Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don’t know what it is about the fall season, but all I want to do is stay home and bake!!

I’ve had a hankering for soft baked homemade cookies for quite some time now. I found a recipe online that looked pretty simple so I figured I’d give it a try. And….it was a good choice : ) They came out nice and crispy on the edges and soft and chewy on the inside just how I like ’em. They also had a rich buttery flavor…..mmmmmm. I even put some extra dough aside and am storing it in the freezer to make some fresh cookies for my boyfriend when he gets home from his work trip…because after-all, I am Ms. Nice Girl 🙂

The recipe was easy to follow compared to some of the other fancy recipes I found online that called for vanilla bean, bread flour (instead of the basic AP) and valrhona chocolate?? and some other frou frou ingredients which are probably very good but I just don’t have time for that. I want my cookies and I want them now!

Recipe: (taken from AllRecipes.com

  • 1 cup of butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 1 cup of brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsps of vanilla extract
  • 3 cups of All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 2 tsp of hot water
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream together the butter, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth. (See “How to Cream Butter” below)

3. Beat in the eggs one at a time.

4. Stir in the vanilla.

5. Dissolve the baking soda in hot water and then add to batter with the salt.

6. Stir in the flour and chocolate chips.

7. Drop spoonfuls of dough on to a greased baking sheet and put in the oven.

8. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until edges are nicely browned.

9. Enjoy 🙂

How to Cream Butter:
You can cream the butter by hand with a wire whisk or with an electric mixer. I didn’t have an electric mixer so I went old school and used a wire whisk and wooden spoon. First, make sure the butter is soft. To soften the butter you can leave it out on the counter at room temp for an hour or you can place it in the microwave for 10 secs. You can tell if its soft enough by giving it a poke with your finger – if it leaves an indent than its ready.  Once the butter is soft, slice the butter into cubes, and put the cubes in a large mixing bowl. Beat the butter with a wooden spoon until it is soft and creamy. Then add your sugar(s) to the butter and gently mash it into the butter with a fork. With your wooden spoon or whisk, stir the butter and sugar(s) until they are light and fluffy. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the mixture off the sides of the bowl periodically. The butter is “creamed” when it has almost doubled in mass and it has lightened to a yellowish-white color. Voila!

Cool tip of the day: creaming the butter by hand burns calories! 🙂

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Lazy Monday Treadmill Workout

I wasn’t feeling very passionate about going to boot camp today. Although I had planned to go on my way home from work, I lost my gusto towards the end of the day and no longer felt like going. At all.

When I got home, all I really wanted to do was curl up on the couch and continue reading Book 3 of  The Game of Thrones “A Storm of Swords”.  But I ended up convincing myself to do a quick treadmill work-out in the gym in my building.


So I quickly changed into my work-out clothes and headed downstairs. I was hoping that the gym would be too full and that I wouldn’t be able to get on a machine that way I would have an excuse to go back home. However, when I opened the door and walked in, all of the machines were available and waiting for me. Oh well.

I noticed as I got on the treadmill that there were a total of six people in the gym that they were all women my age.  That doesn’t happen very often. Usually there is a mix of men and women of all different ages. But I thought that was pretty cool and very motivating so when I turned on the machine I thought to myself…Yayy! GIRL POWER!!! (Corny, I know :p)


I started with a two minute warm-up and quickly felt my work-out mojo coming back which led me to complete a 45 minute treadmill workout! My calves and quads were burning. I was sweating and huffing and puffing. It was awesome! Plus I burned 400 calories 🙂

I changed the inclines and the speed every four minutes so I wouldn’t get bored. I posted my work-out for you below.

I’m calling it my Lazy Monday Treadmill Work-out:

Minutes Incline Pace
0-4:00 7.5 4
4-9:00 1 6.5
9-13:00 7.5 4
13-18:00 1 6.5
18-22:00 7.5 4
22-25:00 2 6.5
25-28:00 1 7
28-29:00 1 6
29-30:00 1 5.5
30-31:00 1 5
32-35:00 1 4.5
35-40:00 1 6.5
40-45.00 7.5 4

Now its time for some relaxation 🙂

Warrior Dash 2012

Hello! Hope you all had a great weekend!

I am proud to say that on Saturday, my boyfriend Oscar and I participated in our first Warrior Dash! And it was awesome!

Warrior Dash is a 5K run that includes extreme obstacles such as: crawling through mud under low overhanging barbed wire, climbing up cargo nets, swimming over logs, jumping over cars and leaping over fire!!  As you can see, we got VERY dirty but that was to be expected and is all part of the fun 🙂  Afterwards we celebrated with music, beer and turkey legs. All participants receive a medal, a free t-shirt, a Warrior helmet and a token for a free beer!!

Our friends, Danny and Aja did it with us. They are seasoned veterans with these mud runs and have talked us into doing another one in the spring called Tough Mudder. The Tough Mudder Challenge is a tough, competitive 13 mile run with obstacles built by British Navy Seals. Oscar and I have already started our training but  today’s Warrior challenge was all about having fun.

I really enjoyed the Warrior Dash mud run. I thought it was very well organized and the atmosphere  was super cool. The event took place at Amelia Earhardt Park in Hialeah, Miami and the weather conditions couldn’t have been more perfect with the sun and the cool breezes.  There were even some folks who dressed up in costumes like Batman, Wonder Woman, the Incredible Hulk and some people even used silly props like mustaches and floaties. We will def have to step it up next year and give our team a silly costume theme.

Here are a few tips if you are a first timer:

What to wear? Wear comfortable, old and ratty but functional clothes. I made the mistake of wearing my old cotton capris but when I got wet, they felt  like 10 extra pounds during the rest of my run. Also, if you have some running shoes that are on there way out you can wear those and then donate them afterwards.

What to Bring? 
A towel, some extra clothes and shoes. You can pack a travel bag (those soccer bags with the drawstrings are perfect). You also want to bring some spending cash for food and drinks afterwards. You can keep the bag in your car or bring it to the bag check tent while you race.

Am I fit enough to run in the Warrior Dash? I think if you’ve ran in a 5K before and can finish around 35 minutes, then you are fit enough to run in Warrior Dash and be able to complete the obstacles. Its OK to slow down and walk if you want to, just try and stay to the right hand side (like you would in a race or on the road) so faster runners can pass by easier on the left.

Do I have to complete all of the obstacles? The obstacle areas are monitored but not heavily enforced so it’s up to you. But if you are an able-bodied person who signed up for an “obstacle course race” only to skip out on them, than you are only cheating yourself. Oscar and I saw a few people doing that during the race and we thought they were totally lame and undeserving of their helmet and t-shirt. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

I highly recommend entering a mud run. They are fun way to get a work out, bond with friends, meet new people and challenge yourself. Here are some recommended websites to visit for more information on local mud runs and obstacle races:
www.active.com/running/Articles/Mud-Runs.htm
www.toughmudder.com
www.spartanrace.com
www.greaturbanrace.com
www.beachdash.com

How to Make Chinese Dumplings

MMmmmm…Dumplings!! Who doesn’t love a dumpling?? There’s just something so comforting and wonderful about biting into one of those hot, fresh, and flavorful balls of goodness. Every time I see one in front of me, I begin salivating and anticipating what’s inside.

On Friday night, Oscar and I visited our favorite Oriental market “The Fortune Cookie” to pick up the ingredients to make Chinese dumplings and Asian-style ribs. The Fortune Cookie is an Oriental Supermarket with a great selection of spices, sauces and other items needed for Asian inspired dishes that are hard to find elsewhere. They also have seafood, fresh produce and cookware. A couple of months ago, I picked up some spoons and a bamboo steamer set  and have been dying to make steamed dumplings ever since!

We ended up making our dishes on Sunday night and invited our lovely neighbors over to join us. I made steamed and pan-fried dumplings for appetizers, Oscar made Boneless Asian style ribs with Happy Rice for the entree and our neighbor friends brought over Asian beer and Saki to go with our dishes. It was an Asian feast! And the dumplings were a hit!

For dessert we had chocolate chip brownies with mocha cappucino and oreo cookie ice cream. Not very Asian but very yummy 🙂

How to Make Chinese Dumplings: 

  • 50 (3.5 inch square) wonton wrappers
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon thinly sliced green onion
  • 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons soy sauce (we use Braggs Liquid Amino as a soy sauce substitute – its all natural and low sodium)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3-1/3 cups finely shredded cabbage

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the pork, ginger, garlic, green onion, soy sauce, sesame oil, egg and cabbage. Stir until well mixed.
  2. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of pork filling onto each wonton skin. Moisten edges with water and fold edges over to form a triangle shape. Roll edges slightly to seal in filling. Set dumplings aside on a lightly floured surface until ready to cook.
  3. To Cook: Steam dumplings in a covered bamboo or metal steamer for about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

I found the recipe for making steamed pork dumplings on AllRecipes.com. You can make them steamed, pan-fried or boiled. I prefer them steamed but they are flavorful either way 🙂

Bobbi Sue BBQ

Last night after running errands, Oscar and I went to the soft opening of “Bobbi Sue’s BBQ”, a new restaurant that just opened up in the downtown WPB area.

I had the pulled pork plate with green beans and sweet potato fries and washed it down with a sweet tea while Oscar had the beef brisket with fried-green tomatoes and corn on the cob and a $1 Pabst Blue Ribbon. The BBQ was excellent, the portion sizes were not too big and the prices were very reasonable.  The service was good and we both really liked the ambiance of the place. It has a hip, old school look with some Southern charm that makes it a great spot for dinner, happy hour, lunch or a place to just to meet up and watch some football.

Afterwards, we made a stop at one of our favorite hang-outs the “World of Beer” for a couple of brewskis and so Oscar could pick out his spot on the wall for his plaque. If you reach 500 beers at WOB you get your own plaque on the wall with your name and a quote underneath – which is what my guy did. I think it’s pretty darn cool and it also means that Oscar is now famous!! ;P

When I woke up this morning, I still felt full from last night’s beer and BBQ but I still got my butt up early to work out in the gym.

Today’s workout had me sweatin’ and I burned 500 calories!! Here it is below….

Cardio and Strength Training:

Cardio:

Treadmill – 10 minutes
5 minutes – 4.0 speed -4%  incline
5 minutes – 6.0 speed – 0% incline

Elliptical – 20 minutes at various resistance levels

Afterwards, I came home, showered, made myself a pumpkin protein smoothie and now I’m taking myself shopping for fall clothes!! Yayy!!