Friday, December 31, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

These bars are a revelation.  Yes, they are that good.  My resolution for 2011 is to start being more obvious about recipes that are my staples.  This is one of them.  I'm giving up the secrets with this one, so promise me you'll try this.

The basis of this cookie bar recipe is the the chocolate chip cookie recipe that I've adapted over the past 10 years or so and that my husband claims is the reason he married me.  I spoiled him with batches of these cookies (and my Coconut Pound Cake) while we were dating.  I can resist most of my own baked goods, but these cookies are the exception.  When they are warm and the chocolate is melting all over the place I'm ready to attack the whole plate and chase it with a cold glass of milk or a cup of coffee.

Until this week I always made this recipe in traditional cookie form, but then I noticed that some food bloggers were making chocolate chip cookies as bars and I decided to try this technique with my classic recipe.  Not only is it easier to make cookie bars, but the cookies end up being thicker, chewier, and less labor intensive to bake.  They're also more durable for storage and travel and dare I say they actually taste better.  I'm sold on this method.

The dough is a chocolate chip cookie dough that relies on semisweet chocolate chunks instead of chips to provide bigger bursts of chocolate in every bite.  It also has more brown sugar than white sugar to have a chewier bite.  My secret ingredients are toffee bits (which you should be able to find in the baking aisle of a well-stocked grocery store) and chopped nuts.  I don't even love nuts in baked goods, but they work perfectly in this cookie.  Trust me.  It all works out.  Everyone will be happy. 

Once you make the dough, you can let it sit for up to three days before you bake it.  Some recipe writers swear that cookie dough is best if left to "marinate" for a few days in the fridge before baking.  I couldn't wait, so I did a half batch immediately and baked the other half a few days later.  Do what you've gotta do.

I just lined a baking pan with parchment paper and pressed the dough flat into the pan.  No dropping batches and batches of cookie dough in the oven for me...

Bake for about 30 minutes and you have this pan full of gooey, chocolatey deliciousness...

 At this point you need to resist the urge to cut into the cookie, or you'll risk making a mess (although it will still taste good).  Let it cool on a rack for at least 45 minutes before you attempt to lift the cookie from the pan and onto a cutting board...

Cut the cookie bars into squares and try not to eat them all in one serving.  If you have leftovers, just store them in a cookie tin or similar airtight container.  If you're really into the melted chocolate thing (I am!), pop cooled cookies into the microwave for 15 seconds before eating.  

These cookie bars are too delicious.  Please make them for someone you love. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
a Keeley original

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 ounces chocolate chunks (I use 1 bag of Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks)
1/2 cup toffee chips (I use Heath, look in the baking aisle)
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9 by 12 inch baking pan (or two 8 by 8 inch baking pans) with parchment paper.  

Sift together flour, salt (if using), baking powder, and baking soda.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand-held mixer) whip together butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Mix in eggs, one at a time.

Gradually beat flour into butter mixture.  Once flour is incorporated, slowly mix in chocolate chunks, nuts, and toffee.  At this stage you can put the dough in the fridge for up to three days, or you can continue with the recipe.

Press dough into the prepared baking pans.  Dough should be about 3/4" thick and compacted into the pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.  The dough will be soft in some spots when finished, but it will firm up once it cools.  Let the bars cool in the pan for at least 45 minutes before removing the entire sheet of the bars from the pan, cutting into squares, and serving.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

ShopRite Blogger Get-Together

This is a long overdue post.  I spent November and December working nearly every day and now I'm enjoying a week-long staycation full of friends, family, coffee, and trashy daytime television.  Life is good.  I'm taking this opportunity to sort through my photos and share some fun food stories.

Back in mid-November I enjoyed a fun lunch with two of my fellow ShopRite bloggersEmily and Jessica.  I met these talented ladies who love to cook as much as I do at the NYC Food and Wine Festival back in October.  Since we all live in the Philadelphia area we decided to meet for a potluck lunch at Jessica's home in South Jersey.  We each made a Tyler Florence-inspired dish.  Emily made a bacon and apple panini, Jessica made an asparagus risotto (from Tyler's latest book, Family Table), and I made Tyler's Hunter's Minestrone

Emily hooking up some excellent sandwiches.

Jessica's Asparagus Risotto

Hunter's Minestrone and a panini.
Jessica's adorable daughter, Kiley

We had so much fun that I forgot to take a group photo, but cruise on over to Jessica's Blog and Emily's Blog to see what they're up to.  I'm loving the idea of blogger get-togethers and I hope to participate in more in the future!

I set up a Formspring account for questions from readers.  Want to know more about  me?  Have a cooking or baking question?  Click here to ask me anything!  

Sunday, December 26, 2010


This is my mom's Christmas tree.  We spent Christmas Eve at her home.
Friends, I just want to share that I had a wonderful Christmas!  E and I didn't get caught up in the frenzy of buying too many gifts or baking too many cookies and we just enjoyed a relaxing day with family.  We're fortunate to have the entire week off work, so we'll be visiting family and friends during our days off. 

We kept decorations (and stress) minimal this year, but I've been cooking and I have plenty of recipes to share this week.  At the moment we're in the middle of a snowstorm (I love snow, especially when we have nowhere to go) and I've been having a great cooking day.  For now, please enjoy these highlights from Christmas Day.  I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

My mom, brother, and mom's dog came over for Christmas brunch.

I bought E a new coat.  Doesn't he look handsome?

We took a quick trip to NJ to spend the afternoon with our extended family.
We ended the day sweatin' it out playing the MJ Experience.  We love this game!
Stay tuned for new recipes and other goodies this week!  For now, I'm enjoying this snowstorm.  There's nothing like a bad weather forecast and a week off work.  Perfect sleeping weather!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ask me anything!

I set up a Formspring account to allow readers to ask me questions.  I'm new to this, so I hope I'm doing it right.  My only exposure to Formspring is hearing school counselors talk about how 7th grade girls use it to bully eachother.  I know, I'm old.

Feel free to drop me a quick question about cooking, baking, shopping, or anything about me that you'd like to know.  I try to keep this blog on the topic of cooking, but I'll be happy to answer questions about other stuff.  Here's the link, ask away!

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

I didn't grow up eating Brussels sprouts.  I have no idea why.  I spent most of my childhood in a rural community surrounded by farmland and fresh produce.  Somehow we escaped Brussels sprouts and all I knew is that kids on television always complained about having to eat them.  I assumed they were slimy and bland. 

At some point in my early adulthood I finally tasted a Brussels sprout.  To my surprise it tasted crunchy and fresh and not at all overcooked.  It reminded me of a baby cabbage.  Now I love Brussels sprouts and while I will eat frozen ones (most of the Brussels sprouts sold in the US are frozen), I really love them fresh.  They are a cool weather crop, so I had my fill of them this fall.  Although it's the first full day of winter and I'm a bit late posting about fall produce, I wanted to share the joys of this underrated vegetable.

E works in Lancaster County, PA so he drives all through God's country on his daily commute.  He passes tons of roadside farm stands and Amish buggies every day.  He can get a bag full of vegetables for like $2, so when he saw this for $1, he had to stop and bring it home:

Brussels sprouts grow on stalks.  When you buy them fresh in the grocery store you don't normally get the stalk (and if you do, it will cost you about $7 in these parts).  We got this entire stalk (about 1/2 pound of sprouts) for $1!  It's one of those little things that makes me so happy.

I took a few minutes to pluck each individual sprout off the stalk and then I rinsed them.  I decided to saute them and serve them with bacon.  It was pretty delicious, simple, and pretty good for you (minus the pork fat).  This recipe will only work with fresh Brussels sprouts.  Frozen sprouts are too wet and they won't saute.  Depending on where you live you should be able to get Brussels sprouts in your grocery store or farmers market right now.  Give them a try, you'll be pleasantly surprised!

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
a Keeley original
serves 4

1/2-3/4 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, cleaned and trimmed
5 slices of bacon
salt and pepper, to taste

In a wide saute pan (at least 10 inches wide, preferably not nonstick), cook bacon over medium high heat.  Remove bacon from pan and place on paper towels to cool.  Leave bacon fat in the pan.

Add dry Brussels sprouts to bacon drippings.  Saute over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The sprouts will turn golden brown in some spots.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  (Go easy on the salt, this dish will be topped with bacon in a few minutes.) 

Add 1/2 cup of water to the pan and cover.  Steam for 2-3 minutes.  Remove sprouts from pan with slotted spoon.  Place sprouts in serving bowl and topped with crumbled bacon.  Serve immediately.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Buttermilk Pancakes, recipe here
One of the best parts of having a day off work is enjoying a leisurely brunch with the family.  Sometimes it's just E and me, but often my mom and brother swing by for a late morning meal.  Breakfast is generally quicker and less expensive to prepare than other meals and it's a crowd-pleaser.  I used to love going out to diners and restaurants for breakfast, but it's just as easy to roll out of bed and enjoy a great meal in your own kitchen.  Plus it's cheaper.  Just get someone else to do the dishes.

To save calories I eat a light breakfast of coffee and Greek yogurt (with an occasional cheat) Monday-Friday.  Come Saturday and Sunday I'm ready for some bacon or sausage, pancakes or french toast, or some sweet breakfast breads. 

I've figured out a few ways to make breakfast easy for everyone:

1.  Choose your menu wisely.  If you're expecting more than a few guests and you expect them to arrive at different times, be prepared to mingle.  Don't choose to prepare omelets or other items that require you to stand over the stove.  Instead, try a breakfast quiche or another item that can be prepared in advance but still has traditional breakfast flavors.

2.  Prepare your breakfast meat first.  Sausage and bacon reheat well, so cook them before you move on to dishes that require more of your attention, like eggs, french toast, or waffles.  I prefer to cook my bacon on a baking sheet in the oven at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.  If you use this method your kitchen stays grease-free.  Just reheat your breakfast meat in the microwave right before serving.

3.  Don't be a short order cook.  Spend your time with your family, not standing over the stove.  When I'm making French toast, pancakes, or waffles, I preheat the oven to 200 degrees, put a large platter in the oven to get warm, and then put batches of these items on the plate as they come off the griddle.  I keep the warm platter in the oven covered with foil so everyone can eat hot food at the same time. 

4.  Have someone else do the dishes.  Our rule is that whoever cooks doesn't have to clean.  If you have a buddy clean while you cook you can have the breakfast dishes cleared within 10 minutes of the end of the meal and get back to relaxing with your family and friends.

5.  Save the leftovers.  I've heard that pancakes and waffles freeze well.  I wouldn't know because we eat them all!  I do make extra bacon because it can be used over a few days for other meals (grilled cheese, salads, pizzas, quick weekday breakfast sandwiches). 

Plan your menu, brew a nice pot of coffee (or hot water for tea), and surprise someone you love with a nice, well-planned breakfast.  Don't forget to make the table pretty so it feels special.  I'm partial to white dishes.  Happy brunching!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Photo Shoot

I'm enjoying reading all the blogs with holiday features this week.  So many people are sharing decadent recipes, sparkly decorations, and cute stories of family traditions.  Meanwhile, at my house, we've decided to work all the way until Christmas Eve, minimize decorations since we're not hosting company, and rely too much on pizza and meals at my mom's house.  As much as I love to cook, I'm averaging one to two meals per week.  We're that busy.

We did accomplish one Christmas goal this year:  we made Christmas cards.  We love getting cards from friends and family, but I'm embarrassed to admit that 2010 is the first year we've actually sent cards.  I know, I know, I know.  Hopefully all the cards will reach their destination before Christmas!

I was very excited to use my new camera, so E helped me hook it up to his old tripod and we rearranged our living room for the photo shoot.  It would have been nice to take the photo with a Christmas-y background, but our tree is in our basement and the lighting isn't ideal in that part of the house.  So the living room ended up being the site for a photo shoot full of laughter, dog hair, and a 45 shots of bloopers.

I knew getting photos with dogs would be difficult, but I didn't expect this...

It's difficult to get dogs to focus on the camera instead of each other.
Sometimes it's difficult to get humans to focus on the camera.
Sometimes the camera scares your dog, the dog has an accident on your lap, and chaos ensues.
Sometimes you've almost got a perfect photo, but a distraction pops up.                  
Our Christmas Card

After nearly 50 takes, we finally got it right.  In spite of the fact that we were tired (it was almost 9:00 on a weeknight), I love the final photo and I hope we make this a tradition.  I can't believe we waited all these years to make custom Christmas cards!

Do you get make photo cards or do you purchase regular greeting cards?  Do you even send holiday cards?  Is anyone else having a hard time believing that Christmas is less than a week away?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Warehouse Sale!

I woke up at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, bundled up in my Cuddl Duds, fleece, down coat, and gloves and walked outside the brave the 20 degree (something like 12 degrees with the wind chill) weather...

Yes, it's that cold.  And dark.

Saturday was like my own personal Black Friday.  I don't get involved with the stampedes at Wal-Mart or Target on the day after Thanksgiving.  Last year I discovered that the only distributor in the United States that imports exclusive brands of European cook's tools and cookware has it's warehouse in New Castle, Delaware.  I just happen to live close enough to take advantage of this sale that draws people from several states.  One weekend a year they open their warehouse to the public and normal people like me are able to purchase quality imported cookware for up to 80% off.  Call me a nerd, but I had to get up for that.

This warehouse imports and distributes products by Emile Henry, Mauviel, Browne, Cuisipro, and Rosle.  You can find many of these items in high-end kitchen stores like Williams-Sonoma. The doors opened at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday for the weekend sale.  I knew the crowds would be huge and the temperatures would be low, so my mom and I arrived at 7:00 a.m. to take our place in line.  We were in the first group admitted (they let customers enter in waves).

Oh, the cold!
Since this was only our second year at the sale, we didn't know what to expect, but as expected there was a huge assortment of cook's tools (cherry pitters, food mills, bar tools, cooling racks, anything you can imagine), cookware (stainless steel and copper), and tons of beautiful, colorful bakeware.  Mom and I spent about two hours combing through all of the offerings and we each left with some nice items to supplement the items we already own.  Some of the items were seconds (slightly imperfect), others were first quality.  I examined each item carefully before committing because all sales are final. 

Wanna see what I chose?

Emile Henry bakeware
I purchased several pieces of Emile Henry bakeware and serveware.  Not one of the pieces cost me more than $19.99.  You can find these same items in high-end stores for as high as $78 each.  They are scratch-resistant, shock-resistant (less likely to chip), and safe in extreme temperatures (can go directly from freezer to oven).  I purchased a few pieces last year and I enjoyed them so much that I went back to add to my collection in 2010. 

Shiny, new stainless steel tools

I also purchased an assortment of Cuisipro stainless steel tools.  Many of the kitchen tools I use are made of plastic or wood and have melted handles because they are so well-loved.  We've carried them from two apartments to this home and I figured it was time to upgrade to something that would last a long time.  I've already used half of these tools this weekend.

Now, I had to have somewhere to store these shiny new tools...

Browne stainless canisters
I picked up these two stainless canisters by Browne for the fantastic price of $3 and $1.  I plan to use the big one for my shiny new kitchen tools and the small one for pens and pencils that I always misplace in the junk drawer in the kitchen.  I love how they match the appliances!

All organized and ready to go!

I also picked up a few specialty devices to put into my kitchen rotation.  These weren't must-haves, but since I've gathered all my kitchen essentials over the past decade I figured it was time to branch out into the realm of specialty items.  Plus, these are quality pieces purchased at a deep discount.

3-in-1 Funnel, Kitchen Scale, Batter Dispenser, and Food Mill
I grabbed the Cuisipro 3-in-1 Funnel to help with refilling narrow bottles of olive oil or pouring homemade hot chocolate into a thermal carafe (did both of those things this weekend).  I've been resisting the urge to buy a digital kitchen scale, but since so many baking recipes now list ingredients in weight instead of cups I figured I'd break down and buy one ($23).  Plus, I'll now be able to write more accurate recipes for this blog.  I had to have the batter dispenser because I am in the habit of making homemade pancakes every weekend.  I bought the food mill because Ina Garten considers it essential to a well-equipped kitchen.  You know I love Ina, so if Ina uses it, I'll try it.  I can't wait to use the food mill to process fluffy mashed potatoes or to seed whole tomatoes for marinara sauce.  Oh, the possibilities!

So was all this stuff worth standing outside in below freezing temperatures for over an hour at sunrise?  Does anyone else out there pick up items for themselves during this Christmas shopping season?  Are there any deals out there that you'd like to share?  You know I love a hook-up!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Oatmeal Pancakes with Bananas Foster Topping

I was cleaning out my car the other week and I found the September issue of Cooking Light.  This dog-eared issue sat in the passenger door compartment of my car for two months before I realized that I needed to archive these recipes.  I flipped through it and saw Oatmeal Pancakes.  I love oatmeal and I rely on old-fashioned oatmeal for a filling and healthy cold-weather breakfast this time of the year.  I skimmed the ingredients and it didn't look too harmful (it's Cooking Light, after all), so I decided to make these pancakes.  Of course I had to improve them.  Ever since I discovered this recipe for buttermilk pancakes I've abandoned all pancake mixes and found the extra ten minutes to make mine from scratch.

It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving and I had tons of ripe bananas because my husband made banana pudding for dessert at our family Thanksgiving.  The bananas were getting quite fragrant, so I decided to make a topping for these oatmeal pancakes.  Hold the butter and syrup, this topping sends these pancakes over the top.  Despite being loaded with oatmeal, these pancakes are soft, light, moist, and fluffy.  Plus, I promise that it's easy enough to make that you'll have breakfast on the table within about 35 minutes.  Everyone will be happy.  My family was so happy, in fact, that I repeated these pancakes this past Sunday when my mom and brother joined us for breakfast.

Breakfast (or brunch) on a Sunday morning is one of my favorite rituals.  No long lines, no waits, no splitting the tab.  It's just us and the good food.  Add these pancakes to your breakfast ritual this winter.  You'll love 'em. 

Oatmeal Pancakes
from Cooking Light, September 2010
serves 4

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups quick-cooking (not instant) oats - I ran my old fashioned oats through the food processor
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups nonfat buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs
cooking spray

Whisk together the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. 

In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs. 

Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. 

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Heat a nonstick griddle over medium heat.  Coat with nonstick spray.  Spoon about 1/2 cup batter per pancake onto the griddle.  Flip pancakes when the tops are covered with bubbles and cook the other side until lightly browned.  Place cooked pancakes on an oven-safe plate, topped with foil until all pancakes are cooked and ready to serve.  Top pancakes with bananas foster topping (recipe below).

Bananas Foster Topping
a Keeley original
serves 4

4 bananas, sliced into 1/4" rounds
2 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon rum (or other dark liquor, or omit... it's the weekend, use what you've got)
1/2 cup milk

Put butter, brown sugar, and rum in a frying pan.  Heat over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until butter and sugar are melted.  Add milk and heat to a gentle simmer.

Reduce heat to low and add bananas.  Cook for three minutes or until bananas are soft and coated and sauce thickens.  Remove from heat.  Serve immediately.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Spiced Applesauce Cake w/Cream Cheese Frosting

Moist, apple cake topped with lightly spiced buttery, creamy cream cheese frosting.  What's not to love?  I can't decide whether to eat this cake with a cup of coffee at breakfast or after a hearty cold weather dinner.  Then again, why not make this as an after dinner dessert and then revisit it the next morning for breakfast?

This is the second apple cake I've baked this season and although the Applesauce Cake I made back in September was good, I liked this one even more.  This recipe was covered back in October on Smitten Kitchen and I'm so happy that a coworker introduced me to this blog.  The photography and the recipes are great... go check it out!

Check out this cake, too.  It's easy to make and I promise it will put a smile on your face.

Spiced Applesauce Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted by Smitten Kitchen, from and improved by me

For cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon  baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon  cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1 cup (7 3/4 ounces or 218 grams) packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon  pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce

For frosting
5 ounces Neufchatel cheese (reduced fat cream cheese), softened
3 tablespoons  butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Spray an 8 or 9 inch square pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper.

Make cake: Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in applesauce. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined. The batter will be very thick.

Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake to loosen, then invert onto a plate. Reinvert cake onto a rack to cool completely.

Make frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Sift confectioners sugar and cinnamon over cream cheese mixture, then beat at medium speed until incorporated. Spread frosting over top of cooled cake.

Friday, December 3, 2010

NYC Food & Wine Festival Video

I'm on a roll this week!  Here's another video from the NYC Food and Wine Festival back in October.  This is my favorite because it really captures the essence of the event - good food, good drink, and good people.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tyler Florence Book Signing

This video post is long overdue!  Almost two months ago I had a fantastic weekend of food and fun at the New York City Food and Wine Festival, sponsored by ShopRite.  It was so exciting that it actually overshadowed our October trip to Walt Disney World (we returned from Florida one day before heading up to NYC for the festival). 

One of the many highlights of my weekend in New York was meeting Tyler Florence at a ShopRite-sponsored book signing.  After spending an stimulating afternoon at the Food and Wine Festival our entire blogger panel and our guests headed over to Abe and Arthur's for a Tyler Florence Book signing, cocktail hour, and group dinner.  I'm so grateful to ShopRite for providing this opportunity and I'm so happy that my husband was able to share this special weekend with me.

I promised video of the Food and Wine Festival, and rest assured I have a lot more to share.  For now, please enjoy this short clip of our adventures with Tyler Florence, co-starring my new friend and fellow ShopRite blogger, Emily from Cleanliness is Next To Godliness.  We really bonded on this unseasonably warm Friday afternoon in New York.

Back story:  Our schedule for the day included an afternoon at the festival followed by a book signing and dinner at Abe and Arthur's.  Emily and I just couldn't pull ourselves away from the festival, so we waited until the last minute to head to the book signing.  We decided to spin by the hotel to pick up our husbands, but realized that it was too far to walk, so we tried to get a cab.  It was rush hour and we learned quickly that a cab ride was impossible.  We forgot about the existence of the subway (what can I say, I'm a suburbanite) and we spent an hour walking back to our hotel to pick up our better halves.  You can imagine how sweaty, frustrated and late we were, hence my windblown look...

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