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While the hot muggy hand of summer has yet to release the sunshine state, I am ready to enthusiastically jump into fall with both feet. Who knows, maybe a little wishful thinking will speed up the season dip of the thermostat. Since sweaters and long sleeves are out of the question, I’ve turned instead to warm toasty baked goods to help us get into an autumnal state of mind. These Brown Butter Oatmeal cookies are the perfect complement to almost any warm or cold fall beverage.
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
2 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
*Flaky Sea Salt for finishing – Optional
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a frying pan, toast chopped pecans over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until they become fragrant. Set aside to cool.
3. In a sauce pan, brown butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it has become golden brown. Remove from heat and transfer to a heat safe bowl to cool for 1 hour.
4. Sift together flour, salt and baking soda and set aside.
5. Using a hand or stand mixer beat together the browned butter and dark brown sugar for 5 minutes. The mixture should be lighter in color and slightly fluffy.
6. One at a time, beat in the eggs and add the vanilla.
7. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir until just combined.
8. Fold in the oats and the chopped pecans.
9. Place the cookie dough into the fridge for 20-25 minutes so it can firm up.
10. Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop mixture on to lined baking sheet leaving 1-1 1/2 inches between each cookie.
11. Bake cookies for 9-12 minutes (depending on size) and sprinkle with sea salt as soon as they are removed from the oven. Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the cookie sheet.
*With my cookie scoop, this recipe made 18 cookies.
Routines evolve over time to accommodate lifestyle and habitat modifications, and the products we use the most change to reflect and accommodate our new needs. 2020 has been a very big year for changing the way we all live our lives, and over the last few months, my daily needs have definitely changed. Here are some of the products that I am using the most these days.
Nano Toothbrush – I am unnecessarily aggressive when I brush my teeth, so much so that my dentist and orthodontist both told me I had to take it down or I was going to cause serious gum damange and end up needing a gum graft down the road. Hard pass, so I did some research and settled on the Nano Toothbrush. The dense super soft bristles get your teeth squeeky clean with the tiniest bit of pressure and some gentle circles. I’ve been using this for a couple months now, and I just bought my three month replacement.
Good Day Chocolate Melatonin Supplement – Originally these were purchased as a bit of a joke. The idea of “night night” candies seem a bit silly and like an excuse to have a piece of chocolate before bed. I was so wrong, and I sincerely apologize for ever doubting these amazing blue candies. Since the pandemic started, I have had such a difficult time falling asleep: I toss and turn unable to shut my mind off; I sometimes almost end up in tears because physically I am exhausted, but I still can’t rest. I’m not saying that this hasn’t happened since I started taking them, but the number of sleepless nights has reduced drastically. A candy before bed is now considered an essential part of my nightly routine.
Rose Gold Classic Crocs – I have been VERY anti-Croc clogs for years. I think they’re clunky, unflattering, and ridiculously overpriced for something that is essentially a giant foam shoe. Then I found myself working from home for months. I had a couple pairs of “house shoes” aka plastic flip flops/slides that were perfectly fine for a couple of hours in the evening, but wearing them all day every day began to cause callouses and blisters on the sides/tops of my feet. I tried switching them up for some of the shoes I used to wear to work or to run errands, but from an ease standpoint it was tedious since none of them could be easily slipped on or off. The last straw came when I was folding laundry and I stepped down wrong and my flip flop literally cut the side of my foot. I was so done with something that was such a stupid problem that I decided to just give in and go with the most extreme comfort based option, the classic Croc. I did make sure to get a pair that was a pretty metallic color and I got them on sale, but they are what they are. Hideous, but insanely comfortable. I am considering buying a pair for Andy.
Garnier Fructis Mint Mojito Dry Shampoo – This product became my go to when I stopped washing my hair a couple of months ago. I find the overly intense scents of a lot of dry shampoos off putting, but this has a light pleasant scent and it certainly gets the job done. Depending on how active I’ve been, I go through a can of this every week and a half to two weeks, but the price is good and the spray function makes it very easy to use. I’m sure I’ll eventually branch out and try other types of dry shampoo, but for now, this is what I keep on hand.
Lime Crime Unicorn Hair Dye in Pony – This was my go to color a couple of years ago when I dyed my hair purple the first time, so when I found myself telecommuting with no need to keep a “normal” hair color, I placed an order immediately. This shade is the perfect bright pinky purple, and the dye gives a ton of color payoff without damaging your hair. My hair is very fine, so I can usually get two uses out of a single jar. Since it looks like my telecommuting won’t be ending anytime soon, I am considering trying another color in this product line, I just have to figure out which one. They’re all gorgeous.
What items are you loving right now?
Covid has definitely put a damper on a lot of my favorite fall activities. Corn mazes, hay rides, and even trips to the orchard are far less appealing when they come with the threat of serious illness. That being said, I refuse to let my favorite season pass by unacknowledged, so I have put together a Fall Bucket List filled with things that can be done from the safety of my own home or at least at a safely socially distanced range.
What’s on your bucket list this year?
With fewer people to share my bakes with these days, I’ve been cutting way back on my baking. However, sometimes you find a recipe too intriguing to not try – like Smoked Tahini Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I quickly contacted some friends to see if they would be game for a cookie drop off, and once I had the affirmative, I jumped right into baking.
This recipe was met with positive reviews all around. They were all gone after the first day and I even received a couple of texts letting me know that they’d be interested in having more cookies if I felt like making a second batch. Overall it was a pretty easy recipe, and I will definitely be tucking this one away for future use – maybe for something like holiday cookie boxes?
150 g unsalted butter, cubed
250 g light brown sugar
80 g granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla bean extract
1/8 teaspoon hickory liquid smoke (optional)
150 g tahini, smooth and runny
180 g all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
225 g dark chocolate or smoked dark chocolate, roughly chopped
Smoked salt, fleur de sel or flaked salt, for finishing
1. Place the unsalted butter into a medium sized saucepan set over medium-low heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until melted. Pour the melted butter into a large mixing bowl and add in the light brown sugar and granulated sugar. Whisk until well combined. Add in the egg and whisk until glossy. Add in the vanilla bean extract, hickory liquid smoke (if using), and tahini. Whisk until well combined, about a further minute. Set the bowl aside.
2. In a separate medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. Add half of the dry ingredients into the bowl with the butter and sugar mixture. Use a wooden spoon to mix until just combined (some dry flour pockets should remain). Add in the remaining dry ingredients, again, mix until just combined. Fold in the dark chocolate chunks until evenly incorporated throughout the dough. Cover the bowl with a layer of plastic wrap and set it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
4. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 180 c (350 f). Line three large baking sheets with non-stick parchment paper.
5. Using a small cookie scoop, or a generous tablespoon as a measure, roll out as many balls out of the dough as possible. Arrange the dough balls evenly amongst the baking trays, then, sprinkle over a little of the smoked salt.
6. Bake, for 10 to 12 minutes. Half-way through baking, open the oven door and raise the cookie sheet by a few inches (The cookies should be beginning to puff in the middle). Use a little force to tap it against the oven rack, so that the cookies deflate slightly. You should see the chocolate begin to spread. Close the oven door and let the cookies bake and inflate again, for a further minute. Again, repeat the raising and tapping process above for a total of 2 more times. The cookies should be just crisp around the edges, and the middles should be beginning to set with chocolate puddles throughout. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on their baking trays for 10 minutes, before carefully transferring them to a wire rack to further cool slightly, before serving.
* These were good cookies. Not “the best”, but I’d definitely make them again. The nutty tahini flavor was perfection with the smoked sea salt, and even though I think I’d like less chocolate if I were to make these myself alone, the semi sweet chunky definitely provided a lovely sweet counterpoint.
* Do NOT skip or cut the chill time. I actually let my mix sit in the fridge for 45 minutes since the kitchen was so warm. If you don’t you’ll end up with flat overly crisp cookie puddles, that tahini wants to spread and we gotta keep it in check.
* These are great cookies if you know someone who is a picky eater. As long as they like peanut butter, they’ll love these. Very similar flavor profile, but it sounds far more glamorous.
We all know that the pandemic has lead to LOTS of cancelled plans. We spent the spring shut up tight in our homes, and unfortunately it’s probably even more unsafe to be out now than it was then. I haven’t really made concrete plans in months, but as we sit her almost half way through July, I decided that I wanted to set some expectations for the rest of my summer. I decided to crate a bucket list.
*Tie Dye Something
*Expand My Succulent Garden
*Have a Picnic
*Plan a Staycation
*Enjoy Summer Fruit
*Drink an Iced Beverage On a Patio
*Pack Snacks, Get in the Car, and Just Drive
*Make Infused Water
*Read 3 New Books
*Decorate the Back Porch
*Find Plants for the Mantle
*Paint & Hide Motivation Rocks
*Try a New Food
*Make a Summer Playlist
*Make Friendship Bracelets
*Do an at Home Summer Mani/Pedi
*Do a Family Puzzle Night
*Make a Blanket Fort
*Do a Summer Closet Purge
*Figure Out How to (while observing pandemic safety measures) Dip My Toes In the Water
*Find the Perfect Floral Sundress
*Have a Movie Night
*Make Iced Tea
*Eat Ice Cream in a Cone
*Watch the Sunset
*Cook Something on the Grill
I think it goes without saying that safety has to come first when it comes to any activity, but I think there is still plenty of room for summer fun and I can’t wait to start crossing things off my list.