Monday, February 28

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Since I make my money making pastries and interacting with customers over coffee, I get a lot of questions about the yummy baked things I make. But there's one question I hear more often than others: "How do you keep yourself from eating everything you make?" The answer is simple... when it comes to pastries, I have one weakness: cookies.

Indulgence in things like decadent cakes, pies, brownies aside, there is just nothing better than a freshly baked, still warm from the oven, ooey, gooey, chocolate chip cookie. I love making cookies because they're so versatile... you can tweak each ingredient for a varied effect and texture. One day I'd like to open up a bakery in a cozy place where we only serve cookies straight out of the oven... the only way they should be served.

These oatmeal cookies are a take on my beloved chocolate chip cookies - with a little extra brown sugar for some chew, and some oats and cereal for a little crunch.


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chocolate chunks
1/4 cup corn flakes

- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Beat together the butter and both sugars until light in color and creamy in texture.
- Add in the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.
- Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and then add them to the wet ingredients slowly, until combined.
- Add in the chocolate chunks and corn flakes, plus any other ingredients you have around (suggestions: coconut flakes, nuts, dried fruit, other cereals... be creative!).
- Scoop the dough out onto your cookie sheet and bake for about 17 minutes, or until the tops look cracked and golden.
- Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 23

The Real Double-Stuff

Remember the other day when I teased you with this picture?

Well today I'll be nice and share the recipe with you. I don't think I need to say much about these cookies, I mean, it's an oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookie, what more is there really to say?

'Oreo' Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 stick of butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of brown sugar

2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup of finely chopped chocolate (mini chocolate chips would also work well)
12-15 oreos, or similar sandwich cookie varieties.

- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Cream the butter and sugars together until smooth.
- Add the eggs one at a time until incorporated, then the vanilla extract.
- Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl, then add all these dry ingredients to your wet ones until thoroughly combined.
- Stir in the chocolate chips, then form your dough into balls. I use my cookie scoop to make sure they're even, but you can use a spoon and your eyes to make balls that are about 1 tablespoon in size. Once you have all of your cookie dough balled-up, the fun starts!
- Take an oreo and use two balls of cookie dough to cover it; the best method I found was to put one ball of dough on top of the oreo and one on the bottom, then gently flatten everything between your palms and work/mold the dough down around the oreo cookie. After doing a few of them I felt like I was working with play-doh... and you really can treat it as such! Just work the dough around the cookie however you need to make sure the oreo is fully covered.
- Arrange your super cookies about an inch apart on your cookie sheet and bake them for 16 minutes, or until the cookie dough is golden brown and cracked on top.
- Let the cookies cool on the sheet pan until you deem them solid enough to move to a cooling rack, then let them cool completely. These cookies taste great warm, but they taste even better if you have the patience to let them cool down completely. (The oreos are more intact once the cookie is completely cool!)
- Enjoy!

Super Cookie: deconstructed

If anyone's curious, I used Trader Joes' Joe Joes instead of Oreos. But I'm sure you're not surprised.

Monday, February 21

Monday shenan-agains

We don't have very much to blog about these days... life has been pleasantly quiet around here. The tease of warm weather did get us out of our winter funk and back to our (almost)daily walks around the neighborhood though... and the neighborhood squirrels are back in action! We caught one happily bulking up his tree-trunk nest the other day, and this morning I had one greet me at the kitchen window while happily munching on a bread crust... these squirrels keep us way too entertained.

I also got some happy baking in this weekend - it was my dad's birthday on Friday so I made a shaker lemon pie. One of my customers at work had made it not long ago and insisted that I should too, and since meyer lemons are in season lately I decided to go for it.

The pie was a w e s o m e. Not too sweet, not too bitter, just awesome. The butter crust smelled delicious while it was baking too. The pie was a big hit - we almost finished it off between four people, but I was able to save two slices for later before they got devoured too. I'll definitely be making it again (maybe soon, since I still have two meyer lemons in the fridge!) but I want to get a mandolin first, I just couldn't get those lemons sliced thin enough with our not-quite-the-sharpest knives.

Another meal worth mentioning is the beef stew Shawn made while I was at work Saturday afternoon. Even though we got it back in December, it's the first thing we've made in our new slow cooker! The beef was super tender and moist, and although we had no celery to add to it, the celery salt Shawn's mom gave us for Christmas worked wonders in terms of flavor. I can't wait to slow-cook some more stuff!

But back to the baking - I promised Shawn a chocolate cheesecake for Valentine's day (since food is our favorite gift) but I never quite got around to making it. So after devouring that lemon pie this weekend I finally started on the decadent cheesecake. I'm happy to say that Shawn was pleasantly satisfied - it has the texture of a light chocolate mousse cake but it's not too heavy on the tongue or stomach. Cheesecake isn't one of my favorite desserts, I'm a cheesecake purist and don't really want anything other than graham crust and sweet tangy cream cheese when it comes right down to it. But this wasn't for me, it was for Shawn, and I'm just glad he enjoyed it :)

On a closing note, check out our latest sans-tv setup. Shawn got tired of not being able to use his computer while watching 'tv' on the big monitor, so he set up a dual monitor system.... now we're really wired. Unfortunately, it's not the most attractive set-up, but it'll do for now. It makes us feel like the geeks we know we really are.

Until next time!

Saturday, February 19

I'm such a tease...

Oh blog, how I've neglected you for the last two weeks.... I may not have posted any new recipes (shame on me!), but I did manage to work up a new layout. It's clean and simple, and I like it. I hope you do too!

The last few days have been so incredibly sunny and teasingly warm - great walking-to-work weather, and also great photography weather - my camera takes such better photos when it has some natural light to work with!

All winter I've had to edit photos like crazy to bring out their color because otherwise they look like this:

So I was so happy this morning when I woke up to a sunlit kitchen and was able to take unedited photos of last night's cookie ventures and this morning's breakfast...

Is that what you think it is? If you're thinking oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookie, then you're absolutely right! Is it possible? It is! It is!

Green pepper & onion omelette topped with cheddar cheese and fresh smoked bacon from the farmer's market - that's a mouthful.

I'm sorry to tease you with such delicious looking things, but a real recipe post will have to wait until tomorrow! Happy weekend!

Wednesday, February 9

Making Lemonade...

Yesterday our television made a decision no one asked it to... it decided it no longer wanted to function.

I came home from work to a very angry looking Shawn sitting in the couch with a magazine, across from a blank tv screen. To which I jokingly asked, "Is something wrong with the tv?", only to get a glaring 'look' from said angry-looking-Shawn. After a long pause he finally explained that the tv mysteriously went dark in the middle of a commercial break during Lets Make a Deal that morning, and every attempt to turn it back on since has resulted in a blank screen with a low buzzing noise.

Odd, considering the television is just a little over two years old... too young to be having that kind of trouble but too old to still be under any sort of warranty. We're upset, to say the least, considering we certainly can't afford a new television right now, along with all the other appliances on our wish list. Shawn's just happy it died after Superbowl weekend.

But why did I title this post 'Making Lemonade'? Because that's exactly what we did, despite the unfortunate circumstance. Shawn's an intelligent fellow, I'm happy to say, so he was able to make a temporary solution by switching out the dead 26" tv screen with my rarely-used 23" computer monitor that he subsequently linked up with his computer. At least now we can still watch things on Netflix instant queue (ah, Netflix saves the day again). We're not really sure where to go from here though.

Sigh... anybody have an extra unused television lying around?

Monday, February 7

Lists, Recaps, and Hobbies

I've been keeping my word about posting at least one recipe per week so far this year, so I thought it'd be nice to give you a little recipe recap:

Fleur de Sel Caramels
Spicy Peppered Meatloaf
Peanut Butter & Honey Cookies
Lemon Loaf

On a side note, for anyone who's curious, we just finished up season 4 of LOST... and we're still just as into the series as we were season 1- but with a ton more questions now. And for anyone who told us the show starts to lose its' luster after season 3 and that the writers just threw the rest together, well, we think you're wrong. Everything is moving along perfectly, and all the side-stories relate back to each other in such a tense mysterious way... thankfully for us, we don't have to wait two more years to watch the last two seasons! Thank the Netflix gods.

And in keeping with the beginning theme of this post I have two more lists for you. I've let a few of my old hobbies fall to the way-side these past few years and I want to do something about it. I have big plans for this year! Ok, maybe they're not so big, but I have to set myself up for something I can accomplish, right? Don't worry, I'm not going to give up baking - I'd just like to spend a little more time doing some of the things I used to enjoy too.

So I'm giving myself two goals: 1. to finish sewing three things/projects by the end of the year and 2. to read at least five books by the end of the year.

(sewing inspiration)

Three sewing 'projects' I'd like to have finished by the end of the year...
- one accessory (wallet/bag/belt)
- one top (shirt/sweater)
- one bottom (pants/skirt)

Five books I'd like to have read by the end of the year...
- Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
- The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga, by Deepak Chopra + David Simon
- When You Are Engulfed in Flames, by David Sedaris
- Food Matters, by Mark Bittman
- The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell

Why sewing and reading? Because the last time I did either of this things with any regularity was well over four years ago. The last book I remember reading in full was The Book of Lost Things, and that was about two years ago... don't even ask me when the last time I pulled out my sewing machine was.

So this year I'm making a change, no, a commitment - the next time I find myself pondering what to do with my extra free time, I'll pick up a book, or plug in my sewing machine!

Saturday, February 5

Liz Lemon Loaf

Props to you if you get the reference in the title... this loaf has nothing to do with Liz Lemon, we've just watched a lot of episodes of 30 Rock the last few weeks and Shawn thought it'd be funny.

So without further ado, here's the recipe for the lemon loaf I've grown so fond of the past few weeks. It's really just a scaled down extra-lemon version of Deb from Smitten Kitchen's lemon cake, with a few little tricks to add even more lemon flavor. Enjoy!

Lemon Loaf

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar, separated
2 large eggs
1/6 cup grated lemon zest (approximately 4 large lemons)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup lemon juice, separated
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons lemon juice

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour one 8x4 inch loaf pan.
- Cream butter and 1 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Add in the eggs, one at a time, and then the lemon zest.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
- In another bowl, combine 1/8 cup lemon juice with the buttermilk and vanilla.
- Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to butter and sugar mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for approximately 1 hour, until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Combine 1/4 cup sugar with 1/4 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan, and cook over low heat until sugar dissolves into a syrup.
- Let the loaf cool 10 minutes before inverting it onto a rack set over a tray, then prick the loaf all over with a toothpick and pour the lemon syrup over the loaf - it will drip down into the tiny holes and make your loaf nice and moist. Then let the loaf cool down completely before glazing it.
- To make the glaze, whisk together the confectioner's sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice until smooth. Pour the glaze over the cooled loaf and let set before enjoying.

Wednesday, February 2

Getting Lost in Snow Days...

The view outside our kitchen window last Wednesday.

Snow, snow, snow... am I right? We've gotten close to 20 inches here just during the month of January! I think we'll be looking at giant snow piles well into March/April... I'm just looking forward to some sunny days - it's been so grey out lately! And we haven't taken a walk in far too long... the sidewalks just haven't been very forgiving this month (snow turns to slush turns to ice turns to Ouch!).

There is one good thing about being 'snowed-in' though - as long as you're well-equipped with the proper food and movies, it's the ultimate day of comfort. I mean what's better than sitting around in pajamas in front of the telly and munching away on comfort food while keeping each other warm all day? It certainly didn't hurt our recent addiction... LOST. Yes, that's right, we're newfound LOST fans. Netflix recently acquired all six seasons for Instant Queue... Shawn was already six episodes into the first season when I came home from work last Tuesday and, well, it's all been a bit of a blur since then. Lets just say, it's now one week later and we're already a third of the way through season three (and each season has about 25 episodes). We lost ourselves in a snow day... har har har.

Tomato-pepper-onion pasta.

Don't worry though, despite all that, we still made some tasty food efforts too. Here's a peek at a few things we have in store for you:

Honey-mustard Chicken; a recipe adapted from our new Trader Joe's cookbook.

I'm finally going to post the recipe for this amazing lemon loaf!

And keep your eyes open for these delicious chocolate buttermilk cookies.

So tell us, how did you spend your snow days? and have you ever gotten immediately addicted to a tv series? The only other series that's ever gotten to me that way was Six Feet Under.

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