Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thin and Crispy Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

There's nothing better than homemade chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven. Sure, you can buy cookie dough, separate the little squares and pop them into the oven, but it's just not the same! This recipe makes thin, chewy cookies with a crispy edge. They are heaven on earth and soooo worth the calories! We dare you to have just one.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take a stick of butter out of the fridge. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

1 stick of softened butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoonful of vanilla extract
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 1/4 cups of milk chocolate chips

Kitchen Essentials:
Non-stick cookie sheet
KitchenAid stand mixer with paddle attachment or a large bowl with an electric hand mixer
2 large bowls
Measuring cups and spoons
Parchment paper
Sifting colander
Wooden spoon
Wire cooling rack

In the KitchenAid mixer bowl combine the softened butter, sugar and brown sugar. Turn on the mixer and set to medium speed until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Once all ingredients have combined, turn off the mixer.

In another bowl sift the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Turn on the mixer on low and slowly add the flour mixture into the butter mixture. When the flour mixture has evenly mixed, turn off the mixer and add the chocolate chips. Mix the chocolate chips in by hand with a wooden spoon in order not to break the chocolate chips.

Use a tablespoon to measure out the dough and place the dough two inches apart on the parchment lined baking sheets. Bake cookies until golden browned, roughly 8 to 10 minutes. All oven cooking times slightly vary so keep an eye on the first batch. Once baked, remove from the oven and allow for the cookies to sit for one minute on the cookie sheet before moving them to a wire cooling rack. Repeat until all the cookie dough is used.

Monday, June 27, 2011

European Adventure: Milan, Italy

It was 6:50 a.m. on Thursday, May 12 and we had landed in Milan after an exhausting 10-hour flight from New York City. Before we were able to explore the city that is known for high fashion and highbrowed Italians, we had to check-in to our hotel and leave behind 100 pounds of luggage. A train ride and a 30-minute walk later, we finally arrived at the NH Hotel Touring. Our room had a spectacular view of the Duomo and was one of the best hotels we stayed in during our trip. The free breakfast wasn't bad either!

We only had a few hours to explore Milan before heading to Venice the next day, so we quickly jumped on the Metro and visited one of the country's largest cathedrals, il Duomo di Milano.

If you plan on visiting il Duomo di Milano, we have to warn you that your personal space will be invaded by persistent street vendors! These were the most persistent street vendors we encountered in all of Italy!

We were amazed by the sheer size of the cathedral. It was the largest we had ever seen, and definitely the most detailed architecture we've ever experienced in our travels. The Duomo took approximately 600 years to build, and it is easy to understand why. The interior of the cathedral glows with stained glass windows depicting scenes from the life of the saints.

The roof of the Duomo was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. Not only is the view spectacular, but the intricate spires and statues of saints that decorate the roof are unbelievable.

Feeling a little jet-lagged and cranky, we decided to take a break and have our first Italian meal. We walked down the street from the Duomo and ate at one of the first cafes we encountered, Bar Madonnina. We shared a prosciutto and fresh mozzarella platter and pasta with pesto sauce. Honestly, the service and ambiance were not great, but the food made up for it. The mozzarella was absolutely divine: fresh and fluffy.

After lunch, we walked to the Castello Storzesco, which dates back to the second half of the 14th century. We spent about a hour walking around the grounds, taking pictures of the beautiful roses that were in bloom and taking in the scenery.

The next day we bravely made our way through Italy's second largest train station, Milano Centrale. It was chaos, but we finally hopped onto the correct train and made our way to Venice, one of our favorite Italian cities. Be sure to visit our blog again to read our blog post about Venice!

For more photos of Milan click here to go to our facebook album.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

European Adventure: Quick stop in NY

New York! The city that never sleeps is one of our favorite cities. It is a concrete jungle that has a certain charm that no other city can imitate. We had not been to New York since we took our engagement pictures in central park over two years ago. We had 10 hours before our flight to Milan departed, so decided to venture into the city.

Our first stop was Dylan's Candy Store in the upper east side. Open since 2001, it should be a point of interest for every candy lover when visiting NY! Try the red velvet chocolate bar. Its smooth, rich and delicious!

We had lunch around the corner at Serendipity 3. Serendipity 3 is quite a unique place! The front of the restaurant is a small boutique with tons of little trinkets. The restaurants decor is a collision of Tiffany lamps, vintage art and unique pieces that gives it a cozy and inviting feel.

For lunch we both had sandwiches: "A Summer Bries" (Turkey, brie, apples and alfalfa sprouts on pumpernickel raisin bread) and the "High Heel Pump" (Prosciutto and brie on pumpernickel bread). What make these sandwiches unique was the fact that they do not have a piece of bread on top, so we ate it with a fork and knife. The sandwiches were served with a mixed salad on the side along with homemade Russian dressing. In our opinion, the dressing alone was worth the $50 taxi ride from the JFK airport to Manhattan! It was delicious!

For dessert, we had the "Frrrozen Hot Chocolate," which Serendipity 3 is famous for. We can't begin to describe how good it is. It's almost like a thick chocolate milkshake with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Avoid this if you are on a diet!

Visiting Saint Patrick's Cathedral on 5th Avenue is a ritual for us every time we visit in New York. Although we would be visiting countless churches in Europe, we felt that our trip wouldn't be complete without spending a few minutes in this amazing church.

Next, we walked to Central Park and we were on a mission to see the famous "Strawberry Fields." Neither of us had ever seen it and we walked all over the park looking for it. We finally found it and snapped some photos before jumping into another cab and heading back to the airport. Along the way, we took some nice pictures of the tulips in season and some turtles taking in some sun. Next stop...Milan!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Our European Adventure ~ Part 1

"Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it."

— Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)

Eat, Pray, Love. We did all of that and more during our unforgettable 20-day trip to Europe. We didn't have to write a book, travel to three different countries in a year or meet Julia Roberts to achieve it. All we had to do was take a few weeks off from life and take in the extraordinary experience. Now, you will also experience it through our blog posts! Its been two weeks since we came back to reality and we must admit that it has taken us a while to adjust to eastern standard time and everyday responsibilities! We are finally refreshed and ready to start blogging! Join us as we walk you through the following cities/towns (in order of travel):

Miami, FL - New York, NY - Milan, Italy - Venice, Italy - Corfu, Greece - Santorini, Greece - Mykonos, Greece - Katakolan, Greece - Olympia, Greece - Venice, Italy - Florence, Italy - Pisa, Italy - Chianti, Italy - Pompeii, Italy - Naples, Italy - Capri, Italy - Rome, Italy - New York, NY - Miami, FL

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chicken Skewers with Oriental Dipping Sauce

We've got the perfect grilled chicken recipe just in time for Father's Day! The dads in your life will love these chicken tenders on a stick with a savory peanut butter sauce. Even the kids will enjoy it!

Ingredients for grilled chicken:
1lb of chicken tenderloins (or breast cut in strips)

Ingredients for Oriental Peanut sauce:
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 finely chopped small yellow onion

2 garlic cloves (minced)
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
1/2 cup of smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup of ketchup
1/4 cup of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of sherry
2 teaspoons of lime juice

Kitchen Essentials:
Cast iron grill or barbecue grill
Kitchen tongs
Cutting board
Measuring cups and spoons
Bamboo skewers
Small stainless steel pot
Wooden spoon

Serving bowl and plate
Aluminum foil

Place the wooden skewers in water about an hour before grilling in order to avoid burning the wood. Finely chop the garlic and yellow onion and set aside. Peel the ginger root and grate. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and lime.

Directions for Oriental Peanut sauce:
Make the sauce ahead of time and store in the fridge. When its time to grill the chicken, allow the sauce to come to room temperature and enjoy! To start, turn on your stove to medium heat and add the olive oil and sesame oil to the small stainless steel pot. Allow the oil to get hot and then add yellow onion and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Then add the chopped garlic and grater ginger. Cook for an additional minutes. While mixing, add the red wine vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice, sherry, ketchup, brown sugar and peanut butter. Continue mixing for 1 to 2 minutes until it fully incorporated. Remove from the heat and transfer to a serving bowl.

Directions for Chicken:
Once the chicken is seasoned with salt, pepper and lime, place the wooden skewers into the center of each piece. Heat your cast iron skillet or barbecue to medium-low heat. Place the chicken and cook for about 9 to 10 minutes on each side. You want nice grill marks on the chicken, so do move the chicken around too much.

Cooking times for the chicken may vary due to the thickness. Cut into the thickest part of the chicken tenderloin or breast to ensure it is fully cooked. Removed from the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes covered in aluminum foil. Serve with dipping sauce.
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