Monthly Archives: November 2012

SO MANY pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

Recipe courtesy of George Duran: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/george-duran/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe/index.html

I made these last year with Colin but we forgot to blog them, even though we took pictures! So I figured I would put them up this year as I bake them in the morning on Thanksgiving Eve (if that’ s a thing.) I did change the recipe just a little, so go ahead and read below if you want my slightly altered version.

Also, a word of warning YOU CANNOT BELIEVE HOW MANY COOKIES THIS MAKES. If you would like a reasonable number, halve this recipe. (In fact, the recipe says 60 but I think mine made slightly less because the cookies were of dissimilar sizes.)

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 oz. canned pumpkin puree
3 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
11.5 oz bag milk chocolate chips, not semisweet

Recipe:

1. Preheat oven t0 350 degrees. Beat the softened butter.

2. Slowly add the white and brown sugar and combine with the butter until smooth.

3. Add the eggs one at a time and mix in.

4. Mix in the vanilla.

5. Add in your pumpkin (fresh or canned.)

6. Prepare the flour and spice mixture. (Flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg)
If you have a bowl, go ahead and use that. I have one large mixing bowl so I had to get creative.

7. Combine the flour mixture in, 1/3 at a time. Stir well. This gets really thick and hard to stir so take breaks or share the effort if you can.

 

8. Add the chocolate chips and stir to combine.

9. Scoop spoonfuls of the mixture onto a greased or wax-papered cookie sheet.

10. Bake for ~15 minutes or until cookies are slightly browned around the edges and are not a big pain to get off the cookie sheet with a spatula.

Keep in mind they will expand, so make them smaller and farther apart than I did!

This recipe makes a bunch of cookies, so be sure to share!

Post by: Melissa
Photos by: Melissa

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Orlando Adventure days 3&4: Disney World, a diner, and the rest

We woke up early(ish) Sunday morning to get ready for Disney World. I’ve been to Disneyland, but never Disney World and I was pretty excited. I felt lucky to live in a place at least semi-close to such a popular tourist destination, if not in the actual BIG CITY. We stopped to get ready in the morning by picking up some Subway sandwiches, snacks and smart water from Target, and we were on our way!

Disney cast spotting (Johnny Depp impersonator/Jack Sparrow, making some great faces):

And of course, Aladdin and Jasmine (making great faces as well):

I had also not been on the It’s A Small World ride. What I learned from the ride:

Goats are all around the world.

Owls are universally adorable.

And lastly, I’ll close the Disney World section with the iconic castle:

The next morning, we started out with breakfast at 5 & Diner. I had the breakfast sandwich on an English muffin and HOME FRIES. SO good. I have been absolutely in love with home fries since having them at a continental breakfast in a hotel on my road trip. These were even better, of course.

We went out to walk around Orlando again after breakfast, and ended up eating at a Latin place downtown where a lot of business people tend to eat lunch, called Latin Square Cuisine. I had the pulled pork plate with a side of yellow rice and red beans. I wanted to try the potatoes as my side, but they had run out! It was a very popular place.

The pork was really tender and garlicky, and you can tell you get SO MUCH of your side choices. They were good too but there was no way I was going to finish all that. It’s a very good value and a quick place to stop for lunch.

Lastly, we stopped at Whole Foods before heading back to the house (and me having to make the long drive home) and I picked up some more macarons. I don’t have a Whole Foods in my area, and I was excited to try them. Normally I wouldn’t buy so many, but they were pre-packaged and so worth it.

The rosy-colored one is raspberry and pretty much that and the green one (though I can’t place its flavor) are my favorites. If you have a Whole Foods near you and like macarons or just want to give them a try, pick some up. 🙂

This concludes my Orlando mini-vacation recap. Hope you enjoyed. Did you go anywhere over the 3 day weekend? I was glad I could get out of town for a while.

Photos by: Melissa
Post by: Melissa


Orlando Adventure Day 2: Shopping, Thai food, & going out

On Saturday, we headed to an outlet mall for some shopping and picked up a few things, then to the Florida Mall which I can say is the best mall I’ve ever been to despite the fact that there were SO many people. But it was Veteran’s Day weekend and I guess I can understand that. My favorite store we went to was H&M (Id been missing that.) In between the shopping trips we stopped at Sea Thai for lunch. The SEA in SEA Thai stands for South East Asia, in case you were wondering.

This was such a cute little restaurant, and looked really nice inside as well. You can get a glimpse of the restaurant here:

And here’s a look at the menu:

We both ordered the Thai iced tea, and it was so good! Very sweet.

I also ordered an appetizer: spring rolls! I always love these. It came with 3 spring rolls, but I was so excited I couldn’t help myself and forgot to take a picture first. 😦
Note the cute little shot glass full of a sweet dipping sauce.

I went for the Thai fried rice with chicken (naturally…)

My friend got the beef pad Thai.

The food was very good, and my only complaint was that we weren’t asked how spicy we wanted our dishes, so it ended up being a little too mild. I tried to fix this with hot sauce. My friend would have liked more noodles with her pad Thai, (as it was a little low on the noodle: beef ratio) but overall it was a great, affordable lunch.

After lunch, we headed downtown to walk around. We stopped by Lake Eola and it was such a nice, large lake and park for downtown.

We also had to visit the library, because of course I’m trying to be a librarian and it’s the largest public library in Florida!

There were some interesting displays in glass cases, here is my favorite (probably because of the white rabbit):

We also stopped into the library’s bookstore, where I found a book by one of my favorite authors for only $1. As a bonus, I haven’t read this one yet:

For dinner, we had some leftovers and food at home, before going out for drinks downtown. There was a $5 cover for an area with multiple bars and we started our night at the Other Bar with a late night stop at Jimmy John’s (where I had never been, though now I’ve tasted their bread.) One of the bars we stopped into offered a large variety of craft beers, and I took a very dark picture of the wall menu:

You can so almost read that, right? Thought so. Here’s a blurry beer to cheer you up and put into perspective how dark it was:

Overall a very nice day with some great shopping finds and a fun Saturday night out. Next, Day 3:Disney World!

Post by: Melissa
Photos by: Melissa


Orlando Adventure Day One: 4 Rivers and French macarons

I went to Orlando over Veteran’s Day weekend to visit a friend and we went out to eat a couple of times and to Disneyworld, among other things. I’ll tell you about a couple of them below. 🙂

I think I’ll split these posts up  a bit to keep it to a readable level.

On Friday, after I arrived, we went to 4 Rivers Smokehouse and had some delicious piles of meat, accompanied by bread.

I opted for the Brisket Sandwich and my two sides, BBQ beans and bread pudding.

We also took a look at the Sweet Shop in the back of 4 Rivers, and it turns out that they carry a dorito and mountain dew cupcake, but none of us wanted to try it that badly. That’s the green/orange one on the top tier below, surrounded by much more normal options.

That night we also headed to the Wine Bar, which was a fun experience and reaffirmed in my mind that my favorite type of wine is an Italian Moscato. Hope I got that right. I didn’t try any red wines, because that’s not generally what I like.

That night we also walked around Park Avenue (where the wine bar was located) and stopped at Le Macaron.

I picked out 2 delicious macarons (which I didn’t end up eating till Saturday night, but they were still very good.)

 

After that, we went out to visit Universal CityWalk (not sure about the spacing there) and to Dave & Buster’s. It was my first time there and it was really fun! I won a bunch of tickets on the Wheel of Fortune game (which I thought I didn’t get to keep unless I solved the puzzle but I GOT THEM ALL ANYWAY.)

We also spotted this Doodle Jump game, which I was happy to see because I love playing it on my phone. We ended up leaving with a pint glass and a stick of candy each.

Next, I’ll post everything about day 2 (and may combine day 3, depends on how many pictures I decide to keep in there.)  🙂

Post by: Melissa
Photos by: Melissa


Saving money: Why you should sign up for store emails/coupons/etc.

I thought I would give Earth Fare, a (semi) local health food store a chance again today. I normally shop at the chain, Publix, and Earth Fare has a good philosophy of only stocking more natural foods that do not contain high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, etc. I was pleased to see that they emailed me this coupon:

While this might not actually be the most “Italian” of meals I was really excited and headed there around 4 pm. I found everything and thought I would share this with you, in case your local health food stores offer email coupons. They can be a great way to save money. Dinner for $5 is always a deal in my book.

Another feature Earth Fare offers is a list of printable coupons from their website. You simply select the coupons you’re interested in by clicking on them and then hit “print coupons.” They had some pretty good deals as well, just nothing I was interested in purchasing at this time. As for me, I plan on making a salad and having that spaghetti with some meatballs. Be sure to check out your own local health food stores and good luck!   🙂

Post by: Melissa
Photo courtesy of: Earth Fare