Monday, July 29, 2013

Funky Flower Cookies

Here are some cookies I made for the church secretary, who recently had heart surgery.  Hopefully they'll cheer her up and make her feel a little better. :-)

They're not the same old flowers I usually do, but they're growing on me.

That's all for today.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Most Excellent Roll-Out Sugar Cookies

Why yes, I am a child of the 80's.  Why do you ask?

It dawned on me recently that we've never made roll-out sugar cookies together here on the blog.  So let's get to it!

Here are the ingredients we'll be using:

I found vanilla bean paste at The Anderson's last week.  Go figure.  I also found rose extract.  Who knew The Anderson's had hard-to-find flavorings?

Anyhoo, cream the butter and sugar until it's fluffy.

In order to save time, while the sugar and butter are getting to know each other, I get the dry ingredients ready.  Mix them all together in a medium bowl and give it a good stir with a whisk.

Add the sour cream, egg and vanilla (or vanilla bean paste in this case) to the butter and sugar.

Just dump it all in.  Mix it well.

I love the little specs of vanilla bean.

Now dump in the dry ingredients.

And stir until it's all incorporated.

Looks kind of sticky and unmanageable, doesn't it?  Fear not, looks can be deceiving.  Here is where I use my silicone spatula to pat the dough into a nice ball.  Or rectangle, whatever.

Now you have two options.  Either wrap it in plastic cling-wrap and throw it in the fridge for a day or five, or roll and bake immediately.  The cookies will spread if the dough isn't cold, so I always put my trays of cut cookies into the freezer for about five minutes before I bake them.

This is a standard as-the-recipe-is-written batch of dough.  I almost always double the batch because I have issues and for some reason I'm not happy unless I have vast quantities of cookies to dispose of.  But this makes a nice, manageable number of cookies.  It really depends on the size of the cutters you use, of course, so it's hard to say exactly how many you'll get.  Anywhere from three to five dozen, depending.

Decorate with your favorite royal icing or glaze and you've got a special treat!  Hubby prefers these naked. They're soft and not too sweet without icing.  I like to mix up the flavors, but lemon is my favorite. You can use whatever you like. Recipe adapted from here.

Soft Sugar Cookies:

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract (or flavoring of choice)
1/2 cup sour cream

- Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Meanwhile, in a separate bowl mix dry ingredients and whisk to combine.

- Add egg, flavorings and sour cream to butter and sugar.  Stir until combined.

- Add dry ingredients and stir until combined.

- Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1-5 days, or immediately roll dough 1/4 inch thick and cut out cookies. Place cookies 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets and chill. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges.

Well, that's all for today.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ninja Bread Men!

OK, these are old-ish, too.  We saw the Pioneer Woman feature these cutters on her blog back in 2010, and immediately ordered a set.  Because ninja are awesome.

To celebrate the boy getting his temporary black belt in Taekwondo, here are some ninja (remember, according to Lego Ninjago, "ninja" is both singular and plural).  I didn't think of making them for his class until it was too late.  D'oh!  They would have been so perfect.  But the instructors do get a plate full every Christmas, so they're getting used to them.

I've improved my technique since making these, but they're still super cute.  I mean, really, who doesn't love ninja?  (Except maybe samurai.)

Well, that's all for today.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cross-Stitch Birthday Cake

Well, because it's summertime, there's not a whole lot of baking going on around here right now.  I can feel it coming on, though, so I'll have new stuff soon.  In the meantime, enjoy the birthday cake I made for my mom a few years ago.

I don't often make a dedicated cake for my mom.  She and my brother practically share a birthday (they're six days apart), so usually it's a combined cake.  But this was a milestone, so she got her own cake!

Vanilla-almond cake with vanilla buttercream and fondant decorations (except for the buttercream roses).  Mom was an avid cross-stitcher back in the day, so this was appropriate, I think!

I was pretty pleased with how the embroidery hoop turned out.

I found out later there are molds for the scissors and impression mats for the cross-stitch fabric.  Both things would have been nice to know at the time, but it all worked out.

That's all for today.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Black Raspberry Pie

Hello!  I hope everyone had a fun-filled Independence Day!  It rained most of the day here, but it wasn't a downpour or anything, just enough to be inconvenient.  But the boy and hubby were happy it wasn't scorching like it usually is. :-)

Anyhoo, we made turkey burgers and corn on the cob on the grill. And I made deviled eggs.  A picnic must around our house.  We also had some leftover Texas Caviar sitting around so we ate that, too.  Yum.

But then there was the question of dessert.  I haven't eaten sugar since our juice fast, but the hubby and kids aren't sticking to the healthy thing quite as closely.  So they wanted dessert.

On that note, my neighbors' black raspberry bushes have completely taken over the back corner of my yard.  The kids like to go out and eat the berries right off the bushes.  I like to bring a few berries in every year and make raspberry buttercream to put on dark chocolate cupcakes (amazing, btw).  But I didn't want to make icing this year, for obvious reasons. So what to do?

Lately the girl has been asking for a raspberry pie (she calls them blackberries...she's confused) because she's never had one.  Personally, I don't care for berry pies because of the seeds.  But because we have so many raspberries right now, I decided to make a pie for her.

Sorry again for the lousy photo.  By the time the pie was done it was dusk.  And my camera wasn't charged, so I used the phone.  And my counter top is mustardy yellow, which doesn't help.

But the pie came out really nice. I was afraid it would be runny, but it wasn't.

The girl said it was the best pie ever.

She's enthusiastic and says that about a lot of things.

However, I caught the boy licking his plate. Literally. Licking. His. Plate. So I guess it was pretty good after all.

I had a very small slice.  It was good.  The seeds were annoying, but they weren't as bad as I thought they would be.

Anyway, here's the recipe.  I didn't take it from one source, so I can't reference.  It's sort of an amalgamation of several different recipes I found floating out on the web.

Black Raspberry Pie
1 recipe double crust pie pastry
4-5 cups fresh black raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbs butter


-Preheat oven to 425 F

-Roll out half of the pie pastry and line the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. 

-Gently mix berries, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour and salt in a medium bowl until well-blended.  Pour into prepared pie shell.

-Squeeze 1/2 lemon over the berries in the shell.  Dot with butter and top with the remaining pie crust.  Cut vents in the crust to allow steam to escape. Brush the top crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar.  

-Put in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 375 F and bake and additional 20-25 minutes, being sure that the crust does not over-brown.

-Serve with vanilla ice cream if you have some.

Anyhoo, that was all.  It was pretty easy.  The pie wasn't super-sweet, so you can up the sugar if you're into that kind of thing. You could probably even get away with using less, if your berries are sweet; just use a little less flour.

Well, that's all for now.