Hi all…April has been a whirlwind and I have been meaning to blog but am just getting around to it. I have not been cooking much as we have been traveling and really busy with work and end of year planning. So today’s is more of a this and that jumble of what I have been eating, seeing, thinking!
Travel to Indian Rocks Beach Florida
High school girl and I took a trip to Florida for her last high school spring break. We flew into Tampa and stayed in a VRBO in Indian Rocks Beach. Our house (nothing fancy) was a short walk to the beach and within walking distance to lots of restaurants, cafes and more. Weather was great. Would recommend the area for a trip with teens that won’t break the bank. We had some nice meals too. Seafood was delicious at Guppy’s on the Beach and the folks at the Indian Rocks Cafe were so friendly. We enjoyed super fresh sandwiches, smoothies and muffins.
Couple of Good Instant Pot Recipes
While I have not been experimenting much with my own recipes this month, I did find two fool-proof recipes at Creme de La Crumb. Our weather in CT is still on the chilly side and I had stew beef in the freezer ready for a cozy meal. With my French husband that meant one thing – Beef Bourguignon. This recipe was easy and delicious. I added some extra fresh rosemary too. She has a few other Instant Pot recipes that are on my list to try. Will let you know how they go.
Personal Finance Podcasts
I love podcasts as they give me something interesting to do when I am walking my dog. I recently discovered The Financial Feminist which I am enjoying. I really liked the interview with Sallie Krawcheck. I am probably too far along for some of the other episodes but if you are dipping your toe into finance or just want a female perspective this is worth the listen. Of course Jean Chatzky is also interesting and I think there is a time and place for Dave Ramsey too. I would probably disagree with Dave on a number of his non-financial ideas but I think his get out of debt baby step plan is worth following if you find yourself in debt which many Americans are…
On the Bookshelf
With the travel came time to read! I was delighted to read The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry If you are a book lover you will enjoy this book about a curmudgeonly bookstore owner who surprisingly ends up raising an orphan girl. My favorite part is his attitude towards books and in particular – short stories. It is also on Nantucket (at least that is my hunch even though it is disguised as Alice Island).
I also finished The Lost Girls of Paris, another excellent read about women spies during WWII. Plenty of intrigue and twists and turns. So happy to have loved both books for my vacation.
Now we are countdown to graduation for Miss High School (soon to be College Girl 2). College girl 1 landed an internship and will be home soon. Watch out for the fighting over the car! I am sooo looking forward to summer and getting out on the water. Will be back soon with more recipes and updates! XO, Mimi
Hi all. Not sure where winter went (although not quite done here in CT). Super busy at work but not complaining. Having a lot of fun – you know what they say when you enjoy what you do, and they pay you? #blessed. That said this poor little blog has been ignored…so today’s post is a bit of a catch up, and I am sharing what is hardly a recipe it is so easy (but so good)…Simple Artichoke Dip. It is delicious and takes all of 5 minutes to mix up and another 15 or so to cook in the oven. Read on for what may become your go-to dip for whatever entertaining you have planned.
January/February Catch Up
Winter is ski time around here and this winter was no different. We had a great time up at Mount Snow and at Stowe in Vermont. Of course, I made my famous Buffalo Chicken dip. There really is nothing better après ski! Serve with nacho or pita chips or maybe even just some thick slices of bread.
In adorable Stowe, VT, we stayed at the Green Mountain Inn. It is such a cute, historic inn complete with an outdoor heated pool and jacuzzi – nothing better after a day of skiing. Our room was spacious – it was actually two rooms and two bathrooms which worked well as we had our girls with us. We enjoyed afternoon tea and the general vibe of a cute Vermont inn on a cold, snowy day. At night we ate some yummy fondue at Swiss Fondue by Heinz. The vintage ski posters and chalet atmosphere made it a perfect place to dine. I recommend ordering the apples along with the bread to dip into the delicious Swiss fondue.
Simple Artichoke Dip
So that is the highlight of January and February…but let’s get to the good stuff – simple but delicious (as in I can’t stop eating it) artichoke dip.
Where did this begin? I seemed to recall something addictive, cheesy but full of texture that my mom made years ago. I remembered that it used a can of artichokes – yes the plain old ones that you get at any supermarket. Then you add some mayo and parmesan cheese. Mix it up. Maybe add some garlic powder and a bit of cayenne (or not). Bake it. That’s it. Sometimes life is complicated. This is not.
We went to friends for dinner this past weekend, and I made the dip. I prepared it at home but then put in a bowl and microwaved it at their home for a minute – just to reheat. Served with olives, pita chips, baby carrots and some hummus for a platter. There was nothing left. So, without further ado, here is the recipe for simple artichoke dip. It really does not get simpler or more delicious for a dip than this!
Hi there friends. It has been a while as 2022 has started out even busier than 2021 ended.
The SB family took a fantastic vacation to Mexico (hoping to write about it soon) and have been back at work/school catching up. I have also been making my usual new year’s effort to organize the house (ski clothes were yesterday). So, with all of that going on (plus work and school of course) it is just the right time for some super simple recipes that taste like your favorite takeout but may take even less time than it takes to dial the number (and a whole lot less money!).
Today’s post is for stir fried saucy udon noodles using supermarket ingredients that you can get at mainstream grocery stores. I have been craving noodles and some spice post holiday. I found myself staring at the pantry and freezer and realized I had some ingredients (nothing fancy) that may just suffice.
It was so nice to make a recipe from standard stuff that is easily found in the international foods aisle at my local Stop N Shop. So let’s run down what you will need on your next shopping trip because I am sure you will love this recipe. It takes all of 20 minutes to whip up (and that includes clean up) so it is great for days when you are short on time too.
The first step to making saucy stir fried udon noodles is getting your hands on some noodles. Ever wonder how your favorite Asian restaurant gets that chewy goodness? I have, and frankly what I just discovered is that you can buy it! Yes, look for Asian noodles where you find tofu in the refrigerator section. Lo and behold there are some very nice options. I tried Fortune brand’s Yaki Soba noodles. They come with a sauce packet, but I discarded that as you make a super easy (and healthier) sauce for these noodles. Other options at the market were dried noodles and packages of udon noodles in the Asian food’s aisle. I plan on testing the latter and will let you know how that goes.
The sauce and vegetables/protein for stir fried saucy udon noodles
The sauce here is very easy. A bit of dark soy sauce (or regular if you can’t find dark), oyster sauce, brown sugar and rice vinegar. Once again, all of these items are available at your regular old supermarket (as well as big box stores too). Next up on the ingredient list is a bag of stir fried vegetables. I used easily found Bird’s Eye brand. Again I did not use the sauce (by the way the store sauces are full of questionable ingredients…MSG, thickeners etc.). I happened to also have some fresh peppers which I sliced into thin strips and sauteed ahead of time, as well as some green onions and toasted sesame seeds for a nice crunch. You can easily add protein – sauteed chicken, shrimp or protein would go nicely. So without further ado, here is the recipe.
Stir Fried Saucy Udon Noodles (made from easy to find ingredients!)
Chewy, slightly spicy, saucy udon noodles are stir-fried perfection and just like your favorite take-out. They are also so easy to make (cheap too:) and use ingredients that you can find at any supermarket. Friendly for weeknights as you can have the noodles on hand along with a package of frozen stir-fried vegetables. Easy to add protein – tofu, chicken or shrimp are all delicious with these noodles. You will have this recipe on repeat!
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Keyword Asian cuisine, budget friendly, noodles
Prep Time 10minutes
Cook Time 15minutes
Total Time 25minutes
1 Wok or large frying pan
3tablespoonsdark or regular soy sauceI typically use low sodium soy sauce
1bagrefrigerator section udon noodles
1bagfrozen stir fry mix veggies
Tofu, shrimp or chicken, cooked to add if you like (or keep this as is without the added protein up to you!)
1bunch green onions (or to taste) sliced thin
1 to 2tbstoasted sesame seeds for toppingI like Costco brand – already toasted for you
Sauce: Shake up all the ingredients in a jar or stir with whisk in a bowl.
Udon: Heat your wok or pan over medium high heat. Add oil. Add the noodles and enough sauce to coat. Stir-fry and then leave for a minute or two to caramelize. Microwave your frozen veggies and drain any water (important to drain the water or it will make the sauce runny).
Add the veggies. Combine and let cook for a couple more minutes until everything is covered in sauce and nice and hot.
Phew…it has been a crazy few weeks. This blog is clearly run by a real person…what other blogger (or corporation…as many blogs are not as personal as they may seem) does not blog all of the time around the holidays? Me. My full-time work recently included an offsite. With Covid I decided to attend virtually but the work leading up to it and then the actual session was all consuming. Not to bash my male readers (if there are any) but I am struck that only men would plan an offsite right before the holidays! Nonetheless, aside from the offsite, I have been a busy elf…shopping (mostly online), cooking, decorating etc. Of course I have been baking too, and I am excited to share my basic cookie dough recipe that you can customize into multiple variations – so easy and delicious (and everyone will think you have been slaving away for days with all of the different kinds!).
Christmas Tree Tailgate
As the tradition dictates, this family goes to a darling tree farm and cuts down the freshest tree. Our girls were tots when we started this tradition, and it is my favorite day of the year (not kidding!). From the Christmas market complete with oxen (yes you read that right) to the hayride into the tree “forest” it is always so much fun. In recent years we have included a tailgate with friends complete with Mr. SB’s sliders and lots of goodies. This year was no different. It was on the cold side, but we enjoyed sliders with caper mayo (a must), seven-layer bars (a throwback), plenty of mimosas (and just plain old champagne), chili and more. Our tree is a tad smaller this year but beautiful all the same.
I have always loved wrapping gifts. It was my job way back when my mom and I would prepare for Christmas. I love having a blog as I can now see last year’s ideas! This year, I stuck with my gold and white theme – it just works really well with our decor. I included some holiday ornaments on the gifts and of course plenty of fluffy bows. Can’t wait to hand out gifts on Christmas day.
Holiday Goodies – Basic Cookie Dough Recipe
I have been baking cookies for years and frankly what I realized is that almost all cookies are a variation on one basic recipe. Today am excited to share this basic cookie recipe. It creates delicious, chewy cookies. By the way you do need to refrigerate the dough – apparently this step hydrates the flour and helps your cookies keep their shape (ever wonder why they look like pancakes…you need to put the dough in the fridge for at least two hours to avoid that fate!).
I love all of the varieties. I happened to have white chocolate chips, cocoa powder as well as dried cranberries so I made those two variations plus good old chocolate chip. Here is the recipe… Enjoy. I am signing off until the new year – may you and yours have a wonderful holiday!!
Basic Cookie Dough (with many variations)
A wonderful base to add in mix-ins for countless varieties of cookies from the classic chocolate chip to chocolate with white chocolate chips – feel free to be creative!
In a large mixing bowl add in melted butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla extract and whisk together until combined.
In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir with a spatula to form the cookie dough.
Chill the dough for a minimum of 2 hours. This step will prevent cookie spread!
Scoop even spoonfuls of dough onto a cookie sheet.
When ready to bake preheat the oven to 375ºF
Roughly shape the cookies back into balls of dough before placing the cookies on a large parchment-lined cookie sheet about 4 inches apart.
Bake for roughly 8 to 10 minutes or until you can still see it is doughy in the center but browning around the edge. Don’t bake for longer as you will over bake it and lose that gooey center.
Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes then enjoy. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Cookies also freeze really well so feel free to put some in the freezer to enjoy when you wish.
Variations – Divide your dough into four sections or more (the measurements below are for four though so please keep that in mind)Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie
2 tablespoons chocolate chipsOatmeal Raisin Cookie
2 heaped teaspoons rolled oats
1 tablespoon raisinsChocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookie
2 heaped teaspoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of white chocolate chipsPeanut Butter Cookie
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon Reese’s pieces, (chopped)Keep going as you like – I also added white chocolate chips and dried cranberries (about one tablespoon each).
It is countdown to Thanksgiving (and Christmas really). We are so excited for a real Thanksgiving around here. Last year we enjoyed a very small gathering and while that was nice, we missed our larger get together. I have learned through the years that the way to peaceful and enjoyable holidays is for mom (me:) to prepare ahead. So, today’s post is about my Thanksgiving countdown and prep!
We always kick off Thanksgiving with a Friendsgiving the night before when we get together with my college room mate and her family. We are actually lucky enough to go to a relative’s gorgeous home for Thanksgiving day. As much fun as that is, I have to have turkey and the trimmings for leftovers so we started the tradition years ago. I have so many fond memories of Thanksgiving hosted at my house growing up. I have to have the pumpkin bread and butternut squash exactly as mom made it. Those memories and flavors are a must! So through the years I have created a Thanksgiving countdown and prep to make our Friendsgiving day go smoothly.
Thanksgiving countdown and food prep
Ok, so one of my most favorite things to do is to sit on the couch on a leisurely Saturday or Sunday and plan menus. Pinterest is my go to and I also look back on previous menus which I usually jot down post holiday. I recommend doing this one to two weeks ahead of time or if not your thing, you can make our menu from last year:). I make myself try one new recipe every year to keep it fresh and keep experimenting. This year, a leek and potato gratin is on my list. I like how it is not too fussy – chunks of potato, leeks and of course cheese all cooked up to melting yumminess. I hope it tastes as good as it sounds.
I also always make home made cranberry sauce which is easily frozen ahead of time – not sure why canned cranberry even exists. This recipe could not be easier and the tart cranberries are such a great accompaniment to Thanksgiving fare.
Lastly, I make pumpkin bread. I usually make my own recipe, but this year, I made Smitten Kitchen’s version with some adaptations. I did not use the entire amount of sugar – 1 2/3 cup of sugar in one loaf is just too much (hello blood sugar?). I also use the prepped pumpkin pie spice which is just the necessary spices pre-dosed. The loaves came out amazing so I highly recommend the recipe! I particularly like her technique of mixing the baking powder etc. before you fold in the flour. Over mixing flour is never good with quick breads. I may need to update my own recipe.
Last year, this menu was a hit largely because the stuffing is so good. Do yourself a favor…make the stock ahead of time. If you forget, you can always use the store bought bricks, but trust me, home made stock is soooo much better and of course cheaper.
I use Alison Roman’s recipe, but I make mine in the Instant pot. After roasting some turkey parts (easy to buy at the super market or ask the butcher), I put everything in the Instant pot, cover with water, add bay leaves and spices and put on saute mode. After bringing to a boil, I simply put on the slow cooker mode and let it cook for 12 hours. So easy (but make it ahead – facing home made stock the day before or day of is a no-go for me!). I taste it after it cools. Today I decided to add some Better Than Bouillon and put it on saute mode again to boil down a bit. The result is fantastic. I froze it and can’t wait to use in the stuffing next week. Here is a photo (my photography skills are pathetic…at least you know this is a real woman behind the blog!). Those little glittery bits are what will make your gravy and stuffing divine…
The start of holiday shopping
About two weeks before Thanksgiving I ask the girls to give me their lists. This is admittedly easier now that they are older (years ago it was always last minute for Santa…). I like to buy ahead for my own peace of mind and of course to take advantage of the pre holiday sales.
Normally, I would have ordered the holiday card by now. This year, no. Why? We did not have a good photo. Good friend will be snapping some shots of the family once college girl is back. I will likely head to Costco. We send out about 75. How about you? We used to send more but cut back in recent years. It seems others have too?
Lastly, my favorite day of the year is this weekend too. We go to a local farm to cut down our Christmas tree. Hopefully I will have more time to share that with you. Here are a few notes from last year’s tailgate where we grilled some sliders which were a huge success.
So Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I hope you enjoy cooking (if you like cooking) and eating a delicious meal with family and friends!
Hi all! How are you? I hope well. Busy as I am? Phew…it never stops. Work has been crazy, and now we are almost at the holiday season. Today I will share a favorite soup, chicken tortilla soup in the Instant Pot (but you can make in the slow cooker too) and also a quick catch up.
Fall has just flown. High school girl has been busy applying to colleges and yes, it affects parents too. Long gone are the days when I crammed 6 applications into Christmas break. The tours start as early as sophomore year and beyond. You can catch our tour of a few southern colleges from last summer. We had a few last minute ones too but closer to home. The good news is that she is into one school (IU) as it has rolling admissions.
With my eyes on Thanksgiving, I am already planning my menu and will likely cook much of last year’s menu (which was delicious….that stuffing is the best I promise) as well as trying at least one or two new recipes. This recipe for a fall, butternut, greens salad caught my eye yesterday from Smitten Kitchen (love her!). I am trying it tonight at home so will share the feedback if it is as good as it sounds. I plan to use dried cranberries instead of the pomegranate.
It is also countdown to Christmas. I have learned this is a great time of year to organize. I went through each closet and identified what to give away. Cleaning out the fridge and pantry are next as I prepare for holiday cooking. Now is the time to figure out if you have enough baking supplies and other ingredients. Trust me…am a pro at this point!
With all that is going on, something easy and tasty for dinner and lunch is a must. I adore soup especially in the fall and winter. Lentil and bean are two favorites, but I found myself craving something with a bit more heat. This chicken tortilla soup fits the bill perfectly. I think you could easily sub in chicken breasts or make it vegetarian and add another can of beans for some extra protein and staying power. You can also vary the spice too. By accident, when fiddling with my recipe, I added an entire can of chilies in adobo (fortunately I realized it and was able to remove all but two!). The toppings are optional (but are they really?). A squeeze of lime, some grated cheese, a dollop of sour cream and chopped cilantro taste so fresh and flavorful. If you want to lighten up, replace sour cream with plain Greek yogurt.
Without further ado, here is the recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup. Enjoy!
Chicken Tortilla Soup (Either Instant Pot or Slow Cooker)
A flavorful, healthy, budget-friendly soup that is perfect for supper or lunch.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword Beans, budget friendly, Soup, Supper
Prep Time 30minutes
Cook Time 6hours
2tablespoonsvegetable oilI use avocado
1medium yellow or white onion diced
2medium jalapeno seededmembranes removed, and diced
1red or green bell pepper
3clovesgarlic mincedabout 2 teaspoons
3/4teaspoonsalt plus additional to taste
1poundof bonelessskinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts (about 2 breasts if you are using breasts)
1 28-ouncecan crushed tomatoes
2chipotle chiles in adobo choppedNOTE: I purchase these in a can and save the rest for another use – they freeze well. DO NOT use the whole can in this recipe as the soup will be too hot
1 15-ouncecan pinto beans rinsed and drained
1can of Mexican style corn
4cupschicken stock or broth
Corn tortilla strips or corn tortillas or tortilla chips. I also like the tortilla strips you buy as salad toppings.
Shredded cheddar or Mexican style cheese
Chopped fresh cilantro
Limeadd a slice on the side to squeeze over
Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
Optional: Trader Joe’s Chili Lime seasoningdelicious on top if you can find it!
Turn Instant pot to saute, or if using your slow cooker heat a pan on the stove and heat on medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, jalapeno and bell pepper. Cook until the vegetables are softened, about 6 minutes or so. Stir in the garlic, cumin and chili powder and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Transfer mixture from the skillet to the bottom of a 6-quart or larger slow cooker or if using Instant pot, turn off saute function.
Arrange the chicken breasts on top of the mixture. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, chilies in adobo and salt. Stir gently.
Turn Instant Pot to slow cooking function. Cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hours, until the chicken is falling apart tender. Dice or shred the chicken, then return it to the slow cooker. Add the canned pinto beans and Mexican corn. Let cook on low for 20 more minutes to allow the flavors to combine and everything to heat.
Taste and add salt or seasonings as needed. If the soup is thicker than you would like, add in the remaining 1 cup chicken broth until it reaches your desired consistency. Enjoy!
Hi there! Well fall is in full glory in Connecticut. Our leaves are turning and the weather has been beautiful. We have been busy with visits to Vermont which I hope to share some recommendations and up to Boston. Last weekend I finally had a chance to catch my breath and do some decorating to celebrate the season. The wreath in the picture was a Christmas Tree Shop find which I added a bow with some Michael’s ribbon (on sale now!).
Other touches around the house include pumpkins, mums and some delightful Williams Sonoma fall soap for the powder room (I typically do not like pumpkin spiced scent so the cider option is wonderful). I also found myself in the kitchen making lentil soup and these amazing pumpkin blondies with white chocolate chips.
Pumpkin blondies with white chocolate chips are full of brown butter taste and the pumpkin flavor is not overpowering. You could easily make them with dark chocolate or milk chocolate chips too. I happened to have white chocolate chips on hand and loved how the white chocolate complements the pumpkin flavor. It took me a few tries to get the recipe just right. Needless to say this dessert was gobbled up! I may even try a teaspoon of ground ginger next time to add some depth (but they are delicious as in the recipe below).
The taste of fall in an easy-to-make blondie full of brown-buttery, pumpkin spice flavors with creamy white chocolate chips. Delicious for game day or as dessert or snack anytime.
Prep Time 25minutes
Cook Time 25minutes
1 ⅓cupall purpose flour
2teaspoonspumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice
1cupgood quality white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 9×9 pan with parchment paper.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Continue to cook, stirring the pan until the butter becomes a golden brown color. Watch it carefully to make sure the bits on the bottom of the pan do not burn. Remove from heat and cool slightly. It will look like the image when it is ready.
In a large bowl combine brown butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and pumpkin. Stir until combined.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, pumpkin spice, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the white chocolate chips. Batter will be on the wet side.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 25 to even 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out without raw batter on it. Oven temperatures can vary so watch carefully after 20 minutes.
Happy Fall! This fall has been busier than ever. This post I will share a few short updates on what I have been cooking, where I have been going and a few fall items I purchased that I am loving. Grab a pumpkin/apple spiced beverage and let’s discuss.
First, with high school gal applying to colleges we have been doing some last minute rounds to see local schools (if you missed our tour of a few southern and PA schools you can read about it here). We made it to the Boston College home game, and boy it was fun. I loved the latest game day look for girls which included some cute tennis skirts (why do I remember us wearing baggie jeans?!). Our team (BC) won so it was a huge celebration and so great to see old friends.
We also headed up to see college girl in Vermont and catch some fall foliage. I had made a mean care package (if I do say so myself) a few weeks ago for a first bout of homesickness. I created the perfect cookie for care packages as it does not crumble. This time I planned to bring one with a fall theme.
With not much time to spare I lucked out with an easy pumpkin oatmeal cookie mix from Trader Joes. Chewy, oatmeal cookies with chocolate chunks and plenty of pumpkin flavor…I did add a few extra chocolate chips. These are another care package win as the cookies hold their shape and flavor. Pick up a mix when at TJs. I am adding some spiced tea and latte easily made with the electric kettle along with a few other goodies.
For some reason this fall I have wanted to buy clothes! Maybe after last year’s imposed home stay and nowhere to go it feels good to get out. I bought this J Crew coat. I love the raspberry color and think it works for both fall and spring. With temps falling in CT, I have been wearing it everywhere.
Anyone else craving sneakers? Stylish sneakers are my go-to shoes as I work from home and am often shuttling between the gym, car pools, dog walks and zoom calls. These New Balance ones caught my eye. Can’t wait until they arrive as they are so comfortable. I like the subtle animal print on the back too.
Next up? I have a bunch of fall recipes on the blog which I will be making for football games, hiking picnics and more. You can make them too:
What have you been doing to celebrate fall? Mums on the porch? Pumpkins everywhere? Halloween decorating? This is one of my most favorite times of the year, and I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am. Cheers!
Hi there! Fall for many of us means our kids are heading back to college. This year my daughter is a sophomore. Last year was a tough one. She ended up transferring from her dream school to a college closer to home. Transferring is never easy but during a pandemic it is even harder. So this year it is like she is almost like a freshman again. Along with getting into a routine, meeting two new room mates and taking on a full academic load comes some homesickness. What could be better than a care package to cheer her up? Cookies have to be part of it, but most of recipes create cookies that break easily or crumble. Not a problem at home, but throw UPS into the mix and she would have a mess by the time she opened the package. So, after experimenting a bit, I am sharing the perfect care package chocolate chip cookies.
What makes these cookies perfect for care packages?
These cookies are thick and chewy with some heft. They won’t break easily and are compact diameter wise. After completely cooling them, I put them into small zip lock bags and packed them snugly. I used UPS to send them to her dorm, and she received them two days later and said they were “yummy.” Apparently the room mates loved them too.
What are other items to put in a care package?
For my girl, I decided to add her favorite candy along with some hair styling product that I picked up inexpensively at TJ Maxx. I had some paper basket filler so I filled the bottom with it. Then I added a card and some funny print outs with reminders such as “share with your room mates.” Other ideas could include gum, other favorite foods that will keep a few days such as granola bars, dried fruit. Nail polish or self care items could work too.
A few other notes on missing your college student
Did you know that 70% of freshman are homesick the first semester? Don’t be surprised if this happens and frankly with the pandemic I can tell you it is hitting sophomores and other classes too who were online last year and now readjusting to college. If you are the one missing your kid, don’t feel bad. This is a huge adjustment for you too. I have been really enjoying articles from Grown and Flown and in particular the following posts:
So much to learn and think about…parenting really is a lifelong journey! Without further ado, make these perfect care package chocolate chip cookies…save a few for yourself if you are feeling blue and send some to your student. He/she will thank you for them!
Chocolate chip cookies that are easy to make, withstand travel and taste delicious. Make a batch for your college student or anytime you wish to send some love (or just eat some delicious cookies!).
Course Dessert, Snack
Keyword Care package, Cookies, Dessert
Prep Time 20minutes
Cook Time 10minutes
Electric or stand mixer
Parchment paper (or baking liner)
2 1/3cupsall-purpose flour
10tablespoonsunsalted butter1 stick plus 2 tablespoons softened
2/3cupbrown sugar packed
12ouncebag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2cupof semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
Add the flour mixture and beat at medium speed just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Note: the dough will be very firm and a bit crumbly but should form a ball when pressed together.
Shape cookies into small balls.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Watch cookies carefully after about 10 minutes. I usually switch trays from top to middle and spin them around so far side is now the close side to the oven door for even baking. Remove when firm and with just the hint of toasted light brown tops.
Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
The cookies can be served warm or at room temperature.
Allow to cool completely before putting into zip locks bags or another wrapping for your care package.
Hi there. Hope all is well! Before I get into what a perfect day trip to Nantucket could look like, I have an anniversary to celebrate. It has been about one year (maybe a day short) since I launched Sunday’s Bread! Hopefully you have enjoyed the recipes and the few insights into chez SB. I realize I have a lot still to learn (photos in particular!). This is a journey so I look forward to sharing more and getting better at it!
Ok, so onward to today’s post – I have been wanting to share how to visit Nantucket just for the day. A couple of weeks ago the girls and I had the most perfect day on Nantucket. Today I will be sharing what a perfect day trip to Nantucket could look like. Yes you can go just for the day!
Why go for a day trip to Nantucket?
I adore Nantucket and have been visiting since I was a young child. We would cruise the coast on our boat and stop in to explore ports around New England. Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard were my two favorite stops (all of those cute shops and ice cream:).
Then I went back to Nantucket in college. I had many friends who worked there for the summer or had family homes (where I was lucky to stay). Right out of college, when working in Boston, I would take off on Friday night from Boston, drive to Hyannis. I would catch the ferry in time to meet my friends out at a club called the Chicken Box. Very fond and fun memories.
So, I could not wait to show this darling island to the girls. We had visited when they were babies. So little that I recall remembering I was worried that the double stroller would not fit on the ferry. They do not remember any of that visit. We also visited the Vineyard a few years ago – my youngest loved Edgartown. So it was time to try the other island, Nantucket, which is only 11 miles away.
A day trip is perfect too. First, you can see how the weather will be. Nantucket is famous for its fog and frankly as much as I love it, it is very expensive. There is some risk of getting there on a not so great day weather-wise. We booked our ferry two days prior.
How do you get to Nantucket?
We were coming from Cape Cod after visiting some friends in Orleans. Orleans is about 45 minutes from Hyannis which is where I always pick up the high speed ferry. The high speed ferry will take one hour to get to Nantucket. As mentioned above, this is also doable from the Boston area.
We made reservations for the high speed Hy Line. As we were a couple of days out we could not park there as the ferry lot was full. If you are leaving early, as we were (8:30 a.m.) this is not an issue. There are numerous parking lots where you can park all day. We paid $35 and were about a block away from the ferry. I had packed some muffins but we grabbed coffee at the café right next to where you board. They have a selection of breakfast items to go, or you can sit for a larger meal if you have the time.
It was a gorgeous summer morning so sitting next to the docks sipping coffee was a great way to get started. On board, we sit up top to get the view and fresh air. I love the view of Nantucket from the ferry as you approach the island.
Where to go once on island
Nantucket town has a few primary streets lined with shops and places to dine. The harbor docks also have dozens of lovely boutiques. Our aim was to shop and eat so we set off and started browsing. Here are some of my favorite stores:
Murray’s Toggery Murray’s is the home to the famous Nantucket Reds, faded pinkish, red chinos for men and women. JFK famously wore them as he played golf and sailed. They have been around forever and anyone who has spent anytime on boats or near yacht clubs knows them well. Murray’s has far more than just the famous pants though. I purchased a beautiful cashmere wrap in hot pink (the girls’ suggestion), and we browsed lots of brands. The look tends to be preppy with some outdoorsy clothing too. All very fitting for Nantucket.
Pawsitivity We just discovered this adorable shop which sells beautifully made pet collars and leashes. The owner was so helpful and we enjoyed chatting with him (they also have a store in Vail…not too bad!).
Ack 4170 We headed here for sweatshirts and to browse some beautiful jewelry. I love following them on Facebook too.
Stop N Shop Hah yes the local Stop N Shop was a favorite as we could easily pick up bottles of water, kombucha and snacks. As we were only there for the day we did not want to even carry water bottles. Stop N Shop also has restrooms (the visitor center does too) so we stopped in a few times during the day.
If you have not visited the Nantucket Whaling Museum I highly recommend it. Nantucket’s history is vibrant and the whaling industry (as sad as that is to me now) brought wealth. Many of the gorgeous historic homes date back to those times. You will need to make a reservation to visit (not sure if this is due to Covid or not). The museum has a notable scrimshaw collection. Many exhibits convey what it was like to be part of the whaling industry.
If you would like to see more of the island, you can also rent bikes. We opted not to do this as summertime is also high traffic time (stressful when biking). There is also a shuttle that goes all around Nantucket. We decided we would try that another time.
Where to eat on Nantucket when visiting for the day
There are many fine dining and casual eateries on Nantucket. A personal favorite has always been the Straight Wharf where I love the bluefish pate – soooo good. For us though our trip was short so we did not want to spend too much time dining. Instead we headed to Provisions which has been on Nantucket since I was a college student.
The Turkey Terrific sandwich is one of the best sandwiches I have eaten. It is “Thanksgiving on a sandwich,” as my daughter described it. Super fresh bread, yummy stuffing, cranberry sauce and turkey of course. They also have a delicious baked tofu sandwich which I ordered. Tip: If you are buying to eat on the ferry, leave plenty of time! Provisions is very popular so there was a wait and we saw two people have to leave without their food.
Right around 4 we stopped at the Juice Bar, another institution for some of the best ice cream ever. Feeling a bit full from lunch, we had a raspberry sorbet. The sorbet tasted like fresh picked raspberries. Post lunch we walked around town looking at some of the notable homes such as the Jared Coffin House. I love antiques and old homes so this was a delightful way to spend the afternoon.
Where to eat in Hyannis after a perfect day trip to Nantucket
We took the 6 o’clock ferry back to Hyannis. 10 to 6 was just the right amount of time. Mr. SB was waiting for us with our lab as the ferry pulled into Hyannis. He is a huge fan of whole belly fried clams (and I am too!).
There are two clam shack restaurants in Hyannis, Baxters and Spanky’s. We have eaten at both post Nantucket ferry (both are excellent for fresh seafood). Spanky’s was dog friendly so we opted to eat there. We ate outside and watched the sun set. It was delicious and a perfect ending to the perfect day trip on Nantucket.