Married to Medicine

Married to Medicine

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Finally! A Great Family Weekend (+ German Apple Pancake Recipe)

Usually if I want to think about an amazing weekend packed with all sorts of fun and family and friends, I read Erica Carlson's blog.  This girl has such a great life and such a sweet way of appreciating all of the little pleasures life offers... I love her blog and can't get enough.  Plus the recipes are fabulous.

But this weekend I was thrilled to be in my own life.  I didn't spend a single day of it pretending it was still another weekday while figuring out how to fill the time with my husband at work and my few Boston-area friends spending quality time with their own families.  Instead, ALL weekend, *I* got to have quality family time.  And by ALL weekend, I mean that he didn't even work from home.  I can't recall the last time he even had an entire weekend "off" (August, I think!) but I assure you the last time he actually didn't work over a weekend was before he started residency, over two years ago.  And he did have his scheduled vacation last month, which was great... but it was crazy-busy seeing no fewer than sixteen friends in St. Louis and nineteen family members in Chicago and Madison.  Whew!

Anyway, we needed a weekend together as a family.  I don't think I even realized how badly we needed it until we finally had it.  Bonus:  My husband even managed to wake up well before noon both days.  Although he did spend Friday and now Sunday evenings sleeping from about 8:30 on.  And thus I sit here blogging...
Loving his daddy time.
But seriously, we took full advantage.  It was Halloween weekend, and the coolest thing to do in New England at Halloween is definitely to go to Salem.  You know, Salem... where they executed all those innocent people for being witches.  Par-tay!!  

But tragic human depravity aside, Salem is a really neat place to go in October.  The Witch Dungeon Museum is FASCINATING.  First you watch a reenactment of portions of the actual 1692 trial transcript of Elizabeth Proctor.  She was accused by an orphaned girl she and her husband had taken in as a servant and treated as their own.  She was found guilty but because she was pregnant, her execution was delayed until the hysteria was over.  Her husband was not so lucky; he was executed.  Largely for standing up for her - so sad.  Their graves, along with the graves of many of the other 20 convicted and executed "witches" can still be found in Salem.  I mean how weird is it to live down the highway from where that all went down?  BTW local cemeteries are awesome this time of year.  The first time I saw one I thought it was an elaborate Halloween display.

Cemetery at Harvard Square
Next, you tour the dungeon.  Although it's just a reconstruction of the original, it attempts to be historically accurate.  Back then, you had to actually pay for your own time in prison (don't tell the Republicans!).  The wealthy could afford their own cells, and the middle-class were in communal cells.  The poor were in "coffin cells" - cells that were about 2' x 2'.  Like a coffin except you had to stand up.  The entire time you were imprisoned.  #FateWorseThanDeath.

Anyway, so we spent a spooky, rainy afternoon in Salem.  When the rain started to freeze, we picked up a chicken pot pie from the acclaimed Ken's Kicken Chicken (Amazing!!) and headed home, stopping off at Wilson Farm for some of their hot spiced cider.  Back at home we ate our warm pot pie and cider and watched the snow coming down in huge, wet flakes.  Once M was in bed we sat down to watch Knocked Up, decided we hated it, and about fifteen crappy Netflix movies later we settled on The Spitfire Grill.  Fabulous Saturday.

This morning I got up early with M and cooked my husband an autumn breakfast feast while he slept in. If you at all like apples, give this one a try.  It's really quite easy SO good.  A great way to have "pancakes" and actually be able to sit down and eat together instead of running back and forth to the kitchen to flip new ones.

German Apple Pancake

4 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
3 pinches salt
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar 
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced to about 1/4 inch thickness

In large bowl, stir or blend eggs, flour, baking powder, sugar, salt.  Slowly stir in milk.  Add vanilla, melted butter, and nutmeg.  Set aside for at least 20 minutes, hopefully 30.

Preheat oven to 425.  Melt the butter in a skillet or large pot or saucepan.  Add remaining ingredients.  Saute 3-5 minutes, until apples are slightly cooked and sitting in caramel.  Pour apple mixture into pie dish.  Pour pancake mixture on top.  Bake 15 minutes at 425 and another 10 minutes at 375.  

SO GOOD.  Perfect for a fall weekend breakfast.

I did serve this with Breakfast Potatoes.  SO unhealthy but SO GOOD:

Dice up 1 large-ish red potato.  I like it diced small.  Boil for 5 minutes.  Drain.  Start heating it in a small pot.  Add finely diced onion - about 1/6th of a whole onion for each red potato.  Add finely diced or pressed garlic - one clove per potato.  And 2 tbsp butter.  Heat and stir, sprinkle with paprika.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add more butter or onion if necessary.  Cook until desired doneness - I like them slightly crisp on the outside but chewy on the inside.  SO good but *SO* bad.

Anyway, if you're still reading, wow, thanks!  This was one long and disjointed blog entry.  But my main purpose with this blog is to capture our lives, largely for my children.  And this weekend was one I don't soon want to forget.  We finished off Sunday by finally working together on some projects around the apartment (cleaning out the office).  It felt SO good.  Later in the afternoon we did a 3.8 mile walk to and from Wilson Farm for "apple cider donuts" (they're big out here), more hot spiced cider, and a haunted hay ride for M.  Dinner together.  Perfection.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Black Magic Brownies

If you're a lover of intense, deep, decadent, rich chocolate, please try this recipe.  I promise you'll be glad you did.  As a friend once noted, they're almost too intense to technically be brownies, and would more aptly be named "black"ies.  Whatever the name, give these a whirl.  They're perfect any time you have a chocolate craving, but are particularly appropriate around Halloween when all things dark get their time to shine.

These are tiny 1" squares on a tiny plate.  Tiny, intense brownies.
I adapted this recipe from Allrecipe's Best Brownies, by making a few minor changes and one major one:  Using just half of the powdered sugar called for in the icing.  PLEASE trust me and do cut that sugar in half, if you use the Allrecipe's version.  If you don't, the icing ends up stiffer, slightly dry, and overly sweet.  While that was apparently good enough to earn 4.5 stars out of 4,100 Allrecipe reviews, that single significant change takes it to a full five star recipe, in my opinion.


1 stick butter (or better:  Smart Balance)
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt, slightly rounded (i.e., slightly more salt)
1/4 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup powdered/confectioners sugar
splash or two of cream


Grease and flour a square pan (8x8 or 9x9).  A pie pan also works if you don't have a square one.  Preheat oven to 350.  Melt stick of butter in small pot on stove.  Take off heat.  Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Stir until consistent.  Add flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder.  Stir until consistent again and pour into pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Do NOT overcook.  If tiny air pockets have appeared all over the top surface, it's done.  Cool at least 30 minutes before icing, but don't worry about cooling completely.  If the icing melts into the brownies, heck, why not; these are even better the next day, after the icing and brownie have somewhat merged into one.  Top with sprinkles if desired.  For a chocolate souffle effect, serve microwaved with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream on top.

The very close up close-up.
Enjoy.  Tell yourself it's healthy because to get this kind of satisfaction from regular brownies, you'd have to eat five times as much ;)  Then proceed to eat that much anyway, and melt away into total euphoric bliss.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

To DIE For Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Holy MOLY!!!  Please try this cake!

My friend Hillary recommended it to me back in July of 2010 and it is downright TRAGIC that I didn't get around to trying it out until now.  In my defense, it uses a lot of butter and cream cheese... two things I avoid in my attempts to lower my husband's cholesterol.  But I'm home in Madison with my parents right now and we're all about saturated fat.  Mmm...

Anyway, this cake is A-MAZ-ING.  Banana-y and cream cheese-y, not too sweet, and moist as you can imagine.  It's perfect for anyone out there who doesn't absolutely abhor bananas.  Cutting to the chase, here it is:  EASY-

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from's "Banana Cake VI"

3/4 cup butter (1.5 sticks)
2 1/8 cup white sugar (next time I might try using just 1 cup packed brown sugar)
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1.5 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 cups buttermilk
2 tsp lemon juice
4 mashed overripe bananas
OPTIONAL:  Chopped walnuts or vanilla wafers (or both) to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 275 (yes: 275), and grease a 9x13 inch pan.  Mash the bananas with the lemon juice; set aside.  In medium sized bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt.  In mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time.  Add vanilla.  Alternate adding the flour mixture with the buttermilk, mixer on low.  Keeping mixer on low, add the banana/lemon juice mixture.

For these pics I made half a batch; otherwise I'd have needed a 9x13" pan.

Bake for at least an hour, until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.  The center will go from jiggly to firm fairly quickly at the end - keep an eye on it.  Put it straight into the freezer, still uncovered, for 45 minutes.  Meanwhile, make the frosting:

8 ounce package cream cheese
1 stick butter
1 tsp vanilla
1.5-2.5 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar

Beat the butter and cream cheese until mixed; add vanilla.  Add sugar to taste - I like it less sweet.

Again, I halved the recipe; be sure to use a 9x13 inch pan unless you do too.
Frost the cake.  If desired, crumble a few vanilla wafer cookies (or grab a bag of chopped walnuts) and sprinkle on top.

Keep it chilled and serve it about 15 minutes after you take it out of the fridge - even better this way.