Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie

There are two principles that I like to live by:

  1. If you are going to do dessert, you should DO dessert.  None of this avocado chocolate mousse, cookies made without any sugar crap.  I’m not saying I don’t eat anything like that, just that if I do I am not counting it as dessert.  Dessert is (generally) not something I eat every day anymore, so when I do decide to have it, I want it to be worth it.
  2. You should always have the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies on hand. Always.

Principle #2 came in handy this week when I was stuck inside on a snow day.  I happen to think baking is a great way to spend a snow day, so it was nice to already have everything I needed.

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I’ve spent a few years perfecting this recipe, mostly because I am a bit of a stickler when it comes to chocolate chip cookies.  I like them gooey in the middle, and by middle I mean everywhere except the very edge where it should be just lightly crisp.  There should be plenty of chocolate chips, but the cookie shouldn’t be too sweet.  And lastly, the cookie shouldn’t fall after it’s cooled.  I prefer them to stay nice and plump.  It’s really not asking for too much, but it has taken me a little experimenting to consistently come up with these results.  So here it is:

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First, melt your butter and then cream it together with the sugars for approximately 2-3 minutes, until everything looks smooth and fluffy.

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Then, (this is the weird part) you are going lightly beat your first egg in another dish and then pour about 2/3 of it into the batter. Don’t ask me why, its advice I was given at some point and it works so I don’t knock it. Add in the other two eggs and the vanilla, one at a time, beating until just incorporated.

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Now for the dry ingredients.  A lot of recipes tell you to mix all the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, but I hate to have to wash another bowl, so I just sift them together right into the mixer. For this recipe, I add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in three separate batches.  I’ll sift in one cup of flour, ½ tsp baking soda and ½ tsp salt, beat the mixture until just incorporated, and then repeat that process twice.

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Once all the dry ingredients have been mixed in, it’s time to add the chips.  Now, I mentioned that I like lots of chocolate in my cookies, but I’ve found that if I use a lot of semi-sweet chips the cookie can be too sweet for me.  So instead, I use ½ semi-sweet chunks and ½ bittersweet chips.  It’s a perfect mixture.

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Fold the chips in, and then this is key, you’ll need to refrigerate the dough for at least ½ hour.

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After it’s been refrigerated I use a tablespoon to portion out the dough into balls and then bake it at 375° for 13 minutes.

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And they come out looking ah-mazing!

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This recipe generally makes around 24 cookies. That can be a lot for just me and the Hubs to consume in a short period of time, so I normally end up freezing some of the dough rather than baking all of it (can you tell I like freezing things?).  The dough freezes really well if you portion it out into balls first, that way you can just take them right out of the freezer and pop them in the oven whenever you want fresh cookies. Or if you’re like me, it means you will have an easy portion of frozen cookie dough to eat whenever the mood strikes you.  It will be delicious either way.  I hope you enjoy!

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The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsps vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsps baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsps salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (8 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • 1 1/4 cups (8 oz) bittersweet chocolate chips

Beat together the melted butter and sugars until smooth and fluffy, approx 2-3 minutes. Lightly beat one egg in a small dish and then add 2/3 to the butter mixture.  Beat until just incorporated.  Add the remaining 2 whole eggs and vanilla, one at a time, beating until just incorporated in between each addition.  Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt and slowly add to butter mixture, beating until just incorporated.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Refrigerate the dough for at least 1/2 hour. Use a tablespoon to portion dough out into small balls and arrange on cookie sheet.  Bake at 375° for 13 minutes and enjoy!

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What I Ate Wednesday

I stole this post idea from Courtney, I will attempt to recap everything I ate yesterday in the WIAW post. Although to be perfectly honest, I think a lot of my weekday eating can get a little boring.  I generally eat the same breakfast and a very similar lunch each work day, but we’ll see how it goes.

Breakfast:  Per usual I had a Chobani greek yogurt mixed with Grapenuts.  Wheaties is lying to you, this is the fast breakfast of champions. So yummy, easy, and it packs a serious protein punch. This morning I went with the peach flavor.  Fun fact: when I was a kid I would only eat peach flavored yogurt. No idea how that was the flavor I landed on, strawberry seems like a more logic choice, but I digress.

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Morning Snack: A big, beautiful banana that I did not take a picture of, remembering to take pictures of all your food is not as easy as it sounds.

Lunch: This is where we veer off course from a normal day.  As I mentioned, and you’ve probably seen on the news, the South got walloped by a winter storm yesterday and as a result, I got a 1/2 snow day.  After surviving a nail-biter of a drive home I decided to reward myself with something amazing….tamales! Such an amazing comfort food, if you haven’t had one you are seriously missing out.  And it turns out they make the perfect snow day meal, hot and gooey with cheese.  What more could you want?

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I had two different kinds in my freezer, some Cheese and Green Salsa tamales I had picked up at Trader Joe’s when I was feeling a little homesick and some Chile Relleno tamales from Tucson Tamale that my wonderful friend Liz brought with her when she visited a few weeks ago.  Of course, I had one of each. The Trader Joe’s version was fine, I’m sure I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t paired it with an authentic tamale from Tucson, but I did and it was a bit pale in comparison.  That Tucson Tamales was a-freaking-mazing.  I LOVED it. It had so much flavor and it was packed with a massive chile and just oozing with cheese. To make things even better, I went to their website and discovered they now mail order tamales across the country! I am in love and will be putting in an order shortly. Seriously made my day.

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Afternoon snack: No need since I had my lunch at about 4:00 pm (whoops, damn snow driving delays).

Dinner: A big bowl of my veggie lentil soup, what a wonderful coinkydink that I had that all ready made and waiting in my fridge.  I added in a buttery, toasted piece of Publix Whole Wheat mountain bread. Can we just take a beat to bask in the awesomeness that is Publix bakery bread? Such good stuff.

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And yes, that is a recycled picture.

I had the soup a little later and it was so filling I decided to skip on dessert.  So that’s it for the day, all in all it was pretty delicious.

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Snow Day!

I love living in a place where 2 inches of snow counts as a snow day. Seriously, it’s amazing.  Although in all fairness, because no one here is used to snow, the roads are probably more dangerous here with 2 inches than it is in much snowier places.

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Once we officially had the snow day ruling, I rushed home and by rushed I mean I sat in traffic for 3 hours, but who was counting? Anyways, I rushed home and like any responsible adult, watched How I Met Your Mother and the Vampire Diaries while monitoring my email and stuffing my face with tamales (a fantastic snow day food if I do say so myself).  Seriously LOVE those shows. It was an amazing way to spend the afternoon.

I am off to attempt to be responsible again and workout, although the cold is really making that difficult. Stay warm!

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Vegetable Lentil Soup

Hello! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.  Mine was fairly low-key as I seem to have come down with a bit of a bug.  We rented Monsters University (I loved it, but the Hubs fell asleep about 20 minutes in, per usual), and finally took down our Christmas decorations (don’t judge me). The place looks a little bare now, but I’m adjusting.

Since it’s been ridiculously cold and I’ve been feeling a little under the weather, I was really in the mood for a nice, hearty soup.  I had a leftover bag of lentils in the pantry, so I thought I would try out a new recipe and make some Vegetable Lentil soup.  Surprisingly, it turned out great!  It’s nothing fancy, but it was super yummy, filling, and packed with veggies. (See full recipe below)

Vegetable Lentil Soup

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Put together a roughly chopped soffritto, which is basically just yellow onions, carrots, and celery.  If I’m making a soup, I generally add parsnips to it as well just to up the veggies.  I say soffritto that because it makes me feel like a real chef who knows what I’m doing.

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Anyways, grab a large soup pot; coat the bottom with olive oil and heat on medium/ medium-high.  After the oil has had a few minutes to warm up, throw in your soffritto and chopped bell pepper and let it cook until soft, about 5-10 minutes.  Throw in the garlic and let it cook for about another minute.

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Pour in the lentils, tomatoes, broth, and spices and then bring everything to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and let the soup simmer for approx. 20 minutes.  With around 5 minutes left, stir in the kale. Serve with a garnish of shaved Parmesan and some hearty whole wheat bread.  Vegan option: garnish with parsley.

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This soup also freezes really well if you don’t want to eat it all right away.  I always like to freeze a serving or two for weeks when I don’t have a lot of time to go to the grocery store.  Hope you enjoy!

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Vegetable Lentil Soup

  • Soup Soffritto (all roughly chopped):
    • 1-2 yellow onions
    • 2-4 celery stalks
    • 2-4 large carrots
    • 2-3 parsnips
  • Olive Oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 28 oz can Diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups lentils (whatever color you want, I used green)
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (can also use chicken)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • Kale ( a few handfuls)

Rinse your lentils under cold running water and drain thoroughly.

Coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil and warm over medium heat.  Add the soffritto and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5-10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes with their juices, rinsed lentils, broth, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer about 20 minutes, until the lentils are cooked and tender. Stir in kale with approximately 5 minutes left.  (Creates about 6 servings)

 

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Recent Reads

As you will discover, I love to read.  I can happily spend an entire day absorbed in the worlds that are created within the pages of a good book.  Or even a mediocre book if I’m being honest.  My latest read was a recommendation from my father-in-law and man, was it good.

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Mr. Churchill’s Secretary is a mash-up of several of my favorite things: a strong and likeable female lead, murder and mystery, and historical fiction.  The book is set in London in 1940 just as World War II is crashing down around Great Britain.  The heroine, Maggie Hope, becomes a typist for the newly elected Winston Churchill after her gender disqualifies her from serving as a codebreaker for British Intelligence.  Maggie uses her quick wit and intelligence to navigate the increasing dangerous environment she now finds herself in.

The book is well written with believable characters and sneaky plot twists.  It turns out the book is actually the first in a series of four; I always love when that happens with books I enjoy.  Thankfully though, this book stands on its own, no annoying cliffhangers or cut-offs to drag you into the next book.  I’ve already started the second one and I can attest that so far it’s just as good as the first.  Hope you enjoy!

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Resolutions

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I know I’m a little (fashionably) late to the party, but I want to talk about New Year’s Resolutions.  I normally don’t make them, not because I’m one of those annoying people who claim to make smaller attainable goals all throughout the year.  I hate and admire those people with equal ferocity.  But because I normally have trouble thinking of things that seem appropriate.

In general, I am a fan of large sweeping declarations, but New Year’s seems to call for slightly more manageable resolutions than just “I want to get in crazy good, Victoria’s Secret model, shape”.   There are a few smaller things I have been meaning to work on lately so I figured I would buck my no resolution trend and give it a shot this year.  Here they are in all their glory:

  1. Improve my posture.  I recently realized that I not only have the rounded shoulders of most desk jockeys, but I am starting to hunch a little bit. Since no one wants to look like Quasimodo, I think steps need to be taken to correct this asap.  I’ve done a little research and think it might be caused, or at least exacerbated, by the strength of my upper abs compared to weaker back muscles, my relatively large boobs, sitting at my computer, and genes (my grandma has developed a definite hunch as the years have gone by). I am working to fix it by trying to stretch our my chest and upper ab muscles more and focusing more on total core and back exercises rather than ab exercises, and just trying to be more cognizant of it overall.
  2. Improve my flexibility.  I have always been the least flexible person in any group.  I can barely touch my toes and you really don’t want to see me attempt a wide angle seated forward bend.  It is not pretty.  I am going to make sure I keep incorporating yoga and stretching into my weekly routine.  I might even invest in a new yoga dvd (I’m too embarrassed to go to a class).
  3. Learn to make more meatless meals.  More specifically meatless meals that are not based around pasta, cheese, and eggs.  It would be a bonus if I could find some that the Hubs might eat.
  4. Increase my mileage on my runs.  I’ve been stuck in the 1 ½ to 2 mile rut for a little while now.  Partly, because the park near my house has a great running trail that is 1 ½ or 2 miles with an extra little loop.  It seems like a lot to start the whole trail over again and I’ve been too lazy to come up with a new trail.  Also, I think mentally I’ve gotten comfortable with those distances, for some reason anything more than 3 miles sounds like a lot. (Yes, I am not a marathoner)
  5. Work off the approximately 5 pounds I put on over the holidays.  All that eating was totally worth it, but now it’s time to get back to reality and kick up the exercising and kick down the sweets and carbs.

Hopefully these things are small enough that I will be able to a) remember them and b) stick with them.  We shall see.

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