Monday, February 10, 2014

Frosted Sugar Cookies for Valentines Day

A while ago a frosted sugar cookie recipe was bouncing around on the internet. I try really hard to give a recipe a shot before I modify it but I'm kind of particular about how I make my cookies. I baked them as is and then a couple more times with my modifications. This is now a tried and true, man, woman, and child approved recipe around here. These cookies are easy to make, cute, and totally happy. The frosting has a little tang from the sour cream and perfectly compliments the slightly sandy yet tender cookie texture.

I added one drop of red food coloring to the frosting to make it the lightest pink. With that, a giant red heart sprinkle from the local cake store, and some edible glitter, these were the cutest little valentines cookies- without the painstaking piping that I love but can't work up the will to do most days. I served these to a crowd of men and not one of them whined about the color (and most clamored for more). These would be so easy to modify- add some extracts to the cookies or frosting to change up the flavors. I might have to make a green minty version for St. Patrick's Day!

Frosted Sugar Cookies aka Swig Cookies
from Anne Strawberry

1 cup Butter (plain shortening is fine, I do this for my dairy free husband sometimes although butter is best)
3/4 cup Canola Oil (or whatever oil you prefer)
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
2 tablespoons Milk or Cream (whatever you have on hand)
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Kosher salt (for table salt use 1/2 teaspoon)
5 cups Flour (as needed- start with 4 1/2)
2 tablespoons Sugar, for flattening the cookies

Cream together the butter, oil, and sugars. Mix in milk, cream, and vanilla until smooth and incorporated. Add dry ingredients and mix gently- adding flour as needed. The texture should be soft but not too wet, just like snickerdoodle or chocolate chip cookie dough. Be careful not to overmix the cookies once the dry ingredients are added or the cookies will be tough. Scoop the cookies onto the cookie sheet with a stainless steel cookie scoop onto a Silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet. Smoosh the cookies down a little bit using a flat bottomed glass or measuring cup dipped in water then sugar (this is optional but will leave a little sugary crust on top and some cute ruffled edges). Bake at 350 for about 8 minutes until the edges barely start to brown. Don't overbake- these will get a little harder as they cool. Frost with sour cream frosting using a butter knife or offset spatula. These will keep at room temperature for a couple days, tightly covered.

Sour Cream Frosting
1/2 cup Butter, softened (one stick)
1/2 cup Sour Cream

2 tablespoons Milk, as needed
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

dash of salt
6 cups of powdered sugar (more or less to achieve desired consistency, this is a baseline)
1 Tablespoon meringue powder (optional but very helpful! you can find this in the cake decorating section at Walmart, Michaels, or Joann's. Or on Amazon of course. It lasts forever and really improves the texture of your frosting.)


In a mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the butter and sour cream until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla and salt, and blend.
Next, add the powdered sugar and meringue powder, cover the bowl of the mixer with a dish towel, and turn it on low until everything is combined. Then increase the speed for a minute or so until the frosting is light, fluffy, and delicious. The meringue powder will help set the frosting after it dries so it holds its shape.
If the icing is to dry, add a little more sour cream or some milk.

Add 1 T. Lemon or orange zest and substitute juice for the milk to make a tangy citrus frosting
. Alternately, you can flavor with mint extract or almond extract. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Cookie Sheets at Costco

 While reading a blog the other day, the author said she wanted to make something in a jelly roll pan but didn't have one. I died a little because my cookie sheets (they're standard half sheet pans aka jelly roll pans and measure 13 x 18) are one of my favorite kitchen tools. I use mine for cookies, brownies, cinnamon rolls, roasted veggies, chicken, even cupcakes (I always put a pan under the muffin tin to help keep the bottoms from getting too browned). I also use these to carry home dinner, loaves of bread (I usually make about 10 at a time in my Bosch and freeze the rest) or even craft projects when I've been working at my mom's house. The little lip on the side keeps things from tumbling out and they are easy to carry, stack, and use all the time.

I saw my favorite cookie sheets are available at Costco right now and snapped a picture to encourage you to run and buy some if you don't have them (or get them at Amazon of course). The two pack of NordicWare baking sheets is only $11.99. That's $6 each people! I can tell you from experience the one time I saw one of these pans (used) at the thrift store it was $5 (and I bought it).

When I was newlywed I foolishly thought there might be such a thing as too many cookie sheets but have since repented of such crazy talk. To be fair, I didn't make hundreds of cookies or cupcakes back then like I do now. So I say the more the merrier with these handy pans. Barefoot Contessa has a huge stack in her pantry I covet every time I see it.

I've also slowly built up my Silpat collection and now have one for each of my pans (along with a plastic lid- they're so handy). You can read more about Silpats here. I do not miss greasing my pans or scrubby out gunky pans one bit. Costco also has a three pack of knock off silpats (silicone baking mats). Has anyone tried them? I was kind of dying to buy them just to see how they were. Amazon has a 2 pack of generics for $16 as well. Please let me know if you've used them!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Barefoot Contessa + Tyler Florence (and Winter Slaw)

Did you see the new Barefoot Contessa episode with Tyler Florence? Baby rosebud and I loved it! It airs again on Monday, September 9th at noon if you missed it (see the details here).

 {look at them high five, haha!}
They started by making a birthday cake for Tyler's son. The chocolate cake was made with buttermilk and the batter looked amazing (Ina is a pro after all). She made a ganache frosting and stacked the cake up asymmetrically at Tyler's request. They decorated the whole thing with bright candies that really popped off the chocolate frosting. It was beautiful (and I might be heading to ABC Cake Decorating to finally buy some legit cake pans to make it for Baby Strawberry's FOURTH! birthday next week).

Then they went to Ina's favorite place to buy chicken for Jeffery's dinner every Friday. My kids loved seeing the chickens and I love Tyler quipping about how proud he was to hear Ina's secrets.

{look how cute they are on Tyler's instagram!}

For lunch, he made Fried chicken and added whole fresh herbs and garlic to the oil to layer the flavors. The seasoned flour looked amazing. He added Sriracha to the buttermilk for even more flavor. I liked his tip to fry only a few pieces at a time to keep the temperature up. I don't fry things often but after I watched him make this recipe I was dying to make some chicken! You can see the recipe here.

Ina made a winter slaw recipe using shredded kale, radicchio, and Brussels sprouts. With a fresh lemon vinaigrette, craisins, and some Parmesan, it looked so light and yummy. I made it for dinner that night and while my husband wasn't sure that it was actually 'Cole slaw' it was great. The veggies were crunchy and fresh with the light dressing and the sweet and salty kicks from the cheese and craisins were perfect. It also only took a few minutes to make so I think it's going into regular side dish rotation (although the kids aren't happy about that, they looked at me like I asked them to cardboard or something!)

The best part of the episode was when Ina boxed up the enormous three layer cake and said "I don't envy you getting this home on the airplane." Haha! I hope you get a chance to watch it because it was a really fun episode full of great recipes as well. I'll let you know how that big cake goes (this is a pretty massive undertaking considering I barely passed Wilton Course 1 Cake decorating at the craft store- the employee was hesitant to give me the participation certificate, no lie!)

PS If you're on Pinterest... Barefoot Contessa is finally! It's kind of fun to follow her. If you're a dork like me. Don't tell my friend Kara I wrote this blog post. She'll die. Hopefully some of you like Ina like I do. And try the slaw. I'd never had Brussels sprouts before (seriously) and it was fun and yummy to try them.

Winter Slaw
from Ina Garten and Tyler Florence (recipe originally here)

6 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved, and cored
6 large kale leaves, center rib completely removed (8 to 10 ounces)
1/2 small head radicchio, cored
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dried cranberries
1 (6-ounce) chunk good Parmesan cheese

With a very sharp knife, cut the Brussels sprouts, kale, and radicchio across in thin shreds and put them all in a large bowl.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour enough dressing on the slaw to moisten it well. Add the cranberries.

Shave the Parmesan in big shards with a vegetable peeler, add it to the salad and toss well. Check for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

My Latest Favorites

I love reading other people's favorite things. Here are a few products I've been crushing on lately.

Peabody recommended Vanilla Bean Paste and I love it. The jar smells so good and the little vanilla bean flecks taste and look good. It makes my frosting extra pretty and yummy at the same time. I also love the Kirkland Vanilla from Costco if you are looking for a vanilla extract.

Stila All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner
It makes a perfect cat eye and the pen shaped applicator is so easy to use. If you're not into thicker eyeliner the tapered brush does a nice thin line as well. By the end of the day it still looks perfect (and that's really saying something in the Arizona Summer!) Even better, it doesn't bother my sensitive eyes like most liquid eye liners. It's even $5 cheaper on Amazon.

The Oxo Stainless Steel Brush- I found one of these at Ross a few years ago and have been using this kind ever since. It's pretty, cleans up amazingly well, and wears so much better than the plastic kind I used to use. It really lasts forever and even my mom loves it (that's a pretty strong endorsement).

Vintage Floral iPhone Case from Agent 18. I got mine at TJ Maxx and it's really cute, super sturdy, and slides smoothly in and out of my pocket and diaper bag. I'm high maintenance like that. I've gotten a lot of comment about this case and pink puffy heart love it (although my baby liked my old higher contrast black and white one better. You win some you lose some).

My brother and sister-in-law loaned us Big Bang Theory and we're hooked. It's ridiculously funny- especially if you know a lot of engineers like we do. Try it out.

I have a few little mess makers and ended up using my Bar Keeper's Friend several times this week. My stainless steel pan looks perfect after a quick scrub, my glass stove top is shiny, my vanity is perfectly clean, and my shower is whiter now too. Plus, it's only a dollar at Target.

I hadn't read Little Women before. It was wonderful. It's free for Kindle, too. I can't believe how many sections I highlighted but I loved so much of this book:

"I keep turning over new leaves, and spoiling them, as I used to spoil my copybooks, and I make so many beginnings there never will be an end," he said dolefully. "Go and eat your dinner, you'll feel better after it. Men always croak when they are hungry," and Jo whisked out at the front door after that. "That's a 'label on my 'sect'," answered Laurie, quoting Amy." {too true!}

"Then let me advise you to take up your little burdens again, for though they seem heavy sometimes, they are good for us, and lighten as we learn to carry them. Work is wholesome, and there is plenty for everyone. It keeps us from ennui and mischief, is good for health and spirits, and gives us a sense of power and independence better than money or fashion."

"Have regular hours for work and play, make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will be delightful, old age will bring few regrets, and life become a beautiful success, in spite of poverty."

I think it's time to listen to Marmee and get folding laundry and washing dishes instead of wishing away time on the internet. Read Little Women again and let me know what you think.

Do you have any favorite products I need to try?