Super Soft Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies

There is nothing more beautiful than Scotland on a sunny day. Now, I know you are probably thinking about all the other beautiful places you have seen and are wondering what makes Scotland even more beautiful. I guess it has to do with the extreme weather contrasts to compare a sunny Scottish day too :p. The majority of the days seem to be pretty cloudy lately and it seems common to get quite a bit of rain. So, when you have bright blue skies, strikingly green grass, and vivacious views of the country side everything seems to have that ‘special pop‘ that makes the world around you seem so lively and so beautiful.

I was thinking about what made today so magnificent as I went on my early morning run. Nothing says ‘long run’ like a sunny Sunday after almost a week of straight rain, which is just what I went on- a long run (well only 7 miles, which is long for me right now, but not long for many out there). So I thought I would tell you of the views I saw during my run in hopes you will find them just as beautiful as I did.

 

My run started off a bit chilly.  As I ran past the Airthrey Castle I could see the last reminisces of the morning dew hiding in the shadows as the sun began to peak over the tower. As I turned to run around the lake the swans could be seen dipping their long necks in the water, looking for a hardy meal to start their day. The squirrels, rabbits and small birds seemed to scurry every which way as I ran through the tranquil paths which had yet to see a human since the dawning of the day.

I was reluctant to turn off the path around the lake as I had truly enjoyed experiencing the wildlife slowly awakening, much like the rest of campus, but I knew there would be more to see. As I ran up a hill, I passed small groups of athletes stumbling to their early morning workouts, probably thinking about their warm beds they were forced to leave, all of them so dedicated to the workouts that awaited their arrival. As I left campus I passed by quaint little cabins, all filled with sleeping students unaware of the beauty that lay just outside their doorsteps.

At this time my legs, quite sore from the past week of runs, began to feel refreshed as they knew they were about to experience something other than the grounds of campus bellow them. Although my run from here stuck to the pathways along the road, this did not diminish the day’s beauty, and the atmosphere was much like what I had experienced within  the stone walls around campus. I ran towards the Bridge of Allen, knowing that it was the views on my way back I was excited to see. As I ran back I could see the Stirling Castle, miles away glistening in the sun while overlooking the limitless valley below. Slightly further in the distance, the tops of windmills peeked out from between the hill tops, all of them resting for the winds yet to come. In the vast fields that lay just beside the road, cows scattered the area filling their stomachs and waiting to be milked by the nearby dairy farm. As I ran the sun warmed my face as the blue skies added a vivacious component to the usually gloomy view.

Again I was resistant about turning into campus and leaving such precious views behind, but my legs were tired and ready to bring me home. As I ran the path around the lake once more, I was surprised by the livelihood that had taken over the lake as the morning had passed. A young black lab played catch with its owner, individual runners passed by as they too enjoyed their morning run, two parents ran with their son, making sure he knew the advantages of a sunny day. Everyone, now fresh out of bed, was ready to enjoy the day by starting it off the active way.

As I ran around the rugby pitches in the last stretch of my run, I decided to stop and enjoy the view that lay ahead. In the sun, everything looked so beautiful, so bright. The grass, so brightly colored green perfectly contrasted the brilliant blue sky that was lightly scattered with puffy white clouds. It was a view worth stopping for. As I admired the view and the sun warmed my face, my stomach began to grumble and I knew it was time to go home and begin my day.

This was the view as I stopped for a few moments before I headed back home (I didnt take this today though)

This was the view as I stopped for a few moments before I headed back home (I didnt take this today though)

I believe that being active is a very important aspect to living a happy life. It is a great way to start your day off, it makes you feel good, and it helps you maintain a healthy life. I hope that this inspires you to get out there and enjoy the next sunny day. I guarantee it will brighten up you day 🙂

~~~

Super Soft Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies

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So today I decided to attempt a new chocolate chip cookie recipe. I was in the mood to bake so I decided to make these for my housemate and for my class tomorrow. Even though they came out thin, they turned out very soft and delicious. I believe they were so thin because I accidentally melted some of the butter (I hadn’t softened it before) and the packages of pudding here are slightly smaller than the ones in the US. That being said, I hope you enjoy them as much as myself and my housemates have so far 🙂

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 packet instant vanilla pudding (3.4 oz)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp hot water
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix flour and salt in a bowl.
  3. In a larger bowl cream butter and sugars.
  4. Add in pudding mix.
  5. Stir in eggs one at a time.
  6. Mix in vanilla.
  7. Mix baking soda into the hot water. Add to the wet mixture.
  8. Stir the flour mixture into the wet mixture.
  9. Stir in chocolate chips
  10. Bake 10 minutes.
  11. Enjoy 🙂

Servings: 3 1/2 dozen cookies

I like to cut up bars of chocolate. For this recipe I used 1 large bar of semi sweet chocolate and 1 large bar of milk chocolate.

I like to cut up bars of chocolate instead of using packaged chips. For this recipe I used 1 large bar of semi sweet chocolate and 1 large bar of milk chocolate.

Ready to bake :)

Ready to bake 🙂

Yumm

They might not look it, but these are so moist and soft..Yumm 🙂

Goes great with a nice glass of cold milk :)

Goes great with a nice glass of cold milk 🙂

Enjoy :)

Thin but soft and delicious! Enjoy 🙂

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Pumpkin Bread- And my normal pre-recipe banter

Well if it hasn’t been a while since my last post. Opps! But as things are, I haven’t really had much time to blog.. or even bake for that matter! You see, I have been pressed for time as I deal with the workload of my masters program- which is in a new city and in a different country; all with new tasks and adventures eating away at my days here. However, since this past week was mid-semester break, I worked extra hard to free up some time so that I could finally bake! Woohoo! 🙂

~~~ So lets get to it~~~~~

Coming to Scotland has been quite the adventure, even though I have done little traveling over the past two months (there’s no time for that). You see, it hasn’t been an adventure in the traveling sense at all. I guess this experience has actually been more a part of my adventure through life.  Now before you go off on how cheesy this all sounds, bear with me.

You see, I have always been one who loves to travel. I’m the “why settle down when there is a WHOLE world to explore” type. Or, at least I thought I was. Don’t get me wrong, I have done my fair share of traveling. I have been lucky enough to experience a variety of  adventures which have carried me to places like the top of the Eiffel Tower as the sun is setting, or to the city of Berlin to admire the street art which decorates almost every wall. I have even been blessed enough to experience the eyes of an elderly Nicaraguan woman as we put the final touches to what she would call her new home. I would say I have done a great few adventures. However, minus that latter of those examples, I would say these explorations haven’t been filled with the ‘meaningful lessons’ that come often come with the ‘deeper’ adventures of life- you know the ones I mean; the ones that make you truly adore every single thing around you.

So the lesson I am coming to terms with, as my time here in Scotland ticks on, is  to cherish your friends and family. Now, this sounds like a simple epiphany to have right? I mean, I have had it many times through out my life, as I am sure you have too. But each time seems to come from a different reasoning behind it, a different cause.

I have always been one to believe in cherishing everyone around you. I mean everyone around you does have a role in your life, and you can’t deny that, so why not cherish their existence? You never know when they will be gone. These are my views. What I live by. But then I realized, how can I cherish so many people yet want to constantly leave. I want  friends and family I can trust, which I believe I have. But then I spend my days exploring other places . Places so far away that almost a third of a year can pass before I can stand in front of a single one of those many people I love. It’s like a tug-a-war match; one side adores the life surrounded by a well-known set of friends and family while the other half has these wild dreams of the world outside her own- how do you find a balance?

I guess the answer I have come up with (and by all means you do not have to agree with me) is to just learn from your life’s adventures, acknowledge that your beliefs and views are able to change, and apply them to your future life adventures- a balance will naturally happen when you apply these lessons to the best of your ability. I have loved getting the chance to see the world outside my own, and I have loved experience the bonds that form within a series of friends and family- but  I can’t distribute all my time towards just one. Yes, my family will always be there for me (and I hope yours is there for you), and they want me to follow my dreams, even if that takes me half way around the world. But being that far away isn’t the same when it can’t be shared with the people you love. And at the end of the day, those people will be with you no matter what. They should be taken for granted. Instead they should be cherished, thought of always, kept in your heart, and visited as often as possible- things I plan on doing more from now on.

I guess I will bring it down to the second part of this lesson I have learned over the past few months (which I hope you can use to brighten up your life as well!) This is the concept that cherishing someone or something isn’t stagnate. Just like how the world around us continues to turn, the pages of our life are always being written (and sometimes rewritten). And, in these adventures, you can always find new ways to look at life, new ways to appreciate the people around you, new ways to show you care. And that doesn’t mean your old ways were wrong; it just means that you have learned a new lesson from life, a lesson that you can use when constructing the next chapter of your journey to make your life that much more meaningful and that much more bright.

As I sit and reflect on my time here, on both the high ends and the low, I can say I have truly gained a lot so far. This doesn’t just apply to the academic knowledge I am cramming into my head in massive amounts. This applies to the views on where I want my life to take me once this chapter comes to an end. I have had a blast traveling in every direction for quite some time now. But as these travels continue to twirl I have realized that I belong in a place closer to where my family is, where the people I care for and who car for me are- these are the places I want my life to take me next.

~~~ Nothing like a little heart-felt lesson to get you in the mood to bake!~~

Pumpkin Bread/Muffins

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It is Halloween time so of course the smell of pumpkin is in the air…. well it is in the northeastern part of the US at least. In Scotland on the other hand, finding a pumpkin treat is quite difficult. Lets just say, today I walked into a coffee shop called the ‘Pumpkin Cafe’ and they didn’t even have a single ‘pumpkin’ item for sale! Not even something shaped like a pumpkin! Ha! So I decided to make myself, and my housemates some pumpkin bread and muffins, since they too are just as ill-experienced with pumpkin items as that very sad cafe was today! While I was at it I carved myself a little pumpkin as well 🙂

I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 15 oz can of pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  •  1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Ingredients for Streusel Topping (Optional)

  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 tbs butter, softened slightly
  • 4 tbs flour
  • 4 tbs rolled oats

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Grease 3 loaf pans (7×3 inches)- I made 12 muffins and distributed the rest of the batter into 2 loaf pans of unknown size (literally, it wasn’t on the package!)
  3. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended.
  4. In another bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.
  5. Sift the dry mixture into the wet mixture. Stir until just blended.
  6. Pour mixture into prepared pans.
  7. If you want to make streusel- mix flour, oats, and sugar into a bowl. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle on top of batter.
  8. For loaves, bake 45-50 min. For muffins, bake 35 min. Or, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  9. Enjoy 🙂
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The ingredients

Ready to bake

Ready to bake

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Enjoy :)

Enjoy 🙂

Chocolate Chip M&M Cookies

As I sit outside on this warm spring afternoon soaking the sun’s rays (in hopes to rectify the vitamin D deficiency the long frosty winter months put us through up here) I realize how wonderful life truly is.

Even though its finals week here on campus, the sun always seems to pull people out from their study hibernation in order to enjoy a few hours of relaxation here and there. I know this from experience for just a few minutes ago I found myself locked inside doing work, feeling the sun’s heat peak through the painting studio’s windows. Today I am not the only one who has succumbed to this compulsion. A group of students are over at the BBQ pit enjoying a late lunch while probably reminiscing about the past year, students lying on blankets scatter the fields like some newfangled checkerboard, and every where you look people are running, biking, walking, or getting any bit of exercise they can. Even the dogs are enjoying these endless blue skies as their owners suddenly triple the lengths of their daily walks.

It is another picturesque day to add to the countless beauties that can be found in this world. All I can say, as the sun’s rays slowly make my eyes drift into a short nap, is that I am so fortunate to have the best group of friends and family anyone could ask for. I am here today, able to take in such beauties thanks to this support system, and because of that I am truly blessed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now on to some cookies 🙂

There is one recipe that I always turn to when I am in need of a quick dessert, Chocolate chip M&M cookies.

This is a recipe that I have been working on and perfecting over the past year and a half. I found its recipe origin one day while I was in Ireland and in need of something for an upcoming kayak water polo match. With a few little changes, the recipe was soon to be one of my favorites.

Here it is! Hope you guys enjoy it 🙂

Also, I only had older pictures of this recipe so sorry about the poor quality. Hopefully I will be updating them soon 🙂

Chocolate Chip M&M Cookies

Ingreidents

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp hot water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 large bar of dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup M&Ms

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Cream together butter and sugar
  3. Beat in eggs one at a time
  4. Stir in vanilla
  5. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to mix with salt
  6. Stir in flour, 1 cup at a time
  7. Stir in chocolate pieces and M&Ms
  8. Bake for 8- 10 min.
  9. Enjoy 🙂
I dont know how I am not at least 30 pounds heavier...

I dont know how I am not at least 30 pounds heavier…

With M&Ms :)

With M&Ms 🙂

Without M&Ms

Without M&Ms