Peanut Butter Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Do you see that cross-section of peanut butter goodness? I am drooling as I type this.

Our supremely sweet-toothed “baby” brother’s birthday was last weekend, and we decided there was no better way to send him back to school than armed with a disgusting amount of sweet treats.

College-aged metabolisms can handle the madness 🙂

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I fear that I have set the bar pretty high for myself with the Slutty Brownies, so just any old cookie wouldn’t do.

So I took the world’s best chocolate chip cookie recipe, the Nestle Tollhouse classic, but only used half of the chocolate chips it called for. Then I squished a little Reeses baking square down into each spoonful and covered it with a smidge more dough.

The cookies were much bigger than usual to accommodate the Reeses so they took longer to bake, but it was worth the wait.

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Without question, one of the best things I’ve ever made!

ll

 

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“I was going to conquer the world, but got distracted by something sparkly…”

Quote by unknown 🙂

I saw this photo of Scarlett Johanssen the other day and while I can’t find the source of it for the life of me, I am officially obsessed with the look. I’m thinking a beaded skirt needs to make its way into my closet this holiday season.

Choices, choices…

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Winterizing: BB Cream and Moroccan Oil

Every year around December, my child-like joy in anything and everything sparkly and holiday related can be tamped down by very little. That very little, however, includes my hair and skin feeling like I’ve spent the last week or so getting my ostrich on with my head in the sand.

My skin gets SO dry in the winter, but I have a patent fear of over-moisturizing and ending up with greasy hair (gross) or greasy skin (so gross).

Being the grown-up that I am, I am conquering my fears one by one at Walgreens, embracing moisturizing products all around and winterizing myself. I recently purchased two new products that I am loving and thought I’d share.

BB cream (“beauty balm” = BB) is newer to the US and Garnier’s version costs about $10 at drugstores or Target. It touts itself as a “miracle cream” and while I’m thinking we should reserve the word “miracle” this time of year for the baby Jesus, it is pretty amazing. It moisturizes, is lightly tinted, brightens with vitamin C, has anti-aging properties, and protects with SPF. I wear it alone at work or under foundation if I’m going out. My skin not only looks better with it on, but I’ve also noticed that it just looks more even generally, even without any makeup at all.

Moroccan oil has long freaked me out. You want me to put OIL in my super-fine (read: flat and lifeless) hair? I’m good, thanks.

However, I caved when I saw some pictures  with my hair looking uber-fried and figured I could at least use it at night to try to restore some moisture. Imagine my surprise when my hair wasn’t even remotely greasy in the morning, but shiny, soft and weirdly extra bouncy. I purchased Organix Light Moroccan Argan Oil for about $10 and I swear that my hair has grown at least half an inch since that fateful day 3 weeks ago. (If you’re one of those annoying people with hair that grows like a weed, I applaud your luck but this is HUGE for me!)

Maybe next I’ll go nuts and buy cuticle oil. Happy holidays!

Recipe: Baked Ham and Egg Cups

How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was great– as predicted, lots of games and too much food. In other words, perfect.

As we mentioned, we were really looking forward to making Thanksgiving brunch to our family. Our choice needed to fit two main criteria: fairly light (Thanksgiving dinner later!) and easy enough to assemble for 7 people.

After seeing a few variations floating around Pinterest, we made egg cups for brunch earlier this year and decided that they’d fit the bill nicely for  our Thanksgiving morning brunch. We made two variations and were happy with both results, so we thought we’d share! They are so cute and really, really easy… plus, the world is your oyster when it comes to the toppings — you can really add any combination of ingredients your little heart desires.

Laura went the traditional route and made Denver-esque cups by adding diced peppers and onions with cheddar cheese to each cup. Ali got creative and made the clear winner of the day – she blanched asparagus and added two spears to each cup with a tiny bit of cheddar in the base, then served them with a Hollandaise sauce.

We left the crispy edges but you could trim them or get really crazy and cover them with foil while baking.

In our opinion, this is a handy staple to have in our back pockets for brunch with the girls, for family, or after a particularly long night out. Cheers! (with our ham and egg cups.)

Ham and Egg Cups –

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray or lightly oil. (We used popover cups this time because we wanted more room for add-ins, but have previously used muffin tins and it works just as well!)
  3. Line each cup with two slices of ham, pressing into the bottom of each cup.
  4. Add desired toppings, then carefully crack one egg into each cup.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until egg is cooked through. Each cup should easily lift from the tin.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Every year come mid-November, do you think, “Oh great, it’s the holidays, work will slow down!”?

And then wonder what on earth you were thinking as you’re scrambling to answer emails, bake, shop, and answer more emails so you can get home to your family?

Us too, thanks for the solidarity. We did, however, manage to find the time (twist our arms) to celebrate one of our dearest friend’s birthday over the weekend, and accomplished the impossible: a photo of us together that neither of us vetoed. Great success.

We’re off to eat way too much with our family, play far too many games of wine-fueled Mexican Train Dominos and wake up obscenely early to take advantage of the ridiculous sales on Friday. Food, family and deals — these are a few of our favorite things! We have much to be thankful for.

Happy, happy Thanksgiving, friends!

We leave you with this hilarious (Potato Budz, bitches!) and handy infographic courtesy of Chow – in all honesty, we’d probably be hopping off the road at “irresponsible adult”, but we’re now contemplating contributing vegan bean loaf, just for a fun and politically-fueled break from Mexican Train. Just kidding, Mom!

 

Face Scrub – Au Natural

Apparently watching Made in Chelsea makes me say things like “au natural.”  I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter the similarities, when you compare The Hill and MiC, the British accent, and saying “En Route” instead of “on our way” adds class EVERY time, and couldn’t be more jealous, but I digress.

The other night I sat around catching up (read: watching every episode available ondemand) on the show, I found myself googling ways to shake my dry and dull winter skin before it got scary.  It turns out, the ingredients I needed were handily in my cluttered, dirty little kitchen cabinet.  I scooped them up, reminded myself to clean out my cabinets yet again, and got to work.

Honey Sugar Olive Oil Face Scrub

Mix 3 parts honey, to one part olive oil and add enough sugar to give the scrub the consistency of…well, a scrub.  It’s not complicated, I swear.  Don’t make the mix too oily or it will slide right off your moneymaker, and don’t make it too honeylicious, or it will be impossible to spread.  It’s trial and error, go with the flow!

The honey in the scrub will draw out the impurities in your skin and nix any nagging city scum sitting on top of your pores.  The sugar acts as mother nature’s sweet little exfoliant, scrubbing your skin without tearing or dragging.  The olive oil continues it’s act as basically the most versatile and beneficial ingredient known to mankind and leaves you supple and smooth.  The best part is that these ingredients very likely exist right under your clever little nose, so take the hike to your kitchen, attack with a spoon and slather on your face.

Life in Pictures

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A new furniture rehab project making it debut in the near future!

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A Cupcake ATM in my neighborhood you say? Check out the sprinkles by you for this awesome creation.

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A view of the harbor from the south-shore on a typically windy Chicago day.

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A quick canoe pitstop for a glass of smuggled white wine.

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Candyality Chicago style truffles – so cute!

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Quite possibly the biggest tree I’ve ever seen….and quite possibly the only plaid shirt I own.

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Stuffed shells with ground turkey, sun dried tomatoes and parmesan cheese, topped with a white wine and lemon cream sauce.

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A long hike on a warm fall day – yes, that is a murse I’m wearing.

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A beautiful bridge at sunset.

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Our chilly (I can’t believe it just snowed in early- [okay fine, mid-] November) skyline.

Ode to SmittenKitchen – Potato Pizza

I’ve been curious about potato pizza for a while. I mean, it’s made up of a few ingredients that are independently delicious, so how could the resulting combination not be exponentially tasty? As it turns out, it was. One chilly Chicago night, I lugged home my sack of potatoes like, well, a sack of potatoes and got to work on the creation.

Now if you’ve read this blog, you know I adore basically all SmittenKitchen recipes, not only are they delicious and creative, but the simple instructions make even an amateur feel like they can tackle a hand-made pizza dough. You can! Who knew a light and hearty pizza crust could be attainable by these virgin crust-making hands? The end result was much as you would imagine, a warm, comforting pizza with soft potatoes and a hint of parmesan cheese.

 

 

 

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Jim Lahey’s Potato Pizza

From Smitten Kitchen

Makes two 8-inch pizzas or one 14-inch pizza

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 cup cold water
Olive oil, for bowl and pans
1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
2 potatoes, thinly sliced (about 2 cups) [I used Yukon Golds, and I believe this is what Lahey uses as well]
1/2 onion, diced into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh rosemary (optional)

1. Combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer, and slowly add 1 cup cold water. Mix on low speed until ingredients begin to combine. Switch to a dough hook and continue to mix for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic and cleanly pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl.

2. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and allow to rest for 2 to 4 hours until it has doubled in size. Split the dough into halves, and form each into a log. Place each log on a generously floured surface, and allow it to rest until the formed dough doubles in size again, at least 1 hour.

3. While the dough rises for the second time, repare the potato topping. Slice potatoes very thin using a knife or a mandoline. Then soak them in several changes of ice water to remove excess starch and prevent discoloration. Drain slices in a colander, toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and set aside for 10 minutes. Drain any accumulated water. In a medium bowl, combine potatoes, onions, and 1 tablespoon olive oil, and set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare two rimmed baking sheets with vegetable oil. Divide dough in half. Place each piece on its own baking sheet. Using the palms of your hands, flatten dough out to the edges of the pan. Evenly spread potatoes over the surface of the dough up to the very edge, or about 1 inch from the edge if you desire a crust on your pizza. Season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with rosemary if using.

5. Bake potato pizza until it has shrunk away from the edges of a pan and the bottom is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and allow to cool slightly; slice into pieces, and serve. Potato pizza is also delicious served at room temperature.

 

Target + Neiman Marcus Holiday Collection

Never have I been as interested in the commercials as I am in my beloved Revenge, but I was definitely loving Target’s mini-series campaign, “The Gift of Revenge” that debuted on this week’s episode. Target is collaborating with Neiman Marcus for a collection that leaves the holiday lover in me and the deal lover in me jumping for joy, singing Christmas carols and calling my sissy to brag about my awesome deal all at once.

Premiering just in time for your holiday shopping and party season on December 1st, the collection is packed with lots of unique gifts and some seriously gorgeous party dresses and sparkly tops.  Tis the season!