Monday, December 12, 2011

Ginger Chocolate Dream Cookies

These are a wonderful twist on your regular chocolate chip cookies. Everyone I've given them to has raved about them and most have asked what that sneaky special ingredient is. A few days after I brought these into work for the first time, we had a mandatory 6AM meeting. Management tried to spice things up a little bit with a game of sorts - one interesting fact about each employee that you had to match with their name. Mine was "makes delicious ginger chocolate cookies."

I first had these tasty gems when I unexpectedly moved in with someone who became one of my best friends earlier this year. This recipe was given to her at her bridal shower by a friend of hers from high school who called them Sweet Dream cookies. I altered the recipe a bit and then changed the name, since I think that name is a big overused.

So without further ado, Ginger Chocolate Dream Cookies!

1 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. vanilla
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 - 12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
powdered sugar

Cream butter, then add the sugar, vanilla, and egg. Combine all dry ingredients and mix into wet mixture. Fold in chocolate chips. (I used the miniature ones and think they're easier to work with than the regular size. Plus they're cute!) Refrigerate dough until firm. While dough is in the fridge, preheat oven to 375*. Lightly grease baking sheets. Roll 1" balls of dough in powdered sugar and bake 12 minutes.

So yummy!!

As mentioned in the last post, I received a dozen delicious cookies each from Tiffany at Strudel & Streusel, and from Claudie at Bohemian Kitchen. Update: my third dozen have arrived! Huge thanks to Melissa at Orlando's Food Trucks

As soon as finals are over and my brain has time to recover, I'll deep clean the house and find my elusive camera cord. It will be some time before the weekend, because my sister and her new fiance are coming over to have dinner with Prince Charming and me on Saturday.

Speaking of Prince Charming, he was so wonderful this morning and made me a tasty finals breakfast before my Java exam. (I wish it would have been on the coffee instead of the programming language!) Yummy breakfast sausage, some spicy hash browns, biscuits, and eggs with spinach and pico. I've never had eggs like that before, and was pleasantly surprised!

My last final exam is tomorrow afternoon, and I have Wednesday off work, so look forward to a feta bread recipe before the weekend!

Huge thanks again to Lindsay and Julie for organizing this swap! If you are interested in participating next year, you can sign up here to get notifications. And it's not just a US event, so if you're overseas and interested in doing a little extra holiday baking (thinking of you, Veru!), there were several different countries participating this year.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Celebrating the end of the semester!

One of the reasons I've hardly had time to breathe lately is because the end of the semester is nearing! Yesterday was the last day of classes for the year, so I decided to treat myself. I so rarely have the time to spend in the kitchen now (especially with finals this week and next) but I finally finished up all my obligations and decided to make dinner at 11:30 last night.

My favorite meal - both to make and to eat - is chicken piccata. I am and have always been a huge Italian food fan. Please excuse the awful phone photo. I took a few on my camera that is now dead, and I can't find the charger cord anywhere. (I feel like I've lost my mind with how busy I've been. I seem to misplace everything!)

I didn't even get to sit down and eat it at the table - I stood at the bar with my computer and finished up some Organic Chemistry nonsense. I was so glad to finally have some tasty homemade food that I didn't even care, though. I poured myself a glass of sauvignon blanc and was in heaven.

Chicken Piccata for one
1 chicken breast, trimmed 
fresh ground pepper
1/2 lemon
approx. 3/4 c. dry white wine (sauvignon blanc)
1/4 c. chopped marinated artichoke hearts
1 handful capers, rinsed

Slice your chicken breast into two cutlets. Season with fresh cracked pepper and dredge in flour. Cook in a skillet with EVOO on high heat for approximately 3 minutes per side. Before turning the chicken, juice 1/4 of a lemon over your meat. Then use the other 1/4 immediately after turning. After both sides are cooked thoroughly, pour your wine into the skillet. It should rise almost halfway up your chicken. You may need to use a little more depending on the size of your pan. Toss the artichoke hearts and capers in with the wine and let everything simmer for a few more minutes so the chicken can soak up some of the flavors, turning once again. Spoon the sauce over your chicken to serve! 

I served mine with Tomato, Spinach, and Red Bell Pepper rotini from Decio Pasta, a local company that I can never resist at the farmer's market. And of course I had to top it all off with a glass of wine. 

My cookie exchange cookies went out today. I apologize for the delay, ladies! My stand mixer has been acting up since Thanksgiving. I thought I would be able to make it work for a little longer, but was sorely disappointed when I went to bake a few days ago and was proved wrong. I had to run to the store yesterday morning for a hand mixer so I could finish these babies and send 'em out. 

I also got my second dozen exchange cookies in the mail today! The first ones, Holiday Fig & Date Cookies from Bohemian Kitchen, arrived on Monday. They didn't make it until midnight. So yummy! The second ones were Chocolate Clotted Cream Fudge Cookies from Tiffany (Streusel) at Strudel and Struesel! It's now 5 o'clock and there's not even a crumb left. It's probably a good thing I don't have a scale in the house... and that I just bought some new pants, two sizes larger than the rest of my closet. 

Sadly, I do have some crazy studying still left to do. Organic Chemistry final is Friday, my programming final is next Monday, and Physical Chemistry is Tuesday, so you probably won't see much of my face (other than the recipe reveal on Monday!) until late next week. I bought a huge block of feta at Costco today (my treat to myself for nearly being done with classes!) and I'm craving some feta bread. We'll see what it turns itself into! 

Monday, December 5, 2011

My apologies

Yikes; it's been a while!

I made all kinds of goodies for Thanksgiving dinner... and then didn't take photos. And since I hate posting recipes without photos, I didn't put 'em up.

I've had what feels like a zillion new wines lately. And again, photos were few and far between. I'll put up a few wine reviews here shortly (I attended a Champagne class last week and have some new favorites!), but I have been slacking there as well.

I got my first box of cookie exchange cookies in the mail today! The packaging was super cute and made me feel a little inadequate. So to the wonderful ladies who will be receiving my cookies, I apologize for the disappointing packaging. I also should not admit to eating all 12 cookies by myself today. Oops!

I've been travelling quite a bit for work lately. Rock Bottom Brewery in San Diego - good burgers, but mediocre beer. (Their red is very thin/weak, and their winter wheat is nothing to get excited about.) The Wine Encounter in San Diego - their flights are a little spendy, but paired well. And I guess they have half-priced flights for happy hour on certain days, which would be an awesome deal. (We had their World Tour flight - reds from Argentina, France, and Italy. They were all pretty tasty.) I found a gem in town, too. Pita Jungle, here in Tempe. Everything on their tapas menu for happy hour is either one or two bucks, and it is all excellent!

And a quick review for you, since I realized I haven't talked about my go-to cooking wine yet.
Image from
Santiago Station Sauvignon Blanc. It is from Chile, but in the New Zealand style. Definitely citrus-y. But my favorite thing about it is that it's only $3.99. Almost every reaction to the price... not a favorable one. Fear not, though! This is not your Barefoot/Pacific Peak. It is a surprisingly drinkable wine. I served a glass of this with dinner last night, and my house guest/couchsurfer commented on how tasty it was. It's probably not going to be anyone's new favorite drinking wine, but for someone who does a lot of cooking with dry whites, it is perfect. I use this most often for chicken piccata. I also use it in my crockpot chicken kiev. When you're using a bottle and a half of wine to make dinner on a college student's budget, a $4 bottle is much better than my favorite $15 bottle! They have changed their labels since this photo was taken, and I couldn't find any with the new label. It looks almost identical, but is green instead of gold.

And with that, I'm off! My finals are over mid-next week, so hopefully I'll have a little more time to spend in the kitchen, and actually take photos this time! Thank you for being so patient with me. :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I know I'm not the only one!

Is it marked on your calendars? This Thursday, the Beaujolais Nouveau will be out on the shelves! It's not a work day for me, but I think I might have to make a stop by the shop and snag a bottle. Quips about glorified grape juice aside, I do look forward to each year's Beaujolais. Not because I think it's the tastiest thing out there, because I don't. I just think it's fun and novel. So once a year, I will pay for overpriced, glorified grape juice, and I will enjoy it.

Tonight's shrimp curry didn't go quite as planned. I actually had planned on making beer chili, but those plans were postponed until tomorrow. I was craving curry all day at work, so I started in on one when I got home. It wasn't until I had the onion, garlic, and curry powder all getting cozy on the stove that I realized I barely had 3 Tbsp of greek yogurt in the fridge, and no other dairy products other than milk. So I had virtually no sauce. Tasty, but nothing I was proud of, so that's another recipe I'll have to tweak before posting. Sir Gingerbeard said he'll peel all the shrimp next time, so that's an offer I can't pass up. It will be up here soon!

And speaking of Sir Gingerbeard, I was a (small) part of his brewing party this past week. He has a brewery and they just started their new Christmas beer Wednesday night. I offered up my womanly advice on the mixture of ginger/nutmeg/allspice/cinnamon/cloves that is steeping in their soon-to-be-Triple Bock.

Photo from
He's doing his part to introduce me to some tasty brews, and he certainly has been succeeding. Tuesday night with dinner, I enjoyed a Pipeline Porter from Kona Brewing Company. I have always enjoyed darker beers much more than... well, your typical Bud piss-water variety. That is even more true now that I've expanded my beer knowledge a bit. Porters and Stouts generally top my list. Wednesday night, I sampled Sir Gingerbeard's Nine Iron IPA. Minty, hoppy, and delicious. However, my favorite of theirs by far was their Halloween beer. I don't recall the name at the moment, but it was yam instead of the usual pumpkin flavor coming through. Spectacular! They have a Graham Cracker Stout that's pretty fantastic. I believe the other one I tried was their Slut City Stout. Hints of orange and vanilla. It's delicious! For someone that's been so anti-brew for the last 4+ years, I surprised myself by how much I've really enjoyed.

I tried a new Sauv Blanc tonight that I'll get a review up for in the next few days. Nothing noteworthy, unfortunately.

Here's to hoping for some beer chili tomorrow! Thank you for being so patient with me. :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My apologies!

Sorry I've been MIA lately! I have been doing a lot of cooking for the new man in my life, but keep forgetting to take photos.

I have a new cookie recipe, an amazing crock pot chicken recipe, and a few sides that I will now have to re-create and get up here.

I am also participating in a fantastic cookie swap! There is still another week to sign up, so head on over and get on the list if you're interested! Sign-ups close on the 15th.
  The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011

Hopefully I'll be on top of this a little more in the coming days.

Also, thanks to my new man, I've been branching out a little from my usual wine (I tried eight this weekend - that's how much I fail at updating) and sampling beers! We went out to Four Peaks last Wednesday for some lunch and tasty brews. Their Oatmeal Stout is simply to die for. A delicious dark beer with hints of coffee and chocolate. They have a Pumpkin Porter seasonal beer right now that is also fantastic.

I'm being treated to dinner tonight and tomorrow, but I hope to have something new up at the end of this week! Thank you for being so patient with me. :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tazo Chai tea concentrate review

I have always loved Chai tea. I grew up drinking it at home, ordering it in coffee shops, getting it at school (what has this world come to? I had a coffee shop IN my high school), and later working in various coffee shops. I know what I like when I have it at home. I know what I like when I order from Starbucks (and heaven help the poor employee who takes my order. It's so long!), and I know what I like when I order from random coffee stands.

I have never been a fan of powdered chai. When I was younger and living at home, Mom always had the Oregon chai concentrate (the original!) at the house. Mix that with some milk or soy milk. Steam it if you're feeling adventurous, and be treated to a taste of heaven.

Living in Arizona, I haven't always been lucky enough to find the Oregon chai concentrate products. I went shopping at the commissary a few weeks back for their case lot sale, though, and they have the Tazo chai concentrate, so I decided to give that a try.

Image from Seattle's Best. 

In a word? Disappointing. A little too much black pepper and a tad too much cardamom, in my opinion. I also like my chai with a touch of vanilla, which this didn't have, so I could have already been a little grumpy, which swayed my opinion. 

The one thing that I like about this a little more than the Oregon concentrate is that it seems to be more concentrated, so it goes a little further. I added a little more milk than 1:1 ration the box suggests, and the flavor was still strong. With the Oregon, I usually end up with more chai than milk. 

There you have it! Sorry for the lack of updates these last few days. I experimented with a pot roast today (in red wine), but wasn't very happy with it, so I'll keep that recipe to myself. Hopefully I'll have a little more free time for kitchen experimentation this week, so you'll see a little more of me. :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lemon garlic spinach

I love spinach. I love lemon, and I love garlic.

I've had some fresh spinach in the fridge for the last few days just begging to be used, so I threw some things together tonight to make a spinach side.

Lemon Garlic Spinach

9 oz. baby spinach
1 1/2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon

Saute the garlic in olive oil until soft. Add in the butter and spinach. Cook until wilted - about 5 minutes. Squeeze 1/2 lemon over spinach and let cook for about one minute more. Serve! 

I accompanied dinner tonight with a Kemblefield Sauvignon Blanc 2010. It's from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. Nice and citrusy. Grapefruit is very prominent. Dry and almost tart. The perfect compliment to the lemon in tonight's spinach. $9.99/bottle. Excellent for the price. 

I'll work on my picture-taking skills. In the meantime, I think I might help myself to a second glass from the bottle!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Red wine mushrooms

I ended up with 24 oz. of mushrooms at the grocery store today, so I thought I'd recreate this recipe. I've made it several times before but always used white wine, since it's what I had around for cooking. I had some leftover red wine today, and was quite pleased with the result.

6 oz. package of mushrooms
1/4 large yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c. red wine

Saute the garlic and onion in butter and olive oil for about three minutes. Add in the sliced mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are brown. Add in the red wine and let simmer until the wine has completely cooked off.

Perfect as a side!

Hey there!

Hello and welcome!

A little about me -

I'm a 20-something non-traditional college student with a passion for fermented grape juice. I had my first glass of wine in France when I was 18, and fell in love. (Though I'm pretty sure I embarrassed my father. He did not appear pleased that there was an inverse relationship between the volume in my glass and the volume of my voice.)

About two years ago, I came across an awesome wine store. They were offering tastings on the weekends - at the time there was a nominal fee. Now they're free which is even better! I have spent the last two years refining my palate and ended up falling in love with the wine and the people. Now I work at said awesome wine store.

I love wine, and love cooking with wine. I don't have a fancy camera, and I've never been accused of taking awesome photos, but I know my way around a kitchen.

I plan to use this as a dump for my kitchen experiments. I have another blog where I occasionally put recipes up, but wanted something that was more food-centric. I'm usually pretty anti-recipe and love to throw things together to see how they come out. I also plan to review the occasional wine here. As a perk of my awesome job, I get a spectacular discount and love to bring new things home!

And a bit on my palate - I am not a big sweet or dessert wine fan. I LOVE New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and some of the good Chilean Sauv Blancs in the NZ style. I also love full-bodied reds. Tempranillo. Sangiovese. Malbec. Syrah. I have found one good Gewurztraminer that I would buy again, and there is one Port that I am madly in love with.

Recipe dump, wine reviews, and I might even get a little into wine and kitchen gadgets. Thanks for joining me, and welcome to my kitchen!