Ryan’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Ryan is the kind of guy that knows what he wants. And what we wants is cookies- all the time. So when I asked him what kind of cookies he wanted, he was very specific: chocolate chip cookies, with two different kinds of chocolate and sliced almonds on top. No other kind of almond would do. Surprisingly enough, they make all the difference although you may want to substitute with another nut of your choosing. Hey, they’re pretty good nut-free too. There’s no such thing as a bad cookie.

If you want to make Ryan’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (or more specifically Double Chocolate Chip Almond Cookie) just follow the recipe below and make sure you put some in the mail for him. I’m sure he’ll be super grateful.

(makes 30-34 cookies; it just all depends on how big you make ‘em!)

1 1/8 c. flour

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. butter

1/4 c. brown sugar, plus some for garnish

1/2 c. white sugar

1 egg, beaten

1tsp. vanilla

1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 c. white chocolate chips

1/4 c. sliced almonds

In a medium-sized bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Add vanilla and egg. Beat until creamy. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda and salt. Add into wet ingredients. Fold in chocolate chips. Roll into teaspoon-sized dollops on a greased baking sheet.

Here comes the tricky, sorta time-consuming part. Bake your cookies at 350F for approximately 6 minutes. Then you want to fish those babies out of the oven (using oven mitts please, let’s not get too excited) and quickly press a few sliced almonds in the top of each one. Finish by sprinkling them with brown sugar and pop them back in the oven for another 6 minutes, or until toasty looking. Transfer to rack to cool.

B’s Tip: This dough makes the kind of cookie that really spreads out, so make sure when you’re laying out your balls of dough on the tray that you give them a lot of room to expand as they cook.

Taking the cookies out in the middle of baking gives them an outer layer with a little bit of crunch (the almonds help with that too!) but inside is all gooey yum-ness. The nutty flavor from the almonds is a subtle, yet welcome addition to a traditional cookie. And of course, who doesn’t love a little extra sprinkle of sugar?

Don’t thank me for introducing you to these cookies. Thank Ryan! These were a product of his cookie-cluttered cranium. Already I’m thinking of other people in my life who may like their own personalized cookie. Who knows what I’ll come up with next?

Got your own personalized twist on a classic baking dish? Email us your recipes at thetwentiesproject@gmail.com. You could be featured on a guest blog!

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baking with b: banana cupcakes with cinnamon frosting

I normally don’t get weekends off so when I do happen to get two days of vacation in a row (it doesn’t happen often!) I try to cram as much in my schedule as humanly possible. Isn’t it funny that we use our vacation time to get things done?

So when I woke up yesterday morning and realized something had to be done with the rapidly ripening bananas in my fruit basket, I was feeling kind of frustrated and bored with everything. The solution? Whip up something a little extra-special to brighten my mood.

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Banana Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting (yields 12)

(based loosely on the recipe found here)

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

3/4 c. butter, melted

3 ripe bananas, mashed (for a total of about 1 1/2 c.)

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 375F. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Make a well in the bowl and slowly add in wet ingredients one at a time, stirring just until blended. Line a 12-muffin pan with liners. Slowly use a spoon to pour even amounts of butter in each muffin cup. Bake in the middle rack for twenty minutes.

B’s Tip: Wait until the cupcakes are completely cool before frosting, or you can end up making a runny, sticky mess with the icing.

Cinnamon Frosting

(again, loosely based on the recipe found here)

1/2 c. butter, softened

1 1/4 c. icing sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp cream

Cream together butter and sugar. Add in the cinnamon; stir until completely blended. Add just enough drops of cream until it can be stirred into a smooth consistency.

The cinnamon in this frosting gives it enough of a spicy kick in the pants to cut the sweetness so you can enjoy the subtle yum of the banana cake part underneath. So far I’ve made these babies twice, and there have been no survivors.

Tried there (or a version of these) and loved them? Any favourite new recipes to add to the roster? Email us at thetwentiesproject@gmail.com or comment below. I’m always looking for more ideas for baked goods.

Salads in Five: L’s PDQ Salad

IMG-20130513-00134 So I apologize for this picture looking like a mug shot. Of a salad. A Blackberry camera and bad florescent lighting will do that to you. Anyways, July (and summer!) are officially here, which means hot weather and lazy days alongside any excuse to be outside. Now if we put two and two together, spending so much time outside means you’ll need to eat outside, and what better light summer meal or side dish is a fresh, crunchy salad? Maybe a Pringle, but that’s bad for you. Salads are not.

Now usually when I make salads, they are to accompany meals so I can really focus my cooking energy and skill into the entree (and dessert, of course). That being said, I am waaaaaaay too Martha Stewart to throw a bag of salad in a bowl and serve it- it feels like cheating! So in true Twenties Project form, I’ve put together a simple recipe that’s cheap, delicious and fool-proof. The PDQ Salad. If anyone’s confused: Pretty Darn Quick.

L’s PDQ Salad

serves 4

4 c. spring mix salad (this is a great mix of baby greens you can get at your supermarket that’s bite-sized and deliciously flavourful!)

3 stalks of celery, diced

1 large carrot, shredded

1 c. cucumber, diced or sliced

1/3 c. feta

Thoroughly rinse the spring mix in cold water, and gently pat dry with paper towel or a clean and dry dish cloth. Place in bowl, no shredding required. Rinse (and scrub if necessary) the stalks of celery. Dice into bite-sized pieces and add to bowl. Rinse (and scrub if necessary) the carrot and gently pat dry with paper towel or a clean and dry dish cloth. Using a handheld or classic box-shaped grater, grate the carrot completely using a medium size grate directly into the bowl. Rinse cucumber, pat dry and dice 1 c. worth (approx. 1/2 of the cucumber) into bite-sized pieces (or slice into thin slices for a fancier looking salad) and add to bowl. Add feta and toss all ingredients until they are well mixed.

This salad is so simple and colourful, and because of the flavourful greens and feta and the satisfying crunch, it’s actually quite nice without any dressing at all! However, for all those dressing lovers out there, a nice and light Italian or balsamic vinagrette goes really well, or even a simple mix of extra virgin olive oil and lemon pepper would give it a little extra kick. Planning to use this for entertaining? Put out an extra bowl of feta (or parmesan!) and a few bottles of some different dressings so your guests can personalize their greens as best suits them. You could even grill up some fish or chicken to throw in for an entree salad, or use the mix to top some beef burgers! Clearly, the possibilities are endless, and they’re all PDQ.

Try this recipe out and leave me a comment telling me how you liked my PDQ salad, or better yet- send me a picture of my PDQ salad starring at your next summer party at ltwentiesproject@gmail.com!

Festive Fruity Salad

I was asked to bring a green salad as my contribution to a Christmas potluck party hosted by a co-worker of mine and I thought to myself, “Hey self. You’ve gotten off pretty much scot-free on this potluck thing. Making a salad is going to be no problem!”

I was feeling really good about it right up until the day of when I popped into the grocery store to pick up the ingredients. Just scanning up and down the vegetable aisle kind of threw me into a wild panic. How on Earth was I supposed to come up with a crowd-pleasing salad that was relatively cheap and easy to make?

Here’s what I came up with:

Festive Fruity Salad

It’s not exactly a salad in five, but it can definitely be done in fifteen minutes. Just save the dressing in a tupperware container to bring to the party so you can drizzle it over your salad at the last minute. (Because no likes a soggy salad!) It’s a fun and easy contribution to any of your upcoming holiday parties, and the colors and flavor just seem kind of…festive. Hence, the festive fruity salad title. Gosh, I’m so creative.

Festive Fruity Salad

1 1/2 heads of romaine lettuce

1/2 English cucumber

1/4 red onion

113 g. goat cheese crumbles (plus more to taste)

1 pkg.  (142 g) Craisins (or any other dried cranberry)

540 mL mandarin wedges packed in light syrup

Rinse and pat dry romaine lettuce and twist into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Add cucumber, sliced into thin rounds, and red onion, sliced into small matchsticks. Drain mandarins through a sieve; reserve some of the liquid. Pat dry using paper towel or a dry, clean dishtowel. Add to mixture. Add Craisins and goat cheese crumbles. Toss until all ingredients have been liberally coated with cheese.

To make dressing, combine 3 tbsp each balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and 1 tbsp mandarin orange liquid. (You can use lemon juice or orange juice in case you forgot to reserve some, or you were awesome and bought your own mandarin oranges.) Whisk together in a small bowl with a dash each salt and pepper. Dress the salad at the last minute, making sure to evenly coat.

The end result is delicious- the vegetables are crisp counterpoint to the creamy goat cheese and the tangy/sweet mandarins pair perfectly with the cranberries to make the salad seem festive and fun. Plus, it goes really well with chicken! Crisis adverted.

A whole slew of holiday parties are just around the corner. I’d love to know what you’ve been cooking up in your kitchen. Drop me a line at thetwentiesproject@gmail.com

Still need more potluck inspiration? Check out our recipe page for more ideas on entrées and entertaining.

Salads in Five: Chickpea, Feta and Cherry Tomato Salad

Chickpea, Feta and Cherry Tomato Salad

I love a good salad but for a while I found that making them was so intimidating. I’d go into a restaurant, or I’d look up a salad recipe online and every single one seemed to have a billion ingredients in it. Don’t get me wrong- I’ve had some really great billion-ingredient salads. But I found that I was avoiding making one myself because although they sounded nutritious and amazing, I didn’t really want to slave away over my salad the same way one would slave over a Thanksgiving turkey. It just seemed like too much work to eat healthy, and honestly? If it’s too much work then I’m not going to do it. I’m just lazy like that.

Making up a salad recipe on my own also never seemed to work. I’d buy bag salads that would go rotten because they were so bland and I couldn’t find the time to put in that extra zing. I love just eating raw vegetables (with maybe a little hummus) but that can get pretty stale too after awhile. (Especially if you forget to put the lid back on the hummus.)

So I thought I’d get creative and share this little salad idea I had with you guys. Just five ingredients, and the dressing of your choice. No fuss, no muss. It’s based on my tried, tested and true equation to making a good salad which goes a little bit like this: one leafy thing, one protein thing, one super awesome flavorful vegetable, and one carb-y type thing (to keep you feeling satisfied after that little lunch break).

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some of my favorites with you but this week I present without further ado:

Chickpea, Feta and Cherry Tomato Salad

1/4 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

4 c. shredded romaine lettuce

4 tbsp feta cheese, crumbled

italian vinaigrette

Rinse romaine lettuce, pat dry with paper towel or clean dishtowel and shred to desired size (I usually estimate the ideal size to be half the width of my palm). Place in bowl. Drain and rinse chickpeas and add to romaine lettuce. Rinse cherry tomatoes, cut into halves and add to romaine. Add in feta cheese and toss until vegetables are mixed to your satisfaction and feta is crumbled and dispersed nicely throughout. Top with favorite salad dressing (my recommendation for this one is an Italian vinaigrette, although something mustard-y might be nice as well to compliment the tomato flavor).

All of the measurements for the ingredients in this recipe are approximate- no need to follow it exactly! Depending on your tastes, or how hungry you are, you can play the ratio of vegetables to salad to cheese until you find a fit that works for you. I used store-bought, low-fat Italian dressing because I was lazy but I totally encourage you to make your own! Just remember to keep it refrigerated and to check all expiry dates on the dressings in your fridge. If it’s growing algae on top, it’s gotta go.

I love this salad because it’s so nice and simple to make. The romaine and tomatoes make it light and refreshing, and the chickpeas and feta give it some good savory base notes. I recommend the Italian vinaigrette because it’s nice and light, but flavorful enough that it can balance out the feta and the subtle taste of chickpeas.

Totally take this salad for lunch too! It holds up well in a bag, and just add the dressing later so the romaine doesn’t get too soggy. Enjoy!

Do you have any fabulous salad recipes you accidentally created? I’d love to try one! Comment below or give me a shout at thetwentiesproject@gmail.com. Who knows? We may even like to post one of them one day.

How to Make Lemon Squares

Fugzu, CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I love lemon squares. Sometimes I pretend to be planning a benefit or large birthday party, so I feel justified in buying one of every cupcake and bar they sell – if they happen to offer me a discount, well then I have clearly worked magic into my story. I recommend always carrying a clipboard, it helps sell your story. It is a wonder how I am not three-hundred and forty-two pounds, especially when E recently made me thirty lemons squares because I was feeling down. I ate them all in three days.

You would think that would have put me off lemon squares or, at the very least, satiated my need for them. But no, recently, I discovered the bakery three blocks and seventeen steps from my apartment sells lemon squares the size of bricks, which are require two hands to eat. Some people would be happy with just one but I am a greedy pig; who prefers to unhinge my jaw before I drop those lemon square bricks down the hatch.  A sane person would ask me why I just don’t learn to make them myself, so I could make tons and eat them in the privacy of my own apartment. Eating seventy-nine lemon squares in one night doesn’t count if nobody sees you eat them, I firmly believe that. I also believe if you eat them while walking around your apartment then you are working them off, the calories do not have time to settle or something.

It’s scientific or something.

But, in any case, here is a recipe I could use … if I was ever inclined to die young, from a sugar induced stroke.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5/8 cup lemon juice
Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together 2 cups flour and confectioners’ sugar. Blend in the melted butter. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until golden. In a large bowl, beat eggs until light. Combine the sugar, baking powder and 1/4 cup of flour so there will be no flour lumps. Stir the sugar mixture into the eggs. Finally, stir in the lemon juice. Pour over the prepared crust and return to the oven.
  4. Bake for an additional 30 minutes or until bars are set. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.
(credit to allrecipes.com for the recipe)

baking with b: banana muffins

B's Banana Muffins

B’s Banana Muffins- there are hardly any left!

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t include these muffins as a staple in their baking repertoire, but if you are one of those who does not, never fear: this is probably one of the simplest recipes ever. Best of all, it’s a great way to use up those overripe bananas that are sitting in your fruit basket. Or banana tree. Or wherever you keep your bananas.

B’s Banana Muffins

1 1/2 c. flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 c. butter, melted

3/4 c. sugar

1 egg

3 bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 c.)

Melt butter gently in a saucepan over medium heat or in a microwave-bowl for 30 seconds. Let stand. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together your flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix together butter, sugar, egg and bananas. Gradually add in flour mixture, mixing well. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan, or one lined with muffin liners. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350F until tops are lightly golden. If you are making miniature muffins, leave them in for only fifteen minutes.

B’s Banana Tip: It’s true what they say- ripe bananas have the best flavor. My saying for bananas is this: “If they’re not good enough to eat, they’re good enough to bake with.” Okay, I don’t really say that. But it is true. If your banana is covered with waaay too many black spots for your liking, use them to make these muffins. If your bananas are already starting to go but you don’t have time to make muffins, freeze them for up to a month. Just remember to let them get until room temperature before mashing them and adding them to your batter. Cold bananas make all that butter you just warmed up all chilly again which gets you- you guessed it- chunks. No one wants butter chunks in their muffins.

These muffins are best served warm, cold, day or night- or anytime! The best part about them is that they’re so versatile. Leave them as is and serve them warm with a lick of butter and a cup of tea. Or why not create your own variation? Add in 1/2 c of your favorite nuts to the batter before scooping in muffin liners. I think walnuts go amazingly with this recipe. Or why not add chocolate chips? (Everyone’s favorite.) A co-worker of mine made these the other day with butterscotch chips and they tasted really good as well.

Enjoy!

For more ideas on treats to make for Mother’s Day (or any day!) why not check out our recipe page? We’ve got a list of all the recipes we post on the site organized by category for your browsing pleasure. Wanna tell us what’s on the menu for your Mother’s Day meal? Email us at thetwentiesproject@gmail.com.

How to Make Vegetarian Eggplant Lasagna Without Pasta Noodles

Gran, CC-BY-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I love to eat. I hate to cook, especially when I am doing it for one. There is something truly depressing about the thought of eating alone, which is probably why I choose chips or other grazing foods, such as:

  1. Crackers
  2. Granola bars
  3. Bread
  4. Carrots, dipped in hummus
  5. Celery, with cream cheese

All these foods can be consumed while standing or moving, which distracts from the fact you are eating alone. You can hold the celery in between your teeth while you hang curtains or paint your living room. You can munch on carrots while you clean your kitchen. Granola bars can be eaten enroute to work or school. You can hold your head up high and state to the empty room,

“I am just too busy to sit down, I am working toward my career” 

Then, because you are secure in your solitude, you reach into the freezer to retrieve the double, double chocolate fudge from behind the lean cuisine you swore you would stick to. But, considering single twenty-somethings’, like myself, adverse to cooking, would probably die on a diet like that, need to bring themselves to man the stove.

The first thing I learned to cook was cheesy black bean tortillas. I had gained ten pounds after a month, so I went back to salad and decided to drink more water … I may have even exercised, once or twice. Because, although comfortable with being alone, I also do not want to die of a heart attack by twenty-nine.

So, I learned to make other things … with a little help from my friends. And three cookbooks. And my sister because she was patient with me. And my cousin because she refused to accept “I just don’t like that” and made me eat it anyway.

No-Pasta Eggplant Lasagna
8 Servings

2 medium eggplants
1 Ib tofu (extra firm)
1 green bell pepper
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
10 oz freshly chopped spinach
1/4 cup blue cheese (gives an extra bite)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp basil
1 can of tomato sauce
1 bag of shredded cheese (your choice, I like extra old cheddar)

Cut each eggplant lengthwise into moderately thin, even, 1/4 inch slices. Press each slice between two sheets of paper towel, this will draw out the moisture without having to add salt. When you are satisfied most of the water has been drawn out, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place the tofu and spinach and green pepper and blue cheese into a food processor (or magic bullet) and process (or blend) until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients – not the eggplant or tomato sauce – to the processor and blend until smooth.

Spread a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of a 9×11 inch pan. Place a layer of eggplant over the sauce, covering the entire bottom of the pan. Spread half the tofu mixture on the eggplant. Cover with another layer of eggplant and then spread remaining tofu mixture over top of that. Top with a final layer of eggplant and pour the remaining sauce over this. Cover with foil and bake for 15 – 2o minutes; remove foil and back for an additional 15 – 20 minutes, until eggplant is tender.

Add a sprinkle of cheese to the top of the eggplant lasagna and broil for ten minutes, or until cheese is golden brown. Allow to cool for ten minutes before serving.

This is a delicious recipe and something you can share with your friends. And your patient sister … who will, in turn, sprinkle ground beef on it because she cannot imagine you served her a meal without meat – oh, family.

my favourite vegan treat, ever

There’s this coffee shop down the street from the clothing store where I work part-time (when I’m not rambling on here, or rambling about my apartment on YouTube) that has the largest selection of gluten-free and vegan baked goods that I have seen in my limited experience. The previous owners of the coffee shop made these horrible vegan desserts that tasted like cardboard with mounds of icing dumped on top. The new management, however, has re-branded this café into something quaint and vaguely Italian (although I believe the owner himself is Eastern European). They have amazing gelato and lattés, but they also have one of favorite treats ever and for a not-quite-vegan like myself, I was shocked to learn that these babies have no dairy in them whatsoever.

from clockworklemon.com

 

Chocolate krinkle cookies. Great around Christmas time, great around any time. They look crunchy because of the way that they’ve broken open, but in fact the crust outside is very cookie-like, while the inside is moist and dense and chewy and oh-so-good. Excuse me while I wipe the drool off of my screen.

Buying all these cookies was becoming kind of a problem for me, so I did some searching until I found this recipe from clockworklemon.com. They’re the closest I’ve come to finding a recipe that matched the ones they make in the café so now I can make them at home just to make things a little easier on my wallet. I won’t lie, though- sometimes one or two find their way into my purse after my break at the store!

So while we’re participating in the Virtual Vegan Potluck today, I thought I’d share my favorite vegan treat for y’all so you can make them yourselves.

Vegan-Friendly Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 tbsp corn syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup soy milk (you could probably also use rice or almond milk)

1 tbsp ground flax seeds

powdered sugar and granulated sugar

4 ounces (about 1/2 a cup) semisweet chocolate chips, melted

1 1/4 cups + 2 tbsp all purpose flour

2 tbsp  cocoa powder

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

In a bowl, mix together sugar, oil, corn syrup, vanilla, soy milk, flax seeds, and melted chocolate until smooth. Sift in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Mix until a thick dough forms. Chill the dough in the fridge for 15 minutes. In the meantime, pour granulated sugar onto a plate and powdered sugar on another. When dough is ready, roll into balls approximately the size of a tablespoon and roll them in the granulate sugar, then the powdered sugar. Place cookies on a parchment-lined cookie sheet approximately 2 inches apart and bake at 325F for about 14 minutes. Let cookies cool on tray about five minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

If you’re doing something for Mother’s Day tomorrow, why not make these to serve with a glass of milk after a light lunch, or with your favorite espresso-based drink in the afternoon? Soy lattés are my poision of my choice.

Enjoy!