Sunday, November 27, 2011

Speechless Sunday


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Brown Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk Toffee Cookies

Not so long ago, I made some mashed potato cakes, inspired by a recipe from How Sweet It Is. After a little browsing of her blog, I had my eye on many recipes, but knew this cookie recipe needed to happen as soon as possible.

One reason for this sense of urgency, was the fact that it calls for brown butter. I learned how incredibly awesome the brown butter technique is when I first made Monkey Bars (the best banana bread ever topped with brown butter frosting), so I had no doubt this cookie recipe would taste wonderful.

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) of unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup toffee chips
approximately 1/3 cup dark chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 325.

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until brown flecks appear on the bottom of the pan. At this point, remove from heat to avoid burning as the butter can burn very quickly.

Pour butter into mixing bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Then add the sugars, egg+yolk and vanilla.

Initially, I wasn't going to take too many pictures because, well Jessica's post has beautiful pictures of boiling butter, etc. However, I had to grab my camera to attempt and show just how awesome the beginning of this dough starts out. See?

That was after mixing the browned butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla - such a creamy consistency and perfect caramel-y color. The picture does not do it justice. You would have to drag the whisk through it to see for yourself.

Now, add flour, baking soda and salt and mix.

Then, fold in the toffee chips. One other point to take note of is how crumbly the dough appears. It is not typical Tollhouse cookie dough.

Now, you can start making the dough balls to bake. Add a few chocolate chunks to a Tablespoon+ of dough and top it off with another little mashed ball, rolling to make a golf ball sized sphere. Place each ball a couple inches apart on your cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until edges are slightly golden. Remove from oven and cool a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Might I suggest getting a taste test while they are still warm, followed by a gulp of milk? Heaven. Or pretty darn close to it anyway.

Please do go over and check out Jessica's original post. It is quite humorous, as I have found most of her posts will give you a chuckle.

This post is linked up to some of the parties listed under my Show & Tell tab at the top of the page. Go check them out for more inspiration!   

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mint Chip Chocolate Cookies

Boy oh boy, I have been so busy! I've started volunteering at my high school alma mater with the girls' basketball team and try-outs were this past week.(Yay for 25 Before 25 List #22: Volunteer regularly.) This means I've been in the gym 2+ hours each night last week! I have loved every minute of being back in the gym, the girls are incredible and I get along really well with the coaching staff. Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season. I'm planning on learning how to juggle that new time commitment with this blog because I love being part of this community very much as well.

So here we go, the most recent creation, in the kitchen of course.

My best guy friend, Andy, has returned from backpacking in South America for 8+ months and so we have been catching up and I've been listening ever so jealously to his awesome adventures. (He is the one I traveled with while in Peru this past spring.) Anywho, last night, we made one of his favorite cookies together. The recipe is originally called Polka Dot Cookies, but he didn't feel that was manly enough, so Mint Chip Chocolate Cookies works, too.

Mint Chip Chocolate Cookies
found on the back of a Guittard Green Mint Chip bag

2 cups (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspooons vanilla
2 cups (12 oz) green mint chips

Preheat oven to 350.

Melt chocolate chips and butter in double broiler or microwave, being careful not to scorch the chocolate. Mix together completely.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt together. Set aside.

Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Add the chocolate/butter mixture and combine thoroughly. Finally, mix in the dry ingredients. Dough will be less stiff than most other cookie recipes. At this point, place in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to stiffen the dough up.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and drop Tablespoons onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 9-10 minutes. Cookies will "crack" when done. Allow to cool before enjoying with a big glass of milk!

Admittedly, I'm actually not that big of a mint fan, so we did scoop aside a little dough to be sans mint chips. (I know, I'm crazy.) They were tasty chocolate cookies in my book and would totally make delicious double chocolate chip cookies if you added chocolate chips instead of the mint ones.

This makes me super excited to get some holiday baking done. I did start a little with Grammy last week. Recipes to come soon!

This post is linked up to some of the parties listed under my Show & Tell tab at the top of the page. Go check them out for more inspiration!    

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Speechless Sunday

Let's face it. Some days are just harder than others.

Also, I came across this on pinterest (surprise, surprise) and it was a dead link. No source. I feel like I keep running across those. Is it just me? If anyone knows where this came from, please, do share!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Me + Seam Ripper = BFF

Yup, I'll admit it, I have definitely been slightly MIA on here for a few days at a time these past couple weeks. Wanna know why? I have a new best friend. Her name is Seam Ripper. But seriously, I got my sewing on these past few days to stock up for a couple little craft shows Michelle and I took part in.

Here are some of the goods I had for sale:

I made the bibs and taggie blankets while my sister made the blankets. As thankful as I am for that seam ripper, due to the repetitiveness of the bibs, I have already had to use it less and less. Go me! So maybe we aren't meant to be Best Friends Forever cause the more I sew, the more comfortable I become which means I don't mess up and need to call Seam Ripper, aaaaagain. Until the next new project anyway.

Do you have any projects you have battled and relied on the seam ripper too much for your own liking? I'm really loving learning how to sew better and faster.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mashed Potato Cakes

Here is my first ever post participating in the Crazy Cooking Challenge hosted by Mom's Crazy Cooking. I can't wait to see all the tasty recipes linked up! This month's theme is mashed potatoes - must be potatoes and must be mashed.


I was excited to try this recipe I came across for Mashed Potato Pancakes on How Sweet It Is. This recipe is really quite simple, but boy is it yummy. These would really work for breakfast, lunch, after school snack or dinner.

You will need:

about 2 cups mashed potatoes
about 3 tablespoons flour
olive oil

I only ended up using 2 of these massive Russet potatoes for my mashed potatoes, which was more than 2 cups.

That is all you need for the basic mashed tater cakes. Make your best mashed potato recipe ever. Then add the 3 tablespoons flour to 2 cups of mashed potatoes.

I'm still searching for a delicious mashed potato recipe and am confident I will find it through all the awesome links for this month's Crazy Cooking Challenge listed below.

I love bacon and cheese with my mashed potatoes, so those were my two extra mix-ins. Feel free to add whatever else you wish. (Think baked potato toppings.) Here's how much I added to the 2 cups mashed potatoes with flour mixture.

4 slices bacon, cooked and broken into pieces
1/3 cup cheddar cheese, shredded 
sour cream, a dollop or two to taste

Now you are ready to make your mashed potato cake "patties." Anywhere from a 1/2" thick to 1" thick should work fine.

Heat your skillet to a medium high heat and as my favorite line in Jessica's recipie says, "Add your fat of choice [being bacon grease, butter or oil] and let it heat for 30 seconds." Her mom used bacon grease, which is doable if you plan on adding bacon. As contradicting as it sounds since these are not really healthy in any way, I chose to use olive oil as a healthier alternative to fry the tater cakes in.

Add a patty to the skillet. Be very careful of splattering whatever-type-of-fat you chose. Let brown, flipping after 3-4 minutes on each side.

I found that 2 cups of mashed potatoes will make between 10-12 hand sized mashed potato cakes. This was more than enough for my sister and I, as these were our side dish to chicken and we ended up having leftovers. I can vouch that they still taste good warmed up the next day!

These really are a fun twist on regular old mashed potatoes, giving them a nice crispy crunch with a soft middle. Definitely a good combo.

If you are interested in joining the Crazy Cooking Challenge, here are a few details: must make monthly themed food, posting once a month on the 7th and must use a recipe found on another blog (point being to highlight other bloggers). Please visit Mom's Crazy Cooking for more information. She is extremely thorough and helpful in how she runs this challenge. Thanks so much for hosting Tina! I'm excited to be a part of this!

Make sure to go check out some of the other mashed potato recipes linked up to the challenge! I'm already excited for December's Challenge: fudge. I am pretty sure I have already found my recipe and can't wait to try it out. Oh, and vote for this recipe by clicking the tiny "Like" under entry 59 below!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Speechless Sunday


Go here to see more incredibly beautiful quilling.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Daydreaming Tonight

You know the only cure for the travel bug, right? Yup, traveling. For the time being my antidote is a combination of wishful thinking, daydreaming and photograph gazing. This is precisely what I miss from experiencing different cultures. Pure joy.

Photograph Credit: Lee Sanders via National Geographic

I have been really wanting to go on another adventure and definitely need to devote some time to sorting out logistics. The world is so big and we only have so much time to explore it. Read about my 6 week backpacking experience in Peru this past spring here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Turn To Pass It Along [Versatile Blogger Award]

Although, I still feel relatively new to the blogging world, I've seen a few posts regarding various "awards" given from one blogger to another in the past year or so since I started blog stalking and 8 or so months since I started this blog. I was so tickled to receive the Versatile Blogger Award from Erin at His & Hers. She is totally right when she says if we didn't live so far away, we would have a craft night together. It's been so fun getting to know her through her blog and she always leaves me the sweetest comments. Plus, her blog is one of the funniest I have ever read. Go check it out.

I wish I knew who started this award because it is just so sweet and I would like to give them credit, but alas, a big thanks will have to suffice to whoever you are, wherever you are, although you will probably never see this post. From what I gather, part of the award is sharing 7 things about myself that my readers don't (probably) already know. This may be tough. I've got a pretty detailed "About" page up there, but here I go.

1. If I had some extra cash that I had to spend on going to school, I would get a massage therapy license and also attend graphic design school. Obviously, loads of extra cash would need to be lying around to allow me to do both of those programs. Just wishful thinking. I am thankful I was able to get my Bachelor of Arts in Global Business. One day, I hope to get my MBA or a Master's degree in international development. Halfway through my 2nd year out of college and I am definitely missing school.

2. That was a little long. I will make the rest of these shorter. Here's my guilty pleasure: I love One Tree Hill. Yup, pretty much a teenage soap opera, I know. Hate on it as you will, I have never watched The O.C. or Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives or Jersey Shore. Never. I'm allowed my OTH indulgence every now and then, right?


3. I could eat an entire bag of Ruffles Baked Sour Cream & Cheddar chips in one sitting. Did I say could eat? I meant have eaten. May or may not have happened more than once. I could always do it again. Love them.

4. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone leaves the cap on the shampoo/conditioner/soap bottle open once finished. Future husband, I hope you're reading - now reveal yourself. :)

 5. Sandra Bullock is my favorite actress. I don't have an obsession or anything, she's just my fave, beautiful and full of grace. On the male side, I think I love every movie Christian Bale has been in, although I've heard he is sort of a jerk in person.


6. I lettered in 3 sports (volleyball, basketball & tennis) my last 3 years in high school, which was far too long ago now! I miss my teammates and competing so much. So so so many good memories were made on the court, in the locker room, on bus rides, during practices and tournaments.

7. I do not believe there is any job in the world worthy of a paycheck more than a million dollars a year - and that is definitely pushing it, heck half of that is probably too much. I could go on, but this would become far lengthier than necessary.

Whew. Thanks for reading along.

I'm not quite sure how many people I am supposed to pass this Versatile Blogger Award along to, but here are a few people I have quite loved stumbling upon their blogs. I would totally have passed it back to Erin if I could cause she is so sweet, but that would be a little repetitious since she got it twice last week. So, here is my list of Versitale Bloggers:

Michelle @ The One With The Cupcakes - Not just cupcake creations, stunning photos of her favorite subjects: two precious baby girls, super creative graphic design, wonderful crafty creations, as well as tasty recipes.

Amy @ A Little Nosh - She hosts such a yummy food link party each Thursday and I giggle every time I read "adventures in a two butt kitchen."

Ashton @ Something Swanky - She posts the yummiest treat creations and her blog is adorable filled with some basic blogging tips and did I mention loads of desserts?

I had a hard time finding blogs I thought hadn't received the award already. Please go visit the blogs above! You won't regret it.

Thanks so very much Erin! I'm glad to have met you in blogland!
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