Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whatever it is you’ve been thinking about today. Stop. Clear your mind and imagine walking barefoot down a gravel road. You can feel the bits of rock press into your heel and nudge between your toes. You hear an unclear voice in the distance. A sound of comfort. A familiar sound. You walk up a set of creaky steps that lead to a creaking porch. The screen door opens as if involuntarily inviting you in. Your nostrils overwhelmed with the aroma of something sweet. The warmth of the oven glides up the side your leg and there sitting atop an old checkered kitchen towel are cookies. Not just any ole cookies. Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies. The same ones that you’re parents ate when they were kids. That’s what chocolate chip cookies do to me when I see them. They take me down that nostalgic road to Grandma’s house.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
So naturally, last week, when I went on the search for a chocolate chip cookie recipe. I had to do my research. There are so many cookie recipes out there and a lot of them. Well, just don’t measure up. One might be too salty and another might be too dry or runny. But not here friends. We have the perfect combination of salty, sweet and chewy or crunchy. depending upon your preference. This recipe is an adaptation of The White on Rice Couple’s Recipe. And if you’re not familiar with Diane and Todd’s work, then shame on you. They’re passion for food and photography is truly inspiring. But anyways, enough of me being a groupie. Enjoy these cookies and if you haven’t grabbed a Father’s Day gift yet. Well, you’re welcome.

I made a few changes of my own to this recipe because I was trying to avoid a trip to the grocery store. And well, thanks to this recipe. Crisis averted! I used semi-sweet chocolate chips as opposed to the dark chocolate. I also used bleached flour but left the baking soda in addition. No harm, no foul. Now off to the kitchen.

Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted Butter
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  •  3 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups Chocolate Chips


Preheat oven to 375° F (350° for convection ovens)

  1. Beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and fluffy or 3 to 4 minutes after you no longer hear the sugar scrape the sides of the bowl. (assuming that you use a  standing  mixer).  Add eggs, vanilla extract, and  salt.
  2. Mix the flour and baking soda together.  Stir into batter, then add chocolate chips and stir until well combined.
  3. Roll into 1 1/2″ thick logs.  If not using soon, freeze the logs for future use, otherwise cut the cookies into equal portions, about  3/4″ thick.
  4. Pat the discs even and circular then place on a cookie sheet or lined sheet pan. Spread your cookies out so they have personal space, no one wants rub elbows in a hot oven.
  5. Bake at 375° F for 8-11 minutes, and check them so that they are still a little undercooked in the center. Unless you prefer a crunchier cookie.  After the cookies cool for a minute, transfer to a cooling rack and grab a glass of milk. You deserve it.

S’mores Bars…Hello Nostalgia!

S'mores Bars     I mean, seriously? Who doesn’t love a good s’more on a rainy and wet or cold day? This is the perfect snack to satisfy your sweet tooth! While I was in the process of making these bad boys I felt myself fall in to the vortex of nostalgia. In the days where mom and dad were assisting you in putting your marshmallows on to the tip of your skewer, or coat hanger. (Hey!, whatever works!)
My sister and I would sit on the back porch and make S’mores while watching the deer run around our backyard. Dad would start a fire inside a couple of empty cans. We both had our own set-ups on a plate and off we were to a place where the fingers were sticky and your cheeks were smeared in chocolate.(Heaven)
The graham cracker crumbs trickling into your lap and for a moment all your worries dissipated into every crunchy, creamy, gooey bite of divine perfection. Now, onto the recipe.

S’mores Bars
2 c. crushed graham crackers
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips
1/4 c. heavy cream
5 T. unsalted butter
2 c. marshmallows

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. You can use crushed graham crackers if you prefer. But I bought the whole ones and crushed them in the food processor until fine ground. Set aside in bowl. Melt butter in microwave for 15-20 sec. You do not want the butter to start boiling. So take a peak and remove, just as it starts to break down. This will make it easier to handle when mixing in graham cracker crumbs.

2.Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter together until the mixture holds together when squeezed in the palm of your hand.Spray the 8×8 in pan lightly with cooking spray. Spread crumbs evenly and press down until you have a solid base with no holes. Bake for 15-25 min. (oven times may vary) Bake until crust is firm and set. Allow to cool for 20 min. Turn on your broiler and allow to heat while you melt your chocolate.

3. While you are waiting on your crust to cool. Prepare a double boiler.(a small pot of water and stainless steel bowl)On medium heat allow water to come to a soft boil and turn down the heat to a simmer. You just want steam to come off the surface of the water. pour heavy cream into bowl and stir until heated through, about two minutes. Add chocolate chips and stir, incorporating the heavy cream into the chocolate. In 30 second intervals, remove the bowl from pot and stir for 15 secs.(you don’t want the chocolate to seize)Repeat this process until you have a homogenized mixture. Pour chocolate into the center of your crust and spread evenly to the sides.

4. Quickly before the chocolate begins to harden. evenly distribute your marshmallows over the top of your chocolate. Then, lightly with your palm, press down so that one-third of the marshmallow is in the chocolate. This is a good time make sure there are no holes, you want a majority of the chocolate to be covered by marshmallows to keep the chocolate from burning under the broiler.

Toasted Marshmallows

5. Place pan under broiler for 3-4 min. max. I left the oven cracked and watched the marshmallows reach the desired level of char. I advise you do the same. DO NOT. I repeat. DO NOT. walk away. Once the top is charred, allow to cool in the fridge for 20 min.I prefer to remove the whole bar and cut into strips on a cutting board. do whatever feels comfortable for you. If you would like to cut them inside pan first and then remove them, so be it. Using a icing spatula, prod around the sides to release your bars and Enjoy! Don’t forget your glass of milk.

S'mores Bars

Recipe Suggestions:
-Feel free to customize this recipe to your own child hood memories:
*Two Tablespoons of peanut butter spread across the crust before adding chocolate would be a nice twist.
*The addition of a 1/4 c. of crushed nuts into your chocolate mixture for a crunchier texture.
*Or you can even substitute the plain milk chocolate for an artisan bar of some sort…upgrade!

Austin,Texas Eats & Wedding Fun

While Austin might be one of the nicer cities in Texas. I don’t think I’d ever move there based upon nature’s aesthetics, but the food is a different story. We took a road trip to Austin for our ‘Best Friends Wedding’, no pun intended. And fell in love with all of it’s culinary offerings along the way. First, in a moment of desperation and lack of another food stop for 30 miles. We pulled into a Whataburger and Man! That was a bad choice. We heard that these are relatively popular but didn’t catch the appeal. It was flavorless and unnecessarily over-sized and over-priced for it’s quality. But whatchagonnado?
Kali Kate Ranch, Austin Texas

What road trip would be complete without a snack on the way? I consulted with the wife and it was unanimous! Mainly because I insisted, but puppy chow was the winner. This is one of my favorite childhood snacks and the moment I pop it in my mouth, it’s an instant trip down memory lane. The days when the only thing you had to worry about was someone saving you a seat in the cafeteria. And praying to God that mom had packed a fruit roll-up! You’re family is sure to love this recipe and you should make it, even if you don’t have kids.

Puppy Chow


2 c. Honey Nut Chex Cereal
1 c. M&Ms (I prefer Peanut Butter)
1/2 c. mixed nuts
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1/4 c. peanut butter
1 T. unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract


1. first, place chocolate in microwave for 20 second intervals until completely melted. Place peanut butter and butter in a bowl and heat in 15 second intervals while stirring between until smooth and combined.

2. put dry cereal in paper brown bag and pour chocolate and peanut butter mixture over cereal in even layer. Be careful not to waste any good stuff on the bag. That would be a shame. fold down the bag and give a vigorous shake for 30 seconds. Then add powdered sugar and shake for another minute. Once mixture is evenly covered place on to sheet pan and allow to air dry for 15-20 min. Evenly distribute candy and nuts over mixture, then place into air tight container. Chow is good for up to one week. Enjoy!


Luckily, our friend stayed in an apartment complex relatively local to some great eats! We made a couple of trips to this awesome Mexican bakery that was on a couple of blocks away. The aroma of cinnamon and sugar with a bit of spice was heavenly. There were desserts such as arroz con leche, a rice custard with cinnamon and raisins. There were polvorons, cinnamon shortbread covered in sugar. Not too mention these delicious little pigs called marranitos, which are molasses cookies, so good. And I’m not typically a fan of molasses because it has such a pungent flavor but in these cookies the ingredient was mild enough that I could enjoy more than one. We usually left with a couple of bags because the prices were incredibly cheap for the artisan pastries we devoured.

20130109-200212.jpg I can’t say enough good things about Gourdough’s! Those freakin’ stuffed donuts were the highlight of the trip. And if the fact that we took three visits to have those fluffed pillows of sweet and savory perfection isn’t enough to validate them. Then, you’ll have to try them yourself. The playful menu provides you with plenty of options from elementary nostalgia, the peanut butter and jelly, to the hungover variety in the mother clucker and slow burn. We dined on the dirty berry, pb & j, funky monkey, and mama’s cake all delicious in their own right.

If you just happen to visit this nostalgic streamline trailer, just know they have recently opened a brick and mortar location as well. Don’t let the long lines deter you, you deserve one of these.


20130109-200124.jpg The Salt Lick came highly regarded by some friends and so we tried this Austin institution and well, it wasn’t bad. But I simply can’t tell you that it’s better than Franklin’s and we’ll get around to that later. The Salt Lick had the ambience to make you feel as though you’d been herding cattle through the desert and you deserved a rest for a bite to eat. The restaurant is filled is with western paraphernalia, long wooden picnic tables and a open bbq pit that leads you to salivate uncontrollably. A bevy of hanging smoked sausage, slabs of ribs dripping with sauce and chicken just itching to get on your plate.

I have to give it to the The Salt Lick, while I wasn’t a fan of the sides, a plebeian selection of beans, slaw and freakishly weird potato salad. The meat was quite delicious. The ribs were tender and juicy, and the chicken was cooked to moist perfection. But I’ll know next time to just stick with the ribs and sausage.


Now,on to the piece de’ resistance! Franklin’s BBQ is an Austin, TX institution of BBQ Amazingness! They’ve been featured on everything from No Reservations to the New York Times and Bon Apetite. I was a little hesitant at first thinking to myself. “What kind of BBQ is worth getting up at the crack of dawn for?” Well, my question was answered, and it’s none other than Franklin’s my friend. The friendly staff allowed me to come in early for some pre-chaos photos. I was also able to speak with those who scheduled carry-out orders 2 months in advance. Believe It or Not?

Well, I figured I might as well try it all. And I did. I got the combo plate and a few samples of the other items. Ribs, Brisket, Sausage, and Turkey. all ridiculously tender and full of flavor. I didn’t even remember standing in line for two and a half hours like an adolescent teen getting Taylor Swift concert tickets.
Franklin Barbecue There’s nothing fussy about the way they do things at Franklin’s bbq. As you can see the menu options are displayed upon butcher paper with electrical tape posting it up. A sign to me that this could go one of two ways and well they chose the better option. I apologize for not having a photo, but you know what happened?!

Only a couple of blocks from the casa was a local favorite by the name of Mellizoz Tacos. A trailer parked beneath a couple of oak trees. These tacos were simplistic Mexican fare done to a level of excellence. We ate here twice in one day. Their tacos and entrees only ranging from $2.25 to $6.00. It was a steal and we left full, always a plus in my book.

20130109-195319.jpg Here’s all the delicious things we ordered including queso, a must-have. First, the slow rider (front), a combination of braised Machaca beef, caramelized onion, cotija Cheese & Cilantro.

fried avocado (middle), a combination of tempura battered avocado, arugula, chipotle sherry vinaigrette, cotija & tomato.

shroom (back) sauteed portabella, caramelized onions, spinach, tomato, chipotle aioli and the wife added guacamole. (She’s addicted)

Every taco so vastly different in flavor and pleasing to the palate. That it warranted two visits in one day! Now, does it give our Mas Tacos Por Favor a run for their money? No!, but it’s a close runner up.


Summermoon was a hole in the wall coffee shop we discovered on the way back from Mellizoz Tacos. An adorable quaint coffee shop nestled between some office buildings, and adorned in the ever so popular reclaimed wood and edison lights. The perfect place to enjoy your Gourdough doughnut with an awesome cup of wood fired coffee. Yes! wood fired. They roast their beans by hand in a brick oven, over a mesquite fire, using sight, sound, and smell to consistently offer their customers a unique and superior coffee experience. It was delicious and if that wasn’t enough, they offered this wonderful 7 blend milk that would make someone lactose intolerant take the risk. It’s so good! You’ll want to purchase a gallon to take home, but I don’t think it’s for sale.

Caffe Medici is another cool place to enjoy your java in downtown Austin. Beautifully decor-ed and encouraging you to stay for a while as you enjoy your high-quality french press coffee. Though the coffee was rather pricey, it was worth every penny when noted the care that was being put into it by our barista.

Caffe Medici’s coffee is a blend conjured by none other than Cuvee. A roaster dedicated to sustainable, artisan blend, located in the Hills of Texas outside of Austin. The coffee was fruity and chocolate which I love, it ended with a smooth finish. Not the typical cup you’d slurp down for your caffeine fix.


Torchy’s Tacos is a local institution and came highly recommended by the locals. So we’d be re-missed to not check it out. I mean, it’s the place where all the cool kids go. We ordered the Brush Fire, a marry of Jamaican Jerk Chicken, grilled jalapenos, mango, sour cream cilantro with their Diablo sauce. The more you eat it, you begin to get the slow build of heat and all of those flavors just meld together so well.

The Mr. Orange came highly regarded by those who recommended Torchy’s but of course they were sold out and I was highly upset. I never pass up a good salmon taco, don’t judge me, they’re delicious. And the worst part is; it was only freaking two o’clock! But any who everything else we ordered was just as tasty, but don’t get me wrong, it’s not the authentic stuff but the best Americanized Tex-Mex you’ll probably find!

And last but not least! Who doesn’t love a good Macarena? The best thing about weddings is that it’s a night when all inhibitions are thrown to the wind and you can enjoy yourself. No reliving the days of standing in the corner at prom or those college parties where everyone else was dancing but you.

….Well, actually that wasn’t my life but you know what I mean?!


Easy Salted Caramel

Don’t be intimidated! This recipe only contains six ingredients!…Score! And once you’ve made it; that feeling of accomplishment will be rather satisfying. Now, it’s a little more rustic of a sauce than you’re use to. Brown Sugar has molasses in it, so the sugar crystals won’t be fully broken down. But nonetheless, it’s good. Caramel, marshmallows and rock candy are recipes that tend to overwhelm the typical home cook. But no fear, a simple recipe is here and I hope you enjoy it as a garnish, dipping sauce or ingredient in your next batch of brownies.20130316-120639.jpg

It seems that we can’t steer from the salty & sweet combination. But then again. Why should we? I love the marriage of caramel and salt, chocolate and salt, fruit and salt. Some of you just raised your eyebrows. Don’t second guess it, next time you have a ripe slice of melon in your possession. Just grab a smidgen of kosher salt and give it a sprinkle. The pairing is euphoric. But yes, back to salted caramel. I usually make this stuff in small batches and keep it sealed in a storage container for rainy days when I want to jazz up some boxed brownie mix or simply use it to dip my apples slices.

Salted Caramel Sauce

2 c. dark brown sugar
1/4 c. heavy cream
1/4 tsp. lemon juice
2 T. water
3 T. unsalted butter
smidge of kosher salt (to taste)

Preheat burner to medium heat. Add 2 T.butter, water, lemon, and heavy cream. Once butter melts, add brown sugar. Stir mixture and let it come to a soft boil 3 min. stirring occasionally. Using a spoon to scrape or a pastry brush and water. Paint down the sides to keep brown sugar from crystallizing. Then, add the remaining butter and the smidge of kosher salt.


Big Train Chai Spiced Banana Bread

One of my favorite addictions is Big Train Chai. If you’re a chai tea fan then I’d pray you know who they are. Big Train makes one of the best blends of the drink spice that I have found. So when I had a bag of bananas on the verge of extinction, it all just came together.

I love a good quick bread. There’s no waiting for anything to rise, or biting your nails over why it didn’t proof. Just smash, mix and stir. It doesn’t get much better than that. Banana bread is great for breakfast, you can cut slices and batter it in a little bit of egg, milk and cinnamon. Sear it in your skillet for french toast. It’s an awesome grab and go item if you’re busy and I’ve even seen it as a dessert sandwich with Nutella and marshmallow fluff! Yum!

Chai-Spiced Banana Bread Recipe

  • 3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar (can easily reduce to 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoon Nielsen Massey vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 T. Big Train Chai Spice (powder mix)
  • smidge of kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour


Preheat the oven to 350°F. First, smash bananas with two forks. Use a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla and chai. Dust the baking soda and salt over the mixture and combine. Last, add the flour to the mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 45 min. to 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve. Enjoy!