the great cookie off


Do I have your attention?

If you’re thinking what the hell is bacon doing in Katie’s great cookie off post, then you and I are not cut from the same cloth my friend.   In my world, bacon is always an honorary guest at any of my parties.

For anyone who knows me personally, you’ll know that I cook to decompress.  I’m also an accountant and it is now my busy season.  Let’s hear it for 9/30 year end businesses!  As a numbers girl, I would stereotypically throw myself into the zone of exact measurements and precise timing.  At the height of my busy season, my fellow auditors and I have decided to have a cookie off.  This time last year, we did a chili off and I managed to nab the win.  I’ll share that recipe once we’re in the heart of winter and I start craving warm, meaty chili.

This year, I decided to load an extra challenge on my plate, which was to bake gluten free.  One of our team members has celiac disease and can never enjoy any of my baked goods.  Boo urns.  I figured this was the perfect arena to showcase my potential science project.  Immediately, I was giving myself headaches about rice flour and xantham gum.  Enter, Joy the Baker.  Joy’s adapted recipe from The Gourmet Cookbook includes a simple flour free peanut butter cookie loaded up with bacon!  The bacon immediately grabbed my attention… as did the absence XANTHAM GUM!  Cue the hallelujah chorus.

This morning after my anticipatory trip to the gym, I immediately got my 6 slices of thick cut bacon into my skillet on medium heat until crispy.  Once done, I put them on a paper towel lined plate and waited until cool enough to handle before chopping.

In the meantime, I preheated my oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  I creamed together 1 cup of smooth peanut butter with 1 cup of half granulated sugar and half packed brown sugar in a large mixing bowl.  The brown sugar is so nice in this cookie because it gives a maple syrup like caramelization that pairs very nicely with the bacon.  After 2-3 minutes, I added 1 extra large egg and 1 tsp of baking soda.  Fold in bacon and roll the dough into walnut sized balls and place on parchment lined baking sheets.  Make criss crosses on the balls to flatten and in the oven they go.


Chop up your cooled bacon

The smush

10 minutes later, you’ll have golden brown, very tender cookies.  Allow to cool before you remove them from your baking sheet.  Eat one for quality control, then into my tupperware they went for tomorrow’s work day.

I also snuck in some salted chocolate chip cookies for the boy’s return tomorrow.  Will post about those and the results of the cookie off next time!

NJ & NY Columbus Day Weekend

Last weekend I enjoyed a 5 day weekend visiting NJ and NYC. In 6 of the last 8 years I’ve made the pilgrimage back to the Tri-state and got to enjoy suburban NJ Chinese food and the company of some New Yorkers to take me around town. On Thursday, I took the bus and got home in time for dinner at Shanghai Bun, which is a family favorite. The interior has gotten a huge face lift over the years, but the food is still great as always. I actually had dinner here both Thursday and Friday nights. That is how much I love this place.


Fish and Mushrooms with Wine Sauce

Wonton Soup

Soup Dumplings

Wonton Soup

Scallion Pancakes

Beef Sandwiches

Fried Tofu with Fish

On Friday after working up an appetite at the gym, I finally got to try a burger place that opened up two or so years ago that a friend recommended. Frankly Burgers & More is now the burger to beat within a 30 minute drive from my house.


Frankly Burgers and More

Since it was probably the last warm weekend of the year, why not enjoy the last of the heat with some ice cream from Applegate Farms?


Pistachio and Cow Tracks

On Saturday, I woke up in Lower Manhattan and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time to eat at Grimaldi’s, which is among the most visited pizza spots in NYC by both tourists and locals. So much so that we barely made it on the first seating because a tour bus got priority seating.


Grimaldi’s Large Pizza with Sausage, Mushrooms and Ricotta

For dinner, we had Yakitori at Village Okocho in the East Village. Much more affordable than Kushi for you folks down in DC, but ambiance suffers.


Japanese Sausage

Fried Calamari

Mushrooms in Butter Sauce

Tofu

Fried Skewers

Yakitori and Smoked Fish

The next day we trekked out to Queens to have Korean at Sik Gaek Chun Ha, which was featured on No Reservations. Anthony Bourdain visited with David Chang to down a huge platter of seafood and fresh octopus. Sadly, they were out of fresh octopus so we dined on a spicy seafood stir fry, seafood pancakes and pork skin. Poor us.


Pork Skin Crisping on the Grill

Seafood Pancake

After this meal, we headed back to Lower Manhattan to have dinner in Chinatown to eat some Chinese fast food at Big Wong King. Think roast pork/duck over rice with some greens at those places with meat hanging from the windows. No pictures here as this type of food tends to be dumped on a plate.

Here are some pictures that capture the great weather, the great state of NJ, and the deliciousness of the weekend.


The Undirty Jerz

Thanks for the Delicous Trip NYC

In case you were wondering- 3 pounds gained over 5 days. Class.

homemade mocktails

Recently, I’ve been trying to come up with fun non-alcoholic drinks.  Sometimes your liver can only take so much, right?  You also don’t have to conjure up the excuse that it’s five o’clock somewhere when in fact it’s early in the day… and a Sunday (and you’re not even at a classy brunch!).

Earlier this week, I picked up some goodies in anticipation of making this fun homemade soda this weekend.  Today, I finally got around to it.

Homemade Raspberry Lemon/Lime Soda

Ingredients:
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
6 oz raspberries, pureed and strained for seeds
2 freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 cups sparkling water, chilled
Lime slices or lemon slices, for serving

To make your simple syrup, add the water and sugar in small saucepan over medium heat.  Give it it a stir every now and again, until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.

In a pitcher or a fun glass bottle like the one I picked up at the mall today, combine the lime juice, raspberry puree, and lemon juice. Stir in the simple syrup. Just before serving, add the sparkling water. Garnish with lime/lemon slices.

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It’s refreshing and a fun change of pace.  Plus, when it is actually five o’clock you can bust out some vodka if you so choose.

what up tuna?

Happy National Taco Day!!! I only found out around 11:30 today and the tuna taco inception seed was planted. I made a run to Whole Foods, got home at 8 and by 8:30, dinner was on the table! This recipe is easy and is SO, SO delicious.

Tuna & Taco stuff

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 12 ounces ahi tuna, cut into 1-inch-thick steaks
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 hard taco shells
  • 2 limes, halved

In a small bowl, combine cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper, and coriander. Rub spice mixture generously on both sides of the tuna.

Heat a nonstick pan on the stove over high heat. When pan is smoking hot, add olive oil, wait 10 seconds, then add tuna. Sear for 1 minute per side, or until fish is cooked on the outside, but rare on the inside. Beware! Your spice mixture on a very hot pan will smell very similar to mase. I would know. I was practically choking. Once you begin to breathe normally, transfer to a plate.

In the meantime microwave or heat your taco shells according to the box’s instructions.

Avocado Salsa

  • 3 ripe avocados, pit and skin discarded, diced into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Add all ingredients to a medium-size bowl. Toss gently. DO NOT MASH AVOCADO. The chunkier, the better!

Assemble and voila!

lobster with ginger and scallions

If you’ve ever eaten at a Chinese restaurant and splurged on the pricier seafood dishes, you might have been lucky enough to have lobster with ginger and scallion. I distinctly remember that my sister never liked lobster until she had this dish. The lobster shells would always have the delicious sauce absorbed into the corn flour/cornstarch and made the dish great with white rice. Since I had a lot of scallions and ginger I decided to give this dish a try. Shaw’s also had lobster on sale for $6.99/lbs, which further convinced me that this was destiny calling.

This dish sadly also required you to chop up lobster prior to cooking. This would be my first experience cutting up fresh lobsters. I usually steam lobsters so that they’ll go without a fuss. According to multiple sites, you are suppose to put the lobster in the freezer before dismantling. I put Maude and Sue in for about 30 minutes and when I went to check them out, no movement. The next step is to stick a knife just behind the eyes, and essentially splitting their face in half. Mmmmm didn’t work. Sue definitely woke up to a knife in her head. I started to freak out and tried to put her out of her misery, but there was still movement. I felt like I was going to hell in a few minutes so once the movement stopped, I quickly moved onto Maude. I repeated process, but only faster. Maude didn’t put in much of a fight, but she still gave a little tail flapping (probably the lobster equivalent of the finger. FML.

Maude and Sue Hate Me

Ingredients
2, 1.25 lbs. lobsters cut into pieces
2 tbsp. cornstarch
4-5 scallion greens, cut two inches long
10 pieces of fresh ginger cut into 1 inch match sticks
2 cloves garlic crushed
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp sesame oil

After taking the claws off and separating the knuckles, use the back of your knife and made a couple of hacks at the claw and knuckle shells so that it’ll be easier to eat after it’s cooked. Split the tail down the middle and clean the tail of any roe or stuff from the digestive tract. Toss lobster pieces with about 2 tbsp. of cornstarch and set aside. Heat a generous amount of oil in wok and fry up lobster pieces. If you are using a smaller wok like me, fry them up in batches so that the meat doesn’t get crowded. Once shells just start turning red and meat begins turning white (about 2 minutes), drain oil from lobster and set aside. In the wok, add ginger and toss for 30 seconds. Add scallions and garlic and toss another 15-30 seconds. Add lobster back into wok and toss another 15 seconds. Add chicken stock, soy sauce, white wine vinegar, white pepper and sesame oil. Stir for another minute or so until the lobster is completely cooked. Serve with white rice or with plain noodles.

Lobster with Ginger and Scallions

Tossed with Some Udon