Monday, March 11, 2013

A Few More Favorite Things

Happy Monday and Happy Spring Break!
Today is the first day of my son's spring break, and we've been having a good time. We started off by sleeping in a bit, pancakes for breakfast, Star Wars Angry Birds on the iPad, coloring on a huge piece of butcher paper, backyard fun, lunch, chocolate chip cookies, bath-time, and now nap-time! Whew! I thought I'd use this little break and write about a few of my favorite things.
As I mentioned in my last post, chocolate and butter make the top of my list, so it seems only right that I share with you my very favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and a few of the supplies I love to use when baking cookies.
1. I LOVE having large cookie sheets to bake on. I have 4 of these baking sheets and I bought them at Sam's Club. They are perfect for cookies and can also be used for sheet cakes because they have a 1 inch lip all the way around.

2. Parchment Paper is a must-have in my kitchen! Have you tried it? There are a couple of different brands available here and I like them equally. Parchment paper helps cookies to brown evenly, but what I love most about it is that it keeps me from having to clean my cookie sheets!

3. Cookie scoops are my BFF. I use both of the scoops shown in the picture below on a frequent basis. The larger is perfect for big, fat chocolate chip cookies. The smaller is just right for, well, smaller cookies. Rocket science, right? Anyway, these scoops are from Pampered Chef, and they are great. Scooping your cookie dough helps the cookies to be uniform in size and to bake evenly.

4. I really like having a cooling rack for my cookies and cakes. This cooling rack, also from Pampered Chef, is a great kitchen tool. After allowing the cookies to set for a minute or two, I remove them to the cooling rack, then I'm ready to scoop more dough onto my parchment paper-lined cookie sheets.

And, last but certainly not least, is my very favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe!!!
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla (I used homemade vanilla extract, another one of my favorite things!)
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/3 cup 60 % dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a metal mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of your mixer, cream together both sugars and melted butter. Add the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk and beat to combine. Mix in the dry ingredients until just blended. Add in the chocolate chips until just combined. Using your cookie scoop, drop even scoops of dough onto your cookie sheets and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. When I use my larger scoop, it takes every bit of 15 minutes for my cookies to bake. Remove from oven and let cookies set for 1 minute, then remove to a cooling rack. Eat and Enjoy!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Favorite Thing #2

So Jen blogged about her love of her Kitchen Aid mixer and I couldn't agree more.  I love my mixer too!  Today, I will be sharing some of my favorite cleaning supplies.  BORING....right???  WRONG!!!!  I don't think anyone always loves the process of cleaning (I admit, I do sometimes), but no one will argue that having a sparkling clean bathroom, or an organized closet doesn't make them feel more at peace.

This isn't a knock off Pinterest post.  I 'm not going to be teaching you how to make your own laundry detergent and carpet cleaner.  Instead, I'm sharing some of my favorite - GASP- store bought supplies.

Here they are....

Watkins Lemon Home Cleaning Kit
1.  Favorite all purpose cleaner is  Watkins Lemon Cleaner.  You can find it at Target.  It does a great job of getting rid of grime, but the best part is the smell!  I'm a sucker for anything lemon.  It reminds me of spring and summer.

2.  Favorite carpet cleaner is Basic H from Shaklee. It's not advertised as a carpet cleaner, but as a great all purpose cleaner.  It is both!  Shaklee is sold through independent distributors (if you need a name, I've got one).  I've used it on carpets, upholstery, sinks, counters, and mirrors. It's non-toxic and it's WONDERFUL!!!!  And you can't beat the price!  It's $16 per bottle, but it's super concentrated.  Mine will last me about a year, and like I said, I use it for everything!

3.  Favorite scrubber is the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  It really is magic!  It shines up bath tubs, gets rid of soap scum and marks on walls.  It cleans tennis shoes great, and even your oven.  Try them!  You can buy them in bulk at Costco.  

Happy Cleaning!!!!

Monday, March 4, 2013

A few of my favorite things: Baking Necessities

Hello Readers! Tonight I want to share with you a few of my favorite baking items:


Ok, I guess most registries do not include treadmills, chocolate and butter, but maybe they should.

First and foremost, I LOVE my Kitchen-aid Mixer. I have the 5 quart artisan mixer, with the standard paddle attachment, dough hook, beater, and I have an extra mixing bowl. Not only is this mixer good looking, but it gets used on a regular basis in my kitchen. I have been mixing up decadent cakes and chewy cookies, whipping cream to top chocolate pies, and kneading pizza and cinnamon roll dough with this bad boy for nearly 10 years now....and it's still going strong. That, my friends, is a good investment. Should you put it on your registry? You bet! You might just have a group of hostesses go in together on the mixer, an adoring grandma, great aunt, rich uncle, etc. who wants to spend the big bucks on you and your fiance, may be able to get it at a discount because it was on your registry. In my case, my husband and I received enough Dillard's gift-cards that we were able to purchase the mixer after our wedding. Woohoo! A few years later, I received a second mixing bowl from my sweet mother-in-law, and it has been awesome! I highly recommend having a second bowl, it makes things so much easier when baking, as you will often need to switch back and forth between bowls of ingredients. Definitely check out the various Kitchen-aid mixers that are on the market, as they come in a wide array of colors and there are several design options, as well.
**This has not been a paid advertisement, although I welcome the thought.

I would also highly recommend registering for several glass mixing bowls, cookie sheets, a cooling rack or two, nice spatulas and wooden spoons. All of the above can be found at most retail kitchen stores and at lower price points. Add in a selection of potholders, kitchen towels, and various utensils, and you're sure to receive a well-appointed kitchen gift-basket. You'll be baking up some love in the kitchen in no-time flat.