Friday Faves

photo-116 {cherry trees in bloom}

Happy March Madness Friday! What are you up to this weekend? My plans hinge on the Zags winning tonight (so nervous!!!) and then their game time on Sunday.  We’ve been having amazing weather lately so hopefully I’ll be able to enjoy it tomorrow at least, if it holds up. It feels more like May than March! Some links and pics to get you through the work day – which I hope is ending early so that you can watch the games! TGIF!

photo 2-37 {go zags! blue friday, cherish, joy}

photo-117 {mimosa carafe at my cousin jen’s baby shower last weekend}

photo 3-20 {new favorite mascara}

photo-115 {what do your niece and nephew wear when one needs to grow into her zag gear and one has grown out of all of his? make your own! (now the only issue will be getting them together for a photo shoot)}

Friday Faves

photo 1-41{happy first day of spring!}

Happy Friday, friends! What are you up to this weekend? Besides watching basketball nonstop from now until Sunday night, that is. My brackets are already busted, but I’m so excited for the Zags that I don’t really care that much.  I’m also looking forward to showering my cousin Jennifer and my little cous-niece on the way tomorrow, and then a bon voyage party for a very dear friend who’s moving to Amsterdam (!!!) tomorrow night. Good things the Zags play tonight and Sunday! Wishing everyone a lovely weekend. Some fun links and pics from the week:

photo 2-34{table full of cookbooks at Sesame & Lilies in Cannon Beach}

photo 1-39{“wiltless” glassbaby trio: sweet pea, peony, poppy}

photo 2-35 {adorable little treat bar at my new favorite salon (where they also serve free wine!)}

10406367_674178919375541_7180681802310643910_n {how sweet is baby harper?!?}

St. Patty’s Day Faves

photo 2-32 {elf (because I don’t have lucky), hope, shine}

Happy St. Patty’s Day!! This was supposed to be a Friday Faves post last week, but of course I didn’t have my act together so it’s a Tuesday Faves this week.  I hope everyone has fun plans for the holiday, which is one of my favorites! I’m excited to put together an outfit this morning, and treat myself to a green beer or two tonight. Some fun thematic links and pics in the meantime:

  • Homemade Mint Milanos – yes please!
  • So sad I didn’t think ahead and make this this year – bookmarking for SPD 2016!
  • If only I had known Harper would be here by now, I would have ordered this for her.
  • I pinned these biscuits years ago and have yet to make them – also on next year’s to do list.
  • One of my very favorite B&B posts.

photo 1-38{and because I’m a complete glassybaby nerd: a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!
everlasting, pumpkin, taxi, grass, blue bird, sweet pea, grace}

photo 2-30 {St. Patty’s Day cookie fun (with stencils!)}

photo 3-18{gorgeous greens}

photo 1-36 {and presents for the babies! books, bottles, hat (Coop’s dad is a C’s fan), bow}

My Favorite Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I first discovered this recipe almost three years ago, when Emily first posted it, and I’ve been making it for every chocolate-chip-cookie-appropriate occasion since. I haven’t posted it until now, however, as I wasn’t entirely sure this blog needed another chocolate chip cookie recipe – it’s fourth in two years, which is a pretty high ratio, especially considering (a) I have a long list of “to make for blog” recipes, and (b) I don’t even like chocolate chip cookies that much.  Don’t get me wrong, I still eat them, but I would much prefer snickerdoodle or peanut butter over plain old boring chocolate chip any day. These cookies aren’t plain old boring chocolate chip, though, which I was reminded when I made them for baby Harper’s doctors and nurses a couple weeks ago and everyone got really excited about them.

When my nephew was born last summer, he made his debut via a scheduled induction over a week after his due date.  Those post-due-date days of waiting impatiently gave me plenty of time to whip up a double batch of sugar cookie dough, roll out what felt like a million “onesie” cookies, bake them, frost them, decorate them, and freeze them.  I took them out of the freezer the morning my sister was induced, wrapped them all up in cellophane bags and tied them with blue ribbon, and delivered them to her hospital room about an hour after she was admitted.  While of course at the time she rolled her eyes, she appreciated me later when the anesthesiologist made several trips back to her room for more cookies, topping off her epidural each time.

Baby Harper didn’t give me enough time for royal icing, so these cookies were a perfect fall back plan.  She had given us a few signs that she might be early, so a couple weeks before her due date I made a batch of this dough, rolled the dough into balls, and froze them. And I’m so glad I did, because when my brother called me at 7 am on the day my sister-in-law hit 39 weeks to tell me they were heading to the hospital, all I had to do was pop them in the oven. So while they didn’t make it to the hospital quite in time for pre-birth special treatment, I’d like to think that the nurses took extra good care of her once she arrived.

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But I digress. What you’re probably more interested in is why these chocolate chip cookies are that much better than your average chocolate chip cookie. The blog post they originated from lists seven reasons – it explains them in greater detail than I will, but the cliffs notes version is: (1) mixture of cake and bread flours – not sure why but it seems to really make a difference; (2) chilling the dough; (3) room temperature ingredients; (4) size of cookie (the bigger the better!); (5) good quality chocolate; (6) salt (my favorite part by far); and (7) don’t overbake them. The recipe tells you to let all ingredients come to room temperature, and then once you’ve made the dough to let it rest in the fridge for 24-72 hours (ideally 36), and then still to wait to eat them until the day after you bake them….so if you’re going to follow all of those steps it really requires some planning.  I’ve done it that way and they are amazing, but I’ve also done it with eggs straight from the fridge and only a few hours of chilling and they still turn out delicious.

My only other note: I’ve had really good luck freezing these cookies, either baked or unbaked. If I’m going to freeze them unbaked, I let the dough chill in the fridge for as much time as I have – anywhere from 4 to 72 hours (I feel like I should do at least 4; the original recipe says 72 max) and then scoop it into balls and place the balls on a parchment lined cookie sheet as though I was going to bake them (I sprinkle the salt on at this point too). I freeze the salted dough on the cookie sheets until firm, and then place the frozen unbaked cookies in a freezer-safe storage bag. I’ll often make a batch when I’m bringing dinner to friends with a new baby, and I’ll bake a dozen to deliver ready to eat and then include a bag or two of frozen unbaked cookies for them to bake later – the gift that keeps on giving!

photo 1-8 photo-53 photo 2 Chocolate Chip Cookies, previously: oatmeal coconut, pumpkin, s’more

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies, from For Me, For You via Cupcakes and Cashmere

Yield: 2-3 dozen cookies, depending upon size

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 2/3 cups bread flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt, such as kosher
2 ½ sticks (1 ¼ cups) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks, preferably about 60% cacao content, such as Ghirardelli
Sea salt or kosher salt for garnishing

Combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk and set aside. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until very light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low; then add dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. Add the chocolate chips, and mix briefly to incorporate. Press plastic wrap against the dough, and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. The dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the bowl of dough from the refrigerator, and allow it to soften slightly. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Using a standard-size ice cream scoop (or a large tablespoon), scoop six mounds of dough onto the baking sheet, making sure to space them evenly. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt, and bake until golden brown but still soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies onto the rack to cool a bit more.

photo-113

Friday Faves

photo 2-31 {two weeks until spring!}

Happy Friday, friends! Two blog posts in one week, can you believe it? Let’s see if I can keep it up for the month of March. St. Patty’s Day, March Madness, a new baby niece….so much material, how could I not? That’s right – I’m officially an auntie times two! Little Harper Elizabeth joined us on Wednesday, a week early (so I hope she didn’t expect her blanket to be finished!). She’s pretty perfect…and so tiny!

What are you up to this weekend? Something fun I hope! I’m heading out of town tonight (sadly, not to Vegas for the WCC tournament), and I’ll be frantically trying to finish up Harper’s blanket on my flight.  Wishing you a wonderful weekend. Go Zags! Some fun links and pics from the week:

photo 1-35 {I gave my friend Lindsay the “single malt” glassybaby drinker for her birthday and she sent me this picture ~ almost makes me want to start drinking bourbon}

photo 1-37 {this new “adjustable” rolling pin has changed my life – or at least, my cookies}

photo 2-29 {lemon ricotta pancake at Tallulah’s with my friend Jessie, right before we both started our diets healthy eating lifestyles in preparation for her wedding in Hawaii in May}

photo-97 {One of my favorite things that I did for Coop, so I had to do it for Harper as well.  She’s going to be a sporty little gal if her dad has anything to say about it! Rattles from Land of Nod, burp cloths from Swaddle Designs.}

Melissa Clark’s Port Wine-Braised Short Ribs

photo 1 photo 2

When I first started this blog two years ago (!!!), it felt like I was posting a Melissa Clark recipe every other week.  I forced myself to take a break for awhile, so that I wouldn’t post every recipe she’s ever written, but tragically that meant that this, my most successful dinner party recipe to date, never made it onto the blog. Since I don’t eat red meat, I can’t tell you from personal experience how delicious these ribs may or may not be. However, I’ve made them a number of times now, and have passed on the recipe to family and friends, each time with rave reviews. Since I cook primarily for the accolades, I make these ribs a lot.

This recipe comes from the January chapter of Cook This Now (Melissa organizes the recipes in this cookbook by month), so I had every intention of posting it two months ago. But as you may have noticed, Blueberries and Basil is off to a slow start this year, so my “January Short Ribs” are a little delayed – I hope you can forgive me.  After all, most of the country is still experiencing January weather. And even in the Pacific Northwest, where it feels like May, it turns out short ribs are still well received even when it’s 50 degrees at dinner time.

photo 5 photo 1 photo 3 photo 4

Many of you are probably familiar with how to braise short ribs – but I really wasn’t, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover how easy it is. it’s the perfect make-ahead meal (dinner party or otherwise) because you can prepare it in advance, pop it in the oven, and not give it a second thought for the next three hours. Simply reduce your port* and wine**, brown your meat, sauté your veggies, dump everything into your Dutch oven and bake (technically braise, I suppose) for three hours while you clean your kitchen, make dessert, take a nap, run errands – you get the idea. Three hours to do whatever you like while a delicious meal comes together in the oven, all on it’s own. *Melissa uses port and wine, but if you don’t feel like buying a bottle of port only to use half a cup, I confess I’ve made them without the port before and haven’t heard any complaints. **The recipe calls for a dry red wine – I googled “dry red wine for short ribs” (because that’s the level of sophistication I have when it comes to using wine in cooking) and found most people recommend a petit syrah, so that’s what I’ve been using, but I think you could use whatever you have on hand.

photo 3 photo-112 photo 5 photo 1

Meat usually grosses me out, but even I have to admit, they’re kind of pretty.  And they make your kitchen smell amazing!  The original recipe is technically for oxtails (speaking of being grossed out) rather than short ribs, so Melissa tells you the meat should be “almost” falling off the bone after two and a half hours. I’m assuming the rules for short ribs are different, as mine are usually actually falling off the bone after an hour or so. Again, I don’t eat them so I can’t say for certain, but I’m constantly asking people if they’re overdone and am assured they are perfect. But that said, if you needed to shorten the cooking time a bit I think you’d be ok. The beauty of braising, I’m learning, is that you really can’t go wrong. Bon appétit!

photo 1

Port Wine-Braised Short Ribs, from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

1 (750 ml) bottle dry red wine
1/2 cup ruby port
3 lbs beef short ribs
Kosher salt, for seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 shallots, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 medium leeks, chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
3 thyme sprigs
2 rosemary  sprigs
1 bunch parsley stems (use some of the leaves for garnish, if you like)
2 bay leaves
2 medium carrots, scrubbed and diced small
Balsamic vinegar to taste

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the wine and port to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, brown the short ribs. Season them generously with salt and pepper (you will need at least two teaspoons salt and one teaspoon pepper, or possibly more – enough to get the meat well coated). In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with the olive oil. Working in batches, arrange the short ribs in a single layer and brown on all sides.  Take your time with this and let them get good and brown; don’t crowd the pan, or they will steam and never develop that tasty caramelized crust. Transfer the short ribs to a bowl.
3. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the Dutch oven and add the shallots, garlic, leeks, and celery.  Cook the vegetables, scraping up the browned bits at the bottom of the pan, until softened, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes.
4. Arrange the short ribs over the vegetables and add the reduced wine-port mixture. Using kitchen twine, tie together the thyme, rosemary, parsley stems, and bay leaves, and drop into the pot. (You can skip the twine and simply drop the herbs into the pot if you don’t have kitchen twine on hand – although it’s a bit of a pain to fish them out before serving).  Bring the liquid to a boil on the stovetop, then cover and transfer the Dutch oven to the oven. Cook, turning the ribs occasionally (or not), until the meat is tender but not yet falling off the bone, 2 to 2 1/2 hours (mine always seem to be falling off the bone by the two hour mark, but I give them 2 1/2 regardless if time allows). Add the carrots and cook another 30 minutes.
5. Season with balsamic vinegar and additional salt, if desired. Serve over mashed potatoes and top with parsley.

*If you’re serving the short ribs right away, as I usually am, you can spoon some of the fat off of the surface if it looks a little greasy (mine never seem to). You can also refrigerate and serve the next day; in that case the fat is easy to scrape off – although you lose a lot of your vegetables with it.

**In lieu of short ribs, you could use: 4 1/2 pounds oxtail pieces, 4 lamb foreshanks, 2-3 pounds brisket or chuck roast, or 2 pounds boneless beef stew meat.

***In lieu of mashed potatoes, you could serve over polenta, roasted potatoes, roasted root vegetables, or anything else that suits your fancy. You could also serve it on its own, as a simple stew.

photo 2

Friday Faves

photo 1
{New Glassybaby: Cherish, Valentine, Princess. Happy Valentine’s Day to me!}

Happy Friday the 13th! I just realized what day it is, yikes! I’ve had the hardest time getting into this blog lately, but I couldn’t miss a Friday Faves the day before Valentine’s Day – way too much pink and red to post. I hope everyone has had a wonderful week and is looking forward to a fun and/or relaxing weekend ~ and a happy heart day! Some fun links and pics to get you a little closer to 5pm:

photo-109
{spectacular venue for my friends’ Katie and Brian’s lovely Seattle wedding last weekend}

photo-111{last minute valentines}

photo-110{Coop and I are in the spirit (even if he won’t look at the camera)!}

photo 1-32
{treat baskets for my two favorite babies}

photo 3-16
{basket and liner from pottery barn, books, lifefactory bottle (with valentine peanut butter m&ms of course), sleepers from old navy and gymboree and onesie from the baby gap, valentine glassybaby, heart teether from land of nod, reusable squeeze packets from amazon, and stickers from etsy}

photo 4-12
{basket and liner from pottery barn, books, lifefactory bottle (also with m&ms), sleeper from hanna andersson, onesie from old navy, heart tutu and headband from gymboree, pink headband from nordstrom, princess glassybaby}