Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies I Have Ever Made

Yup. You read that title correctly.

I'm a bit of a cookie junkie. A fan. An aficionado. A chocolate chip cookie-aholic if you must. I have baked and consumed more cookies than I would ever like to count, and many of them from different recipes. I take copious notes. I print recipes and highlight them. I then keep the bad ones, just to be sure I never accidentally print and bake them again. This week, with all of the madness swirling around, I needed to do some baking. Chocolate chip cookie therapy.

I pulled out my hot mess of a binder, full of scraps from magazines, torn out newspaper sheets, and print-outs by the dozen. Inside was a recipe I had photocopied from a cookbook belonging to my old boss. I had written in a few changes, and remembered that they were pretty good. Of course, I was missing a few things, so I had to change it up. And I was oh so pleasantly surprised. Right from the oven they looked promising. Aren't they pretty? Then I ate one. Crumbly, not to sweet, ultra chocolatey bliss. I will never use another chocolate chip cookie recipe again.

My New Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups Bob's Red Mill White Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. almond extract (Yes. Almond. NOT vanilla!)
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy and pale. Add egg and almond extract and beat until just combined. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the mixer at low speed. Scrape the bowl and mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets and bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool for five minutes on the sheet before transferring to wire racks.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Slimming Down

As the weather begins to warm up here in the Jerz, I have been feeling the need to do some serious slimming down. Not like, of my waist line or any of that crap, (cause I could kind of give two rats about bikini season and all as I don't wear them anymore) but of the menu planning, grocery shopping variety. I took a look around my kitchen the other day and realized I had nothing to eat. Now my pantry and fridge are both chock full of food, but not the kind I want to eat in 65 degree sunshine. It's time to slim down the kitchen, clean out the stew meats and root veggies, and lighten things up.

I started where most inspiration starts these days: my overflowing Pinterest boards. I have been guest pinning this month for Circle of Moms and POPSUGAR, so I have been focusing on family friendly meal ideas. Of course, I pin them like crazy and then never cook them. But I kept peeking back at this recipe for Zucchini Chips from Table for Two and had to make them. I also just bought a mandoline, so it was perfect.

Jude gobbled them up and would probably have eaten them all had I not hidden a few out of sight for myself.   They are also a touch time consuming, so I tried to do a bit of portion control. With my share, I threw together this Grilled Salmon Salad with Asparagus and my favorite Green Goddess Dressing. It's lovely with leftovers, but I would definitely make this as a weeknight meal, too. Try this Asian Salmon recipe if you want to try something new, or just grill it simply with salt, pepper, and olive oil. The dressing is really flavorful!

Oven Baked Zucchini Chips
courtesy of Table for Two

2 medium zucchinis
Two Tbls. olive oil
*You'll also need a mandoline and baking sheets lined with parchment or Silpat mats.

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Slice zucchini on the mandoline with the thinnest setting (I did mine of the bias so they'd be a bit bigger). Lay each slice on paper towels and blot dry. Transfer to prepared baking sheets, taking care not to overlap slices. Brush with a bit of oil using a pastry brush, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake until just browned and crisp, about 1.5 - 2 hours.

*Tip: If your slices are super thin like mine were, a few of them may want to stick to the Silpat. A handy trick (one I picked up from paper crafting) is to bend the Silpat up and peel it from the chip, instead of bending the chip to peel it from the Silpat. Get it? You can store your chips in an air tight container for up to three days, but they won't last that long!