Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

Cookies are good all year round, but some are better suited for summer or winter. This recipe from Martha Stewart is one of my favorite winter cookies. I LOVE the combination of chocolate and gingerbread! Great for the holidays and would make a good Valentine’s cookie as well.DSC_0629

Ingredients:

7 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips (the original calls for chopped, semi-sweet, but I REALLY like dark chocolate! I am also lazy and do not want to chop chocolate..so just buy the chips.)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp ground allspice (the original calls for cloves, but I didn’t have any-allspice worked just fine)

1 1/4 tsp of ground ginger

1 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp of cocoa powder

1/4 tsp nutmeg (I like to grate my fresh over ground)

1 tbsp fresh grated ginger

1 stick butter, room temperature ( the original recipe has a mistake, it says 8 tsp, not 8 tbsp for the stick of butter)

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1 tsp vanilla (this isn’t in the original recipe, but I can’t make cookies without it)

1/4 cup of sugar for rolling cookies in before baking ( I normally use a bowl or plate)

Directions:

  1. Line baking sheets with either parchment or a baking mat. (I ordered my mats from Amazon several years ago. They are Artisan Metal Works and were significantly cheaper than the Silpat brand. )
  2. Sift together the dry ingredients, flour, allspice, ground ginger, baking soda, cocoa powder, and nutmeg.
  3. In your mixer, cream grated ginger and butter until light and fluffy-roughly 3 minutes. Add brown sugar, molasses, and vanilla until well incorporated.
  4. Add flour mixture a little at a time until well combined.
  5. Mix in chocolate chips.
  6. Cover mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a couple hours or overnight.

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  1. When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Use a cookie scoop for uniform cookies and form into balls. Roll each ball in the bowl of granulated sugar and place on lined baking sheet. I like to press mine down a little to make sure they flatten out well.
  2. Bake 13-15 minutes until the surface of the cookie is slightly cracked.
  3. Let cool around 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
  4. Best enjoyed with a cold glass of milk!

Link to original recipe is below:

https://www.marthastewart.com/254747/chocolate-gingerbreadm

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Enjoy!

Susan

Granny’s Recipe Box-Snow Cookies

Snow in the southern states is a rarity, but occasionally Snow Miser gets permission from Heat Miser to bring us the fluffy stuff. Growing up my Mama would always make the no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies when it would snow. Thus we children deemed them Snow Cookies. It has actually been a snowy January and I am currently working on my 2nd snow day this week, Yay!

My Granny’s recipe is slightly different from my Mama’s, but still just as tasty! You don’t have to wait for a snowfall though. If I waited, I might never get to taste them again.

This recipe was actually written on the back of an envelope. If you look closely, you will see my Granny’s name, Mrs. Sasser in the background.

Here is my version of the recipe:

1/2 cup milk (I used whole)

1 stick butter (the recipe called for margarine, I prefer not to use the stuff)

2 cups sugar

4 tbsp of cocoa powder

1/2 cup peanut butter ( I use the natural kind without added sugar, but you may use whatever suits your fancy)

2tsp vanilla

3 cups quick cooking oats (I have used the old fashioned by mistake and they were a bit chewy. It did not stop me from eating them…)

Have some sheet pans lined with wax paper or baking mat ready to go. These cookies set up pretty quickly and you need to move fast.

Directions:

Combine the first 5 ingredients and bring to a boil and leave boiling for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add vanilla and oatmeal, stirring until combined. Drop by the spoonful onto your prepared sheet pans.

As soon as they are set, grab your milk and enjoy ūüôā

Happy Snow Day (or cookie day)!

Susan

Tarte Favorites

In my quest to find kinder, gentler beauty, I stumbled upon the Tarte brand. They make lovely high performance beauty without all those weird chemicals. This brand is also cruelty-free, which I love! Here are two things I’ve been “testing” and pretty pleased with the results.

1.Make Magic Happen- $32, Ulta– This eyeshadow palette will go from day to night. Nine blendable shades, both sparkly and matte. They are infused with Amazonian clay and Vitamin E, so it’s good for your lids. Pair them with your favorite eyeshadow primer for all day eyes. A good set to save your Ulta points for!

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2. Poreless Mattifying Primer- $32, Sephora–¬†This primer will help your makeup stay put, as well as minimize pores. I only use it where I need it, like on and around my nose. I like that it goes on clear too. So many “pore minimizers” are beige. This won’t be competing with your foundation shade and look weird later. It’s also loaded with antioxidants and vitamins, so it is good for your skin.

I hope you love these as much as I do!

Susan

Winter Beauty Essentials 

Winter can be harsh on your skin, so be prepared when the mercury drops. Even in the southern states, the air can be cold and dry. Here a few things I always like to keep on hand.

  1. Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, $29.50,SephoraРThis cleansing balm starts solid and changes to a liquid from the warmth of your hands. Removes makeup without  being greasy and a little goes a long way. I have combination skin, so I like to use this 1-2 times a week during the winter.
  2. Fresh Sugar Lip Polish, $24, Sephora– Dry, flaky lips no more! This scrub uses brown sugar to exfoliate and shea butter to moisturize. It also smells yummy, but don’t eat it!
  3. Korres Wild Rose Vitamin C Active Brightening Oil, $54, Sephora–¬†¬†This oil is great on its own, or add a few drops to your favorite moisturizer. Has lots of good things like omega fatty acids, plus Vitamins A&C. It’s a bit pricey, but lasts forever. I’ve had my bottle for about a year and it’s still good to go!
  4. Dr. Jart+ Soothing Hydra Solution Sheet Mask, $6, Sephora– I LOVE sheet masks! They are so great for relieving dry, chapped skin during the winter. This one has aloe, so I always feel super-moisturized after using it. These masks normally have a lot of product, so I always rub the excess on my legs and arms. A nice, inexpensive way to treat yourself!

I hope you enjoyed!

Susan

5 Favorite Beauty Must Haves

Everyone has those favorite items that they cannot be without. Here are my top five beauty bag must haves!

  1. Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, $38, Sephora– It’s pricey, but the container lasts me at least a year. After switching from pressed powder to this loose powder, my jawline breakouts are almost non-existent.
  2. IT! Cosmetics CC Cream SPF 50,¬†$38, Ulta– I really can’t say enough good things about this foundation. It goes on smooth, has awesome coverage, and a high spf.
  3. Tarte Shape Tape, $27, Ulta– This concealer is great for under the eyes and is easy to blend. It comes in a variety of shades and can also be used for contouring/highlighting as well.
  4. Too Faced Shadow Insurance Anti-Crease Eyeshadow Primer, $20, Ulta– My favorite primer! I have used everything from Stila to Nars, and this works the best. Locks onto eyeshadow, while still allowing you to blend. As you can see by the faded tube, I use it everyday!
  5. Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Color Splash Lipstick in Set Sail, $21, Sephora– I received this in my Sephora Play! box recently and fell in love instantly! Set Sail is the perfect pink/nude color and will usually last me most of the day.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post! Now, ¬†go find your favorite beauty ūüôā

Susan

 

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Hot Yoga Continued…

One of my very first posts was about trying hot yoga. Lets just say since that initial class, I’ve been back sooo many times and learned a few things along the way.

  1. Yoga will improve your other exercise routines. I am a regular gym-goer, but I could tell a definite difference after taking yoga. My balance, stamina, and flexibility have all increased.
  2. Yoga improves your overall mental health and feeling of well-being. Usually, the class begins and ends with a kind, but informative insight from the instructor.  I am continually reminded to live in the moment and focus on what is truly important. I have been able to better handle everyday stress and enjoying a better overall-mood.
  3. Yoga can relieve pain and help you sleep. I love it for relieving my back pain (a result of too many years in retail) and overall getting older pains, *sigh*. My sleep has also improved. I sleep deeper and longer, feeling more refreshed. You really can’t go wrong!

Four good things to improve your practice:

  • Invest in a good yoga mat.¬†In hot yoga,¬†things can get slippery. A good yoga mat will help anchor you and help prevent accidents. My Jade Harmony mat has helped me maintain grip and not slide around. It was pricey, but if you do yoga regularly, it will be worth the investment. I picked mine up from the yoga studio, cause I love shopping local when possible!
  • Buy a yoga specific hand towel. They are super-absorbent, so it’s great for wiping your face or keeping your hands steady. I bought this one from Amazon.
  • Use a water container with a spout/straw. I have found these make it easier to get a quick drink. The Eddy style from CamelBak is my favorite, Amazon.
  • Hair Masks-Why not multi-task and exercise at the same time, right? I like to take advantage of the heat/sweat by applying a hair mask before class. ¬†Here are two I like to use, just apply to dry hair before class and rinse out when you shower.
  • Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Night Cap Perfector, $28, available at Ulta
  • DevaCurl Melt Into Moisture Matcha Butter Conditioning Mask, (from my recent Play! box) $36, Sephora

 

Namaste!

Susan

 

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Butter Cookies..Granny’s Recipe Box¬†

This is the third recipe I’ve tried from Granny’s Box. The second didn’t turn out so well and it also cost me quite a bit of butter, which should never happen to anyone.  At first glance, the “Butter Cookie” recipe looks like one for cookies, but they are actually bars. These turned out well, but I am including a few “tweaks” for the next time I make them.

Ingredients:

2 sticks butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 egg, separated (we will use the white later)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp cinnamon (I LOVE cinnamon and 1/4 tsp was not enough)

1 tsp vanilla (not in the original recipe, but I can’t make a dessert without it)

1/2 tsp salt (original recipe only called for a pinch, this was not enough)

1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine all ingredients, except for reserved egg white with mixer.
  2. Press out onto a 9×13 cookie sheet. It says un-greased, but next time I will definitely use a little Baker’s Joy.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat egg white until frothy and spread over cookie mixture. Then sprinkle nuts on top.
  4. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool for around 10-15 minutes before cutting into bars.

Enjoy!

Susan

Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies stir up feelings associated with home, holidays, and a general feeling of contentment. Everyone has a recipe they grew up with or always reach for, so today I’ve decided to share mine.


My Mama always used the recipe from her ever-trusty Betty Crocker Cooky book. I have made others, but always go back to this one. It’s the perfect combo of soft and chewy, delightful goodness!


Ingredients:

1/3 cup shortening

1/3 cup butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (add a 1/4 cup more for a softer cookie, this is what I usually do. It gives the perfect soft and chewy cookie!)

1/2 tsp soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional, it’s a part of the original recipe, but I always leave them out)

1 package, 6oz semi-sweet chocolate chips



 

Directions:

  1. If making right away, preheat oven to 375 degrees. This will give you a flat and crispy cookie. For a softer, rounder cookie, chill for a couple hours or overnight before baking.
  2. Mix shortening, sugars, egg, and vanilla thoroughly. 
  3. Combine dry ingredients and add to shortening mixture.
  4. Add chocolate chips and the nuts, if you are using them.
  5. Using a cookie scoop (I typically use one that is roughly a tablespoon), drop onto lined baking sheet. You can use a silicone baking liner or parchment paper. This will ensure your cookies don’t stick.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. 
  7. Cool 2-3 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to cooling rack.
  8. Taste test a cookie, while still warm and enjoy with some milk!

This dough also freezes well, so normally I scoop them out, freeze on a sheet pan, then add to a freezer bag. Good for about 6 months or until you need a cookie fix. Oh, and if you eat them using this face mug from Uncommon Goods, they taste even better! 

Enjoy! 

Susan

Three Must Have Photo Apps

After opening my Etsy shop, one of the first things I did was look for good photo apps. The ones below are perfect for editing photos from your phone or DLSR. I don’t post a picture without using at least one, sometimes all three! 

1. Afterlight-It’s available at the App Store and Google Play for $.99 with opportunities for in-app purchases. I don’t normally “buy” apps, but this one was totally worth the $1.06 with tax. It is my go-to for filters! Perfect for all of my food and product photos.

2. Canva– Available free on the App Store and Google Play with opportunity for in-app purchases. Allows you to choose different layouts according to what you need, plus, a custom layout feature. I use this all the time for my Etsy shop. Add your own photos or choose from their selection, most of these are not free though. Great for adding text, making collages, etc. One of my all-time favorite apps!

3. Photoshop Fix– Available for free from the App Store and Google Play is really awesome! I use this quite frequently for my product photos, as it has  great tools for smoothing, sharpening, cropping, lightening, etc. Another bonus, using this on your iPad/iPhone, allows you to use your finger or stylus to make adjustments. I can be really exact about “fixing” my pictures. I love it!

Enjoy!

Susan

Travel Size Beauty

With vacation season upon us, every inch of your luggage has to count. I for one, do not want to pack a ton of toiletries, so I love minis/multiple use products. Here a few of my favorites!

1. Verb Leave-In Mist, $7, SephoraРGreat for detangling and adding extra moisture. My hair is very thick and this is my go-to product!  Just a great brand overall, as their products are sulfate and cruelty-free, which I love!

2. Living Proof Dry Shampoo, $12, Sephora– The BEST dry shampoo EVER!!! I have tried many from Bumble+Bumble to the drugstore brands and this one does the trick. It leaves my hair looking clean without that pesky white residue.

3. Yes to Cucumbers Facial Wipes, $2.99, Ulta– I love to double cleanse , but I don’t want to take two full size cleansers on a trip. These wipes are great for removing makeup and quite refreshing. Plus, this company is cruelty free and they use natural ingredients.¬†

4. Nars Multiple, $39, UltaРA blush, lipstick and eyeshadow in one! What more could you ask for? A bit pricey, but save your Ulta points and get it discounted. I will warn you though, the names of the colors are a bit risky. 

Smashbox L.A. Lights, $29, Ulta– A lipstick and blush in one, plus a sponge tip for application. A great alternative to the Nars product above.

5. Sunbum Sunscreen Face Stick, SPF 30, $9.99, Ulta– After hitting the beach, my hands get a tad sandy when reapplying sunscreen. This face stick allows me to apply without touching the actual product, so nice! Sunbum uses natural ingredients and is a cruelty-free company. Love their stuff!

Happy Travels!

Susan ūüėä