Chewy, Buttery Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts

I’ve baked plenty of cookies on this blog and when I had the craving for some chocolate chip cookies, I was about to whip up my staple White & Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chip cookies. The thing with these cookies though? They’re a more cakey consistency, which I love, but sometimes you just want an ooey gooey, chewy cookie… So, I decided to modify my recipe a bit and hoped I would get the cookie that my heart desired. I tried, I succeeded! Now I will share this modified recipe with you.

First, I knew I just wanted one chocolate (semi-sweet chocolate) and I dug out some walnuts from the pantry. Swapping out the baking powder for baking soda was a must for that soft n’ chewy consistency. Then, in my last stitch effort to get it right, I modified the sugar amounts a bit. My original recipe called for equal amounts of white and brown sugar, 1 cup each; however, I figured more brown sugar and less white sugar would definitely create that perfect cookie for me!

A few scribbles in my recipe book and I was ready to get down to cookie business.

The ingredients for 36 cookies:
• 1 cup of butter, softened
• 1 1/4 cup of packed brown sugar
• 3/4 cup of white sugar
• 1 tbs. vanilla extract
• 2 eggs
• 3 cups of flour (I used all purpose)
• 1/4 tsp. of salt
• 1 1/2 tsp. of baking soda
• 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
• 1 cup chopped walnuts



In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking soda. Set the bowl aside.

Cream together the two sugars and your softened butter. I used a standing mixer and had it on low/medium speed for about 2 minutes.

Pour in your vanilla extract and beat in one egg at a time, making sure you do not over beat the eggs.

Add about 1/4 of the dry ingredients into the creamy mixture, then beat until almost incorporated, then repeat with the 1/4 of the dry ingredients and so on. Once you have poured all of the dry ingredients into the creamy batter, stop beating once all of the ingredients are just combined. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure a consistently combined mixture.

Now put some plastic wrap over the bowl that contains the batter and place into the fridge. This will create a firm dough that will be easy to roll and will keep the dough from flattening in the oven. Keep the dough in the fridge for about an hour, but you can keep them in the fridge overnight as well, if you forget about the dough or get distracted by other things (like I did…. oops).



Alright, the dough is firm and ready to roll! Preheat your oven to 350F.

Lightly grease a cookie sheet or use parchment paper.

I rolled my dough into 1-1.5 inch balls and spaced them about 2 inches apart from one another.

Pop them in the oven for 10 – 11 minutes, you will see that the bottom edges are a lovely golden brown.

Take the cookies out, allow them to cool and you have some delightfully chewy, buttery chocolate chip cookies.

Quora seems to think these are puppy friendly… they’re not.



I believe I may retire my old recipe and stick with this one! I hope you enjoy them as much as we did. 🙂

Lasagna Rollups With Meat Sauce

The beauty of cooking is experimentation. Grabbing ingredients you know/think/hope will work together in a perfect, harmonious dish is my favorite part about cooking! Sometimes you create a masterpiece that will be dubbed a new household staple or the dish that you always have to bring to special occasions. There are also plenty of times that the experimentation did not go as planned, but it was just in good fun and you learned a thing or two.

Yeah, sometimes I just don’t want to do any of that… Whenever I want to try something new, without having to think too hard or waste ingredients for the sake of experimenting, I check out my cookbooks and Pinterest. This was the case for this weeks dinner! I took a gander at my “Stuff For My Belly” board and came across some Spinach Lasagna Rollups. I hit the jackpot. I made this a few months back and they were so simple and delicious, but I wanted to mix it up a bit this time. This was a great vegetarian recipe, but I wanted to beef it up a bit…. get it? Beef!



I started off by preparing my homemade marinara meat sauce and then I got the roll up ingredients together.

The Ingredients:
1 lb. lasagna noodles
15 oz. ricotta
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 large egg
Salt and Pepper to taste



Preheat oven to 400F.

Cook the lasagna noodles as directed on the box.

Once the noodles are cooked and you’ve strained them, the faster you get the noodles lying flat, the less likely you’ll be stuck with funky/creased noodles. I laid my noodles onto some paper towels to help them from sticking to the countertop.

I axed the spinach for the rollups all together. I combined the ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan and 1 large egg in a bowl, then evenly and thinly spread the mixture on each cooked lasagna noodle.



Then you simply roll them up, seam facing down. Then I sprayed my glass baking dish with some Pam and plopped the rollups onto the dish.

I evenly coated all of the rollups with my sauce. Make sure to cover all of the rollups, including the edges, as this will ensure the noodles stay soft while they bake.



Place the dish into the preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes. Serve them hot and they keep up very nicely in the fridge for a few days!

A Lovely Day in New York

Considering I have been to New York before, I have already done the tourist bit that included the 9/11 Memorial, Time Square, Statue of Liberty, etc. Now whenever I make the trip, I just do little things that I would do if I lived there.

My most recent visit was in the dead of Winter, which means I did not ride a bike around the park or sit at a lovely patio seated restaurant; however, I thoroughly enjoyed grabbing a cup of coffee while walking through Central Park, catching a movie, shopping and enjoying the museums.

On this particular day, I met up with Chris during his lunch break and we briefly walked through the park to check out the ice rink. The skyline, the snow, the people, it was perfect.




I mentioned in a previous post that I was hoping to do Winter Outfits of the Day in New York… but, I don’t think I realized how cold it would be. Yeah, there was no way I would be fashionable over warm! So, this is as stylish as I could get. Keep in mind that this was probably the warmest day during our trip, so everything before/after this was quite bundled up.




When he went back to work, I was on my own. I continued to walk through the park, enjoyed some Birch coffee and then made my way over to the Shops at Columbus Circle. This place had some great shopping and dining options. Everything you needed in one lovely shopping center. I was happy to see that one floor would have high end shops, such as Michael Kors and Coach, but then you had the more affordable shops like H&M and J Crew.
I so badly wanted to grab lunch at Bouchon Bakery, it smelled soooo good and looked like my sort of place… but it was packed, so I moved right along. I knew I wanted to catch a movie afterward, so a pretzel at the movie theater would hold me over until I decided on a nifty lunch spot.



Then it was on to the movie theater to see “The Theory of Everything”… great movie. Highly recommend, if you haven’t seen it already.



After my movie, I grabbed some lunch at Melt, which I gave a review of in my Food in New York post. In case you don’t feel like clicking to read, I had a maple bacon grilled cheese with tomato soup and it was grrrreat!

Anyway, it may not seem like much… but I can honestly say it was my favorite day during our trip to New York. I was able to spend some time with Chris, had some glorious coffee, walked through a snow filled Central Park and spent some alone time with shopping and a movie. What did one of your favorite days include?

I Went to Iceland

It has been decided for a while now that Chris and I were going to Iceland, it was just a matter of when. Well, the “when” was September 2014! First, I would like to answer the question that we heard non-stop before our trip, and that was “why Iceland?” I would like to philosophically reply with “why not?!” But seriously… why not? Has anyone seen photos of Iceland? Seen it in movies? Dreamed about the complete obscurity of it all? Well… we did! So, we decided to go for it. 🙂

It was a stunning, yet peculiar place. The weather would change abruptly, one part of the island had unimaginable glaciers, while another had rocks engulfed in several feet of moss, and then you would drive a little further to see black sand beaches. Every few miles was basically driving to another planet.

The first two nights in Iceland, Chris and I stayed in a beautiful rooftop apartment in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. Through the powers of Airbnb.com, we landed a great place with a gracious hostess. We spent a lot of time walking around the quaint city streets, enjoyed some coffee, amazing ice cream and enjoying the sights that the city had to offer. From there, we drove out to the middle of nowhere. Again, Airbnb.com did not disappoint as we landed a gorgeous house to stay for the remainder of our trip. The house was mostly windows, surrounded by nothing, but grass. It was perfect and exactly what we had in mind for our adventurous trip. It didn’t matter which direction we drove in our rental car, we found numerous locations to stop for photos and to explore.

There were some downsides, obviously the place wasn’t perfect! I would like to address the fact that the speed limit on these beautiful, wide open roads was 90kph, which is approximately 55mph. How is anyone supposed to get anywhere? We had a hard time staying below the speed limit. Everything is very expensive, especially alcohol. Chris and I ran calculations to figure out the U.S. dollar conversion of some of the items, a small bottle of Captain Morgan was approximately $60 usd. We couldn’t stop laughing over how crazy that was, but I guess their import cost is no joke! However, I highly recommend visiting Iceland to anyone that has slightly considered it. Even if you have not considered it… just give it a thought. We will never forget this trip and now it’s time for photo overload! Plenty more on my Instagram account: Cobo521!

















Work Outfit of the Day – Classic White Button Up Shirt with Fun Pants

This is probably one of my favorite outfits to wear to work. Anything that looks relatively stylish, yet is comfortable…? Sign me up!
The pants feel like pajama pants and the classic white button up is essential (in anyone’s closet). If I’m feeling particularly bleh and just want to be completely comfortable, I’ll wear this outfit but switch out the high gray heels for some gray flats. Yes, I know gray flats are not nearly as sexy/awesome, but I’m at work! Can’t impress everyone every day. 😛

Clothes – H&M Off White Button-Up Blouse; New York and Co. Dress Slacks; Gray Pumps (front a random cheap shoe store in the mall).
Jewelry – Silver rings, heirlooms from mother and one from Kohls; Leaf Bracelet from Charlotte Russe.
Makeup – Mac Studio Finish Concealer, NC15; NYX HD Studio Finish Powder; Nars Goulue Blush; Benefit Hoola Bronzer; Lorac Mauve Eyeshadow; Benefit They’re Real! Mascarca; Maybelline Clear Mascara for brows; Maybelline The Elixer Gloss in Petal Push.



Lorac PRO Palette 2 And All Of Its Wonder

The moment I found out that there was going to be a Lorac PRO Palette 2 I nearly cried with joy. The original Lorac PRO Palette is by far the best palette I have ever owned. I was late to hop on the bandwagon, but once I did, I was amazed. It’s the most perfect palette for every day wear, special occasions, evening looks, etc. It’s just ridic.

Anywho, this post is about the second one, not the first one (which you should seriously have the first one too)! I’m on the email list for both Ulta and Lorac, so I got the updates from both. It was to be available online the Ulta website June 15, 2014. I literally woke up, rolled over to my phone and purchased it right away. I didn’t want to wait because those things sell out with out warning. I received this bad boy in the mail this past Saturday and I squealed at my mailbox… I anticipated making a blog post about it, so I took photos of it before I even got to play with it. It was a challenge, but I managed. Just as I suspected, it was glorious. Every color was like warm butta (butter)! So smooth, easy to blend, pigmented, just… ugh. I can’t. It’s just so good. I even swatched the colors on my neon white arm for you to see the awesomeness of these colors. You will also receive a deluxe sample size of Lorac’s incredible eyeshadow primer. Have a look!

*Epic Movie Music*

Open up and be dazzled.

From top left to bottom right: Buff, Lt. Brown, Cool Gray, Nectar, Plum, Navy, Charcoal, Black, (bottom row) Snow, Beige, Rose, Mocha, Chrome, Silver, Jade, Cocoa.

The packaging is exactly the same as the original, except the original is black and Lorac PRO 2 is light gray. Which I really like.

Old(left) and New(right), in comparison.

Swatches of the top/matte row, Buff, Lt. Brown, Cool Gray, Nectar, Plum, Navy, Charcoal, Black.

Swatches of the bottom/shimmery row, Snow, Beige, Rose, Mocha, Chrome, Silver, Jade, Cocoa. I apologize that the bottom row didn’t come out as well, the sun came out and I had to close the blinds in my house… this is what I got. Really bums me out, because the shimmery eyeshadows are STUNNING. I gasped when I swatched Beige, Rose and Chrome. No joke.

Luckily, I was going out the same night that I received the palette in the mail. I did a nice smokey eye, which of course, turned out amazing. The colors were so easy to blend! Even after hours of bar hopping and laughing it up, my eye shadow stayed on perfectly the entire night. I can’t wait to continue to discover new looks with these colors. Together, the Lorac PRO palettes shall take over the (make-up) world!!

Josh & Paise

My friend, Kristine is a talented sewing master and she has great online shop called Josh & Paise. She currently has beautiful pillows and quilts available for purchase, but from what I hear… she’ll be adding new goodies to her shop soon!

A perk to having friends that kick ass at handmade goods is getting said goods as gifts! Kristine was (way too) kind enough to give me this pillow set as a gift recently. I was ecstatic to put these beauties on my couch! Black, with grey polkadots on one side and a lovely grey with pleats on the other. Check out the love that went into the pillows and the packaging.





The pillows are a perfect addition to our living room. We used to have green and yellow pillows, with red/green blankets and then the blue rug you see in the photo. It was all just too much! Once we got the Josh & Paise pillows, the green pillows migrated elsewhere, the blankets were put away and now everything goes together a lot nicer. It’s amazing what a couple pretty pillows can do for your space.

Photo Excursion in San Francisco

For as long as we have been together, my boyfriend Chris and I have had this thing for driving somewhere nice and taking photos. Even though we’ve had numerous photo excursions throughout our relationship, we’ve decided that it’s going to happen more often! It’s something that really brings us together and it’s a great excuse to capture beautiful sights.

Yesterday was our most recent adventure. We drove up the San Francisco, stopped at The Presidio, headed over to Baker Beach, drove across the bridge to Sausalito for dinner, then made our way back home. I suppose this is the part where I quit my babbling and post some photos! 😀

SF-2

A quick shot of Chris heading into the Presidio trails with his gear.


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We set up the tripod, in hopes of getting a nice photo together, but we ended up laughing at each other and being silly for pretty much every shot.

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This photo makes me laugh because it looks as if he was creeping up on me behind some bushes (which he totally was).

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Baker Beach was beautiful! Great view of the bridge… and naked dudes. No seriously, look at the photo, three bare assed men in this photo alone. haha

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We found these neat looking bunkers, all boarded up and rusted, but they made for some great photos.

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We even managed to get a nice photo!

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While we were driving away from Baker Beach, we saw the most perfect light coming through these trees! Amazing photos will now ensue…

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Messing with his settings.

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Chris was going for a “300” movie feel, he definitely accomplished it!

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I couldn’t help myself, such a stud muffin.

Southern California vs. Northern California

Having lived in the Bay Area for a year now, I get asked this question a lot… “How do you like it?” It doesn’t take me long to respond, “I like it a lot!” It’s true, I do like the Bay Area quite a bit, but more than Southern California? That’s a tough call. Some may think that it’s still California, it couldn’t possibly be that different! That’s where you’re wrong, there are many differences that I would like to share.

Griffith Observatory

The view of Los Angeles from Griffith Observatory.

I was born and raised in Ontario, California, also known as part of the Inland Empire, the 909 or that city near Riverside with a lot of cows. I didn’t stick around much longer than necessary, I moved to Hesperia (High Desert, Hellsperia) with my older sister when I was 19. From there we moved to this beautiful cabin-like home in Wrightwood, 6,000 feet elevation into the glorious mountains. I eventually made my way over to Orange County, I liked it, but it was somewhat stale. Then San Diego happened(I miss it). So, I guess you can say that I know my way around Southern California!

Ano Nuevo

Seals and a creepy house in Ano Nuevo State Park.

My boyfriend and I ventured up to the Bay Area at the beginning of 2013, it’s been an interesting year. Being away from my family and best friends has been a challenge, but there have been many visits and Skype conversations. We live in the South Bay, but have visited and explored every inch of the Bay Area. It’s been an adventure checking out all of the restaurants, hiking trails, parks, touristy points. That said, I feel as though I can now make a relatively plausible comparison of the North and South. I shall go through the points that stood out to me the most.

Food:
NorCal – I’ll give the Bay Area some credit where it’s due, there’s endless possibilities with eating establishments! There’s always a new place to try, plenty of options in every little downtown area (even in the South Bay). One of our favorite things to do while living here is checking out new places to eat.

SoCal – As exciting and new everything is in the Bay Area, I still catch myself missing certain places in SoCal. Pho Ever in Vista, Port in Corona Del Mar, Flame Broiler, Zovs in Irvine, Trattoria I Trulli in Encinitas, Claire’s in Solana Beach… just some amazing places! I would say it’s easier to find a variety of great places in the Bay Area, but I’ve had more memorable meals in SoCal.

Traffic:
NorCal – Ok, I will say this without hesitation, I HATE NorCal traffic! I’ve never been around such slow, scared, bad drivers in my life… this is coming from someone that’s been in L.A. traffic her entire life. Even the freeways are different, the carpool lane is only the carpool lane during rush hour times during the week (5am – 9am and 3pm – 7pm). Most freeways only have 3 lanes total, including the temporary-carpool lane. This is my least favorite thing about living in NorCal. I used to love driving, now I cringe at the thought of it. Ugh! *shakes fist at NorCal traffic*

SoCal – Driving in SoCal is a dream after living in NorCal, traffic included.

Things to do:
NorCal – Obviously NorCal has San Francisco, which is pretty much one of my favorite cities ever. It’s so beautiful and unique compared to every other large city. I find something new to explore every time I head up to the city. There’s so many awesome day trips around here! Napa is a big one, Lake Tahoe, Reno, Yosemite, Santa Cruz. These are all a given, but even the smaller cities have a lot to offer. Bike trails that go on for miles, rolling hills to hike, parks galore, street fairs all the time, it’s pretty amazing up here.

Redwoods

An outing in the Redwoods.

SoCal – As someone from the Inland Empire, I know very well that you have to drive to get to anywhere interesting. I still stand by this. Yes, Southern California has a lot to offer, but only in certain areas. Most of SoCal is suburbia, simple as that. My family lives close to Mount Baldy, but you still have to drive 30-60 minutes to get there. Los Angeles has great museums, San Diego has beautiful beaches and Orange County has some decent shopping… but you have to drive to all of these places. Even if you’re lucky enough to live in these locations, the “sights” get old and you’re left driving somewhere new for something interesting. I love SoCal, but NorCal has kept me more entertained. 🙂

Mojave

Camping in the Mojave Desert with my dad.

Living in general:
NorCal – Holy overpriced housing, Batman! Chris and I are living in a house out in the boonies because we wanted something nice, but within our budget. I’ll put this out there as well, we gave ourselves a hefty budget… and it still barely cut it! We could afford a sprawling estate with land and still have money to spare in the Inland Empire, with the budget we gave ourselves here. Buying is just as scary, luckily we don’t plan on buying anytime soon, especially in the Bay Area. If you want a modest family home in a relatively safe area, it’ll be about a million dollars. I’m not even kidding. I honestly thought San Francisco would be bad, but didn’t expect such madness in the South Bay! Aside from the horrendous cost of living and rage inducing traffic… it’s pretty great up here. There’s always something to do, something to see, something to eat. We’ve enjoyed our time here very much and look forward to the continuing adventure.

SoCal – Oh, how I miss thee. I remember thinking “there has to be something better than this place.” I was consumed with trying to find somewhere that could blow SoCal out of the water… I have yet to find it. Southern California definitely has it’s cons and is far from perfect, but I guess that’s why I love it so much. It’s home, it’s honest, it’s a crazy place that gives me the warm n’ fuzzies. I miss the beaches, the easy going people, the huge freeways, the Griffith Observatory, the variation in neighborhoods/towns but most of all, I miss my family and my friends. There’s nothing better than calling SoCal your home, it feels like it’s yours.

Lake Elsinore

Lake Elsinore from Hwy 74.

Beach

Running along a SoCal beach.

Perhaps being a Southern California native has a big influence on my comparison of the two, but I guess that’s just the way it goes. It’s home and at the end of the day, it’s about the feeling you get when you’re in the right place.