The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap If you know me even a little bit, you know I love cookies, and I especially love trying new cookies. So I am thrilled to be part of this year’s The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

Basically, I bake and send a dozen cookies to three other bloggers, then receive three dozen different cookies from other food bloggers from all over the country. Yes, it’s a sweet deal. And it gets better because The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is again partnering with Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a national non-profit organization committed to funding new therapies used in the fight against pediatric cancer.

 

 

So how does a long distance cookie swap work? Well, this one runs like clockwork – I happily baked my three dozen holiday cookies and shipped them off and then sat by the mailbox waiting to get my three dozen cookies. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long!

First up, some brown butter cookies with vanilla bean icing from Kristen at Bourbon and Honey. Wow. Wonderfully delicious!

Next some rosemary shortbread from Amber at Loves Food, Loves to Eat. Fantastic – especially because she even dipped them in chocolate!

Brown butter white chocolate macadamia nut cookies Jessica at Golden Brown and Delicious were prettily packaged and on my door in time for breakfast – I mean lunch. I would never eat cookies for breakfast, even cookies as delectable as these.

My cookies? The recipe for my first (and best) batch is from a phenomenal home baker and friend.

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (except when they’re not chocolate)

1 cup flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine flour, cocoa powder, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor and process briefly to blend. Add butter and process about 30 seconds

until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg yolk and vanilla and process until a smooth dough forms. Pat dough into a flattened ball, wrap in

plastic and chill for at least 25 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to ¼ inch thick. Cut into shapes. Put on greased cookie sheet (wash them with the egg yolk.) Bake for

15 to 18 minutes or until firm but not browned. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Notes from husband of the phenomenal home baker’s husband:  add additional butter and sugar. When making the non-chocolate, add a little more flour to make up for the missing cocoa powder…not scientific.

Frosting is very unscientific mix of powdered sugar and water…to whatever consistency works for you. Put on frosting and decorate immediately…let dry for a really long time or else your beautiful work will be wrecked if you stack them.

Ultimately these are my family’s favorite cookies but I felt as if my instructions were too imprecise so I made Joanne Chang’s very precise and wonderful holiday cookies.

Recipe here:

Holiday Sugar Cookies

by Joanne Chang of flour bakery and cafe 

 

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Cream sugar and butter for 5 min until light and fluffy in an electric mixer. Beat in eggs and vanilla on medium speed for 2-3 min until combined.

In separate medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder & salt until well mixed. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture into the butter-sugar-eggs-vanilla mixture and them mix until it is totally incorporated.. Refrigerate the dough for around one hour – I have done it for less and it’s been fine.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Lightly flour your work surface, place dough on the surface and flour the dough and rolling pin. Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick and use your favorite cookie cutters. I went with stars this time. Transfer to a baking sheet and put in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until cookies are golden brown on the edges.

Cool completely on a wire rack.

I’m proud to have donated to The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and the proceeds go to

From the website:

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a national 501(c)3 non-profit, is committed to raising funds for research to develop new, improved treatments for pediatric cancer, the #1 disease killer of children in the U.S. We provide inspiration and support for individuals, businesses and organizations to raise funds by hosting grassroots bake sales and other fundraising events.
The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2015
Beautifully hosted by Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen – many thanks! Want to know more? Join next year’s swap?  Go here.

Thank you to sponsors Dixie Crystals Sugar, OXO and Land O’ Lakes butter for the baking treats.

landolakes

Pantry in Brookline is gorgeous

 

 

Farm to table, great. Store to table, also great. Especially when it’s this store. Pantry is the newest and freshest way to grocery shop. The store is a beautiful place, warm and well-stocked with dinner plans for every taste. There’s also a carefully curated selection of cooking utensils and pans – the chef’s choice – gorgeously displayed and reasonably priced, too. Recent college grads? Empty nesters? Busy families? They’ve got you covered for dinner, anyway.

I decided to try the salmon since we all love it, and I needed a new way to prepare it. Okay, I was asked repeatedly to find a new way to prepare it and finally took the clue.

Here’s the recipe I made –  Salmon with Spinach Barley.

 

Delicious, different and on the table in under 40 minutes. The recipe card says 35 minutes which is pretty accurate, I’m always a bit pokey the first time I make something.

So the shopping was a joy, the prep was a breeze. And here’s the final dish. And they pair beer or wine options (and have them in the store) with every recipe. Brilliant.

I’m definitely voting Pantry as most likely to be a new favorite place for dinner. Why? The store is gorgeous, the food locally sourced, the recipes fantastic – easy to execute but sophisticated – and you choose your own fresh ingredients.

Pantry also will deliver the ingredients. Really. Door Dash and Caviar both deliver Pantry’s fresh ingredients – and you get a fresh, healthy meal that’s way better than the usual take out fare.

This super sweet shop is in Brookline at 1622 Beacon Street – easy to get to and great to stop by if you are driving home past it. On the T? Just jump off the Green Line, grab your dinner and head home!

Head on over to Leah’s Life to see what they thought of the Thanksgiving Turkey Roulade.

And thank you to Leah for the great photos and for being so much fun!

Happy dinner planning!

Disclosure:

I was not compensated for this post but was given the ingredients for the meal above to facilitate the review. I purchased the beer and wine myself, and some Justin’s peanut butter cups which did not make it home. Sorry, family. All opinions are, as always, my own.

 

How to help Paris: Ways to support victims of terror attacks in France

https://twitter.com/jean_jullien/status/665305363500011521

 

From Syracuse.com

How to help Paris: Ways to support victims of terror attacks in France

(click on above link to go to site)

and

Rally of support for France and Paris

At this time of despair and mourning, it is up to us to unite for a better future for our children. Tomorrow at noon, Bostonians will gather on Boston Common to show their support for the people of Paris. For more information, see the Facebook event page.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1640129012942151/

from Combined Jewish Philanthropies

CJP/JCRC Statement on Paris Terror Attacks

We are horrified, saddened and enraged at the terrorist attacks that killed and critically injured scores of innocent people in Paris.

These attacks, carried out by Islamic extremists, struck at the very core of one of the world’s great cities, with targets including young adults enjoying a concert, families attending a soccer match and couples dining at a café. They were an assault on every person who believes in freedom and the dignity of life.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the murders; the third time in 10 days they have done so. The attacks occurred less than two weeks after a suspected bomb blew apart a Russian civilian jet, killing 224 people, including 24 children, and less than 72 hours after two bombings in busy Beirut neighborhoods killed more than 40 people.

Islamic extremism has many names and offshoots – Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, ISIS – but they share the same goals: destruction, murder and hopelessness.

As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes in his book, Not in God’s Name, “to invoke God to justify violence against the innocent is not an act of sanctity but of sacrilege. It is a kind of blasphemy. It is to take God’s name in vain.”

The Islamic extremists’ depraved worship of violence and death challenges us all.

On Friday night, President Obama said the Paris attacks were “not just on the people of France, but … on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.”

We have a shared responsibility to eradicate the evil of violent extremism, before we bury more innocent victims.

CJP welcomes the participation of interfaith couples and families, and people of all abilities, backgrounds and sexual orientations.

Just Add Cooking – the rest is covered

Do you know that feeling when you get a package? It’s great, right? What’s even better is when the package is filled with fresh, local ingredients for three whole dinners!  Love this new way of getting healthy food on the table. Not every week – heck, not every day – is the same and sometimes, usually, I am stretched to come up with healthy meals that I can make under an hour that everyone will like.  So while I am a tiny bit of a control freak, I also am pretty fresh out of ideas for dinner. Just Add Cooking came at just the right time.

Three meals, prepped and cooked in under 30 minutes, and the ingredients delivered to your door. Bye bye Control Freak. Hello, Just Add Cooking.

 

My lovely Just Add Cooking box had the ingredients for

Coq au Vin

Chana Saag

Fish Soup with Aioli

 

Everything was fresh, delicious, easy to prepare (and true to the projected cooking times which is the best). Having the exact ingredients and amount of ingredients was nothing short of a miracle (if you are my neighbor you have probably gotten a missing ingredient call from me). Can’t wait to try owner of Moody’s and an amazing chef, Joshua Smith’s take on Corned Beef and Cabbage. Yum.

Just Add Cooking is offering boxes starting at $39 for a 2-person, 3-meal box (normally $69) and $69 for a 4-person, 3-meal box (normally $109). This is for the first box for new customers and the price will be automatically applied to their first purchase if they visit http://www.justaddcooking.com and register by clicking “Get Cooking.”  So got try it out. Your dinners will be happier for it.
  • Just Add Cooking is based in Boston and the ingredients are locally sourced, using local farmers, vendors and purveyors and seasonal ingredients whenever possible.
  • Delivery area is throughout Eastern Massachusetts.
  • There are seven recipes to choose from each week. Typically there is a poultry, seafood, pork and beef option along with 3 vegetarian options.
  • You make a selection by 12 pm on Wed and get delivery on Sunday or Monday depending on your area.
  • There are also designated gluten-free meals, which have been evaluated by a dietitian and are clearly labeled as such.
  • Because Just Add Cooking sources locally, they pack and deliver (via courier) the same day. No FedEx means less packaging (packaging is minimal and everything but the freezer bag is biodegradable). This process also helps ensure freshness and involves lower food miles the ingredients have to travel.
  • All recipes are developed by an in-house chef and all recipes are tested to ensure they are accessible to home chefs. This means the time printed on the recipe (usually around 30  minutes) is the true cooking time.JAC Open Box picture
Check out Just Add Cooking
on
Disclainer: I was not compensated for this post but did receive a Just Add Cooking box to facilitate this review. All opinions are =, and always will be, my own.

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