Sneak Peek

What’s the best way to vacation?

A road trip with your best friends!!!!

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I’m currently halfway through a 2 WEEK epic road trip along the West Coast, and though I would throw a few pictures your way.

(I’m planning on a longer post when I get back, so this is just a preview ūüôā )

Day 1

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We drove to Denver first, and on Day 2 we drove through the Rockies!!!!!!

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Day 3 saw us stopping at Arches National Park…

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We then stopped in Vegas on Day 4…(the desert got super boring!!)

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Finally on Day 5 we hit California!!! (Visalia to be exact ūüôā )

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I was super excited yesterday (Day 6 for those of you keeping track…) because we made it to San Francisco!!! I’m discovering I looooove this city ūüôā Also, our 5th member was finally able to join the group! Yay!

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Today was Day 7 and I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time!!!

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I can’t wait to see what adventures the next week will hold!!!

For quicker updates on the EPIC ROAD TRIP (!!!), follow me on Instagram under ladyaubsbean ūüôā

The Perfect Thank You

As you know, I moved a couple of weeks ago.

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Left my near-perfect teaching job in Bixby.

Left my wonderfully amazing, super supportive team. (We’re missing 4 people, but this is most of us!)

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Left Tulsa.

Left my 3rd floor apartment.

Left my *gulp* roommates that have become family. (pause to wipe away tears)

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Moved into my amazing Grandma’s house.

Moved mountains of materials into my new ginormous classroom.

Moved back into my family’s daily life.

Started walking regularly (in hopes that will turn to jogging!).

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Started the process of finding a church that will feed my soul.

Began convincing my cat that 5 am is NOT in fact the optimal time to eat breakfast. Don’t let the furry face fool you. She is a menace at 5 am.

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Since moving I haven’t really been doing a great deal of cooking, but I have been doing a fair bit of cookie baking!

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And, to be honest, cookie eating.  Yum.

I have a problem with chocolate chip cookies, mine almost always turn out super flat. ¬†This is not necessarily a bad thing, unless you are wanting puffy cookies. ¬† My roomies didn’t have this problem. ¬†They can take the exact same recipe and their cookies will be puffy and perfect.

(For the next part to make much sense you need some background.  My Grandma lives right next to the wild game processing plant that my Grandpa started years and years ago.  When I say next to the shop, I mean the house shares a abnormally large driveway and paved area with it.   My aunt, uncle, cousin, and a couple of other guys work there year round with the rest of the family pitching in during deer season.)

My cousin and one of the workers were asked by my Grandma to help me unload the truck, and since she’s Grandma, you do whatever she asks willingly. ¬†She’s just that awesome.

As a thank you, I offered to make some cookies for them.  Alas, they both requested chocolate chip.

I tried a batch, they tasted weird, were burned on the bottom and were…you guessed it, flat.

I didn’t take pictures. ¬†They were that bad.

I tried another batch after tinkering with the oven. ¬†They came out like normal, but were super flat and I just didn’t want to give the guys flat cookies. ¬†Plus I was out of chocolate chips and had to use M&Ms. ¬†That’s not what they asked for! ūüôā

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I did an internet search.  I found a recipe that I had heard about, but never tried before.  The cookies were perfectly puffy and deliciously soft!

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(They also didn’t puddle out to triple their original size like my trademark flat ones!)

This recipe seems to be a classic according to the comments, so if you already know it….then you are way ahead of me in the awesome cookie realm!! ¬†For anyone with a similar chocolate chip cookie block to mine, you’re welcome. ¬†Enjoy the cookies ūüôā

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

very slightly adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix (what?!?! Totally the secret ingredient for the puff impaired!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. ¬†Whisk together flour and baking soda until incorporated and set aside. ¬†Cream butter and sugars together, but don’t go crazy here. ¬†I just found out over-mixing and cookies don’t mix (haha). ¬†Add the package of pudding and mix until just combined. ¬†Beat in the eggs and vanilla, then the flour mixture. ¬†Again, (say it with me) until just combined! ¬†I’ve taken to stopping my mixer when there is still a little flour showing and finishing by hand to avoid this :). ¬†Fold in the chocolate chips. ¬†(Special note, try to use quality chocolate chips. ¬†I’m a generic brand kind of girl myself, but I’ve found springing for the Ghirardelli/fancy chips makes a HUGE difference and its one of the few non-generic items I’ll buy.) ¬†Scoop dough onto a baking sheet in rounded spoonfuls and bake for 9-11 minutes or until the edges start to brown slightly. ¬†Cool just enough for the chocolate to no longer be lethal before scarfing down or cool completely and use as a perfect thank you gift.

Make approx. 3 dozen cookies

Cookies will stay soft for a long time, I made them 6 days ago and the few that remain still taste fresh and soft.

Pasta Perfection

I. Heart. Pasta.

Big time.

Recently I posted on here about a legit pasta alternative…but sometimes you just gotta have the real stuff.

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This pasta is so beyond perfect for summertime, and has the potential to be an incredibly quick, totally impressive dinner.

The reason it has potential to be incredibly quick is the tomatoes…

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They sorta need to roast for 3 hours.

BUT!  You could slice up a bunch of tomatoes when you get back from the store and forget about them until you need to remove from the oven and just save them for a recipe.  A recipe like this one!

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It’s important to know that I am not a tomato fan. ¬†That means you should listen to me and take the 10 minutes to slice these babies up. ¬†Cause they are that good.

Yup.

Anywho, after the tomatoes are roasted to “sun-dried” perfection they can be used right away or stored in olive oil in the fridge (totally found that tip on Smitten Kitchen!)

The other reason that this recipe is amazing is that it is so flexible!  Change the amount/type of pasta! Add more cheese!  More tomatoes!  Less pine nuts!  Whatever you want!

Enough talking though, lets get down to the recipe.

Caprese Pasta

Adapted slightly from The Italian Dish

Ingredients

  • 10-12 oz pasta (any type will work well, I prefer spirals or spaghetti myself)
  • Grape (or similar) tomatoes
  • 4 oz fresh mozzerella (about half a ball)
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • Olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (optional)

Make Ahead:

Slice the tomatoes in half.  Drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Roast in a 225 degree oven for about 3 hours.  The outsides should be dry and the insides just slightly juicy.  (Do this ahead of time!!!!!!!!!)

Make garlic infused olive oil.  Finely chop 1 clove of garlic and place in a pan over med-low heat.  Add approx 1/2 cup olive oil and heat through.  Remove and let cool.  (Again, do this ahead of time to have on hand!!!!!)

Actual Recipe:

Boil pasta in salted water using package directions until al dente.  Drain.  While cooking the pasta, roll basil leaves and chop thin slices.  You should end up with fancy looking strips.  Slice the fresh mozzarella into small chunks.  Toast pine nuts in a dry pan until lightly toasted. Pull out your tomatoes and garlic olive oil.  Toss the cooked pasta with the pine nuts, tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and 1-2 tablespoons olive oil.  Salt and pepper to taste.  This can be eaten either cold or hot, but I prefer hot as the cheese gets slightly melty.  Enjoy with a seasonal vegetable for a satisfying yet light pasta meal!