Wednesday, December 29, 2010

post Christmas baking - The best Chocolate Chip Cookies

With all the cookies gone it is time to make some more. The family has requested chocolate chip and I found the best recipe at America's Test Kitchen. I always use milk chocolate chips as I'm not a fan of semi-sweet. With or without nuts these are hands down the BEST.

America's Test Kitchen Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 16 cookies

Avoid using a nonstick skillet to brown the butter; the dark color of the nonstick coating makes it difficult to gauge when the butter is browned. Use fresh, moist brown sugar instead of hardened brown sugar, which will make the cookies dry. This recipe works with light brown sugar, but the cookies will be less full-flavored. For our winning brand of chocolate chips, see related tasting.

  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
  • 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces) (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (see note)
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)
  • 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
  • 2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
  • 3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
  • 4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)
  • 5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A chance to relax

Today is the first opportunity in weeks to just relax. Since Thanksgiving is has been a constant whirlwind of work, Christmas shopping, wrapping, baking and decorating. As much as I love Christmas, it is exhausting! Fortunately, we do not have any returns - for that I am very thankful!

My daughter is home from college until mid January and it is so nice to have her around. This is a time for catching up with friends and each other. And finishing projects that need to be completed - including her quilt. I have fabric for 3 other quilts that need to be cut and put together. They will be sent out for quilting since I just can't seem to master that part of the project.

The snow came quickly and we have a ton! Today is sunny and the snow is still rather clean so it is a beautiful sight. Plenty of animal tracks. Perfect day to watch a few cooing programs or a good movie and sip some hot chocolate. I have a stew in the oven for dinner - the few leftovers from Christmas are gone. I think I have about a dozen cookies left and that is it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The holidays

Now that I've had my fall/halloween dinner party, it's time to start planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Christmas is a very stressful time for me since I'm in retail. Very little free time available to entertain or even be the recipient of someone elses entertaining. In the past I have hosted a huge Christmas party that has dwindled down to a small gathering on a week night. This year my daughter wants a mother/daughter party so all the girls that are home from college can see each other. I will make time to share in such a fun time with my baby girl. After tasting the Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls, a brunch sounds like a good idea.

There's baking to be done, a quilt to make, shopping for gifts, decorating the house and fitting in some of the fun holiday traditions that have evolved over the years. One that I love is an ornament exchange with the women I met when my kids were young. These are the friends that shared mini gym, play dates and the occasional "Moms' Night Out" to restore sanity. Bib and I went to the same Ob doctor and I had to wait for her to deliver Corby before I could deliver. I still tease her about making me wait. Mo and I met when out boys were a year old and we are still best friends. Raising kids together creates a bond that is deep and strong.

Today I get to share the afternoon with my two neighbor boys who are 7 and 5. They asked if we could bake - Lemon Knot Cookies was the specific request. Love, love, love interacting with them and it appears to be mutual. Better get the butter out to soften...

Friday, September 24, 2010

What I never expected from blogging

The nicest thing that has come from starting a blog is the friendship I have developed with Heidi. It started when we were swap partners and discovered our mutual decorating likes and dislikes, love of everything involving our family and home, passion for quilting and an addiction to antiquing and flea markets. Although we live in different parts of the country, Heidi on the west coast and me in the midwest, we have become fast friends. Heidi, I want to meet you!!! We email about the various flea markets, rating each. When I think about visiting a Brimfield or Round Top, it is Heidi that I want by my side.

Heidi has an Etsy shop called Heidi Devlin Designs that has the greatest pillows. She has been very generous in sending me a few. This is one, somehow I can not get my other pictures to download. Visit her Etsy shop for all the designs.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

From glorious to gloomy

That describes today perfectly since it is rainy and gray. So maybe a little sewing, baking and decorating is in order. I still have a few boxes of fall decorations to unpack and sort. Some I am just plain tired of and some I don't remember having. I can't decide if that is a good thing or a sad commentary on the amount of stuff I have accumulated. My friends and I joke about being hoarders...

30 minutes later and it is sunny and bright, I guess we'll have a beautiful afternoon.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Days like this are wonderful

Today is one of those glorious days full of sunshine and a cloudless sky. Dinner is ready to heat and I have a bit of time to myself. What do you do when you have extra time? Halloween is on my brain and I am planning a get together for my group of friends. It will be an opportunity to try some new recipes, use my orange and black dinnerware, fill the house with pumpkins and decorations and wait for the screams of "how cute is that". Aren't girlfriends the best thing since sliced bread?!!!

At the beginning of summer a vine popped up in my garden. I was ready to pull it out when my husband suggested leaving it. I now have an assortment of gourds that I can't wait to harvest along with the white baby boo pumpkins that were labeled giant white. I attempted to carve names in a few of the white ones and they seem to be coming along just fine. My fear was that they would rot once the skin was cut. I got the idea here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Quilt number 4

I am guilty of doing exactly what I said I would not do. I have neglected my blog. Instead I have been busy reading every blog I can find that even mentions the word quilt. I am currently obsessed with quilting and loving every minute of it. Since I started this incredible project, I have made 4 quilts and have a stash of fabric ready for a few more. Online fabric stores do not help me control my craving for more fabric. And the designers are amazing. For Mothers Day I received a gift certificate for a quilt store. Can't wait to get there!

Between cutting pieces and sewing them together, we spent the weekend at my son's college graduation. Such fun and such a sentimental time. You can't help but reminisce about that first day of school, both kindergarten and the day we dropped him off at his dorm. And the excitement when the college acceptance letters came. The past 4 years flew by.

Heidi at Foxgloves, Fabric and Folly is having a swap- Vintage Summer Swap. I always enjoy her swaps and my partner never fails to send the most enjoyable package. Stop by and join in the fun.

You might also want to view a few of the cutest pictures over at The Pioneer Woman. Yesterdays post shows her youngest with his face painted as a comic book hero - can't remember if it is Wolverine of Spiderman with his enormous eyes smiling at the camera. Too, too cute!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Quilting madness

I have recently started to quilt and it is like an obsession. Daily I browse the numerous quilting blogs I've bookmarked, constantly adding new ones. Today Jaybird Quilts is hosting a giveaway that is wonderful. Visit her blog to see what I am talking about.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

the wonderful world of bloggging

I have already fallen behind on my posts, but my daily visits to favorite blogs remain a priority. The creativity of some bloggers is amazing to me. And it takes so many different forms - creative writers, sewing wizards, crafting superstars! You can always find something to spark your imagination. One of my favorite aspects of various sites is their list of favorite blogs. It can occupy hours of my day if I let it.

My project for March is to share some of the greats blogs I have found. That will be an easy way to get me going and on track to becoming a better blogger.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

This was also in my package

Heidi also sent these wonderful red napkins that I have used on my kitchen table. Couldn't bring myself to storing all the vintage Christmas ornaments so I used a few red, pink and silver ones for a border around this candle. Last night I was thinking about the name of this blog and realized some might think everything in my home is white. So not true and I will post a few photos to show that I love color. Maybe my subtitle should be "white on the outside, colored on the inside". A few pictures of my interior might show up on another post. Today I'm too busy to decide what I want photographed.

There are times when I have to leave the house in order to keep myself from sitting in front of the computer for hours or all day! There are soooo many interesting bloggers out there with lists of the interesting blogs they follow. It's endless and I love it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

My Valentine Swap

Today I received the best swap package thanks to the world's best swap partner, Heidi.
This is one of the fabulous items I found in my package. We share the same decorating style so it fit right in with my decor. And that is my daughter's senior picture which is another of my favorite things. Heidi made my pillow and she sells them on Etsy. You can visit her shop to view all the designs. The presentation Heidi employs is as charming as the pillows. If you visit Heidi, please tell her I sent you. Tomorrow I will show you what else was in my gift box...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I laughed and laughed

I came across a great blog last night and laughed out loud. April is a very talented writer and dancer... just watch some of her YouTube videos to see what I mean. Dancing must be the universal way of amusing your kids. I just can't quite bring myself to post a video of myself for the amusement of those outside my family. April's lack of inhibition makes her soooo likable. I want her to live next door!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cinnamon rolls - just too yummy

Today I spent the better portion of the morning making these delicious little devils. The recipe comes from Joy the Baker.
The dough has cream cheese sandwiched between folded layers and rolled out to create an incredible treat.

This is all that remains of the Chocolate Shortbread Cookies I mentioned in a previous post. They are just so very good. And easy. I did not eat the entire batch - I gave some to my book group. And they raved about them.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I love to bake. For me it is a way to relax and do something that I can share with others. This is my favorite cookbook author. Maida Heatter's recipes have never failed me. They are delicious! Her chocolate shortbread cookies - absolutely yummy. Her chocolate frosting is to die for. Her books are my first "go to" sources for any dessert. Most recipes have an introduction telling where it is from or a tip about baking. Just mixed up the dough for the above mentioned cookies and will cut them into scalloped hearts for Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

same view, new year

As I look out the window I realize when you live in the midwest the scene is the same every January. Outside is blanketed with snow. These pictures look like the one I posted last winter - trust me, they were taken minutes ago.

I do not want to leave the house. But I must if I want my bills paid and food for dinner. All I want to do is tackle this pile of felted sweaters and stitch away at my mittens. Which one is going to catch my eye this time? My latest idea is to make a blanket out of the large scraps left over. Charlie, our favorite Labradoodle/Great Dane/Horse, just had surgery so he needs a little something to keep warm and cozy.

If you are interested in a great Valentine swap, go to Foxgloves, Fabric and Folly. Heidi does a great job of organizing her swaps.

Monday, January 11, 2010

It's cold and white and quiet

It is cold and everything is covered in snow. The house is so quiet since everyone is back at school. My oldest returned to college yesterday - the last one to leave. A very good day to pack away all the holiday decorations and clean the house.

I have been searching for some new ideas for Valentine crafts. My favorite swap host, Heidi at Foxgloves, Fabric and Folly, is posting her swap information very soon. Unlike past practices, I am committing to only one swap.

On a sour note, in late SeptemberI ordered stickers from Ashley at Sticker Doodles, an Etsy seller, and never received them. Paid thru Paypal, but waited over 45 days to contact them about the problem. I had complete faith that I would get my stickers, after all, the seller did get the payment. I emailed the seller who promised to mail the stickers on Nov. 5. Still have not received them and the seller does not answer my emails. Don't you hate that kind of dishonesty? If anyone knows Ashley or has some contact with Sticker Doodles, please let her know of my plight.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

easing into a new routine

This is not going to be a daily thing, I have to ease into a blogging routine. It takes time to produce an interesting entry...for me it takes lots of time.

For the past few months I have been making mittens from recycled wool sweaters. I felt the sweaters by washing in very hot water and drying in a very hot dryer. If you are interested in felting, a tip that has made a big difference is to put the sweaters in a lingerie bag so that the wool is contained and not stretched by the agitation of your washing machine. Each sleeve makes a perfect mitten. Cut a hole for your thumb, cut and sew a piece of wool to cover your thumb, and attach to the body of your mitten. Decorate as you please. I do all the sewing by hand as I find it very relaxing. Cute, economical, green and warm! Each of my nieces and my close girlfriends received a pair for Christmas. Half the fun is matching the sweater to the recipient, deciding who gets which pair. I found a few cashmere sweaters and they make the softest, most luxurious mittens ever!

Monday, January 4, 2010

A new year, a fresh start

My last entry was in August and I feel like a blogging failure for being so lazy. For 2010 my commitment will be to make my blog the kind that I enjoy reading, filled with links to interesting sites and info. My plan is to use the 3 blogs that I visit daily as inspiration in hopes that someone out there will find White Painted House required reading. That is a huge undertaking for me...