*peeks out from under the covers*
Is it 2014 yet?
Because it feels like mean ol’ 2013 is still clinging like crazy, and I’d rather not deal with its crap any longer. That was so last year. ; )
Hello, everyone… I’m baaaaack! When I last left you it was Thanksgiving, I’d made an amazing meal on a nano-budget, and even had a very fall-like dessert recipe to share with you. And then the evil of 2013 went into overdrive, just to make its point before the end of the year.
I went down hard with the shingles, flu, sinusitis and bronchitis, and was out of commission for most of December. Holiday closures at the restaurant further compounded the omnipresent money woes that only get worse when I get so sick. The second week of January my computer, which had been having serious issues since I had to move to this place, died completely (thank GAWD for having most things backed up!). Considering I’m a blogger and freelancer, having no computer is an extremely serious issue, and I was an absolute wreck trying to figure out how to keep my baby blog going.
And then two weeks ago….. I lost my job.
Well, I take that back. We all lost our jobs. The owner of the restaurant I worked for decided to close for good after seventeen years in business. We found out the very day it closed, so it was a complete shock to everyone, and an extremely emotional time.
Very bad start to the new year, indeed.
But if I know anything about our team, it’s that we always bounce back. And I do, too. It took a whole bunch of comments and messages of support to realize that even if I don’t consider myself the strongest person, other people do. Apparently I’m resilient, a fighter, a survivor. I’d forgotten that. Feeling so low after the repeated life blows of losing my dad, my good health, my computer (which could quickly mean losing the blog), it wasn’t easy to see all those positive things. I’m grateful they were pointed out to me, because it’s given me renewed hope and faith in myself that I can get out of this hole.
Fortunately, I’ve been blessed to have some pretty incredible people in my life, and they’re slowly helping me help myself out of this mess. Don’t get me wrong: my financial and housing situations are still VERY precarious; the fact that I still don’t have a permanent job makes that even scarier.
But now that I’m getting older and I’ve done a lot of weeding out of people that were toxic to my life, I seem to have a better support network than I did a couple short years ago. I can’t tell you how much of a difference that makes, especially when you’re dealing with so much. I have genuine friends who are real and supportive; I have the greatest mom (and head cheerleader) EVER; and a community of readers whose kindness and incredible spirit continue to surprise and inspire me daily.
I’m going to get through this. It’s going to take time, but it’s going to happen. It has to. I mean, seriously…. basic laws of the universe: when you’re down, you have nowhere to go but up.
And what better way to celebrate the coming of sweet things than with some chocolate chip cookies? ; )
I’d actually made these as extremely last minute Christmas gifts for my mom and some friends. Things have also been very bad for my mom (those of you who pray, please keep her in your prayers… her health is on the decline again and she really needs to find a job), so it looked like we wouldn’t be able to spend Christmas together. Luckily, some friends of hers were spending the holiday near my area, and they brought her along so we could spend the day with each other.
Unfortunately, I only got about a 4 hour warning. How in the world was I going to get them something now?
That, my friends, is why the good lord invented cookies. They’re not only tasty snacks, they make wonderful gifts for your friends and loved ones. Everyone likes a little treat now and then, and it’s nice to give a slightly more personal gift on any special occasion, not just Christmas (like that one holiday filled with pink & red hearts…).
I didn’t have much to work with, but I was able to get my act together. Since I’ve been on a cashew kick for months, I knew those were going to be featured no matter what. I didn’t have regular chocolate chips, so I used some coarsely chopped chunks of dark chocolate. At first I wasn’t sure it would work out well, since cashews are typically featured with milk chocolate. But truthfully, I preferred this combo a lot more. The bittersweet aspect of dark chocolate doesn’t drown out the mild flavor of the cashews as I’d feared; it complements it beautifully.
If you can’t afford swanky dark chocolate baking pieces, don’t fret. I often resort to standard candy bars to create the chips for my cookies, or use the giant one pounder from Trader Joe’s. Cashews can also be a challenge to find on the cheap, so do a little research before you end up buying. Depending on the store and the brand, the little cashew pieces are a lot less pricey than the whole or halves. But it can go the other way, too. Like I always say, just read carefully and shop wisely.
Not much else to note about these except that I really like snack time, especially when milk and cookies are involved. Sure, it may seem a bit juvenile, but a lot of things still suck right now. It makes me feel better to know I can have a comforting ritual like milk & cookies without going even more broke than I already am. For roughly the price of some Chips Ahoy, I can have warm cookies of my very own, fresh out of the oven and deliciously moist. I know exactly what’s in them too, which is even more comforting.
It’s also comforting to be back. I have so much to share with all of you, both recipe-wise and life-wise. I have great hopes for this year, no matter how hard the last couple years try to color it gray. It’s going to be fun to explore what 2014 has in store, and I’m glad to have you along for the ride.
Cashew & Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies (makes roughly 2.5 dozen cookies; average cost per dozen: $1.75)
1 c light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 c raw sugar
1 c butter (2 sticks)
1/2 T vanilla extract
2 c flour
1/4 t sea salt
1 t baking powder
1 c chopped unsalted cashews
1 c dark chocolate chunks
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare your baking sheets with parchment paper, silpat, or cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside. Next, combine the butter and sugars in a large bowl and mix until creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla extract, and mix well. Add the flour mixture about 1/2 cup at a time, and mix until smooth.
3. Stir in the chopped cashews and chocolate chunks, making sure everything is fully distributed throughout the dough. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto your baking sheets (these are meant to be a little generous in size, so feel free to go big if you like). Be sure to space at least 2″ apart.
4. Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for a few moments on the sheet, then transfer to racks to finish cooling. Serve with milk or some good coffee, curl up with a good book, and enjoy!