3.05.2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies

"Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one." - Benjamin Franklin

Cookies, cookies, cookies, cookies, rocking everywhere! All I've been seeing everywhere lately has been cookies! After the crazy holiday season, it seems as if the blogosphere and the world in itself had all backed off of the cookie craze. I've seen a lot of healthy recipes, smoothies, salads, vegan dishes, and now that Spring is upon us, I've been seeing a lot of cake and cupcake recipes, until finally this week there has been a resurgence in cookie posts! It's as if the universe wants to bring the cookie back before Fall hits us all over again. Even new cookie bakeries/stores have been opening up all over the place. There's this place called Insomnia Cookies that delivers cookies to your house even super late at night when you're having those late-night munchies and cravings. It opened up a few blocks away from my place and it's been amazing having them so close. Whenever A and I have a 1 or 2AM cookie craving, we just submit our order and in 20 minutes our freshly baked cookies are knocking on our door. The one downside to having Insomnia Cookies so close is that it's been making it hard to stick to our healthy goals for this year. We have no clue how much sugar they use in their cookies, and obviously eating cookies so late at night isn't the best option for anyone trying to be healthy. What was our solution? I found a chocolate chip cookie recipe that featured using Splenda instead of actual sugar. At first I was skeptical, since I've never really used an artificial sweetener when baking. The true test would be when giving these cookies to A. He recognizes a "healthy" food from a mile away, and I can safely say that these cookies passed the test! A had absolutely no idea that these were made with Splenda and not actual sugar. The texture of these cookies came out really nice too. It landed in a safe medium between cake-y and chewy. The flavor was also great without any drastic amount of sweetness to it. I highly recommend making these when craving a cookie, because in a way, using the Splenda would make eating these guilt-free, right??


Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from: Comida y Familia Otoño 2009 by Kraft Foods

*yield: 35 cookies*

Ingredients:
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp double acting baking powder
1 tsp pure baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sweet unsalted butter, melted
1 cup Splenda brown sugar blend
2 large eggs
1 tbsp "Crush" pure vanilla bean extract
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate premium baking chips

Directions:
1) Preheat the oven to 375F. Line the cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2) Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
3) Mix the butter and Splenda in a large bowl. Add the eggs one at a time and mix. Add the vanilla then add the flour mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips.
4) Drop the cookie dough by rounded tablespoons on the cookie sheets. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes. Let the cookies cool for 2 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.





3.03.2014

Cranberry-Barbecue-Ketchup Meatballs

"Life isn't a matter of milestones, but of moments." - Rose Kennedy

Has anyone ever noticed that with new seasons come new opportunities, specially in the job market? Now that Spring in imminent, a lot of my friends have been either in the interview process of getting new jobs or looking for a promotion in the jobs they have now. In both cases, everyone has had to step up their game in the "proving themselves" department. For those being interviewed, they've had to think of questions they might be asked as well as questions they should ask their potential employers. For those looking for promotions, working overtime has become a priority as well as coming up with new and innovative ideas for improving their work environments. Now, this is how this post is going to tie into these situations. For those being interviewed, a potential question that might be asked could be similar to this post's quote: what moment in your life stands out and how could it be applied to this job if hired (SAT-like, I know, but one of my friends was actually asked this question)? Pulling out a Miss Universe-type of answer was required, but hearing this story made me think of moments that stood out in my life such as travels, birthdays, meeting new people, and even deaths in the family. Not to sound corny, but a very memorable moment in my life was when I decided to start this blog! It's helped me develop myself in the kitchen as well as in self-expression, but I'll leave that for another post. Back to the topic at hand. For those looking for promotions, since working extra hours has become a part of their daily routine, time for actual cooking has been greatly diminished if not extinct. This recipe, as I already recommended to one of my friends with a hectic schedule, takes at most 10 minutes to make and can be made as dinner and then packed as lunch for the next day (by adding rice or any kind of side to accompany these meatballs). I think this recipe would even be interesting to Sandra Lee from Food Network since it's "Semi-Homemade!" I know, cranberry automatically sets off an autumnal bell in your minds, but trust me, the flavor combination that's achieved from the barbecue sauce and ketchup make this a perfect meal for throughout the whole year. Also, if you stick a toothpick in each meatball, they can be served up at dinner parties or brunches as a nice appetizer for all of your guests. Although I stuck to adapting the main recipe for this post, two variations were included in the book so feel free to try them out! I'll be adding them at the bottom of this post if you're curious.


Cranberry-Barbecue-Ketchup Meatballs
adapted from: New Cook Book 14th Edition by Better Homes and Gardens

*serves 30*

Ingredients:
32 oz frozen fully cooked homestyle beef meatballs, thawed
14 oz canned jellied cranberry sauce
3/4 cup original-flavored barbecue sauce
1/4 cup tomato ketchup

Directions:
1) In a large saucepan combine thawed meatballs, cranberry sauce, barbecue sauce, and ketchup. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes or until heated through, stirring mixture occasionally.



Cranberry-Chipotle Meatballs

32 oz frozen fully cooked homestyle beef meatballs, thawed
14 oz canned jellied cranberry sauce
3/4 cup original-flavored barbecue sauce
1/4 cup tomato ketchup
1 tbsp finely chopped chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce



Mexi Meatballs

32 oz frozen fully cooked homestyle beef meatballs, thawed
16 oz canned salsa
7.5 oz canned enchilada sauce
1/4 cup tomato ketchup




3.01.2014

Spring Rolls

"How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?" - Satchel Paige

The other day, A and I went to a Chinese buffet for a quick bite. I had never been to one before, so I didn't know what to expect. Boy was I surprised to see all the different kinds of food that they had! They had everything from American (chicken nuggets, fries, cheese sticks) to Italian (all different kinds of pasta) to seafood, buffalo wings, meat, hot dogs, and all these different kinds of rice. Apart from all the savory foods, the dessert buffet was just as massive, with almost every flavor of ice cream and jello that you can imagine. I was amazed, but I went the safe route. I had a bit of pasta with chicken nuggets, and some salad (not a logical combination, but that's what I was craving at the moment). I also picked up a spring roll from the obvious Asian section of the buffet. Random, I know, but I just had to try it out. It immediately took me back to my 5th grade year. We had an "Asian Cultures" week at some point in the academic year, and we started it off with Vietnam. None of us had even heard of that country, much less had we ever tried Vietnamese food. So that same day, our teacher Mrs. Jewett ordered in some spring rolls from a nearby Vietnamese restaurant called Miss Saigon Bistro (I wonder if they're still open...). I remember thinking how great they were and that they didn't even taste as weird as I thought they would (I used to be an extremely picky eater). Flash forward all those years to the present to me eating a spring roll at that Chinese buffet, and I thought, "I should learn how to make these!" Sure enough, as soon as we got home, I looked up a recipe and noticed that a cookbook I've been recently using had a quick recipe for them. I was surprised at how fast I was able to whip them up and now it's going to be one of my go-to recipes, but instead of shrimp, I'll change them up a bit with meat and chicken to add some variety. The crazy texture combination of these spring rolls was to die for! Originally, these spring rolls were meant to be "fresh" but the egg roll wraps I found required baking or frying. It was the best thing I could have ever done when making these. Putting them in the oven made all the flavors of the cabbage, herbs, and the carrots combine really well with the shrimp and the actual wrap had a nice crunch and saltiness to it. Wrapping them up was the fun part. If you have little loved ones or if you're having a girls' night in, I think it would kind of fun to make and customize these rolls to your liking, and have a cute little wrapping party! What do you guys think??

 
Spring Rolls
adapted from: New Cook Book 14th Edition by Better Homes and Gardens

*serves 24*

Ingredients:
2 oz thin style rice noodles
24 cooked frozen medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
1 cup matchstick carrots
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley
24 all natural egg roll wraps
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp extra fine granulated sugar
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp fish & meat sauce
1 tbsp matchstick carrots

Directions:
1) Preheat the oven to 400F.
2) In a large saucepan cook shrimp in boiling lightly salted water for 1 to 2 minutes or until opaque; drain. Rinse under cold running water; drain again. Set aside.
3) In a large bowl combine noodles, cabbage, the 1 cup matchstick carrot, cilantro, and parsley; set aside.
4) Place a well-rounded tablespoon of cabbage mixture across lower third of an egg roll wrap. Arrange 1 piece of shrimp across filling; fold in wrap sides. Tightly roll up the wrap and filling. Place, seam side down, on a baking sheet coated with non-stick cooking spray. Repeat with remaining egg roll wraps, cabbage mixture, and shrimp. Lightly brush the tops with olive oil and bake until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.
5) For sauce, in a saucepan combine the water and the sugar. Bring to boiling over medium heat, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in vinegar, fish sauce, and the 1 tablespoon matchstick carrot. Serve spring rolls with sauce. 





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