I get a lot of random late night cravings, anything from cherry clafoutis and fresh homemade margarita, down to the basics like fudge brownies. Alone in the house one night, going through unanswered emails, I had the strongest need for chocolate chip cookies. I had to stop what I was doing and bake some stat.
I make different kinds all the time, but I tend to favor this recipe because the resulting cookies remind me of the palm-sized ones you grab from bakeries right before you pay–you just couldn’t resist getting them. Comfort me with big, chewy mouthfuls of chocolate goodness, please.
Another bonus is that these take less than an hour to make and they don’t require any special equipment. It’s just perfect for those last-minute cravings.
I had a specific craving for good ol’ chocolate chip cookies and stuck to using just bittersweet chocolate chips that evening. However, the base cookie recipe is excellent for adding whatever your heart and taste buds desire: white chocolate, milk chocolate, butterscotch, almonds, cashews, and dried fruits, but probably not all at the same time. Keep things simple and pick two or three at the most, or you would have to tweak the recipe a bit to compensate for moisture and sweetness.
Author: Joy - Gourmeted.com [Adapted from Cook's Illustrated Magazine]
Recipe type: Cookies
Active prep time:
Total hands-on & cooking/baking time:
Makes 18 3-inch cookies. These chewy chocolate chip cookies are the quintessential bakery cookies. They are great whether eaten fresh out of the oven (with or without ice cream, just a suggestion) or after cooling. This is a great overall cookie base that can be used as a vessel for other flavored chips, nuts and dried fruits.
2⅛ cups (300 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon table salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup or 1½ sticks (170 grams) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup (200 grams) brown sugar (light or dark)
½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 - 2 cups chocolate chips or chunks (semi or bittersweet) - I use 1½ cups of bittersweet chips
Pre-heat oven to 325°F, with the racks in upper- and lower-middle positions. Prepare two 20"x14" baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets.
Mix flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside. Stir or whisk butter and sugars in a large bowl until thoroughly blended. Add in egg, yolk, and vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients; mix until just combined. Stir in chips.
Shape scant ¼ cup dough into a ball. Split it in half and stick it together side by side, with both jagged ends facing up. Carefully press to form a cylinder. It would look like sushi roll with a jagged top.
Bake in pre-heated oven for 15-18 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time. The cookies are done when the bottom edges of the cookies begin to brown and the tops would still be a little puffy. Cool cookies on cookie sheets propped on cooling racks. [Frozen cookies might take up to 3 minutes extra baking time.]
Make ahead: Prepared dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month.
To freeze dough: It's best to pre-shape dough and freeze until they are solid, and transfer into freezer-safe resealable bags or container in a single layer.
I grew up in a culture and age where salads were mostly either made with vinegar + salt + pepper or mayo. I don’t remember salads being a big part of our meals in Manila when I was young. We had our double starches (rice, bread and noodles — any combination of those) to go with the main courses. Fresh or steamed vegetables were dipped in sauces like vinegar with anchovies, soy sauce and calamansi (my favorite), or mayo and ketchup. I have a very good taste memory, but without any childhood recollection of taste combinations, I’m at a loss in a salad-inclusive North America. I even avoided volunteering to bring a salad to potlucks. It stressed me out just to think about it. [It still does.] I would gladly make you pie or cake. You can just see my deer-in-the-headlights look.
One of my cooking-related goals this year is to get in there, try as many dressings/salads (sorry, friends and family), and make some more until I can whip them together with ease. I have a 50% failing rate as far as my own rating system goes–I’m hard on myself, but that helps me keep improving. I still have a lot to learn.
We’ve been enjoying the summer bounty from our local farmers markets. Here I used shaved carrots, radishes and a variety of tomatoes.
This dressing I’m sharing today is not one of those failures. This is my go-to recipe over the past year, my saving grace when my mind is blank at the end of the day and we have some beautiful vegetables to eat fresh. It’s a light sesame ginger dressing that has been well-received during family dinners. If we can make the kids eat a few bites of veggies, it’s considered a win.
It tastes similar to the light dressing that comes with the house salad at a Japanese restaurant. If you like that, you will love this. There’s just enough boost of flavor, but it lets the vegetables shine. It’s good to start with some lovely produce.
Easy light dressing for a variety of summer vegetables.
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons canola oil
1½ tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced shallots or red onion
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar (you can also use maple syrup or honey)
⅛ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl and drizzle or toss with your salad ingredients. Add salt, pepper and sweetener according to your taste. Just remember that it would usually taste sweeter later on.
What you can use for the salad:
Vegetables: Works very well with tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, carrots, lots of salad greens (lettuce, arugula, etc.), sprouts, etc.
Nuts: Lightly toasted shaved almonds and pecans, pepitas, sesame seeds.
Dried fruits: Cranberries, blueberries, etc.
You can also add some fresh or fried tofu, seared beef or tuna, slices of chicken breast.
I wasn’t the type of person who kept frozen fruits in the freezer. A firm believer of eating everything fresh, I just bought what’s in season at the farmer’s markets. Shakes or smoothies weren’t my ‘thing’ either, preferring to masticate on my fruits and veggies to fill me up because I tend to snack throughout the day. It wasn’t until I lived with a smoothie-loving frozen fruit-stocking partner that I realized what I had been missing.
While I (still) rarely reach for a shock of cold fruit drink, except for two scorching-hot summer days every year, I appreciate those bags of frozen fruits now. They satisfy any last-minute cravings for fruit pies, especially for out-of-season fare. Whenever everyone in our household would have the patience to wait for a couple of hours, I would make pie–double crust and all– or tart, but a quicker substitute for our dessert-/sweets-loving family is this go-to simple crumble. This minimal-effort snack, dessert or breakfast treat requires only these 3 easy steps:
Toss the fruits in sugar and flour. [I add a pinch of ground cinnamon and nutmeg sometimes.]
Top with a layer of easy-mix crumble.
Bake for half an hour or so. Do something else.
We love having this for dessert and I usually prepare this right after dinner. While it’s baking, the girls either do homework and we’ll catch up on some reading (or knitting) or we’ll play board game if it’s a non-school night. Easy peasy.
I make this for weekend breakfasts, too. There’s no need to wake up early for this and it’s done before anyone could say, “I’m hungry!”. The aroma of something baking in the oven is almost a welcome “alarm clock”.
Frozen four-fruit medley mixed with ground almonds, sugar, and flour.
Oaty and nutty crumb topping makes a nice texture contrast with the fruit filling.
Pairs nicely with whipped cream.
You’ll know it’s done when you see the fruit filling oozing from underneath the crumble.
If you want to make this for breakfast on a busy work morning, don’t fret. Pre-mix the fruit filling and the crumble the prior evening, transfer the fruits in your baking dish and mix the crumble in a separate container, keeping both in the refrigerator overnight. Bake in the morning while you’re getting ready. All set to go.
Going on a trip to the cabin but don’t want to bring all separate ingredients? This is what I did for our family trip last weekend: pre-mixed the crumble (minus the butter) and the almond mix for the filling and placed them in separate containers. We brought fruits and butter on the island and it took less than five minutes to put together before baking. We had this for dessert with some whipped cream and mango goat milk ice cream while playing an intense round of Ticket To Ride – Europe.
Give it a try. It’s no April Fool’s joke, it really is so easy to make!
An easy fruit crumble that can be used for any fresh or frozen fruit the whole year round.
For the Crumble
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
2 tbsp Demerara sugar (or any brown sugar)
¾ cup almond slices
⅓ cup cold butter, cut into half-inch cubes
¼ cup quick oats
For the Fruit Filling
2 pints of washed hulled/sliced fresh or frozen fruit
¼ cup to ⅓ cup of sugar (packaged frozen fruit tend to be less sweet, so use more sugar)
3 tablespoons almond flour
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 400°F with the rack in the middle or upper middle part of the oven.
Mix the filling ingredients (minus the fruit) in a medium bowl, then add the fruits. Toss fruits in the mix.
Combine the crumble ingredients, except for the butter, in a separate bowl. Add butter cubes and rub dry ingredients and butter between your fingers until most of the butter is incorporated and mixture resembles coarse sand.
Pour fruit filling in a glass, ceramic or metal baking pan and level. Distribute the crumble on top. Press it lightly to make it a little more compact.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30minutes, or until top starts to turn brown. You can leave it in the oven for another 5 minutes once it's turned off if you like the top more brown.
Dig in, serve hot with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, or warm with a dollop of freshly whipped cream. You can also enjoy it as is, but make sure to let it cool for at least 20 minutes.
How is it that we’re more than halfway through January? The three-week stretch before the holidays felt like the longest and slowest marathon of parties, get-togethers, preparation, shopping and errands and then Boom! time moves in lightning speeds.
It was lovely to spend some relaxing time with our loved ones once the flurry of pre-Christmas stuff settled down. The beau’s brother and his girlfriend flew in for the holidays, so it was quite a treat to have the entire family around the table on Christmas Eve. I remember when we were kids, my cousins and I were too eager and impatient for everybody to show up so we could eat then open our gifts. As an adult, one thinks about how to keep the kids preoccupied so we can enjoy each other’s company in peace. On the beau’s side, the girls are old enough that they engage in our conversations–they have very interesting things to say! We don’t have to give them toys and talk over the noise of their toys! Ha. On my side, my nephews are four and five, living and breathing dinosaurs, Transformers and Angry Birds. They can be really blunt and honest, which make gift-opening around the tree hilarious. You never really know how they’d react or what they would say. Oh, I don’t like that! [My gifting success average has been great so far when it comes to them. I pick items based on what I would like if I was a kid. Now what does that say about me?] Christmas reminds me of how fun it was to be very young and carefree, but then I’m glad I can sit back and appreciate the comfort of, and being with, family.
Living in a beautiful city–a prime winter destination at that–means getting a chance to repeatedly explore it like tourists whenever friends and family visit. The beau and his brother love skiing so a day trip to Whistler during their short stay was a no-brainer. Vancouver being Vancouver, it did take a bit of wrestling with weather scheduling, but in the end one should just go and prepare for the worst. It wasn’t a great snow day for our skiing companions, but the rest of us who roamed the village and took the leisurely gondola ride between Whistler and Blackcomb didn’t have much to complain about the view and the powder.
Whistler Mountain, by the Peak To Peak gondola
View from Blackcomb Mountain
It’s definitely a breathtaking and photo-worthy view.
Peak To Peak gondola that goes between Whistler and Blackcomb mountain.
Ah, the 2010 Winter Olympics…
There really is no lack of beautiful scenery when you go to Whistler. We were treated with a gorgeous sunset on the drive back to Vancouver.
After all the celebrations, we slowly got back into our routines, including baking. It’s one of the things we truly enjoy doing as a couple, plus it warms up the kitchen, fills our bellies, and leaves the whole place smelling like freshly baked bread, cake or pastry. We had a few lonely bananas that we were more than happy to save from their their misery, so it’s banana bread time. We changed things up and used the recipe from the Miette cookbook. My go-to recipe requires sour cream and this one doesn’t, so this saved us an extra trip to the store on the first day of the year. I’m glad Jens picked the recipe because it’s so yummy! Not that I expect anything less from Miette, really, but it’s a good reminder that it doesn’t hurt to try to recipes. I love the delicate crumb, surrounded by the firm and almost-crunchy crust. Essentially, this is a good, solid, banana bread recipe that tastes more sophisticated than most. And that’s all you need to know if you’re looking for something to bake this weekend. :-) If you have the bananas, I’m sure all the other ingredients needed would already be in your pantry.
You’ll also soon find out how baking this Miette bread snowballed into a baking trend for us this January. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you would already know the insane baking that ensued.
4 medium soft, but not black, bananas (about 1 pound total), peeled and roughly mashed
½ cup (2 ounces) pecan pieces
Butter four 5"x3" loaf pans and dust with sifted flour. Tap out excess flour. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Make the Streusel
Pulse all the streusel ingredients in a food processor until coarsely combined. Transfer to a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate. If using immediately, just keep in the food processor bowl and refrigerate. The streusel can be kept for up to 5 days.
Make the Banana Bread Batter
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
Whisk sugar, eggs and vanilla on medium speed in a bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or in a medium bowl using a hand mixer. Mix until well combined and lighter in color, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce the speed and drizzle the oil until just incorporated, then add the banana mash and mix until combined as well. Add the dry ingredients and pecans into the batter in three additions; each time whisking until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Generously sprinkle the tops with streusel. There would be enough for the two big loaves, and more than enough for the three.
Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes for the smaller loaves and 45 to 50 minutes for the bigger loaves, until the breads have risen nicely and a tester inserted in the centre of each cake comes out clean. Place pans onto wire racks and leave for 20 minutes to cool.
Slide an offset spatula along the sides of each pan and invert the cakes onto the racks and allow to cool for another 20 minutes. Serve immediately or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Bread can be kept refrigerated for up to 3 days or kept in the freezer for up to 2 months if wrapped in a second layer of plastic and placed in freezer-safe resealable bag. Serve at room temperature.
I have this thing about bananas: I like to buy them. I anticipate that someone else would eat them if it’s available at home, but it’s really just me. I’ve been conservative with my banana purchases lately, but even so, I end up with 4 out of 5 bananas getting too ripe to fast before I can consume them. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m getting pretty tired of banana bread.Last week I looked for something else that’s fairly quick to make on a busy weeknight, because let’s face it–bananas won’t wait for you before they’re ready for the compost bin. And I really feel guilty throwing away food due to bad planning.
I turned to one of my go-to baking books, Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours, for inspiration. Sure enough, it saved the day (or evening) with an easy recipe for banana Bundt cake. It’s moist and light, almost like a teacake. The only ingredient change I made is with the sugar, decreasing it by a quarter of a cup. It was just the right sweetness for us.
All the ingredients for the recipe are readily available and you should be able to whip this up last minute. I used plain yogurt instead of sour cream (my preference of the two), which we almost always have except for that one evening. Oh, Murphy.
If you are fast, you can get this in the oven in 15 minutes. I did it in 20, photography included.
Once it’s done, the top will be shiny and moist, but a knife inserted in the middle of the cake would come out clean. Really try to control yourself from eating it right out of the oven.
We enjoyed this for breakfast, packed it for school and office snacks, nibbled on it while playing a board game and even gave a couple of slices to the out-laws. If you’re unsure of making this because of the size, I assure you, this will be gone in no time. Bring it to a party or to work and you will come home with an empty plate.
If you’re in Vancouver, baking this would be a great way to warm up the house and it’s a simple, yet delicious snack on this rainy weekend. I’d recommend it with a cup of tea and a good book.
There’s no getting around the too-lazy-too-cook-for-oneself bug when you’re at home for lunch on a hot summer day, or any day for that matter. I’ve heard it many times from friends who live alone: how do you get motivated to prepare a healthy meal or snack? Look no further than your local grocery store or farmer’s market and get what’s in season. That is my dirty little secret. I can admit to eating bananas or ants on a log (i.e. celery with peanut butter and dried cranberries) when I’m really pressed for time and need sustenance.
I had this for lunch last week and I felt much better about eating it than reaching out for a bag of chips. Hey, it happens.
This is as simple as it gets:
Peel and slice fresh peaches (or just slice nectarines)
Crumbled creamy goat cheese over the quarter moon slices
This dessert-turned-quick-experiment was brought to you by Jens’ chocolate mousse craving and his Greek yogurt substitution idea. I’m always happy to oblige his sweet tooth and even more so because we were both feeling under the weather, with him suffering most of the flu symptoms. After a trip out of town combined with the exhaustion from cycling over 100 kilometers, neither of us had any sense to check our dairy essentials for expiration dates. It turned out our heavy cream had gone bad, so he suggested using the only alternative we had left aside from milk: Greek yogurt. A quick online search proved that it was doable, so I trusted my kitchen instincts and went with it. Experience has shown that I do get good results when we collaborate on food this way, plus we had a chocolate bar on standby in case this produced an inedible pudding. I knew I had to add more sugar to counteract the sour yogurt, but when I tasted the whipped chocolate and yogurt mixture, it didn’t really need any more than a touch. An additional tablespoon was just the right amount of sweetness boost it needed.
As much as I love Greek yogurt, it doesn’t necessarily go with chocolate and I did cringe at the thought of combining them. Thankfully, my fears dissolved with my first spoonful of the mousse. It had a deep chocolate flavor with hint a of orange and vanilla. We couldn’t tell there was yogurt in it at all, unless we really tried to look for the taste. We shared the rest of it with his folks for dinner the following day and it tasted even better then!
A rich chocolate mousse goes exceptionally well with sweet blueberries. We’re lucky to be able to enjoy fresh ones in the summer and we take advantage of that as much as we can. The ones I took home from a BC Blueberry Council event were ginormous and almost as big as quarters! Mmm…I love the pop of fruit with the decadent mousse.
I was a tiny bit concerned that the thick yogurt would weigh down the mousse, but it didn’t affect its fluffiness at all. It was still light and smooth, and ridiculously good as can be. Here’s to another successful experiment and dessert–thanks to the beau for yet another wacky and awesome idea!
When I’m not devouring fresh blueberries or baking them into pies to share, some of them make it into frozen treats like these. There’s nothing better on a hot summer day. Of course, there’s always the alternative of directly freezing fresh blueberries to pop into your mouth or crush into your favorite fizzy water or bubbly booze. ;-)
⅓ cup cold simple syrup, or more to taste (made by cooking 2 cups sugar in 1 cup water in medium heat until completely dissolved)
Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss blueberries and sugar in a bowl, then transfer and spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet/pan lined with aluminum foil. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Pour back into the bowl after roasting and let it cool.
Using your blender or blender stick with a bowl, pulse together yogurt and cream cheese until uniformly smooth. Add milk, blueberries and jam (if using) and blend. Taste the smoothie, and add simple syrup according to your preference. As a rule, make it a bit sweeter than you would like your drinking smoothie. Freezing tones down the sweetness.
Pour smoothie into popsicle molds and freeze for 30 minutes before inserting popsicle sticks. Note: soak popsicle sticks in warm water for half an hour before using to keep them from floating in the mixture while it freezes.
You can also use this recipe for strawberries (add balsamic vinegar for more flavor), cherries, raspberries, peaches, nectarines, and other fruits that catch your fancy. Alternatively, you can just put raw blueberries/fruits in the smoothie -- the roasting step takes out the raw tartness from some fruits.
Chicken macaroni salad was one of my favorite party side dishes as a child. Back in Manila, it was dotted with raisins, which I’ve grown to dislike through the years. I’ve come to embrace it’s blushing cousin, the dried cranberries, which I simply adore in salads and use as often as I can. I love it with the tuna mac because it adds a touch of sweetness and tartness that complements the tuna and pineapple well.
Tuna is my preferred alternative to chicken in salads for convenience–just drain and voila, you’ll have flavorful protein to add. And thanks to that, you can make this salad in 15 minutes or less, not including the time to wait for the water to boil. To save time, I put the pot of water on maximum heat while I start chopping vegetables to make good on time.
This is a substantial lunch or a good snack to pack for work, but watch out for the tuna smell. The chicken would be less offensive to the olfactory senses for some, for sure. It keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days if you keep it in the coolest corner, so it’s a good make-ahead dish as well.
I’m making slow and steady progress on the eating-healthier-lunch front, and even smaller steps on blog posting, but I’m getting there. I’m almost ready to make this again for lunch, actually.
I’ve included meat and vegan alternatives in the recipe. Hope you enjoy!
Cook elbow macaroni in salty water according to the package directions for al dente pasta and drain. Transfer pasta into a large bowl and add all the ingredients except for the cranberries. Add salt and pepper as desired. Add cranberries last.
Meat Alternative: Chopped cooked chicken, especially if you have leftover rotisserie chicken.
Vegan Alternative: You use "simulated" chicken meat sauteed with a little bit of chicken bouillon powder or cube to add some flavor. For the mayo, Earth Balance has a "Mindful Mayo" that is dairy free.
Scheduling lunch or coffee with friends during the week is a must for someone who works from home, not only does it save me from cooking and eating leftovers, it also provides my version of water cooler talk minus the awkwardness and abrupt Gotta-go’s. The fact is here are only so many conversations I could have with the cat at home. We chat about her love of tuna soup, how she can’t wait to rub herself against the bottom of daddy’s pants when he comes back from work, and her deep belief that she really is a queen.
Still, she is not a “co-worker” by any sense of the word. Her furry paws tend to step all over the keyboard and unintentionally sends emails that have not been edited. I can’t deny she is an eye candy when I do stay put to get things done for the day.
When I’m at home during lunch, I can’t possibly share her canned seafood delights and saltine-and-water “meals” can only get me so far in the day. I have been eating my fair share of the latter and it’s shamefully bad, that awful desktop diet. I’ve decided to put a stop to this and commit to cooking real food for myself. For lunch. Because I deserve it.
To motivate (and force) me to continue with this, I will be blogging the recipe of at least one meal I make during the week. Several friends are on the same boat, some subsisting on delivery pizza and Chinese takeout, so this series is for them, too. I hope this will inspire you all to take the plunge and be unafraid of making a little mess in the kitchen to prepare real home-cooked meals for one. It is worth the little time and effort put into them.
Here is last week’s easy lunch meal: Spaghetti Aglio e Olio. It’s a simple pasta recipe made with garlic, salt, olive oil, red pepper flakes and spaghetti noodles.
There’s no excuse not to have all the ingredients at hand. I made this for a get-together at the request of my best friend from high school and they all loved it. It’s one of the quickest dishes you can make and it’s a great alternative for tomato-based pasta. As you can tell, I’m a bit enthusiastic about this new endeavor that I took step-by-step photos to help even the beginner cook. The recipe was inspired by Lidia Bastianich’s new cookbook, Lidia’s Favorite Recipes: 100 Foolproof Italian Dishes, from Basic Sauces to Irresistible Entrees, which I found to be a great resource for easy Italian recipes.
Here's a simple pasta recipe with ingredients that are often already in your pantry: olive oil, garlic and parmesan cheese.
3 oz of dry (uncooked) spaghetti noodles
salt for pasta water and to taste
2 tsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 to 2 tsp of freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Fill half a 2-quart pot with water and salt and bring to boil over medium high heat. **As a general rule, water needs to be as salty as seawater when boiling pasta.
Put the spaghetti noodles in the pot and once the water returns to a boil, start timer for 9 minutes. Check pasta and cook until there is no white dot in the middle when you tear a noodle.
Drain water from the pasta and leave about a quarter of pasta water.
Making The Sauce
Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat.
Add garlic slices and cook until pale golden. Take off the heat and sprinkle red pepper flakes and salt to taste. Pour the remaining olive oil and the quarter cup of pasta water and put back on the heating element to boil.
Transfer the drained pasta into the frying pan and mix together with the sauce. Cook for a minute before transferring into a bowl and tossing with grated cheese.
Serve in a warm bowl.
For this recipe, I start heating the olive oil after the pasta has been cooking for 5 minutes. That more or less guarantees that by the time I need the pasta water, it's also the same time that the spaghetti needs to be drained.