Rainbow Cookie Cake

Grandma, Adam, and Shosh (photo credit "The Sister"

 

My grandparents used to own a bakery in Queens, and when we were little girls, my grandfather used to make us “Rainbow Cookies.” And whenever we’d visit New York City, our grandparents had these cookies waiting for us. It’s a very special Italian cookie – that’s cake-like, made with Almond paste, died pink, yellow, and green – and finally covered in chocolate. These cookies are special because they are not just delightful as a kid, but they are still appreciated as adults (think about how good spaghetti-o’s tasted as a kid – Do they still taste that good? Nah!)

Rainbow Cookies = Childhood!

We stopped by to visit “the grandma” (she says “the google,” so she’s “the grandma”) with my sister to celebrate our engagement.  When I called her from the boat last weekend to tell her that we were engaged, she told me she hasn’t been this happy since her husband (my grandma) proposed to her – and then asked if she could go make her phone calls. Activating the Jewish Grandma phone tree is one of the most important aspects of Jewish Grandma life.

And if you were not already convinced my grandma is totally awesome, take a look at her photo booth photos from a recent shul event!

At the Walbaums (yes, just a typical grocery store) by her apartment, we found the most amazing cake ever – a Rainbow Cookie Cake! I had no idea that this could be purchased. Such a find, and we knew we needed this for our celebration with “the Grandma”.

 

look at the rainbow cookie on top!

Doesn’t it look festive? It was perfect. A great call back to our childhood (funnily enough, Adam’s mom used to get them for him, and he ate them all the time too!)  And so moist. We were really surprised at how good it actually tasted.

just like a GIANT rainbow cookie!

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Healthy Party Snacks

Good morning! This post comes after a number of people emailed me to find out the great recipes behind Colleen’s health-i-fied engagement party snacks… Not only have we been friends since we were 12, but she’s an awesome cook, and a great comedian (and if you want to see a great proposal, check out how her husband proposed to her on stage )

 

Colleen and I at her Wedding 🙂

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Congratulations Shoshana! I’m so unbelievable happy for my good friend Shoshana Davis….mostly for her engagement, but also because now I have one less friend living the happy single life. If only I could get my friends to start having babies then when we all go out I won’t be the only one pretending to still function after 8:00 pm. 🙂  (I have a 18 month old)

I threw Shoshana a “mini-engagement” party after Adam proposed to her here in Arizona, and I am sharing some of my mini-party tricks.

I am a hard-core calorie counter, and when I was in the store searching for mini party foods, I just couldn’t bring myself to have disgusting high calorie full of fat party food at my house! Mostly because if it’s in the house I loose all sense of self control and eat until I look like I’m pregnant again (no joke).

My first trick was to serve vegetables and hummus for two reasons

 1. They are a healthy way to fill up quickly and avoid party snacking binges

 2.  I have no problem with left over vegetables in the house.

My next trick was to serve finger sandwiches, that way I could eat more than one (which I almost always do at a party) without over eating!

Colleen's Tasty Finger Sandwhiches

I start with whole grain bread, the kind we use here at my House is Natures Made Honey Wheat, it is whole grain but not overly grainy and offensive to people not use to eating whole grain food. I also make a few different kinds of sandwiches so everyone has something they’d like to snack on. Here were my choices for Shoshana’s Party

  1.  Light Swiss (using laughing cow cheese)  and turkey
  2. Cucumber and fat free cream cheese (with dill)
  3. Grilled Mini-Paninis, made my using havarti cheese and I Can’t Believe It’s not Butter spray on my George Forman grill.  

 Lastly I needed desert, I thought Carrot Cake cupcakes would be cute, but Carrot Cake although sounds healthy, (carrots, right?), is absolutely the calorie devil from calorie hell.

 

health-i-fied carrot cake a la Colleen (with hand drawn rings!)

But, I remembered a recipe from my very favorite calorie countress The Hungry Girl! Here is the recipe:

Colleen’s Notes:

You can buy the 15oz can of pumpkin and use half of it.

Pumpkin works great with chocolate cake mix as well!

Ingredients

1 box of carrot cake mix

8 oz  of pure pumpkin

Directions

  1. Pre-Heat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Place cupcake wrappers in baking tins
  3. Add 8oz of pure pumpkin to the mix (do not add any other ingredients)
  4. Mix the batter until smooth
  5. Bake for 19-21 Minutes

 

My number one trick is that you NEVER tell anyone that what they are eating is healthy until AFTER they eat it!

PHX – LAX – LAX – LAX – Are we ever leaving LA?

Our flights were re-booked to take us through LAX. We tried everything to fix this, but there were no more direct flights going from PHX to JFK – We even tried reaching out on twitter, but everything was over booked. (Travel tip – when having airline issues, reach out over twitter – the airlines assist twitter handle was a HUGE help) When we landed at LAX, we booked it to our gate, but ended up being re-booked again on a flight leaving the next day at 4:30pm. The airline, was nice enough, and put us up for the night, but we decided to not waste the day, and had a mini-day in LA.

Good Morning LA!

We drove up the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu Pier and walked in the sand, and put our feet in the water. It’s so pretty there!

Caaalliiifoorrnnniia!!

We tried to get a cup of coffee, but everything was closed, so we headed across the street to the Malibu Inn. I assumed that this was a hotel – with a restaurant, but it’s actually just a restaurant .

doesn't this look like a cheap-o motel?

We walked in and saw that they were shooting some sort of commercial or tv show there, but ignored it and got a table. We were exhausted, wearing the same clothes as the day before (due to our checked luggage already being in New York), and just trying to kill some time so we tried to ignore them looking at us, but clearly our “celebrity” (or stinky day old clothes stench) brought them over and they asked us to be extras on the show Million Dollar Listing on Bravo. So, we said, why not? It’s not every day that you get stuck in LA, and get to be on a national show right? Welcome to Hollywood, indeed! (ps They promised us our scene would not end up being cut. Are we destined to be stars, I think so!)

stinky mc stink star power!

On our way back through the PCH, we grabbed a 20 minute lunch with my friend Michael.  We used to go to yearbook and newspaper camps together in high school, (yes we were those kids) and it was cool to get caught up!

Interesting. A pacemaker is an electronic device like headphones, that can always be used on a plane....

Over 24 hours later, we’re now safely back in NYC. Woohoo! Time to show off the bling and celebrate with our family and friends on this coast! J

Have you ever gotten stuck at an airport?

We’re engaged!!!

The Proposal!

Yes, I know I gave away zinger in the headline, but I can’t help myself, I’m so excited! (As one of Adam’s cousins screamed on the phone – insert a thick NY accent here – “Youuu’rrrreee eennaggggeedd to beee marrrrriiieeeeeeddd!!!!!)

We booked our trip to Arizona months ago, and from the start Adam asked me to make Saturday, our “date day.” I left on Tuesday and his plan was to meet me out there for the long weekend  – Our 2 year dating anniversary fell on Wednesday, so we’d be a apart for the day, but planned to celebrate on our “date day.”

 

Remember the flowers Adam sent me for our date-iversary?

Adam’s a complete romantic (we’re lucky that one of us is, because I have the romantic inklings of a paper bag) and would not give me any details about our DD. My friends all predicted that he would propose – and I adamantly denied it. The boy had promised that he’d give me a heads up so my nails could be properly manicured (I mean, a city girl has to have her priorities straight – good ring nail color is a big one!)

Saturday, started out great. We woke up at the Arizona Biltmore. We stayed over that night in their Ocotillo rooms as part of my freelance piece on AZ Spa Resorts. They are just amazing, the rooms are gorgeous, and the staff is unbelievable. Here are some highlights, you’ll get to see more, when my story comes out!

Ocotillo's private pool. Lovely!

 

Kids would love it here!

LOVED this room!

truffles in a chocolate box - LOVE this hotel!

 

We went to Over Easy, a little breakfast nook in Phoenix featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. We do a lot of traveling and have made it a tradition to try out some of restaurants featured on Triple D! They’re always unique, yummy, have lots of (healthy and unhealthier) options, and are not over priced.  Over Easy was not an exception. I asked the waitress what she recommended and before I knew it – I had chicken fried steak. I’ve NEVER eaten or ordered that before in my life, and I’m not sure how it happened – literally, but it was amazing. I shared it with Adam, and had an amazing ice coffee. Their iced coffee is made with evaporated milk, and has hints of cinnamon and mint. It’s a GREAT treat for a hot Phoenix morning!

Delicious!

Next, Adam went to CVS and packed up a cooler with water, ice, and snacks. He’d had warned me to bring a bathing suit, so I thought we were going to a water park of some sort. That idea soon changed when we ended up on the Apache Trail, headed towards Roosevelt Lake and Dam. My parents used to take my fam on this drive as kids – but I do not remember it being nearly as scary – clearly, my worry wart attitude has increased with age – the drive starts out as a winding paved road riding up steep inclines and back down into the canyon, as if not scary enough, it soon turns into a single lane dirt road (for both directions) going up, down and around mountains without guard rails. It was like a real life rodeo – so fun!

Doesn't it look like you're surrounded by no one?

We ended up parking at Roosevelt Lake, and walking to the Marina – where I saw that my boyfriend had taken a boating course and gotten his boating license. (Read: He did a very good job of hiding a 16 hour course from me – maybe my journalistic skills need to be sharpened ;))

Captain Adam K!

 

We got into the boat – let me say, for not having EVER driven a boat before, that Adam is one fine captain. He’s a natural.

He maneuvered us over to a little cove, and tried to drop the anchor, but the steep drop off of the mountain, meant deep waters, and it wouldn’t catch. We were rebels and decided to drift a bit. Adam asked me if I wanted my present for our anniversary. I said yes, of course. Duh, who doesn’t want presents? He told me that he got me something to help me with my writing and pulled out a fancy shmancy Droid Tablet and said he put some blogging software. I was shocked. That’s a BIG anniversary gift.

I couldn’t see the software though, because of the glare (love the hot AZ sun!) and Adam started getting nervous – which was odd and just hit play on the tablet. It started playing our song – Phil Vassar’s version of My Next 30 years and was a video montage of photos. He called it our “top ten” moments – think David Letterman, but a lot more mushy. Number 9, was our first Halloween together, number 2 was our first date (Which he noted had no photos, because it would be creeptastic to take a photo with a girl on the first date) and number one had a picture of the lake, and asked the question Why?  At this point, I was still clueless. He told me the tablet wasn’t my real gift and got down and one knee and proposed.

 

he could not have done better - just what I wanted!

Cry-Laugh-Cry-Laugh - Smile for Picture - Cry - Laugh - Cry - Laugh

 

I was cry-laughing. He was not sure if I was happy, sad, or seasick, and the boat started ramming into the rocky cliffs (remember we decided to drift … ) It was amazingly hysterical. As he put the ring on, the AZ boat patrol came over to try and help. We yelled that he just proposed and that we were fine.  Happy, not sad. Distracted, not stuck. Adam got out the paddles and pushed us away from the rocks.

Rocks, don't you understand that someone is getting engaged? Please don't hurt the boat. Thanks, Shosh

I found out that he had talked to my sister earlier in the week, and got her “permission” as well as my father the night before. I do not think I can gush enough about how much effort he put into this. He really wanted to make this happen in Arizona so I could celebrate with my closest friends and celebrate with my parents. It was perfect.

After we started calling people, everyone wanted to know the same thing:

  1. How did it happen? See above
  2. What is the ring like? He had a jeweler design the band for me, using a stone passed down from his great grandmother, to his grandmother and then to his mom.
  3. When’s the wedding?  No clue! We’re taking a few months to be pumped about our engagement and then we’ll figure out more details.
  4. Where’s the wedding going to be? Since we live in New York, but my family is Phoenix, and we both have fam all over – this is a hot button issue (just like immigration) – the answer is the same as above. We’re not sure yet

We finished up the night by getting snazzied up and heading to dinner at the Top of the Rock. We were staying at the Buttes Resort in Tempe, and coincidently their restaurant is one of the most romantic in the city. Adam, of course, being him, had already made a reservation and let them know that we’d just gotten engaged. The resort sent up chocolate ice cream and champagne, and the chef cooked us a special dessert, it was absolutely gorgeous (Top of the Rock mini-review: Top of the Rock is a great romantic date spot because of the view, but A and I both agreed that we’ve definitely had tastier food for the price).

bubbles!

Summer Salad!

 

Cheers to us! 🙂

salmon with geek yogurt sauce

Thanks Top of the Rock Chef for this yummy dessert!

Such a wonderful day, with a wonderful person!