September 29, 2014

My FAVORITE cookies

This past summer a friend of mine shared a little taste of heaven with me. Mexican Hot Chocolate Shortbread Cookies. They are FANTASTIC!!! They have become my new favorite recipe.

These are from the Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup almond flour (I didn't have so I just used an extra 1/2 cup of regular flour)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup packed light brown sugar 
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon espresso powder or finely ground coffee (I leave this out)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips (I use regular size and probably do about a cup)
About 1/4 cup granulated sugar for dusting (I roll the balls in the sugar before baking)

Line two cookie sheets with parchment.
Whisk the flours (dry ingredients) together in a medium bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream the butter, vanilla, and almond extract until the mixture is pale in color, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the speed down to low, add the brown sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, espresso (I never have this so I leave it out), salt, and cayenne pepper, and continue to mix until the mixture is smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the flour mixture in thirds until just combined. With the mixer running, sprinkle in the chocolate chips, mixing until just combined.

Transfer the dough to another bowl and finish mixing by hand to make sure no bits of flour or butter are hiding on the bottom of the bowl and the dough is thoroughly mixed.

Use a small scoop to form the cookies, about 1 rounded tablespoon each, and place on the prepared cookie sheets, leaving 1 inch between the cookies to allow for spreading.

Flatten each cookie with a cookie stamp dusted with granulated sugar, or gently flatten each cookie with the palm of your hand and then dust the tops with sugar. (I roll the balls in sugar and flatten with a mason jar) They will have little cracks in the top. Refrigerate the cookies for at least 1 hour, or up to 5 hours.  (I am too impatient to refrigerate so I bake right away and have no problem) Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 8 to 10 minutes, Cool the cookies completely on wire racks. Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.

With all recipes I never seem to be able to leave them alone. I like to adjust or add to or just try different variations for some reason. My kids like these even better than the shortbreads. I think because of the eggs it adds more of a chewiness than the shortbreads (which I think I prefer). Both are delicious though! The new recipe is below :) I have already eaten 4 of these today. Step AWAY. I so lack self control.

2 sticks of butter
1 1/2 cups of cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325
Heat butter & cocoa on low heat until all melted and blended together (remove from heat & cool)
Mix eggs, sugars, & extracts in mixer
Add butter/cocoa mixture
In separate bowl mix all other dry ingredients well
Add to wet ingredients
Fold in chocolate chips

Bake for 13 minutes (this was my magic number)

September 17, 2014

A few of my favorite things

This is my absolute favorite laundry detergent. And trust me, I have tried a ton! This is awesome!
Having sensitive skin I find deodorant a real tough one for me. This causes no issues for me. It's all natural and works too! I may try making my own.
I am a huge fan of this shampoo! 
This has the best lingering scent! And makes your drawer, cupboard or wherever you store the box smell fabulous too.

September 10, 2014

The Story of Us

Once in a while I like to watch these movies with a marriage reminder or little lesson to keep me grounded. I love my husband dearly and we have a good relationship & thing going here after our little 14 years together. But I like these movies nonetheless because they just strengthen that spark as I place myself in another's shoes.  This is an exerpt from the end of one of those movies that I think we can all relate to, if we put ourselves in place of those characters. This is from "The Story of Us" with Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer .

It's fun to remind ourselves of how we first met. Why we fell in love and how marriage truly is a dance we perfect over time not over night.

I love a good ending too! And this movie has one.

Ben and Katie are on the brink of divorce. They separate for a summer while their kids are away at camp.  They agree to let the kids know they are divorcing when they pick them up.

Katie: (in the camp parking lot after loading their kids, Josh & Erin, in the car) I want to go to Chow Funs.

Ben: I thought we agreed we couldn't really talk at Chow Funs.

Katie: I know.

Ben: Are you saying Chow Funs because you can't face telling the kids? Because if that's why you're saying Chow Funs, don't say Chow Funs.

Katie: That's not why I'm saying Chow Funs. I'm saying Chow Funs because we're an us. There's a history here, and histories don't happen overnight. In Mesopotamia of Ancient Troy, there are cities built on top of other cities. But I don't want another city, I like this city. I know what kind of mood you're in when you wake up by which eyebrow is higher, and you know I'm a little quiet in the morning and compensate accordingly, that's a dance you perfect over time. And it's hard, it's much harder than I thought it would be. But there's more good than bad and you don't just give up! And it's not for the sake of the children. But God, they're great kids, aren't they? And we made them, I mean think about that! It's like there were no people there, and then there were people and they grew, and I won't be able to say to some stranger Josh has your hands or remember how Erin threw up at the Lincoln Memorial and I'll try to relax. Let's face it, anybody is going to have traits that get on your nerves, I mean why shouldn't it be your annoying traits, and I know I'm no day at the beach, But I do have a good sense of direction so I can at least find the beach, which isn't a weakness of yours, it's just a strength of mine. And gosh, you're a good friend and good friends are hard to find. Charlotte said that in 'Charlotte's Web' and I love how you read that to Erin and you take on the voice of Wilbur the Pig with such dedication even when your bone tired. That speaks volumes about character! And ultimately, isn't that what it comes down to? What a person is made of? That girl in the pin helmet is still here 'bee boo bee boo' I didn't even know she existed until you and I'm afraid if you leave, I may never see her again, even though I said at times you beat her out of me, isn't that the paradox? Haven't we hit the essential paradox? Give and take, push and pull, the yen the yang. The best of times, the worst of times! I think Dickens said it best, 'He could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean'. But that doesn't really apply here, does it? What I'm trying to say is, I'm saying Chow Funs. Because I love you.

Ben: I love you too. (And they hug)

Ben: Did you hear that, kids? (Running back to the car) Mom wants to go to Chow Funs!