Tips for Baking Yummy Cookies
Cooking Tips / May 31, 2018

Here are some baking tips from Dorie’s Cookie’s along with a few of my own thoughts. Give your oven plenty of time to preheat. Dorie suggests that you check the temperature with an oven thermometer (one that you buy, not the one already on your oven), and that you let it continue to heat for another 10 to 15 minutes. I have a pretty new oven, so I haven’t taken the extra step of buying a thermometer. But it’s probably a good idea. Use inexpensive rimmed baking sheets, also known as half sheet or jelly roll pans. I definitely agree with this. Because they are inexpensive, you can have plenty on hand when you want to do holiday baking, and they can be used for so many things besides baking cookies. Line those baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. I have a couple of the silicone mats, which I love, but be careful because I have torn my when I was cutting bar cookies still in the pan. Also, my husband started buying pre-cut parchment sheets, instead of rolls of parchment paper. So convenient! She suggests you have three sizes of cookie (or ice cream) scoops on hand:…

Snowy-Topped Brownie Drops
Recipes / May 30, 2018

I told you that we take brownies seriously in my family. Well, here are some brownies disguised as cookies. Delicious! Snowy-Topped Brownie Drops Makes about 20 cookies 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into about 10 pieces 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate 3/4 cup sugar 2 cold large eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 3/4 cup all-purpose flour Powdered sugar, for dredging Coarsely chop 6 ounces of the chocolate and scatter it over the butter. Finely chop the remaining 2 ounces of chocolate and set it aside. Melt the 6 ounces of chocolate with the butter. (I just do this in the microwave.) Stir sugar into the melted chocolate and butter. One by one, add the eggs, whisking for a minute or two after each egg. Whisk in the vanilla and the salt, and then the flour. Stir in the finely chopped chocolate. Cover dough and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Put some powdered sugar in a bowl. Using a medium scoop, scoop out level portions of dough or use a tablespoon to get rounded spoonfuls. Roll each into a…

Bonus Recipe: Classic Brownies
Recipes / May 26, 2018

I promised in my intro to Dorie’s Cookies, that I would share her brownie recipe. We take brownies seriously in our house, and our favorite recipe is Barefoot Contessa’s. The Contessa’s brownies manage to be super rich and fluffy all at the same time. I will say Dorie’s brownies are more on the traditional, fudgy side, but still satisfied our brownie cravings. In our house brownies don’t have nuts, and they certainly don’t have icing. You could add 1 cup of chopped walnuts to this recipe if you like, but if you want icing you’re on your own. Classic Brownies 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped 3/4 cup sugar 2 cold large eggs 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1/3 cup all-purpose flour Makes 16 brownies Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Melt the butter and the chocolate together. Stir in the sugar. When the sugar is incorporated, beat the eggs in one at a time. Stir in the salt, followed by the vanilla. Add the flour all at once and gently stir and fold it in. Scrape the batter into…

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies
Recipes / May 24, 2018

I’m running a little behind this week, and Dorie’s Cookies is a big book. Consequently, I think I am going to try another recipe or two, and then give my review at the end of next week. Today’s cookie would be perfect for Memorial Day get-togethers. It’s really cute and the red strawberries look great with Patriotic decorations. Strawberry Shortcake Cookies FOR THE CAKES 1/3 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon baking powder Pinch of sea salt 2 large eggs, at room temperature 1/3 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM 1 cup very cold heavy cream 2 tablespoons powdered sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract FOR THE TOPPING 8 to 12 ounces strawberries, hulled Makes about 24 shortcakes Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two regular muffin tins or use baker’s spray. To make the cakes, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium for about 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is pale and tripled…

Sweet Treats: Dorie’s Cookies
Cookbook Overviews / May 21, 2018

I have a problem when I go to my local library to browse the cookbooks, I always end up picking up baking cookbooks. Yes, I do have a sweet tooth! My latest baking cookbook find is Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan. This is a huge, quite comprehensive cookie cookbook. So if you want any type of cookie recipe you will probably find it here. Greenspan is an award-winning cookbook author and columnist for The New York Times Magazine. She has written over a dozen cookbooks and Epicurious picked her cookbook Baking: From My Home to Yours as one of their top ten essential cookbooks. One thing I noticed right away about this cookbook was the categories she uses for her cookies. Check them out: Brownies, bars, break-ups and biscotti (wonder what break-ups are?) Cookies for every day, any day Cookies for weekends, holidays and other celebrations (interesting distinction) The beurre & sel collection (butter and salt, in case your French is not up to snuff) Cocktail cookies (cookies to eat with cocktails or cookies that taste like cocktails?) Cookie go-alongs and basics (I guess these are fillings and icings) I’m really excited to make some of these treats. I already…

My Verdict: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Cookbook Reviews / May 18, 2018

Here’s my verdict on The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. To Read: Definitely. Deb Perelman manages to combine cooking expertise with self-deprecating humor in a way that will make you want to try every recipe. After reading the stories that go with each recipe, I was always convinced that I must make the recipe she is describing, and that it would be successful. She has great cooking tips with the recipes,  and I loved the section on her must-have cooking tools, that is really geared for normal people with small kitchens. To Look At: Yes, there are several beautiful photos with each recipe. I think the photos, which appear to be taken in Perelman’s own kitchen, were also a factor in making each recipe seem appealing and manageable. To Cook From: Yes! I had great success with the recipes that I tried, and all of the recipes are written in a way that the reader doesn’t have to do any guessing. I really can’t wait to go back and try more of the recipes. I will be adding this cookbook to my collection at some point. Deb Perelman also has a 2nd cookbook, called Smitten Kitchen Every Day,which I hope to review…

Bonus Recipe: Parsnip Puree
Recipes / May 17, 2018

I made this side dish from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook along with the Balsamic and Beer-Braised Short Ribs.  Parsnip Puree 2 pounds parsnips (about 6 medium), peeled, sliced into medium-sized chunks 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 1/3 cup heavy cream 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish sauce or freshly grated horseradish 1/2 teaspoon salt Freshly ground black pepper In large, heavy pot,combine parsnips with enough cold water to cover. Place over moderately high heat, cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, about 20 to 20 minutes, then drain. Puree hot parsnips, butter, heavy cream, horseradish, salt, and freshly ground black pepper until smooth. My notes: This is a tasty, simple side dish that is a good change up if you are tired of mashed potatoes.

Balsamic and Beer-Braised Short Ribs
Recipes / May 17, 2018

A couple of weeks ago, I let my youngest son pick the recipe, so this week I let my older son pick a recipe for me to try from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. He’s a big meat eater, so of course he picked short ribs. I had never make them before, and I have to say I will definitely be making them again. Balsamic and Beer-Braised Short Ribs 5 pounds bone-in short ribs Salt Freshly ground pepper 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 large red onion, chopped 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled 2 tablespoons tomato paste 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 2 bottles dark beer 2 to 3 cups beef stock Minced fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional) Prepare the braise: Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat a large Dutch oven over high heat and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Once the oil is hot, brown the short ribs on all sides, in batches. Transfer the browned ribs to a plate, and then repeat with remaining ribs. Braise the ribs: Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Once the ribs are browned and removed from pot, turn down to medium-high and pour out all…

This Week’s Favorite Things, May 15
Favorite Things / May 15, 2018

Book: I am about half-way through Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover. Westover writes about growing up in Idaho with survivalist parents. She doesn’t go to school, instead she works in her father’s scrap yard, which is dangerous but even more so since her father doesn’t believe in doctors or hospitals. It is really fascinated, and she does a good job of trying to tell the story not just from her perspective, but also the perspective of her other family members. Eventually Westover left her family, got a PhD from Cambridge, and wrote this best-selling book. I can’t wait to finish the book to see how she gets there. Movie: I went with my friend Miha to see the new Amy Schumer comedy I Feel Pretty the other day. This movie has not recived the best reviews, but my sister told me that she enjoyed it so I thought I would check it out. The premise is that Amy Schumer’s character bumps her head while doing SoulCycle and wakes up thinking she is beautiful and thin. This gives her a lot of confidence, which allows her to make some big changes in her life. The movie has plenty of flaws, but…

An Obsessive Home Cook: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Cookbook Overviews / May 14, 2018

I was super excited to finally take a look at The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman. Perelman is a popular food blogger and her cookbooks are often mentioned on lists of must-have cookbooks. There is no real catch to this cookbook or Perelman’s blog, except that Perelman describes herself as an obsessive home cook. She had no formal training, but she just loves to experiment with recipes until they are perfect. She cooks in a small New York apartment for her husband and small kids. There are even photos of the small and modest kitchen she uses to create these great recipes. This is one of those cookbooks where I really I wanted to make pretty much every recipe. I can’t wait to show you on Wednesday the recipe I tried out. Spoiler warning: It was delicious! If you want to go ahead and get started on some Smitten Kitchen recipes, check out her blog. Her writing in this cookbook and on her blog is funny and inviting, and I am sure you will be convinced to try out some of her recipes right away.

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