Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

In honor of March, (and because my cookie dough stock pile ran out in the freezer) I decided to make some Grinch Cookies Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies! 🙂 And this time I took pictures during the process of making the dough & documented how I save the cookie dough in the freezer to have fresh baked homemade cookies whenever I want!

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Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies:

2/3 cup shortening

2/3 cup butter

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar (packed)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon salt

Green food coloring (I used Wilton Kelly Green paste)-just enough to give it a pretty mint color, but not enough to make it look like toothpaste

1 & 1/4 teaspoons mint extract

1-12 oz bag chocolate chips or more! 🙂

Cream the shortening, butter, and both sugars. Then add the eggs, and vanilla. Add remaining ingredients. When dough is complete, minus the chocolate chips, add your green food coloring so that you are able to fully see what the color will be since the flour is already added. This is also a good time to add the mint extract as all the other ingredients are already included, so you can get a good sense of the flavor. (Although I know I like the 1 & 1/4 teaspoon amount, so I add the mint extract when I add the vanilla) Mix in your chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoon full onto greased cookie sheets. I like to use my regular Pampered Chef cookie scoops to make the perfect sized cookies and to keep the dough off my fingers, so I am less likely to be tempted to eat some. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes. (Usually a full 9:30 to 10 minutes)

4 WW Points each

I use my hot pink “Raspberry Ice Artisan Deigner Series” Kitchenaid mixer to make this and everything!!! It makes the process so much easier. This stand mixer was a Christmas present from my parents a couple years ago and I LOVE IT!!! Best Christmas Present Ever!

Cream the butter, shortening, sugar, & packed brown sugar until smooth (no lumps of anything).

Cream the butter, shortening, sugar, & packed brown sugar until smooth (no lumps of anything).

Creaming the first four ingredients.

Creaming the first four ingredients.

Should look like this when done creaming.

Should look like this when done creaming.

Add the two eggs, cracking each separately into a small bowl to ensure no shells get into the dough.

Add the two eggs, cracking each separately into a small bowl to ensure no shells get into the dough.

Just a side note: if you do happen to get an egg shell in your small dish, or your batter for that matter, use a large piece of the egg shell to carefully scoop it out of the dish. Nothing else works as well!

Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 & 1/4 teaspoons of mint extract.

Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 & 1/4 teaspoons of mint extract.

Mix together, remembering to scrape down the sides & bottom of the bowl so everything gets mixed in completely.

Mix together, remembering to scrape down the sides & bottom of the bowl so everything gets mixed in completely.

Add 3 cups All Purpose flour.

Add 3 cups All Purpose flour with the salt and baking soda. I try to sprinkle around the salt and the baking soda over the flour, this helps to ensure it gets mixed in evenly and you don’t get baking soda clumps-there is nothing worse than that! (Trust me-Dad has made us pancakes before! 😉 )

Note: If you have a smaller bowl, add your flour 1 cup at a time, mixing on low speed in between.

Add our green food coloring at this point.

Add the green food coloring at this point.

I add the food coloring during this step so that you can get a true sense for what the color looks like, because the white flour dilutes the color a bit. I used Wilton paste food coloring in the color “Kelly Green”. I like to use a knife to scoop out a little dye, then I slide it off on the beater of the mixer and let the mixer do its thing! If I want to add more dye, I use a new clean knife to dip into the dye and scoop out a little more and do the same thing. *Remember you can always add dye, you just can’t take it out, so add small amounts of dye at a time. Also, word from the wise, be sure to put the knife that has dye on it straight into the sink after you have spread it on the beater, otherwise it can temporarily stain your counter, get on you, etc.

My favorite part! Add the Semi-sweet chocolate chips.

My favorite part! Add the Semi-sweet chocolate chips.

I added about 2 cups of Semi-sweet chocolate chips because I used a whole bag and then I had about a half a cup left from another bag.

Mix it all together.

Mix it all together.

I love desserts & I love to bake! However, every time I make desserts, I then can tend to overindulge on the yumminess I just made. After eating too many cookies on a Saturday morning, I would be left feeling guilty and lethargic. To prevent this, a really helpful trick I learned on Pinterest is to lay out some wax paper on the counter on top of a small pan or large lid (anything that helps make it more portable). After making the dough, drop by teaspoon full onto the wax paper, then put it in the freezer for a few minutes so the scoops of dough set-then put them in a large freezer Ziploc bag & store in the freezer. This way you can have homemade fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies whenever you like!

Next I take a small pan and line it with wax paper. Then I use my regular Pampered Chef scoop to scoop out a bunch of cookies onto the tray.

After the dough is made, I take a small pan and line it with wax paper. Then I use my regular Pampered Chef scoop to scoop out a bunch of cookies onto the tray.

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Then I put the tray in the freezer for a few minutes to let the scoops of dough solidify a bit so that they can be stored together in large Ziploc bags without combining into a Monster cookie! While that is in the freezer, I prepare my large freezer Ziploc bags. I use a permanent marker to write the name of the cookie, the temperature to bake it at (375) and the date. I also write 4 WW points on the bag to remind me, in case I feel like going crazy and eating more than I should.

The bags I just prepared and the scoops of dough just removed from the freezer.

The bags I just prepared and the scoops of dough just removed from the freezer.

Then I put the little scoops of cookie dough into the large freezer bag and put them back in the freezer.

Then I put the little scoops of cookie dough into the large freezer bag and put them back in the freezer.

In the morning, I just take out two of the frozen cookie dough scoops (one for me & one for my husband) and put them in a sandwich size Ziploc bag in the fridge so they can defrost during the day. When I get home I take the cookies out of the fridge, pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F & put the little thawed cookie dough scoop on a  greased cookie sheet.

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(Awww! Isn’t it cute just sitting there.) Then I bake the cookies for about 9:30/10 minutes each. This gives me the best of both worlds! I get fresh baked homemade chocolate chip cookies, and I am not tempted by having all the cookies made at once which makes me feel like I need to hurry up and eat them before they go bad or before someone else eats them all. Hope this can help you to enjoy your desserts guilt free too! :)

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies fresh out of the oven!
Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies fresh out of the oven!
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Chicken & Cheese Stuffed Shells

In depth view of the tasty filling! So good!

In depth view of the tasty filling! So good!

I found the recipe for these tasty Chicken & Cheese Stuffed Shells from over at “Life in the Green House” . She did a good job on the recipe, so please refer to that. I really enjoyed this recipe, as it was so flavorful and pretty easy to make. I woke up Saturday morning, and lined a pan with tin foil (for easy clean up), then I baked a chicken breast with salt, pepper & Italian seasoning at 400 degrees F for 30-40 minutes until completely cooked. Then I let that cool and shredded it. I only needed about 4 oz of shredded chicken for this recipe, so I shredded the rest and put it in the freezer for a chicken quesadilla or to make this again another time.

Toasted cheese on top-mozzarella & parmesan

Toasted cheese on top-mozzarella & parmesan

Then I started preparing my filling and boiling the noodles. I put 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese in the filling and put only about a tsp of the oregano and basil in as they were dried herbs and can be about 3x more potent as fresh. ( I think next time I will try the whole Tbsp, as I dont think she used fresh herbs, and it could handle a bit more flavor) I also used only 1 egg white. I cooked mine in a smaller 9×9 pan and that seemed to work great, it made about 14 shells. I used Ragu Garden Combination pasta sauce to layer on the bottom and top of the stuffed shells. Also I had some left over shredded Parmesan cheese from another recipe, so I layered the top with a sprinkling of the part-skim mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

I figure these to be 4 points each shell, so 1 serving=2 shells for 8 WW points.

Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

This is my family’s chocolate chip cookie recipe-these are the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World! (And I don’t think I’m being biased)

Fresh baked Chocolate Chip  Mini M&M Cookie

Fresh baked Chocolate Chip Mini M&M Cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cookies:

2/3 cup shortening

2/3 cup butter

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar (packed)

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon salt

1-12 oz bag chocolate chips (use only 1 cup if also adding 1 cup M&M’s or walnuts)

*1 cup seasonal colored M&M’s or mini M&M’s (optional)

**1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Cream the shortening, butter, and both sugars. Then add the eggs, and vanilla. Add remaining ingredients. Mix in your chocolate chips-I like to use 1 cup (and an extra handful) of chocolate chips and 1 cup M&M’s that are colored for the nearest holiday. Another option I like is to use is 1 cup mini M&M’s with the chocolate chips (the mini M&M’s are really fun because they fit into every little nook and cranny of the cookie!) Drop by teaspoon full onto greased cookie sheets. I like to use my regular Pampered Chef cookie scoop to make the perfect sized cookies and to keep the dough off my fingers, so I am less likely to be tempted to eat some. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes. (Usually a full 9:30 to 10 minutes)

Make your Dessert & Eat it Too!

I love desserts & I love to bake! However, every time I make desserts, I then can tend to overindulge on the yumminess I just made. After eating too many cookies on a Saturday morning, I would be left feeling guilty and lethargic. To prevent this, a really helpful trick I learned on Pinterest is to lay out some wax paper on the counter on top of a small pan or large lid (anything that helps make it more portable). After making the dough, drop by teaspoon full onto the wax paper, then put it in the freezer for a few minutes so the balls of dough set-then put in a large freezer Ziploc bag & store in the freezer. This way you can have homemade fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies whenever you like! I like to put the name of the cookie, the temperature to bake it at (375) and the date. I also write 4 WW points on the bag to remind me, in case I feel like going crazy and eating more than I should. Then, in the morning, I just take out two of the frozen cookie dough balls (one for me & one for my husband) and put them in a sandwich size Ziploc in the fridge so they can defrost during the day. When I get home I take the cookies out of the fridge, pre-heat the oven and bake the cookies for about 10 minutes each. This gives me the best of both worlds! I get fresh baked homemade chocolate chip cookies, and I am not tempted by having all the cookies made at once which makes me feel like I need to hurry up and eat them before they go bad or before someone else eats them all. Hope this can help you to enjoy your desserts guilt free too! 🙂

4 WW Points each

Healthy Breakfast Egg McMuffin Sandwich

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When starting Weight Watchers, I knew that it would be important to start the day out right with some protein for breakfast. I was used to eating scrambled eggs and salsa, but I wanted to include a few whole wheat carbs for energy. Therefore, I created this little delight which is only 5 WW points!

Healthy Breakfast Egg McMuffin Sandwich: 

Whole Wheat English muffin=3 points

1 slice Weight Watcher’s brand cheese singles (low fat)=1 point

1 egg white (with salt & pepper)=0 points

5 slices deli ham=1 point

1 teaspoon light Miracle Whip=0 points

First I toast the English muffin in the toaster and get to work on frying the egg white (sprinkle with salt and pepper to flavor). Then I take 5 slices of deli ham ( I like to use the Great Value kind, because 1) its $2.50 for a package, and 2) the slices come in nice circles, perfect for this breakfast sandwich) and brown it on both sides in a stack in the same skillet as I cooked the egg white. This really adds a lot of nice flavor to the ham, and brings out the sugars. When the English muffin is done toasting, I put 1/2 Tbsp of mayo on the bottom layer, then I lay the egg white on top, then my browned ham. Then I carefully open my WW cheese single and set that on top, then I place it on a baking sheet and broil it for about 30 seconds to a minute in the oven to melt the cheese, and make it bubbly. Then I take it out and toss the top of the English muffin on the top of my sandwich & enjoy! Best 5 points you’ll have all day! (Unless you have dessert! 🙂 )

Heat greased pan on medium heat.

Heat greased pan on medium heat.

Crack egg & separate the yolk from the egg white.

Crack egg & separate the yolk from the egg white.

Add a little salt and pepper and cook the egg white.

Add a little salt and pepper and cook the egg white.

Brown 5 slices of ham in a stack in the same pan after done cooking the egg white.

Brown 5 slices of ham in a stack in the same pan after done cooking the egg white.

Browning well under way!

Browning well under way!

Put 1 tsp light Miracle Whip on the toasted whole wheat English muffins.

Put 1 tsp light Miracle Whip on the toasted whole wheat English muffin. (I like to put it on the bottom bun.)

Stack the bottom layer with the egg white, then the ham.

Stack the bottom layer with the egg white, then the ham.

Layer with Weight Watcher's cheese single (carefully removed from wrapper).

Layer with 1 Weight Watcher’s cheese single (carefully removed from wrapper).

Broil in the oven for about 30 seconds until cheese is melty.

Broil in the oven for about 30 seconds until cheese is melty. Tip: Can use foil lined pan for easy clean up.

Remove from oven and top the sandwich with the other side of the English muffin.

Remove from oven and top the sandwich with the other side of the English muffin.

Take a bite & enjoy! :)

Take a bite & enjoy! 🙂

5 WW points for 1 breakfast sandwich

Valentine’s Day

For Valentine’s Day, my husband and I went to Zola’s New World Bistro in downtown, State College, PA. We had a great time!

My good looking date for the evening!

My good looking date for the evening!

Deep fried red snapper with sweet chili sauce, a tarter/mustard sauce, & soy sauce.

Deep fried red snapper with sweet chili sauce, a tarter/mustard sauce, & soy sauce.

Josh was kind enough to share some of his fish with me! It was fantastic! My favorite sauce was the tarter/mustard sauce! I must find a recipe for this so I can make some at home!

My schnazzy meal of salmon, spaghetti squash and cranberry couscous.

My schnazzy meal of salmon, spaghetti squash and cranberry couscous.

At home, I like to eat spaghetti squash with actual spaghetti meat sauce on top, so this was a fun way to have it served. The top of the spaghetti squash was crunchy, so it added a fun texture. This was my first time having couscous. I liked it, it is less grainy than quinoa, so I think I would like to make it. This also had whole fresh cranberries inside. And of course the amazing salmon.

I was quite proud of myself as I looked up the menu online ahead of time to find the most healthy option to stay with my Weight Watcher goals. In order to minimize my points so I could save them for some vanilla bean creme brulee (which I figured was 11 points for a half serving, typically 23 points for a whole serving!!!), I ordered the salmon without the chartreuse butter sauce, and I asked to have it baked instead. I found the item on the menu with the most 0 point or low point side options. The spaghetti squash was 0 points and the couscous was a small serving, so it was only about 3 points. By choosing this menu item, and opting for a healthier cooking method, I could save my points for what I felt was worth it-the dessert! 🙂