Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cheaters Never Win!

Well sometimes they do, but eventually they caught...anyone remember Ben Johnson? Floyd Landis?  Tonya Harding? or of a different nature, Tiger Woods?  Lucky for me, I think the consequences often depend on the severity of the 'cheat' - so no public humiliation or jail time for me. My guilt is barely there, I mean, I know I said I cheated last week by letting some other guy scour the globe and determine the best chocolate chip cookie recipe. But I think I just said it for dramatic effect, since it's really no big deal - from the get go I had every intention of following the recipe of someone else rather than creating my own.  And there's probably as many 'Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipes' as there are Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipes - since 'the best' is matter of individual taste - so it really was just more of an 'educated guess.'

So that said, when I picked out a recipe for this weeks cookies, I REALLY felt like I was cheating. Why, you ask?  Well because it was a recipe that wasn't going to end up with a cookie 'made from scratch.'  I have to tell you that I'd been eying these cookies since January - I mean look at 'em:

Don't they look delicious?  Like a light lemon cooler - a nice size and a bright yellow only all that artificial coloring can create! And it looks great with the crackled powdered sugar - described as 'crispy on the outside with a chewy center.'  In case you haven't noticed, I'm a sucker for a good lemon cookie.  But up until now I've resisted this particular cookie -  for the sole reason that the dough is derived from a boxed cake mix! egads! say it isn't so!   If I gave into pre-packaged & processed ingredients, what would be next?  It's only a step away from packaged dry cookie mixes, and if gave into that could refrigerated slice & bake cookie dough be far behind? And once I give in to that, well I might as well just pick up a bag of Chips Ahoy! No, it just didn't seem right.

But this past week, well I was considering it.  It might save me some time in my time crunched week. It might buy me a few extra hours sleep as I futilely try to train for an endurance event. Maybe if I didn't link to the recipe, if I didn't tell anyone, they wouldn't have to know that I took a shortcut.  Or maybe, if it was delicious enough, no one would care - they'd be glad for the short cut - happy to see a NON-Martha Stewart recipe and one where you didn't have to fly to Europe for some special ingredient.  Maybe, if you're busy enough, and nice enough and it really tastes good, well maybe it's ok to cheat.  The end justifies the means and as long as everyone has a great cookie, all would be forgiven. Nice in theory, not so much in practice.

To put your mind at ease, let me say this weeks cookies were Chewy Orange Almond Cookies and  White Chocolate, Blueberry Oatmeal Cookies (both light).  But that's not what I started out with.

Well, the orange almond cookies didn't change, but the repeat of the White Chocolate, Blueberry, Oatmeal Cookies started out as a double batch of  Easy Lemon Drop Cookies made with 2 boxes of Duncan Hines Supreme Lemon Cake Mix, eggs, some fresh lemon zest & juice, and like most boxed cake mixes - vegetable oil.  I think that may have been my undoing - I had checked the date, but will confess it smelled... a little, well 'strong.'  I don't use a lot of vegetable oil - in baking or otherwise - so I didn't think much of it.  But even after the cookies baked, they just seemed 'off' - and I'm not about to make anyone sick on my cookies - unless it's just from good old fashioned gluttony - if they polish off the whole basket, well that's their fault.  To be honest, I did eat two of them and was  not the least bit sick the next day - but they definitely were NOT delicious - they weren't even close to being 'good' ... I mean I don't even think I'd serve them to my family and they usually get all of my 'mistakes' (whether they know it or not! :)

So into the trash they went, but in my wisdom, seeing a new, unopened bottle of  vegetable oil in my cupboard, I think - let's try it again.  Since I also happened to have a box of Betty Crocker Lemon Cake mix in the cupboard - I told you I've been thinking about these for awhile!  So I decided to give it another shot - thinking maybe I can use a single batch for either Ronald McDonald House or Gilda's Club.  Now this time I know all of my ingredients were fresh - but that cake mix - well it wasn't spoiled, but it was definitely BAD!  Have you smelled Pledge lately?  If I had served this batch you would've been tasting it!  The fake lemon in these made the aroma so bad no one in their right mind would want to eat one - well except the baker to taste test and i can confirm - YUCK!  I seriously had to brush my teeth to get rid of  the gross industrial lemon flavor.  Maybe the first cake mix with the second new bottle of oil would've worked, but seeing how I was mercifully all out of lemon cake mix and it was approaching midnight and I was still short about 7 dozen cookies - well, fool me once, fool me twice, but you can't fool me three times!  Eventually I learn.

It was time to regroup, go through my ingredients - which according to my nieces and their little running joke, "ingredients" is all I have in my house - no actual food just things that might some day, if one knew how to cook, become 'food.'  Well for starters - fruit and vegetables ARE food, and regarding the cookie ingredients, well they don't seem to mind so much when I leave them extras every Wednesday morning, but I digress.

So I started surveying my cupboards and flipping through my recipes - I passed on doing a second cookie with nuts, but then pulled out a bag of dried blueberries - perfect!  It may be the second time around, but a nice chewy Oatmeal Cookie, with bursts of sweetness from some Ghiradelli white chocolate chips and the unexpected intense flavor of the blueberries, and all for under a hundred calories? Definitely 'perfect' - I guess third time's a charm, but just wish it didn't have to come 3 hours after I should've been done.

I knew that cake mix thing was a bad idea ... see, it's true, cheaters never win!

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