Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Rules Against for Perfect-and-chewy-ties Cookies

Okay, so I know that I promised this post a long time ago, and completely failed to deliver, but here it is now! Trust me on this, better late than never when it comes to these cookies. I have developed a few tricks/rules that deliver the best, chewiest, perfectly soft, and beautifully shaped cookies, nearly every time. A few rules and some patience. That's all. Follow them and you won't regret it!

Note: While the recipe below is for chocolate chip cookies, I use these rules for almost every batch of cookies that I bake.

P.S. You should make these chocolate chip cookies. Really. I mean it. Dare I say, the BEST CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE THAT I HAVE EVER EATEN?! I dare. They really are.



Rule 1: Use a paddle attachment. It seems silly, but I've noticed that using the paddle attachment (rather than using the whisk attachment) makes for softer cookies. I don't know how, but it does, so I don't question it.  




Rule 2: Corn Starch. Sounds crazy, right?! That's what I thought the first time that I saw a recipe that called for corn starch. I quickly realized, however, cornstarch is the gateway to cookie heaven. Add 2 tsp of cornstarch and your cookies will keep a nice shape, have perfectly crispy outer edges, and still be delicately soft inside. It works. Just believe.




Rule 3: ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS use high quality chocolate chips. It makes allllllll the difference in the world. People will notice, I promise. I switched from tollhouse and store brand chocolate chips to Ghirardelli and the crowds went wild. The cookies are simply better. There's no debating it.




Rule 4: Mix chocolates. I think adding two different types of chocolate chips to a cookie keeps things interesting and makes every bite a little different. It keeps the taste buds guessing and your cookie far from monotone. I love adding a little bittersweet too, just to cut back the overall sweetness of the cookie. Makes for a more sophisticated cookie. 



Rule 5: FREEZE THE DOUGH. If you're going to follow only one rule, THIS IS THE RULE TO FOLLOW. The technique takes a little time and patience, but it is well worth the efforts. First, you have to make the dough, then refrigerate it until it's not ridiculously sticky (maybe an hour or two), and then, you have to make golfball-sized cookie balls. Place the balls on a cookie sheet and stick them in the freezer. After 2 hours, you can bake. Freezing the dough into round balls, and then baking them creates the perfect shape with just the right amount of thickness. The cookies won't spread everywhere. They just turn into perfect little mounds of deliciousness.

Note: I usually don't bake right away, but rather stash ziplock bag fulls of cookie balls in my freezer for later use. I like to keep them on hand for whenever I get a random cookie craving or need a last minute potluck contribution.




Now the recipe that will change your life...



What you'll need: 

- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened 
- 3/4 cup brown sugar 
- 1/4 cup white sugar 
- 1 egg 
- 2 tsp vanilla extract 
- 2 cups flour 
- 2 tsp cornstarch 
- 1 tsp baking soda 
- 1/2 tsp salt 
- 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used 1/2 cup bittersweet & 1 cup semi-sweet)


How you make it:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using a paddle attachment, cream together butter and the white and brown sugars until fluffy and light in color. Then, add the egg and vanilla. Mix well. 

Next, mix in the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Lastly, stir in the chocolate chips.

Place the dough in the fridge to firm up, approximately an hour. When firm, shape the dough into golf-ball sized cookies and place on a lined baking sheet. Freeze the balls for at least 2 hours, or for weeks. 

When ready, bake the frozen dough at 350 degrees for approximately 10-12 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges.  (The tops will not brown, but do NOT cook longer than twelve minutes.)

Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes, and then remove them from the baking sheet and let them cool completely.  Enjoy your treats! Try not to eat them all.




Saturday, June 7, 2014

Employment & LabORANGE WALNUT & CRANBERRY GRANOLA Law

Hiiiiiiiii!

This is my first post since officially moving back to Los Angeles! It's strange and exciting to be back here. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love it, but I'm HERE. Actually HERE. I haven't actually lived in LA since high school. That's like...umm...7 years ago. When I was 18. It's just weird.


BUT, I'm excited! Life is coming together for the most part. I've moved into an amazing apartment (that I probably can't afford), have my family close by (next door, no joke), and get to hang out with my best friend (Baileyboo, duh). Oh, and I'm studying for that little thing called the Bar Exam. Life could be worse (aka, will be worse in July). For now, I'm just taking it all in.

During an early morning walk with my roommate, Bailey, I spotted some oranges...

so I picked them...

and then zested them...

which was then baked...

and turned into the yummiest granola! 


This recipe is simply wonderful! I have already made 2 batches of it...in less than a week. And I haven't shared. Whoops. (I'm going to use the Bar as an excuse to stuff my face with any- and everything. Don't judge me.)

It's super simple, really fresh, and makes a sad-study-zone-apartment smell INCREDIBLE. Check it out!

What you'll need:

- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 3 tbsp butter, melted
- 2 cups oats (DO NOT USE QUICK OATS)
- 1.5 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- zest from 3 small oranges (I like a strong orange flavor. Add less for a more subtle flavor)
- 1/3 cup orange juice


How you make it:

Preheat you oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the butter, brown sugar, orange juice, vanilla, orange zest, cinnamon, and salt. Add in the oats and chopped walnuts and stir.

Now, spread the mixture on a lined baking sheets. Make sure to spread it out as much as possible -- a thick layer won't bake well. I suggest using a cookie sheet with a rims so that you don't have granola all over the bottom of your oven. Bake for 10 minutes.

Allow the granola to cool completely, then transfer it to a large bowl. Add in the cranberries and mix. DONE! Enjoy by the handfuls, with yogurt and fruit, or with milk. Store in an air tight container for freshness.


Legal Term: http://www.sba.gov/content/employment-labor-law


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Classic VanilLAW Cake with Raspberry Filling and Milk Chocolate Frosting

TODAY IS THE LAST DAY OF LAW SCHOOL. Insanity. Three years ends today. I don't know what to do with myself...



So, I baked a cake. This cake is celebrating two things -- Meagan's Birthday and the end of our law school lives. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MEAGS!

The cake is on the denser side. It's good, but it almost resembles pound cake. The real money is the FROSTING. Honestly, this might be the best frosting to have ever touched my lips. I ate spoonfuls of it when I was done frosting the cake...I never do that.





What you'll need for...

The Cake:
- 4 cups flour
- 2 tbsp baking powder
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 2 cup milk
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 4 eggs

The Filling: 
- 1-2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)

The Frosting:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla




How you make...

The Cake:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8-inch pans (I used Pam spray).

Then mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add in the butter, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Using a hand mixer, beat everything together until well incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans, trying to make them as equal as possible. Place them in the oven and bake for 30-33 minutes. They cakes should be a light golden brown and a toothpick should come out cleanly. Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for 15 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack (or a plate.

The Frosting:

Using either a hand mixer or a Kitchen Aid, cream the butter on medium for 4 minutes. Add in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder, then mix on low for a minutes. Next, add in the milk and vanilla extract. Again, mix on medium until mostly incorporated. Then, turn up the mixer on high and let it mix for 4-5 minutes until the frosting is fluffy and has a lighter chocolate color.




The Assembly:

Alright, this is the fun (messy/scary) part. Trim your cake tops so that they are flat and will lay nicely on top of on another. Place you first layer down. I like to place the "bottom" of the individual cakes face up (this provides you a smoother top surface). Spread about 1/3 of the frosting across the top of the bottom layer. Then, sprinkle the raspberries over the frosting. Place the next cake layer on top of that (again, "bottom" up) and put the remainder of the frosting on the top and sides of the cake.

AND YOU'RE DONE! Let the cake sit for 1-1.5 hours before serving. YUMMMM





It looked so good, I couldn't wait for the birthday party -- I made mini cake sandwiches from the cake trimmings. SO GOOD! YUMMMMM

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Pis-STATUTE-io and Cranberry Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Law school classes end in 8 days. Then only a few papers stand in my way of graduation. How did this happen? It feels like just a few months ago, I met my friends for the first time during our ID photos (week 1 superstars); just last week, I was working in San Francisco; and just yesterday, I was having fish-filet taste-tests. It has been a crazy three years. I'm not sure how I survived it without serious mental scarring. Seriously.

Thank you blog for giving me a excuse to "taste-test" cookies whenever I am stressed.



I really want to get into a "look back" post, but I'll save that for my next entry. Right now, I'm on the final stretch and it's time to full out sprint. ALMOST THERE!






What you'll need:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup toasted pistachios, shucked and chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
- juice of half a lemon
- lemon zest from one lemon
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 3/4 suger


How you make it:

Don't turn on the oven. Lately, I am obsessed with freezing my cookie dough before baking. It really does result in a better cookie -- they're softer (yet crispy), they're thicker, and they're so much better looking.

Start by mixing the butter, sugar, and zest until white and fluffy. Then mix in the juice. Slowly add in the flour at low speed until dough forms. Fold in the cranberries and pistachios.

Then, in wax paper, roll the dough into a 2 inch thick log. Once you have a neat roll, place it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. (I left it in overnight)

When you're ready to bake, preheat your over to 350 degrees. Let the cookie dough log sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. Then, roll the cookie dough log in white sugar. I decided to get a little fancy and rolled the log in turbinado sugar, which adds a "glittery" look.  (but that is completely unnecessary and regular sugar is both easier and just as nice.)

Now slice the roll into 1/2-inch rounds. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 12-18 minutes, rotating at the 9 minute mark. When the cookies are lightly brown, they're done! DO NOT TRY TO REMOVE THE COOKIES RIGHT AWAY! Let them cool for at least 10 minutes, or else they will stick and crumble.

Ta-da! You have delicious cookies now. ENJOY!


Friday, February 14, 2014

Search and Caesar Salad with Cornbread Croutons


You have been SEARCHING for this recipe, and now you have found it! SEIZE it and don't let it go until you're done!




After all of the sugary sweets, I thought it would be nice to lighten things up a little.  Honestly, if you cut out the cheese, this is a pretty healthy recipe (but cheese can't hurt that much...right?).

Well, this recipe would make my momma proud. She LOVES a classic caesar salad dressing, anchovies and all. Everyone needs to trust me though -- this DOES NOT taste fishy! I swear by it. Cooking with anchovies sounds strange and scary, but they really just have a nutty flavor when you mix them into things. It's delicious and simple, and will leave people wondering, "hmm...what is that little extra flavor that has me coming back for more and more?" Step outside your comfort zone and try it -- you'll be pleasantly surprised.

I put a little twist on the classic caesar by adding cornbread croutons. They are slightly sweet, a nice texture addition, and just look darn pretty. I'm a big fan of how this worked out!



What you'll need for the...

Croutons:

- Cornbread -- you can either make it form scratch, from a box, or buy it already made from the market

Dressing:

- 4-5 anchovy filets
- 1 large garlic clove
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp pepper (I love pepper, but not everyone is such a fan. Add as much as you wish)
- 2 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup olive oil

Salad:

- 1-2 heads of romaine lettuce
- shaved parmesan cheese
- 1 chicken breast (optional)


How you make the...

Croutons:

Make, buy, etc. the cornbread according to the recipe directions. Allow to cool completely. Now, slice the bread into crouton-sized pieces. Spread the chunks on a cookie sheet and bake at 250 degrees for 40 minutes. Then, place on the top shelf and turn on the broil. MAKE SURE TO WATCH THE CROUTONS! They will burn VERY quickly. 1-2 minutes MAX on broil. Remove and allow to cool completely before using.

Dressing:

Super easy. Place all of the dressing ingredients into a food processor and pulse until there are no more chunks. Now taste it to make sure it's how you want it! If it's not how you want it, then add more salt/pepper/olive oil/mustard/or whatever you feel is missing. Refrigerate and use within 3 days!

Salad:

Cook the optional chicken breast fully, seasoning with some olive oil and salt. Allow to rest for 1-2 minutes once fully cooked. Then, slice it into bite-sized pieces. Now, chop up the lettuce and place in it in a large bowl. Sprinkle with desired amount of parmesan, croutons, and chicken. Add dressing, mix, and DIVE IN! Yummy!


Legal Term: Search and Seizure

Thursday, February 13, 2014

DEPRAVED HEART-stamped Sugar Cookies

Happy (early) Valentine's Day!

Check out these sugar cookies. They aren't the most incredible things in the world -- just simple, soft sugar cookies. BUT, they are homemade and have a heart stamp in the middle! I think that's pretty cool/impressive. Did I really make these? Awesomeee





What you'll need:

- 3 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup butter, cold & cut into chunks
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1.5 tsp liquid red food coloring



How you make it:

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Stir in the egg and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl mix together the flour and baking powder. Now slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture.

Once dough comes together, remove 2/3 of it and set it aside. Stir in the red food coloring into the remaining 1/3 of the dough, until the color is mixed throughout.

Roll the red dough out so that it is 1-2 inches. Cut out heart shapes and then stack them together.

Now, roll the remaining uncolored dough out so that it is 1 inch thick. Wrap the stacked hearts with the uncolored dough and slightly press together. Wrap the roll in plastic wrap. Lightly roll the entire thing along your countertop, then place it in the refrigerator for an hour (overnight would be best). You can also freeze the dough at this point (that's what I did).

When you're ready to bake, first let the dough come to room temperature (aka defrost). Then preheat your over to 350 degrees. Either line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper, or lightly grease it using non-stick cooking spray.  Slice the cookie roll into 1/2 inch cookie rounds and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cookies are very VERY lightly golden on the bottom. Remove them form the over and allow them to cook completely before removing them.

Viola! Heart-stamped sugar cookies. Perfect for Valentine's Day :)



Legal Term: Depraved Heart Murder


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

DOUBLEtree JEOPARDY Chocolate Chip Cookies

I won't lie, lately my baking/cooking concoctions have been lackluster. I seemed to have lost my baking-mojo for a while. These cookies (and the previous post for French Macarons), however, make me think that I'M BACK in full force. Try these absurdly amazing little gems. They take some extra work, but I am not over exaggerating when I say THEY ARE THE BEST COOKIES THAT I HAVE EVER MADE! Seriously. Try them!

Also, below is a rambling post. If you want to skip the story and head straight to the recipe, I don't blame you. I just needed an outlet for what I have been bottling up. If you skip it all, just know that cookies make everything better. Enjoy!





Ramble-Babble: 

Life is funny. Today, I had to turn down an absolutely AMAZING job opportunity. It was my dream job. It was perfect. It was in the city I wanted to be in, working with people I really liked, doing work that I'm extremely passionate about; but (BIG BUT), I need to go home and be with my family right now.

Cruel. Why tease me like this? Why set me up for this? Why put me in this difficult position?!

I like to believe that everything happens for a reason. (Right?) Sometimes, you can't see the reasons right away, but you just have to stay positive and know that, later down the road, you will look back and understand it all. Sometimes, we fall so that we learn to pick ourselves up (yes, I just quoted Batman).

We can struggle with the decisions that we have to make regarding the future and we can question the choices that we have made in the past; BUT we just need to push forward and not look back. Everything happens for a reason. We are meant to experience and feel certain things. Learn from them, and try again. Head up.

Lots of decisions/situations can make you sad. There's nothing wrong with that, as long as you remember things will get better. So, EAT A COOKIE and keep trucking.

There is really nothing that can make a person feel better than a warm, gooey, chocolate chip cookie. YUMMM! Can you think of anything more comforting in your time of need?! I think not. Nom Nom Nom coooooookiessss (Yes, I just quoted Sesame Street.)






The Inspiration:

These cookies are Philadelphia inspired. Over the last year or so, I have developed a love for the city, its food, and the Flyers (please make playoffs). If you have never been, GO! It's honestly an amazing place, and I'm happy to have gotten to experience it. It has a bad reputation, but once you give it an honest try, I think you'll fall in love with it as I did. (It only took 4 days for me to make my LA-diehard little sister a Philly fan. Miracles do happen.)

Back to the cookies, though. At some point, a friend told me about the Philadelphia Doubletree Hotel's chocolate chip cookies. They are so good that you can even buy them online.

My sister and I LOVE cookies, so we had to try one. Even in the 19 degree weather, they made us happy and warm inside. Just what a cookie should do.

These cookies are PERFECT. Crunchy, yet gooey. Nutty, yet perfectly chocolatey. Not too thin, but not too thick. All with a slight hint of oatmeal cookie lingering in the background. Just perfect. Really. I can't describe it, you just have to experience it for yourself.

Since you all can't go to the Doubletree Hotel (or want to spend $25 on an online cookie order), I have a copycat recipe for you. I AM BEGGING YOU TO TRY IT!

[I think this version might even be better than the one we bought. No joke.]


The Recipe:

What you'll need:

- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (use the good stuff!)
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 3/4 cup white sugar




How you make it:

Here's a twist -- DO NOT PREHEAT YOUR OVEN! I don't think that I have ever NOT started a recipe with "Preheat your oven to...;" so this is a first. The reason? You have to refrigerate the dough before baking. Preheating will come hours later, don't you worry.

So, the first step -- start by pulsating the oats in a food processor until the oats are semi-fine. Then set them aside.

Then, in a large bowl, use a hand mixer to combine the butter, brown & white sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice. Once the ingredients are creamed together, add in one egg at a time, until smooth. Now put the hand mixer away. I know you don't want to, but trust me, it makes a difference if you do the rest of this by hand using a spatula. DO IT! WALK AWAY FROM THE HAND MIXER.

Ok, great! Now in a small bowl mix together the oats, flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix it all together. Try not to over-mix, but make sure to get it all well-incorporated. Confused? Yeah, just play it by ear. I'm sure you'll be just fine. Go ahead and throw in the chocolate chips and walnuts and mix again.

Now, you have options. You can either (1) refrigerate the cookie dough bowl  for 2-3 hrs as is; (2) you can line a baking sheet, drop large cookie scoops on it and then refrigerate for 2-3hrs that way; or (3) you can drop cookie scoops on a baking sheets and freeze them (once frozen you can put them in a ziplock and keep it for later, as desired, use). Then, bake the cookies for 13-14 mins at 350 degrees. [I really think that's the perfect amount of time for my oven, but every oven is different.]

Here's what I did with my cookie dough. Its a rather long process, but I think it really does result in better cookies.

I popped the cookie bowl in the fridge overnight. The next day, I placed golf-ball sized pieces of cookie-dough on a lined cookie sheet and placed it in the freezer. After 3 hours, I baked some of the cookies at 350 degrees for 13 minutes, checking on them after 10 minutes. The rest of the cookies, I placed in a ziplock and kept them in my freezer for later, as desired, use.

Most people will recommend you allow the cookies to cool completely (and you should if you plan on feeding these cookies to other people), but (1) I am not nearly that patient, (2) I planned on eating all of these cookies, and (3) there is absolutely nothing on the face of this earth that is more amazing than a warm chocolate chip cookie (even it its a crumbly-sticking-to-the-cookiesheet-kinda-mess). No one is watching. Go on and dive in, there's no time for shame at this point.

The perfect thing that will make anyone forget about life's troubles and just be overcome with pure bliss. Enjoy, my friends. Enjoy.




LEGAL TERM: Double Jeopardy