Monday, June 18, 2012


Hi, Science and Cupcakes fans!

I apologize for the almost month-long pause in blog updates. With the quarter wrapping up, my last class EVER ending(!), and trying to fit a quarter's worth of research into two weeks, I've been a little scattered. I know I'm in trouble when I write stuff down on Post-it notes so I don't forget about it and then I lose the Post-it notes. Woof.

In trying to fit all of the research in to the past two weeks, I achieved what I thought was impossible. I got a full fuel cell fabricated with my new anode material having never made one of this chemistry before. Even though it was super-stressful, I am happy that I was able to get something testable finished before I left! Hoorah!

Yesterday, I arrived in Albuquerque, NM where I'll be staying for the next five weeks while working at Sandia National Laboratories. After a bit of a snafu with my initial lodging conditions, I am getting settled in to an extended stay hotel which has a full kitchen (including a DISHWASHER ahhh). I'm living in what is known as the Uptown section of ABQ, and the area around me is basically just a series of malls. Also, everyone I talked to told me I was within walking distance of a Trader Joe's. I'm wondering if it's a new thing around here considering how excited everyone was about it. I'll admit it's pretty convenient and delicious.

Being in a new city is kind of disorienting, but I was told that the way to figure out where you are is to look for the mountains. The mountains are always to the east. This reminded me of how people always look for the lake in Chicago. Except the mountains are much easier to find.

One thing that people weren't joking about is that it is HOT here. I don't care how dry the heat is: if it's 96 degrees (which it was today), it is still 96 degrees. It's a bit more tolerable, maybe. But still really toasty. Albuquerque also is elevated at 5500 ft, so you also lose a good amount of protective atmosphere in your sun exposure. I bought a huge thing of SPF 50 sunscreen, which I will be liberally applying daily, especially because I'll be biking part of the way to work. I went out for a walk today and was very glad that I had sunscreened-up before I departed. (Side note: I saw a little lizard running around! So much more interesting than the Midwest.) Another side effect of the altitude is that I get winded doing just about anything right now. Even walking up stairs is hard. I'm sure I'll adjust to the altitude in time.

I'm nervous and excited and scared about this relocation all at the same time. It's fun to discover a new area, especially one I've never been close to before. It's also kind of scary to be plopped in a new location not knowing many people. I'm sure that once I get into a schedule, I'll be right as rain. Which doesn't happen here. :)

As the narrative of ABQ appears in the weeks to come, I'll blog about my discoveries and adventures. I already miss everyone back in Illinois, so keep me posted on your lives. :) Cheers!

Loose Ends

I had a few culinary adventures in the preceding weeks before I left, which I haven't gotten a chance to blog about yet! I'm really excited about making Homemade Larabars. I love these bars made of raw ingredients like dates and almonds, but I find that the $2.00 a bar price tag is a little steep for everyday consumption. Costco sells dates in gigantic packages, which is pretty perfect for mass producing the bars. And you can control exactly what goes into them. So far, I've made the cherry pie and key lime pie flavors, and I hope to branch out to more kinds soon! All the recipes I've done so far have yielded three to four bars.

Cherry pie bars before...

Cherry pie bars after! 

I'm always looking for new things to make for weekend breakfasts, and my latest endeavour was these super-moist banana breakfast donuts, which I actually made into muffins because I don't have a donut pan. These come from a vegan blog, but can easily be made non-vegan, too. I drizzled a simple glaze made with milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla on top for some added texture and flavor. Yum!

Clusters of muffins! You can even see the piece of banana in the bottom muffin.

Pro tip: the glaze tends to soak into the muffin by the next day or two, so revive some of the sugary goodness by placing the muffin under the broiler. The top of the muffin gets sweet and crunchy, which gives it a whole new texture.


In my continuing obsession with Skinnytaste, Andy and I made these Chicken Rollatini with Spinach alla Parmigiana for dinner. I love, love, love spinach and will really look for any excuse to add some to my diet. This dish is healthy and very satisfying.

Before cheese...

After cheese!

We even decided to be all fancy-like with a side salad, whole wheat pasta, and a glass of wine. Om nom nom.
A complete and delicious meal.

I have a stove and a microwave but no oven in the place I'm staying, so I'm going to have to get creative with my baking endeavors to supplement my diet of microwavable Trader Joe's entrees. Maybe some stovetop-centered recipes will be appearing in the future, hmmmm? Suggestions are welcome!


  1. Oooo nice fancy meal! I hope you have a great time this summer! Keep us all posted on what's new in your life down there!

  2. This is a perfect opportunity to make up some stir-fry concoctions! It's pretty much the only thing I used to make and doesn't require an oven or any specific ingredients. I usually just take whatever vegetables I happen to have, and some type of meat (usually ground turkey or beef, or choped up chicken), and saute them up with olive oil and different spices and maybe some sauces depending on how I want it to taste and what type of carbohydrate I have to put it on top of (rice, pasta , salad, tortillas (fajitas!?!)... maybe sometimes make it into an omelet instead). This isn't too fancy, but one of my favorite combos is green peppers, onions, garlic, italian seasoning, some other mystery vegetables if I have them, with ground turkey or beef as a chunky marinara sauce on rotini. For asian-y like food I try to imitate kung pao chicken and stir fry stuff like onions, red or green peppers, celery, carrots, peanuts (or other nuts), maybe some zucchini or squash, cubed chicken, maybe some scrambled egg, with soy sauce and sriracha on rice. For fajitas just different color peppers, jalapenos, onions (apparently I love peppers and onions in all my meals), chicken with a bunch of different spices. I haven't perfected a home made fajita sauce yet... but it probably involves a bunch of hot sauces and a bit of BBQ sauce though.