Cayenne Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

If it was possible to high five Mother Nature, I’d throw a big one up top to her. It seems she finally got her meds right, and knows that spring is here which means sunshine and warmer weather. It’s amazing what a heavy dose of Vitamin D can do for your mental health. The good people of Boston are out on the streets again in normal amounts of clothing, instead of the sleeping bags we had to convert into jackets to survive this winter’s polar vortex.

During the last snowstorm we had in March, my friend Caitlin and I had just had it with the winter, so we booked a trip to Mexico, which we took last week. My regularly albino skin now has a healthy glow, and we spent 5 days in 90 degree weather on a beach in Cancun far far away from my work laptop. I did a whole lot of this for 5 days straight:

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Obviously, in between the beach, pina colada drinking, and taco eating, I was looking for cookie inspiration. I would have bought some duty free chocolate in Mexico, except even after 5 days the peso conversion in my head process was challenging. So I found a Lindt Chili infused dark chocolate bar at CVS yesterday and decided to get that into a cookie. I took my double chocolate espresso cookie base and swapped in some cayenne pepper instead of espresso. The combo of spicy and sweet is something new for my cookie experimenting, but I think they turned out pretty good.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 bar Chili infused dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (optional)

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars. Add in eggs and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.

Step 2: In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and cayenne pepper. Add to the wet batter and beat on slow until well mixed.

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Step 3: Add in chocolate chips, and coarsely chopped chili infused chocolate if you have it. If you don’t have the extra chocolate bar, then you can just substitute a half cup of chocolate chips.

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Step 4: On a parchment or sil-pat-lined baking sheet, use a medium cookie scoop to place even-size balls of dough. Press down lightly with your fingertips. Bake for 12-14 minutes and then cool on a wire rack.

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Once I read an article about how cayenne pepper is good for your health. In addition to Vitamin A, it had cardiovascular benefits, clears congestion, prevents stomach ulcers, and boosts immunity. So you know all you coworkers who ask for healthy cookies? This is as close to a healthy cookie as you’re ever going to get from me. Enjoy!

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IMG_1173If you’re afraid of spice, don’t be scared of these. They are super rich chocolately when you bite into them, and then the little kick of heat comes as the aftertaste but it’s not like you’ll be running around with flames shooting out of your mouth.

Mexico was great. I’ve never been to Cancun before because it always had the bad rep of being a total crazy spring break party spot. And while that might be what I want on some vacations, like the recent Vegas trip, this time I was looking to park myself in a nice spot in the sun and do a whole lot of nothing. And that’s exactly what we did as the Westin resort.

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While the 5 day vacation from reality was super, going back to work was a harsh smack in the face and kick in the shins reality check right away. So I was very happy that I only had to survive 2 days before enjoying the weekend. One of my favorite memories at Boston College was when 5 of my girlfriends and I started a Thursday Night Dinner Club. It started when we were all swamped at school and looking for a little bit of a mid-week reprieve. So I had offered to host a dinner at my house on a Thursday night. We had so much fun, that for the next few years each of us would host a dinner at our houses and it became a super fun tradition. So, now as a grown up, some mid-week stress relief in the form of food + friends is still much needed, so a group of us Southie girls started the South Boston Dinner Club, and our inaugural dinner was at our house hosted by Colleen + Me this past Friday night. Oven baked pizzas and salad was the main course (with lots of vino of course).

image_1And for dessert – homemade browned buter salted chocolate chip cookies with salted caramel ice cream in between. 
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And my favorite time of the year is officially here — Cape Cod weekend season has begun. I headed down to the Cape to spend some QT with the rents in Harwich yesterday, which involved a lot of sitting lakeside, and then grilling steaks while watching the sunset. Not too shabby at all. Let’s hope I can channel this weekend relaxation straight through this crazy workweek.

 

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Peanut Butter Cadbury Egg Muffins

I know, I know. It’s not Sunday. In my defense, I had every intention of writing this post Sunday night. I baked on time, took all my photos on time, uploaded them to my personal laptop on time …. and then drove to Connecticut, forgetting both to upload them to the blog or bring my laptop with me. Well, I think this is just proof that memory loss comes with old age. Yesterday was my birthday … and by yesterday, I mean, the past four days was an epic extravaganza of birthday celebrations. Remember how at the beginning of the month we talked about March coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb? That’s how I am about my birthday. In the beginning of the month, I did not want to even acknowledge the big 2-9. But yesterday I had a random waitress at Chip’s Family Restaurant in Trumbull, Connecticut bring me a Funfetti birthday pancake and sing to me, and I liked it. For the record, March also did not go out like a lamb. It went out like a full on schizophrenic insane lioamb (combination of lion+lamb, duh). I was in Connecticut yesterday before going to NYC for the day with my sister, because the only person I wanted to have a birthday breakfast with, obviously was my Grandpa. Saturday it was 54 degrees. Yesterday, I wake up and my Grandpa calls me to tell me not to drive because it’s a blizzard outside. Well not quite a blizzard, but was snowing and sleeting like crazytown. ON THE LAST DAY OF MARCH. Come the FRIG on Mother Nature.

Anyways, not to worry. I still made it to pick up my Grandpa for breakfast and had a great time. More details on all of that later in the post. On to the baked goods of the week first. My coworkers had to suffer this week with no baked goods, but my best friend, sister, the dog sitter, and most importantly my Grandpa were psyched to be my taste testers this week. I know a few weeks back we covered how mini eggs are my krpytonite and that I can’t have them in the house. Well, one of my friends who knows me too well showed up at my birthday party at the bar Saturday night with a bag of glow sticks and a bag of mini eggs. So Sunday morning I knew that I needed to bake them into something. And because my Oreo muffins were such a hit next week, I thought Mini Egg Muffins. Duh. So I found this recipe on one of the food blogs I love from the Food Blogger Cookie Swap back in December Crazy for Crust. Definitely a must try while Mini Eggs are still in season.

Ingredients:

 

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla)
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup Cadbury Mini Eggs, coarsely chopped, plus more for topping

 

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper lines, and spray with nonstick spray. I made smaller muffins, so about 20.

Step 2: No mixer needed for this recipe, so get the elbow grease ready. In a large bowl, stir together the vegetable oil, yogurt, and peanut butter with a wooden spoon. Stir in both brown and granulated sugars.

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Step 3: Add the eggs and vanilla, and keep mixing until incorporated.

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Step 4: Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add about half of the dry mixture and the milk, and stir a few times, then add in the rest of the dry mixture and continue to mix until all mixed together.

Step 5: Coarsely chop the mini eggs. Keep about 1/4 cup separate for topping. Add the rest of the mini eggs and chocolate chips in and mix just until evenly distributed.

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Step 6: Add about 1/2 cup of batter to each muffin tin. You don’t want to overfill the tins. You could also do this with mini muffin tins for bite-size muffins. Sprinkle the remaining mini eggs on top of each muffin. I tried putting some whole eggs on top, but they just sunk to the bottom.

IMG_1119Bake at 350 degrees for about 16-20 minutes, or until the top of just firm and a toothpick comes out clean. Let them cool, and then dig in!

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These got rave reviews from my fans down in Connecticut.  IMG_1130

Okay, so I am going to do my best to provide some highlights of the birthday extravaganza long weekend of fun and try to explain just how awesome my friends and family are. I am sure I won’t do it all justice since I got up at 4:30 am to drive back to Boston and I’m old and sleepy right now.

First, I got this surprise package at work last week from Blurb, which is a place where you can make your own photo books online. And when I opened it, I was totally blown away. My mom took all of the blog posts from TheSaltedCookie.com from 2012 and 2013 and made custom books out of them for me. They are perfect and awesome, and everyone who has come over the past few days has enjoyed reading them. Super thoughtful gift from the world’s best mom.

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Friday night I came home from work and Colleen had planned a little surprise Girl’s Night in with a few of my favorite friends for pizza, wine, and best of all – a Teen Mom 2 inspired cake. When Colleen first moved in last year and we didn’t know eachother at all, we bonded over a mutual love and appreciation for the epic TV show Teen Mom 2. Specifically, Juhnelle’s mom Barbara, who we affectionately call Babs, and quote her inspirational deep thoughts on a daily basis.

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Saturday night a big group of us went to my favorite bar in Southie and had a just totally awesome time. I am not putting any of those pictures up because what happens at Stats stays at Stats. Unless your friends videotape your dance moves, of course. (and no, there is no real dance floor at Stats).

Sunday night I drove down to Connecticut and had a great dinner with my friends Katie and Caitlin in Fairfield. Caitlin and I are headed to Mexico this Saturday for some much needed fun in the sun!

I took Monday off of work, which I never used to understand why people took their birthdays off of work, but if you’re doing something fun and not just sitting at home, I am totally a fan of it now. My parents are on a cruise so I stayed at their place Sunday night, and got up early and braved the freak snowstorm to pick up my Grandpa for a perfect breakfast brunch at Chip’s. He told me to keep the 2-9 candles from my cake to save for my 92′nd birthday. Always thinking about the future.

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And after a perfect breakfast, I picked my sister up and we headed into NYC for a nice little day where we went to see the taping of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. And at the end of the show, I got a high five from Jimmy Fallon. That is no April Fool’s.

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So in conclusion, 29 is off to a really good start I think. And the big 3-0 has a full year to prepare to try to top this awesome birthday, because I’m not sure it gets much better than this.

So remember, no cookie post next week. I’ll be on a beach chair in Mexico with a frozen drink in hand, SPF 90, and my work laptop bazillion of miles away. And a big Happy Early Birthday to Skip, who is already celebrating somewhere in the Caribbean with a drink in hand and throwing YOLO hashtags in the air like he just don’t care.

 

Peanut Butter Oreo Banana Muffins

Yep, you read it right. Everything you ever wanted, all in one muffin. And if you’re thinking, Oreos? In a muffin? Who wants to eat Oreos for breakfast? The answer is everyone. Everyone wants an excuse to have it be socially acceptable to eat Oreos at any point during the day. For breakfast. On the treadmill. In the shower. Literally, everywhere. I was searching for some cookie inspiration in the aisles of the grocery store after tennis this morning. There was a big display of Oreos on sale so I grabbed a bag of those. When my friend Sarah and I order froyo from this place in Southie, Sarah created the best fro yo combo of vanilla froyo with extra peanut butter and extra oreo. (If wherever you live does not offer make your own frozen yogurt combo delivered to your door, you should move to Southie and order from Broadway’s Best). So I was thinking I definitely need to get that flavor combo into a cookie. And when I got home, I saw 4 giant mushy bananas on the counter that needed to be used today, so boom. Peanut Butter Banana Oreo muffins. I don’t like banana bread as much because it takes longer to cook (remember, not patient over here) and the inside of mine is always too mushy. Regular and mini-muffins are the way to go when it comes to banana bread in my opinion.

So I did some perusing on the interwebs, and came across this recipe on Something Swanky, and figured I would give it a try to adapt this into muffin form.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 overripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 16 Oreos, crushed
  • 8 Oreos, crumbled for topping

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the vegetable oil, peanut butter, and sugar in a large mixer and beat on a very low speed until just combined.

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Step 2: Add in the bananas, eggs, and milk and beat lightly.

Step 3: Sift together flour and baking soda, and add to the wet mixture. Beat on a low speed until the dry mix is incorporated.

Step 4: In a food processor, crush 16 Oreos until they are roughly chopped (but not necessarily super finely ground). Add the crushed Oreos to the batter and mix on low until they are evenly distributed.

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Step 5: Line regular-size muffin tins with greased paper liners or grease generously. Fill the muffin cups about 1/2 way with batter. Crush about 8 Oreos a little more roughly and sprinkle on top of the batter. You can use as many or few as you want. I probably “crushed 8″ meaning, I ate 3 and used the rest for the topping. yolo.

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Step 6: Bake at 350 degrees for about 18-22 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are lightly browned and they are just firm to touch. I also did a version of these in mini muffin tins, which take about 12 minutes or so. Just keep an eye on these the whole time they are baking. Every oven is different and banana bread can be tricky.

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All I can say is, I think I found a cure for the Sunday Scaries and anyone at work who has a case of the Mondays tomorrow. This is one of those things you can eat without any guilt because technically, it’s a muffin, and muffins are a completely socially acceptable (and encouraged) breakfast food. I know I am mostly a cookie girl, but I have to say, this foray into muffins today has me thinking about a couple other ideas for muffins. Toasted coconut almond joy muffins anyone? Caramel Delight muffins? How about some browned butter muffins? So prepare yourself, because I think it’s safe to say muffins are coming your way in the next month or so of blog posts.

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So, life. Let me just put one thing out there right now. I am pulling a Justin Bieber, and calling an early retirement from dating. I am all set with it. With this being the last week of my youth before I turn 29 next Monday, which is basically 30, which is pretty much 40, which let’s be real, is 50, and I’m single, I’m just going to try to do a mental 180 and embrace my impending spinsterhood because it has to be less painful than the dating world of 2014. I do think if someone filmed my facial expressions during last night’s not-so-great dinner date, I might be a youtube sensation. I think I kept waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out from behind my table and tell me I was being punked. Losing 2 hours of your life on a sucko date with a karate ninja who enjoys going to work on Sundays for a few hours, is sarcastic, but not funny (at all), doesn’t really like sweets that much, doesn’t like booze (jigga whaaa??), is not sure he believes in marriage,  and strongly disklikes his brothers fiancee because she likes to take selfies ….. yeah losing 2 hours of your life on that, that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is the before and after. When everyone around you knows exactly what you should do. So here is a quick summary of the dating advice from everyone around me in case you happen to be in similar boat. This is not confusing at all:

  • Just stop looking, if you stop looking, you’ll definitely find somebody
  • But keep putting yourself out there. You definitely need to keep putting yourself out there
  • But stop looking while you’re putting yourself out there
  • If you just stop looking, that’s when it happens
  • But it’s not like you can stay home, you have to go out and put yourself out there, if you’re going to meet someone when you’re not looking for it

So in summary, I hereby retire from the dating world. I hear that when you retire, that’s when you find somebody, right?

Anyways, not spending my evenings with some of Boston’s least-eligible bachelors, at least gives me more time for cookie baking. So there’s the silver lining. Last week’s browned butter cadbury mini egg blondies were such a big hit, that I had several requests to make some mid-week. My personal trainer included. So some cookies went off to my friend Jackie in Houston. And a special set were saved for my friend Sarah and her bf Jason, who often does these hilarious reviews of local pizza joints on youtube. So he did the first ever Cookie Review for The Salted Cookie. I don’t want to pat myself on the back or anything, but first try and I get a 9.8 out of 10? Crushed it.

And to wrap up the weekend with some happy thoughts. My sister who is very much into swing dancing was in Boston for a competition this weekend, so I finally got a chance to go see her swing all over the place yesterday afternoon which was nice to get to spend a little sister time together pre-sucko date night. And in ONE WEEK, these Shaw sisters will be NYC bound for my birthday on the 31st to see the Jimmy Fallon show!

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Hopefully Mother Nature comes out of hibernation and realizes we are OFFICIALLY in spring and cuts the ridiculousness with this snowstorm forecast this week. How about, as a compromise for this horrendous winter, we just SKIP spring, and go right to Bank Street Beach, 80 degrees, large iced coffee in hand, and nothing to do but sit under some sunshine. I could definitely get onboard with that.

Browned Butter Cadbury Mini Egg Blondies

I combined two of my vices into one delicious baked good: browned butter and Cadbury mini eggs. Mini eggs are my kryptonite. It takes all the willpower in my body to not pick them up at CVS when I am running errands. I was doing so good, and then Friday struck. I did a software update on my iPhone earlier in the week and then Friday morning it just stopped functioning, which meant several hours sprinting (literally) between the Verizon and Apple stores on Boylston Street, only to have no one figure out what the real issue was, resulting in a replacement phone … 3.5 hours later. So when I got back to my desk, my account director Josh was waiting with a handful of kryptonite. All it took was 4 mini eggs in my system and that craving was stronger than ever. You know when the Hulk is just a normal guy hanging out, then all of a sudden something kicks in and he’s all green and veiny and crazy. That’s what Cadbury mini eggs do to me. Not literally, obviously, but the same level of intensity.

So of course Saturday afternoon when I was browsing the aisles of Rite Aid for cookie ideas, I picked up two bags of mini eggs. Oh but Rebecca, this recipe only uses one bag? Why did you get two? You know why I got two. Because I knew 4 eggs at a time, I’d manage to eat almost an entire bag before I even got to baking these bad boys. No regrets though. I didn’t have a sip of alcohol today on Southie St. Patrick’s day, so I ate my calories in the form of mini eggs instead. I think it’s safe to say that this is the last mini egg recipe you’ll be seeing from me this lenten season. But it was well worth it.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups Cadbury mini eggs
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan over medium heat, brown the butter. Put it in a separate bowl to cool.

Step 2: Put the cooled butter in the mixer and mix well with sugars. Add in vanilla extract, egg, and egg yolk and mix until well incorporated.

Step 3: Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together, and add to the wet mixture.

Step 4: Add in the mini eggs and chocolate chips, and mix on a low speed until evenly incorporated. It’s okay if the eggs get a little crushed up, I personally like it better that way.

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Step 5: Line the bottom of an 11×7 baking sheet with parchment paper, or grease well with non-stick spray. Evenly spread the batter in the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

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How much do you want to bet I did not let these cool for a half hour before cutting into them? Honestly, these are a sugar coma waiting to happen.

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Last week was a bit of a crazy one, so I gladly enjoyed St Patrick’s day from the comfort of my couch today. My Sunday Funday drinking days are long gone. I just can’t bounce back like in my younger days, so I used my elderly status as an excuse to do some cookie experimenting today, and most importantly, finally finish my Lost marathon. Here’s all I am going to say about finally finishing all 6 seasons of Lost. WHAT? I am more Lost than when I started the show. I don’t even want to talk about it because I feel like I will never get it, so I better just move on to some other show. Was I upset when Friday Night Lights ended? Sure. I love all things Tim Riggins. But at least I understood that ending. It’s also making it hard for me to watch all of the coverage on the Malaysian missing flight, which is just so weird, but I keep thinking … maybe they just had to go back to the island. With all the conspiracy theories out there, it’s certainly not the craziest one.

Other fun things from last week. The big 2-9 is approaching in just two weeks. Am I handling the approaching final frontier before the bigger 3-0 maturely and without emotion? Of course not, I’m a girl. I have total ladybrains about turning 29. Remember that Paula Cole song “where have all the cowboys gone?” I seriously feel like “where have all the attractive, financially stable, 28-35 year old men within a 10 mile radius of Boston gone?” I know, I know. Finding that is probably as likely as finding the island from Lost. But for real, where are the dudes who enjoy Sunday cookies and sarcasm? Well, rather than sit in a cube in Woonsocket on my actual birthday waiting for the guy  next to me to microwave his daily fish meal (come on guy, every day you gotta eat that stank fish?) I decided to take my birthday off this year and do something fun. So with the help of my brother and his best friend and funny man Mike, my sister and I are going to NYC for the day on the 31st to see the Jimmy Fallon show. I am pretty friggin excited for that.

I got cleared by the physical therapist last week to play tennis again, which was great, because I was majorly bumming not playing. We crushed another doubles match on Saturday afternoon before all of the local drunkards invaded Southie for the rest of the weekend. I have not moved my car since Friday morning because of the craziness that goes on here. But I can’t really complain about being forced to stay in jeggings all day. Colleen, Caitlan, Lauren and I went to our favorite Local 149 for dinner last night, and of course, I got my hands on some chalk during dinner and Caitlan snapped this shot of me plotting some of our tennis strategies. #ThePerfectServe

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And lastly, it was Star Wars movie night at work last Wednesday, so one of the developers bought me some Star Wars cookie cutters and put me in charge of the cookies for the event. You know I love a good challenge. So I made a vanilla bean sugar cookie Monday night, then on Tuesday Colleen and Sarah helped me frost them. What did we learn? Colleen is a closet Star Wars nerd. She knew all of the different names from Star Wars, meanwhile Sarah was frosting some Yodas that looked a little cat-like. Of course, I would be remiss in not giving Skip a shoutout. He commented on my facebook post of the Darth Vader cookies by saying “Rebecca … I am your father .. no literally, I am your father” which got him 11 likes on his comment alone, which he was pretty proud of. The price I pay for having tech savvy parents.

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The calm before the storm, where frosted food coloring ended up literally everywhere.
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Frosting cookies I am. IMG_1030

Sarah getting her Yoda on.IMG_1036

Yoda.IMG_1038Pretty proud of  my Darth Vader.

Because I suffer from perfectionism, I had to try my frosting recipe again to get it right since last week it was either too thick or a little runny. So I made some St Patrick’s Day frosted vanilla bean sugar cookies this afternoon to finally get it right. Much better this time.

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Browned Butter Mini M&M Cookies

We did it! We sprung forward. We are in the absolute final stretch for winter. Sunshine and summer is the light at the end of the tunnel that we can finally see. Anyone who complains about losing an hour of sleep last night should get a good kick right in the shins, because there was nothing more glorious than being able to walk castle island for a 6:43 pm sunset tonight. I honestly felt like Will Ferrell in Elf when he’s singing in a store today, running around just saying spring, spring spring! I even made it to 8am mass this morning and hit the gym with no hesitation, which is abnormal for a Sunday. I’m telling you. A little warmth and Vitamin D can go a long way my friends.

So lots of stories for the blog about this week, but I’ll get to the cookies first and save all the life stories for the end of this post. This weekend was Colleen’s birthday celebration. So needless to say, I may have been hurting a little bit browsing the aisles of Target in South Bay this afternoon in search of some cookie inspiration. I am not ready to go full Easter candy in my cookies quite yet, and I can not have Cadbury mini eggs anywhere around me, because they are straight crack cocaine to me once that bag is opened. I bought some mint green M&Ms thinking maybe I’d do something for St Paddy’s day, but I wasn’t really amped about that. I saw these mini M&Ms and remembered back to Christmas time when I did regular mini M&M cookies but never blogged about those, so I decided to do a browned butter version of that today.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. coarse sea salt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 12 oz bag mini M&Ms

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the butter into pieces and place in a saucepan over medium heat. You need to use a saucepan, not a pot. Whisk frequently to allow the butter to brown. You’ll be able to tell when it’s ready because after it gets wicked foamy you will see it turn to an amber color Remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.

Step 2: Sift together the flour, baking soda and sea salt in a separate bowl and set aside.

Step 3: In the mixer, combine sugars and brown butter until smooth. Add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla and yogurt.

Step 4: Mix in the dry ingredients. Set aside about 1/4 cup of mini M&Ms. Add the remaining mini M&Ms and mix just until they are evenly incorporated.

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Step 5: Using a medium cookie scoop, place exactly the scoop size (don’t overfill it like a normal cookie) balls of dough on a sil-pat or parchment lined baking sheet.  You want these to be smaller than a normal cookie. Press down lightly with your fingertips and then using the remaining M&Ms add a few on top of each cookie. This step is optional but makes them look really nice when they come out of the oven.

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Step 6: Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden. Let them sit on the tray to cool for at least 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

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IMG_0994By the way, you can’t actually dip these cookies into a wine glass of milk. But check out that spring manicure!

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Oh yeah. This was a good choice. They might not be the most exciting cookies I’ve ever made, but they look great, taste great, and are bite size. It’s great because just like munchkins which never actually add up to a real donut, you can eat as many of these as you want and they never equal one regular size cookie. That’s how it works, right? I hope so, because I gave up Diet Coke for Lent which is usually how I negate my cookie consumption.

So this week was a busy one. Monday my friend Caitlin from home and I were discussing how it’s just too frigging cold, so we booked a trip to Mexico for the first week in April, because as they say in Mexico … YOLO. Tuesday was Colleen’s birthday so we spent the weekend celebrating, which I’ll get to some more details on later. Tuesday I also finally decided that after 10 days of pretending my ankle did not actually hurt that bad, that it was time to go to the doctor. Which then resulted in having to go to the hospital for an x-ray. And then a different hospital Thursday morning to see an ortho doctor. Which finally resulted in them telling me that I did in fact sprain my ankle, and in the process managed to chip part of my ankle bone doing it. It definitely sounds worse than it is, but I got a copy of the xray for my desk at work so when people are hassling me, I can just point to it and be like, chipped ankle over here, please be sensitive. I then had to email my parents pictures of Chip the teacup from Beauty and the Beast. I decided to sit out my tennis match this weekend since the doctor basically said “do not play this weekend” and I spent 5 minutes negotiating with her “you said “don’t” but you did not say “can’t” so technically I CAN play is what you’re saying?”

So instead, I ended up driving to the Cape early Friday morning after the gym which was great, because I got to work from home all day and hang out with my parents Friday night. I know this may not up my ranking on the “cool” scale, but hanging with my parents by the fire down in Harwich on a Friday night in the winter, is actually my idea of the perfect Friday night. First, my parents laugh at all my jokes, which is nice of them. It makes me feel funnier than I am. Also, if you are not a Cape person or just haven’t been, you’ve gotta get there. Especially in the off season when there’s no traffic and it’s perfect. We had a nice dinner at the Marshside restaurant in Dennis Friday night and then I fell asleep by the fire on the couch at 9pm. If hanging with your parents on a Friday night is cool, then consider me Miles Davis.

The lake we live on was frozen over and I crushed a nice sunset pic Friday night. Panoramics don’t come out as nice on the blog, but this was a nice view Friday morning. image_2

Such a different sunset than in the summer, but the sky was unreal.
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Another benefit of going to the Cape, was I needed someone to help me bake a surprise birthday cake for Colleen. I can bake cookies blindfolded in my sleep, but cakes are just not really my thing. Mostly because they require patience, which I severely lack. So my favorite baking assistant (Mom) helped me bake a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and chopped up Reese’s peanut butter cups. I was silly and forgot to take a picture of the cake, but everyone at Colleen’s surprise birthday brunch today gave it several thumbs up. I’m sure I will channel it into some cookie one day, but I was on such a peanut butter sugar coma after brunch this afternoon I couldn’t bake with anything peanut butter flavored tonight.

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We danced up a storm (I will not be posting those pictures, sorry Colleen) last night at Lucky’s and then brought ourselves back to life with a brunch this morning at Lincoln in Southie. Colleen and I took a romantic sunset walk around Castle Island tonight to take full advantage of the time change. And, my favorite part of tonight, was getting Facetimed by my Grandpa (on my mom’s phone) who was trying to taunt me that he got cookies from someone else this weekend. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen my Grandpa in his house wearing anything but his classic undershirt, dress pants and suspenders. That man was made for the Internet.

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So that’s it for this week. I’m sure I’m forgetting some stories but I think we can say Colleen’s birthday week was a success. I will be posting some mid-week cookie pictures because I have been tasked with making Star Wars themed cookies for a Star Wars movie night at work Wednesday night. So one of the developers bought me 8 Star Wars cookie cutters, so tomorrow night I will make the sugar cookies, and Tuesday night Colleen and Sarah are going to help me decorate them. I’ve never decorated cookies before, so I picked up some decorating swag at the Party Store today, so fingers crossed. I would make some kind of Yoda joke right now, but I know that’s what Skip would do, so refrain I will.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

I never thought we’d see the day, but March is here. Which means we’ve almost survived what feels like the longest and most painful winter ever. The one weather-related thing I remember from elementary school is that March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. Let’s hope this March comes in like a well sedated lion that’s been hit with a tranquilizer shot, because I am all set with any more winter storms. I’m happy today’s predicted snowstorm of death now is being reported on Boston.com as “you won’t even need a shovel for this one.” In order to fully embrace the impending spring, I did some major spring cleaning today. The condo is sparkling and my closet and drawers have 5 trash-bags worth less clothes, which means Goodwill is getting a nice donation and now I have plenty of room for new clothes to shop for. Win win in my book.

So being someone who plans things for a living, you’d think I would plan my cookie recipes more than a day in advance. I usually just look for cookie inspiration during the week, or frantically empty my baking cabinet Sunday afternoons trying to find some good ingredient combo. Lucky for me, this week inspiration just fell into my hands (or actually, right on my desk) Friday morning. I came into the office Friday morning to a little blue present bag on my desk, with two jars of jam in it. My friend (and coworker) Jess got married last November and her thank you present was these cutely decorated jars of jam. Jess married Mike, so that’s what the J&M is. One jar was strawberry and the other is blueberry.

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So obviously my first thought: peanut butter and jelly. I saw this recipe on one of the baking blogs I like My Baking Addiction who found this recipe on the Barefoot Contessa blog. I spent my week writing up recommendations for A/B testing for online advertising, so since each jar of jam was a little under 1 cup and the recipe called for 1/2 cups, I figured it would be perfect to do half blueberry and half strawberry.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups jam of your choice ( I did half blueberry and half strawberry jam)

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugars. Add in eggs and vanilla and mix well.

Step 2: Add in both types of peanut butter and beat on high until well incorporated. A trick to measuring PB is to spray the measuring cup in advance with nonstick spray.

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Step 3: Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and then add to the wet batter and mix on a low speed (or prepare to be covered in flour). Important next step, taste test this dough. It’s perfect.

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Step 4: Line a 13×9 inch glass baking dish with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray. If you don’t have parchment, that’s okay just grease it up nice and good. The parchment just helps when you’re trying to get these out of the pan without crumbling. Spread 2/3 of the dough in the bottom of the dish and pat it down to ensure it’s even.

Step 5: Spread the jam evenly over the dough.

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Step 6: Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the jam. It won’t cover it a hundo percent, but that’s okay because it spreads when its baking. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

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It was really hard to let these cool, but you need to do it because they are way too ooey gooey to cut into right away. Unless you have no shame and like eating them with a fork straight from the pan, then have at it. Lucky for my coworkers, I’ll be working from the Boston office tomorrow morning, the first Monday in a couple weeks, so these bad boys will be up for grabs in time for breakfast. If you’re a milk person, I think one of these and a tall glass of milk does the trick. Me personally, I am a Diet Coke girl, because it basically negates the calories of this cookie, right?

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This weekend was nice and low key. The calm before the storm that inevitably is March when the sun starts staying out a little longer and we all come out of this winter thaw, and suddenly your social calendar is jam packed with people wanting to leave their houses at night again. We dominated our tennis match yesterday against the #2 tennis team in our league, sprained ankle and all. Colleen’s birthday is Tuesday this week (Happy Birfdey Jiggity!) so we have a fun-filled weekend ahead of us. St. Patrick’s day in Southie is just two weekends away, and then we close out Q1 with the best day of March – my birthday on the 31st. Right now I am just trying to embrace all the good things about March before I get all ladybrains about turning 29, which is the final frontier before I officially hop the Acela express to spinsterhood next year.

I had dinner on Wednesday with one of my favorite friends from high school who also went to BC with me, Ania, which was just great. I think I have a pretty solid group of friends, but I am always so happy when I get together with a friend that I don’t get to see as frequently and you’re able to just pick right back up. Ania was one of my original taste testers back in my high school baking days, where Funfetti cookies were a Friday night staple and we’d play pool in my parent’s basement. One time I threw Ania and my friend Katie a joint surprise birthday party since they both have birthdays in May. I convinced Katie she was “in” on the surprise for Ania and vice versa, and I have this picture of both of them coming down the stairs looking at eachother to say surprise, and there I am in the background just laughing since I crushed it. Those were the days.

One funny thing about last week, is that I was a guest speaker for a business class at Boston College Monday night. I took the class back when I was a senior at BC and so the professor has brought me in a few times to give a few talks, which is always nice. Normally, I don’t feel that old, but when I walked into the class, I asked the kids (yes, kids) what grade they were in back in 2007 (when I was a senior) and they said 7th grade. I refrained from telling them how we had landline phones in our dorms and no wireless internet or smartphones, after one girl told me she didn’t know how we survived college without the app that tells you when the buses came or when the laundry machines were free. We froze our butts off waiting for buses, that’s how. Officially old status over here. Anyways, it was nice, they laughed at my jokes so at least I guess I’m not that old yet. They are living the dream right now. I was jealous when I was walking around campus before the class right around sunset and Gasson Hall was lit up all nice. At least some things don’t change. For Boston, for Boston …

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Browned Butter Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

One week later, I think I have finally made a full recovery from Vegas. My body was hurtin’ worse than Party Marg and I made a lot of promises to my trainer Tuesday morning when I started my post-Vegas-recovery-detox. She suggested trying no sugar and no booze for a month. Tuesday morning at 5:30am, I was like oh ABSOLUTELY that sounds like a great idea, definitely doable, a hundred percent. In all honesty, I spent a lot of time yesterday browsing healthy cookie recipes. There are a number of people at work trying Paleo diets right now and my mom is gluten-free, so I figured I would try to experiment with something healthy this week. But then comes the weekend. One glass of red wine last night reminded me that sugar and booze are what makes the world go round, and there is no way a cookie is going to taste as good if it’s sugar free. So rather than sit on a throne of lies and bake some healthy cookies and write a whole post about how you couldn’t even taste that these brownies were made with black beans instead of sugar — I decided to stick to what I know best: butter and sugar.

I’ll tell you a little more at the end of this post, but I was in need of some peanut butter and chocolate medicine for the soul in my life today, so I perused the interweb for some new brownie recipes and came across a browned butter brownie recipe from somethingswanky.com . I had picked up some mini Reese’s cups at the grocery store yesterday and figured I would make her recipe my own by upping the ante with some PB and PB cups. I was a little nervous about how they would come out since they didn’t seem to be setting right in the oven, but after letting them sit outside the oven for a little bit, wham bam 4 thumbs up from me and my live-in taste tester.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 sticks salted butter
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini peanut butter cups

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brown the butter over the stove in a medium saucepan. If you need more details on browning butter, take a look at this post from a few months back for step by step instructions. Let the brown butter cool a little before putting it in the mixer.

Step 2: Add the peanut butter and sugar to the mixer and mix well. Add in vanilla extract and eggs and blend until incorporated.

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Step 3: In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder and salt. Sifting cocoa powder is important to break up the lumps. Add this to the wet mixture and mix on a low speed.

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Step 4: Add in the chocolate chips and peanut butter cups. If you can’t find the mini ones, you can coarsely chop regular peanut butter cups.

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Step 5: Line the bottom of a 13×9 glass baking dish with parchment paper. This will make it a lot easier to remove the brownies after. If you don’t have parchment, just grease it well. Spread the batter evenly in the baking dish, and bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Let them set for at least half an hour so they set before cutting into them.

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You’ll need a tall glass of milk to wash these down and a 5-mile run to burn these off, but it will be totally worth it. I struggled to get a good picture tonight. Probably would have been easier if I let them actually cool. But instead I stood on top of the kitchen table (very safe) and almost burned my hair off kneeling on the island to try to get creative with the pics. But you’ll just have to deal with these few awkward shots.

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Yeah for spring manicure colors! IMG_0944

Speaking of running, I won’t be doing any of that this week. I played tennis for a few hours yesterday morning which was a great way to start off my Saturday, until I ran for a shot and twisted my ankle and sprained it. I am not a big believer in getting sick or hurt (like when I went a week with a broken arm before getting a real x-ray so I had to admit it was really broken), so I pretended it was fine yesterday, but when I woke up today my left ankle was twice the size of my right. Womp womp.

If you know the real me (not just the Salted Cookie Lady version of me), you’ll know that I actually do have a dating life (no cat lady here … yet). I send out some pretty detailed post-date-debriefs to a core group of my favorite friends after each date, which have started getting forwarded around since I apparently have a witty way of documenting the dates – especially since each guy has a fruit or vegetable code name. (Can we all take a second to remember “Kevin Mango: The Politically Incorrect Non-Planner who told me there would be something wrong with me if I didn’t like guacamole). And once I figure out a way to write them so that no guy could figure out it was written about them as well as figure out the perfect blog name, you’ll definitely want to subscribe to that blog. Anyways, while I am sure at their core my friends all want me to end up with someone and live happily ever after, I’m fairly certain (because they have bluntly told me this) that they would like to read about my adventures in dating for a few more years. So the purpose of divulging all that, is that today I was in need of some medicine for the heart and soul: peanut butter and chocolate, which inspired these brownies. As Skip called him today, “fall off the face of the earth” boy has not made a reappearance, since he fell off the face of the earth (hopefully, literally) a few weeks ago, which just continues to bug me, since I am not great at letting things go. And if you’re reading this FOTFOTEB, don’t worry I’m not going to go all Taylor Swift on you in this post. But just know, you’re not on Skip’s good side. But, as the great poet Jay-Z so eloquently once said, “on to the next one.” The browned butter brownie definitely made me, my ankle and my mind feel a bit better tonight.

And since I was still bummin about Skip and Linda (aka Mom and Dad’s) trip to Vegas getting cancelled, I met them halfway today at Mohegan Sun for a great day of people watching and losing some money in the slot machines. Now that is what I call a Sunday Funday. Also, I would be remiss to not give a shoutout to Mother Nature today, so big ups to you lady nature for gracing us with a winter heatwave (50 degrees) and melting some of the snow piles on the street. Since our gutters are clogged, we have some giant icicles of death on the side of the house, that keep intermittently crashing down making it sound like the roof collapsed. Just like a white noise machine to help you sleep soundly at night.

And last but not least, I’d like to at least acknowledge a small victory in healthy-living from this past week (just in case my trainer happens to be reading this, hi Rita). Cauliflower pizza is apparently all the rage now with low-carb and Paleo people alike, so I attempted to make some since it is gluten free and I’m always looking for new recipes to try out for Linda. I won’t lie, it came out pretty friggin good. Although I’m a big believer that with enough cheese anything can taste good. So that’s all for this week. Let’s hope for more sunshine than snow.

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White Chocolate Graham Cracker Pudding Cookies

A disclaimer to this post: I’m a little punchy tonight. I’d tell you more, but what happened in Vegas this weekend, stays in Vegas. Well,  unless you have a cookie blog, and need to give your loyal fans their weekly life update. So I’ll let out a little bit of what happened in Vegas this weekend in this post. But needless to say, I came in on the red eye early this morning and have probably slept a combined 12 solid hours in the past 3 nights so punchy is a nice way of saying, overtired and a little bit cray cray. I channeled that exhaustion into some Vegas inspired cookie baking tonight which I am surprised both turned out pretty tasty and I did not fall asleep while baking them and burn the house down. Winning all around.

Saturday night we went to see Jersey Boys at the Paris Hotel because Caitlan’s friend was playing the lead role of Frankie Valli. Now if you have not seen this play before, I highly recommend it. I saw it a few years ago when I went to Vegas and Skip got tickets. I spent a lot of time rolling my eyes at how I didn’t want to go because Skip has horrific taste in music (sorry, but it is true. He doesn’t even like Ke$ha. ugh.) Well, I was pleasantly surprised when I knew almost every song in Jersey Boys and it was a wicked entertaining show. So if you haven’t seen it, I do highly recommend it. So anyways, after the show we met up with Caitlan’s friend Graham (who is super talented, and in a band too) and went to the Sugar Factory for a late dinner. Apparently their desserts are to die for, but Colleen and I had shared the world’s largest drink which was smoking (literally) and had gummy worms in a giant goblet, so no room for dessert for us. But when they brought the check, they gave you these little white chocolate covered graham cracker things to munch on which were insanely delicious and sparked the inspiration for this cookie. So given we met Graham, and ate the chocolate covered graham crackers, it was obviously a sign that I needed some Graham inspired cookies.

So tonight was just some experimenting gone right. I used a vanilla pudding cookie base, covered some mini Teddy Grahams with white chocolate and froze them, then chopped them up and added them to the batter. This will be the last piece of sugar I eat for a month before some much needed detoxing starts tomorrow, but man oh man are these soft, chewy and packed with flavor. And if the name White Chocolate Graham Cracker Pudding Cookies is too much of a mouthful for you, you can just call these Party Marg cookies. Read on and you’ll see why.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups mini Teddy Grahams (or full size ones coarsely chopped)
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a microwave safe bowl, melt the while chocolate chips until smooth. Be sure to take it out and stir every 20-25 seconds to avoid it clumping. Coat the mini Teddy Grahams in the white chocolate and then spread on some parchment paper and freeze or refrigerate until hard. I find teddy grahams just work so much better for baking than actual graham crackers because they are a little more solid and don’t try the dough out as much.

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Step 2: Cream together butter and sugars. Add in vanilla pudding mix.

Step 3: Add in eggs and vanilla and mix until well incorporated. Add in the sifted dry ingredients and mix until the dough forms.

Step 4: Take the Teddy Graham bark (this could be eaten entirely on its own it’s so good) and coarsely chop it. Add that into the mixer and mix on low just until the bark is evenly distributed. Obviously, you should taste test the bark for safety before.

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Step 5: On a sil-pat or parchment-lined baking sheet, use a small cookie scoop to place even-size balls of dough about an inch apart from eachother. Bake at 350 degrees for about 11-13 minutes or until lightly brown. Let them cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire track to cool.

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Maybe I should be punchy and jet lagged more often, because a very tired Colleen also gave these two thumbs up. As much as I wanted to put my sweet Jet Blue eye mask back on and sleep the afternoon away, with more snow on the way tomorrow I figured I needed to give my coworkers a reason to come to the office tomorrow.

Also, come the heck on Mother Nature. I know I sound like a bitter grumpy New Englander (because apparently, I now am) but enough with winter. 18 storms this winter so far, is what I read on the internet today. Who knows if that is even a real number since meterologists just make everything up, but it feels like there is a new significant storm every other day. The worst part was that last week the storm that basically shut down the southern half of the country, resulted in Skip and Linda’s Vegas trip being cancelled. So that was a bummer because Skip was really looking forward to seeing Britney Spears because he has such good taste in music (har har har), and Linda is my favorite person to play the slots with. So I had to give the wheel of fortune machine all my money by myself this time. But Caitlan, Colleen and I luckily were able to get out Friday morning and enjoy some 80 degree weather in lovely Nevada this weekend.

Yesterday, we stood in that 80 degree weather watching the Bellagio fountains just soaking in that Vitamin D.

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So the highlights of the trip that I am willing to share. First, the Britney Spears concert which was the whole reason for this trip, was really good. It all sparked from one night out at Lucky’s 6 weeks ago after a few bottles of vino, and a Britney song came on. Pretty much how all great life choices start. I’m sure in 10 years Justin Bieber will be living at Planet Hollywood putting on the same show. But good ol Brit Brit even though she seemed to move at half speed, lip synced her heart out to her best jams, and the theater was nice in that every seat had a good view.

I’m trying to remember what we did each day but right now everything is sort of blending together. We walked up and down the strip a few times and saw the hotels and all the shops since it was Colleen’s first time there. The night club scene is interesting there since in Boston I am used to pulling my classic Becca Shaw irish exit by 10:30 every night, and if I don’t do that the bars in Southie close before 1am anyway. In Vegas, you can literally stay out all night. It’s just a while different world. It’s shocking that I am still single since my best dance move is the one below where I basically just wave my hand in front of my face while quoting Beyonce. I think the dude in the background dug it though.

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Sunday morning we had a delicious recovery brunch at the Wicked Spoon in the Cosmopolitan hotel. Bottomless mimosas and bloody marys, you just can’t go wrong with that. And their dessert selection would put you in a straight sugar coma if you didn’t have self control. The chocolate covered strawberries dipped in heath bar could definitely be a future cookie idea I think.

Vitamin C for days and days.

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But while we did not end up with a tiger in our hotel room, or any tattoos (that we can speak of) we did have an unexpectedly entertaining night in the airport waiting for our red eye last night. Our flight was delayed until 12:30 Vegas time (aka 3:30 am EST) which meant we were just zombies sitting in the gate area. Colleen and I had spent the first hour at a charging station powering up our phones before we went over to the gate to meet Caitlan who was trying to sleep. And that’s when we met Party Marg. Marg was this crazy lady who had probably taken two bottles of white wine to the face before she showed up to the gate in her track suit with husband Charlie (who she called CHAR CHAR). Now, the only other people around us were obviously those going to Boston as well. Marg asked us where we were from, and when we said Boston, she basically screamed like we told her we were her long lost daughters. She told us she was from the North End, Natick (that’s not actually a real place) and had no realm of what personal space meant, considering she kept touching Caitlan’s hair and face while making Caitlan translate for her when she was harassing the young kid next to us (who also spoke perfect English, by the way). I realize while typing this, I sound crazier than Party Marg, but it was one of those had to be there to understand it kind of situations. She proceeded to kiss a random stranger on the face while trying to show off his wife’s wedding ring to Char (who kept telling Margy to not talk to him anymore), and then started pushing a random man in a wheelchair through the gate area.

So that’s that. Hands down the best Valentine’s weekend I’ve had to date. A hundred percent. Who needs a real boyfriend when you can spend your weekend with Britney Spears and Party Marg?

 

Browned Butter S’mores Blondies

Winter, come on. You’ve overstayed your welcome, and now it’s time for you to go. I could not be more ready for summer than I am right now. I’m about 10 seconds away from going batshit and running up and down the streets of Southie throwing parking cones all over the place. Can someone just wife me up already so I can move to the burbs with a heated garage and I won’t have anxiety over the thought of moving my car even days after a snowstorm? One more hyped up Boston.com headline about the next apocolyptic polar vortex snowstorm of death and I am packing my bags and flying South for the rest of the winter.

But if there is a silver lining to being trapped inside because of snow, it’s cookie baking motivation. Last Wednesday we got another snowstorm in Boston, which meant working from the kitchen table across from Colleen for the day. Since I knew my coworkers would need some motivation to get to the office Thursday, I did some experimenting Wednesday night. Colleen, like most normal humans, loves all things S’mores. I love all things browned butter. So ba da bing, lightbulb above my head, browned butter s’mores blondies. I just used my 8×8 browned butter blondie recipe and added in some graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chunks and dehydrated marshmallows, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1  1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1 1/4 cups marshmallow bits

 

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brown the butter in a medium-size saucepan. Take the stick of butter and cut it into chunks. Melt over medium-heat constantly whisking. First it will start to bubble. Keep whisking. Keep whisking until you see it change to this amber color and then turn off the heat, and use a spatula to transfer to a bowl, making sure to get all of the brown bits.

Step 2: Add the brown sugar and mix with the browned butter. Then transfer to the mixer.

Step 3: Add in egg and vanilla bean extract and mix well.

Step 4: In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder, graham cracker crumbs, and salt. Then add to the wet mixture and mix until incorporated.

Step 5: Add in the chocolate chunks and mini marshmallow bits and beat lightly until well incorporated. You could try this with regular mini marshmallows if you weren’t able to find these little bits, I’ve just had mixed luck with baking with those in the past.

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Step 6: Either line the 8×8 glass baking dish with parchment, or grease it up well with non-stick spray. Evenly spread the batter in the baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, just until the top is lightly browned.

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Oh yes. You will want to make these even just to  get your house smelling oh so delicious. Now again, the hardest part about these? Waiting to let them cool. We could not wait, so the pictures below are not the best, but we just had to dig in after being cooped up in the house all day.

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We texted Francesca to come down to be one of our taste testers for this batch, and when she tried to get in the lock was broken in the door that separates our condo units. So then 3 of us not-so-handy girls tried to take apart the door lock, while facetiming with my very-handy Mom. And a locksmith ended up coming the next day, because our skills are better at baking and eating cookies, than they are at fixing broken locks apparently.

So my coworkers got double-cookies last week, which unfortunately means no cookies for them this week because I am traveling to Rhode Island through Wednesday afternoon. Thursday they are already hyping up the weather headlines which helps my already cray cray anxiety. Come on weatherman, why can’t you just say “Hey guys, predicting the weather is actually an impossible job so I’m going to work on just getting everyone to namaste a little bit so we don’t panic like the world is ending every time we think a flurry might be headed our way.” I get it, in the South, a flurry means panic and close the highways, because they don’t have plows and sand and all that. But man, get it together Boston.

But as long as there is no snow Friday then we are a-okay. because you know how I am spending my Valentines day? I am heading to Las Vegas with Colleen and Caitlan to spend my Valentines night with the one and only Britney Spears. An idea we had late night after a few bottles of wine at Lucky’s a month and a half ago is actually happening this weekend. And you know who else is going to be there? Skip and Linda. Aka. Mom and Dad. Luckily, my mom takes tons of pictures, so at least if Saturday morning we wake up with a tiger and our hotel room, a Mike Tyson face tattoo for Skip, and Colleen missing, I’m sure we can use all of mom’s pictures to put together the pieces and figure out what happened the night before.

Weather forecast for Vegas: 78 degrees all weekend, 0% chance or rain, -100% chance of snow. Viva Las Vegas.

Double Chocolate Espresso Oreo Cookies

Yay, Superbowl time. Go sports. Do the thing, win the points. Touchdown touchdown woo. Or maybe some really delicious espresso Oreo cookies and some afternoon snuggs on the couch. First of all, let’s give a big shoutout to Mother Nature for gracing us with some sweet 50 degree weather and sunshine today. Everyone in the city was friendly today. I got my first outdoor run of the year around Castle Island, which was about 500 times more productive than when I run on the treadmill and usually decide after about 7 minutes I’ve had enough. I baked cookies early enough in the day that I am not writing this post at midnight. Winning all around. And while I know that Mother Nature has a triple-pack-snow-punch ready for us this week, I will try for once to just live in the moment and enjoy the fresh air of having the windows open today.

I’ll get right to the cookies since I have more fun life stories for the end of the post to make up for my lame post last week. So a few weeks ago Colleen and I went to Stephi’s in Southie for our 1-year-anniversary dinner. Translation: Congratulations Colleen for surviving a full year of living with me and for some reason continuing to pay me rent. Anyways, to celebrate we indulged in some dessert from Stephi’s – an espresso cheesecake with an Oreo crust. Holy bomb dot com. I wish I had a picture of it but we seriously annihilated that cheesecake like we were in a food eating contest and our lives depended on winning. Something that good needed to be packed into a cookie. So henceforth, I give you these beauties: double chocolate espresso Oreo cookies. There are probably more Oreos in these than I needed but since Oreos are my kryptonite and I need to be in a little black dress in Vegas next week, I needed those devil Oreos out of the house.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 24-30 Oreos, chopped (basically whatever is left from what you’ve already eaten from the bag)

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars. Add in eggs and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.

Step 2: In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder. Add to the wet batter and beat on slow until well mixed. I know sifting is like flossing. You know you should do it, and half the time I lie to you and tell you I do it but I don’t. But in this case, you really should sift to make sure you get rid of any cocoa powder lumps.

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Step 3: Step 3: Add in the chocolate chips and mix until evenly incorporated.

Step 4: Roughly chop the Oreos and add into the batter. Mix on the lowest speed just until they are evenly distributed. I started with 24, but then I ended up putting in a total of 30, minus 2 that I ate. So I guess that’s really 28.

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Step 5: On a parchment or sil-pat-lined baking sheet, use a medium cookie scoop to place even-size balls of dough. Press down lightly with your fingertips. Bake for 10-12 minutes and then cool on a wire rack.

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When these are a little gooey undercooked, holy bananas are they delicious. I love the mocha flavor with the melty chocolate chips and crunchiness of the Oreo chunks. These are definitely meant to be enjoyed with a giant glass of milk if you’re into the whole milk + cookies combo. I’m more of a milk + diet coke kind of girl, since they basically negate each other.

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Okay, so LOTS of things happening in the world of Boston this week. FIRST, an absolute apocolyptic travesty happened last Monday. So there I am just working away in my scenic windowless beige cube down at my client in Woonsocket, Rhode Island when I get this email from the Sapient Boston office “Now introducing, the new Cookie Monday! Every Monday at 3pm there will be free cookies available in the cafe.” Stunned. I sat there just stunned, and then the emails and IMs started coming in. Concerned coworkers. Appalled that someone else would try to get up on my cookie turf. Cookies and Mondays have been my thing for over 2 years now. I was happy to see the loyalty of my cookie list coworkers who did not indulge in the store bought (not even brand name) cookies that afternoon, and who all voiced their loyalty and utter disgust over email. That’s real love there. Let’s just say my cake batter cookies were demolished by 11am on Tuesday morning. So suck on that imposter cookie Monday. One of my coworkers sent me this snapchat of the cookie selection.

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Tuesday I had planned a little work get together for some of the girls in the office. So we did one of these Paint Nite events at the bar next to work where you drink wine and they try to teach you how to paint a picture. Even with only indulging in Diet Coke, my painting still looked sad and lonely. Granted, we were painting something called “lonely tree in the woods” or as I like to call it, “A self portrait of being almost 29 and still single.” Either way, we still had fun. And since the lighting in Clerys is more meant for late night bumpin n grinding than painting, I’m pretty sure when we all got home and saw our pictures in the light of day, they are probably all going in the trash later this week.

image (8)Allie, Alex, Megan, Robin and Jess so excited for Paint Nite.

image (7)Chessie, Me and Jess. Business Consultants by day, Picassos by night.

Friday morning was a big moment in my adult life. I finally bought a grown up bed. Now, I have not been living in a twin bed or anything like that. But I have had my eye on this legit bed from Pottery Barn for quite some time now and finally pulled the trigger and it was delivered on Friday morning. 6 full drawers, which basically doubles my storage capacity in my room. And the headboard makes me feel like I am either in a nice hotel or some fancy coastal cottage. Either way, it got 53 likes on Facebook, which basically means the social consensus confirms I made a solid life decision with this bed.

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Saturday, was a big day. My tennis partner and I have been harboring some resentment against this doubles team from north of the city who we lost to in October. Now, in October it was a devastating blow since we were on an undefeated roll, and these two ladies crushed our streak with our first loss. So we have been practicing since then for this match. When we got to the racquet club, our opponents complimented us on our major defeat of the Russians from Wellesley the previous week who were undefeated until they went up against the Young Gunz from Southie. Oh that match? We totally forgot about it already. (Lies, we basically spent the week telling everyone we knew we took down the #1 team in the league). So after a nail biter match with a first set tie breaker, the Young Gunz took back bragging rights for the win.

So that’s it for the week. I think groundhogs are stupid and I’m going to continue to complain like a New Englander every time there is snow in the forecast. But for tonight, you all enjoy your chicken wings and football betting, while I continue a Lost marathon with Jack and Sawyer.