Sunday, November 22, 2009

hold the whiz

Continuing the recent "away for the weekend" pattern, I found myself across another bridge (the Benjamin Franklin Bridge) to Philadelphia this weekend to run the half-marathon. It was my second Philly half and third Philly race (I did the full marathon years ago) and it continues to be one of my favorites in the country. I haven't traveled for many "destination" runs (New Year's resolution '10 to fix that) but true to the slogan "the city of brotherly love," Philly welcomes race participants with arms wide each year. We got lucky with perfect weather, and after a successful finish, two free massages, and a wash-the-salt-off shower at the Ritz Carlton, my friend and I gobbled chicken cheesesteaks (without whiz, but equally delish) and hit the road back to New York.

A couple things to note about the NJ turnpike/I-95:
1. Drivers are crazy, fast, and treat the 'pike like a NASCAR video game course
2. New Jerseyans who stop at rest stops have death wishes and will ALL walk in front of your car to test your reaction time
3. There are no logical signs to get you to where you want to go, so you'll probably have to use one of the inconvenient "u-turns" to get back on track
4. The Lincoln Tunnel helix sucks. Period.

In fact, I was so stressed out from driving when I got back to my FREEZING COLD apartment that there was only one logical answer: I had to bake... to warm my place, of course.

And what sounded like a good stress reliever? A comfort sweet.

So I poked around my near-empty fridge and then unpacked my race gear only to find the banana that the Ritz gave to us in a "marathon goodie bag" (so posh of them) when we checked in on Saturday. Armed with the race souvenir fruit and a hankering, I found a Martha Stewart recipe that has answered all of my single-banana moments for the future (and yes, they happen often).

Martha says that this recipe marries two classics, but I'm going to go ahead and say that if a banana bread knocked up a chocolate chip cookie, out would pop these little suckers. Boy, are they tasty! Soft and chewy on the inside, firm enough on the outside to form little cookie pillows of banana/chocolate/oat goodness.

Now if only I'd done the full marathon to justify eating the whole batch ;)

Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Martha Stewart Living

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (I used all-purpose)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar (I used dark-brown)
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 large)
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, chopped in a blender)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 F. Whisk together flours, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl; set aside. Put butter and sugars into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low Add egg and vanilla; mix until combined. Mix in banana. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in oats, chocolate chunks, and walnuts.

Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown and just set, 12-13 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers for up to 2 days.

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