Christmas 2016 Family Pictures

I don’t know about you, but the day after Thanksgiving I go a little Christmas crazy! Bring on allllll the decorations, Christmas music, cookie baking, and card sending! I love everything about this season, and this year it’s even sweeter as Gray and I celebrate our 3rd Christmas in our little home, now with the sweetest little addition.

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I’ve mentioned my sweet friend Meredith on the blog before (remember our beach pictures?) and she’s the genius behind this cute Christmas scene. We took these photos on her land, where she and her husband will begin building their new home in the Spring. It was a beautiful day, just cold enough, and it was so much fun to see her vision come to life. She worked so hard and I think these pictures show her talent and heart behind her work.

I know I will cherish these photos of my sweet boy’s first Christmas forever!

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The *Perfect* Chocolate Chip Cookie

I have been on what seemed like an unending pursuit of the perfect chocolate chip cookie for quite a few months now. I must have tried 20 different recipes (just ask my husband) and although some of them weren’t “bad,” none of them were worth sharing. However, I’m excited to say that because of this recipe, the search is over. These cookies are, hands down, the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever tasted.

What I like most about these cookies is that they aren’t at all cakey. They are crispy on the bottom and chewy and delicious on the inside. It’s the perfect cookie. I have never seen a recipe like this, where you mix the melted butter with the brown sugar first and then have to let it sit for 5 minutes. I don’t know if it has something to do with the chemical composure or what… but I do know that it made a huge difference. Also, the one egg + one egg yolk probably plays a big role in keeping these bad boys from having that icky cakey texture.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bag of milk chocolate chips

Instructions:

  • First, preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheet with tin foil.
  • Put brown sugar in a large bowl, melt both sticks of butter, and pour the melted butter over the brown sugar.
  • Stir the melted butter and brown sugar and let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Next, add egg and egg yolk.
  • Then, stir in vanilla extract.
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients slowly, mixing until combined.
  • Stir in chocolate chips.
  • Scoop small balls of dough onto foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes.

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  • Let cool on a wire rack (cookies will become slightly crispy on bottom and chewy in the inside as they cool).

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This recipe makes a ton of cookies. I was able to take quite a few to a friend who just had twins and still have a cake plate full in my kitchen, and take some to another friend at church!

You can find the original recipe here, one of my new favorite blogs for kitchen inspiration!

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies

There’s something about dropping temperatures and crisp, colorful leaves outside that make me want things like potato soup, pumpkin pie, and… peanut butter cookies. Also, there’s not  a man on earth that doesn’t love peanut butter. It’s like a totally separate food group for my husband. He claims that these cookies are some of his favorite things I’ve ever made!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/4 cup light brown sugar (firmly packed)
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions:

  • First, preheat your over to 375 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • In your mixer, cream together the peanut butter, shortening, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla.

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  • Add in the egg and mix until blended.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.

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  • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in your mixer. It will make a thick, almost clay-like dough.

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  • Roll the dough into 1″ balls.

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  • Slightly flatten with the palm of your hand, and then use a fork to create the classic criss-cross on top.

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  • Bake for 8 minutes and cool on a wire rack (the cookies will harden as they cool, so be careful not to bake them too long).

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Peanut butter cookies and ice cold milk? That’s a match made in heaven. I promise, this recipe won’t disappoint!

Also, look at my cute little kitchen helper. Gah… I love this boy! This time next year he’ll be sopping the bowl and beaters!

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I got this recipe here, one of my go-to blogs for kitchen inspiration!

Mississippi Pot Roast

My friend Lee is the Queen of Crock Pots. 9 times out of 10, if I ask her what her family is having for any given weeknight dinner or Sunday lunch after church, she’s put something in her crock pot. She’s my hero haha and I mean… can you blame her? There’s so many delicious and easy crock pot recipes these days, I just want to try them all!

I, too, love my crock pot, although I don’t use it nearly as often as I should. You may recall an incredible potato soup recipe I shared on the blog a few weeks ago? I can’t wait to make it again when it gets colder!

I remembered Lee telling me about this Mississippi Pot Roast she had made sometime last year, and when I saw pot roasts at a deal that was too good to pass up at Aldi (gah… I love Aldi), I asked her to send me the recipe.

This recipe actually has a really cool story behind it, and you can read all about it here.

It is hands-down, one of the most delicious pot roasts I’ve ever had (second only to my Momma’s). It is packed with flavor (thanks to the pepperoncinis) and the meat will literally melt in your mouth.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pack of ranch dressing seasoning mix
  • 1 pack of au jus gravy mix
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 6 pepperoncinis
  • a chuck roast (mine was about 2 lbs.)

Instructions:

  • Place chuck roast in crock pot and sprinkle ranch dressing mix and au jus gravy mix over it.
  • Place a stick of butter on top and throw in 6 pepperoncinis.

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  • Cook on low 6-8 hours.
  • Pull meat apart and serve over white rice or with mashed potatoes and green beans or collards. YUM!

It was so good, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product. But holy cow…. if you make this, it’s sure to become one of your family’s favorites!

4 Month Beach Pictures

Mightier than the waves of the sea is His love for you.

Psalms 93:4

My friend Meredith took these photos when we took a spontaneous beach trip a few weeks ago (Landon is 4 months here) and I will cherish them forever! It seems like every stage is so different but so much fun, and I know I’ve only just begun. Motherhood isn’t easy. In fact, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done (and probably will ever do), but it is also the most rewarding. I am so thankful for this little boy. He’s the source of so much joy and has added to our family in the sweetest way.

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You can see more of Meredith’s great work here!