Mom’s Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies


These. These are the chocolate chip cookies I grew up eating. See, in our house growing up, the chewier the better. While it’s probably not the recipe that I first made growing up (Mom – which recipe did we use then?!?), this is the recipe I made time and time again when I lived with my parents. The recipe that Mom used to bring to the track meets in college.

The recipe that I temporarily lost… I have a bunch of home/family recipes saved as .pdf documents on a laptop that won’t currently turn on. So, as you can imagine, I’ve been calling and texting my parents recently asking for several different recipes. I really need to get those files off that computer and onto something more secure!



The secret in this recipe is the use of pudding mix in the dough. You’ll notice the recipe calls for much less sugar than a typical recipe because it gets some of the sweetness from the mix. It also keeps the cookies soft and chewy. These cookies are suppose to be soft, so if you’re going to error on a side while baking them, error on underbaking. After the first batch or so, Mom has been known to only leave them in the oven for 6-7 minutes sometimes! On a similar note, you’ll want to leave them on the pan to cool for several minutes before removing them to a rack or papertowel to cool completely. Otherwise, you’ll end up with what we called a “trainwreck” cookie. And those… they just have to be eaten immediatelyūüôā

I added some butterscotch chips into the dough this time as I was craving them. We’ve used all kinds of combinations throughout the years, and any combo of milk, dark, white, and/or butterscotch chips has all been delicious.



(Printable Recipe)

Mom’s Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Mom

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sugar
1 pkg (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
2-1/4 cups flour, or more to consistency
1 pkg. milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add pudding mix. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and mix well after each egg. Add vanilla and mix.

Combine the flour and baking soda and mix. If the dough seems too sticky, you can add flour 1/8-1/4 cup at a time until you can form it into balls. Stir in chocolate chips.

Form into balls and press down slightly to flatten the dough once on the pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cookies just appear ‘set’. Allow to cool on the pan for severeal minutes before removing to a rack.

Meal Plan – Week 6

Warmer, dry weather (finally!) has me wanting to keep things light and quick this week. Plus, the new recipes are from two of my favorite blogs. Be sure to check them out!

Here’s what I’m thinking for a menu plan. Plus input from the hubbs that he wants a specific pizza.

BBQ Chicken Pizza – As long as he’s cooking it, I will happily eat BBQ chicken pizza weekly! I may actually get pictures of it this time so I can post this variation on the blog!

Tequila Lime Flank Steak Fajita Salad with Chile Lime Vinaigrette from How Sweet It Is- Lots of words. Looks amazing! And come on, chips?!?


Greek Chicken Pitas¬†– Yes, repeating again. These are just SO good (secret: it’s all the sauce)!

Thai Cashew Chopped Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing – More SPRELLY!

Lemon Pepper Chicken with Artichoke Salsa and Roasted Aspargus – I’m loving that we’ve been able to get asparagus on sale recently.



Copycat Panera Strawberry Poppyseed and Chicken Salad


This salad. I have been obsessed with this summery salad since it first debued at Panera. Berries, pineapple, mandarin oranges, feta cheese, and grilled chicken. I’ve tried for years to re-create it at home. Even posting a similar one here, although I never have been able to get the dressing quite right at home.

So, you can guess how excited I was a year or so ago when I found the Panera poppyseed dressing in the refrigerator section at Target (note: I can also buy it at Kroger, although it is usually slightly less expensive at Target).


I now have the hubbs hooked on it too. I’m not kidding when I say we ate this weekly until we had to retire the grill for the winter. Now that the warmer weather is creaping back and berries are creaping back into the stores, we’ve picked that habit back up. It is now at the point where I prefer our homemade version — we add WAY more fruit!

The recipe is pretty quick and easy. Washing berries, draining the pineapple and mandarin oranges, and grilling the chicken. We use a variety of berries depending on store sales/which ones look better, but the traditional is strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. You’ll notice blackberries replacing the blueberries in this photo. Use whichever berries you like! As for the salad, you can cut up an entire head of Romaine lettuce or you can buy the pre-mixed salad mixes. We honestly do both depending on the time we have available. You could even use pre-grilled chicken to make this a layer and go type of dinner.



(Printable Recipe)

Copycat Panera Strawberry Poppyseed and Chicken Salad
Adapted from Panera/The Cookin’ Chemist Original

1 lb. boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1-2 heads of Romaine lettuce (or other pre-mixed greens), washed and chopped
1 (16 oz) pkg. strawberries, rinsed and sliced
2 (6 oz) pkg. rasberries, rinsed
2 (6 oz) pkg. blueberries, rinsed
1 (15 oz) can pineapple tidbits (or pieces), drained
2 (8 oz) cans mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 pkg. feta cheese
Panera Poppyseed Dressing

Preheat the grill. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts. Grill until cooked through. Let set for 5 minutes. Slice.

Divide the salad greens between 4 plates (we usually do 2 plates and 2 bowls for lunches). Top with the berries, pineapple, mandarin oranges, pecans, and feta cheese. Top with the sliced chicken. Add dressing in desired amounts.

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! Hopefull where you are it’s looking like a good weekend. Ugh, here… one of the city’s bigger races, the Monument Ave 10K is this weekend, and the weather report at race time on Saturday is low-30’s with a 50% chance of a rain/snow mix PLUS 20-25mph winds. I may “accidentally” oversleep…

All I want is ONE dry race. I am apparently some type of black cloud for good race day weather.

So if your weather looks like ours, and you’d rather stay inside, here’s a few links to check out.

Banana Pup Pops¬†on Bitz & Giggles – My dogs would freak out over these. Let’s be honest… they freak out over anything frozen, including plain ice. This might be a fun summer project.


Lemon Yogurt Poppy Seed Bread from Valerie’s Kitchen – My maternal grandmother used to make some type of poppy seed bread that I’ve never quite been able to recreate. Maybe it’s just the “grandma’s is better” philosophy, but this one looks to be worth a try.


This Unruly Mess I’ve Made by Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis – My husband and I saw these two (and crew) in concert in January. This is the new album, and I have been listening to many of these songs on repeat!

This bathroom idea. The wallpaper? I love this look. Would I hate it in a few years? And the reno was in Phoenix?!?


Healthier General Tso’s Chicken by Nutmeg Nanny – The hubbs loves stir fries, although his only requirement is that the sauce be thick enough to actually coat the meat and vegetables. The photos of this one look like it fits the bill (and healthier take-out fake-outs, always a win).


Monkey Squares by The Girl Who Ate Everything – I have So. Many. Bananas. It doesn’t help that we eat them almost daily (so we always buy them), but neither of us will touch them as soon as there is a spot on the peel. That is unless they are mixed with copious amounts of butter and sugar and subsequently baked. Banana cake plus browned butter frosting. Sounds amazing. And a double win if I end up using bananas for the dogs above and for us in these babies!


100% Whole Wheat Pizza Crust


I did it! The hubbs finally admitted my pizza crust was better than Trader Joe’s. I think it was the bubbles that got him (he loves when there are bubbles in a pizza crust when it bakes).

Either that or the fact that this crust can stand up to some serious pizza toppings.



I’m not quite sure why I fell off the pizza dough bandwagon. At one point, when I was blogging more previously, I was pretty good about keeping some dough on hand. The great thing about pizza dough is that you can prep it, allow it to rise for the first time, and freeze it until you’re ready to use it.

This recipe makes 2 crusts, although they end up more of a hand-tossed style on thickness, so you might be able to stretch it into 3 pizzas if you really like a cracker thin crust. There’s a couple things we really like about this recipe. The first is that it is 100% whole wheat. The whole wheat version from Trader Joe’s definitely has its place in our house, but by the list of ingredients, it seems it’s probably about 50:50 whole wheat-white flour. The second is that it is so easy to work with when prepping the pizza. This is actually probably the winning factor for the hubbs since he’s the pizza baking guru in the house.



(Printable Recipe)

100% Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
1-1/2 Tbsp. (or 2 pkts) of active dry yeast
2 tsp. sugar
2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water and sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the water and let sit for 3-5 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl of the mixer. Using the dough hook, mix on low until the ingredients are well combined and the dough has been allowed to kneed, about 3-5 minutes.

Remove the dough, form into a ball, and place in a covered bowl in a warm, draft-free place. If I am baking anything in the oven, I usually cover the mixer bowl with a towel and set it on the stove top. Allow to rise for 60-90 minutes or until the dough begins to “flatten” on top.

Form into two equal balls of dough. At this point, the dough can be rolled out to be used immediately for a pizza or frozen. If freezing, wrap in plastic wrap and then place in a freezer ziploc bag. Remove from the freezer and allow to thaw at room temperature for 3-4 hours (or overnight in the refrigerator) when ready to use.

Meal Plan – Week 5

Slight randomness in this, but one of our dogs has a stuffed animal (Jenna, if you’re reading this, it is Mr. Bear) that has developed a worn-out hole in his belly. I’ve been putting off fixing it for a little bit because I am horrible with a needle and thread. In all seriousness, I sewed my supplies ziplock bag to my tote bag when I took Home Economics in middle school. The pup was playing with it tonight, and I felt really bad about not having Mr. Bear in one piece. I really need to attempt to fix it… I’m probably better off talking one of the surgery residents at work into “suturing” his belly closed. Anyone have any good sewing tips?

Nonetheless, the hubbs is off tomorrow and headed to get groceries, so here’s our list:

Ready Spaghetti – It’s Monument Ave 10K week. Pasta! This is a recipe from a child-geared cookbook I had as a kid. It’s not gourmet, but provides more of a homemade sauce in a pretty quick matter. Plus, I just like¬†it every once and awhile.

15 Minute Avocado Caprese Chicken Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette from Joyful Helathy Eats.


Chicken Brauts – We have buns and sour kraut to use.

Copycat Panera Grilled Chicken and Berry Salad – I’ve made a similar one of these before, but this one is slightly different. And, now you can buy the Panera Poppy Seed dressing.

BBQ Chicken Pizza – Slightly different than my other recipe. This is an at home copycat from a brewery pizza in Tempe, AZ. It’ll always be slightly inferior as my BBQ sauce isn’t made from their stout.





Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! After missing last week, I wanted to be sure to be on top of this one. If you’re reading this first thing in the morning, then we may not have left yet, but if it’s mid-morning on the East Coast, you can envision us driving north blaring 90’s pop music!

Bring on the Hot Chocolate 15K (just hope I have a solid 9 miles left in my legs after the rest of the tri training this week)!

Here’s what I’m loving:

I know I’m a touch late on the board here, but is anyone else excited about the smaller iPhone? I semi-hate how big phones have gotten. All I want is for it to fit in my pocket!

These cookies from Picky Palate. Butterscotch is my favorite. In fact, oatmeal scotchies are my favorite type of cookies for that reason. I’m going to have to make these!


This quote may need to be the theme of the weekendūüôā


We’ve both been craving Greek food after eating at a local Greek restaurant here in town a couple weekends ago. With the warmer weather blessing us recently, these skewers from Recipe Runner¬†may also need to make an appearance on the dinner menu.


Lastly, someone needs to give me a kick in the butt to finally try making these. I had some time to kill in the airport recently, so I re-arranged some Pinterest boards. Now my macaron board is staring me in the face. Maybe these strawberry colada ones guys from Taste and Tell?


Chicken Shawarma Fries with Mediterranean Salsa and Garlic Sauce


Does anyone else falter slightly when asked which food is their favorite? Please tell me I’m not alone here.

I feel like I like so many different flavors that it is hard for me to pick, although I will admit that Mediterranean is amongst my favorite. As long as we stay away from goat cheese. I just can’t do the “tang” and that flavor stays on anything it remotely touches on a plate. Goat feta/cheese = not for me. Cow feta = I could eat with a spoon.

I first talked about these Shawarma topped fries in my menu plan, but at the time, I wasn’t sure if I would serve this over fries or rice. I will admit I’m glad I went the fry route. Crispy skinned potatoes also are awesome. That said, I’m sure rice would work too and as long as you’re using a packet, would make this quicker for a weeknight meal.


My recipe tips would be to be sure to cut the potatoes on the thinner side as this will allow for more crisping. I would also recommend spraying your foil with non-stick spray for the fries. Mine stuck to the foil a bit despite the olive oil (which was slightly disappointing as I lost the crispy sides on some of them). I also subbed some of the mayo out for plain Greek yogurt on the sauce, and it worked well for us.


(Printable Recipe)

Chicken Shawarma Fries with Mediterranean Salsa and Garlic Sauce
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. allspice
pinch cinnamon
pinch cayenne pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. thin boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1-1/2 lbs (2 large) Russet potatoes
salt and pepper
non-stick spray

For the Mediterranean Salsa:
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup packed Parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1 lemon, juiced
Cavendar’s Greek Seasoning, to taste

For the Garlic Sauce:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 lemon, juiced
3 cloves garlic, minced
water to desired consistency

Add 1/2 lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, spices, and garlic to a large ziplock bag. Squash to combine. Add the chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Lay the chicken in a single layer and bake for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through, flipping the chicken halfway through. Allow to set for 5-10 minutes prior to cutting into bite-sized pieces. Set aside

Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees.Re-spray the foil with non-stick spray (or replace the foil). Slice the potatoes thinly into fries (can leave the skins on). Toss in a bowl with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until crispy, stirring halfway through.

Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the salsa in a medium bowl. Stir to combine and set aside. Add all the ingredients for the garlic sauce in a bowl. Mix. Add water, a little bit at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.

Top the fries with the chicken, salsa, and garlic sauce. Serve.

Meal Plan – Week 4

Planning simple meals this week – I’m out of town from Friday morning through Sunday evening, so the hubbs will be on his own. The translation of that is there will be lots of grilled sausages, grilled hamburgers, and possibly a pizza in the house. Good thing I made and froze some pizza dough for him this last weekend!

Our plans aside, this is what’s sounding good to me (and what I’ll be cooking for the meals I’m here!). On that note, I’m a little lighter on recipes this week (only picking out 4), since I’m planning on being out of town.

Cheeseburger Salad – There’s a similar recipe in the April Cooking Light issue that reminded me I haven’t made ours recently.

Greek Yogurt Egg Salad Sandwiches – I actually don’t have any leftover hardboiled eggs from Easter (we worked so we didn’t really celebrate), but I am planning to make a few as this sounds good and so easy! I won’t do this for a weeknight meal, but how good would this be with homemade French loaves?!?


King Ranch Chicken and Quinoa Casserole in the April Cooking Light – Quinoa + casserole + Southwest flavor + a recipe that’ll make for some lunches with leftovers. Sold.


CL April 16: Cook Once, Eat 3x-Quinoa

White Bean Vegetable Pizza – We have cheese and bean mixture leftover from the pizza this week. And it was delicious. Repeater!


Thai Cashew Chopped Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing


So, remember that Sweet Thai Chili Peanut Butter from Sprelly. This salad was¬†the recipe I finally picked out to use it. I didn’t end up making the pad thai as I was having a hard time getting over fish sauce. Silly? Possibly. I just can’t get my mind over adding fish sauce to anything. Have you smelled it by itself?

But this? This salad and the dressing were both awesome. In fact, we had enough salad for 4 meals, but only enough dressing for two. My husband was eating it with a spoon.¬†That said, I am excited about the possibilities for this recipe. It was fresh. Light. Simple. Fast. Sounds like the perfect summer meal, and I’m sure we will end up making it all summer.


The salad itself is just chopping vegetables. I did use actual heads of romaine lettuce, but I’m sure you could swap out prepared salad mix to make it slightly quicker. I mixed the dressing in a small bowl using just a whisk, but you could probably also add this to a blender (or even a smoothie cup) if you wanted to make it easier too.

If you never use ginger, my tip is to buy a piece and freeze it. Then when it is time to make the dressing, you can just peel it and use it on a microplane while frozen. My last tip. Don’t skip the salted cashews (and the salt is key)!



(Printable Recipe)

Thai Cashew Chopped Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing
From The Recipe Critic

2 heads Romaine lettuce, rinsed and chopped
1/2 head red cabbage, chopped
15-20 sliced baby carrots
1/2 cup frozen edamame, thawed
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup salted cashews

Ginger Peanut Dressing:
1/3 cup sweet thai chili peanut butter (see Sprelly)
2 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. sesame oil
water to thin (I used about 2 Tbsp)

In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, honey, ginger, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the salad ingredients through the green onions. Toss. Top with the cashews and dressing.