Category Archives: Adventures in Cooking

Brown Butter Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies--Recipe: Joy the Baker

Adventures in Baking: Holiday Treats

6th January 2016

Brown Butter Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies--Recipe: Joy the Baker
Baking makes me happy. Even when my treats are slightly overcooked, when I’m in the kitchen baking I feel oddly calm and relaxed. I made a lot of goodies for the dessert table at my wedding and for the most part, I was in the zone and totally unhurried. Chill. Then it all went to hell when it was more than just me in the kitchen and I started to get stressed the heck out. Still, baking. Ahh. Yes.

There’s not a lot of things that I can do for people for the holidays. I only have so much money and I’m not as crafty as I’d like to think I am. Instead, I bake.

Last year (in 2014, really), I made some special holiday treats for my Early Childhood team at work and left a tray of extras out for the rest of my coworkers. It seemed to be a hit, so I planned a similar thing for this past December. The first time around, I made Milk Chocolate Chip Gingersnap cookies, Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip cookies, Cranberry Bliss cookies, and Brown Butter Blondies.

This year I switched things up a little bit. I realized during my pre-wedding baking session that making Cranberry Bliss bars were a slightly easier alternative to the cookies, because it just took one huge baking sheet. I used three of Joy the Baker’s recipes, because she is awesome: Brown Butter Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip cookies, Butter Walnut cookies, and Classic Lemon Bars. Joy’s recipes are always so easy to follow and they yield amazing results. The lemon bar recipe is a favorite in my house, but the cookie recipes were new. The brown butter toasted coconut cookies were slightly over baked, but packed with so much flavor. Brown butter, man. It makes all the difference. The bits of coconut were yummy, but not too overpowering. The butter walnut cookies were to die for. I want to make those again and again and again. Super easy to make and they look really lovely.

Butter Walnut Cookies--Recipe: Joy the Baker

As an additional treat, I made chocolate covered pretzels. Such an easy process: melt chocolate, dip pretzels, and roll them in toppings. I had peanut butter cups (which I froze after chopping), kit kat bars, M&M’s, and drizzled chocolate. They make for such a pretty treat and seem like they are much more work than they actually are. Score one for me. Add some pretty packaging and you’re set!

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

I bought some greenery, used some fun Chinese food cartons (similar to these), brown paper packaging, mason jars, and a few filler flowers to present the sweets.
Adventures in Baking: Holiday Treats

Adventures in Baking: Holiday Treats

Adventures in Baking: Holiday Treats

What are your go to treats for gifts? Any recipes you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments.

Coffee Macarons | The Rambling Fangirl

Adventures in Cooking: Coffee Macarons

6th November 2014

Coffee Macarons | The Rambling Fangirl

We’ve finally hit the middle of the work week! Hurrah! I’m surrounded by papers (half finished progress reports, assessments, attendance records) and prepping for another round of parent-teacher conferences. We finished nine back-to-back sessions today and tomorrow evening we’ll have some more. It’s always nice getting to talk to parents and sharing stories with them, but it’s exhausting. Sometimes there’s so much to say and other times it’s a struggle to find the conversation. But they’re important meetings and a great opportunity to establish the parent-teacher team.

I’m worn down from work and all of these changes in the weather, so I’ve reacquainted myself with my old pal NyQuil and I’m thrilled to be making this an early night. But first, a distraction.


I’ve only made French Macarons a handful of times, but it still sort of frustrates me that I don’t have my perfect formula down. I want perfection, even if I know that it’s difficult to achieve with these tricky cookies. My favorite resource for making macarons was linked by Elizabeth of Delightfully Tacky. In the post, she wrote about using a video from Beth Le Manach who regularly posts amazing cooking videos on her YouTube channel.

This video gives you the step-by-step process for macaron perfection:

If you watch, though, Beth explains that there are a lot of ways to mess up. I’m sure I’ve done all of them. Sometimes the cookies have turned out too crispy or crinkly, but at least the fillings have mostly been delicious. Last Saturday I used Natalya’s Coffee Macaron recipe and paired it with my go-to macaron base recipe (Beth’s) and the results were pretty tasty. They weren’t as chewy as I wanted them to be, but the coffee-chocolate ganache filling was so good and super simple to make! I used some Cafe Bustelo for the coffee flavor and it was bold and slightly bitter, but balanced well with the chocolate. I think my main macaron dilemmas are as follows:

1. Should I use the convection setting on my oven?
2. If so, how should I adjust my cooking time and temp?
3. Remembering to leave the damn cookies out for a full hour before popping them into the oven.
4. Piping smaller, higher cookies, rather than ones that are too wide and thin.

Coffee Macarons | The Rambling Fangirl

Coffee Macarons | The Rambling Fangirl

Coffee Macarons | The Rambling Fangirl

Coffee Macarons | The Rambling Fangirl

Do you like baking macarons? Do you have a go-to resource to share? Any suggestions for my next macaron batch? Let me know in the comments!

Recipes and Resources:
Beth Le Manach: Beth’s Foolproof French Macaron Recipe
Blogger: Delightfully Tacky-French Macarons (great supplement to the link above)
Coffee Macaron Recipe:
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Adventures in Cooking: Prosciutto Margherita Pizza

27th October 2014

Margherita Pizza with Prosciutto | The Rambling Fangirl

This is a cheat, because I barely had anything to do with this pizza. At least I don’t think I did. It’s possible that I cleaned the basil. I did make the salad, so maybe that counts?

Here’s the thing: I think people who can cook are awesome. I think people who can develop recipes are dope as hell. I can produce an edible creation with some random crap from the fridge, but I will never make it the same way twice unless I have a proper recipe. Steven, on the other hand, is magical. He knows the ways flavors work together and puts in a little of this and a little of that and creates some truly kick ass food.

This summer, after a visit from our friends, Steven was inspired (forced) to create a blog about two of his favorite things–coffee and pizza. I think he could consume these things every day and be totally happy. We spent a lot of time talking about pizza. Making pizza. Photographing pizza. It was awesome. Then work started up and now he’s incredibly busy, so the blog is sort of on hold.

But my blog isn’t on hold and I have all of these lovely photographs of food to share.

And gosh darn it, I’m going to share them.

Margherita Pizza with Prosciutto | The Rambling Fangirl

One of the keys to this pizza business is the dough. It’s not hard to make, but it seems like every time we decide we’re going to make pizza, it’s already 4 p.m. and we’re starving, so we do the store bought thing. We’re lucky enough to have a great bakery a few minutes away. 1 lb of dough is a little over a dollar and more than enough for two pizzas. For the sauce, it’s a can peeled or crushed tomatoes (I can’t remember which), without any salt added. Then there’s plenty of fresh basil. It’s only after this year, after planting so many basil plants, that I realized how useful of an herb it is. It enhances the flavor in pretty much any dish it goes into. Our six basil plants did us well this year and I plan on buying a little one that we can keep on the windowsill throughout the next few months. Basil has become essential to our cooking. Then there’s the cheese. Fresh mozzarella is best. It just is. Even if it’s a little pricier, you can absolutely tell the difference in color and flavor. Packaged cheese will do in a pinch, but if you’re gonna do it, do it right and splurge on the mozzarella in water. Your taste buds will thank you. The prosciutto came about because Steven wanted to jazz up a simple Margherita and it was absolutely the right choice. Like the basil, it boosts flavor and also gives you an additional bit of protein to keep you full.

Margherita Pizza with Prosciutto | The Rambling Fangirl

It also helped inspire the salad. Simple mixed greens with plenty of baby spinach and strawberries. Fruit and salad are always a great combination. Also, nuts. More protein! I made a maple balsamic dressing to go along with it and roasted some of the walnuts in some pure maple syrup before adding them to the salad. I love dipping bacon in syrup when I have it for breakfast, so I thought a fresh maple balsamic would go well with the prosciutto in the pizza. It’s also super easy to make: equal parts maple syrup, balsamic vinaigrette, and olive oil. I think I did 1/3 cup of each for this particular salad.

Simple Strawberry Salad

And now I’m hungry.

What have you been cooking lately?

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