Thursday, January 22, 2015

Crisp and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am all about trying out different ways to make chocolate chip cookies and these turned out just as I had hoped. They are medium thickness and are crisp on the edges and (thanks to the large amount of brown sugar) chewy in the middle - so good!

Crisp and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
How I Did It:

(makes about 24 cookies)

2 1/4 cups + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

2. Beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy (don't be impatient!)

3. Add in egg and vanilla extract and beat until well incorporated.

4. In three parts, beat in the dry ingredients until just combined.

5. Cover well and refrigerate for at least two hours (or overnight).

6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 and cover your cookie sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper (not wax paper!)

7. Form dough into heaping tablespoon sized balls and place two inches apart on the cookie sheet. Bake for about 8 minutes or until the edges start to lightly brown, but the center still looks a bit unset.

8. Let sit for 2 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ribollita (Tuscan Vegetable Stew)

Ribollita means "reboiled" in Italian and historically, that is what this soup is. Yes, Italians love their bread, but it was actually added to soup to make it last longer. So this vegetable stew was made with inexpensive vegetables and beans (cannellini...larger than navy beans, but very creamy) and before there leftovers were reheated, old bread was added to thicken it.

Have you ever put good bread in soup? Not crackers, bread. Well, I hadn't and was skeptical, but it's amazing. The flavors of the whole wheat sourdough bread I used (not old) and the broth meld together wonderfully and while soggy bread (from a rogue tomato, etc) is disturbing and unpleasant, in soup it becomes delightful and exciting. I decided to put the bread in before each serving so it wouldn't break down too much in between and it created the perfect texture for me. The soup is good without the bread too, but once you try it with bread you won't be able to go back.

Ribollita (Tuscan Vegetable Stew)
How I Did It:

1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, diced
2 carrots, chopped
2 parsnips, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/4 tsp ground sage
1 zucchini, chopped
15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 bunch kale, destemmed and roughly chopped
26 oz good quality diced tomatoes with liquid
32 oz low sodium vegetable broth
whole wheat sourdough bread

1. Cover the bottom of your soup pot with 1/4 inch or so of water and heat. Add in onion, garlic, carrots, parsnips, celery, and all of the spices. Heat on medium-low for about 20 minutes until everything has softened. Stir occasionally, adding small amounts of water as necessary.

2. Add in the zucchini and cook for another 5 minutes.

3. Add in the beans, kale and then the diced tomatoes and broth, Stir well to submerge the kale. Lower heat, cover and cook for another 30 minutes.

4. Rip one piece of bread per bowl into pieces (not too small). Serve the soup and then stir in the bread. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Two Ingredient Nutella Brownies

I have been hearing so much about two ingredient Nutella brownies that I had to try them out. I had such high hopes! Well, the texture is perfect, but they are pretty low on flavor. They weren't eggy, they just didn't have that strong Nutella flavor I was expecting (hoping) for. I solved the issue by heating up some (more) Nutella and using it as frosting. I highly recommend doing that if you make these.

Two Ingredient Nutella Brownies
How I Did It

4 eggs
1 cup Nutella
1/4 cup Nutella (if you decide to frost them)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8x8 (or 9x9) baking pan and then cover with parchment paper so some is hanging up over the top. Lightly grease the top of the parchment paper as well.

2. With an electric beater, whisk eggs until they are light, pale yellow, and billowy. I used the whisk attachment of a hand-held beater and it took 12 minutes. If you don't whisk them enough, your final product will have an eggy taste and will have an unpleasant texture.

3. While you are whisking your eggs, heat up your Nutella so it is smooth and creamy. Do not burn your Nutella! You should only need to microwave it for about a minute, but make sure to top every 20 seconds or so to stir.

4. With the mixer, slowly whisk in the Nutella in several parts. Scrap down the sides of the bowl a few times as you are whisking.

5. Pour "batter" into your prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes or until your cake tester comes out clean.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Nutella Stuffed Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

The Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies I made were such a hit with everyone (including myself) that I decided to make a bar version of them. My intention was to literally make a the same recipe, but as a bar instead, but then I happened upon Vanilla Sugar Blog's idea to use Jacques Torres's famously amazing chocolate chip cookie recipe as the base.

Well, they were amazing! I used more Nutella than she did and was very happy with the results. I thought they were the best about 30 minutes after they came out of the oven. At that point they were solid enough to pick up, but still very gooey. After they they took on the form and texture of an extremely divinely chewy (though very dense) brownie (similar to that of my skillet cookie). If I had to compare, I think the cookies were still a little better, but only because of how outrageously delicious they are. These bars win in their own way though as they are so good and are much quicker and easier (and less messy!) to make. If it feels a little like cheating, you will forget as soon as you take a bite.

Nutella Stuffed Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
How I Did It:

2 cups minus 2 tbsp cake flour
1 2/3 cups bread flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup 60% chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup Nutella

1. Whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. 

2. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).

3. One at a time, beat in the eggs, and then the vanilla.

4. In several parts, slowly beat in the dry ingredients until just combined. 

5. Stir in chocolate chips to evenly distribute. 

6. Shape into a large ball and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a air-tight container in the refrigerator at least overnight.

7. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 9 x 13 pan.

8. Divide your dough so one part is about 2/3 and the other 1/3.

9. Press 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan evenly.

10. In a microwave safe bowl, heat your Nutella for 30-60 seconds and stir until smooth and creamy. Spread over the dough in the pan, keeping away from the very edges. 

11. Take chunks of the remaining 1/3 of dough and flatten slighly before placing on top of the Nutella. Make sure to get all of the edges - there should be enough to cover the whole thing, but if ot that is okay.

12. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for about 25 minutes or until the edges start to brown lightly and the center looks set.

13. Remove from oven and let cool before cutting into squares. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Frosted Brownie Bites

The frosted brownie bite....when the situation calls for a cupcake, but you call for a brownie.

If you haven't tried this flour frosting, you will want to. It is addicting and pairs great with the chewy chocolate goodness of a brownie.

Frosted Brownie Bites
How I Did It:

(Frosting recipe from Tasty Kitchen)

Your favorite brownie batter
5 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup 2% milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease your mini muffin pan and set aside.

2. Make your brownie batter as usual and scoop into your prepared muffin pan, Bake for about 10 minutes or until they have a slightly glossy, rounded tops. You want them to be slightly under baked, so if you use a cake tester, remember it doesn't need to come out clean (just not covered in uncooked batter).

3. Remove from oven and let cool before removing from tins. If they do not come out easily, gently run a butter knife around the edges and pull up. Set aside while you make the frosting.

4. Whisk flour and and milk in a pot over medium-low heat. Keep stirring until it thickens (do not stop stirring or it will stick and be ruined). Stir more! It will turn very thick (like your brownie mix!) and then you can remove it from the heat and bring to room temperature.

5. Once it has cooled, stir in the vanilla.

6. While the mixture is cooling, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy and the graininess of the sugar is gone.

7. Add the cooled flour and milk mixture to the butter and sugar and beat well until it looks like thick whipped cream.

8. Frost your brownies and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Roasted Vegetable and Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

Roasted Vegetable and Black Bean Enchilada Casserole 
How I Did It:

1/2 head cauliflower
1 orange pepper, chopped
1/2 can no sugar added corn
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp ground chili pepper
1 1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp dried cilantro
ground black pepper
9 small corn tortillas
1 bag shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 jalapeno peppers, chopped (keep seeds for extra spice)
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large jar medium salsa

1. Preheat oven to 400. Place the first 5 ingredients (cauliflower, orange pepper, corn, onion, and garlic) on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle with pepper. Mix around a bit to make sure everything is covered and then spread the vegetables out so they are (mostly) not on top of each other.

2. Bake for about a half hour or until tender and just before they start to crisp up. You will want to stir them around once or twice.

3. Remove from oven (lower oven to 350) and let cool slightly.

4. In a bowl, combine roasted vegetables, jalapeno, black beans, chili pepper, cumin, and cilantro.

5. Cover the bottom of an 8x8 inch baking pan with salsa. Layer 3 tortillas on top and then cover with about 1/2 of the vegetable mixture and then cover with cheese. For the second layer of everything start with the tortilla, then the salsa, then the vegetable mixture and finally the cheese. Top with another layer of tortilla, salsa, and the remaining cheese. Sprinkle lightly with chili pepper and cumin.

6. Cover and bake for about 40 minutes, removing the aluminum foil after about 25 minutes.

7. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before digging in!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Cookies

While not exactly traditional, this post is still slightly delayed for the season, but the other of the cookies that my sister and I made this Christmas were these chocolate chip gingerbread cookies. They aren't the thin and crunchy gingerbread cookies from your childhood. Instead, they are soft and chewy while still maintaining a delicious gingerbread flavor. We weren't sure how we would like chocolate chips in them (I had thought about white chocolate, but felt that would be too sweet), but everyone agreed that it added something nice to them - the gingerbread flavor is stronger, but you do get the hint of chocolate in there as well.

Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Cookies
How I Did It:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp allspice
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices (only 1/4 tsp of the ginger). Set aside.

2. Beat together butter, olive oil, brown sugar, and 1 tsp of the ginger until smooth and creamy.

3. Beat in egg and then molasses and vanilla extract.

4. Beat in dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

5. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

6. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350. Scoop the dough by rounded double teaspoonfuls and form into balls and roll to coat in the granulated sugar. Place onto your prepared cookie sheet, keeping them two inches apart.

7. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the edges look firm, but the center is still slightly unset.

8. Let cool slightly on the baking sheet before placing on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.