Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

My most favorite Christmas cookie ever is the Chocolate Crinkle cookie. I realized while making them the other night that it’s pretty close to a brownie batter…maybe that’s why I love them so much! They are soft, chewy, chocolatey and classic.

Ingredients:

1/2 vegetable oil

4 eggs

2 cups of flour

4 oz bakers chocolate

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup powdered sugar

  1. Melt your bakers chocolate in the microwave
  2. In a mixer combine sugar, vegetable oil and melted chocolate
  3. Very SLOWLY add in your 4 eggs. The chocolate is hot so if you dump them all in at once they’ll scramble!
  4. Sift 2 cups of flour with baking powder and a dash of salt- slowly add to your chocolatey mix. Your batter will be thicker than a cake batter, but not as dry as a regular cookie batter.
  5. Transfer to some plastic wrap to chill in the fridge. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!!! 3hrs-over night is best. I left mine in over night.
  6. In a bowl add powdered sugar. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

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  1. Using teaspoons or a small ice cream scooper, scoop small portions of chilled dough, roll and drop into powdered sugar to coat.

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  1. Place on parchmented cookie sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE or they will end up crunchy and they are best nice and soft. I bake mine for 9-10 minutes.
  2. Remove from baking sheet and place on cooling rack.

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ENJOY! These guys are best with a giant glass of milk and no care for your waist line. This is a hard cookie to have just 1 of. 🙂

Makes about 5 dozen cookies!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Balls

As the school year is approaching, I am stocking up on desk snacks. I LOVE food, and tend to graze throughout the day instead of solid meals. This doesn’t usually work for teachers, but thankfully I have an awesome schedule that will allow me to do just that throughout my school day. Along with Goldfish, Nutella, chocolate chip muffins, and popcorn, I wanted something with a bit more substance. I’ve made these chocolate peanut butter balls before, but these have the added benefit of whey protein. The particular kind that I use also has added energy- B12, caffeine etc.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups peanut butter

1 cup oats

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1/4 honey

1 1/2 10g scoops of protein- I use whey protein and use a flavor that goes with this recipe- vanilla or chocolate

  1. In a bowl, warm peanut butter and honey in the microwave until it is a bit runny so that it will mix easier.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine your protein, oats and mini chocolate chips
  3. Once the peanut butter and honey are warmed, pour into the other ingredients and fold in. If the mixture still seems dry and crumbly, add a bit more warmed peanut butter. It should form a nice ball and hold together well.
  4. Using a 1 inch ice cream scoop, or teaspoons, scoop out the mix onto wax paper.
  5. Allow to set for about an hour. Keep in an air tight container or separate into snack bags for a quick grab.

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This recipe made 34 small protein balls. 3 or 4 is just enough so they will make it a week! It took me less than 20 minutes to make!!!! I am going to keep a bag of these guys in my desk for a great afternoon pick me up! Happy snacking! 

St. Patricks Day

I know I’m a few days behind, but I’m sure the leprechaunS forgive me. I have always loved St. Patrick’s Day. I am very fortunate to have a family that enjoys history and keeps track of who and where our family came from. I am off-the-boat Irish. My family came over in the late 1800s-early 1900s.

1922459_10203369528264042_1221351795_nWhile I was wandering around Victoria Square in Belfast, Northern Ireland, I came across a picture of the family crest!

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Now that I’ve been to Ireland, my adoration for the holiday has grown…if that’s even possible! You can read all about that trip HERE! St. Patrick’s Day is also a mostly American thing because it is a celebration of where we came from and our heritage…not just a day to drink cheap green beer. Since I was home for the day, I made 2 St. Patty’s day treats.

First, I made a shamrock shake

Ingredients:

2 scoops vanilla ice cream

1 cup of milk

1 teaspoon sugar

Green food coloring

Peppermint Extract

Handful of ice

Throw everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Add food coloring until it is the desired shade. Serve with a cool shamrock straw.

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The second thing I made was green chocolate chip cookies. It’s a relatively basic cookie recipe with…you guessed it…green food coloring.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 stick butter

1/2 cup butter flavored Crisco

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (optional)

Chocolate chips of your choice- I used dark chocolate

1. Cream butter and crisco, add sugar, vanilla and eggs.

2. Add green food coloring to desired shade. I used about 10 drops.

3. Combine flour, cornstarch, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Slowly add it to the “wet” ingredients.

4. Mix in 1 1/2 cups, or half a bag of chocolate chips. It will look like mint-chocolate-chip ice cream.

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5. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Trust me. Don’t skip this step. Longer is better. But at least an hour.

6. Pre-heat the oven to 350, bake for 10-12 minutes depending on your oven etc. The cookies will JUST start to turn brown around the edges.IMG_5336

EAT, with a nice big glass of milk!

And now, for some Irish fun facts to make your St. Patricks day a little educational-

-Only 9% of the Irish population are natural redheads.

-A book only needs to sell 3,000 copies to top the Irish bestseller list.

-There have never been snakes in Ireland. St. Patrick did nothing with snakes.

-Gaelic is Ireland’s official language, but English is most commonly spoken

The (Book) Struggle is Real

It’s mid February. I’ve gotten close to 30 new books since New Years. My wall-length bookshelves that house both my books and my mug collection are laden. The books are progressively kicking the mugs out-of-the-way. That is a problem all unto itself. But there’s another issue. I. Have. A. Major. Problem.

10407758_10205732124367468_4671440219716674028_nThis is what happens when I find a cart of free books. It might have been below zero out, I may not have been able to feel my toes or hands and I may have had slobber rolling down my face because I had a Bridge Street Chocolate espresso marshmallow stuffed in my face.

The fact that my local gently used book store has $1 book carts, by 2 get 1 free does NOT help my cause any either. I just keep telling myself….”They’re for my classroom. They’ll help my students. They are helping to build my future.” And by building my “future” I mean, building my future library room…and one day my future office at a university somewhere.

But I have this problem. I have all of these books, and well…thank goodness I’m not blowing my bank account to get them because well….none of them are grabbing my attention.

I’ve been a book-worm for as long as I can remember. I had to start wearing glasses in middle school because as a child I hid under blankets with small, dim, key chain flash lights to read Magic Tree House. My parents were always encouraging my reading habits, reading to me as a child, always getting me at least one book from the cool Scholastic Book Fair at school even though money was tight, and still getting me books for Christmas now as a 22-year-old. To be fair, many of my obnoxious reading habits have come from my father, he’s just a bit better at hiding them. I have a whole pin board that is nothing but books, book lists, and book sayings.

I created a Net Galley account last summer and I LOVE IT! Free books and all I had to do was read them and review them; but so many of them were so bad I couldn’t even finish them. Obviously they didn’t get the best reviews in return. I have made great connections with a few of the authors that I did review and enjoy like Brielle Skye, author of Solitude of a Birdcage. But those connections with both the literature and the authors are so very few and far between.

In the past 2 months, with my massive literary additions I have read 3 of them to completion and even those were a struggle. Why?

For a while I thought, well it’s got to just be the literature. Comparatively to even 10 or 20 years ago, it is SO much easier to have a book published and put out there. eBooks have made becoming an author easier than ever before. This can be a good thing and a bad thing…for obvious reasons. It’s kind of like American Idol. For years friends and family tell someone they are an amazing singer in order to avoid hurt feelings, and these poor people stand up on stage and sound like they are dying, wailing cows. The same happens with writing. People are told that they are great writers, some may have even gone to school for English or writing…but that doesn’t mean that they are good.

My other thought-standards are low. With books like Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey and a multitude of other books being PUBLISHED no wonder there is so much crap out there. I’m not just talking content wise either. Anyone with any kind of English grammar/writing sense can tell you that some of the best-selling books in the last 10 years are some of the most poorly written books they have read in their life. People are not only reading this stuff and enjoying it, but asking for more like there is no problem with any of it. They have no idea that they are reading poor “literature.” The term is being used quite loosely here. They make money, so they continue to be published because people aren’t standing up and saying “STOP WE WANT THE GOOD STUFF!”

Maybe I’m just all read out. I’ve read so many books over the years that it is rare that a book ends differently than I expect. I usually have a solid guess of what is going to happen and how the characters are going to get there about 20 pages in. The excitement of “what is going to happen next,” seems to have disappeared for me. Is this my fault? Have authors gotten together, come up with a story equation, plugged in their own “details” and continue to write the same story with different names? My favorite- Nicholas Sparks. The same story over and over with a few variations, like names, diseases, and occupations. Here is a chart that has been floating around as an example-

summary_imageThis makes me feel better, that maybe I’m not as crazy as I thought I was about this theory.

I think that somewhere in my heart, I know that all of the above reasons are reasons why I am struggling. I also think that they are all contributing factors to what I am now calling “book depression.” This is very different from a Book Hangover– symptoms and other info are included in the linked post. Book depression is a deep sadness, a fear that it is going to be a very long time before you read a good book again. It’s longing for a book that you’re not sure even exists. I want to read something inspiring, something hopeful, something unexpected, something relatable, something real. I want a story with dynamic characters, with a strong plot, with antagonists and protagonists. I want something that doesn’t involve werewolves or vampires or dystopian society. I want a book with proper sentence structure, lacking comma splices, and with bright, vibrant language.

I want to fall in love with words on the pages of the book in my hand. I want to yearn for more and hope there is at least a sequel. I want to read again.

“I DID IT!” Chocolate Chip Cookies

The original recipe came from Host the Toast. I was quietly minding my own business the other day when my friend Emily messaged me, “ANNA I swear to God the best chocolate chip recipe I’ve ever made. They are aamaaazinggggg!” It is a running joke in my life that I can’t make chocolate chip cookies, hence her sending me this recipe. I’ve had a few solid batches here and there but they just never work. I can make really hard recipes perfectly the first time but can’t make a basic batch of chocolate chip cookies. I was skeptical, but promised her that I would try them. This is what convinced me to make them-

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Ingredients:

2 cups + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cornstarch

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ sticks (6 oz) butter, melted and cooled

1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed (I used dark brown sugar, but either will work)

½ cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1½ cups dark chocolate chips

1. Soften butter, add in sugars and mix until combined and fluffy.

2. Add in the eggs and vanilla until incorporated.

3. Sift together flour, salt, cornstarch, and baking soda. Slowly add it into the bowl until JUST combined, do not over mix.

4. Fold in chocolate chips by hand to help keep from over mixing.

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5. Cover and refrigerate for at least a half hour. I put mine in for 20 minutes, then turned my oven on to pre-heat to 325 and let them stay in the fridge until the oven was pre-heated.

6. The original recipe says to use 1/4 cup dough per cookie, I just used the larger ice cream scoop to make them uniform. I fit 9 per cookie sheet.

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7. Cook for about 12 minutes or until just golden brown. I put the dough back in the fridge between batches.

8. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before transporting them to a cooling rack.

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9. Enjoy with a large class of milk, like my dad likes to do.

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Oh yeah, check out that beard 😉

The cookies are awesome too. Emily was right. However, we both discussed and decided that we would probably add just a little bit more flour to give them a bit more body, more like 2 1/2 cups of flour.

2 Ingredient 5 Minute Fudge

One day I will read a book again and post another book review…I’m still working on that since finishing the semester. So for now, it is recipes and planner things. This happens to fall under the latter of the two.

My mom makes awesome fudge. Melt in your mouth best stuff ever. But I was watching The Pioneer Woman on Food Network the other day and she made this two ingredient stuff. I don’t know how Ree Drummond came up with this recipe, and I don’t care. It is AWESOME! You can find the original recipe HERE.

Ingredients:

1 bag of chocolate chips- I used dark chocolate, the recipe says semi-sweet, I’m sure you could use peanut butter or combinations of them

1 14 oz can sweetened condense milk

Pre-line a container with foil, suran wrap or wax paper so that the fudge pops out once it has cooled. I would not use a dish any smaller than 9×9.

1. Set a pot on the stove with a metal bowl or use a double boiler and get it going

2. Dump in the bag of chips and can of sweetened condense milk- whisk or stir until all of the chips have melted and the chocolate and milk are combined

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3. Once the mixture is fully melted, mixed and smooth, dump the goodness into the lined dish.

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4. Pop in the fridge for at least 2 hours

5. Pull the lining with the fudge out of the dish and put on a cutting board. Cut the fudge using a serrated knife. You can replace the fudge back in the dish in the lining to reduce clean up.

Oh yeah. EAT IT! 🙂

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Possible additions- peanuts, walnuts, peppermints, orange zest, or anything else you like with chocolate!!!

Crepes with Strawberries

Yes, more strawberries. They’re still coming in and will be the rest of the summer. I HAVE to eat them!!!

Crepes:

1 cup flour

2 eggs

1/2 cup COLD water

1/2 cup COLD milk/cream

2 teaspoons coco powder

BUTTER

Cinnamon

Filling stuff of your choosing

I want to take a minute to adore these BEAUTIFUL brown eggs from Eric’s grandparents. Their red sexlinks have been supplying us while we are waiting for our girls to start producing!

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SIFT the flour, and if you so choose, the cinnamon and coco powder. This removes a lot of lumps and makes a nice smooth batter.

1.Whisk all ingredients together. I added a dash of cinnamon and coco powder because, WHY NOT!? It will all be the consistency of really thick chocolate milk, or a runny milk shake. You will have the urge to add more flour. DON’T DO IT!

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2. Chill in fridge for at least one hour.

3. I used fresh strawberries and chocolate syrup. You can use berries, bananas, peanut butter, whipped cream, caramel, chocolate- think of this as like a dessert/brunch taco. Go ham. HAHA get it, ham? Regardless of what you choose to fill your crepes with, you should prepare it while the batter is chilling.

4. Use BUTTER to grease the pan. Because crepes are French. Butter+French=all things good. In all honesty, I used a non-stick pan and you really don’t need that much butter. Slather it on afterwards though!

5. They are thin so they cook super fast. Add a dollop to the center of the pan, grab the handle and swirl around to spread the batter. The sides will begin to pull away.

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6. Flip once to finish cooking/brown the other side.

7. Slide out and fill til your little heart’s content.

8. YUM!

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Totally should have dusted with powdered sugar and coco powder! Oh for hindsight!

And even though crepes are French, I listened to the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack because Jean-Yves Thibaudet is breath-taking.

Bridge Street Chocolates-New Treats

I fell in love with chocolate at an early age. I fell in love with Bridge Street Chocolates just a few short years ago. It is a beautiful love affair. I am constantly telling people about it, this tiny little shop in downtown Phoenixville, PA. I wrote an article on Gail, the owner, last Spring for a school assignment. That can be found here at “Ministry of Chocolate.

I was downtown meeting a friend for lunch and found out she had NEVER been there! WHAT!? NO WAY!? So in we trekked. Gail is usually off Mondays and Tuesdays and happened to have stopped in to grab some work to take home. Being that she is one of my favorite people, of course it was a treat alone to see her! As I introduced my friend to my favorite little chocolate friends, I came across a new addition to the case- French Chocolate Macaroons. Wait, let me say that again. French. Chocolate. Macaroons. If you thought it couldn’t get better than that, oh, it does.

Smooshed in between two perfect chocolate macaroons is a chocolate, espresso filling. I am usually a sucker for the truffles. I get some combination of them every time I go in. Except that day. After eating one, I knew that that was what I was getting that day. 3 more French Chocolate Macaroons were put in my favorite little box. I ate two and brought one home for my mommy. I, mean, chocolate is only as good as the company you share it with right?

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I couldn’t help myself though. I had to get another honey stirrer. The lavender is my absolute favorite of them!

The Sweetest Place On Earth

I love living in Pennsylvania sometimes. Even if on a normal day to day basis it feels like I live in the middle of nowhere-it’s really pretty cool. We are about 3 hours or less away from New York City, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, tons of museums, great food AND the sweetest place on Earth- HERSHEY, PENNSYLVANIA.
Everybody has had a Hershey bar at some point and time. Milton Hershey added sugar and milk to some cocoa powder and the Hershey Milk Chocolate bar was born. Best known for the star ingredient in s’mores, Hershey Park is our beloved little state treasure.

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I LOVE roller coasters. The problem is that they don’t always love me. For weeks prior Eric would ask me if I was afraid of roller coasters, which ones did or didn’t I like to ride, and tell me that I didn’t have to ride one if I didn’t want too. He absolutely did not think that I enjoyed them. I told him that if we could figure out a way for me to not feel ill I would go on all of the rides.

Eric, his roommate Jake, girlfriend Emily and I all made the hour and a half drive. The goal was to get there before the park opened to do Chocolate world. Well as per usual, our plan didn’t happen so right to the park we went. By some crazy miracle we were able to ride Fahrenheit, Storm Runner, and Lightning Racer within our first hour. Unheard of and totally awesome due to a complete lack of lines! We then headed to the other side of the park for Great Bear, which actually sounds like a growling bear as it whizzes along the track. That was the second longest line of the day and only because Eric is a freak and must only ride in the very front of all roller coasters. Hershey does this thing for such freaks and gives them their own line. This of course then means that line takes twice as long to get through as opposed to the line for people who don’t care where they sit.

Lunch was a buffet provided by the park and the company Eric works for. They also hooked us up with tickets and parking for the day at a great price. For a buffet at an amusement park, it was quite yummy. 🙂

We rode Lightning Racer 3 more times and headed over to our last ride of the day…. Skyrush. As per the rest of the day we had to sit in the very front and wait a bajillion hours to get there. It was also possibly the least enjoyable ride of the day for me. It was so fast my vision blacked out a few times. Around a number of the bends my head slid off the seat and was whipped back again. Major design flaw on this one not having the side head rest things. All 4 of us conked our heads. The lap bar is weird and during the ride you end up pushing it down so that by the time you stop you are pinned, uncomfortable and in pain until they do a particle release of the system. It was finally time for CHOCOLATE WORLD.

Yes. You heard me right- chocolate. world. Of course you pass Chocolate House on your way there.

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Once inside there are 3 things to do. Shop ALLLLLL THE CHOCOLATE THINGS! Like this $15 super sized Hershey Kiss-

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Go through the ever entertaining Hershey’s Great American Chocolate Tour, which is my personal favorite due to the free chocolate at the end. It goes through the entire chocolate making process including a brief trip through the roaster!

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And EAT! There are a few other things but those are the best 3 things to do there. I got a yummy frozen mocha for the ride home. 🙂 MHMMMM!

Thankfully we had beautiful sunshine weather that wasn’t overbearingly hot or humid. Since we went with Eric’s company the only thing we had to buy during the day was water and any other snacks we wanted.

Next time you find yourself towards my neck of the woods, drive a little further and take a stop at the sweetest place on Earth!

PS- All ride names are linked to their ride page so you can read about them or get a video experience of what it is like sitting in the front seat- AKA my view the whole day. 🙂

Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting

Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting

So I’m sure y’all have recognized a theme of chocolate and peanut butter in my life. Let’s face it, nothing goes better with peanut butter than chocolate. Not even jelly. Yeah, I said it. Better than peanut butter and jelly. … Continue reading