Category Archives: From the Cookbook

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

chocolate chip cookies 3

More cookies today. There are 100 million chocolate chip cookie recipes out there. Some have walnuts (or pecans or pistachios), some have oats, some have a mixture of milk and dark chips, some age the dough for 12, 24 or even 36 hours, some have condensed milk, and some have everything under the sun.

But everyone needs a classic chocolate chip cookie recipe. One that can be whipped up in minutes, so that you’re eaten warm, golden, toffee-like cookies less than 30 minutes after the craving strikes. One that requires only one bowl, and the most basic of ingredients. One that focuses solely on the deliciousness of chocolate chips in a simple sugar cookie dough, made ever so slightly toffee-like with the addition of dark brown sugar.

chocolate chip cookies 1

My recipe comes from the box of McCormick’s vanilla extract, because that’s what we made growing up. (No Nestle Toulouse here!) I could tell you that the extra vanilla highlights the caramel undertones of the brown sugar, or that I modified the steps slightly to make the recipe a one-bowl affair, or that they are equally delicious as small puffy rounds (how I like them) or giant face-sized discs. But all you need to know is that they’re perfect with a cold glass of milk, and Santa would appreciate them very much.

Let’s talk cookies. I’ve got a bunch over here, and all would be perfect for your Christmas cookie baking spree. (Is that a thing for anyone else? Or just me?) Continue reading

Cranberry Bliss Bars (A Starbucks Knockoff)

cranberry bliss bars 6

It’s DECEMBER. All caps for two reasons: 1) Where did this year go? And 2) It’s December!!!! I can listen to Christmas music all day and sip ho cho all night! And put up twinkly lights! And go through multiple sacks of flour and sugar and maybe a pound or two of butter!

I love the holiday season. Everything just seems extra-cheery and happy and cozy–even the extra tourists and packed stores and cold weather can’t get me down during the too-brief time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. It’s probably because I’m in a month-long sugar high, which usually ends with a resounding crash on January 1, causing me to rebound wildly in the opposite, indulgence-eschewing direction. Why mess with tradition?

cranberry bliss bars 1

Speaking of tradition, Starbucks rolls out their cranberry bliss bars around this time every year. I’m not high on most of Starbucks’ baked goods (they’re mostly too sweet and mediocre, and when it comes to empty calories, don’t want no mediocre), but these bars are a must for me each year, as synonymous with the holidays as those ubiquitous red cups. (My PSL, if you will.*)

It’s not surprising that the bars are delicious: the combination of cranberries and orange is always a winner, and cream cheese frosting is good on everything. Even the presence of white chocolate doesn’t deter me from eating these bars by the dozen (see aforementioned sugar daze).

cranberry bliss bars 7

So, per the famous proverb, I decided to teach myself to fish. There are millions of cranberry bliss bars “copycat” recipes on the Interwebs, but I wanted something that really highlighted that cranberry-orange combo. This one, with zest in both the bars and the frosting, definitely does. The bright citrus, tart cranberries and tangy cream cheese frosting balance the cloying white chocolate nicely. They’re wonderful on a cookie plate, or for shipping to loved ones (I’d freeze them in an airtight container for 1-2 days first) or even for sneaking between breakfast, lunch and dinner, as we did this weekend. Continue reading

A Thanksgiving Roundup + What I’m Thankful For

You’ve now got your turkey and gravy all set, plus a delicious sweet potato biscuit recipe and boozy cranberry sauce, for good measure. But what about the rest? The vegetable sides, the appetizers, the desserts … basically everything that makes Thanksgiving Thanksgiving.

Well, I’ve got those covered too (sort of). There are plenty of braised, roasted, sauteed and mashed vegetables, plus some pumpkin-y things and some salads and otherwise delicious things.

holiday recipes

And now, to the most important part of Thanksgiving: being thankful. This year, I’m thankful for my family and friends, who support, encourage and indulge every one of my crazy whims. I’m thankful that my job is equal parts fun and challenging. I’m thankful that I live in a city where anything goes, and I’m thankful that you all make cooking and photo-ing and blogging so fun!

Happy Thanksgiving! What are you thankful for this year?

Sweet Potato Biscuits with Chipotle-Honey Butter

141123_sweet potato biscuits 6

Now that we’ve gotten the hard stuff out of the way, let’s talk biscuits. My family’s Thanksgiving table doesn’t usually include them — we usually go the garlic bread route. But biscuits are so fluffy! And soft! And buttery! So so buttery! (I love them so much that I’ll occasionally walk into a KFC for the sole purpose of buying a biscuit. And KFC’s aren’t even that good!)

These sweet potato biscuits kill two birds with one stone: they satisfy my biscuit needs while also checking off the requisite sweet potato box on your Thanksgiving menu checklist. For me, sweet potatoes pose a weird conundrum. Because my sister loves mashed potatoes so dearly, we always have them at our table, regardless of how delicious this sweet potato mash is. And since I hate overloading the already saccharine carb with more sugar (unless we’re talking dessert obvi), marshmallow-topped casseroles are out of the question. And among all of the roasted vegetables and other sides, it’s easy for the humble sweet potato to get lost.

141123_sweet potato biscuits 2

But not in these biscuits, baby! The creamy flesh of a baked (or in my case, microwaved) potato gets folded into a buttery, barely sweet dough, then baked until golden. The recipes calls on an old trick I once used to make shortbread: grating the butter, instead of the more traditional cutting it into the dough with either a pastry cutter or knives. Grating the butter creates small pockets of butter throughout the dough, ideal for a pillowy soft biscuit.

141123_sweet potato biscuits 5

I whipped up a quick batch of chipotle-honey butter, my absolute favorite compound butter flavor. I’ve almost exclusively eaten it on grilled corn / cornbread, but it’s equally delicious here — the slightly smoky heat is a nice foil for the barely sweet biscuit. But the biscuits are equally good topped with gravy or cranberry sauce, or any other Thanksgiving-related condiment. Continue reading

Easy Giblet Gravy

141123_giblet gravy 3

Today we discuss the one thing that is ossibly more anxiety-inducing than cooking the perfect turkey: making the perfect gravy. There are countless advice articles on fixing bad gravy (and one memorable movie moment) and a number of steps in which things could wrong : a roux and drippings and that’s before I even mention giblets.

Giblets are the offal of the turkey (or other fowl): the heart, the liver, the gizzard, and often, the neck. Most turkeys will place the giblets in a bag inside the main cavity of the turkey, and one of the first steps on turkey-cooking day is to remove them. But don’t throw them out!* Use them as a base for a quick stock that infuses your gravy with tons of flavor. A mirepoix of carrots, celery and onions, softened in butter, rounds out the stock, which cooks on the stove while the turkey roasts in the oven.

141123_giblet gravy 1

There are two important parts to gravy: the turkey drippings and the roux. The vegetable trivet I used for the turkey added a ton of flavor to the drippings (also, the roast vegetables at the bottom of the pan are DELICIOUS.) so if you can add vegetables to your roasting pan, I highly recommend it.

The second part: the roux. A roux is a thickener made with flour and fat, and a base for many sauces. Cook it for a minute, to work off the raw flour taste, and then start adding the drippings and stock.

In order to avoid lumps–the death of any gravy–allow your drippings to cool slightly before you add them to the roux. Also, add everything incrementally, whisking in each addition. Get your guns out — you’ll need to whisk constantly. It really helps to have two sets of hands here, one whisker and one person who adds in the ingredients.

141123_giblet gravy 2

And all that whisking and hustling is worth it because man this gravy is good. It’s velvety and savory without overwhelming everything else. I didn’t add the cooked giblets back into the gravy because I like mine smooth, but the meat was unnecessary (and I rarely think that). It was an ideal counterpart to the stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, turkey … basically everything that was on my (very full) plate.

roast turkey 6

*I didn’t actually use the liver or heart, because they impart a stronger flavor than the gizzard and neck and frankly, they grossed me out. Continue reading