Friday, March 28, 2014

favorite chocolate chip cookies


Honoring Our Maker Everyday.

I just love that word.  I love the picture it paints in my mind when I think of it.  I love how it feels at the end of a long day.  I love all the laughter and tears it holds from those that I am closest to this side of Heaven.  

Home is a beautiful word.

We have finally somewhat settled into our new one and are still waking up everyday pinching ourselves.  I'm continually finding new little blessings, like the view from Luke's room I just discovered last night while tucking him into bed.  One of his two windows overlooks a pocket park right in the middle of our cul-de-sac, complete with a glowing lamppost and rod-iron bench... a bit reminiscent of a scene from It's a Wonderful Life.  

::pinch, pinch::

At any rate, I could easily write a long list of smells that take me straight "home" - bacon frying, onions sauteing, bread baking, and - without a doubt - cookies baking.  I was so excited to bake a batch of cookies in this new house, I couldn't hardly stand it.  Doing so seemed like such a logical, almost right-of-passage kind of way to christen the new-to-me oven.  

I've baked my fair share of chocolate chip cookies, usually landing on a recipe because it was the quickest one I could find before having to rush off to an event with some kind of baked good in hand.  But for this special occasion, I searched more intentionally in hopes of finding a better-than-average recipe, and that is exactly what I found.   With the mixture of both white and brown sugars, maple syrup, and toasted walnuts, this cookie has a richer deeper flavor but allows the chocolate to shine.  And it has just enough sweet, with a dash of salt... a wonderful balance.  These will be holding a permanent spot in the cookie jar, I can assure you!

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 3 dozen
  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar firmly packed
  • 1 whole egg plus 1 yolk
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 12 oz dark chocolate bar, roughly chopped
~ Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread walnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
~ Place pan in the oven and toast, stirring occasionally, until they are fragrant and toasted,
    about 10 minutes.  Let cool then coarsely chop.

~ In a bowl, whisk/sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  In another bowl, mix on
    medium-high speed, the butter and sugars until it is light in texture, about 3 minutes.

~ Beat in the whole egg and egg yolk, then the syrup and vanilla.  Reduce the speed to low 
    and gradually add the flour mixture, beating just until smooth and stopping to scrape 
    down the bowl as needed.   

~ With a spoon, stir in the chopped chocolate and walnuts, distributing them evenly through
    the dough.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 6.

~ Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.  Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of the
    dough onto the baking pans, spacing them about 1 inch apart.  

~ Bake until cookies are lightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Let cool for 3 minutes on the 
    baking sheets.  Transfer to cooling rack.  

Recipe slightly adapted from Williams Sonoma. 



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

chuy's creamy jalapeno dip

There is nothing like hanging out with good friends and eating great food!   

Can I please hear an "Amen?!"  

In the day of devices, texting, and being plugged in all in the name of being "social," unplugging to be social is a breath of fresh air.

This winter, we had the pleasure of being able to spend wonderful quality time with our friends, Jon and Kristi and their children.  On multiple occasions, we ventured out to their house to cook together and play games, where "Settlers of Catan" became a regular for us adults accompanied by a bowl of Kristi's copycat recipe for Chuy's Creamy Jalapeno Dip.  I have now made it a couple of times at home and thoroughly enjoy it not only with tortilla chips, but fresh vegetables, salads, and I love it as a spread for wraps.  It is a terrific condiment to have on hand!  

We are currently on Spring Break, enjoying a visit with our Indiana family.  We have really been treated royally with wonderful meals... Italian Beef, Fried Chicken with all the fixin's, BBQ with fresh coleslaw and baked beans, just to name a few.  

Here's to coming home ~ a treat for the tummy and the heart!!

Chuy's Creamy Jalapeno Dip
  • 1 1/3 cups mayonaise
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup chopped pickled jalapenos
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 (1 oz) packet dry Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
~ Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix until smooth.  Adjust flavors 
    to your liking.