Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

opt-valentines-day-candy-hWant to make some decadent cookies for Valentine’s Day? Then, these chewy, rich cookies are for you.

These cookies are amazing! They are for people who like chocolate and are definitely the best cookies that I have ever made. 

I made a practice batch Sunday, and my friends and neighbor who ate them, all loved them. They make a perfect, homemade Valentine’s Day present. 

Triple Chocolate Cookies

2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant coffee or expresso powder
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 and 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips 

1. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

2. Melt the chocolate in the microwave. Begin with 1 minute of cooking time at 50% power. Stir after the minute. Continue cooking for one minute at a time and stirring until the chocolate is smooth. 

3. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla lightly with a fork. Sprinkle the coffee powder to dissolve and set aside.

4. With a hand mixer at medium speed, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, about 5 seconds. Beat in sugars until combined, about 45 seconds. The mixture will look granular. Reduce the speed to low and gradually beat in the egg mixture until incorporated, about 45 seconds. Then add the chocolate and beat until just combined, about 45 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. With the mixer at slow speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Don’t over mix. Add 12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips and stir until incorporated. 

5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until the consistency is scoopable and fudge-like, about 20 to 30 minutes. 

6. Adjust the racks to the upper- and lower- middle positions. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Scoop dough onto the baking sheets with an ice cream or cookie scoop. Place the cookies about 1 and 1/2 inches apart. 

7. Bake until the edges of the cookies have just begun to set and the centers are still very soft, about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies for 10 minutes on the sheets, slide the parchment paper onto the wire racks, and cool to room temperature. Cover cooled cookie sheets with parchment paper and repeat the baking process. 

The recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated The New Best Recipe cookbook – an awesome cookbook!

[Photo credit: Candy]

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A few weeks ago, the munchkin and I went to the Franklin ParConservatory on a cold Sunday morning. It’s been difficult keeping her entertained inside this winter, and we hadn’t been there since the summer.

The Conservatory has a great exhibit right now called Bending Nature that she loved. Part of the exhibit is an interactive area for children. There are about six different activities for children, and the munchkin enjoyed all of them. Her favorite activity was recreating Dennis Oppenheim’s large sculptures. We spent about two hours there, and she had a blast. 

The exhibit will be at the Conservatory until March 29, 2009. For more information about the Conservatory, check out this post.

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It’s winter and we are stuck inside going crazy! Usually, I love winter. Cold weather never bothers me. I will take the dog for a walk in any weather. However this winter, is different because it is my first winter with a toddler.

Last year, she was content to be inside and so was I. This year is a whole different story. The munchkin is now two years old and nothing holds her attention for more than three minutes.

I’ve been trying to find activities to occupy her and keep her happy. Last week, we went to two story times, Kidapalooza at Vets with friends (which was too crowded to be much fun), the Franklin Park Conservatory (which was a lot of fun), played with Thomas the Train at Barnes and Noble, and had dinner at our friend’s house.  Anything to get out of the house and not freeze. Then when it was 45 degrees last Friday, we got all bundled up and went on a long walk to see the ducks. 

Inside, we’ve finger painted, colored with markers and crayons, played with play-dough, danced to Dave Matthews Band and Bob Marley, and read every book in our house and a bunch from the library. 

Now, I’m out of ideas. Luckily, my sister just sent me a DVD of kids yoga that we will be trying out shortly. I hope she loves it. Warm weather, where are you?

[Photo credit: Branches]

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hipizzamanWith all this snow and the frigid temperatures, the munchkin and I had to get out of the house today.

I just happened to be looking at the North Market’s website this morning to see if they had anything going on this weekend and found out that they are having story time every Thursday for the month of January. 

The story time program is run by a librarian from the Columbus Public Library. 

The munchkin and I went today and had a great time. We read a few books and sang a few songs. She loved it and has been talking about it all day now. The librarian was great, and she had chosen some fantastic books to read.

The next story time is January 22 at 10:30 a.m. in the Dispatch Kitchen on the 2nd floor.

And then after story time, we got Jeni’s Ice Cream. It’s OK to eat ice at 11:00 in the morning, right?

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This year I told myself, no resolutions. But then I saw this post on Motherlode Blog on the New York Times, and thought it is a great idea. I’m always trying to be the best parent I can be and Parents.com has a list of 50 Easy Way to Be a Fantastic Parent. Here are a few of my favorite ways:

Remember that discipline is not punishment. Enforcing limits is really about teaching kids how to behave in the world and helping them to become competent, caring, and in control.

Read books together every day. Get started when he’s a newborn; babies love listening to the sound of their parents’ voices. Cuddling up with your child and a book is a great bonding experience that will set him up for a lifetime of reading.

Make warm memories. Your children will probably not remember anything that you say to them, but they will recall the family rituals — like bedtimes and game night — that you do together.

Be the role model your children deserve. Kids learn by watching their parents. Modeling appropriate, respectful, good behavior works much better than telling them what to do.

Live a little greener. Show your kids how easy it is to care for the environment. Waste less, recycle, reuse, and conserve each day. Spend an afternoon picking up trash around the neighborhood.

Always tell the truth. It’s how you want your child to behave, right?

Kiss and hug your spouse in front of the kids. Your marriage is the only example your child has of what an intimate relationship looks, feels, and sounds like. So it’s your job to set a great standard.

Don’t accept disrespect from your child. Never allow her to be rude or say hurtful things to you or anyone else. If she does, tell her firmly that you will not tolerate any form of disrespect.

Serve a food again and again. If your child rejects a new dish, don’t give up hope. You may have to offer it another six, eight, or even 10 times before he eats it and decides he likes it.

Avoid food fights. A healthy child instinctively knows how much to eat. If he refuses to finish whatever food is on his plate, just let it go. He won’t starve.

Say “I love you” whenever you feel it, even if it’s 743 times a day.You simply can not spoil a child with too many mushy words of affection and too many smooches. Not possible.

Keep in mind what grandmoms always say. Children are not yours, they are only lent to you for a time. In those fleeting years, do your best to help them grow up to be good people.

And my favorite:

Savor the moments. Yes, parenthood is the most exhausting job on the planet. Yes, your house is a mess, the laundry’s piled up, and the dog needs to be walked. But your kid just laughed. Enjoy it now — it will be over far too fast.

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Ring out the old, ring in the new, 
Ring, happy bells, across the snow: 
The year is going, let him go; 
Ring out the false, ring in the true

    —from “In Memoriam” by Lord Alfred Tennyson

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[Photo Credit: Cartoon]

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