Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

A few days ago (maybe even 2 weeks?? really? that long?) I posted a picture of these yummy chocolate chip peanut butter cookies on my Facebook wall and said I would post the recipe on my blog soon (sorry). I also mentioned how I was salivating as I baked them and tasted the cookie dough (who, me?). I have to face facts: I am spineless when it comes to homebaked cookies and cookie dough. I love them! Everything about them: the decision of which cookie to make, the wonder at how flour and sugar and eggs and etcetera combine to make the most delightful little cookies, the taste-testing of the dough, the smell, and the final result! Who invented this idea? I don't know that I could look at flour and eggs and etcetera and say to myself, "Self, I just bet if I combined all these ingredients and dropped them by little spoonfuls on a cookie sheet and baked them, they would taste great!" But I am oh so glad that somebody or somebodies gave it a whirl!!

The recipe I found comes from the most delicious website I have run across lately: Bakerella. Her website just makes me want to bake everything she posts! Wait till you see her Valentine cookies, oh my oh my! Here's a link: http://www.bakerella.com/ .  Take some time to peruse her site; you will be so glad you did!

Just FYI: I did not roll them in the pecans since I knew my grandson would be eating these, and he doesn't like nuts right now (he's 4, I'm sure he'll love them eventually!), but I can see where adding the pecans would make these 'serve at any event' cookies, for sure. Also, I tend to make my cookies a little smaller just because I like them bite-size; it's a visual thing for me -- I'd rather eat 4 cookies than 2. Also, other than no pecans, my cookies looked exactly like Bakerella's (always a good thing!)!

Here is her recipe for the cookies I made:

Dark Chocolate Chip Comfort Cookies from http://www.bakerella.com/

1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teasoon salt
1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
10 oz. dark chocolate chips
chopped pecans, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix flour, cocoa, soda, and salt using a wire whisk and set aside. In another bowl, cream butter, sugar, and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture and mix until combined. Stir in dark chocolate chips. Roll cookie dough into 1-1/4 inch balls. (If desired, roll balls in chopped pecans.) Place on parchment paper-covered baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Place cookies on cookie rack to cool. Makes about 30, 2-inch cookies.

Send a comment and let me know how you liked them!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Adventures in (Homemade) Body Scrub!

Let it be known that, secretly, I am a girlie girl. On the outside, people see the house-cleaning, yard-working, grocery-shopping mom... on the inside, I yearn for spas, pedicures, manicures, massages... I also love everything herbal: doesn't it just feel right to use things from the earth? So, having recently given up coffee (that story in another blog), I had some coffee left in my freezer that was just crying out to be used somehow. Aha!, says I... body scrub!

I looked online and found several recipes and then, of course, sorta made up my own based on what I'd read. Here's my recipe in the best-guessed amounts:

1 cup (approx) of Starbucks Sumatra Blend Regular Coffee (ha, an expensive scrub!)
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Safflower oil, just enough to get it 'movable' so it will go on the skin
Vanilla, just enough to dilute the coffee smell

Just mix all that in a bowl and take it to the shower!

Well, the fun begins when you get in the shower. I scooped up a pile of the brown gunk, er, I mean, scrub, and slopped it on my leg. The first thing I noticed was that, oh boy, I was going to have to scrub the shower when I got done because this stuff was going everywhere! No matter how carefully I applied it to my body, coffee grounds appeared on the shower wall, etc. I finished scrubbing my entire body with this stuff, and it actually felt pretty good. I looked like a bad mud wrestler, but my skin felt pretty good!

Then the rinsing began. Well, let me tell you... there were coffee grounds in places on my body that Juan Valdez can only dream of! Good grief, who knew coffee grounds could move like that? I know I didn't intentionally put the scrub in some of those places, but nonetheless, I rinsed and rinsed, and rinsed again. And then rinsed. And then had to rinse down the walls of the shower and all those nooks and crannies behind shampoo bottles, etc. But I repeat, my skin felt GREAT! Really! And I didn't smell like I had fallen in the used grounds bin at Starbucks.

Would I do this again? Probably not. Well, maybe. But I would definitely explore other homemade scrubs, perhaps sticking with salt and baking soda, which are white and won't show as badly if I do a poor job of shower cleaning afterwards. But I would encourage you to try one. You feel like you're doing something spa-like that isn't costing an arm and a leg (you don't have to use Starbucks, haha), and your skin really does feel nice. Here are a few tips based on my experience:

* Don't do this if you're in a hurry, like before work. You must, absolutely MUST, clean your shower afterwards. Besides the obvious brown coffee grounds everywhere, the floor of your shower becomes very slippery, so please don't create a hazard for yourself or anyone else who steps in the shower after you're done. I was able to get the visible grounds cleaned up, but I suspect they will be like Easter grass or Christmas tree needles: they will show up over the next few weeks in spite of what I thought was a thorough cleanup.

* Don't do this on the same day you shave. The scrub is invigorating and would probably be a bit too much if you've shaved the same day.

* I still applied my regular moisturizer afterwards; it just gave me that little extra I needed because I have very dry skin. My skin still felt great when I went to bed in the evening tho!

* Look online for recipes. There are lots out there, including some with essential oils like lavender, etc., which would smell great.

On the whole, this was fun, beneficial, and a great way to use up the last of the coffee I had. I will most definitely try this again with different recipes. If you decide to try one, please post and let us know what you used. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

First Blog

Okay, I say to myself, time to get serious about that blog. Where to start? How about a first posting introduction or really, what is it I have to say? What do I want to do with this blog? The answer is simple and complicated. I want to do everything! I want this blog to have the feel of sitting down with a good friend, sharing a cuppa 'whatever' (I prefer tea), and having one of those lazy afternoon conversations that starts with 'hello' and winds its way through a wonderful journey of laughter, maybe some tears, but always comfort and companionship along the way. I want to share things: crafts, recipes, gardening ideas, books, movies, stories of family, introspection and self-knowledge, and even those frustrations we all have! And I want readers to share their stories with me, too, so as we make the connection, we do become those friends of comfort that we all need. I hope you will come along with me on this journey of sharing and introspection. See you next time! (For the story of the title of my blog and my nickname of YaYa, see my profile.)