26 May

Feels Like Summer

This weekend, to me, was the first weekend that we’ve had this year that really felt like summer. Part of it is the days getting longer, but mostly it’s the gorgeous—albeit a little hot for my liking—weather.

Matt was out of town for a couple of days so I had Friday night and all day Saturday to myself which, if we’re being honest, was kinda awesome.

I spent Friday night on a walk by the Detroit River with my friend Tina.

Detroit River

The riverfront is one of my favourite things about the city of Windsor.

I spent Saturday morning weightlifting and teaching yoga and the afternoon ripping out ugly bushes and stone from the landscaping. I’ve been wanting to get rid of them for a long time and it was one of those things that I can only pull off when the husband is away—that is, spontaneously doing a major house project, just because.

Here’s a photo of part of that project. I know a before picture would be nice, but I didn’t think too much before going to town on the overgrown shrubbery. Any suggestions of what I should plant here? It’s full shade.

landscaping

I made sure to take some time to just chill on Saturday afternoon by online shopping while sipping my first Greek Frappe coffee of the season.

Greek FrappeCheers to deliciousness!

Also because the husband was out of town I ate cookie dough for dinner on Saturday night. True fact.

And I might have had some cookie dough left over to actually bake cookies too.

Winning Chocolate Chiip CookiesLOVE this recipe

Overall, a pretty sweet weekend and that was only Friday and Saturday!

How was your weekend?

09 Feb

Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies

Breakfast Cookies

So I found this recipe online for something called Carnival Cookies filled with popcorn and chocolate chips. I had made a pact with myself last month to stop baking so many goddamn cookies after overdosing on cookie dough in the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies bake-off.

And then I saw these gorgeous little creatures with the super-cute name that don’t call for any butter or sugar and I decided to give them a go.

I like them, but they’re not sweet enough or rich enough. Most of the sweetness comes from the banana and the chocolate chips. They’re not really cookies, ya know?  They don’t deserve the moniker and, no, I don’t think everything rolled into a golfball shape and baked should be called a cookie.

Matt came home and tasted one and immediately asked, “What are these?”

“Ummm… they’re like cookies, but they don’t have any sugar?” It was definitely a response in the form of a question.

And then he grabbed another—the one with the most chocolate chips because it tasted the best.

I ate two of these this morning for breakfast without feeling all that guilty, and they were surprising more filling than I expected. So I changed the name of them from carnival cookies to breakfast cookies so

1) I don’t fool myself into thinking I’m going to be eating a delicious dessert
2) I do fool myself into thinking it’s cool to eat some for breakfast

Plus, I changed a bunch of ingredients so I have some liberties with the recipe title.

Chocolate CHip Breakfast Cookies

Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies

adapted from Carnival Cookies

makes 20

Ingredients

2 really big ripe bananas, mashed (or 3 normal sized bananas)
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 T. all natural peanut butter
1/2 c. rolled oats
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. semolina flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. mixed spices (incl. ground pepper, clove, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom)
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. chopped walnuts
3/4 c. chocolate chips
1 1/2 c. popped popcorn

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the mashed bananas, vanilla, peanut butter, and oil. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, flours, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix to combine.

Fold in the chocolate, nuts, and popped corn.

The dough may be looser than most cookies. Heap 1 tablespoon worth of cookie dough on to your palm and shape golfballs. Place about 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Bake for approximately 15-18 minutes until golden, rotating the baking sheet 180deg halfway through baking.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

09 Nov

Thomas Keller Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thomas Keller Chocolate Chip Cookies

I like these cookies.

They’re soft, chewy, slightly crispy on the outside, and, all around, they’re good.

. . . but not as good as the Winning Chocolate Chip and Hazelnut Cookies. The Thomas Keller cookies have a nice soft texture but there’s something about the other cc cookie recipe that I like better. Maybe I’m just partial to the extra bulk and crunch of the nuts?

Granted, I took these to a birthday/housewarming party and they got rave reviews.

But in the Menzies household we’re a little more particular about our cookies:

Me: Do you like these cookies?

Matt: They’re okay. Not as good as the ones with the nuts. They’re good.

Me: But what if you had never tasted the ones with the nuts? Would you like these?

Matt: If I never tried the other cookies before I would say that these ones are really good.

Me: But not “sooo good”? Or “Awesome”?

Matt: No. They’d be “really good”.

Me: But now?

Matt: They’re just good.

So there you have it folks. The relative deliciousness rests on whether or not you’ve made the chocolate chip hazelnut cookie before. Maybe start with this cookie to wow people and then the next time you bake for them you can really knock off their socks with the Chocolate Chip and Hazelnut Cookies

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Thomas Keller Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes twenty-one 3” cookies.
Source

Ingredients

2 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
5 ounces 55% chocolate*, cut into chip-sized pieces (about 1 1/4 cups)
5 ounces 70 to 72% chocolate*, cut into chip-sized pieces (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup packed dark brown sugar, preferably molasses sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs

*The original recipe called for both 55% chocolate and 70% chocolate. I couldn’t be bothered so I just used some good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

If you cut up the chocolate into chips yourself put them in a fine-mesh basket strainer and shake to remove any chocolate "dust" (small fragments)

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat half the butter on medium speed until fairly smooth.

Add both sugars and the remaining butter, and beat until well combined, then beat for a few minutes, until the mixture is light and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating until the first one is incorporated before adding the next and scraping the bowl as necessary.

Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed to combine.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the dough with a spatula to be sure that the chocolate is evenly incorporated.

Shape dough into balls the size of golf balls. Arrange the cookies 2′” apart; do not press down, they will spread during baking.

Bake for 5-6 minutes, then rotate the baking sheets and bake another 5-6 minutes or until the tops are no longer shiny.


This recipe is part of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies.

12 weeks of christmas graphic

Prior Posts:

Week 6: Macaroons
Week 5: Wildberry Dream Cookies
Week 4: Speculaas: Dutch Spice Cookies
Week 3: Poppy Seed Filling
Week 2: Cinnamon Bun Cookies
Week 1: Soft & Pillowy Coconut Frosted Cookies

26 Oct

Wildberry Dream Cookies

I’ve been feeling nostalgic for Norway lately.

image

I know I make it sound like I spent half my life there when really it was only a week vacation but I fell in love with Oslo and the beauty of Norway, even in the middle of winter.

The astronomical cost of everything there and long and cold winters are more than made up for by the friendly people, the beautiful scenery, and the very high quality of life.

I really do just want to run away there right now.

Oslo ParliamentNaerofjordFjordOslo

When Matt and I were staying in Geilo we stayed in an apartment there so we were able to cook our own meals. This proved to be extremely practical because the cost of food was through the roof.

One thing that we picked up on one of our many grocery store trips was, naturally, a box of cookies called Skogsbærdrøm Cookiene which roughly translates to Wild Berry Dream Cookies (according to google translate, of course).

Wildberry Dream Cookies

I really liked these cookies. They had dried fruit in them as well as white and milk chocolate. They were loaded with deliciousness.

One morning while drinking tea with cookies and watching Norwegian news I was “reading” the side of the cookie package. A lot of Norwegian words are incredibly similar to English so it didn’t take me long to decipher that the recipe on the outside of the package was a recipe for the cookies was a recipe for the cookies inside!

My first instinct was “Sweet! Jackpot!” and I immediately ripped the side of the cookie package off and tucked it into my luggage. I would be making these at home for sure.

My second instinct was “Who the hell puts a recipe for their cookies on the cookie package??”

Norwegians do. They’re good people.

I typed up the recipe in Google Translate to make sure that I got everything right. Suprisingly, my own Norwegian to English translation was pretty much on the ball. I’ve held on to the recipe since March but hadn’t made this cookies until recently when my urge to go on vacation back to Norway was strong.

They were just as good as I remembered.

Related Norway Posts:

Norway in March
Norway Travel: The Food
Exploring Norway by Train, Boat, and Bus
Active Pursuits in Norway
Homecooked Meals


DSCF7506

Skogsbærdrøm Cookiene

The recipe in Norwegian, for fun. Scroll Down for English.
(ca 20 store cookies)

4 dl hvetemel
1 dl havremel
150 g smor/margarin
1 1/2 dl sukker
50 ml farinsukker
1 1/2 ts bakepulver
1/2 ts salt
1/4 dl sirup
1/2 dl eplemos
1/2 dl vann
40 g torkede blåbær
40 g torkede tranebær
40 g rosiner
100 g hvit sjokolade
60 g lys sjokolade

1. Bland mel, smore, sukker, bakepolver, og salt slik at det blir som små brødsmuler. Tilsett så sirup, eplemos, vann, og rør til en deig. Bland til slutt inn bærene og sjokoladen.

2. Rull deigen forsiktig i en lang rull, ca 5-7 cm i diameter. Legg deigen i kjoleskapet i ca 30 min. Skjær deigen i skiver (ca 1 cm tykke) og legg skivene på en plate med bakepapir.

3. Forvarm ovnen til 400F senk så temperaturen til 350F og stek cookiene i 10-15 min – midt i ovnen. Avkjoles på rist.


DSCF7504

Skogsbærdrøm Cookiene – Wild Berry Dream Cookies

(makes 20 large cookies)

These cookies are very sweet, slightly crispy, and loaded with chocolate and dried fruit. The recipe is a bit funny because the volume measurements are metric (and not even standard) but with a few tweaks you can figure it out.

400 ml flour
100 ml oatmeal
150 g butter
150 ml sugar
50 ml brown sugar
1- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
25 ml light corn syrup
50 ml apple sauce
50 ml of water
40 g dried blueberries (~1/2 c)
40 g dried cranberries (~1/2 c)
40 g raisins (~1/2 c)
100 g white chocolate (~1/2 c)
60 g milk chocolate (~1/4 c)

1. Combine flour, butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until you get small crumbs. Pour into a separate bowl and add the syrup, apple sauce, water. Stir to form a dough. Mix in the berries and chocolate at the end.

2. Roll the dough gently into a log, about 5-7 cm in diameter. Put the dough in the refrigerator for about 30 min. Cut dough into slices (about 1 cm thick) and place the slices on a plate with baking paper.

3. Preheat oven to 400F, then lower the temperature to 350F and bake cookies for 10-15minutes – in the middle of the oven. Cool on wire rack.


This recipe is part of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies.

12 weeks of christmas graphic

Prior Posts:

Week 4: Speculaas: Dutch Spice Cookies
Week 3: Poppy Seed Filling
Week 2: Cinnamon Bun Cookies
Week 1: Soft & Pillowy Coconut Frosted Cookies

19 May

food journal 19/05/11

I have a tonne of leftovers so I’m putting them to good use at breakfast and lunch… I can see why Gina commented that food journals can be boring. And I see just how limited my diet is within a given week.

My meals today were seriously lacking in vegetables :(

Breakfast

-Leftover meser wat from Tuesday’s dinner
-a mango to cool my mouth down

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Lunch

-leftover bean salad from yesterday’s dinner
-banana that I sliced up and ate with a bit of peanut butter

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Dinner

- toasted sandwich with a sunny-side up egg, melted gudbrandsdalsost (my new favourite cheese from Norway), spinach, and a bit of dijon mustard.

DSCF5626

Dessert

-hideous cookie x2

DSCF5623DSCF5623

Workout

Do mowing the lawn and walking the dog count? I’m going to go with No.

We’ll call it a rest day.

18 May

Cookie Fail

Remember these amazingly delicious chocolate chip hazelnut cookies?

Chocolate Chip Cookies (4)Chocolate Chip Cookies (2)

I made them twice since posting the recipe and every time they came out fantastic every time.

I convinced my sister, Vicki,  that she had to make them for her sister-in-law’s baby shower because they are quick to whip up and they taste phenomenal. I was so disappointed when she told me that they didn’t turn out quite as good as she hoped. Apparently they were too “doughy” and not chewy.

Vicki said that she might have mistakenly used bread flour instead of all purpose so I was pretty convinced that that was the problem (the high gluten content of bread flour can result in a doughy product if it’s over-mixed). When Matt asked me to make yet another batch of these babies for the SWOSSA track meet I was happy to oblige so I could double check the recipe and make sure that I had it right.

I wasn’t expecting this:

DSCF5607

A failure of massive proportions.

It was the exact opposite of what happened with Vicki’s batch – these cookies were far too soft and I basically had to peel them like a sticker off of the aluminum foil. I knew what was coming when I dropped them on the cookie sheet and the dough was a little too wet:

DSCF5606

Since I’ve used the same recipe with success a couple of times now I’m pretty sure that it was me who messed up the butter/flour ratio and not the written recipe. But just to be sure I’m going to test the recipe again and write down all my measurements in grams so this doesn’t happen again. Oy.

I was so upset with myself that I refused to let Matt take the cookies with him. After he went to bed I snuck into the kitchen to make a half batch of the cookies that would at least look presentable (though hazulnut-less because I had wasted my last nuts on the loser cookies).

I was haphazard with the measurements but the cookies came out perfect. (No photo; Matt was out the door before I even rolled out of bed)

I didn’t know whether to be happy or annoyed.

Well, now I have 2 recipes to perfect: cinnamon buns and chocolate chip cookies.

20 Apr

Winning Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie

Tomorrow morning Matt is heading out to Tennessee (UTK) to coach his throwing team in a Track and Field meet. (Any Tennesseans in the house?)

Despite the fact that I’m jealous that he’ll be enjoying the Smoky Mountains and the 80*F weather I still decided to bake him some extra chewy, extra delicious chocolate chip cookies to take on the very long drive down south.

I’ve been dying to make the recipe for Erika’s Chunky Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies that the Top Chef Just Desserts judges raved about in episode 3.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (3)

And they’re worth raving about. I think this is my new Go-To Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.

The recipe on the Bravo website isn’t very specific, so here’s my version:

Chocolate Chip Cookies (6)

Chunky Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookie

(makes 18-24 depending on how much cookie dough you eat)

INGREDIENTS
  • ¾ c sugar
  • ¾ c dark brown sugar
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ lb salted butter, room temperature
  • 2 ½ c AP flour
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 ½ c semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c chopped hazelnuts
DIRECTIONS

If you don’t own a mixer: melt the butter and allow to cool. Beat the butter and sugars together with a whisk . Whisk in the vanilla, eggs (one at a time), and the baking soda.

If you do own a mixer: use room temperature butter and beat it in the mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until smooth. Add the sugars and cream them together with the butter, running the mixer for 2-3 minutes at medium speed. Beat in the vanilla, eggs (one at a time), and the baking soda.

Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in the baking powder and flour (Note: For the most accurate measurement of the flour, lightly spoon it from the container into the measuring cup and level off the flour even with the top edge of the measuring cup using the back of a knife. Don’t use the measuring cup to scoop the flour out of the container.)

Mix till incorporated – the dough will be wet and sticky—then add the hazelnuts and chocolate chips just until mixed.

Scoop cookie dough and form into a ball about the size of a golf ball. Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet and press down on the balls slightly with your fingers.

Bake at 350*F for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. The cookies should still be very soft and look underbaked. Let them cool on a rack before eating.

Chocolate Chip CookiesChocolate Chip Cookies (4)Chocolate Chip Cookies (5)


Bikini Eating:

Nothing but leftovers today. I’m slowly eating my way through the fridge.

1618 cal: 44% fat/ 47% carbs/ 9% protein

I made a soy latte AGAIN for breakfast today! I’m on a roll.

Bikini Fitness:

In spite of getting a blister the size of Tokyo on my baby toe that almost made we cop out early, I still finished 8 miles today (dreadmill. the weather was not in my favour). Hell yeah!

I think the combination of caffeine, a new music playlist, and all my training kept me going at lightning speed (…Because lightning travels at 6.2 miles per hour right? No? Excuse me, it’s been a while since I’ve taken a science class.)

(Training Schedule)

Bikini Confidence:

My body is pretty damn awesome because I can run 8 miles and not even consider that a long run :)