December 29, 2014

christmas cookies

Since work was busier than I had hoped it would be right before the holiday, this year’s cookies weren’t planned out until the very last minute (or really at all)!  In fact, I drug out all 5 of my containers of Christmas cookie cutters and with a little nudging towards “mini-sized” cutters, let the boys pick out what cookies we’d make this year!  I guess this explains the somewhat random assortment of holiday shapes!  I think it was my stubborn 3 year old that insisted we make the large snowflakes.  And since it was “Christmas Week”, I went with it and couldn’t be happier with his choice.

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A quick picture of my current cookie cutter storage . . .

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Yes, buying cookie cutters has become an addiction!  At least I’ve finally got them pretty well organized.  Now if only I had a way to know for sure which ones I already have when I’m out shopping!

Now that the boys picked out the shapes, I put them aside and saved them for late night cookie baking . . .

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And since there was no “cookie plan”, we grabbed our wrapping paper and made icing to match!!!!

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  This was the perfect Mommy & Me activity for Nick and I to do . . . earlier this week we played one of his favorite games . . . Color Mix-A-Roo!  Why not practice with real coloring????

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Our Color Mixing Chart
Blue = 1:1 Royal Blue: Electric Blue + White
Green = Electric Green + White
Red = Super Red

I usually do most of my cookie making after the kids go to bed, but since I didn’t want this to interfere with Christmas at home, I started while they were still awake!  Since they seem to be drawn to the kitchen when anything sweet is out, I put them to work . . . they were official “cookie designers!  The big boys weren’t excited about drawing on paper, but Drew stuck around for a while!

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Thanks to my aunt and uncle for sending over some holiday slush to aid in the late night icing process!  What better way to spend my first night of “Christmas Vacation . . . cookies, gift wrapping and a few last minute Amazon Prime 2-day shipping purchases to grandma’s house because I was pretty sure they wouldn’t make it before we left our house!

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These cookies were a fun mix of  old and new designs.

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The snowman mini’s were a repeat from 2012, but thankfully their hats are much improved this time around!!!  I iced the white face portion first, quickly added sprinkles and let it dry for a few hours before adding the hat so that the black didn’t bleed into the white.

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The giant snowflakes were a repeat from my nephew’s birthday a few weeks ago . . . just with a lighter blue icing this time!

Then on to the “new” cookies, I’m shocked to realize I don’t think I’ve ever made a Christmas tree cookie!

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When I realized that there were mini-themes hidden in the random cookies, I couldn’t help but change up the “Merry Christmas” plaque cookies just a bit!
(1) Trees & Lights – “Merry & Bright”

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(2) Snow themed – “Let It Snow”

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(3) – Random Christmas – “Merry Christmas”

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These might be my new favorites!  Perhaps the boys will be designing my next batch of cookies.

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December 21, 2014

cherry pie bars

When I saw all of the yummy looking "Cherry Pie Bars" being pinned on Pinterest before Thanksgiving, I knew I had to try them!  I was shocked when they turned out way better than I could have ever imagined – usually I experience an initial FAIL with any first time recipe.  Not this time -I’ve already added the recipe to my favorite recipe app (Paprika) and will definitely be making them again next year!

If I had known how good they were going to turn out, I would have taken better pictures.  I guess this post will have to be updated next Thanksgiving with better pictures.

Bar Ingredients
1 cup butter (softened)
2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
3 cups flour
2 (21 ounce) cans cherry pie filling

Glaze Ingredients
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2-3 T milk

Directions
  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Cream butter, sugar & salt until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition
  • Add vanilla and almond extracts
  • Slowly add flour
  • Spread 3 cups of this batter into a greased 15x10 baking pan
  • Spread cherry pie filling on top of the batter
  • Drop remaining batter over the filling in drops
  • Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden brown
  • Cool completely in pan 
  • For glaze, mix powdered sugar, extracts and enough milk to reach desired consistency.  These amounts make a LOT of icing - see picture below.  I should have used less!!!
  • Drizzle over top 
Thanksgiving 043Thanksgiving 049Thanksgiving 136

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December 20, 2014

my favorite sugar cookie recipe



Ingredients
4 cups flour (sometimes more if the dough is sticky)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter (softened a bit, but still very chilled to help them cut out easier)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 325-350 degrees (recipe says 375 but that’s too hot for me!)

Mix together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt.  I actually do this in bulk every couple weeks, so I have the perfect amounts in individual tupperware containers.  It makes cookie making so much faster & CLEANER!

In Kitchenaid bowl, mix together slightly softened butter and sugar until smooth.  Don’t over mix or bad things happen! 

Add egg, vanilla & sour cream and mix together.

Stir in the pre-mixed dry ingredients.  You can wrap up and refrigerate, but I generally just roll them out and start baking!

Baking time is highly dependent on the cookie size.  I bake them anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending on cookie size. 

December 9, 2014

my favorite baking tools

I was working on this list for my good friend Katie who is starting her own sugar cookie making addiction, but have gotten so many calls and texts from friends this week who are getting into the Christmas spirit and baking cookies with their kids, so I'm going to post as is and update later!

Icing Bottles

If you use bottles instead of bags, these are my favorite was to color icing and then pour it into the bottles without too much mess!

iSi Basics Flex-it 1-Cup Measuring Cup

Silicon Measuring Cup
Americolor Icing Gel Colors

Who knew you had to color icing white?  This is fantastic for making cookies that look like real white and not clearish white.  I also use it all the time to lighten up a color that has gotten too dark!

White White Icing Color

White Icing Color



Round Cookie Cutters

SilPat Non-Stick Mat


  

[for getting your sprinkles back in the jar]



December 8, 2014

jackson wants to build a snowman!

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My cookie loving nephew’s 3rd birthday party this weekend was the perfect excuse to make some cookies!  My sister did an Olaf themed Frozen party which was perfect for the little cutie who says “I like warm hugs!”.
As always, I was a little behind on my planed out schedule.  I didn’t start baking until late Friday night after a Cub Scout meeting and a 1st grade birthday party, but I had some more new cookie cutter shapes to try so I was motivated!  I think the narrow rectangles would make perfect Polar Express tickets (maybe next year we’ll do it again!)
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Saturday afternoon we were completely done with all planned activities by 1:00 pm, so I was ready to start icing . . . unfortunately I didn’t have much of a plan.   I just knew I wanted a brighter blue than the last Frozen cookies I made for our friend Maddie.  This color couldn’t have turned out more perfect.  It was 1:1 Electric Blue:Royal Blue, with some white to lighten it to match the sprinkles I already had in the “Sprinkle Drawer”!
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[Maddie’s 6th Birthday Cookies]       vs.         New Bright Blue Color
One cookie with the official Frozen quote of Jackson’s party . . . . I wish I would have chosen a better font, but didn’t have time to change it! 
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Adding some quick and easy birthday candles . . . always fun with the sprinkle drawer of colors to choose from! [this was CK Jot font]
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And then my first attempt at an Olaf cookies – I am still in LOVE with this Kopykake projector.  I think I could stay home all day and make new cookies!!!1
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Frozen logo cookies with “Oliver” font . . .
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What a huge difference an outline makes . . .
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Snowflakes and snowballs since I was playing in the sprinkle drawer . . .
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