• Mixed Berry Crumb Bars

    Sunday night, and I’m still in recovery mood from this weekend’s food coma. My Uncle Jimmy was on the Cape for his annual dinner where he wows us with his latest culinary skills, and has us all testing the physical … Continue reading

  • Browned Butter Salted Rice Krispie Treats

    I’ve been holding out on you. Taunting you with pictures of this on instagram but not actually getting it up on the blog for almost a month. I’ve probably made it about six or seven times in the past month … Continue reading

  • Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls

    Sunday morning, brown butter and cinnamon buns. Now that is a combo I could get onboard with every weekend. Not to mention this weekend was filled with sunshine + good friends + good food. Another winning combo to kickoff summer. … Continue reading

  • Cape Cod Cranberry Orange Muffins

    I had every intention of writing this blog post much earlier in the day. But Mother Nature graced us with some sunshine and warm weather today. And then crazy eddie was in full pyro-mode next door tonight, so I got … Continue reading

  • Browned Butter Vanilla Bean Blondies

    That’s it. I’ve had it. I’m moving to Florida. Anyone who says they live in New England because they “love the seasons” is absolutely bananas. You can say you love summer and fall, but no one in their right mind … Continue reading

  • Brown Butter Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

    You know that part in Amazing Graze where it says “I once was lost, but now am am found, was blind, but now I see” – that is how I feel today. About brown butter. I have tasted brown butter … Continue reading

Guacamole

This is not a cookie recipe. Or a muffin. Or candy. Or anything that would be classified as a dessert. This is guacamole. Yes, that’s right. I am more than just salted cookies. I can cook, sautee, grill, crockpot, appetize, pizza, tapa and much more. And don’t worry I know what you’re thinking. Why in the hell has this girl not been wifed up yet? I ask myself that question frequently. But enough about me, let’s get to the guac of the matter. With all my work travel, it’s been a little challenging to keep up with the weekly cookie/baking posts. Mostly because of logistics to coordinate getting all the cookies to someone else to eat before I fly Monday morning. But when I am home, I’m always cooking since I can’t stand to eat out when I’m home after a week of traveling where I have no choice but to eat out every single meal. So I got to thinking. If I just started to write down the recipes of the things I cook when I’m home, I would definitely be able to blog more frequently, and showcase my many other skillz in the kitchen and on the grill. Maybe I limited myself with being branded The Salted Cookie, but it’s catchy and there are plenty of other blogs with names about baking or sweets that also include recipes that they cook. So get onboard kids, because all of those recipes you see me cooking for my friends on the weekends are coming to a blog near you (… this blog … just to be clear.)

So what better way than to kick off my non-cookie posts than with America’s lifeblood: Guacamole. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like guacamole, and if they don’t like guacamole you probably shouldn’t be friends with them anyway. Guacamole is one of the few things in the world that people have no qualms paying extra for. So much so, you can buy t-shirts and tank tops that say “I know Guac is Extra.” Imma gonna need to get me one of those.

I’ve been on this taco kick lately. Not just on Tuesdays, but any day of the week. I had my friend Ania over for dinner a week ago and we grilled some tilapia tacos and grilled mango. I’m down the Cape for Memorial day weekend, and we were having company over for dinner last night so I offered to do the cooking for the group so that I could experiment with some new taco recipes. Which meant, guac was needed. And it was the centerpiece of last night’s dinner. IMG_9508

The hardest part about guacamole is making sure you have avocados that are ripe and ready to go. Most times you need to wait 2-3 days after picking them up from the store when they are hard as a rock. Luckily yesterday I squeezed a bunch of avocados in Stop + Shop and found 4 that were just about ready to be turned into guac. I have two secrets to my basic guac recipe: an immersion blender and fresh parmesan cheese. Which I guess are no longer secrets since you’re now in my circle of trust. IMG_2374

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 fresh jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice from 2 limes (about 2 tbsp)
  • Salt + Pepper to taste
  • 4 Roma (or plum) tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parmesan cheeseIMG_2375Step 1: Remove the core from the avocados and squeeze avocado into a big bowl. No need to cut it up all nice and fancy here. Use an immersion blender to cream the avocado until smooth. If you don’t have one, you can use two forks to smash it up.

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Step 2: Dice the red onion. Cut the jalapeno pepper in half, remove the seeds and mince it up very fine. Throw both the pepper and red onion into the avocado bowl.IMG_2380

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One tip here, wash your hands immediately after handling the jalapeño pepper or you’ll make the mistake of touching your eye later and screaming bloody murder. I always have this Crabtree + Evelyn Cook’s citrus handwash in my kitchen which helps to clean everything off your hands when cooking. (Also, what a beautiful website C+E has. Amiright?)IMG_2383

Step 3: Chop up the fresh cilantro and add to the mix. Juice two limes (microwave for 10 seconds or roll them before to optimize the juice output) and then stir up all of the ingredients so far in the big bowl. Add some salt and pepper to taste. IMG_2384

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Step 4: Seed and dice four Roma or plum tomatoes. Use a spatula to fold them in. IMG_2386

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Step 5: Now for the secret ingredient. I learned this tip from my friend Stacey a few summers ago and can’t make guac without it. Sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of fresh parmesan cheese. You can use Kraft if that’s all you have on hand, but you’ll notice a big flavor difference by using the good stuff instead. Give it one last good mix with the spatula until all of the ingredients are evenly incorporated. At this point you’ll need to taste test. IMG_2390

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Sometimes you might need to adjust the flavors a bit by adding in a little extra cilantro, salt + pepper, or lime juice. And sometimes, you just nail it on on the first try. Crushed it. IMG_2395

IMG_2397I know I went a little overboard with the photos in this post but dayyummm the lighting in my parent’s kitchen is amazing. I barely had to edit any of these photos. Maybe I’ll start doing all of my food photoshoots here.

So I kept my promise to you that I would get my shiz together and start posting more, so you’re welcome. The nice thing about the more frequent posts is that it’s easier for me to remember what I did in the past few days to recap.

Firstly, I decided that on my third week of no work travel, I really needed to try to get back into a routine. And by routine, I mean simply to start showering and putting real pants on again. So I went into the office 3 days this week. And on Wednesday morning I was rushing like an insane person to make it into the office for an 8am meeting … only to realize that the meeting didn’t actually start until 8:30. The silver lining was that then I had time to go to my favorite place – Flour Bakery – and get a giant iced coffee to help kick my brain into gear. IMG_9489Another benefit of going into work was seeing actual human beings again (outside of the random people doing house projects for me). So I grabbed lunch with my friend Allie at Snappy Sushi on Newbury Street. Their sushi is fresh to death and all of it comes in brown rice which is great. Allie and I are heading to Portland, Oregon this coming weekend for the Indulge Conference which we needed to discuss important logistical details such as vacation hashtags and what kind of shoes we are going to bring. IMG_9494Thursday we had a Boston office outing for work at Fenway Park. Despite being a Yankees fan and having a strong family-bred dislike for the Red Sux, I still enjoy the game of baseball and Fenway is a pretty cool place. The view from right field was not too shabby at all. Fun Fact, when I was a little kid playing tee-ball on a team full of boys, I couldn’t tell the difference between right and left field. Anytime another kid on the team would ask Coach Garrity which one was left field, he would yell at them like they were a giant dumb dumb. However when I would ask, he would nicely walk me out into the outfield to show me where to stand. IMG_9497And then of course I endured some 93/Route 3 traffic Thursday night because I just could not wait to get down to the Cape to kick off summer. Granted today it’s about 45 degrees and windy as all heck, but there’s no snow, so I am happy. We went to Cooke’s Seafood for lunch yesterday so I could get my first lobstah roll of the season. And dang was it delicious. IMG_9502Maybe Lobster Guac will be one of my next experiments for the blog.

So I will of course still be blogging about desserts and cookies, but definitely incorporating more cooking posts in here as well. If there’s anything you want me to make, just email me @ thesaltedcookie@gmail.com. Or Instagram me, Facebook message me, text, carrier pigeon, smoke signal …. whatever strikes your fancy. Happy Memorial Day!

 

Smoked Salted Chocolate Potato Chip Cookies

I know. I am really getting lazy with these blog posts. And for once I really don’t have a good excuse about sucko airports and jet lag and working a bazillion hours. Really, I’ve just been living it up at home in Boston for the THIRD week in a row without any travel. Can I get a hell yeah?? (Hellllll yeah). Now granted, I haven’t really been showering, interacting with other humans or putting real pants on for the past two weeks, but I’m working to remedy that this week. Yolo. On the bright side, I’m in a really good mood so this post won’t be dripping with my usual passive aggressive sarcasm against corporate America and airlines. Yay. Also I recently started binge watching Mad Men on Netflix, which if you’ve seen it, you can understand why I’d rather spend my evenings watching back-to-back episodes of Don Draper instead of writing blog posts.

I’ve been getting a LOT done around the house the past two weeks too. I have lots and lots of before/after pictures and some not so humble brags of my house project accomplishments at the end of this post. But before I get too excited and get into that, let’s get to the good stuff: the cookies.

Sunday I was in my usual predicament. So many cookie possibilities, but no real inspiration for this week’s recipe. I was in the mood for an original recipe. Maybe I was just riding the high of a weekend with Mom and all of our handy work around the house (or maybe it was the fumes from the backsplash sealer …) either way. I wanted to make something new. SO I rummaged around in my magic baking drawer of goodies and found my Christmas presents from my sister-in-law: smoked sea salt and smoked chocolate chips. And I thought, bless her heart y’all I’m gonna make me some smoked bar bee kew cookies. ROLL TIDE! Or something like that. IMG_2358

My sister in law is from the South. The real South. Alabama. Where the skies are so blue. Sweet home Alabama. Lord, I’m coming home to you. Not really, but metaphorically speaking with these cookies. So it makes sense that she would be the one to get me these smokey treats. When you open the jar of chocolate chips and take a wiff it smells like you just lifted the lid of crockpot BBQ pulled pork, or took a big sniff of liquid smoke. VERY strong flavor. So I had to think of a good cookie base to balance out these big flavors. I played around with the idea of chopping up some candied bacon in these, but I decided to keep it kind of simple. We had picked up a bag of Cape Cod Sea Salt + Black Pepper potato chips the day before, so I still had a little bit left in the bag. (Because who lets these chips last in your house for more than 2 days MAX). So I decided to crush up the remaining 3/4 cup of chips and incorporate them into the cookie because it just seemed to make sense. I adapted the Potato Chip Toffee Chocolate Chip recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction’s cook book to use as a base for these cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/14 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup crushed potato chips
  • 1 cup smoked chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon smoked sea salt flakes (for topping)

Step 1: Beat together the melted butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until there are no lumps. Mix in the egg, yolk, and vanilla extract until creamy.

Step 2: Sift together the flour, baking soda, cornstarch and salt and slowly add into the wet batter while mixing on a low speed until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl down before incorporating in the rest of the ingredients.

Step 3: On a low speed, add in the crushed potato chips and smoked chocolate chips just until evenly distributed. Chill the dough for at least an hour (or up to 3 days) to firm up, since you used melted butter.IMG_2359

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Step 4: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use a medium-sized cookie scoop to place even-size balls of dough on a sil-pat or parchment-lined baking sheet. Make sure there is enough room in between the cookies, about 8 cookies per sheet. Press the cookies down lightly with your fingertips and sprinkle a dash of the smoked sea salt on top. IMG_2362

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Step 5: Bake at 350 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes. They will be slightly undercooked, but remove them from the oven and let them cool on the tray for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. IMG_2364

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Well I’ll be darned. Oh my stars and heavens to Betsy, these cookies are sweeter than molasses! I bet Neil Young would write a song about these. DANNGGGGGG are they flavorful. IMG_2370

I think my northern palate might not be advanced enough to fairly attest to the flavor combination of these cookies, so I sent them down south for some real taste testing. So hopefully tomorrow my friend Scott and his wife Sarah will give me the North Carolinian rating of these smokey treats.  IMG_2368The cookie base is neutral enough that it really allows for the smokiness of the salt and chocolate to dominate. I think these could be a good summer BBQ treat in an ice cream sandwich. You can get the Smoked Chocolate Chips online from Hot Cakes. And the Smoked Sea Salt is available from Maldon online. Yeeeeehaw.

IMG_2371Ashamed of my lack of manicure Sunday afternoon, I had to crop my dingy unpolished nail out of the shot. IMG_2373

Okay, so let’s see where I left off with my last update. I posted a week ago Saturday, so I’ll pick up with last Sunday and take you through today. Going forward I’m really going to try to get it together and post on a more regular basis again. Keep bugging me until i do.

First, last Sunday I hit up the SOWA market again with my tennis friend Heather. It was Mother’s day, my mom wasn’t around and Heather’s kids weren’t around, so we had a relaxing Sunday morning at South Boston Yoga and then wandered the SOWA market. Since it was the second week of the open market, the Food Trucks were not nearly as crazy as the opening weekend. So we scored some delicious Bon Me rice noodle salads with iced green tea. Gluten free too!

IMG_9408Monday night my friend Ania (who survived BOTH high school and college with me) came over for dinner. One of the things I love most about being home is cooking and I love cooking for other people. So if you want me to make you dinner, just send me an email and I’ll make you something bangin’ on the grill. Most people eat Tacos on Tuesday so they can hashtag it #tacotuesday. We working ladies, we eat our tacos on Monday night because we’re grown ass women and we do what we want. So I picked up some fresh Tilapia and we grilled up mango, tilapia, corn and peppers + onions. I also whipped up some homemade orange creamsicle frozen yogurt the night before which was bomb. Delicious.
IMG_9431I was also happy to have my kitchen back after it was occupado by the painter and backsplash guy for four days. Totally worth it though. Here are the before and after photos of my family room/kitchen.

Family Room BEFORE (light beige) IMG_9366Family Room AFTER: Darker Beige! Yeahhhh. IMG_9419Kitchen BEFORE: No BacksplashIMG_9386Kitchen After: BACKSPLASH! What a difference this makes in finishing the kitchen nicely. Good tip from my friend Josh to remove the granite splashguard so that the tile extended from the counter to the cabinets. IMG_9417And then my favorite weekend of the spring. Mom came to town on Friday afternoon for the weekend to help with a bunch of house projects. She is one handy lady, so with two of us over 2 days we can get a lot done. Four trips to Home Depot, 2 to Target and over 30,000 steps on our fitbits, we got a lotttt done. First, mission impossible: reattach the dryer vent. So my painter did a great job using an extra can of paint I had leftover from my bedroom to paint the back hall where my stackable washer/dryer sit in an alcove. What he did not tell me was that when he attempted to pull out the unit to paint behind it he accidentally disconnected the big silver vent tube. Which meant I couldn’t use the dryer because it was spraying lint all over and the windows got wicked foggy within a second of turning it on. The issue is, the alcove is so deep and the gas line isn’t long enough to pull it out all the way to get behind it. My handyman couldn’t fit on the side of it. Neither could I. And Sears refused to come since they don’t deal with gas dryers in Massachusetts. The girl I bought the condo from a few years ago told me that she just found a really skinny electrician the time she needed to get it serviced. So when Mom came, we assessed the situation Friday night and headed right to Home Depot because we had a plan. Channeling my Grandpa, and asking ourselves “What would Larry Condon do?” (WWLCD?) we picked up two of those long nifty lifter grabby things that old people use to pick up things off shelves. Then leaned the tall ladder on the dryer, and while Mom held my ankles I used my newly purchased robot arms to reattach the dryer vent. I had to do my signature thumbs up in this picture in case I went head first over the dryer and this was the last photo of me you ever saw. IMG_9452Using my robot arms to save the day. Also, I think the painter missed a spot?IMG_9451I also managed to dust off the top of the dryer with my body, and no one died in the fixing of the vent, so win win all around. Saturday the weather held out, so after our morning routine of walking Castle Island with some Sidewalk coffee + tea, we got to Home Depot … and got to work. Should have taken before/after photos, but hindsight is 20/20 so all we have are photos of the finished product. My electrician also finally showed up Saturday to install an outlet and light in the backyard so we can have some nice lighting around the patio this summer.

New backyard light and outdoor switch. IMG_9464Fresh flowers planted in the back of the garden. IMG_9460And in pots on the back porch. IMG_9469The biggest project was mulching around the patio and planting (iggy) Azaleas. I made that joke once on the spot, and can’t stop lol’ing about it. View from the side:IMG_9463And from the top: IMG_9467 What a difference a few bags of mulch and some plants can make! Now we just need to throw a party this summer to really break in the backyard. So as a reward for our hard work during the day on Saturday, we went to the Assembly Row AMC to see Pitch Perfect 2 on Saturday night. IMG_9454The first Pitch Perfect is one of my favorite movies and probably the one I quote the most in regular life. #crushed it. Anna Kendrick is my spirit animal. We also had some good eats while Mom was in town. Friday night we had dinner at The Paramount in Southie, which is a great local spot. Saturday night we went to Papagayo after the movie for some gluten-free Mexican food. And on Sunday we went to PF Changs, and had this shockingly unbelievably delicious Mongolian Beef entree (gluten-free) that we shared. We did have a strange waiter who, when we ordered Diet Cokes, said “fun fact … I learned in Chemistry that Diet Coke will make you go blind.” So I made sure to chug a lot of it and then when he asked me what I wanted to order, I told him I couldn’t see the menu any longer due to my diet coke blindness. Weirdo.

And that was it. I brought Mom to the train station on Sunday night to send her on her merry way back to Skip in Connecticut. Monday I decided I really needed to put pants on and shower again so I went into the office downtown. That lasted a day. I never put real clothes on today. But tomorrow’s another day. That’s all for now. Can’t wait to hit up the Cape for Memorial Day this weekend! Wooo Summer has arrived! And next weekend I head to Portland, Oregon for my first ever food blogger conference at the Indulge Conference, where I am excited to meet some of my favorite foodie instagram crushes and explore Portland with my friend Allie. Hashtag instayum!

Browned Butter Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you want to know why I’m almost a week late with this blog post, you can blame Mother Nature. I’ve been blaming her for everything the past year anyway and it’s not like she can defend herself. But good ol’ Mama of the Earth has decided to finally thaw out Arrendale (Boston) and I, along with the rest of the city, are running around throwing our arms in the air dancing with eachother with flowers in our hair because it’s the big thaw. (not the big dig) Flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, I can turn off my heat for the first time since October, and I can actually walk on the sidewalks like a normal person again. I feel like Olaf running around singing about what snow does in summmmmerrrrrrrr.

On top of all of that, I am actually IN Boston for longer than a week for the first time since New Years. That’s right, I experienced Boston from the ground level, not 30,000 feet for the first time in way too long. And given that, I also jam-packed every single possible appointment in for this week, since I am not sure how long this being-grounded will last. More details on all that later in the post. Let’s talk cookies.

Whenever I am looking for cookie inspiration, I rarely need to look beyond the store that has everything: Target. Sometimes I’ll just go raid their baking aisle and pick up a bunch of chips and different things so when I am fresh out of inspiration one weekend, I just dig through my magic baking drawer of goodies to find something to try. I had bought these Nestle Tollhouse Milk Chocolate Morsels with Peanut Butter Filling a few months ago when I also bought the caramel filled ones and made these Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies. And they were delicious. So Sunday afternoon I decided to experiment a bit with these peanut butter filled morsels.

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I love browned butter cookies and I love peanut butter. So I modified my Browned Butter Peanut Butter Cookie recipe to incorporate these chocolate peanut butter filled morsels for the ultimate combination of peanut butter and chocolate. Also, I found a chocolate Easter Bunny in my magic baking drawer from last month, so I just chopped up Peter Cottontail and threw him in as well for some extra chocolate flavor. And when these cookies came out of the oven, it was a very hoppy ending (har har har).

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup chopped semi-sweet or milk chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups Nestle Peanut Butter Filled DelightFulls

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brown the butter in a medium saucepan over the stove and set aside to cool to room temperature. (If you’re impatient like me, stick it in the fridge for about 10 minutes)

Step 2: Cream together butter and sugars. Add the egg, yolk, vanilla extract, and mix well until creamy. Add in the peanut butter and mix well. I used chunky natural peanut butter because it’s all I had, but use any kind you want. Scrape the sides of the bowl down with a spatula before incorporating the dry ingredients.

Step 3: Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt and baking soda. Slowly add to the wet mixture and beat on a low speed until it is well mixed together.

Step 4: Coarsely chop the chocolate or you can use chocolate chips if you have those on hand. Fortunately, I had a chocolate Easter bunny with no will left to live so I chopped that bad boy up. Mix in the chocolate chunks and the Nestle peanut butter filled morsels just until evenly incorporated. Chill the dough for about half an hour in the fridge (or 10 minutes in the freezer for those of us who can’t wait). IMG_2345

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Step 5: On a sil-pat or parchment lined baking sheet, use the medium cookie scoop and place a small scoop of dough on the sheet.  I fit 8 cookies per baking sheet to make sure there is plenty of space in between. IMG_2348

Step 6: Bake at 350 degrees for about 11-13 minutes. The cookies will look slightly undercooked when you take them out of the oven, so leave them on the tray for about 5 minutes to set before transferring to a cooling rack.

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IMG_2352I mean, you just cannot go wrong with the combination of peanut butter and chocolate. Add in the nutty flavor of browned butter and you just kicked it up a notch. And then when you bite into these cookies and get a taste of the peanut butter filling inside the morsels, forgetaboutittttt.

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IMG_2355Let’s get up close and personal with these chocolate chips. You can see the ooey gooey peanut butter filling just oozing out of the chip on the bottom left.

IMG_2357But what do I know about cookies really? (a lot … I know a lot). Still, I rely on my taste testers for the real-time feedback. So I posted to Facebook on Sunday afternoon asking who wanted to be my taste tester for this batch. I think I got more replies than most pregnancy announcements. (Most people love babies … but EVERYONE loves cookies). Over 30 comments within an hour led to two lucky taste testers. I shipped off most of the batch to my preggo friend Ashley, because who needs fresh baked cookies more than a pregnant lady (no one, that’s who). And for the real-time feedback I just went onto my back patio and my college friend Chantal who happens to live next door, opened her kitchen window and taste tested the batch fresh out of the oven. That’s how you are neighborly in Southie. IMG_9351Speaking of being neighborhly in Southie, this is the first week I’ve really been home for a long time where people aren’t frozen and stuck indoors. So I got a good taste of Southie this week. And let me tell you, the crazies come OUT during the day. First, I was sitting in my office with the windows open the other day and heard this giant CRASH and SMASH of glass. So of course I run outside thinking there’s been a car wreck right out front. Nope, nothing. So then I think, Eddie. Of course. So I go on my back patio and look over into his backyard and there is a giant old TV smashed into a bazillion pieces on his cement patio. And he’s yelling about how his homemade rope-pulley system to lift it up three flights somehow failed. Shocking. Then yesterday afternoon I was driving my tiny rental car out of the parking lot near my house to go pick up my car from the dealership which was getting serviced (more on that later) and these 3 young kids, all under the age of 12, are riding their bikes in and out of the parking lot. So I’m trying to pull out of the lot and they are circling my car like little Southie piranhas. So I throw my hands up in frustration and then try to slowly move around them, shaking my head. And just as I roll down my window to yell at them to get out of the way, I get FLIPPED OFF by the little 6 year old kid. Who then starts taunting me saying “OH YOU MAD LADY? YOU MAD? OH I THINK I MADE THE LADY MAD! YOU MAD LADY?” And then he flips me off again! Kids these days. I’m going to start screaming “OH YOU MAD LADY” at random people because it’s kind of hilarious, but jesus. Too much iPad and Facebook time for these little hoodlums.

Okay, so let’s see what’s been going on that I need to update you on. So first, no more Philly. That project ended suddenly, thanks to the Government not believing in mergers. So last week was my last week down in PHL. So my coworkers and I tried to check a few things off of our Philly bucket list. First stop was a trip to Federal Donuts. On one hand I was disappointed I didn’t make it here sooner. On the other hand, THANK GOD I did not find this place sooner. It’s amazing. And I don’t even like donuts. But we had fresh-made hot out of the fryer cinnamon sugar donuts which tasted like ANGELS. I mean one bite of this and it was just eyes-roll-in-the-back-of-your-head and all is good in the world kind of amazing. IMG_9281The next day for lunch we went to Village Whiskey for burgers. Maybe we weren’t in paradise, but this was exactly what a cheeseburger in paradise should taste like. We also tried some of the duck fat fries which kind of just tasted like regular fries to me. But biting into this burger made me kick my angsty 16-year-old self for giving up red meat for 10 years. What was I thinking? This is a burger of the gods. IMG_9283

And then came my last Fly-Home-PHL-Thursday. (At least for now). I listened to Diddy’s “Coming Home” on repeat for the entire flight (true story). Such a good song. When he’s like “it’s easy to be Puff but harder to be Sean” I’m all like PREACH emoji! The only thing disappointing about this over-the-wing shot is that I am only 3 segments away from hitting status on US/American Airlines and 3 nights from Platinum at SPG. Would I rather sleep in my own bed? Yeah of course. But do I love status? YES. Gimme dem points. IMG_9288So then I was home, yippee. No travel this week either. Saturday night we went out one of my favorite friend’s birthday. Allie and I met at work about 3 years ago and became instant best friends and work wives. When people would tour new hires around the office, I would tell them that Allie was obsessed with Justin Bieber. For no reason really other than I enjoyed seeing her reaction trying to defend herself as not being a huge Belieber. But now I call her Biebs and I’m excited to rock a bridesmaid dress at her wedding and request nonstop Justin Bieber songs from the DJ at the reception. And Allie’s twin sister came down to celebrate HER birthday too (because they are twins) so we ate cake in a bar, which is what 30 year olds do #thisis30IMG_9327So then I was home this ENTIRE week. So I brought my car to the dealership on Tuesday for service and because I needed new rear brakes. And then the guy came out to tell me my steering rack was cracked and leaking power steering fluid. And that it was going to be a lot of dollar dollar bills y’all to fix. So then they gave me a tiny rental car to pedal home, which I had for four days. Annoying. But the car is fixed and I’m not going to die if I go over a pothole and my steering wheel falls off. So that’s good.

I had a painter come Tuesday to give an estimate for painting my family room / kitchen and back hall which are just tough spaces. So he started the job on Thursday and should finish up today. I’ll post before/after pictures in my next post. His friend does backsplashes so right now he is banging away at my kitchen wall starting to install my backsplash which should be awesome and fabulous. I also had this gutter guy come to give an estimate on replacing our broken gutters (Thanks Mother Nature) and he called me ‘kid’ about seven times and dapped me, so I hired him. So needless to say, between work, jam packing in every appointment that requires me to be home, and the sunshine, I think those were all valid excuses to being late with this post.

Last night I had a great dinner at Legal Test Kitchen with my old coworker Josh who is one of my favorite lunch/dinner buddies. I had this delicious watermelon crush martini which has fresh watermelon in it, and is SO delicious. SUMMER IS COMING! Also if you haven’t been to Legal Test Kitchen, I highly recommend it. I always have great food there, and they test out their recipes for Legal Seafood at this spot. IMG_9382

So that’s it for now. Just continuing to take advantage of being home, the nice weather and checking lots of things off my giant to-do list. And trying not to run over any small hoodlum children who flip me off in the streets. #youmadlady

Strawberry Coconut Heath Muffins

Let’s be clear, that says HEATH not HEALTH muffins. I don’t want you to get worried I might be sneaking healthy recipes in here right now. The only thing I’m sneaking in is chocolate into your breakfast muffins. Moving on. I think Mother Nature woke up a few weeks ago, graced us with a few beautiful days, then fell back to sleep and has been hitting snooze ever since. I’m about ready to get an airhorn and wake that lady up because I am sick of this cold weather. Yeah yeah yeah I’m thrilled the last bit of snow finally melted a week ago (no lie) but lezbihonest here, we are ready for warmer weather. So bring it on Mother Nature. Regardless of whether or not it gets above 50, I’ve decided I’m just going to channel thoughts of warmer weather and pretend that it’s not frikkin cold. So I decided to bust out the strawberries this weekend for some summery baking.

My friend Sarah, who is smarter than me and already has moved down south to NC (the location of our eventual bakery … one day), was posting pictures the other morning of her large haul of fresh strawberries and ideas for recipes. Since I had a full container of fresh strawberries in the fridge and was supposed to be out of town all week I decided to put those bad boys to good use for some Sunday morning experimenting. If you follow my Instagram, there are basically 3 things I post: sunrises/sunsets, my dinner, and Pinkberry (which often is my dinner when I’m at the airport). I’m not a big fan of eating a big meal before flying, and lately I’ve been able to catch the earlier flights on fly-home-Thursdays from Philly, so I’ve gotten into a routine over the past 6 months of eating Pinkberry for dinner pre-flight. Lucky for me I have a sixth sense in tracking down the Pinkberry in any airport. I’ve had Pinkberry for dinner in the past few months at PHL, BOS, SLC, and ATL (just to name a few). My go-to flavor combination is Strawberry, Coconut and Heath Bar. I never stray from that combo I’m all hashtag no regrets.

So in thinking how I could get this into a muffin, I decided to take my solid muffin base (inspired by Sally’s Bake Blog) and just throw in a bunch of fresh strawberries, sweetened coconut (untoasted) and heath bar. That’s the beauty of baking – sometimes if you perfect the base of a cookie or a muffin, you can really just wing the rest of the ingredients and 9 times out of 10 it turns out delicious. And in this case, it was a very sweet strawberry success!

Yield: 18 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup milk*
  • 1/2 cup canola oil **
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut
  • 3/4 cup chopped heath bar pieces (optional)

*You can also use Buttermilk. I used half & half for this recipe since it was all I had on-hand but my preference for muffins is buttermilk.

**You can substitute vegetable oil

IMG_2312Step 1: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Whisk in the milk, canola oil and vanilla extract until there are no sugar lumps.

Step 2: In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. I use Vietnamese Cinnamon from King Arthur Flour which is worth the investment, trust me. It has a noticeably different flavor and can really spice up your recipes (literally).

Step 3: Using a wooden spoon, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients. Mix slowly until all of the flour is incorporated, being careful not to overmix.

Step 4: Using a spatula, fold in the fresh strawberries, coconut and heath pieces. You can also omit the heath pieces if you don’t like them (or are allergic) or feel free to substitute mini-chocolate chips if you still want that sweetness.IMG_2311

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My friend Jess gave me this bowl and spatula for my birthday from William Sonoma, which is perfect for muffins because it also has the little spout at the end and the handle on the bowl helps for you to get traction when mixing.IMG_2317

Step 5: Line regular-size muffin tins with paper liners and spray the inside with non-stick spray. Fill the cups up all the way with muffin batter. Top with a sprinkle of coconut.IMG_2319

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Step 6: Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake for 22-26 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are lightly brown and firm to touch. The first 5 minutes helps to get that nice crunchy muffin top. Let them cool for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.IMG_2324

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Cinnamon, strawberry and coconut is an amazing flavor combination. Add in the light, but not overpowering, sweetness of the heath chocolate pieces, and you’ve got yourself a dynamic morning muffin. The best part of these muffins is that the top is nice and crunchy, especially with the toasted coconut on top, but as you can see the inside of the muffin is nice and moist and airy. IMG_2328

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I thought I was going to have to fly out this morning so luckily my friend Heather picked these up from me last night to be my taste tester and make sure they did not go to waste. Always good to have friends who are willing to test out new recipes for you. IMG_2332So let’s see, what happened last week. Well, lots of things work-wise. I was in Philadelphia again (like I have been every week for the past 6 months) Tuesday through Thursday because there was some big convention downtown on Monday so all of the hotels were sold out. My regular hotel was still sold out Tuesday so three of us ended up staying at the Sheraton University City which is right on the campus of UPenn. The nice part about this was, despite being further away from work, we got to try out a new food scene and see a new part of the city. We had a great dinner Tuesday night at the White Dog Cafe. Then Wednesday morning I took my regular gym class at 6am and then decided to run back to the hotel which had a really pretty view over the Schuylkill River. IMG_9209Wednesday afternoon was a gorgeous day in Philly, so my friend Havy and I decided to venture out for lunch to one of our new favorite places to grab takeout – Hip City Veg. All the food is vegan, but surprising (to my judgy self) it is also delicious. I’ve now become an addict of their Chinese Noodle Salad and Green Iced Tea. We even had a break in the day to be able to enjoy in the sunshine. Though we lost 15 years off our lives when a bike tire exploded from the heat and sounded like a bomb went off 5 feet away from us. IMG_9213Wednesday night we ventured to Sampan for dinner, which is a very cool Asian fusion restaurant that we’ve been to a few times. We keep trying to hit up happy hour at the Oyster House where there are drink specials and $1 oysters until 7pm, but we never make it out of work in time to get a seat. So luckily delicious food was just around the corner for us. And then as a much-needed hump day treat, we picked up some gelato from Capogiro Gelato which was SO good. 
IMG_9216Thursday night was one of those rare seamless problem-free travel days. My 5:15pm flight was wheels up by 5:20pm and I was back home before 6:45pm. Stopped at home, watered the flowers, swapped out my clothes and was in my car by 7:20 en route to Cape Cod for the weekend. I’ve been waiting ALL winter for it to be Cape weekend time again. Usually by March we head down there for a visit, but our driveway was still ice-covered by the end of the month. Not cool Mother Nature, not cool.

You wouldn’t recognize me if you saw me down the Cape. I am nothing but relaxed, calm and happy. Totally stress free. I start my mornings in the sunroom by the fireplace with a hot cup of coffee. In the words of my Uncle Jimmy “forgetaboutit”

IMG_9241Friday night my mom and I watched the Bruce Jenner interview along with the rest of America. Well the rest of America except Skip who refused to watch with us. We also watched Up in the Air, because I am sickly obsessed with that movie. Saturday afternoon we hit up Chatham for some shopping which was nice to do pre-Summer-tourist-season when you don’t have to drive around for a parking spot. And after dinner we came home to this beautiful sunset on the lake. Himanana yippa yippa nana. (The opening scene to the Lion King, obviously). IMG_9248Sunday after baking in the morning, my friend Amanda and I took a long 6-mile walk down to the Seaport and Quincy Market. We stopped at the Aquarium to spend some time with these funny sea lions. This guy was all like “gahhhh I don’t want it to be Monday!” and I was like, I know dude, I feel you. 
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We picked up a quick snack in Quincy Market, these pretzel bites didn’t compare to my homemade ones but hit the spot. IMG_9269And that’s it really. Well except for the fact my entire work travel schedule is totally up in limbo and I don’t do well with uncertainty (I mean, have you met me??) My Philly project ended suddenly on Friday so I’m heading there tomorrow to finish up a few things, and then TBD. With summer around the corner, fingers crossed I’ll be seeing more of Boston from the ground than 30,000 feet above. In the meantime, I’ve got lots of fun things to keep me busy next month – and I’m most looking forward to my trip to Portland, Oregon at the end of the month for the Indulge Conference. That’s right, I’m officially going to my first food blogger conference and where better to do it than Portland, a city that’s been on my foodie bucket list for a while. So if you have any Portlandia tips for me, send them over!

Happy Monday.

 

 

 

Toasted Coconut Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

R-E-L-A-X-E-D. That’s what Punta Cana did to me. R-E-L-A-X-E-D. Just a little bit, just a little bit. heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy. (Sang in my best Aretha Franklin voice). Oh man oh man. Five days beachside with my work laptop shut off for the most part with two of my favorite friends from home, you wouldn’t even recognize me compared to the insane person I am at the Philadelphia airport Thursday nights. Prepare yourself because ninety percent of the photos in this blog post are recapping my vacation. This cookie recipe is nothing but an excuse to try to relive my vacation via photos, while I write this from a hotel room back to reality in Philly.

Last week I had coconut on the mind. A few different dishes that I ate on vacation had some delicious coconut flavors, most notably this delicious coconut shrimp stir fry with veggies at La Yola, a restaurant right on a marina in Punta Cana with beautiful views and delicious food. I’ve also started to become addicted to Dang Coconut Chips, specifically the dark chocolate covered ones are my drug of choice. They usually have them at the airports I frequent on a regular basis, so I picked up some at JFK last week en route to vacation and these did not last long. In another recipe experiment, I’ll try to make my own coconut chips, but that’s for another day. Today’s recipe is for toasted coconut oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I was really just trying to think of a good cookie base that would hold the toasted coconut, and I love oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips, so I just tossed it in there, crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best. And well, the best happened. These cookies have a nutty crunch from the coconut mixed with the sweetness of the melty chocolate chips. And I added in the coconut oil to add a little moisture to the dough, since sometimes oatmeal can dry it out a bit. Delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks) softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (semi-sweet or dark)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

Step 1: To toast the coconut: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the coconut on parchment paper or a lightly-greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees, stirring with a spatula every few minutes until it is evenly toasted and light-golden in color. Put in a separate bowl to cool.IMG_2296

Step 2: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar for about 5 minutes, until well mixed. Add in the egg, vanilla and coconut oil and beat until well incorporated. Scrape down the side of the bowl before adding the dry ingredients.

Step 3: Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add in the oats and mix lightly until incorporated.

Step 4: Add in the chocolate chips and coconut, and mix on a low speed until evenly distributed. Chill the dough for about 30 minutes (not required, but will help if your coconut was still a little warm).
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Step 5: On a sil-pat or parchment-lined baking sheet, use a medium cookie scoop to place even-size balls of dough at least 2 inches apart. (I fit 8 cookies per baking sheet). If you have extra coconut or chocolate chips, sprinkle on top and then press down the dough lightly with your fingertips.IMG_2301

Step 6: Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes until the tops are lightly golden. Let the cookies set on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

These turned out PHENOMENAL. Always great when a new recipe experiment turns out well. The texture of these is perfect with the crunch from the toasted coconut combined with the soft chewiness of the oatmeal. The only thing that could make this better would be if I was enjoying it on the beach in Punta Cana.IMG_2302All I can think of is that song “I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts.” Which I don’t even know why i know that, but I am sure it has something to do with my Dad since it’s a Monty Python thing. I really like this shot from above. Risking my life on my kitchen stool seems totally worth it now.

IMG_2304Let’s get up close and personal with this coconut right now. I mean look at that perfect  cookie. Soft, crunchy, sweet and savory.

IMG_2305The leaning tower of coconut cookies!

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This is what you get beyond the toasty crunch of the first bite. Super soft chewy insides to the cookies. Jam packed full of coconut flavor.
IMG_2309So it’s been a few weeks since my last post, because I stayed far away from my laptop during vacation (for the first time ever). If you follow me on Instagram (@thesaltedcookie) which you should by now, you’d already have seen some of these Punta Cana adventures, but let me recap for all of you. First, this vacation was simply amazing. It was nothing but straight relaxation for 6 days, 5 nights. No travel woes. Nothing but perfect sunshiney warm weather. Great times with great friends. What more could you ask for?

So let’s start with how we booked this trip. Last year when we thought the winter was awfully brutal (little did we know what 2015 had in store), my friend Caitlin and I booked our first trip together to the Westin in Cancun with only like 5 weeks notice for early April 2014. We also had never traveled together before, but we’ve stayed friends since high school when we met on the softball team (she could field, I could hit – we were a great pair). And we had nothing but a fantastic relaxing trip. So since then Caitlin was added to my “friends who I can travel with” approved traveler list.

So this year, somewhere in between one of the first 7 major blizzards of the year, we decided – we need to book our April trip asap so that we have a light at the end of the dark dark tunnel that was this winter. So as you know, I live in hotels Mon-Thur for my consultant job. Which frankly, stinks. However, the one major perk is I rack up quite a lot of hotel points. So I open two browsers when I plan my trips – SPG.com and JetBlue.com. Love Jetblue as my vacation airline of choice. So this year we settled on the Westin in Punta Cana, because I could pay for the entire hotel getting a great deal using points. The resort is only about two years old so it was beautiful. And JetBlue flew directly from JFK where I connected through to meet my friends. The timing also worked out that my other best friend since 7th grade Katie was able to join us this year. So the three amigos  from Wiffletown hit the road to Punta Cana.

This was the view from our beach chairs.  This is where we would spend our mornings through early afternoon. Sometimes floating in the warm teal Caribbean waters, napping under the beach umbrellas, or just enjoying some Coca Cola Light’s under the sun.

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I love the panoramic photo option on the iPhone. IMG_9049

Caitlin and I flew out together on Friday, and when Katie met us on Saturday this was our first order of business — margs and mojitos. This was one of the two main restaurants at the Westin which was beachside and delicious. IMG_9058

A quick beach selfie on our first beach day. Caitlin (left) Me (middle) and Katie. All before we got wicked tan. (aka – Katie gets Pocahontas tan while the Irish girls over here get red and freckled).IMG_9071So one of our FAVORITE parts of the trip was the beachfront yoga we did every morning with Juan Carlos. So I have fit friends, which is a good thing so you don’t come back from vacation 100 margaritas heavier. So every morning we hit the hotel gym around 6:30 for some cardio, and then we would take this yoga class on the gazebo over the water. Juan Carlos never spoke, but just snapped his fingers in an oddly soothing manner. Combined with the real-live sound machine noises of lapping ocean waves. Namastay-here forever please?

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In the afternoon after lunch we would hit up the hotel pool. The first day there was some crazy rowdy work conference there with some drunk adults who were getting after it. We 30 year olds were much classier.
IMG_9075And the best part … they would deliver drinks right to you when you were sitting in the pool. Yes please.

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Just to rub it in a bit … let’s get up close and personal with these perfect drinks. Strawberry Daiquiri and Mudslide! Perfect for poolside. IMG_9078Another favorite drink of mine that my dad introduced me to – a Miami Vice. For when you can’t make up your mind between a Pina Colada and Daiquiri. Both mixed in one drink!

IMG_9134This was the view when we had dinner at La Yola. Enjoyed coconut shrimp, some tuna tartar (said in my fanciest accent) and some Passion Fruit mojitos. Life is good.

IMG_9086This was the view one dinner at the Westin restaurant when we enjoyed this delicious antipasti which basically fed 6 people (or 3 of us) and a bottle of vino. I’m telling you … relaxed to the max.

IMG_9107Sometimes we even took photos of things other than our food and drinks. This was before our dinner at La Yola.

IMG_9135If there are two things I have a complete obsession with, it’s definitely sunrises and sunsets. The last two mornings we were there, I convinced Katie and Caitlin that getting up at 5:45 am was totally worth chasing the sunrise. This was the first day when it was a bit cloudy, but still beautiful.

IMG_9120And the last morning we had the perfect view.

IMG_9168Insert angels singing here. I mean, come on. It almost doesn’t look real. But it was and it was beautiful. Such a great way to start the morning off right. I’m already looking forward to planning our annual trip next year. Almost makes sleeping in this Sheraton tonight worth it … almost.

IMG_9158So then we flew back Wednesday night, totally hassle free (who knew air travel could be?!) where I even miraculously caught a connecting flight 2 hours earlier than planned so I had FIVE nights in a row in my own bed in Boston. I haven’t done that since New Year’s I think. It was great. I got lots of time with friends and lots of cooking. Starting with Friday night my friend Amanda came over and I made this deconstructed zucchini manicotti recipe from Inspiralized. I love recipes like this. I also have skills beyond baking (yes, I can cook too!) so I think this has inspired me to branch out of my regular dessert recipes and start posting some of my cooking experiments on the site as well. What do you guys think about that?

IMG_9184Sunday morning was perfect. I took the early morning yoga class at South Boston Yoga with my friend Heather which was a relaxing way to start the day (though made me miss Juan Carlos a bit). And then I had a real treat …. I met my friend Molly and her parents who were in town for the Boston Marathon, which Molly’s dad was running. So Molly’s mom is a big fan of The Salted Cookie and keeps track of all of my adventures via instagram. So we had this amazing brunch with even more amazing company at Stella’s in the South End. Molly’s mom is an absolute hoot, and we just had such a nice brunch. I seem to be a hit among my friends moms, so I’m going to need to start planning drinks and brunches with them all. (Caroline’s mom, you’re next! Martinis at Mooncussers???)

IMG_9191So just when I thought my Sunday couldn’t get any better, of course it did. My friend Lauren and I have become home shopping buddies when it comes to major purchases for our homes. She helped me buy my kitchen table, the rug for my family room, and most recently this winter the new media stand for my family room from Crate and Barrel. So we met up at my favorite spot Pottery Barn in Chestnut Hill Sunday afternoon for some shopping. Lauren was in the market for a new rug for her dining room, and I have decided that since I am not getting married anytime soon (unless someone feels so inclined to wife me up sooner rather than later) I wanted to replace my dishwear and not wait until I register for it hopefully one fine day. So we put our extreme couponing skills to use. Lauren got a great deal on her rug using the 20% off coupon, saving on shipping and delivery fees by picking it up in store. I put together the below set of new dishes, bowls and mugs. Used my 20% off coupon (which may have already been used … shhh!) and an (expired) $25 off coupon, then a gift card … so only costing me $12 out of pocket. BAM! Seriously, if you ever need to make a major purchase, consult me first. Especially if it involves CVS ExtraBucks, I know all the tricks there.

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So that’s it! I dogsat this weekend for my upstairs neighbor which has convinced me that even if I get a job that doesn’t involve travel, I will not be getting a dog anytime soon. I did learn how to lay perfectly still in the morning so that the dog wouldn’t detect I was awake, which I think must be an acquired skill learned by dog owners.  I flew back down to Philly this morning, and had one of those experiences where you commute to work and get there and don’t even remember how you got there. It’s sad though when that involves an airplane. Though it was nice to get in a little extra snoozing since I was woken up before 4am today with a thunderstorm passing through Boston. I also hit SPG Gold Status for LIFE last week, which will only excite you if you’re a sick in the head consultant and status and points really get you jazzed (like me).  And I’m already counting the minutes until I hit the Cape this weekend for my first trip of the spring. Bring on summer! I’m ready for it. In the meantime, I will continue to channel this Punta Cana relaxation for as long as I can … which I predict will end with the PHL airport commute home on Thursday.

Cadbury Mini Egg Bark

Wondering what to do with all of your leftover Cadbury Mini Eggs? Of course you’re not! Because any sensible person knows that no one actually ever has any mini eggs leftover after Easter candy binges. So let me rephrase that … Wondering what to do when you raid Target and CVS of their reduced-price stock of Cadbury Mini Eggs? Well look no further than this simple recipe that is likely more addicting than a batch of Heisenberg’s blue stuff. I’m already convinced mini eggs are laced with something because I swear I can put away en entire bag of those without even blinking. Which is why I usually stick to buying the individually sized bags (which are always BOGO at CVS) because self control and mini eggs are two things that just don’t go together.

Now that I am both old (hellooo 30s), and on the road all the time, I’ve really started to focus on quick and easy recipes that are jam packed with delicious flavor. I barely have enough time to run all my errands when I pitstop back in Boston every weekend, so right now I can’t be chilling dough in the fridge overnight or poking some rising dough every 15 minutes for 6 hours straight. (For the record, I am currently drafting this post right now 24,000 feet somewhere above Connecticut (hi Mom) en route home for a 36 hour pit-stop in Boston.) Anyways, if you follow my instagram (@thesaltedcookie) you’ll quickly pick up on my fly-home airport dinner of choice is almost always Pinkberry. And my favorite topping is the Almond Roca. I like to keep it simple and delicious. So a few weeks back on one of my flights home, I started thinking about how I needed to get that chocolate toffee flavor into one of my recipes soon.

I remembered having seen a few recipes with crackers covered in butter and sugar (hell to the yes please) topped in chocolate and sprinkled with toffee bits. And in my very grown up business consultant professional opinion, all I could think was “gimme dat now.” So I got to thinking that maybe a good use for “leftover” mini eggs would be on top of this bark. Because what could be better than a hand-held treat made entirely of crackers, butter, sugar and chocolate. I first made this a few weeks back and left it for my cleaning guy to taste test. And then remade it last week to bring home as my contribution to the Easter dessert table. The most time consuming part is probably chopping up the mini eggs without chopping your fingers off and then waiting for it to cool in the fridge to be able to break up for taste testing. But it’s worth the very short wait. And who knew Saltines could serve a purpose beyond curing a hangover or the flu?

Ingredients

  • 40 saltines
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 package Cadbury Mini Eggs (10 oz), chopped

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or spray generously with nonstick spray.

Step 2: Line the cookie sheet with a single layer of Saltine crackers. IMG_2259

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Step 3: Chop up the Cadbury Mini eggs and set aside. IMG_2257

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Step 4: In a medium saucepan combine the sugar and the butter. (You can substitute light brown sugar if you want). Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Immediately pour over the saltines and spread to cover the crackers completely. IMG_2261

Step 5: Bake at 400 degrees F for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top. I used a few extra to make it more chocolately. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Spread the melted chocolate evenly. IMG_2263

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Step 6: Sprinkle the chopped mini eggs evenly on top of the melted chocolate. Cool completely.IMG_2267

Step 7: Once this is completely cooled (I stick it in the fridge or freezer to expedite the cooling process) break into rough chunks. Serve and enjoy! IMG_2270

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This is some addictive stuff. Just like Mini Eggs, which I usually manage to eat an entire bag of … but by eating 3 mini eggs at a time. This is the kind of treat you have a giant bowl of … and you take a little bit every time you walk by until you’re deep into a sugar rush. There are definitely a bunch of variations you can make to top this with like toasted coconut, peanuts, crasins, toffee bits, peanut butter chips …. the possibilities are endless. The butter sugar mixture seeps through the holes in the Saltine crackers and so it is on the bottom and top of the crackers and helps keep it all together.

IMG_2272 I mean look at that little chunk of chocolate perfection. IMG_2274So now that I think I’ve finally come down from my sugar high from last week … let’s recap the events of the past week. It was a big one.

I was of course back in the PHL last week. I ended my 20s with a nice dinner in Chinatown with my coworker Havy and had my first Pho experience. It was a hot and delicious Monday night dinner after getting up at 4am to fly out. Delish.

IMG_8930Tuesday was the big 3-0. And I’m happy to report, that at midnight I did not turn into a spinster with 15 cats showing up at my door. All that happened was I went to bed 29, and I woke up 30, and life didn’t end. So that was a pleasant surprise. While I was not thrilled to be celebrating away from home, it ended up being a nice day after all. This is my third on-the-road business consulting birthday that I celebrated while living in a Sheraton. I turned 23 at the Raleigh Sheraton (an epic evening which is still talked about). Turned 24 at the Valley Forge Sheraton where I ate alone at the Outback Steakhouse (true story). And now I turned 30 at the Philadelphia Sheraton. And with a cake in the windowless conference room that 20 of us occupy on a daily basis. But the fire hazard was worth the much needed afternoon sugar rush. Even if I gave my coworkers a really hard time refusing to come back to the closet we work in for an impromptu meeting because I knew something was going on. But of course I wouldn’t let go of my laptop for even 30 seconds to blow out the candles. IMG_8946And my new favorite place in Philly is Reading Terminal, so we went out for a birthday lunch there and I grabbed this cookie from the Famous 4th Street Cookie Company for the walk back to work. I love a good macadamia nut cookie. And there are no calories on your birthday. I need to make a list of all of the places to eat at in Reading Terminal and use my lunch breaks to make my way through the list while I’m in Philly. IMG_8943So then I flew home Wednesday night last week, because I needed to drive to Connecticut for the Birthday and Easter weekend festivities. After recently watching The Princess Bride for the first time ever (I know, I know) I was REALLY psyched to find all of these Inigo Montoya birthday presents for Skips 60th, which is just 5 days after my 30th. I was too excited to wait until his actual birthday which was on Easter Sunday this year, so I gave them to him two nights early. That’s a very happy Skip with his new gear. The card says “My name is Inigo Montoya. You’re getting older. Prepare to die.” So of course Saturday night we had to rewatch the Princess Bride together as a family, which was fun because now the second time around I actually picked up on a lot of the sayings that people reference. Inconceivable.

IMG_8967Saturday was a big day. We had about 25 friends and family over for a combined Easter, 30th + 60th birthday celebration and the gender reveal of my brother and sister-in-law’s due-this-summer baby. I am not a cake person at all. Cookies are my jam. But my mom made a Funfetti cake for me and a chocolate cake for Skip, and they were both delicious. And you can see a photobomb in the upper right by this Cadbury bark.

IMG_8969Skip and I have been sharing a birthday week for the past 30 years. So we’re used to getting serenaded at the same time by our family with their beautiful voices. Grandpa definitely does the best rendition of Happy Birthday. Skip and I are just happy and ready to eat our cakes. My parents (the soon to be grandparents) then cut the baby gender cake. Let the shopping begin! Birthdays as a grown up are fun because the gifts are fun and classy. My parents got me some really gorgeous David Yurman earrings which are sparkly and amazing and special and I love them. Those parents sure have some good taste. In the photo below Skip and I are probably talking about leveraging synergies or some Purple Cow attempt to not boil the ocean. Only we can understand consultant speak. IMG_8979Such a fun-filled day with lots of friends and family. This is my friend Jess who married our family friend’s son, and now that we’ve found eachother we are convinced we were separated at birth. IMG_8975And then it was Easter Sunday. These two little bunnies (Harry and Frankie) did not seem thrilled with their bunny headware, but they posed for us anyway.
IMG_8984And the real Easter Bunny came on Sunday morning! He knows my travel woes well apparently, because he gave me Mini Eggs, Reese’s Pieces, a book on blogging and Tito’s Vodka nips. Nicely done Peter Cottontail. One time my dad uploaded all of our old home videos onto this iMemories site where we can access them easier since none of us have a VHS player anymore. And one of my favorite clips is from Easter 1989 when I run downstairs in my one-piece footie jammies and my brother is with me. And we go ” THE CARROTS! WHERE ARE THEY!” and my brother goes “AND THE DIET COKE IS OPENED!” — that Connecticut Easter Bunny sure does love his caffeine free Diet Coke since the mid-80s. And then I proceed to have an anxiety attack at age 4 trying to find the hidden Easter eggs while my brother sprints around finding them faster. Not much has changed 26 years later. IMG_8978

And that’s about it. I had to drive back to Boston early on Sunday to get ready for another travel week. I was in Philly Monday until Wednesday night this week and just flew home this evening so I can fit in a few appointments at home tomorrow before Friday I leave for …. PUNTA CANA! Woo Hoooo! Beaches, sunshine, warm weather, lounging, no laptops and good times with my friends Katie and Caitlin. I cannot wait. This will be one flight-check-in email I am actually looking forward to. The one benefit of all of my constant work travel is that I get to keep all of the loyalty points I earn, which makes these fun girl’s trips super easy to plan.

So likely no cookie recipes for another week or so, but you can follow my margarita drinking adventures down on an island in the sun starting Friday. Hasta luego!

 

 

 

Birthday Cake Chocolate Chip Cookies

Well this is it kiddos. The last blog post of my 20s. Tomorrow morning I officially turn the big 3-0. Actually, when the clock strikes midnight in just a few hours. I would say I’ve managed to be overly dramatic about dreading ending my 20s the past few months in true Becca fashion. Lots of references to becoming a cat lady coupon hoarder. But after an amazing weekend doing some early birthday celebrations with my friends in Boston, I was happily reminded about all of the great people I’ve met in my 20s, so I say bring on 30. Or at least the 29th anniversary of my first birthday. I was rocking the bangs back then. And I still get that excited when I see cake in front of me. 13410_10101234830716157_6309331247650870408_n

I absolutely love birthdays. Always have, hopefully always will. But especially with being away from home so much lately with work travel, spending my entire weekend with so many of my favorite people home in Boston was just great. And the celebrations will continue this weekend for Easter weekend to celebrate my birthday and Skips 30th anniversary of turning 30. I was actually due to be born on Skip’s birthday, but decided to be a good daughter and pop out a few days early back on Palm Sunday in 1985 so that he could have a birthday month all to himself. You’re welcome Dad. And then next week I head to Punta Cana with two of my favorite friends for more celebrations. I’m rubbing this all in because I’m writing this blog post from my hotel room in Philadelphia trying to make the best of being on the road for the big day. But anyways, I digress. Let’s get to the good stuff – the cookies.

Birthday cookies. And obvious choice for this week’s recipe. It felt appropriate when I came across this recipe on one of my favorite blogs Cookies and Cups to bake these up this week. Also, I may have been in Stop and Shop yesterday afternoon with my sunglasses on eating french fries from Tasty Burger and drinking a Gingerale in the cookie aisle looking for inspiration. (Almost-30-year-old-post-birthday-celebration-hangovers are painful my friends. Worth it, but painful). So I saw these Birthday Cake Oreo Cookies. Never saw them before, but obviously it was like the little baby Jesus guiding me right to these. Two of my favorite things in one: Birthdays and Oreos.

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IMG_2278They are vanilla wafer Oreos with basically funfetti tasting icing in the middle. Addicting. And delicious. So Cookies and Cups had the right idea when she decided to put these cookies IN a cookie. Genius. Also, while recovering from Saturday night, I needed an easy cookie recipe that just involved me throwing a lot of things in the mixer and hoping for the best. These cookies are easy to throw together, and so delicious. Some of the best tasting cookie dough. Chilling the dough is an important step, so just make sure you give yourself enough time to chill the dough for at least two hours before popping these in the oven.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1½ cups cake mix (I use Funfetti)
  • 1½ cups flour
  • ½ cup sprinkles
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped Birthday Cake Golden Oreos

Step 1: In your mixer, cream together butter and sugar for a minute until it gets fluffy. I normally just stick to light brown sugar, but I did use dark brown in this recipe. Add in the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Scrape the side of the bowl down before adding in the dry ingredients.

Step 2: Slowly add in the baking soda, salt, flour, and cake mix. Beat on a low speed just until the dry ingredients are incorporated.IMG_2279

Step 3: With the mixer still on a low speed, add in the sprinkles, chocolate chips and chopped Oreos.

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IMG_2283I only had chocolate chunks in my magic baking drawer this week so I used those. Do what makes you happy. And with whatever you have on hand.

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Step 4: Chill the dough for at least two hours, or overnight.

Step 5: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a sil-pat or parchment-lined baking sheet, use a medium cookie scoop to place large balls of dough at least two inches apart.
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Step 6: Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden. Let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
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Happy Birthday cookies to me! Honestly, Funfetti, Oreos, birthdays and cookies. All my favorite things in a bite-size delicious form. I undercooked mine a little bit so they were extra soft and chewy. With each bite you get a little bit of a different flavor combo in the cookie. Either Oreo, or Funfetti or Chocolate or any combo of the three. Definitely a good cookie to end my 20s with.IMG_2290
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IMG_2292I ran out of big plastic bags this weekend, so ended up putting these cookies in 6 mini zip-loc bags and transporting them to Philly for my coworkers, which felt a little silly packing my carry-on this morning, but I think my coworkers were happy. My most loyal cookie fan indulged in 4 within the first hour of me arriving at work. Made the 4:15am wakeup call almost seem worth it. Almost.

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So let’s recap the past week, but mostly the super fun weekend.

My coworker Charlotte and I are allegedly running the Brooklyn half marathon in May. I’m not a hundred percent convinced this is going to be a reality given it’s only been the past week that the sidewalks are not snow-covered and it’s kind of warm enough to run outside without freezing to death. But as running buddies, we went for a run last Tuesday after work down around Philly. Of course halfway into our 5 mile run, it started pouring like a mother. So on our way running back to the hotel, we made a pitstop at the Rocky Stairs for motivation. That’s most rain on my shirt, not insane sweat. IMG_8878

So of course the only logical thing to do after getting in some solid exercise was to go and eat Steak and Cake. Dinner of champions. We started the birthday celebrations early with this insanely delicious chocolate cake from from Butcher and Singer. I was so full at the end of the night I felt like that fat kid from the movie Matilda who is forced to eat an entire chocolate cake. So good though. IMG_8880Thursday I had my first Philly Cheesesteak at Reading Terminal, which is like Quincy Market on steroids. Definitely going to be somewhere I need to make some more lunch trips to explore in the near future. I left it up to my trusty sidekick Nathan to order for me because the guy taking orders at the Cheesesteak place was intense. And who wants Cheese Wiz on their meat? People in Philly apparently consider that a delicacy. Anyways, the cheesesteak was good, but I needed a nap right after.IMG_8889 But it was fly home Thursday! So no time for napping. Except it was a typical fly-home-PHL Thursday which means delays delays delays. I saw a grown man go absolutely batshit bananas at the gate next to mine when they wouldn’t let him board so he threw his sport coat on the ground and was screaming like a crazy person. Luckily his psychotic episode (which I can relate to, but I choose Pinkberry over outward emotion in public) led to me making friends with two of the consultants sitting next to me, who also do the BOS > PHL weekly grind. The three of us were all in first class this week (yeahhhh Upgrade! the good life!) so the guy in front of me told me some good advice not to waste my time with the free wine, but go for the vodka because it was Tito’s, which in airline world is high quality. His advice came in handy because after being delayed for 2 hours before boarding, we rush on the plane to meet our wheels up time, and 5 minutes later the pilot says there’s a ground stop in Boston and next update would be in an hour. Womp Womp. But instead of throwing my sportcoat on the ground in a public tantrum (and because I am a lady so I don’t have a sportcoat handy) I took my new friend’s advice, got myself some Tito’s vodka sodas and free Milano cookies and rocked out to my new favorite Spotify playlist “Have a Great Day!” Next thing you know, we landed in Boston around 9:15 and I had listened to Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard on repeat for 45 minutes. True story. Hey, it’s a great jam. Like my Grandpa always says, you can’t fight city hall. IMG_8895So then Friday, the weekend! I had plans at night with my tennis friends, who are just the best. First I got a manicure with my friend Heather, and then our other tennis friends Caitlan and Jacqui met us out at The Paramount for a delicious dinner and good times over some bottles of wine. And of course, dessert!

IMG_8904Saturday morning my coworker Maya flew in from Philly and we had a nice day in Newton/Chestnut Hill shopping, Cheesecake Factory-ing and hitting up the spa. We then had a delicious birthday dinner at one of my new favorite restaurants in Boston, Nebo Cucina near South Station. There were 10 of us at dinner, and we filled ourselves on delicious zucchini lasagna and lots of pizza and wine! They also have great gluten-free options that taste great too, if that’s your style. I can’t wait to take my mom there next time she’s in town. Old and new coworkers, friends from home, and tennis! IMG_8909And then we went to Lucky’s. My favorite Saturday night spot in Boston. I tried to think of somewhere classier to go for my birthday this year, but why fight what’s right. I always have the best time at Luckys. And so many of my favorite people showed up, and we drank and danced and sang, and earned our hangovers on Sunday. This is just a sampling of the fine crew that showed up on Saturday night.
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Yesterday was a much needed lazy Sunday with my friend Maya. We finally did surface from the couch mid-afternoon for some fresh air, Tasty Burger fries and decided that we’d take advantage of not flying on a Sunday (Maya endures weekly red-eye flights) to cook ourselves a nice dinner of Butternut Squash Risotto with sage. FullSizeRender

So all in all, I’ve got a good feeling about my 30s. My sister-in-law recently reminded me of the scene from the movie 13 going on 30, where the girl wishes to be Thirty, Flirty and Thriving. And I think that’s a pretty good thing to wish for. Even with only 2 hours left of my 20s, I hope to be 30, flirty and thriving. With great friends, lots of travel adventures, and many more cookie recipes to come.

 

 

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