March 29, 2016

10 Things I Don’t Wish I’d Done Differently As a Mom (Part 2)

A while ago, I Googled “what I wish I’d done differently as a mom” and got 10 million results.
If you read Part 1 of this two-part post, you already know that. (Also: thank you. Plus, one more thing: if you didn't read Part 1, would you mind taking a couple seconds to click back there and just read the set-up for this list? Because otherwise, it's going to look really braggy and all "look-at-me-don't-I-have-my-mom-act-so-together." Which is not the point in any way.)
If I wrote my own done-differently list, I'd have no problem coming up with a post that would be result #10,000,001. I have flubbed, failed, and floundered.
But with 29 cumulative years of mom mileage on me, I’m so thankful to be able to say there are a few things I don’t wish I could undo, by the grace of God.
I'll say it again: these things I have done and things I haven’t done have worked for me and for my girls and for our family.
Some of them may be deal-breakers for you. Some of these may be non-negotiables at your house. 
You may read this list and think, “Good grief, woman! Have you no shame? How can you possibly not regret this?!” Which is okay, actually.
Because you see, sweet mama, this is not a list* of how I think other moms should do motherhood. This is only a collection of what, with the benefit of some hindsight and two older, happy, healthy, thriving children as evidence, I can leave off my personal do-over wish list, by the grace…



As a mom, I'm thankful I don’t regret that I…
6. Set the bar of expectations low. From family vacations to the house we live in to back-to-school wardrobes to Christmas gifts to birthday parties, our secret to family contentment is pretty simple: promote low expectations.
Our thinking was—and continues to be—that if we set a low bar for what is good and satisfying and acceptable and worth looking forward to, contentment would probably follow. If my family expects M&Ms, and they get triple chocolate layer cake, they’re thrilled and pleasantly surprised and think I am the greatest mom ever. But if they expect the cake and all I deliver is the candy, they’re disappointed. I’d rather exceed low expectations than fall short of high ones.
7. Was “lax” about reading to my babies and toddlers. I knew I was supposed to read to my children…poetry in utero and then classics with discussion in their teen years. But my girls didn’t particularly care about being read to. They reacted to my dramatic interpretations of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom with approximately the same level of enthusiasm they reserved for having their runny noses wiped. So I gave up.
I listened to kid-safe books on CD in the van and around the house, made plenty of actual books available, read in front of them, and left it at that. Today, they’re voracious, enthusiastic, and skilled readers. They’ve both usually got about three books going at once in various formats. Also, they wipe their own runny noses now. It’s all good.
8. Have learned to be okay with my daughters growing up. I well understand the melancholy tug moms feel at seeing their babies mature. I know that tug myself. I look at my tween and teen and long for one more chance to hold them when they still fit in the crook of my neck...or even on my lap.
But whenever I feel sad that my girls are moving from one age or stage to another, I remind myself of something that helps me keep things in perspective: if I asked any parent who has lost a baby or a toddler or a young adult or a middle-aged child what they would give to “have” to watch that child go off to preschool or middle school or college or a job or their first colonoscopy, I know what they’d say. Anything. They would give anything.
Watching my girls grow and mature is a blessing and a gift I try not to take for granted. I also believe this to be true: “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind” (C.S. Lewis).
9. Took—and enjoyed—mom “alone time.” I loved and love being with my girls. But I am a better mom when my batteries are recharged so I have fresh energy to pour into their lives. For me, that recharging happens when I am alone and have a break from some of my maternal duties. And I’m not the only one who has benefited from this occasional separation. See #1, in Part 1 of this post. (You might also like to glance at "5 Reasons Moms Shouldn't Feel Guilty About 'Alone Time'.")
10. Picked my battles. My younger daughter told me one day, “I’m just not gonna get in a big hassle.” I don’t remember what the issue was, but that was how she decided she was going to approach it.
As a mom, I could choose to “get in a big hassle” about every bite of food my girls eat, every minute of TV they watch, every book they read, every outfit they put on, every everything. But I haven’t. And not because I am some laid-back, relaxed personality, either. Please. I drove four college roommates to the brink of insanity with my uptightness. (I’m so sorry, girls.)
That I’ve let so much go as a mom is quite possibly pure laziness on my part, but I like to think I’ve tried to fight the battles that needed fighting. The battles that had eternal significance.
I want my girls to purse faith in God and purity and compassion and self-control and kindness. I really don’t care if they eat an Oreo while they’re doing it.
Maybe someday I’ll put together a list of what I wish I’d done differently. (And let me say it again: I have plenty of fodder for that collection. Mercy.) But right now, I’m just incredibly grateful I’ve got a few things to put on this list…a few things I’ve done that I wouldn’t undo.

By the grace.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 


*Are you looking for Thing #1-Thing #5? They're right
 here.

This post has also been gratefully shared at 4Real Moms. If you're not already a fan of this encouraging site, please check it out. You'll be glad you did.


This list may also have been a guest at some of these lovely blog bashes.

March 22, 2016

10 Things I Don’t Wish I’d Done Differently As a Mom (Part 1)

The other day, I Googled “what I wish I’d done differently as a mom” and got 10 million results.
Apparently, a lot of moms have a lot they regret about their mothering.
Apparently, as a parent with some mom mileage on me, I should be writing about my own regrets and done-differently wishes.
And, mercy, do I ever have them to write about. I’ve messed up and made bad decisions and taken wrong turns more times than I can count.
But with 29 total years of motherhood racked up, I’m so thankful to be able to say there are a few things I don’t wish I could undo, by the grace of God.

I'm grateful to be able to share the first part of this post both here and over on 4Real Moms, one of my all-time favorite mom hangouts in the blogsphere. 
These things I have done and things I haven’t done have worked for me and for my girls and for our family.
Some of them may be deal-breakers for you. Some of these may be non-negotiables at your house. 
You may read this list and think, “Good grief, woman! Have you no shame? How can you possibly not regret this?!” Which is okay, actually.
Because you see, sweet mama, this is not a list of how I think other moms should do motherhood. This is only a collection of what, with the benefit of some hindsight and two older, happy, healthy, thriving children as evidence, I can leave off my personal do-over wish list, by the grace…



As a mom, I'm thankful I don’t regret that I…
1. Let my girls be cared for by other people. My husband is an only child, and I am the oldest, so you’d better believe the birth of our firstborn was met with no small amount of enthusiasm from both sets of new grandparents. We were blessed to live near my husband’s parents and mine, and from their very earliest days, both my babies spent time with their doting fan club. (We were also blessed to be able to absolutely trust all four of our parents not only with our girls’ physical safety, but with their mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, too.)
Early on, I would race off to Target for the 86.5 minutes I had between nursing sessions. Later, my husband and I left our girls longer and went farther—to Hawaii, in one memorable instance. I loved being home with my babies, just as I have loved being with them into their tween and teen years. But I wanted my girls to know they could depend on people other than their father and me to love and care for them.
I wanted them to have the security and reassurance of a wide net of love and affection and familiarity. Too, those very early days when I lugged the car seat in and out of my parents’ and my in-laws’ houses laid a foundation for closeness that continues to this day.
2. Fought the church battle every Sunday. When my girls were newborns, I could not imagine EVER being able to make it to church again. The number of things that had to happen for us to go was so crazy-impossible, I couldn’t even think about it. But I got used to sneaking in one last feeding session while I practically had one foot out the door, and eventually, we started making it every week. (And years later, on the first Sunday my daughter stood at the top of the stairs wearing tights she had PUT ON HERSELF, I had a flash of what Moses must have felt like when he watched God part the Red Sea.)
We established this routine from the get-go so that going to church every week was not a decision we had to make every week. It’s just what we did. And it’s what we do.
Still, now that my girls are older, I’m not sure there’s any time my family members like each other less than we do on Sunday mornings at about 8:15. My husband is trying to get two minutes of bathroom time to brush his teeth before he backs the van out of the garage because we DO NOT HAVE TIME PEOPLE to wait for that to happen once we’re all in the van, by the grace of God. Meanwhile, I’m running around yelling that we have to leave in two minutes and my girls are being unhappy with their hair and everyone just wants to be back in bed, for crying out loud. In this mood, we set off for church. Because we will not offer sacrifices to the Lord our God that cost us nothing (see 2 Samuel 24:24).
My point (and I do have one) is that all this has been worth it. Because it has laid a foundation for faith that I witness growing stronger every day. I see my girls reading their devotions at the breakfast table and leading worship with me and praying and posting inspirational quotes online. And the point of all this is not all this, but that all this is pointing them toward God. They are filling the God-shaped hole inside their hearts with the God Who put it there. Which makes all that Sunday-morning angst so worth it, I can’t even talk about it.
3. Waited an extra year before sending my youngest to preschool. When my second (and last) baby was three, I agonized over where to send her to preschool. I thought every three-year-old needed to be in preschool. I searched all over our area for a program that was a good fit, but most of them started at 8 a.m.—right when I was getting my would-be preschooler’s big sister on the bus.
Finally, after endless phone calls, I had a moment of clarity: I did not have to send her that year. I was at home with her. She was learning and growing and developing. We could just hang out for awhile longer. We could do library time, and she could come with me to Bible study and play in the nursery, and we could take naps together on the couch. She could go to preschool the next year, followed by kindergarten.
So this is what we did. And thank God for it, because when, two years later, I sent my baby to kindergarten and everyone asked if I was sad, I was able to honestly tell them I wasn’t (much). We had done that “bonus” year together. We had hung out. We had taken the time. And it had been a wonderful gift.
Now, as I watch her navigate middle school, I know I wouldn’t trade that year for anything. (I also sure wouldn’t mind another nap on the couch.)
4. Sent my girls to public school. I have so many friends who are amazing home schoolers, and I am in awe of what they do every day…usually before 11 a.m. But my husband and I felt very clearly called to be Christian public school parents—a full-time job in and of itself.
For one thing, I believe teaching is a gift not everyone possesses to the same degree. And the degree to which I possess that gift would not have gotten my daughters past preschool nametag day. I so greatly admire the talent and training of professional educators and understand that I cannot do what they do. So we intentionally bought a house in a school district we knew and respected and trusted and sent our girls there from the beginning.
We have been aware of what our children are doing and learning. We have been involved. The staff knows us by sight and by our first names. I have been PTA mom and room mom and “attendance hotline” mom and band mom and popcorn mom. While I’ve been around, I’ve seen what my girls’ teachers do every day and have been awed and grateful.
My daughters have not just had good teachers all along—they have had amazing educators, and many of them have been Christians who have nurtured my children not only educationally but spiritually and morally. My daughters are growing daily in their knowledge of and love for God, and they exercise their faith muscle every day when they are around their public school teachers and peers.
5. Limited my children’s activities. The formula for the way our girls spend their time pretty much looks like this: school + family/home + church + dance + friends  =  life. Band is the other big component of their existence, but because it is a school activity, the extracurricular time they spend on it is limited.
We like being home together as a family, and this requires us to semi-regularly be: 1)home and 2)together. We’ve never done teams or groups that have Sunday practices or games. We’ve never done multiple sports at the same time. We’ve never done anything year-round. This doesn’t mean any of this is wrong. It just isn’t the plan we went with for our little family.
I know the pressure to allow kids to try everything and not “limit their potential” is huge in our culture today. And we have created opportunities for our girls to explore various interests in case they became passions. But having afterschool and evening and weekend activities every day of every week of every month was never an option for us.
I call this “selective scheduling,” and it has worked for us. For. Us.

I'll put the rest of this list up next week (barring a surprise early-anniversary trip where my husband whisks me off to Hawaii). And maybe someday I’ll put together a list of what I wish I’d done differently. (And let me say it again: I have plenty of fodder for that collection. Mercy.) But right now, I’m just incredibly grateful I’ve got a few things to put on this list…a few things I’ve done that I wouldn’t undo.

By the grace.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 
Looking for the rest of this list? Aw, thanks! It's right here.

This post has been gratefully shared at 4Real Moms...if you're not already a fan of this amazing site, please check it out. You'll be glad you did.

It may also have been a guest at some of these lovely blog bashes.

March 21, 2016

10 Things I'm Hoping to Do This Spring

A little more than a year ago, I posted on my personal Facebook page that one thing I was looking forward to about summer was not having to pack school lunches. Then I did what bloggers do and turned that into an entire blog post. Which then led to a fall "what I'm hoping to do" list. And a winter "what I'm hoping to do" list.

Being fond of neither gardening nor mud (benchmarks of spring here in the Midwest), I thought about not doing a "what I'm hoping" spring post. But being very fond of completion and closure, I thought I'd better finish what I started. Herewith...


1. Not shiver while I'm pumping gas.

2. Enjoy the sweet spot of the year on the college sports calendar. Namely, that brief respite when neither the men's football team nor the men's basketball team from Michigan State University (my husband's alma mater and the object of his, er, "passionate" devotion) is doing anything that can send my fanatic fan into a tailspin of despair. Like, say, losing.

3. Wear 3/4 sleeve shirts. I am cold-blooded, so I generally do not get the appeal of this rather indecisive piece of apparel. But I've got a few cute shirts of this nature, so at least spring gives me a chance to pull them out of the depths of my dresser drawers.

4. Listen to Vivaldi's "Spring" from The Four Seasons.



5. Wear only one or two layers when I go for my morning power walk instead of three or four. 

6. Make a rhubarb custard pie. More importantly, eat a rhubarb custard pie. I know rhubarb is rather the ugly stepsister of the vegetable family, but mix it with eggs and sugar and--oh my, yes--freshly grated nutmeg and put it into my mom's life-changing pie crust, and it becomes the belle of the spring ball. That this is utterly un-chocolate and yet I still love it should tell you a lot.

Since I'm writing this before the actual advent of rhubarb season, I don't have a picture of this pie. But I do have this picture of a nutmeg grater and whole nutmeg. Which really do make this pie (see below).

Rhubarb Custard Pie {print}
1 unbaked 9" single-crust pie shell (my mom's recipe follows if you want to use it)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (if you're not already familiar with the joys of freshly ground nutmeg, I strongly suggest you make its acquaintance...it's one of the best things in life)
3 slightly beaten eggs
4 cups sliced fresh rhubarb
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup flour, salt, and nutmeg. Add the eggs and beat well. Gently fold in the rhubarb. Dump into your unbaked pie crust. In a small bowl, mix the 1/2 cup flour and the 1/4 cup sugar, then cut in the butter with a fork. Sprinkle over the top of the pie. Cover the whole pie with a piece of foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and check for browning. If the pie looks like it's doing some (browning, that is), keep the foil on. If it looks pale, remove the foil. Either way, continue baking the pie for 20-30 minutes more until the pie is set. You do not want raw custard at the edges, but a little "jiggly" in the middle is okay. Remove to a wire rack to cool before you cut it.

My Mom's Pie Crust {print}
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into smallish pieces
1/2 cup shortening, cold
1 egg
1/3 cup cold water
1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar

In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt. Throw in the pieces of butter and tablespoon-sized "portions" of shortening and cut all these into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or a fork or two knives. Whisk the remaining crust ingredients and toss with the flour mixture until it starts to form a ball. Add a couple extra drops of water if it seems too dry. Divide in thirds, form into balls, and chill for at least an hour (or up to a few days) before you roll it out and use it in any recipe.

7. Sleep. I mean, yes, this is an all-season wish, but I am hoping to do it.

8. Eat roasted asparagus with browned butter. Truly, browned butter is so good, it should be illegal. Trim some asparagus and toss it with olive oil, salt, and pepper on a sheet pan. Throw in a 400 degree oven for a few to several minutes until it's browned and as tender as you want. Meanwhile, put a couple tablespoons butter in the lightest-colored small saucepan or skillet you've got. Melt over mediumish heat and cook just until you start to see brown bits. Pull it off the heat ASAP, or you will soon have burned butter. Which is so bad it should be illegal. Drizzle your browned butter on your roasted asparagus and, if you want to take it beyond beyond, splash on some balsamic vinegar. 

9. Rake up winter's detritus from our yard. While I detest gardening, I love raking. It's the vacuuming of outdoor chores. Instant gratification for neat-freaks.

10. Celebrate Easter and God's radical, eternal yes. "In the resurrection, God rejected our rejection. In the crucifixion, we said 'no' to God, but in the resurrection, God said, 'yes' to us." (Philip Gulley, Home to Harmony)



Previous posts that might have something to do with this one:
What I'm Hoping to Do This Fall
Why I Love Winter & What I'm Hoping To Do During This One
What I'm Hoping to Do This Summer
Grumpy Gardener Girl
Chocolate Cream Pie: A Love Story
Five Things I Do (Almost) Every Day
My Ten Favorite Mom Jobs

Happily shared here and here:




March 18, 2016

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Week: Confetti Cake Batter CCC Bars


In my younger-mom days, when elementary school holiday parties were a thing I had to do a lot, I made a preemptive strike at Christmastime one year

Weeks ahead of my daughter's class party, I volunteered to provide cut-out sugar cookies for the "cookie decorating station." I thought this would save me the trauma of a night-before phone call from her teacher. My offer was accepted, with one caveat: I needed to use the cookie cutter Mrs. H would supply. I assumed she just wanted all the kids to have the same-sized cookie and agreed.

A few days later, my daughter brought home the required cutter. It was Christmas-tree shaped. It was, in fact, very nearly life-sized Christmas-tree shaped. 

I quadrupled my sugar cookie recipe and started baking. And baking. And baking.

This story actually has almost nothing to do with the rest of this post, but it has allowed me to put off introducing the last recipe in this National Chocolate Chip Cookie Week series: Confetti Cake Batter CCCs. The first time I made this recipe and took the pan out of the oven, my tween said, "That looks like a carnival exploded in the best possible way." Which seems to make these a fitting candidate for a finale. 

And I will say that these bar cookies are perfect if you happen to get a last-minute call for party treats. Stir up the dough, slap it in a pan, bake it off, and divvy it up. You don't even need a life-sized Christmas tree cutter to do it.

Confetti Cake-Batter Cookie Bars {print}

1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups dry yellow cake mix without pudding in it (I use Duncan Hines)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar 
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup multicolored sprinkles, plus additional as needed (I get mine at the dollar store)
1/2 cup mini M&Ms (it does need to be the mini version here...I find that my beloved Target has the best price on these)
nonstick cooking spray

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Generously coat a 9x13 baking pan or a quarter sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, dry cake mix, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside. 

In a small dish, mix the 1/4 cup sprinkles and the M&Ms. Set aside 1/4 cup. 

In a large bowl, beat the butter for about 30 seconds. Add both sugars and beat a minute or two until fluffy. Add the oil (measure it first), then the corn syrup (which will slip right out of your tablespoon if you measured the oil first), then the egg and vanilla to the butter-sugar mixture and beat until everyone seems to be getting along.

Dump the combined dry ingredients on top of the butter mixture and beat just until all the dry is in the party. Stir in the mini chocolate chips and the sprinkle/M&M mixture (minus your reserved 1/4 cup) by hand. This might take some muscle.

Plop large spoonfuls of your dough around your prepared pan, then spread evenly. Sprinkle on your reserved "confetti" mixture and press lightly with a spoon or your offset spatula. 

If your bar cookies do not look carnival-y enough for you, dress them up with some extra sprinkles.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or just until puffed in the center and starting to crack. The old toothpick test doesn't really work here: if you bake these until one tests clean, you will have less of a bar cookie and more of a very colorful concrete slab. Gooey is good in this case.

Cool on a wire rack for at least a couple minutes. Eat while warm if possible. If you need to store them, cool completely first, then cover the pan tightly with a lid or plastic wrap and foil. 


Now, I really want to know: what's your favorite make and model of chocolate-chip cookie? (No disrespect intended here, but carob c
hip with kale puree need not apply. I'm sorry, but this just isn't that kind of blog.)

Thanks for coming along on this little tour through CCC land! And don't forget: there's still the rest of National Fresh Celery Month to celebrate.



You're looking for the rest of the posts from this series? Aw, thanks! Here they are...
Day 1: Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
Day 2: White Chocolate Pretzel Cookies
Day 3: Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
Day 4: Gluten-Free Oatmeal Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies



March 17, 2016

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Week: Gluten-Free Oatmeal Cherry CCCs


A few years ago, I gave my dad* a tin of cookies for his birthday.

This is a very special tin. Well, actually, the tin itself is just from the dollar store. But it's a "bottomless" tin, on account of the following legal statement that I typed up and encased in tape inside the lid: 

"This Cookie Storage Receptacle (hereby and henceforth referred to as 'tin') is equipped with an unlimited refill capacity. Thus, the bearer (hereby and henceforth referred to as 'Bearer') of this tin shall be entitled to unlimited refills of said tin for the duration of the life of the Bearer or the life of the tin, whichever is longest. Should a refill be desired, please provide empty tin to Bearer's Committed Cookie Provider (hereby and henceforth referred to as 'Elizabeth'), who will thereupon commence to fill said tin and return it to bearer." 

The above was signed by me, and, conveniently, witnessed and verified as authentic by my very own in-house Juris Doctor/Notary Public: my husband.

Because my dad has mild gluten intolerance (eating gluten doesn't make him feel sick, but it does affect his iron absorption), I try to mostly make GF cookies for him. The following recipe is one of his favorites. It's also my offering for Day 4 of National Chocolate Chip Cookie Week

Whether you've got a bottomless cookie tin in your house or not, give these a try and let me know what you think. And if you're in Michigan and need a witness for a similar agreement with a similar tin, feel free to stop by our house when my husband is home. The place will be a mess (see my little "hello, mama" intro at the top of this blog), but at least there are likely to be cookies around.

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Cherry Chocolate CCCs {print}
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend (I make my own with rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour in a specific ratio that I'd have to understand math to properly explain)
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (ONLY if your flour blend doesn't already have it, though)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup + 2 tablespoons gluten-free oats (l much prefer a pretty equal mix of quick-cooking and old-fashioned, but you can make this call yourself)
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 cup chocolate chips or chunks (white, milk, semisweet, bittersweet or a combo)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Beat the butter and shortening together for a minute or so until fluffy. Beat in the sugars until fluffier. Beat in the corn syrup, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until the eggs have completely joined the party. In a separate bowl, mix the flour blend, xanthan gum (IF it's not in your flour blend...but you already checked on that, didn't you?) salt, baking soda, baking powder, and oats. Dump on top of sugar mixture and mix in just until no more dry ingredients are obvious. Gently fold in the cherries and chocolate.

Roll portions of dough (1-2 tablespoons, depending on how big you want your cookies) into balls and place a couple inches apart on your baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Bake for about 7 minutes, until you see a little golden color at the edges. Or bake longer until you see a lot of golden color all over if you like really crisp cookies...like my dad does.

Remove cookies from oven, cool on sheet for a couple minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool more or, if you're storing them, to cool completely.

Oh my word. Just realized I haven't mentioned how many cookies any of my previous recipes in this series might make. Must fix that. But for this one, I'd say a couple dozen-ish. Same for the others, for that matter.

Okay, lovely reader, if you're not ready to run screaming from anything resembling a chocolate chip cookie quite yet, I'd LOVE to have you come back tomorrow to finish this series out with me. Because, two words: cake batter.




Other stuff that probably has something to do with this post:
*Mr. Hard-To-Buy-For...has what he needs, buys what he wants for himself.
This post might have been taken to these parties.
Day 1 in this series: Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
Day 2 in this series: White Chocolate Pretzel Cookies
Day 3 in this series: Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies



March 16, 2016

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Week: Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter CCCs


It's Day 3 of National Chocolate Chip Cookie Week, and I think it's time we crossed over to the dark side. 

We started with the classics. We threw in some white chocolate. Now we're getting serious with one of my family's favorite CCC incarnations: Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter.

What with all the flavonoids and antioxidants in the cocoa and the protein from the peanut butter, we count these as health food in our house. (Yes, we're that kind of family.)

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies {print}
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Hershey's Special Dark
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup peanut butter baking chips (I use Reese's)
1 cup chopped peanut butter cups (I use Reese's dark chocolate miniatures)

Beat the butter for a minute or so by hand or (even better) with an electric mixer. Dump in both sugars and beat another minute or so until light and fluffy. Beat in the oil, vanilla, corn syrup (which will slide right out of the tablespoon if you measured the oil first), and egg. Beat just until incorporated. Beat in the cocoa powder carefully so you don't end up with a cocoa cloud all over your kitchen. Whisk together the remaining dry ingredients (flour-salt) and dump on top of flour mixture. Beat in just until incorporated. Gently fold in the peanut butter chips and chopped peanut butter cups.

Cover and chill the dough for about 15 minutes while you preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Also, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Roll dough (about 1-2 tablespoon portions) into balls and place on cookie sheet, about 9-12 to a sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 6-7 minutes, or until just starting to crack at the edges. Remove from oven and cool on the sheet for 2 minutes. Remove cookies to a wire rack to cool completely if you're storing them (in an airtight container, please). I maintain that most homemade cookies are not worth eating after about 1 day of storage at room temperature, so if you want to keep these longer, I'd throw them in the freezer.

I'm so glad you're here. Up tomorrow: a little something for my gluten-free friends.



Other stuff you might want to know about:
Day 1 in this series: Classic CCCs
Day 2 in this series: White Chocolate Pretzel CCCs
This post may have been shared at these bloggy bashes.

March 15, 2016

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Week: White Chocolate Pretzel Cookies


Welcome to Day 2 of National Chocolate Chip Cookie Week! 

If you missed the set-up for this series, I'd love to have you click back to Day 1 so you'll be up to speed on, among other things, my philosophy about chocolate chip cookies. (For starters, I have one.)

Today's CCC honoree is the White Chocolate Pretzel Cookie. 

Now. I can imagine what you might be thinking. "Guilty Chocoholic Mama! What are you DOING?! Don't tell me you don't know that white chocolate is not ACTUALLY chocolate? What kind of so-called chocoholic are you?"

Fret not. I am well aware of the controversy surrounding white chocolate. Which, on account of containing 0.00 percent cocoa liquor, cannot technically be allowed into the chocolate hall of fame. But if you can get your hands on a version that is made with cocoa butter, which melts on the tongue in a lovely chocolate-like way, you've got something worth eating. On the other hand, if all you can find is faux white chocolate made with hydrogenated oil (that, as far as I know, doesn't melt anywhere), well, maybe go back to Day 1.

If you're still here, just know that the combination of soft/chewy/crispy-edged cookies with sweet vanilla-y white chocolate and salty, crunchy pretzels is possibly one of the better ideas that have ever popped into my otherwise sleep-deprivation addled brain. But don't take my word for it. Find some good white chocolate, stir up a batch of these, and let me know what you think.



White Chocolate Pretzel Cookies {print}
1 1/2 cups pretzels (any shape)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups good white chocolate chips and/or chunks cut from a bar (look for "cocoa butter" on the ingredient list)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread your pretzels on the sheet and put it in the oven. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees to preheat with the pretzels in there. You're removing a little moisture from the pretzels so they will be crispier in your finished cookies. Remove the pretzels from the oven once it has preheated (set the timer for 10 minutes just to be on the safe side) and cool slightly before putting them into a plastic bag and smashing them slightly into irregular pieces. 

Meanwhile, beat the butter for a minute or so by hand or (even better) with an electric mixer. Dump in both sugars and beat another minute or so until light and fluffy. Beat in the oil, vanilla, corn syrup (which will slide right out of the tablespoon if you measured the oil first), and egg. Beat just until incorporated. Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour-salt) and dump on top of flour mixture. Beat in just until incorporated. You're not making yeast bread here, so don't overbeat. Gently fold in the white chocolate and the pretzel pieces. 

Drop by globs (I use a 2-tablespoon scooper) onto your prepared cookie sheet. Press globs down slightly with the back of your hand. Bake at 350 degrees for about 6-7 minutes. I like mine just starting to crack at the edges. Remove from oven and cool on the sheet for 2 minutes. Remove cookies to a wire rack to cool completely if you're storing them. Or don't cool them at all (other than that first 2 minutes) and eat them straight away with a big glass of milk. If you are storing them, make sure your container is airtight and that spaghetti sauce wasn't the last thing you stored in it. 

If you don't want to bake any or all of your dough right away, you can chill it for a few hours or overnight and then bake as directed. You just might have to add a minute or two to the baking time. You can also make these cookies bigger or smaller or flatter (just smoosh the dough balls with the palm of your hand before you bake them); again, adjust the baking time accordingly. You can even "burn" them if that's your thing. It's not mine, but then, I have a lot of things that aren't anybody else's. (See "Why I Love Winter.")

Thanks for stopping by! I'd be ecstatic if you checked back tomorrow for another CCC installment. Teaser alert: there will be dark chocolate involved.

**This post may have been shared at these bloggy bashes.**


March 14, 2016

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Week: Classic CCCs

So, according to my King Arthur Flour Baker's Catalog, National Chocolate Chip Cookie Week is a thing. 

I find it entirely fitting that foods like grilled cheese sandwiches, fried chicken, oatmeal, guacamole, and roast-suckling-pig-I-am-not-making-this-up get their own national days (April 12, July 6, October 29, November 14, and December 18, respectively), but the chocolate chip cookie gets an entire week.*

Chocolate chip cookies (CCCs)) are treated with reverence and respect in our home.

For one thing, my family overlooks a great deal of moodiness and general irritability on my part simply because I am able and willing to produce CCCs on a regular basis.

My husband would happily eat chocolate chip cookies every night for dessert for the rest of his life.

And when I know my daughters are having a rough day in the world of school, friend drama, and estrogen-overload, I administer CCC therapy when they get home. It helps, every time.

You need to know that I like my CCCs crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside, and generally plump and chewy all over. I do not like flat, cakey chocolate chip cookies. This is not a moral stand, just a personal preference. 

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies {print}
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips (your choice of size, shape, and cacao percentage)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Beat the butter for a minute or so by hand or (even better) with an electric mixer. Dump in both sugars and beat another minute or so until light and fluffy. Beat in the oil, vanilla, corn syrup (which will slide right out of the tablespoon if you measured the oil first), and egg. Beat just until incorporated. Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour-salt) and dump on top of flour mixture. Beat in just until incorporated. You're not making yeast bread here, so don't overbeat. Gently fold in the chocolate chips. 

Drop by globs (I use a 2-tablespoon scooper) onto your prepared cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 6-7 minutes. I like mine just starting to crack at the edges. Remove from oven and cool on the sheet for 2 minutes. Remove cookies to a wire rack to cool completely if you're storing them. Or don't cool them at all (other than that first 2 minutes) and eat them straight away with a big glass of milk. If you are storing them, make sure your container is airtight and that it didn't last house spaghetti sauce. Because marinara-infused CCCs are not going to become anybody's Next Big Food Thing.

If you don't want to bake any or all of your dough right away, you can chill it for a few hours or overnight and then bake as directed. You just might have to add a minute or two to the baking time. You can also make these cookies bigger or smaller or flatter (just smoosh the dough balls with the palm of your hand before you bake them); again, adjust the baking time accordingly. You can even make them "burned" if that's your thing. I mean, I can't imagine, but as Ma Ingalls always said, "It take all kinds of people to make a world."

If all this is just a bit much for you, take heart: National Fresh Celery Month is also a thing, as it turns out.** If that's more your style, please know that my portion of the world's fresh celery supply is all yours. 

*March 14-20 in 2016.
**The month of March in 2016.

This post may have been shared at these bloggy bashes.

Other posts that have something to do with this one:
White Chocolate Pretzel Cookies
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
Gluten-Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Confetti Cake Batter Bar Cookies