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.

Happy Halloween! {Foodie Pen Pal Reveal}

I cannot believe it is the end of October already! This month flew by for me! I have catching up to do, and I will DEFINITELY do an October wrap-up post to cover what I missed; so sorry for not posting almost anything all month long.

So, this month, for the foodie pen pals, Monica, who lives in Florida, sent me a package full of local favorites. This includes the Plantain chips and garlic dipping sauce, yellow rice, popcorn, a chia drink, and Maria’s cookies and locally made honey. She also sent a pumpkin bread and some candy and lollipops over for the fall holiday season.

If you would like to join or know more about Foodie Pen Pals, visit Lindsay’s website; to find out what I sent, go to My Outside Voice.

Hope you all have a safe and fun Halloween!

Photo Friday!

Since I missed this past Wednesday’s What I’m Reading, I am going to add that to the end of this week’s Photo Friday! post. I’ll be back on track next week; sorry!

So, I am getting better at remembering to take pictures; however, I am bad at remembering to take my camera with me everywhere, so I had to take all photos with my phone this week. Therefore, you’ll have to bear with my unedited, poor quality pictures this week.

First up, a blurry picture from trivia on Tuesday night. If you live in SF and want to join our team, we are scouting for members, especially those that know sports and pop culture/movie/music trivia. :)

I was going to take more than one picture of that night, but got caught up in the game and drinking (duh!) and forgot!

So, the next few pics are all from last night, at the Underground Market at Public Works. (Should I really be sharing this in a public space?!)

First thing I ate all night: Biscuit Bender’s with their cheddar gravy. YUM!

The picture really does not do it justice. These were mighty biscuits! They also have sweet options and American Eatery (part of Prather Ranch Meat Co.) in the Ferry Building uses their biscuits for breakfast items on their menu.

Next, a photo of the band Izzy Wise, who rocked out last night. The girl was playing the clarinet and the guy, Izzy, was playing a few different (and strange) instruments.

 

Next up, the truffles I bought from Casa De Chocolates in Berkeley. They are dark chocolate with cocoa powder. Sweet and delicious, but a bit messy from the cocoa powder.

The view from above…they are making mac n’ cheese from Homeroom and cheese plates from Mission Cheese. Mmm….cheese!

The next photo is my view of the crowd last night from my spot upstairs. It was totally packed! Lines for food were bending around corners and up stairs! Crazy!

And…that’s all for the photos of this week! Now, for What I’m Reading!

  1. Blog posts about cookies: peanut butter drizzled chewy milk chocolate chunk, & coconut oatmeal chocolate chip, to be exact.
  2. Recipes with blueberries: lemon blueberry poppy-seed muffins and a grain-free blueberry tart.
  3. A poem about Boysenberry and Plum Cobbler
  4. and, to round it all out, because pies are round (worst pun ever!): Chocolate Espresso Ganache Pie

Foodie Pen Pal

This month I became a part of the foodie pen pals. This is, yes, another food (blogger) community that I became a part of; it was started by Lindsay from The Lean Green Bean. It is a group of bloggers (or non-bloggers) who are paired up to receive and give a foodie package and letter. This month, I was paired up with and sent goodies to Erika from MCM Mama; head on over there to see what I sent her! I got paired up with a non-blogger, Mandy, who sent me goodies from Louisiana.

Mandy sent me a little card with the package describing what was included. She sent two mini pumpkin nutella loaves, coffee from Cafe du Monde with chicory and an alligator shaped cookie cutter. She says, “Since I moved here last fall, I’ve been hoping to happen upon a gator (while in my car of course) but it has yet to happen.”  Thanks again, Mandy!

I’ll have to make some cookies soon because I now have an alligator shaped cookie cutter and a camel shaped cookie cutter. What type of cookies do you think I should bake? Maybe these funfetti cookies?

I also now want to make coffee ice cream and try making coffee bacon. Funny, I sent coffee in my package as well, thinking about all of the things you can bake with coffee. Just in case, like me, they don’t drink coffee. Now to find a way to brew coffee without a coffee maker…anyone know how? Or just find recipes that use the coffee beans/grounds. If you have any recipes you’d like to share, post them (or a link to them) in the comments!

Looking forward to using the goodies from this month and receiving new ones next month! Check back to find out what I get in June!

Two Ways {Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough}

There is almost always two ways of doing things (and sometimes more). This week, I made chocolate chip cookie dough in two different ways and made them into two different things. 1) chocolate chip cookie dough truffles 2) chocolate-dipped chocolate chip cookies

You can try some for yourself if you come to San Francisco tomorrow (Saturday, April 28th) and come to Omnivore Books between 11am-4pm during the SF Food Bloggers Bake Sale! <<one way to entice you to come to the bake sale.

Or, you can come to support Share Our Strength and No Kids Hungry. <<another way to entice you to come to the bake sale.

OR, you can go to Omnivore Books to see Alice Medrich speak about her book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts and come early to get a good seat/snag a goodie from the bake sale. <<yet another way of enticing you to come to the bake sale.

OR, you can come to buy goodies from other bloggers (that are helping to host the sale): Annelies, Anita, Irvin, and Shauna (Thanks for all your hard work putting this together for the third year in a row!) <<yet ANOTHER way to get you to come to the bake sale.

What ever your reason is, I hope to see you tomorrow! :)

Not in SF, you say? Well then, I guess you could try making these at home. They are simple, really. Just make chocolate chip cookies. Then dip them in chocolate. {From another SF blogger, Anita (she happens to be one of the organizers of the bake sale) about chocolate tempering.} Dine on one of your chocolate-dipped cookies. Maybe have another. With some ice cream. Or a glass of milk. See? More than one way of doing something. The truffles are a bit more work; more to come on those soon.

Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy your weekend! And, if you ARE in SF, come stop by and say “hi”! (I can’t stop! Sorry!) But really, it’s for a good cause. (Okay, now I’m done.)

Bringing New York To San Francisco {Bagels & Black and White Cookies}

What says New York like bagels and black and white cookies? Even Anthony Bourdain said that New York makes the best bagels…

So, taking on the challenge to create perfect bagels and black and white cookies was, well, challenging.

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Let’s start with bagels. Once I tell someone that I have made bagels, they ask, “did you boil and then bake them?” and I think my face contorts into a funky mess as I reply, humbly, “Yes, of course!” It always comes to a surprise to me that people even have to ask. How else are bagels made? How else do you get that chewy texture? Have they heard of people just simply baking bagels like they would anything else? I guess so. I just can’t even imagine it.

So, yes, I boiled and then baked the bagels. I think they came out great, especially with the addition of poppy seeds.

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Now, on to the other New York classic, the black and white cookie. Now, just to clarify, these are sugar-type cookies (though more cake-y than cookie-y…) that are frosted in half chocolate frosting and half vanilla frosting—hence the black and white. Not to be confused with the other black and white cookies, made with white chocolate chips and bittersweet chocolate chips! These are almost their own breed of cookie. You just have to try them, okay? :)

I made these because, believe it or not, I met someone who had never even heard of them until I brought them up. Also, because I love the memory I have of my sister and I sharing them. She got the vanilla half and I got the chocolate half. Perfect.

Distictive Cookies. {Homemade Milanos}

You read that right. I made Milanos. The beloved chocolate sandwich cookies from Pepperidge Farm. We added orange zest to the cookies themselves, rather than adding an orange curd-type layer like the orange flavored ones, which gave ours a bit of uniqueness…all in all, they tasted similar to the originals, which is to say, quite good.

We brought them to a party, so we decided that we would have to package them like the real thing, in the white paper cups. We also put them in a white bag, but the Pepperidge Farm packers/people who made their packaging really know what they are doing and can make their cookies stand up. Our tower of cookies got all lopsided once in the bags. Nonetheless, our cookies made it to the party in one piece and were enjoyed by all!

P.S. This post is a part of my catching up series.