Category Archives: cookies

For my Baby Girl…

Baby Girl,

I’m sitting here, feet kicked up, TV on in the background, feeling a little Sunday night tired. I’m thinking about you. How can I not? You keep kicking me! 😉 I’m thinking about that afternoon a few weeks ago. We saw your tiny face reflected back at us from your little cocoon, your little hands waving, feet dancing to a song we couldn’t hear. When she told us to “think pink!” I almost fell off the table. A sweet baby girl. All ruffle bottoms and giggle fits and hugs. How lucky we are to be expecting you.

So, spoiler alert: I’m new to this whole mom thing. Forgive me for having absolutely no idea what I’m doing. There’s going to be missteps. Oops moments. I may be a novice mom, but I’ve got 30 years of being a girl under my belt. When I wised up and grew up, I actually learned a few things.

I hope you’ll always be kind, Sweet Girl. Never get caught up in a game of “everyone else is doing it,” especially when it comes to someone else’s feelings.

I hope you’ll go camping one day. Bait a hook, pee in the woods. Whine like hell while you’re doing it if you have to and never do it again if that’s how it ends up. But do it once. Be brave and try new things. Be proud of the little victories. Do the kinds of things I never did.

Don’t be surprised if you’re born without a shred of talent for music, art or athletics. But I hope you’ll learn to appreciate all three.

I hope you fall head over heels in love with books. Go ahead…dog-ear the pages, write in the margins. Read and reread your favorites. Let Judy Blume teach you everything want to know about being girl but are too embarrassed to ask your mom. She knows her stuff. Trust me.

I hope you don’t get too caught up in practicality. If, in your heart of hearts, you know you want to write children’s books, or lead safaris in Africa, or start a gourmet lollipop business out of your tiny kitchen with one copper pot, I hope you go for it. Don’t do what feels safe, do what feels right.

I hope you get a little (not too much!) barroom education when you go away to college (but NOT before that. Ahem.) There’s no better lesson in consequences than the morning after one too many vodka cranberries.

I hope you never lose touch with your childhood best friend. There’s no other sister, confidant or partner in crime like her. Keep it that way forever. Even if thousands of miles separate you.

I hope forgiveness comes easy to you. Grudges are too heavy a burden to carry over a lifetime that feels unbelievably short.

I hope you kiss a few frogs. Not too many though…this seems to lead to nothing but more frogs. But a few mistakes along the way is good for ya. Besides, it’s kinda fun!

I hope you fall in love with a man who turns out to be a lot like your dad. That sounds weird, I know. But trust me on this. You’ll know he’s a keeper. Is there any bigger hero in a girl’s life than her dad? I think not. You’ll know he’ll love you exactly how you are, your own unique brand of crazy and all. I did. And I do. 🙂

I hope you never let the corner-office, six-figure salary, high-powered career women *or* the six-kid, supermom, everything from scratch, homeschooling women make you feel bad about your choices. Just do what’s best for you and your family and know that’s okay to be happy with simple. It’s okay to be happy with good enough.

Baby Girl, I worry constantly about being good enough. Strong enough. Brave enough. For you. But more than anything, I hope you don’t ever worry about being good enough for me. Because you already are. You’re perfect in your smallness, your punchy little kicks. A constant, happy reminder of all the fun to come when my days are cloudy and dull with routine. As much as I love this little one on one time we have together, just the two of us, I can’t wait meet you. I can’t wait to see how quickly you wrap your dad around your tiny little finger. I know our world will never be the same. We love you now and always.

Until January,
Mom

* * * *

I made these simple lemon crinkle sugar cookies in one of those gotta-have-cookies-now emergencies. I made them pink because….well, I’m celebrating Team Pink style! These are light, tender, chewy and subtly lemony. These are the kind of cookies that you could seriously plow through five or six without blinking and then gape at the empty plate wondering who the heck ate them all. They’re that good. And look at that crinkly top! Is that just irresistible or what? Make these. Share them. The pink is optional, obviously, but sure does kick them up a notch. Enjoy!

(PINK) LEMON CRINKLE COOKIES (Recipe Source: As seen at Lauren’s Latest)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1-½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
  • {1-2 drops red food coloring, optional}
  • ½ cup powdered sugar, for rolling

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line light-colored baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla, egg, lemon zest, juice and food coloring, if using, until combined, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed. Add the dry ingredients slowly and mix until just combined, scraping down the sides the bowl once during mixing.
  4. Roll about a tablespoon of dough into a ball and roll in powdered sugar. Place on baking sheet about three inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough.
  5. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until bottoms are barely brown and cookies look set, not shiny. Remove from oven and cool cookies about 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Makes about 3 dozen.

ENJOY! 🙂

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Hello Again

Oh, hi! You’re still here? Nice to see ya! I’ve dropped off the face of the blog in past (Remember when I was homeless for two months? Or when our house was a 24×7 construction zone?) but never like this. Three posts in the last four months? Yeesh. That’s downright unacceptable!

So! Let’s catch up. The last few months have flown by. I spent a lot of time trying to keep my eyes open past 7pm. I took a lot of naps, nursing a plummeting energy level. I’d rather not even remember the constant, nagging sour tummy, the aversion to all things cooking and food…

You guessed it – we’re having a baby! Eric and I thrilled to be expecting our own little bundle of joy in January. All things blogging are not conducive to early pregnancy what with the sight of everything except grilled cheese turning my stomach and everything. Now that I’m over that hump and the energy level is back (I’m going to clean out my closet! After that I’m going to clean YOUR closet!) I hope to get back in the swing of things here on the old blog (whose 4-year blogiversary slipped by completely unacknowledged back in May, we may need to have a belated celebration for that one!)

When I was down with turning, churning stomach one of the only things that tasted good to me was fruit. Cold, fresh, juicy fruit. Berries, oranges, apples basically sustained me for 10 weeks this spring. As soon as I felt like I could get back into the kitchen, I whipped up this fruit pizza.

What a refreshing summer treat! Straight from the fridge, this cold, creamy concoction really hit the spot. It’s easy to whip up and feeds a crowd, so it’s perfect for your summer gatherings and BBQs. I used a combo of raspberries, strawberries, kiwis and blueberries for the topping and the fruit held up surprisingly well. You could easily make this ahead of time. 🙂

I combined several recipes to come up with one that suited me. For some reason, I decided I was too lazy to make my own cookie crust (I used a sugar cookie mix) but not too lazy to make my own glaze (mainly because I wanted to be able to control the added sweetness it would add). Feel free to make this as homemade or as semi-homemade as you please! 😉 And it’s GREAT to be back!

FRUIT PIZZA (Recipe Source: Pieced together from recipes at Philadelphia and All Recipes)

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:

  • 1 (1lb. 1.5 oz) package sugar cookie mix

Toppings:

  • 1 8oz. package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 to 3 cups assorted sliced fruit

Glaze:

  • Scant1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Grease a 12-inch pizza pan. Preheat oven and prepare the cookie mix as directed on the package. Press the cookie dough into the pan, forming a lip at the edge. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until lightly browned and set. Set aside on a wire rack to cool completely.
  2. With an electric mixer beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until well combined. Spread over the cooled cookie. Arrange the fruit over the top.
  3. Make the glaze: Combine all the glaze ingredients except the orange zest in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and add the orange zest. Allow to cool slightly, but do not allow to set completely. Spread over the fruit. Chill the pizza for two hours before serving. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

ENJOY! 🙂

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Heart to Heart

I’ve never been the type to get really into Valentine’s Day. I don’t dress myself in head to toe red and pink or hand out foil-wrapped chocolate hearts to all my coworkers. It’s just another day. Another cold, wintery February day right smack dab in the middle of a busy work week. Our alarm will sound at 10 after 5 and there will be no breakfast in bed. We will both work all day. Eric will trudge home after 6 dog tired. There will be no fancy dinner. Just a couple of old marrieds, sitting on the same side of the kitchen table so they can both see the Seinfeld rerun on TV while they eat their taco casserole.

Wow. We sound lame. But honestly, it’s a special, cozy, wonderful kind of normal. After nine (NINE! What the what?!) Valentine’s Days together there may not be grand gestures and rose petals and frosty diamonds nestled in red velvet, but there is love. Pure and simple and true. The kind that only gets stronger as each year passes. Valentine’s Day is a good reminder of just how lucky I am to have my Snuggly-Wuggly-Pookie-Boo-Boo-Bear (is that gushy enough for ya?) in my life. 😉

Did you know my heart still flutters when I hear the garage door open and see his truck pull into the driveway every evening? After all this time, my favorite moment of the day is still the moment when he walks in. I’ll never tire of seeing him smile, hearing him laugh. He says thank you when I make him dinner. He helps me empty the dishwasher without me even asking! He brings home candy I like when he’s been at Menard’s buying screws or bolts and goes to pick up the pizza when it’s raining so I don’t have to go out. He’s so thoughtful. And kind. So smart. Like seriously brilliant. And funny! So funny. He makes me laugh every single day. Even when I don’t feel like laughing. Especially then.

He says he’s pretty much the luckiest guy ever to have me around but I say *I’m* the lucky one. How he puts up with all this crazy, I’ll never know. Maybe Valentine’s Day is just another day, but it’s another day in a pretty fantastic life together.

Eric was out of town this past weekend seeing his family so I decided to surprise him with some lovey-dovey cookies upon his return. These deep, dark chocolate hearts layered with sweet and succulent cherry preserves just scream “come on baby light my fire.” 😉 Deb at Smitten Kitchen calls these  Brownie Roll-Out Cookies which is a spot on description. They’re tender and sweet and surprisingly chocolately and fudgey-flavored. Chocolate cookies can be kind of flat and boring, in my opinion, but these hold their own. I munched on an insane number of the tiny hearts I cut out of the center of these to make the windows. They are the perfect all purpose chocolate cookie – sandwich them with a layer of peanut butter cream, dip them in white chocolate and sprinkle with colored sugar, top ’em with a generous smear of buttercream. You cannot go wrong. When stuffed with preserves and dusted with powdered sugar, they are a Valentine’s Day treat worthy of someone special.

I went back and forth debating whether to use strawberry or cherry preserves here. I knew both would compliment the chocolate cookies well, but I wanted these to be special. Let’s face it, strawberry is sweet and innocent. Cherry is…so much more. Dark and passionate, cherries leave their mark. Strawberry is for your crush. Cherry is for your true love.

CHOCOLATE CHERRY HEARTS (Cookie recipe from: Smitten Kitchen)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup unsalted salted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (I used dutch-process)
  • 1 12-oz jar cherry preserves
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and cocoa to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until fully combined and fluffy. Gradually add the flour mixture, beating until incorporated after each addition. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and wrap tightly. Refrigerate until firm, at least one hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly flour a work surface and rolling pin and roll out the the dough to a quarter inch thickness. Cut the dough into hearts using a medium size cookie cutter. Using a smaller heart cutter, cut a second heart out of the center of half the cookies. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 6 to 8 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. Separate the solid cookies from the ones with the heart cutout. Dust the cutout cookies with powdered sugar. Spread a thin layer of preserves* on the flat side of a solid heart and top with a sugared cutout heart. Makes about 2 dozen sandwich cookies.

*Note: You may want to nuke the preserves for 10 to 15 seconds to loosen it a bit for easier spreading.

ENJOY! 🙂

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Cowboys like Us.

Oh, hey there. Hi.

The following story leans toward the 13 in PG-13. Parental guidance is suggested. The unsavory language has been censored but you’ll likely be able to figure it out. I’m warning you because I’m cool like that and I’m giving you a chance to quietly file out of here and find more appropriate reading elsewhere. I do not mean to offend, but apologies in advance if that happens. You know what they say…

Haters gonna hate.

Anyway. This story is based on actual events. Actually, it’s 100% true. I know. I was there. 😉

The 10 a.m. section of Principals of Accountancy 1 had to be, without a doubt, the most well-attended large lecture on campus. In the fall of 2001, it took all of about 3 weeks for about 750 cocky college sophomores to realize – skip lecture, FAIL Professor C’s exams. There was no all-nighter too exhausting, no hangover too brutal, no snooze button too tempting to keep us away from that lecture. Like a dangling a carrot on a string in front of a pony, my friends.

And so, every Tuesday and Thursday morning, we filed into Foellinger Auditorium to PACK the joint, main floor to balcony. We scribbled feverishly to keep up, bent over our tiny desks, pens flying. There was no time to even look up. Every class ended with a stiff neck and a hand cramp.

One sleepy morning closing in on midterms and deep in through of debits and credits and journals and ledgers, the sound of large, heavy doors banging open in the back of the auditorium caused a collective jump in every seat. Professor C. stopped mid-sentence. Pens halted. Every head turned, every neck stretched like a rubber band as a whooping and hollering stranger rushed down the center aisle.

An audible gasp rippled through the crowd, followed by low, muffled laughter. With his arms up and fists pumping in a blaze of enthusiastic victory, this sudden mid-class distraction was skinny, pale…and practically naked. He sported nothing but a cowboy hat, a red bandana and, wait for it, leopard print thong underwear. Every pair of eyes grew wide in surprise, mouths hung open in stunned silence. Everyone looked around in do-you-see what-I-see? disbelief.

The naked stranger jumped up on stage and shook his bare little bottom for his newly captive audience. All at once the crowd began to clap and cheer wildly. Whistles bounced off the towering ceiling, echoing and piercing through the room. A group in the balcony, no doubt the recently activated frat boys who put the poor pledge up to this, were on their feet, stomping and shouting like the entire thing was a spectator sport.

Suddenly, he turned to face us. He held up his hands and bowed his head to silence the crowd. Shhhhh. He’s gonna say something. A hush fell over the auditorium. He looked up, flashed a million dollar smile, raised his arms above his head once again and shouted to the rooftops at the top his lungs….

“I am Cowboy Dan and I am one bad- mother-!”

Cowboy Dan visiting my accounting lecture is about where my experience with cowboys ends. Now, I know a thing or two about farm boys, who really aren’t cowboys, and I happen to know they love cookies. Especially big, chunky cookies loaded with goodies. I don’t know if cowboys share the same affection, but I’m going to go ahead and say yes. Why not, ya know? And I gotta think a cowboy would love a cookie named especially for him.

These Cowboy Cookies from the Martha Stewart Cookies book are creeping up there as one of my favorite cookies to date. They’re loaded with chocolate chunks, toasted pecans, hearty oats and flaky coconut. They’re a little rugged, a little rough around the edges and probably aren’t going to win a beauty contest any time soon. They’re a bit unassuming, but strong in their silence. Very cowboy-like, if you ask me.

Oh, hey Coconut Haters? Fear not! These cookies are not at all coconut flavored, it’s just another pleasant textural profile to the final product. Try it, you’ll like it. Your cowboys will like them too.

COWBOY COOKIES (Recipe Source: Martha Stewart Cookies)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 cup pecans (3 ounces)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (unsweetened coconut is a specialty product that I’ve never found at my regular grocery store, I went ahead and used sweetened and it was fine. I reduced the sugar by about tablespoon)
  • Cooking spray

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pecans in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in oven, tossing occasionally, until darkened and fragrant, 10 to 13 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop. Into a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.
  2. With an electric mixer cream butter and both sugars until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
  3. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture, beating until just incorporated. Beat in oats, chocolate, pecans, and coconut until just combined. (Dough can be covered with plastic and refrigerated up to 3 days.)
  4. Coat baking sheets with cooking spray; line with parchment, and spray parchment. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice-cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop dough onto prepared sheets, about 3 inches apart.
  5. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges of cookies begin to brown, 16 to 18 minutes. Transfer sheets to wire racks to cool 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen.

ENJOY! 🙂

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College Cookies

Things Inside my Husband’s College Apartment

  • Two extremely overworked, stressed out mechanical engineering majors.
  • A life sized tiki-bar fashioned out of empty Miller High Life boxes (for decorative purposes only – not suitable for actual beer slinging).
  • A bulletin board displaying a large collection of discrete snapshots of various mullet sightings.
  • A George Forman Grill that never (and I mean NEVER) got cleaned.
  • A handmade dining table featuring an empty keg as a pedestal.
  • A giant Dale Jr. banner
  • Mason jars from which we drank everything from water to beer to cheap champagne.
  • An industrial size can of nacho cheese sauce good on everything from pizza to hot dogs.
  • Hundreds of illegally downloaded Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings songs.
  • A beer making operation of questionable safety, including a rusty wire coat hanger for stirring.
  • More can koozies than a person could possibly need in seventeen lifetimes.
  • An overflowing trashcan in the bathroom.
  • A few extra items belonging to a certain someone’s girlfriend who was over all the time. 😉
  • The Ultimate Desk.
  • Every possible variety of generic crackers. (I still don’t really understand that one. How many open boxes of crackers does one need?)
  • An ever-changing rotation of those big, soft, store bought sugar cookies with the icing and sprinkles that got all dressed up for the seasons/holidays.

Thank goodness, most of these items have been retired. Except for those ME majors…we keep them around. 😉 And we may have most of those koozies in a box in our basement. The Ode to Mullets and processed cheese product got left behind and I think most of that moonshine beer got either A) pawned off on other students who would drink just about anything, or B) poured down the drain on move out day.

We’re definitely at the point in our lives now where we look back on our college days and wonder how in the world we lived that way. I mean, I’m surprised the toxic scum on that George Forman didn’t straight up kill Eric and his roommate and I’m pretty sure there were a couple months there where I ate nothing but mini corn dogs and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

A few things from college life, though, are kind of endearing – like those colorful sugar cookies. It’s Halloween! It’s Valentine’s Day! It’s St. Paddy’s Day! Everyday’s a party with those cookies! But why by buy them when you can make them? And make them taste BETTER than their store bought counterpart?

These soft sugar cookies embody all the things you love about the grocery store variety with none of the things you don’t. They are soft, rich and slightly cakey and slathered with a thick, sweet, buttery icing that’s just comfort food to the max. The dough is a snap to whip up and since there’s no rolling, cutting or piping icing, it makes for a pretty quick little project. If you want to feel like a (college) kid again, make these soon. Promise you won’t regret it the way you used to regret those 2 a.m. burrito runs.

SOFT FROSTED SUGAR COOKIES (Recipe Source: Originally adapted from Hostess with the Mostess, as seen at Annie’s Eats)

INGREDIENTS:

For the cookies:

  • 4½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1½ cups (3 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 5 tsp. vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 7-8 tbsp. milk (plus more, as needed)
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Sprinkles (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition to combine and scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients mixing just until incorporated and evenly mixed. Cover the dough and chill the dough for 1 hour.
  2. To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Scoop a scant quarter cup of dough and roll into a ball.  Flatten the ball slightly and place on the prepared baking sheet, spacing the cookies at least 2-3 inches apart. Bake about 10-12 minutes or just until set.  (Do not overbake. The edges should be just barely browned.) Let cool on the baking sheet for several minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. To make the frosting, combine the confectioners’ sugar melted butter, vanilla and milk in a medium bowl and whisk until combined. Add additional milk as necessary, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.  Tint with food coloring if desired.  Use an offset spatula or spoon to frost the cooled cookies.  (If the frosting begins to thicken as you decorate, just continue to whisk in small amounts of milk to keep it workable.)  Top with sprinkles if desired.  Store in an airtight container. Makes about 2 dozen large cookies.

ENJOY!

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Firework

Does anyone else think a certain pop song whose name rhymes with, uh…Tire-Jerk….playing during fireworks displays is in fact becoming quite lame?

It’s so predictable. Yawn. I mean, surprise me during the fireworks, Whoever’s In Charge. Play Stars and Stripes Forever or something crazy like that.

For the record, no, I’ve never felt like a plastic bag. But I do kinda feel like putting one over my head every time that song comes on. Just saying.

Anyway, the 4th of July weekend is upon us! And it’s actually a long weekend this year. Score! Is there anything worse than when the 4th falls on a Wednesday and there’s this one random day off in the middle of the week? There’s no time for parties and the possibility of losing ones eyebrows in a freak firecracker incident if there’s only one day to celebrate! Not enough hours in the day, I tell ya.

This year…three whole days of pure summer perfection. Sleeping late. Sunsets after 9. Cold beer and hot grills. Now that’s more like it.

The best thing about the 4th falling on a Monday this year is you have plenty of time to whip up a batch of these to take to your pool parties and BBQs and gatherings and what not…you’ll be a true American hero…

Firework Cookies!

Colorful! Festive! You’ll be the envy of the neighborhood, I promise. Soak up the glory as people are as dazzled by your mad cookie skills as they will be by the actual fireworks. The best part? They’re actually really easy to do and super forgiving. Even for those of us with exactly zero artistic talent.

Oh, royal icing. What is there to say about it? That’s it’s a royal pain in the… Um. Never mind. But with this easy decorating method, you can look like a Royal Icing Rock Star. If you’ve never taken the plunge and given decorated sugar cookies a try, this is a great place to start.

I don’t know about you, but my decorated sugar cookies go from neat and tidy to toddler art project right about when it’s time to start piping additional details. Like dots. And lines. Dots and lines. Easy, right? WRONG. With this wet-on-wet technique, the need for piping additional details is completely eliminated – saving you a ton of time and much of your sanity.

This fun design is brought to you by that Perfectly Perfect Perfectionist and Expert Entertainer Ms. Martha Stewart. I happened to catch these over at The Dainty Chef and Krissy’s came out SO amazingly great, I just had to jump in and give them a try myself. Please be sure to click on over and take a little looky-lou a her’s as well. 🙂

So, you ready to do this? Come on, it’s easy! Just think bullseye. Yup. That’s all you need to know. Here’s the 411:

Gather up:

  • 1 batch of your favorite sugar cookie recipe, cut into desired shapes (circles for the firework cookies, then I threw in some stars for good measure, but you don’t have to.)
  • 1 batch royal icing (one batch makes about three cups, so plan accordingly if you plan to do a lot of cookies. You may need to double this. For the cookie recipe linked here, 3 cups is just the right amount.)
  • Gel food colorings in red and blue (Honestly, if you want really true, deep, jewel-toned color go for the AmeriColor in the little squeeze bottle. So much better than…that other brand.)
  • Pastry bags fitted with couplers and small round tips (Like Wilton #2 or #3.)
  • Plastic squeeze bottles (These really are a lifesaver. And they’re cheap. Pick some up at a craft store.)
  • Toothpicks

Then let the fun begin:

First you’ll need to get your royal icing all prepped (tinted and thinned to two different consistencies.) You’ll need to outline the cookies in a stiffer icing first and let that set. This is where you’ll use your pastry bag/tips. Then you’ll be ready to fill in to create your fireworks.

**Note: There are some wonderful tutorials out there for making, tinting, thinning, piping and flooding royal icing – check out this one at Annie’s Eats for step-by-step photos, or these great how-to videos from Bridget at Bake at 350 for some great tips. These ladies are experts and so much better at explaining the technical stuff than me, so head on over for an awesome lesson! 🙂

After you’ve outlined your cookies, fill your squeeze bottles with your thinned red, white and blue icing. Fill in your outline with the thinned white icing, and use a toothpick to push it all the way to the edge. Then quickly, don’t wait, grab your colors and start piping concentric circles of red and blue icing on top of the white. This is where the bullseye comes in.

Start with a dot in the center and then just pipe circles around it. You can go all the way to the edge…or not. Mix it up for different looks. Then take a clean toothpick and, starting at the center, go around the cookie and pull the icing out toward the edge of the circle.

Look! A gorgeous marble effect in no time flat! Because all of the icing needs to be wet to produce the desired outcome, do the cookies one at a time. That is, flood in white, make your colored circles, and marble on each before moving to the next cookie.

Now don’t freak out if you’re circles aren’t perfect (hello, that’s impossible anyway) that helps make each cookie it’s own unique creation. Just like snowflakes. 🙂 Considering you are using the same technique over and over, you’ll be amazed at how many unique looks you can create. Try varying the distance between your circles (closer vs. further apart.) Or vary the colors of your circles – alternate red and blue, or do two red then two blue, or all red until the last one and then BAM! blue. Things like that. Pull your toothpick straight out to the edge, or throw a little curve in there at the end. Pull just a little or pull a whole lot. The possibilities are endless and every cookie will come out perfect.

Lather, rinse, repeat with each cookie! Ta-da!

So there you have it! I hope you’ll consider giving these a try this holiday weekend. And to you and yours, I wish you the happiest of Happy 4th of July’s. Whatever you have planned from absolutely nothing to time with family and friends to driving across state lines to procure illegal goods, have fun and stay safe. I want to see you all back here next week with all your appendages still attached. Unlike this unfortunate little fella…

See, this is what happens when you’re careless with fireworks food blogging. 😉

(Sources: Decorating technique from Martha Stewart, as seen at The Dainty Chef. Royal icing from Wilton.)

One Year Ago: I got nothin’. I must have been busy. 😉
Two Years Ago: Rosemary Lemon Sandwich Cookies
Three Years Ago: Asian-inspired Macaroni Salad with Chopped Cashews

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Spring into Action

Spring, we’re dying over here. We need you, man. It’s rough out here!

Usually I just suck it up and deal. With winter, that is. In my almost 30 years every single one of them has contained a winter. SURPRISE! By the end I’m usually itching for flip flops and summer dresses but I know good things come to those who wait. I just put on my coat, my mittens, my scarf and go about business as usual.

Not this year. This year, I need spring like I need air. The cold and wind are like a constant gray cloud hovering over us. It cuts to the bone. I cant’s stand the sight of these bare trees. Long, twisted branches reach toward the sky like cold, thin fingers shivering in the breeze. I’m sick of my salt-covered car. I’m tired of tall boots. I’m done with dark days. If the sunshine and warm weather doesn’t come soon. I might lose it. LOSE IT.

Give me beer and baseball. Pink toenails and the scent of sunscreen. Bare shoulders and beachy hair. Give me a seat belt that burns my fingers and a steering wheel that’s too hot to touch. Let me roll my windows down and turn my radio up. Bring on the fireworks. The sweet summer berries bursting with juice. The red geraniums in clay pots.

Give me a cackle of thunder and a dance of lightening across a late afternoon western sky, then give me clearing just in time for a spectacular sunset. Give me that glorious day when the stifling humidity breaks. I want to dig into something deep fried at a small town festival, spend lazy Saturday mornings wandering the Farmer’s Market, and drink my margaritas al fresco.

Bring on the lemonade, the ice cream cones, the cricket’s nightly song. Shady spots, sprinklers, and sweet corn. Cool cotton nighties, fireflies, and tiki torches to keep the mosquitoes away. Muscle cars and classic rock and a husband that look oh-so-cute mowing the lawn in a t-shirt with the sleeves ripped off.

Please hurry, Sunshine! Get over here, Warm Days! Don’t leave us hanging!

Here’s a sweet bite to tide us over. A raspberry filled, lemon-kissed butter cookie with just a touch of creamy frosting.

Light, tender and with just a hint of chew, this recipe for Gâteu Bonbons hails from France. The bonbons are traditionally filled with a touch of orange marmalade but, oddly enough, I’m not a big fan. I had some raspberry jam on hand and it was the perfect substitute. The sweetness of the filling was a great contrast to the tartness of the cookie and frosting. The icing provides just the right amount of creaminess to tie it all together.

Is it just me or do filled cookies always take about 87 times longer than you think they will? Sooo…Spoiler alert: Plan accordingly! 🙂 A basic butter and cream cheese dough is mixed up and then chilled. To make them extra bonbon-like and thus perfect for popping into one’s mouth in insane quantities perhaps while in the bathtub, roll out the dough and cut into 1-inch rounds. If you’re like me and your 1-inch biscuit cutter has disappeared into a cardboard box with your television remote and iron, a 1.5-inch cutter or a small juice glass will work too. 😉

When filling the cookies, use what looks like not quite enough. If there’s too much jam in the middle, it will ooze out the sides and the prettiness factor will be compromised greatly. And that’s not good for anyone. I think these would be a great addition to any bridal shower lunch, Mother’s Day brunch, or Easter gathering. Or pretty much any time you want a little something sweet but just aren’t feeling a Triple Fudge Toffee Caramel Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Brownie Cheesecake with Whipped Cream and Ganache. 😉

Enjoy. Until summer comes.

GÂTEAU BONBONS (Recipe Source: Betty Crocker 1963 Cooky Book)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2/3 cup butter (about 12 tablespoons), softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • Jam or marmalade of your choice
  • Easy Creamy Icing (recipe follows)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar, egg, cream cheese, lemon juice and zest until light and fluffy. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat until combined.
  2. Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Flatten into a disk and chill about one hour, or until firm.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Using a quarter of the dough (keep the rest refrigerated until ready to use), roll into 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured service. Cut into 1-inch rounds.
  4. Place half the rounds on cookie sheets and spoon about 1/4 teaspoon of jam or marmalade into the center of each. Cover with remaining rounds and seal the edges with a floured finger.
  5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned. When cool, frost with tinted icing and sprinkle with sanding sugar or sprinkles, if desired. Makes about 7 dozen 1-inch bonbons.

EASY CREAMY ICING

  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 4 to 8 tablespoons cream, milk or water
  • Food coloring, if desired

Stir together sugar, salt, and lemon juice. Add liquid, one tablespoon at a time until it reaches desired consistency. Tint with food coloring, if desired. Spread on cookies with a small offset spatula. Makes enough icing for 6 to 10 dozen cookies, depending on size.

One Year Ago: Oat Applesauce Muffins
Two Years Ago: Peanut Butter Banana Bread

 

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