Magnificent Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last week there was a small collection of bananas getting oh-so-very ripe on my kitchen counter. There was no way I would’ve been able to eat them before they got too ripe… I had no choice but to make something with them. (Hardly a tragedy). Instead of baking a loaf of banana bread, the classic standby, I wanted to try a different route. Cookies. I did a little research on the internet and found this incredible recipe. Thanks Martha Stewart! It is to die for!!! Because I had more than one ripe banana, I doubled the recipe but that left me with an outrageous amount of cookies. I brought two overflowing plates of cookies in to work the next day and they were all gone very quickly. And received many rave reviews. I am definitely going to make these again, particularly if I am trying to impress!

Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart

makes about 3 dozen

1 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. whole wheat flour

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 c. mashed ripe banana (about 1 large banana)

1 c. old-fashioned oats

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 c. (about 2 oz.) chopped toasted walnuts

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. If your walnuts are not toasted, do that now. They will taste much better. Simply spread them out on a baking sheet (that you can later use for the cookies) and slide them in the oven until they start turning a nice golden brown color and produce a lovely smell. I didn’t pay exact attention to how long it took me but I’ll estimate about 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, and baking soda. Set that aside.

Using a mixer, combine the softened butter and the sugars until nice and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla. Combine thoroughly, then mix in the banana. In a few batches, add the flour mixture until it is fully combined. Be careful not to over mix it though. At this point, I took the bowl off the mixer and stirred in the oats, walnuts, and chocolate chips by hand.

Spoon the dough on to the cookies sheets leaving a few inches between them because they spread out when they cook. My cookies dough balls were about an inch to an inch and a half in diameter. I think that is the perfect size for these cookies. Bake them for about 13 minutes until they have a light golden brown color and are just beginning to set. Let them cool in the pans for a minute or two before transferring them to wire racks for a complete cool down.

Since I made twice the amount as the recipe above calls for, I had enough cookies to save a few in my freezer and take the rest in to work. If you are planning on sharing, don’t feel guilty hiding a few for yourself for later. Trust me, you will be glad you did! Enjoy!! (I know you will.)

Photos of the Week

This week my photos are from Pittsburgh’s Highland Park. I was headed home after a happy hour with friends and got inspired by the beautiful sky as the sun was setting. By the time I found a place to park, the sun was gone… but the lighting and the atmosphere still had that beautiful evening glow. I’m glad I had my camera with me! Enjoy!

Apartment: Step 2

I FOUND AN APARTMENT!!! I’ve already signed my lease too! It’s so perfect. I have yet to find any major flaws actually. My biggest criteria included: living in an area that I can walk to stores and shops, hardwood floors, one bedroom, lots of light, a nice size kitchen, and a few features that are unique to the apartment. I succeeded in finding all of those! I was first drawn to my new home by it’s location. I really miss being able to walk places (after living in walkable cities like Seattle, New York, and Dresden) and from my new apartment I will be able to walk to restaurants, bars, shops, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and a local farmer’s market! I could already see pictures of the interior on the rental companies website so the trip I took to look inside the apartment in person was really just to make sure they weren’t false advertising. Well, they weren’t. The interior looked just as lovely as I was expecting and I left the leasing office about 20 minutes later with my new lease in hand!

The apartment is mine beginning in July. Perfect timing. I go back to work for the next ballet season in the middle of July so it will be nice to have the chance to get settled before I start back in the studio. Today I did a little organizing of what I have that has been sitting in boxes since I moved home from Seattle. Most of what I went through so far came from the kitchen but I have a box full of CDs and DVDs and cookbooks as well. I also printed up a floor plan of my apartment from the website so I can begin thinking of ways to arrange my furniture. (So handy). It’s going to be a bit rough to make everything fit, particularly in my bedroom, but I’m up for the challenge!

Photos of the Week

This weekend I hit the stage in my last performance of the season with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Three performances of Coppelia, a fun and exciting ballet that was just as much fun for the audience as it was for the dancers. It’s always wonderful as a performer when the audience is appreciative and responsive to what we are giving them. Here are some photos from behind the scenes!

Apartment: Step 1

The apartment search has now gotten real. Wahoo!! This afternoon I am heading out to physically look at two apartments that I am interested in renting. I could not be more excited. I am so very much looking forward to being independent again. On top of that, I have been dreaming of decorating ideas for the past few months now. I have created a Pintrest account for the sole purpose of organizing and documenting my thoughts. I am a very visual person so that website is wonderful for me! My ideas are so all over the place right now (and rather extravagant) that I doubt I will be able to accomplish it all. But hey, shoot for the moon and you’ll land among the stars right?

First off is the kitchen… as you may know already, I spend a good majority of my home time in my kitchen so I am looking for an apartment that has a nice kitchen. I have seen a few layouts online that have the kitchen and the living room combined as one big space. To me, that would be perfect! I’m also looking for a nice amount of counter space. I have some great ideas for counter top storage and I’ll need space for my new blender that I just got for my birthday! =]

For the living room, furniture is going to be a big challenge for me to find. I am going to take a few pieces from my parents, and my sister’s old TV, but that still won’t fill the room. The couch is the scariest one for me to tackle because I don’t want anything exorbitantly expensive but I also want a nice piece that will last many years and not lose it’s appeal. I have been very interested in the idea of “up-cycling” (like recycling, but better) an old door into either a table (coffee, or dining) or a nice large piece of art. That also depends on what luxuries I have with hanging things on my walls.

My bedroom will be easier than the living room because I am just going to take most of the furniture from my room here in my parent’s house. Convenient, huh? Again, I am thinking of painting one or two of the pieces though. I’ve had this furniture since middle school so I am ready to give it a fresh look to go with my fresh new life! =]

Moving is so very stressful usually, but I’m not feeling much of that yet… I don’t expect I will get overwhelmingly stressed either. I am moving within the same city, I have my parents and many friends to help me, and I have several months (with not much else on my schedule) to get it done. I can see it now… Take a few boxes over, unpack them, then spend the rest of the afternoon by the pool. Sounds lovely right? Boy am I excited!!!

Photos of the Week

For the sake of my recent struggles with being on top of posting pictures I have decided that in my world, Sunday counts as the last day of the current week, not as the first day of the upcoming week. Feeling crunched for time, I dug back through my pictures from Houston and found some more to edit and share with you. Pretty soon I will also be a contributing writer and photographer for Human or Dancer, the blog run by dancers of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. The first photos I’ll be adding to that site will be behind the scenes pictures from our rehearsals for our upcoming performance, Coppelia. If you are a reader in the Pittsburgh area, click here for ticket info! Hope you can make it!