Coffee Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

Coffee Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe 2

We haven’t set up too many traditions in our family yet, but here’s one that has been going eight years strong: COOKIES ON RAINY DAYS. I am strong believer in fresh-baked cookies on rainy days, and have had plenty of opportunities to continue the tradition here in rainy California the last couple of weeks. Speaking of rain, I just want to say: California teachers, I felt for you on those wet days. I really did. I do not miss those rainy weeks of cabin-fevered children and indoor recesses. I wish you many cookies and hot baths when you get home!

Back to cookies. So a few months ago, one of my favorite people in the world sent me this request: “Would you be willing to post your recipe for your coffee toffee chocolate chip cookies? [Someone] made your lemon bars last week so I remembered my absolute favorite of your desserts…” How could I say no to that? So I emailed her the recipe, and have been waiting for rainy days to come so it would be juuust the right time to share it with you all, too!

These are also my absolute favorite chocolate chip cookies of all time. If I were a recipe hoarder, this is one I would hoard. I’ve tried maybe 15-20 different chocolate chip cookie recipes in my lifetime (including these and these and these and these), but the one I am about to share continues to be my all-time favorite. Hands-down. As a matter of fact, it’s probably one of my all-time favorite recipes of all time, chocolate or not. Yeah. Really. Coffee Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe 1 Continue reading

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Put Your Hands Down

Putting hands down

You know that exasperating thing that happens where you call on a student and they give the same answer that has just been said?

Me: What are some things we see in the sky?

Student #1: The sun!

Student #2: Planes.

Student #3: The sun!

Me: Someone already said that. Do you have another idea?

Student #3: Oh… um. PLANES!


Or when they ask you a question that you’ve literally just answered:

Continue reading

How Raising Hands Makes Kids Smarter

*REMINDER: $50 Amazon gift card giveaway ends on Friday, 12/12. Enter every day until then! :)*How Raising Hands Makes Kids Smarter

I had just started teaching a new group of students for Sunday school. After I introduced myself to the students, I immediately insisted on hand-raising. One kid rolled his eyes at me, as if to say, “Really? You’re going to make us do this?”

Hand raising makes kids smarter

I shot him the look. He raised his hand.

I mean, I kind of get it. There were only six kids in the class that day– was this really necessary? Continue reading

Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa

Mmmm heavenly salted caramel hot cocoa-- so easy to make!

Guys, I’ve been getting some serious writer’s block. I have plenty of material. Plenty of ideas… so many ideas. On teaching, on parenting, on marriage… and of course, food. I have stories and even some portions written out… but my brain is just not up for the task of pulling it all together into coherent pieces right now. PLEASE FORGIVE. Please stay. It’ll come back to me soon!

In the meantime, can I just share a super easy and super delicious recipe for salted caramel hot cocoa? It’s the ultimate warm-ya-to-yer-toes, rich, luxurious bowl of comfort. Mmmm.

easy salted caramel hot cocoa recipe

I mean, this blog is called Cuppacocoa, after all, so what better time than this rainy winter season to share my new fav way to mix up a cuppa? Continue reading

The Cuppacocoa Gift Guide (+ $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!)

*****12/13/14 UPDATE: Congrats to Mintpearls, the winner of the $50 Amazon Gift Card giveaway! Hope this gets you one step closer to your Kitchenaid mixer!*****

Holiday Gift Guide

I present to you The Cuppacocoa Gift Guide… aka JoEllen’s wish list! Just kidding! (Seriously!) While I think Christmas is about a whole lot more than gift-giving, chances are you have a few people you plan to get gifts for. Here are some ideas. Hope you find something fun in your price range for the baker, the child, or the teacher in your life!

And by the by, wouldn’t it be nice to get an extra $50 to buy others (or yourself!) a gift with? That coooooould be you if you enter the $50 Amazon gift card giveaway below (sponsored by yours truly)! It makes me happy when there are more entries, so don’t be shy about entering every day! :)

Reminder: I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you purchase anything on Amazon through my links, I will receive a percentage. My opinions are my own, and I have linked items for your reference.

Holiday Gift Guide

The Baker The Child The Teacher
$50 – The Baker
There is not much on this page I would be sad to receive (esp. those chocolate-chocolate croissants). Just sayin’. For something less perishable, consider a Williams Sonoma gift card. Oh, the possibilities!
$50 – The Child
A season pass for the family to a nearby children’s museum or park! Also, I hear Magna-Tiles are high on the list.
$50 – The Teacher
For this much money, a gift card is a safe way to go. Amazon is usually a safe bet.
$25 – The Baker
A very nice version of a simple ingredient, such as Scharffen Berger Baking Chocolate, vanilla beans, or fancy olive oil.
$25 – The Child
Try a fun board game that you can teach and play along with them, such as Apples to Apples or Sequence.
$25 – The Teacher
If she hates killing bugs as much as I do, she’ll appreciate this amazing bug catcher*. None of the students will be mad that she killed a bug (it happens), and she can still look boss catching those creepy spiders.
$10 – The Baker
Food packaging supplies are always fun! (Plus, it may even come back to you ;)).
$10 – The Child
Encourage the love of reading with a good book! Toddlers will love Press Here. Books by Andrew Clements were a universal favorite with my third and fourth graders.
$10 – The Teacher
Make this! Similar to a project I shared earlier, but a little easier and probably less messy.
$0 – The Baker
Hmm… offer to wash dishes on a big baking day?
$0 – The Child
Play with them! Teach them a game, or let them suggest one that you can join! Spend 20-30 minutes giving them your undivided attention. Kids love it when adults play together with them!
$0 – The Teacher
Like I’ve said before, a sincere, heartfelt note is priceless! You don’t even have to force your child to write it– it’s just as meaningful from a parent!

merry christmas

*Honestly, the Bug Zooka is a great $25 gift for ANYBODY on your list! I like it so much I already wrote a post on it months ago :). Secret Santa? White Elephant? Bring it on! I’ve even read that kids may enjoy bug-catching just to observe them then set them free. It may not be the prettiest gift, but it’s sure practical!

So. Didya find anything you like? Please share in the comments below if you have more ideas!

P.S. I would love to see $50-$25-$10-$0 lists for:

  • artsy-craftsy people
  • moms/dads/grandparents
  • home/interior designy people
  • techy people

So please share if you have ideas :).

Come back to enter once a day until Friday, 12/12/14!

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What You Should Know About Tomato Paste

A handy trick for tomato paste

Is there arsenic in your tomatoes? New tests reveal that tomatoes contain high levels of…

…JUST KIDDING. I hardly know anything about that stuff. But here’s what I DO KNOW: I’m tired of using just one tablespoon of tomato paste and eventually throwing the rest away. Seriously, can you think of a time when a recipe called for more than one tablespoon of tomato paste? I cannot.

It happened again today, as I was brewing up a batch of Beef Bourguignon (aka fancified French beef stew). I looked at that 1 tablespoon tomato paste on the recipe and had that inner dialogue again: Tomato paste. Doh. I don’t have any. I guess I could buy some. But do I really need it? For that ONE tablespoon? I won’t even use the rest. I guess I could cover it with plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge til the next time I need it. But that probably wouldn’t be for a long time, and then I’d end up throwing it out anyway. No. I don’t need it. But… I’m spending all this time doing everything else by the recipe, what if… bah it’s just one tablespoon. Who needs that…

Well, you get the idea. I mean, I was doing other things while I pondered this, but the tomato paste conundrum simmered away in the back of my mind, one of the 2,857 tabs I’d have to come back to. Continue reading

Chocolate and Earl Grey Panna Cotta with Toffee Sprinkles

earl grey panna cotta with toffee sprinkles

Ben and I thought we’d hit upon a great idea when we decided to serve Earl Grey Panna Cotta in 2 oz. shot glasses. We had been enjoying milk pudding from Paris Baguette and when I decided to experiment with recipes on my own, Ben thought it’d be brilliant to serve it up in individual shot glasses. GREAT IDEA, right?? I even found these cute mini spoons to serve it with.

Well apparently I have an awful memory, because turns out my friend Wendy has been serving panna cotta in shot glasses for a long time! I have a vague memory of this from years ago, but it’s so hazy that if she hadn’t mentioned it, I would not have remembered :(. Sorry to idea-steal, friend. Or, thank you for the idea-share? =P

I started with plain panna cotta, but I decided to jazz it up by steeping some earl grey in the cream, first. It looked nice, but plain, and I think dark chocolate compliments earl grey well, so I decided to layer that in. Finally, hubs decided the whole thing could do with a little crunchy texture, and I happened to have a package of milk chocolate toffee bits on hand, so I sprinkled some of those in and it was juuust right. Continue reading

Protect Your Spouse

Protect Your Spouse

The holidays are here, and you know what that means? It’s time to get your game face on. The game is called Protect Your Spouse, and the objective is simple: try your best to watch out for your significant other, especially when it comes to family-related issues. You’re on the same team, whether it’s finding a positive, non-blamey way to explain why you can’t make it to the third family get-together, fielding phone calls from your mom, or pulling it together after having a difficult conversation on the car ride to dinner. The goal is to get through the holidays with your marriage not only intact, but stronger despite all the demands that are associated with holidays and family get-togethers.

To be clear: the opponents aren’t your family. They love you and just want to enjoy quality family time together– don’t we all? In our game analogy, think Pandemic: it’s more like us vs. the board. Sometimes you flip the cards and the situation is just not very favorable. It doesn’t do any good to point fingers at each other or the situation, but a lot of good can come out of making strategic and thoughtful choices. Here are a few practical ways you can care for and protect your spouse during the holidays! Continue reading

Black Bottom Cupcake Recipe


When I was in high school, I was hanging out with some friends at a summer camp when someone said something about “special brownies.”

My ears perked up and I instantly chimed in, “I make special brownies!”

Everyone stopped talking and looked at me. (This was a Christian camp, mind you.)

Wow, they’re really interested! So I offered, “…I can make you some!”

Stares. Continue reading