Junk Food Delight Cookies

Christmas Eve and all the feasting that comes with it (and Santa!) are almost here. Do you know what you’re putting out for the big guy? Sure, there’s the classic chocolate chip cookie, but what if the Santa you know prefers to experiment?


Enter my junk food delight cookies. As the third place champions of this year’s Brooklyn Cookie Takedown, these are destined to please the bearded gift-giver in your life. Just make sure to have lots of milk (or craft beer) on hand.


Junk Food Delight Cookies

Makes about 40-50 cookies

5 tablespoons butter

12 ounces Ghirardelli’s 60% cocoa baking bars

4 ounces Ghirardelli’s 70% cocoa baking bar

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

heaping 1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup thin pretzel sticks, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 cup peanut butter M&M’s

1 cup Reese’s peanut butter cups, chopped into small pieces (this is easier to do when they are frozen)

Maldon sea salt flakes, for topping


Fill a small pot with about an inch of water and bring to a simmer. Place butter and cocoa bars in a small or medium bowl and place on top of pot. Stir occasionally, until butter and cocoa are melted together. Let cool slightly (but not completely) while you work on the following steps, continuing to stir every few minutes to make sure it is not solidifying.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl.

Beat the sugar and eggs in a stand mixer on medium high speed for about 6 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Add the vanilla extract and melted chocolate, and mix on medium speed until well incorporated, about 2 minutes.

Use a rubber spatula to fold the flour mix into the batter. Make sure it is evenly distributed. Add the pretzel sticks, peanut butter M&M’s, and Reese’s cups, and fold until well distributed within the batter.

Cover top of batter with plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least 1.5 hours to harden (or else it will be too difficult to shape into cookies).


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using either a teaspoon and your hands or a cookie scooper (a cookie scooper will be much easier!), shape the dough into slightly smaller than ping pong ball sized mounds. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt flakes. Baked for 8-12 minutes, until tops looks just slightly dried and cracked, but much of the cookies still looks raw. Allow to cool completely.

Unlike most baked goods, these taste best once they have completely cooled, and once they have rested for a day. Just make sure to store these in an airtight container (at room temperature).


Ice Cream Double Hitter

Once upon a time, many moons ago, on my 29th birthday, I won third place People’s Choice and Judges at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Takedown for my Lemon Raspberry Pie Ice Cream. Roughly twelve moons before then, after drawing inspiration from an amazing trip to Japan, I placed 4th in People’s Choice with my Green Tea Kit Kat Ice Cream. Both times, I swore up and down that I would post the recipes on my blog. But time came and went, I went on trips, got busy at work, started wedding planning, and even posted some other recipes. What can I say? Ice cream recipes are fussy—so many steps to spell out!


People, there is nothing I can do about the fact that it is decidedly not ice cream weather at the moment. But a promise is a promise, so, without further ado, I bring you an ice cream recipe double-hitter: Green Tea Kit Kat Ice Cream AND Lemon Raspberry Pie Ice Cream.


(Why post these recipes now, Alice? Well, the Brooklyn Cookie Takedown is just around the bend. I’m super excited and hope you are, too! You know what wasn’t exciting? The prospect of coming out of that event with three recipes to post on my blog. Better late than never…right?)


Green Tea Kit Kat Ice Cream

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop

Makes 1 1/2 quarts

For the Ice Cream:

1 cup whole milk

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups heavy cream

5 teaspoons matcha powder

6 egg yolks

For the Chocolate Fudge Ribbon:

1 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

3/4 unsweetened cocoa powder

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I like Ghirardelli’s.)

For the Kit Kats:

1 1/2 cups Green Tea Kit Kats, frozen and chopped into ¼ of an inch pieces (You can find these on Amazon.)

First, make the ice cream base. Heat up the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan while whisking occasionally.

Pour the cream and matcha powder in a large bowl and whisk together, then place a mesh strainer atop the bowl. Prepare an ice bath in an even larger bowl, and place the cream bowl and strainer in the ice bath.

In a separate large bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Once whisked, slowly whisk in the hot milk mixtures. Place the hot egg mixture back in the saucepan. Over medium heat, use a rubber spatula to constantly stir the mixture in the saucepan, until it has the consistency of custard. Strain the custard mixture into the matcha cream. Whisk together until the mixtures are combined and the ice bath has cooled the mixture. Chill in your fridge—your ice cream maker will tell you how long you must chill for.

Next, prepare the chocolate sauce. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the water, sugar, corn syrup, and cocoa powder. Whisk frequently, and when it begins to boil, remove from heat and stir in the bittersweet chocolate until melted. Place in fridge to chill completely.

Finally, bring it all together. Place your ice cream in the ice cream maker. When it is 5 minutes from being completed, pour in the chopped up Kit Kats, and let the ice cream process until they are evenly distributed. Layer the ice cream with the chocolate sauce in a large Tupperware. Place in freezer for at least a couple hours before serving.


Lemon Raspberry Pie Ice Cream

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop

For the Ice Cream:

3/4 cup sugar

zest of 3 large lemons

1 cup whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

generous pinch of salt

5 egg yolks

For the Raspberry Sauce:

6 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed

1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons sugar

For the “Pie”:

1 1/2 cups graham crackers, shattered into small pieces (but not completely pulverized)

First, make the ice cream. Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse until the zest has become very fine and incorporated in the sugar. Place the sugar and lemon mixture, milk, and 1/2 cup of the heavy cream in a medium pot. Warm the mixture, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture has warmed, cover the pot, remove from heat, and let infuse, undisturbed, for 1 hour.

Whisk the egg yolks together in a medium bowl. Once the hour has passed, rewarm the milk and sugar mixture. Pour the mixture slowly into the egg yolks, whisking constantly.

Prepare an ice bath with a large bowl inside it, containing the remainder of the heavy cream. Place a fine sieve over the large bowl.

Pour the egg yolk and milk mixture back into the medium pot, and place over medium heat. Use a rubber spatula to stir constantly, and make sure to scrape along the bottom of the pan. Be careful of over-cooking. The mixture is ready when it has a custard-like consistency and coats the spatula.

Pour the mixture through the sieve and mix with the heavy cream. Discard the lemon zest and any cooked egg particles that are caught in the sieve. Keep mixing until the mixture has cooled. Place in an airtight container in the fridge and thoroughly chill, for at least 24 hours or per the instructions of your ice cream maker.

Next, make the raspberry sauce. Blend together all ingredients in a blender. Run through a fine sieve to remove seeds. Chill in fridge until ready to use.

Finally, bring it all together. Place your ice cream in the ice cream maker. When it is 5 minutes from being completed, pour in the graham crackers, and let the ice cream process until they are evenly distributed. Layer the ice cream with the raspberry sauce in a large Tupperware. Place in freezer for at least a couple hours before serving.

Now where is that to-do list, so I can mark this done and done?


Chicken Tamale Soup

The smell of this soup transported me right back to Mexico City. It has that savory, acidic, herby, and smoky scent of a real down-to-earth cantina or street-front taco stand. It calls to mind the kind of authentic south-of-the-border flavors that don’t rely on such Americanized notions of Mexican food as ground beef, refried beans, tortilla chips, sour cream, and heaps of cheese (all in one dish).


It is pure heaven and the kind of comfort food that won’t leave you feeling guilty. Though, don’t skimp on the protein. Chicken thigh is essential–it’s just not going to be as flavorful with chicken breast. And don’t skimp on the raw onion and lime garnishes: they are everything here.


Chicken Tamale Soup

Adapted from How to Cook Everything Fast

Makes 4-5 servings

8 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup masa harina

1 medium yellow onion, trimmed and halved

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

3 chipotles in adobo and accompanying sauce



1.75 pounds chicken thighs, boneless, skinless, and cut into strips

1 lime, cut into wedges

1 avocado, cubed

1/3 cup shredded cheddar or other cheese


Heat the stock in a large pot over high heat. While it is heating up, place the masa harina, 1/2 of the onion (save the rest for garnish, finely chopped), 1/2 cup of cilantro (again, the rest is set aside for garnish), the chipotles, and a sprinkling of salt an pepper in a food processor. Once the stock comes to a boil, turn the heat off, and place two cups of the heated stock in the food processor. Blend on high until all the ingredients are pureed.



Place the puree in the pot with the stock. Turn the heat to high, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce to a low boil, and let cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken thighs, let the mixture come back to a low boil, and cook for an additional 10 minutes, again stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and ladle into bowls.


Serve with the chopped cilantro and onion, avocado, lime wedges, and cheese.


Dessert for Dinner? It Must Be Blintzes/The Inauguration!

This election season was a hard one on all of us. So, even if it is January, a time where we  should still be maintaining various healthy-eating resolutions, I think we can all forgive ourselves if the inauguration has left us needing a little more. Personally, it left me needing to take a trip home to my mother’s kitchen, where I’ve been eating my feelings since 1988.



There we made nalesniki (or as you may know them, blintzes), the favorite comfort food of Polish and Jewish grandmothers and children everywhere. The toppings can vary from fruit sauces to chocolate to Nutella to powdered sugar, but the cheese filling is tried and true. It’s basically dessert for dinner, and who doesn’t need that today? Yesterday we marched, tomorrow we call our congressmen, today we eat blintzes.


Nalesniki (or, Blintzes)

From Mommy’s Kitchen

Makes 12-16 blintzes

For the Filling:

1 pound farmer cheese

1/3 cup whole milk, plus more if needed

3-4 teaspoons sugar, or more, to taste

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Pastry:

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups cold water

1 egg

pinch of salt

1 2/3 – 2 cups sifted flour

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for pan

vegetable oil, or clarified butter, for pan

For the Raspberry Sauce:

12 ounces raspberries

juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons sugar

For Topping:

sour cream



First make the filling. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl using a metal spoon. The consistency should be between whipped cream cheese and regular cream cheese. Add more milk if it is too thick. Add more sugar to taste. I prefer a more tangy/sour flavor, so I err on the side of less sugar (around 3 teaspoons). Set aside.


Next, get started on the raspberry sauce. Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan (too small and you will get a lot of splatter) over high heat. Mix with a wooden spoon and let the mixture come to a boil. The raspberries should start to come apart. Once a high boil is reached, decrease heat to low and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, until it reaches the consistency of a thick sauce. Add more sugar if wanted. Set aside.



Now work on the pastry wrap. Place the milk, water, egg, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk quickly until the mixture is foamy. Add flour and whisk. Keep adding flour until the batter has a consistency somewhat more runny than pancake batter. Finally, whisk in the olive oil.


Heat a small-medium nonstick pan over medium-high heat. The size of the base of the pan will be the size of your wraps. Add olive oil to the pan until it is very lightly coated–just enough to keep the wrap from sticking. Pour in a light coating of batter, just enough to spread over the base. Swirl the pan so the batter is distributed evenly. Once there are bubbles in the batter, flip (should be about 1-2 minutes). Cook another 30 seconds-1 minute. Both sides should be lightly golden brown. You will fry these again, so they should be somewhat lighter than you would like for the final product. Set aside the wraps as you finish them. Repeat until you are done with the batter. You should have 12-16 wraps.



Once all the pastry wraps are made, begin assembling the blintzes. Place 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons filling on a pancake. Use a small spoon to spread over half of the wrap. Roll up the wrap, beginning with the edge that has filling on it. Set aside, and repeat until all pancakes are rolled up.



Now, it all comes together! Heat a thin layer of clarified butter or vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add blintzes, rotating as needed, until crispy and golden brown on all sides. This should take 5-8 minutes. Remove from oil and blot on paper towels.


Pour raspberry sauce on top of blintzes. Serve with sour cream and sugar.


Vaguely Indian Butternut Squash Soup

While we’d all like to pretend it does not exist sometimes, there is most definitely that category of food known as “more effort than it’s worth.” At least, more effort than it’s worth to make at home (ahem, rugelach). This soup (particularly the stock that is it’s foundation), is gingerly teetering on deserving such a title. And yet, look at the colors! And, yay, vegetables and healthy cooking! Wow, flavor combinations I’ve never encountered before!


You’ve been warned. But if you have a day you are planning on spending sitting around at home anyway, and you don’t mind an hour or so of vegetable prepping and chopping, then consider adding this soup to your agenda. You will be rewarded with amazing smells and tastes, though your heart will sink when you see all the vegetables that get discarded once the stock has been made. I guess these are the sacrifices we make when trying to make a flavorful stock without meat. Though can we acknowledge that just a few chicken bones could accomplish what over a dozen vegetables, herbs, and spices are needed for here? Nonetheless, if you are still full of new year resolve to eat healthy, and willing to put in inordinate effort to fulfill your resolution, then this dish is for you.


Indian Butternut Squash Soup

Adapted from The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

Makes 6-8 servings

For the Curried Vegetable Stock:

1 large yellow onion

2 large carrots

2 celery ribs

1 bunch green onions, including 2/3 of the greens

2 tablespoons sunflower seed

8 cloves garlic, smashed

8 parsley sprigs

6 thyme sprigs

2 bay leaves

2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

4 whole cloves

2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

2 cardamom pods

skins and seeds of the butternut squash from the soup

trimmings of the lemongrass from the soup

5 pieces dried slices of galangal (you can get these at spice markets)

2 sprigs each of mint, basil, and cilantro

For the Indian Butternut Squash Soup:

Curried vegetable stock from above recipe (about 6-7 cups)

1 tablespoons sunflower seed oil

3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped

1 lemongrass stalk, the tender middle section minced

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 jalapenos, seeded and diced

2 large cloves of garlic, crushed

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

juice of 2 limes

mint, cilantro, and basil, finely chopped, for garnish


First, make the stock. Clean and dry all of the vegetables and herbs thoroughly and chop into 1 – 2 inch pieces. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add all of the ingredients except the salt and brown for 10-13 minutes, stirring frequently, until lightly browned. The more fragrant, the more flavorful your stock will be. Add the salt and 8 cups of water and bring to a strong boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer (without a cover) for 40 minutes. Strain out everything and reserve the liquid.



Next make the soup. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a soup pot. Add the squash, minced lemongrass, onion, half the jalapenos, and the garlic. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 10-13 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock, increase heat to high, and bring to a strong boil. Lower the heat, partially cover the pot, and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the squash is quite tender. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender (or an old-school blender) to puree the soup to your desired consistency. Place back on heat, and stir in the coconut milk. Stir in the lime juice. Taste and add salt as needed. Serve garnished with the remaining jalapeno and the chopped herbs.