Altitude Baking: Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ll admit it.  I was terrified to try baking at altitude.  Everything I read warned of flat dry bread and flat hard cookies.  But, I love baking, how can I be scared of it?  So I decided to try the softest cookie recipe I knew and use the conversion guidelines I found on King Arthur Flour to give this altitude baking thing a try.

They turned out amazing, soft, moist chocolate chip cookies that will be my goto recipe here in Denver.

pudding cookies

Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies (High Altitude Recipe)

recipe from SundayBaker

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

7/8 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks) softened

3/4 cup (minus 1/2 tablespoon) brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup (minus 1/2 tablespoon) white sugar

1 (3.4 oz.) package instant vanilla pudding

2 eggs, room temp

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

2 c. of add-ins (chocolate chips, etc)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Stir together flour, salt and baking soda and set aside; in a large bowl, cream butter, brown and white sugar.

Beat in pudding mix until well blended. Stir in the eggs, vanilla and milk. When smooth, slowly add in the flour mixture until it’s well incorporated into mix.  Fold in your “add-ins

Spoon onto cookies sheets (I use a small ice cream scoop) and bake for 8-10 minutes until just starting to turn golden.

Cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet then transfer to cooling rack.

 
Posted in Baking, Colorado | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Running again!

And I’m back.  After 2.5 months of rest I am back to running, slowly.  I started last week with just ten minutes at a time and am now up to 15.  I’m wearing compression sleeves as a precaution and so far so good, no pain in my shin or calf where I had my stress fracture (knock on wood!!!).

There is a park 3 blocks from my new apartment with a short path around it, but its perfect for my short runs. I’m realizing that its a good thing that my runs aren’t very long yet because, frankly, the altitude change is kicking my a$$.  I come back from 15 minutes huffing and puffing and I have to tell myself I’ve only been here a week, I came from sea level and I’m out of running shape.

It will be a slow comeback, but I’m excited to be back out there again!

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We’re here!

I know its been a while, but we are finally in Denver and getting settled.  The last week and a half have been a whirlwind.  First saying good bye to friends and coworkers, which had me holding back tears, to packing all of our belongings into a truck to drive across the country.  Now I am exploring a new home, enjoying the sunshine and getting into the job search.

Saying good bye to all my Xsport friends and my favorite BodyPump instructor

Saying good bye to all my Xsport friends and my favorite BodyPump instructor

Our extremely ghetto rental truck, never use Budget!

Our extremely ghetto rental truck, never use Budget!

Ready to drive across the country

Ready to drive across the country

Kentucky

Illinois

Arch

kansas

windmills

Our new home.  Courtesy of Frenkieb and Flickr

Our new home. Courtesy of Frenkieb and Flickr

 

 

 

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Packing my Life Away

Packing, Packing, Packing, that is what I have been up to these days.  For about 10 years I moved every year.  It was a chance to clean out my closet, go through everything I had accumulated that year and donate the things I didn’t need anymore to start fresh at a new apartment.  It was actually great therapy to do this.

packing 1

This time around, we have been at our apartment for over two years, we got married and we have a lot of stuff.  While packing I have realized just how much of this I don’t use. I have realized we have some nice things that I should take out more often, and that I have clothes that were hidden away that I had forgotten about, so do I really need to go shopping.

Packing 2

I’ve set a goal for myself  for Denver that in addition to being frugal because I will be unemployed, we need to cut back on accumulating “stuff” we just don’t NEED.

Packing 3

At least until we buy a house, and another move isn’t in the near future.

Posted in Colorado, life, Weekend Fun | Tagged , | 2 Comments

A New Love of Yoga?

I never thought I’d say it, but I am kind of loving yoga.  I’m usually a cardio girl, I like to sweat and be tired at the end of a workout, but I’ve really made myself get into yoga to try and beat my tight muscles.

I was a dancer growing up, even graduating to point shoes in middle school, but I’ve always struggled with flexibility.  Since I got my stress fracture, I have been working yoga into my workout routine about two times/week, but recently stepped that up a bit.  Since I can’t make the times for yoga classes at my gym and I can’t afford to join a yoga studio, I have been doing videos at home.  I recently ordered the Namaste Yoga series and really like it!  The “episodes” are short so I have been doing two at a time and for the first time in as long as I can remember, I can bend over and touch my toes.  Now, I know this may not seem like much to most people, but this is a huge step for me, so I might just stick to this yoga thing.

I’m hoping that in Denver, with all my unemployment free time I will be able to take advantage of some of the free yoga classes at the local Prana, Lululemon, Athleta stores and continue to do my yoga DVDs as I gradually build up running again.

Wish me luck!

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Lady Bird Johnson’s Lemon Cake

This week was my last opportunity to bring a dessert for the birthdays at work.  My co-worker David really likes lemon so I decided to make a lemon cake for him.  You know I love bundt cakes and found this recipe which seemed so fitting.

You see, I work on protecting public lands under the Wilderness Act of 1964.  President Johnson signed that act into law and this recipe supposedly comes from his wife, Mrs. Lady Bird Johnson (just love her name)!

As some (most) homemade cakes are, it was a little dry, but most people probably wouldn’t notice and the lemon is not overwhelming like in some citrus desserts.  I will definitely be making this again.

lemon cake

Lady Bird Johnson’s Lemon Cake

recipe from Style and Home

Ingredients

3/4 cup  butter, at room temperature, plus melted butter for greasing the pan

2-1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting the pan

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/4 cups granulated sugar

8 egg yolks

3/4 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon lemon juice

lemon icing (see recipe below)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Brush the inside of a Bundt pan thoroughly with the melted butter and dust it lightly with flour. (this is the first time i greased the pan this way, it works so well!  I will only be using this method from now on)

Whisk together the flour with the baking powder and salt in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter with the sugar on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until they are light and lemon-colored, then add them to the butter-sugar mixture and beat until just blended.

With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture (in three increments) alternately with the milk (in two increments), beginning and ending with the flour and beating until thoroughly incorporated after each addition. Add the vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice; beat for 2 minutes.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake for about 1 hour, until a tooth pic inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for about 15 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, then invert the cake onto the rack and let it cool completely. Pour the icing over the cooled cake and serve.

Lemon Icing

Ingredients

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 teaspoons heavy cream (or more as needed)

Directions
Combine the confectioners’ sugar with the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and cream in a small bowl and stir vigorously until the mixture is smooth, thick, and pourable.

Add more cream if needed to obtain the desired consistency.

Posted in Baking | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

MIA aka Moving is Stressful

So I know I have been missing in action lately, I apologize, but moving is stressful, tiring and time consuming.

However, I have good news to report.  We have signed a lease on an apartment in Denver! We officially have somewhere to live in 2.5 weeks, which is a huge weight off of our shoulders.

Why were you worried, you might ask.  Well, we traveled to Denver about 2 weeks ago to visit with Dan’s aunt and uncle, but more importantly, to find an apartment.  The rental market in Denver is CRAZY!  We emailed a million people on craigslist and would hear back from about two of them.  We went to open houses, exhausted ourselves driving around the same neighborhoods over and over again and filled out multiple applications for apartments, knowing we would lose the background check fee if we weren’t chosen, but we were desperate.

Nothing we found was perfect, but we really got our hopes up about renting either a little 2 bedroom house with a nice yard and garage, or a large 2 bedroom condo in an old house with a nice shared backyard.  After going back and forth with landlords, we finally got the condo.  Now it’s official we head out of DC on May 31.

Next up, packing (not sure if there is anything I hate more in the world than packing, especially packing the kitchen!)

Posted in Colorado, life, Weekend Fun | Tagged , , | 2 Comments