I am convinced that my brain is wired differently from most people. When someone tells me that I have to do something or can't do it, I immediately start to question "why" and then I start to device a way to do test their hypothesis. Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that this is a healthy way to deal with guidance - it's actually gotten me into more than one sticky situation in my life. I once decided that the "Do Not Touch" sign in a cactus greenhouse was merely a suggestion. 🌵 I walked out of that room with bleeding fingers and a husband who couldn't stop laughing at my in-compliance. 😂
I'm absolutely convinced that this is a personality trait that is passed on from generation to generation. I got it from one of my parents (not saying which one) and I, in turn, passed it onto one of my children. (again - not going to call them out.) 😂 It's taken me a long time to figure out how to deal with my resistance to authority so that I don't walk out of cactus rooms with bloody fingers anymore.
My husband says that I have control issues - I would have to agree but that's not the whole reason that I can't seem to follow the rules. It's not just people who I have trouble submitting to though. Even when I read through a recipe for the first time, I can't help but question whether it's really the best techniques and ingredients. How can I improve upon it? What can I change to make it simpler, tastier, better?
The only recipes that I don't ever try and modify are America's Test Kitchen recipes. That's because I know that every one of these recipes have been tested over and over again with every possible ingredient and method before it ever gets published. Accompanying each recipe is a detailed description of the success and failures in the test kitchen as the recipe was created. This Double Chocolate Scone is a recipe that came out of America's Test Kitchen that needs no adjustment. It's perfect - just the way it is.
Double Chocolate Scones
3 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
18 Tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 cup chocolate chips
1 egg, beaten
Place wedges on silpat lined baking sheets. Bake 27-30 minutes at 375.
I keep a batch of these Double Chocolate Scones in my freezer. I may not be much of a morning coffee drinker but I don't mind getting a little caffeine boost from chocolate in the morning. AND these scones are delicious with a cup of tea!
Hey, Christmas cookie bakers - where you at? It's that time of year when even the most novice baker channels their inner Martha Stewart in the kitchen. It's time to roll up your sleeves, dig out your apron and dust off those old family recipes for Christmas cookies. 👩🏻🍳
You know the cookies that I'm talking about. The ones that your grandmother used to make every year. The cookies that your mom helped you roll in bowls of sprinkles and nuts when you were a kid. The cookies that you couldn't buy in a grocery store or a bakery, even if you tried, but you just can't celebrate Christmas without.
I would love to see your favorite family cookie recipes and I'm quite sure that there are others out there who would also love to have access to these tried and true Christmas cookie recipes. So... I'm asking for your help. I'm hosting a good old fashioned cookie swap on my blog. Well, it's not really like the "old fashioned" cookie exchange like my mom used to attend with the women in our neighborhood - it's more of an updated 2019 virtual cookie recipe swap. No cookies will actually be exchanged in this swap - just tried and true, family favorite Christmas cookie recipes.
Here's how it works. Email me your favorite cookie recipe and a picture of the finished creation, and I'll compile them all into one fantastic Christmas cookie blog post. This is your chance to have your recipe and photo featured in the blogosphere. (Not sure that's really a word.) So gather up your ingredients and start baking. You have until the 7th of December to email me your recipe and pictures (firstname.lastname@example.org) so you can be included in my virtual Christmas cookie swap. I'll turn you all into food bloggers yet. 😂
Just in case you need a little nudge to get into the Christmas cookie baking mode - here's a favorite recipe of mine. Chocolate Brownie Cookies are a hit at every event that I've ever taken them to. I make double batches of this dough to keep in my freezer for any last minute holiday gift emergencies. (ie. The SUPER tolerant and patient UPS driver that puts up with my mischievous dog deserves at least two dozen of these decadent chocolatey treats.)
Chocolate Brownie Cookies
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3 Tablespoons oil
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons whole milk
1 cup sugar
Cookie Toppings (walnuts, crushed peppermint, etc.)
Bake 16 minutes at 300. Let cool 30 minutes on baking sheet.
Find those recipes. Send them to my by December 7th and watch for your recipe to appear on my blog. 🤪
We're still more than a week away from Thanksgiving and I know that there is a certain percentage of you out there who's homes are already completely decorated for Christmas. I see all of you early Christmas decorators out there. Sharing pictures of your perfectly festive living rooms adorned with the most adorably decorated Christmas tree on social media for all of your friends to drool over. I'm not here to criticize. In face, I admire your zest for holiday decorations and I'm inspired by your eagerness to extend the season as long as possible. 🎄
I'm a little envious because I would be right there with you if it weren't for the fact that we celebrate an early December birthday in this house. Any Sagittairus knows that December birthdays tend to get overshadowed by holiday festivities. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of the greatest birth ever and get consumed with preparations. Consequently, we're left depleted and exhausted of adequate time and energy to devote to our loved ones who also celebrate December birthdays.
I've always tried to make a point of making a distinction between Christmas and December birthdays even though there are times when I fail miserably. As a general rule, in this house - we don't hang a wreath on the door or decorate a tree until AFTER we blow out the candles on the December birthday cake. 🎂
I've never wrapped December birthday presents in Christmas paper but I'm not as good at making a distinction between birthday and holiday desserts. I've been known to cut leftover gingerbread dough into cupcake shapes. 😂 Not proud of it - but you do what you gotta do. Am I right?
These turtle bars are a dessert that would be great for Thanksgiving, Christmas OR a birthday. (Or any other holiday for that matter.) Chocolate, caramel, pecans - oh my. These turtle bars are epic. Oh and a single candle can turn one of these decadent gooey bars into a festive birthday treat.
1 2/3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 Tablespoons butter, melted
13.4 ounce can dulce de leche
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup corn syrup
8 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon flake sea salt (optional)
Use the foil sling to remove the bars from the pan.
Cut into squares.
Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes are taking over the internet. I unwittingly found myself going down the chocolate chip cookie recipe rabbit trail for over two hours last week. 🍪 It's not that I have that kind of time to research one recipe but I got completely wrapped up in the chocolate chip cookie vortex and I couldn't pull myself away. There were recipes from cookie Pro's like Martha, Giada and Ms. Fields and cookie recipes from grandmothers and even young children.
Even though it seems fundamentally impossible, more than half of the chocolate chip cookie recipes on the internet are labelled as the "BEST." 🤣 A lot of the recipes are very similar with only slight modifications in the ingredient list to make them unique. Most of the bakers made small changes in the type fat, the kind of sugar and the brands of chocolate that they used in their recipes to create cookies that were everything from thin and crispy to soft and chewy.
I have no business adding another recipe to the internet that's already oversaturated with Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes. Does this world really NEED another chocolate chip cookie recipe? And why in the world would anyone want MY recipe? I have no cookie credibility -- unless you count my family's unbiased opinion. I mean - I get no complaints about my chocolate chip cookies but then again, they would have to be pretty awful for someone to complain about it.
So, against my better judgement, here I am, adding to the plethora of chocolate chip cookie recipes on the internet. It's not my own recipe though. This one comes from of the greats - America's Test Kitchen. (They've got way more cookie-creds to the bring to the table than I.) I'll let you decide whether or not these deserve the prestigious title of "BEST."
Thin and Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
8 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 Tablespoons whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Bake 16-18 minutes at 350. Let cool on cookie sheet for 20 minutes.
In case you haven't noticed - my chocolate chip cookie are definitely NOT thin OR crispy. Don't get me wrong - I was not disappointed in my soft and chewy version - I just expected a crispier - thinner cookie. I've subsequently renamed my version of the thin and crispy cookies - "Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies." I feel like that more accurately describes these delicious cookies.
My college aged daughter moved home to live with us for the summer and I have to say that it was just about the quickest three months of my life. Two years ago, when we moved her into her dorm room for the first time, I had prepared myself for the hardest goodbye of my life. My baby girl was moving away and I armed myself with an arsenal of coping mechanisms and a box of tissues to help myself deal with the transition of being an empty nester. I read the parenting books about the significance of "drop off day" written by all sorts of "experts" and I was prepared for the emotional flood. And believe me - there was a flood that day.
I was filled with overwhelming pride that she was attending the college of her dreams and sadness that her bright shining face would be absent from our dinner table every night. So on the day of her college drop off we carefully hauled tote after tote of bathroom necessities, school supplies and university sweatshirts into her unusually tiny dorm room on the 4th floor. After we organized her closet to Marie Kondo perfection and made her bed with the new sheets and comforter that she picked out for this exact occasion, we said our final goodbyes. The "experts were right" - it was hard. I may have let a few tears slip out before we left her room but I managed to mostly hold it together until we got to the car.
It was no surprise that it was hard to say goodbye and to leave her in that dorm room for the first time. What WAS a surprise is that there would be so many goodbyes over the next few years that would be equally heart wrenching. Why didn't the "experts" mention the goodbye when she moved back to school after her first Fall break? Christmas break? Summer vacation? It seems there's an endless stream of goodbyes when your child moves away to college. And in my experience - these subsequent goodbyes - don't get any easier with time. Silly me, I thought that once we got through the initial college drop off, each time she went back to school would be easier - turns out - I was wrong. Very wrong.
So last week I had to say goodbye again to my sweet daughter who moved back to school. Life feels differently when she's not in the house and it's going to take some getting used to not having her here again. It takes me about a week before I can even go into her room to change her sheets. 😥
Over the years, I've managed to come up with my own goodbye rituals when my kids go back to college. There's some crying, a lot of busy work and there's always some chocolate involved in my coping techniques. It's not the healthiest way of dealing with the emotional trauma but what can I say? Chocolate soothes my aching soul. So for all of you parents out there who may be struggling with the endless cycle of painful goodbyes of a college-aged child - whether it's the first goodbye or the 20th goodbye - I'm here to say I feel your pain and I've got your back. This Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie won't make the goodbyes any easier but it will help you feel better as you sit alone in your quieter than usual house.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie
4 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons rolled oats
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
Bake 35 minutes at 325. Cover with foil and bake another 10 minutes.
Let cool 15 minutes then cut into 12 wedges.
Chocolate and pasta are my comfort foods. (Not together obviously.) What do you eat when you need to really need something comforting and soothing? Send me your favorite comfort foods in the comments.
Like my page on facebook.
Follow me on Instagram