Thursday, January 9, 2014

Classic Sugar Cookies

My little boy turned 2 yesterday. It's hard to believe how quickly the time flies! So a recipe of sugar cookies just waiting to be turned into "Thomas" cookies seemed like the perfect way to celebrate. (If you have a toddler boy, you know exactly which "Thomas" I am referring to.) This recipe has been around my family since I was born and who knows where it actually came from originally. But it is definitely a good one. I've updated it a bit (crisco! bleh!) so I hope you enjoy this tasty cookie. It can be cut into any shape for every holiday of the year. Valentines day, Halloween, Easter, Christmas, St. Patrick's Day - This recipe gets a lot of use around my house!

You probably already have everything you need for this recipe which makes it even more convenient. Just raid your pantry and you should be good to go. 
Start by beating the softened butter. (Yes, it is important for it to be softened to room temperature - even when I try to use the microwave, the cookies never turn out as well. Just pull it out of the fridge when you get up, and take the time to let it soften while you shower, have that cup of coffee, and maybe run some morning errands) 

Anyways, dump in the softened butter, sugar, and vanilla and beat well. Then add the egg and beat until light and fluffy. Blend in the milk.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking powder. 

Then slowly add in to the buttery mixture beating well. 

Dump that delicious dough onto some plastic wrap and wrap it up tight! Then pop it in the fridge and let it chill for at least 1 hour. (Another one of those annoying rules like the softened butter that is oh, so important - without chilling it, your cookies will "splat" while baking and lose their great cookie cutter shape.)

And wait.......patiently........

Ok good! Get the oven preheated to 375 degrees. Now the fun part. Use just half of the dough at a time and keep the other half in the fridge so it stays cold. Roll it out on a floured surface to about 1/4" thick.

Choose your cookie cutter and press away! Lay them out on parchment paper, or lightly spray a pan with non-stick spray. 

Pop them in the oven for just 6-8 minutes. They will cook quickly so don't go far! They are done when the edges barely begin to brown. 

Let them cool completely before frosting them. Then whip up your favorite recipe of Royal Icing and do crazy. Happy decorating!

Sugar Cookies
(24 cookies)
  • ⅔ cup Softened Butter
  • ¾ cup White Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Egg
  • 4 tsp Milk
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 ½ tsp Baking Powder
  • ¼ tsp Salt

1. Beat together the softened butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the egg and beat until light and fluffy. Add the milk and blend it in.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. Add the dry ingredients in with the buttery mixture and blend together.
4. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour.
5. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4" thick and cut with your favorite cookie cutter. Bake at 375 degrees for 6-8 minutes. Cool before frosting.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mini Cinnamon Rolls

This post is to me a combination of several of my favorite things right now: breakfast foods, make ahead and freeze, and "mini." Somehow I am able to feel much more guilt-free if I am eating just a tiny bite-sized version of my food. (Does it matter if I then eat 5 or 6? Who's counting!)

I used my trusty bread-maker for this but if you don't have a bread machine, feel free to modify the recipe and use without!
Combine the milk and the butter in a microwave-safe container and warm it up to melt the butter. You are aiming for a temperature between 110-120 degrees so the yeast can do it's magical thing. If it's too hot, just leave it out for a few minutes to cool down. 

Add the milk, butter, vanilla and egg to the machine first. Then add the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. 

Set the machine on a dough setting and let it go! You want a setting that mixes it and let's it complete 1 rise cycle. Enjoy the next hour and a half of wonderful wait time. Do laundry. Clean the kitchen. Or sit by the window with a cup of coffee and enjoy catching up on TV shows like I am doing. It's the little things in life, right?

Once it is all done, punch it down and let it rest while you sprinkle some flour on the counter. 

Roll it out into a long, skinny rectangle. Since you are going for mini's you want that extra length to the sides. (For normal-size rolls, go for more of a balanced rectangle instead of the above shape.)

Smear some softened butter all over it. Don't skimp! Give it a nice, thick coat. 

In a separate bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. 
Then sprinkle it evenly over the dough!

Then roll it up and slice about every inch. I ended up with a total of about 20 rolls. 

Spray a glass baking dish with non-stick spray and then lay out the rolls with a little bit of space between them. You want to give them space to rise a bit in the oven. Pop them in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes. until they have a nice golden brown color. 

Voila! You can enjoy a tasty treat without feeling the intense guilt of an enormous, gooey cinnamon roll. If you are an icing person, feel free to whip up a cream cheese frosting, or if you want something a little lighter, try this easy maple icing! 

Just mix up 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and 2 tablespoons of milk. If you want the consistency thicker or thinner, feel free to add more sugar or milk as needed. Drizzle or spread over the top. 

If you want to freeze them and reheat throughout the week, just wrap each one in wax paper and then put them in a freezer bag. They make a great treat for these cold, wintry mornings. 

Mini Cinnamon Rolls
(Yield: 20)
  • ½ cup Milk
  • 1 Egg
  • ¼ cup Butter
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups Bread Flour
  • ¼ cup Sugar
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 2 ½ tsp Yeast
  • ¼ cup Softened Butter
  • ½ cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Cinnamon
1. Put milk and butter in a microwave safe container and warm to between 110 and 120 degrees.
2. Place milk, butter, egg and vanilla in the bottom of the bread machine.
3. Then add flour, sugar, salt and yeast on top. Set the machine on a dough cycle.
4. After the dough has completed one rise, punch it down and let it rest on the counter while you mix together the cinnamon and brown sugar. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
5.  Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Aim for a long, skinny rectangle! Then spread 1/4 cup of softened butter evenly over it.
6. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mix over the top and then roll up the dough. Slice it every inch or so and lay the slices in a greased baking pan.
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
8. Serve warm, add icing, or freeze as desired!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Make Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches

Make Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches:

Happy New Year!

I am sure many of you are off and running with your new year resolutions, though from the looks of Facebook, it seems that resolutions are "out" this year and instead, a dedication to being in-the-moment and enjoying the little things in life, seems to be the focus of many. Well, whether you are looking to simplify OR get a healthier start to every day, these breakfast sandwiches are perfect for you! You can make a tray each weekend, freeze them, and simply use them as you need them, as they reheat easily in the microwave. They are also 100% customizable so you can use whatever ingredients you or your family likes best. I just used what was in my fridge for these ones. Yummy!

Bacon is my topping of choice as I get to enjoy the bacon in the sandwich, and can use the bacon grease as I cook everything else! But my husband also likes canadian bacon, sausage, ham, or any other meat as an add-on. Anyways, start with that tasty bacon and throw it in a pan on medium heat. Cook it until it is as crispy as you like! Place the bacon on paper towels and pour off *most* of the grease. (or all if you are feeling particularly healthy today) Add the diced onions, kielbasa, and mushrooms to the pan and cook until the onion is soft (about 3 minutes.) 

In a separate bowl, crack 6 eggs, and then add in the items from the stove, the green onions, and your cheeses. 
Whisk it together and add salt and pepper to taste. Grease a 6 tin extra large muffin pan. A regular size muffin pan might work but will give you very tall, skinny eggs! It might be tricky to bite into that sandwich. :) Spoon in the eggy mixture evenly into the pan. 
Bake for 12-15 minutes at about 350 degrees. You will know they are done when the middle of each egg puffs up a bit. Meanwhile...

Open up the English muffins and lay them out on a pan. I actually set a cooling rack on top of a baking rack to allow the bottoms to heat up as well. Then I add a thin layer of spray butter to each for some added flavor. This is totally optional but we enjoy it! You can also wait until they are toasted and then add spreadable butter if you prefer. Once the eggs come out...
...turn your oven to broil and slide in the English muffins. Don't leave them in too long or they will burn! Check them after 2-3 minutes. 
**If you are going to freeze the sandwiches, then take the eggs out of the pan and flash freeze them right away. I just lay them out on a plate and throw them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes while I wait for the muffins and do some light clean up on my kitchen.
Then, just lay everything out and start stacking your sandwiches! I like to add a small piece of cheese to the top just so it melts in the microwave when I reheat it. **If freezing then wrap each sandwich in wax paper and put in a ziplock bag. They freeze well for at least a month - I haven't tried longer! To reheat, you can either pull it out the night before and put it in the fridge (My husband's plan) or just take it out in the morning because you forgot the night before (my plan.) If it is still frozen-ish it might need about a minute, and if not, 30 seconds should do. Voila! A tasty breakfast for every day this week. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Ok, I am not even a huge supporter of the pumpkin spice craze, but I have become obsessed with these "cupcakes" very quickly! I was inspired by my pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and figured, how hard could it be to create? Also, the cupcakes themselves are not terribly sweet so I think without the frosting, they would make a tasty muffin if you'd rather avoid the cream cheese frosting. I went for the mini cupcake version to keep me from eating huge amounts, though I think it's more of an excuse to eat more. Oh well! Once you have a bite you will love them too. 

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes 
(12 cupcakes or 24 mini cupcakes)
For Cupcakes 
1 1⁄2 c. Flour 
1 1⁄2 tsp. Baking Powder 
1⁄2 tsp. Baking Soda 
1 tsp. Cinnamon 
1⁄2 tsp. Cloves 
1⁄4 tsp. Ginger 
1⁄4 tsp. Nutmeg 
8 tablespoons Butter 
1 c. Sugar 
2 Eggs 
3⁄4 c. Pure Pumpkin, (half a can) 
1 tbsp. Honey 
1⁄4 c. Hot water 

For Maple Cream Cheese Frosting 
4 tbsp. Butter 
6 oz. Cream Cheese 
1⁄4 c. Maple Syrup 
4 c. Powdered Sugar 
1⁄2 tsp. Vanilla Extract


Maple Buttercream Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 
1 cup confectioner’s sugar 
1 cup maple syrup 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt 

1. For Cupcakes/Muffins:
2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg in a bowl.
3. In a mixer beat room temperature butter with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add sugar and continue to blend. Add eggs and pumpkin and mix until combined. Add honey and hot
4. Slowly add in flour mixture to other ingredients on a low mixing speed.
5. Spoon batter into lightly greased muffin liners and bake in oven at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes for mini cupcakes and 20-25 minutes for regular cupcakes. Let cool completely before

For Cream Cheese Frosting:
Combine butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and maple syrup in mixing bowl and beat for at least 2 minutes. Decorate cupcakes with frosting and a light sprinkle of cinnamon or cloves if desired.

For Maple Buttercream Frosting:

Cream softened butter with the paddle attachment of your stand mixer or beat well with your hand mixer until the butter has lightened in color, about 3 minutes. Add confectioner’s sugar and incorporate fully. Turn your mixer onto high speed to make sure the sugar is well incorporated and to lighten the mixture. Reduce the speed of your mixer and add maple syrup, vanilla extract, and salt. Turn your mixer back onto high speed and beat for about 30 seconds to lighten. Taste the buttercream to make sure it has the flavor you prefer, if you would like more maple flavor, add maple flavoring 1 teaspoon at a time until it has reached the flavor you prefer. You may need to incorporate additional sugar to have your buttercream at the proper consistency.

**I prefer the buttercream frosting as the maple flavor is much more present. However, if you are a huge fan of cream cheese frosting, then by all means, use that. It is also delicious! Just a little less maple-y. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Apple Ice Creamy Treat!

I love fall. LOVE. And it is officially fall the day grocery stores fill up with bags and bags of apples. You know that moment. I begin dreaming of everything I can possibly make with apples! This week alone has featured apple pie, sliced apples every day, pork chops with apple chutney, and this evening's amazing dessert - vanilla ice cream with a quick apple topping. I made up this dessert a few years ago, and somehow between December and August, I manage to forget about it entirely. Then, one evening in autumn I am struck by how much I miss this tasty treat. My best description is just apple pie filling dumped on top of ice cream - except it only takes 10 minutes to make. Instant yummy!

Start with a nice, crispy apple. Pick your favorite type! Peel it and dice it up. Nice small pieces help it cook more quickly.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat and then toss in the apples. Let them cook in the butter for about 2 minutes and then add in 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, and 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg. Stir together and let it simmer about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. The extra time helps the sugar caramelize giving it some extra flavor!

Dish up 2 bowls of vanilla ice cream, and spoon the apples over the top. Enjoy!

Apple Ice Cream Topping
(2 servings)
  • 1 Apple
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • ¼ cup Brown Sugar
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp Ground Cloves

1. Peel, core, and dice up the apple.
2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add apples and let it cook for 2 minutes.
3. Add brown sugar and spices and stir occasionally while it cooks another 8 minutes.
4. Serve hot over vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chipotle Chicken Sliders

I know I am occasionally prone to exaggeration, but trust me when I say that tonight's dinner may have been my favorite meal I have ever made...ever. I borrowed the recipe for these sliders from a fellow food blogger - simply scratch - and I do not regret it for a moment. If you have any affinity for chipotle flavor, these are a MUST MAKE; as in go to the store now and buy the ingredients and make them now.

They took me maybe 10 minutes to put together so there is no fancy effort required. I used 1/4 cup minced cilantro, 1 lb ground chicken, 2 minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, 1 tsp of the adobo sauce from the can, 1 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp onion powder, 3/4 tsp garlic powder, and a sprinkle of pepper. I often modify recipes, but this one needed no help! Combine all ingredients in a bowl and use fingers to mix together. (Who doesn't love that slightly disgusting and wonderful feeling!) I was able to form about 8 slider size burgers out of the meat. Then I just tossed them on the grill for 5 minutes on each side, and added some cheddar cheese when I flipped them. They were incredibly juicy and amazing! I added avocado to the top of mine, and Alex used ketchup. Just pick your favorite burger toppings, pile them on, and enjoy every last bite.

If you want to try out the shoestring fries, feel free to give them a whirl as well. I assumed they'd be a pain but they were remarkably simple once I stopped fighting with my mandolin. That is the best trick I can offer. Use a mandolin to slice 2 potatoes very thin. Then slice those slices into skinny fries. Toss them with 3 tbsp olive oil and lay them out on 2 well-oiled baking pans. Bake at 425 degrees for 18-20 minutes turning and shifting the fries a few times while cooking. Once they are done, lay them out on wax paper to cool and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Piece of cake! Or potato...Or whatever....

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Apple Crisp

After our tasty salmon dinner I had a craving for something simple and sweet, so I decided to make a mini apple crisp for 2. I kept it quick and simple. I sliced one apple and tossed it with a little cinnamon. Then I mixed up 2 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tbsp flour, 2 tbsp oatmeal, a sprinkle of cinnamon, a sprinkle of nutmeg, and 1 tbsp of butter. I crumbled it together, sprinkled it on the top, and baked it at 350 for 35 minutes. Simple and delicious!

 We added a little ice cream to the top but by that point, we were too hungry for more pictures. Yum!