Chocolate Drop Cookies

Chocolate Drop Cookies

Chocolate Drop Cookies

As you know I like to judge cookbooks and people by their cookie recipes.  I know it’s completely crazy.  Let’s be honest, if you give me a crappy cookie, well, I am sorry we just can’t be friends.  🙂  OK, this might be a slight exaggeration on my part but I do value a good cookie recipe and I will do just about anything to get a recipe if I think it will make me look good.

This recipe comes from the lovely cookbook Mad Hungry: Feeding Men & Boys by the ever so talented Lucinda Scala Quinn.  Little known fact: I have somewhat of a healthy (?) obsession with Mrs Scala Quinn.  I try to keep it low key because I don’t want to spook her and have her running for the hills hiding from me.  I casually follow her on Instagram.  I nicely like most of what she pins on Pinterest.  I’ve googled her.  I have Youtubed her (yep…new verb: to youtube someone!)  I read all her status updates on Facebook, trying not to like too many so I don’t freak her out….so you get it…it’s a HEALTHY obsession.

Mad Hungry: feeding Men & Boys by Lucinda Scala Quinn

Mad Hungry: feeding Men & Boys by Lucinda Scala Quinn

Note: She is also friends with Martha Stewart….I mean Mrs Stewart! I ❤ them both more and more….her cookie recipe is lovely (as expected) so we can remain friends…it’s a one sided friendship but I can deal with it.

Lovely soft chewy chocolaty cookies!

Lovely soft chewy chocolaty cookies!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1  large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)

1/3 cup milk (low-fat is OK)

How to:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter or line 2 rimmed baking sheets.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Blend in the melted chocolate and coconut, if desired.  Alternately add the flour mixture and milk, ending with the flour.  Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto the baking sheets 1 inch apart.  Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the edges are set and the centers are still soft.  Remove to a cooling rack.

getting all my ducks in a row...or cookies :)

getting all my ducks in a row…or cookies 🙂

these bad boys spread quite a bit, glad I left enough room!

these bad boys spread quite a bit, glad I left enough room!

Note: I baked mine for 12 minutes and they were perfect.  Also the recipe said it makes 24-30 cookies I had about 36…maybe I made mine too small.

three lovely cookies for me (eh...that rhymed!)

three lovely cookies for me (eh…that rhymed! sort of)

These cookies are super delicious and soft.  The girls called them Brownie Cookies.  I love the coconut in the cookies, it give a little bit more texture to each bites!

Printed Friendly: Chocolate Drop Cookies

Peace and One Sided Friendships,

Isabelle

Recipe linked up here:

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Shaved Asparagus Salad

Shaved Asparagus Salad

Shaved Asparagus Salad

I have a new obsession and by obsession I mean: all out crazy dreams and daily “going back for more” kind of obsession.

It’s a new cookbook….what did you think it was?…geez….

So this AMAZING and I mean AMAAAAAAAZING cookbook  Carnivore is from the beautiful brain of Michael Simon.

simply delicious!

simply delicious!

You may ask why am I sharing a Shaved Asparagus Salad when I am raving about a carnivore’s cookbook?  Who knows?  I never do anything the way it’s intended…I roll to the beat of my own drum…I color outside the lines…and on and on….

I showed this cookbook to Janine, she also fell in love.  She had me text the info to Dan: “this would make a wonderful Christmas gift for your wife”.  (yes, we are little tricksters like that!)  Matt bought me the book for Christmas as well.  I finally had to return the library’s copy (after I got mine of course).

So far I have made 4 recipes from this book.  ALL were amazing.  That’s pretty good if you think about it.  Usually somehow, somewhere you get disappointed but not here!

I have made: The Fat Doug Burger: a burger with 3 kinds of ground beef: sirloin, brisket and boneless short ribs.  Probably the best burger I have ever had!  Also, Braised Chicken Thighs with Spicy Kale: delicious…perfect…perfectly delicious.  Pork Pie: brought me back to my childhood’s Meat Pies…simply scrumptious!  And finally this gorgeous Shaved Asparagus Salad.  Honestly, this is one amazing cookbook and I cannot wait to try more and more recipes!

amazing flavor combination, fresh, a little crunch, just enough tartness...oh my....

amazing flavor combination, fresh, a little crunch, just enough tartness…oh my….

Ingredients:

1 large bunch thick green  asparagus (about 2 lbs) trimmed

1 (1.5-ounces) block Pecorino Romano Cheese (I only had Parmesan)

Kosher Salt

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange, plus 2 oranges, segmented (here is a great how to: how to segment citrus )

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

2 teaspoon white wine vinegar

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped hazelnuts, toasted

How to:

Shave the asparagus with a vegetable peeler to create long ribbons.  Do the same with the Pecorino Romano cheese (or parmesan in my case) to create shavings.  In a large non-reactive bowl, toss together the asparagus, cheese and a large pinch of salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together the orange zest and juice, the chives and vinegar.  Whisk in the olive oil.  Pour the dressing over the asparagus and let sit until the asparagus is slightly wilted, about 5 minutes.

Toss in the hazelnuts and orange segments and serve.

this is a very photogenic salad... ;)

this is a very photogenic salad… 😉

Note: shaving 2 lbs of asparagus is not for the faint of heart but trust me it is so worth it.  Also you may need to adjust the seasonings after you add your hazelnuts and oranges.  I added a touch of fresh ground pepper and a pinch more kosher salt.

it's a tough job but someone had to do it!

it’s a tough job but someone had to do it!

Another note: I actually cut this recipe in half since I was home alone and I only had 1 lb of asparagus.  It was super easy to do….it was so delicious, I ate it all….yes…all of it…by myself…and I have no regrets!

yes...I ate all that!  I might have even licked the plate!

yes…I ate all that! I might have even licked the plate!

Printer friendly:  Shaved Asparagus Salad

Peace and Obsession,

Isabelle

go check out this lovely linky party as well:

Mellark’s Secret Banana Bread

Mellark's Secret Banana Bread

Mellark’s Secret Banana Bread

If you remember (or maybe you are new to my world!) I have a weird “thing” about not reading books that are recommended to me.  Especially if the book is a best seller.  This leads me to The Hunger Games Books (the trilogy) I fought it and fought it…so much so that my 13 year old daughter started to call me names (you know…names like: mom, mommy, ma, momster…) eventually I did give in and read the books.  They are fabulous.  I know these books are not news to anyone, especially since they have been made into a movie.  Our kids being who they are, (at times due to questionable parenting) decided that I should own the “Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook”.  They gave me the book for Christmas.  I decided to share a recipe with you today so you can get the full sense of how lovely this little cookbook is.  Of course, I went with a classic “Isabelle”: banana bread, a favorite around here….why change?  I mean you can’t go wrong with banana bread, right?

The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook

The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook

Note: if you don’t know the series, Mellark is the last name of Peeta, a character whose family owns a bakery.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Pinch of kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

4 ripe bananas, mashed

1/2 cup melted butter

3/4 white sugar

1/4 turbinado sugar

1 egg, beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

How to:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease or spray an 8X8 square pan.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl combine your flour, salt and baking soda.  Set aside.

In a large bowl (or in your mixer) mix together mashed bananas and butter.  Add both sugars, egg and vanilla.  Add your flour mixture and mix well to combine.  Fold in your chocolate chips.

Pour your mixture into your prepared pan.  Bake in your preheated oven for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool on rack.  Remove bread from pan and serve.

Ready to bake

Ready to bake

Smelling Delicious!  I had to tell the kids to WAIT about 10 times!

Smelling Delicious! I had to tell the kids to WAIT about 10 times!

I simply love a good banana bread...this is looking perfect!

I simply love a good banana bread…this is perfect!

Lots of banana flavor and sweet chocolate, perfect union!

Lots of banana flavor and sweet chocolate, a perfect union!

Note: mine took the full 60 minutes but if your oven has  a raging personality it might take less.  Don’t pick a battle with your oven…let it do its job 😉

This bread was GONE in less than an hour….gone…the kids attacked it and the adults were left dumbfounded!

I think my next recipe from this fun cookbook will be: Rue and Katniss’s Apple-Smoked Groosling or Gale’s Bone-Pickin’ Big Game Soup  🙂

Printer Friendly:  Mellark’s Secret Banana Bread

Peace and Gone,

Isabelle

Go check out this lovely linky party as well:

Canada 2012, The Grand Finale

First off: I am sorry this is so late.  No excuses…just enjoying the summer! 🙂

OKAY…I realize I am making this subject probably a bit more than it actually is by stretching it to 3 posts.  I mean, let’s be honest.  My traveling to my birth land is not all that exciting in theory and on paper (or in post) but I am that much of a nerd. So here goes this grand finale…please do not think less of me even if you feel I am being quite self-indulgent.

Here’s where I want to end: Chuck Hughes.  Yes.  Again.  Yes.  I am a bit smitten.  Yes.  It is probably good for him that I live 15 hours away.

Garde-Manger Cookbook

My mom bought me his cookbook.  I actually cried a little while reading it.  You think I am kidding?

I wanted to go to his restaurant so bad but under the rushed circumstances we couldn’t get a reservation (1-2 month wait!  yikes).  You might think that I would be the type to try my luck at the door and “force” my way in.  You would be wrong….I do fear public confrontation and embarrassing myself in order to feed myself is not my cup of tea.

So here’s the next best thing (well not really but I didn’t have many options)  I made 2 recipes from his book.

#1 Cookies…. I know I am so predictable, but would you believe me if I told you I can judge a man by the cookies he can make?  I am only half kidding 😉

aaaaah Cookies always put a smile on my face 🙂

Ice Cream Sandwiches Cookies: (that’s the name of the recipe in the book but in reality it is; Oatmeal Chocolate Chips Cookies with store bought ice cream)

Ingredients;

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 cup butter, melted

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

pinch salt

2 1/2 cups large-flake rolled oats

1 1/2 cups finely chopped chocolate

ice cream, any flavor you like

How to:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease or line your baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.  Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk the brown sugar into the melted butter.  Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until everything is nicely blended.  In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Stir into the brown sugar mixture, then blend in the oats and chocolate.

Using a scoop or large spoon drop your dough on your prepared baking sheets and bake in your preheated oven for 10 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned.

Let them cool and make sandwiches with them.

moist and perfectly chocolaty cookies

Note: I  barely let them cooled before I was shoving them in my mouth!  Delicious!

#2 Cocktail: a very important step in my research!

Summer Cocktail….always a good time

Vodka with fresh Vanilla and Crushed Strawberries

Ingredients:

Vanilla Vodka:

3 vanilla beans

1 bottle vodka

Crushed Strawberries:

1/2 cup strawberries (I used about 4-5 strawberries)

Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon sugar

Garnish:

Fresh Strawberries

Vanilla Bean, split lengthwise (I didn’t have any)

How to:

For the vanilla vodka:

Split the vanilla beans in half, scrape out the seeds, and put the beans and seeds into a full bottle of vodka.  Cap it.  Let steep in a cool, dark place for 1 month.

OR: buy Vanilla Vodka from a lovely liquor store and make the drink sooner!

For the crushed strawberries:

Crushed the strawberries with the lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar.

In a shaker, put 2-ounces of vanilla vodka, all the crushed strawberries and a big handful of ice cubes (crushed is easier in my opinion).  Shake well.  Strain into a glass and garnish with fresh strawberries and a split vanilla bean.

so refreshing

Note: I didn’t strain it because I like the crushed ice in my drink.  Do what you like.

Confession: I didn’t make my own vanilla vodka…I also forgot to buy Vanilla Vodka…so my next best option was to add about 1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.  It worked just fine.  I make my own vanilla so I guess that added some redeeming qualities to the drink!

Just know that this was an amazingly delicious drink, I love the hint of vanilla and the beautiful crushed strawberries.  Perfect summer drink!

I hope you enjoyed both recipes and give them a try.  His cookbook is lovely and I know I will try more but I must be honest and tell you it is not for the amateur cook.  LOTS of steps, rare techniques and expensive ingredients, I guess all in due time.

Printer Friendly: Ice Cream Sandwiches Cookies

Printer Friendly:Vodka with fresh Vanilla and Crushed Strawberries

Peace and Let’s be Grand,

Isabelle

Falling for the Book: Spicy Zucchini Quick Bread

Spicy Zucchini Quick Bread

Let me now explain the title, it’s so me….some of you might relate….some of you might think I am crazy. (I’m good with that!)

I love public libraries.  I could spend hours…HOURS in there.  I get my love of books from my dad.  He loves to spend time in libraries and book stores.

So, I got this text from Heather (Basilmomma) telling me that my Bear is on the cover of the Indiana State Museum flyer for their summer program.  She also told me that I can get the flyer at the library.  Great, since I am there practically everyday during the summer, I will get a copy (or 3) for myself.  I mean the kid is cute and she is now famous (!).  Also, I know my mom will want to have one as well. (nerds unite!)

My bear is the “bottom” one, she is holding up her friend! 🙂

While at my lovely library with my sweet daughters (at that moment…you know it’s summer…kids don’t always get along!) I was walking and found myself in the cookbook aisle…what a shocker!  I just happened to grab this book….2 minutes later, I am sitting in the middle of the aisle falling for this book…hard!

The book: Back To The Table; The Reunion of Food and Family by Art Smith

Confession: I almost put the book back…because right on the inside of the cover the first thing was: “From Art Smith, Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef….blah, blah, blah”  Again please DO NOT send me hate mail but….I have never really been a follower of O.W..  I am sure she is as awesome as they get.  I just don’t watch TV during the day.  I might have seen her show 2-3 times at best.  It’s just not for me.  I am not saying the fact that he is or was her personal chef is bad.  I am simply saying that I don’t “like” stuff because it is in relation to a famous person.

BUT the book is awesome!  Nicely done Mr. Smith…nicely done 🙂  Here again, the first thing that jumped out at me: Spicy Zucchini Quick Bread!  Oh! come on, I haven’t made a quick bread in a while….

Ingredients:

3 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons five-spice powder, pumpkin powder spice, or ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil (I only had canola oil)

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini (2 large)

1 cup chopped pecans (I didn’t put them in because Mr. Man and Sunshine don’t like nuts in their sweet breads!)

How to:

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Mr. Smith also said you may want to position a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Butter and flour a 10-inch fluted tube (Bundt) pan.  Set aside.

In a large bowl mix your flour, five-spice powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Make a well in the center.  In another bowl, whisk the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla and pour into the well.  Mix well, then stir in the zucchini and chopped pecans.  Spread evenly in the pan.

My zucchinis (I do think this looks like more than 2 cups but it was 2 zucchinis so I am using all of it)

Ready for the oven (isn’t my pan cute? I found it at a yard sale for $.50! Not bad!)

Bake in your preheated oven for about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Let cool completely and enjoy!

My afternoon treat 🙂

Printer friendly: Spicy Zucchini Quick Bread

Note: AWESOME bread.  I didn’t have Five-Spice powder so I did the cinnamon and a dash of cayenne pepper!  Still delicious!

Peace and Not Famous by a long shot,

Isabelle

A Homemade Life: by Molly Wizenberg

I’ve talked about this before; my love of books….cookbooks.  It might not be a healthy attachment but I like to maintain this little obsession of mine on a daily basis.  I also have a huge crush on “blog/cookbook/life story” books,  please pretend to be interested while I explain.  You might remember the movie Julie/Julia,  as most movie this was a book first.  BUT better yet, this one was a blog first.  As the story goes Julie makes her daily mission to cook everything from a classic Julia Child cookbook.  Great blog, great book (language questionable), so-so movie (except for the AMAZING Meryl Streep: she is pure gold!).

About 1 /2 year ago I came across a book called: A Homemade Life.  Such a fantastic book, I think I pretty much told everyone I knew (who likes to cook or eat!) to read it.  The story is easy to read and Molly’s recipes are delicious.  I can’t tell you how many times I have made her raspberry/blueberry pound cake.  She has a blog called: Orangette.  She and her husband also have a restaurant in Seattle called: Delaney.  Guess where I want to eat when I go to Seattle?

Pound Cake…here I go again, just like Whitesnake….(never mind)

Ingredients:

5 large eggs
1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, at room temperature, plus a bit more for the pan
2 Tbs Kirsch
2 cups plus 8 Tbs cake flour, plus a bit more for the pan
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup fresh blueberries

Generously butter a loaf pan or bundt, and dust it with flour, shaking out the excess. (Molly likes to use a bundt pan)

In the bowl of a food processor, blend together the eggs and the sugar until smooth and thick, about 1 minute, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the butter and Kirsch, and blend until the mixture is fluffy, about 1 minute, stopping once to scrape down the bowl. Add 2 cups plus 6 Tbs flour, baking powder, and salt, and pulse twice or so to just combine. Do not overmix.

In a large bowl, toss the raspberries and blueberries with the remaining 2 Tbs flour. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter into the berries. Transfer this finished batter to the prepared pan, spreading it evenly across the top. Place the pan on the center rack in a cold oven, and turn the oven to 300F. Bake until a toothpick or knife inserted in the cake’s center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 25 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes; then invert it onto a rack to cool completely. Serve at room temperature.

note: if you use a loaf pan, you make have to adjust the cooking time, a little bit longer.

Feast your eyes on this:

Here is a printer friendly version: raspberry-blueberry-pound-cake

ALSO:  Because just like Miss Molly, I have a HUGE blackberry patch on our fence line.  Should you decide to use blackberries instead of raspberries or blueberries then do not put in the Kirsch, it will overpower the cake.

Most people who read this book set their heart on making the Gateau au Chocolat Fondant.  I’ve made the cake (Chicago\’s Chocolate Decadence ) but somehow I think the fact that her mom made this pound cake every time she visited friends speaks more to me than a fancy chocolate cake!  Call me sentimental, but that’s just the way I view my food!

Peace and blackberry!

Isabelle

Peanut Butter Bread

I love cookbooks. I mean, I LOVE LOVE cookbooks. I have to limit myself when I go to the bookstore, and even to the library.  It is almost ridiculous how many cookbooks I want and have.  Space is indeed a problem, I have 3 other people and 2 big dogs living here with me so I have to share.  I do but not happily. 😉

Often people will give me cookbooks as gifts or when they just want to get ride of them.  I have never been able to part with a cookbook.  That is just impossible, poor lonely cookbook out there in the world with no one to look at it. (wow, I must stop here…I am scaring myself!)

I have some antique cookbooks and I sometimes look through them for inspiration or even to see how times have changed.  Here is one from my collection:


The way to a man’s heart: The Settlement Cookbook by Mrs. Simon Kander circa 1931

This cookbook contains a lot of interesting recipes: catnip tea, cracker gruel ( a thin porridge), pigeon en casserole (!), liver loaf….get the idea?  I really like this book and I actually have found a few recipes that I decided I should try.  First off: peanut butter bread, that sounds so good to me.  Also, and this might sound crazy, but I think I will try to make the liver loaf.  I cannot guarantee success or that my family will eat it but it’s worth a try.  Maybe I should do this when they haven’t eaten in a few days!  But today this is what I made:

Peanut Butter Bread

Here is a picture of the recipe:


No worries I will give you a printer friendly version at the end. I know, I am such a dear!

Ingredients:

2 cups of flour

4 teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon of salt

1/4 cup of sugar (that’s not a lot, but OK)

2/3 cup of peanut butter

1 1/4 cup of milk (is it me or this sounds like a whole lot of milk?)

Sift flour, baking powder, salt & sugar together.  Add milk to peanut butter, blend well (geez! nothing blends with peanut butter) and add dry ingredients; beat thoroughly. The dough must be soft enough to take the shape of the pan.(shape? OK, lady!)  Bake in greased loaf pan in moderate (I do nothing moderately!) oven (350F) 45 to 50 minutes.  Best when a day old. (if this is good, this bread will not see the light of day tomorrow, I know my people!)

By the way, again is it just me or what, but there is no egg in this recipe?!  And may I just tell you that there was nothing “soft” about this batter.  I dumped it in my loaf pan and I had to get a spatula to spread it around.  I don’t know if that is what she meant by shape but I had a lot to do with the shaping!

Well look at this:


My house smells like peanut butter heaven!  This little bread is actually very tasty! Yum!

Of course it always helps when I spread a little bit of butter…. 🙂  OH! I just thought of something: jelly!  Wouldn’t that just make it fabulous?


Printer friendly version: Peanut Butter Bread

Yours truly, Mrs. “Mr. Man” (to keep with the 30’s)

Note: I have to agree with Mrs. Kander, the bread is amazing the next day!  Warmed in the microwave and topped with butter.  It is like all the flavors and ingredients had a chance to get to now each other better! 😀