bake | copycat levain chocolate chip walnut cookies.

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I did it. I went to Levain when the doc and I were in NYC this past October, and I ate one of their monster chocolate chip walnut cookies that tastes bready, almost, its so dense.

And then I went home and managed to recreate them in my own kitchen. I decided the keys were: very cold butter mixed with sugar, a dab of cornstarch, and a bit of cake flour. No vanilla. My process was very close to this one.

They were magical. I wouldn’t want these as a replacement to my own, silver dollar sized and so soft mini chip cookies, but I’d add these into rotation every now and again. It was a great experiment in the kitchen; one that paid in dividends.

bakes | hatch green chile quiche.

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My camping trip through the southwest instilled in me a yearning for more of it my life. That green chile cheeseburger I had in Alamagordo, New Mexico, was life changing.

And so, as soon as I was back home, I dove into the cache of green chiles I have frozen and whipped up a green chile and pepper jack quiche for Sunday breakfast.

You need to make this. Just chop up some roasted Hatch, New Mexico green chiles that have been properly roasted and gobble. There’s nothing like them.

cheddar goldfish | bake.

32991838152_59a841204a_oI’ve made these a a handful of times and they never get old–Smitten Kitchen’s homemade cheddar goldfish.

My only mod? Adding red pepper flakes for a kicked up, spicy, adult version perfect for snacking alongside a cold beer.

If you are looking to procure a little mini goldfish cutter, here’s where I got mine.

cheese cake.

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The doc’s favorite dessert is classic New York style cheese cake with sugary, sticky fresh strawberry topping. So for his birthday this past April, I decided to take a stab at making one homemade, with a fresh strawberry jam on top.

He said it came out perfect. I wouldn’t know. I don’t eat cheesecake. But this one was freshened up with a lot of lemon zest in the cheesy batter and loads of fresh strawberries.

What other desserts should I tackle?

parsley biscuits.

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For chicken and biscuits in yesterday’s crazy all day downpour that begs for comfort foods and tucking in and staying in.

This recipe has a decent number of steps, but is relatively easy to make, and creates A TON, so I always reserve some with unbaked biscuits on top for the freezer. Then you have a meal some random night when you are in a pinch. Just bake it off, and voila.

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What else should I tackle in the kitchen this month?

spice.

It’s that time of season–when I whip out the ginger, and cloves, and cinnamon, and make dream cookies with them. I’m feeling fall finally…are you?

Ginger snaps — yes, please. Have I mentioned how amazing it is to cook in my new kitchen? And how much sunlight there is! I’m living in a sun drenched world….at least, when I’m home, that is.

bread.

This winter has been all about turning the oven on for extra warmth. It was 3 degrees here without the wind chill this morning when I left for work. I’m thinking baking a loaf of bread when I get home tonight is in order.

What are your favorite bread books? I know its easy to get recipes online now, but I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of recipes available. It feels endless. In that way, I just love recipe books. You can flip through pages and snuggle up with them, marking pages and dreaming of all the things you’ll make.

I love Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads and Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.

baking.

We’ve had four major winter storms here in just under 3 weeks. It’s been hell trying to dig out, and this coming from a seasoned New Englander who does in fact enjoy snow. Dare I say Mother Nature can have this one–I give, I can’t take much more.

On top of all this great white stuff comes bitter cold. The kind of cold that begs for you to throw on the oven for added warmth. And so, last week, when we had yet another two consecutive days off from school, I baked. This honey oat loaf. And reaped its rewards the entire weekend.

It’s definitely one of my favorite loaves of bread to bake. It comes out perfect every time, is full of flavor, and usually I have all the required ingredients on hand. Win.

conversation hearts.

Yes, I actually did tackle making this hallmark Valentine’s Day candy by hand. Let me tell you, it was a lot of work. The upside? Customizing the flavors, colors, and sayings (though I have yet to write anything on these babies mainly because I was so sick o of working on them 1,000 tiny little hearts cut out later).

I followed this recipe from Serious Eats because it seemed like, with the addition of four ounces of Sprite, this baker had tested and tried and found an essential ingredient the others didn’t have. I don’t know if it made them better, but they came out the exact same texture as the conversation hearts in box we have come to either love or hate.

One important note: I had a lot of dough. I mean A LOT. It takes an entire bag of powdered sugar, basically, which is tons. I’d recommend halving this recipe should you choose to tackle it. I had so much dough and so many little hearts and so much anger by the end, I ultimately tossed a tiny bit of dough because I just couldn’t cut anymore of these out.

I’d like to get a dye pen and mark some custom messages on them, but really, that doesn’t seem like its happening at this point. I did however love that I could customize the flavors; I chose banana (which is my favorite, the flavor really came through and also lends itself really nicely to the chalky nature of conversation hearts), lemon, orange, coconut, and vanilla. I used extracts you can buy in the store and stayed away from peppermint or any mint flavorings because I thought when put in the same jar as the others, they would all taste like mint.

Have you ever tackled some ridiculous project like these? I’m glad I’ve made them and was really proud with how accurately my dyed dough came out, but next time, I’d say this is just one of those things that makes more sense to buy.