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?

Holiday Speed + Simple Brussels Sprouts

It’s that time of year again!

The time when things both speed up and slow down. The holidays are in full effect!

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I professed my love of staying up late (or inability to go to bed early) to my Facebook friends a few days ago. My new focus for December is to attempt to get things done at a more reasonable hour so I have more me-time and can go to bed sooner.

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Besides more sleep and more time to read, I’d also like to work on picking up some forgotten craft projects, like this crocheted ripple blanket I started roughly 2 years ago (whoa…has it really been that long?!).

I managed to work on it some Tuesday night, though I had to review my crochet books to ensure I was doing the stitches properly. It’s really been too long since I’ve crocheted!

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I’m also taking some time to pull out some holiday-related decoration and craft books to generate some ideas…should I have enough free time to work on some other projects.

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The holidays also mean baking for me. I know I’ve been baking up a storm with the dough balls and all, but I’d also like to work on developing some good old fashioned cookies.

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I am close to a great regular chocolate chip (something thicker than this thin and chewy one), but I also want to figure out a good oatmeal chocolate chip.

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These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies from yesterday were pretty good.

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I actually had made a batch the night before that came out waaay too cakey for my liking.

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These were much closer to what I’m looking for, but are not quite right yet.

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A few more batches and we should be there. Hopefully, I don’t have to do 7 batches again, though.

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And for a random note, I’m really excited to check out this ball whisk by WMF – a freebie I got in my Foodbuzz swag bag.

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On to lunch. The bag of brussels sprouts hubby picked up was bigger than I thought. I’ve now gotten 3 meals out of it – 2 shared with hubby and the last one solo.

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For the second meal, I just did a quick saute on shredded brussels sprouts. We had this with Annie’s mac and cheese. It was a pretty light lunch, but very tasty.

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Simple Sauteed Shredded Brussels Sprouts

Serves 2

I’ve seen shredded brussels sprouts in a few places, including in a Martha Stewart cous cous salad and (I believe) once in a reader comment. I was considering making roasted brussels sprouts on this day, but I didn’t want to wait very long to eat. Sauteed brussels sprouts are just as tasty as roasted brussels sprouts, but much faster. :)

Skip the butter or sub Earth Balance to make this vegan

Ingredients:

  • 10 brussels sprouts, cleaned, outer leaves removed, shredded
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 tsp butter
  • salt, pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat EVOO in a medium saute pan over medium heat.
  2. Add garlic and shredded brussels sprouts and saute till leaves are tender, about 2-3 minutes. Stir frequently so leaves don’t burn.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. When brussels sprouts are cooked through, add butter to pan, stir as it melts to coat brussels sprouts.
  5. Enjoy!

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Next up…Christmas tree shopping! :)

Thanksgiving Eve + Lemon Rosemary Thumbprint Cookies With Strawberry Preserves

For my US friends, it’s almost Thanksgiving time!

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I have a fun new cookie recipe to share with you guys, but first…today’s eats.

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I haven’t done a coffee photo in awhile, so here’s my cuppa joe from today. It’s a locally roasted coffee that hubby and I got from the farmer’s market.

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Lunch was simply leftover spaghetti and foccacia from last night. I love how spaghetti is pretty tasty the day-after.

Re-heating fresh pasta tip: just drop the pasta into boiling water for 30-60 seconds till it’s warm again. It’s sooooo much better this way than using the microwave.

***

I ended up taking a half day today. I was ready for my holiday to start. I’ll probably wish I had my half day still when it comes time for Christmas, but I was happy to take off from work around 1pm today and get into a more festive mood with some baking.

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I had a really special project in the works – an original creation utilizing rosemary and lemon.

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The rosemary is actually from my herb garden. Woohoo!

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I decided to try a new flavor profile for thumbprint cookies. I started by rolling my chilled cookie dough into about 1-inch balls.

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Then I pressed an indentation into the top of each ball…thus the name. ;)

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The last step before baking is to fill the cookies with strawberry preserves.

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I like the Bonne Maman brand, though I typically wait till it’s on sale to buy it.

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While my cookies baked, I got ready for the day and snapped a couple Bailey shots.

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I just love his little pawsl

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Post-baking. These guys made my kitchen smell so divine!

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Much like the dough balls, they won’t really brown much on top. You can tell they’re done with they start to brown just so around the bottom edge of the cookie.

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I’m not typically very good at coming up with baking ideas (working on it, though), so I’m especially proud of this little concoction. I don’t even know where I got the flavor idea from…guess that’s what happens when you constantly brainstorm recipe ideas. :) lol

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The cookies were so darn good I ended up eating 4 of them after they came out of the oven (with a little time for cooling of course)!

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I think the recipe may possibly be better for a spring recipe…

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…but who cares, right? To me, these cookies are good any time.

Lemon Rosemary Thumbprint Cookies with Strawberry Preserves

Makes 20 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3/4 stick butter, softened/room-temp
  • 1 egg (or flaxseed-egg)
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary chopped fine (this amount is for a subtle flavor, use more rosemary for a stronger flavor)
  • 1 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 lemon zested
  • strawberry preserves (suggested brand is Bonne Maman)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix sugar and butter till creamy. (I used a handheld mixer, but you could probably just use a whisk). Add egg, rosemary, lemon zest, and lemon juice and mix till combined.
  4. Mix wet into the dry. Note: it may 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. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes before forming dough into 1-inch balls. Press your thumb into the top of the dough balls to form an indentation. Fill each indentation with 1/4 tsp of strawberry preserves. Note: Be careful to not cross-contaminate your preserves. Don’t let the spoon you’re using to fill the cookies touch your preserves container. If you’re worried, move a small amount into a bowl separate from the preserves container.
  6. Bake balls for 13-17 minutes, depending on how soft or crunchy you want your cookies, plus to allow for differences in over temperatures. Note: The tops will not really brown, but the bottoms will. You can tell your cookies are done if the bottom edges start to brown.
  7. Let your thumbprint cookies rest on the baking sheet to cool at least 5-10 minutes.
  8. Enjoy!

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Hello beautiful cookies!

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I actually also baked some butterscotch dough balls along with this new flavor to take to a Thanksgiving Eve party.

(not sure what’s going on with my mouth but the rest of my photos from tonight look weird, too, so this will have to do. haha)

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There was an insane amount of food at the party!

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I normally try to get a bit of everything, but there was just too much! I ended up with some pasta salad, ham, a tamale (love!), cheesy baked potatoes, lasagna, and a roll.

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I was actually so full from the savory eats that I didn’t dig too far into the dessert table. I had a Caribbean coconut cookie and some thin Moravian-like cookies.

Wishing everyone safe travels and fun times with your friends and family!

Happy Thanksgiving Eve friends!

And congrats to Kate and Nate on the birth of their adorable son! :)

What food item are you MOST looking forward to on the Thanksgiving table?

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?

Thin & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe + Zookies

I wish I could have spent all day today baking and cooking like I did yesterday. The bad news was that I had to work today. The good news was that I have a short work week thanks to Thanksgiving! Hooray!

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For breakfast, I made a pared down version of my quinoa breakfast bowl by just dressing some quinoa with olive oil, salt, pepper, and cumin. I fried a local egg up and topped the quinoa with it. You guys have to try fried eggs with quinoa (that is, if you eat eggs, of course). The flavors go really nicely together.

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I really wanted to eat some of my chai-granola, which I made yesterday…

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….but it will have to wait.

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I can’t wait to dig into this stuff. Hubby has already picked up yogurt so I can enjoy my granola later this week. Squeeee! :)

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Did you celebrate Starbucks Monday? I got a gingerbread latte. Nice and spicy!

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And lookie what I have…

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Zookies! That’s right. My friend Erica went to Roanoke this past weekend and picked up some more Zookies for me from the Healthy Cake Man that we visited last time. What a doll! She knows I loved these things!

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I got to thank Erica when I went to Zumba tonight!! There’s nothing better than kicking off the work week with a fun and energizing workout.

But, since she’s reading, I’ll say it again…thank you Erica!! :)

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(Here’s the photo I sent Erica via email this morning along with something about Zookies being part of a complete breakfast. What? They’re made with zucchini!! ;) )

And in case you’re wondering, yes…I ate all the Zookies. I had some with breakfast, some for a snack and some for a pre-workout snack. I may have a wee piece in my purse, but that will probably not last long tomorrow. Mmm.

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Post workout, hubby and I split 2 pieces of pizza – cheese and veggie, so we basically each got one slice.

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I steamed up some organic cabbage and baby carrots till crisp tender to get my veggie fix. I just drizzled them with a wee bit of real, melted butter, and sprinkled them with salt and pepper.

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And even though I took my butterscotch dough balls (have you tried this flavor yet?? omg…they’re so good!) to work today, there were two left by the end of the day – just enough for hubby and I to each have one.

So far, so good. Only 2 more days in my work week and than it’s holiday time!

***

Since I’ve had three people ask for my chocolate chip dough ball fail recipe, I decided to just go ahead and post it. :) In truth…though they were not what I was going for, they were really, really tasty. Thin, chewy, sweet. They were awesome cookies.

Thin + Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter, softened, but not melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet morsels

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat butter and sugar till light and creamy. Mix in egg and vanilla.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, salt, baking soda.
  4. Mix wet mixture into dry mixture, careful to not overmix.
  5. Gently stir in semi-sweet morsels, without overmixing.
  6. Use a sorbet (or smaller than normal ice cream scoop) to evenly measure mounds of cookie dough on a sheet of parchment, spaced about 3-4 inches apart measuring from the edge of the mound, not the center (they spread a lot).
  7. Bake cookies for 10-14 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want them.

***

PS I’m hoping to post those Alcatraz photos tomorrow! I’ve worked really hard on them, so I can’t wait to share! :)

***

Have you started your Thanksgiving prep yet? If yes, what are you doing?

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