Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Soft and Chewy

Hey Friends!!

These last few weeks I have been deeply devoted to figuring out the mystery behind the soft and chewy cookies at the bakery! SERIOUSLY...how do they get them to stay that way??? My cookies always turn into something you can use as a potential weapon... :(. So I set out to crack the code...and I am happy to say the journey ended successfully last night...at least for chocolate chip cookies.

The Goods...

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cups chocolate chips

What the Directions Said....

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

What I Changed...

  • Definitely use Cake Flour and NOT all purpose!! And increase the flour by 1 TBS. 
  • Do NOT let the entire cookie turn Golden Brown...this means they will be overcooked. Take them out when the very edges of the cookie begin to turn that Golden Brown...the rest of the cookie continues cooking for a few minutes after being removed from the oven. 
  • Do NOT let the cookies cool on a rack. Let them cool down on the pan until they are safe enough to handle. Then place them in air TIGHT container with a piece of a bread and seal it off!!! 
The cake flour, cooling method, and bread slice seem to have made all the difference! This morning the cookies were a total delight!! Soft, chewy and delicious! Even the edges are amazing...not one weapon to be found in this batch!!

I will be trying this same technique with my Snickerdoodle recipe tonight...updates to follow!

Love to ALL,

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fall Soup Obsession Expirements #2 and #3 . . .

Ok, so I'm still on my fall soups kick . . . just haven't had time to write about them lately.  So, expirement #2 was a Tequila Pork Chili Verde, which sadly, was lackluster at best (hence why I am only including a link to the recipe, and not putting the whole recipe out here for you to review).  Ultimately, the recipe was missing something . . . but my non-Julia-Child cooking talent could not figure out what it was.  The taste was . . . Flat.  Missing something.  *Sigh* and I still ate it for a week because I am NOT one to waste food.  Let's just say, my tastebuds were depressed that week. 

On to greener pastures and better soups . . . Expirement #3!  For this recipe, I tried a Chicken and Sweet Potato Soup (with chili and lime) (recipe below as well).  This is a WONDERFUL alternative to a chicken noodle soup!  It's thick and hearty, but not as heavy as a chili or the afforementioned Carribean Black Bean soup.  The flavor is not nearly as complex as the Black Bean Soup, either; I can see this quickly becoming a "sick day" staple for me, as it's fairly easy to prepare, and a great bone-warming, soul food.  I *LOVE* soul food.

Minor changes I made:
  1. Less Chicken broth, becuase I prefer thicker, stew like soups . . . I only used 5 cups of Chicken broth instead of the recommended 8.  This reduced the overall servings of the recipe to 6 instead of 10 servings. 
  2. No Cilantro because it tastes like soap.  Seriously, it does . . .


  • 2  tablespoons  olive oil
  • 2  tablespoons  unsalted butter
  • 2  medium yellow onions, diced (3 cups)
  • 4  celery ribs, diced (1 cup)
  • 3  garlic cloves, minced
  • 2  jalapeño peppers, roasted, or 2 teaspoons chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1  teaspoon  dried basil
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 2  teaspoons  sea salt
  • 1  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped (about 1 pound or 3 cups)
  • 8  cups  low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3  bay leaves
  • 3  cups  cooked shredded chicken (about 1 pound boneless chicken breasts)
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges


1. Heat oil and butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until butter melts. Add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until tender and almost caramelized. Add celery, and cook, stirring often, 10 more minutes. Add garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds, being careful not to brown garlic.
2. Add peppers and next 4 ingredients, and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, broth, and bay leaves; bring soup to a low boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for about 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in chicken, and cook 2 more minutes. Skim any foam from the top of the soup while cooking, and discard. Remove bay leaves, and discard. Divide soup evenly among individual bowls, and top with cilantro and lime wedges. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dogs and Knitting don't mix . . .

Apparently . . . I get out of hte shower the other day to my current knitting project strewn all over hte floor . . . needles no where to be found . . . *sigh* needless to say, there was no fixing it, and I had to start over . . .

It wouldn't be so disheartening, except for ite whole thing is very slow going :(  stupid dogs!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Obsession with Fall Soups - Experiment #1 Caribbean Black Bean soup!

So, I love fall . . . like LOVE LOVE LOVE fall . . . all things fall actually . . . apple cider and mulled wine . . . autumn vegetables . . . pumpkin pie and s'more bread pudding . . . but right now my new obsession is FALL SOUPS! 

Soups truly are the best meal in the world!  It's a full meal in one single bowl, and it warms you from the inside out!  I recently spent some time searching for good soup recipes to try, and came up with 22 (yes, I know . . . that's a LOT of soup!  Maybe it will be enough to quench my obsession with fall soups!)

So, last week I made my first experiment . . . Caribbean Black Bean Soup . . .


This one is a TOTAL winner.  Thick and hearty like a chili, but TANGY!  It's definitely a soup that will stick to your ribs on a chilly fall afternoon. The only change I made was no avocado or cilantro.  I think that gives this tasty soup too much of a Spanish vibe for me, plus I dislike cilantro.  Also, big fan of the shredded chicken . . . not sure why it's so much better than cubed chicken, but it is . . . just trust me on this one. 


  • 1/2  cup  diced onion
  • 2  tablespoons  brown sugar
  • 1  tablespoon  chili powder
  • 1  tablespoon  ground cumin
  • 1  teaspoon  ground coriander
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 1  teaspoon  minced garlic
  • 1  (14-oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1  (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2  cups  chicken broth
  • 1/2  cup  orange juice
  • 1/4  cup  tomato paste
  • 1  pound  chicken breast tenders
  • 2  (15-oz.) cans black beans, drained
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • Toppings: diced avocado, chopped fresh cilantro


1. Sauté onion and next 4 ingredients in hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes or until onion is tender and fragrant. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute.
2. Stir in tomatoes and next 4 ingredients until well blended. Stir in chicken. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 2 hours. Shred chicken with two forks in Dutch oven. Add black beans, and cook 10 more minutes. Stir in salt. Serve with desired toppings.
Note: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 days, or freeze up to 3 months. Thaw in refrigerator. When reheating, add water or canned broth to reach desired consistency.

Anna Ginsberg, Austin, Texas, Southern Living, SEPTEMBER 2008

"I'm bringing sexy . . . I mean, domestic back . . . "

Hey all, this is Nicky.  Welcome to my first blogpost!

I've always said I was born in the wrong era, and in an time of modern conveniences: hamburger helper, the microwave, and the remote control, Crys and I are bringing domestic back (and doing it in style, if I do say so myself!).

Now, I'll freely admit I can't do this with HALF the style and grace that I'm sure my Memaw had in her younger years.  Who are we kidding?  When I bake, it looks like a flour bomb exploded in my kitchen, and all over me!  The most used tool in my sewing kit is my seam ripper, and on my current knitting project I had to undo and restart it 3 times before I got it going correctly. 

So maybe it's a new era of Sally Homemakers . . . it's the MODERN Sally Homemaker . . . where trial and error rule, where we spend just as much time cleaning up from our domestic exploits as the exploits themselves, where everything is made better with a glass (or bottle) of wine, and we learn to integrate just a handful of some of the modern day conveniences that, despite our love for handmade, scratch, and elbow grease, we just can't seem to live without (like my kitchen aid mixer, for one . . . )

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Beginning...

Four years ago I wouldn't have known a sewing needle from a tooth pick...it's true! Then God brought Nicole into my life and changed everything...people actually MAKE their own clothes...NO WAY!!! How cool, right? Home cooked meals don't come from the microwave oven, or a box??? CRAZY!!! And so it began, my journey to becoming what Nicky likes to call, A Modern Day Sally Homemaker, gotta love her! With everything that I have learned, and everything still left to learn, I wanted to start a blog to document and share my experiences with all of the women...and men out there. Whether you are still making dinner from a box and have a lot to learn, or are a total pro and have made your entire wardrobe, I think there is something here for everyone. Please enjoy!!!

Love to all, Crystal