Bakery, Baking Recipes, Cookies, Sweets, Uncategorized

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hey readers! Today is a glorious day because the great Bon Appétit magazine has published and graced our kitchens with a new BA’s Best Recipe…the best chocolate chip cookies.

Chris Morocco who, if you have never watched any of Bon Appétit’s YouTube videos, is the man everyone turns to for advice and help and is the creator of this amazing recipe. When it came out, I knew I had to get in the kitchen and try them out!

I’ll start with this: chopped bittersweet chocolate versus chocolate chips. Both are great and the chips are the classic look, but the chopped up chocolate gives you chocolate in literally every bite and makes the cookie much more gooey, oozing with chocolate. Morocco is great and instructs that you can use chocolate chips, giving you all the options and measurements for both routes.

Another thing I like about this recipe is that you brown the majority of the butter, heating it in a saucepan and letting it bubble and, well, brown! Typically recipes call for room temp butter, but melting the butter gave it a really smooth texture right from the start. Along with the melted butter Chris Morocco calls for a lot of dark brown sugar compared to white sugar giving the batter a great, rich dark color. As you add the egg and egg yolks, the color softens and mellows out giving you that classic brown color.

If you are familiar with the BA Test Kitchen then you probably know that these chefs love their salt. Like the “pinch of salt” they use is like a mountain on my computer screen (even though it probably isn’t that much salt), so with that said when I saw this chocolate chip cookie recipe called for three quarters teaspoons of kosher salt (not your typical table salt folks) I was a little…😳. But y’all that salt in the end adds such a nice saltiness to the cookies that pairs perfectly with the sweetness and ratio of the chocolate. It really isn’t too much and I’m sure Chris Morocco spent time figuring out the perfect amount of salt for this recipe.

When it came to baking I usually start with the least amount of baking time to see how they do, how my oven is affecting them, etc. At the eight minute mark they were still a little too under-baked so I gave it nine minutes and thirty seconds. I think that ended up being a great time for the cookies…not over cooking them, but still giving you that gooey center. In the end I also got 27 cookies 🤷🏻‍♀️ some I made the big bakery style cookies that Morocco has been posting on his Instagram and others I did a more classic, smaller size hence the odd number. In any event, he says you get 16 cookies, but there is definitely enough batter to make much more than that! The cookies really expanded and grew out so that also helped with the size, getting bigger cookies!

This really is one of the perfect recipes (I am still biased towards the classic Hershey recipe) and this is definitely going to become a staple, go to recipe. Chris Morocco is a saint and I love Bon Appétit and all the chefs, but Morocco has my heart because of this fantastic cookie recipe. Go and try it out and enjoy the gooey goodness that Chris Morocco has graced us with.

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American, Baking Recipes, Italian, Savory, Uncategorized

The Risotto Fiasco

This is the story of how I messed up, improvised, and succeeded at making risotto.

Okay, first of all, this is why I bake. I love cooking and I love how I can be experimental and try new things and make it up as I go, but sometimes it bites me in the ass.

In this case, it’s a beautiful Sunday morning and I’m about to go into the craziest time ever with a triple bill where I’m dancing all three pieces first cast (if you’re new to the blog, I’m a professional ballet dancer…yeah hi) so I wanted to make something really special. I’m single, I have the weekend to myself to rest and recoup so I wanna do a little “treat yo-self”.

When I first thought of what I wanted to make I immediately thought of my mom’s risotto. Creamy and perfectly cooked- my mom is an amazing cook, the best actually. I figured I could totally do this and boy was I wrong.

I called my mom roughly seven times- SEVEN- about how to make it, what kind of rice to get, why is there only organic shit, what kind of wine do I use, etc, etc.

So in the end, I had decided I wasn’t going to make this. I just was too in over my head. And then I found myself in the food store, wandering the rice aisle, and I grab a box that says “Risotto”. I call my mom and try to figure out what kind of wine to get and mention that the box says to add water. My mom said to me, “what did you get, I use chicken broth and it’s a long process. It takes time to make risotto.”

I BOUGHT THE WRONG STUFF. I am a Cancer zodiac sign too so you know I started getting upset and mad at myself. I spent all this money to make a dish that I don’t know how to make and had bought the wrong ingredients. I even had a freak out about having the wrong pot to make this risotto.

I was stuck- but this Critiquing Carnivore rallied herself together. I am my mother’s daughter and I can figure this out as I go and…improvise! *cue jazz hands*

Firstly, I bought Lundberg family farms organic arborio risotto- basically instant risotto instead of plain arborio rice. The instructions on the side say to use 2.5 cups of water, but instead I used 2 cups of water and half a cup of white wine. My mom said to use Sauvignon Blanc, naturally I had already gotten Pinot Grigio (at least I’m sticking to character with getting the WRONG INGREDIENTS). I also added a little lemon juice to add some acidity to it. With classic risotto instead of water you usually slowly ladle in chicken broth a little at a time, letting the rice absorb the liquid. My mom adds in the white wine and lemon juice for taste.*

In the end I added some chopped onions I had quickly sautéed as well, just to add some texture (and I love onions).

So moral of the story is mom’s know best and the risotto fiasco ended up working out. The boxed stuff came out okay (definitely not the same as my mom’s) and once I stirred in extra Parmesan cheese and top it off with parsley, I still felt like a Top Chef Queen.

*the risotto stayed pretty soupy up until the 15 minute mark- if you go the boxed risotto route DO NOT WORRY. The rice will absorb all the liquid in the end and if not just remove the pot from heat. If you cook it too much and the risotto looks dry, I would recommend adding more water…or wine 😉

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY INSTAGRAM: @CRITIQUINGCARNIVORE

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Baking Recipes, Savory, Uncategorized

Chickpea Stew Recipe

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe, and frankly it’s been a while since I’ve made something from a recipe! I’m definitely one of those cooks who makes it up as they go, but sometimes you need a little inspiration. I’ve recently become obsessed with chickpeas and I’ve been wanting to find a recipe that’s both easy and delicious using them! Thank goodness for Pinterest because I found an awesome recipe that’s also vegan and gluten free! I know, I’m pretty proud of myself. 😋

I used canned chickpeas, solely because it’s easier and takes less time, but be sure to soak your chickpeas overnight if you aren’t going the canned route! This recipe was so easy and simple it will definitely become a staple in my house. It was very delicious and full of flavor that this carnivore didn’t miss the meat! I recommend pairing this with some rice, I chose jasmine rice in this case, to really soak up the flavors!

I highly recommend this recipe from Healthier Steps for your next family dinner, it’s definitely a keeper!

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Dallas, Fort Worth, French, Savory, Sweets, Uncategorized

Rise Soufflé- Dallas, TX

Qui penserait à aller à un restaurant soufflé à Dallas? 

No need to Google translate that (how do you think I was able to start a blog post in French?), but seriously who would think to go to a soufflé restaurant in Dallas, TX? I’m sure few people think of French cuisine when entering this great state, but a small company of restaurants is making us rethink this. Rise, with “rise no1, no2”, and “no3” are making themselves known for the French classics, one in particular. 

For those of us who don’t know, soufflé is a classic egg based French dish known for its puffy, airy look and texture before collapsing. Many people see soufflés as a complicated dish to make, achieving an airy whipped egg center and risen browned exterior. With locations in Dallas, Houston and most recently Fort Worth, “rise” is taking the metroplex by storm.

It’s almost as if you’ve walked into a “mom and pop” front in Paris. Toned down colors of purple and red, adorations like wine bottle chandeliers and Parisian styled decor welcome you. The location in Dallas is small and quaint, bursting with energy and laughter. Just as the wall says “Smile you’re at rise”, you can’t help but abide. 

The menu is quite classic, but I am certainly happy if you’re reading this before going. It’s an experience, with a cheese cart and way to order, and so many different options. Here they take your order for everything up front as it takes time to create and cook these soufflés. I’m glad I went with my friends, Diana and Jonathan, because they knew how it worked and had their own recommendations. One thing we all agreed on was cheese and marshmallow soup.

At rise they have a cheese cart where you can order anywhere from three to five to however many different cheeses, all from Europe including France, Italy, and Spain. They have a real deal spinning cheese board that as you crank the handle it shaves the cheese into small triangles (note that many of the special dinnerware items and dish towels are for sale). Another notable, and what they are quite known for, is the marshmallow soup. No, it’s not real marshmallows, but rather a nice thick tomato soup with goat cheese “marshmallows” on top. Yes, goat cheese marshmallow balls. This soup is heavenly and honestly I don’t think it needs much description, you just need to know goat cheese balls and then check out pictures below. And yes, that’s homemade pesto drizzled on top.

Now onto the star of the night, the soufflé! For the first visit I had to go classic with the jambon (ham) and gruyere. Two very French ingredients harmoniously combined in this spectacular dish. The soufflé came out piping hot, risen to a nice height with a golden brown top. The eggs were cooked beautifully, perfectly whipped and fluffy. There was a good ratio of egg to ham and cheese I thought, the ham diced into small cubes. The flavor was all there, seasonings coming together and filling my stomach, heart, and taste buds with warm happiness. 

Naturally you can’t get a first course, main course, and indulge in the cheese cart without trying the dessert soufflés…right?! They do have seasonal specials for both savory and sweet options, this night the strawberry soufflé was speaking to us. Our waiter, who was absolutely the cutest, highly recommended it and offered it with the strawberry, chocolate, and grand marnier sauce. He was a keeper, speaking our language of food. Again, beautifully risen soufflé with a gorgeous brown top. The fresh strawberries had a ton of flavor and all the sauces only enhanced the sweetness alongside the base. 

The overall look and feel of Rise is just adorable and welcoming. The dishes are beautiful, full of color and had an authentic homemade look. The decorations at the Dallas location make it feel intimate and special, I’m sure the same look applies to the Houston and Fort Worth locations. The staff always had a smile on their faces, our main waiter being absolutely phenomenal and showing true pleasure in his work in serving us and making sure we got the full experience. 

Rise Soufflé is quite the dining affair to find in Texas. I continue to be proven wrong as I find higher end restaurants serving cuisines other than steak and potatoes (which I never object to, but you know what I’m getting at). It’s so wonderful finding places like rise’s French cuisine and ambiance that as you leave and are given a quote for the evening you really just look around and feel grateful that you get to enjoy fantastic and special meals with beautiful, supportive friends. It’s truly a blessing going on this food journey and having a fun blog, but it’s the people you’re enjoying these meals with that you will never forget. 

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Baking Recipes, Cookies, Savory, Sweets, Uncategorized

Harvest Fall Recipes

IT’S FALL Y’ALL. This carnivore is so excited that it’s finally the season of pumpkin and candy corn and cinnamon. With all of that being said, I tried two different fall themed recipes this week! The first is a savory chicken recipe that has so many delicious flavors and then a scrumptious pumpkin take of the classic snickerdoodle! 

I found each of these recipes on different blogs, the first being Well Plated by blogger Erin. When I first saw this recipe the ingredients really drew me in. Chicken with apples, sweet potatoes seasoned with thyme and cinnamon sounded so fall like! AND BACON. BACON. Read the recipe before starting (always), but especially here. She doesn’t just throw everything in together and I have to say I think it really did make a difference. Give the ingredients the chance to soak in flavors before combining everything. She originally called for brussel sprouts, but I’m not a huge fan of them so instead I threw some spinach in! Just as healthy and adds the green color! 

In case my kitchen didn’t smell good already (which it smelled amazing), lets bring some more cinnamon, add some pumpkin spice, flour and sugar and get to baking! These Pumpkin Spice Snickerdooles from Valerie’s Kitchen are so incredible, 9 minutes in the oven is the perfect amount of time. Still soft and gooey after cooling down, the cinnamon sugar coating not over baked on the outside. These flavors obviously work so well together, its like a pumpkin pie in cookie form. 

My apartment smelled amazing all day from these harvest recipes, I highly recommend trying them out this fall season and check out the blogs too! There are lots of fun recipes from both bloggers! I hope you enjoy these fall flavors and smells as much as I did this upcoming season, now go make happiness in your kitchen! 

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Baking Recipes, Beef, Mexican, Savory, Tacos, Uncategorized

Mexican Casserole

It’s taco night in your house, but you’re looking for something a little different to make than just plain old tacos. This taco Mexican Casserole from Recipe Diaries is not only easy and delicious, it’s a Weight Watchers entree, so if you’re following that program or take comfort in that it’s a healthy option then I highly suggest it! 

I tweaked the original recipe, just used it as a base and used up some peppers in my fridge! I browned the ground beef (you could definitely use turkey!) and drained that, meanwhile I only had frozen corn so I sautéed that in a separate pan. I chopped up red, yellow, and green peppers and onion and threw that in the beef pan with some oil just to get that cooking. 

After a few minutes I added the beef back and corn followed by the taco seasoning as instructed. Now the recipe doesn’t specify if you need to add water, like the taco seasoning says. The seasoning wasn’t really getting distributed though so I added a mere 1/4 cup of water and that helped to season everything in the pan. I added in the tomatoes, but sadly I didn’t have any jalapeños! So to improvise that heat I added cumin and sriracha along with salt and pepper.
 As I let that sizzle up a bit I prepared the casserole dish. I sprayed the dish and heated the oven to the instructed 350°. Now my casserole certainly wouldn’t accommodate the amount of tortillas the recipe says, so in total I only used four. They do overlap so still cut them in half. The rest of the recipe is perfect, cooking time was spot on and five minutes covered for the cheese was plenty time. 

I have had this as leftovers and a solid minute and a half in the microwave and it’s just as good. Some of the comments say that after freezing it they experience soggy tortillas (we don’t want soggy bottoms, right Mary Berry?), but I’m still curious to try freezing it. I’ll try to update the post after doing that, if I don’t eat it all first! Add your favorite toppings to the side and you’re golden! One thing I didn’t do was do a layer of sour cream, just because I don’t like sour cream, but I’m sure that layer in the casserole would make it delicious. Who knows, maybe that’s what causes the soggy bottoms after freezing! 

I hope you get a chance to make this recipe, it would be perfect for a potluck or picnic! Tacos condensed! Let me know how it goes for you and leave a comment, I would love to hear from my readers! Thanks for reading, happy cooking! 

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Bakery, Baking Recipes, Cookies, Sweets, Uncategorized

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love my chocolate, as I’m sure many of you have realized by now. And peanut butter and chocolate is one of the best combinations to ever be invented. So when this recipe popped up on my Pinterest from Butter with a Side of Bread, I knew I had to try it.

The recipe is absolutely perfect and these are indeed probably one of the best peanut butter chocolate chip cookies I’ve had/made. No substitutions needed for it, I baked the cookies for 10 minutes and was very satisfied with the softness of them. However, if you like really gooey cookies lean more towards an 8 minute baking time. Super easy to make and all ingredients you can find in a common household, if you’re like me and keep peanut butter and chocolate chips on hand all the time. I highly recommend this recipe, perfect for everyone! And don’t forget the classic fork marks!

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