Happy Engagement Cookies

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It was one of my best friends’ engagement parties and I decided I wanted to make some of my sugar cookies with royal icing. I have already made these delightful treats last Valentine’s Day and wrote you a how to decorate with royal icing with step by step directions and tips. You can find that here: https://healthypassions.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/valentines-day-sugar-cookies/

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I have to admit, these cookies take a day or two to make, but they taste great and look impressive!  I decided to incorporate her wedding colors and wedding date on one set of cookies and another I saw the idea on Pinterest and had to try it! The stick figures were pretty simple but so cute and fun! I used the yellow colored icing that I had for the numbers in the dated cookies and made the ring “shine” to give it a little more color.

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My favorite part about making these cookies is the decorating. It’s so fun to be creative and let your ideas shine! The baking part is very easy and the lemon zest and added juice give the cookies a lovely fresh lemon taste. It takes the boring plain sugar cookie to a whole new level.

This time I added a little more lemon zest and added juice of half a lemon to the icing. I think that it’s fun to mix things up, next time i will try to add chopped cranberries or maybe some orange zest! Don’t ever be afraid to try something new especially with baking! Use your imagination and creativity, you will be surprised!

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Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Remember when i said I would  be posting a lot of fall and pumpkin recipes?? I wasn’t lying! Seriously have a problem with pumpkin, I love it all! Pumpkin food, pumpkin candles, pumpkin decorations… it’s sad really. So please feel free to revel in my pumpkin madness these next few months.

I basically took a regular snickerdoodle recipe and added some pumpkin ingredients to it. These cookies are really easy to make and the end result is amazing. My favorite part is how light and fluffy they are in the center, and the sugar and cinnamon coating on the top just melts in your mouth.

You’re going to need to save room because just one cookie won’t cut it! They’ll keep you coming back for more.

In a medium bowl, combine your dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg). Set aside. Take an electric mixer and beat together sugars and butter on medium high speed until light and fluffy about 3 minutes. Add your pumpkin puree, blend. Next add your egg and vanilla until just combined. Turn on low speed and slowly add your dry ingredients with small batches at a time. Mix until just incorporated. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for an hour.

Take the chilled dough out of the fridge and preheat your oven to 350°. Take a small bowl and mix together your sugar and spices. Take a baking sheet with parchment paper and start rolling your dough into balls as equal in size as you can make them. Once rolled into a ball, roll around in the sugars to coat. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat this until all of the dough is rolled and coated. Take the palm of your hand (washed of course, let’s keep this germ free people!) and gently press down on the center of each ball of dough. You don’t want to flatten the dough completely, just a little bit. Bake for 10-15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Let cool for 5 minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool (or devour while nice and warm!!! My favorite time to eat cookies!).

Serve with an ice cold glass of milk, you won’t be disappointed!

For the cookies:

3¾ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ ground cloves

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the coating:

½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ ground cloves


Peanut Butter & Jelly Thumbprints

There are some days when you know exactly what you’re doing… and there are some days when you have no clue. Today was one of those clueless days. I always saw caramel and thought it looked pretty simple to make, you just boil sugar, water, corn syrup and voila!

Little did I know that caramel is pretty complex to make if you’ve never made it before. So my first time was pretty unsuccessful… and so was the second. After that I decided to call it quits for the day and try it again some other time. I was so close to getting it right the second time, it looked and tasted like caramel but it was still very thin and didn’t turn sticky like it should have. I realized that I took it off of the heat a little too soon!

You’re probably wondering why I am even talking about caramel, and that’s because this recipe actually calls for caramel inside the thumbprints. Because the caramel didn’t work out for me (and I was way to frustrated to keep trying) I decided to add my own personal touch and substitute raspberry preserves instead. Tastes like peanut butter and jelly cookies!! And they are deeelish!

This recipe is super simple to make (esp. when the caramel is out of the picture!) and can satisfy any palette!

To get started, pre heat your oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

With an electric mixer (if unavailable mix by hand) beat together the brown and granulated sugar and butter until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla extract. If you are using an electric mixer, take a spoon and scrape down the sides to evenly mix the dough. Add the peanut butter. Mix until well blended and smooth.

Next in a separate mixing bowl, whisk together your flour, baking soda, and salt. In small batches, add the flour mixture to the batter. You don’t want to add it all at one time. After all of the flour is mixed in, make sure you mix the dough well and that there are no patchy flour spots remaining.

Scoop about a tablespoon sized amount of dough and roll them into balls with your hands, like you would meatballs. You will want to knead the dough with your hand a few times, I did this by simply taking the dough in my hand and squeezing it and turning it and squeezing it again, then rolling it into a ball shape. This will prevent the dough from cracking easily and make it much easier to form. You should place them about 1- 1 1/2 inches apart from each other on the baking sheets.

Use your thumb or the end of a wooden spoon and make an indentation into the middle of the cookie balls. If the dough cracks, simply mold it back together as best as you can. Place in the oven for 13-16 minutes, turning the baking sheet around to bake evenly. When they are done they should be a golden brown color. Once out of the oven, lightly push down in the middle again to reinforce the indentations. Let cool for about 5 minutes and set on a wire rack.

Once the cookies are cooled completely take a spoon and place just enough raspberry preserves to fill in the thumbprints. It’s important that you wait until the cookie is all the way cooled, to prevent the preserves from melting and spilling off of the cookies.

Next, you can either use semi-sweet chocolate or milk chocolate (I used milk chocolate, and Ghirardelli of course!) And melt the chocolates in the microwave or by using a double boiler. Place a few spoon fulls of chocolate into a plastic baggy and snip a very small whole in the corner of the bag. Gently pipe the chocolate making lines horizontally and vertically. Or whichever crazy way your hart desires!

 What you’ll need:
8 tablespoons (115g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (120g) packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (200g) creamy salted peanut butter (see Note)
1 3/4 cups (250g) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt


Raspberry Preserves

Milk Chocolate Chips (Or semi-sweet) 

Peanut Butter Thumbprints Adapted from David Lebovitz.

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Valentine’s Day Sugar cookies

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and I thought these cookies would make the perfect treat for my fiance! For months I have been wanting to make sugar cookies perfect for decorating. I did some researching and found this recipe on my favorite blog!! The Royal Icing tutorial was beautifully written out and showed with pictures step by step. This is how I learn best, and I am so thankful to have had pictures! Also, these are seriously the best sugar cookies I have tasted! They have lemon zest in the mix and it tastes beautifully mixed together with the vanilla and sugar.

I have to admit, I have been wanting to use these colors for a long time! I saw them on the knot.com and almost made them my wedding colors, but I thought it was a bit too much. So I’m glad to have used them now. I saw Annie’s bird cookies and had to copy those also, but hers makes mine look like a pre schooler decorated them 🙂  For my first time making sugar cookies and decorating with icing from scratch, I am pretty proud of myself! And with practice, I hope to some day make my cookies professional looking!

If you are planning to make these cookies, please be sure to give yourself a good day to get most of it done. You will need a few hours for each time you ice the cookies and then a few more to let the icing sit and harden.

Let’s start by making the dough! I couldn’t find vanilla bean, so I just added another tsp of vanilla extract. In a large mixing bowl, mix the confectioner’s sugar and butter on medium high speed until it is of creamy consistency, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds (if available), and lemon zest until blended. Mix in flour and salt on low speed until mixed well. And your dough is ready! Take it out of the bowl, form into a ball, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for several hours (or overnight if you prefer). When ready, it will be firm and cold.

Once the dough is ready, preheat your oven to 375°F. Line your baking sheet(s) with parchment paper. Take the dough and roll onto a well floured surface, being to sure to also flour your rolling pin. You want to make about 1/4 in of thickness and as even as you can. Use your cookie cutters and place the cut outs on your baking sheets.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, turn the baking sheets halfway through to produce evenly baked cookies.

They are ready to take out when they are cooked through but not brown. Let cool for 5-10 minutes then transfer them to a wire cooling rack. Make sure they are completely cool before beginning to decorate with icing.

Time to make the icing! Here are a few things you’re going to need to have on hand:
Icing gel colors . Gel is best because it doesn’t add extra moisture and liquid to the frosting.
Small Tupperware containers with lids for each color of icing you plan to use.
Spoons, for mixing
Toothpicks
Disposable pastry bags fitted with small round tips, you can find these at Michael’s/Hobby Lobby. I would suggest using small number sizes for the tips, #2 & 3 are what I  used.

In a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment, if available. I did not have one and used the regular mixers and it turned out just fine! Mix all of the ingredients on low speed until the icing is no longer shiny, about 7-10 minutes. The icing will be very stiff, scrape all of the icing out into a bowl. Pour little bits of water at a time until it is a good enough consistency for piping. Invert your icing bags as pictured below. Separate your icing into the separate Tupperware containers and color them to your liking with the gel colors.

Once they are colored, place the icing into the bags for piping. Take a tall glass and fill just barely with water, this will be where you place your piping bags when you aren’t using them and you will prevent the icing from hardening.

Take your cookies to a big table and leave them on the cooling racks. Make sure to have room to leave your arm or elbow on the table to help keep a steady hand, when outlining the cookies, keep the piping tip as close to the cookie as you can to prevent squiggly and uneven lines.

You will want to leave these to sit for a few hours before you continue decorating. Make sure you close the lids of the containers with the icing to prevent it from hardening. Once the icing outlines have set and hardened, it’s time to make the filling! Take your containers and add a tsp of water until the icing has a runny consistency like the picture below.

You’ll know when it’s ready when the icing drips off the spoon and smooths back into the container. If you have made it too thin, add a little bit of confectioner’s sugar. Now, take the icing and place in a squeeze bag or a squeeze bottle and place in the center of the cookie. Take a toothpick and spread out the icing to the outlined edges until the cookie is fully colored. (Kind of like coloring!!) You will notice some bubbles pop up, when you see them, pop them with a  toothpick. Once you have filled in each cookie, let it sit for at least 2 hours, or over night. You will know it’s ready when the icing no longer looks shiny.

Once the filler icing has dried, take the previously mixed, thicker icing that you used for piping and decorate your cookies with the fun and creative designs of your liking! If you would like to know how to make the small hearts I did on some the cookies, it’s actually very simple! Take the runny icing and use any two colors you would like. Place a layer of the runny icing on the cookie, then place dots in a line using another color. Take a toothpick and drag from the beginning of the line to the end, dragging the toothpick in the center of the dots.     Here are some examples:

I hope this particular post was helpful for you if this is also your first time making these! If you have any questions, or if I have left some details out please let me know and I hope your cookies turn out beautiful 🙂

What you’ll need:

For the Sugar Cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg
2½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Zest of half a lemon (or the zest of a whole lemon, if you love lemon)
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt

For the Royal Icing
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. meringue powder
5 tbsp. water

Of course you should always let your significant other decorate!! Here is RJ’s helicopter cookie!! Of course it’s only fitting 😉

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

I acquired this recipe from my future mother in-law, it’s a family recipe that has been around for a long time and believe me when I say, these cookies are ahh-mazing! They are super simple to make and take only 10 minutes to bake! My sister and I also baked these for Christmas. The other great thing about this dough is that if you have extra, you can freeze or refrigerate and use for another time.

Hint: you want to keep the dough cold throughout the process to prevent sticking of the dough on your hands when you roll it. When you are not using the dough, stick it in the fridge until needed again.

To start, preheat your oven to 350º. Mix all of your dry ingredients and set aside.  Mix oil, melted chocolate and white sugar, then slowly blend in the eggs 1 at a time.  Add vanilla.  Stir in dry ingredients little bits at a time, you will usually want to add the dry ingredients up to 3 times before it’s gone.  Chill the dough for several hours covered.  Roll about a teaspoon amount into a ball, you want to try and keep them around the same size. Next take a bowl and fill with confectioner’s sugar then roll the dough ball in the powdered sugar to coat fully. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes.

A good tip is to start rolling and preparing the next batch while the current one is baking.

What you’ll need:

½ C vegetable oil

4- 1 oz squares unsweetened chocolate, melted (I recommend Baker’s brand)

2 C white sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla  (tsp is a teaspoon, not sure if you knew that)

2 C flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

 

Simple Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are SO easy to make, and might I add delicious. They are off of a Nestle Tollhouse recipe, but I prefer to use Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate pieces instead. I think they have more of a rich flavor to them and I think they are worth the extra few bucks! RJ is coming home tonight late from a rough weekend in Iowa, I thought I would cheer him up with his favorite cookies when he comes home 🙂 I was also a bit bummed because I couldn’t eat any of them, I have had my wisdom teeth taken out and they are not ready for cookies yet, sad for me, not so much for my diet 😉

Holidays are around the corner and I will most likely be overloading this blog with desserts and the like, so stay tuned. I am also excited to show you my very first Thanksgiving feast that I will attempt to make myself (with the help of some good lookin’ military men) and let’s just hope it turns out in my favor!

So let’s start! Preheat your oven to 375º. Of course, for almost every baking item, you need to separate your dry ingredients with your wet ingredients. First, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

Next, mix together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until creamy, I used an electric mixer, but you can also use a spoon (just realize your arm will have a nice workout!) After, slowly add the eggs, one at a time until blended. Now slowly add the flour mixture little by little until gone and the cookie dough is well blended. I usually have to spoon the sides into the middle and mix again to make sure you mix ingredients evenly.

Spoon a tablespoon onto an un-greased baking sheet and set in the oven for 9-11 minutes, until the outside is a darker brown and the inside looks cooked through.

To save time, while the first batch is in the oven, get your next batch ready on a second baking sheet. That way when your first batch is done, you’ll be ready to put the second in right away! Once your first batch has cooled, place on a wire rack with parchment paper and get your next batch ready to go again. Keep doing this until your cookie dough is gone, or you can freeze your dough if you feel you have too much.

Look at allll of those cookies!! Cookie monster has got nothin’ on me!! He’ll be home shortly to devour these in one sitting though 🙂 I hope you enjoy this fun and easy recipe! Perfect to bring the kids and do a baking project with! Santa will love you for these and a glass of milk on Christmas Eve too 😉

What you need:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-2 cups of your favorite semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup of chopped nuts (optional, I ex-nayed these for mine)