Can we trade tips?

See here’s the thing.  I know a little about photography and making pictures sharper and editing photos and making them brighter.

But baking chocolate chip cookies?

I got nothing.

I tried for the zillionth time to make them over the weekend and for the zillionth time they ran off the edge of the baking stone.  I just can’t get them right.  They are either hard as stone or too runny and the chocolate chips scold me from the batter and wish they had showed up in someone else’s kitchen.

So I thought I would ask you.

You.  The incredible baker.  You.  The person with the happy chocolate chips.  You.  The person waiting for a call back from The Great American Baking Show.

I’ll talk about my very best photography editing tips and maybe you can give me your very best tip for making chocolate chips behave.

My kitchen is all ears. 🙂

Before we get started, I just wanted to explain I’m using PicMonkey for this.  I have Photoshop.  I have other photo editing software, but I like PicMonkey the best.  It’s super easy to use and not intimidating and only costs about a really good shopping trip to the dollar store….

….but if you have other photo editing software many of the concepts we’ll talk about today are the same.

Most of what I’m doing with PicMonkey you can do using the free version.  You can see all about it here.  The paid version isn’t very expensive and you get everything on PicMonkey that has a crown next to it.

This isn’t a sponsored post.

It’s just what I use and what I know and what I use every single day.

Ready to get started?

Oh, good.  Me, too.

Here’s the before photo (this is a carving my brother made for me for Christmas that you can read about here).

Not bad.

A little dark and needs some cropping and cleaning up.

Go to PicMonkey and click on the edit button on the far left of the screen that pops up.   It will pull up a screen to upload a photo from your computer.  Upload a photograph and then your screen should look like this.

Photo uploaded.  Check.

Step 1:  Curves

The first thing I do is click on the little glittering wand on the tabs to the left (where the top arrow is pointing).

Then go all the way down to the bottom of the page and find the Curves tab.

Click on it.

This is your best photo editing friend.

I wish I could carry one of these around in my pocket for my face.

It makes parts of the picture lighter and brighter and other parts of the picture darker.  You’ll want to spend a little time experimenting with this.  Just pull the curves up and down to create the look you want for your photo.  It takes a little practice, but you’ll be amazed at how easy it is.

Go back and look at where we started.

I’ll wait.

You’re back?  Can you even believe the difference?  I know, right?

Step 2:  Crop

Now go back to the lines at the top of the menu on the very left.

These are your basic edits.

Crop is right there at the top.

I always straighten a photo first and then crop.  In this picture, for example, we want to focus on those flowers.  See how they kind of get lost in the larger picture?  I cropped it to bring them into focus.  I like my subjects to be slightly off center.  See how when you crop it, the carved board and the flowers move to the left?

It’s actually called the rule of thirds.

The basic premise states that your flowers (or subject) will look cuter when they are off-centered, but you can read more about it here.

Step 3:  Lighten and darken

Click on the sparkle wand on the far left and go to the bottom of the menu and find the Dodge tab.

This is what you’ll use to make certain parts of the photo lighter.  I used it here to remove shadows under the table.

Do NOT over use this or your pictures will have blotches on them.  If your picture isn’t light enough, go back to Curves or use the brightness tab on the basic edits section.

Right under Dodge, you’ll find the Burn tab.

This makes portions of the photo darker.

I used it to slightly darken the table top and the flowers.

Step 4:  Wrinkle Remover

Go over to the tabs again on the very left and click on the silhouette of the girl.

Then click on the wrinkle remover tab.

You can use this to smooth any surfaces or remove blemishes.

I used it to take off a few scratches on the table.

Step 5:  Resize and Sharpen

After you’ve finished all your edits go back to the lines at the top of the menu on the very left.

The last step is to resize your photos for your blog.

The resize tab is at the very bottom.  I try to resize my photos no smaller than 650 pixels wide.

The VERY LAST step is to sharpen.

If you do this as the very last thing right before your pictures are saved, your pictures will always look sharp and bright and ready for their close-up.

There are technical reasons for this that involve a long explanation, but we won’t go into all of them here.

Just take the word of someone who has edited more than 20,000 photos in her lifetime.

Sharpen last.

Here’s the final photo in all it’s glory with one final tip.

Don’t over edit.

Don’t over think it.

In editing sometimes less is more.

Unlike chocolate chips. 🙂

PS  Let the cookie tips commence. 🙂

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Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.

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  1. Image for Vivian Vivian

    Love your picture editing! Might have to give this a try. I have never had good luck using stones for my cookies. I like a heavy, shiny sheet pan with the edges. If the recipe calls for butter, don't substitute margarine. I think it makes a flatter cookie. I always tell my daughter to follow the recipe. She likes to take short cuts and there are just some things that you can't cut corners on. :) This might not be your case, so I suggest you just keep'll get it right. I'm sure your children will still appreciate them. Always love reading your post.

  2. Image for Nelson Bartley Nelson Bartley

    Bake on a Silpat or parchment paper on top of a cookie sheet. Follow the Toll House recipe on the package except I use half real butter and half butter flavored Crisco instead of all of one or the other. Good luck!

    1. Image for Paula Sullivan Paula Sullivan

      I second this post completely! It is what I do and my cookies always come out the same. Also, I use a Pampered Chef's small ice cream scoop to get the perfect size every time. Thank you for the valuable editing tips. I will definitely try them after downloading Picmonkey?

    2. Image for Rebecca Burlingham Rebecca Burlingham

      Nelson, this is almost exactly what I do. I substitute all butter flavor crisco for the butter. Parchment paper is my best baking buddy. My husband likes this recipe if I use 1/2 chocolate chips, 1/2 butterscotch chips and add pecans. Another tip, do not over work your dough, stir in any ingredients until just mixed in. If you over work it, you get tough cookies. Picmonkey is my goto editing program, also. I will have to play with the curves tool, I haven't used that one. Sometimes, if I want to give my subject a bit of emphasis, I will use the Eye Brighten tool on just the subject, in this case the flowers. It brightens the whites and darkens the shadows, giving just the subject a sharp, pop off the page look.

  3. Image for CS CS

    Do you use real butter in your cookies? Margarine will ruin the best chocolate chip cookie recipe. My favorite, tried and true recipe is straight out of my ancient Betty Crocker cookbook.

  4. Image for ronda thacker ronda thacker

    Recipe, recipe, recipe. Like location, location, location. I like the other comments about following the recipe and no shortcuts. Parchment paper is good and I like a softer doughy cookie so I bake between 350-375 degrees. I did use shortening in years past...I think shortening cookies aren't as flat. But...shortening grosses people out now and probably with good reason. I also no longer use margarine...too many ingredients that I can't even say. Butter had like 3 ingredients cream, salt and ??? Maybe I will check out the Tollhouse recipe and see how mine turn out.

  5. Image for Michelle Michelle

    Thanks for the photo tips!! Ok, about cookies in general...shortening will make the cookies crisper and butter will make them softer. Some people use an equal combination of the two. I always use butter because the softer the cookies, the more I love them. Your batter should be sticky and hold it's shape. Form small balls -- about golf ball size (don't flatten them unless they're peanut butter or sugar cookies). Place them on the baking surface about two inches apart. Adjust cooking times based on your first batch if you've never made them before. Hope that helps!

  6. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    Use a good cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with spray oil. Don't use a stone for cookies - I only use a stone for bread or pizza. See that stone is going to leech the fat and flavor away from your cookie. I only use butter. Now, this is super important. Really. It is. Take the cookies out before they look completely done. Now not loose or raw. They will continue to cook on the cookie sheet and they will get firm. I normally use the lower cooking time and check. If we lived close you'd have a house full of cookies. I love baking!!!! Now, thank you for your wonderful photo tips. I do use PicMonkey but I have not experimented with curves. I'll have to do that. ? Have a great day!!

  7. Image for Rosemary Palmer Rosemary Palmer

    I can help you with cookies - sometimes it's the butter and shortening ratio (which I use both). And REAL butter, none of that fake stuff. And real vanilla. I've got a couple recipes and one even uses a bit of instant coffee. Yummy.

  8. Image for Michelle Michelle

    P.S. Easy, delish and quick Christmas Cookie recipe: Sugar cookie recipe (or Sugar cookie mix), with one half package white chocolate chips and one half package craisins (dried cranberries) mixed in. Form small balls and bake according to package/recipe instructions. Voila! And everyone will think you're a baking genius!

  9. Image for April April

    I want to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie, too. I want them crisp on the outside, thick and cakey inside.... I've seen the stupid Pinterest photo example of "what you're doing wrong" but that doesn't HELP ME find a recipe. I'm going to have to stalk you! :)

  10. Image for Teddee Grace Teddee Grace

    Thanks so much! I've been trying to wean myself off of the Kodak editing software that came with my Kodak printer that is no longer being made and probably needs replacing and, for some reason, the software can't seem to get a toe-hold on my computer any more. I'd tried PicMonkey in the past, but didn't like it as well; however, you've made it seem quite doable. Thanks!

  11. Image for Jeanette Jeanette

    I never use butter or margarine in my chocolate chip cookies anymore. I always use crisco and it made all the difference. You can use butter flavor crisco if you want to. Someone told me that solution and I thought "that can't be it!" but it truly is. I follow rest of the recipe exactly as it appears on the nestle tollhouse chocolate chip package and it has been YEARS since I had a batch that didn't turn out amazing. I promise. Give it one more try.

  12. Image for Lucille Leerhoff Lucille Leerhoff

    After trying for years to perfect my chocolate chip cookies, this is what I've come up with for success: Use butter. Cream the butter, sugar, eggs for two minutes - set the timer until the mixture is light colored and fluffy. Then when the cookies are mixed up, place the dough into the refrigerator for 1/2 hour or so. Place rounded cookies onto a Silpat sheet on a cookie sheet for no sticking and easy removal. I found a recipe online that is "The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie" from My that has become my go-to.

    1. Image for Cindy Cindy

      Yes! on all these tips by Lucille. Also, there's good food science reasons for really creaming that mixture before adding flour, but it's like your reasoning for sharpening last: "Never mind the whys and wherefores-just do it!" In fact, a few years back a magazine did a chocolate chip cookie recipe article, and recommended creaming for 30 seconds, letting it rest a minute or two, creaming again for 30 seconds, then continuing. I find it easier to just do as Lucille says. Now, the last tip is from my dear MIL, who always did a test cookie, to see if she needed to add a smidge of flour if the cookie is too flat. I have found that after reaching the age of 62 (and how did THAT happen??!) my hands seem to just know when the dough is right. So, that may be the truly last tip: Get old. Because practice makes perfect.

  13. Image for CGinAZ CGinAZ

    Good morning KariAnne. There's a terrific chocolate chip cookie recipe on the Pinch of Yum site. Lindsay explains the difference between using baking soda/baking powder, using melted butter/cold butter, the reasons for each and how she discovered it all by accident. I will add this tip I recently started using. Chill your cookies before baking. They won't spread so much.

  14. Image for Loryl Loryl

    Nothing beats the tried and true Tollhouse Recipe on the Nestle bag. Use butter and real vanilla. I swear by parchment paper on my air bake cookie sheets. I always add nuts because we love them. I use a scooper for those just perfectly shaped cookies. My nieces and I always bake at Christmas time. This year we made oatmeal/raisin for my husband because they're his favs. We used a new recipe that had a half a package of instant vanilla pudding in the recipe. He and my niece agreed BEST cookie ever!

    1. Image for Rebecca Burlingham Rebecca Burlingham

      Loryl, I have that pudding recipe, it is great. Try using butterscotch pudding and add butterscotch ships and pecans.

  15. Image for Pam Cates Pam Cates

    Don't use stones. Use a heavy aluminum cookie sheet. Mine is from WalMart and it's NodicWare. Perfect cookies everytime. Now for muffins...mine stick to the paper...everytime. I'm going to try the silicone liners next.

    1. Image for Connie Connie

      On your muffins, have you tried lightly spraying your paper liners with a cooking spray like Pam? Works like a charm! For the chocolate chip cookies, I agree with real butter, real vanilla, creaming the butter, sugar and eggs for two minutes and using Silpat baking sheet liners.

  16. Image for Deborah Sommerlot Deborah Sommerlot

    Love these tips. I just recently started working with the curves option. Love this post and want to do an afternoon of photography and cooking (I use to instruct). #inmydreams Cookies- No stone, proper butter temp, right recipe, and cool dough. Oh and don't put dough on a warm cookie sheet.

  17. Image for Ginny Ginny

    Our family's current favorite is a recipe using melted butter and whisking. Next time you come see your mom, come down the street and let's make some cookies!

  18. Image for Vickie Vickie

    Thank you so much for the curves tip! I get so frustrated when one area is in shadow and lightening the whole photo makes it look washed out. I've Pinned this for future reference. Thanks again!

  19. Image for Becky Becky

    Karianne, I once read somewhere that cooking is an art, but baking is a science. In other words, follow your baking recipes to a tee, no substitutions, including the pan you use. Good luck. If all else fails, take those flat cookies, crush them, and sprinkle them over a big dish of ice cream.

  20. Image for Colleen@LilacDriveDesigns Colleen@LilacDriveDesigns

    I have a deep love of it sooo much!! Cookies...well, I use a good organic butter, organic eggs, etc. I found a great tutorial once. If I ever see it again, I'll email it to you. The pan makes a big difference too. I bought a new one last fall and it made a huge difference!

  21. Image for Carla Carla

    Use REAL butter... and DON'T melt your butter. Let it sit on the counter for a few hours to a full day, till you can make a thumb imprint, so it super soft and is easy to mix with the eggs and sugar. Mix the dry ingredients separate (flour, salt, baking powder, etc) from all the other ingredients. that way you can control how much of the dry ingredients go into the batter. Good luck!

  22. Image for Regina Merrick Regina Merrick

    First, thank you for the intro to PicMonkey. I've got Photoshop on my work computer, and I'm sure it's a lovely thing, but it is SO INTIMIDATING. Ugh. I will try PicMonkey. I've been using Microsoft Office Picture Manager (I know, it's embarrassing, but if my main thing is cropping, it works.). I've always wanted to do MORE. Maybe now, I can! Cookies - Yes, baking IS a science. It's interesting that I have two daughters. One likes to cook, and the other likes to bake. Since I love to follow a recipe to a "t," I guess I'm in the "bake" category, too. Something to think about is that flour can be different from one bag to an other. I know, weird, right? But it can. Some absorbs moisture better. It's the consistency of the batter that is the thing, so if you mix it up and it seems too moist, throw another 1/4 cup of flour in it and see if that helps. Also, your butter can be TOO soft. I'm an old-fashioned girl - I follow the Nestle Toll House recipe, too. It's my favorite to eat raw . . . (don't tell the raw-cookie-dough-police!)

  23. Image for Sue Sondker Sue Sondker

    Take the cookies out of the oven several minutes before the done time. Let them finish baking on the counter til cool. They will be soft Don't use air bake pans, use old cookie sheets. Sue

  24. Image for Dawn Dawn

    Love the Tollhouse Recipe. I add one-half cup flour extra. On the butter, make the dough when the butter is just soft, do not melt it? I bake on silpat lined sheets. Finally, I throw the dough into the fridge for at least 30 minutes and then I use a pampered chef scoop (small) to put the dough on the cookie sheets. They come out soft with just the right amount of crisp?❤❤

  25. Image for Julie B. Julie B.

    So interesting, all the cookie tips... So many different tips are opposites, but work great for each person. Makes to wonder what the real difference is!

  26. Image for Jeri Jeri

    Love all your photo editing tips. And I will definitely try PicMonkey. In regards to cookies, always use butter never margarine. I made horrible cookies for years until I discovered this. And I see you have Farmgirl Flowers! They are gorgeous! How do I get my husband to send me a bouquet? Or maybe I should order them for myself!

  27. Image for Marijean Jenson Marijean Jenson

    Thanks for the tips. Don't let your butter get to soft, as this will cause your cookies to spread. Use parchment on a good ole cookie sheet, hence no clean up. Don't overbake! When all else fails, Costco has really good chocolate chip cookies , hehe!

  28. Image for Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces

    So many great hints, KariAnne! I use PicMonkey all the time for composing and designing, but have never used curves, dodge, and burn, I usually use photoshop for editing. But I went and tried it, and it was fun and easy! Thank you!

  29. Image for Taste of France Taste of France

    I tried trying PicMonkey and it wouldn't let me do it for free. I am not making money on my blog, nor do I want to, so paying for extra stuff is impossible, at least until some miracle happens that I make more from my real job. I will try again. As for cookies, sprinkle a couple of grains of regular salt (very, very little) on top of the balls of dough. It adds a bit of complexity to the flavor. The teachers at my kid's school here in France just couldn't get over my run-of-the-mill chocolate chip cookies (Toll House recipe, but with the salt trick). Oh, and let the dough rest. Overnight. Two days. Three days (in the fridge, of course!). It will get dryer but fear not. Unless, like me, you eat half of it before baking.

  30. Image for Rae Endreola Rae Endreola

    I am a cooking school instructor. I ditto all above comments about not using a stone, using real butter and sticking to the TollHouse cookie recipe. Sometimes the weather plays tricks on the dough. If seems too runny add 1tablespoon of flour. Too thick add 1/2 teaspoon of milk. Good luck and have fun!!

  31. Image for Aleeha Aleeha

    I really want to start editing my photos for my blog and instagram, so thanks for these tips! The wrinkle remover will be so helpful! Aleeha xXx

  32. Image for Sandy Guy Sandy Guy

    Ok KariAnne!!! I buy the Hershey's dark chocolate chips. I use the recipe on the bag. It's the best!! So, I buy organic sugar, Kerrygold unsalted organic butter, brown eggs and so on. Mix ingredients according to the package except I never use a mixer. Don't over mix your batter. Always take out before they are done, but just starting to brown around the edges. Leave on the pan till cookie looks set. They will be delicious!!! I know you can do it!!!

  33. Image for gail gail

    Super tips Karianne! I use picmonkey all the time, and I have never known about the curves. I think it might be my new best friend. :) pinned! gail

  34. Image for Diania Abernathy Diania Abernathy

    Yes, you can use the recipe on the back of the toll house chip bag of morsels. Do not melt your butter your or try to "hurry-up" the softening process by microwaving it. set out your butter and let it come to room temperature....Then mix the REAL and ONLY REAL butter! I prefer to add 1 C Brown sugar and 1/2 C of white sugar. Cream the butter, sugars and vanilla together. Do not over mix....just incorporate it well. Add the two eggs. Beat just until they are worked in. Add your dry ingredients. Mix only until blended. Stir in chocolate chips by hand. Use parchment paper so you don't have to clean the pans. Bake 8-10 min. If it is very humid or raining cookies just don't do well. Also, I've not have good luck with the baking stone. Mine never did brown well and they spread out. I'm a bit known for my chocolate chip cookies...and so, there you have it, my dear! love you! God Bless Dee

  35. Image for Ellen Ellen

    I use the Tollhouse recipe, using real butter, on a parchment lined cookie sheet. They always turn out delicious. One tip I learned is to never put the cookie dough on a warm or hot cookie sheet. I usually stick one in the fridge to cool while the other two are in the oven. Works like a charm!

  36. Image for Kathy Kathy

    I've been using PicMonkey for years and have never used these tools! Thank you so much for sharing Kari Anne. This couldn't have come at a better time. I'm off to update some posts with my new skills! xoxo

  37. Image for Katherines Corner Katherines Corner

    Oh my friend you do make me smile, thank you for the tips. Hubby reminds me, I'm a cook not a baker, giggle. My cookies and other baked goods are hit and miss regarding appearance. But if you can dunk it in a glass of milk, top it with cream, cover it in chocolate, etc. it doesn't matter what shape it is I'm sure your cookies are tasty. I will break a cookie to give it a more ppeal look for my food photos. If you look closely and my dessert recipe list you will see just what I mean ( wink) xo

  38. Image for Kim Lawrence Kim Lawrence

    This is the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. My kids love this recipe; the cookies never spreads and the dough doesn't need to be refrigerated before baking. Enjoy. Love your photos!

  39. Image for JoAnn JoAnn

    I use the Tollhouse recipe. My tips: always use butter; use new baking soda and line the cookie sheet with parchment paper. (Old baking soda doesn't rise.)

  40. Image for Ellen Ellen

    I have two daughters. The older is a part-time photographer and the younger is a pastry chef/chocolatier! I'm passing on your tips to the oldest daughter, I think she's already using most of them. As far as helping with your cookie making I'll have to check with the youngest (she makes great cookies). Thank-you for this post and good luck with the cookies

  41. Image for Gail Miller Gail Miller

    I don't like cookies on a baking stone. Like the stone for everything else. I use the toll house recipe and a cookie sheet with a silicone mat or patchment paper. Usually bake them 8 or 9 minutes. Also use black walnuts.

  42. Image for Ruth Ruth

    If I was technical enough to use the photo tips, I'm sure I would like your info. That being said, I recently had the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had at our garden club and I asked for the recipe. She said use the one on the bag but add at least an extra cup of chocolate chips and use real butter. I always use a Silpat sheet for all my cookies and the under baking tip is a good one for softer cookies.

  43. Image for Robin Robin

    Thank you so much for the tips. I found a wonderful tip from a contest winner a few years ago. Add a box of instant van pudding (I have actually used other flavors also), it makes the cookies soft (something I could never do before). Just use it in place of part of the flour. Good luck - you do so many things so well - maybe cookies do not need to make the list.

  44. Image for Diane | An Extraordinary Day Diane | An Extraordinary Day

    Curves?! Oh my goodness, Kari Anne, I thought I knew everything there was to know about PicMonkey. This is crazy good. Thank you so much sweet friend. XO p.s. Have you had any trouble with editing a batch of photos and having the monkey only display half a photo? It's been driving me crazy lately. I've been thinking about talking with the monkey's handler. ;) p.p.s. I'm so glad to know that I'm in good company. ;) There are so many fancy schmancy programs out there... but the monkey and I "usually" are besties.... maybe we can make it a club. Heehee!

    1. Image for Rebecca Burlingham Rebecca Burlingham

      Diane, let me know if you get an answer from the Monkey handler. I know of two other people besides myself (and you) who are having this issue.

  45. Image for Laura Ingalls Gunn Laura Ingalls Gunn

    Squeezing you for the photo tips. Using my best Phoebe Buffay (from Friends) voice you want to use the Neslay Tullowze recipe. Metal cookie sheet topped with a silpat. But the real game changer ~ your butter and eggs need to be room temperature. Which means you have to wait to bake. It's ok, you have chocolate chips to tide you over. When you microwave butter to melt it to try and bake faster you actually change the chemical makeup of it and that is why the cookies run. Weird Science. Don't forget to preheat your oven.,

  46. Image for Debby Bowden Debby Bowden

    I use the Tollhouse recipe only I substitute Crisco for the butter. I have done this for years and my cookies always turn out great. I use a regular cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

  47. Image for Botanic Bleu Botanic Bleu

    KariAnne, Great photo tips!!!!!! I pinned it to my Pinterest board, Photography Tips, so I can reread whenever I need a refresher. As far as chocolate chip cookies, I also use the Tollhouse recipe just as it is written. My favorite cookie for my whole life. Judith

  48. Image for Sherry Morris Sherry Morris

    Love your photo tips! As for baking chocolate chip cookies, I use the toll house recipe, an air cookie sheet and eat half the dough before baking. That is the tasty part.

  49. Image for Carole @ Garden Up Green Carole @ Garden Up Green

    Great photo tips - if you can believe it I use publisher and have for years. Basically because our country internet isn't always reliable so I need to get as much of my work achieved offline as possible. As for your cookies because I crave home made chocolate chip cookies about twice a year and this last weekend was one of them. Use Mrs. Fields recipe - begin with room temperature butter and her dark brown sugar ingredient is golden. The other tip is to decrease the baking degrees and increase the baking time. You should be able to find her recipe online.

  50. Image for Cory Cory

    Excellent photo tips! I use Picasso but you have mentioned a few things here that I want to try like the curve feature! Ok so I make some awesomely delicious cookies. I follow the Toll House recipe but I substitute crisco where it says to use butter. I think it makes a softer cookie but make sure you beat the crisco and sugars with an electric mixer until it's nice and fluffy! My other trick is take them out a minute early, don't wait till they're brown, they should be golden...light in color. They will cook the last minute in the cookie sheet, I use a metal cookie sheet too. Make sure your oven temp is right using a thermometer too. Go....make some and ENJOY!!

  51. Image for Kris Kris

    KariAnne, you can come to my house and take pictures and I'll send you home with cookies! How's that for a trade? General tips--add a couple of teaspoons of cornstarch into your batter for a softer cookie. As Cory said, take them out a minute or two before you *think* they are done and let them firm up on the hot metal baking sheet. Invest in a Silpat pan liner (if you have an Aldi around, they periodically will sell their own version for a fraction of the price and they are just as effective). The Silpat is a non-stick liner that grips the cookies and keeps them from spreading too far when you bake. Most important, if you use butter in your recipe, CHILL the batter for 2 hours in the fridge or your cookies will spread all over the place. (1/2 hour in the freezer accomplishes the same thing). I love uses all these techniques for a good cookie, has a million CC cookie options (this is my favorite ... and her recipes are tasty, easy to follow, and you will learn a lot from her! Best of luck! Oh, and I LOVE the British baking show. My daughter does a spot-on imitation of Mary Berry when she critiques my baking skills.

  52. Image for Liz Volger Liz Volger

    Thanks for the great tips using picmonkey. As far as chocolate chip cookies go I use the toll house recipe add an extra 1/4 cup of flour and a teaspoon of cinnamon to the flour mixture before combining with the sugar butter and eggs and cook on parchment. Everyone will love them!

  53. Image for Lisa Ronan Lisa Ronan

    Thanks for all the tips! I'm trying to figure out how to pin this post but can't find a button anywhere on the post and I couldn't find the post on your Pinterest. Any help would be much appreciated ! My Pinterest is also afarmhousefullofhope. Thanks!

  54. Image for Donna Donna

    Never sift the flour! : ) I did this with the first batch of chocolate chip cookies I ever made (when I was a teenager) and they spread all over the place.

  55. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    Hi, friend! Everyone has different tastes in cookies...some like them soft and others crunch. Here's a guide I found that I pinned. Hope this helps! Happy cookie baking.... My husband loves his photoshop! It's all foreign to me...but love your PicMonkey explanation! Keep on snapping and monkeying around...we all love it your advice.

  56. Image for Lisa A. Brunson Lisa A. Brunson

    Kari Anne, I use my "fudge pan", it is about 8x10, dark coated (not Teflon), plain jane pan. The kicker is, chocolate chip cookies are hard to master soooo instead I put all of the batter into the pan, under bake them a touch, and cover with foil while they are still warm. Let them cool completely, pick up a half gallon of whole milk at the store, uncover and cut into medium squares and place what is left into a plastic covered container. Make sure you are not in a hurry and their are no witnesses. Your boarding pass has just been stamped and you are on your way to the land of chocolate chips and milk. The squares are moist and the milk is cold and in the back of your mind you are thinking "thank you lord, for salted butter and stretchy pants". I am stopping by the store on my way home. Love Lisa

  57. Image for laura {not a trophy wife} laura {not a trophy wife}

    Thank you! Thank you! Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Tip ** try 1/2 margarine 1/2 butter combo **reduce flour a smidge unless it's already under 2 1/2 cups change sugar measurements to 2/3 cup of brown and or white eggs at room temp

  58. Image for Krista Krista

    I adore your blog! There are a lot of great tips for cookies in the comments today, but when I was having trouble with my cookies I bought a thermometer for my oven. I then discovered that my oven temperature was off. My cookies were supposed to bake at 350, but my oven was only heating to 300. Once I adjusted the oven temperature to compensate the cookies have been delicious!

  59. Image for Nancy Nancy

    Never used MELTED butter but make sure the butter is SOFTENED before mixing. I cream my unsalted butter and large eggs with a mixer. I add dry ingredients and only mix dry ingredients in until a ball shape. NEVER overbeat. You will make the cookies tough. Chill the dough at the very least 15 minutes. Always use parchment paper on a cold aluminum cookie sheet. NEVER put the second batch of cookies on a warm or hot cookie sheet. Cookies usually spread because: the oven temperature is incorrect, the dough is too warm, cookie sheet too warm. I usually slide my cookies off the cookie sheet and onto my counter still on the parchment paper. My cookie sheets do not have sides so that I can slide them with the parchment paper off easily. My counters are ceramic and usually cold. I was a professional baker for many years. I also use the original Toll House recipe.

  60. Image for Angie Burke Angie Burke

    Your post came at THE perfect time for me. I've been writing my blog for about a year now but really struggle with my pictures. So much so, that I've contemplated throwing it all out the window. I have been using PicMonkey for awhile but have never really moved beyond the basics, i.e. autocorrect! I know that's really sad!!! Anyway, your tips were super easy to follow and made such a difference!! Thank you! Thank you!!!!

  61. Image for Debbie Biggs Debbie Biggs

    Karianne, I just have to tell you how much I enjoy your blog.......and today was a stand-out! I have never used PicMonkey, but am looking forward to jumping in with both feet this next week! Thanks so very much for the wonderful hints, I look forward to the results! About the cookies...... reading the comments from your readers was an absolute delight! I don't think that there is much that one could add..... I picked up some ideas as I read too. One thing that I might suggest, just as you keep notes as you are working with your photography in perfecting it, you might do the same as you try the numerous suggestions above. I find that even the humidity can make or break a potentially delicious cookie........ As you experiment, you and your sweet family will find favorites and one day soon, you will have requests for your special tips for that perfect chocolate chip cookie......... Hugs and Blessings!

  62. Image for Susie H Susie H

    I follow the tried and true Toll House recipe. I'm famous (among my family) for my cookies. The secret? I use insulated cookie sheets. The cookie bottoms never burn, and they are perfect every time.

  63. Image for Brenda Brenda

    For chocolate cookies I make a double batch. I use half margarine and half peanut butter and only one bag of chocolate chips. When I bake them I also use parchment or quick release foil. Make sure to refrigerate for an hour or so. Anyone who can figure out PicMonkey will get the cookies eventually! :)

  64. Image for Jean | Jean |

    Great photo tips! I've yet to try PicMonkey, but now I really must. About the chocolate chip cookies, just follow this recipe to the letter (there are even directions for gluten-free option): Much, much easier than photoediting!

  65. Image for DeAnna DeAnna

    I totally leave photography to others....but chocolate chip cookies...I've probably made millions thru the years. Good chocolate chips, butter and real vanilla, not imitation. When the youth groups go to Mexico for mission trips, I send cash for vanilla!! Real Mexican vanilla, it's the secret.

  66. Image for Caitlin Caitlin

    Thanks so much for sharing! I wish I had more time to invest in photography, but I'm just working to keep blog posting at this point!

  67. Image for Claudine Pender Claudine Pender

    THANK YOU, Karianne!!! I'm keeping this tips to try it out on my next blog post!!!! I will refrain from giving you tips on cookies! I bake cookies, but I don't think I'm an expert :) And I love your face!!! Mwah ?

  68. Image for Kristi Philbrick Kristi Philbrick

    I use the toll house cookie recipe with real butter and airbake insulated cookie sheets. I bake at 350. Here's my secret. I roll the cookie dough into a log in parchment paper and chill. You can then slice off and bake the whole roll or just a few. It is great for when company stops by. Fresh and warm cookies in ten minutes! My other tip for perfectly shaped cookies is to roll the sliced edges in a little flour. They are perfect every time. And by the way ,I adore your blog and your lovely home and family.

  69. Image for Michele Riggsbee Michele Riggsbee

    I've been using PicMonkey since I started my blog and I have NEVER noticed the curves tool, nor did I know you could use the wrinkle remover for taking off anything but wrinkles! LOL. This was great, thanks, KariAnne!

  70. Image for Bethanie Bethanie

    Karianne, I did not read every single cookie comment, so I hope this hasn't already been stated, but... I also do half butter and half Crisco, and I was told once if you add little coffee to your chocolate recipes it enhances the flavor. So, I always dilute a single serve instant coffee packet into my cookies (cakes, too) it really does make them super yummy! I'm thinking another problem is the stone...I would definitely use a cookie sheet. Girl, I can't take a picture to save my life, but I can bake! :)

  71. Image for Debra Debra

    Okay! Thi ya or may not work for you! After years of baking cookies and everything else my family loves, I came up with my best decision yet! My husband was Active Duty Military and complained about any cookies that got a bit too brown, and would throw them out. ( I told him they were dunking cookies!) Finally, after one of these comments, I said, " Fine, then you can bake the cookies from now on!" This was over 25 years ago and he has baked every batch of cookies I have mixed since then. They are uniform, perfect in color and famous far and wide. He bakes all the Christmas cookies, filling many tins for guests to pick from over the winter months. He is military and can watch the clock and door of the oven, and no more mistakes because I was raising kids and got distracted! My best cookie advice EVER! They even mail well, with a piece of bread in the box to keep them soft. I got Picmonkey a while ago, per your suggestion, but am still too busy to use it much!

  72. Image for Miss Kitty Miss Kitty

    Wow! I love Pic Monkey but I never knew how to use the "Dodge" feature...thank you! And to use the wrinkle remover to take blemishes off of the table,etc.....genius!!! Thanks for sharing these tips.

  73. Image for Ashley ~ 3 Little Greenwoods Ashley ~ 3 Little Greenwoods

    Total mind blown! I have used Picmonkey for years to edit my blog photos and never heard of these tools. Thank you so much for sharing how to edit images using small words so I could understand. You just saved me money on Lightroom! {{BIG hugs}} ~ Ashley

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