Cookie Love: The Cookie Reveal!

Yesterday I posted a recipe from Cookie Love, a cookie cookbook where I made the chocolate chip cookie dough from scratch. Shew, that’s a lot of “cookies” in one sentence. Make sure you check out that post before reading this one.

I was so excited to get home from work and bake these bad boys. I thought about how they would smell and I could almost taste the chocolate on my lips. The dough was super stiff so I had kneed it a little. The book doesn’t mention this, but I got my hands just a little damp so I could roll the cookies in little balls. That way the batter wouldn’t stick to my hands.

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I like my cookies in between a little crunchy and a little chewy. I took mine out of the oven around the 10-miunte mark and let them cool the rest of the way. It all depends on your oven, though. I watched them like a hawk to make sure they didn’t burn. It was like watching a kid ride a bike for the first time without the training wheels. I was so proud of myself. I couldn’t have been more pleased. The flavor is unlike any chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever tried before. I do believe it’s that pinch of salt that made the difference.

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This recipe did make a bunch of cookies; I lost count around 30. I’ll be giving one to everyone I come in contact with this weekend just to get rid of them. If you see a girl passing out cookies at the farmers market, just take them. The recipe from the book says they are fresh only for about 3 days, so I have to enjoy them while I can. I hope you’ll try these out next time you need a quick cookie recipe. Enjoy!

Thanks again to Blogging For Books for sending me this book.

Recipe + Review: Cookie Love

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When is the last time you had a delicious homemade chocolate chip cookie? And I’m not talking about the package kind. I can honestly say it’s been a while for me. I typically grab one when I’m at Subway or at the kiosk in the mall, but I haven’t actually made some from scratch in ages. Since cookie baking is in my blood (my grandmother was a cookie expert), I figured it was time to break the streak.

Mindy Segal’s Cookie Love is a cookie encyclopedia full of every type of cookie you could imagine–drop cookies, shortbread, sandwich cookies, bars and more. No two recipes are the same and there’s even an entire portion in the back that teaches you basic steps for perfecting your cookie. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the short tidbits about how each cookie came to be. It was quite comical. The photography and presentation of the book is what sold me. I’m a person who enjoys the process of making–in this case, baking–things. Each photo captures the true art of baking and all the messiness that goes along with it.

Scoping through to find a cookie that spoke to me, there were a lot that caught my eye. I settled, happily, on the classic chocolate chip because I had all the ingredients at home. Besides, you just can’t go wrong with a chocolate chip cookie and a glass of milk.

Note: I am posting this as I go, instead of one large post at the end. I will be posting the finished product tomorrow in lieu of a Friday Favorites post.

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Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 42 cookies. Adapted from Cookie Love by Mindy Segal.

Ingredients:
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 cup cane sugar 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar 1 extra-large eggs, at room temperature 2 tsp pure vanilla extract (I used Watkin’s) 2.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1 tsp kosher salt ½ tsp baking powder ½ tsp baking soda 2 cups (8 ounces) chocolate chips

Directions:
Read all the way through before you begin.
The day before mix your butter in a stand mixer for 5-10 seconds. Add the sugars and beat until the butter mixture is aerated and pale in color, approximately 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together.

Crack the eggs in a separate bowl and add the vanilla.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

On medium speed, add the eggs and vanilla to the butter mixture, one egg a time, mixing the first briefly before adding the second, until the batter resembles cottage cheese, approximately 5 seconds for each egg. Scape the sides and mix for 20-30 seconds to make the batter nearly homogeneous.

Add dry ingredients all at once and mix on low speed until the dough comes together but still looks shaggy, approximately 30 seconds. Do not overmix. Scrape the batter and bring the dough together by hand.

Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and wrap tightly. Refrigerate overnight.

***

The next day, heat your oven to 350⁰F. Lightly coat a couple of half sheet pans with nonstick cooking spray.

Using a small ice cream scoop or melon baller, portion the dough into 12 mounds. Evenly space the mounds on a prepared sheet pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake until edges begin to caramelize and the tops set, approximately four more minutes. Let the cookies cool on the pan for 1-2 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack until they are cooled completely.

I will be baking my cookies this evening and will post an update tomorrow + plus more pictures! Can’t wait to share the final result… wish me luck!

 

I received this book from Blogging For Books for this review. All opinions are honestly mine.

Work Update

This has nothing to do with the theme for this month, but I just had to share these amazing room concepts I designed for a historical Bed & Breakfast located just south of Birmingham. Here’s the building…

There are four rooms in the main house that we are designing: the Kirby, the Wilson, the McKleroy and the third floor double suite who doesn’t have an awesome name, sorry. The whole place is getting a serious contemporary slap in the face. Like starting all over… goodbye early 1800s. Hello 21st century.

Here’s what the Kirby suite looks like right now…

And here’s what it’s going to look like if I get to design it…

 The Kirby Suite \ Design Concept

The Kirby, an elegant and delicate space with a white-washed wood tone and acrylic accents. This room will likely attract the more sophisticated couple. The lighting is glitzy and the fireplace is updated with glass mosaic. The headboard wall will be one of two things: either a purposely rusted piece of sheet metal or a set of gorgeous damask panels. My vote is the later.. ;)

Here’s the Wilson suite as it is right now…

And here’s what I want to do with it…

The Wilson Suite \ Design Concept

The Wilson has a much more youthful approach with dark walnut wood tones and different shades of navy velvet throughout. By far my favorite of the two, this room is bold and inviting and ready for adventure. I love the polished chrome finish, but I toned it down with the rustic nail head trim. The headboard wall is getting the most gorgeous Shibiori ombre wallcovering I’ve ever seen. I cannot wait to see it up. I might melt. Imagine it with a white tufted headboard in front… Ahh… take me away.

There’s also the McKleroy suite, which has gorgeous wallpaper on the ceiling that we are going to leave. How could you not? I’m not sure what the approach is on this room yet, but it’s very unique and much smaller than the others. It also has a BEAUTIFUL claw foot bath tub that’s staying, if I have my way! The third floor double suite is huge… I just don’t know what to do about that. It’s currently being used as an office so the slate is fairly clean.

Anyhow, that’s an update on what I do for a living. Jealous? You should be! Haha.. more to come soon!

DIY Reusable Multi-purpose Bags

Last week, I shared with you all the harmful affects of plastic bags and it got some great reviews. I hope I didn’t scare you all too much into throwing away everything in your home that remotely involved plastic. It takes a conscious effort to live a greener lifestyle and it doesn’t happen overnight.

When I think about plastic bags, I think about all the different things I use them for: lunch, make-up, organizing my purse, dog food, etc. Whether you use them for one thing or another, I’m sure Ziploc bags comes in handy on a daily basis. I mostly use them for my lunch, so I wanted to figure out how many I used.

Keep lemons fresh a Whole Month by putting them into a zippy bag in the fridge — Tips from The Kitchn |

One box of Ziploc sandwich bags are roughly $8 for a 300-pack. If you use three bags every day for five days that’s 15 bags a week / 780 bags a year. That’s just for one person, not to mention if there’s four people in your house. Just for the sake of the argument, let’s figure that: 3 bags per person for five days a week equals 60 bags a week / 3120 a year. If they cost $8 a box, you’d need 11 boxes equaling $88 + tax. Just on Ziploc bags. And we didn’t even factor in the gallon size or freezer that come in handy for freezer meals or leftovers.

In the whole scheme of things, it doesn’t seem like much but think about that multiplied by 6 billion people. Makes you wish you were the founder of Ziploc, amirite?

That led to me to think of 2 things:

1. That’s a lot of plastic in the oceans.
2. How can I save money and the environment by creating my own bags?

DIY_Reusable Snack bags

I found a bunch of tutorials on reusable bags, but this one caught my eye the most because it’s used with oilcloth. Oilcloth is a cotton cloth with a coating of boiled linseed oil which makes it waterproof which makes easy to clean.

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I whipped a few up and even though I’m not a master of sewing, it wasn’t that difficult to do. I followed the tutorial and it was very detailed and easy to understand. I personally sewed the sides up and only used Velcro at the top to seal it off. I am currently using them as makeup bags and plan to make some more for snacks. You just can’t go wrong with them. They can be used for so many things!

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Total cost of this project: less than $10, $7 to be exact (depending on the fabric you choose) and you can use them again and again. Success!

Tuesday Tips

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It’s finally farmers market season in Birmingham. My weekends just aren’t complete without a stroll though the stalls of my local farmers market. It’s my favorite way to spend a leisurely Saturday morning—doing my food shopping for the week as I take in the sights, smells, and tastes around me. Not only are farmers markets the easiest way to support your local growers (which is the eco chic thing to do), they’re the best place to find ultra-fresh and flavorful produce. I’ve never seen a juicer tomato or a plumper peach.

But if you’re new to the farmers market scene, it can certainly be a bit overwhelming. So before you grab your reusable grocery bag and send yourself off into the sea of produce, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind…

These hand woven baskets are made of palm leaves from Morocco. Each basket is unique and features both longer and shorter leather handles and a decorative braid

1. Time your visit. Arriving early is the best way to avoid crowds and have your pick of the best selection of produce. The middle hours, however, are generally the most lively and best for people watching. Pickings will be slim near closing time, but that’s also when the best deals are to be found. Most farmers would rather sell their stock at a discounted price than have to haul it back home.

2. Know your seasons. Buying in season is tastier and cheaper. I printed this little infographic to help me know when produce is at its peek flavor.

3. Be a bargain hunter. Not all stalls are created equal. I always do a quick survey of the entire market before making my purchases. This is the best way to ensure you’re getting the prettiest produce at the best price.

4. Multitask. In addition to tender greens, juicy peaches, and berries bursting with flavor, most farmers markets have stalls selling coffee, cheese, farm fresh eggs, freshly baked bread, flowers, and even local honey. If you plan things right, you might be able to skip your trip to the grocery store altogether.

French Market- could do set of prints of farmers markets from around the world

5. Be adventurous. Never tried red kale or passion fruit before? Exotic fruits and vegetables are commonplace at farmers markets, so come prepared with an appetite (literally!) for adventure.

6. Ask questions. The growers are right there, so take advantage of it. Ask them where your food comes from and how it was grown. They might even have some tips on how to prepare it or some samples to hand out.

7. Understand organic. Many small farms that follow organic growing practices choose to skip USDA certification because of its high cost. So instead of stopping at “Is your farm organic?” (which refers to the official USDA label) follow up with more specific questions like, “Do you use pesticides?”

8. A little dirt won’t hurt. Organic produce won’t always look as pristine as it is in the supermarket, but don’t let that deter you. Just be sure to rinse your produce thoroughly before serving. I try to remind myself that a little dirt (and yes, even the occasional creepy crawly) is a lot less scary than the harmful chemicals used in conventional growing methods.

9. Don’t forget the artisans. At my particular market, we have an entire section just of local handmade items: baskets, crochet, lotions, jewelry, painting, and more. I try to do a walk through just to see what handmade items are available. I can always find a unique gift. Plus, you can really see true craftsmanship and get to meet the artists themselves.

Are you ready to take on your local farmers market?

If you’re in the Birmingham area on Saturdays, make sure to stop by the Pepper Place Market. It’s open rain or shine, April-December, from the wee hours of the morning to around noon. Parking is limited, so be prepared to walk a little. ;)

 

Paper vs. Cloth: What’s the greenest?

I’m sure you’ve heard the craze for new moms and cloth diapers. “Oh you’ll save so much money on cloth than you would using diapers.” To me, it just sounds gross, and frankly I will cross that bridge when I get there and I will come and share with you my thoughts. But cloth napkins? That’s something I can entertain.

Laura's Loop: Garden Party Napkins - Knitting Crochet Sewing Crafts Patterns and Ideas! - the purl bee

Last Friday on thekitchn.com, I ran across an article on cloth napkins and why more and more families are choosing to go this route in their homes. Cambria Bold, author of “Why Cloth Napkins Become A Practical Everyday Choice For Me” shares her reason why.

Once I discovered how easy cloth napkins could be, I developed a whole new appreciation for them. Cloth napkins are one of home life’s little luxuries, like fresh flowers, and the more I use them, the more I feel like I’m getting the better end of the deal.

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You can’t physically stop using paper, that’s a given, but there are ways to save more trees and actually save YOU more money. Have you ever stopped to think about how many paper towels you use on a daily basis? Don’t worry. This article Jennifer, from Growing A Green Family, wrote about switching from paper napkins to cloth will blow your mind.

At three meals a day (1095 meals a year), a family of four would use 12 napkins per day; 4,380 per year; 21,900 per five year. That’s if you only use one napkin per person, per meal and NEVER not once have guests over. Marcal, green paper maker, notes that the average person actually uses 6 napkins per day. Since everyone I’ve ever met has guests over at least twice a year and at times uses more than one paper napkin per meal, I’m adding one extra package of paper napkins to the total.

Rebekah, from Simply Rebekah, writes “I love them and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to paper.  Cloth napkins are better for the environment and are cheaper than paper napkins over time.”

She always goes on to give four great money saving tips on switching to cloth napkins. They are:

1) Shop at Thrift Stores
2) Put Cloth Napkins on Your Wish List
3) Recycle Old Fabric
4) Make Smaller Napkins Out of Large Ones

So at the end of the day, how much will you truly save on making the switch? Not that much. Sustainably-made cloth napkins cost less then buying paper napkins over the course of five years. Given current prices, if you bought the cloth napkins brand new, five year’s worth of eco-friendly cloth napkins for a family of four could cost you anywhere from $20 to $108.00. If you bought disposable paper napkins for a family of four for five years, however, it could cost you anywhere from $322.64 to $2,635.60 depending on the type of napkins you buy and whether you buy them in bulk or one roll at a time.*

cloth napkins by nosborn on Polyvore featuring interior, interiors, interior design, home, home decor, interior decorating, Sir/Madam, Kim Seybert, HAY and Jayson Home

And last but not least, this month is all about being green so I couldn’t end this post without mentioning that you produce less trash with cloth napkins. Each year, millions of pounds of trash end up in our landfills. Some of this trash finds its way into nature and our ocean, causing trouble for wildlife. Every little bit counts and your little changes can have a huge impact. Want to go the extra mile? Make your own cloth napkins from old pieces of fabric, or find them in the home section of a consignment shop.

Are you going to make the switch?

*Source

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