Belated Foodie Friday – Triple dark chocolate cookies

Why stop at double dark chocolate cookies when you can have triple dark chocolate cookies instead? Don’t get me wrong, the double dark chocolate cookies I posted last fall are amazing (and I’ve even used them as a base for some other cookies), but when the opportunity arose to add even more types of chocolate to a cookie I couldn’t pass it up. As you can tell from the above photo, I made these cookies around Halloween last year (see the ghost, pumpkin, and bat sprinkles?) so I’ve been dragging my feet posting the recipe. I just have many good ones to share! But back to the story at hand. Sometime last year I picked up a box of Hershey’s Special Dark instant pudding mix at Walmart one day with no real use in mind, but then fate intervened and I found this recipe for triple dark chocolate cookies. And they are delicious! The pudding mix makes these cookies soft and give them a rich chocolate flavor. If you like dark chocolate this is definitely the way to go.

INGREDIENTS:
1 c (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 c brown sugar
3/4 c sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 c Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
1 box (3.75 oz) Hershey’s Special Dark instant pudding mix
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 c Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate chips (I think I used Ghiradelli’s instead)

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, cocoa powder, and pudding mix and beat/stir until combined. Add the flour and beat/stir until almost combined. Fold in the chocolate chips which should help incorporate the rest of the flour. Spread the dough into a 13×9″ pan lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 deg F for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy!

Based on Something Swanky’s Hershey’s Special Dark Triple Chocolate Pudding Cookies.

2014 Resolution #6

New Year’s Resolution #6: Read every night before bed

First of all, isn’t it great how I keep making new resolutions even though the year is already almost a quarter over? Yeah, I’m taking this whole “New Year” concept a little far, but bear with me because it’s for a good cause. (And if you’ve noticed that I haven’t written about resolution #4 yet, don’t worry, I’ll get to that in a future post.)

I’ve always loved reading, and since the beginning of the year the Kindle app on my iPad Mini (which replaced my ancient Kindle earlier this year) has been filling up with books that I’m really excited about. Even if I’d been devouring books since then I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the influx of new reading material. And of course I’d like to keep my mind (and let’s face it, my imagination) sharp with consistent reading, but there’s more to this resolution than all of that great stuff. I’ve come to the realization that I spend way too much time on my laptop after I get in bed every night and I think it’s been messing up my sleep patterns. The only reason I get online that late is because I’ve put off writing my daily webpage post and I need to get it done before I go to sleep. It’s a terrible habit that I would really like to break. And since reading tends to make me sleepy (not in an “I’m bored” way) it should keep me from staying up as late as I have been. Ironically I’m writing this post while sitting in bed. Oops. But I actually went to bed most nights this week without breaking out my laptop and I think it helped. So as soon as I publish this post I’m going to pick up my iPad Mini and read some of Insurgent, which is the sequel to Divergent (I want to go see that movie soon, but that’s a subject for another post). Good night everyone!

Resolution #3 revisited

As I’ve mentioned more than once, I started running again last week. (I know no one really cares about this except me, but writing about it not only keeps me accountable for continuing, but also motivates me not to quit.) So far I’ve completed five training runs in preparation for the Seal Beach 10K on April 5th, which will be my first race. I’m a bit nervous! But despite my lack of race experience I have already signed up for two half marathons in the fall. Two! How crazy am I? The first one will be the Disneyland Half Marathon on August 31st. With all the time I spend at Disneyland already what could be more natural than going for a run there? And I get a medal afterwards! More Disney paraphernalia is always good. Like the Run Disney pin (pictured above) I bought after I signed up for my first race. Registration for the half marathon was back in January so you have to start making plans to run more than eight months in advance. That’s really thinking ahead for someone like me who’s only been running for six months or so. But the Disneyland races are fairly small (the parks are packing into a surprisingly small space in Anaheim) so I had to grab a spot while I could rather than wait a while to decide if it was something I really wanted to attempt. I think I’ll have a better idea of my capabilities after the 10K next weekend, but at least I’ll have a chance to try a 13.1 mile race this fall if I want to. To compound my craziness, not long after I registered for my first half marathon, a new event at Disneyland was announced – the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon on November 16th. Of course I had to sign up for that one as well! I needed a good excuse to wear my Iron Man t-shirts and now I have one. Speaking of running attire, a lot of folks wear elaborate costumes to run these races at Disneyland, but I think I’ll stick to graphic t-shirts this time around to ensure I’m comfortable. I bought a couple of “Frozen” shirts recently so one of those will probably be part of my outfit for the Disneyland Half Marathon. Maybe I’ll look for a couple of accessories to go with it – like a running skirt or tiara. For the Avengers Half Marathon my first thought was to wear my Iron Kitty shirt (Hello Kitty dressed up as Iron Man, of course), but my Marvel superheroes shirt might be a better choice. I’m excited and nervous about the prospect of these races, but luckily I have plenty of time to train and prepare. Wish me luck!

Sweet sixteen

Yeah, I know this graphic is from last year, but I couldn’t find the corresponding 2014 version. And anyway, it’s true again this year. You know what’s also the same as last year? Just like the Florida made it to the Elite 8! I just finished watching them beat UCLA so it seems I’ll be watching some more tournament basketball on Saturday. Go Gators!

Snow in DC

It snowed in DC again today, but luckily I can read about it from the much more pleasant climate of Southern California rather than deal with it in person. Let’s just say I wasn’t exactly prepared when the white stuff started falling from the sky the day after I arrived last week. The photo on the left was taken from my hotel window on Sunday night while the snow was falling, and the photo on the right was taken on Monday morning. I had to work late on Sunday night so I was dismayed to find about three inches of snow on my rental car when I left to drive to my hotel for the night. Earlier in the evening I’d gone out to pick up some pizzas for everyone and it was just starting to snow. It wasn’t a big deal at the time and I actually enjoyed it. Since I’ve never lived in a cold climate I think watching snow fall is really beautiful, but I don’t consider the aftermath of hours of snowfall. Since Budget hadn’t left a brush in my car I had to wipe off as much of the snow from the windshield and windows of my car using my hands that night. I had gloves, but my fingers still got really cold. My fingers hurt so much afterwards that I had trouble getting my credit card out of my wallet when I got to the hotel! The next morning was even worse. The hotel parking lot had been plowed, but my car had about eight inches of accumulated snow on it. Fun. There was no way I was going to try and clear that off with just my hands, especially since I hadn’t brought any shoes with me that were even remotely suitable for walking through snow. Instead I had the hotel shuttle drop me off at work, and a co-worker took me back that evening. I borrowed a broom from work to help dig my car out so I could go to the grocery store and get some much-needed food items that night. The roads were in good shape so driving was easy as soon as my car wasn’t a giant snowdrift. By the time I left DC six days later the snow was almost completely gone. Warmer temperatures and some rain took care of that. The locals told me that this winter had been brutal and they were really looking forward to spring. Too bad they got more snow today. Luckily I’m not there this time!

On my way home

After eight days I’m on my flight back to Los Angeles. Actually, I’m on a flight to San Francisco at the moment and I’ll catch a connecting flight to LA there. I’m not thrilled about a two plus hour layover there before I can get home, but I didn’t have much choice when I booked the ticket. I’m not going to have nearly as much time as I’d like tonight at home before bedtime. There are quite a number of things I need/want to do, but I’ll have to be picky. I can’t skip the grocery store if I want to make something for my lunch at work so that’ll be my top priority. Yes, I’m going right back to work. As much as I’d like to take a day off I don’t think I can afford to. I’m way too busy. (Plus our pay periods won’t easily accommodate it, unfortunately.) I’m considering taking an afternoon off one day so I can go to Disneyland, but that’s still in the planning stages at the moment. I just checked our flight map and right now we’re flying over quite a lot of snow in Colorado and Wyoming. Did I mention I’m going to Wyoming in May? I’ve been wanting to go to Yellowstone National Park for a long time so I talked my family into going at the end of May. I bought my plane ticket before I left for DC and I’m really excited about it. I tried to talk my dad into going to Yellowstone back in 2001 when we were driving across the country for my second internship, but it was just too darn far north to justify diverting from our route. We didn’t make it much more north than Denver. But with my 2014 New Year’s resolution to visit as many new states as possible, I figured this was the perfect time to visit Yellowstone. Not only have I never been to Wyoming, but we’ll be able to easily hit Idaho and Montana as well. Let’s face it, I can’t imagine I’ll ever have another reason to be in that part of the country so I want to take advantage of it. I think I’m actually doing pretty well on that particular resolution so far this year since in the last week I went to three new states which brought my total up to 30. As I’m sure you could tell from the pictures I shared this week (because I was too tired to actually write anything), not only did I visit West Virginia last week, but I took a little detour into Pennsylvania on my way back to DC. Then yesterday I drove to Delaware to visit the Winterthur Museum outside of Wilmington. They have an exhibit of costumes from “Downton Abbey” that I definitely wanted to see while I had a chance. I’ll write more about (and include some pictures) that in another post. I’d share a new map of the states I’ve visited, but at this point it doesn’t look significantly different from the one I posted last Sunday. But look out after my trip in May! That bad boy is going to be much more colorful. My only regret about my adventures last week is not swinging by New Jersey yesterday. It was right there across the bridge on I-295, but by the time I got there in the afternoon I didn’t want to make my drive from Delaware back to DC any longer than it needed to be. Oh well. I still need to visit Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont at some point so maybe I can add New Jersey then. Besides my travel excursions, I also did something else on this trip that I’ve been wanting to do (OK, needing to do). I started running again. I know I’ve written about this a little bit already, but I completed three (extremely slow) runs while I was out of town, which was a major victory since I hadn’t run in two months. Treadmill running is the most boring thing ever, but I discovered that watching the first two “Back to the Future” movies makes it much more enjoyable. I decided to take the weekend off because I was traveling (and because I got a blister on the bottom of my right foot on Friday), but I’m planning to run as much as possible over the next two weeks (outside this time – I love California!) before the Seal Beach 10K. I don’t really care how long it takes me to finish the race, but I’d like to not walk through the finish line completely exhausted. I’ll do my best to be prepared! Speaking of prepared, I think it’s just about time for me to turn off my laptop for our landing in San Francisco. The good thing about this fairly random stream-of-consciousness paragraph (besides keeping me occupied on this seemingly endless cross-country flight) is that I’m done with my webpage post for the day! That’s one thing I don’t have to worry about when I get home tonight. Not bad at all.