I had a grand idea for this week’s column to talk about how at the end of the summer, everyone’s garden is burgeoning with late summer crops like plump tomatoes, zucchini, squash and shiny peppers. I was prepared to wax poetic about how Hubs and I are overrun with the bounty from our garden and just can’t keep up with the madness. Then I thought, “Quit your lyin’, Laura. Who are you trying to kid?”
The truth is, this has been a horrible summer for our garden. Only week before last, we got a few diminutive tomatoes ripening on the vine. Our zucchini and squash plants acquired some kind of aggressive fungus, and shriveled up and died weeks ago (along with my heart – I was so looking forward to pattypan squash). Our bell pepper plant has one lonely, shrunken pepper that’s already turning a pitiful shade of brown. The only thing that produced a semi-normal crop was a funky, hard-skinned white cucumber from some free seeds from Burpee. Lame. Summer of 2011, you can take my garden and shove it.
Even though I wasn’t able to harvest mountains of vegetables from my garden this year, I still ate like it was summertime. Luckily, fruits and vegetables in season tend to be cheaper at the farmer’s market and grocery store, so I was able to roast, grill and sauté my way through countless late summer veggies, pretending that I had picked them right off the vine before cooking. A girl can dream, can’t she?
One of my favorite summer veggies is zucchini because of its versatility; you can bake it, grill it, sauté it, make relish out of it, make rude gestures with it. For those of you who like my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/flyerfoodie), you see how often I cook with it. It can really go in anything; even ice cream sandwiches. What the what?!
In keeping with the eatin’-for-the-season theme, Hubs and I tend to go for cold desserts in hot temps. As I mentioned last week, smoothies have been our thing for the past month or so. But last Saturday night brought on a new hankering: ice cream sandwiches. For me, the term “ice cream sandwich” conjures up an image of eating a rectangle block of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two soft, chocolaty cookies that stick to your fingers. The sandwich is wrapped in white parchment paper, which somehow still manages to get ice cream all over your hands. Those old school sandwiches are damn good, no doubt. But as always, there’s something even more decadent out there – and it’s coming from my kitchen.
I started with a basic recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies, but to give the cookies a little more, ahem, nutritional value, I added some shredded zucchini to the dough. Don’t get all grossed out here; you like zucchini bread, right? This is along the same lines! Shred the zucchini, mix the dough, shove it all into the oven, and badda-bing-badda-boom: oatmeal zucchini cookies. Now, onto the fun part.
Get your favorite flavor of ice cream (vanilla for yours truly) and soften it just a little in the microwave. Smoosh a few tablespoons of the ice cream between two cookies and you’ve got yourself one heck of an ice cream sandwich. As always, add things to the cookies to make them your own – nuts, chocolate chips, coconut – the list goes on and on.
Garden or no garden, the end of the summer just isn’t complete without hearing Hubs bark in annoyance, “Laura, quit holding the zucchini like that!” Oh, wait. Different story. What I meant to say was, the end of the summer just isn’t complete without an essential treat: ice cream sandwiches. Enjoy!
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Oatmeal Zucchini Cookies
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
6 oz. butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. sugar
3 c. rolled oats
1 c. shredded zucchini, packed
3/4 c. raisins
Your favorite ice cream for sandwiches (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars together at high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the egg at medium speed, then add in the flour mixture. Stir in the oats, zucchini and raisins, and allow the dough to sit for 30 minutes.
Using a small ice cream scoop for the dough, bake the cookies on lined baking sheets, using parchment paper or a Silpat, for 15-18 minutes, switching the pans halfway through baking. Cool the cookies completely on a wire rack. If you’re making ice cream sandwiches, smoosh 3/4 cup of softened ice cream between two cookies and serve immediately.
* If the above slideshow doesn’t load, you can view all the photos from this recipe on Flickr.
Laura is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She was born and raised in Fayetteville. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and avid cook. For more of Laura’s contributions, see her Flyer Foodie author page. For more cooking, recipes, and other food-related inspiration, visit Flyer Foodie on Facebook.