Category Archives: Cookies

Lauren’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

My all-time favorite dessert is a chocolate chip cookie, hands down.  To me, there is nothing better than a warm, soft, chocolately-chippity cookie paired with a tall glass of cold milk to wash it down. <drools>

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I am convinced my love for chocolate chip cookies is hereditary, passed down from my wonderful (and deeply missed) Grandpa who also favored my Grandma’s homemade chocolate chip cookies.  I can’t help it, it’s in my blood.

cookie dough

And remember that amazing chocolate chip cookie I wolfed down delicately savored from Panera a couple weeks ago?  I have been dreaming about getting my hands on another one of those ever since.  Is that normal?  To dream about cookies?  Ehh whatever, I love food.

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If you recall, I thought that cookie rocked because of it’s softness all the way through with the exception of the edges which were a little bit crispier, plus the perfect amount of evenly distributed chocolate chips.  Over-analyze much? 😉

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Well, I stumbled across this genius blog, Baker Bettie, along with this post and this post, and immediately headed for the kitchen to recreate my own personal chocolate chip cookie, just the way I like them.

messy baking counter

Don’t mind me, I’m quite a messy baker.  But from this giant mess came these decadent little creations that were devoured in no time at all.

lauren's cookies

WARNING:  Be prepared, the recipe you are about to read is dangerous.  Once the dough has been prepared, there is no turning back.  Side effects include happiness, random mmmm sounds coming from the mouths of those who partake, and a severe lack of self control for an otherwise rational person.

lauren's chocolate chip cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup bread flour

1 cup, plus 2 tbls cake flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 tsp salt

1 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup brown sugar

1 whole egg, plus 1 egg yolk

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1.  In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour through salt).

2.  Cream together melted butter and sugar.  Add egg and egg yolk and mix well.

3.  Gradually mix in dry ingredients with the butter-sugar-egg mixture.

4.  Add both kinds of chocolate chips and stir just until evenly distributed in the dough.

5.  Cover the bowl with saran wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight.  (Very important!)

6.  Once the dough has been chilled, preheat oven to 375.  Using a medium cookie scoop, place dough on cookie sheet (lined with parchment paper, for easy clean-up) a few inches apart.

7.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, just until the edges start to turn golden brown.  (I had mine in for 9 minutes exactly.)  Let sit on the cookie sheet for about 10 min before removing to cool on a cooling rack.  (Note: they will look underdone in the middle but the cookies will cook just a touch more while on the cookie sheet and once cooled, they will be perfectly soft!)

fresh baked cookies

lauren's cookies 2

Enjoy!

They Grow Like Weeds

What a great weekend!  Full of friends, family, food, relaxing…. and weeding!

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Admittedly, this overgrowth of weeds is a little embarrassing.  There were some spots where the weeds climbed about 3 feet high!

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AND to make matters worse, they were the prickly kind!  But in our defense, the majority of these things popped up in a matter of about 2 weeks and we finally took care of them so I’m not feeling too bad anymore.  😉

Here’s a few before and after shots to get a visual of how wild these weeds were:

before and after weeds 1a

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before and after weeds 2a

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before and after weeds 3a

Crazy, right?  I now have a full appreciation for the expression, “Kids grow like weeds!”  I mean, one second they’re tiny (or non-existent) and then before you know it, they’re 3 feet tall!

mac kong

Mac kept himself occupied with his kong for part of the afternoon.

mac kong lick

Unfortunately, he had to stay on a leash so we didn’t have another MIA episode like last time.  But hopefully very soon, we’ll have a brand new fence put up so he can roam free in the backyard!

Despite many hours of back-aching work, we still need to get our hands on the weeds on the side of our house.  Dave and I were both really sore, so we finally called it a day once the main back patio area was finished.

Once the weeds are good as gone, project #2: mulch!  Exciting stuff, I know.  The perks (?) of owning a home…

Recipes

In other news, Dave and I grilled an amazing dinner this weekend.

grill

Zucchini, sweet & regular potatoes, and Mexican Flank Steak.  This meal was absolutely delicious and the marinade for the flank steak is TO DIE FOR.  (Recipe coming soon! 🙂 )

kitchenaid cookie dough

I also baked a rather large batch of cookies, which lasted all of about 24 hours or less.  I mean, they were just THAT good and no one could stop eating them until they were completely gone.  (Yet another recipe coming your way!)

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Hope you had a fantastic long weekend!  I’m looking forward to a short week ahead of us!

WIAW #17: Akron, OH Audit

Halfway through the week already!  Since I was traveling for work on Monday and Tuesday, the last two days flew by for me…. well, kinda.  I’ll get to that in a minute!

What I Ate WednTuesday

I wasn’t originally going to do one of these posts this week because I figured it would be more of the same old hotel breakfast, sandwich, protein bar, etc. stuff I normally eat on audits.  And although there was some of that, I also enjoyed some REALLY good stuff and wanted to share!

Breakfast

Welp, here’s my standard hotel breakfast as of late.

hotel breakfast

Scrambled eggs with hot sauce, banana and peanut butter, and a coffee.

Lunch

We started our audit at 8 am and were finished in less than 2 hours.  Normally, that’s great but our flight didn’t leave until 7 pm and there were no available flights to switch.  😦  Soo, two options: wait around until 7 pm, or drive from Akron, OH and be home by 5 pm.  Neither option was ideal but we chose the latter and hopped on the road right away.

A couple hours and lots of excruciatingly painful construction traffic later, we pulled off into a ‘service center’ aka truck stop.

panera lunch

Nicest truck stop ever!  Along with a Starbucks and a few other fast-er food places, they had a really nice Panera, offering their entire normal menu.

I ordered the Thai Chopped Chicken Salad (of course!) with a whole grain baguette on the side and their new hibiscus iced tea.  I normally get their acai berry tea but this new flavor definitely trumps it!

panera chocolate chip cookie

While ordering my lunch, they pulled out two sheets of freshly baked ginormous chocolate chip cookies.  As if the smell wasn’t tempting enough, the lady taking my order offered me one for 99 cents.  Sold!

cookie gone

I fully intended on saving it for a snack during our next 4-5 hour stretch of driving but when I got in the car, I couldn’t resist letting a warm chocolate chip cookie just stare at me and so I devoured it.

Little did I know Panera offers one of the best chocolate chip cookies EVER.  Seriously, so so so good!  Slightly crispy edges and soft gooey chocolately middle… a little slice of heaven if you ask me! 🙂

Afternoon Snack

banana nut quest bar

The rest of the afternoon seemed like an eternity, but we finally made it back.  I still had another 45 minute leg of my trip to get home so I snacked on a Banana Nut Muffin Quest Bar.  This is the 3rd or 4th flavor I’ve tried, and I absolutely LOVE these things.  Perfect for on the go!

Dinner

Since I got home much earlier than originally planned, Dave and I went out for dinner to Even Flow in downtown Geneva.

autumn salad

I started out with the Autumn Salad, made of mixed greens, fresh pairs, candied walnuts, feta cheese and maple vinaigrette.

beef short rib minis

Followed by the Stout Braised Short Rib Minis and a couple glasses of sauvignon blanc.

Both items were tasty but Dave’s meal was the best.  Unfortunately, I didn’t snap a pic but he got the Crispy Beer Braised Pork Belly BBQ Sandwich with house made fries.  UNBELIEVABLY good.  He shared a few bites with me, and I was jealous! 😉

dave and mac 2

Back at home, we relaxed outside on the porch since the weather was incredible.

dave and mac

Mac was infatuated with all the animal noises going on at dusk – birds, crickets, frogs, you name it.  Truly the sound of summer!

frog

Right before heading in to call it a night, Dave spotted a frog hanging around near us!  I swear we discover a new animal, insect, bird, etc. every week.  Guess that’s what happens when you move to the burbs!

Easter Weekend

Can you believe it?  It’s April already!  At last, the weather is finally bringing hope that spring is here… which <cross your fingers> means no more snow.  Yay!

Let’s close out March by recapping this past, very busy, weekend.

Friday

After a very long day at work for the both of us, my mom and I hopped on the CTA train stop near our work and made way down to Chicago to meet two of her former co-workers for dinner at one of my very favorite places, Japonais.

starbucks

I grabbed a little pick-me-up for the ride.  Starbucks Iced Coffee, first one of the season! 🙂

japonais

We arrived before the others so we both enjoyed a glass of wine in the downstairs lounge/bar.

japonais2

Once everyone arrived and we were seated, we ordered edamame and ‘The Rock’ appetizer.  As the menu describes it, The Rock is “thinly sliced marinated new york strip, cooked on a hot rock presentation.”  The rock, on the left, is served screaming hot and the marinated steak, on the right, is served raw.  The way it works is to take a single piece of steak and lay it over the hot rock to cook for a few seconds on each side.

Not only is the steak juicy and very flavorful, it’s a fun, hands-on appetizer which makes it even better in my book!  Definitely one of my favs!  We rounded out our meal with a few yummy sushi rolls.

Saturday

As planned, I woke up and brought my training run outside to enjoy the beautiful weather.  The fresh air definitely beats a stuffy gym and I can’t wait to continue the rest of my training outside!

greek yogurt berries bananas almond butter

Breakfast was an old standby:  Greek yogurt, bananas, blackberries, a giant scoop of drippy almond butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  My grandiose plans to cook a hot breakfast of pancakes quickly subsided when I realized I had very little time before I needed to get moving on the day.  BUT my yogurt bowl never fails to be quick and absolutely delicious!

Now since I got my run in earlier, it was only fair that Mac also get his exercise for the day.

Dog Park

Quick trip to the dog park to release all that puppy energy stored up overnight.  Saturday morning, especially with nice weather, is a popular time as there were upwards of around 30 dogs.  Note to self – more dogs = sleepier Mac.

I dropped off Mac with “grandpa” (my dad 🙂 ) and they went on a longgg, walk at the forest preserve – almost 2 hours! – while my mom and I went to a baby shower for my cousin, Brittany.  She is happily expecting a baby boy, Lucas, by the end of April.  So excited!!

ladybug appetizer

I was not very on top of my game with pictures but I did manage to snap one of this cute ladybug appetizer that Brittany’s friend made.

ladybug appetizer2

Zoomed-in grainy IPhone pic to see the details:  Ritz crackers topped with a smear of garlic dip for the base, halved grape tomatoes (wings) and half of a black olive with snips of chives (head & antennas).  Plus she dyed some extra garlic dip to make black spots on the wings.

Very cute and creative!  Love that kind of stuff. 🙂

Afterwards, I picked up a very worn out Mac to make our way home and get some house cleaning done.  Since it was Easter weekend, lots of our friends were back in the suburbs to spend time with family so we had several people over at night to hang out.  We enjoyed a few drinks before calling it an early Saturday night around 11pm.

Sunday

Before heading over to Dave’s parents’ house, we took Mac to the dog park again and I baked some cookies.

cranberry white chocolate macadamia cookies2

Cranberry white chocolate macadamia nut cookies!

cranberry white chocolate macadamia cookies

I followed this recipe and added the macadamia nuts for good measure. 🙂

My parents joined us over at Dave’s parents’ and we had a delicious Easter meal of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, asparagus, and pretzel rolls.  Great way to end the weekend!

Cooking Scrapbook – Spritz & Molasses Cookies

Only 4 more days till Utah!!  I just need to survive a few more days and then Dave and I are off to Park City for the rest of the year.  Can. Not. Wait.

Last night I received a nice little surprise in the mail from my Grandma Saar for Christmas.

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And inside…

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Full of Ghiradelli chocolate goodies!  She knows me too well 🙂  Dave and I snacked on quite a few items.  One of the silver bags on the right has HUGE dark chocolate chips so I’m already dreaming up what cookie I could use those in.

I fit in a 5 mile workout this morning consisting of both running and walking intervals on the treadmill.  Got nice and sweaty!  I had this delicious combo this morning.

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Plain Chobani greek yogurt topped with banana slices, chocolate banana granola, and peanut butter.  Chocolate AND peanut butter for breakfast?  Don’t mind if I do 😉

We had our company Christmas party this afternoon.  They offered a choice of beef, turkey, or tilapia for lunch with lots of sides – rice with mushrooms, sweet potatoes, mixed veggies, caesar salad, cranberry sauce, and rolls.  Plus, lots of desserts – red velvet cake & cupcakes, brownies, chocolates, candies, and hot cocoa.  They decked out the cafeteria, had Christmas music playing and also had a group of employees who performed a few songs.

In light of the Christmas spirit, several coworkers and I dressed up.

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Ugly Christmas sweaters, anyone?  Yep, we looked fabulous!  Nice job ladies 😉

Cooking Scrapbook Recipes

Since I hadn’t come up with my idea until recently to highlight every recipe in the cooking scrapbook I made for my mom, I’m going back in time to post 2 cookie recipes my mom and I baked during our holiday baking a couple weeks ago.

Spritz Cookies

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Christmas Cookies 2012

As I had mentioned in the previous post, these cookies have the best tasting dough!  The addition of almond extract makes a subtle appearance but really brings the flavor up a notch.  Dave and I normally aren’t huge sugar cookie fans (except for PotBelly’s sugar cookies, unbelievable!) but we both loved these cookies – especially Dave!!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

2 tbls milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

4 cups sifted flour

1 tsp baking powder

Sprinkles, red hots or other decorations – optional

Directions:

Thoroughly cream butter and sugar.  Add egg, milk, vanilla and almond.  Beat well.  Sift flour and baking powder and gradually add to creamed mixture, mixing until smooth.  Do not chill.  Force dough through cookie press onto ungreased cookie sheet and decorate, if desired.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes (or until the bottoms JUST start to turn brown.)  Cool on cooking rack.

Christmas Cookies 2012

Molasses Cookies

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These molasses cookies are my mom’s favorite!  Growing up, I remember my mom and Grandma Meyer carried on a tradition of baking TONS of Christmas cookies every year and these always made the cut.  As long as they aren’t baked too long, they end up with a slightly crispy edge and a soft & chewy middle.  Plus, the spices add some warmth and depth of flavor.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Crisco shortening

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup dark molasses

2 cups sifted regular flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

Extra sugar for rolling (1/2 to 3/4 cup)

Directions:

Cream together shortening, butter and sugar.  Add egg and molasses; blend well.  Sift together remaining ingredients and gradually add to molasses mixture.  Mix well and chill overnight (or for at least a few hours.)  Form into 1 inch balls and roll in granulated sugar.  Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes on ungreased cookie sheet.

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Now I’ve got 3 recipes down and 40 to go!

-Lauren

Christmas Cookies 2012

Whew, what a busy day!  I started out with a workout at the gym – warmed up on the treadmill for 20 minutes, followed by a Muscle Definition group class.

My breakfast consisted of one of my favorites, a yogurt bowl.  Plain greek yogurt on the bottom, topped with a crumbled whole wheat cinnamon chip muffin that I had left from a week ago, plus a scoop of peanut butter, Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter, and a sprinkle of chia seeds.  Whoa, this was incredible!

Shortly after breakfast, my parents arrived and the holiday baking began!  The first two types of cookies we tackled are recipes my mom and grandma used to bake together.  Molasses cookies and spritz cookies.

The molasses cookies are soft in the middle with a slightly crispy crust and an added crunch from the sugar rolled on the outside.  The dough includes molasses, cinnamon, and ginger which all give it that deep, warm flavor.

My mom did a fabulous job with the cookie press and made several different shapes – wreaths, angels, Christmas trees, and pinwheels (pictured above).  I have to say these spritz cookies might win for the best tasting raw dough!  I’m sure it has nothing to do with the amount of butter… 😉

The next few treats we chose this year were chocolate pretzel rings, Reese’s cookie cups, and chocolate mint chip pudding cookies.

Chocolate Pretzel Rings

The ones on the lefthand side are made with candy cane hug Hershey kisses and the ones on the right with mint truffle Hershey kisses.  I love how festive these are!  And super easy too.

Chocolate Pretzel Rings

Ingredients:

Pretzel rings

Hershey kisses (any flavor)

M&amp;Ms

 

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

2,  Place pretzel rings on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

3.  Add unwrapped kisses in the center of each pretzel and bake for 3-4 minutes.

4.  Immediately after taking out of the oven, add an M&amp;M to each center.

5.  Cool completely before removing them from the pan.

These next ones have to be my all-time favorite recipe year round – not only are they a perfect peanut butter and chocolate combo but they are so stinkin’ easy to make and sure to be a crowd pleaser every time.  Can’t beat it!

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cookies 

Ingredients:

Chocolate chip cookie dough

Mini Reese’s peanut butter cups (frozen &amp; unwrapped)

 

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  In a mini muffin tin with liners, add about a tablespoon of any type of cookie dough you choose.  (I like to use the ready-to-make Nestle’s chocolate chip cookie dough.  This time I used the kind to make mini chocolate chip cookies and put a tiny square in each tin – worked great!)

3.  Bake for about 8-9 minutes until the edges just start to turn golden.  (The rest may seem under-done but trust me, it’s okay.)

4.  Immediately after taking out of the oven, insert a frozen mini Reese’s in the center.  (I’ve found it really helps to use frozen Reese’s, otherwise they get too melty.)

5.  Let cool completely before removing from pan.

While I was shopping at Target a couple weeks ago, I had to check out the baking section and somehow a package of dark chocolate and mint chips ended up in my cart.  It was weird. 😉 But not to worry, I found them a home in these chocolate pudding cookies.  The recipe is so versatile as you can play around with different flavors of the pudding mix and baking chips.

Finally, we rounded out the holiday baking with a sixth cookie.

Aren’t these guys cute??  I shaped a rich peanut butter cookie dough into balls, pinched the bottom and flattened them out a bit to get a reindeer shaped head.  Once the dough baked for about 10 minutes, I immediately added the antlers (chocolate covered pretzels), eyes (chocolate chips), and red nose (M&Ms) and let cool.

As my mom and I carried out our holiday baking extravaganza, my dad hung out with us, worked on his computer, sampled some dough, and napped with Mac.  He also helped take some of these pictures!

Today was such a fun day but now I’m pooped!  Time to kick back, relax, and enjoy some cookies.

-Lauren

Cookie Exchange

Now that I have properly celebrated Thanksgiving in all its glory and it’s finally December, let the holiday baking begin!  My mom has a cookie exchange tonight with some friends but has been extremely busy and stressed with work lately so I offered to bake some cookies for her to bring.  While she is extremely grateful for the help, I look at it as a great opportunity to taste test some new recipes I’ve been wanting to try and then rid my house of them.  🙂 Dave is a wonderful taste tester for all my desserts, but there is no way the two of us could polish off the number of sweets I like to make… nor should we try.

I baked three types of cookies.  The first one started off as my go-to oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe which you can find here.  But when I went in the cabinet to find chocolate chips, I was greeted with leftover cinnamon chips, white chocolate chips, and mini chocolate chips.  Each one had about a 1/4 to a 1/3 of the bag left so I threw them all in the batch, along with a couple handfuls of raisins I had left over from trail mix I made a couple weeks ago.  So I’m not sure what to call them… but Dave called them DELICIOUS! 🙂

And boy were they loaded with goodies!

The second cookie was a soft gingersnap cookie with white chocolate chips.

These babies had ginger, ground cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and molasses to bring out the holiday flavor, and were rolled in sugar to finish off before baking.  The original recipe called for butterscotch chips but I had picked up another bag of white chocolate chips and thought they would be pretty nestled in the middle.

Finally, I made s’more bites.

These little guys were made in a mini muffin pan with a graham cracker bottom followed by a chocolate layer, toasted marshmallow, and finished off with some melty chocolate on top.  Yum!

Each batch of cookies made 2 to 3 dozen.  Since my mom only needed 3 dozen to bring to her cookie exchange and Dave and I had already sampled a few too many, I decided to bring the rest into work to have my coworkers help me get rid of them.

In the midst of all this baking the past couple nights, I made this salad for lunch nearly every day this week.

My refrigerator has been packed with leftover turkey over the past couple weeks from both Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving so I’ve been eating leftovers in some form at almost every meal.  I have to say as much as I was craving turkey, I think I’m officially turkeyed-out until next year!

This salad was a mix of baby greens, cucumber, tomato, green onions, turkey, pepper jack cheese and topped off with balsamic vinaigrette.  So so good!

And if you thought this past week has satisfied my holiday baking craze, you would be wrong.  My mom and I are baking MORE Christmas cookies on Saturday.  Can’t wait!

-Lauren