Last Wednesday night, I decided to make orange chicken for dinner and chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Things started off great; I had already prepped my cookie dough according to the very detailed instructions (yes, I weighed out the dry ingredients) the night before, as the recipe said it had to chill for somewhere between two and 72 hours. On Wednesday evening, I took the dough out of the fridge and let it sit for 10 minutes, then scooped out 2-tablespoon-sized balls of dough (not an easy task, as the dough was still very cold), shaped said balls into little dough towers as instructed, and then put the towers back in the fridge. As the dough chilled for another few hours (again, as the directions required), I prepped the orange chicken marinade, cut up the chicken, and put the chicken in the fridge to marinate. Great! So far so good.
I hadn’t read the orange chicken recipe that carefully before I decided to make it so I didn’t realize until then that I was going to have to dip the chicken in a beaten egg, dredge it in cornstarch, and then fry it in hot oil. This isn’t a particularly difficult thing to do, but it’s certainly not my favorite thing to do; I would have avoided the recipe if I’d realized it because I find the method tedious. But it wasn’t a huge deal and a bit later, I set up my dipping and dredging station so I could get started.
The thing I hate about the dipping and dredging method is that as you do it, the flour and/or whatever breading you’re dipping your chicken into starts to get gross from the egg. In this case, it was worse than normal because the cornstarch and egg turned into that 4th grade science project we’ve all made—the one with the cornstarch and water that is a similar consistency to Nickelodeon Gak (though way less fun and hilarious). Dry cornstarch had already somehow gotten all over the counter, and then the weak Gak mixture started to appear everywhere (like on my tongs, rendering them useless…and in the sink, turning the pile of dirty dishes into something extra special and disgusting). But I just kept at until all my chicken was sort of dredged (though it took me so long that it appeared the egg had just started to absorb al the cornstarch) and then heated up my oil to start frying.
Meanwhile, Eric hadn’t bought the brown rice in the easy (E-Z?) microwavable packet that I had him to get at the grocery store, and instead told me I could just use the boxed brown rice he had bought a few weeks prior (when I…had asked for the microwavable packet for a different recipe). My preference is always going to be for no-strings-attached rice; Eric’s rice was looking for a long-term commitment. But the box said you could make it in the microwave (score!) so I had it going in there according to the instructions.
So, my rice was cooking and I was beginning to fry the chicken in batches. When I took the first piece out after the recommended two minutes, it was still completely raw inside and I realized it was going to take a bit longer than anticipated. OK, fine, whatever. As I frying the chicken in batches, I started prepping the sauce, which you make by taking some extra marinade you set aside early in the process, boiling it, and adding…cornstarch. Of course. When I added the cornstarch, it went in in huge blobs and would not dissolve.
At this point, I had also removed the rice from the microwave, and set it on the counter, covered, for five minutes (according to the package directions). Yeah…I think it lasted about three minutes before I heard a huge BANG! and looked over to see that the top of the container had blown off. This rice was not just down for a casual hookup, it had just said that it was cool with that…but it then got mad when I put it in the microwave. This rice had apparently decided it was sick of my bullshit and my late-night texts and was leaving.
But I didn’t really have time to think about the rice telling me I was “such an asshole” because I was still stirring the would-be sauce (while still working the frying pan of chicken and hot oil); when it became clear that the cornstarch just wasn’t going to dissolve, I finally just turned off the heat and scooped the cornstarch blobs out with a colander/spoon method (creating…three more dishes covered in cornstarch Gak, of course). Then I called Eric in for backup.
Eric took over making the sauce, and while it went better that time around, the cornstarch still didn’t really dissolve fully. I learned this as I was trying to fry the chicken in the cornstarch-Gak-covered tongs. (Note: not effective! Might lead to third-degree burns from the hot oil!)
When we finally sat down to our dinner of brown rice and orange chicken a little while later, it was…fine. The rice survived, and the chicken was cooked through. It actually was pretty good, but it would have been better with more sauce; had I known, I would have reserved more of the mixture before marinating the chicken. But oh well. It was fine.
As we finished up dinner, I turned on the oven to 325 so I could bake my cookies.
Now, this cookie recipe promised to make very thick, very chewy cookies. That’s why they included cornstarch. That’s why I weighed my sugar. That’s why they had chilled for a day, been rolled into towers instead of balls, and had been put back to chill again. I did it all according to the directions. Then I followed the directions for baking the smaller cookies I had chosen to make—bake at 325 degrees for eight minutes. The recipe said that they’d look undercooked when you took them out, but that you should leave them on the hot cookie sheet for 10 minutes and they’d finish cooking.
When I pulled them out at eight minutes…well, there’s undercooked…and then there’s raw. I wanted so badly to believe in the magic of Pinterest recipes and the power of a hot cookie sheet, but I knew these cookies were not going to cook themselves outside of the oven. So I put them back in for three minutes. Nope. Another three minutes. Not yet. Then five.
After another 30 or so minutes of baking in tiny increments (every time I took them out, I could hear my eye doctor saying, “Any sharper here? How about here?”) I decided they were cooked enough to finish cooking on the cookie sheet. So we let them sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes they looked…like cookies. It was about 10:15 at this point, so we brought them upstairs with us on the cooling rack because I was sick of walking back and forth to kitchen and wanted to read in bed.
Around 10:30, Eric got up and inspected the cookies. “They look…fine,” he said. He broke one in half and inspected the middle before taking a bite. “Yeah, it’s…fine.”
“Is it though?” I said.
“It’s good. It’s fine!” he said. “People eat raw cookie dough all the time and it’s fine!”
“IT’S NOT FINE! You’re not supposed to eat raw cookie dough because of FOOD POISONING.”
He took another big bite, thus leaving just half a cookie.
“STOP EATING IT!” I screeched. And then suddenly I was a monologuing like a character on Scandal, about how I didn’t spend two days making these cookies only to have them be “fine” and actually still raw. I weighed my flour and shaped cold dough towers based on the promise of the best cookies ever, dammit, so we weren’t going to settle for FINE!
Eric went downstairs and turned the oven back on.
The next thing I knew, it was 11:44 PM and he was waking me up with warm cookies and cold milk. The cookies still didn’t look as thick as the original post had promised, but whatever. We broke them in half and they appeared to be cooked through. We bit into them tentatively and…They. Were. Amazing. Even though they didn’t look thick, they tasted incredibly thick and chewy, as promised. They were definitely the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made, if not eaten. With the cold milk, they were absolute perfection. I savored every last bite.
The next morning, I wasn’t sure if that part had been a dream, but the leftover cookies were just as good as the night before. (And holy hell, my kitchen was just as filthy.) The recipe made a lot of cookie towers and I only baked eight. The rest are in our freezer; according to the directions, I can take a few out at any time and bake them. As long as I have a few hours and a lot of patience to spare I guess.
Anyway, here are the rest of our meals from last week.
Enchilada nachos and Meyer lemon margaritas. (The nachos were good but meat was very spicy, and I felt like there was just too much seasoning overall. I’d make them again, but I’d cut the seasoning in half and skip the cayenne entirely. As for the margaritas, they were…tart. Not my favorite margaritas until I added a tablespoon or two of simple syrup to mine, which made it delicious and perfect. Also, I really hated everything last week, didn’t I?)
Easy twenty minute tortellini bake
Hamburgers and sweet potato fries
Fried egg and avocado sandwich (For some reason, this recipe was Eric’s personal orange chicken and chocolate chip cookies. He burned the toast and the bacon and had to start over. But in the end it was worth it because it was really, really delicious. Also, yes, it’s a Paula Deen recipe, which is why it shall be known from here on out as “dinner in the Big House.”)
Fancy grilled ham and cheese and tomato soup (Best recipe of the week! Sandwiches for dinner forever!)