury Mini Egg Blondies

Makes one 8x8 pan.

Okay, these were amazing.  I will use this blondie recipe as my base for future blondies, changing up the mix-ins as desired.  Don't get me wrong, the mini eggs were wonderful, but I don't want to limit myself in the future.  :)
Source: Chef in Training

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups milk chocolate mini eggs (I used one bag of Cadbury mini eggs and it seemed less than 2 cups, but it was plenty)

In a medium sizes mixing bowl sift flour, baking soda and salt together.

Cream together butter and sugars.  Add in vanilla and eggs mix until creamy.  Slowly add in flour mixture until it is incorporated.  Fold in Mini Eggs.

Spread batter into a greased 8×8, 9×9, or 11×7 baking dish.
Bake at 325 for about 40 minutes or until a tooth pick is inserted in the center and comes out clean. 

***I baked mine in an 8x8 pan, at 350 for 30 minutes.

Let the bars cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Sister by Rusamond Lipton

Love, LOVED this book.  A great read with an unexpected twist.  You will be sucked in!

Book description from Amazon:

"Lupton enters the highly charged ring where the best psychological detective writers spar... Like Kate Atkinson, Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Rendell… Both tear-jerking and spine-tingling, Sister provides an adrenaline rush that could cause a chill on the sunniest afternoon." –The New York Times Book Review

When her mom calls to tell her that Tess, her younger sister, is missing, Bee returns home to London on the first flight. She expects to find Tess and give her the usual lecture, the bossy big sister scolding her flighty baby sister for taking off without letting anyone know her plans. Tess has always been a free spirit, an artist who takes risks, while conservative Bee couldn’t be more different. Bee is used to watching out for her wayward sibling and is fiercely protective of Tess (and has always been a little stern about her antics). But then Tess is found dead, apparently by her own hand.

Bee is certain that Tess didn’t commit suicide. Their family and the police accept the sad reality, but Bee feels sure that Tess has been murdered.  Single-minded in her search for a killer, Bee moves into Tess's apartment and throws herself headlong into her sister's life--and all its secrets. 

Though her family and the police see a grieving sister in denial, unwilling to accept the facts, Bee uncovers the affair Tess was having with a married man and the pregnancy that resulted, and her difficultly with a stalker who may have crossed the line when Tess refused his advances. Tess was also participating in an experimental medical trial that might have gone very wrong.  As a determined Bee gives her statement to the lead investigator, her story reveals a predator who got away with murder--and an obsession that may cost Bee her own life.

A thrilling story of fierce love between siblings, Sister is a suspenseful and accomplished debut with a stunning twist.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Peanut Butter Toffee Cheesecake Brownies

Peanut Butter Toffee Cheesecake Brownies

Makes a 13x9 pan of brownies.

Sinfully delicious.
Source: Tina

1 box (19.5 oz) Pillsbury® Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix 1/2 cup Pure Vegetable Oil 1/4 cup water 2 Eggs 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened 1 can (14 oz) Sweetened Condensed Milk 1/2 cup Creamy Peanut Butter 1 bag (8 oz) Heath® milk chocolate toffee bits 1 cup milk chocolate baking chips 3 tablespoons whipping cream 

Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray 13x9-inch pan with Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray.In medium bowl, stir brownie mix, oil, water and eggs 50 strokes with spoon. Spread batter in pan; set aside.

In large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add milk and peanut butter; beat until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of the toffee bits. Spoon mixture over batter; spread evenly.Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until cheesecake layer is set and edges are light golden brown. Cool on cooling rack 30 minutes. Refrigerate 40 minutes.

In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and cream uncovered on High 40 to 60 seconds or until chips are melted; stir until smooth. Spread over cheesecake layer. Sprinkle with remaining toffee bits. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Store covered in refrigerator.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Paper Hyacinth

Paper Hyacinth

How cute are these little paper creations?
Source: Aunt Peaches

Click on the link above... she gives you far better instructions and photos than I'd ever be able to accomplish.  :)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Barefoot Baby Bloom Booties

Barefoot Baby Bloom Booties

Makes 1 pair.

The blogger linked below has great instructions, great pictures, and overall a very easy technique to make these adorable booties.  I made two pairs in an evening!  The only things I changed were my technique (I used all needle and thread instead of hot glue), the number of petals, and the size (made for an 8- and 12-month old vs. the bloggers 2.5 month old)
Slightly adapted from: I Can Dabble

T-shirt (I used one purchased from Michael’s, on sale for $2)
Coordinating Needle & thread
Coordinating felt (you only need a little for each shoe, so go digging through your scrap pile!)
Glue Gun, if preferred over needle & thread

I Can Dabble's writer took a great shortcut, using the finished hem of the t-shirt for the straps.  Eliminates a big sewing step.  Always a good thing.  So be sure to cut as close to the hem line as possible, and make sure each shoe has two-3" straps  (For an older child (over 1), you may need to increase the strap length to 3-1/2"-4").

Cut out a coordinating felt circle (approx 2.5 inches) and sew on both straps to be an under-the-sole strap and behind-the-heel strap. 

Next, create a 5 petal flower template on a piece of paper. The flower should end up being approximately 2.5 inches in diameter. Pin the template on your t-shirt and cut out 18 flowers (9 for each shoe).  ***I increased this number to 26; 13 for each shoe which gives the flower one extra layer of petals and an overall fuller look.

Take one petal and fold it in half. Then fold it in half again. Do this with 4 petals. Arrange each petal onto your felt circle so that the corners meet in the middle (you're essentially using each folded flower to be one petal). Now hot glue or sew them on. If you use hot glue, you’ll want to also hot glue each petal fold to itself.  Check out the original blogger's photos if you're confused.

Now take your next 4 petals and fold them the same way. This time when gluing them on, rotate your felt circle so that the new petals are lying across ½ of 2 bottom petals (check her blog for pics!).  Then, repeat again for a 3rd layer... again rotating slightly.  Basically, you don't want the petals stacked exactly on top of one another.

Take your last petal piece and fold it in half. Roll one corner into the other, kind of creating a cone shape. This will create the bud of the flower. Hot glue, or sew, the bud to the middle. Take the top layer of petals and add a dab of glue to the center and adhere it to the bud. This will give your flower more fluff and body.
Repeat with the other shoe, and then... you're done!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Chopped Thai Chicken Salad

Chopped Thai Chicken Salad

Serves 4.

This reminded me of Asian Broccoli Slaw salad... you know, the one with the Ramen noodles?  It's fresh and crunchy and full of flavor.
Slightly adapted from: Pinch of Yum

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 small head green or white cabbage (2 cups shredded) -- I used coleslaw mix
1 large carrot (1½ cups shredded)
1 green papaya (1½ cups shredded) -- I used 1 cucumber here instead
½ cup fresh cilantro
½ cup green onions
½ cup chopped peanuts

2 cloves garlic
3 bird’s eye chili peppers (sub ½ teaspoon minced hot pepper) -- I used 1/2 t. crushed red pepper 
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon oil
½ teaspoon fish sauce -- I omitted because I didn't have any
¼ cup peanut butter
¼ cup water

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the chicken breasts, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes. When the chicken is done, remove from heat, drain water, let cool, and shred with two forks.

If you did not buy coleslaw mix, chop the cabbage into very thin pieces, like it would be for coleslaw, rolling up several leaves together and making thin vertical slices across the roll and then chopping them once horizontally. 

Peel and grate the carrots. Cut off the skin, remove the seeds, and grate the papaya (or peel and grate the cucumber). Roughly chop the cilantro and green onions. Toss the chicken and vegetables in a large bowl and keep chilled.

Mince the garlic and chili peppers. Place garlic and peppers in a small mixing bowl with the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, lime juice, oil, and fish sauce. Whisk until smooth. Add the peanut butter and water and whisk again until smooth and creamy.

Toss the salad with the dressing. Add the crushed peanuts. Serve chilled. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to one day. For best results, keep the leftover salad and dressing separate until ready to serve.