Recipe: Lena’s Life-Changing Cookies

 
 
 
One time Lena gave me 7 of these cookies while we were out to lunch and I ate them under the table in the restaurant in under a minute and I don’t know if that says more about me or her bomb-ass cookies.
— Rachael M

There was once a time when I thought I would make Toll House cookies from the grocery store FOREVER.

I didn’t know diddly squat about baking. And when I rolled up my sleeves to make my first cookies from scratch… I forgot to grease the baking sheet and they were a hot, burnt mess that fused to the pan. RIP to that pan. Apparently you shouldn’t use the random baking soda that deodorizes your fridge for your batter either. Hey, I’m no Christina Tosi yet, so bear with me here.

As a newly married man, it’s important to keep your wife happy.
Nothing makes my wife happier than when I whisper those three magic words...
”Lena’s homemade cookies.”
— Jerad D
 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups salted butter (4 sticks)

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 3 cups brown sugar, packed

  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 4 large eggs

  • 3 1/2 cups flour

  • 2 cups oats

  • 1 cup butterscotch chips

  • 1 cup chocolate chunks

  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

  • 1 cup mini M&M’s

  • 1-2 crushed handfuls of Trader Joes peanut putter filled pretzels, salted

 
 

INSTRUCTIONS

Makes ~6 dozen cookies (yeah, you’re gonna want that many)

1) Mix room temperature butter and sugar (2-3 minutes with hand mixer)

2) Add eggs and vanilla (beat for 1 minute)

3) Combine flour, baking soda, and oats in separate bowl

4) Add dry to wet, mixing one cup at a time until all mixed

5) Add extras, mix again

6) Use a cookie scoop to dole out onto a greased sheet pan

7) Bake at 350 degrees for ~10 minutes (every oven is different so just watch them ok)

 
 

TIPS

  • Don’t forget to grease the flippin’ pan! Or use parchment paper!

  • Dough is best baked when refrigerated, so after making the batter, either put the whole bowl in the fridge to scoop later, or scoop them all out onto a sheet pan immediately and chill those babies for minimum 1 hour, best 12-24 hours

  • I like to bake in bulk, so I save one batch for now and the rest for later in labeled freezer bags. Then, when I’m feeling like a delicious homemade cookie ASAP, I can pop them straight from the freezer into the oven WHAT A LIFE HACK FOLKS

  • If you use unsalted butter, add 2 tsp salt to the batter. If you use salted butter, don’t add extra salt #thanksjayme

  • Feel free to get creative with the toppings. Add your own mix-ins, do less of some and more of another, etc. I honestly forget SOMETHING every time I make these, so don’t worry, they’ll survive a little experimentation

  • The best way to store extra cookies its in a tupperware container with a piece of BREAD. Yes I said bread! White bread, wheat bread, bulkie roll, whatever. The cookies retain moisture from the bread and are even softer the day after you bake them. Replace the bread every 1-2 days as it gets hard. This is my all time favorite bake hack for sure!

They are like little discs of crack.
I ate 10 of them at once.
— Dan S.
 
 
They are fucking bomb dot com.
— Jules L.
 
 

Italian Holiday in Rome + The Amalfi Coast 2018

 
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When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore…

Was truly the theme of the whole trip. We came. We saw. We ate.

In Rome, we stayed in a super chic, glass floored Airbnb called the Rasella Loft by the Trevi Fountain in Rome for 3 days and at an Airbnb owned by the sweetest couple called Casa Perla in Positano on the Amalfi Coast for 4 days.

One of the highlights of the trip was biking through Rome with Giulia - she was the best guide (and owns a female bike co-op!) and knew all the best spots for food around Rome.

Of course, followed by our ravioli & meatball making class by Vatican City. Serena taught us how to make the most delicious food, and we got to eat it all with a glass of wine at the end!

The Amalfi Coast is famous for its seafood, views, and lemons - two of which we greatly enjoyed. Limoncello, fresh fruit from the market, giant lemons, lemon granitas, and heaping amounts of pasta and pizza from Ristorante C'era Una Volta.

We spent every single day in Positano on the beach - not at the main Spaggia, but at Fornillo beach, which wasn’t crowded and touristy. We climbed 50 flights of stairs to get to the beach and 50 flights back up. PHEW.

Scroll through our photos to get to the food + activity recommendations at the bottom!

 
 

food highlights of ROME:

Roscioli for pastries and prosciutto, grab some from their deli next door to bakery (by Campo di Fiori)

Pasta at Ai Tre Scalini - Cavour 313 - La Casetta a Monti (all in the same neighborhood)

Pizza at Dar Poeta (sit down) OR Antico Forno del Ghetto - in the Jewish section. It looks like a deli, but there’s pizza everywhere. Get the potato one and classic cheese, you order, then pay at the other counter, then grab your pizza. You’d think it’s old stale pizza but it literally changed my life. 

Gelato at Origini Gelato or Blue Ice Gelato (they have kiwi flavor!!!)

Pasticceria Panificio Panella Roma for pastries, also there’s one in the Jewish corner by the Synagogue - Pasticceria Boccione it’s GREAT

Great tiramisu at POMPI by Vatican City

Best cannoli of my MF life (hazelnut) at I Dolci di Nonna Vincenza (by Campo di Fiori)

ACTIVITY HIGHLIGHTS OF ROME:

Trevi Fountain (go early in the AM)

Coliseum (go early in the AM)

Roman Forum

Palazzo della Sapienza

Spanish Steps

Piazza Navona (great for a drink)

Pantheon

Villa Borghese for sunset

Campo di Fiore market

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Published: The Knot New England

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SO thrilled to be published in the spring / summer 2018 issue of The Knot New England!

HOLY BANANAS HUGE SURPRISE BEHIND THIS THOUGH!

Over a year ago, a photo of Amanda & Steve in their vintage getaway car was going to be featured in The Knot. Well, as all things editorial go, the story ended up getting cancelled and I felt so bad for getting my bride’s hopes up. So bummed! Fast forward to last night when I get a text from Amanda showing me a photo of herself in The Knot!!! I couldn’t believe it!!! SO, today we’re celebrating this AMAZING surprise and Steve’s family’s precious convertible Buick becoming famous on newsstands across New England!!

Chicago Summer 2018 Kickoff

Chicago Summer 2018 Kickoff

Memorial Day weekend and a 25th birthday in Chicago? You better believe it! Check out some good eats, retro bowling, river walks, bike adventures, tiki drinks, and even a HELICOPTER ride!

Springtime in Martha's Vineyard 2018

Springtime in Martha's Vineyard 2018

4 days, 2 photographers, and 1 epic bicycle ride. Check out our adventures in Martha’s Vineyard - firing up the grill, picnicking on the beach, and chasing the sunset before getting Back Door Donuts!

I'm on a PODCAST!

I'm on a PODCAST!

I’m on a podcast! Listen to the latest CINEMANIA episode “Entrepreneurship - Becoming Your Own Boss” for insight into running a full time creative business, deciding whether or not to go to college, going from zero to dozens of clients, my #1 secret to stellar customer service, and of course, BUBBLE TEA!

Holiday brunch inspiration

Holiday brunch inspiration

Avocado toast, macarons, mimosas, oh my! Juliette's styled holiday brunch inspiration is live on the blog! You will NEVER guess what's under that table...

Lena's Guide to Los Angeles, California

Lena's Guide to Los Angeles, California

California: utterly warmer than Boston in November, full of amazing food, lots of beautiful sunsets and mountains and everything in-between. Paul and I are coming up on our 3 year anniversary, and finally took our first BIG trip together to Los Angeles! We balled out for a week and had a blast. If you were following on my Instagram stories, you saw some hilarious videos, lots of food, and tons of bubble tea. Here's your Lena Mirisola guide to LA - including details on everywhere we stayed, ate, and visited! All photos taken in iPhone, all panoramas by Paul ;)

Hello pretty mountains!

AIRBNB #1 - SILVER LAKE DREAM HOUSE

This Airbnb was insane. No right angles in the whole thing! We climbed up tons of stairs past lemon and orange trees to our little piece of paradise - with a 360 degree wraparound porch overlooking the Hollywood Sign, mountains, and Silver Lake. The sunsets were truly amazing.

Silver Lake Ramen = possibly my best meal in LA. Look at that fried chicken. They cook their broth for 16 hours... my stomach is grumbling just thinking about it.

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DesignerCon was happening in Pasadena, and our Johnny Cupcakes family was there... so of course we had to pop over and surprise them!!! We had a blast looking at all the art, seeing our friends on a different coast, and buying some art prints (bubble tea themed of course).

We got lost trying to find the Hollywood sign. Note: the signs that say "no access?" They're serious. We scrambled up to the Griffith Observatory instead with only 20 minutes to spare before sunset (damn you daylight savings) - and boy did we see something spectacular. 

What the f.

So, the next day, we tried to find the REAL Hollywood sign trails. It said 3 miles roundtrip. HA! I can power walk that in Boston in like 45 minutes. Let's do this.

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NOPE. A WHOLE LOT OF NOPE. That hike was almost 1,000 foot elevation climb in the dead sun. I almost died, like 100% fact. We had no idea the hike would be that grueling... and if you didn't know before, I FUCKING HATE HIKING.

I only smiled for 4 seconds the whole time trust me

So after coming back from the dead and showering off the 17 layers of dirt on us, we headed to Santa Monica and Venice Beach.

...and got the famous PHORRITO! Yup. A pho burrito. And yes - it tasted just like the real thing!!! We grabbed tea and mini waffles from Boba Lab to picnic on the beach with. We watch the waves and grabbed cheap hoodies from the vendors in Venice before grabbing a Frose at a rooftop bar for sunset.

And then sat in an hour and a half of bumper to bumper traffic back to Silver Lake #veryLA

Millie's breakfast was wild. That's a whole coconut! So delicious, you gotta go. Although the matcha was very Instagrammable, it was a little watery ;)

I love rocks in the ocean which is why I love El Matador State Park!!! We were killing time before checking into our Malibu Airbnb, so we packed a picnic and drove to this amazing beach.

Below right: the drive up the mountains to the Airbnb, below left: the view from the Airbnb!

All windows baby. You had to drive an extra 10/15 min winding up and down the mountains to get here... it was so remote, but watching the sunrise and sunset from here was awesome.

We've arrived at Malibu Pier! Free street parking too.

Malibu Farm breakfast was out of this world. Coconut milk quinoa oatmeal?!?!? AND THAT VIEW!!! A bit pricey, but what ISN'T in Malibu?

NEW BEACH!!! Point Dume beach was incredible. You can take a tiny hike up the cliffs for stunning views, climb over rocks at low tide for a private beach (Pirate's Cove) and we even saw seals hanging out on the rocks!!!

Had the whole thing to ourselves!

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Quick trip down to Santa Monica (I was going stir crazy in Malibu - it's like being out in the countryside!!! Not much to do but go to the beach!!!)

We caught the sunset, grabbed tea at Volcano Tea, and had some delicious burgers at Pono Burger.

I definitely freaked out upon entering. The view was insane. Mountains on the left, city on the right. This is my dream home. How much is rent!?!?

Paul made us stop at In-n-out and while I'm pretty sure they haven't changed the prices since 1948, the fries and shake were A++++. We started to miss driving our little Porsche down the Pacific Coast Highway.

Sunset in the hot tub = so much yes

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Quarters Korean BBQ - what an experience holy cow!!! The drinks were the best we had all trip and the food was wowwwww! The sesame marinated chicken, bulgogi, and japchae.... WOW.

Grand Central Market was SO COOL!!! SO many hipster venues, and I've been following Eggslut for so long on Instagram it was about time I had one in real life. Unfortunately I ate it on the sidewalk in 37 seconds. #sad

We visited The Broad, which is a free museum... but you have to pay $30 each for the exhibit. We lined up thinking we were buying tickets... WRONG. After an hour and a half (already committed, you know) we finally got to the front - and we still couldn't see the exhibit for another 4 hours minimum. And no, you can't buy tickets for the next day. Oh well! We came back later than night for Yayoi Kusama's show.

The dot room was wicked fun (we touched it all)

Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein, Koons...

Why not be tourists on the last day? (Only cared about the Disney stars and Judge Judy)

Goodbye LA, you were incredible. Until next time.... XOXO

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FOOD

SILVER LAKE

Silver Lake Ramen
Dinosaur Coffee
Cliff’s Edge
Same Same Thai
Millie’s Cafe
The Thirsty Crow

SANTA MONICA

Komodo
Boba Lab
Volcano Tea
High Lounge
Pono Burger

MALIBU

Malibu Farm
Duke’s 

KOREATOWN

Quarters Korean BBQ
Snow Monster
It’s Boba Time
Mr. Boba
OB Bear

DOWNTOWN

Grand Central Market (Eggslut!)

HOLLYWOOD

Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles

CAR

Turo

(Airbnb for cars - it was SO easy, fun, and cheaper than renting esp drivers under 25!)

ACTIVITIES

Griffith Observatory
Hollywood sign hike
Santa Monica Beach
Venice Beach
El Matador Beach
Point Dume Beach
The Broad Museum
Museum of Contemporary Art
Hollywood Walk of Fame

RANDOM THINGS TO NOTE

Gas is $$$

Valet parking is everywhere. Yeah, you gotta pay to park in a parking lot. It sucks. And don't forget to tip.

The traffic is bad but time things between 10am-2pm on a weekday and you'll be fine.

Wear sunscreen.

Make reservations when you can.

There were 30+ more places on our list to eat and drink, but you can only do so much in a week! If you have more faves when visiting LA, drop it in the comments for my readers!

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France + Germany + Austria Summer 2017

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Hello friends! This August, my best friend and I traveled to Paris, Munich, and Salzburg for a bit of summer fun in Europe. I wanted to share our travels, favorite things, mishaps, and more with you!

Fun fact: I bought a camera especially for this trip then took every single photo with my iPhone! HA!

PARIS, FRANCE

Stayed in: Marais Airbnb, Latin Quarter Airbnb

Ate: L'as du Fallafel, Le Grenier a Pain bakery, Berthillion gelato, Au P'tit Grec crepes, Le Petit Marcel steak frites, Pierre Herme macarons, Bobalitas bubble tea, flan, chocolate, pho, dumplings, baguettes, tartes, quiche, and more

Must do: Sunset boat cruise on the Seine via Bateaux-Mouches, view from Arc du Triomphe

Places to picnic: Luxembourg Gardens

Sights: Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower via Trocadero Gardens, Ile Saint-Louis, riverwalk, The Louvre area, Pompadou area, Palais-Royal Gardens, Montmartre 

Mishaps: Second Airbnb host a no-show at midnight, flight home cancelled and delayed over 30 hours, constantly got lost

Brought home: Chocolate, postcards, magnets, tapenade, caramel sauce

MUNICH, GERMANY

Stayed in: Airbnb 10 min from Marienplatz

Ate: Bratwurst, pretzels, Radler (beer + lemonade), apple strudel with cream, fried potato salad, sweet mustard

Must do: Shop and get sausage, pretzels, and beer at the Viktualienmarkt or Englischer Garten beer garden, climb up to the top of St. Paul's church for 360 views of the city, shop in Marienplatz

Places to picnic: Englischer Garten, Hofgarten, 

Sights: Rathaus (city hall), Marienplatz, Odeonsplatz, Residenzplatz

Mishaps: All stores and most everything else closes on Sundays so that got a little boring

Brought home: 6 jars of sweet mustard, postcards, magnets, nips, a scarf

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA

Stayed in: Day trip via train

Ate: Schnitzel, apple strudel with cream, potato salad, pretzels

Must do: Panorama Tours Lakes + Mountains (4 hours, includes boat ride on Wolfgangsee), view from Kaputzinerkloste church

Places to picnic: Mirabel Palace gardens, Kaputzinerberg park

Sights: Mirabel Gardens, the river, Residenzplatz, Chapter Fountain + Horse Pond, Salzburg Cathedral, Getreidegasse shopping, Furtwangler Park and market

Mishaps: Unknown construction on the railroad from Austria -> Germany - we de-boarded the train, got on a bus, got kicked off the bus, waited hours for another train in the middle of nowhere

Brought home: Postcards, magnets

Random things to note about Europe:

Public bathrooms are not free

Water is also not free, and expensive at restaurants

NO TIPPING AT RESTAURANTS!!!

Beware of pickpockets

Only metal detectors at airport security?!

Baguettes are super cheap

You greet store owners hello and goodbye ALWAYS

People eat dinner at 9/10pm in Paris

Some stores and restaurants close in the middle of the day in Paris

Uber is all over the world and is brilliant

Air conditioning is rare

The views are spectacular.

 

Thanks for reading loves! Be sure to follow all my adventures on Instagram!

 

The Best Restaurants in Boston 2018

The Best Restaurants in Boston 2018

Looking for the best local, hidden gems to eat at all over Boston? Check out these 20 delicious Boston restaurants for your next meal!

Spring Wedding Blog Features

Here is the spring roundup of wedding blog features! Thank you to all the amazing editors and all the vendors that made these kickass wedding days happen :)

Katie & Roger on Borrowed & Blue

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The Knot Summer 2017 National Feature

FedEx came with a very joyful surprise last week... the Summer 2017 edition of The Knot national print magazine! I ripped open the package and started flipping my way through the enormous magazine to find any image of mine - I never know what is going to be published! All of a sudden, gracing a FULL PAGE was Stephanie & John!!!! Cue the screaming. It's such an honor to be included in The Knot next to so many incredible wedding professionals! <3 Fingers crossed for more in the future.

 

Only a few more months until their wedding day!

XOXO

Did you catch my work in the Spring 2017 issue of The Knot?

See it HERE!

 

Cake & Lace Feature

Alexsis & Keith graced the blog over at Cake & Lace today! I loved how the color scheme went perfectly with their site ;) (Do your research when submitting to wedding blogs!) Check out their stunning sunrise Crane Beach engagement shoot here!

EquallyWed Feature

I almost died laughing when I saw Equally Wed's perfect tagline for Holly & Ange's wedding - CHEESE-FILLED!!! These beautiful ladies threw a very classy soiree in the heart of Boston at Central Bistro - yes, complete with robots, Chuck Taylors, and CHEESE! Check it out here!

The Knot Spring 2017 National Feature

The Spring 2017 national issue of the The Knot hit newsstands NEXT WEEK!!! The lovely editors at the Knot sent me and Sanjiv & Thithya advance copies to peek at!!! I'm so thrilled to see their adorable proposal story in my favorite wedding magazine. 

One more announcement though... 

You can find Stephanie & John's swoon-worthy engagement in the SUMMER 2017 national issue of The Knot, too!!! We're going #backtoback this year. I couldn't be more thrilled!

SEE IT HERE!