Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fond Memories in a Monster Cookie

Just recently, I had been exchanging Facebook messages with a good friend from high school. She had just discovered my blog and mentioned I should post my mom's M&M cookie recipe. I was so excited she remembered these cookies, as I had totally forgotten! Always emerging at soccer practice in a large ziploc bag, these babies did not last long. Back in the day of daily soccer practice and cringe inducing homework, this was one of my mom's classic, feel-good desserts. I hope to get a few more up here soon!

Although I don't have the original recipe, I do have Ina Garten's Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. This is an excellent recipe for a good cookie dough that you can easily "make your own." As a cook with no professional training, these are the recipes that I look for and learn to love: the ones that survive any alteration or addition and always taste yummy. Ina calls for chocolate chips and walnuts, but I went for the monster effect - M&M's.

Mom's M&M Monster Cookies
adapted from Barefoot Contessa's Recipe
1/2 lb unsweetened butter (at room temperature)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs (at room temperature)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups M&M candies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

In a mixer combine the butter and sugar, beat well. Slowly add the vanilla extract and each egg one at a time so that ingredients are well incorporated. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In two waves, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. Once everything is combined, pour the M&Ms into the dough and quickly mix together. Don't over mix!

On a parchment lined cookie sheet, drop heaping spoonfulls of dough an inch and a half apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes. My oven is a little hot, so I cooked mine for 12 minutes. Should yield about 2 dozen.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Scramble

I have to tell the truth, things have been a bit chaotic over here. February was beyond demanding on the work end, causing my mind to lose focus on the little things that keep me together. For example: a clean apartment, laundry, working out, keeping in touch with friends. All of the above had been unconsciously pushed to the side as I tried to keep my head above water at work. Then, March rolled around and the work stopped. I was left with dirty dishes, laundry spilling out of the closet, an empty fridge and an unrelenting desire to go out and PARTY! Now that it's Sunday, it's time I get my act together. This always begins with the gym; what better way to get focused and determined.

For anyone who sees Sunday as the day to get organized and focused, a healthy egg scramble is just the fuel you need. Eggs are packed with vitamins and protein, and chard is full of vitamin C and flavonoids. A little prosciutto and onion for the taste buds, and you are set to take on the day!

Chard & Prosciutto Sunday Scramble
2 egg whites
1 egg
1 cup chopped chard
1/4 cup torn prosciutto bits
1/4 white onion diced
salt & pepper to taste
1 tablespoon water

Separate the eggs from the whites in a bowl. Add the egg to the egg whites plus 1 tablespoon of water. Whisk well.

In a saute pan, add cooking oil and diced onion. Saute on medium heat for about 2 minutes, then add torn up prosciutto bits. Let the flavors marinate for about 5 minutes, then add the chard and continue to saute until chard appears wilted. Quickly pour in the egg mixture. Using a wooden spoon scramble ingredients together until egg is fully cooked. Salt & pepper to taste. I would wait to add the salt as the prosciutto adds saltiness that may be just enough for your taste buds.

This is a quick and satisfying meal for one on the run! Enjoy!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ready for Spring... Soup that is

Seasons are what I love most about San Francisco. Originally from the land of palm trees, aka Southern California, it's not too often that I get to pull out my pea coat and mittens for a cold, blustery, winter day (sans snow, thank god). I also no longer take for granted those perfect 75 degrees and sunshine days.

Speaking of seasons, this morning is the first day of March. Spring is on its way, and I'm ready to take on a new adventure - seasonal soup. I pulled out a cookbook from one of my dear friends Breanne, called Soup for All Seasons. The recipe titled "Spinach, Parsley & Honey", (really, honey) had all the qualities I was looking for - vegetarian, satisfying, a bit of sweetness and authenticity. This is sure to keep me satisfied through the first couple rainy spring days of March.

Vegetable Herb & Honey Soup
adapted from Soup for All Seasons
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large carrot, finely chopped or grated
2-3 sticks of celery, chopped
1 small onion, finely diced
1 quart vegetable stock
1/2 cup water
5 ounces baby spinach
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
4 basil leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
6 ounces canned tomato paste
1 drop Worcestershire sauce
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

In a large soup pan sautee the carrot, onion and celery in the olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. The onions should become somewhat translucent while the carrots and celery will become more vibrant in color. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Let simmer for around 8 minutes. Next, add the spinach, herbs, honey and tomato paste. Stir quickly to combine all the flavors then simmer rapidly for 5 minutes. Now this is the hard part: Pour the mixture into a blender and puree everything together, leaving some texture. I used a measuring cup and blended the soup cup by cup, leaving some chunks of carrot, onion and spinach. This is difficult as the soup will be hot and has the potential of splattering everywhere! Return the soup to the soup pan and add the drop of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Re-heat gently for 2-3 minutes and serve.

I topped mine off with a quick homemade basil pesto (basil, olive oil & salt) and some homemade croutons.

For the croutons, I simply sliced up my favorite whole wheat bread into cubes, tossed them in olive oil and salt and baked under 400 degrees fahrenheit for about 10-12 minutes.