I am so excited to announce the launch of the 2nd Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, hosted by myself and Julie of The Little Kitchen! This event brings together food bloggers from around the world in celebration of all things scrumptious. Last year we had over 600 bloggers send nearly 22,000 cookies around the world! Now that’s a lot of cookies! (And if you’re curious, you can see ALL the cookie recipes from last year’s swap here and here.)
The premise is this: sign up. Receive the addresses of three other food bloggers. Send each of them one dozen delicious homemade cookies. Receive three different boxes of scrumptious cookies from other bloggers. Eat them all yourself (or, you know, share. If you want. No judgement either way.) Post your cookie recipe on your blog. See everyone else’s cookie recipes. Salivate. Get lots of great ideas for next year’s cookie swap. Rinse and repeat.
This year we are even more excited to be partnering with Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. We will be collecting a $4 donation from every participant, required upon sign-up. By participating in this cookie swap you are not only contributing to the food blogger community, but also supporting a great cause. Additionally, OXO® will be matching our donation DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR (up to $100k) AND all confirmed U.S. participants will receive a free Be a Good Cookie Spatula. It’s a win-win for everyone!
(I do want to reiterate that these tax-deductible donations will be made directly to Cookies For Kids’ Cancer—a recognized 501(c)3 public charity duly incorporated under the laws of the state of New Jersey—Julie and I will have no contact whatsoever with this money. 100% of it will go directly to this amazing organization).
Want to join in on the fun?
Hurry over to the official Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap website to sign up. Be sure to read through the full rules and requirements carefully to make sure you are able to meet the deadlines and fulfill the requirements. There are no refunds if you drop out prior to the sign-up deadline or if you don’t meet all the requirements. Sign ups will be accepted through Monday, November 5th.
The website will be updated regularly throughout the event, so bookmark the URL or follow us on facebook to get the most up to date info about status and deadlines. If you have any questions, feel free to email us or post a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer it promptly!
Grab a badge:
If you’re participating, spread the word! The more bloggers we have participating in this swap the more fun it’ll be. Please use the code below to add the official cookie swap banner to your blog:
<a href="http://www.fbcookieswap.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.fbcookieswap.com/images/fbcookieswap2012_badge.png" border="0" alt="The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012"></a>
Tweeting, pinning, or instagraming? Use the hashtag #fbcookieswap.
We hope you are excited about the return of this event as we are! Hooray for cookies!
Funny how I can track the course of my entire childhood with memories of dessert.
There were the classic chocolate chip cookies my mom used to make all the time. I was never far away when she did (otherwise who was going to lick the bowl?).
There was the cake my sister and I tried to bake for my Dad’s birthday one year. When the layers started to slip and slide and no amount of frosting would glue it together, we stuck tootsie pops into the cake in an effort to hold it together. It wasn’t pretty, but boy did it taste good.
I remember my favorite cheesecake that I loved so much. The one with the chocolate swirls and the cookie crust. The recipe came to us randomly in a pile of junk mail.
I remember tackling, so bravely at the age of 10, complicated sugar candies like lollipops and salt water taffy. Yet why am I faced with a fear of cooked sugar now when back then I was completely fearless? Go figure.
And then there was La Cocina. Or LaCo as the locals called it. One of the best restaurants in our little town. It was always a special treat to go to LaCo, where you could feast on the Smiley Face platter (a plate of baked beans with a cheesy grin) and endless chips and salsa. But that’s not the reason I was always so excited to go there.
The real reason was dessert.
Suitably dubbed Chocolate Velvet, the dessert was as light and airy as a chocolate cloud. It was like chocolate mousse – but so much more. Served in a towering slice like the best piece of chocolate cake you’ve ever had, and dusted with fine chocolate cookie crumbs that stuck to your chin.
Needless to say, when La Cocina shut its doors, I was crushed. The prospect of no more chocolate velvet was more than my chocolate-filled mind could handle.
I never forgot about that dessert, and often discussed the urgent matter of the recipe with my mom. She had, at one point, acquired a copy of what was apparently the secret recipe, but the cryptic instructions were so baffling that I had never attempted it before. Finally, after a decade-long velvet void I couldn’t wait any longer.
Once I figured out that the egg whites were best folded into the chocolate mixture and not the plain cookie crumbs, and that the dark-as-night chocolate color I remember was most likely from cookie crumbs folded into the mousse (though that part was missing from the overly abbreviated recipe), the dessert came together just as I remember.
I chose to serve the dessert in mini shot glasses – because, what’s not to like about mini shot glasses? But you could certainly layer the mousse in a 9×9 baking dish instead, and slice it into (larger-than-shot-glass-size) portions for serving. That’s your call.
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10. I’ve been kind of obsessed with starting yoga, despite my record-breaking inflexibility. More as a physical way to handle stress than anything, and yet, we’ve been so damn busy (read: stressed) that we haven’t had time to actually explore any classes. Funny how that always seems to happen…
9. Julie and I are at it again. You. Me. Lots and lots of cookies. Be there. Stay tuned…
8. We’ve been in full-on mad fall-cleaning mode, or should I say Taylor has been. Major organization accompanied by a mass exodus of useless stuff (Goodwill is our best friend).
7. That cleaning-spree could have been brought on by our latest project. A necessity of sorts, as the dishes (oops) were overflowing their current shelving situation. We replaced our old TV stand with a custom IKEA-hacked built in that extends the full length of the room. It took us a good 2 weeks longer to finish than we anticipated (weekend project my @$!), and of course we just HAD to get a shiny new TV to go with it… but overall we’re thrilled with the results. Just look at all that beautiful storage!
We’ve still got one, ok two, more pieces of the project to finish. One is hiding those gosh darn cords. But the other is an elaborate plan for white floating shelves at various levels above and around the TV. A kitty jungle gym of sorts. Yes, this is reason #130 that we are officially, without a shadow of a doubt, crazy cat people.
6. Reason #131 we are crazy cat people… homemade food. Indeed, Sgt. Pepper has been getting gourmet dinners of lamb and sweet potato for over a month now. It’s our last-ditch effort to rule out a food allergy as the cause of his skin issues. We attempted this once before and he wouldn’t have it (apparently shrimp and bison are not his favorites). But lamb? He devours it.
5. I’m not one to write or tweet about politics (like, EVER) but you have to admit this is hilarious. No matter which side you’re on.
4. I’m currently reading Game of Thrones, and quite enjoying it despite the fact that knights and sword fights aren’t usually my cup of tea (then again, I said the same thing about vampires). Or, should I say, WAS reading it. Darn book was due back at the library before I had a chance to finish it (and apparently, when someone else is waiting for a book you’re not allowed to renew it). If I forget before I manage to get it back, remind me: page 431.
3. I read too fast, which is why I’ve decided to make the most of my library card. Otherwise we’d go broke buying new novels every week or two. Taylor always remarks that I’m not *really* reading, and I quip back that he doesn’t need to read every “the” and “a” to get the gist of the story (he’s a tortoise to my hare).
2. I thought I could get to 10 things but I’m struggling. Maybe next time I’ll only do 8.
1. For what it’s worth, paper straws make the best cat toys. Like, seriously awesome cat toys. I know you’ve got bunches of them sitting around from when you made those homemade pixie sticks… why not give one to your cat and be entertained for hours? Trust me. (Er, is this reason #132? I’m not helping my crazy cat lady status here, am I?)
Be sure to pick up a copy of today’s Tennessean, where this recipe for Fresh Tomato Soup with Mascarpone (excerpted below) is featured in my monthly blogs column.
For some, tomato soup is the ultimate comfort food. I totally get it. On a dreary day, a warm bowl of soup and a crispy, buttery grilled cheese do wonders to lighten the mood.
But I’ll be honest when I tell you I’ve never been a fan. Granted, my only real exposure to the stuff was from an iconic red and white can, but still, something about the flavor just never sat right with me. Could be the fact that, as a child, I was a tomato-hater, and turned up my nose at anything they touched (other than pizza, of course, but that was only because the tomato was disguised underneath a thick layer of cheese).
Even as an adult, when my taste buds matured and I finally realized that tomatoes weren’t, in fact, evil, but rather quite spectacular, tomato soup was still never up there on my list of favorite foods, let alone comfort foods.
This summer marked a first for me: the first time I actually made tomato soup (because why put all that time and effort into something you don’t like?). A travesty, I know, because a good tomato soup should be a part of every home cook’s repertoire. I don’t know what sparked it or what came over me, but I put it on our weekly menu. It was time to give soup a chance.
And you know what? It wasn’t so bad. Quite the opposite, actually. I really surprised myself with this one. It probably didn’t hurt that I added a heaping scoop of fresh mascarpone cheese at the end. You know, for good measure.
While tomato soup recipes often call for tomatoes in myriad forms (fresh, roasted, canned, pasted, sun-dried, pureed or chopped, just to name a few), this soup intentionally highlights the gorgeous, perfectly-ripe tomatoes that currently grace our local markets. The last of the late summer crop are arguably the best tomatoes of the year (perhaps second only to the long awaited first bite in June). The heat truly brings out the sweetness of this often under-appreciated fruit. And in this recipe, the tomato is the star, giving the soup and flavor a brightness that off-season or canned tomatoes just can’t beat.
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