Recipes

The Perfect Amount of Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

  
I’ve shared my chocolate chip cookie recipe before, but I just updated it and HOLY CRAP throw that one out the window and only make this one from now on. Unless you’re allergic to coconut. Then delicately step around the broken glass and retrieve the original recipe. 

The new recipe is exactly the same except for one thing: I substituted half the butter for coconut oil. That’s it. It adds a touch of coconutty loveliness and makes the cookies spread out like you’re frickin Mrs. Fields. Make these now. 

The Perfect Amount of Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 1/3C coconut oil, at room temperature
  • 3/8C white sugar
  • 3/8C brown sugar
  • 1/2t vanilla
  • 1 egg

Cream that together (I used the paddle attachment on my stand mixer).

  • 1 1/8C flour
  • 1/2t baking soda
  • 1/2t salt

Add to the creamed mixture and mix until it forms a dough. Don’t overmix!

  • 1C chocolate chips (or mini peanut butter cups, or butterscotch chips, or chopped up Heath bar)

Add and mix until the chips are combined.

Drop rounded tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375F for 9-11 minutes. Cool on racks (or devour at your own risk).

Watch out! (and Homemade Ice Cream)

Guys, there’s lots of listeria out there right now. Blue Bell has recalled all of their products, as has Jeni’s. You’ve got to watch your back out there, and you shouldn’t have to worry that your ice cream is going to kill you. 

Solution: make your own. It’s so, so good, and it’s virtually limitless. 

Homemade Ice Cream

  • 2C heavy cream (yes, it’s full of fat–eat it)
  • 1C whole milk
  • 2/3C sugar
  • 1/8t salt
  • 6 egg yolks
  • Vanilla bean or vanilla extract

Heat cream, milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it’s steaming, but not bubbling at all. (You can scrape the inside of a vanilla bean in there and throw in the pod, or use 2t-1T of vanilla extract.) Get a bowl and whip the yolks until they lighten in color. Slowly whisk and add a little bit of the hot cream into the yolks until about 1/3-1/2 of the cream is in with the eggs. Slowly pour the yolk/cream mixture back into the saucepan and mix. 

Heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture thickens quite a bit. You’re making a custard here, if you hadn’t figured that out, so as the eggs cook, the ice cream base will get nice and thick. It should coat a spoon when it’s ready. 

Remove the pan from the heat and let it hang out for 30 minutes. Strain the mixture into a big container (used sour cream or yogurt containers work well) and refrigerate until very cold. I usually make the base in the morning and churn it in the afternoon. 

Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions until it looks like soft serve. Spoon back into your container and freeze. Homemade ice cream is a lot harder than store-bought, so take it out of the freezer 15 minutes before you want to eat it. 

Variations:

  • Substitute almond extract for the vanilla and add 2t cinnamon. Steep 30 minutes, then strain. 
  • Add bottled hot fudge or caramel during churning. 
  • Chop up some leftover birthday cake and add during churning. This is my favorite variation. I did this with the leftover cake we had from our top tier. Use any leftover frosting instead of the 2/3C sugar. So. Good. 
  • Add booze! This will make your ice cream softer. Rum + cinnamon vanilla ice cream = BOOZY MILKSHAKE MATERIAL. 

Give Me Almonds and Give Me Granola (Almond, Coconut, and Cranberry Granola)

I need almonds. I need almond flavor, that sweet, hard-to-pin-down floral quality that you either love or hate. I love it. Love love love. I bought some almond extract the other day for bath bombs and spent at least five minutes huffing the bottle.

I have a great granola recipe (over here), and recently I’ve tweaked it to satiate my almond-loving palate. It replaces the vegetable oil from my standby recipe with coconut oil, another product I adore. You can substitute coconut oil for vegetable oil in that recipe if you aren’t fond of almonds or want to mix it up. This particular granola is not too sweet and packed with good fat. Sprinkle on ice cream (chocolate is a good choice; it’d be like an Almond Joy), stir into yogurt, or just stuff large handfuls into your gaping maw.

Note: my previous granola recipe calls for 8 cups of oats, but it makes a ridiculous amount of granola. You can double or halve as desired.

Almond, Coconut, and Cranberry Granola

  • 4C rolled oats (“old-fashioned,” not quick)
  • 1/2C dry roasted almonds (preferably salted), chopped fine
  • 1/4C unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4C brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4C honey
  • 1/8C blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2C coconut oil
  • 1/2T cinnamon
  • 1/2T almond extract
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1C dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325F. Combine oats, almonds, and coconut in a big bowl. In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, honey, molasses, coconut oil, cinnamon, almond extract, and salt. Bring to a boil, then pour over oat mixture. Stir until coated and spread evenly on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Stir, then bake for 10 more minutes. When you take the granola out after 20 minutes, it won’t look like granola. It’ll be squishy. You didn’t mess it up. Leave it alone for about 10-15 minutes, then chunk it up with a spatula. Cool, and mix with dried cranberries. Store in an airtight container or zip-top bag.

Zippers (and Santa Fe Chicken)

Yes, yes, yes, I know that March’s project is supposed to be aprons. I’ve made two, and I bought a pattern for another, but you know what I learned how to do the other day?

ZIPPERS.

I was terrified of zippers because they seemed so complicated. There are two pieces, and they have to line up and they are a functional closure. I thought so much could go wrong, and then I took a step back and said, “It’s a goddamn zipper, life will go on, just do this.” So I made this pouch. Well, to clarify, I’ve made five such pouches. Three of them turned out great, and two of them are sort of wonky. But three of them turned out great! Yay for me!

When I attempt to use a paper pattern for the first time, I will definitely provide a step-by-step illustrated guide to my confusion.

__

Our awesome friends from the Midwest visited last weekend and shared this great recipe with me. It’s based on a recipe from Pinterest, but I just sort of threw it together, recipes be damned. (To be honest, when a recipe is mostly, “Open cans and dump contents out,” you don’t really need a tutorial.) Plop the chicken on top of the corn pudding, top with cheese and cilantro, and eat until you burst.

Santa Fe Chicken

  • 1 can Hatch chiles (the little can)
  • 1 can spicy corn (the little can)
  • 1 can hominy
  • 1 can black-eyed peas
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans
  • cumin, to taste
  • chili powder, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 C chicken stock or broth

Dump all the cans into the crockpot. Add spices and stir. Push the chicken down into the mixture, and pour stock over all. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, until chicken is falling apart. Shred, and serve over corn pudding.

Corn Pudding

  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can cream-style corn, not drained
  • 1 stick butter (I KNOW, IT’S DELICIOUS)
  • 1 C sour cream
  • 1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix

Melt butter in a casserole dish (I used an 8×8 dish). Add remaining ingredients and mix. Bake 45 minutes at 350F.

Crayon Rolls (and Sautéed Spinach)

Do you know any kids? You probably do, because you are, presumably, a human person. If you are not a human person, I’m impressed.
Anyway, kids like crayons and stuff. And you know what crayons do? Get everywhere. And break. And get everywhere. There is a solution! A crayon roll!

I’ve made a few of these so far, and they are surprisingly easy and fun to make. They don’t take too much fabric, and the only extra things you need are a hair tie and a button. The roll holds 16 crayons. I put in a few shades of red, orange, yellow, etc., in ROYGBIV order (because, why not), and added black, gray, and pink. You can’t draw a bunny without pink.
These make great gifts. Throw it in a coordinating pocket tote with a coloring book, and there you go.

If I was slightly more awake, I’d put a segue here.

Spinach! It’s delicious when prepared correctly, by which I mean, with lots of garlic.

Sautéed Spinach

  • bag of spinach (or if you get the huge bag from Costco, a few giant handfuls)
  • olive oil
  • garlic
  • salt and pepper

Heat the oil over medium low heat in a big saucepan. Press the garlic into the oil and stir, cooking until the garlic just begins to brown, about 2-3 minutes. Stuff the spinach into the pan. It will look like you are making way too much spinach, but it’s fine. Trust me. Stuff that in there. Don’t worry about stirring just yet. Cover the pan and turn the heat to low. In about 5 minutes, uncover and start slowly turning the bottom spinach to the top. It will seem slightly impossible for a few seconds. Once it’s kind of moved around, cover again and cook 2-3 more minutes, until the spinach is mostly wilted and coated with oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Culinary Improvisation (and Chicken Broccoli Pies)

A few days ago, I made a chicken in the crockpot. Usually, that means I’ll eventually make chicken salad. You know how sometimes certain foods, or the idea of certain foods, make you feel all icky? I get that way about mayonnaise from time to time. I just can’t imagine ever liking it or eating it. Blech.

Yesterday was one of those days. I had all of this chicken, and chicken salad was just. not. happening. Mr. Something wasn’t feeling 100% either, and the ProBowl was on at 6…. It was the sort of Sunday where you say, “Screw it,” and make pie crust because there’s nothing else to be done.

This isn’t even really a recipe so much as it’s a collection of things that taste good together. Feel free to substitute whatever you have on hand; some suggestions follow.

Chicken Broccoli Pies

  • one recipe of Alton Brown’s Pie Crust (this is a butter/shortening crust that doesn’t brown as much as all-butter crust, but I think it’s more tender and easier to make)
  • 2T butter
  • quarter of an onion, chopped
  • 2T flour
  • 1.5C chicken stock
  • 1C or so shredded sharp Cheddar
  • salt, pepper, cayenne, herbs de Provence, etc. (Float yer own boat.)
  • leftover cooked chicken, chopped
  • lightly steamed broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until slightly golden. Add flour, whisking constantly, and cook until the flour browns. Add chicken stock, whisking, and bring to a low boil. Turn down the heat, add the seasonings you like (herbs de Provence, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper turned out pretty well), and stir. Cook about five minutes, until slightly thickened. Turn off the heat, add the cheese, and stir to melt. Put that pan on a cold burner.

Mix the chicken and broccoli into the cheese sauce. Use a water glass to cut out dough rounds, then roll out a little thinner and place in regular-sized ungreased muffin cups. Spoon chicken/cheese/broccoli mixture into the cups, and top with another round of dough. My version of this made enough filling to fill six muffin cups with a bit leftover. (If I had a twelve-cup muffin tin, I think it would have filled them all.)

Bake at 375F for 30-35 minutes, or until dough is slightly golden on the edges. Cool 5 minutes, then pop out and enjoy.

Other combinations:

  • chicken/spinach (chopped)/feta (make bechamel without cheese; sprinkle cheese over chicken and spinach in cups before covering with dough)
  • cooked ham/peas/Swiss
  • steak/cooked potatoes/Gruyere

You are all intelligent people: meat + veggie + cheese = Tastytown. Anyway, these turned out way, way better than I anticipated, and Mr. Something requested them again while he was chewing his third bite. Sorry for the loosey goosey recipe, but again: I know you are smart. You’ll figure it out.

Snowy Day (and Crockpot Buffalo Chicken)

We sort of had a white Xmas. During the day, it was in the 40s, and around dinnertime, it started sleeting. We woke up to awful roads (because they don’t plow here; why don’t they plow here??), but thankfully we had no place to go, just like the song.

It started snowing early this morning. It is still snowing. It’s going to snow all day, and tomorrow, too. Snowy days call for something in the crockpot, and a spicy something is especially good. I made this yesterday; it’s also really good for parties, like the SuperBowl (Go Pack Go, perhaps?).

 

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 12 oz. bottle Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo sauce (you can use the Extra Hot Buffalo kind, but watch out, because that stuff does not mess around)
  • 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch mix (I use Spicy Ranch, which adds just enough zip to be interesting, but it doesn’t burn off your face)

Dump all of this into your crockpot. Mix it around to coat the chicken. Don’t worry about mixing in all of the ranch; it’ll melt in there gradually. Cook on low for 6 hours. Shred chicken in the crock, and stir to mix with that delicious sauce.

Serving suggestions:

You can serve this on cocktail buns with pickles and extra ranch on the side. It’s equally good wrapped up in romaine lettuce leaves. We’ve used it to make Buffalo chicken pizza before. It’s so ridiculously good and stupidly simple.

Busy Bee (and Thai Chicken Noodle Soup)

Hello! So our laptop took a bit of a shit, and then it was fine, and then it sort of died again… and now it seems to be working? I think? It’s a FrankenBook at this point–Mr. Something has taken it apart about a dozen times. That crafty man.

Anyway, the end of this summer involved lots of houseguests and lots of housework. Painting. SO MUCH PAINTING. But, as a result, our house looks so much better than when we bought it in May. It’s no longer a weird, fishpoop brown monstrosity. (Why so much brown, former owners? Why?)

It’s been lots of craziness, and there’s no hint of anything letting up.

When your life is absolutely insane, you need an easy, delicious soup recipe in your repertoire whose components can be prepped ahead of time and thrown together in 20 minutes. It’s even better if the soup is spicy and wonderful.

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup (Khao soi)

adapted from Foolproof Thai Cooking: Popular and Easy Recipes from the World’s Favorite Asian Chef by Ken Hom

Note: This is the doubled version of this recipe. We like to have leftovers, so I always make a ridiculous amount, using my biggest stockpot. If you only have a regular sized pot (that holds less than 10C of liquid), halve it.

I usually prep the noodles, onion, and chicken/chile mixture earlier in the day (you could even do it the night before, if you’re pressed for time). Once all of the prep work is done, this soup comes together in 20 minutes.

  • 12oz Thai rice noodles

Cook according to package directions (I use the Thai Kitchen brand) and set aside.

  • 12oz cooked chicken, shredded
  • 4 Thai chiles, shredded (or 2 jalapeños, if you can’t find Thai chiles)
  • 2T fish sauce
  • 2T soy sauce
  • 2T sugar
  • 4T green curry paste (again, I use the Thai Kitchen brand that comes in a bitty jar)

Mix all of this together in a little bowl and set aside.

  • 4 fresh lemongrass stalks, crushed (I got mine at Sprouts; take out some aggression on these bad boys. They’re very woody and need some encouragement to release their flavor.)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4T garlic, minced
  • 1T vegetable oil
  • 8C chicken stock
  • 28oz (2-14oz cans) coconut milk

Heat oil in large pot. Cook lemongrass, onion, and garlic for 3 minutes, until fragrant. Add stock and coconut milk. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Add chicken/chile mixture and cooked rice noodles. Stir. Cover and simmer for five minutes.

Remove lemongrass, and stir in 4T lime juice. Garnish with cilantro and serve with sriracha on the side.

 

Relaxation (and Vanilla Coconut Bath Bombs)

I have been so busy lately that “relax” is actually on my to do list. I’ve found that if I can relax while doing something mildly productive (like getting clean), I don’t feel guilty about it. (And yes, I understand how that statement reveals many of my neuroses.) I found this recipe about a month ago, and I’ve made it twice. In its original form, it’s great, but I tweaked it a little to suit my taste. It smells like coconut cream pie, and it makes your skin glow. I use one of these about 2 to 3 times a week. Grab your classiest plastic wine glass, turn on an audiobook about the history of American regional food, and relax (that’s how everyone does it, right?).

Vanilla Coconut Bath Bombs
adapted from Bakingdom

  • 1C baking soda
  • 1/2C citric acid (I found it at Sprouts, but any sort of crunchy granola store should have it in the bulk area–this is the stuff that makes Sour Patch Kids sour)
  • 1/2C cornstarch
  • 2T Epsom salts (don’t get this at the crunchy granola store–it’s $5 for 4lbs. at Walgreens)
  • 2T coconut oil
  • 5-6t liquid (to make these vanilla bath bombs, I used 3t water and 2t vanilla extract)
  • food coloring (optional, if you want them to look fancy)

Combine the baking soda, citric acid, cornstarch, and Epsom salts. Cut in the coconut oil with a fork (like it was butter in a cookie recipe). Add the liquid one teaspoon at a time. I added 5t this time, but I think I’ll only use 4t next time so they don’t poof so much while they dry. They will probably poof a little.
The desired texture is ever-so-slightly damp sand. Make sure your hands and molds are bone dry or you’ll make everything fizz prematurely. (Beware premature fizz.) Squish this firmly into the mold of your choice (ice cube trays work well, or chocolate molds). Let dry at least 4 hours before using.
To use, draw a nice hot bath and drop one of these in there. It’ll fizz up and dissolve, after which it will not be fizzy. I think it’d be creepy to bathe in fizzy water, but champagne might be okay.
You could add any extract you like. Almond or lemon would be great. These make cute gifts, or just make a batch for yourself. This recipe made about 12 good-sized bombs, each good for one wonderful bath.

It Really Never Ends (and Wendy’s Wonderful Quiche)

This housework nonsense never, ever ends. Painting, mowing, laundry, dishes (when did we stop eating directly out of containers? Sometime after college? Let’s go back to that, please), MORE LAUNDRY (this insistence on clean clothes is ridiculous), animal care, electrical issues, garage door malfunctions, tree trimming, cooking, grocery shopping, neighbor-placating, etc. etc. etc. The et ceteras could go on forever. And really, I love our house, I ADORE our house, but could it just cool it for a while? I am tired and cannot wait to get to the point where I step back and say, “Okay, that’s good enough for now.”

Which brings me to this quiche. Oh, this quiche. My amazing, lovely, gorgeous, talented, strong-as-hell maid of honor, Wendy, gave me this recipe a few years ago so I could make it and bring it to brunch. It is simple, delicious, and best of all, it’s really amenable to change. You can leave out the onions (or forget them, like I did last time), you can substitute broccoli for spinach, or add ham, or do whatever. This is a quiche that goes with the flow. It’s relaxed. And it’s delicious.

Wendy’s Wonderful Quiche

Preheat your oven to 350F.

  • 1 deep dish pie crust (just get the frozen kind that comes with two crusts–you can bake from frozen and your guests will think you worked super hard to impress them)

Mix together:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1C half & half
  • 1/2C mayonnaise
  • 2T flour
  • dash of salt and garlic powder (or whatever spices you want; this quiche is laid-back, after all)

Fill pie crust with:

  • 1/2C chopped onions
  • 8oz shredded cheese of your choice
  • 1 package chopped spinach, drained (or 1C [or so] broccoli, chopped, or whatever you want)
  • optional: ham, turkey, bacon, sausage, etc.

Mix that around so everything is evenly distributed, then carefully (CAREFULLY) pour the egg mixture over the cheese mixture.

Bake 45-60 minutes (depending on your oven; up here at altitude, I baked mine for around 50-55 minutes), or until it’s browned and not super jiggly. There might be some oil on top when you take it out, which you can blot with a paper towel. Let it sit for 5 minutes before slicing up.

 

Thank you, Wendy!!