Chocolate Chip Cookie Tips

There are approximately a billion chocolate chip cookie recipes, and everyone seems to have a favorite one. I made a big batch this week and wanted to share some of my favorite tips for making them more delicious, no matter which recipe you use.

1. Melt the butter before you start. I always forget to leave the butter out to soften it, and I usually want to get started baking RIGHT NOW. Instead of creaming the room-temperature butter together with the sugars at the beginning of the recipe, you can add melted butter. Some of the sugar will dissolve into the butter and the cookies will be delicious!

2. Get yourself a portion scooper for even-sized cookies. This one is good, but they come in a variety of sizes depending on what size cookies you like. It also makes scooping out a ton of cookies very easy.

3. Bake one sheet at a time. No matter how anxious you are to finish your cookies, only bake one sheet at a time. This ensures that the heat is even on all of the cookies, and stops you from opening the oven door a million times and changing the temperature.

4. Save some for later. Scoop the cookies out on a lined baking sheet and stick it right in your freezer.A few hours later, the cookie balls will be frozen through and you can drop them into a freezer bag or storage container. When all of your cookies from the first batch are gone, you’ll still have ready-to-bake cookies in your freezer (mine are sitting between a tub of cake balls and a tub of buttercream frosting). When you’re ready for more, just bake them like fresh dough.

5. Store baked cookies in an airtight container with a slice of fresh bread. The bread will keep the cookies moist, and will even bring hard cookies back to life. It is miraculous.

I may or may not be eating a plate of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies for lunch right now.

Citrus Roasted Salmon & Barley Risotto

I made the BEST dinner the other night from Power Foods - a cook book that I have had for over a year, but never used. Anthony has been keeping up with his vegetarian diet, so the salmon was just for me. The risotto is made with barley instead of rice, and it was really delicious.

The salmon is roasted on orange and lemon slices for 17 minutes at 400 degrees and topped with a puree of fresh peas and watercress. The risotto has leeks, asparagus and peas, and is prepared just like regular risotto. Delicious

Here is the recipe for the Spring Barley Risotto.

A few things for the Weekend…

Happy Friday! I’m planning a quiet night at home tonight, followed by a loud day on Saturday with the kids (I’m on babysitting duty tomorrow night). I’m working on some great invitations and getting some new items up in my shop. Hopefully it will be a fun and productive weekend!

Here are a few of my favorite things from the internet this week:

- Great navy color schemes from Hey Look

- Amazing NYC roof garden on Honestly WTF

- Pretty Garden Sketches from Wit & Whistle

- Delicious-looking kale and quinoa cakes from Joy the Baker

- Container Gardening Tips from Apartment Therapy

- I need these signs for my house

Mustache Cookies

For some reason my niece and nephew really like mustaches. They are little hipsters. When we were in Chicago a few weeks ago, I saw some mustache cookie cutters and I had to get them. I finally made a batch last week, and added sticks so they could hold them up before eating them. I brought a few to our Easter party this weekend – they were a big hit!They are perfect for a party and you can buy some in my etsy shop!

Tiny Tomato Tarts

I have been trying to get better about using up all of the food in our fridge before buying new stuff, so when I was planning for our family Easter party, I looked at what we had first before hitting the grocery store. I had some fresh mozzarella in the fridge and frozen phyllo cups in the freezer, so I picked up some grape tomatoes and fresh basil to make these cute little appetizers.

They were pretty easy, and most of the prep-work was done the night before the party.

Tomato Tarts:

  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, chopped into little pieces
  • 4 dozen phyllo cups (found in the frozen food section with desserts)
  • about 5 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped
  • fresh basil
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place tomatoes, garlic and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Bake for about 35 minutes.
  2. Once tomatoes are roasted, cool to room temperature and mix in mozzarella.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Place phyllo cups on a rimmed cookie sheet and add a small scoop of the tomato mixture to each one. Add a small piece of fresh basil to each one. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

We served them with an asparagus tart on this cool two-tiered server that my sister had. The were delicious and we ended up making the roasted tomatoes again today for lunch. I really need to set up a tomato plant on our back porch because I think we’ll be eating a lot of these this summer!

Easter Treats

I am baking for our family’s Easter party this weekend, and I made these Easter Egg sugar cookies yesterday. Usually I decorate actual eggs, but these are much tastier. I have a few more things on my list to make, including some of this good stuff:

- The Secret to Chocolate Chip Cookies via America’s Test Kitchen

- This Asparagus Gruyere Tart from Martha Stewart has been on my list of things to try for a while, and I had it at the shower I went to last weekend – it was amazing!

- Jello in Real Eggs from Just a Taste is hilarious, and I am thinking of giving it a try.

- If you’re crazy, you might try this tutorial from Shauna Sever – How to Make Your Own Marshmallow Peeps.

- This Arugula Pistachio Pesto from Love and Olive Oil looks delicious.

- I have a huge craving for these Mussels in White Wine Sauce and might give them a try next week.

- The 100 Greatest Cooking Tips of All Time from The Food Network.

Have a great (and delicious) weekend!

April Etsy Love

There is so much good stuff on etsy, it’s sometimes impossible to sort through all of it to find my favorites. Here are some of my favorite things this month:

Super Cute Easter Egg Garland from Sweet Sara Lyn

Pretty Bead Necklace from JullMade

Rose Gold Sideways Wishbone Necklace from Little Hawk Jewelry

Dangly Earrings from Ilexia Designs

Chevron Twill Ribbon from In the Clear (I just bought the pink)

Hooray Bunting Letterpress Card from Paper Lovely Press

Round Vintage Sunglasses from MOD Vintage

Baby Gifts

My cousin Katie is having a baby, and we went down to her baby shower in Maryland over the weekend. I wanted to make something special for her and the baby, and I decided on a quilt like the one I made for my nephew. This is the second quilt I have ever made, and the nice thing about making a project for the second time is the lessons you learn from the first one. I think it came out great!I love using bright patterns and I picked up some new ones from my favorite fabric store, Make & Mingle, and then added some basic flannel in solid white. I cut the fabric into strips of varying width, then sewed them together until I got to the length I wanted.I used a pale green flannel for the back, so the blanket is nice and cosy. The invitation to the shower asked us to bring a onsie too, so Katie could guess who brought each one, so I made a matching one from the scraps.Here’s the full set with some small bunting that I made from some leftovers.I used the bunting as ribbon on the wrapped gift.It came out really cute and I can’t wait to make another one!

Yay for April!

We’re definitely experiencing some April showers here in Scranton, and I’m making some really great progress on organizing inside while it’s not so nice outside. April is going to be lots of fun here, with some good Easter desserts, plans for a small vegetable garden on our back porch, more new stuff in my etsy shop, and some good ideas for party favors.

I’m also super excited because spring means that some of my most favorite vegetables are back in season. We’ll be eating tons of asparagus and peas this month, and I’m going to stock up on strawberries for my favorite dessert – strawberry shortcake cupcakes.

 

Planning for the Weekend

I love this quote because it reminds me to be prepared. I can’t go shopping without a list because otherwise I end up with a cart full of food and nothing that I really want. I’m working on getting better at planning my business and my life, making sure that my energy and effort is going towards things I really want to be doing. March has been a really fantastic month for me, and I’m so lucky to get to keep doing the things that I love. All of this is possible because I decided what I really wanted, and now I’m going for it.

There are so many wonderful people on the internet that inspire me to keep doing good things every day. Here are some of my favorite posts from the past week:

- DIY Grocery Bag Easter Baskets from ellinée

- Pretty Birthday Party from Somewhere Splendid

- Cookie Dough Marshmallows from Love & Olive Oil (last time I tried to make marshmallows it was a sticky mess, but these ones look too delicious not to try)

- Great, Affordable Furniture Picks from Restored Style (I have my eye on the gray Ikea buffet for our dining room)

- Love this Outfit from Kendi Everyday

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