This past weekend, as well as Monday evening, I ventured down an almost forgotten trail that originates steps from my front door. It’s an awesome trail tucked between neighborhoods, schools, and golf courses, and I finally realized that this same trail connects me to my favorite running trail in Denver: the Highline Canal trail. (You can learn more about the Highline Canal trail from Ramblen – they have an awesome review!) It took me over a year of living in my neighborhood to realize it, but at least I figured it out! The trail is shared by equestrians, runners, and cyclists, and wraps around the back of my neighborhood until is runs alongside a service road for a private school nearby. Finally it runs into a paved trail that follows much of the town I live in and eventually intersects the Highline Canal trail.
Last summer this was my go-to evening trail, but with fall and winter I stuck with paved roads so as to avoid muddy, uneven ground. I decided recently to give it a go again, and I am glad I did. I typically use this as a short evening trail run, so hadn’t taken it very far. Given its convenience, it’s the perfect post-workday running route. Sunday, however, I decided to keep
going. The days this month have been hot, and for Colorado standards, humid (except most of this week in which temps dropped to the 60s and we had 36 straight hours of cloud cover and rain – weird!). I knew I had to get my run in early, and didn’t want to drive (the 5 minutes…) to my usual entry point to the Highline Canal. So I set off at about 8:15am, and after my usual 2 mile turnaround point, I ventured on. Low and behold, just a few hundred feet beyond that point, the trail runs right through the Highline Canal trail. Who knew? Well, obviously not me, but given the many other people on the trail that morning, I am one of few who were completely oblivious… Oh well!
I had already decided to get a 10K in that morning, but was so excited to experience this whole other section of the Highline Canal trail that looked very different than the portion I was used to. I passed by a wildlife refuge area with an amazingly clear blue pond. Beyond that were fields and farms, nestled away but incredibly close to my neighborhood. This section wraps around the other edge of the private school I pass on my little neighborhood trail, and rolling hills seem to just keep stretching out beyond that. It’s a little slice of heaven. By the time I hit over 3 miles and turned back towards home, I was in an amazing mood. It was a great run – so good in fact I ran a little over four miles Monday evening to be able to get some time on this newfound piece of my favorite trail.
Enough with the healthy stuff, let’s get on to the delicious recipe that I just have to share with you! I got this recipe find originally from my friend Colleen back in Washington D.C., but found a modified version recently thanks to Sweet Eats and Crafts (great foodie blog!). This recipe is not a health-conscious recipe, but instead a delectably easy, perfectly chewy cookie recipe. I am a huge fan of soft chewy chocolate chip cookies, particularly right out of the oven, and this recipe fulfills that desire. It’s such a straight forward recipe that I made them in about 30 minutes, including prep and clean up. Awesome! The key is butter flavored shortening – it makes all the difference in the world. Without further ado, Sweet Eats and Crafts’ Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies!
¾ stick of Butter Flavor Shortening baking stick (I used butter flavor Crisco)
1 ¼ cups firmly packed light brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar given it was what I had available)
2 tablespoons milk (I used skim milk)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I prefer Penzeys Double Strength Vanilla Extract for a flavor punch)
1 large egg
1 ¾ cups All Purpose Flour (at high altitude I recommend Hungarian High Altitude Flour)
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking soda
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 375º F. In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla with a hand-held mixer on medium speed until well-blended. Once creamy, add the egg and blend again until incorporated.
In a small bowl, stir the flour, salt, and baking soda, and then add to the creamed mixture using a spatula to fold the ingredients into the batter. Add the chocolate chips and mix until evenly distributed.
Using a cookie-scoop or spoon, drop 2 rounded tablespoons of the dough on pan lined with parchment paper, about 2-3 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes. If you make a slightly larger cookie, they may need to bake for 10-12 minutes.
The cookies may appear to be slightly under-baked, but this is because they are much softer. Allow them to cool on the pan for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Make sure to store the cookies in an airtight container to maintain freshness. Enjoy!
What is your secret to the perfect chocolate chip cookie? Do have any great trails surrounding you? Where do you run on weeknights when there’s less time to commit?