The Best Ever Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am not a baker. Not even close. My first ever attempt to making banana bread came out more like banana soup. Not even sure how that was possible. However,  as I may have touted before — There’s A Chef In My Kitchen and he is a pretty good teacher. With the guidance from Chef Hubbs, I have made the “best ever” dark chocolate chip cookies.

dark chocolate chip cookies by There's A Chef In My Kitchen



Ingredients For The “Best Ever” Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 4 1/2 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 sticks of salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups (two 12-oz packages) Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Chips

The original recipe was modified to feed more folks. I think the recipe yielded about 5 dozens cookies.

Preparation is Key

I say sift it! Sift it good!

You may not like it or think that it is an extra step (and it is), however it does make a difference when you sift the flour. When you sift the flour it introduces air between the individual grains of flour and this helps make the cookies light and fluffy.  Add the baking soda in to the bowl of dry ingredients. In the original recipe you’ll notice it calls for salt, however it’s omitted in our version as we use salted butter. This was a hair-brained-meets-serendipitous modification as your’s truly didn’t pay attention and grabbed the wrong butter at the supermarket but this actually worked out.

Pro Tip: Flour is not best measured in volume (cups) but instead by weight in order to ensure consistency. Two cups of flour can weigh drastically different depending on how well you pack it in.

Cream the sugar, baby.

Speaking of butter, it’s important to “cream the sugar.” Doesn’t that sound like the title of an 80s hair band rock ballad? Unfortunately, the best I could find was Whipped Cream by Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass. So, actually, you’re welcome.

Anyhoooo … to cream the sugar, you will need to add the granulated and light brown sugar  to the room temperature salted butter. If you have a mixer, pat yourself on the back. If you don’t, then grab your trusty wooden spoon and stir until the mixture almost resembles frosting or pudding. If you’re lucky enough to have a Chef Hubbs, hand off the mixing bowl and spoon and watch how the combined ingredients succumb. After the butter and sugar are homogeneous, incorporate the eggs and blend it some more.

Like preteens at a school dance, it is time for the two ingredients (dry and wet) to meet. Yes, it’s a little awkward but know it’s best not to rush it and continue to add a little dry to the wet until the mixture is homogeneous again. Take your cookie dough and put it in the fridge for a couple of minutes.

Drop it like it’s a little cooler than room temperature

Remove the cookie dough from the fridge and utilize two spoons to scoop out a dollop of dough. With the other spoon push the dough down the spoon until it plops on to the cookie sheet. Do this instead of taking the dough and rolling them in to perfect balls in your hands. When you do this, your body temperature warms up the dough and makes the cookies less chewy. It’s science.

Getting hot in here

When you bake it’s likely you are using a convection oven which, as you may already know, uses a fan to circulate hot air to help cook the food. For something like dark chocolate chip cookies it is important to set two timers: the first timer to rotate the cookie sheet and the second timer to take out the cookies. Now each oven is different so you may want to experiment with the first couple of batches to find the right temperature and timing that works for  you. For us, we did 350 degrees and 4 minutes per side of the cookie.

The result? Gooey, soft goodness.

Cool it down

I know what you’re thinking, and I’m guilty of it too, but if you can try to wait for the cookies to cool down on the drying racks. In addition to saving the roof of your mouth from second degree burns you will also allow the cookies to “deflate” a bit.


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This Bite In Time

Whatcha Eating? Better Tell The World.

Folks really seem to enjoy sharing their good meals in the hopes of starting up a conversation and/or food-envy, as I like to call it.  Either way, sharing about whatcha eating is pretty commonplace.  If you’re ever not sure which social media network to use to share your food status, check out this great graphic:

This Bite In Time, Explained

Life Simplistic creates a weekly post that she refers to us as  {This Moment}, an idea she received from SouleMame, another blogger,  wherein she takes a photo of something that is occurred in that week; a moment that she would like to relish.  I always loved these posts as they are the virtual reminder to take pause and enjoy the treasures in our daily lives.

As for me, I am a pretty fortunate woman with a Chef In My Kitchen. So I would like to try and savor the moment and spread some food-envy with my version of {This Moment} — This Bite In Time.

This Bite In Time — Bagels & Lox

everything bagel and lox

buen provecho!

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Grape Leaves Stuffed With Goodness And Falafel Encrusted Catfish

Growing up there were certain foods that I didn’t gravitate towards.  Foods like coffee-flavored anything, olives and stuffed grape leaves or dolmades. But now I’ve come to really enjoy them as a special treat.  I asked Chef Hubbs to share with us how he made this particularly tasty batch of grape leaves stuffed with goodness. Enjoy!

Grape Leaf

What You’ll Need


  • grape leaves, brined (but no oil)
  • white rice, cooked
  • red rice, cooked
  • brown rice, cooked
  • blacked-eyed peas, cooked
  • red lentils, cooked
  • tomatoes, diced
  • garlic, minced
  • parsley, chopped
  • mint, chopped
  • carrots, shredded
  • lemon and lime juice
  • soy meat or textured vegetable protein
  • flafel mix
  • catfish
  • wheat flour
  • panko breadcrumbs
  • salt and peper

Let’s Get Started With The Filling

As you may or may not know, I am a vegetarian. Have been for a couple of years now. If you’re curious as to why, check out “You Are What You Eat” written back in 2010. Yeesh, that was some time ago now. Wowie. Tangent notwithstanding, it’s important to Chef Hubbs that even though we’re not eating meat we still get our protein and as you can see from the ingredients list we got plenty of it through some great plant sources and, of course, the catfish. You are welcome to swap out some of the ingredients for a ground meat of your choice but I urge you to try it without. This recipe is so tasty.

    1. Cook the lentils and black-eyed peas in veggie stock and the white, red and brown rice as you would normally.
    2. Create a “salsa” with the tomatoes, garlic, parsley, mint, lemon, lime juice and shredded carrots.
    3. Brown the soy meat.
    4. In a large bowl, combine the soy meat, salsa and rice and lentils.
    5. Fill the sink with cold water (add ice cubes if needed), and immerse the bowl in the sink to help cool the mixture down.

lentils and brown rice

  1. Create an egg wash and flour dipping station for the catfish.
  2. Combine wheat flour (add salt and pepper), panko bread mix and falfel mix and make it homogeneous. (Yeah! Where’s my quarter for that big word?)
  3. Take the catfish from the dry flour mixture to the wet egg wash station and then back to dry.

Let’s Get Rolling

open grape leaf

    1. Lie the grape leaf flat on your prep plate.

Grape leaf with mixture

    1. Place some of the now cool mixture in to your hands and compress it to what looks like a sausage. Place this on the right almost-to-the-center-of-the-leaf.

Stat rolling your grape leaf

    1. Fold the top and bottom halves of the leaf over the filling. Roll from right to left while being cautious to keep the filling tucked in as you roll.


  1. You will end up with a nice, ready-to-eat stuffed grape leaf. Like so!

Finished grape leaves

The filling is going to make a lot of delicious stuffed grape leaves. Time to be a grape-rolling-professional!

Frying Up The Catfish

You certainly don’t have to fry up the catfish. Normally we would bake or pan-fry, but sometimes a little fried food is good for the soul. Fry up the catfish in some heated oil in your deep fryer (if you have one). Or you can put some oil in a frying pan and allow the catfish to sizzle and the coating to brown.

As for plating, we recommend loading one’s plate with the stuffed grape leaves and placing the catfish over some salad mix with a tahini salad dressing and on the catfish a dollop of hummus.

Dinner time with grape leaves

buen provecho!

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New Year’s Day Mango Habanero Lobster Napoleons

Happy New Year! And what a way to start it off but with a delectable dinner of lobster tails.

Inside these napoleons are few of my favorite flavors and foodthings: mango, grilled pineapple, sushi rice and lobster tails.


  • pineapple
  • sushi rice
  • lobster tails
  • mango juice
  • mangoes
  • habaneros (3)
  • mint leaves
  • simple syrup
  • champagne

mango habanero sauce


Reduce mango juice, mangoes, sugar, simple syrup and three habaneros in a sauce pan.  Reduce the liquid down with low heat until its al sec or when it can coat the back of a spoon.

grilled lobster napoleons with grilled pineapples and baked sushi mint cakes


  • Make your sushi rice, allow it to cool, and fold chopped mint into the rice. Mold them into patties and you can either bake or fry them. We opted to bake. If baking, bake for 10 – 12 minutes at 400 degrees. 

mint sushi cakes

  • Remove the shells of the lobster tails, skewer them and allow them to marinate in the mango habanero sauce and champagne.

marinating lobster tails

  • Slice the pineapples and grill them until you get nice grill lines. Like so:grilled pineapples
  • Remove the grilled lobster tails and slice in half.

grilled lobster

  • Assemble the goodness: mint sushi rice cake, pineapple, lobster and then repeat. A napoleon typically has many layers. Then drizzle with additional mango habanero sauce. 

mango habanero lobster napoleons

Consume it. Speaking is optional and, in fact, it’s all right if you choose to speak after every little morsel has been devoured.

all done

And given that it is New Year’s Day, don’t forget a glass of bubbly!


buen provecho!

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Chipotle Shrimp Cobb Salad

Finished Product

Traditionally a cobb salad includes rows of protein and vegetables organized neatly over a bed of lettuce with the most common combination being chicken, hard boiled eggs, blue cheese, bacon, avocado, tomatoes, celery and carrots. This recipe takes some of the basic principles of the cobb salad presentation but replaces the protein with honey-glazed chipotle shrimp and removes some of the lighter vegetables and replaces them with tropical fruits and grilled corn.


  • shrimp
  • corn on the cob
  • avocado
  • lettuce
  • tomato
  • pepitas (Mexican Spanish: pepita de calabaza, “little seed of squash”)
  • diced mango

honey-chipotle marinade:

Dried chipotle peppers, honey, salt and pepper and a splash of lime.


Corn on the grill

  • Roast the corn on the grill. There are a billion different techniques to do this, so find what works best for you. Chef Hubby prefers to roast it in the husk and at the very end remove it from the husk and give it a good char on the open flame. But, to each his own.
  • Do your mise en place — cut your veggies in to cubes: tomato, mango but hold on the avocado. Just cut the avocado in half for now, and remove the pit.
  • Put the shrimp on the barbie when the corn is nearing completion.


Shrimp on the grill
When you put the shrimp on the grill, a rookie mistake is to slap it down over high heat. We’ll be doing the opposite: use low heat only and secure the shrimp with a double row of skewers. Why two skewers? If you have only one skewer often a rogue shrimp will go spinning when it comes time to flip and this will help make that critical move easier. A good griller only flips once, says Chef Hubby.

Grilled avocado

  • Remember that avocado? The one you cut in half earlier? Well, Chef Hubby likes to grill it face down for a minute or two to give it a warm, smoky, charred flavor.
  • Time to assemble the salad now. First a generous bed of lettuce and then rows of your prepped and cut vegetables. Try to vary texture, and more importantly, color. I realize my salad is a little corn-centric… but what can I say? The Chef knows what I like. Feel free to vary quantities according to your taste.

Salad, no shrimp

  • Put your dressing on top and hand the plate over as quickly as possible. I don’t know about you but I am ready to eat!

Mid-Week Tip

Chef Hubby usually prefers to make his own salad dressings. First off, it’s cheaper and second you end up with a product that is healthier, tastier and exactly the flavor you want. Avoid salad dressings that contain a ton of high fructose corn syrup or sugar as one of the first ingredients. Generally, the fewer ingredients, the better.

That said, sometimes it’s just faster, especially on a busy weeknight, to cheat and go to the bottle.

So in the interest of time we’re using Brianna’s Home Style Cheddar Chipotle Dressing. Essentially it’s three parts oil, half part water, one part apple cider vinegar and splash of sugar, melted cheddar cheese, chipotle peppers and a splash of buttermilk — if you wanted to make you’re own.

Enough talking — let’s eat!

Finished Product without salad dressing

Evil Jungle Princess

The inspiration for this dish comes from one of our favorite local restaurants with a few modifications.


veggies and such
  • coarse chopped red onion
  • pineapple
  • unsweetened coconut flakes
  • shrimp
  • mussles
  • calamari
  • firm tofu
  • soy sauce
  • kaffir lime leves
  • curry: red, panang or yellow (depending on how hot you like it)
  • sambal chili paste — add this in the beginning for some acidity
  • sriracha — add this at the end for a little kick and some sweetness
Tangent: Selecting Your Curry

For this dish the trick is to incorporate a curry that has kaffir lime, garlic and ginger. While you can have a curry that has lemongrass make sure to add more seasoning. If lemongrass is the only dominant flavor it can make this dish too sour. For spicy-lovers, red curry works best. Chef hubby usually takes it easy on me and uses panang (my favorite; has lemongrass) or yellow (good balance of sweet and heat).


Phase I – Mise En Place & Create Your Own Bowl

French for everything in its place and is the preparation of all the foodstuffs so when the actual cooking arrives, it’s that much easier.

  • Course chop the red onions and put aside.
  • Clean your seafood: remove the shells from the shrimp and de-vein them; remove the quill and beaks from the squid; clean the mussels’ shells with water.
  • Cut the pineapple in half.
  • Using a paring knife to cut out the center of the pineapple. Be careful.
  • Using a spoon, scrape out the insides. Some pineapple will get pulverized and you’ll end up with juice, that’s OK as you can use it to sweeten your sauce. Your goal is to peserve the texture of some of the pineapple.
  • Throw away the pineapple core.
mise en place of pineapple

Editors note: Mise en place sounds like a fancy way of saying "Ive got more dishes to do later."

Phase II – Wok It up

wok and sauté pan with tofu and red onions

Secrets to a successful wok: Don't add oil or even look at your pan until it is BLAZING hot.

  • Warm up the wok before putting a little bit of vegetable oil. Choose vegetable oil because it can get hotter than other oils (like olive) without burning.
  • Also, turn a saute pan on low heat and get the curry paste mixed with coconut milk and simmering. Individual ingredients are going to get wok’d first and then simmer in the curry bath. I’m already drooling.
  • Stir-fry the tofu in the wok first to get warmed throughout and give it a little more texture. Add a splash of soy sauce for salt and brown it on all sides. Season the tofu a little bit with the Sambal when it is almost done. Transfer to saute pan.
  • Put the diced red onions in a hot wok, and transfer to saute pan when translucent and delicious looking.
  • Add the shrimp to the wok. Sprinkle a little shredded coconut to give them a little more oomph. They will cook fast, but don’t cook them all the way — let them finish up in the now simmering curry bath.
Tangent: How to Effectively Season Your Food

The best seasoning is done in stages; layers. You have to develop the flavor instead of drowning your food with spice at the end of the meal prep. Adding salt (and other spices) in stages allow for a more complex flavor to develop.

evil jungle princess in the saute pan with calamari

Add the calamari to the sauté pan and some kaffir lime leaves.

  • Next, put the calamari (or scallops or catfish or whatever other protein you want) into the saute pan, and spread the mussels around. We’re almost done!
  • After the mussels have opened, Chef Hubby usually removes the mussels from their shells for easier eating.
  • Generously ladle the Evil Jungle Princess into a pineapple bowl.

The other trick with this recipe specifically is to not add the seafood too early, otherwise it will overcook. Nobody wants rubbery seafood.

Phase III – Enjoy

After mise en place the whole meal comes together real quickly. You can eat this dish with a fork and spoon or with chopsticks. We recommend the spoon. The sauce is amazing.

evil jungle princess inside a pineapple shell

So delicious.