Friday, August 23, 2013

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Coconut Cookies

Have you been seeing as many zucchini recipes online as I have this summer? It seems like everyone with a garden has had an influx of zucchinis this year.
Well, personal gardens are a little hard to come by in NYC, but I asked the one person I know with one in Astoria and he said that he planted late and is hoping to see some in a couple of weeks.
This meant that last night I had to buy some from the grocery store. No biggie. But then I couldn't find any and started getting frustrated in the produce section. So I finally settled for the green squash that was near a gourd and figured it was close enough.
When I went to the self-check out aisle and scanned in the green squash, it said, "zucchini" as the item.
Well I learn something new each day...
This recipe also called for chocolate chips and I wanted to use some organic chocolate. I love sweetriot and was happy to discover that they had a dark chocolate bar with coconut in it. Since this recipe called for coconut already, I figured this was a win-win!
While this recipe has many components which needed many bowls, it was relatively easy to put together.
These bars are rather hearty with all the oatmeal that's called for. You would probably associate them with granola bars more than cookies (like I did.) They are nice and moist with subtle flavors. I think next time I make them I'd add a kick of some spice. Now what spice goes well with zucchini?
Zucchini Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Coconut Cookies (adapted from Two Peas & Their Pods)
1 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup shredded zucchini
2 cups old fashioned oats (Erika's Extra: I used gluten free oats bc I had them on hand)
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes (Erika's Extra: I used desiccated semi-sweet coconut. I suggest using the sweetened flakes)
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (Erika's Extra: I used the chocolate bar mentioned above and chopped it up in my food processor)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine coconut oil and sugars, mix until smooth. (Erika's Extras: I did this with my hand and not via a blender. It worked fine.) Add egg and vanilla extract. Next, add the shredded zucchini. Mix until combined.
4. Add flour mixture until combined. Stir in oats, coconut, and chocolate chips.
5. Drop cookie dough by heaping tablespoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or cookies are slightly golden around the edges and set. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks.
Bake well and prosper!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Cookies & Cream Ice Cream Sandwich

There was a battle in my kitchen. The flour won.
Me: 10 Flour: 162
Sometimes the flour jumps out of the measuring cup, trying to save itself from being mixed in with the butter and beaten by the beaters. Yeah. Not because I'm messy or anything...
Either way, the last time I made these grapeseed oil chocolate cookies, I don't remember having such a flour problem. But I remember them being super good and that's why I decided to use the recipe while making an ice cream sandwich.
For the ice cream, I made a recipe from my Mom's Best Recipes cookbook: Oreo Ice Cream.
If you make ice cream sandwiches, I highly suggest freezing the ice cream in a tray and then using the end of a shot glass to make perfect circles for the inside of the cookies. This method worked for me and was rather messy and fun.
I brought these to a picnic in a mini cooler with 4 trays worth of ice cubes and they still melted which was so sad. BUT, they still tasted really good and were like eating cookies with milk. :) 
Use this recipe for the cookies, but only put a little bit of dough on a cookie sheet and press it down so the cookies aren't too fluffy for the sandwich ends: grapeseed oil chocolate cookies adapted from cookies & cups
Use this recipe for the ice cream: Oreo Ice Cream
Once the cookies are cooled and the ice cream frozen, cut out circular shapes from the ice cream by using the top of a shot glass. Place the cut out ice cream in the middle of two like-shaped cookies and lightly smush the ice cream out to the sides of the cookie.
Wrap in Saran wrap if not eating right away and store in freezer.
Bake well and prosper!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Cherry Lemonade Bars with Lavender Frosting

I got to use my new mixer to make these bars!
Check out this sleek, vintage model. How great is it?!
Well, my fellow runner who gave me these cute plates also had this amazing mixer that she wasn't using. I know, I know...I already have a vintage blender. (Yes, the one I got my finger stuck in.) It's still groovy, but I must admit that it has it's drawbacks. This new for me metal one covers those disadvantages. While I LOVE both of my blenders, I still wouldn't mind a Kitchenaid mixer!
That's why I am entering these Cherry Lemonade Bars with Lavender Frosting in the Creative Recipe Contest hosted by Confessions of a Cookbook Queen and Cookies and Cups! The top prize is a pretty Kitchenaid mixer! (Although I'd be fine with the 2nd and 3rd place prizes, I'm trying to go for the gold!)
The contest is a fun one. Entrants had to look through  recipes on Confessions of a Cookbook Queen and Cookies and Cups and pick one that we like, but thought could be switched up a little bit.
Well, I saw these lemonade bars which reminded me that I wanted to make some lavender lemonade and thus my idea was born. I decided to go one step further than making a lavender frosting and added in some delightful cherries.
The combination of cherries with lemonade is a win-win. I was a little hesitant to try adding another flavor on top of that, but the subtle lavender flavor in the frosting makes the perfect medley with the tart of the lemon and sweetness of cherries.
I personally thought that these were some of the best dessert bars I've made but I couldn't confirm that until my taste testers (aka my coworkers) tried them. They agreed. One said that the flavors were "delicate and yet complex" and another one said that they were "better than monkey bread!" lol
You should definitely try making these because it's rather easy and your taste testers will love them! 
Cherry Lemonade Bars with Lavender Frosting (adapted from Cookies and Cups' Lemonade Brownies)
Ingredients for Bars
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup dry lemonade powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, plus 2 yolks
1 tsp vanilla (Erika's Extras: I was tempted to use almond extract but didn't...NEXT time.)
3/4 cup flour, plus 2 Tbsp
1/4 tsp baking powder
6 sweet cherries, diced (add more cherries if desired)
Ingredients for Glaze
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons of honey
1 Tablespoon of dried lavender
2 cups powdered sugar
Instructions for Bars
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray or butter an 8x8 pan with cooking spray/butter and set aside.
Cream butter, sugar and lemonade powder in mixer on low speed until completely combined. Add in egg, both yolks, and vanilla. Continue mixing until incorporated. Then add in the flour and baking powder.  Once completely combined, add the diced cherries.
The batter will be slightly stiff so scoop the batter into prepared pan and then spread it out evenly.
Bake 15-20 minutes until edges begin to golden and center is JUST set. Do not over bake.
Remove from oven and cool completely.
Instructions for Glaze
In a small pan over medium heat, stir the water and honey until completely combined. Once the water starts steaming, turn off heat, stir in lavender, and then place a lid over the pan and let the lavender seep for 10 minutes.
Strain the lavender water through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.
Put the powdered sugar in a medium bowl and add a Tablespoon of the lavender water to the powdered sugar. Stir and add a teaspoon of water at a time afterwards and stir in between each teaspoon. Stop adding the water when you get a thick, even, glue-like consistency. If it gets too watery, add more powdered sugar. (You will have lavender water left over.)
Pour the glaze on top of the cooled bars and let set for an hour before cutting into squares.
Bake well and prosper!