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Monday, January 27, 2014

Candid Camera: Boston Food Swap Reaction Video


Yesterday was our first food swap of 2014. There were also a few other firsts: we had a class of high school freshman join us, some of our new swappers made dehydrated carrots and chocolate hummus, and we were filmed eating chocolates.

Filmmaker Anthony Flor joined us for his first Boston Food Swap experience, and recorded it all in the process. He takes us from making his chocolate truffles, to showing reaction shots of people sampling them. Check it out:



Thanks to Anthony for this unique perspective on swapping!

Boston Food Swap is a community organization funded entirely by donation. Support us through Paypal or BFS merchandise, and by following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook. If you enjoyed this blog post, please share it!  Also, you can join us at our next swap by checking out our Eventbrite page.

Friday, December 13, 2013

8 Awesome Gluten Free Cookies for Holiday Swapping

In anticipation of the 3rd Annual Cookie Swap for a Cause on Sunday, we asked some friends to share their favorite cookie recipes. This roundup comes from Melissa Massello of Shoestring Magazine.

Holidays can be hard if you're gluten free. Thankfully, our pal Melissa has had a year to practice and perfect the wheat-free life and has come up with 8 awesome alternatives to conventional cookie recipes:


 1. GF, Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies from Eat2Run
Still have leftover cans of pumpkin sitting around in your pantry post-Thanksgiving? Put them to work in these yummy cinnamon-spiced, chocolate-infused, gluten-free pumpkin drop cookies. Apparently they're also good for you!


2. GF, Vegan Cranberry Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies from La Casa de Sweets on The Pretty Bee
If you follow Tara and I on DIY Boston, then you know how obsessed I am with cranberries this year, but they're also a New England holiday classic.  While this recipe calls for oat flour, I find that Bob's Red Mill gluten-free all purpose flour works pretty well in almost any recipe needing 2 cups or less of flour.


3. GF Quinoa Coconut Cookies from GMO Free Girl
Drooling…right, writing. These soft drop cookies combine shredded coconut and soft cooked quinoa with drizzles of dark chocolate, sort of like a macaroon but lower in sugar and gluten free. YUMMO.


4. Paleo Snickerdoodle Cookies (Egg, Grain, Gluten & Dairy Free) from The Urban Poser
St. Nick came early this year with this recipe for a classic Christmas favorite that really can meet ALL of the dietary restrictions. Gluten free, vegan, and dairy free, perfect for Paleo friends or those of us just lucky enough to get multiple food allergies.


5. Gluten Free Thin Mints from Gluten Free on a Shoestring
Oh yes, you will win prizes and many, many new friends if you make these gluten-free alternatives to everyone's favorite Girl Scout Cookie. They're a little more involved than other cookies (baking + dipping in chocolate), so take note if you're planning on making 8+ dozen, but definitely will be a total crowd pleaser.


6. Dark Chocolate Trail Mix Bites from Undressed Skeleton
Who says Christmas cookies have to be cookies? I love how the green of the pepitas (or pistachios) and the reds of the dried fruits make these gluten-free dark chocolate drops seasonal, timeless AND healthy, yet super yummy.


7. Gluten-Free Lemon Chia Cookies from My Darling Lemon Thyme
Chia is the new healthy culinary hotness, and I love how this recipe uses them like you would in a traditional lemon poppyseed baked good. Again, this recipe calls for brown rice flour, but you could easily swap out for Bob's Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour (it's only 1/3 of a cup), and the almond meal is easy to make from scratch using whole almonds and your food processor. Bonus: these cookies are also dairy free!


8. Gluten-Free Peanut Butter & Nutella Sugar Cookies from Shoestring
Last, but IMHO not least, these super easy, super quick, and super cheap drop sugar cookies take the classic peanut butter cookie, remove the flour, and add Nutella. I've now made them at least two dozen times to nothing but rave reviews from even my non-glutarded friends and family.

Thanks, Melissa!

(Images: as credited above)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Recipe: Maple Banana Oatmeal Cookies (Gluten free + Vegan)

In anticipation of the 3rd Annual Cookie Swap for a Cause on Sunday, we asked some friends to share their cookie recipes. This one comes from Laurel of One Small Patch.

For those of us who eat even a little bit differently (whether by allergy, sensitivity, or choice) this time of the year can be tricky.

Not because we feel left out. And not because of the "temptations" around us. (After a while, delicious things that make you sick just aren't so delicious anymore.)

It's really just about awkwardness. In the flurry of dinners and parties and food gifting that is December, it can be hard to navigate and not offend. "Oh thank you… what's in this?" just never comes out quite right.

Luckily, the lovely ladies of the Boston Food Swap have removed the awkward for us. When you purchase your ticket for this Sunday's cookie swap, you can select whether your recipe is nut free, gluten free or vegan.

Even if only by happy accident, noting whether your cookies are without nuts, wheat, eggs or dairy will make them all the more swappable. And that's a good thing for everyone.

I hope to see and swap with you on Sunday.

Laurel 
One Small Patch

Maple Banana Oatmeal Cookies  
(Gluten free + Vegan)

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract
  • 2 Tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil 
  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with natural parchment. 

In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Stir in almond butter, maple extract, agave and melted coconut oil. Mix well.

In a smaller bowl, combine oats, baking powder and sea salt. Pour into wet mixture and stir well. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto parchment. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for several minutes before transferring to a wire rack.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Top 10 Reasons Why YOU should RSVP for Sunday's Cookie Swap for a Cause

 The 3rd Annual Cookie Swap for a Cause is this Sunday!  We can't wait for all of the holiday cheer and yummy cookies.  If you're on the fence about whether to go, we have the top 10 reasons why you should register today:

2011 Cookie Swap for a Cause in progress

  1. BIG blue monster said so, and if there is one thing this guy knows, it's cookies!
  2. You're looking for something festive to do after Sunday brunch or holiday shopping in the South End. 
  3. You're getting cabin fever from chilly weekends spent at home. 
  4. You haven't made your holiday season charitable donation yet. This is the easiest, tastiest, and most fun way to support as cause as worthy as Cookies for Kids' Cancer
  5. You like complimentary swag and refreshments from Narragansett Beer, Polar Beverages, America's Test Kitchen, Equal Exchange, Food Should Taste Good, Zipcar, and UNREAL candy courtesy of Eventbrite Boston.
  6. You're a great baker and think you can compete for prizes from Eat Boutique, Locally, or America's Test Kitchen with your kick-ass cookie recipe.
  7. You're a good baker and you're willing to bake like mad for a chance to compete for prizes for most cookies swapped.
  8. You don't even know what an oven is but you like to eat cookies, go to fun parties, get free stuff and go do things for kids with cancer.
  9. You forgot that you have a big holiday party coming up (work, friends, family, you name it!) and want to bring the coolest selection of treats to the festivities. (Nobody has to know you didn't bake them all yourself.) 
  10. You just love holiday cheer!


Eventbrite - 3rd Annual Cookie Swap for a Cause - #BOSCOOKIESWAP13


Boston Food Swap is a community organization funded entirely by donation. Support us through Paypal or BFS merchandise, and by following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook. If you enjoyed this blog post, please share it!  Also, you can join us at our next swap by checking out our Eventbrite page.

Boston: A Dessert Paradise!

As we roll out our stand mixers, cookie sheets, and parchment paper for this Sunday's Cookie Swap for a Cause, the folks at Marriot have put together a little infographic detailing the importance of desserts in the history of our sweet city.  Check it out and maybe look for some historical cookie inspiration!  Boston Cream Pie cookie, anyone?


The Breakdown of the Best Desserts in Boston - Powered by Marriot.
Boston Food Swap is a community organization funded entirely by donation. Support us through Paypal or BFS merchandise, and by following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook. If you enjoyed this blog post, please share it!  Also, you can join us at our next swap by checking out our Eventbrite page.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sponsored Post: Locally Founder Jessie Angell on Eating Local

When Locally founder Jessie Angell approached us about a potential sponsorship, we immediately saw the connections between Locally's mission of making locally produced food more accessible and our mission of creating community through home-cooking, baking, canning, pickling, and so on. Many of our swappers already use locally sourced ingredients (in fact, some of them are lucky enough to have backyard fruit trees or kitchen gardens for growing their own produce), and we love seeing how creative they can be in using those ingredients. Locally sounds like the perfect way to supplement our supply of produce and the items in our pantries. 

Boston Food Swap recently chatted with Jessie about why local food matters, what Locally offers, and how to incorporate local food into your cookie baking. Here's an excerpt of that conversation. 


Boston Food Swap: Why is local food important to you?
Jessie: Food has been a part of my life since I graduated from college. Since I started having to cook for myself, it was really important to me that I find the best and the most healthful foods. I got really interested in where our food was coming from. The more I researched, the more that I found that eating locally from sustainable producers was really more in keeping with the spirit that I was looking for than eating organic. To me, it tastes better. It’s more healthful because it hasn’t had to travel for so long. Vegetables, in particular, lose a lot of their nutrients in transport and it’s just a simple math equation. The less time they are out of the ground before they get to your plate, the more nutrients they have.

Then you have all of these issues like local economy. That’s a lot of what we’re trying to focus on: making sure that the dollar is spent on food coming within a local economy, and how that can impact communities. There’s a lot of fuel and a lot of resources being expended to move foods thousands of miles when it’s just not necessary.

Tell us more about Locally and how it works.
We’re in the very early stage of the company, and it’s changing all the time. We’re an online farmer’s market so we’re making inventory from farmers or artisans that provide our food available online to different communities around Boston. We deliver to people’s homes, their offices or what we’ve termed community pick-up locations. These can be a place of worship, a school, retail stores that want to this element as part of their neighborhood, any place that’s central to a community.

Is it just produce or is it other locally produced items as well?
No, it’s essentially anything that you could expect to find at a current farmer’s market. What we’re trying to replicate, ultimately, is the grocery story experience but with everything local. We spent the summer bringing on partners who would fulfill our needs for a perimeter of the grocery store, so all of your fresh foods. That’s your produce, your fruits and veggies, meat. Now we're doing the middle aisle of the store with pasta, candied yams, granola. The idea is that ultimately somebody this year will do probably 80 to 90 percent of their shopping with us.

How is Locally the same or different from a CSA?
We’re the same probably only in the respect that our food is local. We define local somewhat broadly, which is 300-400 miles that you could travel in one day, is what I’ve generally seen out there. Most of our products come from Massachusetts, probably within 70-100 miles of Boston.

We’re different from a CSA in that there is no upfront commitment, and there’s no requirement for purchase. People can buy what they want, when they want, in the quantities that they want.

With the Cookie Swap coming up, how can bakers incorporate local food into their cookies?
It’s a great question because I think that some of the elements that go into baking tend to fall by the wayside. But there are farms in Massachusetts that are starting to grow their own grain. I have a baking cookbook at home that’s really fantastic called Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich and she basically incorporates almost every type of flour or grain. She really turns a lot of the ingredients on their heads.
I think squashes and pumpkins are always a good addition to desserts. I like warm, mellow and a little savory dessert, and so it’s great to use some of the sweeter squashes and pumpkins in a recipe. I just read about incorporating beets into a chocolate cake recipe to make it nice and moist. 

Do you have a favorite cookie recipe or a favorite type of cookie?
It's a peanut butter cookie with toffee, and then I make salted caramel and drizzle it over. Anything that has caramel is probably going to get me, and anything with chocolate or peanut butter. I’ve always loved those, the really old-fashioned peanut butter cookies where you can put a Hershey kiss on top. I also really like the jumble cookies that has everything that we have in the cupboard. Those are awesome!

Is there anything else that you’d like readers to know?

One of the things that it would be great to see is not only people eating more locally, but also getting more out of the produce when it’s in season. I would actually love to learn more from your swappers about canning and freezing and those other techniques because I’m just starting to get into it myself. If anybody has any advice to give, please come up and talk to me about it at the cookie swap.

Photos courtesy of Jessie Angell / Locally 

This post is sponsored by Locally, an online farmer's market that started here in the Boston area. Check out their website or follow them on Twitter: @locallyco. Be sure to chat with Locally founder Jessie Angell at Cookie Swap for a Cause on December 15, too. 




Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Recipe: Taza Chocolate Cherry Almond Cookies

Need recipe ideas for Cookie Swap for a Cause? Or just holiday baking in general? Local favorite Somerville-based chocolate-maker Taza Chocolate has graciously shared this recipe for Chocolate Cherry Almond Cookies. 

Taza makes delicious Mexican stone-ground chocolate and adds fresh, organic ingredients like almonds or chipotle chili. Stone-ground chocolate has a slightly gritty texture that many people (including yours truly) love, and Taza's flavor is sweet but never overpowering, so it's a favorite among local chefs and bakers who work it into their culinary creations. 


Taza Chocolate is available from the Factory Store in Somerville and at specialty stores all over Boston (in fact, I even spotted some as far south as Palm Harbor, Florida over Thanksgiving weekend!). This recipe is republished by permission from Taza Chocolate. 

Chocolate Cherry Almond Cookies (makes 24 large cookies)
Ingredients: 

  • 2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Taza Chocolate Mexicano Extract
  • 1 8 oz. can Taza Chocolate Covered Almonds
  • 1 c. dried cherries



Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
  • In a larger bowl, cream together the softened butter, both sugars, and Taza Chocolate Mexicano Extract until creamy. Incorporate eggs one at a time until well combined.
  • Add flour mixture to wet ingredients, combining well after each addition.
  • Stir in Taza Chocolate Covered Almonds and dried cherries.
  • Drop *very* generous tablespoons of batter onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes.
  • Allow to cool on baking sheet for a minute or two, and then cool on wire racks.


For more recipe inspiration, check out our Cookie Swap for a Cause Pinterest board or visit the Taza Recipe Library

A huge thanks to Taza Chocolate for donating a gift box for our Cookie Swap for a Cause on December 15. Our goal is to swap 10,000 cookies, raising $10,000 for Cookies for Kids' CancerPledge your cookies now