Sweet Chocolate Chip Blondies for Bittersweet Days

I have always believed that food tells stories, and that every plate carries history inside of it, regardless of how big or small the dish is. Here in Costa Rica a common saying when it comes to talking about food, particularly when it is one that we can immediately connect with dishes that are important to us or that we used to have when we were younger, is that it “tastes like a memory”. This saying resonates highly with me because as we grow old, it is evident that not everyone who has been there with us in the past, is here with us in the present, or will be with us in the future. Aside from the obvious importance these people have in our everyday life, they also mark us in little ways we many times aren’t aware of; whether it is by a saying they had, by the hugs we realize we so dearly miss, or even, those comfort foods that once received us with arms wide open in our lowest days.

Just like that, we slowly start noticing the interpersonal role food has with each and every one of us, and how it is that something is able to “taste like a memory”. The other half of the story though, is the people who prepare this food. As cooks, it is pleasant to cook for others and to bring some sort of joy and pleasure to people, however, many times cooks also enjoy to cook for themselves. I personally did this, on this past Friday when I returned from my Senior Breakfast, which was also the last school activity I had with my classmates before Graduation. I’m not going to lie, these events are really, really weird. They are weird because we aren’t even able to grasp the importance of them and really take advantage of them as we probably should.

I returned at about midday to my home and couldn’t really find much to do. I somehow, though, had an urge to cook something sweet to kind of remove that bittersweet taste I had from my mouth. I was less than 24 hours from graduating High School and if I’m honest I felt numb because there were so many emotions running through me I really couldn’t distinguish one properly so I was just stuck in a confusing and numb limbo sort of thing.

My love for chocolate chip cookies is enormous, and although I was craving something sweet like that, I was also craving a more mushy food that could more accurately depict my state at the moment, so I opted to make some blondies. For those who are slightly confused about what blondies are, they are simply an abbreviation of Blond Brownies, and they are pretty great. If I am honest I have always been more of a cookie type of person, but recently, I have found deep admiration for brownies and the art that comes with them. Anyway, below you will find this simple recipe for these Chocolate Chip Blondies that accompanied me through possibly some of the most confusing days of my life.


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/3-1/2 a cup of semisweet chocolate chips (depends on how much you like)
  • 1 stick of melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 2/3 of a cup of brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

 

Directions:

Before you begin remember to always mise en place and have your ingredients and station ready to begin working. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease the pan you would like to use. Some people like to have the blondies be a bit thicker so they use smaller pans, and some like them a bit thin so they use larger pans. An 8×8 pan leaves a nice thickness and chewy-ness to the Blondies so I recommend using one of those (Its one of the square ones).

In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter and the brown sugar. I didn’t have available packed brown sugar so I had to use regular brown sugar and spoiler alert, I recommend it; it actually gave the Blondie a bit more texture so don’t be afraid to use it! Add the egg, the salt and the vanilla to the mix and combine. Make sure that the butter is room temperature to avoid having a scrambled egg disaster! Once done, add the flour and mix throughly. Finally, fold the chocolate chips in and place the mixture in the pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden. Let cool, cut and enjoy!

 

I hope you enjoy this dish plentifully, and always remember that if you have any comments or suggestions for what I can cook next, please let me know!

 

~AJ

Chicken Fried Rice 

Hello! I would firstly like to apologize for an absence this big! I would have never thought I’d get so busy during my vacations, but preparing for my graduation and making sure everything is set for college is really time consuming! However, what I bring to you all today is a delightful and very simple dish to prepare!

Many times, friends of mine tend to tell me that the thing that limits them the most when wanting to cook is not having all of the ingredients listed in recipes. As I am yet to become an actual adult with a paycheck who does her own grocery shopping and has the chance of choosing and picking specific ingredients, I can definitely relate to them. Because of this, tonight’s dish, Fried Rice with Chicken, aims to show you all that working with what You already have can give us great and tasty results!

I encourage you to use what you have available to you! If you have beef instead of chicken, use it! If you want to add green beans and bell peppers instead of the carrots, broccoli, and zucchini used in this recipe, go ahead! Experiment as a cook and dare to find great results!


Ingredients:

  • Leftover rice (I used about five or six cups of it because that’s what I had!)
  • Three chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 cups of broccoli
  • 1 big carrot
  • 1 big zucchini 
  • 1/4 of a cup of low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/8 of a cup of low sodium soy sauce
  • 8 teaspoons of sesame oil 
  • 1/3 of a cup of oyster sauce
  • Sesame seeds to garnish

Directions:

On a clean cutting table, cut the chicken breasts into chunks. Place a medium pan in medium-high heat, add two teaspoons of sesame oil. Once hot, add the chicken chunks and cook. When the chicken is about halfway done, add the 1/8 of a cup of low sodium soy sauce to add some flavor. Once done, set aside and place the chicken in a bowl.

On another cutting table (‘Avoiding Salmonella’ is the actual song missing in Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life), cut the broccoli as you normally would, however, make sure that the little “trees” are big enough to eat but not too massive, this generally varies depending on the person! Carefully Julienne the carrots and the zucchini. (This means cutting them into little strips!) Set each vegetable into separate bowls. Using the same pan used to cook the chicken, add a teaspoon of sesame oil and once hot, add the vegetable of your choice and sauté. To ensure cooking the vegetables thoroughly until al dente, add little bits of water and cover the pan. (The steam created by the water will quicken the cooking process and ensure a better cooking). Once done, return the vegetables to their respective bowl and repeat the process with the remaining vegetables you have. 

Using a big pan in medium-high heat, add 3 teaspoons of sesame oil and add the rice. Stir lightly for some minutes until hot. Add the 1/4 of a cup of soy sauce and mix well. Add the chicken and combine. After this, add the oyster sauce and the vegetables. (The vegetables are added lastly to avoid having them over cook in the process) Mix well. Taste and make sure the rice is flavorful. If not, feel free to add a little more oyster sauce or soy sauce. It is important to NOT add additional salt seeing as both the soy sauce and the oyster sauce is sufficiently salty. Not only would you like to avoid an overly salty plate, but remember that it is better for your health!

Once done, serve the fried rice and add the sesame seeds over it as garnish and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this dish plentifully, and always remember that if you have any comments or suggestions for what I can cook next, please let me know!

 
~AJ