thick and chewy chocolate chunk cookies with toasted walnuts

thick and chewy chocolate chunk cookies with toasted walnuts

There are two types of people in the world: those who like nuts in their chocolate chip cookies, and those who do not. For our entire lives we have always preferred them without, until one momentous night a few months ago when our good friend Gabe brought us this exceptional batch that changed our minds forever. And we are not the only ones! Last night we took a platter of these cookies to a holiday singalong party, and witnessed the miraculous conversion of several friends who had never liked nuts in their cookies before. So what is it about them that is changing people’s hearts and minds, especially on such a serious and potentially divisive issue? It could be that they are loaded with big chunks of dark chocolate. Maybe it’s the extra splash of vanilla, or the higher amount of dark brown sugar. Or perhaps the perfect texture: chewy and moist with golden crispy edges and a rugged crunchy top. Whatever the reason, these rich and chocolatey jumbo-sized cookies have made converts out of us, and we have embraced the delicious power of walnuts in baked goods. One bite, and you just might become a believer too…

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creamy cavatappi with artichoke and lemon

creamy cavatappi with artichoke and lemon

This past weekend we welcomed December with a truly epic winter holiday drink. Kevin Masse posted a recipe on the feedfeed for a double chocolate bourbon milkshake with peppermint bark, and it turned out to be just as amazing as it sounds. We shared a photo of this festive drink on our Instagram page, so be sure to follow us there so you stay up to date with all our posts! In between sipping these wintry milkshakes, we also managed to fit in some recipe testing to mixed results. We tried making a jambalaya which took over three hours, and a kale risotto, but both turned out to be a lot of work with very little payoff. Thankfully, our third contestant was a clear winner: a delicious pasta, with more flavor than the jambalaya and kale risotto combined, that comes together quickly in under 30 minutes. During this holiday season, amidst all the sweet cakes, cookies, and kugels, this simple and light meal is a breath of fresh air.

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noodle kugel

noodle kugel

On a bookshelf next to our kitchen, you will find a large green binder containing 204 pages of recipes (we recently counted!) which we have been collecting over the past ten years. It is filled with scribbled notes, comments, and detailed descriptions of where they came from. It is meticulously alphabetized and divided into six categories: Main Courses, Sides, Cakes, Cookies, Other Desserts, and Breakfasts. On the thirtieth page of the Sides section, nestled comfortably between a no-mayo potato salad from Rachael Ray and a Puerto Rican pique sauce, lies this glorious sweet baked dish. And at the bottom of the recipe is a handwritten note from December 2010 declaring it the “best kugel we have ever had.” This traditional noodle casserole adapted from Gourmet Magazine stole the show at our Hanukkah party five years ago and we have continued to make it every year since.

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greek spinach and orzo soup

a hot bowl of greek spinach and orzo soup

There is nothing better than enjoying a hot cup of soup on a cold day. Sometimes you just want to stay home in pajamas, cuddle up under soft blankets and watch old episodes of The Twilight Zone. These grey Monday skies are calling for something warm and comforting as the weather here in Los Angeles is finally changing from summer to a cool, crisp fall. This healthy greek spinach and orzo soup is warm, soothing, and makes a delicious dinner that is tangy and bursting with lemon flavor. It is pleasantly and lightly filling, and ideal after this festive holiday with so many rich dishes, indulgent sweets, and bountiful leftovers. After four days of Thanksgiving stuffing, casseroles, and homemade pies, this hearty bowl of soup will gently calm your soul and satisfy your senses.

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baked sweet potatoes and cranberries with a cinnamon-oat crumble

baked sweet potatoes and cranberries with a cinnamon-oat crumble

We just checked the official Thanksgiving Rule Book, and in Article 1, Line 3, it clearly states, “Sweet potatoes must be included on the table in order to qualify as a true Thanksgiving feast.” This detailed book covers all the basics: Must have at least one type of stuffing. Each slice of pumpkin pie shall be topped with a dollop of whipped cream. Omitting the green bean casserole is forbidden and will incur penalties. There is also a great section on how to say the appropriate thing when giving thanks, as well as informative chapters on how to deal with drunken relatives. Everything is covered here: from how to quickly and smoothly change the conversation topic from politics to funny youtube videos, to tips on being polite if the turkey happens to be dry. This delicious recipe has been a tradition in Ryan’s family for over 40 years, and Thanksgiving truly wouldn’t be the same without it. And according to the official Rule Book, this dish qualifies as the perfect sweet potato casserole: filled with tender sweet potatoes tossed with fresh ripe cranberries, covered with a cinnamon and brown sugar oat crumble, and baked until the cranberries soften and burst, releasing their ruby-colored juice, which bubbles under the crisp, crunchy warmly-spiced topping.

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