February 7, 2012

Orange Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites

The other day in the grocery store, Jacob spied those little 'two-bite' brownies in the bakery department and pulled the please mom eyes on me. "Nope," I said. "We can make better ones at home."

When I went to make good on this promise, though, I realized we were out of a key ingredient (um, cocoa), and since there was no way I was going to the grocery store twice in one day during high tourist season, I suggested we make plain old cookies instead. We make chocolate chip cookies so often that it takes us all of 5 minutes to slap the dough together, and as I was about to begin dropping spoonfuls on the cookie sheet, I thought of the little mini muffin pan I'd been planning to bake the brownie bites in. And before I could think about it too much more, I'd greased 'er up and spooned cookie batter into each of the 24 little rounds.

And you guys. They were awesome. A little tricky to get out of the pan - you really have to grease each tiny tin completely (which is in all honesty kind of a pain in the ass) and then you have to make sure the cookies are cool before trying to remove them. I tried to take the first batch out too soon and they stuck to the pan and fell apart. But something about the little muffin shape works really well with this dough, forming a delicately crisp outer shell that houses a gooey, chewy, almost cake-like texture. They are little explosions of buttery deliciousness, and I confess I may have eaten five straight in a row. Maybe nine over the course of the day.

(which reminds me, I wanted to show you this hilarious refrigerator magnet my sister gave me for Christmas)

In this version, I added orange zest and fancy Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips, but you can easily customize this to your own taste and stir in nuts, white chocolate chips, candied ginger, spices, chocolate chunks, or anything else you think might go well with a lot of butter. Happy jiggling!

Orange Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites
makes 48 cookies
*please note this recipe is customized for baking at 10,000 feet elevation and has not been tested at lower elevations

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (please do not use 'vanilla flavoring' because ... blech)
Zest of one medium orange (about 2 tsp)
2 cups semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a mini-muffin tin. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a stand mixer or another medium bowl, cream butter until light (make sure the butter is softened). Incorporate sugars, then add eggs, one at a time, vanilla, and orange zest. Slowly stir in flour mixture until combined with butter mixture, and then add chocolate chips. Drop 1 generous tablespoon of dough into each mini muffin tin. Bake for 15 minutes and cool completely on a wire rack before removing from pan.

January 24, 2012

Breakfast for Dinner

Some nights I come home and I just ... can't. I've worked all day and it's late and I have nothing planned for dinner, and if I didn't have a kid I'd shove a handful of chips into my pie-hole and call it a meal. But I do have a kid, and feel it's important to feed him something relatively healthful every evening.

Tonight was FO SHO one of those nights. I started the day at 4:30 a.m. and ended at nearly 7 p.m. Exhausted, irritable, and hungry, I considered not cooking at all and ordering pizza, but that didn't sound very appealing either. So I turned to an easy fallback:  breakfast for dinner. Whip some eggs, add some chopped veggies, toast some bread, and voila - hot, quick, and satisfying (that's what she said).

I recently saw this recipe for "Better Scrambled Eggs" from former NYT food critic Ruth Reichl and was both intrigued and slightly grossed out (that is a LOT of butter). Honestly, I didn't have the patience tonight to follow all the steps and spend half an hour lovingly stirring scrambled eggs, but I did up the amount of butter I usually use (I used about 3 T for 6 eggs), and kept the heat low so they cooked slowly. The result was lovely:  fluffy, velvety, and creamy. I added some high-quality grated sharp cheddar, tossed in some chopped avocado and tomato, and served it with whole grain toast and veggie sausage patties. Thumbs up all around.

I also may or may not have had a double vodka on the side. Helps with the irritability.