Chocolate Chip Pan Cookie

My sweet tooth takes no prisoners. Earlier today I made a meatloaf, complete with a bacon topping – yum! Sadly, it went into the freezer as part of my meal prep for the coming weeks. Still, it got me thinking about making a dessert that would go well with it.

Chocolate chip cooks are as American as apple pie. And you know what else is? Cast iron skillets, that’s what. I’ve made a couple of skillet cookies before, but this one is the hands-down favorite with the kids and really easy to put together.

If you don’t have a cast iron skillet (what?!) you can also use a baking pan. But you’ll be better off waiting two days for this beauty to arrive.

Print Recipe
Chocolate Chip Pan Cookie
Course Desserts
Prep Time 15 Minutes
Cook Time 20 Minutes
Passive Time 10 Minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Course Desserts
Prep Time 15 Minutes
Cook Time 20 Minutes
Passive Time 10 Minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees
  2. In a medium bowl, combine Flour, Salt, and Baking Powder. Set aside.
  3. Cream together butter and sugars until smooth. Add egg and vanilla.
  4. Slowly add in flour mixture, mixing well.
  5. Using spatula, incorporate the chocolate chips
  6. Spoon into the cast iron pan, using the spatula to spread evenly
  7. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool for an additional 10 minutes.
Recipe Notes

I'm not one for putting nuts in my chocolate chip cookies. But if you are, adding a cup of pecans or walnuts should do the trick. To each his own.

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Lemon Blueberry Tea Cookies

Beyond being a necessity with three kids at home, cooking is both a creative passion and a way to destress for me. My favorite is baking, and one of my go-to star ingredients in the summer are blueberries. Now, I make about a dozen loaves of Lemon Blueberry bread each year – it’s become a summer calling card of mine. But today I was really needing to get into the kitchen, and wanted to try something different.

These cookies are ver light, almost cake like. I think they’d go really well with a hot tea on a cool afternoon, as we welcome Autumn.

Print Recipe
Lemon Blueberry Tea Cookies
Course Desserts
Prep Time 20 Minutes
Cook Time 15 Minutes
Passive Time 10 minutes
Servings
Dozen
Ingredients
Wet Ingredients
Dry Ingredients
Glaze
Course Desserts
Prep Time 20 Minutes
Cook Time 15 Minutes
Passive Time 10 minutes
Servings
Dozen
Ingredients
Wet Ingredients
Dry Ingredients
Glaze
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a pan with either a silicon sheet or parchment paper. I have not been happy with how they brown using a cooking sheet, as they tend to stick a little.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat the 2 eggs in a small bowl, then mix in. Incorporate the sour cream.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture, blending well.
  5. Carefully blend in the blueberries. Note: you may want to add a teaspoon of cornstarch to the blueberries beforehand, if they are thawed and giving off a lot of liquid.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, or until slightly brown around the edges. Let cool on baking sheet for another 10 minutes before moving to cooling rack.
Lemon Glaze
  1. To be honest, I really find it best to eyeball this. Basically you're going to combine the powdered sugar, lemon zest, and just enough lemon juice to get a consistency you feel will spread well. I use a pastry brush.
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My Holiday in San Juan, Puerto Rico

I wish I had posted this months ago. The past week, I’ve been heartbroken as I’ve learned of the devastation that has befallen Puerto Rico. While it’s sad to think that much of what I share in pictures below has been irrevocably lost, I feel it’s important to share in the hopes of at least encouraging each of us to keep them in our prayers.

You know it was a good holiday when you smile every time you think back on it!

In sticking with my $1,000 budget, it was down to Cartegena, Bolivia or San Juan, both of which I had not visited or even considered much before.  But with July quickly approaching, I needed to make a decision. Both represented a culture and climate that I was very interested in experiencing, and the lodging was similarly priced. So it was coming down to airfare, which I really needed to be around $500 or less. Finally, at the end of June, I was able to score a flight on AA (my preferred) for $475!

Now it was down to lodging. Normally, I would search for Airbnb with these filters:

  • Entire Place
  • < $100
  • Wifi
  • Kitchen

Then, I would do some research to find the optimal area to stay in to best experience the area on foot. But this trip would be a little different. I wouldn’t be traveling alone. {da da dah!!!}.  I know. I was in shock too! Well in the past year I’ve been blessed with a wonderful girlfriend who, while “totally ok” with me going alone, convinced me this would be a good opportunity to see if we could stand 5 days together on an island. knowing what’s good for me, I agreed. So, (being not married), I changed my filter to < $200 and a 2br/2b arrangement.

Next was deciding on a location. One of the benefits Airbnb affords is that you can find places that immerse you in the daily life of the local people, which is something I enjoy. Still, there was a decision to be made: stay near the beach or in the “Old San Juan” area. Both had their plusses and very few minuses. What is came down to was simply the idea that being near the beach would require taking an Uber or public transportation to visit OSJ. And while sun & surf were on our To Do list, we really looked forward to exploring the history of the city and its people.

That meant we still had about 25 places to choose from, all between $75-$175/nt, a nice problem to have! So the next few weeks were spent reading reviews, going through the posted pictures of the homes, and using my awesome Google Map skills to visually pinpoint where each place was – very handy when you’re thinking about what the walkaround experience will be like.

The place we ultimately chose was exactly what we’d hoped for, situated in the heart of OSJ, with both a balcony and a patio. Despite the fact that Airbnb doesn’t provide you the address until after 

 

purchase (for security reasons), I was able to find it by using Google Streetview and basically ‘walking’ the general area, looking for clues based on the exterior photos. I cut it close, with just 2 weeks to spare! #geek

Airfare and lodging squared away, I ‘lightly’ put together an itinerary of restaurants, sites, and activities, with the only real commitment being to spend at least one day at the beach. Other than that, each day would be an adventure unto itself – the best way for me to be relaxed on holiday.

The flight was early morning (6am) with a short layover in Miami, but with an empty seat between us it was really easy to spread out and relax. It also meant that we were able to get to our villa by 4pm, so there was still plenty of day left for us to enjoy after getting unpacked.

What struck me most about San Juan was that, while it is a U.S. Territory, you feel worlds away from the U.S. mainland. From the vibrant colors and styles of the local architecture, to the people and prominence of Spanish speech, it can very easily confuse you into wondering whether you need to keep your passport handy (you don’t). Also, it can’t be stressed enough how clean and safe it is. Particularly the parks and historical sites, you didn’t see the typical littering you find in stateside, which made it very welcoming to while away time sitting on the lawns or strolling the streets late in the evening.

Food. Oh my, the food! From the first evening to the last afternoon, save for a couple of personal failures (Wendy’s and Starbucks, natch), we ate or meals at local restaurants and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. My vote for “Best Dish with the Sketchiest Name” has to go to the local dish called Mofongo, which is mashed fried green plantain, seasoned with garlic and spices. You select your choice of protein (mine was skirt steak) and then serve it piled high. After seeing others dine on it for a few days, I finally enjoyed it myself at Barrachina, a very nice restaurant that also happens to be the birthplace of the Pina Colada. We didn’t confirm. My girlfriend was just as adventurous and was duly rewarded with the best fish tacos she’s had on several occasions. I also want to call out Casa Cortes Chocbar, the only place we at ate twice because they had a really great breakfast. And chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

The proud history of San Juan, which is on the northeastern coast of San Juan, is very evident, displayed most prominantly by the two forts and wall that surrounds most of what is now called Old San Juan. For the incredible price of $5 per person, you have 7 days to explore both forts at your leisure. And because they assume the best of tourists, there are very few barriers to experiencing the magnitude of the fort itself. You can literally walk up to the edge in many places and casually fall over the wall, plummeting 50ft or more to your death. It makes for great photos, but you might want to keep a close eye on your kids.

There are several really great beaches in the San Juan area, that is for certain. But I really wasn’t looking forward to spending a few hours with 100s of others, vying for both real estate and a calming experience. Our housekeeper shared with us that there is a beach behind the capital, about a 15 minute walk from our house. There, we found a really nice area with about a dozen people spread over a good 1/2 mile of shore. It was fantastic!

I’m sorry it has taken so long to write this, and deeply saddened that the Puerto Rico I fell in love with has been so badly affected by both Mother Nature and the Trump Administration. Yet, I know that the heart of Puerto Rico will strengthen the people through this difficult time, and I look forward to returning to once again be among some of the best people.

Footnote: There are many, many well intentioned organizations out there for you to support. I will suggest one, One America Appeal which, with the support of former US Presidents, helps our fellow citizens in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean as they recover and rebuild. https://www.oneamericaappeal.org/ 

The government of Puerto Rico has also launched a guide that details how individuals or companies can donate emergency and construction supplies (from bottled water, hand sanitizer and formula to extension cords, tarp and safety glasses). The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) is coordinating many of these donations here (and corporate giving here).