Chocolate chip cookies #30

Chocolate chip cookies #30: Based on Smells Like Home’s Chocolate Chip Toffee Bars. Baked on 3/28/13.

Another post about food, you ask? Yeah, sorry about that. I keep thinking I’ll have plenty of time and energy to write more substantial posts over the weekends, but it rarely works out that way. I’ll try harder to write worthwhile posts this week, but for now here’s my latest chocolate chip cookie experiment.

Yes, I’ve already made chocolate chip cookies with toffee (several times, but most notably back in recipe #6 more than a year ago) with great success, but I wanted to try this new recipe anyway for different reasons. Besides the toffee bits, it’s similar to the first chocolate chip cookie recipe I tried and liked so much last year. The ratio of butter to sugar and the fact that it uses one whole egg plus an egg yolk make this recipe different than the ones I am more familiar with. And since I’m still searching for the world’s best chocolate chip recipe I’m always up for trying something new. Forgive me for not having a picture to share (just like last time), but I can promise that I’ve been much more diligent about photographing my more recent baking endeavors. So what was the verdict? Well, these chocolate chip toffee bars were good, but not as good as some other versions I’ve made. I’m glad I tried it, though. The search for the best chocolate chip cookie continues!

Chocolate chip cookies #29

Chocolate chip cookies #29: Based on Picky Palate’s White and Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Marshmallow Bits and Toffee. Baked on 3/28/13.

I wish I’d taken a picture of these marshmallow chocolate chip cookies, but I was in too much of a hurry to get them packed up to take to work the morning after I made them. That’s pretty much the same reason I don’t have pictures of most of my other chocolate chip cookies, though. I really need to make a concerted effort to snap pictures of my future cookie experiments before I give all of them away! But I digress. I bought a container of mini marshmallow bits at Target a while back and I was determined to use them in a batch of chocolate chip cookies to see how it would turn out. And this recipe for White and Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Marshmallow Bits and Toffee definitely fit the bill, but I made a few changes. I substituted a mixture of semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips for the white chocolate chips and chocolate chunks, and I left out the toffee altogether. Unfortunately I couldn’t really taste the marshmallows. Maybe I didn’t add enough? I’m not sure, but they looked great, at least! These cookies were good, but nothing too special. I’ve made several batches chocolate chip cookies that were much better. Not that I blame the marshmallows for the lack of success. I’m still glad I tried this variation.

Foodie Friday – Frosted chocolate pound cake

No, I’m not going back to posting nothing but cake recipes, but I figured I’d take a quick break from real food to share this frosted chocolate pound cake I made for a Halloween party last year. The original recipe was for a loaf cake, but I baked it in an 8×8″ pan instead. Not only did that made it easier for folks to cut themselves a piece at the party, but it also gave me more square footage to decorate it with Halloween sprinkles! This cake practically melts in your mouth. It was really delicious and everyone loved it.

1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 c sour cream
1 1/2 c sugar
1/2 Tbsp milk
3 eggs
1 1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder

For the frosting:
1/2 c butter (1 stick), softened
2 c powdered sugar
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp milk

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sour cream, sugar, and milk. Beat in the eggs one at a time. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and beat until combined. Pour the batter into either a 9×5″ loaf pan coated with cooking spray or an 8×8″ cake pan lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray. Bake at 325 deg F for 55-65 min for an 8×8″ pan or 70-75 min for a 9×5″ pan or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

For the frosting, cream together the butter and powdered sugar. Then add in the cocoa powder and milk and beat until combined. Add more milk for a thinner consistency, if desired. Spread the frosting over the completely cooled cake and decorate however you like. Enjoy!

Based on Nancy Creative’s Triple Chocolate Pound Cake.

Almost home

“I’ve held hope in my two hands
That there would be another chance
To find the kingdom, I’m believing in my heart
Cause underneath the good there’s something greater than you know

When you’re almost there
And you’re almost home
Just open up your eyes and go, go
When you’re almost there, almost home
Know you’re not alone
You’re almost home”

Mariah Carey, “Almost Home”

My shopping strategy

I started this post ten days ago, but I didn’t finish it before I went to Florida to visit my family last week. Now that I’m back in California I finally had some time to sit down and complete this silly little post tonight. Enjoy!

When I’m shopping I usually know immediately if I want to buy something or not. I don’t know how common this is in women (sometimes I think I shop like a guy), but it helps minimize returns, which I appreciate. I’ve learned that if I have to mull it over, whatever item I’m considering probably isn’t something that I really want. But there are always exceptions. I have a strategy for situations where I’m unsure. First, I put the item down and leave the store. Next, I go about my business for at least an hour. Then if I find myself thinking about the item in question again, I go back and buy it. If not then I know I don’t really want it and my checking account balance is never the wiser. Sometimes this process plays out over the course of a day or more. Like one weekend recently. I went to REI on Saturday (after spending the morning at Disneyland, taking advantage of the last weekend of early park admission for annual passholders – more on that later) looking for a new gym bag which I desperately need. The one I’ve been using for the last year is a flimsy duffel bag that I bought way back in 1997 for my trip to Europe. Sixteen years later and it’s living on borrowed time. I saw this green gym bag at REI that I liked, but I just wasn’t completely sure. Add to that a pushy salesperson who was trying to sell me something that was twice as expensive (I don’t need to spend over $100 on a gym bag, thank you very much) and I really wasn’t ready to make a purchase. So I walked out…but then I found myself thinking about that gym bag all afternoon. So on Sunday (after another morning at Disneyland) I went back and bought it. Along with a new pair of awesome hiking boots (for a trip to Hawaii in November, I hope). Since that weekend I’ve used the gym bag many times and I love it. See? My shopping process works!

Foodie Friday – Slow cooker BBQ chicken

I made this slow cooker BBQ chicken for last year’s annual holiday potluck (my favorite day of the year, remember?) and it was a huge hit. It was so good that one of my co-workers went back for thirds. This recipe is insanely easy – and very similar to my delicious pulled pork. But that shouldn’t be too surprising since the two recipes come from the same cookbook, Slow Cooker Revolution, which hasn’t ever steered my wrong. So if you have some chicken and some sauce, you can very easily whip up some delicious BBQ. Give it a try!

2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp sweet paprika (I used smoked paprika)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (I used breasts)
Barbecue sauce (I used Bull’s-Eye Original, which the book recommended)

In a small bowl, mix chili powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Rub the mixture all over the chicken then transfer the chicken to the slow cooker. Pour enough barbecue sauce into the slow cooker to just cover the chicken, a 1/2 c or less. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours (or on high for about 3 hours). On a plate, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces with two forks and then transfer it to a large bowl. Add up to 1 c of additional barbecue sauce until the chicken is your desired level of sauciness. Serve as sandwiches or all on it’s own. Enjoy!

Based on Shredded Barbecued Chicken from Slow Cooker Revolution.

Foodie Friday – Dr. Pepper shredded pork or beef tacos

So it seems the last SEVEN recipes I’ve posted were cakes. Everything but my first recipe of 2013. Yikes! Luckily I’ve got a couple of recipes to share that don’t require baking for a change. Don’t worry, I’ll get back to cakes and cookies in a few weeks! But for now, the first non-dessert recipe I want to share is one that went viral on Pinterest last year. And that status was definitely well deserved because these Brie and Brisket Tacos are delicious. I made this recipe twice back in March 2012 – once with beef and once with pork – and it turned out well both times. So simple and so tasty. It’s perfect!

3 lb pork shoulder or beef brisket
Chili powder
Garlic powder
16 oz Dr. Pepper

If necessary, cut the meat into two pieces so it will fit in your Crockpot (and you can get more seasonings on it this way too). Rub a liberal amount of chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper on all sides of the meat. Place the meat in the Crockpot and pour the Dr. Pepper over the top. I recommend using a slow cooker liner for easy clean up. Cook the meat on low for 8 hours. Remove the meat from the slow cooker and shred with two forks. Add a little of the liquid from the Crockpot if them meat seems a bit dry. Discard the rest of the liquid. Serve the meat in corn or flour tortillas topped with a little BBQ sauce and some cheese (preferably Brie, per to the original recipe, but any kind works). Enjoy!

Based on Confections of a Foodie Bride’s Brie and Brisket Tacos.