Cookie Time!

IMG_0110I’ve weirdly had a lot of time off this week and it has afforded me the time to think, bake, do my Bar Method DVD several times (ugh, I hate her but she knows her stuff), and read. Other than the whole exercise portion, these are literally all my favorite things to do! Well actually I don’t ever just sit around and think, I mean who does that? Every time they show someone pensively sitting around staring out a window or something in a movie I always think “I would never, ever do that.” Being left alone with your thoughts? Sounds gross. I like to keep my brain busy people!

And this week it was busy making cookies. Delicious cookies from two of my newer cookbook purchases, the Joy the Baker Cookbook and Pure Vanilla. The cookies on the left are Joy’s Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (minus the nuts + some white chocolate chips) and the little beauties on the right are called Vanilla Snaps.

IMG_0107The Brown Butter Cookies are excellent – EXCELLENT! Basically it’s just a regular ol’ chocolate chip cookie recipe but you take half the butter and brown it in a saucepan before adding it to the creamed butter and sugar. I’m sure you could do this with any chocolate chip cookie recipe and you would be adding that awesome toasty layer of flavor. Since you pour melted butter in there you have to give the dough a little rest in the fridge before you bake it but it’s not an unbearably long time before these can be in your face! I’d like to link to the recipe or something but I can’t seem to find it online and I feel ill at ease about being the first one to post it. Just buy her book okay? It’s really cheap and chock full of great recipes. Totally worth your $12, I swear. Plus she is cute and funny and I’d like her to stay successful in her field. Help a girl out.

Now onto the Vanilla Snaps. They look so simple and kind of plain in the pic right? Well they are not! They are amazing and crisp and just slightly sweet with a bang of vanilla flavor and a little salty kick. Basically they are one of the most dangerous cookies I have ever baked because I could probably eat like 20 without realizing it. I blame their cracker-ish consistency. In the book it says you can crush these up to become the crust of a cheesecake but I kind of couldn’t bear to do it. Plus I had a better idea. We had a Chocolate cooking class at work the other night and there was some leftover ganache that needed to find a home….what better real estate than between two delicious cookies? These Ganache-Filled Vanilla Snaps are not like breaking new ground in baking history or anything but they are seriously delicious.

IMG_2447The deep, dark chocolate flavor just pops and makes these little sandwich cookies divine. Basically they are like homemade E.L. Fudges x infinity. I think there is one left and I am totally going to snag it after I’m done writing this post. Also, did you happen to notice my cute new mustache mug? I got it at Target last weekend and I definitely think you should love yourself enough to buy one too. On their website you can only buy the set but in the stores they’re $3.99 each and they make morningtimes more fun. Go get one.

In other news, WordPress informed me that this is my Blog-a-versary. I guess one year ago today I decided to give this blogging thing another go. I already talked about it a little in my 100th post, but I’m super glad I’ve stuck with it and I plan to keep on going until I can’t think of any more new things to cook or bake or any more dumb things to say. Seems like that’ll take awhile though so it’s safe to say I’ll be here for a bit.

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Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

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It’s that time of year again. Christmas is over. New Year’s is over. Most people are on some sort of weirdo diet right now that’s making them crazy. Or they got a gym membership and will not stop talking about their workouts. Yeah, yeah we get it – your muscles are sore because you’re normally a lazy couch potato like the rest of us but just shut up about it already. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, etc, are blowing up with all this crap. You know what I want to talk about? NOT THAT! I want to talk about pudding. Specifically rice pudding. Though I had never experienced this crazy-easy and delicious dessert until a few months ago, I now feel I couldn’t live without it. And you shouldn’t either. I’m guessing you had a green smoothie or some other such garbage for breakfast so there’s no need for the guilt. Let go of the guilt – healthy, right?

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Major players in tonight’s game are gathered on my cluttered counter getting warmed up (see, I’m trying to appeal to you with the sports & fitness references you crazy health nuts). I recently bought the Joy the Baker Cookbook and I noticed her recipe for Cinnamon Sugar Rice Pudding the other night. I was all set to just make that when I remembered the lonely bag of Meyer lemons in my fridge. Then things started to get real. I decided to do things a little bit Joy’s way, and a little bit my way and Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding was born. Meyer lemons are so cheap this time of year so if you haven’t bought any yet, please do. Make delicious things and say thanks when you’re done stuffing your faces.

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Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

2 cups water

zest of 1 Meyer lemon

1 vanilla bean

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup long-grain Jasmine rice

3 cups whole milk (or a mix of whole and other milks if you don’t have 3 cups. That’s what I did and it was still delicious)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. While that’s happening, slice the vanilla bean down the middle with a sharp paring knife. Once the water is boiling, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the water, then throw the pod in there too.

Add the rice. salt, and Meyer lemon zest and stir to combine. Bring everything back to a boil, then turn the heat down, cover the pan, and cook for 15 minutes to let the rice absorb the liquid.

Scrape the rice mixture into a bowl, then add the milk, sugar, and butter to the saucepan and warm it over medium heat. When the milk is warm, the butter has melted, and the sugar has dissolved, add the rice mixture back to the pot. Keep the heat at medium and stir frequently until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid – about 20 minutes. You want there to be a little bit of liquid left so your pudding isn’t too stiff (haha).

Pour the pudding into a bowl, fish out the vanilla bean (don’t throw it away dummy!) and press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the top of the pudding leaving no air pockets. This will stop the pudding from forming that gross skin on the top. Take a paper towel and dry off the vanilla bean as best you can, then leave it on the paper towel overnight to dry out.

Let the pudding cool until it is just barely warm, then eat as much of it as you can! You can refrigerate the pudding and serve it cold, but I prefer it slightly warm. This is good for breakfast, dessert, afternoon snacks, you name it! I topped my pudding with some vanilla sugar and that was mighty tasty

Vanilla Sugar

This is ridiculously easy to make so I’m not even going to put it in recipe form. You just take vanilla beans and put them in sugar. That’s it. They can be fresh beans that you’ve just sliced open or they can be gnarly beans that you used in other recipes and then dried out – it matters not. You just throw them in a container of sugar, put the top on it, shake it every few days, and in a week or so BOOM! it’s vanilla sugar. Do it, you won’t be sorry.

Ringing in the New Year with Salted Vanilla Chip Oatmeal Cookies

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So, no big deal but this is my 100th post. Actually it’s a little bit of a big deal. Just kinda. I started this blog as a late New Year’s resolution last year and I didn’t know how it would go. I had actually started it under a different name and with a different host site way back in 2010 and then only did 3 posts before it sat forgotten on a dusty shelf in internetland so I didn’t know if I would stick with it this time. Turns out that I did and I’m a little proud of that fact. I’ve never really liked anyone to read what I write (especially anything creative) but I’ve always enjoyed the process, so putting this out on the internet was a big step for me. Granted, it’s not like I have a HUGE readership but at least a few people read it and that feels like a big accomplishment. Joining the FFWD and the BWJ groups was such a good decision and I’ve been so happy to try new things foodwise and to meet new people through it. I can’t wait to get going on 2013’s baking and cooking adventures.

But let’s get real for a second. I work in retail and the holidays are…..shall we say draining? Then after the holidays comes the worst thing of all: inventory. It’s terrible because it takes forever and once you commit all the counts to the computer it tells you just how much people have shoplifted throughout the year and that is just depressing. De-fucking-pressing. The other night I came home after a 13-hour day of counting, counting counting only to find that the mac and cheese I had planned on eating had been consumed by another (naughty husband) and this basically happened:

Thankfully I did not kill him with a giant fork or anything and inventory is mostly over so yay! Last night I realized I hadn’t cooked anything for about a week and that just felt wrong. The other day my friend yummychunklet did a post about these cookies since she got the cookbook for Christmas and though I was a tired girl last night, they seemed very do-able (and delicious). I’ve babbled about how much I love this cookbook in a previous post so I’ll try to refrain but seriously everyone, just go get it. There is such great info in it and the recipes! Ooooooh the recipes! It basically makes me feel like this:

So to celebrate the new year and not be cliche and say you’re going on a diet, I vote that you buy yourself this cookbook. I bought myself the Joy the Baker cookbook the other day and I can’t wait for it to arrive so I can try something new. Happy New Year everybody and thanks for reading!