Really Eating

Real Simple Chocolate Chocolate-Chunk Cookies

Posted in Recipes by Bethany on December 6, 2011

Real Simple did a cookie feature in the December issue where they featured 10 kinds of “base” cookies and then a few variations of each, yielding a total of 30 cookies. I read that article a few weeks before Thanksgiving and thought I would try to bake one kind every week until Christmas… yes, I was a little too ambitious! It took me about 4 weeks just to bake the first cookie, but now that it’s done, I’m a little more motivated to try another.

These cookies are DELICIOUS. They are pure chocolate-sugar-and-butter and were a hit with my co-workers. I think the marshmallow variation would probably be great too, if you’re a fan of marshmallows. Or you could toss in some almonds and make them rocky road cookies… yum!

One caveat -I didn’t have 24 oz of semisweet chocolate so I did half semi and half milk chocolate (after extensive Google searching to confirm it was okay). Another note- I switched up the order of some of the directions because they didn’t seem efficient to me… what’s the point of preheating the oven early if you’re going to have a 15 minute cooling period?! Unless you have a very slow oven, it would be a waste of power/energy/electricity/gas. The ingredients/directions below reflect what I actually used/did, but you can go to the website to get the original.


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces (1 bag) semisweet chocolate chips, chopped roughly
  • 12 ounces (1 bag) milk chocolate chips, chopped roughly
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.

In another large microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter and 12 ounces of the chocolate (I did half of each semi and milk chocolate). Microwave on high in 30-second intervals (uncovered), stirring between each, until melted and smooth. (I think I microwaved for a total of ~2.5 minutes). Let cool slightly (I think I let it sit for about 2 minutes). Whisk in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.

Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined (do not overmix). Fold in the remaining 12 ounces of chocolate. Let cool for 15 minutes. I let mine sit out but in retrospect, I probably could have thrown it in the fridge to make the batter easier to work with.

During that cooling period, preheat the oven to 350° F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use Silpat-type baking mats.

Once cooled, drop mounds of the dough (about 1 heaping tablespoon each) 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake until firm around the edges and cracked on the tops, 12 to 15 minutes.

Let cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. (Quick tip – pull off the parchment paper and stick the entire sheet on a cooling rack, run your baking sheet under cold water and then you’re ready to pop another batch in the oven!)


My Favorite Snacks

Posted in Ingredients, Lists by Bethany on November 8, 2011

I’ve always been a snacker (like most girls). That can be a good thing when you’re trying to eat more smaller meals throughout the day, rather than 3 big meals without any calories inbetween meals. On the other hand, it can be a big area of weakness when you’re already eating 3 big meals… doh.

Over time I’ve been trying to evolve and graduate my snack preferences away from super-processed, sugary/salty snacks and more toward healthier, energizing snacks, especially when I sit at a desk for more than 7-8 hours/day. I still love my cookies, cupcakes, chips, and Cheez-Its (so addictive!), but on a regular basis, I try to reach for these kinds of snacks instead:

  • Greek yogurt (when on sale, you can find Chobani brand for $1 each)
  • Costco trail mix (I can’t deny I love finding the little chocolate pieces in it)
  • Cereal (Honey Nut Chex is my favorite)
  • Baby carrots and peanut butter
  • Fresh, seasonal fruit (right now-apples and grapes)
  • Pudding cups (when I *have* to have a little bit of chocolate)
  • Costco edamame packets (brand: Madame Edamame, toss them in a microwave and voila!)
  • Carrot-orange juice (sometimes juices/drinks are great snacks too! I mix the organic Boathouse Farms carrot juice at Costco with Simply OJ)

What do you snack on? Suggestions? Favorites?

The Cheesecake Factory Miso Salmon

Posted in Eating Out, Recipes by Bethany on October 23, 2011

My husband really, really likes the Cheesecake Factory. He loves the Chicken Bellagio and the brown wheat bread that comes out at the beginning of every meal and the consistent service. I think he secretly also likes going there because NBA players like going there too. Seriously!

I, on the other hand, could care less for the place. I’ve tried a handful of dishes over our many visits there and am usually underwhelmed. For the record, however, I like their french fries, I like their strawberry cheesecake dessert, and their Asian Chicken salad (minus all the deep fried toppings) is pretty good. My ambivalence toward the Cheesecake Factory was probably due to the fact that until recently, I hadn’t tried the Mis Salmon. Oh boy, I was missing out!

If you haven’t tried the Miso Salmon and you saw it at someone else’s table, you’d probably scoff at the simple bed of rice, humble steamed vegetables, and salmon fillet. I mean, everyone at the table with me commented that it looked like something you could make at home (which is partially true…). BUT, after trying it, after everyone taking more than just a bite of my dish, we were all sold.

Then, at home, I realized that there must be some truth to the whole “it looks like something you can make at home” sentiment. A few quick Googles proved me right! There were a few recipes circulated over and over on the Interwebs so I found the one that looked the simplest (my ambition comes second to my efficiency) and gave it a whirl. Note: I have not tried to make the sake butter yet… maybe I will, maybe I won’t. The salmon’s delicious without it, so don’t stress if you don’t make the butter either.

It’s a relatively easy recipe once you find miso. I assumed I could find it at a normal grocery store (checked Vons, Albertsons, Ralphs, Trader Joes… nope!) so make sure to grab it the next time you’re at the Korean market or Mitsuwa. I didn’t really know which kind to buy, but apparently white miso is the most common type so I went with that.

Super quick prep time, super delicious pay off. Make this one!!

Miso Salmon


  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons hot water
  • 2 Tablespoons miso
  • Salmon fillets
  • cooking spray
  • 1 Tablespoon chives or scallions, chopped


Move oven rack to top position and pre-heat broiler.

Combine first four ingredients, stirring with a whisk.

Arrange fish in shallow baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Spoon miso mixture over fish.

Broil 10 minutes, basting with miso mixture every 3-4 minutes.

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Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Everything

Posted in Grocery Shopping, Ingredients by Bethany on October 22, 2011

I didn’t grow up a huge fan of pumpkin-anything. I never understood (or even noticed) that pumpkins were for more than pie (yuck) and decorations (eh). Maybe it had to do with the fact that I wasn’t a huge fan of the color orange? Who knows.

As I’ve been growing and adjusting more and more to the idea of eating seasonally, I was strangely intrigued by one of the pumpkin products in the Trader Joe’s “Fearless Flyer” we get in the mail–super premium pumpkin ice cream (what can I say, I love ice cream).

Quick background: I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with Trader Joe’s, mainly because I find myself annoyed at how quickly I can spend money on things that aren’t *necessary*. Ex: sparkling pink lemonade. Water would be just fine, but I can’t resist their sparkling lemonade! Does anyone agree with this sentiment?? I do find myself buying some actual ingredients there from time to time (mushrooms are typically cheaper than any other grocery store), but a lot of times I feel underwhelmed. For example, bread I buy at TJ’s often molds more quickly than I would expect (even more quickly than the expiration tags dictate). Another example, a lot of their products aren’t that much better for you than those at a conventional grocery store (when it comes to meat/produce/etc).

That being said, I LOVE their ready-made salads as lunch alternatives to eating out at work when I don’t have leftovers to eat. I am constantly tempted to buy their chicken tikka masala frozen entree (it is SO. GOOD. I think the free sample lady sold me on this one too…). I am also constantly amazed by all the unique things they can cover in chocolate–soy nuts/sesame seeds/potato chips/______(fill in anything here)… and you get the picture.

Anyway, in true Trader Joe’s fashion, I was lured in to buy super premium pumpkin ice cream ($3.99, d-e-licious) and then the free sample lady sold me on pumpkin bread/muffin mix (I swore off cake mixes but couldn’t… resist… the… pumpkin… bread…). BTW: the pumpkin bread is delicious. I bought some canned pumpkin the other day at Albertsons and am committed to using it to bake something or other before the season’s out. I have yet to actually buy a pumpkin and do anything with it (big. orange. scary.), but so far, my taste buds are telling me that they like pumpkin flavored things. More to (hopefully) come!

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Banana Bread

Posted in Recipes by Bethany on October 22, 2011

This is my go-to recipe for banana bread. I’ve tried a handful of different recipes, often willing to see if a tweak in this ingredient or the additional of that ingredient will convert me from this one, but alas, I always come back to the original.

It probably also has something to do with the fact that this recipe doesn’t call for any ingredients out of the ordinary–no sour cream, no buttermilk, etc. If anything, when I have a craving for banana bread, I sometimes don’t have the 3-4 over-ripe bananas I need to make it!

I buy a bunch of organic bananas almost every week and sometimes we can’t eat them fast enough to avoid the eventual over-sweet ripening from happening. Both of us like our bananas a little under-ripe (or just-ripe) so once they tip into that starting-to-brown territory, I just set them aside and let them ripen… and ripen… and ripen. If I have 3-4, I’ll make bread right then and there, but if it’s just a lone rang-er, banana, I’ll stick it in the freezer.

I never really understood what to do with frozen bananas, but I had always *knew* in the back of my head that they were re-usable. I finally did a quick Google and found out that:

  • You can definitely use frozen bananas in recipes. Some people even claim that they’re easier to cook with/taste better, maybe because of their mushy consistency.
  • You don’t have to defrost them, but sometimes they’re easier to use when slightly defrosted. I would suggest putting them in a plastic bag or container of some kind to protect the rest of the fridge from banana defrosting slime. You could also just leave them out on the counter for an hour or two (with your eggs and butter).
  • Some people claim that you can snip off the top of the bananas and squeeze out the insides… but I haven’t had any success with this method.
  • I use gloves to peel off the uh, peel, and minus cold fingers, works for me!
Original recipe was from the ever-reliable Simply Recipes, with a few tiny tweaks/additions below.

Banana Bread


  • 3-4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • Toppings/add-ins: Mini chocolate chips, chocolate chips, walnuts… whatever you have on hand


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Rub butter wrapper/butter over a 4×8 loaf pan (I like this one).

Melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl. With a wooden spoon or spatula, mix in the mashed bananas. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. (One bowl recipe, yes!)

*If you’re adding in any extras, fold them into batter gently at the end.

Pour mixture into the loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Let cool before serving.

Store in an air-tight container to keep the bread from drying out. A quick toast is a great way to re-heat for breakfast or snack.

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