Category Archives: Five Stars

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ok, so I have a terrible habit of starting things and then not following through. I’m going to go ahead and say that my lapse in posting is not because I haven’t been making food (and even taking pictures!) but my routine got interrupted back in March by going on vacation and then having visitors come. I am nothing if not a slave to routine.

Anyway, despite having made some delicious things and even taken pictures of them, I’m not going to backtrack because I’m not excited about those things anymore. Instead, I really want to share with you my favorite recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

Now, the recipe is actually for soft-baked white chocolate cranberry cookies from SallysBakingAddiction.com, which is also a great recipe. But the first time I made these, I discovered that I had found my version of a perfect cookie base. And trust me, I have tried many, many, many chocolate chip cookie recipes. I spent a few years in college trying and failing at making the most basic of baked goods, the American classic. I was baffled. I used to make chocolate chip cookies at home just fine at home. How was this happening?

Well, I still have no answers to why I failed so often, but I do have a solution to my many and varied failures. These cookies. I will never again bake a different chunk cookie recipe.

By the way, like I said, the recipe is great in the white chocolate cranberry version as given, but to change it to chocolate chips (or M&M’s, or marshmallows, or raisins) just sub in the same amount of chunky goodness as the white chocolate and cranberries.

White-Chocolate-Cranberry-Cookies-3
This photo belongs to Sally’s Baking Addiction.com

They are soft and chewy, with a nice crisp outside. Big and fluffy. Everything I think chocolate chip cookies should be. If you like crunchy chocolate chip cookies, you need to leave.

Ratings

Flavor – Five Stars: Delicious flavor. They stay chewy even after a couple of days (if they last that long!). I promise you will not want to stop eating these.

Skill Level – Low/Moderate: If you’ve ever made cookies from scratch before, you can make these. If you haven’t, I vote that it is time you give it a try. Just follow the directions, you’ll be fine.

Overall – Five Stars: I cannot say this enough. These are my perfect cookie.

choc chip cookies
Mine this time! I used dark chocolate chunks as well as semi-sweet chocolate chips. 
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Skillet Huevos Rancheros

Alright everyone. If you make one dish from this blog, make this one. Seriously. I love this dish. It’s on the menu once every other month, it seems, which is a big deal in our house since as you can tell, I rarely make the same thing twice. The recipe is for Huevos Rancheros Skillet Eggs by FeastingAtHome.com, but for some reason I always just call these Skillet Huevos.

skillet-huevos-rancheros-110
This photo belongs to FeastingAtHome.com

The picture from the original blog shows these in cute little individual cast iron skillets, but let’s get real, who actually has multiple tiny cast iron skillets? Not me. I make this in a regular-sized cast iron skillet. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, well, I highly suggest you get one. Hubby insisted that we start using one, and at first I was hesitant, but now I love it. Still, I make him handle it, usually. They can’t be cleaned with soap, they get crazy hot, and are super heavy. Even so, I love how the food comes out. Anyway, if you don’t have one but still want to make this recipe, you’ll need an oven-safe skillet.

Things I love about this dish:

  1. It’s crazy delicious
  2. It looks really fancy
  3. It’s actually really cheap to make
  4. It feeds a crowd – I love to serve this to friends, and they love to eat it

I do a lot of little variations on the original recipe now that I’ve made this a few times, but specifically I like to use cherry tomatoes instead of regular tomatoes (though that’s mostly because tomatoes are gross and cherry tomatoes are the most tolerable to me). I don’t get all fancy and cook my own heirloom beans as suggested, I just use canned black and pinto beans. I like to throw in extra veggies like zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, or kale. Whatever I’ve got on hand.

The one kind of annoying thing about making this is that it actually requires you to cook the beans/veggies in one skillet, then line the cast iron skillet with tortillas and transfer the bean/veggie mix to the cast iron skillet. But it’s so delicious that I do not care. It’s worth the extra dish.

Ratings

Flavor: Five Stars –  The subtle Mexican spices mixed with delicious egg, cilantro, and lime juice are incredible.

Skill Level: Low – Despite looking so fancy, it’s really pretty easy. Sautee beans and veggies with spices. Line cast iron with tortillas. Dump beans/veggies into cast iron. Crack eggs into little wells you make with a spoon. Bake in oven until eggs are done. Easy peasy.

Overall: Five Stars – This is something Hubby asks for over and over again, and I love it, too. Easy, cheap, and delicious. And any leftovers are good for breakfast the next day, too! Make this, make this, make this!

Skillet Huevos 1
Ungarnished, straight out of the oven
Skillet Huevos 2
This time I had some pico de gallo and avocado yogurt sauce leftover from another recipe, so I garnished with that. So good!!

Easy Kale Feta Egg Toast

Hubby and I eat eggs and toast nearly every morning. And I’m some kind of freak who doesn’t really like scrambled eggs all that well, so we eat basted eggs and toast 95% of the time. It’s good, and I like it, but we’ve been getting sick of the usual routine.

This was just the thing we needed to liven up our routine!

Ok, so this recipe for Easy Kale Feta Egg Toast by Well Plated is so good, easy, and quick that we’ve added it to our usual breakfast rotation! And actually I didn’t have any feta the first time so we made it without and I honestly didn’t remember that it had feta in it until I went to write this post. I have some now, so I guess I’ll have to try it! Anyway, it’s good without, if you don’t have any on hand. I’m sure it’s good with it, too, though.

An-easy-healthy-dinner-Kale-Feta-Eggs-Florentine-on-toast
This image belongs to WellPlated.com

We’ve even made this with a few different kinds of greens that we’ve had on hand-kale, Swiss chard, and spinach! Works well with all of them.

It’s really simple but packs a big flavor bang for your buck. Sauteed greens with garlic and crushed pepper flakes make this a zippy way to start the day. You’ll definitely want to make sure you brush well, though, before you step out the door!

Ratings

Flavor: Five Stars – Tender, spicy greens on top of toast with runny yolk? Super yummy.

Skill Level: Low – This is super easy. Toast bread. Toss greens, garlic, crushed red pepper in a hot pan with oil. Top toast with greens once wilted. (Sprinkle on feta if you want). Cook up an egg. Place on top. Devour.

Overall: Five Stars – Easy peasy healthy and delicious breakfast. What more could you want?

Eggs Kale Toast
Om nom nom so yummy!

 

Perfect Cut-Out Cookies

Ok, I know that cut-out cookies are traditionally a Christmas thing and February is… well, not Christmas. But I kept seeing a tutorial by SweetAmbs going around Facebook on cute and easy royal icing for Valentine’s Day cookies. I couldn’t help myself. I have a lot of free time right now (see: this blog) so I figured maybe I could learn a new skill. I called up a friend in town who is awesome at decorating cakes (you can check out her fab work over at APieceofCakeBend.com) and asked if she knew how to do royal icing and of course she did and said come on over! She’d make the icing if I bring the cookies. Fair deal!

Except, I hate making cut-out cookies. Every year, I make so many different kinds of Christmas cookies, and every year, I avoid cut-out cookies. I hate the rolling, the refrigerating, the re-rolling, and then most of all, I hate spreading thick messy frosting all over those cookies. Honestly, I don’t even think they taste all that great.

Too bad, so sad, get over it, Emily. If I wanted to learn to decorate with royal icing (a much prettier option than smearing regular frosting on top, in my opinion) I was going to have to suck it up and deal.

I searched Pinterest for a cut-out cookie recipe (of course) and very quickly I realized another reason I hate making cut-out cookies. They look so cute as dough, with their pretty, crisp edges, and then they morph into bloated images of their former selves as they bake. It’s always so disappointing.

I found a recipe for No Fail Cut-Out Cookies by Home Stories A to Z that promised perfect, non-exploding cookies that also taste great.

cookies
This photo belongs to HomeStoriesAtoZ.com

Skeptical, I tried it.

Triumph! Success! As promised, perfect cut-out cookies that kept their shape beautifully AND tasted good. As far as I’m concerned, I’ll never use another cut-out cookie recipe again.

A word to the wise, though: This recipe makes A LOT of cookies. You can halve the recipe easily for a more manageable amount. Seriously though. It didn’t all fit in my Kitchenaid mixer.

Ratings

Flavor: Five Stars – Perfectly tender and not too sweet. Hubby says they’re like the Lofthouse cookies you can buy in the store! But without all the sugary frosting on top.

Skill Level: Low/Moderate – If you’ve baked cookies from scratch before, these are on par with anything else, though cut-out cookies are inherently more work because of the, you know, cut-outs.

Overall: Five Stars. Fifty stars. Great cookies. Get rid of your Nonna’s recipe and make these this year. (I’m kidding. …Or am I?)

cookies 2
Look how perfectly non-bloaty they are!! Gorgeous.

And just because I know some of you will be curious as to how the icing turned out:

cookies 3
They’re pretty dang cute. The best ones, though, were all my accomplished friend.

Blueberry Orange Oatmeal Muffins

Guys. I am serious about breakfast pastries. Nothing says “Leisurely weekend breakfast” to me more than muffins or croissants or cinnamon rolls, etc. I also am particular about my muffins because all too often they’re really just cupcakes masquerading as naked, fruity breakfast foods.

Not these bad boys. Blueberry Orange Oatmeal Muffins by DamnDelicious.net are flavorful AND healthy!

blueberry muffins
This photo belongs to DamnDelicious.net

I’ll let you in a little secret. I have a lot of recipes pinned for muffins. Lots. But I keep coming back to this one. I’ve made it a few times now. It’s always great, and I like it, too, because when I make these I tend to wake up that morning (as I did this past weekend) and say, “I need muffins now” and I already have everything I need in my pantry!

I really love the oaty texture of these, and the orange zest (do not under any circumstances skip the orange zest in these!!) make them extra flavorful and bright. Second secret: I’ve made these with blueberries before, and they’re excellent. But this time I didn’t have blueberries, I only had a triple berry blend in my freezer (pretty sure it was blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry) so I used that instead. Still delicious! Pretty much any berry will work in these, though I wouldn’t recommend strawberries.

Ratings

Flavor: Five Stars – Hearty, juicy berries, bright orange

Skill Level: Low – I mean, I guess it’s true that they aren’t easy easy as opening a package and mixing it up. But they’re still pretty easy and many people will find that they already have all or most of the ingredients in their pantries. Hardest part: zesting the orange.

Overall: Five Stars – Easy, delicious, and a perfect treat for a nice weekend breakfast. Plus they keep well for a few days to eat throughout the week, or you can freeze them and pop one in the microwave whenever you want.

Like I said, I keep coming back to these muffins. They’re so yummy!

muffins
Here’s how mine turned out. Yum!

 

Cheesy Ham and Scalloped Potatoes

I know, it’s cliche to start a food blog. I’m sorry.

With that said, this one is a little different. I’m the kind of person who spends a lot of free time scrolling through Pinterest. Maybe you can sympathize. It seems like a common occurrence, though, that people pin things (recipes specifically) and then never make them, or do the project, or whatever. I, on the other hand, do probably 90% of my cooking based on Pinterest recipes that I have found. I’m addicted. I love to try new recipes, and Pinterest feeds this addiction.

The problem with Pinterest cooking, though, is you never really know how a recipe will turn out. After all, anyone can post recipes or anything else on the web. No publishers or chefs to verify and taste test, “Yes, this recipe belongs in the book.”

That’s where I come in.

Yes, I am making recipes I have found on Pinterest and then posting them here with my review for all the world to see.

My first recipe, I’m pleased to say, was a real winner.

The original recipe is for Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes with Ham over at lovegrowswild.

Here’s the image that sold me on trying it. Mmm, looks good, right?

Cheesy-Scalloped-Potatoes-with-Ham-final
Photo belongs to lovegrowswild.com

Here’s the image that sold me on trying it. Mmm, looks good, right?

I’m not going to put the recipe here in this post because that feels like plagiarism and, to be clear, this is not my original recipe. I promise that if you click on the link above the photo, you will be swiftly taken to this delicious recipe.

One thing I did differently than the original recipe is I swapped half of the 3 cups of milk out for almond milk because I’m pretty lactose sensitive and I worried that 3 cups of regular milk would make me quite sick. I kept half the regular milk, though, because I didn’t want to possibly lose the creaminess of the sauce. I will say, though, that the almond milk did not affect flavor and if you’re more lactose sensitive than I am, go for subbing all almond milk. If dairy doesn’t bother you, by all means, do 3 cups of regular milk.

Ratings

Flavor: Five Stars – Cheesy and delicious

Skill Level: Low/Moderate – Can you slice potatoes? Can you sautee onions and melt cheese into milk? Yes? Then you can make this recipe.

Time: Medium/Low – This takes more time than your traditional Ham and Scalloped Potatoes, mix milk with cream of mushroom soup, recipe. That said, it’s totally worth the extra few minutes to make the sauce. If you’re a real novice, you should know that this recipe requires about an hour baking in the oven, plus maybe a half hour of prep work.

Overall: Five Stars – This recipe will definitely be back on my table again.

Cheesy Ham and Scalloped Potatoes

Here’s how mine turned out. Forgive the crappy lighting, it’s dark by dinnertime here, now. As you can see, I served mine with a big side salad. Yum!

I hope hearing that this recipe was good inspires you to give it a try.