Homemade Tate’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Homemade Tate's Chocolate Chip Cookies The Way The Cookie Crumbles
Tomorrow is the first day of school for my kids. I am now the mother of two high school freshmen and a seventh grader. None of them are too excited about summer break being over. And, you should have seen their faces when I announced that I will no longer be making their lunches in the morning.

When I was their age I was responsible for making my own lunch. There is no reason that I should continue to make theirs. It’s not a complicated formula: sandwich or whatever main dish they prefer, a piece of fruit, something salty like pretzels, granola bar or yogurt for the mid-morning, and something to drink. No big deal. You would have thought I asked them to sever a limb. In all fairness, the seventh-grader was okay with it but she’s my foodie. She gets to have a daily lunch inspiration. The boys, not so much…

To make it as easy on them as possible, I have stocked the fridge with their usual favorites like sliced turkey and the “good” yogurt. I even caved and got them the bread they really like instead of the usual whole wheat. I am also going to throw them a bone and make some chocolate chip cookies.

My intentions are not totally altruistic. Really, this is just an excuse to continue my search for my ultimate chocolate chip cookie. Honestly, I have never had a bad chocolate chip cookie. They’re all pretty tasty—but I do have a preference. I am 100% team crispy when it comes to chocolate chip. Now, I’m not going to refuse you if you offer me a warm chewy one right out of the oven. But, I really like the kind that are super-thin, super-crispy and taste of lots of butter. If you have ever eaten Tate’s chocolate chips cookies you know how I roll.

For the last few weeks, I have been trying different recipes to find that ultimate perfect one. Sure, I could have just searched for Tate’s cookie recipe on the internet but that would have been way too logical and robbed me of dozens of tasty treats along the way.

Full disclosure I add pecans to all of my chocolate chip cookies regardless if the recipe is team-crispy or team-chewy. This is a hard limit for me. There must be pecans.

This recipe from King Arthur Flours was my families favorite. They don’t really spread—more like a drop cookie. And, while they are crunchy, they are borderline biscotti-like. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great chocolate chip cookie, just not what I was looking for.

Along my chocolate chip journey, I tested the Neiman Marcus (alleged) $250 Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and Dori Greenspan’s World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies. And, my two favorites are listed here.  Read more…

Cucumber and Honeydew Salad 

Cucumber and Honeydew Salad What’s New Honeydew?
If you find yourself in our produce department this week you might notice that the honeydew melons are on sale. I love melons of all kinds but there is something about a cold slice of mint green honeydew on a hot day that is incredibly refreshing. The thing is, I tend to stick with the usual when it comes to melons. I slice em and eat em. But there are so many things you can do with melons…

One of the things I admire about my sister is her knack for finding and making interesting recipes that I would most likely skip over because I think my kids wouldn’t eat it or I’m just not too sure it would taste good. She is fearless and she made one of these recipes for dinner when we were up at Tahoe last week.

When you are feeding ten people on a nightly basis, the urge to go with the basics for the side dishes can be strong. On this particular night, we were grilling chicken. There is very little that doesn’t go with chicken. So, the side dish possibilities were endless. In this case, my sister went with a melon salad, and it was a nice change from just a bunch of slices on a platter…per the norm. The addition of chilies for heat, some pistachios for crunch, and little cheese for creaminess made this way better than ordinary.

I was pleasantly surprised by this recipe. It is not one I would have normally chosen—which makes me wonder what other flavors I have missed out on because of hesitation. One thing I will say is that I think my sister used goat cheese because that was all we had on hand. Personally, I am not a huge fan of goat cheese or feta, which was listed as an alternative in the magazine. The original recipe calls for ricotta salata which would add a nice saltiness to the sweet of the melon. I also think a queso fresco or even a creamy burrata could work really well.

Cucumber and Honeydew Salad 
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Yields 4 servings Read more…

Saag Paneer (Indian Spinach and Cheese)

Saag PaneerCrazy Cravings
Cravings are weird. Sometimes when I have a craving I am able to fake my way out of it by eating something similar or, strangely, just by drinking some water. Other times that craving hits and there is no denying it. When that happens, I can get a little psycho…

The most recent incident happened when I had some boneless chicken thighs that had to be used so I decided to marinate them in tandoori paste and throw them on the grill. This prompted the search for something that would complement the chicken as a side dish and thus my wicked craving for saag paneer was born.

As luck would have it, I had everything I would need to make the saag on hand but the paneer was a different story. Although making paneer is relatively easy, I did not have the whole milk needed nor, frankly, did I have the time. But, there was no way I could NOT have this side dish. Just thinking about it was making my mouth water. So I ventured to my local store (Alas, I do not live close to Piedmont Grocery) to see if, by chance, they had paneer cheese. No dice.

Panicking, I thought maybe I could cheat with something from the frozen section…but that was a non-starter as well. (Mainly because I am a food snob and just couldn’t bring myself to do it.) By now I’m hangry and frustrated. So, I took a chance and went with those small bite-sized balls of mozzarella. Sigh.

I’m not saying it was bad. It wasn’t. It wasn’t great either. But, it did satisfy my craving and cure me of my food-induced craving mania.

Below is my Saag recipe that also includes a recipe for making paneer. While this recipe may not be super authentic, it is quite tasty. And, can actually be made during the week for those who make dinner to relax. I would recommend playing with the level of spice. Some in my family found it too spicy and others said it wasn’t spicy enough…

Saag Paneer Recipe
Yields 4 Servings
This recipe for the classic Indian spinach and cheese dish uses frozen spinach which is much easier than fresh. If you have extra time and choose to use fresh, first steam it, chop it and squeeze out the excess water.  Read more…

Spicy Turkey Burgers

Spicy Turkey BurgerBird on a Bun
My family has a group chat so that we can check in during the day to discuss such important matters as When was the last time you showered?, Did you put the dishes in the dishwasher? and We’re out of cereal. My personal favorite is the afternoon ritual of What does everyone want for dinner? If I am lucky, I will get an actual text response, usually from my husband because, like the old people that we are, we text in complete sentences. My kids like to respond with emojis and more often than not, the response is the cheeseburger emoji.

I am an unapologetic burger lover and I have passed this love of meat and cheese on to my children. My husband also loves the sacred burger but, because he is a better person and more concerned about such things, he will oftentimes opt for a turkey burger to give his arteries a break. While I applaud his efforts, I have found it difficult to emulate them because I had yet to find a turkey burger that is worth it. They tend to be flavorless and dry. Sometimes I do come across a recipe that I have to try.

This recent find is what’s for dinner tonight since it is hot as Hades and there ain’t no way I am turning anything in the kitchen on when it is 95 degrees out. Plus, the kids have practice and burgers be fast and easy. Slice up a watermelon and you have a quick cool tasty hot summer dinner…

Spicy Turkey Burgers
Adapted from the Food Network
Yields 4 Burgers

I recommend first cooking up a small test burger to check that the degree of spiciness and seasoning is to taste. That way, if you are not too keen on spice, you can add the chili paste gradually.  Read more…

Amy’s Kinda Almost River Rum Punch

Amy's Kinda Almost River Rum PunchRollin on the River
If you find yourself in the vicinity of the Truckee River this Friday at noon, I am sorry.

What you didn’t know (as you made your reservation to enjoy a relaxing rafting trip floating down the river) is that you would be joined by 50 plus softball players who are in town for a tournament. If you are lucky, they won’t be doing dugout cheers….

Growing up, I spent the majority of my summers at the lake. I rode my bike everywhere and lived in my bathing suit. At least once a summer, we would raft down the Truckee. I loved it. The water fights. The swimming holes and best of all, the ice cream at River Ranch when we were done. Somewhere along the line that changed.

The concept sounds great. Beautiful scenery. Lazy float down a river. Perfect way to spend a summer afternoon, right?

Sure, until the splashing and the boat tipping start. Add in the water cannons and you spend what is supposed to be a relaxing trip with your head on a swivel trying to outsmart teenaged future Navy Seals wondering where the next ambush is coming from. (I call them Seal Teen Six.) I guess I’m just getting old!

There is a nice reward at the end. Besides the aforementioned ice cream, you can find the biggest plate of nachos you’ve ever seen. And, perhaps the most necessary to your sanity, one of my favorite adult beverages, the River Rum Punch.

Fruit Juice and rum has never steered anyone wrong. And, an extra float of rum on top goes a long way to easing the stress of constantly looking over your shoulder.

I don’t know exactly what actually goes into the River Rum punch, but this is pretty close. Even if I had the recipe, there’s something about sitting and relaxing on the deck after your trip, watching people negotiate the final set of rapids that make it taste that much better….

Amy’s Kinda Almost River Rum Punch
Yields 1 cocktail Read more…