The Simple Life

On more than one occasion Bryan has found me buzzing around the kitchen when I should be relaxing, doing other chores or most likely, exercising.  We joke that I have an addiction and wonder if I should be enrolled in “cooking/baking anonymous”.  My love of being in the kitchen has actually caused me some stress.  More often than not, I am saying YES to having a dinner party, to bringing dessert to every gathering I attend, to making everything from scratch as opposed to taking short cuts, to baking for a work meeting, to looking at half a container of cream and thinking I need to make something with that instead of dumping it down the drain.  With the best intentions I leave work filled with the idea that I will head home and “quickly” whip up some new dish I have wanted to try, only to still be in the kitchen at 10:00 because I didn’t want to buy pizza dough.

In the recent months I have tried to dial things back a bit, change my view.

Me: “Do I need to MAKE the jam that I want to put on the sandwich or in the cookies?!”

My kitchen addiction: “Yes, I saw a recipe for fig jam with port and black pepper that looks so good! I don’t have any of the ingredients in my cupboard so I will have to spend extra time going to the grocery store, but it would be awesome!”

My recovering self : “NO I do not.  There are plenty of delicious and wonderful jams on the grocery shelves that will do just fine.”

Some of this stems from my fear of morphing into some sort of semi-homeade nightmare.  The other part is that if I had all the time in the world I would choose to churn my own butter 🙂

A few weeks ago after I planned a one pot meal for a dinner party and asked the guests to bring a salad, I was trying to decide what to make for dessert.  The main dish was pot roast so I wanted to go for something classic and of course, easy.  My mind went to brownies, but one of my dinner guests was not a fan of chocolate.  I remember my friend KK telling me that she had made Dorie’s chocolate chip cookies and baked them in a pan, creating what she said was one of her family’s favorite dessert bars.  After a little investigating I opted to try 101 Cookbook‘s recipe for a skillet cookie.

I don’t have a skillet so I used a pie plate.  This was one of the easiest things I have ever made and thought it was delicious! Crispy edges and outside while the inside remained soft but not underdone. I served mine with a variety of homemade and store-bought ice creams.  I also threw together ice cream sunday toppings from stuff I had in my cabinets.  I toasted some pecans, chopped up some left over chocolates I had from the holidays, crumbled some (store-bought) sugar cookies and simmered some dried cherries in port and maple syrup to make a quick cherry sauce.  This was a big hit and fit very well into my new “no-nonsense” kitchen plan.

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Simple Chocolate Chip Pie Cookie
adapted slightly from 101 Cookbooks and Kim Boyce

3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped (or chips)

Preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the middle. Butter a 10 pie plate, one that is at least 2-inches deep. This is important because if it isn’t deep enough it may overflow!

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl.

In another large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and the sugars. Mix just until the butter and sugars are blended, about 2 minutes using the mixer on low-speed. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl along the way. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is combined. Mix in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and blend on low-speed until the flour is barely combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Add all but 1/2 cup of the chocolate to the batter. Mix just until the chocolate is evenly incorporated. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then scrape the batter out into the pie plate, pressing it out into an even layer. Sprinkle any remaining chocolate across the top, and gently press it into the dough a bit.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the dough is a deep golden brown along the edge, and the center has set. Remove from oven and let cool a bit before slicing into. Cut into wedges or small squares.

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