Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

DSC_1425

I’ve been slacking in the recipe department, so I thought I would share a recipe for my father-in-laws favorite cookies, chocolate thumbprints. I’ve attempted to make these for him every Father’s day for the past 3 years, and I could never quite get the flavor right. This recipe is a keeper though, as it is has the closest taste to the cookies he loves from the bakery. Sophie loved helping me roll the dough and dip some of the sides in sprinkles. This is a great project for little bakers to help with.

Cookie Dough:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 4 oz. (3/4 cup) whole almonds
  • 12 oz. (1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, cut in large chunks and slightly softened
  • 4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. pure almond extract
  • 13-1/2 oz. (3 cups) bleached all-purpose flour

Chocolate filling:

  • 1/4 cup coarse sugar, such as turbinado, OR sprinkles (we did a variety)
  • 2-1/2 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 5 tsp. unsalted butter (or you can substitute 3 tsp, karo light corn syrup… like we did when we ran out of butter.)

Preheat oven to 350. In an electric mixer, mix all the dough ingredients EXCEPT the flour, on medium speed. 1 cup at a time, add in the flour until a thick dough begins to form and there are no lumps of flour. Scoop up a generous teaspoonful (2 level teaspoons) of the dough and shape it into a 1-inch ball with your hands. Roll the ball in the sugar and set it on a tray lined with waxed paper. Repeat with the rest of the dough, setting the balls slightly apart. Press a thumb or forefinger, dipped in flour, into each ball to create a depression. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. Gently redefine the depressions with your thumb or the tip of a wooden spoon’s handle, if necessary. Rotate the sheet and continue to bake until the tops are lightly colored and the bottoms are golden brown, another 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a rack and let cool completely.

When the cookies are cool, prepare the filling: Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set in a wide skillet of almost simmering water, or in the top of a double boiler. (Or microwave on medium power for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring after the first minute.) When the chocolate is almost completely melted, remove the bowl from the heat and stir until completely melted and smooth. Using a spoon, fill the depression of each cookie with the chocolate filling. If the filling hardens while using, reheat it in the pan of hot water. When each cookie is filled, let the chocolate set for at least 15 minutes, then you can store them in an air tight container.

ENJOY!

DSC_1424

Summer Trips: Pittsburgh Zoo

DSC_1310

Before we had gotten married, Justin and I took a trip to the zoo, so it was pleasantly nostalgic to take our kids there. We usually take a big vacation in the spring or summer with my in-laws, but this year we decided to give ourselves a break (vaycays with kids are hard work!) and just do little day trips on the weekends.

DSC_1338

It was completely crowded and a little hectic, but the girls enjoyed themselves so much! I loved seeing the wonder and curiosity in their eyes! I can’t wait for the rest of the adventures we will be taking over the summer.

DSC_1303

Leaps and Bounds

20170524_102341

Some times I feel like I’ve made no progress; like I am still that woman who, when she looked at her children felt nothing. Even when they were pleasant and smiling, every neuron in my brain was telling me to run and I didn’t know why. Was is because I was a “bad mom”? Was it because I just wasn’t cut out for family life? Ever since I hit puberty I had been daydreaming of a husband walking through the door to greet me as I sat on the couch with our children. Where did that desire go?

There are times when I still feel like I’m not good enough, empathetic enough, or strong enough to be a mom. There are days when I just want to sit and cry, and I wonder Have I even made any progress? The answer is yes, and I see it most in my relationship with Cora.

DSC_1219

A newborn baby, fresh from Heaven, with a clean soul filled with innocent wonder. She had done nothing to wrong me, offend me, or cause any other kind of strife where one feels “owed” some restitution. All she demanded was my presence and my love, and I felt like I hated her for it. There was resentment, confusion, anger, and depression. Not always in that order, but those emotions were felt intensely by me on a daily basis. I knew it was wrong. I knew that wasn’t how motherhood should feel, and that’s when I knew I had to fight for myself and my baby.

I fought the good fight for appropriate mental health care, but still get angry and frustrated — what mom doesn’t? — and it is hard not to fall back into the depressing cycle where I tell myself I *can’t* do it. Some times the fear that I will slip back into that numb persona feels consuming. However, when Cora smiles, I smile. When she runs, I chase her and we both laugh. I want to snuggle with her, I want to shower her with kisses and play with her hair. If you can believe it, I am having these desires for the first time. She is 16 months and only now am I bonding with her. Pity me, highlight how depressing it is, call it sad, call it unfortunate… but I call it progress.

DSC_1221

Consolation

DSC_1244

About a year ago, I suffered through a pretty intense trauma that scarred both me and my entire family. Part of me can’t believe that I haven’t composed a post since Easter, and the other part of me sees that I stepped out of the spotlight for awhile to take care of myself during the anniversary of when I received this wound.

The good news is, I successfully made it through the flashbacks, the memories, and every thing else the flooded over me last month. I am also happy to announce that I launched my photography business and put together a portfolio of family portraits.

I wanted to give you guys a sneak peak of what my work will look like from here on out.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

and because my own children hate posing for me, I have enlisted the help of Matt Seal Jr. A professional whom I have had a photography crush on for a couple years. I am excited to have some one else be behind the camera, and to finally update our family portraits to include Cora.

That’s the update I have for you, and you can expect more posts from me this month now that i am feeling well and consoled again.

Holy Week

DSC_0782

As Catholics, Holy Week is a very important, reflective time for us. Of course, Easter preparations are underway, and we even had an early egg hunt. However,  we try not to let the joy of Easter come prematurely. I know, that last sentence totally hammers home the Catholic guilt and our infatuation with suffering, right? Well the truth is, without Good Friday, the day we fast and reverently remember Jesus’ crucifixion, there would be no Easter Sunday; furthermore, there would be no Catholicism.

This is why we aren’t afraid to hang crucifixes in our churches. it is the crux of our faith. Had Easter never came, and Jesus never raised from the dead, then there would be no Catholicism either. After all, His rising is what solidifies his victory over death and evil. But the crucifixion can’t be so easily dismissed.

This week has brought on a lot of struggles. I have had a double ear infection for the past two weeks, been trying to pave the way for a potential photography business, and I’ve had 2 energetic children begging me to go outside. It has been a huge temptation to be irritable, throw pity parties, and give up on taking care of others. I’m not saying I never gave into this temptation, if I did my husband would surely rat me out, but when I DO fall, I try to make an extra effort to re-attune myself to the needs of my family and friends.

So, I will continue to be reflective and some what solemn for the rest of the week, as I navigate my daily chores and prepare for the upcoming holiday. I hope you all have a safe and happy Easter!

Spring

DSC_0718.JPG

Even though the past few days have been dreary (gearing up for April showers, and all that…) We are still trying to make it outside during the small intercessions of sunshine. This winter was tough for numerous reasons, so I am pleased and relieved to see Spring on the horizon.

DSC_0707

We are tying to hit the potty training a little harder with Sophie so she will be totally comfortable to use the bathroom at school this fall. She will be 3 at the end of May and I can hardly believe that she is this walking, talking little person with her own ideas about the world.

DSC_0716

I am also eager to see Cora begin walking. She has such an adventurous spirit, that I am surprised she isn’t already walking. She can take a few steps at a time, but she knows crawling is more efficient at this point, and chooses to do that most of the time.

I’m hoping more time outside and spent with other kids will both help them to overcome these developmental milestones.

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

DSC_0723

I tried dieting and cutting out cookies and other treats… that just led me to crave and then binge on said treats. My new plan is to simplify and make healthy a few treats that I can enjoy in moderation. These oatmeal cookies hit the spot, are gluten free, and contain less sugar than your average cookie.

What I used:
1 stick of butter at room temp
1 egg
1 bag of Pamela’s oatmeal bar mix
1/2 c. dried cherries
1/4 c. Enjoy Life chocolate chips

Mix ingredients, bake at 350 for 10 minutes, AND THAT’S IT! Simple, quality ingredients.

I enjoyed 2 with a mug of my favorite tea this morning. Some people can completely restrict certain foods from their diets. I do fairly well avoiding gluten, but I love baking, and of course I love sweets. Finding a healthy balance for these foods in my diet is a better solution for me. I’ve found success replacing white refined sugar with organic coconut sugar. Some sweets, like an apple tart for example, are sweet enough on their own to not even need sugar. Anyway, I have found that you can alter recipes and your favorite foods so that they have a more appropriate place in your diet. That way you don’t feel deprived and end up bingeing on oreos instead.

If you’ve never tried Pamela’s gluten free products, I highly suggest you do! (This post isn’t sponsored, I’m just an enthusiast)