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Friday, March 28, 2014

favorite chocolate chip cookies


Honoring Our Maker Everyday.

I just love that word.  I love the picture it paints in my mind when I think of it.  I love how it feels at the end of a long day.  I love all the laughter and tears it holds from those that I am closest to this side of Heaven.  

Home is a beautiful word.

We have finally somewhat settled into our new one and are still waking up everyday pinching ourselves.  I'm continually finding new little blessings, like the view from Luke's room I just discovered last night while tucking him into bed.  One of his two windows overlooks a pocket park right in the middle of our cul-de-sac, complete with a glowing lamppost and rod-iron bench... a bit reminiscent of a scene from It's a Wonderful Life.  

::pinch, pinch::

At any rate, I could easily write a long list of smells that take me straight "home" - bacon frying, onions sauteing, bread baking, and - without a doubt - cookies baking.  I was so excited to bake a batch of cookies in this new house, I couldn't hardly stand it.  Doing so seemed like such a logical, almost right-of-passage kind of way to christen the new-to-me oven.  

I've baked my fair share of chocolate chip cookies, usually landing on a recipe because it was the quickest one I could find before having to rush off to an event with some kind of baked good in hand.  But for this special occasion, I searched more intentionally in hopes of finding a better-than-average recipe, and that is exactly what I found.   With the mixture of both white and brown sugars, maple syrup, and toasted walnuts, this cookie has a richer deeper flavor but allows the chocolate to shine.  And it has just enough sweet, with a dash of salt... a wonderful balance.  These will be holding a permanent spot in the cookie jar, I can assure you!

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 3 dozen
  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar firmly packed
  • 1 whole egg plus 1 yolk
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 12 oz dark chocolate bar, roughly chopped
~ Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread walnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
~ Place pan in the oven and toast, stirring occasionally, until they are fragrant and toasted,
    about 10 minutes.  Let cool then coarsely chop.

~ In a bowl, whisk/sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  In another bowl, mix on
    medium-high speed, the butter and sugars until it is light in texture, about 3 minutes.

~ Beat in the whole egg and egg yolk, then the syrup and vanilla.  Reduce the speed to low 
    and gradually add the flour mixture, beating just until smooth and stopping to scrape 
    down the bowl as needed.   

~ With a spoon, stir in the chopped chocolate and walnuts, distributing them evenly through
    the dough.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 6.

~ Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.  Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of the
    dough onto the baking pans, spacing them about 1 inch apart.  

~ Bake until cookies are lightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Let cool for 3 minutes on the 
    baking sheets.  Transfer to cooling rack.  

Recipe slightly adapted from Williams Sonoma. 



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

chuy's creamy jalapeno dip

There is nothing like hanging out with good friends and eating great food!   

Can I please hear an "Amen?!"  

In the day of devices, texting, and being plugged in all in the name of being "social," unplugging to be social is a breath of fresh air.

This winter, we had the pleasure of being able to spend wonderful quality time with our friends, Jon and Kristi and their children.  On multiple occasions, we ventured out to their house to cook together and play games, where "Settlers of Catan" became a regular for us adults accompanied by a bowl of Kristi's copycat recipe for Chuy's Creamy Jalapeno Dip.  I have now made it a couple of times at home and thoroughly enjoy it not only with tortilla chips, but fresh vegetables, salads, and I love it as a spread for wraps.  It is a terrific condiment to have on hand!  

We are currently on Spring Break, enjoying a visit with our Indiana family.  We have really been treated royally with wonderful meals... Italian Beef, Fried Chicken with all the fixin's, BBQ with fresh coleslaw and baked beans, just to name a few.  

Here's to coming home ~ a treat for the tummy and the heart!!

Chuy's Creamy Jalapeno Dip
  • 1 1/3 cups mayonaise
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup chopped pickled jalapenos
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 (1 oz) packet dry Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
~ Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix until smooth.  Adjust flavors 
    to your liking.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

homemade enchilada sauce

Nine times out of ten, I am usually thankful when I've planned to prepare a really great dish and get home from gathering all the necessary ingredients from the store, only to realize I've forgotten one.  

Well, actually, first I'm mad.  

But then I am thankful, because more times than not, I am able to scrounge enough things together to make the missing ingredient from scratch, and it's way better than store-bought. So goes this enchilada sauce.

I wish I could have gotten pictures of the casserole calling for the sauce, but it went so fast I wasn't able to save even a piece to snap a shot the next day.  Chicken Tamale Casserole will be prepared again soon, I can assure you, and I will make sure to share the recipe.  

I highly recommend pulling this together, doubling the batch, and keeping it on hand for your favorite Mexican meals.  I can't believe the flavor difference in this and the store brands, and it is such a quick fix.  "Muy" yummy!

Homemade Enchilada Sauce
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 4 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/3 tsp oregano
  • 2 cups chicken broth
~ Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  

~ Add flour and stir together over the heat for one minute.  

~ Stir in the remaining seasonings.  

~ Gradually add in the broth, whisking constantly to remove lumps.  

~ Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes until thick.

Recipe from Gimme Some Oven.

Friday, February 21, 2014

the one

It is official.  After nearly six months and loads of prayers, we have finally found our house.


Let me rephrase that... our home.

Big decisions are not my favorite thing to make.  I worry.  I stew.  I obsess.  More than anything, I long to know what God's will is and really prefer He just leave me a sticky note with His answer of choice.  I'm pretty sure I'd heed it. 

But apparently God is not in the sticky note business.

Nonetheless, as I reflect on the journey we've just completed, God's fingerprints can be found everywhere.  So I'm crazy about the story of finding this home. 

I know in my last post I mentioned the whole planning and God laughing thing, and it's still curious to me how we kill ourselves trying to complete a self-fulfilling prophecy.  So many times we do this only to find door after closed door and wall after great wall keeping us from what we were 100% sure was the plan.  And then... if we're only still for a moment... just a moment... He speaks.  And it's not at all according to the plan.  Hallelujah!

At 2:30 AM the night before we were to make the decision on this home, I was certain my inability to go back to sleep was God's way of calling me to Him.  Satan, once again, had a hold of me with the whole worrying, stewing, and obsessing thing.  But despite his efforts, at about 3:00, I opened up my reading for the day, said a prayer that the words would be relevant, and found this verse waiting on me... 

But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help.  He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears. Ps. 18:6  

And verse after verse, everything I turned to following, was an affirmation that I was hearing His voice.  Through my tears I couldn't believe what I was reading, as if God Himself were sitting right next to me and speaking the words to even me.  "I've given you My answer... just believe." 

I won't bore you with the details and ins and outs of our home search, but I'm 100% sure this home was God's plan.  We asked for answers, and He gave them to us... through friends' words, through the sunset on the evening we first visited, through scripture, and in so many other ways I can't name them all.  Sticky note or not, I choose to believe.

Today, we take our youth group to Gatlinburg through the weekend for a conference.  When we return, we will begin unloading boxes and moving into our new home.  I'm pretty sure the boys and I will be racing to get in the door to retrieve our long-lost toys and kitchen items, respectively...  

I'm doubly sure I'll win.  

I can't wait to share with you what will be cooking in the new and improved Lazy Daisy Kitchen, and I'm oh-so-ready to fill it with the people I love.  

Praise God from whom all blessings flow...

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

salted butter pecan spice cookies


Have you ever heard the Yiddish proverb, "Man plans, God laughs?"  It's actually based on scripture, for those of you who didn't know.  And speaking for this girl and her life lately, God must be hysterically doubled over, bellowing a holy belly laugh, I can assure you.  Life over the last weeks has come and gone, not at all going the way I had envisioned.  But I can see God all over it - laughing or not - and so I'm OK.

I am dying to talk about our house situation, but I have promised myself I won't share until it's absolutely - 100% - a done deal.  If all goes according to plan, that is supposed to happen in a little less than two weeks.  

So, for whatever reason, knowing now we might be just days away from getting into our next home, I am almost paralyzed in the kitchen.  I'm starting to dream about what it's going to be like to have space and be reunited with my long-lost gadgets... to have spices at my fingertips and not a flight of stairs up... pantry items in the pantry and not on the third shelf in the linen closet with the... well... linens.

I'm counting on this, friends.  

I have no idea what posting will be like over the next couple of weeks.  We have barely been home to cook, let alone cook and take pictures while I can still have the natural light that works FAR better for photography than house lamps at 8:00 in the evening.   I will do my best, though.  I promise.

This is a quick and easy cookie recipe I modified to our liking.  With a spice cake mix in the pantry (linen closet) that wasn't used for it's original intent and going to expire sooner than later, I was happier with this sweet treat than I probably would have been with the first recipe anyway.  After all... why plan?

Salted Butter Pecan Spice Cookies
makes about 40 cookies
  • 1 Duncan Hines Spice Cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup butterscotch baking chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • light sprinkling of Kosher salt
~ Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

~ Mix together cake mix, eggs, oil, and vanilla until thoroughly combined and smooth.

~ Stir in baking chips and pecans.

~ Line baking sheets with parchment paper and drop by rounded teaspoonsful about 2
    inches apart.  I used my small cookie scooper.

~ Sprinkle dough lightly with a pinch of salt for each pan.
~ Bake 8-10 minutes until golden.  Let cool one minute and place on cooling rack.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

pumpkin maple swirl butter

Waiting for word on whether or not school is out with fingers and toes crossed.  You'd think after two full weeks of vacation for the holiday, I'd be OK going back.  But, oh my.  These sweet moments with family are hard to let go.  And the mornings... how I love the mornings of lazy days.  Especially when they're not planned ones.  

I'm visualizing a mid-morning breakfast following my first cup of coffee (Sumatran Reserve, to be exact), biscuits and gravy, country ham, eggs (scrambled for Daniel, over-easy for John), Luke's pancakes...

And this butter.  This butter, I adore.

Last year I blogged about my Berry Butter.  At nearly 40,000 hits, it has - by far - been the most popular post of the blog.  I really have meant to come up with another one before now, but good things are worth waiting for, right?  

Complete with a dash of Kosher salt and swirls of pure maple syrup, this creamy pumpkin treasure is smooth and balanced.  I've thoroughly enjoyed it on the Pecan Wheat Bread I featured in my last post, but it's also a wonderful accompaniment to pancakes, sourdough, yeast rolls, you name it!

I hope everyone stays warm and safe over the next few days.  Stay tuned to the blog... more great posts coming your way!

Pumpkin Maple Swirl Butter
makes one cup
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
~ Whip butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.

~ Gradually add pumpkin, scraping sides periodically.  Cream until fully incorporated.

~ Add syrup, spice and salt.  Mix well.

~ Seal in airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks or freeze up to 
   three months.

Friday, January 3, 2014

pecan wheat bread

I really think I could be perfectly happy spending day after day just experimenting with different bread recipes.  Call it weird, but I can't tell you the excitement that builds when I'm getting ready to give a new one a try.  And the excitement goes overboard when the trial results in a great success.  This recipe was just that!

A couple of months before Christmas rolls around, I begin to think about what goodies from our kitchen I'll be sharing with loved ones.  Loaves of bread are always at the top of the list, and I usually have to narrow down favorites to finally decide on one.  After baking a few of these tasty loaves, and loving the unique flavor of the featured pecans, I definitely knew this one was the one.  AND, I knew it would pair beautifully with the homemade butter I made for the give-aways as well (Pumpkin Maple Swirl Butter, to be exact... I'll be sharing that with you next).  

Although this makes a great sandwich bread, especially for chicken salad, I think I've enjoyed making toast with it more than anything.  When you do so, the pecans get toasted and the flavor is deepened immensely.  If you are a fan of nutty, chewy yeasted breads, you will love this. It will make one 9x5 loaf or three good-sized mini loaves ~ just perfect for gift-giving.  

Happy New Year!

Pecan Yeast Bread
makes one 9x5 loaf
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp warm water (approximately 110 degrees)
  • 3 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup diced pecans
~ Pour water into stand mixer and add sugar, stirring until dissolved.  Add yeast and stir.

~ Let mixture stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

~ Add butter and salt and stir.

~ In separate bowl, whisk flours together.  

~ Place dough hook on mixer and gradually add flours to water mixture, scraping the bowl 
    periodically.  Continue to mix until smooth dough is formed, or remove dough and knead
    by hand about 10 minutes.

~ Place dough in greased pan/pans, cover and let rise in warm place until about one inch 
    above pan, approximately one hour.  

~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place uncovered dough in oven and bake 35 to 45 minutes, 
    or until loaf reaches 190 degrees.  Remove from oven and turn out on cooling rack.  

Recipe from King Arthur Flour.