Monday, October 19, 2015

High Altitude Baking: Thomas Keller Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yes! I finally did it. I made Thomas Keller's ad hoc chocolate cookies... at high altitude.  Baking cookies from scratch has been a battle for me. Granted, I haven't spent too much time trying to perfect a recipe because the last thing I need is to have piles of cookies laying around.

My well-loved copy of Ad Hoc At Home. It's still one of my favorite Christmas gifts to date.
If you haven't heard of Thomas Keller, he's a popular chef with fancy and delicious restaurants and bakeries in California. None of which I made it out to, while I lived there. One of the restaurants, you had to make reservations six months ahead of time! In any case, years ago, one of my brothers gifted me ad hoc at home. The chocolate chip cookie recipe from ad hoc make the most delicious cookies. Since we have been living at high altitude, I've made these cookies completely flat, crispy and burnt or big and cakey with no flavor. But this time, at a smidge over 8,000 ft, I made them right!

Boom! Thomas Keller chocolate chip cookies just right!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
adapted from ad hoc at home for baking at 8,000 ft

Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cups of flour + 2 tbsp of flour
  • 1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp of baking soda (that's how I measured it out)
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) of unsalted butter cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup of packed dark brown sugar, reduce by 2 tbsp 
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, reduce by 1 tbsp 
  • 2 large eggs and 1 egg white
  • bag of Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips - TK recommends using a mix of 55% and 72% chocolate bars broken into chips. That's hard to find in the mountains :) 

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 365 degrees. 
  • In a medium bowl, sift flour and mix in baking soda. Add in salt. 
  • In mixer, beat half the butter until its smooth. Add in the sugars and the rest of the butter. Mix them in until mixture is light and creamy. 
  • Add in the eggs one at a time to the mixture. Make sure the first egg is completely mixed in before adding in the second egg. 
  • Add in the dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Then stir in the chocolates.
  • Shape into balls and place onto cookie sheet and put into oven. The cookies will spread quite a bit. My dough balls were about 1.5". On the sheet, there was about 2 inches of space between them.
  • Bake at 365 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. 
  • Remove from oven, place onto cooling rack. 
1.5" dough balls yielded about 30 3" cookies, According to the book, well-wrapped dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days and frozen for up to 2 weeks. 


As for macros per serving, I didn't have time to calculate that before I ate them. Oh well, life goes on.


Happy baking,
Nat
Monday, October 12, 2015

Finally, A Challenging Total Body Workout

Sometimes I need a break from creating my own workouts. I want to go into the gym with a plan, hit play on my podcast, and just lift (like a beast of course).

On the internets you can find a plethora of total body workout ideas, but they usually have the same lifts that I do regularly or they have an insane number of bodyweight movements, which I was not looking for at this point in my plan. After hours of searching (ironic, right? Too lazy to create a workout, but spend days searching for a workout, lol), I found inspiration from Ashley Conrad's 21-day Clutch Cut program on bodybuilding.com. The workout is a fun mix of bodyweight and dumbbell exercises.

I gave it a try, and 4 rounds kicked my butt!

Here is how I modified the workout for myself:

12 reps per exercise, 4 sets with 1 minute break in between sets

Exercises:

  1. dumbbell clean and press with 25# db
  2. walking lunges
  3. push-ups
  4. bench dips
  5. OH squats to work on my core strength and balance
  6. assisted pull-ups 
  7. medicine ball jumping jacks with 15# medicine ball
  8. incline push-ups with hands closer to chest to work on chest strength
  9. dumbbell bicep curls with 15# db
  10. side lateral raises with 15# db
  11. single-arm dumbbell rows 25# -30# db


Review of the workout:

  • Definitely recommend it to anyone - you can modify the difficulty of the workout by increasing the weights, types of squats, types of pull-up and push-ups or number of  reps and sets.
  • Easy to do at the gym or at home - you just need to acquire the dumbbells, a ledge / bench, pull-up bar or machine availability, and small space to do the exercises, you don't need to wait around for machines to be available. 
  • Efficient - you work every major muscle group AND get cardio conditioning at the same time!

Anyone else have a good TBW to share? If you gave this one a try, let me know if it kicked your butt too.

Happy Training,
N.