Fall of freshman year has got to be the hardest time for parents of college-aged kids. Not only is the nest so much quieter, the built-in social life that elementary through high school provided has also slipped away. No longer do you hang out informally with the parents of your child’s classmates at the school’s sporting, academic and fundraising events. You have leaned on these folks for years as you worked through your parenting challenges, and even though, as Ellen so elegantly described here, parenting changes when your child goes off to school, you still need your fellow parent posse in this new phase of life. Getting together with these folks now must be intentional.
Leave it to sRl, crafter extraordinaire whose works (like the tray above) you can find on etsy’s DreamersHoliday, to create a fabulous support group event for some of the parents of my son’s 2014 class. Dubbed Cosmos and Care Packages, the Saturday night gathering included the dads who are often left out of the GNOs that moms often rely on to survive the challenges of parenthood. Serendipitously timed with the launch of our #ThinkPink Challenge, the evening featured pink Cosmopolitans, and our hostess encouraged attendees to don pink attire for some photo ops: what a delightful backdrop for catching up on the boys’ experiences and our fellow parents’ new paradigms.
While sRl provided packing supplies and this clever centerpiece,
she asked the guests to bring an appetizer, along with two items for the care packages. I couldn’t wait to try these Tex-Mex Madeleines adapted from Life’s a Feast to go with the Cosmos. I had never attempted the Proustian cookie, and while this version is light and memorable, it packs a hot punch rather than a sweet treat (recipe below).
I was blown away by the thoughtful and fabulous care package goodies
that the guests all brought. For this early October event, Halloween was the natural theme. Working around a nut allergy, I adapted the Cookie Brittle recipe that Ellen shared in her Valentine’s Care Packages post by substituting chopped candy corn, then added a layer of melted chocolate and more chopped candy corn (recipe below). The result is surprisingly addictive.
Our boys really are going to be tickled pink when they open these care packages.
With sweet messages from all of the moms and the words lining the inside of the shipping box, do you think they will realize how much they are missed? Sometimes it takes a parent posse to make the point clear to college boys.
October 8, 2014
- 1¾ cup flour
- 1 T baking powder
- ½ t salt
- ¼ t freshly ground black pepper
- 1 t or more chipotle chili powder
- 4 large eggs
- ¼ c olive oil
- 3 T unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- ½ c milk
- 1½ c sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded
- 20 black Greek-style olives, rinsed well, pitted and finely chopped
- 2 T minced fresh chives or cilantro
- 2 T dried tomato tapenade from recipe below if you can't find in a store
- ⅔ c sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
- 2 c boiling water
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- ¾ t kosher salt
- ¼ c finely chopped fresh basil
- 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
- Place tomatoes in a small bowl, cover with boiling water and let steep until softened, about 30 minutes. Drain, reserving ¼ cup of the liquid.
- Finely chop the tomatoes and add to small bowl of a food processor.
- Mash garlic with salt with the side of a chef’s knife until it forms a paste. Add to the tomatoes, along with basil, oil and reserved steeping liquid. Pulse until well-blended.
- Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
- Combine olives, finely grated cheddar cheese and chives or cilantro. Set aside
- Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper and chipotle chili powder together in a mixing bowl.
- Whisk together the olive oil and butter. Add to dry ingredients along with the milk and eggs. Whisk well until the batter is smooth with no lumps.
- Fold in olive mixture until well-blended.
- Refrigerator bowl of batter for about 20 minutes while preheating oven to 350°.
- Butter a madeleine mold (even a non-stick one).
- Once the batter is chilled, remove from the refrigerator and break up tomato tapenade across the top. Use the blade of a sharp knife to swirl the tapenade throughout the batter without blending it in.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared molds filling each mold only about ¾ full. Bake in the preheated oven for 16 minutes (I used 3" long madeleine molds; adjust baking time for your own) or until the madeleines have risen, are set in the center (press lightly) and are a light golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before lifting the cookies out and onto a cooling rack. Continue baking with remaining batter, buttering the madeleine mold before adding next batch.
- 2 sticks butter, softened
- 1 c granulated sugar
- 1½ t vanilla extract
- 1 t salt
- 2 c all purpose flour
- 2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 c chopped candy corn (with extra for crumbling finely on top)
- 2 c bittersweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 375°. Line jellyroll pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
- Beat butter, sugar, vanilla and salt in a standmixer. Gradually beat in flour.
- Stir in chips and candy corn.
- Mixture tends to be very crumbly. Don't worry, just dump it in pan and press dough in as EVENLY as possible.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle bittersweet chocolate chips over the top. Return pan to oven for 3 more minutes. Remove from oven and immediately spread melted chips evenly over the whole cookie with an offset spatula until smooth. Sprinkle remaining candy corn crumbs over top and gently press in with spatula.
- Cool for 10 minutes or more, then place in refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Remove cookie with sides of foil or parchment paper and break cookie into irregular pieces.