Sunday Sweetness: Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

13 Nov

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

You’ll notice that we’re making cookies today. You’ll also notice that the title of my blog is ‘Realist Mom’. In the interest of staying true to my “real life” of a “real mom” commitment to you, my fabulous readers, I’ll tell you that I initially made carrot cupcakes that absolutely sucked. You know what’s even better? As with my other baking tragedy, I served them to company. (Sorry, Connor and Katie!) They were so bland and wet and gross, that after taking her first disappointing bite, Beans announced “You can NOT blog about these, Mom. They’re guh-ross!” So, yeah, I was feeling good about my baking prowess.

These cookies, though, they are delicious enough to actually redeem last night’s cupcake cataclysm. So sayest the Beans. That’s particularly surprising because I sort of improvised the recipe – and you all know, I do NOT improvise when I cook for the sake of everyone involved.

You could take this recipe and swap out the chocolate chunks and peanut putter chips for nuts and white chocolate chips or whatever you were in the mood for. Then we would all be improvising.

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Makes about 24 cookies.

1-1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips
2-1/2 c all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 c packed light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1-2/3 c (10 oz pkg) peanut butter chips
1-3/4 c (11.5 oz pkg) chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the 1-1/2 cups of chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of boiling water, stirring until completely melted. Once melted, set bowl aside and allow chocolate to cool to room temperature, but not harden.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until fluffy and light. Beat in the melted chocolate and eggs until thoroughly combined. Stir in the peanut butter chips and chocolate chunks.

Scoop the dough onto ungreased cookie sheets by the level 1/4 cup, spaced 2″ to 3″ apart.

Bake for 12-14 minutes. Cookies will be set but still moist in the center. Let cookies sit on cookie sheet for a minute or 2 before transferring them to wire racks to cool.

Trust me, these are worthy of you – unlike those cupcakes.

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

What’s the worst result you’ve ever gotten baking?

If you like this post, check out the rest of my Sunday Sweetness posts!



11 Nov

Laundry is the bane of my existence. There is always something to be machine-washed or hand-washed or spot-treated or something. I tend to view laundry as having 3 discrete steps: washing, folding and the dreaded putting away. I guess I could throw a 4th step in there: gathering the laundry – which can be a challenge here, since dirty clothes must spend the evening hours making their way onto floors, so they might creep under beds and sofas.

socksEspecially the socks. You could walk into any room of my house right now, and be almost certain to find a stray sock. It drives me nuts. If I dislike laundry in general, I loathe washing underwear. For the obvious reason – hello, it’s underwear! Also because there are so many things to fold and sort and match up, and how can you get any closure when they don’t match up?!

Paired socks

I keep those irritating unmatched socks in their own little basket and when it’s overflowing I can’t stand it anymore, I match and purge. Today was Sockmageddon. It was a bright spot in a day spent making this:

Laundry Room: Before

look like this:

Laundry Room

Laundry Room: After

That’s right – I kicked laundry’s ass today.

And it felt good.

How do you manage your unmatched socks?

Project: Repaint the Dining Room – Part I

9 Nov

I like to start projects so that they have a sense of urgency – stripping all the wallpaper off of the dining room walls 2 weeks before Thanksgiving fits the bill perfectly. Panic has a tendency to trump procrastination.

Old wallpaper. Yes, I know that print is crooked.

We managed to get all the paper mostly down in one afternoon – even the kids helped without complaining – miracle! Here’s a little wallpaper removal tip: mix a few tablespoons of fabric softener in with a few cups of water in a spray bottle and you have a cheap wallpaper remover that smells good. Our paper wasn’t pre-pasted and our walls are plaster and lathe so the paper really stuck but once we got the top “layer” off to reveal the backing a little spritz of the fabric softener solution was enough to get it off – it just peeled right off the walls.

I think I changed the color of the dining room 6 or 7 times before I settled on the wallpaper. It has just never seemed right to me. The wallpaper, while attractive, had issues during installation and has driven me crazy since then. It was only a matter of time. Then the other day, I was vacuuming the top of the base moulding and a corner of the paper flapped up and well, its time had come.

I’ve decided to go with turquoise for the dining room – though finding just the right shade has been a challenge. I looked through about 100 paint chips before I narrowed it down to 2: Benjamin Moore 2055-20 and 2055-30. In my infinite wisdom, I thought I would save few dollars by having quarts made up at a big-box home improvement store before I committed to a color and bought the paint at my local Benjamin Moore dealer.

I should have known I was in trouble when the big store couldn’t match 1 of the 2 colors. I brought home the single quart, put some up on the wall and realized it didn’t look exactly right. Evidently, the big store couldn’t match either color. So much for penny-pinching.

So now I have the 2 actual colors on the wall…and I’m still not quite satisfied. I’ll be stopping at Sherwin Williams today to grab a 4th quart.

Turquoise paint

Only 16 days to go. No pressure.

Have you ever started a project with a tight deadline, deliberately or inadvertently?

Isn’t There a “P” in Privacy?

7 Nov

Would you like to know when I am at my most fascinating and interesting? When I’m on the toilet. That must be true, because I’m fairly certain that every time my butt so much as grazes that seat, there is a knock – or a paw – at the door. It’s never for anything earth-shattering, no. For the record, if the house is on fire or you’re bleeding or Colin Firth is at the front door – you have my permission to knock. Any of you. Mostly, it’s “what are you doing?’ (DUH!) or “have you seen my favorite socks – no, not those the other ones?” or – my all time favorite – “I just wanted to know where you were.”

The dogs will actually come in. Nikki can open the door with her paw (damn those harp handles) and plop herself at my feet. It’s nice to be loved and all – but geez, can’t a mom pee in peace?! Have you ever tried to fit 225 pounds of dog in a 4′ square bathroom? Let’s just say it takes the “rest” right out of the restroom.

In the interest of full disclosure (I’m talking about the potty now, so we’re pretty much there, right?), I will admit that I do take my phone into the bathroom with me so I can squeeze in a few satisfying moments of Words with Friends or Yahtzee – so occasionally I’m just sitting there. Is that so wrong? Don’t tell me I’m the only who knows how hot that laptop can get when it’s sitting on your real-life lap.

Even if I am engaged in bathroom…activities, shall we say, that create a less than desirable aroma in the restroom – my kids will still let themselves in, if only to comment on the atmosphere and make helpful suggestions on what I may or may not have eaten. WHY??

I thought I was in the clear when my children were past the age when you had to have them in the bathroom with you for fear they would kill or seriously injure themselves unsupervised for 3 minutes. Evidently not. Maybe the tables have turned. Maybe they think I can’t be left unsupervised for more than a few minutes at a time.

Can I be electrocuted if I drop my phone in the toilet?

Am I the only one this happens to?

Sunday Sweetness: Banana Crumb Muffins

6 Nov

Banana Crumb Muffin

I really don’t like to waste food. That is not to say that food doesn’t get a chance to spoil around here, because believe me, it does and much of it tends to be produce – particularly fruit. Our family tends to have phases with fruit where we either eat it all the time, or we just don’t. Since bananas are always on my shopping list, they can almost always be found languishing in our fruit bowls lending that odd smell to the kitchen that’s half sweet – half icky. Fortunately, even as they near the end of the line – you can make them into something yummy. Trying doing that with a past-its-prime orange!

I love to make, and the kids love to eat Chocolate Chip Banana Bread – so I end up making that fairly often. As delicious as it is, I was looking for a little variety and something we could eat on the go, while we’re racing out the door to whichever activity is on the schedule. After a little consultation with Chef Google, I found this very easy recipe for Banana Crumb Muffins on I made them in a jiffy, and used up 3 of the bananas in the process. (Yes, I did just use ‘jiffy’ in a sentence – don’t judge!)

Muffin Ingredients

Banana Crumb Muffins

Recipe adapted from this one on

For the Muffins:
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 c white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 c butter, melted

For the Crumb Topping:
1/3 c packed brown sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare standard cupcake/muffin pan by greasing or lining 12 cups.  In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 c flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Fill prepared cupcake/muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.

In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tbsp flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle approximately 1 generous tsp of topping over each muffin.

Bake in preheated oven for 16 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

These were very good and banana-y. (I make up my own words – see?) The crumb topping adds just the right touch of sweetness and crunch. Within 5 minutes of putting these on a rack to cool, 4 were gone. I call that an endorsement! If you wanted to, you could also add some chopped walnuts to these and they would be that much better.

I hope you’re enjoying your weekend. I’m back to stripping the wallpaper off the dining room walls for a little Thanksgiving makeover. I’ll post pictures when we’re finished.

Do you have a favorite muffin? What is it?

Trust Versus Fear

4 Nov

“It is one of the jobs of an 11-year-old to do stupid things. It’s my job to help you find a solution when you do.”

At 7:00 last night, I was getting ready to head to my friend’s house for a little girl’s night when Beans came into the bedroom. She started what I was certain would be a story, like so many before, that ended with “…and then it broke.” The expression on her face was so worried, I was sure I was about to hear that my precious iPhone had been murdered or my engagement ring had been inadvertently flushed down a toilet. Instead she started to cry and apologize repeatedly, nearly hysterically. Of course, my instinctive response is to repeat “What is it? What?” over and over in a gradually higher octave until I am nearly shrieking with worry. Which makes her more hysterical. I know, I’m awesome.

Finally, she explained, in the most circuitous way imaginable, that she had attempted to carve her playdate’s name into the back of her pumpkin with a powered Dremel tool and had somehow managed to accidentally grind a hole into her wrist. She and her friend managed to conceal this whole incident from my mother, who was watching them while Hubby and I were at parent-teacher conferences, and tended to the wound themselves with water, a Band-Aid and Vaseline petroleum jelly. (When I questioned them later about the use of Vaseline instead of, say, Neosporin, they reminded me that I had once proclaimed that “Vaseline is good for everything.” I guess I should have been more specific.)

And then they went to the movies.

Four hours later, after the movie was over and the friend had gone home, my voice and its oft-told tales of germs and infections began to whisper in my daughter’s ear Jiminy Cricket-style, animated by the guilt of having not told me in the first place. She forced herself into my bedroom to confess.

Long-story short: 2 1/2 hours in the emergency room later, she ended up with a tetanus shot, a week’s worth of antibiotics and a fine dressing on her wound.

“Beans, why didn’t you just tell me?”

She was afraid. Afraid that I would be angry that she was doing something she clearly should not have been doing, and then hurt herself doing it.

She was afraid, and in her fear, she didn’t trust that I would see past the mistake to help her deal with the consequence.

Ouch. I felt like the worst parent ever as I came to that realization.

“No matter what, if you are hurt or being hurt, you tell me. I will NEVER be angry. My job is to keep you safe and to support you.”

That’s an important lesson. Today it was just about pumpkins and power tools. Tomorrow will bring more complicated scenarios.

It took a lot of courage for my daughter to confess (bolstered as it was by the fear of gangrene) and I am proud of her. It isn’t always easy to trust someone when you’re scared – even your mom.

Have your kids ever had to get past their fear to tell you the truth about something? How did you handle that situation?

Stealth Ninja Labradors: A Day in The Life

2 Nov

**Today, I welcome my first guest poster – Nikki, the dog. She will be describing a typical day in the life of a suburban labrador. 


Listen, everyone thinks we’re just three goofy dogs. Which I’m okay with  – because it just proves that our cover is totally working. In fact, we are an elite ninja team here to protect our humans.

Yes we are.

Let’s face it – you humans aren’t too swift. If it weren’t for us a) you’d be living in unsanitary conditions from all the food you just throw all over the floor (and sometimes leave on counters) and b) that guy who stops by everyday with that paper stuff would have definitely gotten in by now. Somebody should tell him that if he’s trying to be subtle, that conspicuous white truck isn’t doing him any favors. And let’s not even mention the very real threat of a squirrel coup d’etat.

So here’s our typical day:

6:00am – Wake you up by excessive licking. Bella takes the face, I go for the hands. And Charlie, he licks his own…nevermind. This would go much more smoothly if you’d stop squirming.

6:15am – Eat. (By the way, the food sucks.)

6:16am – Go out.

6:18am – Come back in.

6:20am – Wake up the small humans. (See “licking” above.)

6:22am – Go out.

6:24am – Come back in.

6:30 – 9:00am – Morning training exercises. These typically include food snatching resource identification, ball chasing projectile locating and retrieval and practicing our sad faces psychological warfare drills.

9:00 – Noon – Sentry duty.

Sleepy Puppy.

12:45pm – INTRUDER!

Intruder secured.

12:48pm – Intruder neutralized.

Intruder Neutralized.

12:49pm – Go out.

12:52pm – Come back in.

12:56pm – Go out.

12:59pm – Come back in.

2:00pm – Recycling.

Charlie recycles.

3:22pm – Go out.

3:23pm – SQUIRREL!!


3:24pm – Squirrel escapes. Come back in.

4:00pm – 6:00pm – Sentry duty.

6:15pm – Dinner. Have I mentioned that the food sucks?

6:17pm – Go out.

6:19pm – Come back in.

8:00pm – 6:30am – Sentry duty.

Night watchdog

As you can see, the life of a ninja is not all ear scratching and belly rubs. Maybe now we’ve earned a little more of your respect. The truth is, we keep you safe from the dangers outside these walls – but maybe you can’t handle the truth

This post was prompted by Mama Kat’s Writers Workshop – the prompt was:  A day in the life of your pet…how bad do they have it?

Mama’s Losin’ It