Decorated Sugar Christmas Cookies
I love baking Christmas cookies; especially sugar cookies. There are so many fun cookie cutters … I just love Mr. & Mrs. Claus and the traditional colors of Christmas. These cookies were decorated with Royal Icing. I taught myself to decorate cookies with Royal Icing several years ago. I read a lot of blogs on how to decorate and found Sweet Sugar Belle to be a very talented cookie decorator with a lot of tutorials and great tips! There is still time … so go ahead and get your supplies and get your sugar cookies and mad decorating skills on, put on some Christmas music and have fun!
This recipe for sugar cookies is really good – the dough doesn’t spread when baking and the cookies are perfect! Sometimes I omit the almond flavoring and just double up the vanilla. Always use the best ingredients possible when baking … it makes a difference!
Kittencal’s Buttery Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter, softened (no substitutes)
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I use Madagascar Vanilla)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
- For cookies; in a large bowl combine butter with sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond extract; beat using an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy.
- In another bowl combine the flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually stir into the butter mixture until well blended.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.
- Set oven to 400°F.
- Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (do not grease cookie sheets use parchment paper only)
- On a very lightly floured surface roll out the dough into about 1/4-inch thickness.
- Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters.
- Place cookies 2-inches apart on cookie sheet.
- Bake 8-9 minutes (oven temperatures vary so keep an eye on the cookies)
(I do not use the icing recipe that come with this cookie recipe.)
I spent this week-end baking and decorating sugar cookies for Easter. I usually make cookies for everyone in the office during Christmas time and this past Christmas slipped by without decorating any sugar cookies. This year everyone is getting Easter cookies.
The recipe I use can be found in this post Sugar Cookie Recipe. If you’ve never decorated sugar cookies with royal icing I encourage you to give it a try. It’s really not hard, it’s fun and the cookies are adorable. There are several sites on line that give step by step instructions on decorating with Royal Icing. Enjoy!
Black Raspberries remind me of summer … summer in Vermont where I grew up. If I close my eyes I can see the fields and feel the grass on my bare feet and smell summer in the air. Black raspberries/black berries grew wild on large bushes in a field near my house. I was young, with not a care in the world, except to pick black raspberries and plop the sun ripened berries into my mouth one after the other.
Sigh … I am not as young any more and now I live in Ohio where black raspberries do not grow wild near my house and I cannot pick them for free. I did, however, find a wonderful berry farm about 45 minutes from my house and the black raspberries were delicious … and yes, I still plopped them into my mouth … one after the other.
I picked enough berries to make my first ever Black Raspberry Pie. WHY have I never made this pie before. Bursting with fresh black raspberries and few ingredients, this pie way exceeded my expectations; which just goes to prove my saying that the simplest things in life bring the most pleasure. ENJOY!
Old Fashioned Black Raspberry Pie
- Double Crust (Your favorite pie crust recipe)
- 4 or 5 cups fresh or frozen and partially thawed black raspberries
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 6 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- Dash of salt
PREPARE recipe for double crust pie. Roll out dough for bottom crust. Place in 9-inch pie plate. Press to fit without stretching dough. Trim even with pie plate. Do not bake
HEAT oven to 350ºF.
COMBINE blackberries, sugar, cornstarch, butter and salt. Toss gently. Spoon into unbaked pie crust. Moisten pastry edge with water.
ROLL out dough for top crust. Place onto filled pie. Trim 1/2-inch beyond edge. Fold top crust under bottom crust edge to seal. Crimp and flute edges. Cut slits in top crust or prick with fork to allow steam to escape.
BAKE 1 hour or until filling in center is bubbly and crust is golden brown. Cool to room temperature before serving
Recipe Source: http://www.crisco.com
Bakery Style Muffins with Red Raspberries and Dark Chocolate …. YES, PLEASE!
This was the best recipe find EVER for muffins! I’ve tried so many muffin recipes over the years to get that “bakery style muffin” to no avail … until now that is. These muffins are over the top … large and delicious. They are moist and bursting with fresh raspberries and dark chocolate – a match made in heaven! I liked these so much that I made 2 batches. I added more raspberries to the second batch … personal preference. Then I wrapped them up and put them in the freezer … just because I was tempted to have more than one. ENJOY!
- 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour (very careful not to over-measure)
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (50 grams) light brown sugar
- 1 cup (240 ml) milk, at room temperature (I prefer buttermilk)
- ½ cup (120 ml) canola/vegetable oil (or melted coconut oil)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup (120 grams) dark chocolate chips, (or semi-sweet)
- 1 and ¼ cup (215 grams) fresh raspberries*
- coarse sugar
Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Spray jumbo muffin pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl, gently toss together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix until all dry ingredients are combined – a 20 second toss to disburse everything together. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until combined. Mix in milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Mixture will be pale and yellow. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix everything together by hand. *Avoid over-mixing,* which will produce tough, dry muffins. Gently mix until all the flour is off the bottom of the bowl and no big pockets of flour remain. The batter will be extremely thick and somewhat lumpy. Fold in the chocolate chips, then *very gently to avoid them from leaking their color,* fold in the raspberries.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling all the way to the top. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake at 425F degrees for 5 minutes. Keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce oven temperature to 375F and continue to bake for 25-26 minutes until tops are lightly golden. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Muffins taste best fresh the same day. Store muffins at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
What is growing in your garden this year? One of the things I am picking is garlic scape (those cool green spiral thingies that grow out of your garlic plant pictured above). I am also picking sugar and snap peas and radishes.
Grow garden …grow
If you are growing garlic don’t miss out on picking these garlic scapes. Garlic scape are milder in taste than garlic and are awesome stir fried in a pan with other vegetables, made into garlic scape pesto, or as I just discovered, made into Garlic Scape Hummus.
Garlic Scape Humus
1/2 cup chopped garlic scapes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon sea salt
Ground black pepper (to taste)
1 can (15-ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
¼ cup olive oil
1. In the bowl of a food processor, process the garlic scapes, lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper until finely chopped, scraping the sides as needed.
2. Add the chickpeas and process to a rough puree (the chickpeas will be just about completely mashed).
3. With the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil and process until smooth. Check the consistency; if it is still thick and paste-like, you can add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water to thin it out a bit. Taste, and add more salt and pepper, if desired. Serve with your favorite vegetables, pita chips, etc.
Now don’t say I didn’t warn you … if you make these home-made pita chips you will never ever buy them in the store again. You will tell yourself “I’m only going to have one more” … after having had about 10… they are that good and super easy.
Homemade Pita Chips
3 pitas, cut into 8 wedges
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut pitas into 8 wedges. Pour olive oil into a bowl and add garlic, salt and pepper. Brush pita chips olive oil and garlic mixture. Arrange pita chips on baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
Recipe courtesy of The Neelys – FoodNetwork
If you’re looking for an easy appetizer that looks elegant and tastes delicious … these Asian Chicken Cups are all that! An added bonus is that they are fairly healthy. You can sub out the mayo for light mayo and you have a low fat, healthy appetizer. ENJOY!
Sesame chicken wonton cups
To make ahead: Can be prepared through step 3 up to 6 hours in advance.
- 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
- cooking spray
- 24 wonton wrappers, about 6 oz.
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari sauce
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- ½ cup thinly sliced snow peas
- ½ cup shredded carrot
- ½ cup thinly sliced scallions
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil and/or cilantro
- black sesame seeds for garnish, optional
- Place chicken breast in a medium skillet and cover with cold tap water. Place over high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness of the meat. Remove the chicken and let cool. Cut chicken into small cubes.
- Meanwhile, Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat two 12 cup mini muffin tins with cooking spray. Cut corners off wonton wrappers to make an octagonal shape. Gently press wrapper down into each cup. Lightly spritz wrappers with cooking spray. Transfer the pans to the oven and bake until the wrappers are starting to turn golden brown and are crispy and bubbling, 10 to 14 minutes. Let cool completely.
- Whisk tahini, soy or tamari, maple syrup and mayonnaise in a medium bowl until smooth. Stir in the chicken and refrigerate until cold, 40 minutes to 1 hour.
- Stir snow peas, carrot, scallions and herbs into chicken mixture. Divide chicken salad among wonton cups, about 2 scant tablespoons each. Garnish with sesame seeds, if using. Serve immediately.
Be prepared for a taste sensation. I never expected this flavor explosion as I took my first bite … this one is a keeper! ENJOY!
Moroccan Lamb Kabobs with Orange Couscous
Serving Size = 2 – 3
- About 2 lbs leg of lamb, fat removed
- 2 onions, cut into big pieces
- 4 metal skewers
- (optional: 1 bell pepper, cut into large pieces)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika (Hungarian sweet)
- Pinch of cayenne
- 1/8 teaspoon or so of cinnamon
- Pinch of allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1/8 – 1/4 cup of oil (extra virgin olive oil)
Serving Size = 3 – 4
- 1 box of couscous
- 1 1/2 cups orange juice
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 – 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (optional)
- Salt, pinch
- Cut lamb into about 2-inch pieces. Chop the onion and bell pepper (optional) into roughly the same size. Mix together the next 13 ingredients (shouldn’t be as thick as a paste, but don’t make it too runny either) and then pour over the lamb. Massage into the meat and set aside for about an hour (I’ve cooked immediately though and it still works). I leave it out of the fridge because I want the lamb to come up to about room temperature.
- Take the skewers and start with a piece of onion, a piece of bell pepper if you’re using it, a piece of lamb, then onion again and so on. I place an onion on the end when done.
- Heat the outdoor grill over medium high and cook to desired doneness (roughly 10 – 15 minutes). Remember to turn it to cook all sides.
- Start the couscous by bringing the orange juice, water, salt, and cilantro to a boil. Stir in the couscous, cover and remove from heat. Leave for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. It’s now ready to serve.