Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies head to head

A couple weeks ago my best friend asked me if I had a recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I thought about it for a few minutes and realized that I haven’t made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies in long time, so I had nothing to recommend.

As luck would have it, I browsed through the cookie recipes that I’ve pinned on Pinterest and I had several oatmeal cookie recipes on my “to-do” recipe board. I decided to give this one a try because it looked unbelievably simple. And then two weeks later I needed another cookie recipe so I tried this one.

The first ones were a little on the crumbly side, but they have really good flavor. I would definitely recommend giving these a try! I felt the need to add pecans to this recipe, but you can certainly keep it to just chocolate chips!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

Adapted from Half Baked Harvest, yields 2-3 dozen cookies depending on size

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 c old fashioned oats
  • 2 c AP flour
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 c canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips (you might want to start with 1 cup and add if needed)
  • 1/2 c chopped pecans (a little more if desired)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Add all ingredients except chocolate chips and pecans in mixing bowl. Mix with an electric mixer until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and pecans. Batter will be kind of loose and crumbly.

batter up3. Use a spoon or ice cream scoop to portion batter onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. As you portion out approximately 1.5 inch balls or mounds, the dough might not stick together very will, but it should all be resolved in the oven.

ready for the oven

4. Bake 10-12 minutes until cookies are just golden brown. Allow to cool completely.

ready to eat

The second recipe was a little more involved because it added coconut. So they were more like an everything cookie between the oats, coconut, pecans, and chocolate chips. This batter was more moist than the previous recipe, and I think letting it rest overnight gave it really good flavor (note to self: start these the night before you want to bake them!). Both recipes got raves, but I think I’m leaning towards this one if I need to make oatmeal cookies again soon.

Chunky Lola Cookies

Adapted from Ink Lemonade, yields about 20 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 3/8 sticks of unsalted butter
  • 2/3 c granulated sugar
  • 2/3 c light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 c old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 9 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 2/3rds of a bag)
  • 1 1/4 c pecan halves, toasted and chopped
  • 1 c sweetened shredded coconut

Method

1. Cream together butter and sugars with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.

2. In a separate bowl combine flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Mix with a wisk or wooden spoon.

3. Add wet mixture to dry and fold by hand with wisk or wooden spoon. Fold in coconut, pecans, and chocolate chips.

photogenic batter

4. Allow batter to chill in refrigerator overnight (or at least a few hours).

5. Preheat oven to 350. Portion cookie dough with a tablespoon or ice cream scoop. Flatten the dough balls into thick disks on the parchment lined cookie sheet to encourage the desired shape.

ready for the oven

6. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool completely on wire rack.

(I’m sorry I forgot to take a pic of the final product)

Academy Awards: Best and Worst

First, I must say, everyone look exceedingly clean at the Academy Awards. I was especially proud of the boys because it seemed like everyone shaved and combed their hair. I think it’s clear from my “best” choices that I love a simple statement. I don’t think there were many bombs or huge statement successes this year, most women seemed to stay in their lane. A lot of middle of the road, pretty dresses. I could have easily added two or three more to my best list. As always, the photos were borrowed from People.com. My Best: Reese Reese Witherspoon. It’s so simple but so perfect. She really found the silhouette that works for her, and she’s sticking to her strengths. I can’t fault her for that. Cumberbatch Sophie Hunter (Cumberbatch). Take note, this is maternity glamour done correctly. I think Keira Knightly needs to pay attention. Usually maternity gowns are more voluminous, etherial, or floaty, but the new Mrs. Cumberbatch was spot on with this red number. I promise I didn’t just pick this because of her husband… Gwenyth Gwyneth Paltrow. I am usually not Ms. Paltrow’s biggest fan, but I am a sucker for a dress with an architectural statement flower. This choice definitely seems well within her comfort zone and reminds me of many of her previous choices, but I’m not bored. I think she found a good version of her look this time around. Sienna Sienna Miller. This has a very French sensibility to it and I think it works very well. It’s beyond chic and definitely on the classic and glamorous end of Ms. Miller’s fashion spectrum. A nice change from some of her bohemian moments. My Worst: Gayle Gayle King. I’m not quite sure why she was at the Academy Awards, but Ms. King knows better than this. This looks like a poorly tailored, cheap prom dress. It’s the wrong color and wrong silhouette for her. Chastain Jessica Chastain. Usually she is on my best list, but I think this one is a yawn. Everything seems to be a little bit off. The slit is awkward, the neckline is awkward, the fabric is weird. We can do better. Chrissy Chrissy Teigen. I feel like this is Ms. Teigen’s best impression of JLo. I think it was just redundant and too much at the same time. Stacy and Clinton from “What Not to Wear” always said that you need to pick one focal point, and she just picked all the focal points. She needs to watch some vintage TLC programming.

Last Five

Songs I downloaded on iTunes.

1. “Daft Punk” by Pentatonix. This was a Pandora find. It has come up a few times in the last few months and I finally decided I needed it all the time. It’s a mash up of several Daft Punk songs in a cappella form. I’m not even that much of a Daft Punk fan, but now I’m rethinking my ways.

2. “Work It” by Missy Elliot. This is pretty obvious. I saw the Superbowl half time show and had a major nostalgic moment.

3. “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner. Similar to the Missy moment I had, I recently realized I did not have this song in my library and felt the need to immediately remedy the situation. My life is much improved.

4. “Take Your Time” by Sam Hunt. This song caught my eye on the iTunes list of Top 50 songs which I monitor regularly. It’s a great low key country song that is a twist on the typical love song. I could do without the speaking parts, but other than that, I’m kind of obsessed.

5. “Truffle Butter” by Nicki Minaj featuring Drake and Lil Wayne. Nicki Minaj has been a little cooky ever since Iggy Azalea has stolen some of her female rapper spotlight (Isn’t that how Lil Kim reacted with Minaj came on the scene? It’s like deja vu all over again…). But I like this song, and it’s clear with the supporting characters, that she’s back to doing what she does best with her original crew.

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The Highly Overrated Valentine’s Day

With or without a beau, I always have a fantastic Valentine’s Day.  It’s just another excuse to make sure you have fun!  Last year, I was taken out for dinner and given a bouquet of roses.  The typical Valentine’s tradition was placed upon me for the first time and I can confidently say that it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be.  Ladies, do yourself a favor and make sure you have a man who can come up with something a little more creative to captivate your attention.  I have a feeling that I’m going to have more fun this year with my 7 year-old friend, Fionna, who I am watching over the weekend.  I have made plans to take her to Lowe’s on Saturday morning for their kid’s workshop, give her a Jamberry manicure, bake cookies, dance around the house, craft a heart puzzle wreath, and to go to see Paddington.  Sometimes it’s freeing (and let’s not forget exhausting) to be a kid again.

Needless to say, I have the house all decorated for our Valentine’s festivities.  Hopefully they will inspire you to get into the spirit.

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I used mini cupcake liners to hold these candlesticks into place.

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I often use cake stands and swatches of fabric to decorate tabletops.

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I keep my Christmas tree up and decorate it with hearts.

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I’m constantly changing the decor on my Hoosier. I got the Hoosier Mama Book of Pie as a Christmas present and now display it on a cookbook holder.

Tonight, I am taking the Valentine’s theme to a party at the VIM thrift shop where I volunteer. We’re hosting a ladies’ night for heart awareness month. We’re having blood pressure checks and giving tips on keeping your heart healthy. We have to have snacks that are a little more health conscious than I would normally make. I whipped up some marshmallow treats made with Cheerios.  I also gave myself a heart friendly manicure with my new Jamberries!

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Cheerio Marshmallow Treats

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Jamberry Manicure

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Cupcakes for Fionna

Wanted: New and Pretty Spring and Summer Outfits

Even though we still have a couple solid months of chilly temperatures ahead of us, I have already been browsing the stores for lighter fabrics, shorter hemlines, and fun warm weather patterns. All of my usual haunts have started to put out their spring and summer lines, so here are some basics that are on my wish list so far:

For Work:

jcrewpants

These pants from J.Crew are colorful, chic, and machine washable. Enough said. With dress pants I’ve realized that I need to try them on before I buy (I usually avoid trying things on). So I will definitely be finding some time to visit a J.Crew in the coming months to make sure I pick the right fit.

AnnTaylordress

This dress from Ann Taylor is pretty simple, but I love a good sheath and I could easily pair it with a bright cardigan or a plain blazer and wear it clear into the fall. Easy peasy.

BananaBlouse

Black and white seems to be on trend this spring, surprise, surprise. This hits all of my requirements for a work shirt: blousey (forgiving), white, unique geometric print, and timeless. Plus it easily doubles as a casual look with jeans.

For Play:

slubsweater

J.Crew Factory is killing it right now! I have a similar slub sweater from there that I got last year. I wear it all the time and I think I need a new color. Other cute things from J.Crew Factory include: this, and I need stock up on these.

jcrewshorts

Here’s another need from J.Crew Factory. Because who doesn’t need blue leopard print shorts? (And speaking of leopard print, I really needed new gym sneaks so I just ordered these)

gapshorts

I might need a new pair of jean shorts, and these ones from Gap look perfect. They have a real finished hem (an upgrade from my current cut-off version), and they’re a good wash. Even though I might be pushing the age limit for short shorts, I’ve realized that dressing for my figure means shorts that are 3 or 4 inch inseams. Honest to G**, my muscular quads make longer shorts look awkward.

 Investment Piece:

blushleather

I saw this in Banana ads but it didn’t register with me how fabulous it was until I saw it in a magazine as well. I love a blush/nude anything and I think it will go with everything. I could definitely use a good spring jacket. I’m keeping my eyes open for a sale or similar alternatives at other stores to make sure I make the best choice!

As we know, my new year’s resolution is to have an efficient wardrobe, so these choices are obvious relatively neutral and timeless (blue leopard is always in season). A few are in my “shopping cart” but I’m doing some comparison shopping and waiting for some sales. We’ll see what makes it home!

What has caught your eye in the stores so far?

Gigi at the Kennedy Center

I saw an article a couple months ago about Gigi the musical being revived on Broadway this spring. I love Gigi the movie and have seen it several times, so I was excited to hear it was coming to the stage. Then I heard that they were planning to preview the production in DC for a couple months before it went to Broadway. Bingo!

Gigi

 

Since my parents are also Gigi fans, it was a perfect excuse to trick them into visiting me. We had a quick but tasty pre-theater dinner at District Commons in Foggy Bottom, then headed to the Kennedy Center for the show!

gigi3
The big name in the production is Vanessa Hudgens who stars as Gigi. I believe this is her big Broadway debut (or at least debut in a leading role on Broadway). Hudgens is of course known for her role in High School Musical and other Disney productions. She does all her promotional shots in that black dress but it’s actually not in the production, it’s her curtain call dress. It’s not really true to the period which explains why it isn’t in the actual show, but I’m not sure why they decided it was a good look for the promos… Besides Hudgens, there are a few Broadway names, but no other headliners.

First of all, I enjoyed the production. Second of all, they made some rather significant song changes that threw me for a loop. In the movie version, Maurice Chevalier plays Honore LaChaille, the narrator and wise older uncle to Gaston Lachaille (the leading man). He sings one of the signature songs: “Thank Heaven for Little Girls.” In this production they gave that song away to Gigi’s Aunt Alicia and Grandmother Mamita, and it lost a lot of the Chevalier charm in the process.

Also, in this production, Gaston is interested in science and technology and spends a lot of time at the “Exhibition.” I’m not quite sure why they made that addition because outside of a little dialogue here or there it doesn’t do much to the plot at all.

Of course every revival is going to have changes, but overall I thought it was a solid production. Hudgens was good, and I think Corey Cott who plays Gaston has potential. His songs always ended really strong but he needs to be a little more consistent throughout. In the movie Gaston is played by a much older Louis Jourdan but it was clear that they wanted to make the Gaston/Gigi relationship a little more plausible for the current audience (apparently a 30 year age gap just isn’t the norm anymore…).  I thought the costumes and sets were great and made several nods to the original movie which was nice.

Though it might have lost some of that “je ne sais quoi” from legends like Leslie Caron, Chevalier, and Jourdan, and I think it’s definitely worth the trip. It’s a great love story and period piece that makes me want to watch the movie again!

Hop on the Jamberry Train

This weekend I am throwing a Jamberry party.  Some of you who are like me and aren’t always up on the latest at-home party services might not be sure what that might entail.  Well it’s an experience you won’t forget.  I attended my first Jamberry party a few weeks ago when I was asked by my friend Allison to attend her launch party.  This means that she was having a party to announce her new endeavor as a Jamberry sales rep.  I fell in love with the product as much as she did (though I won’t become a sales rep anytime soon…I have enough hobbies already).  Let me get right down to it!

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As you can see in the manicure I did yesterday, the index finger and the fourth finger have the Jamberry product.  The Jamberry is a nail applique that lasts about two weeks when applied correctly.  It’s basically a long-lasting nail sticker.  They come in sheets for $15.50 and you can get a whole lot of bang for your buck out of them.  It’s way cheaper than going to the salon.  The application process involves the use of your hair dryer (for heating up the Jamberry in order to form it to your finger) and your basic manicure set.  I like to use the Jamberries as accents but you are welcome to do all your nails at once.  I prefer to mix it up with my own collection of polishes to give it a more eclectic look.  Plus you can get more manicures out of your Jamberry sheet.  Just call me Bargain Betty.  You can check them out and place your order here.  The deadline is Friday at midnight!  Get your Jamberry on!