Recipe Review: Debbie’s Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am of the opinion that the introduction of people to the Internet is one of the worst things to happen, ever. Have you ever played World of Warcraft or gone to 4chan? Seriously, it’s like anonymity just triggers something in people that makes them feel the need to say things like, “My balls are moist” every five minutes in a public forum. Would you ever go to the grocery store and yell, “MY BALLS ARE MOIST”? No! But, apparently, it is totally OK to do so on the Internet.

Every once and awhile, though, the Internet is responsible for something beautiful, like the union of myself and Debbie of Words to Eat By‘s recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I found this recipe back in the day, when I was still distrustful of anything/everything that came from culinary blogs, which I imagined were just written by people biding their time between food (or regular) porn sessions. Besides, I had been using the Nestle Tollhouse cookie recipe for years and didn’t really see any need to replace such a tried and true formula. But, Debbie had a lot of confidence in this cookie: She calls them “The Best Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies in the Entire World,” and after trying them, myself, I’m inclined to agree with the name.

These cookies fit my exact definition of a perfect chocolate chip cookie: Crispy at the edges, supremely chewy in the middle (I hate a poofy chocolate chip cookie) and rich in butter/vanilla flavor. Debbie produced the recipe by utilizing a few unique techniques, like chilling the dough before baking it. Look at these cookies; they’re gorgeous.

And they taste as good as they look (though, they taste much less blurry), so go make them right now.

Unbelievably Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies – Makes approximately 24 cookies

Adapted from Debbie’s recipe for The Best Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies in the Entire World

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
¼ pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
½ cup sugar
¾ cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1 ½ t. vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten
5 oz. (140 grams) semisweet chocolate (Debbie uses 7 oz. of bittersweet chocolate in her recipe, but I prefer my cookies to be more batter- than chip-centric)

1. Combine the flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside.

2. Cream the butter and sugars together in either a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer set on low speed (This is important: According to Debbie, the speed at which you cream these two ingredients makes the mixture hold the flour differently and consequently spread out less). Beat the ingredients until the mixture is lump-free (about three to four minutes), then stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3. Add your vanilla and the egg to the butter/sugar mixture, and resume mixing until the addition is just incorporated (about 15 seconds). Stop and scrape down the sides of the paddle and/or bowl again.

4. Set your mixing utensil/machine of choice to low speed and combine the flour with your butter mixture, and beat until just incorporated. Once the ingredients are combined, stop mixing, scrape down the bowl again, and add your chocolate chips until they are also just incorporated (If you’re using a hand mixer to make your cookie batter, mix in the chocolate chips by hand with a wooden spoon).

5. Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour (Yesterday, I had the time to let the batter chill for seven hours, and I think it made for the nice, chew texture.)

6. When you’re to bake your cookies, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line your baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats. Spoon the dough  onto the baking sheets so that the cookies are about two inches apart.

Note: If you’re going to be placing more than one baking sheet in the oven at a time, make sure you adjust your oven racks so that they are in the lower and upper thirds of the oven.

7. Bake for around eight to nine minutes (I think my oven is a little hot, though, so you may want to go with Debbie’s baking time of 11 to 13 minutes) or until golden brown around the edges. Midway through baking, make sure to turn the sheets halfway through and, if there is more than one baking sheet in the oven, switch the racks on which they are situated.

8. Remove baking sheets from the oven and slide the parchment paper or Silpats onto a work surface. Once the cookies are sufficiently set, place them on a cooling rack. Cookies can be stored for up to three days in an airtight container, but you should wait at least 20 minutes before placing them in said container.

Nutritional Information (per one cookie):

Calories: 140

Fat: 5.9 g.

Sat. Fat: 3.5 g.

Cholesterol: 19 mg.

Sodium: 33.4 mg.

Carbohydrates: 23 g.

Protein: 1.4 g.

Fiber: 0.6 g.

Product Review: Ben & Jerry’s “Hannah Teter’s Maple Blondie”

Product Description: Maple Ice Cream with Blonde Brownie Chunks & a Maple Caramel Swirl

[Source]

I hope you know how difficult my life became as a result of your lack of voting; it is SO HARD choosing an ice cream for yourself, I don’t think you understand this. Regardless, I made it through the difficult times and ended up with neither one of the options I presented, and I instead picked Ben & Jerry’s Hannah Teter’s Maple Blondie for myself. It is a “Limited Edition” flavor, and I hope that by the time you read this review they are no longer selling it in your area as punishment for your non-voting offenses, you lazy bastard.

I’d like to say that I picked this pint up in an act of good will (part of the sales from this flavor go towards Hannah’s Gold, Teter’s charity, which helps fund projects in Africa), but really I just saw it and decided that it would be the best weapon against combatting my craving for something tooth-rottingly sweet.

When I ripped off the lid, I was greeted immediately by a generous maple caramel swirl and a significant blondie chunk (if you look closely at the picture below, you can see said chunk lurking just below the surface of the ice cream in the bottom right portion of the pint).

Mmmm, so inviting.

I dug in, and was pleasantly surprised to find that this did not taste excessively of syrup: The ice cream is maple flavored, but not in a cloyingly sweet, Mrs. Butterworth’s kind of way. Basically, imagine sweet cream ice cream flavored with the most delicate, high quality maple syrup you’ve ever had—that’s what this ice cream tastes like. And, as for the maple caramel swirl, itself, it too was not excessively sweet; instead, it tasted predominately of the maple I just described but with with subtle caramel undertones. I had been expecting caramel akin to that which you’d find in a cheap candy bar, so the flavor of the swirl was unexpected, but welcome.

My only gripe with this ice cream was with the blondie chunks. They were a bit chewy for my taste, and while they had a nice brown sugar flavor,  it was difficult to detect at times as the blondies, themselves, seemed to have absorbed the maple syrup essence. So, rather than providing a nice flavor contrast, they instead blended into the background, taste-wise.

Also, if you’ve been reading On Second Scoop or any of several other food blogs, lately, you may have noticed that some writers went to the Ben & Jerry’s factory recently and received the following tip: In order to mimic that “just off the line” flavor/texture, you should leave your pint of ice cream out for a few minutes before eating it. Well, seeing as how it takes me twenty minutes to walk from the grocery store to my dorm, I inadvertently did this today, and I must say, it made a HUGE difference. Usually, I get on Ben & Jerry’s back for having ice cream that isn’t as creamy as other premium ice creams, but I think it’s just a matter of temperature. When I indulged in this flavor today, it was the creamiest pint of Ben & Jerry’s I’ve ever had, and I apologize for my previous attacks on the quality of their ice cream’s texture. However, I will say that twenty minutes probably isn’t necessary to achieved the desired effect (my pint was a little too melty)—ten minutes will probably suffice.

Chasing the Prize

Attention Dudes/Ladies:

Maria over at Chasing the Now is currently holding a CSN-oriented giveaway, which means that—if you win—you’ll be eligible to choose a product from one of CSN’s 200 Web sites. If you’d like to enter, just head on over to this post (CSN Giveaway) and leave a comment.

Whoo!

Switching It Up

I’ve been feeling a bit like Bilbo Baggins, lately.

No, not in the sense that I feel like I’m going to attack my nephew in an attempt to take back My Precious, but rather because I feel “thin — sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” Part of this feeling I chalk up to stress and not eating enough, but I’m hoping that soon maintenance/chomping a bit more in the process will at least eliminate any lethargy brought about by the latter. However, I must wonder if my exercise schedule isn’t also somewhat to blame.

For the last several weeks, my exercise load has looked like the following:

35 miles per week

Strength-training 3 times per week

One active rest day per week (i.e., yoga)

I’ve been wondering if this isn’t a little much, so I wrote to Kelly over at the “My Revolution Bootcamp” blog for advice, and she was kind enough to answer my question in this post: “Give It a Rest.”

(But, wait!, you say. That letter is signed by someone named ‘Justine!’

That is because I write this blog under a pseudonym, mostly because a) only one member of my family knows I have an issue with binge eating, b) none of my friends know I have an issue with binge eating and c) I’d prefer my future employers not know I have an issue with binge eating. Anyway, the name attached to that letter is my legitimate first name. But, I digress.)

Long story short, I’ll be making the following changes to my exercise schedule:

1. I’ll be replacing one of my 7-mile runs with an hour-long, “free choice” cardio session, which will be rad as I have a HUGE collection of exercise tapes at home that I really enjoy doing (Yes, I enjoy exercise tapes. Apparently, some part of me just loves bad faux-dancing and being yelled at by petite, overly perky women.)

2. Every three weeks, I’ll have a “taper week” where I replace a second 7-mile run with another active rest day.

Granted, this means I’ll be burning 700 or so fewer calories per week, but I’d rather eat less (only about 100 calories per day less, really) then run my body into the ground. And, I think that now—i.e., this time period when I’m moving into the maintenance—is the best time to do it, since by cutting my exercise at this point in time I won’t have an opportunity to get used to a higher daily caloric intake for maintenance.

Anyway, I had my first “free choice” session this morning. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to any my beloved videos as they are all not in my dorm room (I could have totally gone for some kickboxing today, too), but fortunately I DO have access to a gym with some variety of exercise equipment. I ended up doing half an hour on the elliptical, ten minutes on the rowing machine and twenty minutes on the treadmill for lack of anything better to do. Technically, I could have used the stationary bike and gotten some more variety, but I just never feel like I get a good workout on those things.

Also, I’m kind of wigging out about choosing to start maintenance this week when I wasn’t technically at my “goal weight” of 128 pounds. You see, since I was due for my “lady times,”* I figured that would take care of the last pound and I could still bump up my calories a bit. But, that was probably a bad assumption to make. Ah, well. I guess I’ll see Friday if I have to scale back my intake, again. Man, I hope not. Blergh, why did I jump the gun!

* If there were any dudes still reading this blog, they have probably now stopped. Alas.

New Things Thursday: Oat Bran

I’ve always been a cold cereal kind of lady; I don’t know why, but there’s something about crunching through a bowl of the stuff in the morning that gets me ready to seize the day. Like, OM NOM NOM I AM CRUNCHING YOU CEREAL LIKE I AM GOING TO CRUNCH THE WORLD TODAY. Alright, perhaps not. Still, most mornings I opt for cold cereal rather than hot. However, when I started lifting weights on a regular basis, I started including oatmeal with protein powder more frequently in my breakfast rotation. I’m a big fan of novelty, though, so when Tina mentioned on her blog that she had recently swapped out oatmeal for oat bran, I decided to give it a try myself.

And, I really like it. Oat bran is prepared the same way as oatmeal and tastes exactly the same as it’s breakfast-food brethren (i.e., it tastes kind of like nothing—oat bran is one of those “choose your own adventure/flavor” type of foods), but the texture is different and that’s what I’m really enjoying about it: Oat bran is chewier than oatmeal, and has smaller grains. It’s almost like eating quinoa or rice.

Anyway, here’s my evening snack of oat bran with milk and cinnamon/sugar:

… OK, this is a terrible picture and gives you no idea of the size/texture of oat bran. Just go look at Tina’s blog, she has a camera and photography skills.

ANYWAY, as and added bonus, a serving of oat bran has 30 fewer calories, two more grams of protein and two more grams of fiber than a serving of oatmeal that is the same size. Not a huge difference, but it adds up, ja? Also, I personally picked up the Hodgson’s Mill variety of oat bran, but I’m sure there are other tasty brans out there.

Ugh, weigh-in day tomorrow, and I really have my hopes up, which makes it worse; I’m really pulling for a number in my 120s, but we’ll see! I should really be focusing on non-scale victories, though, like not bingeing, rather than letting myself get wrapped up in a number. But, I just want to be DONE.

Inspiration from the Internet

One of the things I love about food blogs is that so many of the authors are relatable; it’s amazing, when you start perusing said blogs, how many recovering/struggling binge eaters you come across. My problem, it seems, isn’t that uncommon.

Anyway, while I was digging through blogs looking to see how people coped with binge eating, I came across this post in Elina’s blog. I’ve been reading Healthy and Sane for awhile, now (it’s one of my favorites, and I now have a long list of Boston eateries to visit thanks to her), and it was a great source of inspiration for someone like me who is struggling with binge eating (You may remember that I quoted one of her posts relating to binge eating, before.) Anyway, this particular post essentially details a conversation Elina had with a RD regarding how to overcome binge eating. I won’t recap the whole entry here (you’ll have to read the whole thing for yourself), but the RD recommends allowing yourself one indulgence per day—but, only one.

And, after reading this entry, I’ve made an executive decision to try this plan, myself between Dec. 8 and Dec. 23, before my designated “Intuitive Eating” days. You see, this afternoon, I was literally planning the binge I was going to have the day before I started my “post-holiday” diet. And I thought, “Why do I have this all or nothing mentality?” I think the reason is similar to that behind Elina’s binges; that is, I associate not counting calories with the free-for-all day I used to have once a week during my WW days. Regardless, I need to learn to eat only what I want, rather than a bunch of junk PLUS what I wanted simply because I went over my calorie count or had an indulgence.

I’m not going to lie; I’m a little scared. But, the fact of the matter is, I feel like if I don’t do something like this, I’m not going to learn how to eat like a normal person. And, I’m freaked out by the potential weight gain; “I’m going to put on so much weight before I start my diet!” But, if I can overcome bingeing, it’ll come off that much quicker. And, I’m not losing any weight right now, anyway, because of the bingeing (in fact, as of this morning I’ve gained weight [I know, I said I wasn’t going to weigh myself before weigh-in day], which has me freaked even more.)

But, at present, I’m just trying to decide if I want to weigh myself again after tomorrow before January 1; I don’t want to get freaked out by a gain and fall off the progress wagon.

Anyway, I’m so excited to be going home tomorrow, WHOO! I just hope I don’t fail my Politics exam, though this seems like it would be pretty difficult to do considering that we’re allowed to use our notes during the exam. But … I feel like this is a trap.

Treats sans Tricks

Penny’s Low Fat Desserts are one of those hot blog items—along with Holey Donuts! and Barney Butter—that I would love to try, but unfortunately I’m an impoverished college student who needs to save their money for ridiculous things like books and such (cursed education, interfering with my ability to buy food over the internet!) So, I jumped at the chance to enter Emily‘s latest giveaway, which entails the gifting of a box of Penny’s desserts. If you’d like to be involved in this giveaway, too, then just hop over to this post and leave a comment detailing which delicious, delicious baked good you’d like (Hint: You want the chocolate chip cookies, and if you win, you want to send them to me.)

In other sugar-related news, I could probably kill a man right now for a pint of ice cream or some Reese’s cups. P.M.S.-oriented cravings are the worst.

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for … Yogurt?

Happy Halloween! Personally, I’ll be dressing up as “college student stuck working in the media lab all day” for the holiday. How about you?

Man, I wanted nothing more than to sleep in today (I have been exhausted the last few days, and so has everyone else, it seems; a lot of people I’ve talked to report being mad tired), but I just could not stay asleep; I woke up at 5 a.m., then again at 6 and finally relented and got up when I woke up 7. Ah, well. We only have one functioning washing machine in the dorm right now, so my early-riserness actually worked out well as it allowed me to get some laundry done while everyone else was still asleep/not using the washing machine for once.

Have you ever tried peddling backwards on an elliptical? I gave it a go for the first time yesterday (it’s a Cardio Week, and I decided to swap out my “Free Runs” for “Free Choice” cardio sessions; I missed including different equipment/tapes in my regular workout cycle) when I spent a workout switching off between the treadmill and the elliptical, and it was RIDICULOUSLY hard. Originally, I planned to do 10 minutes forward-peddling followed by 5 minutes of backwards-peddling, but I could only go backwards for a minute! It’s nice to feel challenged, though, and now I have a new excercise with which I can measure fitness improvement. Woot. Today, though, I am definitely going for a walk: I don’t think my thighs could tolerate anything else.

I’m down seven-tenths of a pound today! Come on, body! Two more pounds and we’re back in the sweet spot.

In other news, Allison over at Balance in Bites is giving away Greek Yogurt! Mmm, greek yogurt … So high protein, so tasty. Also, so expensive, so it’s certainly worth your while to enter this contest and potentially score some for free. To enter, just head on over to this post and leave a comment telling Allison your favorite way to eat yogurt.

Gains and Goals

Usually, today would be my “official” weigh-in day, but I’m skipping it on account of the fact that I’m doing an early weigh-in next Thursday, the day I leave to go home for the weekend/wedding. For reference, though, I’m up three pounds from last week (eek!), but down a pound from yesterday (phew). The scale giveth and the scale taketh away. I’m hoping that downward trend continues, though.

I came across this post on Allison’s Balance in Bites last night, and I’m really lovin’ on it and the idea of list-making. There’s something really satisfying and definitive about making a list, so I am going to copy her and make one here detailing my goals for the holiday season, which—starting with the wedding next weekend—will stretch until about January 1 (How convenient, a Friday! My weigh-in day.)

The holiday season is always the most difficult time for me, food-wise. Last year, I had lost a little weight before the holidays, but once the season hit I packed on the pounds and hit my highest weight. And, it wasn’t weight gained over the course of the season, either; it was the product of several binges that I had on holidays/the days before and after said holidays. I’m hoping that by making a list of goals, I’ll keep my head and not regain all this weight. So, without further ado:

Goals for the Holiday Season (November 1 – December 31)

1. Don’t Binge

The bottom line is, bingeing is gross: It makes me feel disgusting, it puts on hell of weight and it is unbecoming of a lady to eat half a loaf of bread that is meant for your entire family at Thanksgiving dinner. And, this goal leads me to my next goal:

2. Enjoy the Holidays

Even if I’m dieting (well, not “dieting,” hopefully, but just being careful about what I eat), these times/delicious things only roll around once a year. And, half the time, the reason I binge is I feel so deprived. So, I need to learn loosen up and enjoy myself; chances are, it’ll lead to less weight gain in the long run if I practice indulging in moderation and keep intuitive eating in mind.

3. Don’t Let My Weight Creep Above 132

This is kind of dependent on how well I do this week, as if I find myself back down in my 120s it’s feasible, but otherwise I may just have to settle for a higher range during the holidays if I want to stay sane. As I mentioned previously, I was at my highest weight in recent years after the holidays. But, if I meet the two goals listed above, I can probably stay below this point and, thus, not have a huge stretch of dieting ahead of me after the holidays. And this leads me to my next goal:

4. Lose the Holiday Weight Before Going Back to School in January

I know/accept that I’m going to gain weight over the holidays. BUT, I should not gain a ridiculous amount of weight, and if I don’t binge and just keep my head, this goal is entirely feasible. And the motivation for this goal goes beyond vanity: This year, when I came back to college I wanted to be at my goal weight, but I screwed around so much over the summer that I didn’t do it, and I ended up going back to school and missing out on doing stuff with my friends (e.g., going out to dinner) because I was so concerned about reaching my goal. Next semester is my last semester of college, and I want to go into it NOT worried about losing weight.

Hoorah, goals! Now to actually meet them. And now to actually go to the gym.

Grocery Bags and Giveaways

Fellow Boston-area blogger Elina is giving away a nice little prize package over at Healthy and Sane that includes a pedometer, V8 soup (which will be mad comforting to nom on with the cold weather comin’ in, dontcha think?) and a reusable grocery bag, among other rad things! To enter, just click here and leave a comment on the entry!

In other breaking news, I just had a roast beef sandwich with an apple for lunch. It fit what I wanted taste-wise, but I feel like I’m going to be hungry again in an hour. And, even though I’m not counting calories, I still think, “Well, my lunch should be around 300 calories,” etc. I really want to get out of this mindset and eat according to my hunger, not how many calories I think each meal should be.

P.S. – The giveaway ends at 5 p.m. EST on October 29th, so hurry thyselves!

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