Monday, January 3, 2011

Dinner, Dessert, and Good Reads

I haven't made any resolutions this year.  I never keep them.  But, there are always and definitely things I would like to change about myself and habits I would like to begin.  I accomplished a few last night when I  had a fire lit under me, the fire being the fact that yesterday was my last day of Christmas Break freedom before it was back to work today.  I always get to the last day of break and regret all of the things I should have accomplished.  One of those things this year was reading.  I am reading an excellent book right now by Haruki Murakami.  I have read two other books by him, and have liked them both, but this one is my favorite.

This book is a translation from the original Japanese version.  Japanese writing is definitely different from Western-style writing.  We are a very linear-thinking society, meaning our stories typically have an introduction, a plot with a climactic event, and then a resolution.  Murakami's writing tends to intertwine several plots into one book, often without a climactic event, and even more often without a concrete resolution.  This style could be difficult for some who are used to the Western way of thinking, and it is hard for me at times, but he writes about very interesting, fantastical subject matter.  It would be fun to have a book club question session on one of his books.

In addition to whirl-wind reading last night, in an attempt to make up for my laziness over break, I baked some MORE cookies.  I couldn't pass up the on-sale candies at Target after Christmas, so I decided to make mint chocolate M&M cookies.

I adapted Dorie Greenspan's "World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies" to suit my needs, and came up with the following recipe:

  1. 1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda.3. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for about 1 minute, until smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes or so, until well-blended. Beat in the vanilla and mint extracts. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 portions, mixing only until each addition is incorporated. On low speed, or by hand with a rubber spatula, mix in the mint M&Ms.4. Spoon the dough by slightly rounded tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between spoonfuls.5. Bake the cookies- one sheet at a time and rotating the sheet at the midway point- for 10-12 minutes, or until they are slightly firm; they may still be a little soft in the middle, and that's just fine. Pull the sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to rest for 1 minute, then carefully, using a wide metal spatula, transfer them to racks to cool to room temperature.6. Repeat with the remainder of the dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.

The cookies turned out really well, and go famously with leftover limited edition peppermint ice cream!

Another habit I would so like to get into is to plan meals each week, and STICK TO THEM!!  I tend to buy all the ingredients for recipes I would like to make, then get lazy and eat out or just eat something simple from the fridge.  Tonight I made a really good Cooking Light recipe:

The recipe calls for orecchiette noodles, but our store didn't have them this time, so I substituted campanelle  noodles, which were really good!  It was also a very simple, fresh tasting pasta.  I will definitely make this again.

I hope to blog about each dinner I make (at least the ones that are fairly interesting), but you know how life gets in the way.  We shall see . . . no promises.

What is your favorite go-to pasta dish?

What are you reading these days?


  1. My favorite go-to pasta dish is lasagna. So yummy and cheesy.
    And I just started reading a book about raising sheep. It's one of the few books I received for Christmas this year.

    Those recipes look great Mel! I'm going to have to try them out.

  2. I am beginning the next Stieg Larsson book and I will be attempting to make lasagna for the first time this month!