Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Food Nerd

I just entered the 2nd Annual Cooking Light Recipe Contest, and I'm so nervous my heart is pounding. I am such a nerd.

Of course I would love to win the contest. Grand prize is $10,000 and a family vacation for four. Four other finalists win $5,000 each. Frankly though, I would be happy if someone just threw me a bone. I mean really, can't this be the kind of contest where losers get a Cooking Light apron or something? Anything? Mom said I would be satisfied with a free spatula. She's right.

This is technically my first recipe contest, unless you count that 4-H Peanut Butter Sandwich recipe contest back in fourth grade. Mom says I won, but I think that, um, it was one of those confidence-building things where we were all winners. Or something like that. After all, though we can't remember what my recipe was, I vaguely recall including alfalfa sprouts. It can't possible have tasted good. Maybe I got the Hippie Kid Award.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

One of Those Days

Yesterday was one of those days. It started off rough and only got worse. By 4pm I'd already had an argument with one of my sisters, snapped at one of my clients, yelled at my cellphone provider, accomplished only half of the items on my to-do list, had two appointments cancelled at the last minute, and had cried twice. By the time I realized I had not yet made the menu for the week, nor gone grocery shopping, I was close to not even caring whether or not we had dinner. But then I remembered that cooking would actually make me feel better.

I knew without looking that the produce drawers in the refrigerator were getting dangerously close to empty, and I have been slowly purging our pantry shelves so as to further reduce our consumption of packaged foods. And since I almost always cook from a weekly menu that I make up on Sunday afternoons, I get a little whacked out when I have to come up with a spontaneous meal. So I reverted back to my old ways and headed for a box of spaghetti noodles. If all else failed, I had half a loaf of crusty whole wheat bread, a box of whole wheat spaghetti noodles, some olive oil, a few heads of garlic, and a container full of basil plants in the front yard. Surely something could be accomplished with a minimum of added hassle to an already dreadful day.

I vaguely recalled seeing some overly simple pasta dishes in the Everday Italian cookbook, and I obviously had the makings for bruschetta, so I closed one eye, hoped for the best and flipped to the pasta section of the book. Amazingly, something finally went right. I found a recipe for Spaghetti with Garlic, Olive Oil and Red Pepper Flakes. And I had everything in the ingredient list, including fresh mint, something I never have on hand but bought recently for a reason I have already forgotten. Life was looking up. And since I was getting hungry, it wasn't a minute too soon.

  • Salt
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti (PLEASE use whole-wheat pasta, white noodles are just nasty)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tsp dried crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I only had curly parsley - it worked fine)
  • 1 Tbs chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tbs chopped fresh mint
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook, stirring often, until tender but still firm to the bite.
  2. Drain noodles, reserving 2 Tbs of the cooking liquid. Do not rinse the spaghetti. The natural starches help the sauce adhere to the noodles.
  3. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over a medium flame. Add the garlic and saute until golden and fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove and discard the garlic. {This was interesting to me. I have always minced the garlic before using it to flavor oil, so I was surprised to see it done whole. And the directions specified to not overcook the garlic because that would make it bitter. I've never noticed bitter-tasting garlic, so whatever...}
  4. Add the red pepper flakes to the oil and saute for one minute. Carefully stir in the reserved pasta liquid and 1/2 tsp of salt. {This particular instruction didn't go so well for me. When I added the liquid to the oil, there was a popping sound and then some very violent sizzling action that threw hot oil all over the stove, the counter, the open cookbook, and the floor. I'm wondering if maybe the liquid and the salt should be added after the next step so as to avoid THAT problem again.}
  5. Immediately add the drained spaghetti and toss to coat well. Season with more salt and red pepper flakes to taste.
  6. Transfer pasta to serving bowl and sprinkle with the fresh herbs.
  7. Clean the stove, the cookbook, the counter, and mop the floor. Grumble loudly.

I loved the flavor of this recipe, slightly spicy from the red pepper, but fresh tasting from the mint. It made for a light dinner, perfect for a hot grumpy evening. And if I hadn't made such a mess with the oil, this would be ideal for those times when a quick meal is needed. I served it with bruschetta on the side, but next time I will serve a salad with it as well.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Your Cheatin' Tastebuds

The Carnivore came home on Tuesday and told me he had done a service call at Farm 255, probably the only restaurant in town that I would really like to eat at right now. The food is locally and organically grown, and only seasonal food is served at the restaurant. Whenever The Carnivore is over there, he picks up a copy of the menu for me so I can see the inventive dishes they have created from what is currently available from The Full Moon Co-Op, a local CSA research farm. The challenge of serving only the foods that are locally available this time of year really appeals to me. And after reading Joan Dye Gussow's This Organic Life last summer, I am hoping to someday follow the same philosophy with our own meals.

The Carnivore handed me the latest menu for my perusal, and said the chef had been making molten cakes while he was there (deep sigh from me).

"She let me lick the spatula," he said, knowing I would be jealous that I didn't get any of it.

I was unable to let this opportunity pass me by. I put my hands on my hips, and jutted out my chin. "You licked another woman's spatula?"

The Carnivore looked at me uncertainly, not sure whether I was serious or not. Finally, to hedge his bets I assume, he replied, "But you're the woman I come home to every night."

I picked up my one ancient, too short wooden spoon and waved it at him. "This is the only spoon you should be out lickin'!"

I must have laid it on pretty thick. The Carnivore, a man who has never bought me flowers and who rarely thinks to buy me gifts, came home on Wednesday with a bag from The Rolling Pin in his hands. Heh heh. I am now the proud owner of a heavy, perfectly shaped stainless steel set of measuring spoons (to replace the ones Odd Toddler has run off with) and a gorgeous long-handled wooden spoon.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Searching for the Mexican Within

I am really white. Not just white, but part British and so fair-skinned as to be prone to sun poisoning. Normally this might not be something the average white person would even bring up, but I am a distinct minority in my mother's family. Within that particular family, I have three Honduran sisters, one El Savadoran sister, 34 mostly Mexican sisters and brothers, and nieces and nephews who are black/Hispanic, white/Hispanic, El Salvadoran, and Laotian/Hispanic. I think that covers it. I am the odd-looking blonde with freckles. If you've ever seen one of our full family photos, you may have noticed me. And wondered what I was doing in the picture...

The only culinary heritage I get from my dad's family, the red-headed British side, comes down to my late grandmother's fruit trifle. Grandma Peggy died before I could ever ask her to teach me how to make it, and my Aunt Susie, Grandma's only daughter, claims to not have Grandma's recipe. The stuff is so good it will make your eyes roll back in your head.

When it comes down to comfort food, I lean towards Mexican. I can only assume this is because it is my mother's children who are the first to be there to help me when I need it. I have been working on my salsa recipe for months now, and have yet to get it exactly right. After all, I'm just a white girl, what do you expect?

But I have desperately needed a Mexican snack food for those desperate times. You know, like when I have PMS. Where most Southern women might appease their menstrual irritations with potato chips and french onion dip, I crave tortilla chips and salsa. I have long since sworn off store-bought salsa, and it has now been three years since I lived within walking distance of a Mexican restaurant (where I would often walk in with empty plastic containers and ask for fill-ups). My last salsa attempt was this past weekend, when I again got only mediocre results. This is becoming tiresome.

Yesterday, for the fourth time in a week, I peeked into the paper bag on the kitchen counter to check the status on the ripening of my avocados. Eureka. They were FINALLY soft. Excited, I pulled down The Grit Cookbook, fairly sure I could get satisfying results from their guacamole recipe. I've eaten at The Grit, a fun local vegetarian restaurant, countless times, and while their guacamole recipe was developed by a bunch of hipster-type white guys, it has never disappointed me.

Not only was the recipe easy, but the guac came out fabulously. So well, in fact, that The Carnivore wolfed down half of it while watching American Idol last night. (For the record, Taylor and Paris were my favorites from this episode.)

  • 4 1/2 cups peeled, cored and mashed ripe avocado (I used 8 avocados)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 lime (I used lemon)
  • 2 Tbs Grit Salsa (this was the mediocre recipe I tried this weekend, but it worked fine when using such a small amount - any salsa would do here)
  • 1 cup chopped ripe tomatoes, slightly drained (I used the outer flesh only of one tomato)
  • 1/3 cup very finely minced red onion
  • 1 tsp salt (I used kosher)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp granulated garlic
  1. Stir ingredients until fully combined.
  2. Serve well chilled

Monday, April 17, 2006

New (Old) Cookbooks

Just went to Goodwill and scored four new cookbooks.
  • California Culinary Academy: Italian Cooking (1987)
  • The New York Times International Cookbook (1971)
  • Southern Living: The Vegetables Cookbook (1975)
  • Southern Living: The Creole Cookbook (1976)

I can't decide which one I'm most excited about. I am most likely to cook recipes from the Italian Cookbook (which is fairly current), though the NYT cookbook is extremely cool, with recipes from countries that have changed names a few times already since this book was published.

The real fun though was in the Vegetables Cookbook. This was from before Southern Living started putting out the annual cookbooks that mom, a few of my sisters and I all collect. I have ridiculous amounts of fun reading the titles of recipes from the fifties, sixties and seventies. The pictures in this particular book are seriously dated, and the recipes are scary bad. My favorites are the "vegetable" recipes that call for 3 strips of bacon each. (shuddering)

A short list of recipes that I will never, ever, in a million years cook:

  • Scalloped dandelions (never a good idea)
  • Spinach ring (make it stop)
  • Lima bean-olive casserole (need I say more?)
  • Frozen peas in cream (OMG - thats too nasty to even talk about)
  • Garbanzo bean surprise (I'm not eating anything with "surprise" in the name)
  • Carrot loaf (make it stop)
  • Spiced fiddleheads (what the?)

This Is Not Your Mother's Tofu

I rarely will cook with tofu. For the most part, it just distresses me. And there was that soup with cubed tofu incident from my childhood...

Trapped somewhere between moderate conservatism and liberal vegetarianism, I can sometimes have problems finding my niche. I eat a diet low in dairy products and high in vegetables and whole grains (so far, so good). I eat very little in the way of processed foods, yet can wolf down homemade desserts like they're going out of style. I won't eat red meat or chicken, but will eat seafood once a week. I usually vote Republican, but I am rabid about recycling. I prefer organic whole foods, but have no problem with tax cuts for the wealthy. Pigeonhole me if you can.

I love NPR, and I believe energy efficiency should be mandated by government legislation, but I am scared of tofu. You see, its a hippie food and I am a conservative Christian. And I have no problem picking and choosing my beliefs to suit my tastes.

Tofu may frighten me, but I've never met a poblano recipe that I didn't like. So when I ran across a recipe I had copied two years ago (or so) from Real Simple magazine for Stuffed Poblanos, I tried not to wince at the prominence of tofu in the ingredient list. I stared warily at the recipe every time I made our menu over the past few weeks, but I just couldn't bring myself to give it a shot. Then I decided to make Shrimp Quesadillas for Saturday, and I needed a side dish. Since we'd already had fresh salsa, and since my avocados will never get ripe enough for me to make guacamole, I felt I was getting word from on high that it was time to conquer my fears and become a True Granola Person.

Saturday morning's recipes were full of success (hummus, veggie pita wraps, tabbouli, banana chocolate chip muffins), so my confidence level was fairly high when I began working on the stuffed peppers for dinner. I put my favorite Morphine album on the stereo, made some iced coffee, and mentally prepared myself. Then I gathered my ingredients and re-read the recipe. It still seemed like a dicey proposition. I got nervous again while I mashed up the tofu, I'm not crazy about chopped tomatoes, and I found it to be really difficult to cut slits into the peppers and pry out all the seeds without massacring the peppers. I was sure the whole thing was doomed.

I tasted the filling after I mixed everything together and, surprise of all surprises, I loved it. Great texture, full flavor, very un-tofu-like. Even more surprising was that The Carnivore walked by while I was fighting with the pepper seeds and he poked a finger into the bowl of filling and made some sort of approving sound. I had carefully hidden the package of tofu in the refrigerator for two days so he wouldn't have any preconceived notions about the dish before trying it, and I think I might have even winced when he asked what was in the stuffing, but I fessed up and he looked surprised, tried another bite, and still deemed it great. Once it was all said and done, the Stuffed Poblanos took the award for the night, far overshadowing the shrimp quesadillas (not an easy feat).

I am a little less fearful of tofu now. But I'm still not going to vote for Hillary. Let's not take this new hippie food open-mindedness too far.

  • 4 large poblano chiles
  • 14-oz package of soft tofu
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 finely chopped onion (Yolie, if you pulverize the onion, you can get the sharp flavor without having to sink your teeth into onion chunks)
  • 3 cups rice (I used brown rice)
  • 1 chopped tomato (I scooped out and discarded the juicy inner part and only used the outer rim of the tomato)
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup shredded white cheddar (I used Pepper Jack cheese instead)
  1. Cut a slit lengthwise down the sides of the peppers, while standing on one foot and holding your mouth just right. Remove and discard the seeds.
  2. Mash the tofu in a large bowl.
  3. Add garlic, onion, rice, tomato, olive oil, parsley and salt to the tofu and mix well.
  4. Stuff the peppers with the tofu filling and bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.
  5. Top each pepper with 1/4 of the cheese and continue baking until the cheese melts, about 3 minutes more.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Too busy cooking to blog about the cooking. Made 18 vastly different dishes over the past seven days, 9 of them new recipes. I am tired, but full. And fat. My little taste-tester isn't complaining (though this picture is nearly a year old - taken during my smoothie-perfecting phase). Will find time this week to at least publish the recipe for the surprise hit of the week: Stuffed Poblanos.

I spent this afternoon testing out luncheon recipes, after spending Saturday morning working on picnic recipes. I am becoming manic. I will work on a single dish ad nauseum, over a period of weeks, until it is absolutely perfect. By then though, I'm often sick to death of it. I've already gone through the fudge phase (currently discouraged and taking a break on that one), and I'm still smack dab in the middle of a salsa phase. Speaking of which, if anyone has The Perfect Salsa Recipe, I would appreciate it if you would share.

This is getting out of hand. And expensive. Must find way to make money doing this. I learned to enjoy cooking as a way of being super-efficient (after all, I wouldn't resent HAVING to cook if I actually LOVED to cook - as far as I'm concerned, everything comes down to one's state of mind). Now if I could only become Superwoman and discover a way to cook to eat, to have fun, AND to pay the bills. Have a new goal now. Will add it to the list...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Public Love Letter

Yesterday, I made one of my quarterly trips to Earth Fare, my favorite grocery store in the world next to Trader Joe's (which, by the way, will be opening a store in Atlanta soon - and not a moment too soon either: their prices are WAY better than Whole Foods and Earth Fare, but until now I have only seen them in California). I am such a food nerd.

I gazed longingly at the cooking magazines while I waited in the checkout line. The beauty of these liberal, natural food stores is that they have a fantastic variety of food and environmental publications to choose from. This is not Walmart. Money is entirely too tight right now for me to indulge my propensity for expensive gourmet mags, so I suffered quietly (not an easy feat - I am Cindy's daughter, after all). I ALWAYS want to read more about cooking, but I settle for whatever I can find at yard sales. I am cheap. Its okay - I can admit it.

The magazine that caught my eye the most was the Spring/Summer issue of The Best of Fine Cooking Fresh. The subheadline bragged of "a new collection of more than 100 delicious vegetable recipes." I actually salivated. In the checkout line. It was most embarassing, especially with Odd Toddler screeching that he wanted a plantain. (No, he's not smart enough to know what a plantain is - he just thought they were cute little baby bananas).

The cover was gorgeous, a beautiful shade of springtime green (a welcome sight after our long, arduous Southern winter), featuring a plate piled high with fettucine primavera. I vowed that I would check their website when I got home. Imagine my distress when the website did nothing more than advertise this particular special issue. There were NO recipes online. Very, very frustrating.

And then...

Mom called me late in the day to say that Mrs. Carr, my favorite teacher that I never had the pleasure of actually having as a teacher, had sent a cooking magazine home with the kids for me. Yep. You guessed it. SHE SENT THE VERY SAME MAGAZINE THAT I HAD BEEN POUTING ABOUT EARLIER THAT VERY SAME DAY. I already thought she was a cool lady, but this takes the cake. I mean, hey, this was more thoughtful than anything my sweet carnivorous husband had done for me lately.

And so, this particular blog entry is to say, where everyone can hear me, "Mrs. Carr, you are so cool!" Yes, cool enough that I, Sheriff of the Punctuation Police, used an exclamation point.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Pasta with Asparagus, Blue Cheese and Roasted Shallots

I have been trying a LOT of new recipes lately. For a long time, I tried to stick with only two new recipes a week, but tax time stresses me out and cooking is the outlet for my irritation. Thusly, we have been enjoying a new recipe nearly every day for the past couple of weeks. I have been cooking mostly from Cooking Light magazine, but I got bored with that when I made last week's menu (yes, I make a weekly menu - I just can't help it), and I climbed up on the stepladder and started pulling cookbooks down from the shelves in the kitchen.

I perused a few cookbooks and finally started thumbing through the 2001 Bon Appetit annual recipe compendium. Most of the recipes were entirely too complex to bother with for a weeknight meal, and the vast majority of them were so rich as to possibly send us to a cardiologist. With my lip curled, I went to slam the book shut and move on to something a little more, shall we say, lowbrow, when my eye caught on a recipe title that had all the makings of a food love fest: Farfalle with Asparagus, Roasted Shallots and Blue Cheese.

Now we still had a disconnect between this particular cookbook and my own cooking style. As a general rule, I like to stay on the moral high ground side of healthy (although I have been known to sin as long as the unhealthy ingredients are as unprocessed as possible). And then there's The Money Issue. I am an accountant. I just CAN'T HELP doing job costing comparisons when cooking. I know, I know, this kind of behavior can seriously take the fun out of things (just ask my husband), but we are on a particularly stingily tight budget right now, and we can't exactly afford to be extravagant with our food costs.

But this recipe REALLY sounded fantastic. So I threw caution to the wind. Just call me Wild Woman.

Well, I say I threw caution to the wind, but in fact I mentally added up the ingredients in my head as I tossed them into the shopping cart, wincing with each purchase. Let's see, 24 shallots at roughly 55 cents apiece, plus 1 pound blue cheese.... Oy. This hurt. I consoled myself by thinking about all those poor saps who eat most meals out at restaurants and end up dropping loads of cash on single-serving meals. After all, total cost for this recipe was around $25. Cost per serving came to around $5.00. Clearly time to stop the whining. (This accounting degree really comes in handy sometimes).

For real though, this dish was so amazingly wonderful that had I died right after dinner, I would have left this world happy (fat, but happy). The blue cheese added the perfect pungency, without being overpowering, and the creaminess was to die for. Next time though, I will cut the recipe in half. This made about six servings, and ended up lasting all weekend (even mom had it for three meals). It is without a doubt best the first night though, while the cheese is still sticky and runny.

And a note to people with blue cheese aversions: real blue cheese is NOTHING like those crappy store-bought blue cheese salad dressings. Salad dressing should be made with oil and vinegar, and should always be homemade (The Carnivore is not yet convinced of this fact - notice the vast quantity of pre-packaged salad dressings in the refrigerator). Blue cheese is a rich, crumbly, pungent but not bitter, cheese that can be purchased in the deli section of most supermarkets. There are different varieties of blue cheese, but gorgonzola is my hands-down favorite.


FARFALLE with ASPARAGUS, ROASTED SHALLOTS and BLUE CHEESE (serves 4 to 6, from The Flavors of Bon Appetit, 2001)

  • 1 1/2 lbs medium shallots (about 24), peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, made from French bread (I used whole wheat bread - sue me. To make breadcrumbs: put a few slices of bread in the oven at about 200 degrees for an hour or so, until very dry. Pulse in food processor until coarsely ground.)
  • 1 1/2 lbs farfalle (bow-tie) pasta
  • 2 lbs thin asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces)
  • 1 pound creamy blue cheese (I used gorgonzola), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  1. Toss shallots with 2 Tbs olive oil on baking sheet; spread in single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 375 degrees until tender and golden brown, about 35 minutes. These came out so good I could have just eaten them out of hand. Instead, I exercised some self-control and saved most of them for the pasta dish.
  2. Stir breadcrumbs and 2 Tbs olive oil in skillet over medium heat until crumbs brown, about 4 minutes. Dang, these were good too. Had to hide them from myself.
  3. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Add asparagus; cook until asparagus is crisp-tender and pasta is tender but firm to the bite, about 4 minutes. (Alright, I couldn't abide by this instruction because I just can't stand overcooked pasta or vegetables. I cooked the asparagus and the pasta separately to make sure I got the desired firmness with each. Honestly, will one extra pot to wash kill you?)
  4. Drain pasta and asparagus, either separately or together, depending on your particular quirks.
  5. Transfer pasta and asparagus to large bowl and immediately add blue cheese and shallots. Toss until cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Peanut Butter Connoisseurs

We are a peanut butter lovin' little family. Years ago, The Carnivore introduced me to peanut butter toast. I don't know how I made it through my childhood without discovering it on my own, and I am eternally grateful to him for teaching me such a fine lesson. I recently picked up a jar of Nutella (a chocolate and hazelnut butter concoction that I can thank my German friends for turning me on to) at the grocery store and now for breakfast I like to have a slice of whole wheat toast smeared with a thin layer of Nutella and an extra thick layer of crunchy peanut butter. 'Tis heaven on earth, and reasonably nutritous to boot. The protein, fat and whole-grain carbohydrate combination carries me straight through to lunch.

Odd Toddler prefers to eat his peanut butter straight. For his breakfast every morning, he likes to be handed a spoon and a small jar of peanut butter. He tucks into it and eats about 1/3 cup two or three times a day. He likes his toast plain and on the side. To each his own.

This morning, Odd Toddler woke me up at 5:30 because he needed his jar of peanut butter RIGHT AWAY. I retrieved it for him, along with a spoon, and brought him back to bed with me. He snuggled in between The Carnivore and I, took a giant bite of peanut butter, and then hugged the jar tightly to his chest and went back to sleep. Thankfully, this particular quirk is a nutritious one, albeit slightly messy in bed.

The AJC Food Section did a cover story a couple of weeks ago on convection baking. Our fabulous stove has this feature, but I rarely cook anything that would benefit from the continuous circulation of hot air. I was rewarded though when I found a recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (eureka!) in this article. Convection allows for cookies to be evenly baked on more than one rack at a time; never having baked cookies before, I didn't realize what a time-saver this would be. Since this was my first cookie attempt, I have no idea if cookie-baking is generally a difficult process, but these particular cookies turned out perfectly crisp and they tasted positively divine.

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (makes 24 crazy-big cookies)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (I used crunchy - the creamy kind bores me)
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt (I used kosher)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate instead)
  1. If using a convection oven, position racks for multi-rack baking and preheat the oven to 325 degrees using convection baking setting. If using a conventional oven, raise oven temp to 350 degrees and plan to cook on one rack at a time and rotate pan halfway through cooking.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Cream the butter, peanut butter and brown sugar together with an electric mixer on high speed until fluffy.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, stir the flour, baking soda and salt together.
  6. Stir the flour mixture into the peanut butter mixture until the flour is no longer visible.
  7. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  8. Try not to eat the batter. This step is easier when you don't have PMS.
  9. Using a 1/4 cup measure, scoop the dough that you have refrained from eating and drop it onto the prepared cookie sheet, leaving 3 inches between the cookies. Use the tines of a fork to flatten the tops of the cookies to 1/2 - 1/4-inch thickness with a crosshatch pattern (this is harder than it sounds).
  10. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes on convection, or for 15-17 minutes conventially, or until golden brown (I found it took longer, even with convection).
  11. If self-control is your forte, cool the cookies before eating them.