Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Ice Cream Man is Coming!

Well, actually, he already came and went and to be accurate it was an 'Ice Cream Woman.'  Just for further clarification, and as much as I like the idea of it, I wasn't driving a rickety old truck playing a hundred year old record of the Mr Softee Song and making the folks at Gilda's Club or Ronald McDonald house chase me down the street waving a dollar bill! Ok, I can not write or even think about that image without having the memory of the Eddie Murphy in his 'Ice Cream' stand up routine - in an effort to keep my blog "G" rated, I won't embed the YouTube video, but you can follow the link at your risk, and if his red leather outfit doesn't get you laughing, the skit sure will ...'I got some ice cream!'

But it is finally summer in Buffalo and it seemed fitting for the temperatures we've been having lately to follow through on the 'ice cream cookie' idea.. Gilda's Club got Brownie Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwiches.  For these I made a couple of big sheets of brownies and then sandwiched some doctored up light vanilla ice cream between them, froze the whole thing and then cut them up into single serving ice cream bars. For clarification, don't be fooled, the ice cream was light to start, but not when I finished folding in about a 1/2 cup of peanut butter and chopped cocktail peanuts (for about 30 sandwiches).  And the Martha recipe I'm referring that provided the basis for this wasn't really followed as written either since I thought the brownie part had WAY too much butter.  Instead I used a lighter version for the brownie which I'll try to get around to typing up and posting - but again, 'lighter' isn't necessarily 'light.'  However, the beauty of this recipe was being able to kind of make them all at once - similar to bar cookies.  So I'll also admit that this may indeed be the first "non-cookie" for the cookie project.

For Ronald McDonald house I had a bit of repeat by making the chocolate cookies from the outside of the homemade oreos and then individually filling them with mint chocolate chip ice cream.
I know, ice cream 'grasshoppers' ...yum!
Between the filling and the freezing I couldn't really do the volume necessary for Glida's Club with all ice cream sandwiches so to kind of counter acted the rich brownies and ice cream by accompanying them with a light cookie: Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies.  I did a bit of substituting here also as I didn't have the dark chocolate so I replaced it with white chocolate chips.  I think they made the cookie a little sweeter than intended but it kept it true on nutritional information and paired well with the coconut.  So that's the word on the this past week's cookies and can't wait to do a follow up on the Ride for Roswell - another successful, emotional and awesome event!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ride for Roswell, June 26, 2010

The annual Ride for Roswell is this Saturday and I'd really like to take a moment to thank everyone who's donated to the ride. I never fail to be awed by the generosity of all those who give and support me with this event.  You can see the growing list of donors on my ride page. Below is a slideshow for anyone who's donated in Honor or in Memory of a loved one and for all those I ride for.  I plan to post all the cards on the Honor Wall on ride day and I'd be more than happy to add your name or the name of someone you wish to honor or remember - no donation necessary, just post it here or send me an email.  This is what the ride is all about - it has definitely changed the world.  Thanks to everyone for making this such a meaningful event!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Sure Bet

As I'm approaching the halfway point of the year I'm pretty happy that I have yet to have any 'repeats' in the cookie department. OK, maybe with the exception of some of the cutout cookie recipes, but they've been different shapes so with my 'make the rules up as you go along' philosophy, they don't count - and I'm still good in the 'unique each week' quest.  It was my own little rule to force me to try new recipes.

So as my list of 'tried and true' cookie recipes starts to dwindle I'm having to take a few more chances with recipes that 'sound good.'  As a result I've had some iffy results recently ... a bit of the Goldilocks syndrome with some of them being too soft or too flat or too dry or too hard or too burnt - well, guess I can't blame the recipe for that last one, and don't fret, I don't waste a lot of food (a curse of growing up in a family of 10) and all those slightly over baked ones usually ended up in, uh, lets just say 'testing services.'  But luckily, overall, I don't think there have been any real 'clunkers' in the taste department.

Yet whenever I find myself in a pinch for a recipe and don't know what to bake - as I did this week - I've been able to turn to one of my 'cookie project purchases' that has turned out to be well worth the investment.  Dorie Greenspan's "Baking. From My Home to Yours."  Talk about a sure thing?  This is the third cookie I've baked from this book - all of them were sweet and flavorful and delicious.  If I were smart (no comments please!) following this pastry chef should be my 'Plan A."  And another smart move is to bake a cookie that's filled with chocolate and candy and candy bars - that is definitely good plan.  Have you ever had a cookie with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in them that has been bad?  My point exactly ... so I wasn't too worried when along about Tuesday afternoon I finally settled on Dorie's Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops... I think they were "just right!"

I can't forget to mention that I also threw together a light Cappuccino Biscotti for Gilda's Club - that may have fallen in that 'too hard' category - but it's a biscotti after all - so it's nothing a quick dunk in a hot cup of coffee wouldn't remedy ... now I'm off to work on my very own original cookie recipe - I'm thinking something with chopped up snickers bars might be a good idea!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Say what?

What was that you put in these here cookies?  Beans.  Did you say beans?  Yup, beans. You mean like jelly beans right? Nope, I mean like legumes, a whole can of great northern beans.  But these cookies are good.  I know.  They don't taste like beans.  Cool, isn't it?

And so goes the conversations about one of the cookies I did this week, which I believe are very inappropriately named "Marathon Cookies" from Heidi Swanson of  She has one of my favorite cooking blogs with a quality of photos I'll never come close to matching.  But 'Marathon Cookies' would lend one to believe you could eat them before or during a run ... well you could, I guess, but I wouldn't advise it!  But after a run or workout?  Absolutely!  Go to town on these - while not specifically 'low calorie' they are filled with fiber and some protein  and whole grain goodness and just a fraction of the fat in a regular cookie and all from a healthy oil.  The flavor is refreshing and boosted by the combination of anise seed and lemon zest and chopped dates & sesame seeds only add to the great texture.  Perhaps not your average 'cookie' in the traditional sense of the word, but a great, and healthy, snack none the less!

Now I'll confess, while I LOVE this cookie personally - and through my Weight Watchers cooking escapades have had some exposure to beans in baked goods in the past (black bean brownies anyone?) - but still I was nervous to provide this as an option for the cookie project.  I envision people eying it suspiciously, unwrapping and smelling it - breaking off a piece to take the tiniest of tastes .... then spewing it across the room and tossing the rest in the garbage! But my sense is the folks at Gilda's Club are far too polite for that - so, uh, instead they'd probably spit it in a napkin as they pretended to cough and then crush the whole thing up in a ball and shove it in their pocket so they could throw it out when they get home!! :)  But on a serious note, I'm sure people will try these, and some may even like them, and for the health conscious the pulsed oats and pureed beans along with all the other ingredients really make for a very refreshing, if not different, treat.

So then of course, to counteract the possible backlash from the Marathon Cookies I proceeded to pair them with one of the ultimate decadent cookies - Pecan Raisin Drops.  We're talking loads of butter and brown sugar and nuts and salt and raisins and the only thing that you could possibly do to improve this one would be to dip the whole thing in chocolate!  Hey, now there's an idea ... maybe next time ...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Look to the Cookie

Black and White cookies.  I think they're the kind of thing you had to grow up with to truly love.  I used a tried and true recipe based on one straight from Zabars in New York City.  And while I was off a bit on the 'big & round" qualities of the cookie, the rest of it was spot on.  The cakey cookie, the half vanilla, half chocolate icing - that even looked 'pro' on some of the smaller cookies that managed to come out in a circle.  Personally, I think people mainly love them because they're typically HUGE, but in my more normal sized version, well, I could take 'em or leave 'em.  Guess I'm kind of hoping there's some transplanted New Yorkers that need reminding of home - to them, I'm sure they'll be delicious!
 (for great pictures check out the recipe link to Smitten Kitchen)

Evidently I wasn't the first to have the notion that a cookie can change the world:
"...If people would only look to the cookie, all of our problems would be solved."  Jerry Seinfeld