Dreams May Change, Cookies Will Always Be Delicious

Photo courtesy of MarthaStewart.com

When I was around 13 I was really into baking. I loved Martha Stewart, I still do, but back then I thought I wanted to be just like Martha. She is a pretty impressive woman, after all. Am I right? I thought it would be so fun to be the next “Martha Stewart.” However, even though I was always prone to romanticizing, I was never completely unrealistic, so I set my sights on one day becoming a baker. What could be a better job for me?! I loved baking, I loved bakeries, I loved eating baked goods! It was obviously the perfect career for me. Then I became aware of the cold, hard truth of the matter. Bakers have to wake up early. Really early. That was the deal breaker.

Though I no longer have the desire to be just like Martha or to be a baker, my love of baking, bakeries, eating baked goods, and Martha Stewart has stayed with me to this day. Now, I sometimes wonder if I might like to have a bakery of my own someday. Of course, I know I would still have to get up early, but I might be more willing to do that for something I really love, which may, or may not be being the owner and manager of a bakery. For now, I will continue to enjoy imagining owning my own bakery, choosing wonderful bakers and staff, and decorating a building to turn it into the lovely bakery I have pictured in my head, and of course, envisioning all of the delicious recipes that would be made in that bakery!

What is a dream that you’ve had that has changed?

I baked these cookies back in January for my New Year’s Resolution to make one new dessert recipe each month, instead of baking the same old favorites over and over again. I have wanted to try a recipe for double chocolate cookies for quite a while now. I wanted them to be soft, and chewy. Naturally I looked to Martha (MarthaStewart.com, to be exact) to be my cookie guide. This recipe fit the bill.

Outrageous Chocolate Cookies

Do not bake the cookies to a crisp; they are meant to be soft and chewy. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature for two to three days.Note: Don’t worry if the batter seems thin. It should look more like a brownie batter than a cookie dough.
 Everyday Food, Volume 5 September 2003  
Prep Time 20 minutes 
Total Time 45 minutes 
Yield Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate roughly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chunks

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat chopped chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl in 20-second increments, stirring between each, until almost melted; do not overheat. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; beat in melted chocolate.Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks.
  3. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2 to 3 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are shiny and crackly yet soft in centers, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on sheets 10 minutes; with a thin metal spatula, transfer to racks to cool completely.

My Outrageous Chocolate Cookies

Recipe Review

These cookies were, indeed, soft and chewy, just as I hoped they would be! They are what any chocolate lover could want, rich and delicious. Perfect with a glass of milk. The only thing that I did slightly differently for these cookies was use regular semi-sweet chocolate chips, instead of the chocolate chunks the recipe called for. They definitely need to be stored well, because by the third day they started to get dry and crumbly. I was storing them in a container by themselves, next time I would add a slice of bread to help them stay more moist. I also thought I might make them when I would be sharing them with a group, so that they wouldn’t make it to the 3-day mark. All in all, I thought they were great, and I would absolutely bake them again.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 4

Weekly Photo Challenge: Light

When it comes to photography, I’m probably as much of a novice as you can get, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying taking pictures! After seeing what the challenge was for this week, I thought it would be fun to take part, because I happened to have taken some photos that worked for the “light” theme just the other day.

It was March 30th when I looked out my bedroom window and saw snow gently falling from the sky. I was so excited! You see, I love snow. Always have, always will. I sat by my window for a minute to soak up the beauty before it was gone. It was a very light snow, so I didn’t think it would continue for long. And I certainly wasn’t expecting the lovely snow to stick to the ground. But it did! Later that day, when I took my dog Monty out for jaunt around the yard, the snow was heavier and falling faster to meet the ground below. I was so pleased that it was turning into a snow day, most likely our last of the season, so I took my camera out to capture the day.

 

I like seeing the change of color in the snow from white by day to blueish by night.

 

 

I love the look of snow when it rests ever so gently on branches.

 

I really liked the way the street light looks behind the tree branches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope these brought a little bit of brightness into your day!

 

I’m Joining the Post a Week Challenge!

The title pretty much says it all.

But what it doesn’t say is why.

If you have read my first post you might remember that I started my blog with the intention – check that, with the desire to post something at least once a week.

I say desire instead of intention because I haven’t been very intentional lately. I want to be, and there are times that I try to be, and there are times that I am, but there are other times (and these times seem to be in the majority) that I am not intentional and don’t even try to be.

Instead, I have been stagnant.

I do not want to be stagnant anymore.

Life does not get better by doing nothing.

Life will only get better by doing hard things.

By doing the hard things my weakness will start to fade and my strength will start to grow.

What is the best part of this journey?

I do not have to do it alone.

God is with me.

He wants me to grow, He wants me to learn.

Learn how to get up when life knocks me down.

Learn how to be willing.

Willing to do the hard work.

Willing to be joyful.

And He will be there. Always.

Waiting for me to work with Him.

Waiting for me to follow Him.

There will be plenty of bumps in the road of Life.

I must persevere.

There will be times I want to give up.

I must continue to strive.

There will be times I will be afraid.

I must be bold.

I want to live my life with intention.

I think writing is helping me. It helps me reflect on my life in a more positive way, it helps me gain motivation, and I do think that it helps me to care and think more about how I spend my time, and in doing so, helps me live my life with more intention. I don’t want to lose that. Right now I need all the help that I can get, so I want to keep writing.

That is why I am joining the Post a Week challenge.

James 1: 2-4

Consider it pure joy, my bothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

I’ve Got to Have a Plan, Jeeves!

My roughly sketched plan for the year is as follows…

1. Practice driving a lot.

I haven’t kept up with the driving goal I set for myself, so now I am going to try to start thinking of practicing my driving as my job for the next few months.

2. Buy my first car!

3. Get my driver’s license by May, if possible.

4. Go on a trip with friends.

I will be going on a trip with friends in May, and we will be driving to our hours-away-destination. This will be my first time going on a road trip where I actually have to help with the driving, which is part of the reason I want to get my license by May.

5. Apply for jobs. (EEK!!!)

I’ve been pet-sitting for years now (since I was 12), I had a summer job at a farm last year, and now I am ready to take the next step and look for a job that will be a little more long-term.

6. Get a job. (I hope!)

7. Start college classes. (Once again, EEK!!!)

8. When/if things don’t go according to plan, don’t freak out.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

I had gotten a few butternut squash from someone a couple of months ago. I hadn’t used them yet because we don’t really eat butternut squash in my family, so I wasn’t sure what to do with them. Serendipitously enough, I came across this recipe for Butternut Squash and Apple Soup while flipping through an issue of Williams-Sonoma catalog (one of my favorites) and decided to make it the first recipe I cooked this year.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 jar (2 lb.) butternut squash puree

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 small bay leaves

3 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 cup crème fraîche

1/4 tsp. ground coriander (optional)

1/4 tsp. grated peeled fresh ginger (optional)

Fried sage leaves for garnish

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

In a Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook until soft but not browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the butternut squash puree, apple, broth, bay leaves and salt and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Partially cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and discard. Add the crème fraîche. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup directly in the pot until smooth. Stir in the coriander and ginger.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with fried sage leaves and pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

I did make a couple of changes to it. I didn’t want to make puree with my butternut squash, so I decided to use Williams-Sonoma’s recipe for Cream of Butternut Squash and Apple Soup as a guide. In that recipe you are supposed to chop the butternut squash into 1 inch cubes, so that’s what I did for my soup. I also used sour cream instead of crème fraîche, and I skipped the sage leaves and pepper (I am not a pepper person).

Here’s how it turned out.

Delicious butter, check!

The onions are under way.

Add butternut squash and apple, check.

Broth and bay leaves added.

Sour cream added.

Blended and, oh, so smooth!

Voila!

Recipe Review

This soup turned out to be pretty thick and didn’t have as much apple flavor as I was expecting it to have. Overall, I liked it, but if I ever make it again I would definitely add more chicken broth and more apple.

Star Rating:

2 1/2 out of 4

The Pain Was Worth It in the End

I love skiing.

There’s just something about gliding down a snow covered slope that fills my heart with a sense of easy peacefulness.

A couple of weeks ago I went on a ski trip, but I wasn’t planning on skiing; I decided to give snowboarding a try. Not so much because I wanted to… okay, not at all because I wanted to, but because my generous sister was going to let me use her old snowboard, which would mean I would be saving money by not renting a pair of skis.

This was my second time snowboarding. My first time was last year. But that only lasted for an hour, because we mistakenly got to the ski place right before they were going to close, so I was basically starting from the beginning all over again this year.

Last year I had liked the idea of trying something new; I thought it would be fun to know how to snowboard. So for that hour that I spent boarding, I had fun. This year was a different story. This year all I wanted to do was go skiing. It had been a while since I’d been skiing, and I missed that peaceful, easy feeling (no pun intended). I didn’t want to have to put so much effort into learning to snowboard. I didn’t want to work, I just wanted to have fun.

I had been trying to ignore how I felt about boarding, but once I got to the top of my first hill of the season, I wasn’t able to ignore my feelings anymore.

I had cheerfully gotten all of my gear on and walked to the hill where I sat down in the snow to put on my board. It was at that point that my cheerfulness turned to anxiety. The hill was far too steep for my liking. I did not want to go down that hill. But with encouragement and instruction from my sister I managed to make it down the hill safely.

It turned out that not only did I not want to snowboard because of the afore mentioned reason, but I was also somewhat afraid of snowboarding. Skiing had come pretty easily to me. I mean, sure, I’ve taken some falls over the years, but for the most part I have felt in control while skiing. With snowboarding I feel a complete lack of control.

What I am most afraid of is hurting myself. I have this scary picture of myself loosing control, falling off a ledge somewhere and breaking some part of my body. I have never broken a bone to date and I do NOT want to start now!

Well, I didn’t break anything. Thank goodness. I did however take my fair share of spills along the way, and with those came plenty of sore muscles.

The scariest moment was when I twisted my knee after panicking and throwing myself to the ground in a lame attempt to rescue myself from what I thought was inevitable disaster. According to my sister, it was not inevitable disaster. She seemed to think that my reaction to my imagined impending danger was quite comical. And after hearing her recount the event in the way only she can, I could see why.

It was after the knee incident that I had the last of my meltdown that was gradually coming on at the top of the first hill. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I cried. I was feeling sorry for myself. My sister gave me a much needed pep talk during my meltdown. One of the things she said to me was, “You’re so much braver than this.” I remember feeling surprised to hear that. I think my response to her was, “no, I’m not.” But I think maybe I am. I’ve been feeling so completely the opposite of brave lately, but I did used to be brave. And I still am brave sometimes, I just need to remember that I can be.

Something popped into my head after that exchange with my sister. It was the title of my blog: Setting the Bolder Course. I realized this was an opportunity for me to be bold and I couldn’t let it slip away.

During my sister’s pep talk she told me that I could have fun snowboarding, but I needed to change my attitude.

Well, I did change my attitude. And I did have fun!

Ring Out the Old, Ring in the New!

Happy New Year, everyone!

I love the rejuvenation that can come with a new year! I also love New Year’s Resolutions.

I think New Year’s Resolutions can be wonderful things. Of course, our resolutions are only as wonderful as we make them. Sometimes we make our resolutions a success, and sometimes we don’t. Some people forgo New Year’s Resolutions altogether. And considering my track record, you would think I would do the same. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I really stuck with my New Year’s Resolutions.

But even so, I love the tradition of compiling a list of things I want to do to make myself more of the person I want to be. However, it would be silly if I continued to go about it the same way year after year without results. So this year I am going to try something a little different. Usually I write a list of things I want to do without any real plan to accomplish them (I know, silly of me, isn’t it?), and I tend to get a little overzealous and end up choosing way too many resolutions.

This year I wrote a list of every goal I could think of and chose just 3 resolutions out of the bunch to focus on. The goals that were left over will be saved for a later date. I am going to set myself up for success by writing out a plan for each goal. And, last but not least, this year instead of “trying” to follow through, I am going to stop “trying” and start doing.

My Resolutions

1. Read at least 12 books this year. I love books, but I haven’t been doing very much reading lately, so I thought I would aim to read 1 book a month this year at the very least.

2. Cook at least 1 savory recipe a week and at least 1 new dessert a month. I want to improve my culinary skills, so I am going to choose 4 savory recipes to cook at the beginning of each month. I already have lots of baking experience, but there are still so many things I haven’t tried yet, so this year I’m going to be bold and try some of the recipes I’ve always wanted to try, but haven’t because I find them intimidating. There are also things that I haven’t mastered, like cupcakes for example, that I would like to get better at baking.

3. Exercise 2 times a week. A voice has been telling me for months now that I should be exercising. The voice keeps saying how much stronger I’ll be, how much better I’ll feel about myself, how much more confidence I’ll have, and how much slimmer I’ll look once my posture has gotten better. And you know, it’s funny, the voice sounds an awful lot like my mom.

What resolutions have you chosen this year?

How are you planning to stick with them?