Food

In the Kitchen: The Vanilla Bean Baking Book Chocolate Chip Cookies (Kind Of..)

One of my favorite deserts is a classic chocolate chip cookie. If it’s warm even better. I think I’ve made every recipe for chocolate chip cookies. I have the Toll House recipe memorized. I’ve tried what the New York Times claims is the best recipe of all time. I’ve learned nearly every tip and trick to making the best cookies ever. I’ve even made up my own recipes. I guess I’m a little…obsessed; so naturally when the cookies from the Vanilla Bean Baking Book kept popping up on my Instagram feed I knew I had to give them a try.

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Links I Love 002

Well, the weekend is finally upon us. I will be taking my heartbroken little self to see The Big Sick. This might possibly be a terrible idea considering it is being called one, if not the, greatest romantic comedy in some time. I suppose maybe there’s an upside or some wishful thinking that maybe, just maybe, it will all work out someday. Who knows? If all else fails I will simply embarrass myself with a full on public cry.

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend, but first here’s some really fun and interesting stuff from across the web. Enjoy!

In the Kitchen: Chocolate Chip M&M Cookies

A few weeks back I decided to revisit (and use) my old Tumblr account. I decided to give it a whole new look and tagging system so I could find things much easier. I use it as kind of visual collection of things that inspire me, things I want to try, and just funny things. I have had this Tumblr since 2009 and it has thousands of posts. While tagging I realized there were SO many images of m&m chocolate chip cookies. Like…..maybe too many? 

Since taking on that incredibly type-A task, I’ve been thinking about these cookies for days. One afternoon I took a break and thought why not make some? Using my handy tagging system I began looking at recipes, but then it dawned on me: I’m just going to add M&Ms to the regular Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe. Cause with chocolate chip cookies, if ain’t broke don’t fix it. Plus I have the recipe memorized and my favorite adjustments on lock already. Easy enough…

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Springtime City Guide: Phoenix

Full disclosure: it’s been incredibly nice here the past couple weeks. Unless you count yesterday being about 96 degrees which is more of an outlier. Regardless, that means we are spending a ton of time outdoors lately. Phoenix in the spring has an influx of snowbirds avoiding the frigid temperatures of their home state in favor of pool days, baseball games, and hiking. While it might be my biggest driving annoyance (just because it’s sunny doesn’t mean we drive differently!), I figured I would share more of my favorite places to visit in the Phoenix metro area.

I’ve previously shared some of my favorite places to go (City Guide: Phoenix) but this time I tried to recommend places with more outdoor spaces to enjoy the brilliant weather. It’s only a matter of time before just the thought of stepping outside burns the bottom of my feet. So whether it’s enjoying a nice meal on the patio or taking in a baseball game these are some of the best places to check out and enjoy some time outside.

Churn

Churn
5223 N. Central Ave, Phoenix

Churn is an ice cream parlor with a vintage feel that sells ice cream, sweets, and even little toys. Their selection of vintage sweets and delicious ice cream make it the perfect place to take in a little afternoon treat. They have pretzel cones, cake cones, and even the classic waffle cone to fill up with delectable ice cream flavors and toppings. Choose a sundae, cone, or eat the ice cream all on its own. It’s just that good. My favorite are the ice cream sandwiches that are made to order from a variety of cookie and ice cream combinations. They are gigantic and quite possible one of the best cookies I’ve ever tasted. They also know that sweet cravings often happen at night and are open until 10pm!

SpringTraining

Spring Training Baseball

One perk of living in Arizona is the plethora of baseball games to choose on the daily. Plenty of teams come to train here so it’s a given to check out a game. Be the envy of everyone you know by spending the day outside, on the lawn, having a hot dog and beer while enjoying some baseball. There are plenty of stadiums and teams to choose from and many games cost as little as $13 dollars for a lawn seat. I personally choose the Dodgers who play out of Glendale or will settle for the Diamondbacks in Scottsdale (they offer complementary sunscreen!). There’s only a few weeks left so if you haven’t gone, go now!

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Crescent Ballroom
308 N. 2nd Ave, Phoenix

Crescent Ballroom is one of the best places to take in live music in the Valley. It’s a former garage which offers free music frequently or indie bands for a low price. They have specialty nights like the upcoming 80s dance party or the Drake vs Kanye hip hop nights. There’s always something going on so check their calendar. Not into taking in some live music? Enjoy some great Tex-Mex food on their new second floor patio. It looks like a great place to take in a sunset while having some of the best nachos ever made. I wish they still served up a cold PBR, but I love Crescent Ballroom just the same.

Postino

Postino
5144 N. Central Ave, Phoenix

There are many new Postino locations across the Valley, but this one is conveniently located across the street from Churn. Yes, you can take in a lovely meal on the patio and then head over for some ice cream. Postino offers a great selection of wine and Italian food in a really relaxed, comfortable setting. There’s great music and decor plus the food is outstanding. it’s one of my all time favorite places to go. I usually eat a sandwich and the side salad is incredibly tasty so I have no doubt their other salads are just as good. Don’t skip on the bruschetta and always try the seasonal offering when making your choices. Postino is the perfect excuse to eat all. the. bread. No seriously just trust me. Do it. 

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Taliesin West
12621 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, Scottsdale

NERD ALERT: I love Taliesin West and Frank Lloyd Wright and after listening to a 99% Invisible podcast episode on Usonia  I just knew I would have to recommend this.

If you don’t know, Taliesin West was the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright and the headquarters of the Taliesin Fellowship. It now is home of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and School of Architecture. There are tons of tours depending on your interest level in the project. There’s a new Private Collection tour featuring tons of items from Frank Lloyd Wright’s vaults or you can take the Panorama tour which highlights the link between outside and inside. Enthusiasts can take the Behind the Scenes tour and romantics can take the Night Lights which looks amazing. The Foundation offers tours of the gardens and grounds for those who enjoy the outdoors much more than myself. The structure is built with the iconic Frank Lloyd Wright organic architecture forming deep connections with the desert surrounding it. It was handcrafted and maintained by Wright loyalists who believed in the Wright style. Its gorgeous and I love it. It’s well worth the money even just the generic tour.

January

January is the Monday of months. It’s cold and dark. There aren’t many movies out that aren’t scraping the bottom of the barrel of ideas. Good new music is hard to come by. I don’t feel like doing anything except hibernating in my bed. The gym is way too full (but will begin to taper out in the next couple weeks). But yet, the illusion is everything will be a fresh new start. A time to hit the reset button and start over.

America is a crazy place to be right now and I find myself angry quite a bit because this isn’t the America I want to live in nor do people remember the foundations of America to begin with. Obviously I want to avoid discussing this further because while it may be the time to say something, this isn’t the space I want to use. I always begin the year feeling like the possibilities are endless and this year finally everything will fall into place. But the truth is just a month in and I’m already feeling defeated.

Since it is my blog and a representation of me and my life, I’ll just say maybe everything I believed about a lot of things isn’t true. How is it that I continue to be hopeful and believe there’s better out there yet I can’t seem to make it happen for myself? I try to contribute the most I can to my universal bank but when I want to cash out and finally get something in return it just never shows up. It just keeps getting harder and more frustrating. I’m tired of feeling like I’m standing at a fork in the road but constantly making the wrong decision. The road just takes me back exactly to the same place as before. I hate to call it an existential crisis, but why does it feel like everything I’ve ever believed in is false? Maybe it’s just the people I choose to put my faith in who keep letting me down…

Enough of the boring stuff. Here’s all the stuff I think you need to check out right now. If you made it this far, congrats. You are a real trooper.

  • Read This: Forgive Yourself for Not Being Perfect. Then Do It Again Tomorrow. an essay by Liz Welle. Given what I said above about the state of my life, maybe it’s time to give this a shot more.
  • Eat This: Steak Tacos with Cilantro Radish Salsa. I made these a couple weeks back and they were delicious even just the steak without the salsa.
  • Try This: Dry Brushing. Reduce the appearance of cellulite and increase the function of the lymphatic system by dry brushing. It’s a quick way to relax before a shower and it makes your skin look and feel healthy.
  • Listen to This: Darling by Real Estate. Real Estate always makes me think of warmer temperatures driving around in my car with the windows down. Something I long for during winter…that is until spring really comes. Plus it’s brand new music! #blessed
  • Buy This: Reformation Anjela top. I’m obsessed with this romantic looking Reformation top. The sheer detail is perfectly on trend for those of us who aren’t really willing to take the full Kendall Jenner route to sheer tops. Not to mention how dainty and feminine it looks.
  • Watch This: Materialism: A Documentary of Important Things. As human beings we accumulate a lot of things and as someone who is utterly fascinated (and slightly annoyed) by the HGTV show about tiny houses, I found this documentary incredibly interesting. It covers the various ways people approach living a minimalist lifestyle in their own ways. Whether that means building a space that caters to their needs, living in a tiny home (or two suitcases), or just having a 33 piece wardrobe, they examine different ways to embrace a simpler way of life. Experiences and live over mass consumption of material goods. It’s streaming now on Netflix, but I’m just not quite sure I’m prepared to give up my closet for just 33 pieces.