Friday Favorites

So it’s only been, oh, 3 months since I have posted on here… Not sure any of you are still reading, but I have missed this. Missed the readers, the bloggers, and telling the random stories about food that just not everyone gets :)

So, when better to start back than with a Friday Favorites. Any big plans for the weekend? Just triathlon training for me here. The hubbs works this weekend, and I picked up an extra short shift tomorrow morning. Just chilling for the rest of it trying to stay cool! My triathlon training has been going okay, but I really need to embrace the early morning workout. I am naturally NOT a morning person, but every time I end up having to run or bike in the afternoon heat, I end up really hating myself. Any tips for embracing that 4:30AM alarm?

Well, enough about this. On to the favorites list!

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells by Cooking. Classy. I’ve made these a couple of times already, and they’ve been a big hit. I am thinking these would freeze well in preparation for a quick meal, although I haven’t yet had a chance to try it.

This dress on Sheinside. Love it.

White Strawberry Lemon Sangria by Kitchen Treaty. I always forget about sangria. Not sure why because it is always so good. This looks like a great summery version!

Raised Bed Gardening on Planet Natural. Great tips!

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Macarons by Picky Palate. We had some great macarons from Bouchon Bakery a couple weeks ago in Vegas. I still haven’t tried to make macarons myself, but I am thinking it is time to try.

S’mores Whoppie Pies by Tracey’s Culinary Adventures. So classically summer. I love s’mores!

Rugs, Revealed on Retro Ranch Reno. I love both her sense of style and her tips.

6 Secrets to the Perfect Pie Crust by Design Mom. I guess this is the round-up of things I need to try. I’ve attempted pie crusts a couple of times, but never really had stellar results. Sounds like I could take some of this advice.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bake-Off: Doughmesstic vs. NYT

doughmesstic vs. N

Hope you’re having a happy hump day… I brought cookies!

A little later than promised, but I’m on to my next installment of our chocolate chip cookie bake-off. In case you’re curious, the original rules can be found here.

As I’ve eluded, the hubbs is convinced that we’re never going to find a recipe that “beats” the NYT recipe we’ve been carrying through this whole ordeal. It definitely is a great cookie! Maybe it’s my inability to be satisfied with a recipe. Maybe it’s only the fact that he wants it to “win,” but I’m definitely hoping we will find a recipe that  beats it. With that spirit in mind, I pulled out a recipe for this round with a few more stops – Doughmesstic’s My Go To Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. Browned butter + dark brown sugar. I was hoping the flavor of these would par up to the flavor that we keep coming back to in the NYT recipe.

doughmesstic chocolate chip cookies after baking

I found Susan’s recipe to be really easy to make. If you have never browned butter, just keep an eye on it. It will seem like it is taking forever to start changing color, but once it does, it is really easy to go from browned butter to burnt butter. The dough for these cookies was a little different in texture. Almost a little more greasy, although it does start with melted rather than just softened butter. Nonetheless, it was really easy to work with, and I didn’t have any trouble with sticky dough when forming cookie dough balls. I’ve heard that melting the butter helps make for a chewier cookie, and the centers of these were definitely soft (just the way I like them). You can even tell the middle of these cookies is soft in the photos. I’ll admit, I didn’t chop the chocolate as she indicates, but these are definitely a solid cookie!

doughmesstic chocolate chip cookies

So which one wins… I feel like a broken record. It’s still the NYT recipe for both of us, although it serious took me ~24 hours to decide between these two recipes. There is just something about the NYT recipe that tastes like a “chocolate chip cookie,” and I’m not quite sure I can put my finger on it. One thing is for sure, the Doughmesstic recipe is a solid choice if I don’t have 24 hrs+ to wait for the NYT cookies. Until next month. Enjoy!

Cookies Already Baked:

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
Levain Bakery Copycat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Baking Illustrated Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies
Alice’s The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies To Bake:
Alton Brown’s The Chewy
My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies from Eat, Live, Run
David Lebovitz’s Salted Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Flour Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies
Bouchon Bakery’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Top Chef: Just Desserts Chocolate Chip Cookie

So, I’m thinking the current list will take us through November. Any additional recipes I’m missing?

(Printable Recipe)

Doughmesstic’s My Go To Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
From Doughmesstic

Ingredients:
12 Tbsp. browned salted butter
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
12 oz. chocolate chips (1 pkg), mixed semi-sweet and milk chocolate
sea salt for topping

To brown butter, melt butter in light colored medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook. The butter will foam first and then browned specks will start to form at the bottom of the pan and the color will start to appear more brown than yellow. Remove and let cool slightly.

Add the sugars to the butter and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each egg. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add to the dough, mixing until just combined. Mix in the chocolate and place the dough in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Roll the dough into balls about the size of a golf ball and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Sprinkle with sea salt if desired. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until the cookies just start turning golden brown on the edges (the middle will still be soft).

Friday Favorites

Friday… we meet again. It’s going to be quite the weekend around the country. The Derby. Cinco de Mayo. College graduations. Congratulations to all the new pharmacists graduating from the University of Nebraska this weekend. Take tons of pictures and savor it!

My plans involve work, although we’re hoping to mix some fun in there as well. The hubbs is crazy excited for Iron Man 3, so I’m sure we’ll be hitting the movie theater at some point. Truthfully,  I really like the Iron Man series as well. The first movie of the series really surprised me (in a good way!), so I’ll admit I’m excited too. I am on call this week, so I’m just hoping I don’t get called in to the hospital in the middle of the movie! We also just bought a Living Social deal for a Mexican beer festival (with tastings) for this weekend. Should be fun!

On some sad news, I broke one of my stoneware pans while baking the cookies for the chocolate chip cookie bake-off yesterday morning. To add insult to injury, I broke it over my toe. Ouch! Not to worry, I was able to finish baking the chocolate chip cookies, and am hoping to bring the bake-off to you tomorrow. Enjoy your weekend!

Favorite Kitchen Time Saver. The Magic Corn Trick seen on Holm Family Cookbook. An easy way to clean corn? Count me in. I love fresh corn on the cob in the summer, but I despise cleaning it. That was always our job as kids. Mom would make us do it outside because of the mess. What a pain. Not to mention if you happened to find one of those worms… Gross!

Favorite Copycat Chicken. Coconut Crunch Chicken Strips by The Cozy Apron. These look just like an appetizer at one of our favorite restaurants in town. I may even break my no frying at home rule for these, but I wonder if they would be okay baked?

Post image for A Cozy Appetizer: Coconut Crunch Chicken Strips, And Letting Love Be The Inspiring Guide

Favorite Dessert. Mexican Brownie Bottom Cheesecake by Perry’s Plate. I don’t make enough cheesecake around here. Thinking I need to fix that problem.

Favorite Stair Idea. Wooden stairs seen on Girl in Air. This post is actually for the photo strip on the wall, but I am loving these stairs. I am so over the carpet in our house. We’ve been toying with replacing it all but have no idea what to do with our stairs. I could definitely live with these.

family-pic-wall

Favorite Cookies. Salted Caramel Toffee Coconut Macaroons by Two Peas & Their Pod. Not sure these need an introduction other than their name. Yum!

Recipe for Salted Caramel Toffee Coconut Macaroons on twopeasandtheirpod.com Dipped in chocolate too!

Favorite Fresh Dinner Idea. Jalapeno Cornbread and Black Bean Panzanella by Eats Well with Others. Haven’t made this yet, but it’s on the menu for this week. Loving it.

IMG_7129

Favorite sandals. Women’s Seafish Thong Sandal by Sperry’s. My favorite brown sandals bit the dust towards the end of last summer (after several summers of abuse), and I have had the hardest time finding anything I like this year for sandals. You know all the ones that are so thin that  you might as well not even have shoes on. It’s either that or sandals that look like I’ve added several decades. I’m not 12 and I’m not 65 people! I finally ran across these the other weekend at the mall, and I am still loving them a couple weeks later. Time for some new shoes I think!

Women's Seafish Thong Sandal

Favorite Make-ahead Breakfast. Cinnamon Quinoa Bake by Gabby’s Gluten-Free. I’m thinking this will be yummy for breakfast while working over the weekend!

DSC_0064_532edit1

Chicken Enchilada Pizza

chicken enchilada pieces from side

So the hubbs has already “decided” which chocolate chip cookie recipe is going to win our ongoing chocolate chip cookie bake-off. He’s convinced that no recipe is going to beat the NYT recipe we’ve been loving since the beginning. Now, I’m determined to beat it and am up to my eyeballs in cookie dough today. Should have the next round of cookies up for you tomorrow. Any recipes you’d suggest I should try to challenge his favorite?

Anyway, on to the pizza. This is definitely a non-traditional “Mexican” recipe for this week, but it fits right in with the pizza obsession that we have at this house. The recipe idea comes from Jessica at How Sweet It Is. Love her blog by the way. Pretty sure I want to make almost every recipe she posts!

chicken enchilada pizza before topping

chicken enchilada pizza in pieces

The toppings here are exactly what you would expect. Mexican seasonings, onions, bell peppers, enchilada sauce. Unlike many pizzas, the veggies in the topping are sauteed prior to topping the pizza. I love this for two reasons. First, the cook time softens the onions so you don’t get that harsh raw onion bite. Second, the cook time pulls out some of the water from the veggies avoiding soggy pizza slices later. For the crust, I swapped in my own homemade whole wheat version that we’ve been loving lately. The recipe is so easy, and it makes 3 pizza crusts at once (freeze the extras!). I’ll get it posted here at some point! My only other advice. Don’t forget the extra toppings after baking. :) Enjoy!

(Printable Recipes)

Chicken Enchilada Pizza
Adapted from How Sweet It Is

Ingredients:
1 whole wheat pizza crust (homemade or purchased)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced (or other colored pepper)
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (4oz) can diced green chiles
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 to 1 cup enchilada sauce
6 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
6 oz. Monterey jack cheese, freshly grated
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 avocado, thinly sliced
sour cream or plain non-fat Greek yogurt

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a pizza stone in the oven while it preheats. If you do not have a pizza stone, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add olive oil. Add onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, and garlic to the skillet with a pinch of salt. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the shredded chicken, green chiles, cumin, paprika, and chili powder. Stir to coat and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

If using a pizza stone, roll out the dough on a pizza peel or parchment paper. If using a baking sheet, you can roll out the dough directly on the baking sheet. Spread about 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce over the pizza dough. Add a small sprinkle of cheese. Top with the chicken and vegetable mixture. Cover evenly with the remaining cheese. If using the pizza stone, transfer the dough to the hot stone from the oven and bake for approximately 12-15 minutes. If using a baking sheet, bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Remove and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado. Drizzle with remaining enchilada sauce if desired and top with sour cream or Greek yogurt.

Baked Chicken and Spinach Flautas

chicken and spinach taquitos topped

Hello all! It’s been awhile. Sorry about that!

Here’s a snapshot of our lives recently: I was in a car accident on the freeway and totaled my Beetle. Thankfully, everyone was fine, with the exception of some wicked burns on my arm from the airbags (The nurses at work dressed my arm as soon as they saw it. Love them!). Car shopping. Definitely not my favorite, although I am happy to report that we finally found one! Eating. Always eating. We never forget that. Preparing for my first triathlon. I completed a sprint, the hubbs an Olympic, and I am proud to say we did pretty well. Now if someone can teach us how to swim faster, we’ll be set. We can both manage the distance, but swim so SLOW!

So back to the  blog. I have some fun things in tow this week. Several Mexican themed recipes. We love Mexican/Southwestern flavors, so giving me an excuse to cook this way only results in us having tacos/burritos/enchiladas/quesadillas almost every night. Hey, no one here is complaining yet. Also in tow is the next chocolate chip cookie bake-off. Should be a good week! :)

chicken and spinach taquitos from the side

chicken and spinach taquitos

This recipe from Healthy. Delicious. is actually one that has appeared in my kitchen more than once. The spices. The flavors. These babies just work. The chicken here is simmered in beer before being shredded and mixed with the seasonings. This isn’t the first time I’ve mixed beer with my Mexican dishes. I swear. It makes the best meat! I even swapped out the chicken thighs for chicken breast and it still works. Even if you don’t like to drink beer. Do it. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Baked Chicken and Spinach Flautas
From Healthy. Delicious.

Ingredients:
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
16 oz. beer (or chicken broth, but use the beer!)
2 cups water
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
3 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
6-8 large whole wheat tortillas (may need fewer or more depending on the size)
6 oz. Mexican-blend or Pepper-Jack cheese, shredded
cooking spray
Salsa, non-fat plain Greek yogurt for serving (or sour cream).

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick spray. Set aside.

Place the chicken in a deep sided saute pan and cover with beer and water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for around 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the liquid and shred, but keep the cooking liquid. In a separate small bowl, mix together the seasonings (paprika through chili powder). Mix with the shredded chicken.

Pour out all but 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the jalapeno and spinach. Cook over low heat for about 2-3 minutes or until the spinach has wilted.

Using whole tortillas, spoon a small amount of chicken closer to one side of the tortilla (1/3 of the way across). Top with spinach and cheese. Roll up the tortilla and place seem-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining filling. Spray the other sides of the rolled flautas with nonstick spray.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, turn and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until crispy. Watch them closely as they’ll go from baked to burning quickly depending on your tortillas and oven. Serve with salsa and non-fat plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream).

Whole Wheat Banana Bread with Cinnamon Streusel

whole wheat coconut banana bread slice

Streusel. I think it makes everything better. You could probably even convince me to eat seafood if it was loaded with streusel. Maybe.

The streusel on this banana bread? It’s a level above other streusel. Like straight from delicious to addicting. The recipe comes from Jessica’s blog How Sweet It Is, and I would say she’s right in saying she’s will not ever make banana bread again without the streusel. I am right there with her!

whole wheat coconut banana bread before baking

whole wheat coconut banana bread slice close

Coconut oil + light coconut milk + all whole wheat flour. This was my first time cooking anything with coconut oil. I know am way late on that train. While I had heard it was pretty mild, I was still surprised at the absence of coconut flavor/smell from the coconut oil itself. The bread itself came together nicely, and you already know how I feel about the topping. I made this twice, and still had just a little piece left for pictures. As for the baking process, I started out with the pan uncovered and added a foil cover around 60 minutes. My bread was done both times at closer to 75 minutes of bake time. Just watch it closely and use the toothpick test to tell when it’s finished.

The worst part? Letting it cool a little before you can dig in. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Whole Wheat Coconut Banana Bread
Adapted from How Sweet It Is

Ingredients:
1-2/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1/3 cup canned light coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
4 over-brown bananas, mashed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. coconut extract

Streusel:
2/3 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 tsp. unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and brown sugar until well combined. Add coconut oil and coconut milk. Mix well, although the mixture may not completely come together at this point. Stir in mashed bananas, vanilla, and coconut extracts. Slowly add dry ingredients stirring until just combined. Some pieces of flour throughout the batter are okay.  Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

For the streusel, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and coconut in a small bowl. Cut in the butter and mix with your hands until the butter is mixed in and the mixture is crumbly. You can form larger pieces of streusel by squeezing it together with your hands if desired. Sprinkle the streusel over the top of the banana bread batter. Bake for 75-85 minutes until the center is set, covering the pan with foil if necessary to prevent the streusel from burning (I had to around 55-60 minutes). Remove and let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

Friday Favorites

Where has the time gone? Although I’ve worked 6 of the last 7 days, there is no way it’s Friday, not that I’m complaining about that either. I’m off work this weekend.

The hubbs and I actually have a busy weekend planned ahead of us. Tomorrow, I’m running my second ever Warrior Dash. To race it or not to race it is the question. My first Warrior Dash, we ran it more for fun. In fact, I tend to be one of those runners that ends up running the same mile times whether I run 1 mile or 10. I’m thinking it may be time to try and gut out a decent 5K time… On top of that, we’re hosting a low-key BBQ here on Saturday night and have tentative brunch plans for Sunday. Whew… I’m guessing our weekend will be over before we know it.

My plans for the day include swimming (triathlon training) and cleaning house. I’m truthfully not super excited about either one. Wishing I could enlist some friends to come with (especially for the swim!). Well, without further ado, I bring you my Friday Favorites – and a couple weeks worth at that :)

Favorite Summertime Dinner. Chicken and Summer Vegetable Tostadas from Cooking Light. This is screaming summer, and I’m sure you could use a similar technique with an outdoor grill instead of the broiler.

Chicken & Summer Vegetable Tostadas Recipe

Favorite Hostess Gift. Wine wrapped in a kitchen towel seen on Viva Amore. Packaging that you can actually use (and it’s super cute too!).

Favorite Vegetarian Meal Idea. Black Bean and Spinach Enchiladas by The Garden Grazer. Looks so good. The link even contains freezing instructions if you want to make a bunch and save them for later!

Favorite Berry Dessert. Strawberry Shortcake with White Chocolate Whipped Cream by That Skinny Chick Can Bake. Now that berries are everywhere, I have been craving strawberry shortcakes like no other. I’m thinking possible dessert for the BBQ?

Favorite Book. Mazerunner by James Dashner. My husband raved about this book for several months. I’m about halfway through it and am loving it so far.

Favorite DIY Spring/Summer Decor. DIY Spring Wreath by Taylor Made. I have quite a few home pieces that I change out for the seasons, and I have this big gap where I don’t have many things for the time period between Easter and fall. This is a wreath I think I could actually make.

Favorite Bundt. Vanilla Bean Malt Bundt Cake from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures. Truthfully, I don’t make many bundts, but the I love most things with malt flavors.

Vanilla Bean Malt Bundt Cake

Favorite sports moment. Jack Hoffman scoring a touchdown in the Nebraska Spring Game (photo source Brynn Anderson/The World Herald). The football team set it up so that this 7-year old cancer patient could score the final touchdown. Makes me proud to still call myself a Nebraskan. GBR!

article photo

Favorite Margarita. Kicked-up Avocado Margarita from Cookin’ Canuck. I’ve seen lots of variations on margaritas, but avocado is a new one.  I am definitely interested enough to want to try it!

Kicked-Up Avocado Margarita Recipe for Cinco de Mayo by Cookin' Canuck #recipe #avocado #cincodemayo

Favorite Cookies. Brown Butter Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles from Two Peas & Their Pod. My husband was looking over my shoulder when I saw this recipe, and said, “Those contain like 3 of your favorite things. They need to happen. Soon.” His words not mine :)

Brown-Butter-Salted-Caramel-Snickerdoodles-2

Favorite weather phenomenon.  Blizznado in Nebraska, picture from bswaney23 on Instagram. Tornado warnings and winter storm warnings in the same night. Counties apart. Oh Nebraska, I miss some things, but I definitely don’t miss your weather!

Tomato Basil Orzo Stuffed Peppers

orzo stuffed pepper open

Has anyone else ever dug through the pepper display at the grocery store trying to find the ones that will stand on their own? Please tell me I am not the only one! Normally, I don’t really care what my peppers look like. If I am going to chop them up anyway, what does it matter? Random pointed bottom? No problem. Odd growth off the side that makes 1 pepper look like 2? Just means more pepper for the same price. Throw it in the cart. But when I know that I am going to be making stuffed peppers. Every single one of those babies better stand on its own, and I will dig through the entire display until I find enough that will.

This stuffed pepper recipe is a little different from most as the predominant flavor is that quintessential summer combination of tomatoes and basil. Yes, the tomato-basil combination is coming out here. It’s been warm here for the past couple of weeks, and I’ve been spending every day off swimming (laps) at the local outdoor pool (in training for our triathlon). Definitely enough to make me start craving summer flavors.

orzo stuffed peppers filling

orzo stuffed peppers before baking

This particular recipe comes from Maria at Two Peas & Their Pod. I’ve changed the cooking process slightly using the boil first then bake method. It will make another pan dirty, but by boiling the peppers for just 5 minutes, you can cut 40 minutes off the bake time. A win-win in my book for getting dinner on the table quicker and not heating up the house as much. The recipe is written for 6 peppers. I must measure my vegetables generously because I always end up with extra filling. If you measure like me, you could probably stretch this to 7-8 peppers. Why not? The leftovers make a great lunch. Enjoy!

orzo stuffed pepper close

(Printable Recipe)

Tomato Basil Stuffed Peppers
Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth (low-sodium if possible)
1-1/2 cups orzo
heaping 3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese, divded
1/3 cup fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
6-8 sweet bell peppers of any color

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

To prepare the peppers, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, carefully cut around the tops of the bell peppers to create a hole to use to stuff the pepper. Remove the seeds and stems. When the water comes to a boil, submerge the peppers and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain well in a colander and set aside.

Simultaneously, bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the orzo and cook for 5 minutes (this will only partially cook the orzo). Drain the pasta, making sure to save the vegetable broth. Set both aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for an additional 2 minutes. Stir in the spinach. Cook until wilted. Remove from the heat. Stir the orzo into the vegetable mixture. Mix in 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/3 cup Pecorino Romano. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the basil.

Pour the reserved vegetable broth into the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish up to about a 1/2-inch depth (you may not use it all). Place the peppers in the baking dish and spoon the orzo mixture into the peppers. Sprinkle the tops with the reserved Mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20 minutes until heated through and the cheese is melted. The peppers can also be assembled ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to bake. Add an additional 5-10 minutes the bake time if prepared ahead. Serve warm.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bake-Off: Alice’s Recipe vs. NYT

alice vs. NYT

Well, I kind of missed March for this. Sort of. I had the post ready to go, but it just didn’t seem right to post it up on Easter Sunday, so I kept it waiting until Monday. In fact, I like that idea. From now on, chocolate chip cookie bake-offs on the first of every month! In case you’re new to this bake-off, you can find the original rules here.

The contender this month, to the ever champion New York Times (NYT) recipe (pictured on the right), was a recipe that I saw across several blogs a few years ago – this recipe from Alice of Savory Sweet Life. The recipe Alice presents comes with a pretty fierce backing of her recipe, and I can tell you that her cookies were definitely well received by my coworkers. Including the oddest and likely most honest complement I’ve ever received on my baking, “These cookies have the perfect balance of salt.” Different, but as long as you’re enjoying them, I’ll take it :)

 alice's best chocolate chip cookies dough balls

alice's best chocolate chip cookies cooling

One thing I noted was that Alice’s cookies have pretty specific instructions. By the time the eggs and vanilla have been added to the dough, it has been going in the mixer for 5 minutes and definitely results in a “fluffier” cookie dough. I did vary from the recipe slightly in the amount of flour listed. I originally added the amount of flour listed in the recipe (by weight – exactly 12 oz), but my dough was definitely still too gooey to hold together a cookie when baking. I added more flour, probably almost another 1/4 cup (although I didn’t measure exactly) to help the dough a little, and I am thinking they almost needed a little bit more as my cookies baked up rather flat. My guess is that this is due to the extended beating time as that is definitely longer than I leave most cookie dough in the mixer. While flat, the texture of the cookies was still the gold standard – crunchy on the edges and rather soft in the middle.

alice's best chocolate chip cookies broken

So which recipe will be continuing in our chocolate chip cookie bake-off. We’re still NYT fan’s in this house. It’s the flavor that develops while the dough sits that seems to be what boosts these over other cookies. While I really like the NYT recipe, I tend to like my cookies a little thicker (tends to be chewier). The NYT cookies aren’t super thin, although I have definitely seen heftier cookies. This may be the place for another recipe to beat the NYT for me. Thinking I may need to try a recipe with either brown butter and/or dark brown sugar next time to see if we can get an even match on the flavor. We’ll see!

Cookies Already Baked:
New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
Levain Bakery Copycat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Baking Illustrated Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies

Some of the Cookies Still On Deck:
Alton Brown’s The Chewy
My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies from Eat, Live, Run
David Lebovitz’s Salted Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Doughmesstic My Go To Chocolate Chip Cookie
Flour Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies
Bouchon Bakery’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Top Chef: Just Desserts Chocolate Chip Cookie

Any cookies I should add to the list? Here’s the recipe for Alice’s recipe.

(Printable Recipe)

Alice’s The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Savory Sweet Life

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2-3/4 cup (or 12 oz) all-purpose flour (I needed more than this)
3/4 tsp. medium course sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 pkg. each milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars together with a stand mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes until light and very fluffy. Add both eggs and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour stirring until the flour is fully incorporated. Add more flour if needed to be able to form the dough into balls with your hands. Mix in the chocolate chips.

Bake on stoneware pans or on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper for about 12 minutes or until the cookies are set on the outer edges. Cool on the pan for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Week 20: Friday Favorites

Yeah for a long weekend. I have a 4-dayer! The only bad news is that it wasn’t really planned. Just ended up that’s the way our schedule fell, meaning the hubbs is working all weekend. Oh well, I see lots of  baking and cooking in my near future! Anyone want to come by to help us eat it all?

Hope you all are able to spend some time with those you love this weekend. Happy Easter!

Favorite BBQ Salad. Quinoa Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing by Two Peas and Their Pod. I am seeing this happening in our near future, especially when it gets hot here! I’m thinking adding the quinoa makes it totally appropriate for a meal. Maybe lunch?

Favorite Easter Decorations. Egg-Flower arrangement seen on B-Movie Star.

easterflowers

Favorite Cookies. White Chocolate Snickerdoodle Pudding Cookies from Something Swanky. Yum. I’ve been making pudding cookies for years as that was always Mom’s go-to chocolate chip cookie. I love soft cookies, and the flavors here look so good!

Favorite Dinner Idea. Chicken Fajita Pie from My Biscuits are Burning. Loving this idea. In the post, she talks about adjusting the spice level. Definitely adding some jalapenos in this house!

Favorite Homemade Easter Candy. Homemade Cadbury Creme Eggs from Food 52. If you know me at all, I love Cadbury Eggs! May have to try this in my time off this weekend!

eggs0

Favorite True Statement seen on Big Frank Little Beans Tumblr. Pretty sure I’m always happy when I have a cupcake!

Favorite Coconut Dessert. Coconut Macaroon Cups from 5 Second Rule. Macaroons filled with chocolate? Count me in.

Coconut macaroon cups // via 5 Second Rule

Favorite Vegetarian Meal. Mediterranean Loaded Veggie Sandwich from A Couple Cooks. I am most intrigued by the pesto kale white bean dip used on this sandwich. Looks good!

Mediterranean Loaded Veggie Sandwich