December 21, 2009

Can't cookies cure headaches and achey knees? Please?

You would think that not having a job would give me plenty of time to stay on top of everything. So not true! I was laid off three weeks ago, and although I'm doing plenty of things in my free time, much to Matt's dismay, working out has not been one of them. Why do I hate working out so much? I recently went to the doctor for a physical and talked to him about my three major ailments: headaches, achey knees, and trouble sleeping/bad dreams/anxiety at night/clenching my teeth. Yes, that's all falls under one complaint. His prescription for all three? Exercise. Sigh. I always feel better after I work out, so why isn't that motivation the next morning when I'm sitting on the couch thinking about how much I do not want to do it again?

Anyway, one thing I have been doing plenty of in my free time is cooking. Tonight we had pork chops marinated in dijon mustard and italian dressing with broccoli and mac and cheese (with a little Louisianna hot sauce added at the end). That's not the recipe I want to post today though. Today was a milestone in the Meitl kitchen. Today I made chocolate chip cookies from scratch. This is not the first time I have made chocolate chip cookies from scratch, but it IS the first time I've made really really good chocolate chip cookies from scratch. The two "ingredients" that allowed this to happen were our friend Mario's recipe (with one minor substitution) and my beautiful kitchen aid mixer. I can't believe I wanted six months into our marriage to bring out the kitchen aid mixer. I thought we'd never have enough counter top space and I thought it would be way too much of a hassle to clean. I was wrong about both. It's a beautiful persimmon color, and I was happy to rearrange the counter space to make room for it. As far as cleaning, it's just a bowl and a beater!

Mario's Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 c butter flavored crisco (I used 3/4 c butter, which I highly recommend, to eliminate trans fats)
1 1/4 c firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips (if pecan pieces are omitted then add 1/2 c more of chocolate chips)
1 cup pecan pieces (optional)

Heat oven to 350. Combine the first four ingredients in a large bowl. Please make sure the butter is room temperature. My wonderful brother taught me that the reason my cookies used to stay in balls instead of spreading out was because my butter was not at room temperature. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until creamy (or do what Mario does and hand stir them with love). Beat in the egg. Add the flour, salt, and baking soda and mix until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls (or just big soup spoonfuls) 3 inches apart on a baking sheet. (My preference is to use reynolds release wrap, it's amazing). Bake at 350 for 8-13 minutes depending on desired chewiness or crispiness. Matt and I checked them after 8 and decided to give them 2 more minutes. 10 minutes ended up being perfect for us except for two of the cookies that were a little larger than the rest and didn't quite cook enough for our liking. Note: They will look a little puffy and not quite done after 10 minutes but they sink down and crisp up a tad as they cool. Let them cool for a few minutes before moving them to a cooling rack or plate.

I can't tell you how excited I am that I successfully made pretty (and yummy!) chocolate chip cookies. Sitting on the couch breaking a warm cooking in half while the chocolate chips are still a little melty makes being jobless feel like a minor detail.

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