Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

Update 7/2015: One of the large cookies I made for our wedding favors!
Ah-ha! The perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe!

This is the recipe on the back of the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip bag. This recipe has never failed me! One batch makes lots of cookies (5+ dozen), it is easy to double or half as well. You can also make the dough ahead of time (a day or two) and refrigerated it until you are ready to use it.

The cookies freeze well too. Put the cooled cookies in a bag or container, put in the freezer. To defrost put the cookies in the fridge or on the counter. 


Also see the recipe for my Mom's favorite white chocolate and macadamia nut cookies  or Triple Chocolate Chip cookies!

6/2015 UPDATE: I made 21 batches of this recipe (no nuts) as the wedding favors for my wedding. I baked them in May over 2 weekends. I froze them and they were served 6 weeks later. Folks had no idea that they had been frozen and believed I had baked them in the past couple of days!

After making 21 batches of cookies I have some tips:

  • Use room temperature butter and eggs. 
  • When creaming the butter ensure there are no butter lumps. The butter lumps will melt and cause the cookies to spread and have a lacy edge.
  • Let the dough chill overnight. The cold dough will help the cookies keep their shape, prevent spreading, and the cookies will look more consistent.

Once the cookies were baked I let them cool to room temperature for a couple hours, then put them a container in the fridge overnight so they are cold. The next day I put them in the favor bags and then into the freezer. We kept them in the freezer until the afternoon before the wedding. They defrosted for about 24 hours before being served.

Normally I use my smallest cookie scoop which is about 1 tsp. For these big palm sized cookies I stacked two scoops of cookie dough and used my largest one which is about a tablespoon size.

Oh, and we took some of the funny looking cookies and put ice cream in between two of them to make tasty ice cream sandwiches!



Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes approx 5 dozen cookies

2 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 sticks butter
3/4 c granulated sugar
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375.
Combine dry ingredients. Beat butter, sugars, vanilla until creamy. Add eggs 1 at a time. Gradually add in dry mix. Stir in chips and nuts. Drop rounded tbs onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake 9-11 minutes. (This varies by oven, mine take approx 8 minutes and I make smaller cookies).

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Coconut Caramel Brownies

Here was an adventure! This Coconut Caramel recipe is from MakeitNaked.com. I was expecting Turtle Brownies, which these are not... BUT if you like the coconut in Almond Joy or Mound candy bars... these are for you! Also, the brownie recipe was epic fudge-y and chocolatey... so if you just want a brownie, try this recipe! I combined my usual brownie recipe and the given brownie recipe.

This is the adventure part: My caramel wouldn't brown. The first time it overcooked and the sugar become granular (if you try it and don't succeed, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about). The second time I don't think I waited long enough for it to get brown because I was concerned about the previous attempt. After adding in the cream and coconut became a clumpy mess looking mixture that I poured over the brownies. It was actually pretty tasty. But it was a soft/sweet frosting type topping, not as much of a caramel. I have included the recipe below, but I think that I would try the caramel from my homemade twix bars for a more 'turtle' style brownie and add pecans.

Overall, you can also add in chopped nuts if you choose or make a chocolate drizzle to go over it!

What have we been doing with this big ol tray of brownies? Serving them affogato style! Warm brownie (about 30 seconds in the microwave) with some frozen yogurt and then a shot of espresso poured over it!

Everything but the flour

Really thick batter, pan lined w/ parchment paper
Baked! Can't really tell the dif tho
Caramel: Water and sugar
Boiling sugar
Then the sugar will become clear, then
bubbles a little more.

I did the caramel for about
15 minutes total.
Add coconut, vanilla, and cream.
Then pour over the brownies!

Brownie in an espresso bath =)

Brownie Recipe 
Adapted from makeitnaked and my brownie recipe

1.5 sticks butter, melted
2 cups white sugar (1 white, 1 brown)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×13 baking dish (or line w/ foil or parchment paper) and set aside.
Microwave butter at 15 second increments until melted. In stand mixer combine the melted butter and sugars. 
Once the mixture is smooth add vanilla. 
Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition.
In small bowl combine cocoa powder, flour, and salt. Slowly add into wet mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. This is very thick batter. 
Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.

Coconut Caramel (from makeitnaked)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
pinch of kosher salt
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

  1. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, add the sugar and water. Stir occasionally. Watch closely and let the sugar liquefy and turn an amber/brown color. This will take a few minutes, but once the color starts to turn a light brown it will quickly turn to a deeper brown, so watch very closely at that point. Remove from heat.
  2. Stir in the salt, cream and butter, and be careful of splattering when adding the cream. Stir constantly until smooth.
  3. Stir in the coconut.
  4. Pour onto cooled brownies while caramel is still warm.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Dad's Beef Stew

I know, its practically summer and is expected to be in the 70s this weekend. But I've been a little slow with updating and this was from a cold snap we just had! I swear!

But if you are looking for a hearty stew recipe, look no further! Here is my dad's famous beef stew recipe!!

Feel free to substitute varying amounts of the root veggies (carrots, potatoes, parsnips, etc) depending on what you enjoy eating. Since this will simmer for a while, it is okay to rough chop everything on the larger side since they will cook much longer.

This is a great meal because it is easy to make larger portions of without any added time. Chopping up the veggies can take a little longer but you can use pre cut veggies as well. Once everything is in the pot it is easy to leave and just let is simmer away for a couple hours.

Carrots, onions, celery

Potatoes, Parsnips, Turnips

Beef coated in flour

Onions and Celery

Floury and softened meat mix

Add root veg and some broth

Add more broth and cook until the stew is tender

Dad's Beef Stew
Makes approx 6 - 8 servings

2 lbs stew beef,  roast: top round or chuck), diced and trimmed into 1 x  1 inch pieces
3 Tablespoons oil
6 Tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoon salt
1 1/2 c onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, use the garlic press
1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 jar of tomato sauce
1 teaspoon Gravy master (its a small bottle with an orange cap)
A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
14 oz of chicken broth
1 cups chopped celery
3 chopped/cubed potatoes
1 cups carrots - sliced
1 cups parsnips cubed --optional
1 cups turnip cubed --optional

Heat oil in large pot. Mix the salt with the flour, dip the beef into the flour mixture and then add into the hot pot. Brown the meat. The bottom of the pan might get caked with the flour.

Add onions, garlic, and thyme to the beef. Cook about 15 minutes until the onions are soft. Add in a couple cups of the chicken broth and stir. The flour will be thickening the broth. Add tomato sauce, gravy master, and Worcestershire sauce. Add in celery, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and turnips to the stew. Stir around for a couple minutes.

Cover with the rest of the broth. Simmer stirring occasionally until the meat is tender and the veggies are soft. If the broth isn't thick enough add in a few tbsp of flour every 15 minutes until it reaches the consistency you want. If the broth is too thick add additional water or broth.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Garlic Lemon Egg Pasta (Carbonara?)

This was a combination from recipes such as Lemon Spaghetti by Gianda De Laurentiis,  Baked Lemon Pasta by the Pioneer Woman, and Spaghetti al Limon by Smitten Kitchen. Additionally I looked at carbonara recipes because I wanted to add some protein to the meal and there were only eggs in the fridge. Since I don't really cook with cheese and there was no bacon... it isn't really a carbonara. But for the sake of this meal - carbonara it is!

We added carrots but some broccoli or asparagus or peas would have been a nice addition. Fresh basil or some parsley would have been great too!

Garlic Lemon Egg Pasta (Carbonara!?)
1/2 box of Pasta
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tbsp Butter
5 cloves of garlic, smashed in the press
a few dashes of Salt and Pepper
1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
Lemon (1/3 cup lemon juice)
Veggies (optional)
3 eggs (3 egg whites, 2 yolks), "beaten in preparation for scrambling"

Cook pasta according to directions. Once the pasta is cooked, drain but reserve about a cup or two of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a pan. Add 1/2 tbsp of butter. Once melted add salt, pepper, and a few red pepper flakes. Add the veggies and the lemon juice.  Turn frying pan to low. Pour the eggs in the frying pan and stir until it is combined with the butter and oil mix. This should get thicker and all take on the same consistency as it gets scrambled .

Combine with pasta and add the pasta water a little at a time until the sauce is the consistency you want.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Chicken Fajita Stir Fry

This was a meal that was comprised of many leftovers plus some Trader Joe's taco seasoning. I was inspired by some left over peppers and chicken to make some sort of fajitas.

This was a fast meal to put together especially since the smaller the vegetables and chicken are sliced the faster the meal will cook up.


Chicken Fajita Stir Fry
makes 5 servings

1/2 Onion, diced
5 cloves Garlic, crushed in garlic press
1 sliced bell pepper (half red, half orange)
Chicken, approx 2 lbs, bite sized pieces/strips/etc
Handful of sliced baby carrots
Bottom inch of a bag of frozen corn
1/2 bag of baby Spinach

Tortillas/White Rice
The bottom 2 bags of Cheese
1 single serving packet of Guacamole

Salsa, to top the chicken mixture
Trader Joe's Taco Seasoning Packet

Heat large frying pan with some oil.
Saute onion and bell pepper about 2 minutes. Add chicken and the carrots.  Sprinkle with about 1/2 of taco seasoning packet.
When chicken is cooked through add in frozen corn and spinach. Once spinach is just about wilted take off the heat. Taste and add more of the seasoning packet until desired spiciness is reached.
To assemble take tortilla and add a dollop of guacamole, then put a scoop of the chicken mix on top. Add cheese and salsa on top. This mix is also good served on jasmine rice.