Saturday, September 14, 2013

Crazy Little Coconut

My friend Casandra is the most fun person I know.  She has a huge heart and an even larger sense of humor.  She always knows how to cheer you up and make you laugh, even on your worst of days.  And like I may have mentioned before, she's a little crazy, but only in the best possible sense of the word.  Casandra is also one of the most genuine friends I have ever had.  If you don't know her, you are definitely missing out.

When I found out that her boyfriend hadn't planned anything for her birthday, I immediately decided last minute that her needed to do something for her.  I suggested taking her out to dinner, and she invited the rest of her friends, and I immediately started planning a cake.  Of course, neither Casandra nor her boyfriend have Facebook, so I couldn't do any sneaking around to find out what flavors of cake she likes.  I decided that since I was on a 2-day time crunch to plan this thing, I would just come out straight and ask her.  She said that she likes chocolate and vanilla, but also chocolate with coconut.

Well, I had already made a Mounds cake, and an Almond Joy cake, so I needed to invent a new combination of chocolate and coconut.  This is what I came up with:

Dark Chocolate Cake filled w/ Liquid Milk Chocolate and Topped w/ Coconut Buttercream and Shredded Coconut
Recipe sort of adapted from here
Yield: 1 8" double-layer cake (approx 16 servings)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Baking Up A Better Year

This year is going to be a new year for me.  My first year of graduate school was horrible.  I cried almost every day, developed panic attacks, started psychiatric medication, and tried to drop out of the program.  I am determined that this year will be different.  My second year will be worlds better than the first.  Why?  Because I am going to make it that way.  I am going to approach this year with a new perspective.  I will be working with middle school kids instead of adults with substance abuse, so the work is a little more hopeful.  I will treat myself better by allowing myself the proper amount of sleep, exercise, and vegetables.  I have new classes and new friends.  I will make the time to spend with friends, and allow for plenty of playtime with little Peanut.  Oh yeah, and I'm going to bake more!  All of this should add up to a good year.  And if it doesn't, well, I have the most amazing friends to back me up.

One of these amazing friends, Carla, texted me last minute asking me if I could make her boyfriend's birthday cake.  I will jump at any excuse to bake instead of doing my homework, and since I love Carla and Zach, I immediately said yes and began brainstorming.  Carla said that Zach likes vanilla and alcohol, and I texted her every possibility I could think of in five minutes.  This is what she chose:

Vanilla Bean Whiskey Cheesecake
Recipe adapted from here
Yield: 1 10" cheesecake (approx 16 servings)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Moving Forward and Family Farewells

This past year I had the great honor of completing my first year practicum placement at the Latin American Health Institute in Brockton, MA.  One year ago, as I prepared to begin my 10 months as a clinical intern there, I expected to have a great clinical experience and training in the field.  What I did not count on was that one year later, I would be leaving a group of wonderfully compassionate staff and clinicians that became my family.  These people taught me so much about therapy, and about what "client-centered care" truly means.  LHI taught me how to be a better and more understanding person.

I made incredible professional connections and developed friendships with people from all over the globe.  All of the 5 MSPP interns that stayed in the Boston area continued on to volunteer and to work for LHI.  I spent four hours a week all summer just scanning charts into the EHR system.  Why?  Because I love those people and wanted to do anything I could to help them, and to try to begin to repay them for the amazing year I've had.

The Interns
Today I stopped by LHI to say goodbye.  Classes have started and my new practicum placement is beginning, and no longer have to time to sleep, let alone to volunteer.  Peanut and I dropped in to bring cookies and to say thank you to everyone for the incredible year.  Of course we all promised to stay in touch and visit, but it was still bittersweet.  These cookies were just what we needed to combat the bitter part and make it just plain sweet:

Oatmeal, Dark Chocolate Chunk, and Cranberry Cookies (Dairy-Free, made w/ coconut oil)
Recipe adapted from my favorite recipe 
Yield: 2 dozen large cookies

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Copy Cat Cookies

Last week I was cranky.  It was the first week of school and I had cramps and my fall allergies commenced.  And to make it the worst week ever, we had no cookies in the house.  I absolutely could not let this slide.  First week of school= cookie time.

I had been dreaming about making my favorite childhood cookie from scratch for a long time, but it just seemed like a lot of work.  And besides, could homemade really taste as good as the ultra-processed boxed stuff?  I decided to give it a shot, and this is what I ended up with:

Copycat Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies
Recipe adapted from Cooking Classy
Yield: About a dozen big cookie sandwiches