OATMEAL, CHOC CHIP, PECAN, ORANGE ZEST COOKIES + TERRY’S TURF CLUB + ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING +TN WILDLIFE + PILATES

I am always in search of a new cookie recipe and Smitten Kitchen is one of my favorite food bloggers. Their oatmeal raisin cookie recipe is my go-to, so when I found this recipe for an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, I had to try it. I also love the addition of orange zest and while the notes say to use just a bit of the zest or skip it all together, I went full throttle on the zest. I also tend to avoid cookies with nuts since you never know if someone has a nut allergy and if the day ever comes that I cause a deathly allergic reaction, then my baking endeavors will probably come to an end. That said, I made these to share with my pecan loving friends.

Prepare yourself for a random collection of re-caps from the past two weeks since I haven’t had one event in particular to share. This past weekend I went to Knoxville, TN with my boyfriend and we stopped at Terry’s Turf Club  in Cincinnati on the way there. On our second date he had mentioned Terry’s infamous burgers and I do not forget any conversations related to food. Fast forward to this weekend when I saw the Cincinnati road sign and asked if we could stop. It was out of the way, but completely worth the effort.

It was a rainy Friday night around 8:00, so we found two seats at the bar right away. The maitre de is an older gentlemen dressed in a suit named Jim. Add an overwhelming amount of neon signs and you have one of the most interesting burger establishments that you’ll ever find. If you have ADD, this may not be your place. Even my photos of my burger are neon tinted. They have bowls of baseball style peanuts and you’re encouraged to throw the shells on the floor. I approve of any restaurant that provides snacks while you wait.

The Bevador beverage receptacle was one of my favorite knick knacks in the place and if I had an unlimited amount of fun money, I’d be googling how to get one. Now onto the burger: I take my burgers very seriously. I judge it on the quality of the meat, the bun, and the topping selections. Terry hit a home run and he knows what’s up. The burger was huge and required a butcher style steak knife to tackle. I got mine medium with avocado, goat cheese, and roasted red peppers. The bun was buttered and toasted and we could see the burgers being cooked on the grill from our view at the bar, which added to the ambiance.

Overall, it was a highlight of the trip. I left with a full belly, a happy heart, and even more appreciation for my boyfriend. Anyone that humors the little things that makes me happy is worth keeping around.

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This past week I helped a friend with her two adorable kids while they were on Spring Break. It was a great excuse to pretend to be a kid again and explore Indy’s kid friendly offerings. We went to the Drum Museum in the tunnel of the Statehouse (actually worth it!), visited the Statehouse and even got a tour of the Governor’s Office since he was traveling that day, made Nutella cookies with pink sprinkles, visited the zoo, the White River Gardens, the Children’s Museum (chocolate slide!), Mass Ave Toys, and of course, Flying Cupcake! We even made pretzels that spelled out ‘STAR WARS!’

Here’s what I learned in a nutshell: distraction is key. When kids want you to do something or are adamant about getting their way, throw a curveball. ‘Hey look, a dinosaur!’ Trust me, it works most of the time. When all else fails, hugs and cookies can save the day.

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Sadly the only photo I took in Tennessee was the wildlife and yes, that is a dragon alongside the highway. You can see this gem somewhere in Caryville, TN according to my creepy iPhone GPS location based tracking.

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oatmeal, chocolate chip and pecan cookies

A few notes about these: I recommend making them about a tablespoon in size since they will spread. My standard ice cream scoop measurement made my first batch of cookies huge. I added more cinnamon and I always eyeball my vanilla. Take them out of the oven between 8-10 minutes; they will continue to bake on the cookie sheet. Enjoy!!

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1 cup quick-cooking oats
2 cups chopped pecans
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line a large cookie sheet with parchment or a Silpat. Using a mixer, beat the butter in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla, and beat until well mixed, about three minutes. Stir in eggs, one at a time. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove in a separate bowl. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter with the mixer on low speed. Once the flour has been incorporated, add the second half.

Stir in the oats, pecans, orange zest, and chocolate chips. Drop the dough, by the tablespoon, onto the cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.

Remove from the oven and cool the cookies on a rack. Store at room temperature in a cookie jar or other airtight container.

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Many people ask me what I do to counteract the cookies. I love being active, especially if it involves being outside, but to be honest it is a mix of activities. As the weather gets warmer, I plan to get back out on my road bike, but I have spent most of the year doing Pilates, barre, and yoga at Invoke. I go a few times a week and it is the best stress reliever. If you’re interested in checking out Pilates, but do not want to commit to the $40 private introductory course, Invoke is having an open house on May 14th. You can take a 30 minute intro reformer class during the day and I encourage you to check it out!

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I’ll leave you with a quote. A friend sent this to me in December and I can finally say I have seen the best things appear after a lot of not so great things. Contentment is the ultimate gift.

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