August 26, 2011

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever


I’m sure there are a ton of recipes for “the best” chocolate chip cookies but this might really be it. These cookies are soft and chewy in the middle and slightly crispy on the outside. They taste like rich, buttery toffee. But in a cookie. And with chocolate. Mmm!


And these cookies are perfect for ice cream sandwiches.


What makes these chocolate chip cookies so good is browning the butter. Melting the butter makes a chewier cookie and browning it provides a deep toffee flavor. I used a recipe from Cooks Illustrated and tweaked it a little.



14 Tbs unsalted butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp salt

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2 cups AP flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 cups (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375 (or you can wait to crank up the oven and just let it heat while the dough chills). Make some room in your freezer or fridge for pans of cookies. Line two large sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a large skillet, melt 10 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat. Cook the butter, stirring frequently, until browned and nutty smelling. It helps to use a stainless steel pan so you can see the color of the butter better. Stir in remaining butter. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, eggs, salt and vanilla. Whisk in butter. Let the mixture stand for 3 minutes and wisk again. Repeat two more times. This helps to dissolve the sugar in the butter, making a chewier cookie.

Stir flour and baking soda into batter. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spoon dough in large mounds (about 3 Tbs) onto parchment lined sheet pans, at least two inches apart. Place cookies in fridge or freezer until firm and cool to the touch. Last time I made these it was hot as heck in my kitchen and it took about 10 minutes to cool them down in the freezer.

Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, for 12-14 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Load them up with ice cream and enjoy.


August 13, 2011

Sparkly Straight Pins


I’ve been using the same pins for years and they’re pretty dull so when I saw these pins on No Big Dill I had to make some.


You can make dozens of them in just a few minutes. All it takes is glue (E6000), small beads that have small holes and extra long straight pins.


I used a skewer to apply a little bit of glue to the end of the pin.


Then I slid a bead on and wiped off the excess glue.


I covered an overturned basket with a piece of paper and poked all of the pins into it to dry.


Pretty and useful. I think they would make a great gift for a seamstress or tucked into a little purse-sized mending kit.



August 10, 2011

Pin Cushion from a Pimiento Jar


I made these sparkly pins the other day (tutorial coming soon) and needed a place to stick them. I have an old school tomato pin cushion but it rolls all over the table. It usually ends up on the floor prompting some choice words as pins start to pile up in my mouth, beside my sewing machine and other places they shouldn’t be while I search for it.


This guy has a heavy, flat base so hopefully it will stay put.

I started with a pimiento jar (baby food jars would be perfect), paint, a little batting, some barley and few scraps of fabric.


I squirted some paint into the jar, put the lid on it, shook it up and then let it dry upside down. If your jar doesn’t have a lid, you can use a brush to smooth out the paint like I did here.




To make the top, I stacked up circles of batting and then gathered up the edges to form a spherical shape. The poof should be a little bigger than the opening to the jar. I ran a few stitches through the gathered part and cut off the “tail”.


Then I cut a circle of fabric about 3 times wider then the jar and wrapped it around the batting. I gathered up the loose edges and ran 3-4 stiches through the middle to secure it. Then I cut off the excess fabric.



I filled the bottom of the jar with barley (because that it was I had) and hot glued the cushion into the mouth of the jar.



I top-stitched a strip of fabric to cover the jar threads but ribbon would work just as well. I hot glued the fabric around the mouth of the jar and inserted the pins.



August 8, 2011

Painted Wooden Bowl Fail


I have a habit of seeing something for sale and thinking to myself, “I’m not going to buy that. I’m going to make it.” Point in case: dot bowls from The Bocket Store  spotted by Erin at Host-It Notes while perusing the Renegade Craft Fair. Sarah Bocket’s bowls are stunning. Mine are wrinkled. I should have shelled out the change for one of hers.

However, I think I’ve fixed the problem, so if you want to try your hand at painting some bowls, you will need:

a wooden bowl, thoroughly scrubbed and dried

sand paper

a damp cloth

masking tape



paint brushes




Sand the bowl really well. Sand it some more. Wipe off the dust with a damp cloth and let it dry.

Tape off the part of the bowl you don’t want painted. I used a kazillion little pieces of tape to go around the lip of the bowl. I’m sure there’s an easier way to do it, though. Maybe using contact paper and just cutting a bowl-sized circle out of it and sticking it onto the rim?


See how the bowl is still a little glossy? I should have sanded it more.

Ok, prime and paint the bowl, letting it dry between coats. I didn’t prime mine, which according to my friend, the painter, was my big mistake.


It’s helps to paint little stuff like this in a box. Then there isn’t paint flying all over your garage or driveway.


Paint on the dots by dipping a small paint brush straight down into your paint (I used acrylic) and barely touching the tip of the brush to the bowl.



Before I sprayed on the sealer (which I have used many times before with the same exact paint and without any problems) the paint looked perfect and smooth. I let the bowls dry over night and then hosed them down with sealer. The paint immediately wrinkled. I wanted to cry. Apparently this was mistake number 2 (3?). The previously mentioned painter friend said I should have let them dry longer. They seemed completely dry but it was raining out side and chilly so I probably should have given them some more time. Ugh.


I’m using them anyway, but I’m bitter about it. If you decide to paint some bowls let me know how it goes. Or if you have any tips for keeping paint from wrinkling, I would love to hear them.

August 2, 2011

It is Finally Too Hot to Bake


I live in Portland. Have I mentioned that? And that all winter while it’s cold and rainy we tell everyone, “We don’t mind this crappy gray weather because our summers are beautiful!”? This year the rain just kept coming though. It rained pretty much up until last week when it finally reached 80 and the sun came out. With this kind of summer and another rainy winter just around the corner, an Oregon girl needs to take advantage of the sun while she can.

I visited my grandpa in Eastern Oregon.



Then I went camping with friends here:


And did a little rafting.


But no worries because the half-finished projects are piled up on my sewing table and eventually I’ll have to come inside to nurse my whopping sunburn and finish them.