For the fourth week of our Lenten Baking Day, I decided to go old school...with a twist.

I knew that I wanted to make Chocolate Chip Cookies but I also knew that I had to use the left over ice cream from the Blackberry Crisp (mostly, so that I could stop drooling each time I open the freezer for ice)!

This is when a vision came to me...Pizookie...that warm cookie, right out of the oven, served with ice cream...from BJ's Brewery and Restaurant.

I looked up the recipe online and sure enough it looked perfectly simple. I used the online recipe as a general guide, and I set out to make this memorable dessert that turned out to be amazing and I will totally be making this again!

Traditional Cookie Dough Recipe (I use the recipe on the back of the Toll House Chocolate Chip bag)
Vanilla Ice Cream
Oven at 450*

To make this incredible dessert, all I did was fill Ramekins about halfway with cookie dough. One has mini-chocolate chips, another has mini-chocolate chips and white chips, and the last has mini-chocolate chips, white chips and chopped hazelnuts.

Pre-heat oven to 450* and bake Ramekins for about 12 minutes or until the top is dark brown but not burnt...the top will get crunchy, while the inside will stay gooey....it's amazing.

Top with Vanilla Ice Cream and serve immediately.



It is truly amazing that we are half way through March and we will be moving in just 4 short months! In an effort to appreciate the little things that life has to offer as the time quickly escapes us...here are just a few of our "favorite things" that made the winter months pass quickly and the spring bloom in full force.

Community Theater. Friends gave us tickets to the production of "The Producers" and much to our surprise, it was really well done! It was nice to support this non-profit organization full of such talented individuals!

Dinner with Friends. Recently we went to dinner at a friend's home and we were asked to bring the appetizer. Being encouraged to try new recipes is always so fun and the finished products turned out great...Honey-Balsamic Goat Cheese Spread served with fruit, Artichoke Turnovers, and (not pictured) Italian Tear Drops.

Color. Adding this new lamp to our home has added a pop of color to a dark corner, soft light for the evenings and a new experience in our marriage...shopping for home furnishings together :)

Sassy Water. In an effort to cleanse ourselves and be healthier, we have upped our water intake significantly in the past month. This combination of lemon, ginger, cucumber and mint adds fun dimension to the 64oz of water being consumed each day and has great benefits for the body!

A Happy (and maturing) Dog. David went to mow the backyard this weekend and McCovey did his usual prance around, bark at the mower, romp through the piles of cut grass, ect. before sitting down to watch the world go by...leaving us with a happy, if not greener, puppy!

Lemon Raspberry Scones. A lazy weekend morning, is made better only with a hot cup of coffee and a scone right out of the oven. Having some fresh raspberries and some frozen raspberries to use up--we tried this new breakfast treat and will vouch for the fact that this recipe is out of this world!

Starbucks. As silly as it sounds, grabbing a "Double Tall Nonfat Vanilla Latte" for me and a "Grande Dark Roast Coffee" for David, on our way to run errands or during a break from work makes life that much more wonderful. One of my chief concerns about quiting Starbucks in December was that I needed to leave on good terms. Thankfully there was no hard feelings or animosity, because being that there is only one Starbucks in "The Falls" I could not diminish my love and joy for that 12oz little paper cup (made only that much better by their fabulous Valentine's Day logo)!

Date Night. Nothing beats getting dressed up and heading out of the house with one purpose...to enjoy each other's company. We had our first date in October of 2000 and it is by God's grace that we enjoy spending time with one another even more now, than we did at the Dairy Queen on Coburg Road twelve years ago.

"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my favorite things...." Maria VonTrap, Sound of Music



The third Sunday of Lent approached quite quickly and I did not have a decision yet as to what I would bake for my "cheat day" recipe. So, as David and I were wondering the isles of Sam's Club (do NOT judge us, there is no Costco in The Falls), keeping our eyes peeled for a great idea to pop up...I spied Blackberries.

I decided that I would do some form of blackberry pie, cobbler or crisp. I truly had nothing in mind except that I knew a baking creation consisting of butter and berries could not be beat. So, upon arriving home I promptly poured over my cook books, online blog references and Epicurus...finally settling on this recipe for a peach and blackberry crisp (minus the peach).

It turned out to be a new favorite recipe to add to my collection. I also learned a valuable lesson...usually I will make a crisp or cobbler in a dish that is shallow allowing for each serving to have more crust than berries, but this time I used this deeper style baking dish and it was wonderful to have so many juicy berries with each bite of crust.

One final word to the wise: do not go cheap on your ice cream! We used Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean and it was pure heaven--as every cheat day dessert should be!

Peach and Blackberry Crisp
1-1/2 pounds peaches (about 3), pitted and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges
2 cups blackberries, picked over and rinsed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
3/4 cup coarsely chopped lightly toasted pecans
peach and brown sugar ice cream or vanilla cream as an accompaniment

In a large bowl toss the peaches and the blackberries gently with the cornstarch, the lemon juice, and the granulated sugar until the mixture is combined well. In a small bowl stir together the flour, the brown sugar, the oats, the salt, the cinnamon, and the nutmeg, add the butter, blending the mixture until it resembles coarse meal, and stir in the pecans. Spread the peach mixture in a 13- by 9-inch (3 quart) baking dish, sprinkle the pecan mixture evenly over it, and bake the crisp in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the top is golden. Serve the crisp with the ice cream.



"Return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping and mourning" (Joel 2:12)

Lent is such a wonderful time. I love being reminded of the journey Christ took prior to his death and resurrection and I love being reminded of the fact that as Christians we can use these 40 days to sacrifice, to pray, and to humble ourselves for the gift we will receive at Easter.

Now normally, not so different from many people out there, I don't love giving up my favorite indulgences...so I usually don't.

But during Lent, I enjoy having a reason to give up my favorite things. I appreciate that each time I reach for that special item...or I start to do a certain activity...I get to remind myself that Christ gave the ultimate sacrifice and I can surely sacrifice this small thing for 40 days...surely I can!

This year I gave up two things. One of them, an activity that I love and one of them, an object that I love.

I first decided to give up sweets, desserts, candy, sugar, ice cream...all things made of sugar and that make my heart feel aflutter.

I have never taken on this task before during the Lenten season, because I just never thought that I could do it. It is just a fact that I love candy. and ice cream. and desserts. I love them. Like...if it was between choosing McCovey or ice cream...I might just choose the latter option :) I won't even set up the scenario of choosing between David and Skittles...because well...you don't want to know that answer either!

I also made the decision to give up an activity that has begun to use up a great deal of my time, energy and money...baking.

In an effort to improve (my hideous) baking skills this past year, I have taken to daily: searching out new recipes...buying new ingredients...and then tasting my creations (as well as handing them out to ANYONE in our lives who will take them off of our hands).

Well, since gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins, I decided that I would stop baking during Lent and the money that was spent on my supplies would go towards our church service project, Operation Rice Bowl, providing money to feed poor children around the world.

This Lent has been one of my best yet. The constant reminders to myself of Christ's sacrifice have been fantastic and I am thankful that I chose to take this period of prayer and sacrifice seriously.

However, there is one point in our house that is up for debate...Sundays.

According to the church calender, Sundays during Lent are not actually calculated in the 40 days. In the most basic of terms this is because each Sunday is considered a "mini" celebration of Easter and the Resurrection. So, for many families this means that you do not have to abstain from your chosen Lenten sacrifice...and in our home...it is a split decision.

For Lent David has given up Diet Coke, and other soda, but his primary "drug of choice" is Diet Coke. He has also chosen, not to cheat on Sundays...because he is amazingly dedicated like that.

I, on the other hand have chosen to partially cheat. I have decided that each Sunday I will select one item to bake and share with those in our lives...we wouldn't want to cut off our neighbors cold turkey from their baked goods, now would we?!?!

The first Sunday of Lent, I made Cinnamon Rolls from the BEST recipe! You must try making these, you won't regret it!

The second Sunday of Lent, I made these Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes...they were simply divine! The cake was a bit chewy and I think it is because I still don't have the skill of "gently folding" down pat...but with practice (after Lent) I will continue to get better.

I have yet to decide what will be made on the Sundays to come, but I will be posting those recipes as well, as this wonderful Lenten journey continues.

Bright Lights, Big City...Life in Las Vegas