What I’m Liking Wednesday {Recipe}

Balance. It can be a hard thing to do. It takes practice and concentration. When you are trying to balance everything in your life, you need to figure out what is most important to you and put everything into perspective. It might even mean changing some things around to make it all work. I am still concentrating on making it work for me.

I try to just go with the flow and make the system work, but sometimes I need to take a step back and realize that something needs to change to make the balancing work. I have a tendency to need to plan ahead and follow the rules and not break away from that system. Other times, I feel like I need to balance planning and going with the flow so that it works.

Most people say that they are afraid of baking because they cannot just add “a pinch of this or that” and cannot stray from the recipe. While this is somewhat true, this is part of why I like baking. Yes, you need to follow the ratio of flour, sugar, and butter to make a cookie dough work. (See my 1-2-3 Cookie Dough) However, there are some variations you can have with a recipe while baking. For example, I recently made these Slice & Bake Oatmeal cookies, but I altered the recipe to what I had on hand. I used cocoa powder instead of the whole wheat flour and I added ground ginger. I did not use any raisins because I don’t like them, but also because I didn’t think that these cookies needed them with all of the other flavors going on. This is a perfect example of balancing flavors to make it work. I would not have thought that this was going to work as well as it did had I not practiced and made other types of cookies previously.

These cookies were tempting to make as is, because I like the idea of having cookie cough on hand so that I can make only one or two at a time. I think the chocolate makes them even more tempting. I mean, who can resist chocolate? :) I believe these cookies, as modified, have the perfect balance of flavors, but also the right balance of textures. They are soft in the middle and have a chewy edge, sort of like a brownie. The oats give the cookies the typical oatmeal cookie chewiness also. The recipe does still need to be tweaked some, it was a little sticky, and probably does not need as much oatmeal as the recipe calls for. I need to work on balancing the ingredients to make them just that much more perfect. Like I said, balancing can be hard and take a lot of work, but it can be done. When balance is achieved, life (and recipes) is good! :)

Tell me, what do you do to keep things in your life balanced?

 

Original recipe found on Shutterbean. Modified/added ingredients/instructions in Italics.

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats

Whisk  flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. (I sifted all ingredients into the bowl.) Using an electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars on high speed until light and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend and scraping down bowl between additions. Beat in vanilla.

Reduce speed to low. Gradually add dry ingredients; mix just to combine. Fold in oats.

Divide dough between 2 large sheets of parchment paper. Using paper as an aid, roll up each piece of dough into a 1 1/2-inch diameter log. Wrap in plastic; freeze for at least 4 hours and up to 3 weeks.

Preheat oven to 350°. Unwrap dough and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds (return unused dough to freezer); place 2-inch apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Bake cookies until edges are golden brown, 15-18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool. I baked mine for about 11 minutes, on a lightly greased baking sheet.

What I’m Reading Wednesday

Just to start things off, I have to show you this awesome/weird product that the Japanese invented recently: (I mean really, what will they think of next?!)

Now that you’ve watched that, here’s the reading entertainment for this week:

Good news: there is a new food law in place in California that allows food to be sold from homes.

Also: hazelnuts are my favorite nut! Want to try this soon!

Embarrassing Moments. We all have them. Some, who shall remain nameless, have them more often because of objects getting in the way and tripping over them clumsiness. Here are some we hope to never have happen to us.

Dandelion Chocolate. You’ve seen me talk about it before. I mentioned it as one of my favorite things. They are opening a store and they just announced that construction is DONE. This means OMG the BEST chocolate EVER (I’ll stop “screaming” now) will be available and you can see them being made and hang out and smell the chocolate while, eh, eating chocolate. Have I mentioned I am a chocoholic? Admitting your problem is the first step to recovery. But, I’m not sure I want to recover from this addiction. :)

And, speaking of chocolate, there are some s’more brownies in the near future!

Box of Delicious! {Foodie Pen Pal June & Coffee Brownie Recipe}

This month, as a part of the Foodie Pen Pals, I received a box from Heather and sent a box to Dustin.

A few weeks ago, I gave you a peek inside the box I got from Heather. Now it is finally time for the reveal!

Here’s what I got:

In case you can’t read all the labels, it’s Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar-Caramel with Black Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate Almond Toffee, Dark Chocolate (filled with) Speculoos Cookie Spread, Justin’s Organic Peanut Butter Cups, Artisana Pecan Butter, Jessica’s Vanilla Maple Granola, Artisana Coconut Butter, and Trader Joe (Jaques) Fleur Del Sel Caramels. (Heather did say she loves Trader Joe’s in her note, which, by the way, is the card with the cherries on it in the background.)

Thanks, Heather for the yumminess and for making me want to visit my local TJ’s! :)

For Dustin, I used some of the coffee from last month’s box to make brownies. I really like the idea of using something from the last box to forward on to the next one. Just a fair warning for the other foodie pen pals reading this right now.

I forgot to include the recipe in Dustin’s box, so I am putting it here:

Adapted from Epicurious: (original recipe)

Ingredients

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 15 tablespoons (2 sticks minus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons finely ground coffee beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9x2-inch metal pan with nonstick spray. Combine sugar, butter, cocoa, ground coffee, and salt in large metal bowl. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water and whisk until butter melts and ingredients are blended (texture will be grainy). Remove bowl from over water; cool mixture to lukewarm if necessary. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Sift flour over and fold in.

Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake brownies until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool brownies in pan.

Note: the original recipe includes pecans in the brownies and a mocha frosting, but I thought the brownies were good as is.

Photo Friday!

Okay, so I have learned that I definitely need to take more photos, since, this week, I have exactly 3 photos to share. Since two of them are related to this month’s Foodie Pen Pal, I will have a separate post about that at the reveal day on the 30th. The other, with the popovers, I will tell you about tomorrow. So stayed tuned!

Brownie batter. Good on its own. BUT this time I added something special. Again, you are just going to have to come back and read more about them on the Foodie Pen Pal post for this month.

A peek into the box I received from my Foodie Pen Pal this month. I’ve already said (showed) too much.

I kind of really love this picture of me taking a shot of the popovers in the oven. It seems artsy. Or something. Anyway, more on those popovers soon.

Some other highlights from my week I could have taken pictures of:

  1. I got my haircut. I am trying to grow it out some, so it was just a trim and some layers added.
  2. I’ve been biking a lot lately. There’s this one hill on my way to work that I have yet to master. One day. Also, I love biking through Golden Gate Park. So pretty and peaceful.
  3. Trivia night at Elixir in the Mission. We came in fourth place by one point. But still, fun night.
  4. Wednesday was the summer solstice, which means it was the longest amount of daylight. I bet there would have been a picture in there somewhere.

Maybe next time I will remember to get my camera out and snap away. Have a great week!

 

All Caught Up {Fresh Pasta and Waffle Brownies}

As you may know, I have been trying to catch up on what exciting things I’ve made before returning to blogging. The last couple of items I would like to share with you are the fresh pasta and the waffle brownies I made.

Up first, the pasta. I made fresh pasta for the first time in a long time.

It is a bit of a process to knead together the flour and eggs, but once you get started, it is really easy. It is one of my favorite doughs to work by hand. Just two ingredients, rolled out thin, and cut into pieces. Cooks in a few minutes. It really couldn’t be easier. And it tastes SO MUCH BETTER than the pasta from the store. You can even add tomato or spinach right to the pasta dough (might require more flour, to make it not so sticky) which makes it so flavorful, you don’t need to add anything. Maybe just some olive oil. Oh! Pro-tip! Make sure you salt your water! It’s the best way to add salt to pasta (or to veggies).

The other item I am excited to share is waffle brownies.

These are brownies made in a waffle iron. What the what?! Yes, you can pour waffle batter into a pan and wait a long time for them to come out of the oven. OR, you can pour it on your waffle iron and have brownies in like 5 minutes! We all know that (basically) instant brownies are the best! Don’t be fooled, though, these brownies are for dessert, not breakfast. Or are they?! :)

NaBloPoMo: Post 2

Ever since I moved to San Francisco, and I have told people that I graduated from the CIA with a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts, I have been asked what my specialty is/what my favorite thing to bake is. I have almost a different answer every time because I like to bake just about anything and don’t really have a “specialty”. I do, however, have a few favorite recipes that I like to turn to, and since this post is a part of the NaBloPoMo, and the theme this month is fan, I bring you a list of my favorite things to bake, and their recipes:

  1. Better Than Brownie Cookies. They are a great chocolaty cookie recipe that I found on another blog a couple of years ago and I like baking them every so often. I have come up with different variations of the recipe such as using butterscotch or peanut butter chips instead of the second cup of chocolate chips. I think, like brownies, these cookies allow you to have a very creative license. Last night I dreamed about making them with a sprinkle of sea salt on them. (Yes, I dream about dessert!)
  2. Pie Pops. Also found on a blog a couple of years ago. Every time I make them or bring them up in conversation, people get pretty excited about them. I mean, what’s not to like? It’s a mini pie on a stick.
  3. Chocolate chip cookies. I have always liked using the recipe from the back of the Nestle chocolate chip bag for as long as I have been making chocolate chip cookies (which is a long time). I also like adding different things to them. This recipe has oatmeal and bananas in it.
  4. Ice Cream. I have yet to buy an ice cream machine/attachment for my KitchenAid (though my birthday is coming up in November; hint, hint, nudge, nudge) but I love making ice cream. I love that this is also one of those things you can get really creative with. By the way, while it’s not on my favorite list, it is National Rocky Road Ice Cream Day!
  5. Brownies/Blondies. So easy and so chewy and good. Love to make brownies in a smaller pan than what is called for. Usually, brownies are baked in a 9×13 pan and I bake them in a 9×9 or an 8×8. This makes them more fudgy and gooey and that’s what you want in a brownie, right? I know it’s kinda weird, but I also only like the middle-no edges for me!

So there it is. The top five things I like to bake. My turn to ask: what’s your favorite thing to bake/what’s your specialty? (you can answer in the comments)

Chocolaty Brownies

These brownies are between cakey and fudgey. They are quite chocolaty and tasty, as I know because I almost did not get a chance to take a picture of them before they were devoured by my roommates. The recipe is a hand-me-down from my friend’s mother. Really simple and no special ingredients. (and no nuts either! ;))

My notes about the recipe: I didn’t have 12oz of chocolate chips, but I had 6oz chips and 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate squares. I melted the squares with the unsweetened chocolate and butter. Then followed the recipe as is. I just used a rubber spatula to mix and fold in the ingredients, and it seemed to be pretty thick and fudgey. I also put the batter in a 9×9 pan (or 8×8-can’t remember) which usually helps make them fudgier, too.

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