Thursday, January 29, 2015

celebration sugar cookies with sour cream frosting

 


I'm in the works of planning some Valentine's fun for our little ones . . . as well as birthday celebrations for three of our four children.

February is a fun and crazy, busy month for our family with birthdays on the 6th, 11th, AND the 21st. Every weekend in February is booked with a birthday celebration (smile!).





I'm planning two special birthday brunches . . . and one special birthday afternoon for our oldest daughter, Charley, who's turning 7 years old in a few short weeks.

She's in the First Grade now, so I thought it would be fun for her to bring cookies (instead of cupcakes) to her class to share with all her friends and classmates . . . and CELEBRATION sugar cookies came to mind!




I LOVE these yummy soft and chewy sugar cookies for many reasons . . . their sour cream frosting has a tender tang that makes them addictive . . . and the frosting can be tinted and then decorated to fit any kind of celebration . . . simple or fancy. Yummy and versatile!

I tinted the frosting pink and added large red heart sprinkles for a little Valentine's touch; and for our daughter's birthday, she'll decorate them with her favorite confetti sprinkles.

Happy Valentine baking, friends!




soft & chewy CELEBRATION sugar cookies
.     .     .     .     .     .
1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup vegetable oil 
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons water 
2 Eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 teaspoon salt 
5 1/2 cup all purpose flour 
.     .     .     .     .     .

Cream together the butter and sugars for 2-3 minutes. Add vegetable oil, water, and eggs. Mix until combined. 

Combine the dry ingredients and sift with a whisk. Slowly add to the butter mixture.

Mix until everything is combined.  Your dough should be tender, not sticky at all.

Roll golf ball sized balls of dough and place them on a cookie sheet.

Now its time to give them their signature rough edge.  Put 1/4 cup of sugar and a pinch of salt in a dish (this is in addition to the sugar and salt listed above.)  Stick the bottom of a glass in it.  This is going to be your cookie press.

  

Firmly press it into the center of your dough ball.  You want your dough to spill out over the sides of the glass.  If there is a lip its even better.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes.  

They should just barely be browning on the bottom.  Move cookies to a cooling rack.  

Spread frosting in the shallow well on top of the cookies. Adorn with sprinkles and enjoy!

sour cream frosting
.     .     .     .     .     .     .
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 C sour cream, room temperature
Approximately 1- 2 lb package of powdered sugar 
1 t salt
1/4 cup milk, plus more for thinning (if needed)
food coloring
.     .     .     .     .     .     .
Start by creaming together butter, sour cream, and salt.  
Slowly add powdered sugar.  
Add a splash of milk if it's too thick.   
Alternate this process until your frosting is the desired consistency.  
Add 1 drop of food coloring, and whip on high for 1 minute.
.     .     .     .     .     .     .






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Monday, January 26, 2015

curried pumpkin & wild rice soup

 


My husband cleaned out the pantry in an effort to make room for our waffle iron a few days ago; and while he was moving things around he noticed that I had extra cans of pumpkin.

Well, by the time he finished organizing a few of the selves, he brought me 10 cans of pumpkin.

TEN cans! Really? . . . Ten?

I remember buying more than usual last Fall, out of fear that I wouldn't be able to find any by Thanksgiving. (Yes, that actually happened to me a few years ago!)

Apparently, I bought a few too many . . . and so inspired this curried pumpkin soup.




It's soup season, so I turned to my personal cookbook and found one of my favorite curried soup recipes.  

It's so easy to prepare . . . and flavorful, too!

  



The homemade 'curry paste' and canned pumpkin make up the base of this warm spiced and tender sweet velvety soup . . . and the simple additions (like rice, peanuts, and chicken or medium-boiled eggs) add to its heartiness. 

Although this recipe calls for wild rice, I had black rice on hand - so that's what I used. I love it's hearty, chewy texture in soups and stews.

You can also add shredded chicken, but I prefer adding sliced medium-boiled eggs.  It might sound strange, but it's delicious!

Our Indian friends make a version of this soup with hard-boiled eggs, and we love it. 







So if you have an extra can, or two, of pumpkin sitting in your cupboard . . . consider making curried pumpkin soup for your family.  It's a delicious way to keep warm!

'Tis the season for soup!




curried pumpkin & wild rice soup
.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .
1/2 cup wild rice blend
1 Tablespoon golden or dark raisins
3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup roasted cashews, almonds or peanuts, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
One 15-ounce can pure pumpkin puree
fresh cilantro, chopped
4 medium-boiled eggs (optional)
.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Preparation
Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the rice, and simmer until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Strain and let cool.

Pulse 1/4 cup of the nuts, 3 Tablespoons vinegar, 1 Tablespoon raisins, 2 Tablespoons water, tomato paste, curry powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a food processor until a coarse paste forms, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the coarse paste, and cook, stirring frequently, until the oil begins to separate and the paste is brick red, 6 to 8 minutes. Add splashes of water if the paste sticks to the bottom of the pan at all.

Add the chicken broth, pumpkin puree, and 1 cup water, and whisk until blended. Bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally, and continue simmering until the soup has reduced and is slightly thicker than heavy cream, 30 to 40 minutes. Season with salt, and stir in about 3/4 of the cooked wild rice.

Divide the hot soup among 4 soup bowls. Top each with some of the remaining rice and 1/4 cup cashews, pepper flakes, fresh cilantro, and quartered medium-boiled eggs (*optional).

How to make medium boiled eggs . . .
Put the eggs in a saucepan and add enough cold water to cover them by about 1 inch. Set the pan over medium-high heat and as soon as the water reaches a brisk simmer, start timing. As the eggs cook, adjust the heat as needed to maintain a brisk simmer. (Though we talk about boiling eggs,  the fact is that cooking eggs in boiling water cracks the shell and makes the eggs tough and rubbery. A brisk simmer works much better.)


For medium boiled . . . briskly simmer eggs for 4-1/2 minutes. The yolk will be solid but still dark orange-yellow, moist, and dense in the middle. Beautiful and delicious quartered on a salad or in soup.




Come by for another great recipe using canned pumpkin, here


LET'S STAY in touch!





Sharing with . . . .

Stephanie Lynn, It's Overflowing, Twelve O Eight, Carrie This Home, Baking in Pajamas, Huckleberry Love, Dwellings, Smart Party Planning,  The Dedicated HouseMod Vintage LifeLori's Culinary Creations, Home Stories, StoneGableAn Extraordinary Day, I'm Not a Trophy Wife, Between Naps on the Front Porch, Rustic Refined,  Tumbleweed ContessaA Stroll Thru Life,Life With GarnishElizabeth & Co,  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Savvy Southern StyleThe Recipe CriticJanine HuldieCarolyn's Homework,  Fluster Buster   Designs by Miss Mandee,  Craftie Allie,  Wednesday morning The Blissful Bee,  The Newlywed Pilgrimage Chic California, Lamberts LatelyLive Laugh RoweSweet Bella Roos, The Charm of Home, From My Front Porch to ours, Delightsome Life.Posed PerfectionKatherine's CornerNancherrowThe Freshman Cook,  Jann OlsonHome  Maid SimpleAnderson + Grant,  Rooted in ThymeEveryday Enchanted Home, Pure Grace Farms A Dish of Daily Life, Bacon Time, Sunflower Supper Club, Tater Tots and Jello,  Cooking with CurlsMade from PinterestSimply Gloria


Thursday, January 22, 2015

chocolate shortbread cookies



I love sweets . . . and I bake, a lot.
And although I love sweets, it's the not-so-sweet treats that I love the most.



 


Scones, DARK chocolate (72%+) anything, shortbread, and simple sugar cookies make up a few of my TOP 5 favorite sweet treat.

So when I came across this recipe for chocolate shortbread in FOOD & WINE magazine a few years ago, I had to give it try.




And I'm so glad that I did because the recipe yields an amazing CHOCOLATE shortbread cookie. It's been my 'go to' recipe since discovering it.

They're rich with chocolate (scent & taste) . . . and have a SLIGHTLY tender - yet firm - buttery, shortbread texture.




I found this festive shredded paper and darling ARROW stamped linen bags at our local craft store, and thought that they would make the sweetest packaging for petite chocolate shortbread hearts.





They're also quite yummy on top of RASPBERRY SORBET . . . .





 . . . . and even crazy delicous made into chocolate & strawberry ice cream sandwiches! 


 


As with any shortbread recipe, HIGH QUALITY ingredients are a must.

So splurge a little on buying GOOD butter and even better cocoa powder. These ingredients make up the FLAVORS in the shortbread, so you want GOOD-tasting ingredients.

Happy baking, friends!
 



chocolate shortbread
.     .     .     .     .      .
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
3/4 teaspoon salt
.     .     .     .     .      .


Preparation
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter until creamy.

Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the vanilla, then beat in the cocoa on low speed. Beat in the flour and salt; the dough will be soft.

Divide the dough in half and place each half between 2 large sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick and transfer to 2 baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, at least 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Working with one piece of dough at a time, remove the top sheet of parchment and invert the dough onto a lightly floured work surface; remove the second sheet of parchment. Using a floured cookie cutter, stamp out cookies as close together as possible.

Transfer the cookies to parchment paper–lined baking sheets and bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until firm.

Let cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then, using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely. Reroll the scraps, and stamp out more cookies, chilling the scraps between batches.

Friday, January 16, 2015

dutch baby . . . an oven-baked pancake



Dutch baby . . . an oven-baked pancake!

Have you ever had one?

They're quite impressive with their sides that inflate into billowing PILLOWS while baking in the oven . . . and then slowly deflate after taking it out, its tender (bread pudding like) texture, and simple flavor.



GORGEOUS!




Ina Garten prepared a very similar oven-baked pancake, which she called Tri-berry Oven Pancakes, in one of her episodes called "Cooking with Friends" that originally aired in 2012.

She made four individual ones in small gratin dishes, and then topped them with strawberries, blackberries and blueberries. I loved the idea of making them when I saw the show, but I never got around to making them myself.




And then my sister-in-law made "Dutch Babies" for us during our Winter break a few weeks ago, and I loved them!

They're incredibly easy to prepare. Ridiculously easy, in fact. And their tender flavor makes them a perfect canvas for fresh fruit, powder sugar, and maple syrup . . . or savory sides, like herbed scrambled eggs and grilled sausage and onions.





Although I recommend baking your Dutch Baby in a cast iron skillet, you can also bake it in an 8- or 9-inch glass dish. 

I've baked them in both, and prefer a cast iron skillet, as its PUFFS are more dramatic, yields a better crust, and it cooks faster, too

I'm planning on baking several of them for our youngest daughter's 4th birthday BRUNCH next month. I can't wait to share this baked treasure with our family and friends!



  




dutch baby
oven-baked pancakes
.     .     .     .     .     .
3 large eggs
¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
 ¼ cup butter, salted
.     .     .     .     .     .

Preparation
Preheat oven to 425°.

Whisk eggs, milk, flour, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth.

Melt butter in a 10” skillet, preferably cast iron, in the oven.

Carefully pour pancake mixture over melted butter. Return pan to oven. 

Bake until pancake is puffed and golden brown around the edges and center is set but still custardy, 12–15 minutes.

Slice and serve with powdered sugar, maple syrup, and/or fresh fruit . . . or a savory side dish. Enjoy!

**If baking in a glass dish, add 3-5 minutes to baking time.




another oven-baked pancake recipe




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Sharing with . . . .

Stephanie Lynn, It's Overflowing, Twelve O Eight, Carrie This Home, Baking in Pajamas, Huckleberry Love, Dwellings, Smart Party Planning,  The Dedicated HouseMod Vintage LifeLori's Culinary Creations, Home Stories, StoneGableAn Extraordinary Day, I'm Not a Trophy Wife, Between Naps on the Front Porch, Rustic Refined,  Tumbleweed ContessaA Stroll Thru Life,Life With GarnishElizabeth & Co,  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Savvy Southern StyleThe Recipe CriticJanine HuldieCarolyn's Homework,  Fluster Buster   Designs by Miss Mandee,  Craftie Allie,  Wednesday morning The Blissful Bee,  The Newlywed Pilgrimage Chic California, Lamberts LatelyLive Laugh RoweSweet Bella Roos, The Charm of Home, From My Front Porch to ours, Delightsome Life.Posed PerfectionKatherine's CornerNancherrowThe Freshman Cook,  Jann OlsonHome  Maid SimpleAnderson + Grant,  Rooted in ThymeEveryday Enchanted Home, Pure Grace Farms A Dish of Daily Life, Bacon Time, Sunflower Supper Club, Tater Tots and Jello,  Cooking with CurlsMade from PinterestSimply Gloria





Wednesday, January 14, 2015

paperwhites and Winter decor at home



I FINALLY finished taking down our Christmas decorations yesterday! 

Yes, I know . . . it's mid- January; but I just wasn't ready to take everything down and put it away yet. 

I'm not sure what took me so long this year. 

Perhaps it was because we only recently returned from home from our trip, or maybe it was because I really enjoyed all the twinkling Christmas lights this year (even more than years past). 

There's something comforting about their warm glow that I love during the long Winter days and nights, especially when it's cold and rainy outside.

My pretty paperwhites are helping to fill the void though (smile).




I planted several paperwhite bulbs in mid-December, so that I would have flowers to enjoy in January . . . and I'm so glad that I did; because these pretty, petite flowers are bringing extra sunshine to these Winter days.


  


I planted them in several small clay pots (and in a few pewter bowls) so that I could display them in different rooms in our home.

It's my first year having so many, and I love it! They're so pretty that I could actually see planting more next year. I find their beauty quite refreshing in the absence of Christmas decorations. 





Do you decorate AFTER Christmas?

I decorate our home with simple Winter accents through January . . . 

.     .     .     .     .     .     .    
paperwhites
snowballs
French bread boards
white wool pom poms
lemon cypress trees
hot cocoa bar
lots of cozy blankets
twinkling tea lights
warm charcoal grays and linen
.     .     .     .     .     .     .  














 







Oh! We (adopted and) welcomed this little guy to our home about 4 weeks ago.  
      We named him Hans . . . and have been enjoying him immensely! He's a great addition to our little crew.





Wishing you warmth . . . 
during these calm & peaceful Winter days.



LET'S STAY in touch!





Sharing with . . . .

Stephanie Lynn, It's Overflowing, Twelve O Eight, Carrie This Home, Baking in Pajamas, Huckleberry Love, Dwellings, Smart Party Planning,  The Dedicated HouseMod Vintage LifeLori's Culinary Creations, Home Stories, StoneGableAn Extraordinary Day, I'm Not a Trophy Wife, Between Naps on the Front Porch, Rustic Refined,  Tumbleweed ContessaA Stroll Thru Life,Life With GarnishElizabeth & Co,  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Savvy Southern StyleThe Recipe CriticJanine HuldieCarolyn's Homework,  Fluster Buster   Designs by Miss Mandee,  Craftie Allie,  Wednesday morning The Blissful Bee,  The Newlywed Pilgrimage Chic California, Lamberts LatelyLive Laugh RoweSweet Bella Roos, The Charm of Home, From My Front Porch to ours, Delightsome Life.Posed PerfectionKatherine's CornerNancherrowThe Freshman Cook,  Jann OlsonHome  Maid SimpleAnderson + Grant,  Rooted in ThymeEveryday Enchanted Home, Pure Grace Farms A Dish of Daily Life, Bacon Time, Sunflower Supper Club, Tater Tots and Jello,  Cooking with CurlsMade from PinterestSimply Gloria





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