30 September 2010

Here's my afternoon snack and the recipe from the experts.

Note the nearly empty cup of coffee (stovetop espresso...we'll talk about that later).
This means that I had already eaten a cookie or two! 
One of my favorite things about where I live has to be the local public television station. Seriously, folks. Most of my friends and acquaintances in the area will tell you the same thing... Their household's most watched local TV station is NPT

There is a great show on Saturdays called America's Test Kitchen that I get to catch once in a while. They have the most fabulous tips, delivered in a very technical manner, which I love! This last weekend they showed how to tweak the famous Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe. The adjustments were easy, although seemingly labor intensive. Trust me, don't be intimidated. I was tired on Sunday afternoon but making these cookies was a breeze. You can watch the show right here.

I noted in the recipe below that I love the Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chips. On the episode you'll see they do a chocolate chip taste test and they came to the same conclusion! See how big the chips are in my cookies? They are larger chips and such a great quality of chocolate. The taste does not leave a weird, chalky finish either. These cookies are buttery, chewy and chocolaty smooooth!

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
From the episode: The Cookie Jar

Makes 16 cookies
Avoid using a nonstick skillet to brown the butter; the dark color of the nonstick coating makes it difficult to gauge when the butter is browned. Use fresh, moist brown sugar instead of hardened brown sugar, which will make the cookies dry. This recipe works with light brown sugar, but the cookies will be less full-flavored. For our winning brand of chocolate chips, see related tasting.

  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
  • 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces) (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (the BEST are Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet)
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)
  • 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
  • 2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
  • 3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
  • 4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)
  • 5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

23 September 2010

Still hot enough for gelato!

Banana Pudding over Black Chocolate
Yup, we are still hovering around 90ºF around here. Even though I am SO ready for Fall, I like the idea that the heat justifies a cold treat! Last week I visited a little shop in Cool Springs named Nucci's. I opted for two scoops of gelato in a waffle cone, but my sister (who apparently frequents this place enough to be recognized when we walked in) chose a Coppia, this delectable nugget you see pictured here below.

Coppia at Nucci's
Gelato... on top of Italian Ice... on top of more gelato.

My sister was in the middle of "mining" for the bottom layer of gelato when I snapped this shot. This is the method she uses in order to enjoy all 3 flavors together instead of waiting to finish the top layers to get to the bottom. Brilliant.

The Coppia was such a hit with my sis-in-law that she left the place grinning from ear to ear. Her words were, "I'm ruined. I will probably not find a place that compares to this where I live!"

Thank you, Nucci's for a great treat. My family had a wonderful time. Next time, it's a Coppia for me!

20 September 2010

Happy with my puffs!

One of the new signals that my 2nd child is using is a "grrrrowl." He is at the stage when creamy, mushy baby food is simply annoying, and a filler at best. When the blended vegetables and fruits start to get tiresome during a meal, he begins to growl and turn his face from the spoon. What does this signal mean, do you ask? Well, he wants something more difficult, more challenging to gnaw on. He has a lot of nerve, as he does NOT have teeth. Asking for something more "toothy" means Mom has to find something acceptable that he won't choke on.

HAPPYBABY Organic Puffs, Greens Puffs, 2.1-Ounce Containers (Pack of 6)So there's bread, rice, soy soaked kashi, potatoes, la la la... All great things, but nothing compares to the ultimate saving grace -- Happy Baby Organic Puffs! Seriously, folks. No joke. No endorsements. No pat on the back. I'm just happy to share my love of this wonderful baby snack that actually has vegetables in it! He can eat 'em up at every meal, in between mushy slushy bites of his regular baby food and remain happy. I've also dumped a few on his stroller tray to occupy him while I shop, and they are a great appetizer/distraction while we wait for our food in restaurants. I love these puffy things so much that I bought a carton of six on Amazon!

So far I've found them at Target, Whole Foods, and online. No puffery here, I swear.

18 September 2010

Nashville gems

Union Station
One of downtown Nashville's gems is Union Station, which is also the Wyndham Grand Hotel. It is located next door to the Frist Center, the Flying Saucer, and just blocks away from both the Gulch and Lower Broad. If you haven't made a visit to the Union Station lobby, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how beautiful it is. It is fairly small so it is "cozy," as far as elaborately detailed train stations go. They have renovated the hotel and refreshed the paint so that it looks like a modern, yet still vintage hang. A great place to take visitors for a photo opp! I love the eclectic collection of chairs.

hotel lobby
What struck me today was the hotel's restaurant menu that was posted in the lobby. A $$$ restaurant, Prime 108, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Prime 108
"The signature menu is derived from the finest products available including organic vegetables, hormone free meats, and sustainable seafood."
Way to go, Wyndham. Maybe we'll hit that on a future date night!

15 September 2010

Locally grown goodness

Here is my farmers market stash from the other day. Really great peppers, perfect eggplant, crisp zucchini and shiny tomatoes. I thought things were winding down but this farmer had some great produce.

Not pictured... 10+ pounds of grass-fed beef from Dixon Family Meats and a loaf of honey whole wheat bread. In the corner... Great Harvest cherry muffin and blueberry scone (in the bag). SO delicious. I L-O-V-E Great Harvest. Thanks to the Baughn family, Great Harvest is available at the Rutherford County Farmers Market every week until the end of October!

08 September 2010

The love of letters

Call it...
font fever.
Or maybe I'm a...
wannabe Typophile member
Typography enthusiast? = Typothusiast?
Letter lover?
Type A-B-C personality?

Whatever it is, I am that. Here is my latest loved item found online. If you're a font lover/typophile/typothusiast, you'll understand!

veer merchandise