the cookie chronicles continue: new cookie for christmas 2018!

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So maybe some of you out there have baked with mint chocolate baking chips and my new recipe is not so revolutionary.  But I never have and I think I have come up with a cookie that can be described as if a peppermint pattie had a cousin. And truthfully, if you had the patience you could chop up little peppermint patties I am sure, but hey I have a lot of baking to do, so thanks, but no.

You will notice I am for the most part a drop cookie baker.  Can I roll and decorate with royal icing? Sure, but I am more about the flavor profiles of the humble drop cookie or biscotti.

Here is the recipe:

Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup sweet butter softened

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons peppermint extract

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 package chocolate mint baking chips (mine was 10 ounces I think Ghiradelli , Hershey, and Nestle Make them seasonally and you can find them at wholesale nut folks like Nuts.com or Edwards Freeman Nut Company in Conshohocken)

1 cup mini white chocolate chips (mine are the Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value)

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur and if your flour is more than 2 or 3 months old, spring for fresh.)

1/3 Cup of Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder

Glittery baking sugar – today I used Christmas green from Wiltons

So How Did I Do it? Here are the mixing steps: 

So ……cream butter and BOTH sugars until smooth.  Beat in peppermint and vanilla extract.  (Buy good baking extracts, imitation extracts leave an after taste you will not like in your baking.)

Add eggs, mix until blended. Add cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  Do this slowly and not all at once or you and your kitchen will be cocoa coated.

Add flour in three or four doses – don’t know how else to describe it.  Again, blend sort of on a lower blender speed or flour will fly.

When your dough is smooth and well blended, blend in your chips, cover your cookie dough and refrigerate an hour or two.

When dough is chilled pull out of refrigerator and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. And FYI if you chill cookie dough before you bake it will keep cookies from doing the super spread and will also mean you get softer and more firm cookies.  Or at least that has been my experience.

IMG_1426I use jelly roll sheet pans and silicone baking sheets.  I use the aluminum (silver-colored NOT dark coated they make your cookies BURN).  Mine are Chicago Metallic Commercial Baker’s pans and the Nordic Ware Commercial Baker’s Pans are also good.  These are the pans that have a raised edge of about an inch and are rectangular – they are the size of regular cookie sheets more or less. I use Velesco Premium Silicone Baking Mats.  They are 11 5/8” x 16 ½”.  They are best price hands down on Amazon but like the baking pans I mentioned sometimes you will find them at Home Sense or Home Goods.

In any event, silver NON-coated baking pans lined with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets are truly the way to go. Buy good pans. They last longer and the end result is preferable. Some of my friends swear by the insulated baking sheets (“air-bake” or something)

O.k. back to the baking of these cookies.

Break off bits of dough and form 1 ½” round balls.  Dip top in glittery baking sugar, and put on cookie sheets 2” apart.

Bake 8 – 10 minutes depending on your oven .  Tonight I started out at 10 minutes a batch for two batches and then went to 9 minutes for the final two batches.

Cool on baking pans a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  I store my cookies in old school metal tins.

This recipe makes a little over 4 dozen cookies.

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prime now vs. peapod delivers, fresh direct, and instacart.

I have tried them all…..all of the grocery school delivery services that is.

Who I have been using most is Giant by Peapod. But they don’t always have delivery availability when you need it, and even with a “plan” their delivery is getting expensive. Oh and don’t forget the fuel surcharge.

I used to use Fresh Direct when it was a special occasion but they are probably almost the most expensive. And then there were those instances of frozen fresh flowers, fresh herbs and vegetables when I needed them to be fresh and not frozen for holiday dinners and parties.

I tried Instacart a few times, but really didn’t mesh with them so I actually deleted the app from my phone and tablet. I also find them hugely expensive.

Recently I have tried Prime Now Whole Foods by Amazon. I have to tell you thus far I am really impressed.

The Prime Now app is easy to use. It is attached to my Amazon Prime account and the customer service is outstanding. I had a couple snafus with my first order and they cleared them right up practically instantly.

The other thing with Prime Now is the groceries come packed neatly, and frozen and perishables are packaged separately in an insulated bags. As a matter of fact if you buy ice cream it comes in an extra insulated bag inside the insulated bag.

Everything comes in environmentally friendly paper bags so I don’t have to remember to give the plastic bags back for recycling. The bags for perishable items are also recyclable.

Now the one thing I don’t like is Prime Now is another grocery delivery service that has delivery people using their own vehicles. Instacart does this too. So unless they’re wearing ID (which my delivery people were), you have to look twice before opening the door. Peapod still does better here in this area as well as Fresh Direct with uniforms on their drivers and business trucks.

So far, Prime Now is beating all of the grocery delivery services on speed and delivery availability. And they also give you options of time frames where they will offer free delivery. Prime Now is also kicking butt in then produce area. Their meat and poultry is as expensive as Fresh Direct but the quality is impressive.

Prime Now also prefers you add your tip into your total before you hit submit for your order – their drivers are not allowed to accept cash tips.

I used Prime Now when we came home from a little time away with family because they were the only people I could get to deliver groceries when I needed them the day of my return. I wasn’t going to use them again so soon, but when I pulled up Peapod yesterday they didn’t have any availability for a couple of days.

I will be honest I never thought I would be a person who would get my groceries delivered. But it’s a nice option when you’re short on time.

Please note my opinions are my own and I have not been compensated in any way by any of these grocery delivery services to write a review.

chester county instacart anyone?

Ahh yes…free delivery on the first order – that gets me to try something at least once every time!

It’s stinking hot out, and as much as I love Wegmans, every location has insane parking lots.  We have house guests coming, so I thought I would splurge.

Their app and online website for Instacart are easy to use.  I went through my order, and when I got to the payment section I learned about something I did NOT know entering into this – they tack on a service fee for someone to do the shopping (which to my knowledge Giant PeaPod and Fresh Direct do not have this separate fee – just tax and delivery.)  That service fee for me was about $18.00. (Yes, ouch)

BUT then it gets confusing.  Although they have this little disclaimer talking about this pays for the people who take care of your order, it does NOT filter down to a tip for your delivery person.

Also, there is a slight price mark-up on every item.  My friend would call this “Missy Mark-Up”. See:

I will admit that this makes me categorize Instacart whether you use it for ACME or Wegmans as being more in the class of Fresh Direct.  I am still thinking the best dollar value in home delivered groceries is Giant Peapod.

Now I will admit it is super nice to know when I want some extra special items for my kitchen, that Instacart is a viable alternative to Fresh Direct.  Fresh Direct used to be awesome, now sometimes it is a bit hit or miss, and for the money you spend it should NOT be.  I hope when and if we get a Whole Foods in Exton that perhaps Instacart will add on a Whole Foods too in more areas.

Instacart is zip code driven.  Depending on where you are depends on where you can order from.  Some areas apparently can get Weavers Way Food Co-op  deliveries.

Pro-tip: you can fine Instacart coupons on sites like Retailmenot and Groupon and so on to bring your costs down a little more – I found a $10 coupon on Retailmenot today.

The food was for the most part bagged in item appropriate grocery bags.  I will note that I ordered a couple of Brie family soft rind cheeses to serve my guests when they are here and the cheeses were not packed so well.  Basically, the cheese was cut and wrapped in simple plastic wrap.  I could smell the cheese as soon as I bought the bags inside from the delivery person – and as soon as I smelled my stinky cheese I felt bad for the delivery woman because I bet her car stank to high heaven from the cheese.

With Instacart you can get a better range of deliveries when compared to Fresh Direct and Giant PeaPod.  With Instacart you can get a delivery within a couple of hours if the time slot is available.  However, as opposed to Giant PeaPod and Fresh Direct which uses refrigerated trucks or at least insulated trucks, Instacart does not.  Your delivery person uses their own vehicle.

Instacart however stays in touch with you as your order is being shopped.  So if something is not available and you indicated a substitution was O.K. they will actually text you your options.  Giant PeaPod and Fresh Direct DO NOT do that – with these two services you do not know you are NOT getting something until the order arrives.

Bottom line: Instacart was a great experience, albeit expensive like Fresh Direct.  Will I use them again? Yes. But how often depends on their pricing structure.  Right now they are in the category of occasional splurge.

 

DISCLAIMER: I was not paid or compensated in any way by Instacart, Giant PeaPod, or Fresh Direct. These are my own opinions as a customer/consumer.

 

when is whole foods opening in exton?


So….Whole Foods? Exton? When?

(Note a friend drove by this morning at around 11:00 a.m. and there weren’t any cars…or trucks…or anyone..or anything.)

Local speculation is this project is in trouble? So if no Whole Foods, Trader Joes or Mom’s Organic Market anyone???

Anyone have updates? It seems kind of deserted…beautiful new building and….no signs of life.