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[ short hiatus ]

I am currently swamped.

Had four interviews last week which amounts to four day-long interviews and four 2-3 hour-long dinners.

Had a board exam this week. 8 hours. 8 hours?! Somehow.. I made it.

Two more interviews tomorrow and Friday.

And did I mention these interviews are all scattered around NY/NJ/PA which calls for a lot of time in my car (and a lot of Christmas music)?

[On my one day off this week – yesterday – I went home to take care of my somewhat sick mother and still recovering grandmother .. and then Boy took me to see Harry Potter yayyyyyyyyy!]

Then a funeral on Saturday [sadface] and driving down to Maryland for a friend’s birthday.

I know you all probably don’t care about the goings on of my day-to-day but this was really just a long-winded way of saying that I’m still here but the baking has stopped for the time being and my time online to check all of your blogs has gone to poops too.

I miss you all!! I’m going to try to crank out a post this week in between interviews while at a hotel but no promises, okay?

PS Any ideas on what to get my mom for Christmas? Help!

I WON!!!

Check out the post here!

The review:

Your last-minute entry was a hit–the addition of mint to the blueberry,  white chocolate, and cream party was unique and sublimely delicious!  The flavor was cool, refreshing, and a bit unexpected…very original!  Thanks for introducing us to the wonder that is blueberry + mint 🙂  Fantastic job for a Cupcake Hero first-timer!

Thank you so much to everyone who voted for me or supported me in any way possible.

Thanks to Dorothy for hosting Cupcake Hero and Clara for the lovely prize package I’ll receive and.

Special thanks to Boy for tasting everything I’ve ever baked whether he wanted to or not and for encouraging me to keep at it. For being my biggest fan. And for booking our trip to Vegas.

New Cupcake Hero theme to be announced on July 1st!

Cookies and Cream Brownies

I had a bad day yesterday.

In short, a patient yelled at me and nearly made me cry, I tripped in front of all the residents and some attending physicians at noon/lunch conference, I got out extra late because I had to wait for clinic hours to finish before meeting my preceptor, and managed to have a terrible asthma attack which required a visit to the ER at a later hour than I could have cared for.

Yeah. It was bad.

After the first thee things, I wanted (needed? same thing?) to come home and cry bake brownies. Not just any brownies either. I wanted cookies and cream brownies. Now, is that odd to crave something you’ve never ever had before? That you’ve maybe heard of once in your life? Well, that’s what happened to me yesterday. Cookies and cream brownies needed to be made. They needed to have Oreos in them. And they needed to be in my belly sooner rather than later.

This was not one of those times when I felt like baking. It was one of those times when a huge plate of nachos followed by a tub of Ben & Jerry’s shared around a table with my best girlfriends would have been perfect. But that wasn’t possible. So cookies and cream brownies would have to do and, in all honesty, the yumminess I was imagining in my head came pretty gosh darn close to that scenario I just described.

So after work I rushed to the store to buy ingredients sometime in the middle of my hour-long commute home on Route 1, the biggest life-sucker-outter I know. I was out in 10 minutes (I’m a really quick shopper). And I went home thinking that my day HAD to get better if these were in my future.

Time’s always wasting so I whipped the brownies together in no time flat especially since I used brownie mix. I’ve never tried a doctored up brownie recipe.

(CAN I JUST TELL YOU?! GENIUS!!!!!!)

Anyway, after brownie-making, brownie-eating, knee-buckling, and milk chugging I considered my day a win. It wasn’t even that late yet. Still time to study! Yip yip!

But then.. asthma attack.

:: cue sappy music here ::

So Boy had to drive me to the emergency room late at night after an hour of wheezing and gripping onto the couch cushion with my eyes closed telling Boy to just shoot me already in between coarse breaths. Oh, also do you sometimes find that you can’t really take advice from the people you love the most? Boy was already telling me to go to the ER. But he also tells me to make immediate appointments to see a doctor if I’m nauseated two mornings in a row without any rhyme or reason. (Would YOU see a doctor? I figured it was anxiety or something and just pfft’ed it off. Yes, I know that’s not a word.) So Boy was telling me to go to the ER but I didn’t want to. Then a third party told me to go to the ER and I proceeded to grab my bag and get in Boy’s car. To his credit, he didn’t say “I told you so” even once. But I feel bad anyhow that I didn’t heed his advice to begin with, chalking it up to overly concerned loved one instead of quite appropriate medical advice from a soon-to-be-doctor-of-medicine. Oops.

[In case you’re concerned, I got some meds, sat around for awhile, talked to a few medicine residents on call who I happened to know and love, and got sent home late late late in the morning. Boy’s the bestest Boy ever.]

Anyway, now that I’ve displayed the haphazard inner-workings of my brain filled with random comments and probably some incoherent statements, these brownies still made my day a good one.

So make them if you’re having a crappy day. Or a good day. They’re super easy and super delicious.

And for the love of Boy, go to the emergency room if you can’t breathe. It’s some seriously good medical advice.

Cookies and Cream Brownies
adapted from Good Morning America

Makes 16.

Ingredients

For brownie cake:
1 pkg brownie mix [I used Betty Crocker Dark Chocolate]
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted [Yes, this much butter is necessary for proper day-bettering.]
2 large eggs
4 Oreos, coarsely chopped (~ 1/2 c)

For cookies & cream frosting:
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 tbsp (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c confectioner’s sugar, sifted
8 Oreos, coarsely chopped (~1 c)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray pan [I used an 8×8]  if desired but I usually just stick some aluminum foil in for easy clean-up and cutting.

In a large bowl, mix brownie mix, butter, and eggs with a wooden spoon until moistened. Transfer batter to pan, press Oreos onto top, and place in oven. Bake until set but always aim for fudgy. My batch baked for 40 minutes. Take ’em out and allow to cool for 20 minutes prior to frosting.

For the frosting, using a stand or hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until well combined. Add confectioner’s sugar and vanilla until just combined. Fold in Oreos. After the brownies have cooled for 20 minutes (or less if 20 is simply too long), spread frosting. Cut and eat (or allow to cool some more until frosting sets but.. that’s nearly impossible).

Go make your day a little bit better now. I command you.

– Sharlene

No-Bake White Chocolate Pie

My mood is much MUCH better today than it was a few days ago. I apologize for that quite uncharacteristic sob story. Honestly, one of the lowest moments I’ve ever had. Except for the time frame of lasting only a few days, I could have been clinically diagnosed with depression.

You can tell I feel much better when the nerd in me makes an appearance.

You know I was never really THAT bad since I kept a running tab of how many criteria for depression I filled at any given time.

Anyway, a big part of my stress and depress(ion) was this here weekend. While pulling my full load on my medicine clerkship (which is killing me by the way)  PLUS make a diaper cake for a friend’s baby shower (have you ever seen one of these? They’re adorable but quite time-consuming to make!), create some cupcakes for the same shower (settled on lychee mango.. will be sharing that recipe soon because they were a hit!), and coming up with something/making something for Boy’s BBQ tomorrow (going to do my first Daring Bakers challenge!! eeeeeeek!). And now that we’re halfway through the weekend and the shower’s over, I can rest a little easier.

And I am.

By parking myself in front of my parents’ humongo flat-screen with my laptop on which I’m doing questions. I am! So far.. I’ve done 22 in 2 hours. Clearly, my efficiency needs improvement. Or the Travel Channel needs to stop showing their Extreme series. Extreme Pig Outs and Extreme Fast Food? So interesting. Have you seen the monstrosities people actually eat? Like here. THE HEART ATTACK GRILL! Insanity.

This probably won’t give you a heart attack and at 350 calories per serving (the recipe makes 8), it’s really pretty healthy compared to  the 7,000 calorie burger I just saw on television (it looked delicious in case you’re wondering).

In honor of the BBQ tomorrow, I’m posting a pie I made for another recent outdoor event. It’s a bit like a cheesecake but much lighter, takes much less time, and is still heavenly. Now that I think about it, you don’t have to stop at bananas. Why not go for strawberries? Or kiwi fruit? Bacon? Freudian slip. Point is, it’s very easily adapted to whatever suits your taste.

No-Bake White Chocolate Pie
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients
4 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c sour cream
1/2 c heavy cream, chilled
1 banana, thinly sliced
One ready-made 9″ graham-cracker crust [You can make one and bake it up but I just bought one. My guilt was made up for by time saved.]

Instructions
Warm the chocolate in a bowl set over a pot of lightly simmering water. Remove from heat when only partially melted; stir to melt completely.

Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Beat in the chocolate, then the sour cream. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream until firm; gently fold into chocolate mixture.

Assembly:
Arrangethe banana slices on the crust. [I’ve also made one with toffee chips. Sprinkle about 1-2 oz of toffee chips on top of the bananas. Not too many or it’ll take over the pie!] Top with the filling. Decorate with cocoa powder or chocolate shavings. Strawberries perhaps?  Chill at least 2 hours.

Yayyyyyyy PIE!

– Sharlene