Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Friday night after work all I wanted to do was bake cookies.  Before meeting Bjoern at Shalimar for lunch (it was Ann Arbor Restaurant Week - aka I can eat at places I usually can't afford), I stopped by Downtown Home & Garden to see if they had received their shipment of knife rolls.  While they didn't have any knife rolls, they DID have a perfect cookie scoop!  AND for $3 less than what it would have cost at Plum market!  So for the rest of the day all I wanted to do was try it out!  And the cool thing is (because the dough is so dense) the cookies looked like little scoops of ice cream!

Next time I make these cookies, I think I will use more peanut butter.  While the taste of peanut butter was present, the chocolate flavor was much more prominent.

  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter (I used natural creamy peanut butter)
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 oz dark chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F,
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Once the butter and sugar are well combined, stir in the eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt, stir into the creamed mixture. Finally, fold in the peanut butter chips.
  3. Drop cookies using a medium sized cookie scoop (or making 2 TBSP sized balls with your hands) onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or a silpat.
  4. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until set. Cool on wire racks.

      Thursday, January 21, 2010

      Curried Chickpeas, Onions, and Kale in a Tomato Sauce

      This recipe should be called "I bought a whole bunch of kale for a recipe and then forgot the recipe I needed it for, and now I need to use it asap."  But I have been making variations of this recipe for the past two years, and because I have yet to meticulously measure everything, it is different everytime.  Even in this attempt to write it down, every ingredient is an estimate.  While I do recommend using all the spices I listed, the amounts of certain spices are flexible (especially the spicy masala curry powder, and to a certain extent the mustard seed).

      This is a quick meal to put together - I cut the kale and onions this morning before I went to class so that in my short break between classes and work I was able to make a warm, absolutely delicious, and satisfying meal.  It has a taste that is reminiscent of Indian food, but the tomato paste makes it a little more savory.  But you still get a nice delightful tingle of curry & sriracha sauce in the back of your throat… Mmm.  And the best part of this recipe?  It's low ingredient (and possibly pantry) friendly!  Maybe next time I make this I'll add some green onions...

      And to John (the Kale-less wonder), try this to ease yourself into Kale.  Or have Sam make it for you.


      • a dash or two of Olive Oil
      • 1 onion, diced
      • half of a bunch of kale, chopped
      • 1-15oz can of organic chickpeas, drained
      • 1 small can of tomato paste
      • 2-4 TBSP (approx) Hot Masala Curry Powder
      • ½ tsp yellow mustard seed
      • a dash of cinnamon
      • a dash (½ tsp?) coriander
      • 2 gloves of garlic, crushed
      • kosher salt
      • freshly ground black pepper
      • 1 or 2 TBSP Sriracha sauce


      1. Heat oil in a large skillet and cook onions with the mustard seed for a minute or so.  Then add about 1 TBSP of curry power, cinnamon, and coriander to the onions and continue cooking until translucent.  Add in chopped kale and cook down (it will shrink dramatically in size, this is good).  Sprinkle a few pinches of kosher salt and grind the black pepper over the kale - mix in.
      2. Stir in chickpeas and crushed, cook for about 2 to 3 minutes.  Reduced the burner to medium heat and stir in tomato paste with the rest of the curry powder.  Stirring this in will take some effort, but just work to make sure "break up" the tomato paste and incorporate the vegetables/chickpeas into it.  Once all incorporated, drizzle Sriracha sauce and stir to incorporate.  
      3. Serve hot, but it also works wonderfully heated up the next day (trust me, I know, I'm not so good at "cooking for one").  I usually cook rice to serve this over, but I ran out of time.  While rice compliments this very well, it is also delightful on its on.

      Wednesday, January 20, 2010

      Gypsy Soup

      I love this soup.  There is no easier way to say or put it.  It has chunks of vegetables like a stew, but enough broth that it's a soup.  It is also incredibly healthy & filling - I ate it last night for dinner & reheated it for lunch today at the radio station (just as good, a little bit thicker though).  The spices also give the soup a nice little kick at the end that lingers on your lips and tongue, and the warmth stays in your stomach.  While the Moosewood cookbook says this soup takes about an hour & half to prepare, it took me more like two hours… but that may be because I'm a meticulous slicer & dicer…and as a result I'm not the fastest with the knife (but I'm good!)

      Gypsy Soup
      Adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook

      • 2 tablespoons olive oil -- up to 4T
      • 2 cups chopped onion
      • 3 cloves chopped garlic
      • 2 cups sweet potatoes, diced/cubed & peeled
      • 1 stalk of celery, diced
      • 2 medium ripe tomatoes, cored & chopped
      • 1 medium bell pepper, diced
      • 1 - 15oz can of chickpeas (I prefer Trader Joe's Organic Garbanzo Beans - great texture & flavor)
      • 3 cups stock or water
      • 2 teaspoons paprika
      • 1 teaspoon turmeric
      • 1 teaspoon basil
      • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
      • dash cinnamon
      • dash cayenne (I didn't have any so I used a little bit of Chili Powder)
      • 1 bay leaf


      1. Core tomatoes and place in a small sauce pot for a long 10 seconds, remove & peel skins off over sink.  Squeeze out seeds and chop remaining tomato pulp, set aside.  
      2. In a soup kettle or large saucepan, saute onions, garlic, celery and sweet potatoes in olive oil for about 
      3. five minutes.
      4. Add seasonings and the stock or water. Simmer, covered, 15 minutes.
      5. Add remaining bell peppers, tomato and chickpeas.  Simmer another 10 minutes or so - until all the vegetables are as tender as you like them.

      Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries

      I finally figured out how to make legitimately CRISPY sweet potato fries - blanching!  I was amazing at how much this simple little trick helped my fry baking potential!  I was planning on making sweet potato fries later in the week, but I had half a sweet potato leftover from making Gypsy Soup... who knew one HUGE sweet potato could exceed my 2 cup expectations and leave me with a significant amount leftover sweet potato!  I also made a little bit of dipping sauce for my fries - ketchup just won't do the trick when it comes to these babies!


      • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
      • 2 tbsp. olive oil
      • 1 tbsp. light brown sugar
      • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
      • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
      1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil greased with cooking spray.
      2. Halve the sweet potatoes lengthwise and cut each half into long spears.
      3. Blanch* for about 3 minutes (or soak in cold water for 20-30 minutes)
      4. Place the potato spears on the sheet pan and toss with olive oil.  Spread them in a single layer.  Combine the brown sugar, salt, and pepper and sprinkle on the potatoes.  
      5. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn with a spatula or tongs.  Bake for another 5 to 15 minutes (it really depends on how thick or thin you sliced the sweet potato), until lightly browned & crispy.  Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and serve hot.

      Dipping Sauce:
      It's simple really: mix a few tablespoons of mayonnaise with about a tablespoon of Sriracha sauce, a drop or two of hot sauce, a few grinds of black pepper, and a dash or two of garlic powder.  Taste with the tip of your pinky and adjust seasonings to preference.

      *Putting the sliced sweet potatoes in boiling salted water, and after X amount of time, removing & plunged (or rinsed under) very cold water to halt the cooking process

      Sunday, January 17, 2010

      Homemade Caramel Delights (oh yes, they're that good)

      I love girl scout cookies.  It becomes really hard for me to resist the girl scouts when they set-up camp outside of the diag - but it's amazing how quickly they drain your bank account!  But ah-ha, I have defeated you little girl scouts, I made my OWN Caramel Delights & I've made my own Thin Mints.  I never have to (but probably will) buy them again.  One tip for making these cookies - try if you can to buy unsweetened coconut.  This cookie is incredibly sweet and I feel that sweetened coconut would be too much.  I also recommend that you use dark chocolate (what I did) to balance out the flavors.  As I am going on a cruise in less than two months, these cookies needed to get out of the house ASAP.  Hence, I ran them over  505 as soon as the chocolate was set.

      As a side note, I have been requested to give a shout out to John Truesdell ('The Trues') & Sam Giraud (Mono-Ped).  So, HOLLA Trues & Mono-Ped.

      Homemade Caramel Delights
      Ingredients for Cookie Base:

      • 1 cup butter, softened
      • 1/2 cup sugar
      • 2 cups all purpose flour
      • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • up to 2 tablespoons milk


      1. Preheat oven to 350F.
      2. Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt at a low speed, next, the vanilla and milk, adding in the milk only as needed to make the dough come together without being sticky (you may not need any at all). The dough should come together into a soft, pliable ball. Add in a bit of extra flour if your dough seems sticky.
      3. It's easiest to roll the dough out in 2 or 3 batches (between pieces of wax (or parchment) paper to about 1/4-inch thickness (or a little thinner) using a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to make rounds. Place on a parchment lined (or on silicone mat) baking sheet and make a hole in the center. I used the small end of a large round piping tip. Nicole comments that you can use a knife, or the end of a wide straw, to cut a smaller center hole. Repeat until the dough is used up (it's okay to re-roll, this dough is shortbread-like and very forgiving.)
      4. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are very lightly golden brown around the edges.
      5. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, to allow them to firm up slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

      Ingredients for Topping: 

      • 3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

      • 12-ounces good-quality chewy caramels

      • 1/4 teaspoon salt

      • 3 tablespoons milk

      • 8 ounces dark or semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips will do)


      1. If you prefer milk chocolate, by all means use that.

 Preheat oven to 300 degrees (F)

Spread coconut evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Watch carefully, especially near the end of toasting time; the coconut toasts very quickly once it begins to become golden.
      2. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.  Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula. Using the spatula or a small offset spatula, spread topping on cooled cookies, using about 2-3 teaspoons per cookie. Reheat caramel for a few seconds in the microwave if it begins to firm up, to make it soft and spreadable once again.
While topping sets up, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Melt the chocolate using the double boiled method.  Dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment paper.  Use a spoon to drizzle on remaining chocolate (you may need to melt more).
Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

      Baked Zucchini "Fries"

      I made these last night for dinner - it was quick and amazingly satisfying.  All I wanted was a nice hot dinner - but I wasn't in the mood to make soup (too much time chopping vegetables, I was really lazy yesterday).  My only suggestion is that you add the salt & pepper to the bread crumb mix - not the egg white.  For dipping I used some Trader Joe's Low Fat Parmesan Ranch dressing & a little bit of homemade tomato basil marinara sauce.  I made three zucchini which was, surprise, too much for me to eat.  I am definitely going to make this again sometime soon.

      Baked Zucchini Sticks

      • 3 medium zucchini sliced into 3" x 1/2" sticks
      • 1 large egg white
      • 1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
      • 2 tbsp grated Pecorino Romano cheese (can be found in the spaghetti sauce aisle next to Parmesan cheese)
      • cooking spray
      • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
      • salt
      • fresh pepper

      1. Preheat oven to 425°.
      2. In a small bowl, beat egg whites and season with salt and pepper. 
      3. In a ziplock bag, place breadcrumbs, garlic powder and cheese and shake well. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
      4. Dip zucchini sticks into eggs then into bread crumb and cheese mixture, a few at a time and shake to coat. 
      5. Place the breaded zucchini in a single layer and spray more cooking spray on top. Bake at 425° for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with 1/2 cup marinara sauce for dipping (.5 pt).

      No-Knead Ciabatta

      I have already had a bit of experience making no-knead bread - but this one takes the cake.  I love Ciabatta bread and have made it is the past  - but it usually takes a lot longer (actual work-wise) and is a lot more labor intensive.  I did have trouble getting the "hollow knocking" sound on the bread - I didn't have a loaf pan large enough to fit over the loaves.  Instead, to make sure a good crust formed, I frequently sprayed the inside of the oven with some water.  Another trick is placing a pan full of boiling water on the bottom of the stove.  I kept one loaf for myself (it made a wonderful black-bean burger bun and canvas for peanut butter sandwiches) and gave the other to the boys at 505.  This is a great sandwich bread - make it now!
      No-Knead Ciabatta
      Adapted from Jim Lahey

      • 4 cups of bread flour
      • 1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast or active dry yeast
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
      • 2 cups of tepid water

      1. The night before, mix the flour, yeast and salt. Slowly add the water as you bring the dough together with either your hand or a spatula. The dough will seem too wet, then seem too dry. It should end as a fairly shaggy and wet dough.
      2. Cover the dough with a clean cotton cloth or a piece of plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm room for 12-18 hours
      3. When you check the dough the next day after the allotted time has passed, it should be a bubbly wet dough.
      4. Gently slide the dough out onto a floured cookie sheet. Split the dough into two and shape the dough into the desired shape of Ciabatta, which is a long slipper like shape. Cover the dough and let rise another 1-2 hours. It will roughly double in size.
      5. Before the dough is done rising, preheat the oven to 220C. Place a baking tray in the middle rack.
      6. Place the loaves on the baking tray and cover them with an upturned loaf pan.
      7. Cook the bread for 20 minutes, before lowering the oven temperature to 180C and cooking for a further 10-15 minutes or until nicely coloured, when ready the bread will also sound hollow to a gentle knock.

      Sunday, January 10, 2010

      Caramel Corn

      Oh my, this is addicting.  Usually when I bake something, I'll try one... maybe two little bits of whatever I made.  This time around I started off by taking one bite to make sure it was done... then I just had to take another taste.  Once it was out of the oven and cooled... a few more pieces found their way into my mouth.  Eventually, I had to practically lock it up, throw it in the ocean, and pray it doesn't pull a Harry Houdini.  In actuality, I just ran over (quickly) to the guys house with a full tupperware and I plan on dropping some off at my mom's office.

      This is so easy to make and is such a crowd pleaser - set it out at your next party!

      Caramel Corn
      Adapted from Annie's East's
      • 1 cup popcorn kernels, unpopped
      • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
      • ½ cup light corn syrup
      • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
      • 1 tsp. kosher salt
      • ½ tsp. baking soda
      • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
      1. Pop popcorn using your preferred method (I always, and only, use the stove-top method).  Place the popped popcorn in two large bowls.  Make sure there is enough room in your bowls for tossing the popcorn.
      2. Preheat the oven to 250° F.  Meanwhile, to make the caramel, melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan set over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, mix in the corn syrup, brown sugar and salt.  Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.
      3. Once the mixture reaches a boil, let the mixture continue to boil for 5 more minutes without stirring.  Remove the mixture from the heat, stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract.  The mixture will bubble up and become frothy.  Pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn in the bowl(s) and toss to coat thoroughly.
      4. Spread the popcorn evenly onto two large baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  If there are any caramel clumps left, they will redistribute during baking.  Bake for 40-50 minutes, removing from the oven to toss/stir every 10 minutes.  After 40 minutes, test a cooled piece of popcorn.  If it is not completely crispy (i.e. still slightly mushy when you bite it), bake for 10 minutes more.
      5. Remove the baking sheets to a wire rack and allow popcorn to cool completely before breaking apart for serving or packaging.

        Comprehensively Stuffed Squash

        Ah, thank you once again Mollie Katzen for enlightening me with another healthy entree.  New Year (New Decade... New Spring Break Cruise...) new healthy recipes.  Don't worry - there will still be cookies and other baked treats, but I will try more on entrees and healthy sides.

        This stuffed squash was actually used in a bartering of services.  My friend Zack would cut my hair if I cooked him something for dinner.  In my opinion, this is a win-win situation; I got a haircut and some new material for my blog!  I only gave one half of the squash to Zack and the other half I gave to Cody and Jake over at 505 for dinner.

        A note of this recipe:  I halved the recipe because I only had one butternut squash to stuff, but I found out that there was still a large amount of stuffing that couldn't fit into the squash... and I even omitted the mushrooms (I can't eat mushrooms - ironic considering I'm vegetarian).

        Comprehensively Stuffed Squash
        Adapted from Mollie Katzen's The Moosewood Cookbook

        • 2 medium-sized winter squash, halved and baked
        • 2 Tbs. Olive Oil
        • 1 cup onion, minced
        • 1/2 lb mushrooms, minced (I didn't use mushrooms)
        • 1 large clove garlic, minced
        • 1 stalk celery, minced
        • 1/2 tsp. salt
        • black pepper to taste (use lots!)
        • 1/2 tsp.sage
        • 1/2 tsp. thyme
        • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
        • walnuts, minced (optional)
        • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
        • raisins (optional)
        • 2 cups bread crumbs (from GOOD bread)
        • 6 to 8 dried apricots


        1. Melt the Olive Oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until the onion becomes translucent (about 5 min.)
        2. Add the mushrooms, garlic, celery and seasonings - cooking until everything is tender (about 10 min.)
        3. Mix in the remaining ingredients.
        4. Spoon into pre-baked squash halves and bake at 350o F. (about 20-30 minutes.)


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