The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love Christmastime and all the feel good giving, time with family, and parties with great food. Oh, the food *wipes drool and loosens belt in preparation for some epicurean debauchery*. This is the time of year that people bring out their best party recipes or their personal food treasures and share amongst their friends. I’m not the bravest party goer who will try one of everything on the buffet table – unless it’s the sweets table because “yes” to everything with sugar and butter as the first two ingredients – but I will give most things a try, especially when goaded by my friends because insert party food here is “soooo gooood”. I have definitely expanded my taste horizons thanks to Christmas parties, but I have also cemented the value I put on tried and true, best of the best, delicious comfort food. For me, comfort food takes the form of cookies, and I just so happen to have a recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies ever.

Some people thing that chocolate chip cookies are the plain Jane of cookies, but oh no, they are the pinnacle of cookies. A good chocolate chip cookie is what all other cookies are compared to to find their rank in the cookie hierarchy. Chocolate chip cookies are the all-season, any-occasion cookie and should definitely make an appearance on the Christmas sweets table.

This recipe came to me in 2006 from my husband who scoured looking for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe to make with the kids while I was off teaching karate. I came home one night and was greeted with the most delicious smell emanating from my kitchen and my kids all exclaiming that daddy had found it, thee best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. It was like he had found the holy grail, and I guess he sort of had, he found the holy grail of chocolate chip cookie recipes. I adapted this recipe slightly, but only because I’m all about easy and simple and there was some finicky business about whisking an egg and only adding a portion of it to the dough. My thought was Meh, a little extra egg isn’t going to hurt anything and threw the whole egg in. I doubt a fraction of an egg is going to change the heavenliness of these cookies, and my way makes things easier.

As with all cookies and other lovely treats from the kitchen, feel free to package these up and give them as gifts. I guarantee you will make someone’s day merry and bright.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
The holy grail of chocolate chip cookies.
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  1. 3 c all purpose flour
  2. 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  3. 1 1/2 tsp salt
  4. 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  5. 1 1/2 c packed brown sugar
  6. 1 c granulated sugar
  7. 3 eggs
  8. 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  9. 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For the dough
  1. Whisk together: flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
  2. Beat together: butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy (2-3 minutes).
  3. Add eggs and beat until creamy (1 minute).
  4. Beat in vanilla.
  5. Reduce speed to low and add in flour mixture until just blended.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips.
  1. Form balls between 1-2 inches in size and place 2-3 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  2. Flatten balls of dough slightly.
  3. Bake until golden (9-12 minutes).
  4. Transfer to a cooling rack.
  5. Repeat from Baking step 1.
Adapted from epicurious
Adapted from epicurious
Life In Pleasantville
Three pictures of chocolate chip cookies

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Busy Morning Breakfast Sandwich

Freezer Cooking

Okay, so before I get started with today’s amazing dish – a breakfast sandwich that’s so kick-ass you may never drive past a Tim Horton’s drive-thru window again – I thought I’d take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Lyndsay Wells, and although I don’t ride around on a broomstick or cast spells per se, I do go by the handle “The Kitchen Witch” in certain circles. I once read a Nora Roberts novel about a group of witches who all looked like Victoria’s Secret models despite their consumption of assorted baked goods, wine, and butter throughout the book. They also managed to attract hunky boyfriends, open a cafe, and defeat evil within the span of the 365 page read, so really, who can blame me for thinking “Cool! The life of a Kitchen Witch is totally for me.”

My hunky boyfriend turned out to be the man I married 24 years ago; heretofore referred to as “The Pool Boy” or the PB depending on my mood, and whereby it should be noted that all recipes come certified with his thumbs up of approval, including today’s Make Ahead Eggs Florentine Breakfast Sandwiches.

We live on Vancouver Island in Canada where we’re the proud creators of a Youtube channel, “The Kitchen Witch” blog, and a 23-year-old son who lives in Vancouver working in the film industry, until he recently announced his plans to sell off everything he owns to pursue a life of vagabonding.

Don’t ask.

We’re also the owners of an overtly neurotic miniature schnauzer named Max whose bark sounds like someone’s being murdered on the daily and even though I watched every. single. episode. of the Dog Whisperer before he was born I am apparently neither calm nor assertive.

I’ve been a blogger since forever, and was able to cross “cry like a crazy lady on a reality TV show” off my bucket list two years ago when I appeared on the program Recipe to Riches wearing an ill-informed purple blouse and made the fatal decision to rap.

Today, for my inaugural post, I decided to share something to kick off the school year in style and good taste. These breakfast sandwiches are amazing to have on hand for busy mornings when everyone’s on the go, and better still, they’re super tasty and so much better for you than something that comes out of a box or a drive-through.

I hope you enjoy this easy recipe. And then, don’t hesitate to virtually join me in The Kitchen Witch Cottage as I share a bit more about my day, sip a little wine (people, it’s noon somewhere) and prepare these sandwiches.

Busy Morning Breakfast Sandwiches (Freezer-Friendly)
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  1. 8 slices Canadian Bacon
  2. 8 whole wheat thin buns (I use Dempsters)
  3. 8 medium eggs
  4. Coarse black pepper
  5. 2 cups baby spinach
  6. 1 cup salsa
  7. 4 chopped green onions
  8. 4 sandwich size slices cheddar cheese or singles slices cut in half
  1. Fry the Canadian Bacon in a non-stick pan lightly sprayed with oil over medium high heat, sprinkling with coarse black pepper, and turning them over after about five minutes when they're nice a brown.
  2. Split the buns and place on a baking sheet under the broiler and lightly toast.
  3. Cook, drain, and chop 2 cups of baby spinach. (you want to get as much liquid out of the spinach as possible)
  4. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl, whisk in a quarter cup of the salsa, add the well drained spinach and four chopped green onions.
  5. Pour into a non-stick frying pan that's been lightly sprayed with oil, and gently scramble over medium high heat.
  6. Cool the eggs to room temperature on paper towels to absorb any excess moisture.
  7. Place a slice of cooked back bacon onto a toasted bun, top with 1/4 cup of the cooled, drained, egg mixture, add a tbsp of salsa, and a half slice of cheese. Wrap individually in plastic and place in a labelled freezer bag.
  8. When you're ready to cook, unwrap, place in a paper towel, and microwave on high for a minute and a half.
Life In Pleasantville
freezer breakfast



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Be a Domestic Superhero With This Slow Cooker Bolognese

I don’t know about you but I always feel like a domestic superhero whenever I make a slow cooker meal. Dinner made before 8am? Yeah, that’s right, this kitchen in my bitch. Booyah! Now when I can make something like this Slow Cooker Bolognese that provides us with two meals, well then, watch out because there is simply no getting past my big fat head for a couple of days. I am woman, hear me cry, “Dinner is READY!”

slow cooker bolognese

So here’s what I love about this Slow Cooker Bolognese, it makes two meals PLUS you can make part of it one day and then the next morning all you need to do is throw it in the slow cooker. When you get home from work, your rich and hearty Slowcooker Bolognese is ready to be served. Get the kids to set the table and the husband to cook the pasta while you snuggle with the dog on the couch. Well, that’s what I would do at least. After all, I already rocked the kitchen with with this incredible sauce and when I’m done I’ll have enough left over for the freezer.

slow cooker bolognese

That’s right, this meal comes complete with a whole other meal ready to go. It’s like the Shamwow of kitchen recipes. Transfer leftover sauce to a glass container when you’re done (I love Glasslock), and let cool slightly before transferring to the freezer. And there you have it, another night with the kids setting the table and the husband cooking pasta, ready to go.

Slowcooker Bolognese
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  1. 1 tbsp butter
  2. 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  3. 1 rib celery, chopped
  4. 1 carrot, chopped
  5. 2 lb lean ground beef
  6. 1 cup whole milk
  7. 1 1/2 cups red wine
  8. 2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
  9. Salt and pepper to taste
  10. Pinch of nutmeg
  1. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, celery, and carrot and cook, stirring, until vegetables have softened about 5 minutes.
  3. Turn heat to high and add beef and cook until no longer pink.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and pinch of nutmeg.
  5. Pour in 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of wine (reserving 1/2 cup for later).
  6. Lower heat to medium high and let simmer until most of liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes.
  7. Transfer mixture to slow cooker, stir in tomatoes, and reserved 1/2 cup of red wine.
  8. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
  9. Remove lid, stir and let sit for 30 minutes more until slightly thickened.
  1. I make this on a Sunday then I have dinner for Monday and another meal for the freezer. You could also complete the recipe to the part where most of the liquid has evaporated. Store in a container in the fridge and then the next morning add to your slow cooker with tomatoes and wine and it will be ready when you get home from work.
  2. After dinner throw your cape over your shoulder and declare "My work here is done....for today anyway."
Life In Pleasantville
slow cooker bolognese

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Big Ass Pot O’ Chili Recipe

There are certain recipes that I simply can’t see the point of making only enough for one meal. Recipes like Marinara and Meatballs  or Banana Bread just scream to be doubled, or tripled for meals on another day. If it can be frozen, then I always make enough for another day, like this Big Ass Pot O’ Chili Recipe. Why do I call it that? Because  I easily get three meals for my family of four out of this recipe. It’s also a fantastic recipe to make for a crowd. Just make sure you have a cross breeze going in the house to air out the after effects of all those beans, if you know what I’m saying.

chili recipe

 Speaking of beans, you do know that they’re incredibly good for you, right? Aside from the *ahem* extra air they create, they are loaded with antioxidants and fibre. So not only does this chili recipe bring the goods when meal planning, it also packs a nutritional wallop. In addition to the wonder beans, it also contains tomatoes which are rich in lycopene and onions and garlic which are part of the allium family and you know what that means, right? Yeah, neither do I,  but you can read all about it over here.

Big Ass Pot 'O Chili
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  1. 2 lbs lean ground beef
  2. 2 medium onions, chopped
  3. 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 2 small cans green chiles
  5. 2 tbsps pickled jalapenos, chopped fine
  6. 6 tbsps chili powder
  7. 2 tsps salt
  8. 2 tsps cumin powder
  9. 3 28 oz cans whole San Marzano tomatoes
  10. 1 19 oz can chickpeas
  11. 1 19 oz can blackbeans
  12. 1 19 oz can red kidney beans
  1. In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottom stainless steel pot, cook beef with chopped onion and garlic until no longer pink.
  2. Drain fat.
  3. In a blender, puree 2 of the of the cans of San Marzano tomatoes and add to pot. Turn heat to medium. Add can of whole tomatoes and as chili simmers break up tomatoes into smaller pieces.
  4. Rinse beans well and add to pot. Add chiles, diced jalapenos, chili powder, salt and cumin. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve with chopped green onions, shredded cheese and sour cream.
  1. This chili has some heat so if you like it less hot, then add fewer jalapenos and a tablespoon or two less of chili powder. If you like it hotter than add more.
  2. Freeze in Glass Lock containers. To reheat, thaw chili overnight in fridge and warm over low heat in a heavy bottom stainless steel pot.
  3. Feel free to use any ground meat you'd like for this recipe.
Life In Pleasantville
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Basic Banana Bread

By Candace Derickx

Let’s face it, banana bread has been around forever, so the variations are endless. You can make it with buttermilk, sour cream, apple sauce, flax seed, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, cinnamon and chocolate chips. You can even bake it in a skillet. It’s the Bubba Gump Shrimp of the dessert bread world.  So now that we have that out of the way, here is your basic – like you probably have everything in the house right now — recipe.

basica banana bread

Basic Banana Bread

5 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspooons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

3  cups very ripe mashed bananas (around 6)

1/2 cup 2% milk

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup butter at room temperature (2 sticks)

2 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs

basic banana bread

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 9″x5″ metal loaf pans or line with parchment paper.  In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda with a whisk. In a medium bowl stir together mashed bananas, milk and vanilla.

In a electric stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy at medium speed. Beat in eggs, one at a time. With mixer turned to low, alternately add flour mixture and banana mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat until just blended.

Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean, between 60 and 70 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Slice and serve.

Pleasantville note: This bread freezes beautifully, so slice and wrap in individual servings. Great for lunches.

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Candy Cane Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate


By Candace Derickx

So there’s this store here in Canada that releases their “special” holiday ice cream every year and it causes mass hysteria. Okay, maybe I exaggerate, but it certainly gets a lot of people excited. Except me. See, I think that it tastes like mouthwash, and has a terrible aftertaste. Being the self-righteous cook that I am, I was pretty sure I could do better. And, *brushes shoulder*, I’m fairly confident I succeeded.

Candy Cane Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate

Box of Candy Canes 16 count (red & white only, no green)
Slab of Callebaut Dark Chocolate
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
2 extra-large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Have your elves take wrappers off candy canes. Make sure they don’t sneak any. Place candy canes in Ziploc bag and get the elves to whack it until candy canes are crushed. Meanwhile chop Callebaut chocolate into chunks, enough to fill 1/2 cup.

Break eggs into large bowl and whisk until light and fluffy. Slowly add sugar and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Whisk in whipping cream, milk, vanilla extract and peppermint extract. Pour mixture into ice cream maker and let churn for 20 to 25 minutes. Half way through churning add chocolate chunks and 1/4 cup crushed candy canes. Pour into a large freezer proof container, cover and let freeze two to four hours. Sprinkle another 1/4 to 1/2 cup crushed candy cane on top of ice cream and let freeze for another 2 hours.

Serve to happy elves.

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Slow Cooker Beef and Tomato Stew


If I keep feeding my husband these amazing meals out of my laundry room, he may never finish my kitchen. Must stop.

This recipe however, was the bomb. Perfect for a cold winter day.

Slow Cooker Beef and Tomato Stew

2 lbs stewing beef
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 medium carrots, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3 celery stalks, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 can San Marzano crushed tomatoes
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
Kosher salt and ground pepper

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrots and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are soft. Transfer to slow cooker and add beef, tomatoes, broth, garlic, salt and pepper.

Cover and cook on low 6-7 hours, or high 4-5 hours. Spoon over Pappardelle or Fettucine. Sprinkle pinch of kosher salt and chopped fresh parsley on top before serving.

Pleasantville Note – I can not emphasize enough the use of San Marzano tomatoes. They simply burst with flavour and all others seem bland in comparison. Also, we typically buy whole tenderloins and then cut steaks and roasts from it. We always have enough leftover for delicious stews! You can refrigerate this in an airtight container for up to 3 days and freeze for up to 3 months.

*adapted from an Everyday Food recipe.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

What to serve for dinner when you’re renovating your kitchen? That is the magic question around here these days. So, for the next month, I’m going to try and get by with a slow-cooker, a toaster, a microwave and a hot plate.

Last night, I made this and I have to admit it was pretty darn good. And so, so easy.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
3 cups of chicken stock
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1 4 oz can green chiles
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed an drained
1 rotisserie chicken, shredded OR two chicken breasts cooked and cut into bite size pieces

Toppings (optional)

Fresh cilantro
Chopped green onions
Sour cream
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Crushed tortilla chips
Slice avocado

Place all ingredients in slow cooker and stir well to combine. Cook on low 6-7 hours and high 3-4 hours. Serve with toppings of your choice. Enjoy.

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Bean Burritos

We’ve been making these Bean Burritos from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food for years now. They are so easy to make and because they are frozen in single servings, they are great for a late night snack for someone or for me when I want something quick for lunch. These are also perfect for meatless meals.

Bean Burritos

3/4 cup rice (brown or white)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeno chile, chopped (ribs and seeds removed, for less heat)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 bag frozen corn kernels (10 ounces)
6 scallions, thinly sliced
8 burrito-size flour tortillas, 10 inches each
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Salsa and sour cream, optional

Cook rice according to package instructions; set aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add onions, garlic, jalapeno, and cumin; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Add tomato paste, and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add beans and 1 1/2 cups water; bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 10 to 12 minutes. Add corn; cook to heat through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in scallions.

Heat tortillas according to package instructions; fill with rice, bean mixture, and cheese.

Mound 1/4 cup rice, 3/4 cup bean mixture, and 1/4 cup cheese on one side of tortilla. (I like to go more rice, less beans but follow your heart) Fold sides, and hold them in. Starting from filled end, holding sides in as you work, tightly roll into a bundle. Place on a baking sheet, seam side down, and prepare remaining burritos.

Serve immediately, with salsa and sour cream, if using, or wrap per freezing instructions.

Freezing Instructions:
Wrap individually in plastic and freeze up to 3 months.

To reheat from frozen:
Remove frozen burritos from plastic wrap. Place on a microwave-safe plate; microwave on high for 3 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet; bake at 450 degrees until crispy, about 10 minutes.

If only using a microwave, remove from plastic wrap, and place on a microwave-safe plate, covered with a microwave safe bowl. Defrost at high power for 3 to 4 minutes; uncover, and microwave on high 3 to 4 minutes longer.

If only using oven, remove burritos from plastic wrap; rewrap individually in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet; bake at 450 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove foil, and bake to crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. (To reheat defrosted burritos, remove any wrapping and bake for 10 minutes).

Pleasantville Note: I used mixed beans for this recipe and cut back slightly on the beans, using only two 19 oz cans. I also double the rice. Finally, I get my husband to make up his own tortillas because they are way better than store bought.

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Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

I love baking all the treats for my family’s lunches. The best way to ensure that I’m not standing at the oven daily though is to bake in large quantities and freeze in portions for quick lunch-packing in the morning. This recipe makes 24 muffins and one loaf. I love nuts in zucchini bread but most schools have a no nut policy. If you don’t intend to send these to school, cut back on the chocolate chips by half and add in 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts.

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

6 eggs
4 cups sugar
2 cups oil
5 cups zucchini, shredded
6 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla
12 ounces chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat together eggs, sugar and oil. Add zucchini and remaining ingredients, mixing well. Divide amongst two muffin tins and one loaf pan. Cook muffins for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned and toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove muffins and let cool. Place loaf pan in oven for 45 to 55 minutes of until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Wrap muffins individually and freeze. Freeze loaf whole for when you have company or slice and wrap individually. Great for school lunches or fast breakfasts served with a smoothie.

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