Friday, July 22, 2011

Salad, Rolls, Cookies, & Cake

Lately I've been loving the website, Our Best Bites! Every recipe I've tried from them has been delicious. A few weeks ago, we had this salad at Bunco, and I've wanted to make it ever since. So I finally did! I found frozen ciabatta rolls from Walmart that were AWESOME!! I seriously thought, "I never need to go to Macaroni Grill for their bread anymore - I just need to buy these rolls!  I ended up using fresh blackberries for the dressing, but I do prefer the strawberries instead.  It was still so delicious - a perfect summer dinner!
Also, I have FINALLY found the best chocolate chip cookie recipe!!  Many of you know, I love to bake, and grew-up making a different batch of cookies nearly every Sunday at my house!  However, I really never liked to eat the cookies once they were baked.  I just liked the cookie dough.  I few months ago, I tried a new recipe and thought, "This is pretty good."  When Shawn came home and tried it, his first response was, "Have your tried Laura Lowe's recipe?"  Ok - my, what I thought at the time, pretty good recipe must not have been as good as Laura's.  So, I e-mailed his coworker and got the recipe.  I didn't try it until last weekend - HELLO - I've made it twice now (not good for the hips!)
So - I will share with you, what I think is the best chocolate chip cookie recipe!  Trust me!  Now, this is what Laura shared with me.  I've included all the instructions - but will tell you what I do.  I microwave the butter (all of it) for 2-3 minutes.  You have to watch it, so it doesn't boil over - but it does give it a good flavor.  Also - use dark brown sugar - it really enhances the taste.  Note: The dough will be gooey and you might think, Add more flour - wrong.  Just refrigerate it a little to help it set back up.  (they don't tell you to do this, but do it!)

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
From the episode: The Cookie Jar

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (I use chunks and chips! or chips and mini chips) 
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking
sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes.
Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3
minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large
heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and
yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture
stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until
mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no
flour pockets remain.
4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches
apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will
require 3 batches.)
5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to
set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer
baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving. 

They also had some technique tips, that I thought were interesting.  Click here to read those. 

Finally for this post - I turned 30 yesterday!!!  Hard to believe, I guess.  I don't feel any different, but supposedly it's a big deal!  :)

Shawn and the girls did a wonderful job at making me feel special and they sure did spoil me!  Shawn took Andie and Ali shopping, and it's always fun to see what they think is "your favorite!"  Which happened to be raspberry truffles, dark chocolate, and bright pink nail polish!  (according to Andie and Ali!)
Since the beginning of the month - the girls got the pink bag and christmas bag and have been filling it with pictures and drawings for my birthday.  Andie has been most funny about this.  She would draw something, show me and then say, "It's for your birthday!  I'm going to put it in your birthday bag (hers was the Christmas bag) and hide it, so you can't see it."  Then she would go put it next to the couch!  lol - it was so funny.
They had fun blowing up balloons and hanging up the birthday sign with Shawn.  I was laying in bed just laughing (waiting) as I heard them shrill and giggle with excitement. 
Overall, we had an average day.  We (the girls and I) went visiting teaching and babysat for a friend from the ward.  Shawn is taking his comps right now, which means he writes a 15 or so page research paper each week, with a new question at the beginning of the week for the next 4 weeks!  He's been staying up well into the night every night this week and leaves for school at 7:30am.  It's a busy time for him - but a major step for his dissertation - so we are happy!

That night, I treated myself to a favorite dinner.  Tri-tip, homemade rolls, raspberry jello, mashed potatoes and of course Chocolate Cake, with Chocolate Frosting! 
I always thought it would be fun to have all of your candles in the cake.  The girls loved it too!  The lighter was hard to use, requiring both hands - but definitely fun to light 30 candles!
Posing for a picture before I blow them out!

We liked this picture the best - with all the holes!

The girls sure enjoyed the cake....well most of them.
We have found that chocolate does not sit well with Adalyn - poor girl.  Hopefully she's grow out of that (could you imagine a life without chocolate?)  So, instead of cake, she got jello, which she LOVED!

It was a great ending for a great day!!  Andie took this picture of the birthday girl!  All day long she would say things like, "Mom, how about you decide what's next, since you're the birthday girl!"  It was great!
I love my little family - and extended family too! How blessed I am to have all of you! Thanks for all the birthday fun!!


Jamie said...

Happy 30th Birthday Molly! I will have to try that chocolate chip cookie recipe. We have a recipe that is a favorite and we make it ALL the time. But we'll have to try yours. Btw, you look A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!! Seriously, you are my hero!!!!

MTMcGee said...

You look great Molly!! Glad you had a fun birthday. The girls are getting so big and prettier every time I see a new picture.

carrie r. said...

Glad you had a great birthday! Looks like some nice gifts too. I was just looking over the instructions on how to make those cookies - sounds so complex! I will have to wait until I am feeling very patient to try them. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

lillie said...

Looks like you had a great birthday- Happy 30th!!

Whittney Clark said...

Happy Happy Birthday! Wish we could have been there to help you celebrate some more! :) Looks like a fun day!

Josh and Jenna said...

30 looks SO GOOD on you!!! I am weeks away from the big day and I don't think my pictures will look so amazing! You know what...I don't like eating the cookies after they're baked either, the dough is much better.

Natalie said...

Happy belated birthday! I'm sorry I didn't call. I really did think of you!!! You are wonderful and love you to pieces. Thanks for being such an example to me!

PS are these cookies really better than the S. Grecko ones?!