Chocolate Chip Cookies: My Kryptonite

Nothing evokes the warm feeling of a childhood memory like the smell of chocolate chip cookies.  Nothing.  I recall the electric thrill that would resonate through me when I spied a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the grocery cart.  I knew that meant mom was going to make cookies.  She likely used the Tollhouse recipe, which was the most popular and convenient recipe of that time.  Now, there are so many variations of the chocolate chip cookie that it is difficult to find the perfect recipe.  

Because it is my favorite cookie, I have tried many of those variations over the years.  I have yet to meet a chocolate chip cookie–homemade or store bought–that I didn’t like.  Still, I felt it was necessary to find a recipe that I would love so much that it would become my “go-to” recipe.  Many emptied bags of chocolate chips and pounds of creamed butter later, I settled on a recipe that I love.  It combines the flavor profiles that I crave in a chocolate chip cookie: a caramel-like sweetness, deep chocolate flavor, and a little saltiness.

There is no wrong time to eat cookies, especially chocolate chip.  Don’t tell anyone, but my favorite breakfast is a strong cup of coffee and a couple of chocolate chip cookies.  I can’t resist the temptation any time of day.  Try this recipe and you, too, will understand why these delectable cookies are my Kryptonite.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie EVER – Recipe by Alice Currah

I have played with this recipe a little.  I found that using all bittersweet chocolate chips and increasing the amount to 2 1/2 cups gives the perfect chocolate profile without being too sweet.  I also found that using all brown sugar provides even more caramel sweetness, which I adore in a baked good!

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Go Meatless, Go Mushroom

As a child, I turned up my nose and made gagging noises when approached with a meal containing mushrooms. A fungus? You want me to eat THAT? My mother always said that I should keep trying things I didn’t originally like because “your taste will change.” How right she was!

I am not a vegetarian. I still eat meat occasionally. I guess that would make me a “flex-a-tarian.” Labeling isn’t important to me, so I just say that I eat meat when I can get pasture-raised, antibiotic-free, local meat. I eat it in moderation. I did not grow up that way. Being from the Midwest—Kansas City, Missouri to be exact—I grew up eating meat at nearly every meal. As a young adult, I finally came to the realization that cooking meat stressed me out. What if I didn’t cook it the right way—should I be grilling, braising, sautéing, roasting? What if it wasn’t done enough? What if it was overcooked? Plus, it was the most expensive thing on my home-cooked menu; so screwing it up could be disastrous for my palate and my wallet!

Eventually, I embraced roasting; let my husband do the grilling; and I occasionally sautéed. Several years ago, we decided as a family that eating more vegetables and grains would probably be best for our long-term health. Enter, the mushroom. It was time to try this little fungus again. I had read that it had some great health benefits and that it was a great meat substitute. I fell in love with the portobello immediately.   Soon, I embraced the shitake, the oyster, and finally…the porcini. Now, I cannot imagine life without mushrooms. They add such a rich, almost meaty, flavor and texture to many of my favorite dishes.

How do you feel about this edible fungus? If you haven’t tried it in a while, you should. Remember what my mother said…and aren’t moms always right? Perhaps having it prepared in a new and exciting way will help. Here are a few recipes that might work…

Stuffed Zucchini

  • 4 large zucchini
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tbs. butter
  • 2 c. finely chopped mushrooms (Shitake/Oyster/Cremini)
  • ½ c. quinoa
  • 1 cup mushroom stock
  • 1 medium shallot – minced
  • 2 cloves garlic – minced
  • 1 carrot – diced
  • ¼ c. dry sherry
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme- chopped (I use lemon thyme)
  • salt & pepper
  • ¼ c. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ½ c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  1. Rinse and drain the quinoa. Place mushroom stock in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add quinoa and cover. Reduce heat to low, simmer for 12 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Set aside.
  2. Remove the ends of each zucchini. Slice in half lengthwise. Using a grapefruit spoon, scoop out the seeds and make a trough for the filling. Set aside.
  3. Melt butter in a skillet and add the olive oil. Over medium-high heat, sauté the shallot and carrot in the olive oil and butter for about 5 minutes.
  4. Turn the temperature down to medium and add the chopped mushrooms. Sauté for an additional 4-5 minutes.
  5. Add minced garlic and sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the dry sherry to deglaze the pan. Stir well.
  6. Turn the heat to low and allow it to reduce. There should be no liquid left.
  7. Remove from heat, add the quinoa and the thyme.
  8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  9. Fill the zucchini with the quinoa/mushroom mixture. Place in a baking dish. Add ¼ cup of water to the baking dish.
  10. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  11. Uncover, top each zucchini with cheese and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes until zucchini is fork tender and cheese is melted.

Mushroom Tacos

  • 3 large Portobello Mushroom caps – thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red onion – halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper – sliced
  • 3-4 tbs. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. Ancho powder
  • ¼ to ½ tsp. Chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • 2-3 cloves garlic – minced
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place the mushrooms, the onion, and the red pepper into a bowl. Add the olive oil and stir to coat.
  3. Add the spices, the garlic, and the salt. Stir to combine.
  4. Place mixture on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Roast for 15 minutes. Stir mixture and continue to roast for another 5 minutes.
  5. Serve on corn tortillas with cilantro, onion, avocado, and crema sauce.

Crema Sauce:

  • ½ c. sour cream
  • ¼ c. cilantro leaves
  • ¼ tsp. chipotle powder
  • 1 tbs. lime juice
  • pinch salt
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until combined.  I use a plastic squeezable condiment bottle to store this lovely sauce.

Frittata: Create Something Great!

I love a frittata. Add a salad and some bread, and you have a perfect brunch, lunch, or dinner. Frittatas are easy to make and can be personalized to suit your taste. There is an abundance of farm fresh eggs at the local farmers market in the spring when the chickens come out of their winter slump. Grab a dozen eggs and some spring market finds like asparagus, spinach, and parsley. Cheese makes a frittata a bit more luscious, but isn’t necessary if you want to leave it out. There are plenty of amazing goat dairies here in the Triangle, so if you are going to add cheese—make it goat cheese!

A frittata is as Italian as it sounds. It is much like an omelet except that it is intended to by eaten by the slice. The Spanish tortilla is similar to the frittata, but notably it contains only potatoes and is “inverted” using a plate to enable the cooking of both sides in the frying pan. My brother-in-law is from Madrid. He has attempted to teach me this necessary move in tortilla making, but alas…I still have much to learn.

The next time you don’t know what to make for dinner or you decide to invite friends over for Sunday brunch, make a frittata. Here is a recipe to get you started, but don’t stop there; creating your own take on the frittata is what it’s all about!

Caramelized Onion, Spinach, & Goat Cheese Frittata

Caramelized Onion, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Frittata

  • 10 eggs (pasture-raised, farm-fresh if possible)
  • 2 tbs. water
  • ½ tsp. Italian herb seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2-3 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 ½ c. onion – quartered and sliced thin
  • 2 c. chopped spinach
  • ½ c. goat cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. To the eggs, add: water, salt, pepper, and Italian herb seasonings. Whisk to incorporate and set aside.
  3. Sauté the onions in the olive oil over medium heat for 7-10 minutes or until they begin to caramelize.
  4. Add spinach and continue to sauté for about 1 minute until spinach is wilted. Add salt to taste.
  5. Distribute the spinach and onion mixture evenly in the pan. Whisk the eggs to re-incorporate the mixture and pour evenly over the spinach/onion mixture in the pan.
  6. Crumble or dollop the goat cheese evenly throughout the pan. Push the cheese into the mixture slightly.
  7. Place the pan in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 7-10 minutes
  8. Turn oven to broil for 2 minutes until top of frittata is set and golden.
  9. Remove from oven and allow the pan to cool for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large serving platter.

Zucchini, Onion, Tomato, and Goat Cheese Frittata