Thankful Thursday #19 – Birthdays

Birthday Cake

Yesterday was my birthday. I had a wonderful day.  Most days are like that in my life, I am very fortunate, and I know it.

I love birthdays. I love my birthday, my childrens birthday, my husbands birthday my friends….o.k. you get it. I enjoy feeling special, and I LOVE making other people feel special.

I don’t understand why people fight turning a year older. It happens to everyone, so why not just roll with it? Enjoy it, because you will never be younger than you are today.

Today I am grateful to have had another wonderful birthday. It’s a celebration of everything that I have to be grateful for.

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This post was inspired by Thankful Thursday organized by Momdeavor.

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie

Finished Cookie2

Last weekend, John and I participated in a charity walk for NOCC, National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.  We had a beautiful morning for a walk.  It was a cool start which had us dressing in layers.  By the finish, We were in single layers and basking in the sunshine that finally caught up to us.

The morning exercise had me bustling with energy, and in the mood to bake some cookies. I took a poll (I asked John), what sounded good. I should have known what he would say without even asking him. Chocolate Chip cookies, specifically, the Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from Cooks Illustrated.

These cookies are a bit more work, and only make a batch of 16 to 18, but they are worth every extra second. They are gently crispy on the edges, and chocolatey-gooey in the middle.

Preparedness is the secret to these cookies coming out perfectly. I didn’t have girl scouts growing up, but if I did, these cookies would have earned me a badge.

Preheat your oven to 375°F.  It’s best to let your oven preheat for 30 minutes prior to baking. You will also want to take out two eggs and let them come to room temperature. If you are like me, and don’t always plan ahead, you can put the eggs in a bowl of water that is at room temperature, for abut 5 minutes. Lastly, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.

We will be using one whole egg plus one yolk. Put them in a small bowl prior to starting anything else. You will not need the extra egg white, so you can refrigerate it for another use. We will also be using 14 tablespoons of unsalted butter, 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, 1/2 cup white granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 7-1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips or chunks. I love using Ghirardelli brand chocolate chips. Not only are they delicious, they are safe for people with nut allergies. Speaking of nuts, you can add 3/4 cup of chopped nuts, that isn’t my thing. Go for it if it’s yours, just get them out now.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Whisking takes the place of sifting the dry ingredients together.  Set aside.

Melt 10 tablespoons in a 10 inch skillet over medium-high heat. Use a pan that you can monitor the color of the butter.  Babysit this pan. It can go from brown to burnt in seconds. You will want to keep swirling the pan until butter is a golden brown. You will have brown flecks in the bottom. That is called money. Well not really, but it should be. It’s actually the milk solids. Remove the brown butter to a large bowl. You want to remove it so it doesn’t continue cooking.Brown butterThis isn’t a super clear photo. Please forgive me. I think I had the shakes from the nutty brown butter aroma. Ahhhh the memories.

To the melted butter, add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter, and continue stirring until the butter is completely melted. Add the 3/4 cup of dark brown sugar, 1/2 cup of white granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Stir until combined. Add the whole egg and yolk. whisk until the mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds.
first 30 secondsLet this mixture sit for 3 minutes and then whisk again for 30 seconds. You will repeat this process two more times until mixture is thick smooth, and shiny. last 30 second whiskThe mixture lightens up each time you stir it.

Using a rubber spatula, stir in flour mixture. Continue stirring until combined. Add chocolate chips, and fold until thoroughly combined. You would also add the nuts at this point if you are using them.Dough with chipsThe dough is so shiny. Show a little restraint if you are subject to pilfering the dough (like John…go away).

Scoop out 3 tablespoons of dough, and roll them round in your hands. Place on the parchment lined baking sheet 2 inches apart.Dough balls

Bake one sheet at a time 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. Turn half way through baking.  Cool pan on a wire rack to room temperature.

Get out of the way.  The smells from the kitchen will have them running!

John and Maci

Did you see the little nose sneaking in on John’s cookie?  Poor girl didn’t even get a nibble.

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 16-18
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print

Ingredients
1 3/4 all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg plus one yolk
1 1/4 cups (7 1/2 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
3/4 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Adjust oven rack to center. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Whisk all-purpose flour and baking soda together. Set aside.
3. Melt 10 tablespoons of butter in a 10 inch skillet. Swirl until butter is golden brown. Pour into to a large bowl. Add remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and stir until completely melted.
4. Add brown sugar, white sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Whisk until completely combined. Add Whole egg and yolk. Whisk until completely combined, 30 seconds. Let rest for 3 minutes. Whisk for another 30 seconds. Repeat 2 more times.
5. Add flour mixture. Stir to combine. Add chocolate chips and nuts if using.
6. Roll 3 tablespoons of dough and roll into balls. Keep two inches apart on a baking sheet.
7. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are browed on the edges, 8-10 minutes, rotating half way through. Cool pan on a wire rack until room temperature.

Recipe provided by HostessAtHeart


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Thankful Thursday #18 – Recognition

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 9.33.05 PMI continue to be amazed by the people that I have met through my blog. I am so flattered and appreciative that these people spend their valuable time listening to the things that I say and do through my blog.

Sometime back, I met Jackson, a fellow blogger. He commented that we have a lot of the same philosophies when it comes to what is important to us. Indeed we do. Jackson is enjoying his life doing what is important to him now.

Jackson nominated me for the “Lovely Blog” award, stating that he had found inspiration in reading my posts. I am truly honored by this, and am so appreciative that I have met him and so many other people that I enjoy. We have a connection by doing what we love. Continue reading

The Skinny on Sugar

Skinny on sugarI cook a variety of food, and even though I use sugar, I am conscious of how much I consume.

Sugar comes in many forms, and I have tried to educate myself on how some products disguise or list sugar on their ingredient list. When I was loosing weight, I thought no-calorie sweeteners were the answer. Many are advertised as natural, but as soon as the next best option comes out, questions and health ramifications follow. Continue reading

Sweet Basil Pesto

Pesto with ingredientsMy husband and I took a trip to Portland and Seattle last week. We had an amazing time. The Northwest is just a beautiful area. Whether you love the beach, mountains, city or country, it has it all! These photos are untouched. Crazy Beautiful! Continue reading

Thankful Thursday #17 – Humility

Oregon WineryI just got back from a week of vacation.  My husband and I went to Oregon and Washington. We visited mountains, beaches, wineries and best of all, friends!

Today was a day of errands, a haircut and laundry.  I was a little wrapped up in what I had to do, and a bit peeved because I am coming down with a cold.  Poor whiney me. Continue reading

Thankful Thursday #16 – Fresh Produce

vegetables-86256_640I Love being able to walk outside and pluck a tomato and some fresh basil from my garden.  Nothing tastes better or is better for you.  I appreciate the time growers sit at their produce stands so I can have fresh corn on the cob or delicious peaches.  I am so grateful that I have access to this delicious food and the means to grow or buy it! I will be sad when our gardens are covered with frost and then snow, but my memories will carry me to next year.

This post was inspired by Thankful Thursday organized by Momdeavor.
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