oliver-on-the-planeI’ve been wanting to post. I tried while I was on vacation, but I was on vacation and really reveling in it.. Once Oliver and I got home Jonathan had to go out of town for a bit for work, Even though we did get some family time together in Houston and New Jersey we had not been together as a family for over two weeks after. So once everyone was together again we really just wanted to relax some more, do a bunch of family napping and family outings. Plus I’m starting school on Monday so I’ve been trying to soak in the last bit of free time that I do have and spend with my family. So that’s why the lack of posting has happened…since I know you all really wanted to know this information!! And a big warning this post will be filled with a ton of photos.

Gary aka Doc is finding m&ms in Oliver’s ear

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Building blocks with Pops

Our trip to Houston was great. We got to spend lots of time with family, and friends. We came into town to celebrate my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary. We did a lot of planning for the party, made food, but also had a ton of fun swimming, and taking Oliver to story times and what not. He really loved every minute of it. He especially loved being with his older cousin Cloé. Every time we went anywhere he had to make sure Cloé wasn’t far behind, or that she was riding in the same car as him. It was very sweet.

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swinging with Cloé

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The party turned out really great. We all pitched in and made food, which was delicious!!! Jonathan and I made a 50 made out of cupcake holders, and Cloé and Leá made a banner that went through every year of their marriage. A time line, it was really cool to read all the memories, and to be a part of it. Jonathan did a beautiful slide show of photos. And we hired a photographer to document the day. It was a beautiful party and I think Gary and Gretchen were really glad that they decided to do it!! I was a great visit, and great way to send us off to our next part of our trip.

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Our first leg in New Jersey was the beach. We spent a week in Ocean City. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. It was hot, but the beach was perfect. At night we would make dinners, have drinks, go to the board walk, ride rides with Oliver, and eat ice cream. I mean really what could be better then that. We had delicious seafood, yummy watermelon margaritas, and really really good pizza. I do love California pizza, but I’m sorry nobody makes a pizza pie like they do in New Jersey. It’s like BBQ in Texas, or cheese steaks in Philly. Its just not the same anywhere else. Oliver attached himself to Audrey like he did with Cloé in Houston. I love that he takes such an interest and really loves being with them. I think we are doing a beach trip again next year, but it may end up being somewhere else…….maybe here in Cali?????

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After the beach Jonathan came back to California for work and Oliver and I had a bunch of family time with my family, and friends. We went blueberry, blackberry, and nectarine picking. Gosh the farms in New Jersey are breath taking. I just love it, Here we have farmers markets, and there you go to the farms and pick your produce, or just buy it from them. Everything is so fresh, it’s the real deal, farm to table. Everything is so green. Its so sad to come back to crazy brown trees, and a brown dirt ground from the drought, gosh it’s so sad. I’m truly hoping this winter will be what they’re saying it will be.

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drinking fresh peach juice from the farm

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Winterthur enchanted woods

 

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I love baking with Oliver. He has gotten to the point now even with cooking that when he see’s me in the kitchen chopping or mixing something he wants to be a part of it. He just pulls up his stool and gets to work with me. Since we had so many good berries and nectarines I decided to make a crisp with Oliver and Audrey. They really had a good time and were great helpers. I highly recommend cooking or baking with your kids or your niece or nephew or your friends children….it’s so much fun, and they really love it just as much as we do!!!

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Ingredients for crisp:

2 lbs. any kind of berry and or stonefruit

1 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup oats

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon fresh nutmeg

1 teaspoon corn starch

1 stick salted butter or 1/2 cup

 

Directions for crisp:

Rinse your fruit, and cut it up if you are using stone fruit. Put fruit in the bottom of a 9×9 pan. Mix all the dry ingredients together and take the butter and mash it with the dry using your hands. The butter should be the size of peas. Bake for 375, for 40-50 minutes. Top with ice cream and or just eat it…..enjoy!!

 

 

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I wanted to do a large post before we embark on our trip.  I’ve been making a bunch of easy summer dinners, that are very straight forward.  Some of these will be repeats that I’ve made over the years.  Sorry trying to make it easy here. But I think this will be a post where anyone can find something they like.  I’m sure some of you are like…uggghhhh pizza again, or ice cream again.  Well no need to complain because this one will be filled with a bunch of yummy, and easy stuff to make.  Hope all of you are having a great summer.  I look forward to blogging while we are away!!!

1.  Flank Steak with sauteed corn and peppers

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This one couldn’t be more easy.  First season your steak with salt and pepper.  Make sure your meat is room temp.  Heat your pan (I prefer cast iron) make sure your pan is nice and hot.  Heat the oil, and at that last minute squeeze a full lemon onto the steak. Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side.  Let your meat rest.  Next take two ears of corn and slice the corn off, and then chop up a red pepper.  Re heat pan.  Add a tablespoon or two of butter.  Sautee your corn and pepper in the same pan your steak was in so it takes on the meats juices, add salt and pepper.  While the corn and peppers are cooking, cut up a whole heirloom tomato, chop some cilantro, and zest of one lime.  Once the corn and peppers are browned and somewhat caramelized, add your tomatoes, lime zest, juice of one lime, and cilantro.  Next slice steak and serve with corn sautee.

 

2. Pan sauteed halibut, with fennel slaw

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This one couldn’t be more easy.  And I will say this has been my favorite thing to make this summer.  It’s light, clean, and really tasty.  To make your slaw thinly slice one fennel bulb, an english cucumber, pulled dill, juice of one lime, about 1/2 cup sour cream, and salt and pepper.  Toss, cover and put in frig.  Rinse your halibut, and then towel dry with a paper towel.  Season with salt and pepper.  Heat a pan, once it’s hot add a tab of butter.  Place fish in the pan.  Cook on both sides for about 5-7 minutes.  It depends on how thick your fish is. You can also finish it in the oven at 350, once you flipped it once.  Let the fish cool for minute before serving with slaw.

 

3. Green salad with spicy chicken sausage

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I swear any salad will taste divine if your can make a really good vinaigrette.  I love making my own dressings, so easy and so much better for you.   Add whatever you like to your salad.  This salad just has big chunks of heirloom tomatoes, avocado to make it creamy, and cucumber.  Simple as can be.  So to make a good vinaigrette.  Have a jar on hand that has a tight lid.  I save my jam jars, they work the best.  A pinch of kosher salt, a few spins of pepper, a teaspoon of a good Dijon mustard, about 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, and about 1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, you can also add some finely chopped shallot.  You can always add to your dressing, I just eyeball it all.   For your sausage just satuee in a hot cast iron pan, and serve with Dijon mustard, or a grain mustard.

 

4. Roasted chicken with dates, and olives, served with saffron rice

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This recipe comes from one my favorite cook books Jerusalem.  A friend had me over for dinner about 6 weeks ago and made this and it was to die for.  And not hard at all.  I knew I wanted to blog this as soon as I had it.  You will love this one.

Here’s the link for the rice dish

Here’s the link for the chicken

 

5.  Fish Tacos

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Link for fish tacos

 

6.  Jim’s Green chilli pozole

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Link for Pozole

 

7. Zucchini and Buratta salad

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8. Heirloom carrot salad

heirloom carrot and cucumber ginger salad....this is my new favorite summer salad

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9. Marinated buffalo cheese tossed with heirloom tomatoes

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10. Vicky’s chicken salad

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11. And to make it worthy Pizza and chopped salad

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Link for Pizza and salad

 

END SCENE!!!!

 

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Summer so far is going by so fast.  Before I know it we are going to be on a plane to Houston-Philly-LA.  Three weeks total of travel and vacation.  We are going to Houston to celebrate my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary.  Wow…..can you say wow.  50 years!!!!!  Quite a big deal I’d say!!  Then we are off to New Jersey for a week at the beach.  That will be fun too, one because the beach is always relaxing, and two Oliver will be with his two cousins who are closer to his age, and they can run around on the beach and have at it.  I plan on posting while we are on vacation, hopefully more.

 

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I’ve been wanting to make a popsicle post for a while, but wanted to do something worthy and really tasty.  Believe me these are crazy creamy, yummy, and basically taste like ice cream.  Canned coconut milk is a dream come true for cooking any kind food, and desserts too.  I always forget about it, and need to use it more.  It’s heavenly and add some perfectly ripe roasted strawberries….end of story!!!!  If you like coconut or strawberries you are guaranteed to love these.

Our Friends Jeff and Emily invited us over for a BBQ the day after the 4th of July.  I was excited to see their new house, it’s awesome.  The house is great and big, and they have a beautiful park right across the street.  WOW!!!!  I decided to make these for the party.  I knew the adults would like them, but wasn’t sure about the kids.  Well I’m happy to say that the kids loved them.  Win win all around!!

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2  14oz. cans canned organic coconut milk (make sure you get full fat)
  • 1 lb. organic strawberries
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • popsicle sticks

 

Directions:

Pre-heat oven 425.  Wash and slice strawberries.  Place on cookie sheet, you can line it with parchment to make it less messy.  Cook for about 15 minutes.  Let strawberries cool.  Next take both cans of coconut milk, add sugar, and scrapped vanilla pod with pod, and bring to a simmer.  Once it’s come to a simmer take off the heat and let it sit for about 30 minutes.  Once it’s cooled strain into bowl, and add strawberries to bowl.  Mix and add to popsicle holders.  If you don’t have holders, just use plastic cups.  Make sure you add your sticks too.  Freeze for about 2 hours or over night.

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Ice cream is one of my favorite things to make, especially in the summer.  Oliver has taken a liking to ice cream, and who can blame him.  I made the custard part the night before, so the following morning when I was chopping the chocolate and cherries, I was explaining to Oliver that I was making ice cream.  Maybe not the smartest thing to tell your two year old at 9 am.  He kept pointing to the freezer and asking for ice cream, and then the melt down started.  Like I said who can blame him, ice cream is delicious, creamy, and satisfying.  And he’s getting his dairy and fruits right??!!!  As much I wanted to give into his whim, I dealt with his melt down, and promised he could have some later that day.

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We went you our friend Kyra and Greg’s house for a pool party.  It was a blast, and tons of fun.  I got to see a bunch of friends I hadn’t seen in a long time, which is always so nice to do, and catch up.  Oliver was the only kid there, so he had the run of the joint.  He helped himself to cupcakes (two I might add which turned his tongue blue, then red), rice krispy treats, Greg’s skate board (we had a face plant and scratched nose from that one), and then ice cream.  But before you judge me he did eat plenty of healthy food that day.  But I let him go wild, and he did, and it was fun for the day to see him enjoy it all!!  It was a great 4th of July.  Hope you all had a great holiday too.

 

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 6 egg yolks (room temp)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 4 oz. dark chocolate
  • 1lb. cherries

Directions:

Add yolks and sugar to bowl, whisk and place aside.  Next add your milk and scraped vanilla pod to a sauce pan.  Bring to a steep.  Once your there you want to temper your eggs.  Slowly add some of the milk to the eggs and sugar.  Whisk until it’s incorporated.  Then slowly add the rest of the milk.  Place sauce pan back onto stove, until it becomes more like a thin creamy custard.  Most likely about 5 minutes.  You need to be careful not to over cook it, and cook your eggs.  Next take off stove and strain into a bowl.  Then add your heavy cream.  Some like to cook the heavy cream in with the milk, I find it comes out creamier and smoother this way.  Cover and keep vanilla pod in bowl.  Place in frig and let it sit over night.  You can also let it sit for a few hours if you want it for that day, but I find it comes out nicer if it sits over night.  The next morning chop your cherries and chocolate.  Take out custard and add to ice cream machine.  Add your cherries and chocolate at the end.  Freeze til it to your liking, or just eat it then!!!  Enjoy!!!

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One thing I really enjoy making is pizza.  It’s really one of the easiest things to make. You can make your own dough, or buy a pre-made dough, or go to your local pizza place and ask them for dough.  Summer is officially here, and let’s enjoy it by eating homemade pizza, good fresh salads, and a glass of rose wine!!

I love eating out on our patio, even though now it’s covered in chalk, many mobile kid toys, and baby pool.  It looks a lot different from a few years ago, but now it looks used and lived in so to speak.  I wouldn’t change it for anything, well maybe some grass and rain would be nice, but we have beautiful weather day in day out, 75 everyday (okay I’m bragging a little ;)).  Enjoy!!!

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Whole wheat pizza dough:

1 cup water, heated to 110 degrees (very warm, almost too hot for comfort)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 envelope (2¼ teaspoons) rapid-rise or instant yeast
2¾ cups white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon sea salt

 

White Pizza with Leeks and Artichokes:

  • 1 leek
  • 1 jar artichokes hearts
  • 1 small container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • olive oil for brushing and salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbs. butter

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 475 degrees
Whisk water, sugar, oil and yeast in a liquid measuring cup or small bowl. Allow yeast to proof for 5 minutes.
Pulse flour, Parmesan, and salt in food processor until combined. While running the food processor, slowly pour in the water mixture and process until a shaggy ball forms, about 1 minute.
Dump the dough onto a floured work surface and quickly knead dough a few times until it comes together. Halve the dough. Let dough sit in flour for about 20 minutes.  In this time you can prep your veggies or meats, or whatever you’d like to top your pizza with.  If your making this white pizza.  Cook your leeks first, you want them sort of caramelized.  Cook for about 10-15 minutes on low with salt and pepper.  On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll dough into two rounds about 11 inches in diameter. I used a large cookie sheet with parchment a baked my this way. When I used a pre-made crust from Whole Foods or wherever I just place this pizza on the oven rack.  Once you’ve rolled out your dough place it on the lined cookie sheet.  Brush the outer edge with olive oil.  Next top with mozzarella, leeks and artichokes.  Then top with ricotta.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 15 minutes.
Chopped Kale Salad:

  • 2 cups tuscan kale (or whatever kale you like)
  • 2 cups hearts of romaine
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or montery jack
  • 1/2 cup pitted green olives
  • 1/2 cup chopped salami
  • 1/4 cup salted pistatios
  • 1/2 cup diced English cucumber
  • 1/4-1/2 cup roasted red pepper
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/16-1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

You can buy roasted peppers or make them yourself.  If you want to make them yourself, you can roast them in the oven at 450, for 20-30 minutes.  Or you can just place them right on the open flame on your stove.  Once the pepper has been blackened, let it sit for about 30 minutes.  Once it has cooled, peel off skin, and cut up.  Season with salt, pepper and a dash of olive oil.  For the salad, cut up your kale and romaine, and then pulse in your Cuisinart.  Put salad together. Then shake your vinegar and olive oil, salt and pepper.  Toss enjoy!!

 

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Warning…warning….. this post is going to be flooded with photos of my favorite two year old!!!  Our boy turned two.  I can’t believe he is two. Oliver is such a sweet, caring, loving oh so loving, and adorable boy.  There are days when I can not believe that I get to be his mama, me!!!  We are a pack, we all are!!!  I’ve realized that every birthday of his brings on new emotions that I feel about him.  When I say two is a magical number, it is, because everyday I feel like I know him more, then the day before if that even makes sense.  Or maybe it’s that I feel closer to him, then I did the day before.  You think how on earth can that be possible, but it is.  Here’s an example we go to story time every Monday, and I love I truly love watching him sing and dance and get excited.  And I know just how lucky I am that I get to be there with him, and I get to see that smile on his face.  I seriously get weepy when I see him do this, or whenever it’s something that gives him pure joy.  I see it over and over, and still have to hold back the tears in public and not make a coo coo fool of myself.  I don’t tire of it, I love it!!! I love this child beyond what I ever thought I could or would love another.  My baby is two, how did this happen so quickly, my baby is two!!!!

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And yes I do have a recipe here, in between all my weepiness.  Our friend just had a baby girl, and get this she had her on Oliver’s birthday.  I was going to make some food to send over to them, but instead decided to make chocolate chip cookies.  Chocolate chip cookies are seriously my favorite cookie ever…ever!!!  I change the recipe all the time, but here is the one I used this time…enjoy!!!

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I leave you with my favorite pictures of Oliver from 1-2 years

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Brown sugar chocolate chip cookies with lots and lots of salt

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 2 eggs (room temp)
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup turbino (raw) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour (or the flour of your liking)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, or whatever chocolate you like coarsely chopped
  • 4 -6 tablespoons flaked sea salt (maldon)

Directions:

Chop your chocolate into chunks. Beat butter until smooth.  Add sugar, beat for about a minute.  Add one egg at time after sugar is combined, then vanilla.  Push ingredients down, then mix again.  Next add all your dry ingredients…..DO NOT ADD THE FLAKED SALT TO YOUR DRY INGREDIENTS, THIS IS A TOPPER!!!  Then with a wooden spoon mix in your chocolate.  Roll into log onto plastic wrap.  Chill for an hour.  If you want you can just make these as drop cookies right away, you don’t have to wrap them into log if you don’t have time.  Pre-heat oven 375, once they’ve cooled for an hour.  Cut them into 1/2 slices.  Top with flaked salt. Bake for 9-11 minutes.  Once they’re cripy on the outside but soft in the center, take out of oven and let them sit on the sheet for 10 minutes.  They will still bake a little more.  The key to a good chocolate chip cookie, is the cripy edge and the chewy center.  If you don’t them this way, then you stink, just kidding.. cook them for about 11-12 minutes, and still let them cool on the tray for 10 minutes.  Then cool on wrack and then eat…yum yum…enjoy!!!!