Gin Aperol ‘Buch Spritz

It’s no secret that I love kombucha. Yup, that funky sour fermented tea!

I actually started drinking the stuff a few years back, after a holistic nutritionist suggested I add more probiotic foods and supplements to my diet. (End result? No more painful stomach aches!) It took about a week for kombucha to please my palate. Upon first taste, I found it extremely bubbly and vinegary… but that sensation and taste became a little addictive! I drink the ‘buch regularly now, at least a few bottles per week.

An email from Bon Appetit’s Healthyish popped up in my inbox last week, with the title “Should you rethink your drink?” The first recipe link on it? 3 Perfect Kombucha Cocktails. With the August long weekend approaching, I knew I had to devise my own concoction!

Taking inspiration from this recipe, my Gin Aperol ‘Buch Spritz was born:

  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz cucumber vodka
  • 2 oz Aperol
  • Splash of club soda
  • Berry-flavoured kombucha (I used Brew Dr.’s Superberry)
  • Mint for garnish

Fill a glass with a few ice cubes. Add alcohol in order of above. Add a splash of club soda and top off your glass with kombucha. Stir very gently. Add a sprig of mint for garnish.

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Smoky Aperol, fresh flavours from the gin and cucumber vodka combined with the bubbly sourness of kombucha… this is a heck of a cocktail!

Bottom’s up!
Cindy

Cooking Off the Books: Best Homemade Pizza Crust and Sauce

So the original plan was that Cindy and I would re-blog cooking each other’s favourites from the blog over the past year, even making a twist on those favourites.  Alas, I have not really done that.  I cooked a few of her favourites (and mine), but did not document with pics aside from one day, when Cindy came over and helped me make her favourite biscuits (ps, these are even more delish when you add bacon).

Part of that is due to new homeowner exhaustion.  I forget to take pics until I plate and then it’s like…”oh yeah…pictures. Welp.”

Part of this is due to the fact that I have had a lot of dinner guests at my new house and so, I have opted to go for a tried and true meal that I know always satisfies vs something new…I mean, it’s kinda the same thing, right?

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Individual pizzas on the Egg for a fun dinner with friends!

My pizza crust and sauce recipe are simple and don’t require anything fancy and that is probably why they are so good.  The toppings can be as fancy or as simple as you like.  I do have some tips to make you pizza extra delish:

  1. Make sure your oven/grill is piping hot – like 500-525 F!  Your pizza will cook in about 10 minutes if it’s fresh…15 minutes if you are cooking a frozen pizza (give or take based on your oven of course and add more time if you like your pizza extra well done).
  2. Put some cornmeal or semolina flour down on your pan or pizza peel before you put on your toppings.  Not only does it add a nice crunch/mouth feel to you pizza, but it keeps the pizza from sticking to the peel/pizza pan/pizza stone.
  3. Spread a thin layer of olive oil over the top of your crust before you put on any sauce or toppings – it helps ensure you get a lovely, golden brown crust.
  4. If you are grilling your pizza, don’t put on too many toppings – the weight will make it harder to get the pizza off the peel.
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    base level of cheese…proper toppings next!

  5. Consider adding toppings in the following way: sauce, 2/3 of  the amount of cheese you plan to use (acts as a nice sticky, melty base) your toppings like pepperoni, veggies, etc, and then the 1/3  of the cheese…just to seal it all up.  Putting that last little bit of cheese on top still allows for the toppings to cook, vs burying them in all the cheese or having them fall off by putting them on top of the cheese.
  6. If you are freezing your pizza, do it on a pizza pan to start, this ensures it freezes flat and your toppings don’t fall off. Also, it tightly in a few layers of cling wrap when it is finally frozen solid.
  7. This is a bonus tip – if you don’t have instant yeast, use regular yeast, but make sure you proof it first….a smidge of sugar and some warm water…let it sit and get all foamy and you will be good to go.  And if you eff that up, and put in non instant yeast without activating, you can still save it – just put in in a warm spot (i use an oven I have turned on for about 3-5 minutes)…and you will see your dough start to rise.

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Seeing this makes me hungry!

Without further ado, here are my recipes….the dough is from the New York Times.  The sauce is from a Kneading and Knives favourite The Kitchn.

Lisa’s Favourite Pizza Dough
Yield: Enough dough for 1 large, 2 medium, or more smaller pizzas (ps i love doing the small personal sized pizzas when friends come over!).

Ingredients: 
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons instant yeast, such as SAF-Instant Yeast.
2 teaspoons coarse sea or kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1 to 1 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil.

  1. If using a food processor, combine flour, yeast and salt in work bowl. Turn machine on and add 1 cup water and the oil through the feed tube. Process 30 seconds, adding up to 1/4 cup more water, a little at a time, until mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. (In unlikely event mixture is too sticky, add flour, a tablespoon at a time.) To make dough by hand, combine half the flour with the yeast and salt in a bowl and stir to blend. Add 1 cup water and the olive oil; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add remaining flour bit at a time; when mixture becomes too stiff to stir with a spoon, begin kneading, adding as little remaining flour as possible, just enough to keep dough from being sticky mess. Knead 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Turn dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand a few seconds to form a smooth, round ball. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let rise until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours. (You can cut rising time if you are in a hurry, or you can let dough rise more slowly in refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours.) Dough can then be used immediately or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen for a month. Defrost in covered bowl in refrigerator or at room temperature.
  3. Form risen dough into a ball and divide into two or more pieces; roll each into a ball. Place each on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle with a little flour, and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rest until slightly puffed, about 20 minutes.
  4. Oil one or more baking sheets, then press each dough ball into a flat round directly on sheet. Pat out dough as thin as you like, using oiled hands if necessary.
  5. Lift up your crust and throw down some of that semolina/cornmeal. Proceed with any toppings you like.  Pop it into a pre-heated 500 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.

Lisa’s Favourite Pizza Sauce

Yield:  about 4 cups
Ingredients: 
1 32-ounce can whole or diced tomatoes
6 to 8 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, plus more to taste
Salt
Fresh-cracked pepper
Olive oil
Equipment:

Blender or food processor
Muffin tin, if freezing
Freezer bag or container, if freezing

Instructions

  1. Combine the tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, some black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil in a blender or food processor. Use both the tomatoes and their juices, or drain the tomatoes for a slightly thicker and more concentrated sauce.
  2. Puree the sauce: Blend the ingredients until they’re completely pureed. Stop the blender and scrape down the sides as needed.
  3. Give the sauce a taste: Taste your sauce, and add more salt, fresh-cracked pepper, or olive oil to taste. Blend a few more seconds to combine.
  4. Use the pizza sauce: This sauce is ready to be used as is — no cooking required. Just spoon it onto a round of pizza dough and use the back of the spoon to smooth it out. This amount of sauce makes enough for eight medium pizzas, depending on how much sauce you like on your pizza.
  5. Refrigerate unused sauce for up to a week.
  6. Freeze any extra pizza sauce for up to 3 months: Spoon any unused sauce into muffin tins. Freeze until solid, then pop the frozen cubes out of the mold and transfer to a freezer container. Thaw overnight before using on pizza, or microwave the cubes in 30-second bursts until they melt into a sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

1 Year Blogiversary: Food 52 Genius Recipes Raised Waffles

Hi everyone! Apologies for the lack of blog posts. June was a bit of a nutty month with me having to take a bit of time off from cooking – Thanks, finger injury! Still healing, btw. – and a large cluster of family birthdays, mine included.

To celebrate our 1 year blogiversary, Lisa and I have each picked our favourite reviewed recipes for one another to cook through. I was secretly hoping Food 52’s Raised Waffles were on the list – and they were!

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While these looked pretty darn good while cooking…

So, I made these waffles at the cottage, during one of these clustery birthday weekends. Were they as delicious as I imagined and as Lisa revised? YES. These waffles have the greatest flavour – not too sweety, somewhat yeasty, soft inside and crunchy on the outside. (These would be so good paired with some bacon, a poached egg and chives!)

Were they easy to make? For me – nope. These actually turned out to be a pain in the booty to make. I am not sure if cooking them at the cottage and the difference in air humidity had anything to do with it, but these waffles were kind of a mess.

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…in reality, they were more waffle bit and chunks.

Lisa was surprised I had such issues with these waffles, and I am still pretty puzzled. These are definitely worth another shot for me, but this time I will make them in my home kitchen and see how it goes.

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Tons of food styling going on with this pic! (These are not “full” waffles whatsoever, but many bits and pieces put together to look like solid pieces!)

Anyway… bon appétit!
Cindy

Kneading + Knives Bucket Lists: Summer 2017

The days in Winnipeg are getting longer, the patios are open and the smell of BBQs is in the air. That can only mean one thing – SUMMER!!!!

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We are both BIG Olaf fans!

To celebrate all things warm, and delicious on the first official day of summer, we are creating our own little bucket list of the things we want to do this summer – SO fun!

Cindy’s List:

  1. Create a cocktail using cucumber vodka and rosé: I recently bought a bottle of the former and absolutely love to drink the latter. Mixing them in some way can only be better, right?!
  2. Create a really great Signature Cindy Salad for dinner on those hot summer nights or that I can bring to summer potlucks. Besides greens, I’m thinking melons, berries, some stinky cheese and… something crunchy?
  3. Experiment with homemade popsicles!
  4. Continue to experiment with pizza on the BBQ – especially finding the perfect crust, as the one we used last year was almost as thick as foccacia!
  5. Since I’ll be travelling for 2 weeks in July on a road trip, I definitely want to make some great homemade snacks to bring along. Any suggestions?

Lisa’s List:

  1. Make some deeeeelish ribs on the BBQ.  I tried some mediocre ribs by Jamie Oliver last summer,  but I really, really want to find ones that knock my socks off.
  2. Take a random day off and go to the beach.  I haven’t been to a beach since March 2016…granted, it was in Australia, which was fab…but I def. want a day of sand between my toes and sun on my skin.
  3. Spend time relaxing in my backyard, with a freshly made mojito, made of mint harvested from my mint plant and maybe some blueberries and strawberries harvested from my plants, too…if they bear fruit.
  4. Plan a fun housewarming / birthday party in August….complete with a kick ass menu!
  5. Patio beers with good friends both in my back yard and out and about in Winnipeg.
  6. I have a bonus one – to really give my new convection oven and my kitchen a proper test run, I want to attempt to make a beautiful cake from a recipe I have never tried before…eeek!

What’s on your summer bucket list?

May 2017 | Our Final Review of Pinch of Yum

Our cookbook (well… blog!) for May 2017 was Pinch of Yum.

Lisa’s Thoughts:

Pinch of Yum – totally not a misleading title.  Lindsay’s blog is full of yummy things to make.  Unfortunately, due to the chaos that was purchasing appliances for my new to me house, I was only able to make a few recipes from her blog – which was a total bummer….but I am confident that I will be making more things from her blog because…omg..so many things.  I also liked that it didn’t require outlandish ingredients for most of the recipes…and a lot of them were chock full of veggies and were generally quite healthy.  They also weren’t overly complicated, which I appreciated after a month with that Jamie Oliver 15 Minute nightmare book.

I loved the burritos I made of hers…and love that they are in my freezer and have made for delish dinners on nights when I can’t be bothered to make a proper dinner…and for the record….the reheated burritos taste great – but they do take about 25 minutes in the oven to warm up (since I currently don’t have my microwave installed…sad).  I loved the other dishes I made, too…and already have my eye on a few others to make in the future when I’m not pulling my hair out with the craziness that is moving.

I also liked that her blog includes blogging tips and parts from her real life, both the terrific and the tragic.  It makes her more real and relatable and for whatever reason, it made me enjoy visiting the blog more.  It also made me want to drive to Twin Cities and give her a hug.

So, if you are looking for healthy, delish food – def. at Pinch of Yum to your regular food blog repertoire.  You will not be sorry.

Cindy’s Thoughts:

Hurrah! After a disaster of a cookbook in April, May was a wonderful month of cooking from the Pinch of Yum blog! Lindsay’s recipes are simply, healthy, quick and most importantly… delicious.

Like Lisa mentions above, the recipes didn’t require outlandish ingredients. The vibe of the recipes and the way they were written were similar to The Kitchn, which I loved: friendly and approachable.

This is a definite blog to bookmark and use regularly. (Especially those soft chocolate chip cookies!) Plain and simple: I love just kind of everything about the Pinch of Yum blog.

Recipes We Cooked: Spicy Sausage Rigatoni, Spicy Chipotle Turkey Burritos, Balsamic Watermelon Chicken Salad, The Best Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies, Burst Tomato and Zucchini Spaghetti with Avocado, Brown Butter Scallops with Parmesan Risotto

Final Verdict: Highly Recommended

yes

Pinch of Yum Blog: Spicy Sausage Rigatoni

We’re not a big pasta eating household but when my husband picked this recipe out, I had a feeling we were in for a delicious treat!

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What heaven smells like…

And yes: Winner, winner, rigatoni dinner! This dish is fantastic. Slightly sweet, slightly spicy and a nice richness from the red wine. (Note below that the recipe calls for a specific brand of wine. We simply bought a small, cheap bottle of red.)

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Don’t skip on the parmesan cheese and basil!

I didn’t time this recipe as best as I could because I ended up cooking the pasta first and THEN starting the sauce (which takes about 20 minutes). No huge deal, as the pasta is tossed into the sauce at the end… but just another friendly reminder for me to read the full recipe before beginning to cook.

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A closer look at the deliciousness

Oh and the leftovers, you guys… this dish is even better the next day!

Recipe Rating: 5 Knives out of 5

Bon appétit,
Cindy

p.s. I have to say, I’ll be sad to see May go because I really enjoyed cooking through the Pinch of Yum blog! It’s definitely bookmarked at the top of my list and will be a regular food resource.

*****

Spicy Sausage Rigatoni

Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon oil or butter
  • half of a yellow onion, minced
  • 4 carrots, minced
  • 12 ounces spicy Italian sausage (casings removed – just the ground meat)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup Barefoot Rich Red Blend
  • 1 28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, including their juice
  • ¼ cup balsamic or Italian dressing (optional)
  • 1 lb. whole wheat rigatoni
  • ½ cup reserved pasta water
  • Parmesan and parsley or basil for topping
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and carrots – saute for 10 minutes or so, until the vegetables are very soft.
  2. Add the ground sausage, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. When the sausage is fully cooked, add the wine to get the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add the tomatoes and dressing – simmer for 10-20 minutes while the pasta is cooking.
  4. Cook the pasta according to package directions. When draining, reserve ½ cup of the cooking water. Combine the pasta, the sauce, and the reserved water and toss gently to combine. Transfer to a large serving dish and top with Parmesan and parsley or basil. Serve with more Barefoot Rich Red Blend!

Recipe copied from: http://pinchofyum.com/spicy-sausage-rigatoni#easyrecipe-24660-0

Pinch of Yum Blog’s Spicy Chipotle Turkey Burritos

Mmmmm….burritos.

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Sorry for the Homer Simpson moment…I just…I remember how good these tasted and it makes me want one bad, bad, bad.

I made these for dinner for a friend that was coming to check out my new (to me) house.  The recipe was rather simple.  I experimented with it a bit, using some beer to deglaze my Dutch oven of all those yummy brown bits leftover from cooking the ground chicken (couldn’t find ground turkey).

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I used most of the recommended veggies – peppers, onions, mushrooms and zucchini.  I forgot to add the frozen corn I had bought for the burritos, but no matter it was delicious.  My only real complaint was that there was a lot of liquid in the burrito filling.  I am thinking it might be because I didn’t sweat the zucchini before throwing it in, but I really don’t know.  It was delicious, regardless of the fact that the burritos were crazy messy to eat.

IMG_5115[1]I made some guacamole, put out some feta (can’t find Cotija Cheese at my local supermarkets), salsa, cilantro, plain greek yogurt (instead of sour cream) and hot sauce for additional condiments.  I highly recommend putting these items out to accompany your burritos because they compliment the flavours nicely.

My dinner guest and I both eagerly ate two burritos and felt pleasantly stuffed.  I had a LOT of filling leftover (not as surprise given that this recipe should make 15 burritos).  I rolled up the rest of the burritos and have them waiting for me in my freezer.  Unfortunately, I have not had the chance to try out the frozen versions yet, but I’m feeling confident that they will be just as good as they were when they were freshly made…but I will provide an update on the blog here when I finally give one a whirl.

I would definitely recommend making these burritos, full stop. I think the fact that it makes enough to put away for quick, future meals is fabulous. Definitely whip up a batch, pronto!

Recipe rating: 5 knives out of 5

Om, nom, nom,

Lisa

*****

Pinch of Yum Blog: Spicy Chipotle Turkey Burritos (Make Ahead)

Serves: 15 burritos

Ingredients

Filing Part One (Turkey):

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • ½ onion, minced
  • 3 lbs. ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoon EACH chili powder and cumin
  • 3-5 individual chipotle peppers (canned in adobo sauce), minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Filling Part Two (Vegetables):

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • ½ onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon EACH chili powder and cumin
  • 4-5 cups chopped veggies like carrots, zucchini, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, etc. (see notes for specifics)
  • 1 cup chicken broth (more as needed)
  • 1 14-ounce can pinto or black beans
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • 1½ cups plain Greek yogurt

For Serving:

  • 15 10-inch tortillas
  • avocado, hot sauce, cilantro, etc. for serving

Instructions

  1. Filling Part One: Heat the tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven or stock pot. Add the onion and the turkey; as the turkey cooks, add the spices, chipotle peppers, and salt. Cook until the turkey is browned and fully cooked. When the meat is saucy and delicious-looking, transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Filling Part Two: In the same pot, add the oil, onion, veggies, and spices. Saute for a few minutes until the vegetables are mostly soft. Add enough broth to barely cover the vegetables and simmer for 10 minutes or so, until the vegetables are soft and the mixture has thickened. Add the beans, meat, cheese, and yogurt. Stir until creamy. Also at this point it’s a good idea to taste and add salt or more seasoning to make sure you’re all good on flavor.
  3. Fill each tortilla with about ½ cup of the filling, fold up (I spread a little goat cheese or avocado on the sides to help them stick together), and wrap with plastic or foil. Store in the freezer for quick, grab-and-go lunches and dinners!
  4. To heat and eat, either pop in the microwave (takes about 5 minutes for a semi-thawed burrito) or in the oven (I’ve never been patient enough to do it this way so I don’t have a good time guideline here) or a combo with the microwave and then on a skillet if you’re at home so you can get that golden brown exterior. That’s the best way.

Notes

For more smoky heat, add additional chipotles. For more HOT heat, add a good shake of cayenne to the meat and vegetable mixture.

For vegetables, I always use a few different veggies based on whatever’s left in the fridge. But if you want direct amounts, I’d suggest 1 sweet potato, 5 carrots, and 3 bell peppers.

Also – technically the cheese and Greek yogurt could be optional, but I like the mixture to be a little creamy. It also helps it stick together better.

 

Pinch of Yum Blog: Balsamic Watermelon Chicken Salad

Hey All,

This moving thing has really put a YUGE damper on my blogging…mostly because I have not had access to a fridge or a stove in my new place…until this past weekend.

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my precious…..

I tested out my new convection oven with The Kitchn’s Perfected Chocolate Chip Cookies, of course…and they were fabulous.  I was a bit nervous with the convection setting, but I didn’t need to fear as it all turned out amazingly. YAY!

I also roasted up my first chicken in my stove last night and that wasn’t quite so straight forward (though it turned out perfectly in the end) given I used the temperature probe that came with the stove.  It’s going take some time to learn it, I think.

I prepped the chicken using Turkey Paste from William Sonoma.  You need to get this stuff ( I can’t put the link as it’s not on the site as it’s only available in the fall) because its so easy and yummy and a little goes a long way.  And since I had this yummy chicken all ready to go as well as some other key ingredients (including watermelon, thanks to a generous drop off from my Auntie Kim), I figured that this recipe was the thing to make for dinner.

Plus, it marks a return to eating real, non-take out food…like proper vegetables and un-fried foods. YAAAAS!

So onto the recipe.  Was very nice, super easy…like even if I had to cook up the chicken and carve up the watermelon, it would still be easy peasy.  It was filling and delicious and well, who knew I liked blue cheese?!

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First time for everything-buying blue cheese!

One thing that I sort of screwed up was making the balsamic reduction.  I know, I know…how do you mess that up?!  Well, having a new stove and being distracted–that’s how.  Instead of cooking it down to a nice drizzle…I cooked it down to almost a caramel. Sigh.  Such a waste of balsamic…but alas, it still tasted great, despite some chewy bits. Hah!

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Looks good, right?

I also added a bit of cucumber to this as I just can’t help myself. I love cucumber with salad so feel free to do the same in yours, if you want.

Oh and the best part of this salad, next to the ease of prepping it, was that it just tasted like summer…and since it was a warmer spring night, it just seemed like the perfect choice for my dinner last night.

Recipe rating: 4 knives out of 5

Om, nom, nom,

Lisa

*****

 Pinch of Yum’s Balsamic Watermelon Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts

3 teaspoons all purpose seasoning (Pinch of Yum used a spice mix from a specialty food store – I used William’s Sonoma Turkey Paste)

1 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups baby spinach or greens

2 cups cubed watermelon

½ cup blue cheese crumbles

¼ cup sliced or crushed almonds

sliced cumber – optional (this is my own addition and not part of the original recipe

 

Instructions

Pour the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the balsamic vinegar is significantly reduced and starting to become syrupy.

Meanwhile, turn a grill or nonstick skillet to high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with the seasoning on both sides and drizzle with the olive oil. Transfer to the hot grill and cook until no longer pink on the inside and nicely browned on the outside. Let rest for 5 minutes; cut into small cubes.

Layer the spinach with the chicken, watermelon, blue cheese, almonds, and drizzle with the balsamic reduction to taste. Top with additional olive oil if desired.

Pinch of Yum: The Best Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe title? It’s the truth.

These are THE Best Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies!

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Yes, I – the non-baker – choose a baking recipe to review. These babies are the perfect texture. My sole complaint? The recipe only makes 12 cookies (or 9 giant cookies). Had I bought more chocolate chips, I would easily have made a second batch the same evening.

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There’s really not much more to say, readers. I consider these the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Make ’em! (And they only took 20 minutes – prep and cooking time included!)

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Recipe Rating: 5 Knives out of 5

Bon appétit!
Cindy

*****

The Best Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

Serves: 12 cookies (or 9 if you make the cookies HUUUGE, which I often do)
Ingredients
  • 8 tablespoons of salted butter
  • ½ cup white sugar (I like to use raw cane sugar with a coarser texture)
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour (more as needed – see video)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (but I always add a little extra)
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips (I use a combination of chocolate chips and chocolate chunks)
 Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Microwave the butter for about 40 seconds to just barely melt it. It shouldn’t be hot – but it should be almost entirely in liquid form.
  2. Using a stand mixer or electric beaters, beat the butter with the sugars until creamy. Add the vanilla and the egg; beat on low speed until just incorporated – 10-15 seconds or so (if you beat the egg for too long, the cookies will be stiff).
  3. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix until crumbles form. Use your hands to press the crumbles together into a dough. It should form one large ball that is easy to handle (right at the stage between “wet” dough and “dry” dough). Add the chocolate chips and incorporate with your hands.
  4. Roll the dough into 12 large balls (or 9 for HUGELY awesome cookies) and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes until the cookies look puffy and dry and just barely golden.Warning, friends: DO NOT OVERBAKE. This advice is probably written on every cookie recipe everywhere, but this is essential for keeping the cookies soft. Take them out even if they look like they’re not done yet (see picture in the post). They’ll be pale and puffy.
  5. Let them cool on the pan for a good 30 minutes or so (I mean, okay, eat four or five but then let the rest of them cool). They will sink down and turn into these dense, buttery, soft cookies that are the best in all the land. These should stay soft for many days if kept in an airtight container. I also like to freeze them.
Notes: The 3 most important things about this recipe are 1) melting the butter, 2) adding enough flour, and 3) not baking for too long.

If you find that the dough is wet and it REALLY sticks to your hands, you probably need a little more flour. This is important otherwise you’ll have flat cookies. I’ll usually add a few tablespoons at a time to get it to the right consistency. See video in post for reference. You should be able to roll the balls of dough between your hands without any issues.

Pinch of Yum Blog: Burst Tomato and Zucchini Spaghetti with Avocado Sauce

Ah, those first warm days of Spring that feel like Summer…

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The best colours!

On a particularly warm Monday in early May, I knew I wanted something light and fresh for dinner, and I knew I didn’t want to use my oven if at all possible. Another reason I chose this recipe is because I received a veggie spiralizer as a gift quite some time ago and the only use I was getting out of it was, well, none!

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Zucchini noodles are quite the blast to make!

Enter the Burst Tomato and Zucchini Spaghetti with Avocado Sauce recipe from Pinch of Yum. It looked just perfect! A limited amount of stovetop cooking with a healthy-looking end point (i.e. dinner!).

The best news – guess how long this recipe took to make? That’s right folks… 15 MINUTES! (For real, Jamie Oliver.)

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Just before mixing…

My modifications: I skipped out on the spaghetti and I left the zucchini noodles raw ( I like the texture better), instead of cooking them with the burst tomatoes. I also threw in one chopped, unseeded mildly spiced yellow chile for a bit of heat.

The avocado sauce was good, but was missing a little something. Since I’ll be making this dish again (likely with the addition of some grilled shrimp!), I’m eager to experiment a bit with the sauce – perhaps anchovies or anchovy paste would ramp it up a bit?

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From prep to plate in 15 minutes, yo!

Overall, this was a tasty, healthy and super easy dinner for a warm eve. Thumbs up.

Recipe Rating: 4 Knives out of 5

Bon appétit,
Cindy

*****

Burst Tomato and Zucchini Spaghetti with Avocado Sauce

Ingredients
  • 3 cups yellow and red cherry tomatoes
  • 2 zucchini, spiralized
  • 4 ounces whole wheat spaghetti (optional – see notes)
  • Parmesan for topping (but skip this if you’re vegan, obvs)
Avocado Sauce
  • 1 avocado
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 3-4 green onions (green parts)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Pulse all sauce ingredients together until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  3. Heat the cherry tomatoes in a large skillet over medium high heat with a very quick drizzle of olive oil. Gently shake the pan to get them moving (you might want to grab a lid for this – they really start to spatter when the juices hit the hot oil). Continue cooking until tomatoes are roasty-looking and the skins are split or loosened. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Add the zucchini to the same pan and toss for 1-2 minutes, until tender-crisp. Add the spaghetti and the avocado sauce. Toss until combined. Season with salt and pepper, top with reserved tomatoes and Parmesan if you like that sort of thing. Serve immediately.
Notes
Okay, so if you’re going SUPER HEALTHY on us, you could skip the pasta. We made this without pasta as a side for grilled chicken during an especially ambitious post-new-year’s-resolution meal, and even with JUST THE ZUCCHINI, it was still super delicious.

However, if you were making this without the chicken, I wouldn’t go for the zucchini-noodles-only approach. The pasta makes it more of a meal in and of itself.