Lunchtime Poll: The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

Whether crispy, crunchy, gluten-free, non-dairy, soft and chewy, or downright gooey, everyone has a favorite chocolate chip cookie.

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Chocolate of the Day: Chocolate Chip Blondies

If you’re a fan of chocolate chip cookies, you might want to give this blondie recipe a try. Not only are they absolutely yummy, they’re so easy to make. Even I can do it!

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Chocolate of the Day: Better than Sex Cookies

Giant cookies filled with chocolate, nuts, and coconut? Y’all, this is my favorite cookie recipe of all time. I found it in one of my parents’ cookbooks sometime in high school and it is just SO good. Alas, I have no idea which one; it’s been… a while and Google was less than forthcoming; I had to have my mom find a copy I’d typed out ages ago and read it to me over the phone since my print-out is in storage. When I used to make them at my dad’s coffeehouse in college, a few of my friends would chase me into the kitchen and grab them off the tray as I pulled them out of the oven. And normally I hate coconut, but it works so well in these. And did I mention they’re freaking HUGE? Read More Chocolate of the Day: Better than Sex Cookies

Cookie Times

Winter is the perfect time of year for cookies. For starters, if you make too much cookie dough, you can freeze it just by throwing it outside (in a sealed container to prevent attracting raccoons and other rabies-laden but surprisingly adorable critters). For seconders, completely disregard that first point and just continue to use the traditional, patented A-A “freezer method” of storage by shoving the dough in the freezer. Read More Cookie Times

Shepherd’s Pie for the Low-Carb Veghead

As if I don’t impose enough dietary restrictions on myself being a vegetarian, I recently decided to go on a low-carb “diet.” I put the word diet in quotes because it isn’t just your run of the mill eating plan to try and lose weight (though that has been a bonus). I’m trying to make my body healthier. In the ten years I’ve been a vegetarian, I’ve learned to rely heavily on carbs. I would think nothing of having a granola bar for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, chips as a snack, and pasta with bread for dinner. And then a few cookies for dessert. Don’t get me wrong, I love fruits, veggies, dairy, and everything else, but I’ve always been a carb addict. Put chips in front of my face, and I’ll eat the whole bag.

It finally clicked with me recently that I wasn’t seeing results in my personal fitness plan and that I was constantly feeling sluggish and having stomach aches because my diet leaves much to be desired. Sure, I baked my own bread and made most of the snacks I noshed on from scratch with organic ingredients, but I was still overloading my body with carbohydrates, which in turn was leaving me to crash and burn with the carbs sitting like dead weight in my stomach.

It hasn’t been easy giving up carbohydrates when I’m already a vegetarian. Finding healthy sources of protein and energy has been a challenge; many of the fake meat products I’ve always relied upon contain gluten. Eggs, almonds, cheese, and vegetable chips have become staples in my house. I have had to completely overhaul the way I eat, the way I buy food, and the way I think about meals. For someone who is completely emotionally dependent on food, it was really hard to NOT buy a bag of chips or chocolate chip cookies; instead I use the money I’ve saved on junky snacks to splurge on stuffed olives, fresh mozzarella, and hummus.

I have to honestly admit that I have never felt healthier. I’ve lost a little weight, but that isn’t even my main focus. I just feel more energized and clear-minded. I don’t get stomach aches anymore, and I’m far less sluggish. My allergies are clearing up, and my migraines have stopped, too. I even find myself not craving soda anymore, which is a major feat, considering I used to kick back Coca-Cola in my bottle as a toddler and have been addicted ever since.

As summer approaches, I imagine it will be more difficult for me to turn away from delicious grilled breads, chips and dips, and other delicious summery fare. So far, though, I’m really feeling great about my new eating habits. I’ve said from the beginning I’ll only try it on for size, and when I feel like it isn’t working for me anymore, I’ll welcome the carbs back with open arms. So far, though, I don’t want them.

Shepherd’s Pie is something that I love to make in cooler weather. I got especially attached to it in New Zealand, where you can buy pre-made miniature round pies topped with buttery, cheesy “mash” just about everywhere, from cafes and dairies to gas stations. I started making them myself a few years ago. My old recipe included packaged vegetarian brown gravy mix, russet potatoes, and bread crumbs. The new version has omitted all gluten and substitutes sweet potatoes for the “mash” part and tomato paste instead of gravy (sounds weird, but it is actually really delicious and savory). I do realize that sweet potatoes are anything but carb-free, but sweet potatoes are a “cheat” vegetable of mine because they are incredibly healthy for you and are, by all accounts, a “good carb.” I also added zucchini and asparagus, which aren’t usually found in Shepherd’s Pie, just to give it some added healthy vegetable-ness.

Teeray’s Vegetarian, Low-Carb Shepherd’s Pie

1 package vegetarian crumbles (there are gluten free options out there)
1/4 cup chopped portabello mushrooms
1 shallot, minced
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1/2 medium sized zucchini, cubed
1/4 cup chopped fresh asparagus
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 medium sized sweet potatoes, cubed
1 medium sized parsnip, cubed
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheese blend (I used cheddar, swiss, and parmesan)
Low fat milk/soy milk

Olive oil
Soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 vegetable bullion cube (optional)

Get a medium sized pan going on medium-high heat with a splash of olive oil. Add garlic, celery, shallots, and mushrooms. Once the mushrooms are slightly brown, add one or two generous splashes of soy sauce, and salt and pepper to your taste. Add vegetarian crumbles, carrots, and asparagus, then reduce heat to medium; cook for an addition 2-3 minutes or until vegetables are beginning to get tender. Add tomato paste and stir to incorporate. When vegetables are al dente, remove the pan from the heat and add the zucchini. Set aside.

In a large pot, heat water to a rolling boil. If you are using the vegetable bullion cube, add it now. Add cubed sweet potatoes and parsnip; boil until very tender. Drain and return to the pot; reduce heat to low. Add a few splashes of milk and cream cheese, stir or mash until desired consistency and very creamy. Add half of the shredded cheese, salt and pepper, and stir.

Add vegetable/crumble mixture to a medium sized glass baking dish and spread out evenly. Spread mashed potato mixture evenly over the top. Top the potatoes with the remaining cheese. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned. Serve immediately.

Feel free to omit the dairy ingredients if you’d like to make this vegan. It is just as delicious! I’m sure this would be equally delicious for you carnivores with some ground chuck or even ground turkey or chicken.

Image Credit of non-veggie shepherd’s pie from flickr.

Pantone Chip Cookies

Editor’s Note – I saw pictures of these floating around tumblr, so I contacted the original artist, Kim Neill, to see if she would let us crosspost her original blog post here.  She said yes! Join me in giving her a warm welcome, and maybe we can convince her to come back and write for us again.  This post may be found in its original context here: Pantone Cookies! Read More Pantone Chip Cookies

Pros and Cons of Being an Adult

This post is inspired by the grocery shopping that I just did.  As is typical these days, I was stressing out about credit card debt, and bills, and rent and my future and on and on.  And I was like, Jesus Christ, being an adult BLOWS! Remember when you were little and you’re all “when I’m a grown-up I’ll never have a bedtime! Yeah! I’ll be able to buy Lucky Charms and no one can stop me!”  And now you see that Lucky Charms costs $6 a box which is totally bogus because it’s a box full of sugar and wheat so you sigh and buy Marshmallow Mateys.

So in order to pull myself back from the edge of the quarter-life crisis abyss I am standing on today I have made a little list of things that are awesome about being a grown-up, with a few cons thrown in because I’m realistic.

1. You can eat what you want for dinner. You want to make a well-balanced meal of lentils and mung beans? Great! You’re doing it for your own health and you can be proud of yourself.  You want to eat 9 chocolate chip cookies with an apple “to balance it out?” Go ahead! No one’s stopping you! Here, have a tenth cookie if you want…or don’t…you can decide because you’re a grown up!

2. You get to clean your room when you feel like it. You want to play video games all day in your jammies and clean your room tomorrow? You can! Yo mama don’t live here!  (Exceptions apply if you have company coming, a partner who is neater than you, or children for whom you feel obligated to be a good example.  Those are the cons).

3. Sex. You can have it with other grown-ups in special grown-ups only time!  That’s fun! Can’t do that when you’re a kid.

4. Grocery Shopping . This is a pro and con. See: price of Lucky Charms as stated above.  But you know how when you’re a kid and you go grocery shopping with your mom and you put Mallomars in the cart hoping she won’t notice but she totally does and she tells you to go put it back where you found it? Doesn’t happen anymore!  Put those Mallomars right in that cart and keep them there!

5. Drinking. It’s 2 pm and I’m drinking a hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps (Shout out to Hattie).  Why? Because I’m cranky and it’s cold and I’m an adult so I can! Take that, kids!

6. You don’t go to the bathroom in your pants. I don’t remember diapers, but I imagine it wasn’t pleasant.  (Con Exception: The elderly).

7. You get to watch grown-up TV. Here’s some crappy shows: Barney, Teletubbies, Hannah Montana.  Here are some good shows: All the ones on HBO and Showtime.  Guess who gets to watch the good ones? That’s right, you!! (Con Exception: Parents).

I don’t know about you, but I feel better already!   That might be the Schnapps talking, though.

Photo: Hyberbole and a Half. Obvs.

Back to Basics: Chocolate Chip Cookies

After raising the bar with a rather complicated recipe last week, I thought I’d keep things simple during the week in which we stare Christmas in the face. While the glut of Christmas treats and star-shaped sugar cookies is wonderful, there’s something so classically comforting about chocolate cookies and a glass of milk on a chilly winter night. Read More Back to Basics: Chocolate Chip Cookies