Perfect “Flour-y” Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m not a huge sweets fan, but I absolutely love to bake. I think its the joy that it brings people when you give them a huge plate of chocolate chips cookies or a big slice of pumpkin cake.

Chocolate chip cookies are one of my all time favorite treats to make. They’re the perfect balance of salty and sweet. This recipe includes extra flour because I like very puffy cookies.

Ingredients

  • 7 table spoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour (plus a few tablespoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (or more) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup (or more) chocolate chunks

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Microwave the butter for about 40 seconds to just barely melt it. It shouldn’t be hot – but it should be almost entirely in liquid form.
  2. Using a stand mixer or electric beaters, beat the butter with the sugars until creamy. Add the vanilla and the egg; beat on low speed until just incorporated – 10-15 seconds or so (if you beat the egg for too long, the cookies will be stiff).
  3. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix until crumbles form. Use your hands to press the crumbles together into a dough. It should form one large ball that is easy to handle (right at the stage between “wet” dough and “dry” dough). Add the chocolate chips and incorporate with your hands.
  4. Roll the dough into 12 large balls (or 9 for HUGELY awesome cookies) and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes until the cookies look puffy and dry and just barely golden.Warning, friends: DO NOT OVERBAKE. This advice is probably written on every cookie recipe everywhere, but this is essential for keeping the cookies soft. Take them out even if they look like they’re not done yet (see picture in the post). They’ll be pale and puffy.
  5. Let them cool on the pan for a good 30 minutes or so (I mean, okay, eat four or five but then let the rest of them cool). They will sink down and turn into these dense, buttery, soft cookies that are the best in all the land. These should stay soft for many days if kept in an airtight container. I also like to freeze them.

Recipe Source

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*To modify for fall, add 1/4 cup of pumpkin puree and 2 extra tablespoons of flour.

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Spicy Thai Coconut Soup

I’m posting my Monday meal just a little bit late this week.

This soup is so perfect for the chilly fall temperatures we’ve been having. It warms you right up. My favorite thing about this soup is that it is not heavy. You can eat three servings and not feel too full. This is probably due to ingredients like ginger and coconut milk.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 4 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste)
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 cups light coconut milk
  • 4 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to pot. Add mushrooms, pepper, ginger, and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chile paste and cook for another minute.

Add chicken stock, coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add chicken to pot and cook 1 minute, or until heated through. Pour soup into bowls and garnish with green onion and cilantro.

Recipe Source

This recipe of courtesy of Tessa from Handle the Heat. I hope you enjoy!

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Image Source

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Chicken Parm

I’m going to try to start sharing a few of my recipes on here. I love the idea of starting my week off with a great, home cooked meal. I have always loved to cook and it really is a creative outlet for me. It’s also the perfect way for me to de-stress after a day of work.

Tonight I made chicken parm. There is nothing better than cooking a simple meal with ingredients you already have in your pantry.

I used my cast-iron skillet for this recipe. This most important tip I can give you about cooking with a cast-iron skillet, is that you always want to properly heat your pan. I set my skillet over medium heat for 5-10 minutes before I’m ready to start cooking. Once the pan is nice and hot, you can then add your oil.

Next, I crushed up the bread to use for the coating on the chicken breast. I mixed the bread crumbs with a little bit of Italian seasoning and parmesan. I wish I knew moe specifically how much of each but I never measure anything!

When I have chicken breast, I like to slice them in half or butterfly them so that they cook a little bit faster.

I made an easy egg and milk mixture and added a little bit of salt and cayenne pepper. We like spicy food in our house. I dipped each piece of chicken in this liquid and then moved them to the bowl of breadcrumbs. Once the chicken was nice and coated, I added some olive oil to my cast-iron began searing the chicken.

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In order to cook all the way through, the chicken needed about three minutes on each side. When I could tell that it was done, I moved the chicken to a plate to rest while I cooked down some cherry tomatoes. I dumped about 10 small tomatoes into my cast-iron and let them blister on medium heat for about 7 minutes.

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I then added the chicken back into the pan along with half a jar of store bought pasta sauce. While these ingredients got to know each other, I set my broiler.

Finally, I topped everything with some mozzarella and another sprinkle of parmesan and transferred the whole thing to the broiler for about 8 minutes.

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In my opinion, the finished results were not only delicious but also very pretty. You know what they say! Our phones always eat first.

Below you can find a list of ingredients and simplified instructions. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, butterflied
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • 1 can of pasta sauce
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Pasta

Directions

  1. Preheat skillet on medium heat for 5-10 minutes (cast-iron is best because you can transfer directly from the stove to the broiler)
  2. Mix together two eggs and 1/4 cup of milk in a medium bowl, add seasonings to taste
  3. In another bowl, add Italian bread crumbs
  4. Dip each piece of chicken into the egg/milk mixture and then into the bread crumbs, making sure that the chicken is evenly coated
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet
  6. Add chicken to the pan and cook for three minutes on each side
  7. Transfer chicken to a plate to rest
  8. Add fresh tomatoes to the skillet and cook until the skin is beginning to blister
  9. Add chicken back to the skillet along with half of the jar of pasta sauce
  10. Turn on broiler
  11. Top with mozzarella and parmesan and transfer the entire skillet to the broiler for 6-8 minutes. The cheese should become slightly brown.
  12. Enjoy as is or over pasta

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Our Engagement

I’ve been wanting to write about our engagement for a while. Mainly because I am a memory collector and I always want to be able to peek back into this part of my life. It truly has been the sweetest time of my life so far. I am getting ready to marry the love of my life!

Quentin and I got engaged on December 16th, 2017, seven months after we graduated. We met at Rockhurst University in the fall of 2013.

It was truly the most perfect proposal. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better day.

That morning, I went with my mom and sisters to go and get my nails done. I was a little bit suspicious but my mom did a really great job of throwing me off. I got my nails painted Christmas-y red. Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year.

That afternoon we got dressed and ready to head down to Top of the Rock (one of my all time favorite spots in the Ozarks). My parents, Paige and John-David all left about 20 minutes before us to go pick up John-David’s friend Joey.

30 minutes later, I was starting to get stressed. Claire was taking so long to get ready. I was beginning to think that we would miss our reservation. We finally left the house and just as we got to the highway, Quentin realized that he left his wallet at home. I was so frustrated! We were definitely going to miss out reservation.

Little did I know that Q was timing everything perfectly. We finally arrived at Top of the Rock. It was a beautiful, unseasonably warm December night. The sun was just beginning to set over the lake. Quentin and I strolled around looking for my family who had beaten us there.

We walked out on a patio with a stunning view of Table Rock. I realized that no one was around. Somehow, we were the only two people around. We took in the view for a few quick minutes. It was enough time for me to realize what was about to happen. I turned towards Quentin who was getting down on one knee.

He pulled the ring out from under his shirt. He drove the entire way to Branson with the ring hidden in the armpit of his sweater! Haha!

He said a few things that neither of us can remember, but I’m sure they were so sweet. And then finally the words, “Will you marry me?”.

I burst into tears and feel onto my knees. I was wearing huge shoes and was worried that I would trip from excitement. Quentin pointed up to a balcony above us. His family had traveled all the way from Kansas City to celebrate with us that night. Both families had a perfect view of the proposal. It was the best night of my life.

We had dinner in a small, secret room. You had to enter through a false bookshelf! I remember not being able to eat. I’ll never forget the feeling of gratitude I had that night; celebrating with the people I love, cozy in a small room lit by the fireplace.

We are getting married on June 15, 2019 at the same church where my parents were married 27 years ago. Quentin, I cannot wait to spend the rest of our lives together!

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Quentin timed everything so perfectly. I can’t believe the beautiful sunset we were blessed with that night.

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JD and his friend Joey we’re so cute. They Shirley Temples were flowing.
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Our wonderful family. So many emotions!
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Quentin and I and all of our sisters.
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One of my favorite pictures. Our “first time in public as an engaged couple”. We went to Target 😉
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Drinks at the Chateau on the Lake later that evening. We we’re so excited. Christmas carols were being played on the piano. There was a huge Christmas tree near the bar. We ordered espresso cocktails.

 

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Another one of my favorite photos. Everything still hadn’t set in the next day. We were on Cloud 9.

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Books I’ve Read in the Last Few Years

Reading is one of my favorite past times. There’s nothing better than, for a few hours, escaping to someone else’s world.

For the past few years I have been keeping a running list of which books I’ve read throughout that year. It’s fun to look back on each one. It almost serves as a little time machine into who I was in that small phase of my life.

One of my favorite weekend activities is going to Half-Priced Books and browsing the clearance section. One time I left with 10 books for just $30.

Sharing with others is a such a huge part of who I am so I thought that I would release my lists out into the world.

2016:

  1. Something Blue by Emily Giffin
  2. Vision in White by Nora Roberts
  3. Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts
  4. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  5. Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts
  6. Happily Ever After by Nora Roberts
  7. Bloom by Kelle Hampton
  8. Yes Please by Amy Poehler
  9. A Farewell to Arms by Earnest Hemingway
  10. Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin
  11. The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
  12. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
  13. The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson

2017:

  1. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
  2. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker
  3. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
  4. Watermelon by Marian Keyes
  5. The Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin
  6. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Book Store by Robin Sloan
  7. The Language of Flower’s Vanessa Diffenbaugh
  8. Mr. Miracle by Debbie Maycomber
  9. At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks
  10. Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews

 

2018: 

  1. How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
  2. Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

 

If you have any book suggestions send them my way!

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Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

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The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of year. There is nothing better than the pure joy that fills my heart when the season rolls back around like an old friend. So much joy in fact, that sometimes it can be hard to stop and enjoy- truly savor the most important aspects of Christmastime.

Tonight I felt that I had a lot on my plate. Which is silly because I only have 2.5 days of work until I get to head home for a (much needed) 11 day break. I needed to clean up my apartment, do laundry, cook my self a healthy meal, make a packing list for home and wrap up any last minute Christmas shopping (no pun intended!!), all while trying to soak up every wonderful drop of Freeform’s 25 Days of Christmas in the glow of my Christmas tree.

I decided I had to make a choice. I could either allow myself to continue to be overwhelmed the rest of the evening, or I could prioritize and focus on staying calm. I don’t know about you, but the first thing I want to do when I’m feeling stressed is to curl up under my king-sized heated blanket and watch about 10 episodes of The Office.

I made a list that looked something like this:

  • Take a moment to relax. Breathing exercise? Bath?
    • I chose a pressure point technique that is perfect for clearing the head- place your fingers under your ears behind your ear lobes, tilt your chin upwards slightly and press your fingers into the small groove for about 30 seconds.
  • Prioritize! What is actually important and realistic for me to accomplish this evening? What can wait until tomorrow or even next week?
  • Make some time for myself to do something that I enjoy.

By being intentional with my evening, I was able to accomplish the tasks that I needed to in order to feel prepared for my trip home. This created the time for me to enjoy a Tank 7 and write this blog post 🙂

I hope this quick read can serve as a reminder that the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, as long as we don’t pressure ourselves to get everything done perfectly.

Have that glass of wine, watch The Santa Clause for the 3rd time, and indulge yourself in the cheesy Holiday novel. Your sanity, and your family will be grateful!

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Morning Routine

As part of my Lenten goal for this year, I decided that I wanted to take a break from social media and really make an effort to live in the present moment. I didn’t know how this would effect my blog writing. I decided that, if I was feeling inspired, I would write. I did not want to push myself to meet any deadlines or stretch my self to live up to unrealistic standards that I tend to set for myself.

A large part of living in the moment began with my morning routine. I have never been much of a morning person up until this year. Mornings have since become my most cherished part of the day. A great morning makes for a fantastic day.

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There is something about waking up and having time to sip some coffee and watch the sun come up. I was blessed with an absolutely beautiful sunrise this morning. Even better than watching the sun rise over the rainy clouds, was opening my copy of Jesus Calling and reading this:

“Bring Me the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Take nothing for granted, not even the rising of the sun.”

Could that have been any more perfect? God is always speaking to us. We just have to take the time to listen.

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I love to take the time to journal and pray first thing in the morning before I have the chance to become distracted by my to-do list or my iPhone. Even if five minutes is all I have to offer to God, those five minutes have the power to influence the rest of my day. God knows exactly how to speak to you and what you need to hear. This morning I was reminded of how incredibly lucky I am to be able to see the sunrise.

Meditation is another great tool for staying mindful. Many people struggle with the concept of meditation. Sitting still with your thoughts, even for just a few minutes, can seem incredibly daunting.  The key is to remember that practice always helps. Stay positive and be patient with yourself. With time, meditation will become second natured.

Guided meditation can be very beneficial to a meditation practice. There are endless options for guided meditation on YouTube or on your smart phone. I use a free app called Calm. Guided meditations can help you to stay focused and in the present. Here is a quote from my afternoon meditation:

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We have the power to have a fantastic day, everyday! Let things go by giving them to God.

Finally, have fun with your morning routine! 

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I like to start my day with a big glass of lemon water. This helps keep me hydrated and the bright citrus flavor never fails to wake me up.

 

 

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I sleep with my curtains open to make sure I wake up with the sun. This makes hopping out of bed a lot easier!

Add things to your room that make you happy. Keeping fresh flowers or your favorite stuffed animal by your bed will never fail to put a smile on your face 🙂

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