published Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Braly: Consider gifts of 2-for-1 dining

If you're looking for the perfect gift for the person on your list who loves to eat out, this year's Adventures in Dining coupon book is ready for a place under your tree. This is the 16th year for the valuable two-for-one dining experiences found in the book.

Consider dining aboard the historic Delta Queen, enjoying the company of a dining companion, but paying for only one. Other new restaurants include Petunia's Silver Jalapeno, Moss's Place II, Hill City Pizza, The Bistro at Garden Plaza of Greenbrier Cove, IronGate Classic Italian Eatery, The Palms at Hamilton Place and Nooga-Q Smoke House.

The total of participating restaurants is up to 90. There's even a coupon for Groome Transportation's service to and from the Nashville and Atlanta airports. It's worth $73 alone, but you'll only pay $35 for the entire book of coupons. There's no better dining deal in town, and it also benefits many area nonprofit organizations.

The coupons are good through Dec. 30, 2012. To find a nonprofit organization from which to purchase the books, call 265-8394 or 886-6936. Or log onto www.adventures coupons.com.

When I was just a young girl, probably no more than 7, our once-a-week maid and occasional cook, Rosa, made the best molasses cookies this side of the Mississippi River. I loved them. Couldn't get enough of them. Until the day she allowed me to eat all I wanted.

One day while she was baking, she let me sit on the counter. I watched every move she made and helped stir the batter and crack the eggs. Her patience was amazing.

But the best part was at the end. On this particular day, she let me eat her molasses cookies to my heart's content. I wasn't concerned that there would be none left for my sister or my parents. All I could think of was how much I wanted more and more of those cookies.

That night, I lay doubled over in bed till morning. And for the last 46 years, even the thought of molasses cookies makes my stomach a little tender. Funny how overindulgence can last that long.

Recently, I discovered that Betty Crocker has come out with a molasses cookie mix. It's the first I've ever seen in a store. My husband wanted to try them, which set me to wondering if I could make them without turning a little green.

Apparently, maturity has helped, as I was able to mix the batter with a little water, butter and an egg and put them in the oven and even smell them baking with no repercussions.

I overbaked the first batch, and they were pretty crispy. Fortunately, the mix made enough for two batches. So I watched the second batch more carefully, and they came out soft and perfect. Just like Rosa's. Now it was time for tasting and, for a mix, they were excellent.

Feeling newly confident, I decided to make my own from scratch. I really couldn't believe I was doing this. It was a labor of love, I decided, since my husband loved them so. Sure, they would take more time, but I thought made-from-scratch cookies would be so much better than a mix. And they were. But, honestly, Betty Crocker's new mix is just about as good. They're perfect for this time of year with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.

Here's the recipe I found at allrecipes.com if you want to try them yourself.

Soft Molasses Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

3/4 cup molasses

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and egg until well blended. Stir in the molasses. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and ginger; stir into the molasses mixture. Cover the dough and chill for at least 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease cookie sheets. Roll the dough into walnut-size balls. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Email Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

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sherriswain said...

I love collective buying!!! Want to get food at the lowest prices? Then the place is called Printapons find them online

December 7, 2011 at 1:06 a.m.
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