Emergency Blondies for Two

Sometimes you just need dessert…BAD!

Hubby and I celebrated our Valentine’s Day date with dinner and a musical. Unfortunately, we ran out of time at dinner to order dessert and decided to get some after the show. Double-unfortunately, the restaurant we wanted to hit up was closed! So, I took matters into my own hands and threw this together.

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Emergency Blondies for Two

These Not So Sweet blondies may not have technically perfect texture, but they whipped together quickly and easily for those moments of desperation where you need want something FAST for dessert. It only took me about 5 minutes of simple mixing with basic ingredients, and I had these babies in the oven. Add in about 12 minutes of bake time and a little cool-down-time, and I had dessert prepped in a snap with a fully satisfied sweet tooth.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sucanat (or sub sugar for a sweeter flavor)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two individual baking dishes with non-stick spray
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Cream sucanat and butter together (you could use a hand held, but I found a firm spatula to be more efficient and faster). Stir in egg and vanilla till evenly combined.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix till just combined (careful to not overmix).
  5. Stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Evenly distribute dough into prepared baking dishes.
  7. Bake for 11-14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Not So Sweet Heart-Shaped Cookie Cake for Two

Love is in the air!

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Or maybe that’s just the smell of sweet baked goods glowing gently from your oven? ;) I know I made a little something-something today for my sweetie. ;)

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Check out the beautiful flowers hubby got me for Valentine’s Day! I can’t wait for all those lilies to bloom!

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Hubby and I had a late lunch at Earthfare while we were out running errands. I had chicken noodle soup and salad.

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Then we took a pit stop at Barnes & Noble for some snackage and magazine browsing.

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I had a bite of hubby’s coffee cake.

It reminded me that I’ve been meaning to make a coffee cake from scratch some time. I’ve done a quick coffee cake before (click), but I want to do one NJ style next mirror.

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I actually snagged a vegan chocolate chip muffin from Earthfare before we headed to the book store.

I don’t know if you do this, but when I find something I like, I look for it relentlessly, no matter the odds. I say odds, because for awhile I thought Earthfare had canned these delicious little muffins. One day I was seeing them there all the time, the next…no mas. *sad face* Seriously, I’ve spent the last few months making sure to swing by the muffin case on my grocery trips to look for this little guy and for the last few months, I’ve been disappointed. But today, just as I was giving up on my scrumptious little treat, there it was! Score!

Perhaps I should come up with a recipe to replicate them just in case, eh? ;)

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Hubby and I were pretty tired today, so we did a cheat meal and got a rotisserie chicken for dinner from Earthfare. We also made micro-baked potatoes with butter and dried herbs, plus steamed organic broccoli with a drizzle of real butter.

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I know I said I was tired, but not too tired to bake something sweet for Valentine’s Day.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about cookie cakes lately…I don’t know why.

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But…I knew I just had to make one for V-day…heart-shaped of course.

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I also went for a Not So Sweet concoction because that’s how I roll.

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My frosting technique could use some work, but that’s another story. lol

Heart Shaped Cookie Cake for Two

Ok, so this cookie cake serves more like 4 or 5 people. But, it’s large enough so as not to be confused with a regular cookie and smaller than your normal cookie cake. I made this using a Not So Sweet cookie base, though the chocolate chips and buttercream frosting definitely add a sweet kick here. While the cookie is less sweet than normal, I didn’t want to mess with the buttercream. I’m not sure a Not So Sweet buttercream would go over, though I do have some ideas using sucanat to test the waters.

Be sure to set your butter out long enough in advance for your butter to come to room temperature…at least for the frosting part. You could probably microwave the butter to soften it a bit for the cookie base, but that won’t go over so well with the buttercream. Luckily, if you set the butter out when you start, by the time your cookie cake is baked and cooled, your butter should be close.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9×12 heart-shaped cookie pan with non-stick spray. Line bottom with parchment paper and spray lightly on top of the paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light. Stir in egg and vanilla until well-combined.
  4. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix until just combined (incorporate all dry flour, but be careful to not overmix). It will look like there isn’t enough of the wet mixture, but be patient and carefully combine.
  5. Gently stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Pour cookie dough into the baking pan and carefully press cookie dough into the bottom of the pan. It will be a very thin layer of dough. If you want, wet fingers and smooth dough.
  7. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until edges are lightly brown and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  8. Let cookie cake cool to room temperature and decorate with buttercream frosting, recipe following (see below).

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Cookie cake always makes me think of my friends Justin and Emily. When they got married, they had a traditional wedding cake AND a cookie cake because Justin loves them so much. It was the only time I’ve seen a cookie cake at a wedding…and it was awesome! Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure Justin always gets cookie cakes for his birthdays, too (even the ones on boats).

Buttercream for Cookie Cake Decoration

This recipe makes just enough buttercream to decorate your Heart-Shaped Cookie Cake for Two. You may even have some leftover!

I used a stand mixer to do the work, but you could use a hand held mixer or even do it by hand.

Be sure to use the gel coloring recommended – the drop kind is too liquidy. You can get the gel color at stores selling cake decorating tools. I got mine from Michael’s.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 – 2 teaspoon milk
  • gel coloring of desired color

Directions:

  1. Starting on a low speed (so the sugar doesn’t go flying everywhere), whip sugar and butter together until just combined. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add milk, as needed, but in small increments, just until mixture comes together to desired texture.
  2. Use a toothpick to add a bit of gel color to frosting and mix in until evenly distributed. Repeat until frosting reaches desired color.
  3. Put frosting into a decorating bag with tip or decorating-gun-tool and decorate cookie cake as desired.

Do you prefer cake or cookie cake?

Christmas Tree Shopping 2010

The holiday cheer is definitely in the air at the Chic house! With the holiday both speeding up and slowing down things, I had to ensure there was time for a TREE!

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Hubby and I headed out last night to pick out our Christmas tree. My family always purchased real Christmas trees growing up, but in recent years, my dad has decided that they’re too much of a fire hazard. So, they now do faux Christmas trees. I am still a big proponent of real Christmas trees because it seems more traditional, brings back fond memories, and makes the house smell lovely.

(Though I will admit, those pre-lit trees seem pretty darn convenient)

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We visited the Darrell Simpson Family lot, where they always have lots of beautiful trees.

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I also enjoy how festive their set up is.

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Trees galore!

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I’m glad hubby and I bundled up because it was freezing outside! I only wish I had worn gloves and a hat!

I didn’t feel bad for myself so much as the poor guys working there who had to be out there all day! I wanted to give them all blankets and hot cocoa…poor guys!

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Red, white, and green!

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On the hunt.

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I can haz dis one?

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Unfortunately, a giant Christmas tree is out of our price range and wouldn’t fit in our house anyways. Not to mention I’d have to double my collection of lights, tinsel garland, and ornaments for a tree that size. Hubby and I picked out a nice six-footer.

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We brought the tree home just as the sun was setting.

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I was super excited about getting at least some of the basic decorations up. I quickly put on an iTunes Christmas radio station in the background.

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First, the lights!

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Then, the tree skirt.

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Then, a moment to notice that I was purchasing a tree from a family who has been operating since 1941!!

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Next, a moment to remember I had cookies in the house.

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Yeppirs…tasty oatmeal chocolate chip.

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Upon remembering I had cookies, I did what any normal Christmas-tree-decorating girl would have done. I made homemade hot cocoa (from scratch).

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Oh yes! Hot cocoa and cookies…not for you Santa…not yet. ;)

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After a cookie, hot cocoa, and some tinsel garland, I decided to call it a night. Hubby and I will finish the rest of the decorations soon. Woohoo! Can’t wait to pull out my favorite ornaments! :)

Reader question: If you celebrate Christmas, do you prefer real trees or fake trees?

Homemade-Better Oats + Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

Two work days down…only one to go before I get to enjoy some vacation time! Yay!

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Breakfast this morning was extra yummy thanks to two homemade ingredients.

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homemade almond butter

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and homemade granola.

I know it seems like a lot for so many homemade things to be in my eats, and two years ago I would have scoffed at myself like…really…WHO makes their own almond butter. But, I do. And it’s easy. You could do it too…promise.

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The almond butter and granola made the oats over the top.

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By the way, the chic-turquoise spoon really helped breakfast taste better, too. hehe

In today’s bowl of oatmeal:

  • extra-thick oats
  • milk
  • water
  • chia seeds
  • cocoa powder
  • banana
  • chocolate chips
  • coconut flakes
  • homemade granola
  • homemade almond butter

Nom!

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In other news, Bailey has figured out a new trick.

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He has mastered the art of finding the coziest, plushest, and most comfortable spot on any resting area. Note his body stretched across two pillows and one blanket. Nice, dog…nice.

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Hubby picked up Which Wich for lunch for us, but I added some cooked veg to complete our meal – steamed cabbage and baby carrots.

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Pickles.

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Plus a WW chicken sandwich, BBQ sandwich, lettuce, pepperoncini.

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The boys are liking the new couch.

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Oh and I have a new dough ball flavor for you!

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

Inspired by Annie the Baker

*Be sure to check out the original – chocolate chip dough balls – click for recipe*

*Update – I’ve made a new variation – Butterscotch Oatmeal Dough Balls! Click for the recipe*

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 stick butter, softened/room-temp
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg (or flaxseed-egg)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup toffee chips (I used Heath)
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix sugars and butter till creamy. (I used a handheld mixer, but you could probably just use a whisk). Add egg and vanilla and mix till combined.
  4. Mix wet into the dry. Note: it will appear there is not enough liquid for the amount of dry ingredients, but continue mixing. It will form into a dough, it will just be a firm dough. See tips above for combining. Careful to not overmix.
  5. Gently fold toffee and chocolate chips into the dough, without overmixing.
  6. Refrigerate dough for at least 20 minutes before using a small sorbet scoop to scoop out dough into small mounds. Roll each mound into a ball and spread evenly on a baking sheet, leaving roughly 2-3 inches between each ball.
  7. Bake balls for 10-14 minutes, depending on how set you want your centers. If you use egg, and you’re paranoid like me, you can use a meat thermometer to ensure the centers of the balls are at least 160 degrees F, which many web sites say is the safe temp to eat eggs.
  8. Let your dough balls rest on the baking sheet to cool at least 5-10 minutes.
  9. Enjoy!

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Oh yes! Another tasty dough ball flavor comin atcha! Booyah!

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I brought a couple dough balls to Zumba tonight. Gina and Jane thoroughly enjoyed them. :)

Btw, zumba class was awesome! I’m now on 3 days in a row! I’m not teaching this week, but I do still go to classes of other instructors. I helped lead Aaja Soniye and Alright. Alright is one of my new faves. It’s a hot Pitbull track and I highly recommend downloading it because it’s F-U-N!!! I just wish I could show you our dance to the song.

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On my way home from class, I swung by Pasta & Provisions to get some fresh spaghetti.

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Oh and some of their famous rosemary foccacia.

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Hubby and I did a simple spaghetti dinner tonight.

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Is anything better than fresh pasta?

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Maybe dough balls? ;)

One more work day and it’s turkey time! I’m also looking forward to spending some time with family and hopefully picking up some of my unfinished crochet and knitting projects. I’m oh-so-good at starting them and not-so-good at finishing them. lol

Are you traveling for Thanksgiving? Where are you going or how far away from home?

Chocolate Chip Dough Balls Success

Oh yes…chocolate chip dough balls…finally!

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7 batches later, I finally have a chocolate chip cookie dough ball recipe to share with you guys!

But maybe you’re wondering what the heck dough balls are anyways. Well…

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…back at the Foodbuzz Festival a couple weeks ago (wow, has it already been that long?), the buzz of the tasting pavilion was Annie the Baker’s dough balls. I had two. They were amazing. I knew as soon as I tasted them that I just had to try to re-create them at home.

On Monday, I was too jet-lagged to be creative, but on Tuesday, I attempted my first batch. Little did I know that on the other side of the country at (possibly) the same time, Mama Pea was working diligently on a vegan version of dough balls in a peanut butter flavor. Her balls came out beautiful and perfect.

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Mine started out ok, but…

…they baked up completely flat. (real photos from batch #1…oy vay! I was too embarrassed to publish them last Tuesday)

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I mean they were flatter than normal cookies, even. It was a total fail. *tear*

But, you guys know me…I like a good challenge. And, I would NOT let these dough balls get the best of me.

I researched what caused flat cookies and tried to do the opposite. My main takeaways were:

  • I needed to put the dough in the refrigerator before baking it
  • I needed to reduce the amount of baking soda I used
  • I needed reduce the amount of liquids in the recipe

So, I modified my recipe and tried…and tried…and tried again.

As I mentioned earlier, my second batch more resembled dog treats than human treats.

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I tweaked the draft recipe and while my third and fourth were pretty good, but didn’t have the right texture (though they were at least no longer flat).

My fifth made for a delicious regular chocolate chip cookie, but once again, they were flatter than they were supposed to be (though not nearly as flat as the dreaded batch #1).

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By batch #6, things had gotten serious. I knew I was on the verge of success, but wanted to put the dough balls through several tests before finalizing my recipe. I tried various variations of the draft recipe with the same dough, but different baking methods:

  • I tried refrigerating the dough
  • I tried freezing the dough
  • I tried baking the dough balls at 350, 375, and 400 degrees F

I tried various trial versions of the dough balls and made hubby do a taste test.

He thought they all tasted really good.

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Notes on baking times and modifications.

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A strange collection of dough balls baked from frozen, refrigerated, and at 350, 375, and 400 degrees F.

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Which version will taste the best?

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Only a taste test would tell.

I liked the version that was refrigerated and baked at 350 best.

***

So, here we are at lucky batch #7. See below for full recipe, but here are some photos to help.

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The wet just before stirring into the dry.

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It will look like there is entirely too much flour and not enough dry. You may think you’ll never be able to get cookie dough out of this desert of a bowl, but keep working the dough. Trust me. Just press the wet dough back into the dry parts, using the back of the spatula. Try to not overmix, though.

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Add in chocolate chips and Boom!

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You have chocolate chip cookie dough.

Now, you won’t actually want to eat this dough. Since it has raw egg in it (unless you use a flaxseed egg, and trust me, I will be testing that version of the recipe out sooner than later to ensure it works), you can’t safely eat it until it reaches 160 degrees F, according to various web sites.

First you’ll want to chill the dough a bit. You could probably skip the refrigeration step, but your dough balls may be a little more flat and cooked through in the center.

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Use a small scooper to scoop out same-sized balls of dough.

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I think this is either a melon baller or a sorbet scoop. Use the one that is smaller than an ice cream scoop. The one with the little sweeper button will make this process a bit easier for you.

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Roll the into balls.

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You can try skipping the ball rolling step, but since the balls will flatten out a bit during baking, I find it best to try to get them as “tall” as possible so they stay more ball-shaped throughout the cooking.

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Bake and you should have perfect little dough balls.

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You’ll want to look for very light browning on the raised area of the dough balls. For the most part, they may look like raw cookie dough when you remove them, but you don’t want to cook these too long or you’ll just have tall cookies and not dough balls. Likewise, you don’t want to undercook these because of the eggs. I used a meat thermometer to ensure the centers of my dough balls were over 160 degrees F to be safe.

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The bottoms will be lightly browned.

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Note cooked outside edge and tender inside. That’s pretty much what you’re looking for.

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But, you can cook your balls a minute or two longer if you want your center a bit more set, like this.

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Chocolate Chip Dough Balls Success
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ⅛ tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ stick butter, softened/room-temp
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg (or flaxseed-egg)
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions
Newer and Preferred Method (Scoop and Freeze)
  1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix sugars and butter till creamy. (I used a handheld mixer, but you could probably just use a whisk). Add egg and vanilla and mix till combined.
  4. Mix wet into the dry. Note: it will appear there is not enough liquid for the amount of dry ingredients, but continue mixing. It will form into a dough, it will just be a firm dough. See tips above for combining. Careful to not overmix.
  5. Gently fold chocolate chips into the dough, without overmixing.
  6. Use a small sorbet scoop (about 1″ wide) to scoop out dough into small mounds. Note: In this method, I don’t roll the dough into balls, I just scoop straight to the baking sheet. Try to not let dough touch too closely so they don’t freeze together. Freeze for at least 30 minutes, though 1 hour is better if you can wait that long. See Notes below for tips on baking/freezing.
  7. When you’re ready for some sweet and delicious dough balls, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F. Bake balls for 8-10 minutes, depending on how set you want your centers (I find mine are perfect at 9 if the oven is well pre-heated). I usually consider mine done when the tips of the dough are lightly brown. If you use egg, and you’re paranoid like me, you can use a meat thermometer to ensure the centers of the balls are at least 160 degrees F, which many web sites say is the safe temp to eat eggs.
  8. Let your dough balls cool till they’re save to eat and enjoy!
Original Preparation Method (Chill and Scoop)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix sugars and butter till creamy. (I used a handheld mixer, but you could probably just use a whisk). Add egg and vanilla and mix till combined.
  4. Mix wet into the dry. Note: it will appear there is not enough liquid for the amount of dry ingredients, but continue mixing. It will form into a dough, it will just be a firm dough. See tips above for combining. Careful to not overmix.
  5. Gently fold chocolate chips into the dough, without overmixing.
  6. Refrigerate dough for at least 20 minutes before using a small sorbet scoop to scoop out dough into small mounds. Roll each mound into a ball and spread evenly on a baking sheet, leaving roughly 2-3 inches between each ball.
  7. Bake balls for 10-14 minutes, depending on how set you want your centers. If you use egg, and you’re paranoid like me, you can use a meat thermometer to ensure the centers of the balls are at least 160 degrees F, which many web sites say is the safe temp to eat eggs.
  8. Let your dough balls rest on the baking sheet to cool at least 5-10 minutes or until they’re safe to eat. Enjoy!
Notes
I almost always make a double batch of these, especially using the “Scoop and Freeze” method. I like to freeze the scooped dough balls on a baking sheet for at least an hour to overnight before moving them to a flat tupperware container. This way, you have dough balls ready to bake whenever you’re ready to eat them!

This is my favorite dough ball flavor, but the sugar cookie version is a close second!

***
I’m hoping to try out some other flavors I’ve been dreaming about (I’m thinking of mixing in oatmeal and almond paste!), but be sure to check out Mama Pea’s scrumptious Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls for another wonderful flavor option and a vegan version.

Btw, if you like my recipe, please consider liking the official The Chic Life Facebook page (click to view), so you can stay in the loop of my latest and greatest creations. I like to announce things early for my FB friends. ;)

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Who wants dough balls and pink salted caramels for Christmas? Because I’m starting to think that’s all I’m going to be making this holiday seaon. lol

Bon Appetit!

What’s the most times you’ve tried making a recipe? Did you ever get it right?

Chocolate Pumpkin Oats + Share TCL!

Quick Updates

We have our first Healthy Thanksgiving Challenge 2010 entry! Click here to check out the challenge and the entry…it’s a goodie!

Oh and in case you missed it, I posted the recipes I promised recently:

In case you need ideas for dinner and stuff.

***

Eats!

As for today, I had a brainstorm this morning for breakfast. I like pumpkin oatmeal. I like chocolate pumpkin bread. So why not make chocolate-pumpkin oatmeal!?

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Oh yea!

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Hot coffee.

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Per the usual, my chocolate oats look decadent, but they really aren’t that sweet.

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I used unsweetened cocoa powder and only added a little maple syrup as my natural sweetener.

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On top: flaxseed meal, walnuts, cacao nibs.

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Hello beautiful!

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I made hubby and me love-bugs…err…love-mugs today full of hot tea. He had Tulsi and I had Yogi Echinacea.

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Yogi tea quote of the day: “You are infinite.

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Which Wich for lunch. I haven’t had this in awhile since I don’t like to order sandwiches out (because I don’t like to buy things out that I can easily make at home), but there’s something about the crispy-edged bread that is so appealing.

I had the Chicken Philly (which was surprisingly light – I think because they used deli meat) with provolone, lettuce, and tomato.

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Someone was sleepy today. That’s what he gets for being so restless the other night! lol

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Hubby was in charge of dinner again. He made grilled chicken with that Bahamian blackened seasoning, micro-baked potatoes (sweet for me, russet for him) and grilled broccolini.

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I enjoyed my sweet potato with a bit of real butter and a dusting of brown sugar.

***

Bloggie Updates – Share The Chic Life

And now for some blog updates. You may have noticed that a couple things have been changing here on The Chic Life. I’m especially excited about some updates related to sharing content. I hope you find my blog useful and a good resource for not only you, but for your family, friends, and co-workers. I’m hoping that the changes I’ve made over the last couple weeks will make my blog more share-friendly so you can better utilize my posts and recipes.

Read a recipe you liked? Why not Facebook-like it to share it with your friends?

Did I blog about some tips that you think your BFF would like, now you can email it, tweet it, or share it a number of other ways with the click of a button. Just look for the icon representing the share-method you want to utilize.

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And, of course, I always, ALWAYS love reading your comments. They offer me support and encouragement to keep doing what I do here on The Chic Life. Not to mention you guys have some pretty fantastic advice and ideas, so please keep ‘em coming! :)

Also, do I have any readers who work in offices? I’m going to be starting a new set of posts geared towards the working woman (or man). First post goes up tomorrow! Woohoo!

So, who will be the first to Facebook-like something here on The Chic Life? ;)

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