Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is my go-to chocolate chip cookie, my ultimate comfort food - yet another recipe that my mom has been making for years. I think she found it in a local newspaper...I like to credit sources when I can, but a quick online search for "chocolate chip cookie recipe" quickly showed me that there was no way I was going to be able to find this exact recipe.

But anyway, I highly recommend you try these. I brought the first couple dozen to family game night last Friday and they disappeared! The funny thing is I tried the Cook's Illustrated Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe last year since everyone was raving about it, and I didn't think they was worth the hype because to me, they were just bigger versions of my mom's. (And these involve fewer steps!)

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 eggs
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
12 oz package chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix sugars, butter, vanilla and eggs thoroughly; stir together flour, soda and salt into sugar mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoons (or smaller) about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 10 to 12 minutes.

Note: I just made these with rounded tablespoonfuls of dough and it came out to around 5 dozen cookies. Also, I'd recommend taking these out of the oven when they look not quite done and letting them rest on the cookie sheet for another minute or so - that seems to yield the best texture.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Pink Weekend

We had a couple of new arrivals this weekend - one much more important than the other! I'll start with the less important...

With the amount of baking I've done in the past year or so, I'd been considering getting the KitchenAid stand mixer I've heard so much about. But with the cost and our already limited kitchen space, I'd held off on buying one, despite how much I thought I might enjoy having it. Last week I happened to receive a 30% off Kohl's coupon, and I had $10 Kohl's cash to use up, so I stopped there after work on Friday, still not expecting that I would actually take the plunge and buy one. But I discovered that the pink Artisan mixer was on sale for $250 (original price $360), and with my discounts, I could get it (before tax) for $168! I doubted everything would align like that again soon, so I went for it and am now the very happy owner of a stand mixer.

It seems like everything is pink these days, but I appreciate that I can support a cause that is near and dear to me with a simple purchase. Plus, now that I live with a boy, the kitchen is the only place I can have pink decor, since I spend the most time in there. Heh. We decided to keep the mixer on the counter - it's not too intrusive in the corner, and it's pretty. I'll definitely be more likely to use it if I don't have to lug all 27 pounds of it out of storage to do so.

I used the mixer on Saturday to make Shaun's birthday cake. It was so nice and easy, and it worked so quickly! Still, the day seemed to slip by without us getting to do much, although Shaun did head out to the batting cages with Rich while I was baking. But how could I compete with last year's birthday, when we were on our honeymoon, at Disney World?! Anyway, in the evening, we went to mass and dinner with Shaun's parents then had them over to our place for cake. After they left, Shaun opened his presents from me and we played ping pong and watched a movie.

The most exciting part of the day though was when I got a call from my mom telling me that my cousin Emily's daughter was born! We were pretty sure last week that she was going to have her on Shaun's birthday, because she was to be induced on Saturday if the baby hadn't been born by then. So, Brynn Rose was born on June 13th at 2:01pm, weighing 8lb 7oz and 21.5 inches long.

Fun side story - my family apparently likes to share birthdays. Emily was born on her brother Bob's 3rd birthday. I was born on their mother's (my aunt Mary's) 30th birthday. And now Brynn was born on Shaun's 26th birthday. We girls are just birthday thunder-stealers!

I keep saying this everywhere I go, so I apologize if I sound like a broken record, but I am so excited to go to Minnesota next month to see my family, and especially to meet my new second cousin! Fortunately I think the time will go quickly until then because we have at least one party or gathering per week in the coming month - always something to look forward to!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Weekend Wrap-up

So after I posted on Saturday we went out for a walk at a nearby park...after a cold, rainy Friday, Saturday and Sunday's weather was absolutely perfect - sunny and mid-upper 70s both days. After that we came back and got ready to go out to dinner and a movie. We way overestimated the time we would need for dinner, so we had a lot of time to kill before the movie we had tickets for, but it worked out because I had leftovers to refrigerate anyway. We stopped at home to take care of that and to take a few self-portraits outside.

I felt a little weird dressing up since I rarely have a reason to, but I hadn't worn that dress since our rehearsal dinner and I wanted to get some more use out of it! Shaun's wearing one of the shirts I got him - exciting gift, eh? He got me an iPod dock so I can listen to music in the kitchen, but it was back ordered so he brought me some flowers in the meantime.

Anyway, we left again to go see The Hangover. I must say that if you're into that sort of movie (typical raunchy R-rated comedy), definitely go see was hilarious. I was even grumpy before the movie started because of some jerk in the theater - I didn't even crack a smile during the BrĂ¼no preview - but The Hangover had me in tears from laughter.

After the movie, we came back and had some cake. Pink champagne was the most unique flavor we had as a wedding cake layer and I wanted to try to recreate it (even though it couldn't be as good as Rascia's!). My mom pointed me toward this simple recipe that just calls for subbing pink champagne for the water in a box mix. (Instead of the champagne frosting described there, I tried this buttercream recipe, halved - it tasted kinda storebought which isn't my thing, but it wasn't bad, and it was easy to work with.) And the end result, complete with my amateurish decorating...

Again, not worthy of our real wedding cake, but it was fun, and it didn't taste too bad either.

Funny side story about the liquor store where I bought the champagne - since we're not drinkers, this pink champagne was my first ever alcohol purchase. The sign outside the store said they carded, but I didn't get carded! Granted, I know I don't look 20 anymore, but I thought they were supposed to card if you look under 40 or something. I was a little disappointed! ;-)

But anyway, we had a great anniversary day, and Shaun just kept on giving Sunday by doing laundry, washing dishes, cleaning up the mess of boxes in our basement, and vacuuming the house. I'm a lucky gal!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Happy anniversary to us!

I can't believe it's our first anniversary! I remember our wedding day and honeymoon so vividly that it seems like we just got married. On the other hand, however, it also seems like we've always been married because that's just how it's supposed to be. Of course, that could have something to do with the fact that we started dating 7.5 years ago! I don't miss the stress of long-distance wedding planning (or the spending money part of it), but I sort of wish I could relive the day...or at least have a big party with our friends and family and have an excuse to wear my dress again! And go to Disney World afterward. Instead of doing any kind of wedding recap, I'll just point anyone interested to some pictures here - the captions pretty much tell the story of the day:

We had thought about going away for a long weekend but decided to save our vacation days for other things. It's shaping up to be a fun weekend though - Dave Matthews Band happens to be in Hartford this weekend and we discovered last week that there were still Friday tickets available, so we decided to go. Last night was my 6th show and Shaun's 10th or 11th (I guess at that point they begin to run together!), and we had a good time - probably not our favorite show, but it was good to get back to a concert again.

We got back pretty late last night, so we slept in and have been having a nice lazy day so far. Tonight we're going out to eat and seeing a movie, which may not sound very exciting, but we're looking forward to it since we try not to go out too often. I'm going to take off for now but I'll be back later with pictures of a (hopefully tasty) pink champagne cake that I made to replicate one of our wedding cake layers, since we opted to eat our top tier at our 1 month anniversary instead. Hope you're having a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Okay, so I lied...

...I'm not done talking about TV. (Really, will I ever be?) How could I, when one of my favorite TV personalities ever, Conan O'Brien, returned to the air last night after 3 long months? It was so great to see him back, and I couldn't help but grin as his name came on in the new Tonight Show credits, complete with a jazzed-up version of his old Late Night theme song. I obviously have a soft spot for Conan, especially after our trip to a taping of his show last year, so I really hope people will give him a chance and he'll succeed in his new time slot. I just appreciate his natural humor, goofiness, and the fact that he will do whatever crazy thing it takes to make people laugh. Just as a taste, here is my favorite part of last night's show - the opening:

Speaking of funny videos, I also watched VH1's "Best Week Ever" last week when I heard that Kris and Adam from AI would be making an appearance. Shaun thinks I'm ridiculous for all the Idol stuff I've been hunting down, but that's's fun. And I think it's slowly dying down. Anyway, Kris is hilarious at the beginning and end of this clip (though I wish Adam's face weren't blocked at the beginning):

"Yeah capes!" LOL. And Adam answers all our burning questions in this one:

Lastly, I would like to ask anyone interested to settle something for my lovely husband and me. I think that this last video is funny...yes, it's odd, frightening, and totally fake, but when it hits about the halfway point, I can't help but start to giggle. Shaun, on the other hand, thinks it's stupid.

What say you, dear reader? And do you like the video-heavy posts or do they get annoying? I like sharing fun stuff I've encountered but if links are better than embedding I'll do that...I aim to please. For now, off for more Conan!