Holiday care packages 2012

Back in December I wrote about my Thanksgiving baking, but I never posted anything about my annual holiday care packages. For shame! I did things a little differently in 2012 – I only mailed out one box of goodies and it was to my co-workers on the East Coast. (Don’t worry, my family didn’t miss out. I brought them a box of cookies when I visited for Christmas, plus I made them a chocolate cake shortly after I arrived.) We had a big event at work in mid-December so I made four batches of cookies beforehand (only two of which I photographed, as you can see), sent half of them to the East Coast, and shared the other half with my local co-workers. It was fun to sit in our Telepresence conference room and see folks eating the same cookies on opposite sides of the country. So what did I make, you ask?

1) Chocolate gingersnaps – You’ll have to forgive me if I can’t recall exactly what these cookies tasted like. It’s been almost six months! I seem to remember that they were pretty good, but I wasn’t a big fan. I think gingersnaps just might not be my cup of tea. But the cookies still got eaten!
2) Lemon snickerdoodles – I do remember that these were extremely tasty. The lemon and spice combination was delicious and very unique. I never would have thought to combine those flavors, but I’m glad someone did! This recipe is a new spin on a classic holiday cookie and everyone loved them. I skipped the glaze from the original recipe because I made them as cookie bars (it’s just easier that way), but that’s all I changed. I’ll be making these again for the 2013 holidays.
3) Applesauce cookie bars – I’m having trouble remembering exactly what these cookies tasted like too. I do recall that they were moist and more cake-like than the other cookies, but I can’t remember the flavor. They must have been pretty good or I would remember not liking them! Like the lemon snickerdoodles, I skipped the frosting and made them as cookie bars.
4) Cornstarch chocolate chip cookies – Since this was a chocolate chip cookie variation you’ve already read about this recipe. As with quite a few of my chocolate chip cookie experiments, these cookies were good but nothing exceptional. They were still gobbled up by my co-workers, though. They don’t turn their nose up at free goodies!

Chocolate chip cookies #34

Chocolate chip cookies #34: Based on Noble Pig’s Maple Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies. Baked on 4/28/13.

Maple bacon chocolate chip cookies. Think about that for a second. Chocolate chip cookies with maple and bacon. Sounds delicious, right? Well, you’re absolutely right! But not just delicious – unbelievably delicious. I’ve made bacon chocolate chip cookies before (see recipe #5) and I was really excited about them, but to my surprise they were a bit disappointing. The bacon flavor was there, but not quite pronounced enough to make the most of the combination of salty and sweet. This second batch was different. To be safe I used more bacon than the recipe called for (11 or 12 slices baked until they were crispy enough to crumble) and the maple extract made the dough smell like pancakes. My mouth was watering before I even put the pan in the oven! These cookies were AMAZING. Salty, sweet, and oh so satisfying. I loved them and so did my co-workers – both on the East and West Coasts. Over the last year and a half I’ve tried, and really liked, many different chocolate chip cookie variations, but this one is on a whole other level. Since it’s not completely traditional I’m going to take this recipe out of the running for the best homemade chocolate chip cookie, but this is still one of the tastiest things I’ve made in 2013. If you like bacon you really have to try this recipe. You will love it!

Foodie Friday – Seasoned skillet corn

Besides the roasted Parmesan green beans I wrote about two weeks ago, I also made this seasoned corn to take to dinner at a friend’s house last month. I figured it could be thrown into the tacos with the meat and other toppings or eaten on the side instead. Versatile is good in cooking. I know corn isn’t exactly healthy given it’s high carb content, but I figured it was a better option than some other alternatives. So I took a chance – and I’m glad I did! The original recipe included Parmesan cheese, which I’m sure would be great with the corn, but I left it out this time because I didn’t think it would work inside a taco. This side dish/garnish is is cheap, quick, and easy. And it tastes good too! I sprinkled the spices into the skillet without measuring so the amounts below are a ballpark estimate. I don’t like too much pepper in my food, but I’d say be generous with the garlic powder and paprika. Next time I’ll add a little more. Actually, I don’t see why you couldn’t use any number of different spices in this recipe. Like I said, versatile is good!

1 bag (16 oz) frozen corn (I used a mix of yellow and white)
2 Tbsp butter or olive oil (I used olive oil)
1/2 tsp garlic Powder (or more)
1/2 tsp paprika (or more)
1/2 tsp pepper (or more, I used half white and half black)
Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large skillet, melt the butter or heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the frozen corn (do not add any extra water) and cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. Season with garlic powder, paprika, and pepper and stir until the corn is evenly coated. Cook for about 1 minute more or until fragrant. Remove from heat. Add the cheese if desired (I skipped it) and stir to combine. Enjoy!

Based on Budget Savvy Diva’s Easy Addicting Corn.

Chocolate chip cookies #33

Chocolate chip cookies #33: Based on Une Gamine Dans La Cuisine’s Ginger Brown Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies. Baked on 4/27/13.

I have a co-worker who loves ginger so I tried a little experiment with this batch of chocolate chip cookies. Since I had luck adding cinnamon to basic chocolate chip cookies, I decided that I would try something similar with ginger. So I whipped up a batch of my favorite chocolate chip cookies (recipe to be posted soon, I promise), adding a teaspoon of ground ginger to the dough. It was a very simple twist, but it added an interesting depth to the flavor of the cookies. They were pretty good (how could they not be with my perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe?), but I wish I had added at least another 1/2 teaspoon of ginger because the flavor was more subtle than I wanted. Even so, I think it was a successful experiment. I’ll try it again with a little more ginger and let you know how it turns out.

Chocolate chip cookies #32

Chocolate chip cookies #32: Based on Baking Bites’ Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies. Baked on 4/27/13.

Remember those rules I set about limiting food posts? Well, throw them out the window. I’m going to give up trying to write anything else for a while because it’s just not happening. I should probably take an extended hiatus for a while until I get my life back in order, but I’m not quite there yet. But while I can’t post anything else worth reading, I’m going to catch up on my chocolate chip cookie recipes. Starting now.

This is another one of the batches of cookies I sent to my East Coast co-workers last month. I’ve had this recipe for strawberry chocolate chip cookies saved for a long time. I love the idea of adding fruit to a classic chocolate chip cookie, but fresh strawberries aren’t really compatible with cookies. Cakes yes (see my strawberry buttermilk pound cake recipe for proof), but not cookies. But based on this recipe freeze dried strawberries seemed to be the answer, so I picked some up at Target. I threw the strawberries in with the chocolate chips after mixing up the rest of the ingredients. Freeze dried strawberries are very fragile so they broke up into much smaller pieces when I stirred the dough, but that’s exactly what’s supposed to happen. It evenly distributes the delicious strawberry flavor! The rest of the recipe was pretty standard so I figure you can use whichever one is your favorite version and just add freeze dried strawberries for delicious twist. The end result was very tasty, but next time I’ll use even more strawberries.

No Foodie Friday this week

I have a recipe all ready to post for Foodie Friday today, but I’ll spare you this week since I only wrote one post of any substance since last Friday. I’m not going to apologize (again) because, let’s face it, this is not a big surprise. This week consisted of work (as always), some medical issues I won’t go into here (you don’t want to know), and lots of television watching (it was finale week for a lot of shows). Not very exciting. I kept my couch company a lot of the time. I really wish I had something more interesting to share, but I don’t at the moment. I’m working on it, though. Not that today is a good example of that. After work I did my laundry while watching the “Star Trek” movie from 2009 in preparation for seeing “Star Trek Into Darkness” next weekend. I’d go this weekend, but I’d rather avoid opening weekend. When the laundry was done I watched episodes of “Mad Men” on Netflix while baking a batch of cookies and a batch of brownies for something I’m going to tomorrow. I’ll tell you more about that later. I wanted to try some new recipes, but I was worried that a culinary disaster would force me to take grocery store cookies with me tomorrow. Not good. So I stuck with two of my most successful recipes to date – coconut chocolate chip cookie bars and toffee brownies. I haven’t posted either of those recipes here yet, but they are in the queue. Unfortunately now it’s almost midnight and my sink is full of dirty dishes and I’m way too tired to wash them tonight. Something to look forward to tomorrow! Good night!

Chocolate chip cookies #31

Chocolate chip cookies #31: Based on Picky Palate’s Raspberry Scented M&M Cookies. Baked on 4/27/13.

After a baking blitz a couple of weeks ago I have quite a few new chocolate chip cookie recipes to share. But in order keep myself from using these recipes as an excuse to not write about anything else, I’m going to limit my cookie posts to one per week. Sound good? On to the recipe review! We had a big event at work recently and I promised to send a box of cookies to my co-workers on the East Coast to sustain them. One of those co-workers requested cherry chocolate chip cookies which are one of my favorites. I love making them for the holidays, but this time I wanted to take them to the next level. I was intrigued by this recipe for raspberry-scented M&M cookies the first time I saw it. Basically you mix raspberry puree into the butter before adding any of the other ingredients. Yummy, right? Well, I was way too lazy to actually puree fresh raspberries and strain out the seeds so I used some 100% fruit seedless blackberry (I couldn’t find raspberry) spread instead. I figured it couldn’t be THAT much different, and luckily the substitution didn’t blow up in my face. And to fulfill the original request, I added some dried cherries to the dough (which was a lovely lavender color) along with the chocolate chips. The end result was really tasty. Chocolate chip cookies with a tart berry flavor. Delicious!

Feel This Moment

“One day when the light is glowing,
I’ll be in my castle golden,
But until the gates are open,
I just wanna feel this moment”

Pitbull & Christina Aguilera, “Feel This Moment”

This song speaks to me. It says that the future is bright, but if you don’t focus on anything else then you’ll forget to enjoy the present. I’m trying to remember that. I really am. It’s no secret that things haven’t been going that well for me lately. As much as I’ve avoided discussing details here, I know I’ve mentioned it generally on multiple occasions. I know I sound like a broken record and it’s getting old. For me too. I’m really hate it, but I haven’t been able to pull myself out of this funk for long enough to experience anything else for very long yet. The operative word is “yet.” I am absolutely positive that things are going to get better. I know that there is a light at the end of this tunnel and that I’m going to be happy again someday. I just wish that “someday” would get there already, or at least give me some sign that it’s approaching. Because right now I’m really struggling. At the moment I have good days and bad days. More bad than good, and some of them are downright terrible, but I’m surviving. I try to get out as much as possible even when I’d rather stay home and lie on the couch. It’s not easy. It wouldn’t take much to push me into survival mode. You know, only leaving the house when absolutely necessary and avoiding contact with other people as much as possible? But I’m fighting it. Don’t worry, I’ll be OK. I know things will turn around eventually.