Saturday, April 19, 2008

LiveSTRONG: Glazed Pineapple Cookies

When I think of the words "live" and "strong," the first person that comes to mind is my mom, because strongly is exactly how she lived her life. That's why, when I recently learned about the A Taste of Yellow blogging event (hosted by Barbara at winosandfoodies) I knew I had to take part: to remember my mom and others who lost their battle with cancer, to celebrate those who won, and to raise awareness for this horrible disease.

My mom's battle with cancer began when I was nine years old. She was diagnosed with brain cancer on Halloween of 1992. After two surgeries, two rounds of radiation and some intensive chemotherapy, she was declared cancer-free, which she remained until 2005. In February of 2005, though, her routine yearly MRI revealed that the cancer had returned to her brain, and this time it was determined to take her. She had two more surgeries and countless rounds of chemotherapy, but she finally succumbed to the disease on January 22, 2007.

My mom was the strongest woman I have ever known and will ever know -- independent, with an engaging personality and a smile that was a more brilliant yellow than any food I could possibly make. People gravitated towards her for a reason; she exuded confidence, strength and faith every single moment she lived. Even as she died, her faith and her strength remained. I can't even begin to describe what it felt like to lose her -- what it still feels like as I wake up every day without her in my life. I hope that I can be half the mother -- half the woman -- she was.

It's shocking how many lives and how many families are affected by cancer. That's why the work that Lance Armstrong's foundation and other organizations around the country do is so important. I have to believe that, with enough awareness and research, our world can be free of this terrible disease.

Okay, enough seriousness! On to the food. As soon as I learned about this event, I knew I wanted to use pineapple as my "something yellow." Spring is upon us now, and nothing says spring to me like a deliciously tangy and juicy pineapple. I found a scrumptious-sounding recipe for pineapple cookies in one of my cookbooks, so I decided to go for it. They don't really look very yellow after baking, but they're wonderful cookies. Their texture is both moist and cake-like, and I love the little explosion of pineapple flavor in every bite. I think the addition of some toasted coconut mixed in with the glaze would add a nice tropical flavor, so I may try that next time. Hmmm...And now that I think about it, some white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts would be a nice addition to this cookie, too! Really, though, they're delicious just as they are. (Also, I know I glazed my cookies when they were still too warm, because the glaze ran everywhere...but I just couldn't resist! I had to try one of the cookies immediately, and it was worth it!)

Glazed Pineapple Cookies
Source: The Ultimate Cookie Collection (page 52)

1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple
1/2 cup shortening (I used butter-flavored)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

1. Drain the pineapple, reserving 3 tablespoons juice. Set pineapple aside; set juice aside for glaze. In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar. Add egg; mix well. Add pineapple and vanilla; mix well. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture.

2. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 325° for 17-20 minutes or until golden. Immediately remove to wire racks to cool.

3. For glaze, in a small bowl, combine confectioners' sugar with enough of reserved pineapple juice to achieve a smooth consistency. Spoon glaze over cooled cookies.