Sugar Cookies – Decorated for Christmas

Looks like I’ve caught the sugar cookie fever!  I tried decorating sugar cookies with royal frosting for the 1st time the other week and enjoyed it so much I made another batch this weekend!  Put on some Christmas music and give it a try!  You can find the recipe  and instructions here.  Happy Holidays!

Cranberry Orange Nut Bread

This is perfect for a brunch or any time for that matter.  It is not super sweet and quite refreshing after all the sweets that have surfaced this holiday season!  Moist and delicious.  Enjoy!



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup margarine, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in orange zest, cranberries, and pecans. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together margarine, sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in orange juice. Beat in flour mixture until just moistened. Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until the bread springs back when lightly touched. Let stand 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Wrap in plastic when completely cool.

Homemade Ravioli – All Dressed for Christmas

I love experimenting with pasta – so for the holidays I made homemade ravioli in Christmas colors.  I used spinach to create the green dough and beets to make the red dough. You can view my post here to see how I make the stripes.  The recipe I use for all my pasta is here. It’s really quite festive, don’t you agree?  It can be stuffed with anything; this particular ravioli was filled with sausage filling.

Sausage Ravioli Filling (Source:  Better Homes & Gardens)

Makes: 6 servings Yield: 1 cup filling (enough for 6 servings)


  • 4 ounces bulk Italian sausage
  • 3/4 cup packed fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh sage or 1/4 teaspoon dried sage, crushed
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated whole nutmeg


1. In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat until brown, using a wooden spoon to break up sausage as it cooks. Stir in spinach; cook and stir until wilted. Drain off fat. If mixture is too coarse to stuff ravioli, transfer to a food processor or blender; cover and process or blend with several on/off pulses until chopped.

2. In a medium bowl, combine egg yolk, ricotta cheese, sage, and nutmeg. Stir in sausage mixture. Cover and chill until needed.

Tuxedo Brownie Cups

Craving chocolate?  This is the recipe for you.  These little brownie cups are decadent, chocolate filled little cups of pleasure! 


Tuxedo Brownie Cups – Source:  Pampered Chef


   Nonstick cooking spray with flour
1   pkg (18-21 oz or 450 g) fudge brownie mix (plus ingredients to make cake-like brownies)
2   square (1 oz/30 g) white chocolate for baking*
2   tbsp (30 mL) milk
8   oz (250 g) cream cheese, softened
1/4   cup (50 mL) powdered sugar
1   cup (250 mL) thawed, frozen whipped topping
1   pint small strawberries, sliced

*I substituted semi-sweet chocolate instead of the white chocolate – decadent double chocolate!!


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). Spray cups of Deluxe Mini-Muffin Pan with nonstick cooking spray with flour. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions for cake-like brownies. Fill wells of pan two-thirds full. Bake 14 minutes or until edges are set. (Do not overbake.) Remove pan from oven; immediately press tops of brownies to make indentations. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Remove brownies from pan; cool completely. Wash pan; repeat with remaining batter.
  1. Combine white chocolate and milk in large microwave-safe bowl; microwave on HIGH 1 minute. Stir until smooth; cool slightly. In large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar; mix well. Gradually stir in white chocolate mixture until smooth. Fold in whipped topping.


  1. Pipe cream cheese mixture into brownie cups; top with strawberries. Refrigerate 1-3 hours before serving.


Yield: 4 dozen brownie cups


Ultimate Sugar Cookies – Decorated for Christmas

I have a confession to make.  I’ve had sugar cookie envy for many, many years.  Year after year at Christmas time I made sugar cookies; they were not a pretty sight!  They tasted great but the icing was put on with a knife and decorated with sprinkles.  There is nothing wrong with that, except I always loved looking at pretty decorated sugar cookies and I didn’t know how to replicate them.  I lived with my envy of the beautiful decorated cookies that others made; until this year when I ventured into an unknown territory of royal icing, decorating tips, disposable pastry bags, and gel food coloring!  I owe it all to bloggers!  I found quite a few bloggers with step by step directions for decorating sugar cookies with royal icing.  I could hardly wait to try it out.  I discovered a few things:  I love decorating cookies, I especially love the end result; and decorating cookies like this definitely takes some time!  My first batch went terrifyingly slow … I won’t even tell you how many hours it took!!  The second batch, I cut my time down in half … phew … sigh of relief!  I had fun with it – I sat at the kitchen table, put some Christmas music on and away I went into a new adventure with royal icing.

I’ve been using this recipe for sugar cookies for year – we love them!

The Ultimate Sugar Cookie

3/4 cup Golden Crisco or Butter-flavored Crisco (shortening)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Coloured decorations or icing

Cream Crisco, sugar, eggs and vanilla in large mixer bowl at medium speed of electric mixer until light and creamy. combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture, mixing on low speed until well blended. Cover dough and chill 1 hour, if desired, for easy rolling. Preheat oven to 375°F. Roll half of dough at a time. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter, cut in desired shapes. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Roll leftover pieces. Sprinkle with coloured decorations or leave plain to decorate when cool. Bake at 375°F for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges are light brown. (Time will vary with cookie size.) Cool slightly, then remove to cooling rack.

Decorating with Royal Icing

The best directions I found were here at Annie’s Eats.  She details everything with pictures so it is easy to follow along – great job Annie!!  Thank you.

Royal Icing – Source:  Annies-Eats
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. meringue powder
5 tbsp. water

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes).  Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container.  This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing, and at this point it is still too stiff to use for decorating.  Add water a very small amount at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated.  Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping.  (Remember, if you are having any difficulty piping, it is still too thick.  Add a little more liquid and try again.)  Using a pastry bag, pipe around the edges of each cookie.  Let stand so the icing will set.  Make sure to keep the leftover icing covered at all times when not in use so that it does not begin to harden.

Once all the cookies have been edged, transfer some of the remaining icing to a separate air-tight container.  Thin out by incorporating a small amount of water at a time, until the icing drips off the spoon easily when lifted and then smooths in with that still in the bowl.  If you go too far and the icing is too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar to thicken it again.  Once the icing has reached the desired consistency, transfer it to a squeeze bottle (or a plastic bag with a hole in one corner), and flood the area surrounded by the piping on each cookie.  If it does not completely spread to the edges, use a toothpick to help it along.  Allow to set.

Use the remaining thicker icing for piping decoration as desired.  Gel icing color is best as it does not add a significant amount of liquid.  Liquid food coloring can be used as well – add powdered sugar as needed to compensate for any thinning that occurs.


Give it a try – you will love the results!

Gingersnap Cookies

My Dad loves Gingersnap Cookies.  I’ve never really liked Gingersnap Cookies, but then again, I only remember the store-bought cookies.  This recipe actually converted me, they are quite good.  I baked these to bring along for my Dad on our upcoming trip.

I found this recipe from another blogger, Jamie.  Check out her site – its fabulous!

Gingersnap Cookies

Time: 1 hour

Yield: about 36 cookies
1 c sugar
1 egg
3/4 c butter
1/4 c molasses

a pinch of cloves
2 1/2 tsp of ginger
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 c flour

1. In a large mixing bowl, or your stand mixer combine the sugar, egg and butter. Cream it all up until it’s nice and fluffy. Add the molasses and beat for about 1 more minute. If you are using a Kitchen Aid Mixer be sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to be sure all of the molasses gets incorporated.
2. In a separate bowl combine all other ingredients. Add this dry mixture to your creamed mixture and beat until combined.
3. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls…then roll the balls around in a bit of sugar. 
4. Place the balls on a sprayed cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 8 minutes, or until the cookies have cracks all along the tops. Baking these the right amount of time is important. Every oven is a bit different…so using the “crack” test is a useful little trick. Take the cookies out of the oven when you see cracks appear along the tops. Then let the cookies finish cooking on the pan. When they have set up a bit, move them to a cooling rack to finish cooling.