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Valentine Heart Cookies

Valentine Heart Cookies

Valentine’s Day is one of those “holidays” that some people love and some people don’t. I have never gotten very excited over Valentine’s Day, but I always appreciated it just a teenie bit. Then I had two little girls and they love all things pink, so my appreciation for Valentine’s Day started to grow more and more each year. This year I have been very excited to try some new sweets and embrace the fun and yummy side of the day. I have always loved the way that sugar cookies look when they are decorated all fancy with royal icing. This past December I used royal icing for the first time and had a blast learning to work with it. I knew right away that I would be making all kinds of fun cookies in the year ahead as there are endless possibilities of fun and creative cookies that you can produce using royal icing. I definitely need to work on my piping skills and I learned a great deal from making this batch of cookies. I found that using a #2 tip when piping makes things so much easier (I wish I would have realized it sooner, like when I was piping the edges, oh well, it worked out). I also loved using the plastic decorating bottles for flooding the cookies, it made things go so much smoother and with little to no mess!

Valentine Heart Cookies

I had a lot of fun piping fun sayings and little hearts onto the pretty pink cookies.

Valentine Heart Cookies

Katelyn even got to help decorate a bunch of little hearts with lots of Valentine sprinkles.

I choose to use Martha Stewart’s sugar cookie recipe and I think they turned out perfect. The flavor is wonderful and they are so soft and delicious, they just melt in your mouth. So if you have been wanting to try decorating with royal icing, Valentine’s Day is a perfect time for cookie experimenting. We had so much fun making these cookies and we can’t wait to share them with all of our Valentines!

Valentine Heart Cookies

Valentine Heart Cookies
Cookies: Printer Friendly Version
Royal Icing: Printer Friendly Version

Sugar Cookies
Makes 2 dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions
Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar; mix until light and fluffy. With mixer running, add egg, milk, and vanilla; mix until well combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add reserved flour mixture. Mix until just combined.

Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into 2 discs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once more. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Decorate with Royal Icing (click here for recipe).

Adapted From: Martha Stewart

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Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cookies

It is the time of year when I just can’t get enough gingerbread flavored treats. As I mentioned earlier this week, I absolutely love the flavors in gingerbread treats. I came across this recipe earlier this fall and just could not wait for this time of year to make them. These cookies are out of this world fantastic! They are unbelievably soft and chewy and I love soft and chewy cookies! They are the perfect soft and chewy ginger cookie with the added bonus of chocolate chips. I am already on my second batch of these because they are that good! The second time around I used mini chocolate chips and I think they are a wonderful choice for this cookie as you just get sweet little nibbles of chocolate with each bite of the spicy ginger cookie. Stay tuned as I have one more yummy gingerbread flavored treat coming later this week. Hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas season!

Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies
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2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup chocolate chips (milk chocolate or semi sweet)
1/4 cup granulated sugar, for rolling dough balls

Position a rack in the middle of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or just spray lightly with cooking spray.
Sift the flour, baking soda, spices and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until smoothly blended, about 2 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing.  Add the egg and molasses and mix until blended and an even light color, about 1 minute.  On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate it.  Fold in the chocolate chips.
Spread the granulated sugar into a small bowl.  Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough between the palms of your hands into a ball, toss the ball in sugar to coat and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Continue making cookies, spacing them about 2 inches apart.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm but they are still soft in the center and there are several large cracks on top, about 12-14 minutes.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Adapted From: Joy the Baker

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 4th Birthday Invite

Wow! I can’t believe my little girl just turned 4! She is such a sweet little girl and it has been so much fun watching her grow and learn. Ever since her 1st birthday I have put a lot of thought and time into the theme of her parties, the invitations, the food and of course the desserts. I have so much fun planning and preparing for her special day (and my younger daughter’s birthdays as well). This year Katelyn helped with the theme and one of the cupcake flavors. Her and I sat down together and looked through a cupcake book, Hello, Cupcake! , and she picked the snowglobe cupcakes and she wanted them to be blueberry flavored.

Snowglobe Cupcakes

Since her birthday is in December I thought it was a fun choice. Once I knew I was going to have a December baby, I never planned to do a Christmas theme for her birthday (unless she absolutely would like one) so with this theme I decided to just stick to a winter wonderland theme and focused more on snowflakes and snow. Now living in Southern California we really have to imagine and create a winter wonderland, but I think we did a pretty good job.

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We had so much fabulous food and I can’t wait to share all the recipes with you all over the next few weeks. Here was the menu for her fun and special day followed by some of the photos:

Appetizers:
White Bean Dip with Pita Chips and Home Made Pita Bread
Spicy Cheddar and Cream Cheese Dip with Tortilla Chips
Veggie Platter with Ranch Dip

Main Course:
Beef Sliders
Chicken Sliders
Winter Salad with Candied Pecans, Cranberries, Pears and Feta Cheese
Fruit Salad
Potato Chips

Desserts:
Blueberry Flavored Snowglobe Cupcakes
Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes
Oatmeal Cranberry and Pecan Spice Cookies

Party Favors:
Gingerbread Snowflake Cookies Decorated with Royal Icing

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All the yummy appetizers!

Lots of Yummy Desserts

All the yummy desserts!

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes with snowflake sprinkles!

Gingerbread Snowflake Party Favors

A little “Thank You” to all our fabulous guests! We had such a wonderful time and we are so glad that everyone could share Katelyn’s special day with us!

Katelyn is 4!

Happy 4th Birthday sweet baby girl! We love you so much!

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 Oatmeal, Cranberry and Pecan Spice Cookies
I am not one for dried fruit or nuts in my cookies, however I could not stop eating these cookies! These cookies are absolutely fantastic!!! They have a wonderful blend of flavors with all the spices, molasses, sweet cranberries and nutty crunchy pecans. They have a gingerbread like flavor (I love gingerbread and molasses cookies!) with the texture of an oatmeal cookie. These are the perfect cookie for the fall holiday season. This recipe is easily adaptable to fit your personal fruit, nut or chocolate preferences. I think these would be great with some walnuts and mini chocolate chips…I just might have to try that combination very soon! So grab a big glass of milk or hot steamy cup of coffee (that is my favorite way to eat them) and enjoy these super delicious cookies!

Oatmeal, Cranberry and Pecan Spice Cookies

Oatmeal, Cranberry and Pecan Spice Cookies
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Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3 Tbs. dark molasses
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Directions:
Preheat an oven to 375°F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice; set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter on high speed until fluffy and pale yellow. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and continue beating until the mixture is no longer gritty when rubbed between your finger and thumb. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the molasses and vanilla.

Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon just until blended. Beat or stir in the oats, dates and walnuts just until evenly distributed.

Drop the batter by rounded tablespoons onto the prepared pans, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies until the edges are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle the cookies with coarse sugar while they are still warm. Let the cookies cool on the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then transfer them to the racks and let cool completely. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Adapted from: Williams-Sonoma

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