Crispy and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies


Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside!

This morning at 5:40am, I was woken up by my foster dog Alfie. He wanted to be let out so I grabbed him along with our dog Mo(hawk) and stepped outside. The air was so chilly that it woke me right up. I contemplated on going back to bed, but the sun was up, I wasn’t tired or anything, so decided to bake cookies! WHY NOT.

I remember reading a basic cookie recipe in “Savory Sweet Life: 100 Simply Delicious Recipes for Every Family Occasion” by A.Currah. Like she has in her title, it was so simple that I didn’t have to dig the book out again for the recipe.

Well, after 30 minutes in the kitchen, our house smelled like a cookie factory. Then I contemplated on what to do with 3 dozen cookies…keeping them all at home would be a BAD IDEA…
I decided to set some aside for my family, then split the rest in half for my colleagues and my boyfriend’s colleagues.

We don’t have any cookies left at home…which means I get to bake something new again! YAHOO~!

Ingredients:Her recipe says 4 dozen, but I made mine so big that I got 3 dozen
1 cup butter (2 sticks unsalted butter) – room temp
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ cups – dark brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp – pure vanilla extract
2 ¾ cup all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp – finely grounded sea salt
2 ¼ cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Guide:
Preheat the oven to 360 degrees.

Using either a hand mixer or a standing mixer, mix butter and both sugar on medium for 3 minutes or until fluffy. Add an egg at a time and continue to mix. Add in vanilla extract.
Slow down the machine to add flour, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt until combined.
Add in the chocolate chips and stop the machine once they’re equally distributed in the mixture.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop 2 Tbs worth of dough and place them 2 inches apart from each other. Bake for 11 minutes or until you see the corners turn golden brown.

Take them out of the oven; let them sit for 2 minutes before moving the cookies onto a cooling rack.

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Below picture is a good example of what NOT TO DO if you want round cookies.

If you want round cookies and not square ones, I urge you to bake them in 2 batches (2 sheets at a time).
I’m known to be impatient with these things and tend to overcrowd my sheets…so of course today’s cookies came out SQUARE. Still, most importantly, they tasted amazing!

 

 

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Caramelized Roasted Beets

 

Beets beets beets. What to do with beets besides juice them in the juicer? Roast them!

Ingredients:
3 medium sized beets
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 – 1 tsp finely ground sea salt
1 tsp fresh thyme – chopped

Guide:
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

Scrub the beets clean of any dirt (you’re not going to peel them).
Chop off ½ inch on the top and bottom to get a clean base.
Use a mandolin and slice them thin (5mm) very carefully, or slice them using a knife very carefully.
Toss them in a bowl with olive oil, salt and thyme.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, lay the beets flat making sure they’re not overlapping each other too much to ensure even roasting. Pop them in the oven for 16-18 minutes. Once time is up, put the baking sheets on a cooling rack and let them cool for few minutes. You’re done!

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Roasted beets caramelize and come out very sweet. They go perfect in a salad that uses vinaigrette dressing (something zesty or tart).

Addicting Tacos!

I love Mexican food period. You take the simplest ingredients and turn it into something so delicious! It wasn’t taco Tuesday but we broke the rules and had tacos on a Monday!

The amazing adobo marinade recipe is from “Truly Mexican” by Roberto Santibanez.
The yummy corn recipe is from “Fast, Fresh & Green” by Susie Middleton.

I have no shame in making other people’s recipes! I usually add my own twist to things but when it’s already good as is, I will share it with you as is.

Ingredients:  Makes around 7-8 tacos (yes we load them up)
Flour or corn tortilla – grilled or heated on a pan
Marinated flank steak – grilled, then sliced into bite size pieces
Chile and lime corn sauté
Cilantro – chopped
Avocado – sliced
Salsa
Queso fresco or mild feta cheese
Lime – cut into small wedges

Guide:
Assemble all the taco ingredients on the tortilla, fold up and INHALE your taco!

Ok, so that was obvious. Here are the recipes for the marinated flank steak & chile and lime corn sautee.

Ingredients for marinated steak (with extra marinade to save for later):
2lb flank steak – cut into 3-4 big pieces
Pasilla-guajillo adobo marinade: Makes 3 cups (recipe asks for Pasilla chiles but I used New Mexico chiles)
6 dried New Mexico chiles – wiped clean, stemmed, slit open, seeded and deveined
8 guajillo chiles – wiped clean, stemmed, slit open, seeded and deveined
¼ cup Distilled white vinegar
¼ cup light Mexican beer (I used Dos Equis)
½ cup chopped white onion (I only had brown ones and that worked just fine)
4 large garlic cloves peeled
1 tsp fine salt (or 2 tsp kosher salt)
½ tsp dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
¼ tsp cumin seeds (or scant ¼ tsp cumin powder)
5 whole cloves (or ½ tsp ground cloves)

Guide:
Heat a pan on medium-low heat and toast the chiles in batches. (just so you don’t over crowd your pan)
Turn them over frequently until the chiles are fragrant, about 1 minute per batch.
Soak the chiles in enough cold water (not iced) to cover until they’re soft, about 30 minutes. Drain and discard the water.

Combine everything in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Add water if necessary but you shouldn’t need it.

Take ½ cup of the adobo marinade; rub it all over the flank steak. Store it in an air tight container in the fridge over night (or at least 2 hours).

Take the flank steak out of the fridge 15 minutes before putting it on the heat.
Heat the grill on medium high heat, throw them babies on and grill it to your preference.
Take the steaks off the grill, let it sit on a plate for 5 minutes so the juice redistributes evenly.
Slice them into bite size pieces and you’re done!

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The abodo keeps in the fridge for up to five days, or in the freezer for up to a month.
Ingredients for corn chile and lime sauté (great side dish):
2 Tbs unsalted butter (cut in half)
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 medium brown onion – diced small
1 tsp kosher salt
2 heaping full cups of fresh corn kernels (2 big corns)
½ tsp ancho chile powder
1 tsp finely zested lime (1 lime)
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ lime
3 Tbs chopped cilantro

Guide:
Melt 1 Tbs of butter and olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat.
Add the onions, sauté until translucent. Once the onions are translucent, crank up the heat to medium-high and brown the onions. Add salt and corn to the pan and sauté for about 5 minutes. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the good brown stuff. Add the chile powder and stir. Turn off the heat, add the lime zest, black pepper, and squeeze the lime juice then stir again. Mix in cilantro right before serving.

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My boyfriend Chris mentioned it’s like eating a Mexican style corn on the cob without the mess (that we usually make).

Breakfast Burger

 
It was a lazy Sunday morning when my stomach growled and I was too lazy to go out for food.
I remembered reading about creative burgers in the “Foodnetwork” magazine so I got inspired to create my own! I whipped up a giant breakfast burger with what we had in the fridge and it turned out delicious!

 
Ingredients for the burger patties: – Makes 2 giant patties
1lb lean ground beef
1.5 tsp of fish sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Yummy burger fixin:
4 slices of Hawaiian sweet bread toast – toasted
2 slices of bacon of your choice – fried
4 eggs – cooked to your liking (we like it cooked over-easy)
¼ onion – sliced and grilled
1/4 red bell pepper – sliced and grilled
4 leaves of romaine lettuce – shredded and tossed with mustard mix*
*1 tsp dijon mustard, 1 tsp olive oil, 1tsp fresh lemon juice

Guide:
Mix all ingredients for the burger patties together; make 2 giant patties (I made mine into square patties)
Create an indention in the middle of the patties to prevent shrinking
Assemble everything together and take a BIG BITE of your burger – You may need a bib!

Ham & Cheese Puff Pastry – Easy!

Do you love your house smelling like a bakery in the morning? I DO! This is another great recipe from “The Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook” by Cheryl Day & Griffith Day.  Mmm mmm mmm.

Ingredients for the spice blend:
(I ended up having a lot left at the end but how much you use it up to you)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp ground allspice
1/3 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Fine sea salt to taste

1 17.3 oz package frozen puff pastry (2 sheets) – defrosted for 30 min in the fridge
1/2 lb thinly sliced black forest or smoked ham
1/2 lb sharp white cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
1 egg beaten w/ 1 Tbs water for egg wash
1 tsp fine sea salt

 
Guide:
Preheat the oven to 400F
Line a baking sheet w/ parchment paper

Spice Blend:
Combine all spices in a small bowl and mix well

Pastries:
Unfold the pasty sheets on a lightly floured surface. Cut each pastry sheet into 4 squares.
Place 4 pasty squares on the baking sheet.
Arrange the sliced ham and cheese on the centers of the pasty squares and sprinkle some of the spice blend lightly over each one.
Fold two opposite corners of each square over the filling and press the edges to seal.
Brush each pastry evenly with the egg wash. (if you don’t have a brush, use your fingers)
Sprinkle the tops with more spice blend to taste. Sprinkle sat evenly over the pastries.
Bake them for 12-14 minutes until the pastries are golden brown and puffy.
(Don’t get antsy and take them out too early or they won’t have the puffed up look)
Let it cool on a wire rack for a few minutes and serve warm or room temp.

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You can have many variations by switching up the cheese and deli meat inside. So simple!

Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes

 

I must confess. I own a TON of cookbooks and I’m addicted to flipping through them reading the recipes or just simply staring at the beautiful photographs and marking every other page with my post it as I say “make!” out loud. My mots recent purchase is “The Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook” by Cheryl Day & Griffith Day. MY GOODNESS…not the healthiest book I own BUT, no regrets here!

My boyfriend and I got invited to our friend’s BBQ and being me, I couldn’t show up at their house empty handed. I flipped through the book and found Strawberry Cupcakes! Woot woot! I just bought a bunch of strawberries on sale so it was perfect!

* Tweaked a bit from Cheryl & Griffith Day’s original recipe
For the frosting:
The amount of sugar it called for scared me so I cut that by a lot (their recipe calls for 8 cups)
I also didn’t have fleur de sel (special sea salt) so I added a tiny pinch of fine sea salt
Used a bit more strawberries than it called for just because

Ingredients: Makes 24 cupcakes
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking power
½ tsp fine sea salt (ground mine in my spice grinder)
2 cups whole fresh strawberries – pureed
½ cup whole milk – room temp
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp grated lemons zest
½ lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter – room temp
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs – room temp
4 large egg whites – room temp (I froze the yolks to use later for another dish)

Fresh Strawberry Frosting: Makes about 4-5 cups
1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter – room temp
2 tsp fresh lemon juice (about ½ a lemon)
Small pinch of fine sea salt (no more than ¼ tsp)
2.5-4 cups confectioners’ sugar (Add ½ cup at a time, mix, taste test & repeat until you think it’s good)
1 cup whole fresh strawberries – pureed

Guide for the cupcakes:
Bring oven to 350F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper or aluminum liners.

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a large measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the strawberry puree, milk vanilla, and lemon zests.

Using a stand mixer w/ the paddle attachment or a large bowl and hand mixer, cream the butter on med-high until light in color. Turn the speed down and gradually add the sugar, mixing it for 3-4 minutes until it’s completely mixed and fluffy. Add the eggs and egg whites one at a time mixing well. Add flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the strawberry mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides to ensure everything is well mixed, and mix for another 1-2 minutes.

With a large ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake cups, filling each one two-thirds full. Bake for 20-25 minutes until test toothpick comes out clean in the center. Cool for at least 20 minutes.

Using a spatula or butter knife, spread the tops of the cupcakes with swirls of the frosting.

Guide for the frosting:
Using a stand mixer w/ the paddle attachment or a medium bowl and hand mixer, beat the butter, lemon juice, salt, on low speed until smooth and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Add the strawberry puree, and then gradually mix in the confectioners’ sugar. Taste test as you add and mix so it’s not too tart or too sweet for you. Mix until completely incorporated.

~~~

Cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

The frosting can be stored in an airtight container at room temp for up to 2 days.

Ribollita Soup (Tuscan Bread and Veggie Soup)

Just like everyone, I have a lot going on in my life and I can’t ALWAYS cook. I saw this recipe on Bare Foot Contessa and since I’m a fan of loading up my soup with veggies, this one was perfect! I load mine up with more veggies than she does but it’s all up to you how much you want to use.

This soup is one of those delightful meals that you can make ahead and freeze until when you really need it. It freezes so well that if you don’t say anything, your family or friends won’t even know it was frozen. Plus, it has so many kinds of veggies that it picks me up when I’m super tired.

 

Ingredients: Serves 8-10 big bowls
1/2 pound dried white beans, such as Great Northern or cannellini (or 2 cans of beans)
Kosher salt
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/4 pound smoked bacon – diced
3 cups yellow onions (2 medium onions) – chopped
2 cups carrots (4-5 carrots) – chopped
1 1/2 cups celery (4 stalks) – chopped
3 tablespoons garlic (6 large cloves) – minced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes in puree – chopped
Whole savoy cabbage – coarsely chopped (it’s a lot, but wilt down to very little)
1 bunch of kale – coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh basil leaves – chopped
6 cups chicken stock
4 cups sourdough bread cubes, crusts removed (if you’re planning to freeze your soup, do not add bread just yet)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan – for serving

 

Guide:
*Skip this step if using canned beans
If using dry beans: In a large bowl, cover the beans with cold water by 1-inch and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to soak overnight in the refrigerator.

Drain the beans and place them in a large pot with 8 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the beans are tender. Set the beans aside to cool in their liquid.

Heat the oil in a large stockpot. Add the bacon and onions and cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
Add carrots, celery, garlic, 1 tablespoon of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the entire can of tomatoes with their puree, cabbage, kale, basil and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for another 7 to 10 minutes.

If using dry beans: Drain the beans, reserving their cooking liquid.
If using canned beans: Drain the beans from the can, rinse the beans to remove starch

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree half of the beans with a little of their liquid (or water) – this adds thickness to the soup. Add to the pot, along with the remaining whole beans. Pour the bean cooking liquid or water into a large measuring cup and add enough chicken stock to make 8 cups. Add to the soup and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

*If you’re planning on freezing the soup, set whatever portion you’re planning on eating now aside and add bread just to that portion
Add the bread to the soup and simmer for 10 more minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve hot in large bowls sprinkled with Parmesan

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Don’t worry if you’re like me and didn’t think ahead to soak the beans in water overnight! I just used 2 cans of Great Northern and they worked GREAT.

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