Classic Toll House Cookies

WP_20150115_004We (meaning me) baked cookies for the kid’s class right before her birthday. Her birthday landed on a holiday (MLK) so I had her bring in treats on Friday. So the schedule was, Tuesday: shop for ingredients. Wednesday: make the dough. Thursday: bake the cookies. Friday: bring the cookies. Thursday, Friday, Saturday: eat the cookies.

I asked her what kind to make and she said chocolate chip. So at the store I picked up a package of Nestle Toll House semi-sweet chocolate morsels (is there any other kind? Actually there is. There is milk-chocolate morsels, which the kid picked up instead of the SS and which I immediately took from her, put back and picked up the RIGHT ones, because there can be ONLY ONE. And that one is SEMI-SWEET. Got it?)

I checked the back of the package for the recipe. Made sure we had all the ingredients and picked up the ones we didn’t have (brown sugar), and the next day we made them, exactly as the recipe called for. No crazy substitutions this time.

There is tradition. And then there’s Toll House Cookies.

When the kid took a bite her reaction was. “MMM … they’re kind of salty.”

Yes, kid, yes they are. My favorite part of these cookies is that salty sweet aftertaste. No other cookie delivers that taste. It tastes like childhood. The good kind of childhood.

Let it go

The kindergartener went to a “Frozen” party earlier this month. A special guest showed up. Yep, Queen Elsa herself. And did you know Queen Elsa, in addition to being a Queen with ice powers, can do magic tricks, make balloon animals AND excels at face painting? So many talents.

Queen Elsa

Queen Elsa

I loved the spread that our neighbors put out for the Frozen theme. Anna and Hans’ Sandwiches (if you haven’t memorized the soundtrack then it will mean nothing to you). Kristoph’s ice cubes (blue jello); Olaf’s nose (carrots in ranch dressing); Olaf’s arms (pretzel sticks). Impressive, no?

Frozen Dinner

Frozen Dinner, so to speak

On the bottom, those are marshmallows dipped in blue sugar. Because, you know, when I think about marshmallows, what I really want is for that soft pillow of sugar to be dipped in … more sugar!

I definitely tried one of the marshmallows, of course. I definitely had more than one…

Chocolate summer

I melted about 3/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and here’s what happened…

It all started because we had a few very ripe bananas waiting around for us. This is rare occurence in the chattycha household as the family tends to eat all the bananas before they get super-duper ripe. Lately the husband has been buying more bananas, and maybe it was the heat that was ripening them quicker. Anyway. We had this one large banana that was on the verge of mad ripeness when I saved it for a Frozen Banana Pop recipe I read in a PCC Newsletter.

Super easy. I combined the chips with about a teaspoon of coconut oil in a makeshift double-boiler. Under low but boiling watter/heat, I stirred the chocolate until completely melted. Then we spooned the melted chocolate onto two Banana Pops (peeled the banana, cut it in half, used our reusable frozen popsicle holders and carefully stuck them through the banana). On the kiddos not pictured, we sprinkled some starry sprinkled on the chocolate. On mine I used up some leftover coconut and almond slices. Laid them on wax paper on a tray and left in the freezer until the next day. A deliciously refreshing result.


The thing is, we still had quite a bit of melted chocolate to go after making 2 banana pops (we only had one ripe banana, so making more banana pops was not an option). Thanks to some quick thinking, I did these other two treats:

1) Chocolate Almond Butter Cups. Lined a few mini-muffin tins with mini-muffin paper cups. Poured enough chocolate on the bottom of hte cups to line them. Took a teaspoon or less of almond butter and added into each cup. Covered the tops as best as I could with more chocolate. Refrdigerate for at least 30 minutes. I probably made about six of these.


2) The messiest s’more. The best-iest s’more. This one needs very little explanation. Marshmallows get roasted using the broiler. Graham crackers get drenched in melted chocolate. Everything gets smooshed together. Chattycha gets excited because after running around with a pan of melted chocolate for 15 minutes like a madwoman, she can finally sit down and have sweet treat.


A really messy s’more

I need to make a point of keeping chocolate chips in the house!

Sweet treats from ‘The Paleo Kitchen’

I’ve mentioned before I enjoy the food blog PaleOMG. Juli, the blogger, is young, down-to-earth, often hilarious and sometimes a bit neurotic. She seems to pretty much have her s*it together at the ripe old age of 26, having been through the types of food issues that so many women have, and being willing to share her story. It took me most of my life to realize this in myself, and I’m still struggling. Also, her recipes are good, with her Almost-5-Ingredient-Pizza-Pie being among my favorites.

Anyway, she co-wrote a cookbook, The Paleo Kitchen, with fellow blogger Civilized Caveman, who I’ve read, but I enjoy less.

So, they have this cookbook. AND they were coming to Seattle in support of said cookbook. To not just any bookstore, but the independent bookstore that’s a couple miles from our house, Ravenna Third Place Books. The one the kid and I have been frequenting on a regular basis this year. So, I really felt like I should be there. Not only did I decide to go, but I was going to BUY the book AT the bookstore, and not on Amazon like I normally would. You see, I had recently finished this book about Amazon (borrowed form the library, but read on my beloved Kindle), and it kind of turned me off on supporting Amazon. So in solidarity to my indie bookstore (I bought the last couple of Harry Potters there, even showed up at midnight to pick my copy up), I bought The Paleo Kitchen there, for full price. That plus some books for the kid and a Theo chocolate bar (it’s hard to find that Chai Tea flavor. Third Place is one of the few places that carry it, so I can’t help but buy a bar when I’m there, you know, for just in case.) and I was out 50 bucks. Gulp. Supporting the indies, I kept muttering to myself.

Anyway, I showed up, got great parking, bought the book, took the kid to dinner in the back at Vios (there is a restaurant, IN the bookstore. They serve Greek-inspired food. And espresso. And gelato. This place is my dream. Oh, and there is a pub downstairs, but that’s another story of another time). By the time we were done with dinner the front of the store was packed for the author presentation. I ended up hanging with the kiddo in the kids section, and just listening to them speak. It was kind of cool, because readers often feel like they know a blogger personally, especially one like Juli, who seems to share a lot more than just food tips and recipes. That was kind of neato. Not neato? The lame questions that were asked.

What I loved that George said was about substitutions. It irritates me when, right after Juli or George have posted a recipe, the comments start popping up … “I love this recipe for Slivered Almond-Almond Flour cookies, but I’m allergic to Almonds. Do you have a substitution idea?” Here’s an idea, if you’re allergic, then find another recipe! Anyway, George basically said, if we say to use coconut flour, it’s because it’s the best ingredient for the recipe. If you tell me you made the recipe but swapped in one thing for another and it didn’t work out, it’s because you didn’t make the recipe. It’s like, yes, they MUST get annoyed with all those questions, and his statement there kind of made me thing. YES! So annoying.

People kept asking a variation of “What’s your dream food, your favorite cheat, etc etc” Poor authors sort of kept saying the same thing over and over … I kind of wanted to tell the crowd of chicks (it was, like 95% women. just a sprinkling of males in the crowd) … IT’S A LIFESTYLE. They don’t miss that stuff because they’ve made a lifestyle decision.

Well, anyway. I can yell all I want, but I’m just like those girls, I suppose. Deciding to chow down on one last doughnut before starting another bout of clean eating (tomorrow, I swear!) I’m heading into dangerous territory where my poor eating habits are beginning to affect my workouts, and my overall well-being. But I love those darn sweets. Did you not read that sentence where I bought a chocolate bar at a bookstore? Don’t judge, okay. And just because it’s paleo doesn’t mean it’s not high-calorie. It’s just a different kind of calorie.

So. Clean eating starts tomorrow. Which means less paleo-izing to satisfy a sweet tooth.

So I best be testing out these recipes today, right! Here are a few pics of the first two recipes I tried from this cookbook. They are both dessert/sweets (see paragraph above). It’s been a little warm, and I’ve been a lot lazy, but the pulled pork is next on my list to try. Until then, have a look-see:

Cinnamon Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread from The Paleo Kitchen

Cinnamon Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread. I didn’t swirl the topping enough. but it was yummy regardless. This is one of those few instances where I’m not going to say something about being disappointed with the paleo-version of a dish. This one, was pretty close to the real thing.. Not too eggy, as paleo breads can be. The banana bread was probably the best paleo bread I’ve made … could have been sweeter but I ran out of bananas.

No-Bake Tropical Escape Cookies

No-Bake Tropical Escape Cookies. These were tasty, though I wouldn’t trade them for an actual tropical escape. They tended to crumble a bit, though. Had to eat a two-bite treat in one big bite to avoid having them fall apart. I ate a lot of these.

No Bake Tropical Escape Cookies.

This was the first recipe I tried, and it was super easy, especially when entertaining a little sous chef.

All in all, it’s a good cookbook. I wished each recipe had some additional perspective on what they were thinking/inspired by to create the recipe. It was pretty straight forward in the recipe portion, with bios/paleo info in the beginning. An enjoyable read, and the photos are impressive.

Though I might have been happier had I saved some money buying it on Amazon (No! That’s wrong, keep your moral high ground, aaaaaaaaahhh!)

Strawberry Picking – First Pick Best Pick

Seems summer has decided to show up in Seattle a little bit earlier than usual this year, and I am not complaining. It’s been lovely to see the longer days and to actually have the weather to complement (Suck it, June-uary). Might not last for long, but I am taking full advantage.

And so is Biringer Farms, who opened its doors to U-Pick season for strawberries on Saturday. We showed up bright and early Sunday to indulge. Can’t go wrong with being among the first to pick the first of the crop.

003 006 012We ate more strawberries than we should have today, but so worth it. Bought some shortcakes at the farm (they know how to get your $$, just keep these by the cashier), and with some homemade whipped cream, had a final decadent dessert, to end a very enjoyable weekend of grains. Lots and lots of grains.

Here was our fun dessert, Instagram style:

Life is good.

Paleo Almond Joy-Stack (personal size)

Stressful times call for stress eating, made more difficult by this no-grains, no-sugar thing. I want cake, I say. Just walk to the store, Husband says. Cake?? says kiddo. No, I say. No grains.
So, I compromised. Docked myself a point for sugar, and made a single microwaveable paleo brownie (since we don’t have a microwave, we baked at 350 for 20 minutes. Not exactly instant gratification but it did hit the spot).

For my next trick, I took ingredients on hand and created this exciting concoction. More like a little candy, like an almond joy, but sort of shaped like a haystack. Thus, the moniker Joy-Stack.

Now, since we made single serving brownies, it made sense to make a small batch of these as well. Plus, as mentioned earlier, I used what I had, and only had a limited amount of coconut. These remind me of the ones I made a while ago that are in the cover photo above, but more candy-like.

It goes something like this …

1-2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp raw honey
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp almond butter

Melt the oil over low heat, stir in honey. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. Using a teaspoon, scoop out a little ball, place it in a mini cupcake wrapper. Have some liquid chocolatey goodness leftover? No problem. Carefully add the extra goodness into the cups. Stick them in the frige for at least 30 minutes.
This mini batch made about six candies. Enough to enjoy and share!

Sometimes, I feel like a nut.

Meet my new bestie, Chia Seeds

I’m going to put 2 points on the board for you, here in the first 12 seconds of this blog post:

In a blender, … 1/2 banana + 1/2 cup lite coconut milk + splash of vanilla extract = heaven in a glass.

Also known as one tasty banana shake. Growing up, I was in Brownies (remember Brownies? The pre-k for Girl Scouts). I don’t remember much, but I do recall we made banana shakes one day. The recipe was something like, 1 c milk, 1 banana, 1 tsp vanilla, 3 – 4 ice cubes and like 1 CUP of sugar. Okay, it probably wasn’t a cup, but why do i remember it like it was a cup? Maybe because I was in second grade at the time. At any rate, it was a shake recipe that I still remember to this day, and made on may occasions. This heaven in a glass took me right back.

Okay, back to the topic at hand. The first time I remember trying chia seeds was when I was on a business trip in New York. My hotel was a couple of blocks from a raw juice bar (a bar that was, like next door to Dunkin Donuts). At the time I was trying to stay grain-free as much as possible, and dashed in there to see what it had to offer. In their to-go cold shelf was some chia pudding. Yes, it was delish. Later that trip I was in Whole Foods and picked up a chia-seeded yogurt. They were both after-dinner treats that hit the spot for me. (For the record, that NY business trip did not stay grain-free, as i very well recall visiting both that Dunkin Donuts AND the Bouchon Bakery at Columbus Circle, where that Whole Foods is also located). I just looked up that juice bar for you. It was Juice Generation. I know you were dying to know. And yes I remembered correctly, there is a DD right near it, too. I can’t forget the DDs.

So where was I. Ah, yes! Chia Seeds. Now, on your own search “benefits of chia seeds” to read all about why everyone is goo-goo-ga-ga about these little things.. Here is the 3-second replay: “Maximum nutrients for minimum calories” (I got that from Dr. Oz). Plus, when mixed with liquid they acquire this very cool gel, so it acts like a thickener. Which presumably is why in Paleo and Whole 30 worlds you’ll see chia seeds in recipes for puddings and stuff.

To be clear, according to the Whole30 masters, chia seeds are not encouraged, but not banned. That might be the case in some Paleo-circles as well. I’m going to take a wild guess that you are going to be better off with a Banana-Chia Seed pudding than an artificially flavored Strawberry Pudding from a box. Just thinkin’ out loud here.

Speaking of Strawberry Pudding … here’s the next score, a surprise kick return for a touchdown to start the second half.

Strawberry-Coconut Chia Seed Pudding aka Strawberries on a Cloud. Oh yes, I went there.

  • 4 – 6 medium sized strawberries
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp Chia seeds

Put it all in the blender and blend till smooth. Pour into a jar or container of some sort. Use a spatula to get all the goodness in there. Chill overnight or at least 4 hours. I did a check at hour 3 and my eyes were like “WHA THIS IS AMAZING”. The next morning, my second taste test and still yum. I took a scoop and laid it on top of the last of my Apple-Raisin-Concoction, brought it to work and still yum. Winner.

Stawberry-Coconut-Chia Seed Pudding

Stawberry-Coconut-Chia Seed Pudding

Final score, a pick-six because your team is THAT good: This Banana-Coconut Chia Seed Pudding is adapted from this recipe.

  • 1/2 banana
  • 3/4 cup lite coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds
  • splash of vanilla (optional … is this Whole30 approved? I keep meaning to check)
  1. Blend.
  2. Pour
  3. Chill. Sometime in the middle of the fridging, take it out and stir it up, making sure that the seeds aren’t clumping up.

My other recommendation is to enjoy within 24 hours (so chill overnight, then enjoy). Otherwise the bananas take on that “I’m a banana that’s been in the fridge for a couple of days” taste. You know the taste I’m talking about? When I researched different pudding recipes, it was during my quest for a sweet Whole30 treat. Many of the recipes I found included honey or maple syrup, so I was trying to find a fruit or ingredient sweet enough that it didn’t require a sweetener. Bananas are perfect for that, however for best taste it needs to be enjoyed somewhat quickly.

Initial thumbs up from the kiddo. But when I asked the next day if she wanted some she declined. Must have known about the banana-a-day-later taste.

Ultimately it’s not artificially flavored pudding consistency for me. More like a porridge. Which, for me, is a nice alternative on those mornings where I’d like a bowl of something. If I plan properly, I could wake up in the morning and have just that. A sweet bowl of pudding-porridge.

One note about playing with your ch-ch-ch-chia pet – I mean seeds. When washing up, man those seeds get everywhere. And because thay have that cool gelling action, when they stick to everything. Sponges. Blenders. Sinks. Just letting you know ahead of time.

Don’t be daunted by the price. They’re expensive. At Metropolitan Market it’s something like $16 a bag. At PCC they had them on sale, and on top of that I was there on member discount day so together I think I was able to save $5. But, do the math. How many tablespoons are in this big bag? How often do you by a pound of medjool dates for a recipe? Price it out per recipe and I think you’ll see it’s not much different (perhaps even more cost-effective) than buying a can of coconut milk or that other special ingredient.

Additional research and inspiration (yet to be tested):


Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day

A post in 3 parts …

Hope everyone had a great holiday! This year we spent it home in Seattle. On Christmas Eve day the kid and I found ourselves still shopping. Sheesh. Once that was over there was still so much to do. I made baked eggs for lunch, leftover ham & swiss cheese to flavor. It was good and bad. No worries, just an experiment.

Next it was the dough for our cookies for Santa. In our tour of local store shopping, we purchased a couple of CHristmas books at Ravenna Third Place Books, including Gingerbread Pirates.The child was pretty insistent that we leave Santa some of our own gingerbread pirates overnight. “Make it so!” I said (not really), but indeed we did. I used Eileen’s Spice Gingerbread Men recipe from, to a tee (well, replacing the margarine with butter) and they came out really nice.

As the dough chilled, onto the next project, Christmas Eve wontons. Is this a tradition? Not really, but it could be. I wanted to do something for dinner, didn’t want to do the SC. Wanted Chinese food, but didn’t want to order takeout. Wontons is the one recipe I know from scratch, so that was that. Once the wontons were made, we rolled out the gingerbread dough and cutout some cookies. Our skull-and-crossbones cutter acted as the hat to our Gingerbread boy cutout, and voila! A gingerbread pirate. We also had a few candy canes (aka the Christmas J), snowmen, stars and elves.

Cookies cooling, back to wontons! Wow, busy day in the kitchen. I still haven’t figured out the skin – filling ratio, so we had quite a bit of filling left. (Filling: gound pork, turkey and some chopped spinach with a little ginger root and soy sauce). Solution? Some pork/turkey meatballs to add to the protein of this dish.

Kid was the “skin hander-over” (didn’t want to her touching raw meat). An excellent helper, and she tends to eat the stuff she helps with. Sometimes. Maybe I was just lucky as she devoured these. Yay! Maybe just some pre-Christmas excitement.

WP_20131224_001 (1)Dinner complete, we were ready to frost our gingerbread cookies. Rather than making frosting from scratch, this year I let Duncan Hines help me out. Thanks, Duncan!

WP_20131224_004 (1)Arrr! This was the plate we left out for Santa. Lily added a carrot for the reindeer, a small glass of milk and a letter so that it was clear to Santa that he was welcome to these delicious cookies.

Phew! Santa enjoyed the cookies quite a bit. He might have thrown a few away because they were a bit heavy on the frosting, and he’s really not into artificial frosting flavor. Maybe that happened.

Christmas morning! Was a blast. Husband got me a sweet new DSLR. I’ll have to show off its talent in another post, as yesterday’s photos were just for fun, like this one, kiddo singing with her new Singalong Microphone:


Kiddo couldn’t wait to head to her grandparent’s house (translation: more presents!). On the dinner menu: Prime Rib (yum!), Yorkshire Pudding (YUM!), green beans (still delicious) and marionberry pie with french vanilla ice cream (tasty!). Not a great pic, but the lighting conditions were not ideal. This photographer is still learning how to use her camera, too.


A long last few days with a lot of food in the house. For some reason, this morning, I couldn’t help myself, and decided to test out a pumpkin pancake recipe (see this post for my previous history with the pumpkin pancake). This time I used Chef John’s recipe on AR (I used his banana bread recipe earlier. I found it ok, though I probably shouldn’t have tweaked it). One word: Success. Woot! Kiddo ate many of them. Maybe too many of them. I was pleased with the results, too.



Next up, some more baking! It never ends. Well, it will end at the end of the year. Then I’ll be off bread & grains again. For a while. After a month of totally unnecessary treats and sweets, all good things much come to an end.

Hope you enjoyed a fun and delicious holiday.

Chattycha 2, Pie crust 0

I’m bringing the pumpkin pie to this year’s Thanksgiving feast. In addition to that, also made little mini sweet potato pies using mini muffin tins. That would be two crusts I made this week. The second was better than the first. My pie crust disaster days seem to be over. Phew!

For the minis, I rolled out the crust and used a biscuit cutter to make the tiny crusts.

I heartily recommend baking two desserts for this holiday. One to share (the big one) and one to enjoy right away (those little cuties). I’m going to keep experimenting with that pumpkin. I have two more big cans in the pantry.

Artificially Flavored Sugar Bombs

Every now and then we get those multi-pack cereal boxes. They generally come with Frosted Flakes, Fruit Loops, Apple Jacks or something. Always Cocoa Krispies, but we never use those. Seeing 8 or so boxes piling up in our kitchen I decided to take action.

For some reason I thought it would be a goo idea to make marshmallow treats with them. Cocoa Krispies Treats. Sounds good, right?

I pulled out my backup bag of marshmallows, melted that butter and shazam, we had some sugary sweetness ready for us.


OMG. What the frack was I thinking The first bite I was like, yum! The second bite I was like, INSTANT SUGAR HEADACHE! My brain is frying! I’m going blind!!!! I then gave half of one to the kiddo. I couldn’t avoid it, really, as she helped make them.
Sugar after bathtime = AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!


I took the rest to work. Put a clear warning note on a post-it note in the 16th floor kitchen counter, where I left them (consumption of this product may cause blindness, fried brain, hyper children). A few hours later, they were gone. Ah! The magic of the workplace kitchen.