Monthly Archives: December 2011

Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

What’s better than one cookie?

Two of these cookies.

Lame joke but an absolutely true statement.

I recently had a craving for a substantial flavor-filled cookie.  I found it.  These cookies are full of goodies:  chocolate chips, hazelnuts, toffee chips and oat flour.  What’s not to love?

With all the chocolate chips and toffee, I reduced the sugar in the original recipe.  The result?  Delicious and a great cookie with tons of flavor.  The oat ‘meal’ in the recipe adds a substance to the cookie and a flavor depth that you will notice and appreciate.

Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies
slightly adapted from here

Ingredients:
–  1/2 cup rolled oats
–  2 cups all-purpose flour
–  1 tsp baking powder
–  1 tsp baking soda
–  1/2 tsp salt
–  1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
–   3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
–  1/2 cup granulated sugar
–  2 eggs
–   1 tsp vanilla extract
–  4 ounces toffee candy, finely chopped (I used one Skor bar; also can use Heath bars or the toffee chips you find in the baking aisle)
–  1 cup hazelnuts, lightly roasted and chopped
–  1 large cup of chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Grind oats in a food processor or grinder until it resembles a coarse meal.
  4. Transfer the oats into a medium-sized bowl.
  5. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to the oat mixture.
  6. In your kitchen mixer (or a large bowl – if you are using a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla until incorporated and mixed well.
  7. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until blended.  Don’t over mix.
  8. Stir in the toffee, hazelnuts and chocolate chips.
  9. Drop 1 tablespoon of dough onto the baking sheet, spaced 1 inch apart.  Bake for 15 minutes until cookies are golden brown.
  10. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Filed under baking, Cookies, Vegetarian

The Birth Story

I was contemplating whether I should even write a birth story.  However, after reading countless stories myself, it only seems fair to share my own.  Don’t read if you care about TMI. 

My due date was December 2, 2011.  I had a ‘feeling’ that I was going to deliver earlier than my due date.  My behavior was just different the week before.  Mood swings about everything – namely, nesting actions.  But, the Monday before my due date (November 28, 2011), I started receiving the expected calls and texts on “how I’m feeling.”  I felt fine.  So, while I really knew that I might be in labor earlier than later, I suppressed that thought and just resigned myself to thinking that I would probably be late, like most first-time moms.

Around 9:30 p.m., while Binks was on his ladder painting the living room and I’m sitting on the couch arranging pictures, I thought I was peeing myself.  I quickly stood up and ran to the bathroom.  I leaked everywhere except the couch (yay!).  I told you TMI.  The liquid that leaked on the white bathroom tile was odorless and slightly pink – aka normal waters breaking.

The contractions started immediately after.  Ten minutes apart for the first 30 minutes.  Then, the contractions seemed like they were coming every 5 minutes.  For the next 30 minutes.  Then, the contractions seemed like they were coming every 1 minute.  This went for another hour.  I was 90% sure that I was measuring the contractions incorrectly.  During this time, I tried every breathing and positioning exercise possible.  I got in the shower, I got on my knees, I got on my back.  I sat on the toilet.  (It felt like I had to you know constantly.)  I had Binks push on my back because I thought it may be back labor.  Nothing and I mean nothing helped!

Note:  Poor Binks.  When my water broke and through my contractions, Binks was running around, putting up the ladder, packing the car with the suitcase, car seat, helping me squeeze my back, entering the contractions into my iPhone, bringing me my pregnancy book (because I thought I would have time to read about labor – I’m not the brightest), etc.  He literally was running around the whole house with 10 different things.  

After I thought the contractions were about 1 minute apart of varying lengths apart – with no pattern, I was sure I was measuring wrong and I was ready to go to the hospital – whether or not I met the time.  The pain by this time was excruciating.  I have no words.  I couldn’t even sit still anywhere.  No breathing exercises helped – I was in so much pain I was jumping off my seat.  After 2 hours, I was crying for an epidural.  Binks made sure to tell me he had none.  At this time, I’m trying my best to weigh the options of going to the hospital to get an epidural and also going to the hospital earlier than I should with more chances of being given interventions.

But, after two hours of this torturous pain, I forced Binks to go to the hospital.

At this point, Binks is also thinking that I’m not going to be admitted.  So, Binks is moving kinda slow.  How slow?  Well, I’m in the car, and he hasn’t even called the doctor yet.  Also, he’s going 65 mph.  We have been late to appointments where he has charged at 90 mph.

Person No. 1 who doesn’t take me seriously.  Ass face.

I cursed him mentally as my talking was reserved for screaming for an epidural and whatever breathing techniques I could pull out of my head.  Including the hee hee hoo which is a bunch of hoo ha.  I’m moaning like my doula class taught and again – nothing.  The car’s vibration is perfect for non-contraction times, but for contractions, it is horrible.

We finally get to the hospital parking lot and Binks FINALLY decides to call the doctor.  The doctor said to come into the hospital and he would be on the way.

Note:  If you don’t know, what this means is that the doctor is going to wait for the nurses to check you before making a determination as to whether he should come.  

Person No. 2.  F*cktard.

Did I mention it was 12:30 a.m. by this time?

We pull up to the valet and I rush myself up the elevator to the Women’s Center.  I didn’t have time for a wheel chair.

The wheel chair was there waiting on the second floor to wheel me into a room.  A contraction hit and I got into the kneeling fetal position on a chair.  The nurse with the wheelchair says, “Come on ma’am.  It’s not that bad.  Let’s go.  We need to go.”

Person No. 3.  B*tch.

On the wheelchair, I started my breathing techniques – by which I mean breathing every which way possible.  The same nurse says, “Why are you breathing like that?  You want to throw up?  That’s what’s going to happen.”

(Insert whatever and as many expletives as possible.)

We finally got to the room.  The labor and delivery nurse handed me a hospital gown.

Note:  I only let a few people see me naked in any way.  Binks, my OB/GYN.  That’s it.  Not my mom.  No one.   But, when you’re hurting this bad, I started taking off my clothes and told the nurse “Excuse me, I have to pee.”  And I just started sitting on the toilet right in front of her.  My non-labor self would have been ashamed.  My labor-self couldn’t have cared less.

Binks had gone downstairs to move the car to a parking spot instead of the middle of the road.

Note:  Binks and I were never together this whole labor time.  All my classes said to lean on the spouse, use the spouse, breathe together, etc.  Other than massaging my back, I wanted Binks to stay as far away as possible.  The last thing I wanted to do was breathe with him or lean on him.  And after the pressure on the back wasn’t helping, I just deemed him as useless. 

As I was seated on the toilet, I noticed I was bleeding.  I got scared.  I pulled the emergency latch.  The nurse hurried in there and asked what the matter was.  I told her of the bleeding and she said, “That latch is for a real emergency.  Don’t pull it again.”

Eff.  

I changed into my hospital gown and got into bed.  I was telling the nurse how badly it hurt.  She said, “Yeah, duh it’s labor.”

Person No. 4.  I could have killed her if I had the strength.  I planned a method to sh*t on her during labor if I could.

She asked if I wanted an epidural.  Luckily I had enough sense to say, “It depends on how much I’m dilated.”

She finally gets down to checking my dilation.

Her eyes widened.  She pushed the nursing call button and said, “Call the doctor to come immediately.  She is 9 cm dilated – pretty much there.  If he doesn’t come in 20 minutes, I’m going to have deliver the baby.”  At that point, Binks and the nurse looked at me – I like to think apologetically.

Suck it sh*t eaters.

I screamed, “No epidural.”  I had to make sure everyone heard.

So, I continued to breathe to the best of my ability.  And after 5 minutes, turns out, I’m just waiting for the doctor and really was ready to deliver.  I kept just breathing away the contractions as best as possible, but it was very apparent that it was time to push.  I could absolutely feel it.

I breathed for 30 minutes just waiting for the doctor.  The doctor finally arrived and I was asking random questions: “Will the pain increase or decrease?” “How many pushes do you estimate I will have to go through?”  It’s times like these that answers to these questions matter.  And, also times like these that you don’t remember anything that people say to you.

And they told me to push.  I pushed.  What a relieving feeling.  And, I should have pushed slower and at my own pace (rather than the doctor’s), but 5 pushes later, he was here.  I teared up.  Not because I was having a mushy moment.  But, I actually thought, “OMG What am I supposed to do with you now?”

And with my obsession with grades, hearing an APGAR score of 9/10, I was very happy.

My labor and delivery went much better than I could have ever asked for.  From water breaking to delivering lasted 4 hours.  And my OB said that my future deliveries may go the same way.  I hope so!

And did I mention how great he is?

Isaiah has been a blessing in every way.  He is a great sleeper, eater and son.  Now, that he is here, I still have the panicked feeling of “What am I supposed to do with you?” but now, after 2 weeks, I know one day at a time is the plan we intend to follow.  Trial and error is really the answer.

And, he seems to be pretty forgiving.

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Filed under Life, Pregnancy, Uncategorized

Pumpkin Scones with Spiced Glaze

I haven’t had a single bowl of pumpkin oatmeal yet.  How very non-seasonal of me.

It seems like I was subconsciously saving it for these.

Those my friends are pumpkin scones.  Yes, sir.  As beautiful as they are delicious.

I’ve never been a scone fan.  Most recipes leave  you with a bready, lackluster snack, which leaves me unsatisfied.  Not this one.

Not only are these scones delicious, they are moist, flavorful and perfectly sweet to disappear sooner than I wanted to some grubby family fingers.

You can tell from the dough that this scone will come out light and almost flaky.

Oh and did I mention that they come with a spiced glaze?  (The dough itself has very little sugar so the glazes are pretty necessary in my opinion.)

But you get to decide if you just need a drizzle or a full dunk.

Obviously I prefer a dunk and a drizzle.

I’m greedy like that.

Pumpkin Scones with Spiced Glaze
adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients:

Scones:
–   2 cups all-purpose flour
–  7 tbsp sugar
–  1 tbsp baking powder
–  1/2 tsp  salt
–  1/2 tsp cinnamon
–  1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
–  1/4 tsp ground cloves
–  1/4 tsp ground ginger
–  6 tbsp cold butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
–  1/2 cup pumpkin
–  3 tbsp milk (I used unsweetened almond milk and it came out just fine)
–  1 tsp vanilla extract
–  1 large egg

Initial Glaze:
–  1 cup plus 1 tbsp powdered sugar
–  1/4 tsp vanilla extract
–  2 tbsp milk  (again, I used unsweetened almond milk)

Spiced Glaze:
–  1 cup plus 3 tbsp powdered sugar
–  2 tbsp milk (unsweetened almond milk for me)
–  1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
–  1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
–  1 pinch ground ginger
–  1 pinch ground cloves

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger in a bowl.  Use a fork to cut the butter into the flour mix until you get a coarse crumbly mix and you can’t really tell that there are chunks of butter in the mixture.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, milk, vanilla and egg.  Fold the wet ingredients into the flour mixture.  Make sure you don’t over mix.  Form the dough into a ball (the dough will be very soft).
  4. Put out the dough onto a floured surface and form into a 1 inch rectangle that’s 3 times long as it is wide.
  5. Then, with a knife, cut the dough twice width wise, making three equal pieces.
  6. Then, cut each of the three pieces into an X making 12 pieces total.
  7. Place each piece onto the baking sheet and bake for 14-16 minutes until lightly golden brown.
  8. After baking, place on a wire rack to cool.
  9. To make the initial glaze, mix together the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk.  After the scones have cooled, use a pastry brush to brush the initial glaze onto the scones.
  10. To make the spiced glaze, mix together the powdered sugar, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.  Usually by this time, the initial glaze should have hardened on the scones.  Drizzle (or dunk – or both) onto each scone.  Leave for about an hour for the glaze to dry.

Serving sizes are relative.

Are you a fan of scones?  How have you used your pumpkin lately?

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Filed under baking, Bread, Vegetarian

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies – Virtual Cookie Swap

I have always wanted to participate in a holiday cookie swap.  However, as this year is filled with Isaiah, Rachel’s (aka The Avid Appetite) virtual cookie swap is just perfect!

Holidays would not be complete without cookies – and the more variety, the better.  To me, shortbread cookies are quintessential for the holiday season.  And, when I usually make shortbread, I keep it pretty traditional and plain.  I love the buttery, crisp and light taste of a shortbread cookie.

Not overly sweet so you can enjoy twice as much.  That’s how it works right?

This year, to quell my chocolate cravings, I paired shortbread with chocolate.  Could you imagine the fantabulouslness that would result?

If you can’t imagine, then here is proof:

Trust me when I say that you will want to make them.  And they are a delicious mix of rich chocolate with a light cookie.  These would be perfect with tea, a tall glass of milk, gifts for friends or a cookie exchange.

Or you can leave them out for Santa.

And by that, eat it as a midnight snack.  🙂

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
makes about 2 dozen

Ingredients:
–  2 cups flour
–  1/4 tsp salt
–  1/2 cup white sugar
–  1 tsp vanilla extract
–  1 cup butter, softened
–   3/4  cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Directions:
–  Cream butter and sugar until light.
–  Mix in vanilla.
–  Add flour and salt.
–   Stir in chocolate chips.
–  On plastic wrap, roll dough into a log shape, 2 inches diameter.
–  Wrap tightly and put in fridge for about 2 hours to firm up.  You can leave for longer, but definitely put in the fridge so the dough easier to handle later.
–  After 2 hours, preheat oven to 350F.
–  Take out the cookie dough and cut into 1/4 inch circles.
–  Place on a cookie sheet about an inch apart.
–  Bake for 10-12 minutes.
–  Cool on wire rack and enjoy!

What’s your favorite holiday cookie?

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Filed under baking, Cookies, Desserts, Uncategorized

Nutella Bread Pudding

There are some things that are fairly universally liked.  For example – Billie Jean by Michael Jackson, Steel Magnolias, Jon Hamm, newborn baby smell, and Nutella.  Right now, I’m thoroughly enjoying the latter two.

Binks and I are now enjoying our newest addition to the family, Isaiah.  He looks a little like this right now.

He is perfect.  (Better pictures to come later.)

And, here is my Nutella.

And it is perfect.

When I saw this, I knew I wanted to make it for Thanksgiving dessert.  And, let me tell you, over the pies and through the moon, this dessert went quick!  We barely had any left overs.  And what we had, we enjoyed!

And it worked perfectly for the family gathering.  It wasn’t overly sweet so the parental units were able to enjoy without feeling they were going to into a diabetic coma and the younger adults were able to enjoy Nutella at its finest and most comforting.  I could totally make this and eat this for brunch any day.  Perhaps Christmas morning.

And it could not have been easier to make.

Nutella Bread Pudding
adapted from here

Ingredients:
–  1/2 package of 1-2 day-old Hawaiian sweet bread
–  3/4 cup Nutella
–  1/4 cup pecan halves
–  2 eggs
–  1 cup heavy cream
–  1 tsp vanilla extract
–  1/4 tsp salt
–  powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:
–  Preheat oven to 350F.
–  Roast pecans in a pan for about 5 minutes over med-high heat.  Be careful not to burn.
–  Slice each bread roll in half.  Spread with a heft amount of Nutella.
–  Place in a glass baking dish where there is no empty space after putting in all the sandwiched pieces.
–  Sprinkle roasted pecans over bread pieces.
–  Make custard:  Whisk together eggs,  cream, vanilla, and salt.
–  Pour over the bread pieces.  You can wait a bit (I waited 15 minutes) to make sure the bread pieces are soaked through.
–   Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes.  I baked for about 12 because I like my bread pudding a little drier.  The bread pudding should be golden brown on top.
–  Remove from oven and let cool.
–  Prior to serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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Filed under baking, Desserts, Holiday, Vegetarian