How to Bake the PERFECT Chocolate Chip Cookie

Originally Posted on http://www.ozy.com

I have often wondered myself how people get that PERFECT chocolate chip cookie. I like them a little chewy, soft center, with a crisp edge. Looks like the cookie marked BOTH is the one for me! My daughter on the other hand loves the kind marked MORE FLOUR.  Now I will be able to fine tune my cookies to fit exactly what I am craving. Now if I only had some chocolate chips  ….

 

You like soft and chewy. He likes thin and crispy. If only there were a chocolate chip cookie recipe that pleased everyone…

There is! And, no, it’s not Martha Stewart’s. It’s science.

We’ve taken our cues from a few spots: a bioengineering grad student named Kendra Nyberg, who co-taught a class at UCLA called Science and Food, and chef and cookbook author Tessa Arias, who writes about cookie science on her site, Handle the Heat.

There’s also an illuminating Ted Talk animation on cookie science. And if you really want to go nuts (or no nuts, your call), Serious Eats offers 21 painstakingly tested steps for the Perfect Cookie, including kneading times and chocolate prep techniques.

“Even though I can describe what I like,” says Nyberg, “I didn’t know the role of each ingredient in the texture and shape of cookies.” So she looked into it — as only a scientist can.

(MORE: His Grandfather Invented Doritos But Tim West Prefers Kale)

Here, relying on the experts’ help and based on the classic Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, OZY presents no-fail tips for baking your perfect cookie. (You’re welcome.)

Ooey-gooey: Add 2 cups more flour.

A nice tan: Set the oven higher than 350 degrees (maybe 360). Caramelization, which gives cookies their nice brown tops, occurs above 356 degrees, says the Ted video.

Crispy with a soft center: Use 1/4 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.

Chewy: Substitute bread flour for all-purpose flour.

(MORE: Food Waste – There’s (Finally) An App For That)

Just like store-bought: Trade the butter for shortening. Arias notes that this ups the texture but reduces some flavor; her suggestion is to use half butter and half shortening.

Thick (and less crispy): Freeze the batter for 30 to 60 minutes before baking. This solidifies the butter, which will spread less while baking.

Cakey: Use more baking soda because, according to Nyberg, it “releases carbon dioxide when heated, which makes cookies puff up.”

Butterscotch flavored: Use 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (instead of the same amount of combined granulated sugar and light brown sugar).

Uniformity: If looks count, add one ounce corn syrup and one ounce granulated sugar.

More. Just, more: Chilling the dough for at least 24 hours before baking deepens all the flavors, Arias found.


 

 Check out more about the PERFECT COOKIE on this BLOG:   H A N D L E **  THE ** H E A T

 

 

 

 

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Dinner Party Cooking – Circa 1946

Imagine eating something that looked like this, in 2014. I certainly can’t. Pink ice cream looking substance in a cantaloupe shell with some interesting placements of fruit.  It’s something about the bananas… just makes it so … wrong. It doesn’t look very appetizing. Thank goodness for me we don’t still have to eat like this, but just in case you are throwing a vintage party and need some ideas, let’s take a trip back in time.

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Lets go back again to the 1940’s and see what we should make for dinner tonight.  Put on the radio, roll up your hair and put on an adorable apron. Let’s consult my Lily Wallace New American Cookbook for some dinner ideas. Hmmmm .. . How about a Spaghetti Crown with Savory Spinach?


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Nooooo … I’m not really in the mood for fried cocktail pork sausages. What else looks good……  Oh I know, what about everyone’s favorite Spaghetti with Tuna Fish. Drat, I’m all fresh out of smelly canned tuna. Dang, that one looked promising!

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Maybe we should stick to something more traditional, like macaroni and cheese.  So many varieties to choose from…… Maybe I should just combine ALL these ingredients and put them in a jello mold. That’s what they did back then right?

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OK, now for dessert. I really need some inspiration. I could make one of these:

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These look too scary to eat, like some crazy old evil witch deep in forest made them to fatten me up so she can turn me into a stew or something…. they do not look appetizing in the least bit.  Besides, who puts a whole orange on top of a slice of cake and slathers it in some shiny sugary glaze? Or a circle of poop cookie filled with red jelly? Or a whole mushroom on top of a piece of cake? A witch I tell you, a witch. If you EVER see these at a party you are attending, RUN, don’t walk to the nearest exit and don’t ever go back!

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NO, NO, NO, and NO … none of these will do. It has to be really special. Something no one has had before that will really wow a crowd.


I’ve got it.. how about this! Recipe # 2978 PORK CAKE – YUMMMMMMY

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*** T H E *** E N D ***

Bonus Points for Lego – Girl Power!!!

Finally a toy company is making strong, intelligent, awesome female characters. They are not all pink and purple Lego blocks, they do not look like a Barbie, they don’t worry about what size pants they wear, they aren’t wearing high heels, they aren’t wearing shirts that say “Math is Stupid” or “School Sucks” and they don’t play beer pong, or work at Hooters; they are just awesome.  I might even have to get these just for myself ( nerd alert … nerd alert). It does say ages 10+ and I am in the “plus” range.

Originally posted on Lego.com website

Explore the world and beyond at the Research Institute!

The Research Institute has everything that you need to explore the world below, around and above us! Created by real-life geoscientist, Ellen Kooijman (alias:Alatariel), and selected by LEGO® Ideas members (formerly known as CUUSOO), this collection of scenes depicts three varied professions within the world of natural science. Help the paleontologist study the origin of dinosaurs with the magnifying glass, map the skies with the astronomer and her telescope, and assist the chemist as she carries out experiments in her lab. This set also includes building instructions, as well as a booklet containing information about the creator and an introduction to each of the professions featured in the set. There’s a whole world of exciting professions out there to explore – build and role play them to see if they suit you! Includes 3 minifigures: paleontologist, astronomer and a chemist.

  • Includes paleontologist, astronomer and chemist minifigures
  • Features paleontology, astronomy, and chemistry scenes on a 6×6 baseplate
  • Paleontology scene features a dinosaur skeleton, microscope and a magnifying glass
  • Astronomy scene features a telescope and a sky chart
  • Chemistry scene features a cabinet, tools, bottles and flasks
  • Discover new stars and planets through the telescope
  • Study the dinosaur skeleton up close
  • Concoct new formulas in the chemist’s lab
  • Gives a great insight into the world of natural science
  • Build the model voted for by LEGO® Ideas members
  • Includes building instructions and booklet with information about the creator and professions featured in the set
  • Each scene measures over 1” (5cm) high, 1” (4cm) wide and 1” (4cm) deep

If you want even more female characters, A Mighty Girl is offering a huge set of all female characters in a variety of jobs for $49.99. Check it out right HERE.

Lego Community Minifigures Set

Yam & Quinoa Fritters with Zesty Black Beans

 

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Looking for something unique to make for dinner? Perhaps it’s “Meatless Monday” and you are tired of the same old dishes.  I love yams and I love quinoa, but I have never come across a recipe that combined them until now. Adapted from makingthymeforhealth.com food blog, Sarah created these fritters, however with any recipe I find I modified it.

They are a little messy to make, when you are forming the fritters, but overall an easy meal to make. The flavors all compliment each other so well, you will be treated to a tasty treat, plus you are getting so many nutrients from the beans, yam and quinoa your body just won’t know what to do with itself.  These are vegan (and can be made gluten free),  however any meat eater is sure to enjoy these this tasty meal. The salsa mixed with beans makes them saucy and flavorful. Like things spicy? Then sub out the mild salsa for a hot one. This is an easy dish to customize to your tastes.

One of the things I love about this is that you can do all the prep work ahead of time, even a day or two. If you pre-cook the beans, yams and quinoa, then all you have to do is assemble and form the fritters. Or you can make the fritters ahead of time too and keep them in the fridge to cook them up as you need. The last batch I created, somehow made so many fritters that I ended up freezing them for later user. When you refrigerate or freeze, separate the fritters with wax paper so they don’t stick together.


Prep Time: 20 minutes        Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes        Makes about 15-20 fritters depending on size

Ingredients
  • 1.5 cup dry quinoa (before cooking)
  • 2 med-large sweet potato (about 2 cups cooked)
  • 1 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs (or gluten-free breadcrumbs)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • salt & pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon each)
  • juice of one lime
  • Egg Replacer for 2 eggs or 2 tablespoons flaxmeal + 6 tablespoons water
  • 32 ounces salsa (your taste preference)
  • 3 cups cooked black beans ( or two cans)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil for frying
  • Vegan Sour Cream (or regular sour cream for non-vegans)
  • 1-2 Avocados (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the quinoa: either use a rice cooker (1 part quinoa to 1.5 parts water/stock) This takes about 20 minutes and comes out flawless. I use water with a couple tablespoons of vegetarian chicken stock. If you use only water, add about 1/4 tsp salt and any other seasonings you prefer. Pour the quinoa and liquid in at the same time and press “Cook”.  Put cooked quinoa into large mixing bowl, and let cool. If you prefer you can prepare on the stove-top.
    • STOVETOP: Add quinoa to a medium size saucepan along with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. As soon as it starts to boil (keep an eye on it or it will boil over), turn heat to low and cover with a lid. Allow to cook for 15-20 minutes, fluffing with a fork half way through. Put cooked quinoa into large mixing bowl, and let cool..
  2. Meanwhile, peel and cut the yams into 1 inch cubes. Place the yams in your Lekue Steamer or other microwave save container with a lid.  Add a tablespoon of water, close your Lekue or loosely cover other container and microwave for 8 to 12 minutes (time will depend on your microwave wattage). Allow to cool for at least five minutes, then mash with fork or potato masher.  Put yams into the same large bowl with the quinoa.
  3. If your beans are canned or cold (from pre-cooking) heat the black beans and salsa either in a microwave safe bowl, or on the stove-top, by pouring them together and then allowing it to simmer on the low setting until hot.
  4. Chop the cilantro and the green onion and place in the same bowl and yams and quinoa.
  5. Add the breadcrumbs, ginger, lime, egg replacer, cumin and salt & pepper,  to the mixing bowl then stir until well-combined.
  6. Taking about 1/4 cup of the mixture at a time, form small patties with your hands and set aside on a large plate or baking sheet lined with wax paper.
  7. Once all of the patties are formed warm the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook each fritter for about 5-7 minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown and firm.
  8. Serve cooked fritters on a bed of the black bean salsa.
  9. Top with sour cream, avocado and a sprig of fresh cilantro.

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Summer Reading #2 – The Royal Spyness Series

::: The Royal Spyness Series by Rhys Bowen :::

I am completely addicted to book series. If they are well written, well narrated, historical and a murder mystery or adventure,  then I am smitten.  That’s exactly what happened with Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness series. I have listened to them all through my Audible.com account and I just can’t get enough. In fact I am eagerly awaiting her latest episode, Queen of Hearts to be released next month.

Let me take you back to the beginning. Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, is the  daughter of the Duke of Atholt and Rannoch. Her father has since passed on, and as a young woman in the 1920’s and 30’s she is of course, penniless, as all wealth would go to a male heir, in her case her brother, even though she is the King’s cousin and is thirty-fourth in line for the throne.  Georgianna has been taught only the things a fine young lady would learn: the perfect curtsey, what fork to use and when, how to dance, and what outfit to wear at each corresponding meal. But her brother (and his overbearing wife, Fig) cuts off her allowance, so she leaves Scotland for London where she begins her journey and winds up a novice sleuth.

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Keeping in fashion with shows such as Downton Abbey, these books take you back to a time and place that seem to real and alive that you sometimes feel as if you are right there with Georgiana. All the glorious characters are present, just as they are in Downton Abbey, as are the palaces, the opulence, the poverty, the servants, the romances, the fashions, the history, and the hierarchy.  If you are looking for something to fill the void when Downton is off for the summer, this is the perfect filler.
 
Each book takes you on a foreign journey that is just lovely, and not too gory or lusty. Bowen has the perfect balance that gives each character their moment to shine. Below is the order of books and besides just grabbing all of them at your local bookstore and plowing through them, I highly recommend listening to these on audoibook.  Because if you do, you will be treated to one of the best audiobook narrators in existence, Katherine Kellgren.  (Insert photo here: –> ) KatherineKellgren3 (2)
 
 Katherine Kellgren has recorded over a hundred audiobooks, including winners of the Audie Award, the American Library Association’s Odyssey Honor, the Earphones Award, the Publishers Weekly Listen Up Award, and ForeWord Magazine’s Audiobook of the Year.
 
Katherine does ALL the voices, in each and every book in this series. She prepares and studies each new dialect, and person wholeheartedly and authentically. She perfectly performs each job she is give, and really gets in to the heart of each character. They all seem so real, as if we are listening to a blip in time and these people actually existed. Go out and do something nice for yourself and listen to these books! Don’t forget, I told you all about audiobooks in an earlier post, but in case you forgot, check out Audible.com and my blog post regarding that: Time for Some Summer Reading.
 
For ease of reference here are the order of the books to date.
  1. Her Royal Spyness (2007)
  2. A Royal Pain (2008)
  3. Royal Flush (2009)
  4. Royal Blood (2010)
  5. Naughty in Nice (2011)
  6. The Twelve Clues of Christmas (2012)
  7. Heirs and Graces (2013)
  8. Queen of Hearts (August 2014)
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Coming in August 2014

The Empowerment Plan

Today on Facebook, I read an article from A Mighty Girl about this amazing young woman, Veronika Scott, who is doing something to help the homeless in her home town.  She created an item that is so unique I am sure that there will be some copycats coming out in the near future.  I am so impressed with her concept and the fact that she hires the homeless, I just had to share this with you today.

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Here is an excerpt from A Mighty Girl:

Veronika Scott was a fashion student at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit when her teacher, Stephen Schock, challenged her class to create a product that filled a need, rather than satisfying or creating a fad. Veronika’s design was a coat for homeless people that could transform into a sleeping bag, since in her city, she says, “you are constantly faced with the homeless epidemic.”

Not only did her design win a International Design Excellence Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America, it’s become the core of Veronika’s nonprofit organization, The Empowerment Plan, which hires people from homeless shelters and transition homes to help her make the coats. Now, three years later, the 24-year-old social entrepreneur expects that her team of 15 seamstresses will produce over 6,000 coats in 2014 — all of which will be distributed free of charge to people living on the streets.

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Self Heating & Waterproof

You can read the full article on Facebook: A Mighty Girl


Blogger David Merritt, posted an article on his Blog (Goodness Determined) about Veronika way back in 2011. I wonder why it’s taken the rest of the world so long to hear about such an incredible person.  One would think that she would have been bigger news way before now. Oh, I forgot, Obamacare, Anjelina Jolie, Meg Ryan, Tom Cruise, missing planes, war, the Pope, The Hunger Games, Fashion Week in Paris, gas prices, milk prices, the national debt of Greece, Government bailouts, Kim Jong-un inherits a country, WikiLeaks, hurricanes, earthquakes, sports, sports and more sports, the rich are getting richer, the Olympics, Gay Marriage, Russia, and the Royal Wedding have all been far more important than something of this nature. Who wants to see good things on the news anyways, right?

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You can watch a brief video on You Tube about Veronika, and how this project came into fruition here: http://youtu.be/mo-kvh1w60w

I noticed she has a lot of sponsors, Including, GAP. Which makes me wonder what THEY are doing to help the homeless situation. Does GAP employ homeless people and train them so that they can go out into the world and be self sufficient?  Does GAP merely provide a warehouse for her to run her shop in? Or do they merely want their name on a “Good Thing”. I’m sure we will never really know.  However, with young people out there like Veronika, the world isn’t such a bad place after all.  Now all we have to do is get more programs like this going in more cities across the states and get more people involved to help make it happen.

Time for Some Summer Reading (or Listening)

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30 Seconds Of Women Over-Apologizing, Followed By 30 Seconds Of Them *So* Destroying That Stereotype

I was on Facebook yesterday and saw this video on my home page. Why do women say they are sorry all the time? This clip totally reminded me about a segment in a book I recently listened too again, Libba Bray’s The Beauty Queens. (Yes, I said listened to a book.) When I was doing the corporate-commute-manager-work a lot of hours thing, after a year of music I got tired of the same songs. The radio is pretty damn repetitive, playing some songs at least every hour of every day. So the next few years I turned to books on tape.

I started with borrowing some cd’s from my mom. My first one ever was “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” and it was astounding. One guy does all the voices and it is truly amazing. There’s just so much more information in a book than they can shove into a movie. I also found that books on tape, especially while driving, kept me calmer and more focused and made the time go by much faster when commuting.  Eventually I started using Audible.com for all my listening pleasure. You pay a monthly fee and get one credit a month. (Almost all books cost one credit.) You get bonus credits for joining, and they have offers where you can get 3 credits for about $30 bucks, which is a savings of $15, basically a  book for free. They sometimes have free books, and books sales for as low as $4.95; so sometimes I just purchase a book if its less than about $10 dollars. Overall a huge savings from buying the actual CD’s that can cost up to $60 a book! They are yours to download on any mobile device or computer and to listen to as many times as you want. You can even even listen to a free sample excerpt from each book so that you can test drive it. There are some books that the description and reviews sound amazing, but that the narrator is truly dreadful. The narrator makes all the difference!

Now that I don’t commute, I crave the drive. I am dying to know what happens next in my book. I have less driving time now so I don’t get through a book as fast. In addition to listening when running errands,  I also listen when I am  cleaning the house, doing dishes, or cooking; it keeps me entertained and motivated. I still read actual books from time to time, in fact I started two books this summer.  But a book that is performed really well is just as good as watching TV to me.

I’m so sorry,  I started this blog post telling you about how women shouldn’t be apologize for everything then I went off on a tangent, so there must be a rule where I should feel bad and profusely ask for your forgiveness, right? Well that brings me back to what I wanted to share with you today, The Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray who is one of my favorite authors.

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Imagine Survivor, Lost, Pirates, and a Beauty Pageant all rolled into one! It’s a very unexpected ride with the survivors of the Miss Teen Dream Pageant plane crash.  It’s completely witty and laugh out loud hysterical at times. I really recommend the book on tape, Libba Bray does an outstanding job at portraying all the character voices herself! My favorite character is probably Tiara. There’s LMAO footnotes, ROFL commercials, and I also love how she handles “The Corporation” which pretty much owns EVERYTHING in the USA. And yes, they have a whole section about why women need to apologize for everything.

The book on tape is done so well, at times I felt like I was watching a movie. It’s rated Mature Teen but adults will totally LOVE this as well. (Aren’t TEEN books the only ones anyone reads anymore?) Besides it’s also the:

  • 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist in Young Adult Literature
  • 2012 Audie Award Winner for Best Narration by the Author
  • 2012 Audie Award Nomination for Best Teen Audiobook

If you still don’t believe me just look at these reviews!

“Libba Bray not only breaks the mold… she smashes it and grinds the tiny pieces into the sidewalk. For the record, I’d go anywhere she wanted to take me.” —The New York Times Book Review

“This is Libba Bray, a writer much more interested in subverting that paradigm—girl-on-girl psychological violence as spectator sport—than playing into it…Beauty Queens is a madcap surrealist satire of the world in which her readers have come of age—reality TV, corporate sponsorship, product placement, beauty obsession—but ultimately, it’s a story of empowering self-discovery.” –New York Times Book Review

“{a} hilarious romp into an examination of femininity and feminism, sex and sexuality…sure to be popular.” –Booklist

“Out-there satire…Lord of the Flies with an evening gown competition, anyone?”–Publishers Weekly

“While the foibles of today’s media/celebrity/political culture are the clear target of this stinging satire, the teen cast is funny and endearing in its own right…The humor is both dark and madcap, including footnote asides and commercial scripts that keep the laughs coming.” –Kirkus Reviews

Go out there and LISTEN TO A GREAT BOOK! I’m sorry, you can read one if you want to, I’m not trying to force you to do anything.

If you have the time, also check out this article: An Interview with Libba Bray

2013 Libba Bray

Libba Bray, Author