Chocolate Chip Cookie Tips

There are approximately a billion chocolate chip cookie recipes, and everyone seems to have a favorite one. I made a big batch this week and wanted to share some of my favorite tips for making them more delicious, no matter which recipe you use.

1. Melt the butter before you start. I always forget to leave the butter out to soften it, and I usually want to get started baking RIGHT NOW. Instead of creaming the room-temperature butter together with the sugars at the beginning of the recipe, you can add melted butter. Some of the sugar will dissolve into the butter and the cookies will be delicious!

2. Get yourself a portion scooper for even-sized cookies. This one is good, but they come in a variety of sizes depending on what size cookies you like. It also makes scooping out a ton of cookies very easy.

3. Bake one sheet at a time. No matter how anxious you are to finish your cookies, only bake one sheet at a time. This ensures that the heat is even on all of the cookies, and stops you from opening the oven door a million times and changing the temperature.

4. Save some for later. Scoop the cookies out on a lined baking sheet and stick it right in your freezer.A few hours later, the cookie balls will be frozen through and you can drop them into a freezer bag or storage container. When all of your cookies from the first batch are gone, you’ll still have ready-to-bake cookies in your freezer (mine are sitting between a tub of cake balls and a tub of buttercream frosting). When you’re ready for more, just bake them like fresh dough.

5. Store baked cookies in an airtight container with a slice of fresh bread. The bread will keep the cookies moist, and will even bring hard cookies back to life. It is miraculous.

I may or may not be eating a plate of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies for lunch right now.

Tiny Tomato Tarts

I have been trying to get better about using up all of the food in our fridge before buying new stuff, so when I was planning for our family Easter party, I looked at what we had first before hitting the grocery store. I had some fresh mozzarella in the fridge and frozen phyllo cups in the freezer, so I picked up some grape tomatoes and fresh basil to make these cute little appetizers.

They were pretty easy, and most of the prep-work was done the night before the party.

Tomato Tarts:

  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, chopped into little pieces
  • 4 dozen phyllo cups (found in the frozen food section with desserts)
  • about 5 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped
  • fresh basil
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place tomatoes, garlic and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Bake for about 35 minutes.
  2. Once tomatoes are roasted, cool to room temperature and mix in mozzarella.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Place phyllo cups on a rimmed cookie sheet and add a small scoop of the tomato mixture to each one. Add a small piece of fresh basil to each one. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

We served them with an asparagus tart on this cool two-tiered server that my sister had. The were delicious and we ended up making the roasted tomatoes again today for lunch. I really need to set up a tomato plant on our back porch because I think we’ll be eating a lot of these this summer!

Easter Treats

I am baking for our family’s Easter party this weekend, and I made these Easter Egg sugar cookies yesterday. Usually I decorate actual eggs, but these are much tastier. I have a few more things on my list to make, including some of this good stuff:

- The Secret to Chocolate Chip Cookies via America’s Test Kitchen

- This Asparagus Gruyere Tart from Martha Stewart has been on my list of things to try for a while, and I had it at the shower I went to last weekend – it was amazing!

- Jello in Real Eggs from Just a Taste is hilarious, and I am thinking of giving it a try.

- If you’re crazy, you might try this tutorial from Shauna Sever – How to Make Your Own Marshmallow Peeps.

- This Arugula Pistachio Pesto from Love and Olive Oil looks delicious.

- I have a huge craving for these Mussels in White Wine Sauce and might give them a try next week.

- The 100 Greatest Cooking Tips of All Time from The Food Network.

Have a great (and delicious) weekend!

Healthy Snack Treat Boxes

I love making treat boxes for gifts. Usually I buy a bunch of different candy, bake some cookies, and dip some stuff in chocolate and call it a day. Last week I got a call from a client with a challenge – she needed 16 gift boxes full of healthy snacks to give as gifts to people who helped out with her wellness fair.

Luckily we were headed back to Connecticut this weekend for a quick family visit, so I was able to hit up Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods for the treats. I combined the good stuff with some of the packaging supplies I had in my stockpile, and ended up with some really great results.

I think that my favorite part was the granola and muesli – I used clear poly tubes that I originally bought for jellybeans, but they looked pretty good full of the cereals. The chocolate berry granola was especially delicious and it smelled amazing.

I was so excited to deliver these boxes yesterday afternoon and now I have added some new treats and healthy options to my regular assortment of snacks.

Dessert Success

I made a few different kinds of dessert for my sister’s party this weekend.

Everything was a success, the only problem was that I probably could have made a lot more.

The most popular thing was the traditional sugar cookies with royal icing.

I also tried out using M&Ms as decoration on a simple vanilla layer cake. M&M cakes have been very popular on Pinterest lately, and it was a really simple way to make a plain cake special.

The last thing I made was tiny strawberry shortcake cupcakes – shortbread cupcakes filled with strawberry sauce and topped with marshmallow frosting.

Despite a very rainy day, the party was a big success and I think everyone had a great time. My flower pots came out great too!

My next party is a bridal shower that my mom is throwing for her coworker this weekend. I just got and adorable wedding cake pan that I can’t wait to use.

Father’s Day Cakes

I made brunch today for Anthony’s dad, brother and sister. Since our Mother’s Day brunch was such a success, we decided to do another variation on Eggs Benedict, with semolina toast and smoked salmon – it was delicious!

For dessert, I made tiny chocolate cakes with meringue frosting and raspberries.

Roasted Potatoes with Shallots and Fresh Herbs

I LOVE potatoes. I could seriously eat them for every meal. I bought some Rainbow Potatoes from Whole Foods tonight and roasted them with shallots and fresh herbs. This is my favorite way to cook potatoes and it goes with just about anything.

  • 1 lb small potatoes, cut into 1/2″ pieces (I used a mixture of red new potatoes, small white potatoes and small purple fingerling potatoes, but any small ones work)
  • 1 medium shallot, minced (you can also use garlic)
  • A handful of fresh herbs such as parsley, tarragon or rosemary, finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Mix potatoes, shallots and herbs in a medium baking dish. Add just enough olive oil to coat the potatoes and toss with salt and pepper. Bake for about 45 minutes, turning once so both sides get crispy.
I served them with a pan-seared steak topped with goat cheese and roasted asparagus. Yum!

Strawberry Lemonade Pops

Anthony got a present:

And I had a lot of lemons:

So I made strawberry lemonade popsicles. I started with some home-made lemonade:

  • simple syrup (1 cup sugar plus 1 cup water heated over medium heat until the sugar dissolves)
  • zest of 2 lemons, added to the syrup once it cools
  • juice of 6-9 lemons
  • water
Once the lemonade was made, I chopped up some strawberries and added them to the molds:

And then filled them up with lemonade. A few hours later they were ready:

Must Make Projects (thanks Pinterest!)

I have been spending a TON of time on Pinterest lately. It is an awesome way to keep track of all of the great projects I find online. Here are a few that I am definitely going to try ASAP.

Chocolate Bowls from Sprinkle Bakes.

Button Monogram Picture from Little Adventures.

Inside Out Apple Pies from Tiny Urban Kitchen.

Painted Rug from House of Smiths.

Internet people are so smart!

Roasted Red Pepper Bruschetta


This is a delicious, easy hors d’oeuvre that my sister makes. I have made it a few times and I always end up eating a ton of it before it gets out of the kitchen. You just need 4 things, plus a loaf of french bread to serve it on:

12 oz jar of roasted red peppers, diced
6 oz provolone cheese, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil

Mix the cheese, peppers and garlic together in a bowl and toss with olive oil.

That’s it – you’re done.

We like to eat it on grilled chicken (if there is any leftover).

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