Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

Posted in Food, Recipes by Elizabeth on May 23, 2011

Usually when chocolate chips are on the table, it’s for chocolate chip cookies. They’re easy, the ingredients are usually all in hand, and they’re delicious. This time, however, I changed it up a bit after finding this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

When it comes to baking a new recipe for the first time, I shy away from changing the recipe. This way I get a good feel for what textures and ratios that were originally desired. The cookies are nice and moist for a shortbread. The espresso is subtle but there. If I were to make these again I might add some chopped hazelnuts to the chocolate chip mix. Or, if you want to get really crazy, you could switch chocolate chips for toffee chips. Whatever your pleasure is with a little taste of coffee.

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Smitten Kitchen)


  • 1 tbsp instant espresso
  • 1 tsbp boiling water
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temp.
  • 2/3 c powdered sugar plus some for dusting at the end
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz chocolate chips chopped or mini chips


Dissolve the espresso in the boiling water, and set aside to cool to tepid. Beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla and espresso. Add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped chocolate. Transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats or, if you do not have either of those, use a bare baking sheet without any nonstick spray. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. Transfer the cookies to a rack.

Dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving. These are great for dessert or breakfast!

Adam’s Famous Breakfast Potatoes

Posted in Food, Recipes by Elizabeth on May 15, 2011

You’ve all had them. Some of you have cooked them yourself.  Now directions to Adam’s breakfast potatoes is hitting the world wide web. If you haven’t made these yet, here’s what you’ll need: potatoes (we’ve found Yukon Gold’s to be the best), butter, salt, one yellow onion, and seasonings like garlic powder, cayenne, paprika, and rosemary.

First dice your potatoes and cook them. Our method of choice is the microwave. For 5 minutes with tab of butter. You can also bake or parboil them. The microwave option is certainly the lazier choice that works best after a serious night of drinking.

Next, dice an onion. In a nonstick pan, saute the onions and set aside for later.

Wipe out the saute pan with a paper towel. Add butter (or olive oil) to the pan until just hot (don’t brown the butter). Add your potatoes so that each potato has one side touching the surface of the pan. Cook for 5 minutes. Flip the potatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Continue until the potatoes are browned on all sides.

Season the potatoes with salt and any combination of the flavors below, or pick out your own! These can then sit on the pan on low for as long as it takes to cook the rest of breakfast. Make a little room on the pan and add the onions back into the mix. And then serve them up!


cHeCk oUt ThE tUnE-YaRdS!

Posted in Entertainment by Sarah on May 12, 2011

There’s been a different sound pumping from the speakers in our apartment lately… the sound of the tUnE-YaRdS.  Yes, those unconventional caps are intentional.  They certainly capture your attention, in the same way their music will.  The tUnE-YaRdS have been around for some time, although we stumbled upon them just a few months ago.

"w h o k i l l" album cover

The tUnE-YaRdS have a unique and infectious sound, utilizing unexpected beats, vocals, instruments, and song structures.  The sound is driven by the creative genius of Merrill Garbus, who originally hails from Connecticut but has found a home in the Bay Area (woo!).  Merill plays the ukelele (sometimes by pounding on it) along with various other instruments, and orchestrates the synthesis of these sounds into each tUnE-YaRdS song.  But it’s really her compelling, powerful voice that is the hallmark of the tUnE-YaRdS songs; it adds a depth and texture that is not often found in music today.  Her bandmate, Nate Brenner provides the perfect complement to her style with smooth and full basslines.

Their creative sound ranges from pop and alt-rock beats, to hip-hop, to bluesy-jazz, to experimental.   The music sometimes requires a few listens to fully internalize and appreciate, but you inevitably get there (and find yourself humming all day long).   When you get to this point, the lyrics open up.  Many of the songs are narrative-style, and the stories they tell might surprise a casual listener – the TuNe-YaRdS unflinchingly confront some serious and topical issues like body image, race, and violence.  When layered on top of complex and intriguing music, there’s much to explore!

Pitchfork gives their latest album, “w h o k i l l” a solid 8.8.  Respect!  My personal favorite has been “Bizness,” although nearly all the songs on the album are notable; Killa is a groovy empowered-woman kind of song, the unexpected “Doorstep” tells a heartbreaking story over a peppy doowop-inspired melody, and Es so captures the funky, offbeat, tongue-in-cheek style that characterizes Merrill’s music.

Here’s a link to their album on Amazon.  Below is a video of the song Bizness, featuring some adorable kids and amazing dancers from the Bay Area.  Check it out!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Posted in Life, Pictures by Sarah on May 8, 2011

Wishing a very Happy Mother’s Day our mom, and all the other moms out there!

Happy Mother's Day!

Mom, all the kids have made donation to Magee Women’s Research Institute & Foundation in honor of you!  We couldn’t think of a better way to honor you on a day that celebrates mothers and women than by giving back to the place where four out of five of us were born:  a place that focuses on advancing the field of health and medicine for women and their babies everywhere.

This year the donation went to Womancare International, which organizes educational programs and technical assistance for women across the globe and right in Pittsburgh, including an outreach program for Somali refugee women in Pittsburgh called Healthy Girls’ Circle.  It was you who taught us to be generous, charitable, to value our roots, and to contribute to the global community.  So we honor you in this way every Mother’s Day!  We hope that future generations of women in our family benefit from the advances in health and medicine that Magee is working on today.  And we hope to instill in these future generations the same values you’ve instilled in us.

The Start of Our Future Generations!

We love you mom!

Fish Tacos for Cinco De Mayo

Posted in Food, Recipes by Sarah on May 5, 2011

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I tried my hand at a spin on Fish Tacos.  These tacos may not be from the Flying Fish, but they are a simple and healthy recreation!

The Inspiration!

This recipe is adapted from Food and Wine Magazine.

The Result!

This recipe relies on a thick and creamy guacamole as its base.    To make your guacamole, either follow Andrea’s Recipe, or give this a try!  What makes this recipe creamy is the use of low-fat sour cream or greek yogurt.

I used a 6 oz. container of Fage free Greek yogurt, and it made this very creamy and rich.  When finished, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the guacamole.   This will keep the guacamole nice and bright green (not brown, that’s gross).

This recipe's guacamole is rich and creamy.

You’ll also need to prep the cabbage slaw.  This adds a real punch and crunch to the taco!

The color and crunch of the cabbage make this fish taco feel festive!

Next, you’ll want to prepare any other toppings you might enjoy on top of your taco.

Some people use tomatoes or grated cheese.

Pshaw, says the picky eater 😉  I used a corn & black bean topping that was made by mixing together in a small bowl black beans, corn, 1 Tbsp. cilantro, 1/2 Tbsp onion, and some lime juice.

Later, because I had extra chopped veggies on hand, I threw in some diced peppers and even some grated zucchini!

Finally, grill the fish!  Heat and spray your grill (I am in love with mine, but any other way to get your fish flaky and tender will do).  Season and grill until lightly charred and cooked through, about 10 minutes for a large steak-sized slice.  I used about 1.5 lbs of tilapia.  Other good grilling fishes will do, and the original recipe calls for Red Snapper.

Add fish to make it a fish taco

Add all the toppings and garnish with  a lime.  Best served with a little hot sauce for the hot sauce lovers, and a little Corona to cool the palate.

Add Toppings & Garnish with Lime


  • 2 Hass avocados—halved, pitted and peeled  (see here for The Avocado Secret),
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup low-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced (If you can handle it!!!)
  • 2.5 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Adobo seasoning
  • 1 small head of napa cabbage, shredded (4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
  • 2 pounds fish fillet, grilled (I used tilapia, but many other good grilling fishes may be used)
  • Ten 7-inch flour tortillas, warmed
  • 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced (I skipped this topping!)
  • 1 can fresh corn, drained (optional)
  • 1 can black beans, drained (optional)
  • Hot sauce, for serving
  • Lime wedges, for serving


  1. Make your Guacamole (or follow Andrea’s Recipe):  In a medium bowl, mash together avocados, yogurt or sour cream, jalapeño, red onion, cilantro and 3 tablespoons of the lime juice. Season the guacamole with salt, pepper and adobo seasoning.  When finished, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the guacamole.
  2. Make your cabbage topping:  Cut & shred the small head of napa cabbage.  In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and the remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Make your corn & black bean topping:  Mix together in a small bowl your black beans, corn, 1 Tbsp. cilantro, .5 tablespoon onion, and some lime juice.
  4. Grill the fish!  Heat and spray grill.  Brush the fish with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat until lightly charred and cooked through, about 10 minutes for a large steak-sized slice.
  5. Now, assemble your tacos.  Spread a healthy layer of guacamole on a tortilla. Top with a fish, cabbage slaw, corn and bean mix, and any other desired toppings (e.g. diced tomatoes  and cheese, if you’re into those ingredients).
  6. Serve with the hot sauce (and Corona) and lime wedges.

Viva La Fish Taco!

Homemade Crackers

Posted in Food, House and Home, Life, Pictures, Recipes by Elizabeth on May 1, 2011

I was writing a comment on Sarah’s Cookie Cutter post when I realized that my response was going to be in depth and might be better in a post.

I too have no cookie cutters but, on a recent trip to Sperryville, VA, I was reminded of Heidi Swanson’s idea to rummage at flea markets or antique shops for things like cookie cutters. At an antique shop we happened upon in Virginia, there were lots of dishes, silverware, and other kitchen knick-knacks like those copper pots above. (There was also a 2 qt. cast iron dutch oven for just $15! If I didn’t already have a 3 and 5 qt dutch oven, that sucker would have been mine!) I hunted for some cookie cutters but came up empty. Anyway, some of the best metal cookie cutters are probably found at places like these – not to mention that they could be a steal.

In place of cookie cutters, things like a pastry wheel or pizza cutter are quick easy substitutes. You may not get the fanciest shapes but it gets the job done.

As for homemade crackers, I love this idea and have a number of recipes logged to try. Here are just a few:

Whole Wheat Goldfish Crackers by Smitten Kitchen (she uses a drill bit for the eyes and mouth – too funny!)

Graham Crackers by Smitten Kitchen

Oatmeals Crackers by 101Cookbooks

Whole Grain Animal Crackers by The Cilantropist

If anyone makes any of these, or comes up with innovative cookie cutter replacements, fill us in here!

%d bloggers like this: