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.

Photo Friday! {Portland Recap}

I know this should have been posted last week, but I honestly forgot all about it.

Portland-bike_sign

We saw this sign and a lot (but not all of them had that koala sticker on the head). I think they should post these signs in San Francisco, too.

Portland-moonstruck_chocolate_company

One of the first places we went to was Moonstruck Chocolate Company. Their chocolates were good, but some were just too sweet to want more.

Portland-Stumptown_coffee

Speaking of chocolate, we went to Stumptown Coffee, where we tried this hot chocolate, and of course, their coffee. It was as good as the small local (in SF) coffee shops such as Blue Bottle or Four Barrel.

Portland-Roscoes

We also went to Roscoe’s, and tried the stouts they had on tap that week. Mike got the taster pictured, and I got the double chocolate. (Yes, more chocolate. Note: this was not all in one day.)

Portland-Kenny&Zukes It was Purim while we were in Portland, so eating a hamentashen was required. (Though we probably would’ve gotten one anyway.) This was from Kenny and Zuke’s Deli. We also ate their matzo ball soup and latkes; all was good.Portland-songbird_cafeIf you are following my Facebook feed, you might have seen this picture already. It is of the tea I got at breakfast at Songbird Cafe one day. I liked the way the tea bag was floating in the mug; so pretty! Other Portland places of note that we went to: (a list can be found on my Foursquare)

And…that’s all for my Portland recap! It was really a fun trip and I can’t wait to go back!

Photo Friday!

It’s back! I intend to recap my week (or so) with photos every Friday. Since I’ve been “gone” for a while, this post will be longer than most. Enjoy!

pasta

We cooked a lot of dinners at home over the past few months. This includes some pasta and roasted veggies and a lot of brown butter!

roasted_squash roasted_squash&pasta

tofu_pork_stir-fry spring_rolls

and some Chinese inspired dishes: tofu & pork stir fry & spring rolls

honey_whole_wheat_muffins slice_smores_pie reverse_b&w_crinkle_cookies WinterSpice_granola choc_ginger_cookie_stencil pig_cookie_cutter

There were, of course, many desserts involved. This included, from top to bottom, honey whole wheat muffins, S’mores pie, a cookie swap that included reverse crinkle cookies, homemade granola, a New Year’s Eve party involving decorating cookies with homemade stencils, and some pig-shaped cookies (that I’ll tell you more about soon).

matilda_beer_vegas chicken_salad_vegas crepe_vegas choc_shake_vegas choc_cake_vegas

Lastly, we went to Las Vegas for my birthday (in November) and ate lots of food (and drank some beer) including that bottle of Matilda and a chicken salad-salad at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant inside the MGM, some chocolate desserts at Max Brenner’s, and more chocolate (in cake form, with a macaron on top) from Jean Philippe Patisserie.

What I’m Reading Wednesday

I know that it has been, like, FOREVER since I wrote one of these posts, so I will try my best to catch-up on all that I’ve been reading lately.

First up (and if you see when this was written, you will see just how long it really has been) a note about remembering to indulge a bit every once in awhile. Just make it a good one.

An article about what makes a (food) trend a trend. Also, Americans (& Canadians) make some sake.

There are many ways of photo-sharing on the Internet these days, but what about the photos of you that you’ll never see?

And, because it’s Halloween, and I figure I should have something topical on here: a candy hierarchy. And, candy for an adult palate, because, you know, you can’t have bourbon in caramels for the kids.

Some recipes I have made and will talk more about in the near(ish) future: S’more Brownies & Addictive Brussels Sprouts Salad

Happy Halloween! I hope all are safe (from Sandy and other chaos) this year!

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.