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My little rock, and the next chapter

Zimmerman021I’ve been putting off writing a post here for a long time, mostly because I didn’t know where to begin. Even right now, I sit here typing and deleting and typing and deleting and tempted to just close this up until tomorrow or six months from now. I had no idea the last time I wrote–back in March of 2014!–would be the beginning of a blogging hiatus. But so life goes. A few days earlier I had learned I was pregnant, and nine months later, our beautiful, healthy little girl arrived. Her name is Petra, which means ‘rock,’ a doctor helping out with the delivery reminded me moments after she was born. And indeed she lives up to her name and I’m excited to share stories about her. So first there was the emotional rollercoaster that is what I’ve learned is a typical Sofia pregnancy (no sickness, just plenty of mood swingy tears). Then there were all sorts of personal challenges, running after a toddler with a basketball belly, figuring out this juggling two kids thing, making hard career decisions, and just sheer exhaustion that got in the way and kept me away from my little corner of the internet. I’ve wanted to sit down to write so many times, but mostly I just “wrote” posts in my head while I folded laundry or made the bed and knew I’d eventually get back to my wordpress dashboard.

That time is now. I’ve struggled with what I should do here. Twice now my account was up for renewal and both times, I’ve thought “do I really bother and pay the $83.27 again?” or do I just get off my computer and live life and enjoy every bit of the present? And then there are the little voices on my shoulders telling me nobody reads these stories of mine. Or that I’m being self-indulgent. Or that if I have time and energy, I should just be catching up on work or cleaning or whatever else is frazzling me these days. But here’s the thing: writing makes me so happy (have you seen this article?), and happiness is a contagious thing, right? It’s not selfish to tend to my own happiness, yet I need to remind myself of that constantly. When I’m happy I’m a better wife, mother, friend, daughter, sibling, co-worker, stranger on the street, all of that. So where I might feel a bit of guilt for sitting in this messy room of mine, laundry piled up and in dire need of getting sorted and washed, and countless tasks that I should tend to (I’m talking to you,  15,451 photos in my library that need some serious editing down), writing–whether it’s a quick little bite, an intro to a recipe I’ve created, or a more thought-out essay–is my oxygen mask and it’s time to put it back on.

There was a time when I wanted this blog to be my stepping stone to getting  a book deal (too late! look at the crazy talent in this book). I also wanted to inspire whoever landed here with all the good living/nutrition/life coachey bits I was excited to learn (I haven’t gone back to read my earlier posts, but if I recall correctly, some of that stuff was a bit preachy, right? If only I knew back then how much boxed mac & cheese I’d come to cook for my picky son). My favorite posts, though, were always the ones that involved stories and/or recipes I love. So going forward, that will be my focus, and it will be writing for the sake of writing and, in turn, happiness (and yes, some posterity too…because my kids might want my recipes and stories someday, right?). And if I can touch a soul or two, even better. And with that, let’s move on to the next incarnation of Brooklyn Baba, shall we?

Chocolate mint crinkle cookies

chocolate mint crinkle cookiesGrowing up, the Christmas cookie baking was not complete without a quadruple batch of Nicholas Brownies—a brownie with a layer of creme de menthe-infused buttercream, and and then another layer of chocolate. I’ve never bothered with them myself…now in hindsight, they were a little dry and a tad fussy. But yeeesh, there’s something so festive about chocolate and mint. After Eights, anyone?

Last week as I scrambled to make a list of fun cookies for our party, I took to Pinterest in search of something that might be a cookie twist on those Nicholas Brownies. And that’s when I came across this recipe for Chocolate Mint Crinkle Cookies. Bonus points for the kiss in the middle, just like Stephanie’s Peanut Butter Blossoms! I made a couple of modifications, and today, as I made another batch with dough I froze, I put some of Stephanie’s detail-oriented techniques into practice (let the cookie hug the kiss, weighing out .7 ounce portions, the lightweight bowl for dusting the sugar). These turned out chewy and just the right amount of minty. I’m pretty sure this one’s a keeper, but like the Nicholas Brownies, will be reserved for a once-a-year engagement.

Chocolate Mint Crinkle Cookies (adapted from, makes 4 dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup of butter (one stick), room temperature
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup of crushed candy canes*
48 plain Hershey kisses, chilled (but not frozen)
*these may be hard to find, but you might try chopping some candy canes with a big sharp knife. Otherwise, you can substitute some mint chocolate chips or just leave out…I doubt it makes that much of a difference.

In a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in the eggs and extracts and beat another minute.

Gradually add in the flour mixture to the mixing bowl. Stir in the crushed candy canes (if using). Then chill the dough for about two hours.

Heat the oven to 350. Meanwhile, line a cookie sheet (make sure it’s cool!) with parchment paper. If you have a scale, measure out a 5/8-oz. ball of dough, or one that’s about 1-inch in diameter. Feel free to keep measuring, or just eye it. Set on a plate.

photo 3Once you have a dozen, pour some powdered sugar in a lightweight bowl. Kid cereal bowls come in very handy for this purpose. One at a time, let the dough toss itself around in the sugar with the help of some rotating wrist action (as the blurry shot above illustrates). Don’t worry if it looks like too much sugar on the dough…these will show it off nicely once the cookies bake and crinkle.  Set on the cookie sheet and repeat.

photo 1Once the cookies are in the oven, set the timer for 11 minutes and start unwrapping your kisses. Once the cookies are done, press in a kiss into each cookie…make sure you’re firm so the cookie hugs the kiss, as Stephanie says.

A few minutes later, you can move them to a cooling rack.

photo 2

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