Thursday, June 22, 2017

Milk Bar Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

When we were in New York last year, one of the places I had long marked at stop at was Milk Bar.  I had first heard of them when my brother-in-law got one of their cookbooks from the library many years earlier and showed us the recipe for Compost Cookies.  I forgot about them for a few years until my friend Monica posted the recipe for those same cookies on her blog shortly before our trip.  Milk Bar quickly made our food list (which was mostly bakeries at that point...nothing wrong with that!  We walked constantly so carbs were necessary!). 

When we stopped (and waited in a decent line, just for cookies) Matt and I both tried the heralded Compost Cookie and Luke had a birthday cake cookie (sprinkles are irresistible to kids) and declared them all delicious, as we sat eating them in Central Park.  (We will most definitely be doing this again on our next trip.)  I've since made the Compost Cookies at home (which may have been quicker than waiting in that line) and they were delicious. 

Why am I talking so much about the cookies I didn't make?  I don't know, sometimes I feel like I just sit at the keyboard and ramble type.  But more to the point, I had good memories and associations with other Milk Bar cookies so when this recipe popped up on my Pinterest I thought they sounded good to try.  I'm not going to be one to turn down a good chocolate chip cookie.  And these were good.

A thing I reallllly like about this recipe: you don't need a mixer, it can all be done by hand.  I have a stand mixer, a pretty new one actually that is a beautiful blue.  BUT sometimes it's nice to not have to drag the whole thing out and clean it up afterwards (as if cleaning just a mixing bowl is different from the mixer bowl).  It just seemed quicker and easier to make cookies by hand...instead of using the machine that does most of the work (I don't expect anyone to understand my logic).  So we mixed up these cookies and enjoyed them greatly. 

Even though we didn't eat these in New York they still, slightly, took me back to our trip and made me a little itchy (itchier) to go back.  If you're looking to change up from a standard chocolate chip cookie or just take a break from the mixer, well, here you go.   (And maybe we'll try these on our next trip to Milk Bar, purely for scientific, comparison reasons.)

Milk Bar Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies
yield: about 18-20 cookies
-½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and just warm to the touch
-¾ cup packed brown sugar
-½ cup sugar
-1 egg
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-1¾ cup AP flour
-2 TB nonfat milk powder
-1¼ tsp kosher salt
-½ tsp baking powder
-¼ tsp baking soda
-12 chocolate chips or chunks
-kosher or flaked salt for sprinkling

1) Preheat the oven to 375°.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

2) Using a wooden spoon, stir together the sugars in a large mixing bowl then add the melted butter.  Stir vigorously for about a minute or a little longer.  Mix together the egg and vanilla in a measuring cup or small bowl and add to the sugar/butter.  Stir until it gets all glossy, about a minute.

3) Separately mix together the flour, milk powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder then add to the sugar/butter/egg.  Stir just until combined.  Add the chocolate chips/chunks and stir just until evenly distributed.

4) Portion out into balls about the size of golf balls, spacing about 2-3 inches apart on the baking sheets.  Sprinkle with kosher or flaked salt.  Bake for 9-11 minutes, until the edges are golden brown but the centers are still soft.  Let cool on the baking sheets and then transfer to a wire rack.  

Source: Foodie Crush

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

ICOTW: Lemon Ice Cream

On Memorial Day, almost as long as I can remember, we've done what I have deemed "The Memorial Day Memorial Tour".  (It might just be in my head that I call it that.)  My paternal Grandparents and Great-Grandparents and a few Great-Aunts and Uncles are buried near where my Dad grew up and Memorial Day is when we visit their graves, clean them up, and put new flowers.  My Grandpa and his two brothers both served in World War II so it totally makes sense to do on Memorial Day. (Also, the weather is nice and it's a long weekend and easy day to remember.)

For many years before I was married it was just my Dad and I who would make the hour trip up north.  Once I got married one of my sisters took over my role but in the last 8 or so years it's expanded to whoever can go.  My Mom goes and usually at least 3 of us girls, occasionally a baby (or a toddler in my case) have tagged along.  We visit the cemeteries, taste wine, and go to the same ice cream stand in my Dad's hometown. 

For many many many years I got the same thing - a lemon soft-serve.  It remains the only place I have ever seen lemon soft-serve and it was quite good.  Then I started trying fancier dipped flavors and haven't had the lemon soft-serve in a few years, but I still consider it every year when we stop.  (Usually my desire for chocolate wins out.)

This lemon ice cream reminds me of that lemon soft-serve and all the happy memories that come along with those trips.  I know, visiting cemeteries doesn't sound like a ton of fun but, one or two kids aside, it's one of the rare times a year I am with my parents and (at least a few) sisters without the pull of kids.  Combined we have 13 and being together without them is very, very rare.  We can actually finish a conversation on Memorial Day!  (kinda...there is still a lot of talking over each other and talking fast trying to get everything's the most we might get to talk for another year!).  My Dad shares memories of his parents and growing up.  It's just a few hours but the weekend wouldn't feel right without it. 

This ice cream was pretty easy to make, the hardest part for me was getting large pieces of lemon zest (and then fishing them out later).  But it was so good I was licking off the lemon peel after throwing pieces in my sink, pre-churning.  This is good, creamy, lemon goodness.  It has a lemon kick but a pleasant one and combined with the super creamy ice quickly became a favorite. 

We dug out waffle cones that had been buried in the back of the cupboard since last summer and enjoyed them during a break from Luke's pool playing.  It felt perfectly summery. 

Lemon Ice Cream
yield: about 1 quart
Lemon Simple Syrup:
-2-3 lemons (save the zest for below!)
-2 TB sugar

Ice Cream Base:
-2 cups whole milk
-1 TB + 1 tsp cornstarch
-1½ ounces (3TB) cream cheese, room temperature
-pinch of sea salt
-1¼ cup heavy cream
-2/3 cup sugar
-2 TB corn syrup
- zest of two lemons (from above)

1) Start with the lemon syrup.  Use a vegetable peeler to remove large pieces of the lemon peel and set aside.  Juice the 2-3 lemons, you'll need ½ cup of juice.  Stir together the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, just a few minutes.  Set aside to cool.

2) Measure the 2 cups of whole milk in a liquid measuring cup.  Pour about 2 TB of it into a small bowl and add the cornstarch, stirring to get a slurry.  Set milk and milk/cornstarch aside.

3) Put the cream cheese in a large bowl and add the salt, whisking until smooth.  Set aside.

4) Combine the milk (2 cups less about 2TB), heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup, and lemon zest in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally.  Let boil for 4 minutes, continuing to stir occasionally.  After 4 minutes immediately remove from heat.  Stir in the milk/cornstarch and then return to a boil, stirring with a spatula, for about 1 minute.  It should thicken and easily coat the spatula.  Remove from heat.

5) Pour the stove mixture into the cream cheese bowl, whisking until smooth.  You need to chill this before churning and my preferred method is just putting it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.  If you want it quicker, you can pour the ice cream mix into a gallon ziplock, press out air bubble and seal, and submerge in a bowl of ice cubes.  This will only take about 30 minutes but is a bit messier.

6) Once your mixture is chilled, prepare to churn.  Remove the lemon zest and pour into the base of your ice cream machine.  Add the lemon simple syrup with the machine churning.  Churn as instructed for your machine (mine is about 25-30 minutes).  When done scoop into a air tight container, press a piece of parchment paper over the top, getting out as many air bubble as possible, and freeze at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.  You may need to let sit on the counter 5-10 minutes before it is scoopable.


Source: A Jeni's recipe (she has the best ice cream) via Food52

In the summer I aim to make a different homemade ice cream (or other frozen treat) each week and report back here, good or bad!  I call it "Ice Cream of the Week".  You can follow the "ICOTW" tag to see them all chronologically or go to my "Recipes" page and scroll down to the "Ice Cream/Frozen Things" section for my favorites! 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Lessons in Adulting: Water, Always Water

It might seem obvious but water really is the answer to so much.  So obvious it took me until my 30s to actually, regularly, drink my recommended ounces for the day.

And you know what?  I feel a lot better when I drink a lot of water.  I can tell if I haven't.

I'm aiming for around 90 ounces a day.  More on days when I run or when it's really hot (like it has been recently).

I aim to drink a whole water bottle (mine is 22 ounces) within my first hour of waking.

Almost every weekday I get up and workout right away and that makes this "drink a lot of water" thing easier (get hot sweating in the basement!).  Then I started noticing how thirsty I was on weekend mornings when I wasn't drinking all that water first thing.  So I started drinking a whole water bottle on those mornings too. (Especially when there was, maybe, alcohol consumed the night before).

My general plan: 22 ounces while working out, another 22 ounces by lunch, a glass on sun tea during quiet time, 22 ounces by the time Luke is in bed, 22 ounces after he's in bed.  I know when I need to be filling up my water bottle again and that gets me drinking it down.  

It helps me wake up, it helps me feel better after eating too much, it helps me avoid hangovers.  I feel better when I stay hydrated.  (Also helping avoid hangovers, alternating 22 ounces of water with every alcoholic drink...that helps a lot.)

It seems so basic, so easy but can be hard to do.  I definitely encourage you to try to start the habit.  Your body (and maybe your mind) will thank you.

(I have this Contigo water bottle which has worked out great for me the past year!  I have it with me pretty much all the time.  Church and our 1/2 block walk to the library are about the only times I don't!)

(Lessons in Adulting #1, which might tie into this one...a bit...)

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Mixed Drink Monday: Pineapple Rum Punch

I love a good frozen drink in the summer (as evidenced by here, and here, and here, and plenty more!) but I also love the kind that don't require a mixer, where you just throw a whole bunch of things in a pitcher, add some ice, give it a stir, and you have ready made drinks for the weekend (or day). 

This Rum Punch is exactly that kind of drink which makes it perfect for lazy days at the lake or around pool (even if it's just the inflatable variety in the backyard).  The hardest thing about making it might be opening a can of pineapple juice, depending on how nice your can opener is (what I've recently discovered: our Kitchenaid one isn't very nice, even if it is a pretty blue). 

I've really been feeling the coconut and pineapple flavors this summer, they just seem so perfectly summery.  I would highly recommend coconut rum if you have it (we didn't).  We made a Wal-Mart stop on our way to the lake this time (looking for our favorite Bud Select bottled beer which is somehow really hard to find) and the only coconut rums they had were more than what I know I'd pay at the liquor store down the street from our house (which is very hard to go to when I always have a 4 year old tagalong...for some reason they don't like that).  So vanilla rum it was which was fine but definitely hoping to get coconut for the next time I make this.  Which there will definitely be a next time since in my book, this is almost a perfect summer drink. 

If you have a really good memory you may realize this is rather similar to a drink I posted last summer, this Pineapple Coconut Spritzer which was also fantastic but had a whole FIVE ingredients instead of THREE in this one (not including ice).  So depending on how prevalent OJ and coconut water are in your pantry, that might determine which you make (and after writing a whole paragraph on our lack of coconut rum this time, I was amused to see I didn't have it to make that drink either, apparently being out of coconut rum is a thing here).

Either way, you can't go wrong with this drink.  I drank almost the whole pitcher in the course of a weekend and it was perfect for those hot, sunny, lazy, summer days.  

Pineapple Rum Punch
yield: 6-8 servings
-24 ounces (2 cans) ginger ale
-24 ounces (3 cups) pineapple juice
-1 cup rum (recommend coconut if you have it!)
-pineapple to garnish (optional - I only had one and wanted to use it as a photo prop and so I didn't have any chunks for my drink!)

Stir together the ginger ale, pineapple juice, and rum in a large pitcher.  Add ice.  Refrigerate.  Enjoy!

Source: slightly modified from A Night Owl Blog

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday Five: {5} Podcast Episodes

I've been listening to podcasts almost daily for a little over a year and am constantly amazed at how many little pockets of time I can find to listen during the day and over the course of a week.  I am subscribed to 11 which amazes me that I can fit all those in in a week and often even run out of new episodes to listen to!  I listen while doing my basement workouts, when doing my hair/make-up, anytime I'm in the car alone, editing blog pictures, and doing various housework (depending on where/what Luke is doing).  It can make me a little more eager to do dishes or clean the kitchen when I know I can get through a little more podcast time.

I've written about podcasts before: The Podcast Multitask, {5} Podcasts I Enjoy (I still listen to all of these!), and {5} Podcast Episodes that Might be Worth Your Time.  And now here are 5 more podcast episodes that I've enjoyed lately!

1) The Smartest Person in the Room episode #20: Professional Bridesmaid Jen Glantz
Jen Glantz was asked to be a bridesmaid in a whole bunch of weddings at once and jokingly put an ad on Craigslist, offering to be a professional bridesmaids, thinking she'd do it once or twice and it would be a fun experience.  Over the course of a few days that blew up into something much bigger with national news outlets picking it up and she has turned it into a full-time job.  You can actually hire her to be a bridesmaid, everything from just being someone to vent to, to putting on the dress and walking down the aisle (sometimes even lying to the groom about a false backstory so everything thinks her and bride have been BFFs forever).  It was not something I knew could be a job and was just fascinating to listen to and learn about!  She wrote a book that is now on my TBR too.

2) The Simple Show episode #74: "Capsule" Wardrobes
I've been listening to this podcast for over a year and this was one of my favorite episodes, I even remember what I was doing while listening (painting approximately the 15th coat on our bedroom trim...).  Tsh and her co-host Erin (who lives in my same town!) talk about their version of a capsule wardrobe which isn't quite the "I only wear these 20 things over the course of a season" and it was just really interesting and helpful to get some tips on cutting down and streamlining your wardrobe without going to the bare minimum.  It really helped me think about my closet differently!

3) The Lazy Genius episode #18: The Lazy Genius Raises a New Baby
I've raised a new baby (only one, but still) and I still feel like I learned a few things from this episode.  Something you might not know if you don't have kids: when you visit a new baby (and their parents) don't stay more than an hour unless you are seriously helping vacuum floors, make meals, entertain older kids, etc.  I know I am guilty of that one pre-Luke! But besides that, it gave me a few things to think about and a few things I might do differently on the next kid!

4) Young House Love Has a Podcast episode #45: Why We Got Rid of Half the Toys in Our House
I'm going to be all in on anything that encourages me to get rid of possessions, especially kid toys which, somehow, seem to multiple (and don't seem to get touched much in the summer!).   They reference one of my favorite parenting books, Simplicity Parenting (which I've read but really want to reread)They talk about how few things kids need, toys especially, and how they tend to play better and longer when there are fewer options.  Definitely something we need to work on in our own house!  Worth a listen if you feel overwhelmed by your kids' stuff!

5) Sorta Awesome episode #103: Pop-ups, sunnies, s'mores, and more!
I started listening to this one at the lake on a sunny summer day and it was just a fun way to to spend part of an early summer weekend - the two co-hosts list some of their favorite things about summer and even though I didn't investigate any of the products they were discussing I still enjoyed hearing their recommendations and getting in the summer mood.  It makes me want to fully enjoy flip-flops, sunnies, and camping trips all summer!

Have you hopped on the podcast train?  What episodes or shows should I be listening to?

Side note: This Boston Globe article "How to live without air conditioning" related rather well to my post last Friday: {5} Thoughts on Air Conditioning.  Although we have had ours on for almost a week straight thanks to a week of 90°+!