Foodie Friday – Coconut oil chocolate chip cookies

I made coconut oil chocolate chip cookies in my 15th chocolate chip cookie variation, but I wasn’t completely satisfied. So a couple of weeks ago I gave it another shot, using my perfect chocolate chip cookie bar recipe as a base. But it took two attempts to get these right. The first batch turned out really oily. I wasn’t sure whether too much coconut oil or too little flour was the culprit, so I slightly tweaked both ingredients the next weekend when I made some more. And I think I hit the jackpot! These cookies are chewy, chocolately, and delicious. You wouldn’t know they were made with coconut oil in place of butter unless someone told you because the coconut flavor isn’t obvious. I’m tempted to add some toasted shredded coconut to these next time (and maybe even some coconut extract for triple the coconut). So if you’re looking for a healthier cookie variety that still tastes like a classic chocolate chip cookie, this is a good place to start!

INGREDIENTS:
Scant 1/2 c coconut oil (6-7 Tbsp or so)
1 c light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c milk chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:
Place the coconut oil in a large bowl. If necessary microwave the coconut oil for 10-15 seconds until it’s the consistency of softened butter. My apartment is cold so this step is definitely required. Add the sugar to the bowl and cream together with the coconut oil. I used a wooden spoon and a lot of elbow grease to do this, but I suspect an electric mixer would do a better job. Add the egg and vanilla and beat/stir until combined. Add the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour and stir until almost combined. Fold in the chocolate chips which should help incorporate the rest of the flour. Press the dough into an 8×8″ pan lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray. This makes of easy removal from the pan when the cookies are cool and less dishes to wash later. Bake at 350 deg F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy!

Based on Averie Cooks’ Coconut Oil White Chocolate Cookies and My Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.

Post-op post

Yesterday was the first day of 2014 that I didn’t update my webpage, but I think I had a good excuse. My surgery was yesterday, and even though it went very smoothly and I didn’t feel too awful afterwards, I was really tired last night. I’m still feeling wiped out tonight, but I wanted to write a little something anyway. My mom, dad, and I arrived at the hospital at 5:30 AM yesterday for my 7 AM surgery. I didn’t get to talk to my doctor after the operation, but she discussed it with my parents when it was over. She removed two ovarian cysts and discovered that I have endometriosis. That surprised me a little because I thought it was ruled out when I was eighteen. My doctor said it was a mild case, but it was there. Lucky me! After the procedure and about an hour in recovery, my parents drove me home to get some rest. The anesthesia made me feel pretty gross, but we got some lunch from a local restaurant before I took a nap in the afternoon. For dinner we went to Ruby’s because my throat was hurting and I wanted a milkshake. I went everywhere yesterday in some old yoga pants, a sweatshirt, and flip-flops. There was no way I would have been able to wear jeans over the three incisions I have in my abdomen now. Ouch. I even hurt myself turning over in the middle of the night. The pain didn’t last too long, but it still kept me awake for an hour before I could go back to sleep. When I got up this morning I realized that my sore throat was the beginning of a head cold and not just a side effect of the surgery. Of course I would get sick when I’m already taking time off from work for medical purposes. When it rains it pours, huh? Besides the cold I was feeling pretty good today. My incisions are tender to the touch, but I’m otherwise not in very much pain. My parents helped me with some errands today after I finally got up and showered (I was glad to wash off the orange Betadine that was still all over my belly). First we went to the Social Security office to start the process of changing my name back. That was a success and I should get my new Social Security card with my maiden name on it in about two weeks. After that I can go to the DMV and start updating credit card accounts, utilities, etc. I’ll be glad when that’s all over, but it was great to at least take the first step today. Our next stop was Ikea to get a little shelf for my bedroom. The three of us also had lunch of Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, and ligonberry sauce at the Ikea cafĂ©. Delicious. Unfortunately I was wiped out after those two errands so we went back to my apartment so I could take a nap. The rest of today was very low key because I had overextended myself earlier. Now it’s time for me to sleep again and hopefully heal some more. I’ll be glad when it doesn’t hurt my stomach to sit down and stand up again!

Very busy Saturday

My parents arrived in Los Angeles today. They’re here to take care of me after my surgery on Tuesday, but until then we have some time to do fun things. When they came out for my last surgery in June they didn’t get to do anything outside of Seal Beach. I felt terrible – in more ways than one. I was in much worse shape than I expected after the procedure and that kept my parents at home with me for a full week. It was very boring because I couldn’t walk more than a couple of blocks at a time, and I was sorry that they traveled all the way across the country to do and see almost nothing. It was a shame. I didn’t want to repeat that mistake this time. Today, at least, I succeeded. The first thing I had to do this morning was go to the hospital and have more blood drawn. When I went in for my pre-op appointment on Thursday it was too far from my surgery date to do all of the tests. That meant two blood draws in three days. Fun! I had the nurse take the blood from my right arm this time since I wanted the bruises on my elbows to be symmetrical. This way I look like an equal opportunity IV drug user. After I left the hospital I drove down to the John Wayne Airport to wait for my parents to arrive. I had actually never been to SNA before, neither to fly out of or to pick anyone up, but it’s thankfully much nicer than LAX. When my parents and their bags had been tucked safely in my car we went to South Coast Plaza for lunch and a little shopping. It was a lovely February day here in LA so walking around, even inside, was very pleasant. I drove my parents back to my apartment a few hours later, and then promptly had my dad help me get rid of my huge, old TV that was in the guest bedroom. It proved to be a more difficult task than I anticipated, but after some creative engineering (and a few cracks in the plastic, I believe) we dropped it off at Goodwill. I was not sad to say goodbye to the TV I bought for my first Seal Beach apartment back in 2004. It was ridiculously cumbersome! Now my old 32″ flat screen and Roku box are set up in the guest bedroom, which is what I wanted for this week, but I think I’ll move it into my bedroom after my parents go back to Florida. This evening the three of us went to dinner on Main Street and then went right back home because my mom was tired and wanted to go to bed. My dad and I watched an episode of Top Gear (with an impromptu trip to Target to pick up a hairdryer as an interlude) before bedtime. That show makes me laugh like nothing else. It was a good day. Now it is time for me to go to sleep. Good night!

Foodie Friday – Oatmeal chocolate chip cookie bars

I almost called this post “Chocolate chip cookies #36 plus” since it is a refinement of my 36th chocolate chip cookie variation rather than something completely new, but this recipe is so good that I wanted to put the name right in the title of the post. These oatmeal chocolate chip cookie bars are amazing. When I took them to work on Monday one of my co-workers tried to distract me so that he could run out of my cubicle with the whole box! Yep, they’re good enough to steal. I got the urge to bake some cookies last Sunday, and I’m so glad I did. This recipe is definitely one of my favorites. It’s just the right amount of sweetness and chewiness, and I’m already thinking of ways to take it up a notch. Maybe some butterscotch chips, dried cherries, or M&Ms. And sprinkling some colored sugar on top for the holidays is always a winner. Any way you slice it (pun intended – they’re bar cookies!), these cookies are delicious. I can’t wait for my parents to get here on Saturday so I can eat some more of them!

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c flour
1 c old-fashioned oats
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c milk chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and both sugars. You can use an electric mixer, but I usually just use a wooden spoon. Add the egg and vanilla and beat/stir until combined. Add the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour and stir until almost combined. Fold in the oats, which should help incorporate the rest of the flour. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spread the dough into an 8×8″ or 11×7″ pan lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray. This makes of easy removal from the pan when the cookies are cool and less dishes to wash later. Bake at 350 deg F for about 25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy!

Based on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe’s Classic Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies and My Original Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.

Grocery store story #1

Who is Angela Forrester? Back in 2009 and 2010 when I was working in DC about one week every month I shopped at the Safeway grocery store near my hotel a lot. (I was living on Clif Bars and Slimfast shakes those days.) I even bought a Safeway reusable bag because I was tired of dealing with so many plastic bags in my hotel room after I bought groceries. I didn’t have a Safeway rewards program membership, but I must have forgotten that one day in a weary haze because I punched my home phone number into the keypad at the checkout and it was accepted! I was a little confused, but I certainly didn’t object to the savings. And of course I used it again the next time I was there. I figured I must have had an account all along. Some grocery stores share rewards programs, after all. I certainly wasn’t asking any questions. However I was puzzled when the cashier called me “Mrs. Forrester” one day after I paid for my food. Maybe I heard her wrong or she read my name wrong? I let it slide…until it happened again. That’s when I looked at my receipt and saw the name “Angela Forrester” printed near the bottom. I was using someone else’s account! But it was someone who had registered with my home phone number, presumably before it was mine. At this point the logical thing to do would have been to sign up for my own Safeway rewards account, but I didn’t think that made much sense since there are no Safeways grocery stores in LA. So I used Angela Forrester’s Safeway account every time I bought groceries in DC. But that’s not where the story ends. It turns out that Safeway and Vons/Pavilions have the same rewards program, and since I’ve been living in Seal Beach I regularly shop at the local Pavilions. But instead of getting my own Vons Club card I kept using Angela Forrester’s account. I feel a little guilty, but the good news is that I haven’t seen any evidence that anyone else is using it so I’m not stepping on anyone’s toes. One of these days I will use my cell phone number to get my very own Vons/Safeway rewards membership. Maybe.

My latest purchase

Take a look at my awesome new 40″ television! I bought it yesterday, set it up, and promptly turned the most recent episode of “Downton Abbey.” I even took this picture during a rare smile from Lady Mary. It was fantastic. Then I tested the “smart” function of the TV and watched the beginning of “Mulan” on Netflix. Not having to go through my Blu-ray player to watch Netflix content is great. Up until now it’s been easier to use my iPad, but with a Netflix button right on the TV remote control it couldn’t get much simpler now! I love it. Tonight when I got home from work I flipped on the Olympics so I could watch while cleaning my kitchen (my parents are arriving on Saturday – cleaning is a necessary evil). I just wanted to see the ladies figure skating short program, but of course that coverage didn’t start for another hour and a half. I washed dishes, finished my cleaning, took a shower, and got into bed before the first skater’s performance even aired. It’s not too conducive to an early bedtime. I’ll probably stay up too late watching tonight, but at least I’m entertained while writing this post! I’m going to try to go to work a little early tomorrow because I have to leave at about 11 AM to go to a doctor’s appointment. I have two pre-op appointments in preparation for my surgery on Tuesday. One of those appointments is going to involve a blood draw, which I hate, but I won’t worry about that now. I’ve got figure skating to watch!