Cookies for the Chocoholic in Your Life {Recipe}

by SimplySharpe on January 5, 2013

It seems sort of weird that someone so inexperienced in the kitchen can just give out recipes to people, but I rocked this one and had to share! Plus, I’m going to make sure to include all the things I had to consult Google for — like what does “sifting” mean, and how to “cream” something — in case another baking virgin gets invited to a cookie swap party.

I had actually never heard of a cookie swap party until last November when my fabulous foodie friend, Emily, invited me to hers. I’m not sure why I’ve never been invited to something that sounds like the best reason to bake?! Probably because I didn’t know how to turn on an oven until a few months ago, and my friends are all capable of purchasing store bought cookies on their own.

Since Emily is quite the foodie, I can only imagine her other friends are more like her than me. I asked what she thought other people would bake to get an idea of what kind of cookies I should bring. She said a lot of people get recipes passed down from their families. I guess I come from a long line of non-bakers? I did ask my Mom if we had any family cookie recipes, and she suggested mondle bread. I’m pretty sure only Jew-ish people would know what that is, and it’s way beyond my skill level. I did remember her making it when I was younger though. Good stuff, but not what I’m looking for.

I spent several hours agonizing over cookies on Pinterest. Okay, I enjoyed every minute, but most of the cookies I came across were sugar cookies or cake box cookies. Thank G-d for Google. A quick search for “easy cookie recipes for a cookie party” landed me on What’s Cookin’ Italian Style’s blog where I found the most delicious looking cookies for the chocoholic in your life. Perfect for me to bring!

What you will need:

– 2 cups of flour

– 2 teaspoon baking powder

– 1 teaspoon baking soda

– 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

– 2/3 cup unsweet cocoa powder

– 1 large bag of chocolate chips

– 1 cup butter

– 2 large eggs

– 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

– 1 cup macadamia nuts, walnuts, pecans, or your favorite kind coarsely chopped nuts (optional — I left this out)

Chocoholic Cookie Ingredients

Baking instructions:

Preheat oven to 350

– In a large bowl, or using a stand mixer, cream (mix together until creamy) butter, sugar, eggs and extracts.

– In another bowl, sift (remove lumps) flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. I used a wisk to sift and make my powder less lumpy.

– Add sifted items to creamed mixture.

– Stir in chocolate chips and nuts if you are using them.

Chocolatey goodness

– Drop by scoops or spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

– Sprinkle with sugar crystals or regular sugar.

Chocoholic Cookies

– Bake at 350 for 8 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheets then place on cooling rack for 5-10 minutes.

I made 38 cookies from one batch, but easily could have adjusted up or down. I needed at least three dozen for the cookie party, and a few samples for the hubby to enjoy.

Chocoholic Cookies

I’m so excited to see what everyone else brings to the cookie party tomorrow! What are some of your favorite cookie swap recipes?

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2013: The Year I Conquer My Cooking Fears

by SimplySharpe on January 1, 2013

Well, hello, New Year–we’ve all been waiting for you!

I’m not one to write resolutions or make false promises to myself, so I just decided to conquer some goals in 2013. First up, getting over my random, non-sensical cooking fears. I don’t even know why I am afraid of some of these things? The worst that can happen is that I make a big, stinky mess or ruin some groceries. I’ve had WAY worse things happen to me than that! We all have.

First step, making my husband one of his favorite foods…

Bacon

Obviously, there is nothing difficult about making bacon, but I’ve never done it. Not once in 35 years on Google Earth have I ever made a single slice of swine. Something about it freaked me out. I knew I would hate that my place would smell like bacon all day (I know I’m the only one who doesn’t love the smell of bacon–move on!). I also worried that it would make a big, greasy mess on the stove top and none of my many types of cleaners would be sufficient to remove such a mess. Okay, I’m a little OCD sometimes. And silly.

I opened the windows in the kitchen despite it being a cold, rainy day. It was actually quite nice to listen to the rain while I made breakfast. The grease splatter is disgusting, but the look on my hubby’s face when he got his favorite food formerly banned in my house was worth it! He voluntarily cleaned the nastiness too, so maybe there will be more bacon in his future. ;-}

One fear down, many more to go.

Next up, the crockpot. I really can’t explain why I’m so intimidated by the crockpot, but I have this irrational fear of burning something in it. I don’t just mean overcooking it, I mean cooking something too long the slow cooker actually melts. I either have an active imagination or watch too much news. Or both? Who cares–I cooked dinner in the crockpot tonight!

Crockpot chicken

I made the mistake of thinking all the crockpot recipes I saw were made with a whole chicken. So wrong! I even made a special trip to Publix yesterday to buy a whole chicken along with veggies, potatoes and other things to slow cook with my chicken. In case you are more inexperienced in the kitchen than me, if that’s possible, a whole chicken takes up all the space in a crockpot and there is little room for extras. It’s also a PITA to deal with after it’s cooked. I still shoved it in there with some potatoes, mushroom and broth. It came out better than I expected. I did think the liner was going to catch fire, but maybe it’s because I tucked it under the cooker? I consulted Google first, but no one else was dumb enough to have this question, apparently.

I think that is enough fear crushing and eating for one day? Next up on my list is the amazing Christmas present from my MIL:

My New Kichenaid Stand Mixer

I’m super nervous about baking! Anyone have some easy starter recipes they want to send me so I can use my gorgeous new KitchenAid stand mixer?

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DIY Photo Coasters {Perfect for Custom Christmas Gifts}

by SimplySharpe on December 21, 2012

I think because I’m Jew-ish, I don’t totally understand why people get so banana sandwich around Christmas time, but I absolutely LOVE celebrating the holiday with The DJ and his family. They definitely do it differently than we did Hannukah, and I really wanted to put the extra thought into getting meaningful gifts his family would love while still maintaining our current budget.

Enter Pinterest — because where else did you think this was going?! I am so thankful they finally gave us private boards to play with! I have been hoarding some of my upcoming projects so these gifts would still be a surprise on Christmas Day. No one in the family reads this blog, so technically I’m not outing myself.

I found a few pins with the same idea (and several when I Googled “Photo Coasters”). Overall, I liked what Amanda was doing over at Bits & Pieces. She kept it simple and I love looking at her cute puppy!

Here is what you need to get started:

 

– Set of four 4 1/4 x 4 1/4 ceramic tiles (I found these at Home Depot for $.16 each. I didn’t buy enough and had to go to Lowe’s where they were $.32 and not as flat or white. They also have ridges on them that I only noticed after I finished. Sigh!)

– Mod Podge (I like matte, but use what you have or go for glossy. To each our own and whatnot.)

– Clear acrylic spray paint

– Sponge brush (Michaels sells these for $.49! I bought five because they get hard if you leave them sitting for too long with Mod Podge on them. Get extras because you will need them.)

– Black felt for the back of the coasters or cork (This is where my testing hurts or helps. I didn’t care much for the cork and went back for black felt. I got the self adhesive kind because let’s be honest — I’m lazy!)

– Photos printed in 4×4 format (I HIGHLY recommend getting these from Postal Pix!! Not only do they print them 4×4 perfectly, they are fast and ridiculously cheap! I had to go get reprints printed at Kinko’s in one of those Sony machine situations and they are just not as good a quality for the unique size. You can do this if the photos you are using did not start off from Instagram, but definitely consider your photo size before printing.)

Ready to get started?

1. Apply Mod Podge to the tile using your sponge brush. Put your photo on the tile immediately so it sticks.

2. Pour out a drop of Mod Podge over your photo and use your sponge brush to apply it over the top.

It will dry clear, so don’t worry!

2. Let it completely dry and do another layer. I alternated doing mine horizontal and vertical because I liked the way it looked. Do this at least 5 times, allowing the Mod Podge to completely dry in between applications.

3. Waterproof and seal your coasters by spraying several coats of the clear acryllic spray paint, also allowing to dry before each application.

4. Apply your felt or cork to the bottom. Again, I used self adhesive felt for this and just eyeballed the amount needed. If you want to be more precise, have a ruler handy!

BOOM! You are done! All you need to do is add a ribbon and find a cute gift bag for these…

I really love how mine came out! I have been exercising some serious restraint not posting pics on Instagram or Facebook, but I want these to be a surprise. I’m pretty sure they don’t know I have a blog, so this post shouldn’t spoil anything.

I would love to see your photo coasters if you decide to make them!

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Christmas Kisses {Hugs if you want to get technical}

by SimplySharpe on December 20, 2012

I’m trying to finish strong for “Wife of the Year,” and that means making Christmas treats for the hubby to take to work! I happily selflessly devoted several hours of my time to searching Pinterest for the perfect (read: easy to make, yet festive) treats. I found the idea for these:

I loved everything about these salty and sweet treats! The hardest part was finding Hershey’s Hugs to make them. I don’t know if everyone is making the same treats this year, but I had to go to four different stores before I found a bag of Hugs. How crazy is that?!

Here is what you will need if you want to make these:

– One bag square pretzels

– One bag of Hershey’s Hugs (plain Kisses don’t melt as well, I did the homework on this!)

– One bag of Christmas M&M’s (unless you want to sort the red and green ones from other bags — I didn’t!)

– Parchment paper

Cooking instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 200 (I used 180 because my oven runs hot)

2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper

3. Place pretzels in rows on cookie sheet (I made 10 rows of 6, but just because I got bored of opening Hugs. You could definitely make more or less.)

4. Put a Hug on each pretzel

5. Bake for 4-5 minutes in the oven

6. Remove carefully from oven, take red and green M&Ms and gently place on top of each treat pushing down slightly, alternating colors (I prefer M&M side down)

7. Put them in the refrigerator to cool for 5-10 minutes

8. Take them out and enjoy! Store in an airtight container.

What are some of your favorite, easy treat recipes?

 

 

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Why Don’t Mine Look Like Hers?

by SimplySharpe on November 30, 2012

Yesterday was our 4th wedding anniversary (YAY for us!), so The DJ took today off to extend our celebration. We went to a nice dinner last night at a restaurant called, Table and Main, and today we went on a day date to see Silver Linings Playbook. Such a great movie–go see it!

After all the celebrating, I realized I forgot to take out something for dinner tonight, so it was going to be a while before we ate. A quick visit to my trusty kitchen helper, Pinterest, and I found an easy to make snack with ingredients I actually have in the house:

Cheese sticks, breadcrumbs and milk.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425

2. Lightly grease a cookie sheet

3. Take cheese sticks and cut into small bites

4. Roll bites in milk and then breadcrumbs

5. Place on sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes

Sounds easy enough, right? Almost fool proof even! Then why in the world do mine look so dramatically different than the picture?? Here is what the original poster made with this simple sounding recipe:

http://www.justaddasliceoflove.blogspot.com/2011/09/baked-cheese-balls.html

Source: Just Add a Slice of Love’s Baked Cheese Sticks

Here is what happened when I went wild in the kitchen:

Um, what?! I just recently stopped being allergic to started cooking, so I’m really all ears if anyone knows what cardinal cooking sin I committed that made my baked cheese sticks flat and less breaded than the first photo.

I’m also pretty sure The DJ had no idea what I was doing in the kitchen anyway, so I grabbed a plate, did this:

… and said, “I made you some snacks, baby! Come in here and taste them!” He was ecstatic because all is well that ends with unexpected snacks.

Am I right or am I right?

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DIY Wall Art – For the Lazy Artist on a Budget

by SimplySharpe on November 25, 2012

I finally figured out how to turn my countless hours on Pinterest into something useful — ART PROJECT — I think I’m on to something here!

As much as I love all the DIY pins on Pinterest, I tend to love the idea of making things more than the actual art of making things. That all changed when I realized my walls are an institutional white and my art budget is non-existent very low. I asked The DJ (the hubs if you’re new here) what my hypothetical craft budget could be and he said, “If you make it, I will buy it.” It’s very Field of Dreams in our household.

Honestly, I’ve never understood ‘Black Friday’ or its appeal (these people have the internet, right?!), but since this Pinspiration was forming during a post Thanksgiving food coma, I decided I would brave going to Michaels on this crazy shopping day. Lucky for me, it was dead. Unless you count the 25 people working there, which I do, because they could not have been any nicer or more helpful.

I was not working from one specific pin, so I had a bunch of ideas and inspiration running through my head. I knew I wanted to get as much as possible for as little as possible. Here is what I got:

Blank canvas 12×12 (pack of 5) – $11.99

Black canvas 16×20 (pack of 7) – $11.99

Acrylic paint in black, gray, red and white – $.99 each

Paint brushes $.99 each

Artist tape – $7.99

I got a check-in special from Foursquare to save 50% off one regular price item, and the cashier told me about the Michaels app which saved me another 25% off the total. Yay for savings!

*I also stopped by the dollar store to grab a drop cloth because I forgot that at Michaels.

I took the canvases out and started to arrange them in an order that would make sense for the huge wall in our living room. I realized the 12×12 canvases would seem too small for the space, so I decided to mix them up and do four of the 16×20 to form a square with two of the 12×12 on the outside to pull them together.

 I wanted to do something somewhat abstract for the middle pieces, but The DJ vetoed them all being a different pattern. I decided a mod circular situation would work best. I took an old Dixie cup and used the red paint to make this happen:

Fancy, huh?

I forgot to grab a picture of what I did with the two squares, but it was super easy! I took the artist tape (painters tape would work just as well) and put it in random pattern across the canvas. I then painted over it in black, let it dry, and then peeled the tape off. So simple!

I really like how these both came out. I also like that it was inexpensive enough that I can make new “pieces” and switch them out.

The whole project took no time at all and came in around $35. The longest part was waiting for the paint to dry.

What are some cool projects you have made when that Pinspiration strikes?

 

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Decemberist

by SimplySharpe on December 1, 2011

I took some time today to reflect on the little things and this is the listicle I came up with:

1. I went to NYC twice this year (for work).

2. I’ve had at least 365 brilliant ideas and the year is not even over yet. Watch out 2012!

3. I would rather be me every day than someone other people expect me to be for even one second.

4. The grass can be the perfect shade of green if you use just enough fertilizer.

5. I may love even numbers, but I still hate math.

6. Sometimes I get accused of being negative when really, I’m just being honest. For those who agree, please refer to number three and feel free to forget my existence.

7. I accidentally dropped a rhyme in that last one. Poetry in motion.

8. I forgot what eight was for.

9. I love being more right-brained.

10. This list was just my silly way of saying, happy first day of the last day of the month.

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It’s been a while since my last post… blah, blah, blah.

The world is supposedly going to end tomorrow and I saved up all my Simply Sharpe silliness for today. It all started with a tweet:

Then my brain starting burning, kind of like the fires of hell all of us sinners and winners will supposedly feel at some point tomorrow.

I am so Jew-ish, I can barely understand how people can be blasphemous about Le Bible.

I got a little stuck by Starbucks wi-fi, but can’t nobody break my stride.

Then I got a retweet (much like a witness) from the smart people at Rapture Regrets, which lead to this policy of truth.

That’s pretty much how my debut went down. See you at the after party Sunday! I will be in the DJ Booth.

Thanks for playing!

 

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Frozen in Time

by SimplySharpe on January 12, 2011

snOMG 2011

Happy New Year!

It’s hard to believe I have not posted anything since 2010. I resisted the urge to do a proper recap of the year for a variety of reasons. None of which I plan to share or defend.

One of my favorite things about having a personal blog is that I control when the writing occurs. I set the boundaries, I write the content and sometimes I even take photo credit. See example above.

I broke my blogging silence to share my random bottle cap project during the great snOMG of 2011. This is a good indiction of what the future looks like. I am going through old memories and repurposing them. I will also be creating many new ones most likely on a different site.

It will all make more sense soon, but always feel free to leave me questions or comments.

Thanks for playing!

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Holy Hollis Gillespie, Great Blogs of Steel

by SimplySharpe on September 26, 2010

If you live in Atlanta, listen to NPR, watch late night talk shows or have an affinity for “Trailer-evangelism“, you probably know who Hollis Gillespie is. The rest of you are going to love me for the introduction.

I met Hollis when I recently attended an event hosted by the fabulous Crave Atlanta. Hollis is best known for her unique humor, writing three memoirs and her famous Atlanta blogging workshop. Her writing workshops, appropriately titled Shocking Real Life, have been on my short list of definitely maybe.

I wanted to learn more about this author whose Dad was an alcoholic salesman and Mom a missile maker. Other then her obvious accredited work, she was just another person with something to sell me.

Except she wasn’t.

There was nothing sales-y about her. She was wearing a funky orange dress and a Paul Frank watch. She talked about how her logo was creatively transfered on drop cloth. She mentioned the four friends formula — think Seinfeld, Sex And The City, Will and Grace, etc. Hollis shared stories of how she began writing on the back of the drop seat while working for Delta. She wrote herself little notes and reminders of things to detract her from fear.

FEAR — The dirtiest word in my vocabulary.

Can the Workshop Whisperer set me free from fear? Time will tell. The workshop I wanted to sign up for conflicts with my increasingly shocking real life.

Here are some other pictures from Hollis’s studio in Castleberry Hill Loft District:

Trailer Trashed Tanks and Enormous Undergarments

Hollis' Daughter Drew These Trailers

It’s pretty cool if you find yourself in the area or looking for a creative space to host an event. I bet she will even let you hang your own pictures 🙂

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