Maple Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal cookies have always been a staple in my house. They’re pretty much my mom’s go-to cookie whenever the craving strikes, so it’s like a comfy little taste of home & love to me. This recipe is actually adapted from the Starbuck’s Outrageous Oatmeal cookie, but I made a few changes (because frankly, raisins in my oatmeal cookie is just a disappointment). No hate for anyone who likes raisins, but I’m a chocolate lover — why use sad grapes when you can get a little bit of ooey, gooey chocolatey goodness in there?

These cookies are special because you’ve got the hearty oatmeal base, a little bit of crunch from the pecans, and a delightful pop of maple sweetness in the mix too. It’s probably everything you could ever want in a perfectly satisfying, kinda-healthy cookie! Ok, so it’s not that healthy. But the oats count for something, right?

  • 1 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (dark is recommended, but light works too)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/2 cup pure maple syrup

  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Mix together oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, chocolate chips and chopped pecans. Set aside.
  • Beat butter and sugars together in an electric mixer or by hand, until light & fluffy.
  • Add the egg, cinnamon, vanilla, and maple syrup to the wet ingredients and beat until fully incorporated.
  • Gradually add in the flour mixture and beat until everything is combined.
  • Drop dough onto baking sheets, about the size of a tablespoon & two inches apart.
  • Bake cookies for 12-16 minutes, or until golden around the edges but still a bit soft.
  • Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!

 

Banishing the Winter Blues

I feel like winter often gets a bad rap. I guess it’s one of those seasons you either love or you hate, but living in Upstate New York, most people go with the latter. But not me. I’m a winter baby, always have been and always will be. I love the biting winds, heavy blizzards, icicles on my rooftop… I could go on. Part of it could be that I’ve just never done well in the heat: my skin gets irritated and my hair gets dry and I detest being sweaty and I don’t like the social implications it brings, HA! Call me crazy, but winter is renewing. Winter is a test. If you can’t suffer the dark and cold, how can you truly enjoy the light and heat? Maybe that’s a bit extreme, but I do believe the seasons we are most drawn to can be illustrative of our characters. I love fall and winter, not because I’m a dreary individual per se, but I think it’s the most contemplative time of the year, allowing us a natural time to withdraw from the hustle and bustle, to settle in with things we enjoy or just let yourself be for a little while. I appreciate that. Plus I like crisp, cold weather, and there’s strength in the silence that comes with the dead of winter or a quiet autumn morning.

So for Winter nay-sayers out there that might be reading this, I pity you. Here are some fabulous things about this season.

How do you look chic in the wintertime, you ask? You bundle up, b*tch! There’s nothing cute about freezing your ass off. Winter is a time to be comfy, a time to grab those big sweaters that you swim around in and kick back, staying warm and safe from harsh winds. That’s not to say you can’t dress up in the winter however, just do so with caution. No bare legs! I can’t bear to see girls walking around outside in 20 degree weather bar-hopping in tiny dresses with bare legs and arms, because yes, ladies tend to do that around here as if it’s summertime. More power to them, I just fear for their health. Anyways, I personally love winter fashion. I love big hats and huge, soft scarves. Valpeak has a great selection of affordable and warm winter hats! I just bought this one recently and I’m loving it. I even still wear heels in the winter if they’re durable and thicker on the bottom, and paired with a big pair of warm socks of course. Turtlenecks are one of my favorites since they’re forgiving in every way and never go out of style. I have an affinity for cashmere ones (like this beautiful Orvis cashmere blend or this 100% cashmere sweater that’s super versatile) as well as the heavier-knit varieties, but depending on where you live, play around with the thread count. As for wool sweaters, both Carraig Donn and L.L. Bean have my heart. Both of these materials can be thrifted, too, if you’re willing to look! So get your scarves, your sweaters, your chunky heels and winter boots and in the wise words of Tim Gunn, make it work.

Honestly, what’s better than getting into bed after a long day? Maybe I’m just kind of a homebody, but I love to nest. I love hopping into bed and pulling the covers up high, ready to dream and wake up refreshed. I definitely sleep better in the winter, too. As much as I enjoy sleeping with my windows open in the warmer months, I hate the racket that the bugs make and the humid air wafting through the screen. Ugh. But winter is a time for thick sheets and fuzzy throws, and snuggling up with a partner or a pet and listening to the snow fall and the wind gust while you drift off to sleep. Perfect, isn’t it? You can score some amazing and affordable flannel sheets here, as well as cuddly faux-fur throws and down comforters to keep your abode nice and warm.

Yes, you can bake all year round, and we all do, but winter baking is the best! Holiday baking obviously takes the cake (pun intended) but there’s nothing like hiding away from the cold to whip up some of your favorite cookies or treats. My favorite winter recipes range from savory pies to pretty much anything with chocolate, but my recipe for 3-ingredient peanut butter cookies also hits the spot and its super easy to make! If you’re looking for some good recipe books to get the ball rolling, some classic cookbooks filled with foolproof recipes include The Baking Bible, Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, and the classic Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book. Even though recipes are being shared so rapidly online nowadays, you can’t beat owning a tried and true cookbook.

Even in the cold weather, it’s good to stay active. I really hate working out in gyms and much prefer being outdoors. I feel too trapped and I genuinely enjoy being in nature rather than lift weights or stare into space while running on a treadmill. Thus, winter hikes are one of my favorite ways to get active in the cold months! It doesn’t even have to be too strenuous, just getting out there for a walk in the cold are can be refreshing and revitalizing. Seek out a trail near you and remember to wear good boots! Reward yourself with a delicious hot drink afterwards, that way you can have a treat and warm up at the same time.

Who doesn’t want an excuse to stay in and binge watch all your favorite movies or tv shows?! Last winter my boyfriend and I went through so many movies — The Thing, the Lord of The Rings trilogy, Wild Strawberries, and The Sound of Music were some go-to’s, just to name a few. It can be fun to cuddle up on the couch and get lost in a film for a while, and winter is the perfect time to do so.

All too often I hear people complaining about winter: the snow, the cold, or maybe just the stagnation it can infer. Don’t let yourself be bogged down by winter blues! Winter can also be a great opportunity to focus on self-care: draw a bath and have an at-home spa day or just spend time hibernating with your pet and a favorite book! For those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder, self care can be really beneficial. Viewing these months as a way to focus inward may soothe some of your symptoms. Also, these great therapeutic light boxes can help too! Try out some things on this list and remember, spring is only a few months away!