• Mixed Berry Crumb Bars

    Sunday night, and I’m still in recovery mood from this weekend’s food coma. My Uncle Jimmy was on the Cape for his annual dinner where he wows us with his latest culinary skills, and has us all testing the physical … Continue reading

  • Browned Butter Salted Rice Krispie Treats

    I’ve been holding out on you. Taunting you with pictures of this on instagram but not actually getting it up on the blog for almost a month. I’ve probably made it about six or seven times in the past month … Continue reading

  • Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls

    Sunday morning, brown butter and cinnamon buns. Now that is a combo I could get onboard with every weekend. Not to mention this weekend was filled with sunshine + good friends + good food. Another winning combo to kickoff summer. … Continue reading

  • Cape Cod Cranberry Orange Muffins

    I had every intention of writing this blog post much earlier in the day. But Mother Nature graced us with some sunshine and warm weather today. And then crazy eddie was in full pyro-mode next door tonight, so I got … Continue reading

  • Browned Butter Vanilla Bean Blondies

    That’s it. I’ve had it. I’m moving to Florida. Anyone who says they live in New England because they “love the seasons” is absolutely bananas. You can say you love summer and fall, but no one in their right mind … Continue reading

  • Brown Butter Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

    You know that part in Amazing Graze where it says “I once was lost, but now am am found, was blind, but now I see” – that is how I feel today. About brown butter. I have tasted brown butter … Continue reading

Crostini Two Ways: Goat Cheese, Fig & Prosciutto and Brie, Honey & Peach

If I had it my way, I’d do away with full meals and just live off of appetizers. Especially when I go out to eat with friends, we’re always just ordering wine and splitting a few appetizers, which is my ideal. I’m definitely of the “Variety is the Spice of Life” mentality when it comes to food, which is why my idea of a perfect Friday night involves my friends, some vino and a nice spread of apps. Whenever I throw a party, I’ve got my go-to appetizers down pat so you always know when you’re attending a Becca Shaw event, or even just a Friday night get together, you’ll leave happily full of delicious apps.

Another thing I believe strongly in, is that as you get older you should supplement all of your official blood-related aunts and uncles with additional aunts and uncles who can add new kinds of important value to your life. I’ve found that just continually adding the word “uncle” before people’s names that like I eventually leads everyone to accept the fact they are now related to me – i.e. Uncle Donnie, Uncle Jimmy, Uncle Bill, and so on. One of my favorite aunt/uncle pairs is my Auntie Carol and Uncle Jimmy, who I’ve learned a LOT from about cooking (from Uncle Jimmy) and drinking and shopping (from Auntie Carol).

Uncle Jimmy is the king of appetizers, bringing them to a new level you can’t even fathom. Whenever he comes over, you should juice cleanse a week before and invest in some serious stretch pants to prepare your body for all of the amazing food he is going to make. I’ve already started my preparation for his Cape trip in August. But one of my favorite appetizers that Uncle Jimmy made a few summers back was crostini. Really, anything that involves cheese, bread and prosciutto is okay in my book.  Once I learned a basic crostini recipe, I’ve started experimenting with new combinations on my own. A few weeks ago I decided to make crostini for our Thursday-night bookclub (which involves minimal reading and maximum eating, drinking + gossip).

I picked up spreadable goat cheese and spreadable Brie from the store – though you can use regular types of both cheeses, I just find it makes it much easier to spread using the versions in the container. I paired the goat cheese, fig preserves and prosciutto for one crostini and on the other brie drizzled with honey and topped with a thin slice of fresh peach. Super easy, very quick, and huge crowd pleasers. The Perfect Appetizer: Crostini Two Ways - Goat Cheese, Fig & Prosciutto and Brie, Honey & Peach

Ingredients:

  • 1 large fresh baguette
  • Fig preserves
  • Spreadable Goat Cheese
  • 8 slices prosciutto
  • Spreadable Brie Cheese
  • Honey
  • 1 fresh peach

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the baguette on a diagonal and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush lightly on one side with olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees for about 8-12 minutes, just until the edges are lightly golden and toasted but not browned. Take out and set aside to cool. The Perfect Appetizer: Crostini Two Ways - Goat Cheese, Fig & Prosciutto and Brie, Honey & Peach

The Perfect Appetizer: Crostini Two Ways - Goat Cheese, Fig & Prosciutto and Brie, Honey & Peach

Step 2: For the first crostini, spread a thin layer of goat cheese covering at least 3/4 of the slice. Spread a dollop of fig preserve on top and then put 1/3 of a slice of prosciutto on top. The Perfect Appetizer: Crostini Two Ways - Goat Cheese, Fig & Prosciutto and Brie, Honey & Peach

The Perfect Appetizer: Crostini Two Ways - Goat Cheese, Fig & Prosciutto and Brie, Honey & Peach

Step 3: For the second crostini, spread a thin layer of brie cheese covering at least 3/4 of the slice. Drizzle a small amount of honey on top, and top with a very thin slice of peach. I recommend cutting the peach slice in half so that someone could easily bite into it without making a huge mess. The Perfect Appetizer: Crostini Two Ways - Goat Cheese, Fig & Prosciutto and Brie, Honey & Peach

The Perfect Appetizer: Crostini Two Ways - Goat Cheese, Fig & Prosciutto and Brie, Honey & Peach

And that’s it! Depending on how thin you slice the baguette, you can usually get at least 30 crostini pieces out of a loaf. Another great idea is to make a crostini bar for a party where you have a basket of toasted bread, and a few cheeses, jams/fig preserves, fruit and dried meats so that people can make their own. The Perfect Appetizer: Crostini Two Ways - Goat Cheese, Fig & Prosciutto and Brie, Honey & Peach Whipped ricotta with honey is another great flavor, and when we were in Portland a few weeks ago we used freshly whipped goat cheese and topped it with fresh strawberries and a blackberry reduction drizzle. PDX Indulge Con 2015-17

I’m thinking of changing the format of my blog posts up a bit – maybe doing a weekly recap in a separate email – like a This & That, or Random Thoughts kind of post – which might help me to increase the frequency of my recipe posts. Since sometimes I don’t have enough good things in a recap to post a recipe and other times I have too many photos from my week to include.  I think if I come up with a witty enough name for it then that’s what I’ll do, but still TBD. In the meantime, follow me on Instagram and Facebook to keep up with the latest Salted Cookie things!

Homemade Marshmallows

‘Tis the season for marshmallows. You know that song from the Christmas Spectacular “It’s a marshmallow world in the winter, when the snow comes to cover the ground, it’s time for play, it’s a whipped cream day, I wait for it the whole year round.” Well they’ve got it all wrong. SUMMER is the season for marshmallows, and I am all about that fluffy sugar goodness right now. For the record, the only reason I know that song is in my younger days as a dancer I once had to dress up in a Rockette eskimo costume and throw a sytrofoam snowball in the air while high-kicking across the stage with my dance company KICKS. I won’t provide a supporting visual because I think that was in my mid-teen years when I made the unfortunate discovery of tweezing my eyebrows. True store. Anyways, I digress.

If I could bottle up a scent and sell it as a cologne named Summer it would be toasted marshmallows over fire. And if I was riding the #9 bus downtown and a guy next to me was wearing that marshmallow cologne, I would be all over that. The best part of a toasted marshmallow is when it gets crunchy on the outside (and BURNED!) and then you eat that part and are left with soft ooey gooey sugar. Which then you stick in between a graham cracker with some Hershey’s chocolate and you just want s’moreeeee!

After the S’mores night I had with my girlfriends a week ago, I decided that it was time to try to make some of my own marshmallows from scratch. My friend Havy from work was visiting this weekend and had made these before, so we decided to do some experimenting with sugar on Saturday. Anytime a recipe involves a candy thermometer I usually shy away from it because precision in baking isn’t really my thing, but the rest of this recipe seemed simple enough and since I had a baking assistant I was more apt to try something new. These are super easy and very delicious. Havy recommended the Alton Brown recipe, which I’ll try next time, but we used this Martha Stewart recipe to follow this time around. The final product was fluffy, puffy and delicious – definitely very sweet! And since we were baking in my parent’s kitchen which is like heaven for a food blogger/photographer, I have included TONS of photos since the lighting was just right that afternoon.

Ingredients:

  • 4 envelopes unflavored gelatin (3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Step 1: Line a 13×9 baking dish with parchment paper – allowing for a 2-inch overhang on all sides. Spray with nonstick spray and sift some confectioner’s sugar lightly on top. Set aside.

Step 2: Put the granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and 3/4 cup of water into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook without stirring, until the mixture register 238 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 9 minutes. Homemade Marshmallow

Step 3: While the sugar is boiling, put 3/4 cup of cold water into your mixer bowl and sprinkle with the gelatin. Allow it to soften for 5 minutes. Attach the whisk attachment.

Step 4: Put the mixer on a low speed, and slowly beat the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture. Gradually raise the speed to high and beat until the mixture is very stiff. This takes about 12-15 minutes. Beat in the vanilla (stopping to add it in so it doesn’t spray everywhere). Homemade MarshmallowStep 5: Slowly pour the fluff mixture into a prepared dish and smooth with a spatula. Set aside, uncovered to set, for about 3-4 hours.Homemade Marshmallow

Homemade Marshmallow

Step 6: Sift about a cup of confectioner’s sugar onto your work surface (we used a cookie sheet covered in parchment). Unmold the marshmallows from the pan and place onto your sugared work surface. Homemade Marshmallow

Step 7: Using a large sharp knife, cut the marshmallows into 2-inch squares. If the marshmallow is sticking too much to the knife, lightly spray it with nonstick spray. Homemade MarshmallowI put my baking assistant to work. Here she is coating the marshmallow strips in sugar before the final cut.

Homemade Marshmallow-13

Step 8: Sift the remaining confectioner’s sugar onto a plate and roll each marshmallow in the sugar to coat. We put the marshmallows in a sifter and shook lightly to shake off any excess sugar. Marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.Homemade Marshmallow

Homemade MarshmallowWatch out Jet Puff, these homemade Stay Puft marshmallows will take over your city! And terrorize the people of Manhattan until the Ghost Busters blow you to sticky pieces! I am the keymaster! Of the marshmallow recipe! Or maybe I ate too many of these and now am clearly hopped up on sugar, but MAN are these delicious. They are super fluffy and sugary sweet. Definitely a very different taste from the traditional store bought marshmallows. Homemade Marshmallow

Homemade Marshmallow

The best part of these marshmallows is their torch-ability. I tried toasting these over the gas stove which was tricky, because unlike traditional marshmallows chock full of preservatives, these fluffy treats start melting much faster. Take one …

Homemade Marshmallow

Take two … success! The biggest difference is how CRUNCHY the outside is. It’s like the topping of creme brulee. Homemade Marshmallow

So of course we spent Saturday night taking a mini torch to the marshmallows, because who wouldn’t do that? And what better use for a toasted marshmallow than fresh s’mores! Here’s the money shot! Homemade MarshmallowAnd about 5 seconds later…Homemade MarshmallowAnd about 5 seconds after that, this s’more was gone. The first marshmallow experiment was a huge success. I have so many ideas swirling in my head about different ways I can use these in recipes. Ninety-percent of those ideas involve me using a flame thrower on these bad boys. And because I shouldn’t be trusted with open fire after a multitude of kitchen injures I suffered this weekend, I decided to use these marshmallows for some browned butter Rice Krispie treats that I made tonight and will be handing off to my friend Sara for taste testing. I’m so lucky to have friends with sweet tooths who are always willing to take my baked goods from me. My jeans thank you all. Homemade Marshmallow

Okay, let’s do a quick recap of the past week. I know I’ve already inundated you with photos from this post, but a few more won’t hurt. I’ve been baking a LOT lately. I have so many things photographed for the blog, but I’ve been executing more of a LIFO methodology with my blog posting instead of FIFO. So going a little backwards, but will hopefully work through those soon. My latest experiment has been with homemade ice cream. I think I’ve finally perfected vanilla bean ice cream after a few tries. I made a batch last Sunday and put heaping scoops in between fresh brownies for ice cream sandwiches to bring to a dinner party with my tennis friends. Everyone gave them big thumbs up so I’ll be posting that recipe soon. Below is a pic of the beautiful dinner Heather prepared last Sunday – fresh crabcakes with a great summer salad (and good wine and great friends!).Homemade Marshmallow-1Next is my new weekly addiction to fresh flowers from Stapleton Floral in South Boston. Their fresh peonies and hydrangeas are perfect right now. And they give you a  20% off coupon on the bottom of each receipt towards your next purchase … sooo it would be financially reckless if I didn’t go back every week! right???Homemade Marshmallow-2I don’t remember what else I did during the actual week. Work, workouts, eat, sleep repeat .. I think? OH, I went to my first Boston Bloggers event on Wednesday at the General Assembly downtown, and it was GREAT! They had a panel of awesome speakers including Kate from DomestikatedLife and Alison from LongDistanceLoving who are the duo behind Boston Bloggers. It was a great night, super informative and I met some other fun Boston area bloggers. Hooray, new friends.

Thursday was a great book club night, the first one I could actually make in MONTHS since I’m finally off the road for a bit. None of us read the book, per usual, but we had great snacks and some wine. I photographed my crostini that I brought and will post that soon! I picked up Havy late night from the airport after she experienced the joys of a PHL > BOS fly-home-Thursday (aka she was delayed 3 hours for no real reason) and then we headed to the Cape! (or “the cod” as our Aussie friend Maya calls it). Friday afternoon, we went to Brax Landing, my old waitressing stomping ground for a nice waterfront lunch. I had to go for the lobstah roll, since I used to have such a sales pitch on this (most expensive sandwich on the menu $$$) that I convinced myself it actually IS one of the greatest lobster rolls. Homemade Marshmallow-3Then we strolled Main Street in Chatham, and I took her to the only real place you need to go: The Chatham Candy ManorHomemade Marshmallow-4Then we did my favorite thing to do now on Friday nights. Grill up a big delicious homecooked meal and just hang out with the fam.  This is where I endured Kitchen Injury #1 of the weekend – when I tried to open the pepper jar with a steak knife and stabbed my hand. Not smart.Homemade Marshmallow-5Then Saturday morning I made poached eggs over avocado toast for the breakfast crew (since I am now on a big poached egg kick). This is also where I endured Kitchen Injury #2, after we dropped a ceramic ramekin and then threw it in the trash, and then being the good person I am I went to take the trash bag out to the garage. What I did not realize is that the ceramic shards poked through the bag, and then I knocked the bag into my leg and gashed my leg open. I did realize it about 5 minutes later when my shorts were soaked with blood, and then mom had to go into nurse mode since I like to pass out at the sight of blood. But I managed to keep my leg! Thanks Mom! To celebrate not needing my leg amputated, Skip took us on a nice leisurely boat ride around the lake. So we took a selfie with the Skipper!
Homemade Marshmallow-10Sunday was raining like a mofo so we had a lazy day waiting out traffic – hit up yoga, then got some salads for lunch (to balance out the massive amounts of marshmallow consumed Saturday night) and then made this fresh pasta dish jam packed with veggies from Foodie’s Sunday night during our trashy TV marathon. Homemade Marshmallow-24What a fun-filled jam packed-sugary weekend. And I would be remiss without giving a shoutout to my daddio for the recent Father’s Day Holiday. The benefit of being home for the weekend was I had lots of albums to sift through to find a good throwback photo. I liked this one because it shows how supportive Skip has always been … like holding my ankles down while I punch Big Bird straight in the jaw.
Homemade Marshmallow-23I always say those week summaries are going to be short and just photos, but you know me … I love to tell a good story. Home again all week this week, yahoo! Lots of fun events going on this week. Make sure to stay up to date with @thesaltedcookie on Instagram, and now ON FACEBOOK! Yes, I finally made a Facebook page, so be sure to follow it so you can get your daily sugar fix in your feed. Because what better way to wake up than trolling Facebook for some cookies! My designer friend Katie made this gorgeous cover photo for me, so go check it outHomemade Marshmallow-6

 

Strawberry Sugar Cookie Sandwiches

Strawberry season! Where the fruit is fresh, reasonably priced and the recipe possibilities are endless. There’s this show in Disney World called the Hoop de Doo Review that my family has gone to for years. And at the end of the show, they serve you fresh strawberry shortcake. But, they serve it to you while dancing in this big grand finale. The way all dessert should be served. Anyways, it’s this big production where they have signs that say “STRAW” “BERRY” “SHORT” “CAKE” and all the waiters serve you this dessert while doing high kicks. So every time anyone in my family says “strawberry” the rest of us do our best hoop de doo impression. Which is why I was really pumped when I picked up a gigantic batch of fresh strawberries the past few weeks at the store. And maybe that explains the strange looks I got while high kicking around the fruit section of the Southie Stop + Shop. strawberryshortcakehdd.themeparkmom

A week ago, I decided to experiment with strawberries by making Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting. They turned out great, but honestly I’m not a cupcake person, and I didn’t do a great job photographing them because I was rushing, so they weren’t blog worthy in my opinion. I’ll try again another day. But the frosting, dang was that delicious. It uses freshly pureed strawberries and lots of butter and sugar. Best combination ever. So I was trying to think of another way I could use the frosting and decided to sandwich it between some freshly baked sugar cookies. My brother and sister-in-law went on vacation to Tahiti earlier this year and brought me back from fresh Tahitian vanilla beans, so I just had a good feeling about the combo of fresh strawberries and Tahitian vanilla.

The key to this recipe is the fresh strawberries. You can use frozen for the frosting, but I really think the fresh berries pack a mean fruity punch that frozen just doesn’t compare to. When I was at the Indulge Conference in Portland, OXO was a sponsor and gave us these products from their new Green Saver line. They gave us both the Crisper Insert and the Produce Keeper basket. These products were created to help keep produce fresher longer, a problem I definitely have being one person who likes to buy lots of fresh fruits and veggies when I am home. I put my strawberries in here:Strawberry Sugar Cookie Sandwich

And days later, when usually a few would be squishy and moldy, they were still wicked fresh! This is unsponsored and totally my own thoughts, but I’ve already sent the links to a few family and friends to go buy these products. I’m all about spreading the good word when I find something that actually works. Thanks OXO! Strawberry Sugar Cookie Sandwich

Back to the cookies. My suggestion is to make the cookie dough first, so it has time to chill in the fridge before baking and you can make the frosting while it sits in the fridge. This is a little more time consuming than my normal recipes, but totally worth it and doesn’t involve any overnight chilling or anything, so little patience is required. I used the Sprinkles Cupcake frosting recipe here, because it’s basic and delicious, and a little thicker which is good for the sandwich cookies.

Ingredients:

Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans, split and scraped
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

Strawberry Frosting

  • 1/2 cup whole fresh strawberries
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the sugars, vanilla seeds and butter. Add eggs and mix well.

Step 2: In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the wet batter and mix on low speed until well incorporated.

Step 3: Chill the dough in the fridge so that it is easier to handle, for about 20-30 minutes while you make the frosting.

Step 4: To make the frosting, place the strawberries in a food processor (or you can use an immersion blender) and process until pureed. Set aside 3 tablespoons of the puree for the frosting. Save any extra for another use (margarita’s anyone??)

Step 5: In your mixer, beat together butter and salt on a medium speed until fluffy. Slowly add in the confectioner’s sugar and beat on a low speed unti well combined. If you go too fast on this step you’ll end up covered in sugar.

Step 6: Add the vanilla and 3 tablespoons of strawberry puree and mix until blended. Be careful not to overmix. The frosting should be dense and creamy. Put in the fridge to chill.Strawberry Sugar Cookie Sandwich

Strawberry Sugar Cookie Sandwich

Step 7: Take the cookie dough out of the fridge. Using a medium cookie scoop, place even-size balls of dough on sil-pat or parchment lined baking sheets. Press down lightly with your fingertips to flatten. Bake at 350 degrees for about 14 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden. Let the cookies set on the cookie tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Strawberry Sugar Cookie Sandwich

Strawberry Sugar Cookie Sandwich

Step 8: Once the cookies have cooled completely, place the frosting in a piping bag (or a zip loc bag twisted with the end cut off) and place a healthy dollop of frosting on half of the cookies. Lightly press another cookie on top to complete the cookie sandwich. If not serving right away, chill in the fridge to let the frosting set. Strawberry Sugar Cookie Sandwich

Strawberry Sugar Cookie Sandwich

Not to pat myself on the back, but this flavor combination is a real winner. I done good. The cookies have a nice crunch, and that punch of vanilla bean flavor. And when you bite into them you get the sugary sweet strawberry frosting. All of my friends are loving that I haven’t been traveling for work, because I am always looking for taste testers to take all of my baking experiments since I don’t need to eat 2 dozen cookies (though I am sure I could). I brought these to our tennis match Thursday night and my friend Heather is my pseudo distributor, bringing them to work at the Brigham. My friend Sue tried one of these before our doubles match and told me to quit my real job immediately. One day. Strawberry Sugar Cookie SandwichThe best thing about these, is I bet you could match it with a bunch of other flavor combinations for the frosting. Blueberry, watermelon, raspberry, lemon, maybe even orange. I’ll see what I’m feeling up for this summer and do some experimenting with that frosting recipe.

Alright, so I know it’s been a while since I had a recipe post since the Portland foodie adventure, so I’ll give you a quick update on the happenings of the past week and a half. There’s been a LOT going on in life, which I’ll update you on another day. But for now, my life recently was filled with BABIES.

I was back home in Connecticut last week for my sister-in-law’s baby shower and my friend Suzanne perfectly timed the arrival of her first baby on one of the only weekends I am in CT all year. So I was really happy to go visit Sushi and baby Thomas at the hospital last week. Even though I was really hoping for a girl so that I could dress it up in a tutu like Suzanne and I (who met when we were little ballerinas together) I still managed to do some damage at the Southie baby boutique on outfits for this little man. Strawberry Sugar Cookie Sandwich-17And then Saturday we showered my sister-in-law with lots and lots of presents and love for my nephew who is due to make his appearance in just two months! I made these favors that were little mason jars with silver and blue Hershey kisses, and a sticker on top that said Ann Taylor’s Baby Shower. The elephant (roll tide!) is made of paper and has flower seeds in it so you can plan it in the mason jar with some soil after you eat all the chocolate and it will grow just like a baby (not really, but you get the metaphor). Gahhh I love all things baby. Strawberry Sugar Cookie Sandwich-4Look at that, there’s my future nephew in there! (She’s pregnant on the left … I just have a food baby from Portland I’m still working off)Strawberry Sugar Cookie Sandwich-5I can’t really honestly remember what I did at all last week. I know I played tennis one day. I finished watching Mad Men and moved onto Orange is the New Black Season 3. I’ve been using my Class Pass and trying out a whole bunch of new classes all around the city which I am loving. I’ve discovered a great barre studio in Southie and a pilates reformer class within walking distance to my house. My friend Amanda and I also started to meet eachother any morning the weather is nice at 6:30am, get iced coffee and walk 4 miles. I was finding that on the days I work from home (which now is pretty much every day) that I barely move my butt until I hit the gym. So this way I hit 8,000 steps before 8am and then can hit the gym later in the day. Not to mention it’s a great way to start the day chatting with a friend while moving your butt.

Now, before you think I’ve gotten all healthy, let’s talk about Friday night. One of my favorite things of living in Southie are Friday nights in the backyard with my girlfriends drinking wine and just relaxing after a long work week. Last year was the year of grilled pizza and vino Fridaze. This past Friday a few friends came over for some charcuterie (I just love that word) and then Gourmet S’mores.

My new obsession is honey on top of Brie. And whipped ricotta with honey.CharcuterieDid a little crostini experimenting and put goat cheese, honey, peach and prosciutto on freshly toasted baguette. Oh yeah. I really need to start posting all my appetizer recipes, because I am the queen of a good app.

Goat Cheese, Peach, Prosciutto CrostiniSo on to the S’mores. I read about this idea for a Gourmet S’mores Party on the Blog Kevin and Amanda. When I read it a few weeks ago, I sent an email to a few girlfriends and asked if anyone would be interested. I think I immediately got replies from everyone saying they were drooling. So four of us did some ghetto marshmallow toasting (over the grill, since fire pits are illegal in Southie) and used our platter of ingredients to create some delicious s’mores. Gourmet SmoresI have to say the Ritz crackers are a game changer in the world of s’mores. GAME CHANGER. My favorite combo was Ritz Cracker with a little peanut butter spread on top, a Reese’s peanut butter cup and toasted marshmallow. Wearing stretchy shorts was a solid move for this. Gourmet SmoresI unfortunately wasn’t thinking when I signed up for a 7:25am spin class at The Handle Bar on Saturday morning post S’mores fest (with a lot of vino consumed) but I’m too cheap to pay the $15 cancellation fee …. so I made it. And there was straight marshmallow and pinot coming out of my pores.

Saturday I spent the rest of the day doing all of my favorite things. A trip to Christine’s Day Spa in Newton. Lunch at Panera with my Cape neighbor Mrs. Logan. Shopping at the Chestnut Hill Mall (maybe bathing suit shopping was not well timed after a night of S’mores, oops), then some more baking and a night of Netflix. I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting in the kitchen since I’ve been home more, and think I finally perfected homemade vanilla bean ice cream. So look for that as one of my next posts. I also am getting myself organized to start posting a lot of my favorite summer cooking recipes so lots to look forward to in the coming weeks!

 

Adventures in Foodlandia

Back in the day when we used to play the Oregon Trail on those sweet little Macintosh computers in second grade, there were a few ways that you could die: measles, snakebite, typhoid, cholera, exhaustion or my favorite, dysentery. Fast forward to modern-day Oregon, the only thing you’re likely to die of is diabetes.

Last week I forged the river and traveled to Portland, Oregon for the Indulge Conference (May 29-31). My first food blogger conference and first trip to Oregon. My friend Allie came with me in an attempt to eat as much of Portland as we could in 3 days. And I think we both came back with 10lb food babies after all of the amazing food we were able to eat while we were out there. Since I think a week later I have finally recovered from the red eye jet lag and come off my sugar high, I’ll do a recap of the amazing weekend through photos.

We flew out of Boston the Thursday night on my favorite airline JetbBlue. For a six-hour flight, snacks and in-flight DirectTV were much needed to get through the cross-country trip. I bet the Oregon Trail pioneers would have lived longer with free Terra Chips and a Real Housewives marathon. Anyway, we got into Portland at 2am EST so were very happy to crash and sleep in a bit. We stayed at The Westin Portland because I had plenty of hotel points and it was in a great central location and only a block away from the conference. Also with the 3 nights we stayed, I hit Platinum Status for the year. Ohhh yeah.

We had Friday to ourselves to explore the city and in a very un-Becca-like fashion decided to just “wing it” – no itinerary, agenda or pre-set plan. (Minus my custom google map with every restaurant recommendation we received). We took the concierge’s advice for a delicious brunch to fuel us for the day and headed to Tasty N Alder where the food was ah-mazing and the atmosphere was insanely welcoming.

PDX Indulge Con

Coffee at Tasty N Alder

First, we had a 10 minute wait for our table and the hostess offered us free coffee in the meantime. It was delicious and we enjoyed it soaking in the Portland sunshine. You can see the coffee bringing me back to life. We shared some brunch items because there were just too many delicious options. We started with the Potatoes Bravas with over easy egs and aioli.

PDX Indulge ConferenceThis bacon, egg and cheddar biscuit sandwich was unreal. The biscuit was fresh and flakey, hot and delicious.

PDX Indulge Conference
So were sitting there trying to figure out our day, when the nicest people next to us asked if we wanted any recommendations. Once we got over our Boston rudeness of not believing people actually were that nice in public, we took the advice of our new friends to explore 23rd street.PDX Indulge ConferenceWe were so full from brunch and our bodies had no idea what time of day it really was anyway, so opted to eat ice cream for lunch … because we’re grown ass ladies and we do what we want. We ended up at Salt and Straw ice cream, and as you can see from this menu, there were a lot of unique flavors we needed to try.PDX Indulge ConferenceAfter they let us sample a few flavors, we decided to get the tasting flight and got a scoop of 4 flavors – Coconut with Salted Caramel Bars, Chocolate Brownie, Sea Salt with Caramel, and Almond Brittle. The Coconut with Salted Caramel bar was the winner in my eyes.

PDX Indulge Conference

After that ice cream we decided to walk all over the city. So we headed down towards the waterfront and found the Lan Su Chinese Garden which was beautiful to walk around.PDX Indulge Conference We attempted to go to Voo Doo Doughnuts but the line was crazy long and not moving quickly enough for us East Coast girls, and our stomaches were happy that we ended up deciding to skip the afternoon donuts. By the time we walked back up towards our hotel, it was time to check in for the conference registration. We had a great cocktail hour at the Portland City Grill where we got to meet and mingle with a bunch of the other blogger conference attendees, while enjoying amazing pinot over beautiful views of Portland. PDX Indulge Conference

Saturday was the conference day! The entire day was jam packed with great speakers and sponsors. During the lunchbreak, Allie and I decided to hit up Lardo based on a recommendation from one of the local morning speakers from Portland Food Adventures. PDX Indulge ConferenceWe shared the Bahn Mi sandwich and the Chickpea Burger which were both larger than life. This sign in the restaurant is very fitting for what we all did in there. PDX Indulge ConferenceSo there was also an instagram contest during lunch. And you all know that I am the world’s most competitive person. So I was determined to win. Which meant we had to get some post-lardo ice cream so that I could get a good insta shot for the contest. So we went to Ruby Jewel for a kid-size scoop of ice cream, since that’s all our stomaches could handle. And I got this shot, which featured the Mistaken Lyric tote bag I got Allie for her birthday last month. And guess what, I won one of the three prizes in the contest. A le creuset dutch oven! Yeehaw. I cannot wait till it arrives and I can start cooking with it.PDX Indulge Conference

In the afternoon, we had a guacamole contest sponsored by California Avocados. Then after a few more speakers, we split up for sponsored dinners around the city. Allie and I went to the Red Star Tavern for an amazing dinner with 4 other bloggers: Danae from Recipe Runner, Justine from Cooking and Beer, Natalie (and baby Sterling) from Perrys Plate, and Brianne from Cupcakes and Kale Chips. After delicious apps and entrees, we couldn’t decide on which dessert to try … so we tried them all! PDX Indulge Con 2015-11That chocolate cake deserves a little up close and personal action. PDX Indulge Con 2015-12Everyone had pre-dinner intentions to go out for ice cream after, but we were more stuffed than Joey Chestnut. As part of the conference, on Sunday we had amazing tours of the Willamette Valley sponsored by OXO. First up, we took the bus out to where we got a great tour of the farm, including some sampling of the fresh in-season blueberries right off the bush.  I mean, could this be a more beautiful day? PDX Indulge Con 2015-13So at the end of the tour we took some of the fresh arugula and strawberries with us over to The Kitchen at Middleground Farm for a cooking lesson using the fresh produce. We learned how to make FRESH BUTTER (ergghemmerrgerddddd I am so excited to try this at home), goat cheese and strawberry crostini, and prosciutto and arugula wrapped mangos. All while sipping on some delicious Pinot Gris. Hi, leave me here, never let me go. This is my happy place. PDX Indulge Con 2015-14Fresh strawberries! PDX Indulge Con 2015-16Crostini! That goat cheese is so fresh … we met the goat that made it! PDX Indulge Con 2015-17Hey goat, thanks for the cheese! PDX Indulge Con 2015-19In case you are wondering, this is what cooking with a bunch of food bloggers looks like. Everyone with cameras out to document the entire trip. You can peruse the hashtag #oxofarmtour to see the pics from that day. PDX Indulge Con 2015-18And a perfect photo opp with our new Colorado blog friends – Cooking and Beer and Recipe Runner (bloggers don’t go by their names or actual cities they are from … when you ask where they are from, they say their blog name I learned quickly). PDX Indulge Con 2015-15

Of course we also ate some Blue Star donuts on the bus, because why would we ever go more than 10 minutes without eating on this trip? Our last stop was at the Allison Inn and Spa for an amazing three-course meal with three kinds of Oregon wines accompanying each dish. This lamb was just perfect. PDX Indulge Con 2015-20Not surprising Allie and I fell asleep as soon as we got back on the bus. Clear eyes, full stomaches, can’t stay awake. So then when we said goodbye to our new friends, we had a few hours to walk around Portland and hit up a few last spots before our very late red eye flight back to Boston. We sampled these cute little chocolates and macarons from the Moonstruck Chocolate Co. We found Nemo! And then we ate him! PDX Indulge Con 2015-21We enjoyed some cajun tater tots for a healthy last dinner at the Ram Restaurant. TOTS! PDX Indulge Con 2015-22And after a trip to Powell’s Books, we had to sneak in ONE last scoop of ice cream from Ruby Jewel. Okay, maybe we each had two flavors. It was our last chance! Perfection. PDX Indulge Con 2015-23So that’s it! We hung out at the PDX airport for a while, took a cliche carpet photo, then boarded a delayed 6-hour flight home which involved wicked turbulence and a screaming baby. We landed in Boston at 9am Monday feeling like all our oxen died and we had dysentery.

Overall, what a great first conference experience! I need to plan my next trip. Learned a lot, met some great new friends, ate SO much good food, saw as much of Oregon in 3 days as was physically possible. Quit my job in corporate America and took up blogging full time! (Well, not really on that last part, but a girl can dream right?)

Milk Bar Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s a Thursday, and I’m on an airplane writing this 34,000 feet above that part of the US where I can probably name two states. This is probably the first Thursday in six months where I’m not wicked grumpy to be on a plane … because this time instead of eating Pinkberry alone while watching my PHL > BOS flight get delayed and delayed, I’m on a cross-country flight heading to Portland, Oregon for the Indulge Conference. My first food blogger conference and I’ve got one of my favorite friends Allie along for the adventure. The one thing I’m not used to are flights over 90 minutes, so I brought plenty of things to keep me entertained like a toddler on this flight. And proactively put this week’s baking photos on my laptop so that I could edit them and write a blog post to take up a few hours of this flight.

This is week 4 of no work travel and I am loving all the time I’ve had to cook and bake since I’ve been grounded from road warrior status for a month. I have been dabbling in all different kinds of cookie experiments lately, but this week I was in the mood to get back to the basics and find a new recipe for a salted chocolate chip cookie. My original favorite. Luckily, while perusing the interweb for inspiration last weekend I came across this bomb looking cookie on Foodie Crush for the Milk Bar’s Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie. I was sold when I read I didn’t even have to haul out the giant mixer and I could make this cookie with just a wooden spoon in a large mixing bowl. So I took advantage of the day off on Monday for the long weekend to whip up a batch of these treats.

The butter is melted in these, which means you don’t have to impatiently wait until it is softened (which I am never patient enough to do, and usually end up with some half melted buttery mess a la the microwave). Because of the melted butter, the cookies are bigger, but flat – which makes them soft and chewy, which is more my style than a thick crunchy cookie. I think these would make for a perfect summer dessert topped with some fresh vanilla bean ice cream. Or maybe the foundation for a solid ice cream sandwich. Yum.

Yield: About 15 cookies

Ingredients:

  • ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and just warm to the touch
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat milk powder
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
  • ¼ cup flaked salt

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 F. In a large mixing bowl, use a wooden spoon to mix the sugars together and add in the melted butter. Stir vigorously for about a minute and then add in the egg and vanilla. Continue to mix until the batter gathers a glossy sheen – about one more minute.

Step 2: Sift together the flour, milk powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet batter just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and mix until evenly incorporated. I substituted milk chocolate cookies this time around.IMG_2399

Step 3: Use a medium cookie scoop to place large scoops of dough onto a sil-pat or parchment-lined baking sheet. Leave about 2 or 3 inches in between the dough since they will spread. Top with a dash of salt. I fit about 8 cookies per sheet.IMG_2405

Step 4: Bake at 375 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown around the edges but still soft in the middle. Leave them on the tray for a few minutes to finish setting before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.IMG_2407

IMG_2411

IMG_2409

Just when you think the salted chocolate chip cookie is the best invention ever and nothing can top it … this cookie comes around. I don’t know exactly what the milk powder does, but dang is this a delicious cookie. It’s so soft and thin, and the salt adds the tiniest bit of crunch with such a pop of flavor. Simple to make, easy cleanup, huge crowd pleaser.IMG_2414

IMG_2413

Since I’ve been home, the one thing my friends have really enjoyed is that I’ve been using them more as taste testers and shipping out batches of cookies weekly. This week’s cookie recipients were my brother + sister in law (and my future nephew) who just received them this afternoon in New York, so I’m still waiting for the full report. But I’m trying to make an extra good first impression on Baby Shaw before he enters the real world this summer, and what better way than with cookies? Next weekend is the baby shower down in Connecticut which I am really excited for …. and maybe have gone a tad overboard on shopping for baby clothes. But hey, my nephew is going to be the best looking kid in Park Slope.

So let’s see … only a few days recap to catch up on since my Guac post Saturday morning. By the way, what did you guys think of the non-cookie post .. yay? nay? impartial? Come on, gimme that feedback. Anyways, Saturday afternoon Skip and I went to the driving range in Brewster to wack the shiz out of some golf balls. Being a lady in bidness I feel like I should probably get somewhat decent at golf in case it ever comes up where I need to go fake it on the golf course. I mean, if we were talking MINI GOLF then I would be promoted to partner tomorrow. Because I spent my childhood training on the mini golf courses around the Cape. I can hit under par at Great Cape escape in Orleans and I’m not too shabby on the back course of Pirate’s Cove (the front course is child’s play … literally). So anyways, Skip and I were doing a little father daughter bonding on the driving range. And I think I surprised him with my skill to hit the ball hard and far and straight (that’s the whole point of golf right?) Maybe it’s my hand-eye coordination from 25 years of playing tennis … or maybe it’s because I named a few golf balls after a few people and swung like there was no tomorrow.IMG_9513

Sunday morning Mom and I ran the 5k in Hyannis – our Memorial day tradition together for the past 5 years. I ran the half marathon my first year of participating in 2008 and wanted to die after, so now I stick mostly to 5ks because at least you know it’s going to be over in about a half hour.IMG_9524

And as a treat for burning those calories before 8am on a Sunday of a long weekend, we went to the Sundae School in Harwichport for the first ice cream cone of the summer. You know what they say … never skip Sundae School! This Coffee Oreo Frozen Yogurt totally hit the spot.IMG_9538

I headed back to Boston early Monday morning to beat the traffic and get a bunch of errands done and then continue my binge watch of Mad Men. It’s sick but in just 3 weeks I’m already almost done with Season 6. My motivation for quickly writing this post is so I can get back to watching the episodes I downloaded on my iPad for this flight. Tuesday night I took a long walk in the Boston heat around Castle Island with my friend Amanda. It was really windy which meant all of the kite surfers were out in the bay. IMG_9546

Last night I grabbed some long overdue drinks + apps with my friends Stacie and Lauren, who have been trying to coordinate this reunion since January. So it was nice we were able to sit outside at the Met Bar Back Bay on Newbury Street and catch up and enjoy some cocktails (blood orange martini for the win) and lobstah cheese dip. Oh yeah.IMG_9557

And tonight I willingly headed to the airport without a fight on a Thursday night for the first time in months. I am SO excited to be going to my first food blogger conference in Portland, OR. I’ve been looking for an excuse to explore the Portland food scene for a long time now, so when I read about this conference back in January on one of the blogs I follow, I decided I needed to go. And even better, back in the winter after a few pitchers of Sangria the night my friend Allie asked me to be her bridesmaid, I brought up the conference, and she decided to come too! So now we’re headed cross country to embrace our inner foodie in PDX. Some of my favorite bloggers are going to be speaking at the conference on Saturday so I’m going to try to play it cool and not get all girl crush awkward on them, but no promises. I did get these super cute business cards made from Moo.com yesterday just in time for the conference. I’m doing a big redesign to my blog this summer so was going to get a logo and cards made then, but this seemed like a good networking opportunity to legitimize myself so needed some sweet business cards to go with it, and they are great! Synergy!11247080_10101325779159747_4048032235045267179_n

So that’s it. Three hours left in the air, should give me a chance to finish Season 6 of Mad Men. Be sure to follow @thesaltedcookie on Instagram this weekend to catch all our Portland food adventures!

Guacamole

This is not a cookie recipe. Or a muffin. Or candy. Or anything that would be classified as a dessert. This is guacamole. Yes, that’s right. I am more than just salted cookies. I can cook, sautee, grill, crockpot, appetize, pizza, tapa and much more. And don’t worry I know what you’re thinking. Why in the hell has this girl not been wifed up yet? I ask myself that question frequently. But enough about me, let’s get to the guac of the matter. With all my work travel, it’s been a little challenging to keep up with the weekly cookie/baking posts. Mostly because of logistics to coordinate getting all the cookies to someone else to eat before I fly Monday morning. But when I am home, I’m always cooking since I can’t stand to eat out when I’m home after a week of traveling where I have no choice but to eat out every single meal. So I got to thinking. If I just started to write down the recipes of the things I cook when I’m home, I would definitely be able to blog more frequently, and showcase my many other skillz in the kitchen and on the grill. Maybe I limited myself with being branded The Salted Cookie, but it’s catchy and there are plenty of other blogs with names about baking or sweets that also include recipes that they cook. So get onboard kids, because all of those recipes you see me cooking for my friends on the weekends are coming to a blog near you (… this blog … just to be clear.)

So what better way than to kick off my non-cookie posts than with America’s lifeblood: Guacamole. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like guacamole, and if they don’t like guacamole you probably shouldn’t be friends with them anyway. Guacamole is one of the few things in the world that people have no qualms paying extra for. So much so, you can buy t-shirts and tank tops that say “I know Guac is Extra.” Imma gonna need to get me one of those.

I’ve been on this taco kick lately. Not just on Tuesdays, but any day of the week. I had my friend Ania over for dinner a week ago and we grilled some tilapia tacos and grilled mango. I’m down the Cape for Memorial day weekend, and we were having company over for dinner last night so I offered to do the cooking for the group so that I could experiment with some new taco recipes. Which meant, guac was needed. And it was the centerpiece of last night’s dinner. IMG_9508

The hardest part about guacamole is making sure you have avocados that are ripe and ready to go. Most times you need to wait 2-3 days after picking them up from the store when they are hard as a rock. Luckily yesterday I squeezed a bunch of avocados in Stop + Shop and found 4 that were just about ready to be turned into guac. I have two secrets to my basic guac recipe: an immersion blender and fresh parmesan cheese. Which I guess are no longer secrets since you’re now in my circle of trust. IMG_2374

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 fresh jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice from 2 limes (about 2 tbsp)
  • Salt + Pepper to taste
  • 4 Roma (or plum) tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parmesan cheeseIMG_2375Step 1: Remove the core from the avocados and squeeze avocado into a big bowl. No need to cut it up all nice and fancy here. Use an immersion blender to cream the avocado until smooth. If you don’t have one, you can use two forks to smash it up.

IMG_2376

IMG_2377

IMG_2379

Step 2: Dice the red onion. Cut the jalapeno pepper in half, remove the seeds and mince it up very fine. Throw both the pepper and red onion into the avocado bowl.IMG_2380

IMG_2381

One tip here, wash your hands immediately after handling the jalapeño pepper or you’ll make the mistake of touching your eye later and screaming bloody murder. I always have this Crabtree + Evelyn Cook’s citrus handwash in my kitchen which helps to clean everything off your hands when cooking. (Also, what a beautiful website C+E has. Amiright?)IMG_2383

Step 3: Chop up the fresh cilantro and add to the mix. Juice two limes (microwave for 10 seconds or roll them before to optimize the juice output) and then stir up all of the ingredients so far in the big bowl. Add some salt and pepper to taste. IMG_2384

IMG_2385

Step 4: Seed and dice four Roma or plum tomatoes. Use a spatula to fold them in. IMG_2386

IMG_2387

IMG_2388

Step 5: Now for the secret ingredient. I learned this tip from my friend Stacey a few summers ago and can’t make guac without it. Sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of fresh parmesan cheese. You can use Kraft if that’s all you have on hand, but you’ll notice a big flavor difference by using the good stuff instead. Give it one last good mix with the spatula until all of the ingredients are evenly incorporated. At this point you’ll need to taste test. IMG_2390

IMG_2391

Sometimes you might need to adjust the flavors a bit by adding in a little extra cilantro, salt + pepper, or lime juice. And sometimes, you just nail it on on the first try. Crushed it. IMG_2395

IMG_2397I know I went a little overboard with the photos in this post but dayyummm the lighting in my parent’s kitchen is amazing. I barely had to edit any of these photos. Maybe I’ll start doing all of my food photoshoots here.

So I kept my promise to you that I would get my shiz together and start posting more, so you’re welcome. The nice thing about the more frequent posts is that it’s easier for me to remember what I did in the past few days to recap.

Firstly, I decided that on my third week of no work travel, I really needed to try to get back into a routine. And by routine, I mean simply to start showering and putting real pants on again. So I went into the office 3 days this week. And on Wednesday morning I was rushing like an insane person to make it into the office for an 8am meeting … only to realize that the meeting didn’t actually start until 8:30. The silver lining was that then I had time to go to my favorite place – Flour Bakery – and get a giant iced coffee to help kick my brain into gear. IMG_9489Another benefit of going into work was seeing actual human beings again (outside of the random people doing house projects for me). So I grabbed lunch with my friend Allie at Snappy Sushi on Newbury Street. Their sushi is fresh to death and all of it comes in brown rice which is great. Allie and I are heading to Portland, Oregon this coming weekend for the Indulge Conference which we needed to discuss important logistical details such as vacation hashtags and what kind of shoes we are going to bring. IMG_9494Thursday we had a Boston office outing for work at Fenway Park. Despite being a Yankees fan and having a strong family-bred dislike for the Red Sux, I still enjoy the game of baseball and Fenway is a pretty cool place. The view from right field was not too shabby at all. Fun Fact, when I was a little kid playing tee-ball on a team full of boys, I couldn’t tell the difference between right and left field. Anytime another kid on the team would ask Coach Garrity which one was left field, he would yell at them like they were a giant dumb dumb. However when I would ask, he would nicely walk me out into the outfield to show me where to stand. IMG_9497And then of course I endured some 93/Route 3 traffic Thursday night because I just could not wait to get down to the Cape to kick off summer. Granted today it’s about 45 degrees and windy as all heck, but there’s no snow, so I am happy. We went to Cooke’s Seafood for lunch yesterday so I could get my first lobstah roll of the season. And dang was it delicious. IMG_9502Maybe Lobster Guac will be one of my next experiments for the blog.

So I will of course still be blogging about desserts and cookies, but definitely incorporating more cooking posts in here as well. If there’s anything you want me to make, just email me @ thesaltedcookie@gmail.com. Or Instagram me, Facebook message me, text, carrier pigeon, smoke signal …. whatever strikes your fancy. Happy Memorial Day!

 

Smoked Salted Chocolate Potato Chip Cookies

I know. I am really getting lazy with these blog posts. And for once I really don’t have a good excuse about sucko airports and jet lag and working a bazillion hours. Really, I’ve just been living it up at home in Boston for the THIRD week in a row without any travel. Can I get a hell yeah?? (Hellllll yeah). Now granted, I haven’t really been showering, interacting with other humans or putting real pants on for the past two weeks, but I’m working to remedy that this week. Yolo. On the bright side, I’m in a really good mood so this post won’t be dripping with my usual passive aggressive sarcasm against corporate America and airlines. Yay. Also I recently started binge watching Mad Men on Netflix, which if you’ve seen it, you can understand why I’d rather spend my evenings watching back-to-back episodes of Don Draper instead of writing blog posts.

I’ve been getting a LOT done around the house the past two weeks too. I have lots and lots of before/after pictures and some not so humble brags of my house project accomplishments at the end of this post. But before I get too excited and get into that, let’s get to the good stuff: the cookies.

Sunday I was in my usual predicament. So many cookie possibilities, but no real inspiration for this week’s recipe. I was in the mood for an original recipe. Maybe I was just riding the high of a weekend with Mom and all of our handy work around the house (or maybe it was the fumes from the backsplash sealer …) either way. I wanted to make something new. SO I rummaged around in my magic baking drawer of goodies and found my Christmas presents from my sister-in-law: smoked sea salt and smoked chocolate chips. And I thought, bless her heart y’all I’m gonna make me some smoked bar bee kew cookies. ROLL TIDE! Or something like that. IMG_2358

My sister in law is from the South. The real South. Alabama. Where the skies are so blue. Sweet home Alabama. Lord, I’m coming home to you. Not really, but metaphorically speaking with these cookies. So it makes sense that she would be the one to get me these smokey treats. When you open the jar of chocolate chips and take a wiff it smells like you just lifted the lid of crockpot BBQ pulled pork, or took a big sniff of liquid smoke. VERY strong flavor. So I had to think of a good cookie base to balance out these big flavors. I played around with the idea of chopping up some candied bacon in these, but I decided to keep it kind of simple. We had picked up a bag of Cape Cod Sea Salt + Black Pepper potato chips the day before, so I still had a little bit left in the bag. (Because who lets these chips last in your house for more than 2 days MAX). So I decided to crush up the remaining 3/4 cup of chips and incorporate them into the cookie because it just seemed to make sense. I adapted the Potato Chip Toffee Chocolate Chip recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction’s cook book to use as a base for these cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/14 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup crushed potato chips
  • 1 cup smoked chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon smoked sea salt flakes (for topping)

Step 1: Beat together the melted butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until there are no lumps. Mix in the egg, yolk, and vanilla extract until creamy.

Step 2: Sift together the flour, baking soda, cornstarch and salt and slowly add into the wet batter while mixing on a low speed until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl down before incorporating in the rest of the ingredients.

Step 3: On a low speed, add in the crushed potato chips and smoked chocolate chips just until evenly distributed. Chill the dough for at least an hour (or up to 3 days) to firm up, since you used melted butter.IMG_2359

IMG_2360

Step 4: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use a medium-sized cookie scoop to place even-size balls of dough on a sil-pat or parchment-lined baking sheet. Make sure there is enough room in between the cookies, about 8 cookies per sheet. Press the cookies down lightly with your fingertips and sprinkle a dash of the smoked sea salt on top. IMG_2362

IMG_2363

Step 5: Bake at 350 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes. They will be slightly undercooked, but remove them from the oven and let them cool on the tray for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. IMG_2364

IMG_2366

IMG_2367

Well I’ll be darned. Oh my stars and heavens to Betsy, these cookies are sweeter than molasses! I bet Neil Young would write a song about these. DANNGGGGGG are they flavorful. IMG_2370

I think my northern palate might not be advanced enough to fairly attest to the flavor combination of these cookies, so I sent them down south for some real taste testing. So hopefully tomorrow my friend Scott and his wife Sarah will give me the North Carolinian rating of these smokey treats.  IMG_2368The cookie base is neutral enough that it really allows for the smokiness of the salt and chocolate to dominate. I think these could be a good summer BBQ treat in an ice cream sandwich. You can get the Smoked Chocolate Chips online from Hot Cakes. And the Smoked Sea Salt is available from Maldon online. Yeeeeehaw.

IMG_2371Ashamed of my lack of manicure Sunday afternoon, I had to crop my dingy unpolished nail out of the shot. IMG_2373

Okay, so let’s see where I left off with my last update. I posted a week ago Saturday, so I’ll pick up with last Sunday and take you through today. Going forward I’m really going to try to get it together and post on a more regular basis again. Keep bugging me until i do.

First, last Sunday I hit up the SOWA market again with my tennis friend Heather. It was Mother’s day, my mom wasn’t around and Heather’s kids weren’t around, so we had a relaxing Sunday morning at South Boston Yoga and then wandered the SOWA market. Since it was the second week of the open market, the Food Trucks were not nearly as crazy as the opening weekend. So we scored some delicious Bon Me rice noodle salads with iced green tea. Gluten free too!

IMG_9408Monday night my friend Ania (who survived BOTH high school and college with me) came over for dinner. One of the things I love most about being home is cooking and I love cooking for other people. So if you want me to make you dinner, just send me an email and I’ll make you something bangin’ on the grill. Most people eat Tacos on Tuesday so they can hashtag it #tacotuesday. We working ladies, we eat our tacos on Monday night because we’re grown ass women and we do what we want. So I picked up some fresh Tilapia and we grilled up mango, tilapia, corn and peppers + onions. I also whipped up some homemade orange creamsicle frozen yogurt the night before which was bomb. Delicious.
IMG_9431I was also happy to have my kitchen back after it was occupado by the painter and backsplash guy for four days. Totally worth it though. Here are the before and after photos of my family room/kitchen.

Family Room BEFORE (light beige) IMG_9366Family Room AFTER: Darker Beige! Yeahhhh. IMG_9419Kitchen BEFORE: No BacksplashIMG_9386Kitchen After: BACKSPLASH! What a difference this makes in finishing the kitchen nicely. Good tip from my friend Josh to remove the granite splashguard so that the tile extended from the counter to the cabinets. IMG_9417And then my favorite weekend of the spring. Mom came to town on Friday afternoon for the weekend to help with a bunch of house projects. She is one handy lady, so with two of us over 2 days we can get a lot done. Four trips to Home Depot, 2 to Target and over 30,000 steps on our fitbits, we got a lotttt done. First, mission impossible: reattach the dryer vent. So my painter did a great job using an extra can of paint I had leftover from my bedroom to paint the back hall where my stackable washer/dryer sit in an alcove. What he did not tell me was that when he attempted to pull out the unit to paint behind it he accidentally disconnected the big silver vent tube. Which meant I couldn’t use the dryer because it was spraying lint all over and the windows got wicked foggy within a second of turning it on. The issue is, the alcove is so deep and the gas line isn’t long enough to pull it out all the way to get behind it. My handyman couldn’t fit on the side of it. Neither could I. And Sears refused to come since they don’t deal with gas dryers in Massachusetts. The girl I bought the condo from a few years ago told me that she just found a really skinny electrician the time she needed to get it serviced. So when Mom came, we assessed the situation Friday night and headed right to Home Depot because we had a plan. Channeling my Grandpa, and asking ourselves “What would Larry Condon do?” (WWLCD?) we picked up two of those long nifty lifter grabby things that old people use to pick up things off shelves. Then leaned the tall ladder on the dryer, and while Mom held my ankles I used my newly purchased robot arms to reattach the dryer vent. I had to do my signature thumbs up in this picture in case I went head first over the dryer and this was the last photo of me you ever saw. IMG_9452Using my robot arms to save the day. Also, I think the painter missed a spot?IMG_9451I also managed to dust off the top of the dryer with my body, and no one died in the fixing of the vent, so win win all around. Saturday the weather held out, so after our morning routine of walking Castle Island with some Sidewalk coffee + tea, we got to Home Depot … and got to work. Should have taken before/after photos, but hindsight is 20/20 so all we have are photos of the finished product. My electrician also finally showed up Saturday to install an outlet and light in the backyard so we can have some nice lighting around the patio this summer.

New backyard light and outdoor switch. IMG_9464Fresh flowers planted in the back of the garden. IMG_9460And in pots on the back porch. IMG_9469The biggest project was mulching around the patio and planting (iggy) Azaleas. I made that joke once on the spot, and can’t stop lol’ing about it. View from the side:IMG_9463And from the top: IMG_9467 What a difference a few bags of mulch and some plants can make! Now we just need to throw a party this summer to really break in the backyard. So as a reward for our hard work during the day on Saturday, we went to the Assembly Row AMC to see Pitch Perfect 2 on Saturday night. IMG_9454The first Pitch Perfect is one of my favorite movies and probably the one I quote the most in regular life. #crushed it. Anna Kendrick is my spirit animal. We also had some good eats while Mom was in town. Friday night we had dinner at The Paramount in Southie, which is a great local spot. Saturday night we went to Papagayo after the movie for some gluten-free Mexican food. And on Sunday we went to PF Changs, and had this shockingly unbelievably delicious Mongolian Beef entree (gluten-free) that we shared. We did have a strange waiter who, when we ordered Diet Cokes, said “fun fact … I learned in Chemistry that Diet Coke will make you go blind.” So I made sure to chug a lot of it and then when he asked me what I wanted to order, I told him I couldn’t see the menu any longer due to my diet coke blindness. Weirdo.

And that was it. I brought Mom to the train station on Sunday night to send her on her merry way back to Skip in Connecticut. Monday I decided I really needed to put pants on and shower again so I went into the office downtown. That lasted a day. I never put real clothes on today. But tomorrow’s another day. That’s all for now. Can’t wait to hit up the Cape for Memorial Day this weekend! Wooo Summer has arrived! And next weekend I head to Portland, Oregon for my first ever food blogger conference at the Indulge Conference, where I am excited to meet some of my favorite foodie instagram crushes and explore Portland with my friend Allie. Hashtag instayum!

1 2 26
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 246 other followers