The Chocolate Chip Cookie

The Chocolate Chip Cookie

A chocolate chip cookie, the ultimate comfort food.  Who can resist them? But do you know its history?  Most of us don’t and it’s really quite interesting no matter which version you believe!

For starters the chocolate chip cookie is a true American concoction that came to be quite accidentally when its original baker ran out of Baker’s chocolate, or nuts.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Ok back in 1930 a dietician named Ruth Graves Wakefield and her husband Kenneth purchased a Cape Cod style house in Whitman a town between Boston and New Bedford,  Massachusetts.   The house was originally built in 1709 and was used by travelers to rest, change horses, have a meal, and pay any tolls needed to use the road.  Ruth and Kenneth soon turned their home into a lodge which, with a nod to its past, they named “The Toll House Inn”.

Now Ruth was a skilled baker and soon drew in visitors from all over the northeast.  Many came to sample her delicious baked goods.  One of her favorite desserts were Butter Drop Do Cookies and her recipe which dated back to colonial days called for Baker’s chocolate.  So one day in 1937 Ruth was making these Butter Drop Do Cookies and found herself lacking the chocolate, so she chopped up a bar of Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate into tiny pieces thinking that the chocolate would melt and spread throughout the dough.  When it didn’t the chocolate chip cookie was born!  Well that’s one version; another version is she ran out of nuts and substituted the chopped chocolate; still another version claims she accidentally dropped a bar of chocolate into the dough and it broke into tiny morsels.  Whatever the version it’s all part of chocolate chip cookie history!

The new cookies were a hit and Ruth called them “Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies”.  Her recipe was published in news papers all over New England and the sales of Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate bars rocketed.

Then in 1939 when “Betty Crocker” (she was a fictional character who had a radio show) featured them on her radio series “Famous Foods from Famous Eating Places” the chocolate chip cookie went big time!  Ruth being a shrewd gal approached Nestle’s and struck a deal, they could print her recipe on all their semi-sweet bars and later bags in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolates.  Lucky lady!

In the 1940’s Ruth sold Nestle’s the name “Toll House” and the cookies were widely known as Toll House Cookies.  Nestle lost the trademarked rights to the name in 1983, Toll House is now legally the generic name for a chocolate chip cookie.

The cookie has become the most popular cookie worldwide and is the official cookie of Massachusetts.  As for Ruth and hubby they sold the Toll House Inn in 1966 and it burned down on New Year’s Eve 1984.

So now you know its history.   I’m sure you also know many versions of the chocolate chip cookie recipe have popped up, you may even have your own, I know I do!  But have you ever tried The Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie?  It’s one of our favorites!  You can order it for dessert at their Mariposa Restaurant where you get a boxed set of 3 cookies and a recipe card, very cute!  Or you can buy the giant sized cookie at their Bistro.  And you can also buy tins of them from the Neiman’s gourmet food department at Christmas time.  We do all 3!  A box of 3 from the restaurant costs $6, the giant cookie at the Bistro is $5, and a tin of them will set you back about $20+.

But Neiman’s is nice enough to share their recipe, remember the boxed set at Mariposa comes with a recipe card.  So if you don’t feel like shelling out $5 or more for a cookie or two; or if you’ve never tried the Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie then read on because I’m sharing it today!


The Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie
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Servings
2 Dozen
Servings
2 Dozen
The Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie
Print Recipe
Servings
2 Dozen
Servings
2 Dozen
Ingredients
Servings: Dozen
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Cream the butter with the sugars using an electric mixer on medium speet until fluffy - approximately 30 seconds
  3. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract for another 30 seconds
  4. In a mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture at low speed for about 15 seconds
  5. Stir in the espresso coffee powder and chocolate chips
  6. Using a 1 oz. scoop or 2 Tbs. measure, drop cookie dough onto a gr eased cookie sheet about 3" apart.
  7. Gently press down on the dough with the back of a spoon to spread out into a 2" circle
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned around the edges. Bake a bit longer for crispier cookies.
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Chipotle Flavored Roasted Cashews

Chipotle Flavored Roasted Cashews

Roasted Cashews are one of my husband’s favorite snacks, specially when he’s on his “keto diet”.  Although cashews have some carbs they are also high in fat, so when consumed moderately they can be part of a keto diet as long as you count their carb content as part of your carb consumption for the day.

I’m not really an expert on all things keto so I’ll leave that up to you.  But I digress.  Recently I purchased a tub of roasted cashews from Costco, the brand we usually buy, and when my husband snacked on it he insisted that the cashews were not roasted nor were they salted.  I can’t imagine what happened but after tasting them myself I had to agree.  Perhaps this was part of a weird batch, who knows!  But I do know that unless I did something with them we’d end up tossing the container away and that’s a waste!  So I decided to roast and flavor them myself.  I can’t be that hard.  Anyway I tossed some in my cast iron skillet and sprinkled a bit of this and a bit of that over them and lo and behold they came out delicious!

Everyone in the family loved my latest creation, this one I’m calling Chipotle Flavored Roasted Cashews!  I’ve  had to make it several more times since then, it disappears that fast!  I’m also thinking of using different seasonings.  I’ll let you know how that goes!

But in the mean time here’s my recipe for Chipotle Flavored Roasted Cashews. A quick tip, when roasting cashews or any type of nut be sure you keep stirring the pan because they tend to burn quickly and you do not want burnt cashews!

Anyway make up a batch or two of these Chipotle Flavored Roasted Cashews and see how quickly they disappear!  You can serve them hot from the pan, that’s really delish!  Left overs can be stored in airtight containers in a cool dry place.  But I doubt you’ll be storing them for long.  Yes they’re that good!

By the way you can double or triple this recipe.  I just prefer to make it in small batches because we really love them warm and in Hawaii the humidity makes it hard to keep them crunchy.

 

Chipotle Flavored Roasted Cashews
Print Recipe
Servings
1 Cup
Servings
1 Cup
Chipotle Flavored Roasted Cashews
Print Recipe
Servings
1 Cup
Servings
1 Cup
Ingredients
Servings: Cup
Instructions
  1. Heat Olive Oil in shallow skillet
  2. Mix seasonings together in a small bowl
  3. Add cashews to the hot oil stirring continuously to avoid burning the nuts
  4. Sprinkle seasoning mix over cashews and stir to distribute evenly
  5. When cashews are slightly browned remove from heat and serve or let cool and store in airtight containers
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How to Be A Conscious Consumer

How to Be A Conscious Consumer

Do you know how the products you are buying were made? Are they environmentally friendly? Do you budget? If you answer yes to these questions then it means you are a conscious consumer.

Over the past decade consumption levels have increased across the globe. As the income level rises, so is the greater access to a wide variety of consumer products. Presently, unconscious and unethical consumerism has brought about several problems such as pollution and erosion of income savings. It is for this reason that the idea of a conscious consumer is being propagated.

Therefore, how do you become a conscious consumer?

Know the Product Background
Ever wondered how your favorite snack or t-shirt is manufactured? Well, many people are not aware of how many of the products they consume are made.

Over the years, several companies have been accused of unethical and inhumane manufacturing practices regarding their products. So, to be a conscious consumer, it is prudent of you to dig a little and find out the background details. How are they made? Where are they manufactured? Who manufactures them? How are they shipped?

Knowing all this will ensure that you consume products that have been ethically produced. Besides, it will allow you to hold accountable the companies should they contravene the consumer protection laws and regulations.

Avoid Unbudgeted Spending
Currently, consumption rates have increased tremendously as people’s spending powers also increase. However, it is prudent to undertake sound budgeting to ensure conscious consumption every day. It calls for sound financial and budgeting skills.

Start by determining your net monthly income and then use it to budget as per your needs. As a conscious consumer, you should be able to meet most of your monthly needs comfortably without feeling the need to overspend. Moreover, with a budget, you will minimize spending your money on unnecessary purchases.

Aim for Lower Cost Purchases
Well, with lots of money comes the power to spend. Nonetheless, it is imperative to cut on cost where necessary. Shop well, shop less, and shop consciously.

If you can find a way to make purchases at a lower price, then take it. By doing so, you will be able to save extra cash on the side for other essential life investments such as education.

Aim to cultivate a more conscious consumer mindset by distinguishing between wants and needs. For instance, you could make purchases on second hand retail stores, where surprisingly, you will find quality stuff for low prices. But as you do that, also be mindful of the quality of your purchases. You do not want to buy a piece of furniture only for it to break within a few days.

Embrace Environmental Consciousness
Much of the products people consume have their raw materials sourced from the environment. So, it makes sense to take care of Mother Nature in return.

One way would be to ensure that you minimize using plastic products and embracing disposable and biodegradable made products. For instance, instead of buying products from fast food stores that serve using plastic cups and plates, you could opt to visit a store that uses disposable take out boxes.

Proper management of trash is also an excellent way to cultivate ethical consumer consciousness. As a conscious consumer, you should prioritize on recycling and reusing where necessary.

Vegan Rice Krispy Treats

Vegan Rice Krispy Treats

When you’ve got someone in your household that is allergic to dairy, eggs, and nuts finding treats for them can be very challenging.  Most ready made snacks contain at least one or more of these allergens or are made in a facility that uses these ingredients.  So really the best solution is to make homemade snacks, that way you know they’re allergen free.  That’s pretty much what we do for my grandson Jett.  And one of his favorite snacks are Vegan Rice Krispy Treats.

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We used to make a vegan and non-vegan versions of the same snacks, but that just got too tedious.  Then we discovered that the other kids will happily eat the Vegan Rice Krispy Treats so we just started making the vegan version.

Really you can convert most of your recipes into a vegan version, just find substitutes for animal products.  The hardest thing to sub in my opinion are eggs, but since the original recipe for rice krispy treats don’t require eggs any way Vegan Rice Krispy Treats are the perfect choice to start with.

The recipe for these treats have just 3 ingredients rice krispy cereal, marshmallows, and butter.  Easy enough to substitute right?  Well it should be as long as you can get your hands on vegan marshmallows.  What?  You thought marshmallows were already vegan?  Surely you jest!

First of all one of the ingredients in marshmallows is gelatin, and gelatin is an animal product.  Don’t ask me to go into details, but if you don’t believe me ask Siri or Alexa.  Anyway there are vegan marshmallows in the market, you just got to find some!  The most popular ones seem to be Dandies Vegan Marshmallows, we use the mini ones for Vegan Rice Krispy Treats, I find they melt better and faster than regular sized marshmallows.

Ok we got the vegan marshmallows now we need to find a substitute for the butter, now butter is definitely an animal product, but you knew that right?  There are several brands to choose from, we use Earth Balance.

Now that’s 2 out of 3 we got substitutes for, now for the good news.  Rice Krispy cereal is Vegan!  Yaaay!  We’re ready to roll!

What you need to make Vegan Rice Krispy Treats:

3 Tbs Earth Balance Buttery Spread or any brand of Vegan Butter

4 Cups Vegan Marshmallows

6 Cups Rice Krispy Cereal

And here’s how to make your Vegan Rice Krispy Treats

Melt butter in a large pot over low heat

Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted

Remove from heat and stir in cereal

Spread evenly in to a 9×13 pan that’s been coated with your vegan butter

Let cool then cut into squares

Store left overs in air tight containers

Did you know that there are seasonal Rice Krispy cereals?  Yes there are!  It’s the same cereal, they just mix in seasonal colors like red and green kernels for Christmas.  So if  you’re making holiday treats look out for the seasonal cereals to make your Vegan Rice Krispy Treats more fun!

Spicy Blistered Green Olives

The humble green olive, you gotta love them!  Olives and eating them have been around for thousands of years.  Evidence of its cultivation and consumption dates back almost 6000 years to the Levant area in countries such as Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Crete.  Olive oil has been traded since pre-Christian times.  And I believe olives have been cooked and eaten in some way or another since then.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they made Spicy Blistered Green Olives in a fire pit back in the day!

In fact my husband who was born in the Middle East in what is today known as the West Bank has many childhood memories of eating freshly roasted olives prepared by his grandmother during the olive picking season.  To hear his stories one is led to believe that his grandmother prepared it in the centuries old way of roasting them over an open fire in the yard, the same place she made her flat breads.

Actually today we still eat olives prepared the same way pretty much as they were prepared way back then because you really can’t eat the fruit picked straight from the tree.  Yes, olives are fruit not veggies, but fresh from the tree they are basically inedible.  They’re bitter and have an unappetizing texture.  To make olives edible they must be brined, roasted, or cooked in some way.  Most of us in the US know only the brined or pickled olives that we find in cans and jars in the supermarket, or floating in a martini, rarely do we find fresh olives that we must prepare at home.

We’ve also “discovered” or really “re-discovered” that olives are healthy for us.  A fact which was known thousands of years ago.  Olives are packed with nutrients that have many benefits.  Olives are heart healthy and has been shown to prevent heart disease; studies have shown that green olives can prevent osteoporosis; olives contain large amounts of antioxidants which help prevent certain types of cancers; they can help reduce Arthritis inflammation and pain; and they are believed to be natural treatments for ulcers.  The list actually goes on so I think it’s safe to say that including olives and olive oil in your diet has positive health benefits.

Having said all that I know that not everyone is overly found of olives and I doubt there’ll be a mad rush to buy barrels of brined olives.  So here’s a recipe inspired by my husband’s stories about his grandma’s roasted olives that might help you like olives enough to include them in your diet.  I call them Spicy Blistered Green Olives, but unlike the grandma I cook them on my stove and not outside in an open fire; although if you have a fire pit you might want to give it a go!

Spicy Blistered Green Olives are delicious!  You can eat them hot or cold, they make awesome appetizers, and terrific snacks.  I usually leave a bowl of Spicy Blistered Green Olives on the table and everyone who walks by can’t help but pop an olive or two in his mouth each time they walk by.

Aside from the fact that they’re simply yummy and have positive health benefits these Spicy Blistered Green Olives are super easy to make.  They are a healthier alternative to chips, cookies, and other carbohydrate laden snacks out there.  So here’s the recipe!

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Spicy Blistered Green Olives

Ingredients:

1  10oz. Jar of Garlic Stuffed Green Olives

2 Tbs Olive Oil

2 Tbs Minced Garlic

1 Tsp Himalayan Pink Salt

1 Tsp Ground Black Pepper

1 Tbl Crushed Red Pepper

1 Tbl Fresh Lemon Juice

Directions:

Heat olive oil in sauté pan

Drain Olives and add contents of jar including garlic pieces to the hot oil

Cook until all sides start to turn brown and the olive sort of starts to get wrinkles

Add minced garlic and cook until it starts to brown

Add salt and peppers and mix well

Remove from heat and drizzle lemon juice over all

Toss a bit and serve

 


Spicy Blistered Green Olives
Print Recipe
Tasty green olives that are a great healthy alternative to carb laden snacks.
Spicy Blistered Green Olives
Print Recipe
Tasty green olives that are a great healthy alternative to carb laden snacks.
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in sauté pan
  2. Drain Olives and add contents of jar including garlic pieces to the hot oil
  3. Cook until all sides start to turn brown and the olive sort of starts to get wrinkles
  4. Add minced garlic and cook until it starts to brown
  5. Add salt and peppers and mix well
  6. Remove from heat and drizzle lemon juice over all
  7. Toss a bit and serve
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Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

Instant Pot Hard Boiled eggsIf you look on Pinterest you’ll see that just about all Instant Pot lovers are raving about Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs.  They talk about how perfect and easy to peel these eggs are and how you’ll never eat hard boiled eggs cooked any other way.

Seriously?  Even I can’t work up enough excitement about hard boiled eggs regardless how they’re made.  I mean I like hard boiled eggs well enough.  I like them for egg salads and deviled eggs mostly.  I can’t really thing how else I use them except perhaps for breakfast or snack on some days; and of course for coloring during Easter.  But I felt obliged to add my two cents in to this Instant Pot Hard Boiled Egg conversation.  So here goes!

Let me begin by saying that intimidating as it had first appeared to be, I love my Instant Pot!  An Instant Pot is an electric pot that is like a crockpot on steroids.  It does just about everything your regular crockpot can do, it just does it faster because it’s really a pressure cooker.  Now this does have it’s benefits like veggies don’t get mushy like they can do in a crockpot because they’ve been cooking for 8 hours, and of course you can make your favorite crockpot recipes in less than an hour.

Now what does this have to do with hard boiled eggs?  Well Instant Port Hard Boiled Eggs aren’t really boiled, they’re pressure cooked in just about 7 minutes.  Wow right?  Well I guess it’s pretty amazing because in 7 minutes you actually do end up with perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs that are very easy to peel.  So no frustrating and wasteful egg shells with some of the whites stubbornly stuck on them; no weirdly shaped eggs with sides gouged out because the whites stuck to the shells.  In short perfect eggs for coloring and making deviled eggs.

How do you make Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs?  Easy peasy!  Here’s how!

Place trivet onto the bottom of your Instant Pot.

Add 1 cup of water.

Arrange as many eggs as you can on the trivet, I have a model Lux80 and can fit about 16 large eggs.

Lock lid in place making sure valve is in sealing position.

Turn Instant Pot on to Manual and adjust time to 7 Minutes.

When Pot beeps let it depressurize naturally for 5 minutes – watch the timer on the pot.

When it reaches 5 minutes carefully turn valve to venting for quick pressure release.

Prepare a large bowl with ice water.

Once pot is completely depressurized open lid and using tongs or slotted spoon lift eggs out of pot and place in bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

Leave eggs in ice bath for 5 minutes then use or store as needed.

You’ll see what I mean when you peel those eggs, the shell seems to literally just fall off!  And of course the egg is cooked perfectly too!


Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs
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Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs
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