UNLEASH THE INNER FOUR YEAR OLD (Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles)

IMG_6921So… Has anyone REALLY ever died from eating cookie dough, or is someone out there just trying to damper our hopes and dreams? This is an honest question. I cannot tell you how many spoonful’s, cups, even POUNDS of cookie dough I have consumed in my life, and I’m relatively normal!

This whole salmonella thing (or salmon-In-Ella, as I pronounce it), is it real? TO THE INTERNET!!!

According to the CDC salmonella is estimated “to cause one million illness in the United States, with 19,000 Hospitalizations and 380 deaths.” Oh. Well. What’s my chances that I’ll actually get it… I might take them all for the love of the dough!

In my 24 years I have tried a lot of dough, in 2012 I was on the quest for the perfect low-fat chocolate chip cookie recipe. I strongly believed if the dough tasted good the cookie would come out good. You see, there is one problem with that theory, all cookie dough taste good, and even when it doesn’t taste spectacular it is still not that bad!!!IMG_6926

I strongly believe that cookie dough is the reason that I will never have abs. I can run 8 to 15 miles a day, and come home and “make cookies”, end up eating a good quarter cup of dough and wake up wondering why my weight loss plan is not working. Well, maybe I will add a mile or two to compensate for the doughy desire that I need to fill.

While today’s creation will not help your diet, it will not make you die of Salmonella and that’s a promise! This cookie dough is eggless, super creamy and covered in chocolate, what more could you want? This is the first time I ever made a cookie dough with sweetened condensed milk and I might look into using it more in the future, the dough is super smooth and creamy, what dreams are made of.

If your sweet tooth does not include a love for super sweet, sugary, creamy goodness, do not even bother with this. While it is perfect for the cookie lover, the average Joe of desserts might not find these too amusing. Kids, young adults, and all of my coworkers came begging back for more, and hopefully you will too!

Special Shout out to Zach who submitted this idea!

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

Have your cake and eat it too with these delectable truffles. Egg free will leave you worry free and quickly floating on a bed of happiness and chocolate. Makes roughly 4 dozen.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condense milk

1 cup mini chocolate chips

2 cups melting wafers for the outer shell (I used a bag of Ghirardelli that I found at Wegman’s)

Toping extras (mini chocolate chips, crushed Oreos, sprinkles, white chocolate)

Directions:IMG_6918

  1. Using a mixer cream together butter and brown sugar, make sure to mix till smooth, no brown sugar clumps!
  2. Add vanilla
  3. Mix in flour 1 cup at a time until incorporated.
  4. Mix in sweetened condense milk until smooth and incorporated with the dough.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips to taste.
  6. Cover bowl and refrigerate until dough hardens, 45 minutes to an hour
  7. Roll cookie dough into 1 inch balls on a wax paper lined cookie sheet (I did not have wax paper, I used parchment paper, a slightly more expensive mistake)
  8. Place the balls in the fridge until the chocolate is melted.
  9. Melt chocolate wafers (microwave, double boiler, I’ll leave this method up to you)
  10. Using a toothpick or knife stick the balls into the chocolate until covered, remove and place on wax paper to dry.
  11. Once dry, keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
  12. Best if eaten within 1-3 days of making.

Running Away (Gluten Free, Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies)

Heart pounding, I run. My lungs, once full of air are now deflated and scrambling, but still continue. My shins absorb the impact of the worn concrete, walked by countless people, yet run by me. Aching arms continue to sway mechanically back and forth, they scream for a break, but none comes. Head held high and with determination holding me from looking back, I run.

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Saving the orangutans one run at a time.

I like to run. Trust me it’s not as bad as it sounds. As a former 3 sport college athlete I need something to keep my adrenalin going, something to hold hope that there will be one more game. I run because I can, it keeps me in shape, it clears my mind. The benefits of running are strongly outweighed by the cons and keep me happy, healthy and strong.

Last Sunday, April 27, 2014 I ran my first 5K. It was the Philly Run Wild through the Philly Zoo all to benefit the orangutans. First of all you have to understand that 3.1 miles for me is a warm up. I can easily run for 7+ miles without skipping a beat. In fact I think I held myself back a little during this race because I was still budgeting my energy for a longer run. But it was so much fun! The next day I came back to work and signed up for another 5K at the Working Dog Winery in East Windsor NJ!

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Right after Jess finished, is it just me or does she look a little tired?

With 5k fever on my mind I thought about eating cleaner, which is rough when your two best friends are Ben and Jerry’s, and the new Core Flavors, MMMM let me tell you, such an amazing game changer. Anyways, yes it’s true I don’t eat as clean as I should. I also have a small problem with gluten, or rather it has a small problem with me. I eat it, it kicks my ass, you get the picture. So I decided to cut out as much gluten as possible, and add more protein to my diet to hopefully gain those sexy running muscles (HA!).

With protein on my mind, and gluten out of my body I set out this week to develop a cookie that I won’t feel too bad eating, Ha, yeah right. While this recipe does not contain flour, it does contain a cup and a half of sugar, so you win some, you lose some. But on the positive side I do feel better when I grab 2 for breakfast.

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Fresh from the oven!

Flourless, Gluten Free, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

In the past I have made a gluten free, soy free, lactose free cookie similar to this, but not quite. If your dietary needs are all that and more please refer to Kim’s Kookies!

Makes about 36 cookies

Ingredients

2 cups natural crunchy peanut butter

1 ½ cups sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 bag dark chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Put peanut butter, sugar, beaten eggs, baking soda and salt into a large bowl and mix.
  3. Mix in chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop into tablespoon sized bowls and place 2 inches apart on parchment paper lined cookie trays.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until they start to golden.

 

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Off the Funfetti Bandwagon (Faux Funfetti Blondies)

Bold statement warning: I HATE FUNFETTI, damn you Pillsbury for turning your sprinkles filled boxed cake mix into a phenomenon.

It seems that everything is Funfetti lately, walking through the food store you can stumble upon: pancake mix, woppie pie mix, cookie mix and of course cake mix. Don’t get me wrong, I love the colors. Trust me; I would be the last person to say that baked goods are better without rainbows, however Funfetti box mix dampers the creativity of bakers.

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Example 1, Courtney:

“I NEED A FUNFETTI BIRTHDAY CAKE!!!” she exclaims with the excitement of a three year old.

“Okay, I’ll just whip up my own Funfetti recipe and…”  I knew that wouldn’t fly. As soon as the words left my mouth regret struck. What was I thinking? Funfetti is Courtney’s birth right, that’s the cake she has always had for her birthday.

“No! I want the box!” 21 years of age, 21!!! I am scared that she is going to lie down in the isle and start throwing a temper tantrum like a 3 year old. I grab the box in hope that a meltdown is avoided. One isle later my fears again are stirred up, “LOOK, FUNFETTI PANCAKE MIX !” Okay, Im not going to lie, I make pretty boss pancakes, growing up I have never used a box mix; even in college I never used a box mix. For Courtney’s birthday I used a boxed Funfetti pancake mix.

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As a baker who is obsessed with doing things from scratch, I firmly believe that Pillsbury has everyone brainwashed. If I make a white cake and throw some sprinkles in you will have the same effect! Home Made Funfetti is way more convenient than running to the store and buying a box, and Funfetti pancake mix is just pancake mix with sprinkles thrown in I CAN DO THE SAME THING!

This past weekend was a washout, at least 3 inches of rain and nothing to do but bake all day. Can you guess what Courtney requested? Funfetti blondies. First of all, my feelings about Funfetti are stated above; second of all, I am not a Blondies fan I am a chocolate fan! Why have vanilla brownies? That’s just a waste of potential chocolate dessert in my eyes.

I imagine that typical Funfetti Blondies would taste like cake, and most recipes I looked up did indeed require the boxed mix. As you can probably guess, I did not go that route. My blondies taste more like chocolate chip cookie dough, yes dough, not the cookies. I made these suckers on Saturday night and let me tell you, they tasted wonderful Sunday morning warmed up for breakfast!

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Faux Funfetti Blondies

Ingredients

1cup butter (room temp or slightly melted)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt
2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Sprinkles as desired

Directions:

  1.        Preheat oven to 350.
  2.        Cream the butter and the sugars using a stand mixer
  3.        Mix in the egg and vanilla
  4.        Add in the flour, baking soda, salt and mix till combined. The dough will be dry.
  5.        With a spoon or your hands mix in the chocolate chips and sprinkles
  6.        Spread out in  a 9X9 greased pan and cook until just golden or 18-20 minutes

 

Dirt Devil Socks of Horrors (Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip Cookies)

I have been a princess of 3 acres, a warrior of a sand stricken dessert,   a survivor of the slimy green pond scum, all without leaving my backyard. You could say I was a wild child, you could also say I was a princess; a garden warrior princess would be the correct term if I had to crown one.

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Growing up in Jersey I ruled a total of 7 acres with an iron fist, well probably more dirty fingers than iron fist. My neighbor Trevor, who is 3 years to my senior, decided that I was the closest thing to a little brother he would get and let me tag along everywhere. Our two yards together were more than enough land to race dirt bikes, climb trees, fall out of trees, ride skateboards, build ramps and jumps in dirt mounds, catch toads, and everything else little kids like to get into. We made forts in the pussy willow trees, and ran through the tall corn stalks in the field s behind our house.

I am sure my mother was worried. I am an only child, an only daughter, and here I am coming in the house barefoot with grass stained knees, knotted hair and blood gushing from at least one cut or another. I preferred mountain bikes over Barbie cars, football over dolls, and god forbid, shorts and a t-shirt over a dress.

I went through clothes like a monster. All of my clothes; it did not matter if it was t-shirts, shorts, pants or socks. I distinctly remember on a rainy evening running around in my neighbor’s basement, I had socks on to maximize the sliding on the hardwood floor. Of course being the kid I am, my socks caught on something and a hole was ripped in them. I continued the night unfathomed, they were socks, who cares I had a bin full in my bedroom these would not go missed. When I got home and took my shoes off my mother saw the hole, I must have caught her on a bad day, or maybe I pulled the last straw. She freaked.

“Lauren, do you care about your appearance what so ever? Do you like the clothes we give you! Do you care at all?” my mother yelled. It went on for what felt like hours. The high pitch of her voice made the cat hide, made my fish jump and made me feel even more rebellious. Of course I shrugged her off, but on my way to throw my socks out my mother made a threat, a threat that no kid ever wants to hear, and a threat that still haunts me today like a never ending nightmare. “Lauren, you are going to sew that sock back together or you cannot have ice cream for a week!”

NO ICE CREAM!?! I am a chocolate fiend; I cannot live without my daily nightcap of chocolate ice cream, it  soothes me, makes me forget my problems, if I was a cat it would make me purr. I did not know how to sew; I knew where my mother kept her sewing needles and thread but never knew what to do with them.

It was a disaster. First of all this little thread, why does it have to go in this tiny eye like thing, and how is it supposed to stay when it gets there? Why is the needle so sharp and why must I poke myself in the hand on every pull. With no instruction I went at it.

I sewed them once, put the sock on and went to show my mom. By the time I walked down the hall to her bedroom it had come undone. The dread on my face must have been one of a kid without presents at Christmas. I had to do it all over again.  I redid it, this time going back and forth the length of the rip at least 4 times, but my mother did not approve. She sent me back. The third time I put a little knot at the end so it did not come undone and ended with a knot as well. With my pride shortly slipping away I put the sock on my foot, slowly with my eyes glued to the floor, I walked the death march down to my mom’s room. I sat down on the bed and raised my dirty, yet one piece of a sock in the air to show my mother, expecting to be sent back. She took the sock off my foot, kissed my check and threw it out.

I cried. What the hell! I worked so hard on that! Why the hell would she just throw it out? Apparently that was the point, the lesson learned, the outcome in my trial. My parents worked so hard to provide for me and I was a menace to everything. She taught me that for all the things I had, hard work was behind them, and I had no right to go through clothes like Godzilla in the city.

That is how my mother tried to teach me to have a better regard towards my clothes, instead I think she taught me that socks are over rated.

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White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Next to Ice Cream my day is not complete without something sweet. These white chocolate chip oatmeal cookies have become my staple oatmeal cookie recipe. The white chocolate chips can be substituted with any chip of your liking.

Makes roughly 24 cookies

Ingredients

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, room temp

3/4 Cup brown sugar

1/4 Cup granulated sugar

1 Large egg

3 Teaspoons vanilla

1 and 2/3 Old Fashioned rolled oats

1 Cup all-purpose flour

½ Teaspoon baking soda

A bag of white chocolate chips to taste

With a stand mixer cream the softened butter and the sugars, add the eggs and vanilla and mix.

Beat in the oats, flour, and baking soda until combined. Stir in the chips.

Preheat the oven to 350. Line pans with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes or until golden

Questions or Comments? Please email NotSoCulinaryGraduate@hotmail.com

Confessions of a Lazy Baker (Oatmeal M&M Cookies)

4 million dollar, 4 million, that’s how big my mistake was at work this week. Needless to say I am stressed, and when I’m stressed I eat. On Monday I found myself pacing back and forth outside of a conference room because I wanted left over cookies from their lunch meeting. There were no leftovers.  I raced up and down the aisles at work to get a small bite of chocolate, no one had any. When I was stressed and needed it the most my work let me down.

Cookie dough... Reminder: do not eat all of it.

Cookie dough… Reminder: do not eat all of it.

I decided I was going to make a sweet treat for me, I mean everyone at work. I also lost a bet to one of the departments and promised them cupcakes. But the thing is, on Tuesday when I came home from the gym, I realized I did not have enough butter for a butter cream frosting. I also did not have any cream cheese for a cream cheese frosting. And on top of all of that it was 8:30 pm, I was not going out to get anything. So I settled with cookies.

What I really wanted to make was double chocolate chunk espresso cookies. Well, let me tell you, I did not have anything to make that. No espresso, no Dutch processed coco, and not enough butter. This whole baking thing was starting to stress me out almost as much as my 4 million dollar mistake.

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TO THE INTERNET! I don’t often borrow recipes from the internet but when I do I make sure the recipe is legit. I borrowed Chewy Oatmeal M&M cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction, AND MAN DID THEY COME OUT WONDERFUL! I made two batches, one for my work fellows and one for the house. For the first batch I followed the recipe to a T. I was pleased how they came out however the cinnamon was throwing me off, something with the cinnamon and the chocolate was not working for me. However it did take me 3 cookies to decide this. For my second batch I dropped the cinnamon and added another teaspoon of vanilla. These came out much better for my liking. Chewy, soft, hearty with the oatmeal, and still sweet with M&M’s thrown in. A perfect distressing snack.

Chewy Oatmeal M&M cookies

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Makes roughly 24 cookies

Ingredients

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, room temp

3/4 Cup brown sugar

1/4 Cup granulated sugar

1 Large egg

3 Teaspoons vanilla

1 and 2/3 Old Fashioned rolled oats

1 Cup all-purpose flour

½ Teaspoon baking soda

A bag of M&M added to taste (small or large does not matter, I used large because again, I did not have small)

 

With a stand mixer cream the softened butter and the sugars, add the eggs and vanilla and mix.

Beat in the oats, flour, and baking soda until combined. Stir in the M&Ms/

Preheat the oven to 350. Line pans with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes or until golden

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These were a hit at work!

Welcome to America, Its National Doughnut Day

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Today is June 7, 2013, tropical storm Andrea is drowning the east coast, my diet has officially failed, and oh yeah, its national doughnut day. Dear America, THIS IS WHY YOU’RE FAT.

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I had no plans in taking part of this apparent national holiday. I avoided Dunkin Donuts, drove past Wawa, and I even planed to make anything other than donuts. But it happened, my father called me. “Hey Lauren it’s your Dad!” His message went on, “Hope everything is well with you, and well, I wish you were here to make some doughnuts for the girls at work, they really miss your baking…” I was guilt tripped into making doughnut by a man who works 100 miles from me. Thanks Dad.

I do have a few recipes for some good baked doughnut, like apple cinnamon, or coconut, but I am still 100% against this holiday, so I rebelled without rebelling. Chocolate Chip Cookie Doughnut, that’s what I’m calling them and I’m sticking to it. Cookies that are made in a doughnut pan, so is it a cookie or doughnut? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

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These little circles of confusion would be perfect with a scoop of ice cream in the middle, or broken apart to dip in milk. They are simple as well, just take a chocolate chip cookie recipe (my favorite and the one I used can be found here), and a baked doughnut pan. Spray the pan generously with non stick cooking spray so you can get these conundrums out. Roll the dough between your hands to create a snake like figure and then lay it in the doughnut pan. Plop it in the oven at 375 degrees for 12 minutes and you have a chocolate chip cookie doughnut.

Also For those of us who were wondering here is a list of US national food days:

January

January 2 National Buffet week

January 3 National Chocolate Covered Cherry day

January 2 National Creampuff Day

January 20 Cheese Day

January 23 National Pie Day

February

February 9 National Pizza Day

February 15 National I Want Butterscotch Day

March

March 7 National Crown Roast of Pork Day

March 8 National Crabmeat Day

March 9 National Blueberry Popover Day

March 10 Oatmeal Nut Waffles Day

March 12 National Baked Scallops Day

March 13 National Coconut Torte Day

March 14 National Potato Chip Day

March 17 National Corndog Day

March 23 National Chip and Dip Day

March 31 National Clams on the Half Shell Day

April

April 2 National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day

April 12 National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day

April 17 National Cheeseball Day

April 24 National Pigs in a Blanket Day

April 25 National Zucchini Bread Day

April 26 National Pretzel Day

April 29 National Shrimp Scampi Day

May

May 4 National Candied Orange Peel Day

May 11 National Eat What You Want Day

May 17 National walnut day

May 24 National Escargot Day

May 28 International Hamburger Day

June

1st Friday National Doughnut Day

June 16 National Vinegar Day

June 17 Eat Your Vegetables Day

June 25 National Catfish Day

July

3rd Sunday National Ice Cream Day

July 3 Eat Beans Day

July 6 Take Your Webmaster to Lunch Day

July 7 Macaroni Day

July 15 National Tapioca Day

July 15 Gummi Worm Day

July[when?] Fresh Spinach Day

July 18 National Caviar Day

July[when?] National Daiquiri Day

July[when?] National Junk Food Day

July 28 Hamburger Day

August

August 3 National Mustard Day

August 3 Watermelon Day

August 8 National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day

August 23 National Sponge Cake Day

August 26 National Cherry Popsicle Day

August 28 Crackers Over The Keyboard Day

August 29 More Herbs, Less Salt Day

August 30 National Toasted Marshmallow Day

August 31 Trail Mix Day

September

September 4 National Macademia Nut Day

September 5 National Cheese Pizza Day

September 7 National Acorn Squash Day

September 13 National Peanut Day

September 14 National Eat a Hoagie Day

September 15 National Linguine Day

September 16 National Guacamole Day

September 18 National Cheeseburger Day

September 19 National Butterscotch Pudding Day

September 26 National Better Breakfast Day

September 28 Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children

September 30 National Hot Mulled Cider Day

October

October 4 National Vodka Day

October 20 National Brandied Fruit Day

October 24 Bologna Day

October 24 National Food Day

October 25 National Greasy Food Day

October 28 National Chocolate Day

October 29 National Oatmeal Day

October 30 Haunted Refrigerator Night

October 30 National Candy Corn Day

November

1st Thursday National Men Make Dinner Day 1998, Sandy Sharkey

4th Thursday Turkey Day (informal name for Thanksgiving Day)

Day after Thanksgiving Sinkie Day

November 1 National French Fried Clam Day

November 1 National Cook For Your Pets Day

November 2 National Deviled Egg Day

November 3 National Sandwich Day

November 4 National Candy Day

November 5 National Doughnut Day

November 6 National Nachos Day

November 7 National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day

November 7 National Eating Healthy Day

November 8 National Harvey Wallbanger Day

November 8 Cook Something Bold and Pungent Day

November 9 National Scrapple Day

November 10 National Vanilla Cupcake Day

November 11 National Sundae Day

November 12 National Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies Day

November 12 Chicken Soup for the Soul Day

November 13 National Indian Pudding Day

November 14 National Spicy Guacamole Day

November 15 National Spicy Hermit Cookie Day

November 15 National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day

November 16 National Fast Food Day

November 17 National Baklava Day

November 17 Homemade Bread Day

November 18 National Vichyssoise Day

November 19 Carbonated Beverage with Caffeine Day

November 20 National Peanut Butter Fudge Day

November 21 National Stuffing Day

November 22 National Cranberry Relish Day

November 23 National Cashew Day

November 23 National Eat A Cranberry Day

November 24 National Espresso Day

November 25 National Parfait Day

November 26 National Cake Day

November 27 National Bavarian Cream Pie Day

November 28 National French Toast Day

November 29 Throw Out Your Leftovers Day

November 29 National Chocolates Day

November 30 National Mousse Day

December

December 1 Eat a Red Apple Day

December 1 National Pie Day

December 4 National Cookie Day

December 8 National Brownie Day

December 13 National Ice Cream Day

December 19 National Oatmeal Muffin Day

December 21 National Hamburger Day

December 25 National Pumpkin Pie Day

December 27 National Fruitcake Day

December 30 National Bicarbonate of Soda Day

December 31 National Champagne Day

The Cookies that Changed My Life

Life of a cookie

The games tied 1-1 and the Red Sox are up to bat. It’s the bottom of the 9th and only this inning can tell if the game goes to extra innings. The first batter is up to plate, hits a single to center. The second batter comes up; he hits a sacrifice fly to right field, and the runner on first advances. Third batter hits another single down the third base line. With runners in scoring position the teams lead homerun hitter comes up to bat. Could the Red Sox win it all? “Lauren come in here and help me with dinner!” screamed my mom from the kitchen.

“But mom! The game!” I stammer out.

“Lauren get your butt in here you can watch TV after dinner.”

I hated cooking. I hated the kitchen, always calling me away from the best TV shows a girl could ask for. Without fail my mother could be cooking for hours and she would ask for my help right when something started to get good, or right before the killer was discovered. I think she did it on purpose.

I think I got my dislike of cooking from observing my father. My father is the type of man who will work from nine to five, spend the rest of the day (or till the sun goes down) making acquaintances with worms in his garden. Soon after he will come inside, eat the raw pick of the day and be content with life. He always enjoys his food in the purest of forms, straight from the garden with a little dirt still on it. While sitting on the couch drinking a beer and watching sports, of course. There was no time for this “cooking shit” that my mother is so proud of. But after my mother cooked, my father would eat her hot meal without a complaint or hesitation.

Sugars, butter, vanilla and egg
Sugars, butter, vanilla and egg

Never would my father lift a finger to help my mother cook dinner. “Cooking dinner is a women’s thing” he would say to me. I always wondered if it had something to do with the chaos he caused when he walked in the kitchen. He always thought the food needed something extra and he would shove countless “secret ingredients” in my mother’s face. This inevitably would result in a shouting match over who is the true cooker of dinner.

Mother on the other hand, she always tried to force a wooden spoon in my hand. Stir this, watch that, cut this, sauté that. When I was seven she tried to teach me how to cut up veggies for soup. I did not want any of that, so I cut my finger instead (in reality I was just very bad at cutting things with knives).

My mother reminds me of spinach. When spinach is fresh, it is a great addition to salad; it is sweet, crisp and fresh. But once you cook spinach, or you get my mother mad, it is sour, pungent and it resembles something that should have just remained in the garden. My extreme dislike of helping my mother in the kitchen, made her like cooked spinach.

“You need to learn how to cook!” my mother would shout, “How are you ever going to survive on your own!”

“Mom, I’m nine! I don’t care!” I would scream back. This was a good enough excuse until I was sixteen.

For my sixteenth birthday I asked for the top of the line field hockey stick, an acoustic guitar, and a kitten. Why do I remember this you may ask? For my sixteenth birthday my mother got me sixteen cookbooks, just what my mother wanted when she turned sixteen. This made me even more upset, “MOM I DON’T CARE ABOUT COOKING, JUST BECAUSE YOU DO DOESN’T MEAN I DO!” I screamed. I yelled. I cursed. I hated the heavy hard covered doorstoppers that my mother forced upon me.

“You’ll regret it when I’m gone.” She would argue back, for some reason she always thought I would care more if she threatened me with her own death. I never understood that.

Months into my sixteenth year I avoided the kitchen like the plague, always sneaking around it, making excuses to exit the front door instead of the garage door, which was located in the kitchen. Then one day while my mother was at work, I wanted something chocolaty, like a cookie. I went into the unoccupied kitchen, checking the time diligently to make sure my mother would not be home within the next four hours where she might catch me lingering in the kitchen looking for a snack. There was nothing to eat anywhere! Okay that might be a slight exaggeration. There was food everywhere, but not what I wanted. Bored, I sat down at the table and started thumbing through a dessert book my Mom had on the counter. That’s when my life changed forever.  There on page 136 this lady, Betty Crocker, outlined what she called “Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies.” That was exactly what I was looking for! My existence in this world was justified. I was put on earth to make these cookies. With no prior baking background or experience I decided right then and there that these cookies would be my first culinary masterpiece.

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I scrounged the kitchen looking for the ingredients. Three-fourths cup dark brown sugar and granulated sugar, what was this dark brown sugar? I could only find light brown sugar. To be on the safe side I used one cup of granulated sugar. Butter at room temperature? I did not have time for that! I melted it in the microwave instead. Baking soda? I didn’t like soda, I used powder instead. In the end the mixed glob that sat in the bowl before me, which contained one bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and one bag of M&M’s dumped in it, was the best thing I ever created. I scooped the slop onto a greased cookie sheet (even though the recipe clearly stated ungreased) and let it sit for the suggested amount of time. Or ten minutes more.

Lil' Dough Ball
Lil’ Dough Ball

When the smoke detectors finally alerted me that the cookies were done, I pulled the pan from the oven to see that my creation faintly resembled chocolate chip cookies. I let them cool for about twenty seconds before shoving a three-hundred and seventy five degree cookie into my mouth, and losing all the skin in my mouth due to third degree mouth burns. Although they were burnt to a crisp I could taste it, the sweet taste of success (in retrospect it could have been some of the blood from my mouth burns too, but mostly success). This is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life! I wanted to put masterpieces together using my hands, I wanted to be better than those people who bought their cookies in packages, and I wanted to change the world. I wanted to make sweets!

Hours passed as I waited with baited breath for my mother to come home so I could show her my culinary masterpiece. What I forgot about, was the fact that my mother is the kind of person who keeps her closets in alphabetical order, whereas I am the person who takes everything out and lays it on the kitchen counter and leaves it there. In laymen’s terms, the kitchen was the aftermath of a category five hurricane in a trailer park. When my mother walked through the doors she had a small heart attack and immediately started screaming that we’ve been robbed. When I finally managed to calm her down and tell her that I have been baking she almost had another heart attack. I showed her my creation, and with utter disgust she managed to crinkle her nose and attempted to hide her disgust and to applaud my creation. I could tell that she was still in distress from seeing her kitchen a mess, and couldn’t take in the beauty and wonder of my creation.

Over the next weeks, months and years to come, my mother would encourage my baking. She explained to me that unlike cooking, baking had to be precise and the recipe had to be followed exactly or you ended up with “globbly-gook” like my first attempt at cookies. She still tries to force me into helping her cook dinner, but after another incident with a knife she came to the conclusion that maybe I was more of a baker, and let me stick strictly to that.  She took my sixteen cookbooks and turned them in to twenty-two recipe books strictly on desserts and sweets.

Today the smoke alarm no longer alerts me when my cookies are done; I take them out all by myself, well, with help from the kitchen timer. I no longer discard baking soda from recipes because of my dislike of soda, and I no longer make up my own amounts of sugar. My baking caused my family to change as well, my mother no longer nags me to get up off the couch when the game is on to help her with dinner. And my father no longer reaches for a dirt covered vegetable; he insists that a cookie or cupcake is way better than the crunch of gravel between your teeth, and I couldn’t agree more.

Baked COokies

Life Changing Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Betty Crocker’s “Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies”

These cookies are the basic introduction to baking that even the person with the smallest kitchen experience can manage; just make sure to follow the measurements and the time exactly.

Ingredients:

3/4 Cup granulated sugar

3/4 Cup packed brown sugar

1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 Teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

2 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour

1/2 Teaspoon salt

1 Teaspoon baking powder

1 Package (12 ounces or 2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Wisk sugars (brown and granulated), butter, vanilla and egg in a large bowl until mixed together and creamy
  3. Mix in with a wooden spoon flour, baking soda and salt, and mix. The dough will be stiff, mix until combined.
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips
  5. By rounded tablespoons drop cookie dough on an ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart
  6. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly, remove from cookie sheet and move to wire rack to cool completely