Cooking Up a Pick-Me-Up

A very long time ago in a conversation with someone I haven’t seen in years, I mentioned the thought that relationships should be 50/50. She, an older, wiser, and very sensible woman replied that it was almost never 50/50 in some of the best relationships she had seen. Sometimes one person can only give 30 while the other steps it up and gives 70 and vice versa. Lately, we have definitely noticed this, at the end of my job, I didn’t have the energy to do much of anything, and my husband, even working 12+ hour days daily, stepped up everything he did to help lift me up.

Right now he is working more than ever, and I have the most fortunate opportunity to take a break from the rat race, and since he has been flat out exhausted, I whipped up a pick-him-up meal, complete with homemade cookies. Yes, I baked!

fudge cookies

I didn’t make up my own recipe for this one. After much searching, I found the blog Words to Eat By and this recipe, originally from Cooking Light, for Chewy Cocoa Fudge Cookies.

Chewy Cocoa Fudge Cookies (source)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 t. baking soda
1/8 t. salt
5 T. butter
7 T. unsweetened cocoa
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1-1/2 t. vanilla
cooking spray
1/2 to 3/4 cup of any of the following (mix and match!): chopped dried cherries, chocolate chips, chopped toasted pecans or walnuts


brown sugar

fudge cookies

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine flour, soda, and salt; set aside. Melt butter (I do it in the microwave, but you can use a saucepan over low heat). Remove from heat and stir in cocoa powder and sugars (mixture will resemble coarse sand). Add yogurt and vanilla, stirring to combine. Add flour mixture, stirring until moist. If you’re using any of the add-ins, mix them in now. Drop by level tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until almost set. Cool on pans 2-3 minutes or until firm. Remove from pans; cool on wire racks.

The original recipe said that this should produce 28-32 cookies. Somehow I only got 12. My baking skills are still in their infant stage, but despite the low yield, the cookies did taste very good and were soft and gooey. Next time I will add more cocoa powder and some chocolate chunks for a little extra chocolate-y kick.

fudge cookies

For dinner, I took advantage of our freezer full of fish and shellfish that my mother sent back with me after Thanksgiving and made a simple fish chowder.

I started by boiling the lobster tails, haddock, and shrimp until cooked through. I then removed them all from the boiling water, shelled the lobster and shrimp, and tossed the shells back into the boiling water, along with some cracked peppercorn. image

I chopped the shrimp, lobster, and haddock and sprinkled them with chopped fennel and tarragon.

fennel and tarragon

seafood chowder

While the lobster and shrimp shells boiled in the water, I chopped up a bunch of purple potatoes and microwaved them for a minute, then set them aside.

purple potatoes

I made a roux for the chowder using lots of butter and flour, making sure the flour was cooked to a golden brown, then poured the water that the fish cooked in through a strainer and over the roux. I added the potatoes and a cup of Chardonnay, brought it all to a boil, then lowered the heat to a simmer.


Toward the end of cooking, I added the fish and a few cups of frozen peas and waited until everything was nice and hot. After serving up the chowder in bowls, I streamed in light cream until the soup had a nice creaminess to it.


Sadly, purple potatoes were not the best choice from an aesthetic point of view. They lent a gray tinge to the soup which was mostly fixed after I added the cream. Luckily the color didn’t affect the taste at all. The soup was light with bursts of shrimp, lobster, and haddock flavors, not fishy, just mild and sweet. The fennel gave it a slight anise flavor and reminded me of Bouillabaisse, one of my favorite meals.

My husband definitely appreciated the pick-me-up, and the mood in our house was a little more cheerful and relaxed. There are countless things I love about food, and one of those things is most definitely how it can be used to take care of other people.

What do you love about food? What is your favorite pick-me-up when you are down?

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Tags: baking, chowder, cocoa, comfort food, cookies, Food, haddock, lobster, recipes, shrimp

  1. A Boston Food Diary’s avatar

    Ok those cookies look AMAZING! I have been looking for some good cookies recipes lately- these are definitely getting ear marked!
    Honestly-Im not sure I can put my love of food into words. It is the embodiment of everything good in the world to me. Yes- I am a GIANT dork :-)


  2. Kathy’s avatar

    When I’m down my favorite pick-me-up is to cook. Though I’ll also cave to a cheese pizza. I’m with a boston food diary on thisa one though. my love of food surpasses the words I’ve got. It’s comforting and uplifting while at the same time being innovative and new, its challenging and gratifying. I am kind of a nerd that even made BF try all the different salts (5 of them) in our apt the other day so he can acknowledge a difference.


  3. Emily’s avatar

    What a nice gesture… I love when my husband makes me dinner after a long day. I usually do the menu planning, with his input, but not having to put the meal together is HUGE.


  4. Michelle’s avatar

    I think it is fabulous that you cooked such a lovely meal for Eric. I’m sure he enjoyed it so much! I totally agree with your friend that relationships are rarely 50/50. There is always someone who is picking up just a little more when the other can’t. Isn’t that what makes relationships so wonderful? We don’t have to do it all alone.

    Cooking takes thoughtful consideration and love. And perhaps this is why I enjoy cooking just as much as I enjoy eating meals prepared by others.



  5. Elizabeth’s avatar

    This post totally warmed my heart. It’s so true that sometimes it can’t be 50/50 and the important thing is just be there and take advantage of the opportunities you have to give a little more. And fudge cookies just sweeten the deal. Chocolate chocolate cookies are actually one of my favorite.


  6. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic’s avatar

    I totally agree that one of the best things about food is being able to use it to show how much you care. And I definitely recommend adding chocolate chunks to your cookies next time (you can never go wrong with more chocolate! hehe). My favorite pick-me-up meal is pasta!


  7. Heather’s avatar

    I agree completely about relationships – it is never 50/50 BUT it needs to average out in the end. One person cannot always give 70%.

    Love the fish chowder and cookies – a good meal can always lift one’s spirit and make them feel better!

    My favorite meals like that are usually the simpler ones – grilled cheese and tomato soup, savory oatmeal. They warm my belly and make me feel almost relaxed.


  8. Belinda @zomppa’s avatar

    It’s always a balance, isn’t it? Both of these would definitely do wonders to pick me up!


  9. Kim’s avatar

    You are so sweet to have done that for your husband. It is true that a marriage/relationship is not always 50-50. I know it isn’t in our house since I’m not working and my husband is financially supporting us while I search for employment. It’s wonderful to see you have such a supportive husband and the things you do for him to show your appreciation. That; in my opinion, is how a loving marriage should be.

    My comfort foods usually involve something incredibly fattening like a big homemade burrito or a plate of nachos or the only fast food I eat nowadays: Chipotle. I can’t always afford to spend the whopping $7-8 since my money has to go elsewhere but sometimes it’s a much needed treat.

    But since you posted cookies, those might have to go on my list as well. Yum!


  10. Megan’s avatar

    So I have a list of great gift ideas for bakers coming up… but for a sneak preview, I recommend a cookie scoop! If you get a small one, you can make lots of tiny cookies. I think your cookies look beautiful!

    And it is so true about the 50/50 and 70/30 thing. Sometimes I’m just completely exhausted and Jeff will make dinner or run and pick up takeout like he did Monday night. Last night I think I was back up to 70 because I spent 2 hours making spaghetti and meatballs from scratch!


  11. Daisy’s avatar

    that is an interesting little fact on how relationships work. After thinking about it, I have to agree! Your pick me ups look wonderful. Bouillabaise is also one of my favorites!!


  12. Anne @ Food Loving Polar Bear’s avatar

    I also love food because it makes me and people around me feel better. Food is the best pick me up! my bf usually requests something he really likes a lot when he’s exhausted because of work or just not feeling good, I love making him smile with my cookings :)


  13. Sues’s avatar

    Awww I love this! And the 50/50 business is so true. Chris does A LOT for me because I’m often a big stress mess (and he’s generally relaxed and cool). But I do try to cook him lots of good food :) I love chili and tacos for comfort food!


  14. Alicia’s avatar

    Those cookies look great. I love cooking for other people to cheer them up…..I love cooking for people to cheer ME up too.


  15. Grace’s avatar

    Those fudge cookies look so good! It is definitely the time of year for baking!


  16. MelissaNibbles’s avatar

    Very good point about relationships. It’s always a little give and take, you just have to be with the person who is willing to do that. You’re very lucky!
    Can you come cook me a pick me up meal?


  17. Simply Life’s avatar

    Oh what a great meal to be cooked by someone! wow!


  18. Enrico’s avatar

    wow those cookies could be sold at williams-sonoma. totally agree about the 50/50 70/30 30/70 thing. sometimes you are ahead, sometimes you are behind ::- the road is long. you sound like you both take great care of each other.


  19. Katie’s avatar

    Great post! I bet your husband was really happy with a spread like this! What a great way to say thank you…through the stomach!


  20. Jolene (’s avatar

    I love everything about food – especially strong flavours that beg to be savoured.


  21. Elina (Healthy and Sane)’s avatar

    I never get as many cookies as I should – mostly because I make mine bigger than the tiny serving sizes lighter recipes propose.
    You’re so good in the kitchen! I can’t just wing a fish stew like that. I’m totally craving lobster now!! :)


  22. Nikki @ The Tolerant Vegan’s avatar

    What I love most about food is that it gives me life. I’m thankful to my food for giving me energy and focus, for fueling my body, and for comforting me when I’ve had a crap day.

    This is a lovely post. Your husband is lucky to have you and vice versa. :)


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