Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cranberry & Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Have you heard the $250 chocolate chip cookie story? Its sort of a baking urban legend:

A woman goes shopping at Neiman Marcus and eats lunch in their cafe. She has a cookie for dessert and its the best chocolate chip cookie that she's ever had. She asks the waitress for the recipe, and her waitress informs her that the recipe is highly guarded, but is available for purchase. The woman asks how much, and the waitress says "Two Fifty" the woman happily purchases the recipe, but when she gets home sees that she was charged two hundred and fifty dollars. She calls Neiman's but they won't give her the refund since she has already seen their secret recipe. The woman is livid at being ripped off and so sends an email to everyone that she knows with the recipe, and asks them to forward it to everyone they know so no one pays for the recipe again.
I heard the story for the first time last year when a co-worker brought in these cookies. It turns out that its actually not true. Neiman's debunked the myth by posting the recipe on their website. Their recipe however, is completely different from the recipe that's passed around in the email. These are some of the best "non traditional" chocolate chip cookies that I've ever had. The recipe uses ground oats and I think this causes the cookies to spread less, making a thicker, chewier cookie. I added in dried cranberries to make the cookies more festive since I was baking them for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I've never been good at eggs. My omelettes don't turn out light and fluffy, they are overcooked on the bottom, and undercooked on the top. I can't flip them. So whats the solution? Frittata! I had a ton of eggs that needed to be used up, and other odds and ends in the fridge that were on their last legs so I made an impromptu breakfast, that was supposed to be an omelette but ended a Frittata. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Recipe Review: easy to make at home chicken lettuce wraps that taste as good as at a restaurant! Great as an appetizer, can be served with rice, or soup to make a full entree.

I freaking love the lettuce wraps that they make at PF Chang's. I used to work in a mall that had a PF Chang's and would order the chicken lettuce wraps for lunch all the time. There's just something about the cold crunchy lettuce wrapped around the chicken mix. This is probably also why I like my burgers from In-n-Out "protein style" (wrapped in lettuce instead of on a bun. Its a little messy, but delicious!) In general I haven't had much luck cooking Asian food, and usually go the take out route (side note/rant: there is no good Chinese food in San Diego. None. Amazing sushi but, Its been over 3 years and I've yet to find Chinese that's anything close to the quality they have back in New York) but this looked easy enough so I went for it

Thai Curried Pumpkin Soup

Recipe Review: Creamy Pumpkin soup with Thai spices. Great mixing of flavors make a smooth velvety soup.

Oh come on, by now you must know that I can't resist a pumpkin recipe. I was making Chicken Lettuce Wraps and wanted to make a soup to go with them. I just got a new immersion blender for my birthday and was itching to try it. Plus this seemed like a pretty simple soup that I could whip up on a weeknight.

I highly recommend the cuisinart smartstick hand blender it worked great, and comes with a mini chopper and whisk attachment. If you don't have an immersion blender go get this one from crate and barrell!

My grocery store didn't specifically have Thai chilies or even "Red Chilies" like the recipe called for so I went with red jalapenos, and a Serrano pepper. (I like Serrano's because they give that after burn) I used olive oil for sauteing the garlic and shallots, but added in a few drops of sesame oil because I had it. I also just used canned pumpkin, and it turned out fine. Trader Joe's sells Organic Pumpkin Puree which has great flavor.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Recipe Review: Hearty Mexican soup that is a full meal in a bowl- Thumbs up all around, spices can be adjusted to make the soup mild or hot

I needed something to make that was a departure from heavy traditional Thanksgiving food. Also I needed something quick to throw together on a work night. This soup is incredibly easy to make (the only cooking skills needed are the ability to chop up an onion, and open cans) and it tastes really good without having any "heavy" ingredients.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Recipe Review: Great Twist on traditional Pecan Pie, filling is simple and easy to make, attempt pie crust at your own risk.

Typically my sister is the baker of the family. Sure I can whip up some great Chocolate Chip Cookies, and I'm a master of the boxed cake mix (Funfetti anyone??) but she is great at making baked goods from scratch. While its not my forte, over the past few years I have cautiously been dabbling in making pies, and have gotten pretty competent at it. At first glance a pie crust recipe looks really easy. Only 4 ingredients go into it, flour, fat, salt and water, but the techniques that go into combining these elements are essential to creating a light flaky pie crust. There's lots of debate between butter and shortening crusts- shortening makes a flakier crust, but butter makes a more flavorful crust. I do a mix of half of each, but there is also butter flavored Crisco out there which would be a good option as well.