Iced Butter Cookies

Make-ahead Thanksgiving starts now. Why? How? The holiday isn’t even a full week away yet? It does when you need custom themed iced cookies as place cards at the table!

This recipe goes back to the early 1900s coming from my Great Grandma Nellie Bower. It is a classic. These cookies hold their shape; the recipe never fails and is a staple for cutout cookies all year round.

The dough yields enough for at least 2 dozen cookies. I tend to roll and cut the whole batch at once and freezing the cutouts. I cut parchment squares and as I cut the cookies, stack them with the layers of paper in between. They freeze well and you can pop them out to bake whenever you need them!

Butter Cookies
1 pound butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
6 cups flour

Set the butter out to bring it to room temperature. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs and extract, beating until smooth. Add the flour, one cup at a time.

Chill the dough. Once you’re ready, roll and cut the cookies.
Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes. Ice when cool, if desired.

Royal Icing
3 egg whites
Dash of salt
1 tsp cream of tarter
1 pound (3 3/4 cup) confectionary sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Whip the egg whites, salt and cream of tarter until stiff peaks form. Slowly add confectionary sugar and vanilla.

This is an excellent icing that hardens on the cookies. It spreads well with a spatula or pipes using a piping bag for design. Add or subtract the sugar depending on the consistency desired.

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The finished place cards!

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Cheesecake

I’ve never attempted a cheesecake before! In addition to the two and a half pounds of cream cheese, the only real thing I needed to purchase was a springform pan. We’ll see how this goes! Recipe will follow based upon the success of this very special birthday cheesecake!

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Fabulous and Classic Cheesecake

Crust:
5 tb unsalted butter, melted, plus room-temperature butter for pan
12 graham crackers (3×5 inch)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp course salt

Filling:
2 1/2 pounds bar cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tb fresh lemon juice
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 375°. Start by making the crust. Butter the springform pan and set aside. Using a food processor, pulse graham crackers until finely ground into crumbs. Stir in the melted butter, sugar and salt. Combine the mixture well and press into the bottom and 1 inch up the side of the pan. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until set. Let the crust cool and turn down the oven to 325°.

Boil a tea pot of water. I used my electric kettle! This will be used later.

With a mixer, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually add sugar until the mixture is creamed. Beat in lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. Add the eggs one at a time. Continuously scrap down the sides of the pan as you go. Beat in sour cream

Wrap the bottom of the springform pan in wide aluminum foil. Pour the filling over the graham cracker crust and place in a roasting pan. Now it’s time to use the boiling water; add it into the roasting pan until it comes about halfway up the side of the pan. Bake cheesecake until it’s just set on the center, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the water and let it cool 20 minutes. Run a knife along the edge, cooling completely. Cover and chill overnight before serving.

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Grandma’s Casserole

This is my ultimate favorite comfort food. I’ve made a couple of adaptations from my moms original recipe. If you can believe it, this is a figure friendly dish coming from Weight Watchers 1987. I’m normally not a fan of leftovers, but this is actually one dinner I look forward to heating up the next night. Enjoy!

“Grandma’s Casserole” Weight Watchers 1987

3 TB olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 pound ground lean turkey
2 TB pepper
2 TB salt
1 TB red pepper flakes
15 oz can tomatoes with liquid
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cup water
1 package (12 oz) very thin egg noodles
1 package (8 oz) light mozzarella cheese

Sauté onion and peppers in oil. Add turkey breast, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook until done. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce and water. (I like using canned stewed tomatoes with oregano and basil) Bring to a simmer, cooking 15 minutes.

Spray a 9×14″ pan with cooking spray. Cover the bottom with a thin layer of sauce and add the noodles atop. Spread the meat mixture over noodles and sprinkle on the cheese to finish.

Cover with foil and bake at 360° for 45 minutes or until noodles are cooked and mixture can be cut to serve.

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Bridal Shower Cupcake Cake

A coworker of mine is getting married! It’s tradition in the office to throw a shower. I decided to volunteer to bring the cake.  Usually a cake doesn’t get eaten entirely and sits around.  Cupcakes are easy to serve and require no portioning. I’ve seen quite a few “cakes” made out of cupcakes but had never done it.  I also was seeing zero how-to instruction online. I knew I wanted to make something in the shape of a bridal dress, as this is a bridal shower!

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One of the first questions that came to mind was how do I transport this to work? My best mate, Costco, came in handy.  I picked up a flat shallow box and wrapped it in wrapping paper, finishing it by lining the inside with tissue paper. I also needed to pre-determine the layout and estimate a number of cupcakes needed to make the dress. This dress takes about 31 cupcakes.

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*Note: keep the cat out of the box 😉

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Because of the quantity of cakes, I needed two batches of cupcakes.  I followed recipes from the Cake Doctor; making both a Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cupcake and Yellow Pudding cake.

 

I made all the cupcakes two days ahead of the party, laid out the dress, and wrapped them tightly in press and seal wrap.  Frosting came next! I love a good buttercream frosting.  Again, referencing the Cake Doctor, I whipped up a frosting to then pipe rosettes on each cupcake.

Because the intention is to make this look like a cake, you’ll want to the piping to run together.  This should look like one piped unit, rather than 30 individual cupcakes stuck together.  I’ll admit, that’s a big challenge.  I think the thicker you make your buttercream, the better. I had to make three batches of frosting.  Once piped, I added some edible pearls to create a sash on the dress. The final finishing touch was made with powdered sugar donut holes as diamond rings.  I’d searched the net for diamond clip art, printed and cut out the shapes, used double stick tape to attach them to toothpicks and affixed them to the donettes. From here, all that was left to do was transport to the office and enjoy!

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Meatball Lasagna

This is the easiest lasagna I think I’ve ever made. I used jar sauce, some fresh herbs, roasted vegetables, frozen beef meatballs and no bake lasagna noodles. Yum yum yum! The boys at the table had two helpings!

Meatball Lasagna
1 box no boil lasagna noodles
2 cups frozen beef meatballs
1 bunch fresh Italian leaf parsley
2 tablespoons basil
1 green pepper
1 sweet onion
1 large garlic clove
1/2 cup mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

Begin by coarsely chopping the pepper, onion, garlic and mushrooms. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 425° for about 20 minutes.

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Mix together in a small bowl the ricotta, mozzarella, 1/4 cup of Parmesan, parsley and basil. Set aside.

Place a third of the sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 glass dish. Add the roasted vegetables on top and then a double layer of the pasta noodles. Use another third of the sauce, the meatballs and the cheese mixture. Finish off by laying the remaining noodles, sauce and the last 1/4 cup Parmesan.

Cover and bake at 425° for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes.

 

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Summer Broccoli Salad

Tonight is pizza night! I always like a good salad to compliment the cheesy “za”. Salad on the side helps to not overindulge in those slices! As usual, I wasn’t feeling anything too basic. With what I had in the pantry and fridge this is what resulted!

Broccoli Chickpea Salad

4 cups broccoli florets
1 medium sweet Vidalia onion, sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 can drained and rinsed chickpeas
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 TB
2 TB lemon juice
1 TB Dijon mustard
1 TB white balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Blanche the broccoli and set aside. In a large saucepan heat two tablespoons of olive oil adding the sweet onion and cooking until translucent. Stir in garlic and pine nuts. Toss in the cooked broccoli, lemon juice, chickpeas and diced pepper. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together olive oil, vinegar and mustard. Pour over the salad and chill.

I decided to add one chopped romaine heart to the chilled salad before serving.

The above vinaigrette is my go-to for all cold summer bean salads!
Red wine vinegar works great in the dressing as well.

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Gender Reveal Cake

Thanks to Pinterest, we’re now all under tremendous pressure to make every life event that much more unique and notable.  One of these new “must haves” is the gender reveal for expecting parents.  I was asked to help out a girlfriend when it came time to share the sex of her baby to loved ones and of course I jumped right in.

Duncan Hines has made this very easy with their own line of “summer velvet cakes.”  I think they’ve been following Pinterest trends! I took the easy way out with this one, using a boxed cake.  I did use my favorite buttercream recipe, courtesy of my girl Martha Stewart!

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) of  unsalted butter, softened

6 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

In an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, begin to cream the butter.  Add in the vanilla while slowing mixing in the sugar.  Add milk bits at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

Of course no Pinterest project is finished without a catchy phrase.  I chose to pipe “Waddle it Be” and finished it off with sugared duck icing decorations by Wilton. Once cut, the cake reveals with pink color, it’s a …. GIRL!

Gender Reveal Cake

Gender Reveal Cake

Gender Reveal Cake

It’s a …. GIRL!

Turkey Lettuce Wraps

These are by far the easiest and tastiest lettuce wraps I’ve ever made. Well, I’ll admit, they’re the first I’ve ever made. I’ll go ahead and stick with this recipe; that’s a fact!

Turkey Lettuce Wraps
1 pound ground turkey
1 head bib lettuce
1 frozen package of Trader Joe’s Asian vegetables with sauce packet
2 TB soy sauce
2 TB sesame oil
1 clove garlic
1 small onion
3 TB Asian seasoning
Olive oil

Use enough oil to coat the bottom of a skillet to brown the turkey, onion, garlic and 2 tablespoons of Asian seasoning. Cook the meat through. Roughly chop the vegetables to stir in the turkey mixture. Add the sauce packet, soy sauce, sesame oil and remaining 1 tablespoon of Asian seasoning. Simmer to combine.

Serve immediately with bib lettuce.

 

#FoodieFail! I didn’t take a picture of the process, ingredients or the final product! As you know, I’ve taken a blogging hiatus.  I realize I’d had this stored and decided to run with it to get myself back in the groove.  You’ll forgive me this once 🙂

Try this recipe for something light and fresh for summer.  I served this with a side of farro to add a little heartiness on the side.

Super Bowl Treats

I was amazed to see that the Super Bowl is the second biggest food consumption day of the year (just behind Thanksgiving)! As you know, I love to entertain and had some success with football themed treats for last year’s event.  They might be making a comeback for 2014!

Brownie TouchdownsTouchdown Brownies

  • Green Frosting
  • White frosting
  • Star and fine point icing tip
  • Chocolate covered almonds
  • Brownies

Bake your favorite brownies.  I personally love the Ghirardelli Double Chocolate mix from Costco.  For super fudgey brownies, use two mixes for one batch. Let the brownies cool completely and cut into squares.  Generously pipe the green frosting over the tops of the brownie with the star tip.  Place a “football” onto each field and pipe on football laces with white frosting.

Football Deviled EggsDeviled Egg Footballs

  • 6 hardboiled eggs
  • 3 tb mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp horseradish
  • 1 tb chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Paprika
  • Chives

Cut eggs in half.  Scoop yolks into a bowl.  Mash yolks.  Beat in remaining ingredients until smith.  Replace yolk mixture in whites after seasoning to taste.  After eggs are prepared and dusted with paprika, place chives over the tops to create the football lacing effect.

What velveeta shortage?

A Super Bowl essential

A Super Bowl essential

Super Bowl Treats

Engagement Gift Basket

Your friend just got engaged, what do you get the couple? What is a good engagement gift? There aren’t many do’s and dont’s for presents to the newly engaged. This is something I’ve come up with that’s a nice gesture, but nothing too overdone!

Working on these engagement baskets a few times, I have varied the ‘sweet treat’ inside. Most recently, I opted for bride groom cake pops.  Cake pops seem to be nipping at the heels of the popular 2013 cronut. In the past, I have also made bride groom chocolate covered strawberries and pretzels. What makes the treat ‘bride groom’? Half are dipped in white chocolate and pearlized sprinkles (bride) while the other half are dipped in milk or dark chocolate with some tuxedo like adornments.  These groom cake pops were jazzed up with mustache sugars from Target.

Engagement Cake Pops

Engagement Gift Basket

  • White basket and tissue paper
  • Engagement card
  • Bridal magazines
  • The Five Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman
  • Champagne, sparkling wine, wedding themed vodka
  • Bride groom themed sweets

Engagement Gift Basket

Pop Fizz Clink!Engagement Gift Basket