Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Things I Am Loving This Week

Up until yesterday afternoon I was thinking that I might have to skip a "Things I Am Loving This Week" post because I could think of only one thing I was loving and it was a little odd on its own. You see I can't force the love--it has to happen naturally! Fortunately, a batch of cookies and a visit from the mail-woman gave me two more things that I am enjoying and want to share this week so without further adieu, here they are!

I found these Border Sugar Cookies originally by the Two Hot Tamales, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger by accident, but I am so glad I did. A FoodBuzz friend, Molly from I'm a Sleeper Baker left me a comment on my profile and I went to check out her blog and saw them there. Reading they were a shortbread style cookie with a secret ingredient of potato chips and drizzled with chocolate worked for me. As you probably know from reading this blog I love chocolate and I love chocolate combined with something salty. Obviously I don't need more cookies but I wanted to try them and lucky for me I have a lunch with my old office that includes a cookie & cupcake exchange today so in addition to some mini-carrot cupcakes I was testing for a cookbook review, I decided to make a batch of these. I think I may have found a new favorite cookie--LOVE them! Yes I ate 3---yikes! Lucky they leave the house tomorrow or I could easily lose all self-control and happily munch away on them. Easy to make and so good--butter, salt, chocolate, potato chips, need I say more? My chocolate was thick and not very "drizzly" so I just piped it on free-form. I also made them a touch smaller than the recipe stated and ended up with 32 cookies. This is a keeper recipe!

In addition to Molly's blog, you can find the recipe at the food Network here.

Border Sugar Cookies
M.S. Milliken & S. Feniger
(Makes 24 cookies)

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup crushed potato chips
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Sugar for dipping
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the salt and vanilla. Then add the pecans and potato chips and mix well. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour just until it disappears.

Roll the batter into balls about the size of a large walnut and place on the parchment-lined cookie sheet, allowing plenty of room for spreading. Coat the bottom of a heavy glass with butter and then dip in sugar. Press and twist to flatten each ball into a 3-inch circle. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges turn lightly golden brown. Transfer to racks to cool.

For optional garnish, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Let cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, dip your fingertips, or the tines of a fork, in the chocolate and drizzle over the cookies. Refrigerate to set.

The next thing I am loving this week is neither sweet nor salty and may seem a bit odd--it is plain white vinegar! Why am I loving it? Some background: I live in a house with jalousie windows, (you can see and read about them here on Wikipedia if you are not familiar). But basically the bulk of my windows have glass louvers that open and close together. Works fine in Hawaii, lets in the breezes well, but since they don't close completely weather-tight, the occasional tiny "critter" can squeeze in. Primarily it is a gecko, (sport for Max), an occasional cockroach (quite traumatic for me), and sometimes it is ants. That means always being careful to clean things up, store things well and never leave food lying around but it still happens now and then. Saturday, I happened to look up at my living room wall and saw a couple of black smudges, upon a closer look, I found that the tops of my walls around the entire living and dining area had become the ant "superhighway". No clue why, it's never happened like that before and basically they were coming in one set of jalousies by one sliding glass door and working their way in a line all around the room and back out the other set of jalousies by the other sliding door. There was of course a fair amount of cursing that went on and I realized I didn't have enough of my supposedly "green" bug spray to handle a job of this magnitude, so I looked online and decided to try a home remedy of putting plain white vinegar in a spray bottle and spraying the ants and the trail with it and wiping the walls down.

BTW--it turned out to be a good exercise routine--up the step ladder, spray, wipe, down the step ladder, move the step ladder, up the step ladder spray, wipe...OK you get the picture. But it WORKED! It took a couple of repeat applications at the entry and exit points for a couple days and some follow up, but the superhighway is gone. It smelled a bit like the old days of decorating Easter eggs (but actually better than the spray I was using), and I didn't have to worry about any chemicals that would be bad for Max and me (or the paint), plus it is cheap. So this week I LOVE plain white vinegar and plan to keep my spray bottle handy. And that my friends is probably much more than you wanted to know about ants in Hawaii--remember, paradise isn't always glamorous! BTW--In case you can't tell those are supposed dead ants around my spray bottle-made it myself. Feel free to pat my head like you would a small child and tell me how cute it is. ;-)

Last but certainly not least--in fact saving the very best for last, my post-woman / mail-woman / mail-person (is there a technical term?), dropped off a box from Brussels, Belgium which made my day. I signed up for another round of Blogging By Mail an event hosted once or twice a year by my good friend Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness. (you can see my other posts about previous BBMs here and here). For this event you are assigned another blogger to pack up and mail a small box of goodies to--a care package of sorts, usually around a theme and then your name is given to a different blogger who packs up a care package for you. This round the theme was "favorite indulgences" the 5 things you might turn to when you want to relax or de-stress during the busy holiday season. I sent my box off a couple weeks ago to a destination somewhere in Europe (has to remain a secret until they get their box), and today had the fun of opening the wonderful box sent to me by Eva from Books That Travel. Eva describes herself on her blog as "a slightly confused Swede in her forties who lives abroad, passionate about life, books, food, flowers and travel!!" Judging from her description and what was in the box, it seems like we have a lot in common! Eva sent a card, explaining the 5 items she chose and she also threw in some extras too--since I did the same in my box--5 items is so hard, I could appreciate her "rule breaking."

I was a bit worried when I first saw the box as the end of it was quite smashed--the second box like that I have received from the post office lately--I think the holiday stress is getting to them! I was hoping there was nothing breakable in there and was relieved to find that although there was a small beautiful blue bottle of prosecco in the box, it was skillfully wrapped safely in big "bubbles" of air and was perfectly fine.

In addition to the bubbly, there was a box of a Sweet Chili Mexican Spice Tea that Eva says is a favorite of hers, a "Total Energy" essential oil for the bath or an oil lamp (lemon, ginger and bergamot are all favorites scents of mine and this smells incredible), some "Green Tara" incense sticks I am looking forward to burning, and chocolate! (More on that in a minute!). The bonuses are a a book which I have not read and is the perfect size for my plane trip to Portland for Christmas, a cute little snowman candle and a little box of Eva's favorite throat lozenges that are flavored with smoked liquorice. What a fun collection of goodies--I am going to enjoy all of it. I thought Max was going to try and enjoy some of it too, since he jumped up on the table where I was taking the pictures but he just sniffed it and planted himself right in my way. Apparently not enough attention was being paid to him. ;-)

Can you guess what I had to examine and try first?! Yep, Belgium Chocolate! I just tried one of the cute little squares so far (remember the three cookies earlier!), but it was dark, creamy and really delicious--it just melted in my mouth. My plan is to run a bath with the essential oil, light some incense and have a little glass of the prosecco, eat a couple of pieces of the chocolate and enjoy and de-stress. Ahh...

Thank you Eva, your box was truly wonderful and appreciated, and of course mahalo to Stephanie who puts so much work in on the match-ups, prodding people to send their boxes, following up, etc. Not sure when the next BBM will be but keep an eye out. It is a fun event. I usually love picking out the items and sending my box even more than receiving one but with all these goodies and that glorious chocolate, I think receiving wins! ;-)

Wow! That was a longer than usual "Things I Am Loving This Week" post--a whole lot of love going on after all.

Hope your week is going well.


  1. nice round-up! I think you can use vinegar to clean your kitchen sink and the bathroom too (though I have never tried it)!

  2. Apparently you are full of love. To the brim.

    Those cookies sound super intriguing. POtato chips?!?!? Strange. But good.

    I definitely laughed at your inclusion of vinegar not for its cooking properties but its cleaning properties. It's a great tip though!

    Your box of goodies looks like so much fun. All of the contents sound delicious. What a great blog event!

  3. How funny, this post runs the gament of emotions...first I was all..ooh that looks good, then eek, then wow!, then awww.

  4. I love having white vinegar around too. I have a spray bottle of it under every sink. (kitchen, two bathrooms) Great for dog messes, sink & counter cleaning, all sorts of things. Non toxic and no amonia (which animals are attracted to)
    Great ants - pat, pat, pat. xoxo

    What a lovely basket you received in the mail! So kind and generous.. and you! Very well paired.

    And cookies with chips in them - cool!

  5. Oh your cookies, I so want to make these cookies, I love the thought of chips in them, 2 evil indulgences in one Perfect for PMS;)

  6. I am so glad that you made the cookies!!!! Aren't they sinful? I'll be making two more batches by Christmas....Thanks for the link up too!

  7. I love your cookies and I love your cat!!x gloria

  8. I wonder why they are called border cookies. I suspect you have tile floors, but 1 cup vinegar in a gallon of water is wonderful for cleaning wood floors and windows.

  9. Deb, you crack me up! I don't think your exercise workout- up & down a latter WASHING ant trials ~ is going to catch on, but I am glad the plain vinegar solved your ant problem.

    The sugar cookie recipe is quite unique; don't think I have ever seen crushed potato chips used in cookies. I will have to give this a try.

    As for Belgium Chocolate... it does not come better than that. Many thanks for another wonderful "likes" post.

  10. I have followed the parcel across the world, and when it last week was kept by the US customs for a week then I seriously wondered if it would reach Hawaii at all. But I am so glad it did, and even more glad that you liked what I sent.

    The book, Silk, is one of my very favourites. A beautifully written book which I have so far read in English, Swedish and French. The original Italian version is still waiting at home for me to learn enough Italian to be able to read it. It is a book that I consider to be an indulgence in itself.

    The chocolate comes from my favourite Belgian chocolaterie, and the dark chocs are with spices (chili, cardamon, wasabi, ginger, etc).

    Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

  11. I am finding all sorts of new and interesting things to make this year...cookies with potato chips. I like the salt and sweet too.. will have to give the a try.

  12. I use white vinegar to put by a cleaning spray and must post about it in jan.
    Ur cookies look lovely...never thought potato chips would make suc a fantastic lookin(and tastin too m sure)cookie
    BBM is a fantastic idea and i plan to join in soon though have to check on the shipping from goa....already have mentally planned the goan goodies id love to include....

  13. The sugar cookies sound wonderful. And white vinegar rocks! Especially for shower doors.

    Love the cat picture.

  14. Loved your spray bottle with the ants! What a great BBM box your received. Finally, Max is such a handsome boy!

  15. Potato chips in cookies is next on the list of things to try.

  16. What a sweet box full of goodies! Enjoy! I have heard of cookies with chips in them - always wanted to try them.

  17. oh wow cool cookies and potato chips in there had to read that one twice!!

  18. The cookies are a must have! Also, I like to use plain white vinegar to clean my home as well. It makes like a lot easier and cleaner for that matter.

  19. Love the cookies and I've got to make them. I love the sweet and salty temptation. Great post as always Deb.

  20. Those chocolates sound delicious. I just discovered the cleaning properties of vinegar this year. Aside from thinking of fries when I clean I like it better than bleach.

  21. Wow - love this post. It was funny (ants) and full of goodies. The cookies with potato chips sound really cool. I bet they are good. I'm sorry about the ants. I can definitely appreciate stories about ants and various other pests. We have every little bug here that you can imagine and it's one of the few things that sets me over the edge. I'll have to try your vinegar solution. We tried growing basil around the foundation this year, which is suppose to be another natural remedy and it didn't work at all. Enjoy your box full of goodies! The essential oil with bergamot would be a favorite of mine. I think bergamot is my favorite essential oil. In fact, they have a dish soap with bergamot that I love at Whole Foods. So much better than washing dishes in the same boring lemon scented soap. I hope you have a safe trip home to Portland.

  22. My Dad loves chips and chocolate together so I'm thinking I might have to make a batch of your cookies for his Christmas package.

    What a lovely BBM package you received.

  23. What a fabulous collection of goodies! Well done to your postperson on not smashing the prosecco.

  24. those cookies look ridiculously good! i love sweet and salty together. a store near me used to sell chocolate covered potato chips! yum!

    your BBM package looks like it was fantastic!


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