Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Brownies with Chocolate Glaze

I am part of the America's Test Kitchen email list and get recipes to try and critique that may or may not be used in future issues of Cooks Illustrated. The recipe this week was the following brownie recipe, which is phenomenal.

Brownies with Chocolate Glaze
Makes sixteen 2-inch brownies

Be sure to test for doneness before removing the brownies from the oven. If underbaked (the toothpick has batter clinging to it), the texture of the brownies will be dense and gummy; if overbaked (the toothpick comes out completely clean), the brownies will be dry and cakey.

3/4 cups (3 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 sticks), cut into six equal pieces
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chocolate Glaze
3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. For the Brownies: Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut 16-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 7-inch width. Fit foil into 8-inch square baking dish, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost--simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in microwave, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 seconds, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and, if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments; do not let chocolate burn.) When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan.

3. Whisk eggs and sugar in large bowl until mixture lightens in color and thickens, about 3 minutes. Add melted chocolate mixture and vanilla; whisk until fully incorporated, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture in three additions, folding with rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.

4. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil overhang.

5. For the Glaze: Melt chocolate and butter in medium heatproof bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth; set aside to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Pour chocolate glaze on cooled brownies; using offset spatula, spread glaze into even layer. Allow glaze to set, about 30 minutes; cut into 2-inch squares, and serve. (Store leftovers in airtight container in refrigerator.)

Source: Cooks Illustrated America's Test Kitchen

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dollhouse Frock GIVEAWAY !!!!!!!

Dollhouse Frock GIVEAWAY !!!!!!!

Wow! I don't have children, but this dress is super cute and will fit my niece perfectly!

Weekend Wrapup

What a lovely weekend. We golfed on Friday evening and followed it with burgers and beers at Walters' (which I love for its great bar food, but also b/c it's my maiden name). Saturday we started on random house projects and I started some new sewing projects that I am excited about, even though I had to make three trips to Jo-Ann Fabrics in the span of 24 hours. Luckily it is very nearby.

Nate fininshed up painting the ceiling around the new kitchen light fixture and installed the very last bin/drawer pull on our new trash cabinet. I already posted about the cornices and he fixed the curtains in the living room, which were previously hung too low.

We raised them up nearer to the ceiling and it is AMAZING how much of an effect it has in making the room seem taller. Those decorators know their stuff!

We also transplanted some hastas, deadheaded some plants, finished a book, ran, watched the debates, the new Amazing Race, the Sex & The City movie, JS finish a 5k and the Brewers win to enter them in the playoffs!!!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

DIY Cornices

Remember these bad boys:

Nate refashioned those old shelves into some cornices for our office windows, which previously were pretty barren:

Cornices are very easy to make...thanks to this cheesy $2 "you can do it windows" book I got at Jo-Ann Fabrics.

First you cut a board the width of the windo frame plus 6". Cut side pieces 3" long for windows with blinds and 6" long for curtained windows. Screw the boards together until you make a step:

Then go shopping for fabric and batting. You will need to measure the outer sides and front of the assembled cornice from end to end for length and measure the height of the cornice and add 5" for the width.

LENGTH: End to end of the cornice
WIDTH: Height of the cornice plus 5"

Lay out the batting and put the cornice on top of it:

Use an upholestry staple gun to pull the batting taut and staple to the back.

Repeat the steps for the fabric:

To hang the finished cornice, attach 2" L brackets to the wall above the drapery rods.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Embrace the Fall Weather!

Tomorrow, Saturday 9/27/08, is National Museum Day, sponsored by the Smithsonian. Go to the website and check out which participating venues are in your area and you can print out the admission card and get in for free!!!

While you're at it, download a free Dwell Magazine walking tour podcast and explore your city.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

7 marathons..7 continents...7 weeks

Claire from Hope Runs left a comment on my shoes post stating that they are still looking for applicants for the 2010 777 team.

What is the 777 team?

From their website:
"In 2010, Hope Runs will be leading a Guinness World Record-breaking endeavor to complete 7 marathons on 7 continents in only 7 weeks. With a team of dedicated runners, physical therapists, and doctors, we are committed to breaking some fantastic Guinness World Records. We are also proud to be running a green event through carbon-emissions-offset sponsoring.

The Hope Runs 777 Challenge will help bring the issues facing the 14.5 million AIDS orphans in Africa alone to the forefront of the world̢۪s consciousness. By pushing ourselves to the limit, our team will raise awareness for the issues facing orphaned and vulnerable children (OVCs) all over the world, mobilizing people everywhere to become more involved. With each member of the team covering his or her own costs and committing to raise thousands more toward the cause, this effort will help to make a lasting impact in places that need it most."

If you or anyone you know might be interested, check it out!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

RIP Farmhouse Sink

Last night, I waved the white flag. I surrendered. I gave up the search for a farmhouse sink so that our kitchen could finally make some progress.

ALL summer I have been searching for a sink that would fit our existing cabinetry. Those of you that have followed the kitchen remodel thus far (a PAINFUL five months) know that we decided to paint our existing cabintry as it was in good condition and to save money since we also need to do a huge bathroom makeover (and I work in public health). I love how our cabinets turned out, but this decision did NOT favor getting a farmhouse/apron sink as not one sink that I googled, searched for, came across would fit without some major work.

The countertop company has been patiently awaiting the purchase of the sink and last night, I found the #2 sink on my list - the single basin, 18 gauge stainless steel, flush undermount sink. (BK, I have to admit seeing your sink did help me make this decision!)

Here are some pictures of the type of sink we will soon have!

I am excited that progress will now be made!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Old Running Shoes?

I recently bought new running shoes (the Saucony Hurricane Pro Grid 10 and I LOVE them) and have a bunch of old pairs that I do not wear. What to do with them?

There are several options:

Shoe companies, retailers, and individuals can donate footwear both new and used to those in need around the world. Soles4Souls has coordinated relief efforts for the Asian Tsunami and Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike, netting over 1 Million pairs donated for these disasters.

Send your old running shoes to:
Alabama (Primary Warehouse Facility)
Soles4Souls, Inc.
315 Airport Road
Roanoke, AL 36274

Soles4Souls, Inc.
619 Old Hickory Blvd.
Old Hickory, TN 37138

Soles4Souls, Inc.
Foreign Trade Zone #89
6620 Escondido Street
Las Vegas, Nevada 89119

For more information, go to www.soles4souls.org, call (615) 391-5723, or e-mail info@giveshoes.org.

Hope Runs
Hope Runs is a non-profit group working in Kenya and Tanzania, using athletics, education, and social entrepreneurship to empower AIDS orphans. They accept donations, including running shoes.

Visit www.hoperuns.org for details.

Shoe4Africa is a charitable organization whose mission is "empowerment through sports and education, creating unique health initiatives, and promoting Aids awareness."

Note: All shoe donations from America must be sent via Airmail.

Send your old running shoes to:
c/o Monicah Kiplagat
PO Box 6943
Eldoret, Kenya

Visit www.shoe4africa.org or e-mail info@shoe4africa.org for more information.

Nike Reuse-A-Shoe
Grinds your old running shoes into material that makes athletics and playground surfaces.

Send your old running shoes to:
Nike Recycling Center
c/o Reuse-A-Shoe
26755 SW 95th Ave.
Wilsonville, OR 97070

For more information about Nike Reuse-A-Shoe, go to: nikereuseashoe.com or call 800-344-6453. In the MKE area, you can take your old shoes to any In Step Running Store to donate them to Nike Reuse-a-Shoe.

One World Running
Since 1986, a group of runners in Boulder, Colorado, has collected, washed and sent to Third World countries new and "near-new" athletic shoes along with other athletic equipment.

For more information about One World Running, and what kind of shoes you can send to them, please visit boulderrunning.com or call (303) 473-1314 or (303) 828-4391.

The Shoe Bank

Founded in 1989, the Shoe Bank provides shoes for twenty thousand people every year - primarily children, both here and abroad.

Send your old running shoes to:
Michael Barringer
Shoe Bank
205 Becky Lane
Rockwall, TX 75087

For more information about the Shoe Bank, go to www.shoebank.org or contact Michael Barringer at 971-771-7658 or michaelbarringer@sbcglobal.net

Heart and Sole
Provides new and gently used shoes to the poorest of the world's people. Since the project began in 1999, more than 6,000 pairs of shoes have been shipped around the world.

Send your old running shoes to:
Ann Cook
A314 East Fee Hall
College of Osteopathic Medicine
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1316

For more information go to www.com.msu.edu or contact Ann at Ann.Cook@hc.msu.edu

Warren Striders Track Club, Inc.
Provides running shoes to local and area low/moderate income families who often are unable to purchase adequate running shoes to their children.

Send your old running shoes to:
Jack Thornton, Jr.
Head Coach/Program Director
P.O. Box 3440
Warren, Ohio 44485

For more information, go to warrenstriderstrackclubinc.com, or contact Jack Thornton, Jr. at 330.372.6252 or jthorntonjr1@msn.com

Sole Responsibility
A non-profit organization formed by a group of runners in Ottawa, Canada who donate gently used running and walking shoes overseas.

Send your old running shoes to:
Sole Responsibility
83 Place Road,
Ottawa, Ontario
K1L 5B9

For more information, go to www.soleresponsibility.org/ or contact Jennifer North at 613-240-4300.

Source: Runnersworld.com

Well, 12 more days until the marathon. I'm not feeling that confident about it, especially if this beautiful weather (read: too hot to run 26.2 miles) keeps up! Perhaps it is just the taper (read: hardly any running and sinus infection to boot) talking, but this is not going to be Amy's Best Marathon.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Continuing the Kitchen Lighting Update

Inspired by B&JK's new kitchen, we came home from their housewarming party yesterday and got to work installing the second light fixture in our kitchen.

You can see our old light fixture below:

Our new light fixture is the Barometer from Ikea and MUCH easier to install than the Kvintett.

Clearly we still have to paint the ceiling around it yet!

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Today brought two changes to our home: Lighting & Curtains.

I have wanted to change the curtains in our living room for awhile for two reasons:
1) The maroon ones were slightly too short
2) They also made the room very dark.

And let's face it...they were sort of boring.

While shopping at Ikea Twin Cities, we found the Andrea curtains and liked them a lot. I am not very good at envisioning how things will look in our house until we actually bring them home and test them, so we bought them figuring we could always return them.

It turns out they look great!

Here are the old ones (The picture is not so great):

And the new:

It already looks lighter & brighter in there! I am going to have to modify the curtain for the smaller window by cutting it in half, as one curtain was big enough to cover the whole window. It is definitely very green in there now, but we are planning on getting new furniture for this room soon and moving the green stuff to the ManCave to replace the futon and folding chairs.

Woohoo for the Andrea curtains!

The second thing that was done was replacing the light fixture above the kitchen sink. We got the Kvintett pendant lamp for only $7 during the same Ikea trip!

TWO HOURS and one trip to Lowe's LATER...the $7 was not seeming like such a great deal. We had to modify the electric box, a few choice words were uttered by Nate and rig up a hooking system b/c the pendant was too long, but I must say, it looks fantastic! My sweaty husband did a great job!
This is not the original light fixture that came with the house, but one we temporarily installed. It did not fit into the space very well.

And the new pendant lamp:

We have one more light fixture to put up in the kitchen, but that is going to be for another day.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Minneapolis Recap

Our posts were getting fewer and farther between because we just got back from Minneapolis! Nate had to go for work and I needed a break from work so I tagged along. I had never been to Minneapolis, which seems crazy. We stayed right off Nicolett Mall, ate at some great restaurants including Dakota and Masa, listened to a gypsy jazz band at Dakota, had some great cocktails at The Local and of course, did some shopping. I wasn't too keen on going to the Mall of America, but I went to check it out. I liked the shopping on Nicollet Mall better because the weather was beautiful while we were there AND they were giving away samples of Mrs. Meyers products! ha ha ha

I also went to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the Walker Arts Center and the Weisman Art Center on the University of Minnesota campus. I really thought the Hindsight is Always 20/20 exhibit was awesome. The artist took each of the state of the union addresses from all of the president and turned them into eye charts. The biggest word at the top represented the word most often cited in each speech. Surprise surprise but GWB's word was "Iraq". It was a great exhibit to see with the looming election!

We also had some luck at Ikea! We got new curtains for our living room and two new light fixtures for the kitchen. Hopefully we can get them installed this weekend and have some pictures up. It's about time we returned to the house makeover portion of this blog!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wii are Gamers

Our weekend in Delafield was very nice. It was very relaxing to take a mini vacation so close to home!

Back on the home front, wii are becoming gamers again since we bought Mario Kart a week ago and just learned that wii also will be the proud owners of Wii Fit thanks to MH who just happened to be at Target on his lunch hour and found one! Woohoo! I have been searching for one for months now!

Mario Kart is more fun that I thought it would be and with the arrival of the Wii Fit, we may morph into gamers. We may never get that kitchen done! (However, we did just receive the countertop quote this morning so progress...slowly!)

Friday, September 12, 2008


I have been lagging on posts so you know what that means...a list of random things to cover!

1. The anniversary (part 1) on Monday night was lovely. We went out to dinner at The Grove for dinner and exchanged the traditional paper gifts. I made a scrapbook with a little "gift" to open on the 8th of each month and he made massage gift certificates and a framed artwork thing. We also received paper in the form of cards, cash, notecards, and fun plates/napkins for entertaining. Wine was also a big hit! For those of you that follow the "modern" anniversary list, clocks are the gift for #1. I gave Nate a new watch and we also recieved a clock as a gift. We are off to celebrate part 2 tomorrow! You can find the traditional and modern anniversary lists here. Thank you to all of our friends and family members for thinking of us!

2. The marathon is now 3 weeks and 2 days away. I have been participating in the Badgerland Striders build up run program on Saturday mornings and last week was great - they had massage therapists there after the run! I really am thinking about getting one of the election shirts from oisellerunning.com. I saw them in Runner's World and they made me laugh.

3. In terms of home improvements...there have been none. Nate finished putting the doors back on so we really are officially done painting our cabinets white. 4 months later, I am closer to having my black and white kitchen!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Happy One Year Anniversary To Us!

Phew! We made it to one year! Hooray! I am not sure what is planned for tonight, my husband is taking care of that and then Saturday night we are staying at the Delafield Hotel, where we had our reception and stayed on our wedding night. Uber Romantic, as I have posted before!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Button Collection to Wall Decoration

We spent part of last weekend at my in-laws going through some of the things in their basement, including some of Nate's old toys. One of the things we found was his button collection. It was fun to listen to some of the stories about where he got the buttons/pins and I was happy to find out that I wasn't the only kid who collected things!

We also found this homemade shadow box that was a high school graduation present from a neighbor. I thought that arranging some of the buttons in the shadow box would be a cool, personal wall decoration for our house.

I got to work and voila: we have a wall decoration.

Now we have to find a place to hang it!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Emily Post Etiquette Website

Wowsa...get every one of your etiquette questions answered at the Emily Post Website.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake

Over the weekend, I really wanted to bake. So, I consulted my Taste of Home Baking cookbook that Nate's grandparents got me for an engagement present two years ago. I made this recipe knowing that Nate is a HUGE fan of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

The cheesecake did not disappoint...and I got to break out my springform cheesecake pan! Bonus: It really ends up looking like the picture too!

Once again, i used a recipe that called for chocolate wafer cookie crumbs, and once again i could not find them so i used chocolate graham cracker crumbs. Does anyone know where one gets chocolate wafer cookies? I always thought that they made Nilla wafers in a chocolate variety, but I guess I thought wrong.

1-3/4 cups crushed chocolate chips cookies or chocolate wafer crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips, divided

In a small bowl, combine cookie crumbs and sugar; stir in butter. Press onto the bottom and 1 in up the sides of a greased 9-in. pan. Place pan on a baking sheet; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low just until combined. Add sour cream and vanilla; beat just until blended. Pour over crust; set aside.

In another mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add water and vanilla. Gradually add flour. Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls over filling, gently pushing dough below surface (dough should be completely covered by filling). Place pan on a baking sheet.

Bake at 350° for 45-55 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.

Remove sides of pan. Sprinkle with remaining chips. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 12-14 servings.

Free Desktop Wallpapers

If you are like me and sit in front of a computer all day long, it is fun to change up your desktop wallpaper.

Here are some fun free ones (click on the colored links to go to the site):

Cecily Ink's Septemeber calendar is my newest selection.

Marimekko wallpapers

Kate Spade Behind the Curtain


The blog Design Freebies often posts new free desktop wallpapers as well.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Rigatoni with Sausage, Artichokes and Asparagus

I came back from my run tonight to find Nate, my sous chef, preparing all of the ingredients in the following recipe food network style...aka all the items were chopped as directed and put in little glass bowls. It made cooking extra fun tonight!

This was DELISH. and EASY...if you have your own sous chef.

3/4 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced, 2 TB of oil reserved
1 lb. hot Italian sausage, casings removed
2-8 oz. packages frozen artichoke hearts
1 cup asparagus, trimmed and cut in 1-inch pieces
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
12 oz rigatoni, or other tubular pasta
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
8 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed
salt and pepper

Heat the oil reserved from the tomatoes in a large, heavy frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned, breaking up the meat into bite-size pieces with a fork, about 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to a bowl. Add the artichokes, asparagus, and garlic to the same skillet, adn saute over medium heat until the garlic is tender, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, wine, and sun-dried tomatoes. Boil over medium-high heat until the sauce reduces slightly, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta in boiling water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta.

Add the pasta, sausage, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, basil and parsley to the artichoke mixture. Toss until the sauce is almost absorbed by the pasta. Stir in the mozzarella, if using. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Serve, passing the additional parmesan cheese alongside.

Source: Giada DeLaurentis Everyday Pasta cookbook

I find that trader joes is the best source (and cheapest) for frozen artichoke packages!

I've been meme'd

I've been meme'd by chacha from Chasing Imperfection...otherwise known as the woman who got an apron sink for $150 on craigslist. sigh. I'm still not over that.

Anyways, here are 6 random facts about me:
1. I looked like a boy from age 8 to oh, about 14. (I don't know why this is the first random thing that popped into my head. It's about time I get over it!)
2. I have a minor in women's studies from the University of Wisconsin. While we're at that, a major in Anthropology from the same institution and my master's in public health from Emory University.
3. I am a huge Bruce Springsteen fan...so much so that I made a tshirt that says I Heart Bruce in puffy paint. And I still wear it.
4. I am the oldest sibling and have a younger brother & sister. Hence my neurotic, over-achiever personality and why I also had to marry a first-born.
5. I am an excellent time manager but also an excellent procrastinator.
6. I am afraid of snakes.

So now I guess I have to pass along the meme-ing. So...I will meme:
1. Fellow Wisconsinite Nemmie from Cast Sugar
2. Bryn from Newleywedisms
3. Jen from the Cottage Nest

Monday, September 1, 2008

Putting the "Labor" back into Labor Day Weekend

This weekend we dug out our cabinet painting supplies for the final round of paint. Our custom-made garbage cabinet was installed on Thursday (Thank you GARY!) so we could get down to business painting the remaining cabinets.

Here is what the kitchen looked like before the new cabinet was installed (look to the left of our range - open garbage & recycling containers - gross!):

Then, with the unpainted cabinet:

And the modified cabinets in the corner waiting to be painted:

After painting:

We still have to finish up the doors for the cabinets and put hardware in. Hopefully we can get a sink within the next week or two so that the countertops can be ordered!

Oh! and I almost forgot...Nate is up to THREE chipmunks now.

I can't believe that summer is over. And our kitchen is not. :) Sweat equity is cheap but takes a long time! Here is our Kitchen Album so far.