Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know the season for pumpkin-things has basically passed, but my general philosophy is eat what you want when you want it. All in moderation. So this week I wanted something pumpkin. This recipe is just a simple twist on the traditional chocolate chip cookie, but it's a twist that I think makes a world of difference. By adding pumpkin puree to the cookie batter, you get a fall and winter-appropriate cookie great for the holidays.

Ingredients (makes roughly 30 cookies)

1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
A little less than 1/4 tsp nutmeg
A little less than 1/4 tsp gound cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup, about half a bag, of dark chocolate chips


1) Heat oven to 350 degrees and line your cookie trays with parchment paper.

2) In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat the butter with a mixer until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugar until the mixture is fluffy. Add in the egg and continue to beat, followed by the vanilla extract and pumpkin puree. Feel free to use more than 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree, it's really a matter of preference.

3) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the baking soda, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and salt.

4) Slowly add the wet batter to the flour mixture and beat until smooth and the batter is one even texture. Stir in the chocolate chips until they're evenly distributed.

5) Use a small ice scream scoop to scoop the cookie dough onto the cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges look crisp. Once cooked, allow the cookies to cool before removing from the sheet.

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year and a great start to 2013. With all of these holidays underway, I must say I've really been missing my sister lately, who's been in London now for 6 months. Exactly two months ago we were in France together traveling with our friend Nisha. It was the perfect vacation except for the fact that it had to end.

Me and Rona in Nice, France

She'll be happy to know one of my New Year's resolutions this year is to stick to our FaceTime at least once a week rule.

Happy New Year everyone!

~ Alyssa

Friday, December 21, 2012

Back to Blogging: Minestrone Soup

It's pretty incredible how much can change over a short span of time. Take our Two Minds Cook Alike description for instance:

"We are two sisters in two kitchens, living in New Jersey/New York."

This was written when I was living in NJ at home with my parents and my sister was pursuing her masters at NYU. Yes, I'm still in NJ, but I'm now living with a childhood friend in our own apartment in Hoboken. My sister has since had two HUGE moves, from New York to Istanbul shortly followed by another move from Istanbul to London. On top of that, she's had another huge life change: an engagement to her amazing boyfriend (now fiance.) It's funny how relationships change, friendships change, and even homes change in a time as short as 1 year.

So aside from needing to update our blog's description, I also need to say I'm happy to be back and blogging again. Sometimes the creativity comes in spurts, as well as the free time. But for when it's available, I hope our dedicated readers, who I'm sure have forgotten about us in our 8 months of absence, will come visit Two Minds Cook Alike again to see what's cooking in our new kitchens.

Today's blog post, in honor of this cold gloomy day, features a hearty Minestrone Soup. I made a massive batch of this soup and gave some to my boyfriend's family to try and they all seemed to love it. Given he comes from a big Italian family, their praise felt like a huge accomplishment.

Ingredients (serves 6-8)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
Kosher salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 28 oz. can Hunt's Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes 
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth (homemade always preferred, but I had to use store bought this time)
1 15 oz. can low-sodium kidney beans, drained and rinsed (cooked fresh is an option also)
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups ditalini pasta, cooked (I like a lot of pasta in my soup!)
2 bay leafs


1)  Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

2) Add the celery, carrot, and zucchini and cook until they begin to soften, approximately another 5 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, oregano, basil, an thyme and cook for a few more minutes.

3) Add the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes (I personally do not like chunky tomatoes so I would have preferred to purée them in a blender in retrospect), chicken broth and bay leaves to the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes.

4) Stir in the beans and let simmer for another 15-20 minutes. As the soup is cooking, cook the pasta separately. I prefer to cook the pasta separate from the soup because it allows me to make sure they're perfect al dente.

5) Season with a little more salt if you'd like. Then add the pasta after the soup has cooked and serve! Feel free to garnish with any fresh herbs, like basil or parsley.

When I finished cooking the soup, it felt a little too thick so be sure to add water or more broth, depending on your preference.

Thanks for reading! I highly recommend trying this one.