Monday, April 30, 2012

Current Obsessions

It's been a busy week here at Science and Cupcakes, so in the spirit of keeping things current, I thought I would try to smoosh all the goings on of the past week or two into one giant list of the things currently occupying space in my brain other than research. Brevity is the soul of wit. Or something.

1. Wisconsin

Andy and I took a really awesome trip to Door County, WI to do some wine tasting, hiking, and general relaxing to celebrate our anniversary. Door County is a neat little place that's sort of part Cape Cod, part New Hampshire, and part Midwest farming town. We made a few stops along the way like the Miller brewery in Milwaukee (free samples wooo!) and Lambeau Field  in Green Bay (cheeseheads wooo!). Basically, I didn't want to come back. I've been left with a small obsession with America's Dairyland. Cheese, beer, bratwursts, wine, and football? Awesome. 

Bonus sub-obsession: cheese curds

I don't know where these have been all my life, but now I am a cheese curd convert. Like mozzarella sticks but lighter. Yum! I need to find a good place in the Chicagoland area for these, stat. 

2. Trader Joe's

Having worked at Whole Foods Market for four years during high school and college, I was a little bit skeptical when Trader Joe's moved into my hometown. However, I have come to love, love, love Trader Joe's. Mandarin orange chicken? Premade pizza dough? Hummus?! AND I just discovered that they make PORK BUNS, too? Sign me up.

Note: Since I couldn't find the links on Trader Joe's website, the links are from one of my favorite food blogs, What's Good at Trader Joe's? Check it out if you want to drool over delicious things at Trader Joe's. 

3. Skinnytaste

I've been doing WeightWatchers for the past six months or so, and let me tell you, sometimes finding yummy recipes can be sort of difficult. Especially when I get home from work at 7 PM and don't really feel like moving anymore. Enter Skinnytaste, a blog that seems to have read my mind. Andy and I made this Bolognese sauce yesterday, which was absolutely fabulous. We've also made these spinach meatballs as well as our entire Super Bowl spread (potato skins, mozzarella sticks, and chicken nuggets, oh my!) from here. It's a really great website, even if you're not doing WW and just love tasty things that don't make you slip into a food coma after you eat them. NOM.

4. This video

Having spent a good part of this past weekend exploring the greater Lakeview area, this video speaks to me in a way others cannot.

As one of my labmates pointed out, this video also conjures up images of a better time in another city.

EDIT: Let it be known that KYLE was the one who showed me this video. :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Lab Commandments

We're closing in on the end of the first third of spring quarter, which means that even if I wanted to pretend that classes don't exist, I have to face reality. As I take fewer classes, a real problem becomes whether I will actually go to my classes. Not in the undergrad way of "uhhh, I don't WANT to go to class. I guess I'll skip." but more in the "oh crap, it's Tuesday? I forgot to go to class today because I was doing lab work." sort of way. I was even ten minutes late to my first class of the quarter because I FORGOT I was taking a class. I take this as a sign that I have completed the transition from undergraduate to graduate mentality. Hooray?

Another sign that I have made this transition is that I'm beginning to morph into a crotchety old grad student. I shake my fist at the young'uns. I haven't quite hit the "back in my day..." stage, but there's still plenty of time for that, so let's not rush things. One of the things that really burns my bagel is people who don't really know how to function in a laboratory with other people. *shakes fist* Things such as "sharing" and "communication" don't often translate from real life to lab life. As such, I have set out to create a set of Lab Commandments to encourage harmonious lab interactions. Here's a few to start:

The Lab Commandments

  1. Thou shalt order replacement labware when thou notices that thy lab is lacking in its quantity.
  2. Thou shalt not relocate thy neighbor's samples without thy neighbor's permission.
  3. Don't touch my furnace. No, seriously. Back away right now. 
  4. Honor thy lab's sign-up sheets.
  5. Don't leave the undergrads alone with the chemicals. This goes for the postdocs, too.
  6. Thou shalt label thy samples and clean up after oneself. 
That's only about one tablet's worth of commandments, but it's a start. Moses doesn't have any competition yet. Any other ideas for lab rules to live by?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

S'more Oatmeal

Lately, I've been kind of stuck in a breakfast rut. This statement unto itself makes me very sad because breakfast/brunch is by far my favorite meal of the day. However, when I get busy with school and such, cereal, even with its myriad varieties, can only take me so far. I recently discovered the joy of Thomas' Whole Wheat Mini Bagels, which are delicious topped with some Philadelphia Cream Cheese (I like the 1/3 less fat stuff) and strawberries. But still I yearned for more.

This lazy Saturday morning, I decided to venture into the forgotten territory of oatmeal, cold cereal's less flashy older brother. A warm, hearty breakfast is just what I needed on this gloomy Chicagoland day. Normally, I'm a brown sugar and dried fruit sort of gal, but I was feeling adventurous and, inspired by the random ingredients I had in the pantry, came up with this little number: s'more oatmeal! Great idea, or the greatest idea?

The amounts in the recipe below make one hearty serving of ~1 cup prepared oats. It's super simple and wildly delicious. Cheers!

S'more Oatmeal


1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup water
1/8 - 1/4 tsp salt (depending on your taste)


1 tbsp semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 tbsp light brown sugar (optional, but good if you like it really sweet)
1 sheet (4 crackers) graham crackers (I had some Honey Maid Gingerbread graham crackers left over from the post-holiday season - nom!)
10 mini marshmallows


In a two cup microwave-safe bowl, combine oats, water, and salt. Microwave on medium (50%) power for 5-6 minutes. Stir well after heating.

Mix chocolate chips (and brown sugar, if desired) into the cooked oatmeal, giving the chips a chance to melt and become gooey. Crumble the graham crackers on top of the oatmeal, and top with mini marshmallows. Garnish with a squirt of light whipped cream, if desired.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! Er, day after Easter now, I guess. Or as I like to call it "50% off Cadbury Eggs Day!" Due to an overabundance of science, there haven't been too many kitchen-endeavors in the Science & Cupcakes world, although I made these Thin Mint Cookie Knockoffs for coffee hour a few weeks ago. To compensate, Andy and I set out to do Easter up in style. We made an orange marmalade/brown sugar glazed ham, asparagus with a drizzle of lemon and olive oil, roasted potatoes, onions, and peppers with rosemary and thyme, and biscuits. Helllllloooo leftovers for the rest of the week.  Also, in the true spirit of Easter, we made Jello Jigglers Eggs thanks to a present from the Easter Bunny. Raspberry Jello - a classic!

Hopefully, in the weeks to come, I'll be revving up my baking and will have lots of new recipes to share. I'm always looking for suggestions!


Mine were sort of like this, except they were bunny-and chick-shaped. So really, not like this at all. (Source)