Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been making chocolate chip cookies since I was about ... hmm, 13? I love them (who doesn't?) but the toll house recipe on the back of the package has never satisfied me. Either the cookies are too flat, too crispy, or turn into hockey pucks a day later. I like my cookies chewy and not too flat or puffy. It's been a 25 year quest to find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever (and if you can do first grade math you now know my age ...) I have a number of food items that I am always wanting to find the "best" recipe for including spaghetti sauce/meatballs (still looking ...) and pancakes (think I just found a winner for this one!) and I know there are others but I just can't think of them off the top of my head. :)

A year or so ago I asked for and received a HUMONGOUS cookbook for Christmas called The New Best Recipe (literally it has like 1000 pages. Wait, 1027 pages - I just checked). Basically, Cook's Illustrated magazine has spent the last umpteen years trying to find the "best" recipes for a zillion basic classics - everything from chicken piccata to grilled steak to eggs benedict to chili to say, chocolate chip cookies. :) It is not a "creative" cookbook filled with recipes for taco lasagna or desserts featuring cool whip. It's just a back to basics classic filled with a compilation of all the "best recipes" that they have tested and re-tested until they felt they had the "perfect" recipe.

[Sidenote: I wish I could say that this cookbook has turned me into the "best" cook ... but alas, it is not so. Maybe if I didn't have an almost one year old clinging to my leg every time I'm making dinner?]

So, the other day I cracked open the book and of course, they had a recipe for "chewy chocolate chip cookies". So far most of the recipes I have tried from the cookbook have been winners ... and this one did not let me down! They make really, really yummy cookies that are chewy, not too flat, not too puffy... The secret? MELTING THE BUTTER, not creaming.

I was going to type out the recipe myself, but it has already taken me 3 days to compose this post. No lie. So here is the link: Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies. It also includes a whole explanation on how they came up with the recipe!

ENJOY! I know you will ... now go make some!

UPDATE: The link above is no longer working because Cook's Illustrated now wants you to sign up for a free trial ... and of course no one wants to do that. SO... go here to find the same recipe. Although this blogger makes it sound like she came up with this herself ... and it is the exact recipe from Cook's Illustrated! Copycat!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Just because

... she is so sweet.

Love, love, love the little toes.
Especially when they are delicately crossed at the ankles. :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

All decked out

This has been the excitement at our house over the past few days...


Pile o' crap that used to be our deck. It was a little frightening how easily it came down ...

Watching the workers was incredibly fascinating to 3 young children ...

Not so fascinating to the cat, who spent much of the day hiding under the couch. Not so thrilled about all that loud noise.

Oh .... we're halfway there... (sorry had to throw in a Bon Jovi reference, heehee)

So much nicer, so much more space in our yard, no more half-falling down deck!
Now if only the temperature would dip below 95, I might actually want to go out and sit on this baby. But so far ... way too hot and humid. :(

Looking forward to many meals, parties and fun on the new deck!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mystery boy

Sometimes Carter is a total mystery to me. One moment he will say or do something that approaches brilliance. Then he will turn around ten minutes later and be so completely clueless that I can't believe he is the same child. I have jokingly referred to him at times as my "absent-minded professor."

Last evening is a perfect example. My parents and brother were over for Father's Day and we were sitting around the table chatting. Carter was looking at his placemat - which is a map of the US - and showing us where certain family members lived, and asking what some of the states were named, etc. At some point, someone said "Hey Carter, how do you spell Mississippi?" And he proceeded to spell it - slowly and thoughfully, but correctly (without looking). He went on to spell Ohio, Iowa, and parts of a few other states correctly. I was in awe. I seriously was wondering how on earth he knew this stuff.

Then a few minutes later, he went into the bathroom and came out. His underwear was on inside out and his shorts were nowhere to be found.

Clueless Carter was back. :)

Like I said - he's a mystery.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

11 Months, Part 2

After I wrote my last blog post, I realized that there were a few other things I wanted to remember about Chloe's development this past month. (Just a warning - this is probably much more fascinating to me as Chloe's mommy and to anyone else this will be a snooze of a post...)

1. Chloe has a few words that she says now. She regularly says "Mama and "nana" (for banana - she LOVES her bananas!) She also can say "Dada" and "Ah-da" (Audrey) but they are more inconsistent.

2. Chloe is already getting a MOLAR. One day I was wondering why she was so fussy - it was so unlike her. And then I was tickling her upside down and she opened her mouth wide ... and there it was. Thankfully it has thus far NOT interrupted her sleeping! :)

3. Maybe I said this last month ... but Chloe is clapping her hands. Every time we yell "YAY!" she starts clapping ... of course she thinks she has done something great. And she probably has. [said the proud mama...]

4. Chloe has had a lot of separation anxiety in the past month. It is hard to leave a room without her crawling after me whining ... and hard to make dinner without her climbing my pant leg. She loves everyone while I am holding her, but usually if someone tries to take her from me, major tears erupt. My Mom says she is trying not to get a complex... sorry, Mom, I know she will love being held by you soon enough!

5. And finally - we have a flirt on our hands. Last night we went to a party and she spent most of the time making eyes and cooing sounds at random strangers until they paid attention ... at which point she would give them a huge smile ... and then bury her head in my shoulder ... while peeking to make sure they were still looking. Very cute, but she'd better cut it out by the time she's 13. ;)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

11 months

Yes, I know this is so repetitive ... but I can't believe Miss Chloe is one month from her first birthday. I think we are going to keep her "birthday party" low-key. Chad's parents will be in town the week after her birthday, so we're planning to have a party with my family and Chad's while they are here. I know some people love planning parties ... but as much as I wish I was, I just am not one of those people. Honestly, they stress me out! So this year we'll just have a family party. But I am going to make one awesome cake. I love making and decorating cakes! :)

This month Chloe is into EVERYTHING. She is cruising and crawling around like crazy. I think I know where she is, and two seconds later she is in the bathroom trying to splash in the toilet water (Gross, I know. I have caught her doing this more than once ....) I am now trying to keep the bathroom door closed. Easier said than done with 2 other little people who usually forget to close it when they're finished.

I thought she would be walking by her first birthday but now I'm not so sure. She likes to walk when I hold her hands but she seems pretty content to crawl. She did climb these steps by herself though! Yikes!

I have been feeding Chloe more table foods lately. She is enjoying much of what I give her and is willing to try a lot of foods. The downside is that it is making mealtime quite messy! We gave her lasagna the other night and this is what she looked like at the end of the meal:

She loves to rake her messy fingers through her hair. Yuck.

Since the weather is so nice now, we are spending a lot of time outside - playing, swimming, riding in the stroller. Like most little ones, Chloe loves it outside.

Chad entitled this photo: "The last thing a Cheerio sees..." :)

We all sure love this girl!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Schooooool's out. for. the summer!

Remember these 3 cute little girls who started kindergarten 9 months ago?
(Audrey & the Kaitlyns)

Well, they are now kindergarten GRADUATES!
And they really do look and seem SO much older to me...

Here is Audrey emerging from her last ride on the kindergarten bus. She is now a first grader! :)

Well, no celebration is complete without a party. So the neighborhood moms decided that in honor of the last day of school, we would have a picnic and ice cream party!

[Sorry if you read my friend Kelly's blog. She has a lot of the same pictures!]

Chloe slept for most of the picnic time but she had fun with her "admirers" before naptime
By this point I think she had had enough "admiring" :)

So what's next?
Well, Monday we are starting swim lessons bright and early at 9 am.
AND our deck redo starts bright and early Monday as well (yay! no more splinters!)
... so we are jumping right into summer here at our house!

Wish me luck ....

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday: My Girls

My oh-so-mature and beautiful kindergarten grad

My wild and crazy Bozo the clown impersonator
(why, oh why must all food get squashed into her hair???)

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Somewhere, a village is missing its idiot

Today I went to Target. The main reason I needed to go was to get some kitchen trash bags, because we are totally out.

Guess what. I came home with $40 worth of merchandise ... and not a trash bag to be found amidst it all.


Unfortunately, Target has that effect on me. :(

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Water Fun

Boy, am I on a blogging ROLL this week. Maybe the extra sleep is coming in handy after all!

The past few weeks have been unseasonably warm around here. 90's (AND humid, lucky us) for weeks on end. So we cope the best we can ... which means I crank up the A/C and stay inside (I know, I'm a total wimp). But since the kids insist on going outside ... well, that means playing in the water.

So ... we've set up the slip-n-slide.

We set up the slip-n-slide again a couple days after these photos were taken and ended up with about 10 kids in the backyard! Unfortunately, Audrey's friend Emma had a bad slip on the slip-n-slide and broke her wrist ... so now I'm a little afraid of setting it up again!

Then a few days ago I found these awesome water shooters (? I'm not sure what to call them...) at the dollar store. So I brought some home, filled a bucket with water, and let the kids go to town. Soon fights were breaking out over who got the water shooters but everyone quickly learned to take turns. Woo hoo! Go neighborhood kids!

First they "washed" Chad's car. And sprayed the neighbor's house. Then they watered the flowers. And each other.

Then ... and honest, scout's honor, this was not my idea ... Audrey decided to make a foot bath. I let her go in and get some body wash and wowie bozowie, next thing I knew I was getting my feet soaked and washed!!

The kids thought this was great fun! They all took turns soaking their feet.

Chloe's water fun that day consisted of playing with a water bottle. :)

Later that night Carter got busy making watery footprints all over the driveway while Daddy watered the plants.

Father and son.

Thanks also to all our neighbor friends who shared their pools, sprinklers, etc. this week too. It's just the beginning of a lot of watery summer fun!

One more week, and school's out!

Friday, June 4, 2010

National Donut Day

Did you know?

June 4th is "National Donut Day." Who knew there was a holiday completely dedicated to donuts? Not me, until I found out this morning on Facebook (the source of all very important information).

What I learned is that if you went to Dunkin Donuts, you would get a free donut with the purchase of a drink! So, well, you didn't have to invite me twice, I packed up the kids and out the door we went.

Sidenote: If you ever want kids to get dressed and ready REALLY FAST, tell them you're going out for donuts. Even Carter (whose favorite phrase is "YOU do it") was trying to put on his own shoes!

So one coconut iced coffee, one chocolate milk with 2 straws, a baggie of cheerios and 2 free donuts later, I had 4 very happy campers. :)

Carter polished his chocolate sprinkle donut off in about 1.5 minutes.

But he then enjoyed pointing out every kind of truck that went by on Nutt Road. His new favorite pastime.

Audrey took her time eating her donut.

Here she is sporting a chocolatey mustache.

Chloe happily ate her "mini-donuts" (aka Cheerios).

Poor girl doesn't even know what she's missing. :)

Happy Donut Day to you and yours!