chocolate chip cookies

A few weeks ago, a post over at In Jennie’s Kitchen caught my eye. Jennifer posted about her best chocolate chip cookies, cookies whose development has been in the works for years. I certainly haven’t invested the time to perfect my own chocolate chip cookies, so I thought I’d give hers a try.

chocolate chip cookies

My husband keeps coming home from the store with refrigerated cookie dough, and I really want to break him of that habit. I’d much rather have some homemade dough in our freezer waiting to be baked. Hence, these cookies.

chocolate chip cookies

chocolate chip cookies

I followed Jennifer’s recipe to a tee except for the chocolate. Her recipe uses Guittard 55% chocolate discs in place of chocolate chips. Since none of the stores around here carry any chocolate discs, much less Guittard, I used Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips. I chose semisweet over bittersweet because…well, just because.

chocolate chip cookies

chocolate chip cookies

The verdict? These are delicious chocolate chip cookies. They’re best warm out of the oven, and I have confirmation of that from my taste-testing children. My daughter declared that these were, “not too hot but warm and melty and yummy!” And then she THANKED me. Yes, you heard it. She thanked me for making them. Compliments and politeness all in the same 30 second timespan.

If she keeps that up, the bag of frozen cookie dough balls may not stick around in our freezer very long.

chocolate chip cookies

spring break and a simple lunch

Can you guess where we were this week? Here’s a hint:

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And here’s another:

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I used to wonder what the attraction to Disney World was for adults, but now that I have children, I completely understand. There is nothing better than watching my daughter, Madeline, scream with excitement on Space Mountain and watching my son, Oliver, grin from ear to ear as we spin round and round on the teacups ride.

After spending a day at the Animal Kingdom and a couple of days at Magic Kingdom, we drove less than two hours over to St. Pete Beach for some much needed beach time.  I tried to do lots of this:

legs

but I ended up doing lots of sand castle building and shell collecting. Not that I’m complaining. It was entirely relaxing and the perfect spring break trip.

This vacation was totally not about food. It’s hard to have the restaurant experiences that we like to have with a 6 year old and a 3 year old in tow. We put aside any hopes of great meals for our next grown-ups only vacation in June [Vegas, baby!]. We had lots of pizza, burgers, and other unhealthy things we don’t normally eat. Like this:

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Yesterday was my first full day home from our trip, and I was still in recovery mode. Since I’m off work this entire week, I wanted to spend some quality time in my kitchen. And I really wanted something simple for lunch. Without meat. Without french fries.

tomato & goat cheese tart

I thawed some puff pastry and used part of it for this simple tomato tart with goat cheese and fresh basil from my herb garden. I wish I could say the tomatoes were from my garden, too, but not yet. Maybe later in the summer if my plants survive [fingers crossed].

tomato & goat cheese tart

It was the perfect light lunch. Or would have been, had I not eaten the entire thing.

tomato & goat cheese tart

hamburgers and dirt roads

We spent a Sunday evening at my parents’ house recently. My husband and I decided around lunchtime that day that we’d invite ourselves over since we hadn’t seen my parents in a week or so. Our plan was have an easy dinner of burgers and roasted potatoes. My children love going to their Nana’s house, and they were thrilled when we told them of our afternoon plans. It was a lovely warm spring evening, perfect for firing up the grill and taking advantage of the beautiful weather.

I grew up in a small town in northern Florida, just about 45 minutes from where I live now. I wasn’t born there, but I spent all of my remembered young life there. The town had a population of 500 people then, and the population now is only about 30 to 40 people higher than that. There was one blinking light at the crossroads in the center of town. It wasn’t until I went away to college that the county replaced the blinking light with an actual stoplight. The stoplight took some getting used to; there were lots of red-light runners in the beginning.

Dad's herb garden

My parents lived – and still live –  just outside the town limits, down a dirt road, with no real neighbors to speak of. In fact, I think that a big part of why I now live in my little preplanned, white-picket-fence-wrapped neighborhood is because I craved a real neighborhood for so long. With white picket fences. And neighbors.

burgers at Dad's

"fingerling potatoes"

I didn’t care all that much for my little hometown by the time I was a teenager. It was so isolated, with too many green cow pastures, too many farms, too many innertube rental places, too many trees, and not enough happening. I was a country girl (yes, I’ll finally admit that) who craved a city life. Not even a huge city, mind you. Just one with more than one stoplight.

contemplating the grill

Flash forward to 2010. I’m married with two children of my own – a six year old daughter and a three year old son – and we live in a lovely little neighbhorhood in a city with close to 259,000 people. My kids ride their bikes up and down sidewalks instead of county roads and dirt lanes. There are homes to our right and our left, and in the early evenings we can sit on our front porch and watch the neighborhood kids hanging out with their friends – walking together, riding scooters, or whatever else kids do.

And now? Now I adore visiting my parents in that tiny little north Florida town where I grew up. I have a new respect for the peacefulness and serenity that come with life in a small town. I love the green cow pastures, the farms, the trees, the lack of people, the quietness.  And despite how tacky they are, I have even become fond of the innertube rental shops that fill with tourists in the summer months.

my boys

And the burgers out there are really good, too.