I had a wonderful week and an amazing vacation, but for me, when it’s all said and done, there’s no place like home. There’s something so peaceful and relaxing about being back in my own space with my sweet little kitties and all the comforts of home. I know where everything is and can happily retreat to my lovely OCD world with clean wide open counters and uncluttered spaces and surfaces. Everything has a proper place and lo and behold, things are actually in them. Books are on shelves, towels are in the closet, and shoes are lined up neatly by the door. Order is restored, and it feels fabulous. Plus, I missed my sweet and sometimes equally neurotic felines; we make a great team.
I’m sure you don’t want to see pictures of my cats, but I can’t help it; I missed the little buggers. They may have even missed me too; they’re cats after all, so it can be hard to tell, but I think being woken to quiet purring and gentle nuzzling (and it wasn’t the Hubby) is a good indication.
I also missed my kitchen. I know you aren’t supposed to miss material things, but I am vain and therefore thought of my beautiful kitchen often. Plus, it’s personal to me since we gutted and remodeled the entire thing four years ago when we moved into our house. People told us to wait awhile and get settled, but I didn’t listen (shocker), and I couldn’t be happier. My kitchen makes me want to cook all the time and is, hands down, my favorite room in the house. Notice I said room, not piece of furniture (wink, wink).
I did not return from vacation empty-handed; I came back with a new and amazing kitchen accessory: drum roll please…
The French Butter Bell made by the Dutch Hill Pottery Company; go figure. It keeps butter fresh while being stored at room temperature on the counter. Basically, your butter is in a super secret jar, hidden in plain sight (my favorite part) and is always easily spreadable (the Hubby’s favorite part). Gone are the days of hard butter and torn bread. Here to stay is moist soft butter and unicorns, because they are attracted to the smell of moist soft butter (I really just wanted to repeat that phrase because it’s seems dirty, in a good way). Thanks Da and J for my new stealth like butter jar.
I also came home with a new pair of fall/winter boots. Shut the front door! because these bad boys are drool worthy. They are a Michael Kors buy purchased from Marshall’s by one step sister and then gifted to little old me. Thanks Lori; these boots are made for walking and possibly accessorizing with a pair of skinny jeans. I shall name them Rock Steady because I plan to rock them and make you proud. And just like that, I have turned into a fashionista with my own fashion blog or perhaps I’m just easily side tracked and have a strong love for shoes or all kinds, colors, shapes, and sizes. I’m an equal opportunity shoe lover. If it’s hot, I want it on my foot or in my closet (or neatly lined up by the door because that’s where footwear belongs).
After arriving home with our many gifts, the Hubby and I took a quick power nap before heading to the grocery store and stocking up on the necessities; bread, coffee, eggs, fruit, milk, and veggies (contented sigh for alpha order).
Big decisions had to be made, so I opted for peaches this week because I’m having a serious craving, and we still haven’t gotten any in our CSA share. Humph; anytime now please. I did make sure to buy Ohio grown, so I know they’ll be delicious. I also picked up some bananas, blueberries, cherries, and strawberries because I could plow through these peaches in a matter of days (like two). Fruit doesn’t stand a chance against me, and I figure there are worse addictions to have, so I’m indulging this one.
Since returning home, I whipped up a batch of energy bites and hard-boiled a dozen eggs, so we’ll have some delicious and easy snacks for the week. I also finally got around to making another snack (i.e. dessert, but I plan to eat them like snacks): the Chewy Apply Oatmeal Cookies which the Hubby rated as “Fantastic!” I found the recipe on Pinterest courtesy of http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/Chewy-Apple-Oatmeal-Cookies. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve really baked much of anything, but once upon a time, I used to fancy myself quite the baker. I always said cooking was hit or miss, while baking was my real passion. How times have changed. Despite the flip-flop, I still have some useful feathers in my baking hat and I’ll share three of them with you now.. because three is all I have. After that, you’re on your own.
- You want softened butter, not melted. To get softened butter, without the fabulous French Butter Bell, you leave it on the counter for a spell, so it can come to room temperature naturally. Provided you have little patience and maybe failed to plan, you’ll want to put the stick of butter in the microwave, and heat for four seconds per side, sixteen seconds total. You must flip it after each four seconds and do every side. If you ignore my advice and do sixteen straight seconds, your butter will melt and your cookies will be deflated. Just saying.
- You want your eggs to be room temperature too. There’s no quick fix for this one, so plan according. Set them on the counter and leave them there. And if you failed to plan, do other things (mix all the dry ingredients, grease your cookie sheets) while waiting for them to come to room temperature. They will incorporate more easily into the batter, making your cookies lighter.
- When mixing dry ingredients into wet or creamed batter, do so gradually and gently. By gently, I mean add some of the dry ingredients and slowly mix it with a spoon before attacking it full on with the hand mixer. This will allow you to avoid the initial cloud of dust (or flour) from exploding all over your counters and walls.
Those are my tips, onto to the actual cookies. The recipe calls for a lot of butter and sugar meaning it’s not the healthiest of options, but it does include apples and oats, so all hope is not lost. Just remember to eat them in moderation instead of shoving a whole dozen in your mouth, as you might be inclined to do.
They are particularly good with a cup of coffee, so get your supplies and get baking.
Chewy Apple Oatmeal Cookies
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup chopped dried apples
- In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in oats and apples.
- Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 1 minute before removing to wire racks. Yield: 4 dozen.