Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bone Marrow Registry

The Story:
A few weeks ago I needed to fill my gas tank and I was being all sorts of spastic. I hadn't been to that gas station in a while and I just couldn't remember if I had to go in first, could start pumping gas first, had to flip a lever, had to push buttons, I was just struggling and tried all the wrong options first. Anyways, this particular gas station has TV sets at each pump to tell you the weather and generally random news that isn't very important. BUT on this particular semi-spastic day, I finished pumping gas at the end of a very moving commercial regarding a little boy with aplastic anemia and how this particular case is so far along that it will be fatal without a bone marrow transplant.
I always watch those commercials and feel bad/sad for the family, but I never feel any connection to the families. Most of the time I feel how lucky and blessed that we aren't going through what the family is going through. However, this time it was different. Kyle needs a donor who is Asian and Caucasian. This may sound horrible, but it had never occurred to me that recipients would need specific combinations of races and I realized the impact the lack of donors registered within that criteria.

As someone who fits that criteria I knew I needed to find out more.

The Decision:
I took some time to research and to think about the procedures (bone marrow transplants and peripheral blood stem cell donations) as well as what it means to be a match for someone (I've included some facts and some of the donor criteria at the bottom). I spoke to several of my friends whose first responses were, "The recovery is supposed to be really painful!" However, I realized I was always replying back, "But you could be saving a life!" For me, one week of recovery pain outweighs the possibility of saving a life and I knew it was time to start the registry process.

The Test:
I went onto the registry site and filled out an application to be entered into the registry. There are no locations near me so I had them mail me the the cheek swab test. The test contains the 4 q-tips to swab your cheek, some instructions with diagrams as well as a pre-paid return envelope to mail it back. I looked at the diagrams, swabbed the inside of my cheeks, and mailed the q-tips back. Now, I wait to be entered into the registry and will be contacted if I'm ever a match for anyone in the databases.

If I am considered as a potential match:
If my results come close to someone in need of a transplant they will do several more tests (cheek swabs and blood tests) and have a physical exam to make sure that I would be the best candidate. The procedures would be an outpatient procedures and depending on which procedure I was a match for I would be minimally impacted. The websites say the total time contribution for a bone marrow donor would only be a total of 30-40 hours over several weeks but you can always change your mind if you don't want to donate anymore.

For me, choosing to register as a donor is similar to selecting "Organ Donor" on my license. It is an opportunity to give hope and potentially help save a life.
Some Facts (from
For every 540 donors there is 1 match.
It costs $100 to add a donor to the registry (cost for testing, searching patients, related costs).
Donors do not have to pay for anything, all costs (travel expenses, medical costs, etc) are covered by the National Marrow Donor Program. 
Most popular request are for peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donations which are non surgical.
Some Donor Criteria (from
Ages 18-60 (pref is to 18-44 because cells from younger donors lead to more successful transplants).
If you are healthy you are generally a good candidate (ig you can have allergies, piercings/tattoos, blood pressure, depression, etc don't matter).  Click here for more information.
If you are interested in learning more I have included the links below:
Kyle's Story:
If you are interested in learning more about the registry or registering to become a donor:

Thank you for reading!


Just thought I'd share an update on this little boy Kyle ( who inspired me to join the Bone Marrow Registry!

Kyle is responding to new medicine and his cells are starting to regenerate on their own and might not need a transplant. This was very unexpected for his family due to the severity of his condition, but there is still a high chance of relapse in the next 2-10 years and he would need a transplant right away if that occurs.

Since his family started the campaign to find a match, over 2,500 people of mixed ethnicity have joined the registry. Not only that, but 2 potential matches have also been identified for Kyle!

If you are interested in registering for the donor list or would like any additional information let me know!

Just sharing some love and thanks before the holidays!

Much Love,

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Oreo Cheesecake Cookies

My friend N. found this recipe online and really really really wanted me to make them. Since he bought me Oreos and chocolate chips the other day for the Slutty Brownies, I figured I could try these. I didn't find them to be as "cheesecake" as I was expecting, but they had an almost nougat-like, marshmallow-y center.

The Oreo crumbs do need to be in fine crumb form! I found that mashing them in a bag with a rolling pin just didn't do the job. So, I got to use my food processor! And wow did it make quick work of those yummy Oreos!

I used a cookie scoop when making these so they would be approximately the same size. I use my 1 tsp (?) cookie scoop. Its slightly smaller than the normal cookie scoop that most people have.

If you don't have a cookie scoop (aka small spring loaded ice cream scoops) and you make lots of cookies, I highly recommend investing in one. They are fairly inexpensive and make it much easier to create large batches of cookies.

The recipe was straight forward and easy to follow. I didn't make any changes to the recipe aside from halving it.

Oreo Cheesecake Cookies
Yield: about 4 dozen cookies

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup chocolate chips
1 cup Oreo cookie crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth.

3. Add sugar and vanilla extract. Mix until the ingredients are well-combined. Add flour and mix until flour is incorporated. Stir in the mini chocolate chips.

4. Put the Oreo crumbs into a bowl. Scoop the soft dough into about 1½ to 2″ balls and then roll in the cookie crumbs. Place the cookie balls on the baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the tops are slightly puffed.

5. Cool on the pan for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Slutty Brownies

I found a recipe here for Slutty Brownies. (Her pictures actually show the layers... we were too excited to try them to get good pictures)

Honestly, it was the name that made me do a double take and I had to see what these brownies were about. A layer of chocolate chip cookie dough, layer of Oreo, and topped with brownie batter make up this sweet dessert.

I already knew what I was going to do.

I went with the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe and the Brooke's Bombshell brownie recipe. And if I could bottle the smell of my kitchen when these were baking... me oh myyy!! It was a beautiful experience.

Nestle Toll House cookies are my favorite, I normally load them up with walnuts and chocolate chips. For this recipe I omitted the nuts.

Brooke's brownie recipe is a fudge-y dense brownie. I use 2 cups of sugar, generally 1 cup brown sugar and 1 cup white sugar. I also omitted the chocolate chips for this recipe.

Oreo's are yummy. When they are baked between a chocolate chip cookie layer and brownie layer they don't get soggy, but they aren't hard cookies anymore...they sort of melt into a layer of their own. Some alternations for the Oreo layer that my friends suggested but I have not tried: crush them up, crush them up and mix them with cream cheese. 


Slutty Brownies
Preheat oven to 350. Line 9x9 pan with foil. Layer uncooked cookie dough. Layer Oreos on top. Pour brownie batter over everything. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

The recipes below are for the full amounts... I halved these for the 9x9 pan.

Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes approx 5 dozen cookies

2 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 stick sbutter
3/4 c granulated sugar
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375.
Combine dry ingredients. Beat butter, sugars, vanilla until creamy. Add eggs 1 at a time. Gradually add in dry mix. Stir in chips and nuts. Drop rounded tbs onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake 9-11 minutes. (This varies by oven, mine take approx 8 minutes and I make smaller cookies).

Brooke's Best Bombshell Brownies

1 c butter, melted
3 cups white sugar
1 tbs vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/2 c lfour
1 c cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 c chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease 9x13 baking dish
Combine melted butter, sugar, vanilla
Beat eggs in 1 at a time
Sift flour, cocoa powder and salt together.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Spread batter into prepared dish.
Bake in oven approx 35 minutes.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pasta Carbonara

I found a recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara and thought I'd give it a try. I did make a few changes but I adored this dish.

To add more protein I added in a chicken breast. I had some broccoli that was getting towards the end of its shelf life, so into the pan it went. I was imagining this dish to be similar to a chicken/broccoli/ziti, so I figured the broccoli would be fine. I had a few frozen peas left, so I just emptied the bag which ended up being about 1/2 cup of peas. I read a few versions that included peas/ham, so I added the peas in too!

Since I was using turkey bacon I left it in the pan a lot longer. It crisps up differently than regular bacon. It never quite gets that hard crunchy texture, but it still gives that yummy bacon flavor (minus the grease!).

I also added about a teaspoon of red pepper flakes because I add them to almost everything.

While my eggs didn't turn into a creamy sauce neither did they taste like scrambled eggs mixed into the dish.

Here is my version:

Spaghetti Carbonara
Serves 2
2 pieces turkey bacon
2 cups chopped broccoli
1 chicken breast (diced)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp garlic powder
½ cup peas
½ box of linguine
2 large eggs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground pepper
½ tsp red pepper flakes

  1. Combine the bacon, olive oil, garlic, and 1/4 cup water in a large skillet. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the water evaporates and the bacon crisps. As bacon is crisping add in broccoli, cook until done. Remove broccoli from pan. Add chicken and cook through. Remove from the heat.
  2. Cook pasta as desired. 
  3. Mix the eggs, cheeses, red pepper flakes and ground pepper in a bowl. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water
    Whisk the reserved pasta water into the egg mixture, and then quickly pour over the pasta, broccoli, and chicken. Mix together to cook the eggs and make a creamy sauce.  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tuscan Bean Soup

I love hearty soups for lunch and dinner! I've seen variations of this Tuscan Bean Soup, so I decided to improvise and use many of the flavors that I had already in the kitchen.  Spicy, warm, and hearty, I serve this soup with some pasta.
When you use kale you normally don't include the stems, I chopped the stems up rather small and put them in the pot with the celery and onion to give it extra time to cook. I also didn't have enough kale so I added in some collard greens.

The soup gets most of its flavor from the sausage but I wanted to add a little more flavor with the oregano and red pepper flakes.Using chicken sausage is a leaner option and the soup doesn't get a greasy texture either but maintains all the flavor.

For extra protein I added the chicken breast in addition to the chicken sausage and the can of beans.


Tuscan Bean Soup
Approx 6 servings

Olive Oil
3 stalks of Celery (diced)
1/4 lg Sweet Onion (diced)
Kale stems (diced)
1 chicken breast (chopped small)
2 hot Italian chicken sausages (out of the casings)
1 tbs Tomato paste (optional)
to taste salt and pepper
6 cups Chicken stock
1 can Cannellini beans
1 tsp red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 tsp oregano (optional)
8-10 pieces Red Leaf Kale (chopped up)
4 pieces Collard Greens (chopped up)

Heat some olive oil in a large pot, saute the celery, onion, and stems until onion is translucent.
Add chicken breast and sausage. Break up sausage as it cooks.
Once meat is cooked add in tomato paste and enough broth to just cover the mix. Stir until paste dissolves.
Taste. Add a little salt (sausage has a lot of salt in it already), and fresh cracked pepper.
Add in rest of chicken stock and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
Add in beans.
Taste. Add in red pepper flakes, oregano, more s & p as needed.
Wilt the greens into the soup, about 10 min.
Depending on the levels of broth at this point I added in an extra 2 cups of water.

Serve over pasta or rice (Optional).

Monday, March 5, 2012


I was having some of my girlfriends over for dinner the other night, we were all going to bring appetizers.

I had a few tomatoes in my fridge from my CSA and I'm not a huge tomato fan. So what to do with the many tomatoes? Feed them to your friends!

I decided I was going to make bruschetta. I've had brushetta before and I actually don't mind it. Tomatoes aren't so... tomato-y when they are covered in balsamic vinegar and I just adore basil. That said, there was quite a bit of research that went into figuring out the best recipe. I ended up taking elements from a few recipes to create this one.

It is so easy I cannot believe that I didn't make this before!

I prepared the tomato mixture the night before because I wasn't going to have time after work/before people arrived. By making it the night before the tomatoes had some time to marinate and really take on all the flavors of the dressing. I picked up a loaf of bread on my way home from work and then toss the slices of bread under the broiler (crunchy outside, soft inside).

I let everyone assembly their own when they were ready to eat them because I didn't want to get the bread soggy.

Opinions: One of the other girls who was over also doesn't like tomatoes, but we both agreed - bruschetta isn't really tomatoes.
Another said she would have put in more balsamic vinegar, so that is just a matter of opinion, so make sure you test the mix and decide how much you'd like.

 My friends all enjoyed it and we ate all of it!! And this is my go-to appetizer from now on.

Approx 6 servings (appetizers)

1 pint of cherry tomatoes (diced)
1 normal size tomato (diced)
2 tbs sweet onion
1 tsp garlic powder
2 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2-3 tbs fresh basil, chopped
salt & pepper
3 tbs olive oil
1 loaf of bread

Dice tomatoes.
Combine garlic, balsamic vinegar, basil, salt, and pepper. Wisk in olive oil.
Combine with tomatoes and onion.

Slice bread, place on a baking sheet and broil for a few minutes. Keep an eye on it though! You want the bread lightly toasty. Top with tomato mixture.

Top tomato mixture w/ cheese & broil (or don't broil); add grated cheese into tomato mixture

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pumpkin Muffins

I have been wanting to make these pumpkin muffins for a while. I found the recipe here. I was planning on following the recipe very closely, but, per usual I made some changes.

warm and melt-y with vanilla ice cream
The recipe calls for a heaping cup of pumpkin puree. However, this leaves about an inch of the puree in the can... so I decided to use the entire can. This means, 1) its a very moist muffin, 2) it made more muffins, and 3) when it was warm out of the oven with ice cream on top... it tasted like yummy, yummy, bread pudding. If you wanted to maintain the regular muffin consistency add an extra tablespoon of flour.

Also, I've never used evaporated milk. For those of you who are conversion challenged like I am, 1/2 cup of the milk is less than the 5 fl oz can. Unless you have other recipes that you are planning on making with the milk, the smallest can size will be sufficient.

I used regular raisins...because that was what I had in my baking cabinet.

Next time I would halve the "topping" that is sprinkled over the top, it just made a ton of the mixture.

The original recipe called for cream cheese frosting. I made these for part of my breakfast over the course of a week so frosting wouldn't be ideal. However, if I was making these for a brunch and people were going to be eating them all in the same day, I wouldn't hesitate to add the frosting. 

First I combined all dry ingredients.
Next I combined the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Then added the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Add in raisins.

Fill muffin tins. These didn't rise as much, I'm guessing its because of the extra puree.



Pumpkin Muffins
Makes approx 15 muffins

Muffin Ingredients:
1 cup All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1-1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Salt
4 Tablespoons Butter, cut into pieces
1 cup (heaping) Pumpkin Puree
1/2 cup Evaporated Mil
1 whole Egg
1-1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 cup Golden Raisins

Topping ingredients:
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously grease or line muffin tins.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt, pulse in food processor.
Cut in butter food processor until it is fully incorporated.
In a separate bowl, mix together pumpkin, evaporated milk, egg, and vanilla. Pour pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture. Add raisins. Fold until mixture is just combined.

Pour into muffin tins. ¾ full. Sprinkle topping onto each muffin.

Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool.

Happy Eating!