UPDATE! Snow Day- Chocolate Chip Cookies

Original post from February 4, 2011
Update: September 6, 2014 THIS RECIPE MAKES 5 DOZEN COOKIES. Just made them today- and forgot just how good they are and how big this recipe is. It sure is delicious and now I have fresh cookies to put in lunches all week. Yum! Yum!

Well, our snow day turned out to be a bit of a bust. No school, lots of movies and momma baking in the kitchen to keep warm. I thought I’d share our favorite recipe for chocolate chip cookies, known elsewhere as the best chocolate chip cookies in the whole entire world!

A while back I discovered a recipe by Debbie Koenig. I’ve since altered it to what works best in my kitchen.


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
½  pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup sugar
1 ½ cup tightly packed light brown sugar
3 t. vanilla extract

2 large eggs, cold, lightly beaten

12 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven.

1) Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

2) Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars on low speed until it is smooth and lump free, about 3 minutes.

3) Add the vanilla and egg and beat on low speed for 15 seconds, or until fully incorporated. Do not overbeat.

4) On low speed, add the flour mixture. Beat until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the chocolate chunks and mix until they are just incorporated. If using a hand mixer, use a wooden spoon to stir them in.

The recipe I use calls to “Refrigerate dough for at least an hour, and preferably 24-36 hours.” I just make the cookies immediately- with cold butter and cold eggs, it works for me.

5) Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats. Spoon the dough using a cookie scooper 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets. (makes about 4 dozen 3-inch round cookies)

6) Bake for approximately 8 minutes [it’s more in other ovens] or until golden brown around the edges but still soft, almost underdone-looking, in the center. Turn the sheets front to back and switch racks halfway through.

Remove the sheet from the oven and carefully slide the parchment or Silpats directly onto a work surface. When cookies are set, remove them to a cooling rack. Wait at least 5 minutes before serving or 20 minutes before storing in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.

These cookies are amazing! We are enjoying lots of them on this icey winter day!

It’s still hard to believe how it flies

Time. Isn’t it the craziest thing? Sometimes it seems to move so slowly, when we’re waiting for a big event. But, most of the time, it flies by so quickly that it’s gone before we know it. It’s hard for me to believe that my little baby Bakri, will be six years old tomorrow. Six years!? That’s amazing. In six more years he’ll be 12! That’s seems so far away! But, I know, if history repeats itself, the next six years will fly by even faster than the last six. And, before I know it, my baby boy will be in high school. Happy birthday to our big six year old boy, Bakri. May we celebrate in ways that stay with you always and remind you constantly of how much you are enjoyed and loved.

Writing A Special New Song inspired by Leeland’s Baptism and a Powerful Song by Chris Medina

Sunday was a pretty special day for our family. We baptised our youngest child at our home church amongst friends and family. I led worship on this very special morning as well. And, when preparing for the message, felt inspired to write a new song entitled “Your Promises.” I would describe it as a very simple, soulful song that expresses the way I feel about my walk with God in the simplest of terms. There are times I felt like I was alone and I was making all of the wrong choices and yet, now, looking back I know that I was never alone and God was with me and carrying me through even the hardest of times. God has promised His Blessings and He fulfilled and fulfills that promise through His son Jesus. I am walking proof of God’s promises and in this song I describe how I feel each day as I “hold tight to Your promises.”  Our pastor shared the story of American Idol contestant, Chris Medina and then played his video which tells of His continued love and commitment to his fiance after she suffered brain injury in an accident. Lyrics to Chris Medina- What are Words To view the video we saw this week click here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQY4dIxY1H4

If you haven’t seen it and/or heard it, get ready with the kleenex. It is a tear-jerker.
So, it was pretty impossible to sing the song “Your Promises” after watching this unbelievably emotional video and listening to this beautiful song. But, I believe it was meant to be and part of God’s plan for our service. I hope that the congregation knew could feel that I was singing from my heart. It is impossible to commit to be with someone and support them in the way Chris sings about without God’s love coming through you and without clinging to His promises. I am thankful to have so much life to look forward to in front of me and to know that God will never leave me. I will forever hold tight to His promises.

Wednesday, Rodeo Houston!, oh those Crazy Els!

As if going to the zoo during spring break wasn’t crazy enough, let’s go to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo on Value Day! Total insanity! It was one thing after another. But, again, we were so lucky that Moustapha was with us. Thank you, honey! You made a very difficult day of “fun” much more bearable. It’s true what I said a while back. Sometimes it is really hard work to have fun! Hope you enjoyed your day little cowboys and Miss Cowgirl! love, Momma and Daddy

Monday Rain and Rest

After a beautiful and busy start to our Spring Break, we returned home and needed a break! So, we took our rainy day Monday and we slept in, thanks to daylight savings. And, we enjoyed a relaxed day. When the rain stopped, we made our way out to catch up on grocery shopping. Not so bad, considering Moustapha went with us and Trinity and I were able to shop very quickly by ourselves. We are hoping for a wonderful week….Momma has lots of plans!


I love Saturdays. It’s my favorite day of the week, if we don’t have any plans. I love making breakfast with the entire family running around at my feet and the occasional helper climbing on a chair to help me stir. I love making a fresh pot of coffee and smelling it in the entire house. I love “forcing” everyone to come downstairs to be near me. 🙂
This Sunday morning was even better than most Saturdays, because not only was I in a kitchen with one of my bffs, but we cooked together. It was so much fun! She made the coffee, the egg casserole and I made pancakes from scratch. It doesn’t get much better. Then, we sat down on her porch with all of our families and ate breakfast together. Now that is a great way to start a spring break and a fantastic way to start the day. Happy Spring Break, y’all!

Spring Break!

It’s the start of Spring Break this afternoon. Basically, we have no school next week. That impacts 3 of the Els directly and of course impacts all of the rest of us as well. We  are excited to have extra time together. We’re hoping for good weather so we can do some fun Houston activities next week. Happy Spring Break, everyone!

Good Morning, Lent

Well, I made a promise yesterday, and I’m sticking to it!

This morning, 6am came early with loud cries from our youngest one. He was hungry and had slept all night. My husband went to fetch him and soon after nursing, he was fast asleep again. When I returned him to his crib, our 2nd oldest son was wide awake laying quietly in his bed. We exchanged smiles, but didn’t say a word. I returned to my room. Soon, both of the oldest  boys were up. My husband took charge of the oldest- Bakri, helping him to dress for school and I cuddled with the other one- Maddux. It was a great morning. I got up and helped to gather everything Bakri needed for school. And, soon Maddux and I were downstairs preparing breakfast. He was cold, so he requested oatmeal. Easy enough! So, we made oatmeal together. I gathered enough ingredients so we could also make some for Trinity (our daughter) so she could have some when she woke up. However, I didn’t mention this to Maddux. He helped me put everything in the bowl and we waited for the oatmeal to cook. Soon, it was ready for us to add the good stuff- a little butter and brown sugar. Maddux mixed it all up and went to get a bowl from the drawer. He asked me to give him some oatmeal, but “save some for Trinity.” After this, he probably reminded me five or six more times to save some for Trinity. We did.

This reminded me of Deuteronomy 24 where God’s word says 19 When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. 21 When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. 22 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this.

So often, I forget this important message. I will think and pray on this more today. Blessings to you all and

Enjoy your breakfast!

Ash Wednesday

After much thought about what I would “give up” for lent, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to make time where I’ve been lacking. I can’t promise that my blog entries for the next six weeks will be interesting. However, I can promise that I will write something every day. I will make more time for my family. I am adding 20 minutes of time with God to my day. What does that mean? It just means that sometimes I’m going to stop and talk when I could walk away and tell myself I don’t have the time. It means that I’m going to make a phone call instead of sending a text. Or, send a text instead of not communicating at all. Or, that I’m going to work hard to spend more quality time with my children and husband. I want to make myself available to the community around me, available to my friends, available to my family and available to God’s plan in my life.

A friend of mine posted this article on her facebook page today. It talks a little bit more about saying yes during Lent. I am inspired.

A Love Letter to El Momma’s Love on our 7th Anniversary

Seven years ago today, as I made that long walk down the beautiful aisle, surrounded by family and many friends, I could have never imagined this.
Our life has exceeded all of my hopes and dreams. You continue to surprise me and, if I’m being honest, frustrate me. And, I know I frustrate you! But, isn’t our life fun!? Your love is amazing. I remember how it felt to fall in love with you. I thought about you and our future all of the time. I loved everything about you and even though I knew you weren’t perfect, you were perfect for me. You were and still are my very best friend. Even more so now. Seven years and four beautiful children. Our relationship has gone through a huge transformation in a relatively short amount of time.

We had a little over a year as a married couple before having our first son. During that first year we found and purchased our home, a home in the heart of Houston, built in 1928. We only had twenty months with our first child until we welcomed our second son. Around that time you finished law school, passed the Bar and began practicing law in Texas. Just after our fourth anniversary, where we returned to the Petroleum Club (the site of our wedding reception) and spent the night at Hotel ZAZA (where we spent our first night married when it was still the Warwick) our kitchen flooded and we began major house renovations and a complete rehaul on our kitchen. We lived through it all and welcomed our baby daughter that year. Shortly after she was born, we moved back home into our “new” old house.
And, we returned to Hawaii with our three children to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. That was insane! You’ve supported me as I’ve made time to write music and lead worship at our church. Your support of God’s calling in both of our lives has been instrumental in the spiritual growth we’ve experienced separately and together.
Our children continue to grow and amaze us. And, during our sixth year of marriage, we had our fourth child, a beautiful baby boy.
We spend our mornings telling children “shhhhh!” “Quiet,” so and so “is sleeping.” “Lay down.” “Good morning.” “How did you sleep?” “Go potty.” “I love you.” “Give me a kiss.” …and so on and so on. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I am so tired and wish I could just sleep a little bit longer. And, then I imagine my life without all of this and it’s no life at all. These children, these precious blessings that we’ve been given for such a short amount of time, bring so much joy to our lives. I love that all six of us cuddle up in our queen size bed! You bring joy to my life. I am so thankful for you. You are my husband, my best friend, my love. I love you and wish you a very happy anniversary. Here’s to seven more years of wedded bliss!
us, January 9, 2004