Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Do you ever just feel like baking? If a weekend passes and I haven’t baked something, I always feel sad. Something about the weekend just makes me want to bake. I am pretty sure this comes from growing up and seeing my mom bake often. I always remember watching her bake a cake, brownies or cookies before heading off to work at the rehab center from 3-11.  It wasn’t that she was craving sweets, she just really enjoyed baking, trying new recipes, and sharing the finished product.

I definitely learned this from her, and I am very similar. I love to try new recipes and bake for friends, even if it’s something I don’t like! I always have a batch of oatmeal raisin cookie dough in my freezer – not for me, but for a good friend of mine, so I can throw some in the oven when she comes over. I just love baking, particularly to give away to friends – there is truly no better gift that I can give.  I know baking does not come easily to a lot of people, and I feel lucky that I learned to bake when I was younger.

Saturday night rolled around and I hadn’t baked a thing, so I decided to make some chocolate chip cookies! While I have a standard recipe I tend to use, I saw this on Annie’s Eats and wanted to try it.  (Check out her blog for better pictures and a ton of delicious recipes)! I started these at 9 and was enjoying one warm from the oven in less than an hour! It’s quick, easy and delicious. Try it soon, you won’t be disappointed!

Enjoy! 🙂

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Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

From: Annie’s Eats

Ingredients:

2 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

12 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm

1 cup brown sugar, packed

½ cup granulated sugar

1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Adjust oven racks to upper and lower-middle positions.  Preheat oven 325°. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside.  With electric mixer, or by hand, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly combined.  Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined.  Add dry ingredients and beat at low-speed just until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Roll a scant half-cup of dough into a ball.  Holding dough ball in fingertips of both hands, pull apart into two equal halves.  Rotate halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, place formed dough onto cookie sheet, leaving ample room between each ball.  Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy (approximately 11-14 minutes).  Do not overbake.

*(I accidentally baked them at 350 F, and I think they took about 12 minutes. They are still delicious) 🙂

Cool cookies on sheets until able to lift without breaking.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Source: adapted from Blonde Ambition in the Kitchen, originally from Baking Illustrated

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Pasta Jenny

What is Pasta Jenny, you might ask? It’s what my husband has affectionately nicknamed my version of Penne Alla Vodka.

I am sad to admit that for me, Pasta Jenny used to be jar sauce (For shame!), with vodka and cream mixed in, and then just adding the pasta. Quick and easy dinner right? But as I start to try more things in my quest to become better at cooking and baking, I’ve found a recipe that makes the sauce from scratch, and I haven’t looked back! No more jarred sauce for me, ever!

I initially found this recipe on one of my very favorite blogs, The Way the Cookie Crumbles. This is the same blog where I found my new pizza crust recipe. Bridget of The Way the Cookie Crumbles is awesome – she has great recipes, gorgeous photos, and she does a lot of comparisons between numerous recipes to determine which is the best. (I am currently trying Alton Brown’s The Chewy Choc Chip Cookie thanks to her – more on that later!). But back to the penne alla vodka!

I saw this recipe on her blog, and I knew I had to try it! It came together easily, and it’s soooo GOOD! The first time Dave tried it, he asked if I made the sauce from scratch, and I was proud to say yes! You can definitely taste a difference if you’re used to using jarred sauces. Give this recipe a try, it’s quick, easy and really delicious! Maybe your husband will give it own nickname 🙂

Check out Bridget’s pictures – they’re way better than mine 😛  Also, I agree with Bridget’s notes on this one. Feel free to edit this however you like, it won’t turn out bad! I use regular canned unseasoned tomato sauce instead of diced tomatoes because we like ours saucier. I usually omit the basil because I can’t find it here. I never make this the same, but it’s always delicious.  Trust me 🙂

Penna alla Vodka

(Sourced from How the Cookie Crumbles & Cook’s Illustrated)

My omissions/additions are in Italics.

Ingredients:

1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved (I’ve used half diced, half sauce as well as all sauce – it’s personal preference)
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ small onion, minced (about ¼ cup)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
¼-½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning (I usually add this to the tomato mixture)
1/2 teaspoon sugar – I like a little sweetness along with the spicy in this dish!

1/2 tsp table salt
⅓ cup vodka
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves (I usually omit this since I can’t find it here, but add it if you have it!)
fresh parmesan cheese, for serving

1. Puree half of the tomatoes in a food processor until smooth. Dice the remaining tomatoes into ½-inch pieces, discarding cores. Combine the pureed and diced tomatoes in a liquid measuring cup (you should have about 1⅔ cups). Add reserved tomato liquid to equal 2 cups. (I don’t measure this out, since I use all sauce and no diced tomatoes normally, and it’s fine).

2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are light golden around the edges, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and pepper flakes; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3. Stir in the tomatoes and ½ teaspoon salt. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vodka. Return the pan to medium-high heat and simmer briskly until the alcohol flavor is cooked off, 8 to 10 minutes; stir frequently and lower the heat to medium if the simmering becomes too vigorous. Stir in the cream and cook until hot, about 1 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta. Cook until just shy of al dente, then drain the pasta, reserving ¼ cup cooking water, and transfer the pasta back to the Dutch oven. Add the sauce to the pasta and toss over medium heat until the pasta absorbs some of the sauce, 1 to 2 minutes, adding reserved cooking water if sauce is too thick. Stir in the basil and adjust the seasoning with salt. Divide among pasta bowls and serve immediately, passing Parmesan separately.

Enjoy! 🙂

Black bean, corn and tomato soup!

I’ll try to finish blogging the Europe trip soon, but thought I’d take a break to blog a yummy, easy dinner I made this evening 🙂 Don’t mind the photo, it was taken on my iPhone 😛

Today was a particularly long day at work, and after work, we checked out a friend’s exhibition, so by the time I got home, it was past 7:00. I had no desire to stop at the store, and in my current state of illness, I did not really want to make much, but I had saved this recipe a while back and wanted to try it. It came together really quickly, I had almost everything on hand, and it was quite delicious!

I found this recipe on Kelly’s Culinary Adventures, and I am so glad I finally tried it! 🙂 Definitely give this soup a try on a night where you don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen!

Black Bean, Corn and Tomato Soup

Originally from Kelly’s Culinary Adventures

(Any changes I made are in Italics)

Ingredients:
1 cup chopped onion
1 small chopped green pepper (I omitted this)
1 small can corn kernels, drained (about 1 cup) (I used a whole can)
1 cup black beans, rinsed & drained (Also used a whole can of black beans)
1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes (about 3 plum tomatoes) (I cheated and used canned too)
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock (I used veggie, and only used 4 cups)
2 tbsp basmati rice
2 tbsp medium spice chili paste (Omitted – Didn’t have this, so I added a dash of hot sauce instead)
1 tbsp ketchup
dash of salt and pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp flour or cornstarch (if desired)
1 tbsp cilantro or parsley (omitted)
Directions:
1) Spray a saucepan with cooking oil (Pam), add the vegetable oil and place over medium heat. Cook the onion, green pepper, corn, and garlic for 6-8 minutes.
2) Add the vegetable stock, black beans, rice, chili paste, ketchup, salt & pepper, red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
3) Add tomatoes and stir well. If soup seems too runny, stir in 1 tbsp corn starch mixed with water and cook another 3-4 minutes.
4) Garnish with sour cream & cilantro. (I also served with tortilla chips! Yum!)