Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Milk Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

*tap tap* Is this thing on, y'all?

Pardon me for my absence from the baking/blogging world. It's not you, it's me, I assure you.

I could ramble on and on with excuses that range from a very high workload to traveling a lot in the last few months to some serious writers block I've had lately. I've just been busy, overall. But, honestly, that's not the main reason I haven't been blogging 'round these parts much. Truthfully dear readers, I've started to cross over into the dark side...

It started innocently enough... I've been lollygagging around and hap-heartedly going about trying to lose the 20 extra pounds that I carry around on my belly for the last 2 years or so. I'd lose a few pounds from other parts of my body, but those stubborn pounds around my midsection would not budge. I'd tried everything... low carb, low cal, vegetarian, strength training, ab exercises, extra cardio (because apparently my body is completely oblivious to the fact that I run a shit-ton every week). And trust me... I know a thing or two about how to lose weight. Nutrition and exercise isn't a new thing to me.

Finally, I decided that I'd had enough and it was time to try something else. I amped up the vegetarianism... cutting out meat, but also cutting out most grains and loading up on fresh fruit and veggies. And then I started taking Hot Yoga classes everyday that I was in town. And I'll be damned if that wasn't the right combination for me. Slowly, the belly fat started shrinking. My body fat percentage started to decrease and instead of being miserable that I couldn't eat any sweets or pizza, I felt great. I didn't even want sweets or pizza. It was easy.

Aside from the physical aspects, I've come to realize that this way of eating is helping me break my food addiction. Finally, I'm not sitting around while I'm eating lunch, thinking about what I'm going to eat for dinner. I'm starting to feel like for once, I'm in control of my appetite, instead of my appetite being in control of me. It is wonderfully liberating.

Now, what does this mean? What happens when a girl who has a baking blog drastically changes her lifestyle and starts eliminating things like baked goods from her diet? Does she turn it into some kind of healthy lifestyle food blog? Does she blog about raw food or vegan goodies? Does she give up the blog?

To be completely honest, I have no idea what it means at this point. I love blogging and writing, so I cant imagine giving it up entirely. And there will still be plenty of occassions where I bake goodies (non vegan, I dont anticipate really getting into vegan baking) for other people to enjoy and I'd love to still have an outlet to share those. At this point, I'm in the middle of a 30 day vegan challenge (that also includes no alcohol or sugar). And once that's over, I anticipate that I'll occasionally eat cheese, butter, sugar, etc.. I just won't be consuming as much of it as I once did (hopefully).

All I know is that for now... things are going to be a little different around here. I'm not sure exactly what's going to happen, but I'm pretty sure I'll be around this little blog world and hopefully more frequently, since I've finally 'fessed up about what's going on.

I can't ever imagine giving up blogging in it's entirety.  It's really fun and fulfilling for me to carve out a little piece of myself into the world wide web. Hell, I've even met some great people through blogging that have become good friends in real life. Two of which, I made these cookies for.
After the Rocket City Marathon in December
(from left to right: Me, Melanie, and Matt)

I met Matt and Melanie through my other blog, Twenty Six Point Two. We started out as being running acquaintances, then into running partners, and now into friends! Even with as much running in Nashville as I do, it's still hard sometimes to meet other runners.

They both had birthdays back in May, and so I decided to whip them up a little something special to celebrate. It didn't take me long to figure out what to make them, either. When I think runners and baked goods for some reason I alway think peanut butter. But, aside from runners, who doesn't love peanut butter? Especially when there's some chocolate thrown in there, too? It didn't hurt that this was a recipe that I'd been wanting to make for a long time...

So, stick with me, South in Your Mouth might go through some changes in the next little bit... And, I'm not sure what's in store, but we can find out together. (I will tell you that I have a back-log of old recipes to get to, so there will still be plenty of yummy desserts to feature soon).

Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chunks

I hate to admit to you, that I didn't actually taste these cookies, at all. However they were a dream to make. They come together easily and don't require any weird ingredients or methodology. Do take note, though, that they do require some fridge time before they're baked off.

Once baked they come out perfectly round, with a not-to-thin, not-to-thick consistency. I can only imagine that they taste as good as they look.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup creamy peanut butter
6 ounces good milk chocolate, coarsely chopped

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. The mixture will look light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and peanut butter and beat until just incorporated.

Add half of the flour mixture and mix for 15 seconds. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.

Using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the chocolate. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least three hours. (I kept mine chilled overnight).

Preheat the oven to 375℉. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets, at least two inches apart. With the palm of your hand, very gently press each cookie down so it forms a very tall disk shape. Do not press too hard and do not press it flat.

Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with granulated sugar and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until the tops of the cookies just begin to brown.

Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Serve warm or use a spatula to transfer the individual cookies to the rack to cool completely.

Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Yield: 24 cookies.