August 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Julia!

Adorable Julia Child Quote via Unraveled Design on Etsy- so true, too!

Today is Julia Child's 100th Birthday. She was such an amazing woman and really changed the whole food world. She's such an inspiration and if you don't know much about her, you should read her lovely book "My Life in France" (the book the "Julia" half of the movie "Julie and Julie" was based on- I don't recommend the other book though! Meryl was amazing though and I loved the movie!)

Let me know if you read the book and what you think. I'll warn you now it will make you want to eat... and go to France now! And I hope you will go try a new recipe in Julia's honor today. She was told over and over that was too tall, too old, too American, too much to follow her dream but she did- and what an impact she made!

August 6, 2012

Pineapple Yogurt

The first time I went to France, I spent a summer semester studying, exploring, playing, and eating my way through Paris. It was an awesome time and introduced me to a lot of still-favorite foods- pain au chocolat, baguettes, chevre (goat cheese), and pineapple yogurt. When I went back to France for a few days, I immediately sought out the pineapple yogurt. I've really never been a yogurt person but there was something special about my 'ananas' yogurt, so fresh and creamy and just amazing. I've attempted to recreate the taste by mixing crushed pineapple and juice into Greek yogurt (the Fage at Costco is reasonably priced and yummy) but when I tried this Chobani Pineapple last month I knew I'd met my match. This yogurt... it's just ridiculously delicious. It comes in a host of other flavors that look great but I've only got eyes for this one. It's like I'm eating ice cream for breakfast, filling up with healthy protein and calcium and starting my day off just right. Have you tried this? Do you love it? Have another amazing flavor to recommend?

PS You can read more about Chobani on their site and even get coupons too. And no this isn't a sponsored or sneaky post, I just really... really love this yogurt. Call me crazy.

July 23, 2012

Custom Cupcake Toppers & Pink-ifying Cupcakes

In keeping with my super stringent once a month summer posting schedule, today I'm sharing some cupcakes I made recently for my friend's birthday. My friend was having a super pink birthday party so I took out all of my pink supplies and overloaded them. I used my regular favorite cupcake recipe to make some chocolate cupcakes and my favorite light cream cheese frosting with a little pink food coloring.

I wanted something special and pink to top the cupcakes but didn't have anything bold so I used some marshmallow fondant I'd made before to make some heart toppers. It's simple to make (melting marshmallows, powdered sugar, and water then kneading it together) and will stay fresh for weeks and weeks well wrapped (I'll admit I made this batch in February!) Kneading in a color is a lot like making playdoh and really fun. I don't have any special fondant tools but used a regular little rolling pin and small cookie cutter to cut out the hearts. I let them dry over night and stuck them on top of the frosting the next day. I even made some extras and saved them in the freezer for Baby Strawberry's upcoming birthday. You can see some more about the marshmallow fondant at this post about my son's Pirate Birthday Cupcakes.

Here are a few supplies I used to pink-ify the cupcakes:

I used my Americolor Gel dye to get the vivid pink color. I think they do the best job of providing simple, vivid colors and they have a squeeze top bottle for ease of use. There a few dollars each at the Cake decorating store (or at Amazon of course) and last forever. I've used them to dye frosting, cake batter, homemade playdoh, and more with great results.

To add her initial, I used an edible food marker- Wilton sells some at Michael's, JoAnn, or Hobby Lobby but I hear the Americolor ones are better (thought my Wilton ones have lasted a long time so I guess that says something good about them after all! I have only ever tried the black though.)

Last I gave the cupcakes a hearty sprinkling with my edible glitter (It's called Pixie or Disco Dust and while it looks exactly like delicate craft glitter it claims to be safe to eat!) It's gorgeous and really makes a regular dessert something special. I buy mine locally from ABC Cake decorating (or on their site) but Amazon has something comparable as well.

A basic piping bag and tip doesn't have to cost a lot (this set is less than $8 with free shipping). While I've frosted cupcakes before with one of those small bags and tips a lot of people use, a little bigger one can make for some fast frosting and a high impact cupcakes. This set looks like a good place to start with my favorite brand- fill the bag up and practice piping some icing spirals on a plate or sheet of parchment, you can add it right back to the bag and keep on trying until you get the shape you like best. It's actually really fast and fun to frost a whole bunch of cupcakes and take it from the worst cake decorator in the world- if I can do it, you can.

Do you have a favorite way to decorate cupcakes or a favorite recipe? Birthday season is about to start around here and I think there is a lot of frosting in my future!!

June 11, 2012

New Barefoot Contessa Book!

I'm signed up for the Barefoot Contessa's newsletter and hopped over to her site today. I was happy to see that she has a new book coming out! You can see some details on her site. I love and regularly use Ina's books and can't wait to get this one. See it on Amazon here. You can see more of Ina's recipes I've made here- they're all tried and true favorites. Who is your favorite celebrity chef?

May 22, 2012


Two things have been brought to my attention lately:
1. My blog needs more love and attention
2. There is no Snickerdoodle recipe to be found here

Well, it's easy enough to fix the Snickerdoodle issue. As for carving out more time for my blog, we'll see. I have a cute little man (just graduated from preschool, yes I cried) and a darling Baby Strawberry (who is now closer to 3 than 2 my husband pointed out) and while I always make time to bake with them, I don't always make time to photograph/upload/blog about our adventures. I'm sorry.

Back to business- these cookies are amazing. This is another fabulous Barb recipe. My original copy calls for cream of tartar or to substitute with powder and soda- I much prefer them this way. I'm also a crazy snob about only using butter in cookies BUT I like to make these with a little Crisco (half and half? 1/4? Whatever you like.) They hold up a little better in the oven.

The end product is a chewy, delicious cookie just like every kid wants to pull from the cookie jar. Add a little sprinkles to the cinnamon sugar to make them feel fancy or enjoy them as is. They're a tried and true favorite around here.

PS One time, I wanted to dye these pink for Valentine's day but didn't want to make them pink covered in brown cinnamon- so I added a little cinnamon extract to the batter after the eggs then just rolled them out in sugar. Same taste but a different look- I love a versatile recipe!

from Barb Sperry
1 Cup Butter, Barely Softened (you can use up to half original Crisco for firmer shape)

1 ½ Cups Sugar

2 Eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 ¾ Cups Flour

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

1 teaspooon Baking Soda

¼ teaspoon Salt

¾ Cup Cinnamon Sugar, for rolling

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat for one minute. Add the dry ingredients and carefully mix until just combined. Scoop into ball and roll in cinnamon sugar.

Bake on Silpat lined sheet for 7-9 minutes (alternately- grease and line a standard cookie sheet).
Cool and enjoy. These cookies freeze well before or after being cooked (if you decide to freeze the dough, hold off on the cinnamon sugar until you are ready to bake them).

April 19, 2012

Peppered Walnut Salad

Today I'm sharing my favorite salad recipe... again. This one comes from my genius cousin who can take regular produce and turn it into salads women moan over. I've had a couple friends ask for this recipe so I am bumping it back up and including the post as well because when I posted this last (the same week in April a couple of years ago) my feelings were exactly the same as they are today. With berry season upon us it's the perfect time to try the salad. You can be flexible on the specifics- berries, types of nuts (my mom makes it with sunflower seeds since my sister-in-law is allergic to walnuts) but the crunchy, peppery nuts, creamy, salty cheese and hint of sweet from the fruit makes for a really amazing flavor combination. Let me know how you like it!

{printable recipe here}
The heat is coming. I'm sure some of you are still in "winter" mode but around here it's already getting hot. Some days I feel like it's time to turn on the air conditioning but I just "can't want to" as we like to say around here. Hopefully spring will hold on for a couple more weeks but even if it doesn't this light, flavorful salad will hit the spot. It's fresh, delicious, and features so many wonderful flavors- peppered candied walnuts, feta, craisins or dried blueberries {fresh are great here too!}, and a garlic and parsley dressing. I've never met a woman who didn't love this salad (as for the men, sometimes they just don't know a good thing when they taste it!)

One note about the feta- the real deal will really set this salad over the top. Peter from Kalofagas (my favorite Greek cooking blog) recommended the Dodoni brand from Costco. I haven't been able to find that, but I love the authentic Greek Feta from Trader Joes. It comes in a white and blue box and is soaked in brine so it stays fresh. It's even made in Greece and is the only kind my brother, who lived in Greece, likes.
Peppered Walnut Salad
{printable recipe here}
From Wendy Jensen, my fabulous cousin who consistently makes the best salads. Thanks for sharing!

1 cup chopped walnuts
3 Tbsp. butter
½ cup sugar
2 tsp. black pepper

Toast walnuts in butter on low for 5 minutes. Combine sugar and pepper and coat hot nuts. Set aside to cool.

2 tsp. sugar
2 cloves peeled garlic
1 tsp. Dried oregano
½ c. diced red onion
½ tsp. salt
1 c. fresh parsley
½ c. red wine vinegar
1 c. canola oil

Blend and refrigerate in a container with a non metal lid (I like to use an old peanut butter jar)

Dressing keeps for a little under a week. I usually throw it out when the parsley loses it's bright green color.

1 large head dark green Romaine lettuce, cleaned and chopped
¼ c. crumbled feta cheese
¼ c. craisins or dried blueberries

Add nuts and a 1/4 cup of dressing. Toss and serve immediately.

April 1, 2012

Can you make a pie in 30 seconds? Me neither.

I like starting out a blog post with cupcakes- they just look happy (orange creamsicle cupcake recipe here). So, how have you been? It's busy at my house for some reason even though I really try to avoid that. Oh well. It's a happy busy and everyone is eating well over here. We watched the pie ninja's episode of Backyardigans Saturday and it inspired my son to ask to make pie. So, we made quiche for dinner and a lemon meringue tart for dessert. I tried a new crust recipe I ripped out from Gourmet a few years ago (couldn't find it online for some reason). In the Backyardigans episode, the pie master teaches his apprentice the secret to pie making- and they can make a pie in about 30 seconds. My son informed me that I must still be a pie apprentice because it took us a little bit longer than 30 seconds to make a clean up our pie extravaganza. I guess I still have a lot to learn, funny boy.

The winner of the MyBlogSpark Pillsbury giveaway is comment #5, Natalie. Please email your address and I will have the prize shipped out asap! Have an awesome week everyone and enjoy the beautiful spring weather!

March 20, 2012

Pillsbury Bake-Off (and giveaway)

Hot pink cupcakes- made my 'red velvet way'- using a white mix, some pink and red gel coloring and a lot of frosting- perfect!

The other day at the park, one of my friends mentioned in passing by that she was up to do/help with/whatever since she isn't busy at all. I was kind of shocked (she does have a family, home and Church responsibilities, lots going on). It made me wonder if her perception of busy is different than mine, if she is just ultra-capable, or if I am just a crazy person and doing too much. I don't know about you but I feel busy. I try to simplify but every so often it just gets to me that I am busy and there isn't a lot to do about it (especially since I am certainly creating my own reality!) Sometimes there isn't a happy shortcut to simplify certain things but when there is... a way to mix quality and efficiency, fun and useful, it makes me happy. 
I love experimenting in my kitchen and spending time knocking out big, fun projects (homemade chocolate sweet rolls anyone?) but sometimes I need a showstopper and I need it fast.  When MyBlogSpark contacted me about the Pillsbury Bake-Off I thought it looked like a lot of fun. I love perusing recipes and seeing how creative people can be (and thinking about the $1 Million prize on the line for the best recipe?! Wow!) There are a ton of great recipes to check out- for breakfasts, appetizers, dinner, desserts.

I love recipes like these that feature simple, easy to follow instructions and ingredients and yield infinite different results. It's easy to customize and change things up based on your own preferences. I can't believe how many different things you can do with cresent rolls. Myself, I usually doctor up cake and brownie mixes. Cereal is another tricky one (way more  uses beyond breakfast!) What is your favorite short cut? Something I am missing out on? As for the recipes... I am going to try the Hazelnut French Silk Turtle pie first. Wow.

My favorite lemon cake recipe comes from a box. It's so tender and flavorful (and delicious, even if I am terrible cake decorator!)

Instead of oreos, I use Chocolate Cheerios to make press in crusts for cheesecakes and pies. It sounds kind of weird, but it's crazy delicious and simple too (just some melted butter and whirl in the food processor). Plus, I feel a lot better about eating Chocolate Cheerios than oreos, even if that's fuzzy math.

Peanut butter and cheesecake swirled brownies take less than ten minutes to prepare and taste divine.

These were a beast to name but seriously delicious-
A Golden Graham crust
Topped by a layer of Sugar Cookie Dough
Followed by some apple pie filling
And they layered with a cream cheese filling
And more cookie dough
Then topped with caramel and pecans.
Let's call them Caramel Apple Pecan Cheesecake Sugar Cookie Bars. Or little bars of deliciousness, I think they would answer to that too. They are also easy to customize (store bought cookie dough and pie filling, or homemade, or some of each, whatever you have. It will taste yummy!)

I really think anyone can bake delicious food for their families without too much stress. We are all so busy but everyone needs to eat, so why not show your love to your family by making them something special?

MyBlogSpark and Walmart have a prize pack to give away to one lucky reader- a $25 Walmart giftcard to stock your fridge and pantry with yummy food for your families so you can have your own little bake-off. Leave a comment (make sure your profile is linked to your blog or email or leave it for me) by Sunday night, midnight AZ time to be entered. One entry per person. 

And before you shop, check out this site for great General Mill's product coupons- even though I am beyond tired of picking them up off the floor, there's no such thing as too many Cheerio's around here!

Disclosure:  The gift card, information, and giveaway have been provided by Walmart and General Mills, through MyBlogSpark.

March 14, 2012

Homemade York Peppermint Patties

{printable recipe here}
I'm always fascinated when I make something at home that I previous thought you could only buy from the store. Some things will just never be worth the investment but it's really satisfying to make something with my own two hands, to see everything that goes into it and feel like I am blessing my family (even if my son whines that he has to eat fresh, homemade wheat bread- poor kid). These homemade peppermint patties were a revelation- yummy, easy, even fun to make. And you had better believe giving someone a homemade peppermint patty makes them feel like a million bucks (they will want more than one, though, I promise!)

Besides the satisfaction of making these yourself, you can customize the size, decorations and flavoring. Next time I make these I will make them itty bitty with my smallest cookie scoop. I finally bought a package of 'chocolate dipping tools' (only a couple dollars at Michael's but I think this nice set from Ateco should be in my kitchen soon) and I am confident that will make these even more fun to make. Give them a try for St. Patrick's Day and let me know what you think! You can see more process photos here.

PS Still need St. Patrick's Day ideas? Everyone's favorite chocolate mint brownies are simple and delicious (and you can freeze the extras for later!)

Homemade York Peppermint Patties
from Anne Strawberry
{printable recipe here}
recipe adapted from Sweet Savory Life

Makes 32 patties (note- I would make these half size next time, to yield about 60- use a tiny cookie scoop to get quick and uniform results)


1 can of condensed milk
5 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted (yes, I skipped that step)
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (milk or white chocolate would be great, too, but I liked the depth of the semisweet contrasting with the sweet filling inside)
3 tablespoons shortening
3-5 drops green food coloring (optional- but I added this for St. Patrick's Day)


Add condensed milk, 2 cups of powdered sugar, and peppermint extract to a large mixing bowl. Mix everything on medium speed using the paddle attachment until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Add more powdered sugar, a half cup at a time, until the dough is pliable like firm modeling clay.

Note-  at this point, I kneaded the dough by hand for a couple minutes to get it extra nice and well mixed.

Roll 3/4″ balls of dough between the palms of the hands (I used a small cookie scoop for this step with less than a tablespoon of dough- the smaller patties look neater and are better portions I think). Press each ball down slowly and set the flattened disk on a flat cutting board or plate. Transfer peppermint disks to the freezer for no longer than 30 minutes. While the dough is chilling, temper the chocolate coating.

Place chocolate chips in a microwavable bowl. Melt the chocolate in 30 second increments, making sure to stir after each time until chocolate is smooth. Stir in shortening to thin the chocolate. Remove patties from the freezer.

Place a patty on the tongs of the fork and dip in the chocolate until completely covered. Allow excess chocolate to drip off the patty before setting each one on top of wax or parchment paper. Allow the chocolate coated peppermint patties to completely set up. This can be done quicker by placing the patties in the refrigerator. The peppermint patties are ready when they are dry to the touch. Enjoy!

Note- I melted some candy melts and drizzled them over the top for the finishing touch. After they set, package them up in cellophane bags, tie with a ribbon, and enjoy your easy, delicious, homemade treat!

March 13, 2012

Thin Mint Blondies

First friends, I would like to apologize for leaving a picture of chips up on my blog for so long. Yummy chips, but chips still. I have actually made a million treats lately between pinewood derby, baby showers, blue and gold banquet (not to mention treats for the meetings to plan all that stuff, don't you think treats make meetings better?) Spring is here and it doesn't usually last too long, so we've spent more time at the park (Little Man broke his foot there jumping seven feet off a piece of playground equipment, working on projects in the garage, and at the doctor's office- see before mention park incident and spring air sharing germs and allergies left and right.

So my apologies again for the slow posts around here. But I have a good one today- courtesy of my original food blog crush, Peabody. If you haven't 'met' her before I'd encourage you to stop by. Her photography is stunning, her recipes are incredible and she's totally hilarious. When I read her blog I don't feel so bad about my baking habits and I also identify with her a lot because she has more than one KitchenAid (for the record, I don't, but I think that would be awesome! Maybe in my fantasy double oven kitchen someday?) These blondies are all kind of deliciousness mixed together- chocolate chip cookie dough, girl scout cookie thin mints, ghirardelli chocolate, mint chips!

If you haven't made blondies before, they are super straightforward- you start with a chocolate chip cookie dough batter, omit the baking soda, and stir in your favorite mix ins. Press into a pan, bake, top with more deliciousness, and enjoy. Thin mints are of course a welcome addition to any dessert and although I had to fight off many kitchen snitchers trying to eat all of mine, it was worth it. Peabody used Andes Chips but I didn't have any of those at my mom's so I chopped up some bittersweet chocolate and some Guittard mint chips. If you haven't tried those before, they are incredible. I used to find them at Maceys in Utah and they have them around the holidays at Safeway here. You can even buy them on Amazon for an arm and a leg, but if you are lucky to have the world's best friend she may randomly drop off two bags for you yesterday (it's like she heard my mixer whirling in the last of my stash into these blondies!)

To see the recipe, please stop by Peabody's. She is incredible and you won't regret it!

Do you have a favorite St. Patrick's Day mint recipe? Are you going to have corned beef next week? Do you have a great source for mint chips? Spill!

February 20, 2012

The Better Chip

Recently, The Better Chip offered to send me some of their products to review. There's a reason I call my husband Mr. Carbohydrate so I eagerly responded yes and was excited to get some samples of their chips to try out. I wanted to do something fun with them, but they sat on my counter looking all flavorful and delicious and we just ate them- rather quickly. I finally decided I should at least nacho-fy the last bag (Nachos are the ultimate after Church food if you ask me) so yesterday I made a big plate with the sweet onion chips. Then I walked into the other room to grab my phone and came back and five of the chips were missing. Then I added the cheese and a little taco meat/beans left over from the other night, some tomatoes, cheese, and cooked them, went in the other room... and a few more were missing. The survivors were topped with some shredded lettuce and green salsa and were quickly devoured. The chips are crunchy, flavorful, and all gone. And that makes me a little sad!

These chips really are 'better'- all natural, with 40% fresh ingredients, no preservatives, gluten free, non-GMO, vegan, delicious! And... they taste great (sometimes that's not a given with 'healthy' stuff, you know?) My favorite were the jalapeno (that's why they aren't in the picture above... they were ingested a little too quickly). The red pepper were really flavorful and delicious. The sweet onion are had just the right bite to them (and a subtle cheddar flavor, seriously good!) You can learn more about what makes these chips better here.

PS Once again Amazon rules the world, you can even buy these chips online (I still think that's a little weird, but with free shipping I'm all over that!) Let me know if you try and like them (and excuse me while I go order chips online, just don't tell my brother, I'm pretty sure he'll think that's super nerdy!)

February 10, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes

With red as a favorite color (and pink a close second) I would be remiss if I didn't post anything for Valentine's. My blog reader has exploded with red velvet desserts- cakes, brownies, cookies, even pancakes, and while red velvet is a personal favorite over here (since I chose it for our wedding) I'm still not sure about all the varieties. I love a good red velvet cupcake and every time I make these I get the same comment- "I don't like red velvet cake because it's usually so bitter, but these are amazing!" I've posted my box recipe before and know some people don't like it but the fact of the matter is these cupcakes are delicious and easy and with sick kids and busy schedules, that's just about perfect for me. 

I made these cupcakes last Valentine's for a friend's wedding and I don't think I ever got to posting them. They turned out really cute and fun- I used a million different pink and red Valentine's cupcake wrappers from my collection (I always pick up a few packs on Valentine's clearance- red is a neutral around here and good for everything and I never regret buying these!)

I frost my cupcakes using a large plastic decorating bag (mine is from Ateco) and tip that I picked up at our local cake decorating store, ABC Cake Decorating in Phoenix. So far my biggest problem with them is that I want everything in their store (Edible glitter? Another decorating tip? A few more cookie cutters? Cupcake wrappers? More Americolor gel coloring? How did I just spend $50 and not even buy a cake pan?) They are awesome and I really recommend dropping by their store. You can also buy most of that stuff on Amazon and it's a bit of an initial investment but totally worth it. My $7 piping bag has literally frosted 1000's of cupcakes and it's so much faster than applying the frosting with a knife (not to mention the aesthetics!) Form meets function? Sign me up!

PS This kit looks like a good place to start if you are new to piping cupcakes- my bag is a little bigger but I think this could do a great job and would be easy to learn with.

What are you making for your Valentine this week? A tried a true recipe or something new? I've pinned a million recipes to try and am slowly getting there, one recipe at a time. I tried the homemade heart oreos floating around the internet last night and they didn't turn out quite as expected (I think my dough was a little soft for some reason?) Follow up post soon I hope. They were certainly delicious (I made mine chocolate) and need to be shipped out of my house asap.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
from Anne Strawberry
{printable recipe here}
1 cup sour cream (reduced fat is fine)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup canola oil
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 ounce red food coloring (one small bottle- I buy mine in bulk at Smart and Final)
1 box German chocolate cake mix (I recommend Betty Crocker)

Preheat the oven to 350.

Combine all ingredients in stand mixer and beat for two minutes until combined. Using a 2-tablespoon scoop, scoop into 24 paper-cup lined muffin tins.

Bake for 21-24 minutes or until cupcakes spring back slightly when touched and a tooth pick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool on racks and frost once completely cooled.

Cream Cheese Frosting

from Anne Strawberry
1 package of cream cheese, softened (I like to use Neufchatel, less fat and I don't notice much difference)
1/2 cup butter, softened (one stick)
2 Tablespoons milk
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or the seeds of one vanilla pod, scraped
dash of salt
6 cups of powdered sugar (more or less to achieve desired consistency, this is a baseline)
1 Tablespoon meringue powder

In a mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add in the milk, 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.

Add 1 T. Lemon or orange zest and substitute juice for the milk to make a tangy citrus frosting 

January 19, 2012

Valentine's Cupcakes, Brownies, and Sugar Cookies

My blog and I have missed the schedule (albeit, a loose one) that TWD provided. It's busy around here (Baby Strawberry is potty training!) and while I haven't posted much my kitchen has been bustling! I had a baby shower for my girlfriend who is having her first girl (after three boys!) any day now. Pink was a priority and a valentine's theme made it easy (considering all of my serving dishes are red!) These treats are all pretty simple and have a big wow factor with the amazing flavors and little details. I've posted the red velvet cupcakes and mint brownies before- though I've never made the mint brownies pink, that was a new one!  

Red Velvet Cupcakes (they're from a mix, but I promise no one will know)

The cookies (L's in honor of the baby) are Natalie's signature recipe. I'm no decorator but I've improved with her tips. Natalie uses a Wilton Squeeze bottle to pipe the outsides of the cookies (like drawing, nothing to stressful) and then uses another with thinned icing to 'flood' or fill the middle. In-a-hurry-not-so-steady-hands-Anne doesn't do them justice but they were yummy and cute (especially with the edible glitter, I love that stuff!) The best part about the cookies is you can bake off extras and freeze them to decorate and serve another time, all the end product without the stress. Natalie's recipe is pretty full proof- if I can do it- and you don't have fuss much with the dough. She doesn't chill hers, though I do normally, and they come out great every time. Sugar cookies take a lot more practice than cupcakes but the practice is enjoyable and delicious, worth the effort I think!

Note- I used Martha Stewart Alphabet Cookies Cutters I found at Macy's (similar to these here) that have been surprisingly practical- even adult are vain about their names! Smaller, thinner shapes will take less cooking time- watch them carefully!)

Natalie’s Sugar Cookies
from Anne Strawberry
1 cup butter or Crisco (Natalie uses the butter flavored kind, I usually use about 2/3 butter and 1/3 regular shortening)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sour cream
5-6 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, vanilla, and sour cream and beat. Add dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix. Reserve some flour for the counter and dump the almost mixed dough out and shape it as you would pie dough. Divide into two disks, chill for 15 minutes, then roll to ½ inch thickness and cut as desired. Bake at 400 for 8-12 minutes (depending on size of cookies).

Natalie’s Signature Almond Frosting
*note- Natalie uses almond extract and her frosting is so good but I usually sub in vanilla since my tall man is not so adventurous!)
⅓ cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
½ teaspoon almond extract
1-2 tablespoons milk

Blend butter and sugar. Stir in vanilla and milk- beat until smooth. Flavor and color as desired. Use plastic condiment bottles to pipe icing onto cookies (thin with milk or warm in microwave to flood centers).

January 1, 2012

Hello 2012! & 2011's Best

If you read blogs, you've seen all the roundups that happen this time of year. It's fun to see old favorites and find new inspiration from some of my favorite bloggers so I thought I would post my far and away most popular recipes of the year (late, of course, in typical Anne fashion).

Dark Chocolate Sweet Rolls (an updated Brioche Raisin Snails, my favorite Dorie recipe ever). If there was such a thing as a TWD Final Project, I would present these. Pastry Cream, something I couldn't ever get quite right before Dorie, is now my best friend. Brioche dough- rich, delicious, and suprisingly simple. Chopped, high quality chocolate (a Dorie must) and a beautiful glaze for presentation. I learned a lot from Dorie and it was fun to take the new skills and tricks and recreate/reinvent my favorite thing I ate in France using them.

Marshmallow Fondant Pirate Cupcakes- it's like playdoh for grownups. If you can use a mixer, a rolling pin, and a cookie cutter- you can do this!

Rainbow Frosted Soft Sugar Cookies (like the ones at the store... but fresh and delicious! Also, no cooling, rolling, and cutting like traditional sugar cookies, that's a win for me.)

Texas Sheet Cake (this is simple baking at it's finest- but I am not responsible for your New Year's Resolutions if you bake this cake!)

Dorie's Classic Brownies

And my most viewed recipe, Peppermint Bark Cheesecake. This was my first Tuesdays with Dorie recipe pick and I made it for a baby shower that I was so busy hosting- I forgot to bring my camera! The pictures are meh but the cheesecake is divine. I should go see if there's still any peppermint bark to be had and make it again, it's worth it!

Big thanks to my top refers Tracey and Aggie. They have lovely sites you should go check out! And are you on Pinterest? You can see me here or email me if you'd like an invite (my email's on the side bar). Be warned, it's super addicting (just like the sheet cake, but less calories!)