Newlyweds navigating their way through married life – and the kitchen

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Man oh man was 2012 one for the books!  So many fantastic things happened –  lets recap shall we?Happy New Year Everyone!And what were the top rated recipes from this year you ask? Well I’ll tell you!

Happy New Year Everyone!

That’s right folks – Easier Than Ina’s Pecan Squares, Dirty 30 Cupcakes, Pumpkin Oreo Truffles and Pumpkin Donut Holes sent the most traffic our way this year.  And they were oh so tasty and fun to make while trafficking!

I’m not really sure how 2012 can be topped, but the possibilities for 2013 are endless. It’s a fresh, clean slate that’s just waiting to be dirtied up 🙂 (in the good way of course)

So cheers to a happy, healthy and wonderful 2013 to all of you – stay tuned for lots more deliciousness from And They Cooked Happily Ever After!


New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

Coming down off of the Christmas High is like coming down from Prom when you’re in high school – or your wedding day – all the planning, the cooking, the baking, the wrapping, the shopping and then BOOM, it’s over like that.  But, the best part is that there’s only 364 more days until we can do it all over again!

Anyway though, I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas – we did a lot of eating, drinking, and traveling (not all in the same order) but it was a fantastic few days spent with family and friends.  I’m always sad to see it end, but it was great while it lasted.

Another thing that was done in abundance was BAKING – holy moses.  5 different cookies, which in reality doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re in the throws of flour, sugar, and butter, well you realize that it is in fact a.lot.  Some of the usual suspects showed their faces – Easier than Ina’s Pecan Squares & Chocolate Drizzled Macaroons, but a few new players were introduced to the rotation. And even though the Christmas Baking accessories have maybe been put away for the year, these are year-round winners.

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don’t know if I’ve met anyone who doesn’t love a Chocolate Chip Cookie – it seems like they’ve been around since the creation of man, and there’s probably some cave in the arctic that has the recipe chizzled on the walls.  But there are many many different versions of this all-time favorite circulating the earth.  Back in June, I tried these Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies  and mmm…they were good. But, anyone whose read this for a bit knows that many a recipe on this blog has been inspired or just flat out stolen from my friend Ashley, and this recipe is another ‘hot’ recipe of hers.  We were still rooommates when she first started making these ‘New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies’ and over the years, she has gotten them down to a science, experimenting with ingredients, cooking and dough-chilling times, literally perfecting this cookie.  The recipe differs from others in that it uses a combination of cake flour and bread flour vs. the standard all-purpose flour and it also adds the seemingly unlikely touch of salt on the tops of each cookie, which really adds a lot of dimension to the flavor.

They are worth their weight in gold (and whatever weight they add to your hips) 🙂

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
*Adapted from Jacques Torres & Chef Ashley Rogers

INGREDIENTS
*yields about 20 cookies

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
*If you can’t find Cake Flour like me, this is a great alternative from Joy the Baker to make your own

1 & 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour

1 & 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 & 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 & 1/2 sticks (1 & 1/4 cups) unsalted butter

1 & 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract

1 & 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks, at least 60 percent cacao content
*I used the Ghiradelli 60% Cacoa discs

Kosher Salt

1) Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2) Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.

3) Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and stir them in by hand with a wooden spoon.

4) Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

5) When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

6) Take a 1/4 cup and measure out 6 mounds of dough (1/4 cup each – the size of generous golf balls), roll them into a ball, and place onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie.

7) Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and bake until golden brown on the edges but still soft in the center, about 16 to 18 minutes. Let cookies sit on sheets for a couple of minutes & then slip them onto a wire rack to cool.  Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

There were many tips both from the original recipe and from Ash that were useful, but above is exactly how I did them.  I think they key with these is experimentation, trying different baking & cooling times, on and off the baking sheet, as well as varying how long you chill the dough.  Personally though, I let this dough sit for just about 72 hours based on her recommendation as it allows the flavors to really meld together producing a really rich tasting cookie.  And the size of these may be off putting, but if you’re someone who likes a cookie with crunch edges and a soft, chewy interior, than these are your cookie.  You could certainly make them smaller though too.  Ash originally recommended measuring out 2.5 ounces of dough, but since I didn’t have a food scale I thought 1/4 cup would yield a healthy sized ball of dough and that amount seemed to work really well.  Also don’t be alarmed when the cookies come out, as they’ll still look a little undone in the center.  That’s what will make the chewy goodness when they’re cooled!

If you go make these now, your dough will be ready just in time for some gigundo NYE Chocolate Chip Cookies! Why would you start your diet now anyway? There’s still a few more days of holiday fun to be enjoyed 🙂


It’s been a couple months in the food blogging world, and I think it’s going pretty well so far. One Tastespotting spot, a Kreativ Blogger award, photos that have gone from ‘meh’, to ‘less meh’,  and lots of delicious new recipes, with only a few that were too awful to write about (twice baked sweet potatoes – do NOT try this at home people)

When you start really investigating food blogs, you discover all these creative recipes, with combinations and presentations that you would never in a million years have dreamed of putting together, accompanied by incedible food photos that looks so delicious, you wish you could crawl through your computer screen, put the plate on your table and dig in.

And you picture your favorite food bloggers that create this recipes and photos – you paint a picture of them in your head, using your imagination (or seeing their picture on their  ‘about me’  page).  You envision them in their pristine kitchens, with mahogany floors, cabinets apon cabinets full with every All-Clad pan that has ever been created, kitchen gadgets that seem like they shouldn’t be legal in the U.S, and sprawling granite countertops as far as the eye can see.  And they’re perfectly primped and pressed – their aprons are so cute and stylish that you could probably wear them as part of an outfit, and there’s not a spot or stain on it.  Their counters are never cluttered.  Their dishes never dirty.  They are the epitomany of food blogging perfection.

I bet her pictures are amazing too

Dave and I’s world is somewhat different however.

When we first moved in, we thought our kitchen was HUGE! “GREAT for entertaining” our realtor told us.  We stood there with him, envisioning dinner parties with friends, wine flowing like water, laughter and music and 5 course meals – not realizing that there was about 2 square feet of counter space and all of 4 cabinets in which to fit our entire kitchen life into.

KitchenImpossible

Initially this wasn’t a problem:  Dave had a set of 8 white IKEA dinner plates, all with chips and cracks in them.  We had a smattering of random appliances, pots and pans, and most of our ‘gadgets’ had been bought from the clearance bin at the Christmas Tree Shop.  But then, we got engaged – we registered – I had 2 showers – we got ALOT of kitchen stuff – real life adult kitchen stuff.  And we thought “Where in the world is all of this stuff going to go?”.

KitchenImpossible

We’ve done pretty well improvising with storage, but cooking on the other hand can be a real challenge.  Our stove, sink and cabinets are shoved into a small ‘galley style’ area of the kitchen, along with the 2 square feet of counter space.  So if Dave and I are wanting to have a romantic night in the kitchen, sipping wine, cookin’ up something delish together, it usually turns into a night of clever maneuvering around each other to avoid 3rd degree burns from bumping into the stove.

KitchenImpossible

And our cooking attire?  My cute Vera Bradley apron has more grease stains than paisley flowers, and 9 times out of 10, it’s tied over my gym clothes or pajama pants, which I think I’ve had since my Junior Year of high school.  And if Dave’s not standing over the stove in his Stanley Cup Sweatpants, it’s usually a pair of tattered jeans that I’ve tried to replace with new ones that still have the stickers on them, or an old under shirt, such as the one pictured below.

KitchenImpossible

So there’s the ugly truth of the Schoon Kitchen.  It may not be as glamorous as the likes of Ina Garten, or any other all-star food blogger, but after almost two years, we’ve figured out ways to make it work, while still being able to produce some pretty decent meals.  In our next house, perhaps we’ll have the endless granite countertops we always drool over when watching the food network, or a collection of appliances only seen in an Iron Chef kitchen.  But for now, I still get excited every time I get to use my KitchenAid (even if I do have to balance it on a kitchen stool) and after replacing our IKEA plates with Crate and Barrel ones, I think we feel pretty hip!

As for the rest of the clutter?  Well, that’s what Photoshop is for!



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