Follow the culinary adventures and misadventures of the Cooking Agents (Ray and Katie). Watch as we eat/cook our way into adulthood.
I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and adjusted back to life in the grind today. I had all of week plus today off and was pretty happy with the food I consumed over the break. I got home last Monday, and my dad suggested we go to McDonald’s to get some McRibs. Knowing my parents, such a request was pretty shocking. I declined, and he suggested driving up to Edison so I could try some new Chinese restaurants. The first two we tried were closed so we found ourselves in
heaven H Mart. Spacious, clean, reasonably priced and delicious food court options. We got a seafood pancake, a bowl of noodle soup, and some Korean fried chicken. Then, we shopped for lobsters and abalone for a late dinner.
On Tuesday my dad got KFC for lunch. My reality is seriously taking a U-turn. Maybe it was a little Thanksgiving warm up? The mashed potatoes and chicken were as I remembered, but the biscuits weren’t as big or fluffy. Recipe change? Sad face.
Chocolate Chunk Cookies
The big day included waffles for brunch with a blackberry topping and fresh blackberries and bananas.
For the big meal, we had a 12 lbs. turkey brined and rubbed with sage, kosher salt and a little rosemary along with a half lemon and cinnamon stick in the cavity. Gravy was made using a roux, chicken stock and soy sauce. This was the most successful gravy I’ve made to date in terms of universal appeal, color, texture and taste. I did feel guilty about cutting out the pan drippings, since I had so much to do. Green bean casserole, dressing, sage and rosemary biscuits, sweet potato mash and spaghetti squash with cranberries rounded out the meal. The green bean casserole was the first time I made it completely from scratch, and while it looked sexy, the fried onions still didn’t measure up to French’s. The dressing was still inferior to Stove Top, but I’m still confident that someday I will have a recipe that will be better. The spaghetti squash was a new addition this year and was inspired by a meal at Oceanarie the week before Thanksgiving. The strands from the squash are pretty cool. When my dad asked if I cut the squash into the strands, I was pretty tempted to say yes. Overall, my dad said it was the best Thanksgiving meal to date that I’ve made, so my constant need for approval was satisfied for the time being.
Sage and Rosemary Biscuits
Spaghetti Squash with Cranberries
Green Bean Casserole
Coma on a Plate
On Friday night, I met up with a few friends for burgers at 25 Burgers and had a Bull’s Eye Burger with sweet potato fries. The burger itself was pretty messy and greasy, but it’s the best burger within a 15 minute drive from my house. The onion strings and patty were the highlights, while the bun was lacking. The fries were decent, but the portion was rather small. Overall the burger, fries, and drink were a little over $12.
BBQ Burgers Don’t Know How to Disappoint
The next day, I ate at Shanghai Bun and got some sauteed pork and vegetables with Shanghai noodles, and my friend got chicken and mustard green soup. For dinner, I hung out with a few of my sister’s friends and went to the Olive Garden for the first time. The place was pretty empty when we arrived, but was packed by the time we left. I was definitely surprised with the decor and ambiance, since I always though the commercials were so corny. However, the prices were also higher than I imagined. I was thinking most entrees would be $8-15, but the range was more like $12-$20. The seating was interesting, with wheels on all four legs sliding in every direction. The bread sticks were on the salty side, but you can’t go wrong with unlimited warm bread. For my entree, I got braised short ribs. I’m not 100% confident that it didn’t come out of a bag, but the tenderness of the meat was still enjoyable. Overall, the meal was better than I expected, but at $28 with tax and tip, I’d rather spend my dining out money elsewhere.
If Only Plate of Food Grew on Trees
Healthy Can Taste Good
The Most Perfectly Shaped Breadsticks I’ve Ever Seen in my Life
Braised Short Ribs
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
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!
Nutritionists don’t tell you the truth. Forget your omega 3 fatty acids (kidding! put your asparagus stalk pitchforks away!). Sometimes the best brain food is cookies. It worked for Cookie Monster, before they muddled his head with thoughts of “sometimes foods”.
My opinion is if you’re having a hard time focusing on your excel spreadsheets, can’t wrap up those loose ends on your projects, or simply can’t find the right words to say on that paper, you need a good dose of flour, butter, eggs and chocolate. This is the very reason that auditors gain weight during busy season. It’s also twice as likely when I’m on your team. Add stress and deadlines and you get me in the kitchen at 3 a.m. whipping up something positively sinful to bring into work the next day.
I recently started dating someone who’s been writing a book, has a fairly tight deadline, and is a perpetual snacker! Seriously, where there is a need, I will feed! I made some casual inquiries on favorite flavors and voila, these cookies practically made themselves.
nuts (OMEGA 3s!!!!) and chocolate and toffee, oh my!
glob of doughy goodnessmilk and cookies, a match made in heaven
Chocolate Toffee Cookies
Adapted from Bon Appetit
1/2 cup AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups (packed) brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 1.4-ounce toffee (such as Heath), coarsely chopped
1 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
1 cup white chocolate chips
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl; whisk to blend. Stir chocolate and butter in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Cool mixture to lukewarm.
Using electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs in bowl until thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture, then toffee, white chocolate chips, and nuts. Chill batter until firm, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or waxed paper. Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto sheets, spacing 2 1/2 inches apart. Bake just until tops are dry and cracked but cookies are still soft to touch, about 15 minutes. Cool on sheets.
These are ooey gooey and delicious right out of the oven. If you have more self control than I do, I hear they’re pretty good at room temperature. I’ve packed away my cookies for co-workers, friends, and the hard working author for their eating pleasure.
P.S. Nutritionists out there. I love you and have all the respect in the world for you. I am even craving salmon. Oh, and radishes. Can’t forget about the radishes. Perhaps a healthy brain food post will follow sometime this week.
P.P.S. I’m back on my main client and will be working closely with someone with celiacs disease. I feel a challenge a brewin’. I will expound on this later.
It all started with a pear. A Royal Riviera Pear from Harry & David to be exact. My college roommate received a gift basket from his parents and had the pears in the fridge. During that semester he and another one of my roommates were in the semester from hell in our business school, where each of our teams had to write a business plan. The week before the business plan is due, we didn’t have any classes, just a single deadline to meet with a completed assignment. After the final stretch, staying up for 24+ hours with no food, we all returned to our room and recapped the ordeal.
Pears So Juicy, You’ll Need a Spoon
As we looked into the bare fridge, the pears were offered and gladly accepted. As we took our first bites, juices literally gushed down our hands as we bent forward to avoid the mess. We eventually hovered over the sink and devour the sweet nourishment. I told a few of my friends and family about the pear epiphany, and the next semester my sister sent me a similar gift basket for my birthday from Harry & David though not with the same pears, since it was no longer in season. I did however, get to try a few other snacks including the moose munch, shortbread cookies, truffles, and candy covered bing cherries.
Once I graduated and began working at marketing agencies, I was able to sample some additional treats from our vendors come the holidays. Chocolate covered pretzels, peanuts clusters, jelly beans, cookies, and popcorn tins all made appearances. Katie even sent me two live lobsters, bib and claw crackers included, one year for Christmas. Yesterday, I ended up staying in the office a bit late and had some leftover treats for dinner. Peanut clusters, caramel popcorn, and rice crackers were on the menu. Protein, vegetable, carbs, and dessert were taken care of!
Receiving food in the mail is a great gesture as it allows for sharing and sampling of a variety of treats. However, it tends to be pricey so definitely trying to make friends that get care packages from their parents. Or you can always work at an agency.
I feel sorry for my office as I am that guy in the office that kills weight watchers. Two days ago, I brought in Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies and I will be following that with 2 cookie classics. Ginger snaps and oatmeal raisin cookies. The ginger snaps allowed me to finish up a jar of molasses and also helps take a good bit out of my ever growing spice collection. Ground ginger, meet your maker. Oatmeal raisin helped finish off a tub of oats and the last of my raisins. A good pantry cleaning night it was.
In a bowl, mix oats with raisins and set aside. In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar with a mixer on low speed. Add eggs one at a time until incorporated and then add vanilla. Once wet ingredients are mixed, slowly add flour mixture. Once dough is formed, mix oats and raisin. Scoop dough onto ungreased cookie sheet or cookie sheet lined with a baking mat. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool slightly on cookie sheet 2-3 minutes and then transfer to cooling rack.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and white sugar with mixer on low speed, add egg, and once it is mixed in, add molasses. Slowly add dry ingredients you previously set aside. Once dough is mixed, scoop dough into tablespoon size scoop and roll into a ball using your hands. Cover ball of dough in white sugar and place on cookie sheet or cookie sheet lined with non stick baking mat. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring onto cooling rack. Let the holidays explode in your mouth.