Friday, October 30, 2009

Cookie of the Week!- Great Grandma's Honey Cookies

Every since I started this Cookie of the Week, members of my family have told me that I needed to make my Great Grandmother's honey cookies. What no one every said was, here is the recipe! I was under 7 when she died and barely remember her. I visited my grandparents last week with the kids, Adam and my dad. When I told my grandma that I was doing this she said that I should make them also. She was not sure where she put the recipe, but then just a few days later I received this great thank you card from her and in it was the recipe. Oh happy day! I could now make a cookie that generations of women in my family made. So of course I had to run out and buy more honey! I took these out of the oven and smelled that warm cookie smell and instantly it all came back to me. Isn't it weird how that can happen. Suddenly I remember my grandmother making them for my brother and I when we would come to visit. The taste and the smell were all there. So now I'm excited to make these for my kids, and hope one day that they make them as well. I have no idea where she found the recipe, but here it is!

Honey Cookies

1 cup softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
6 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 cups sifted flour
2 tsp. baking soda

Mix in order, chill for several hours. Drop by teaspoonfuls on a greased baking sheet or parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 10-12 min. When cool, frost with pastel tinted butterless icing. 7 dozen if using tsp. measure.

Now for those that are not sure what a butterless icing is, I figure it was just milk and powdered sugar until it forms a thin paste. To tint it, just use 1 drop of liquid food coloring and blend until pastel color. My great grandma, and my grandma always made them pink, but I let my kids pick the color and they choose blue.

So I hope you enjoy these as much as my family does!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkin Carving

Now let me start by saying that we now have 9 pumpkins in our house, not including the fun little decorative gourds. But Adam came home from work last Thursday and surprised us with 2 good size pumpkins for the kids to carve. They were soooo excited. So far this year we have painted, used Mr. Potatohead stuff, and had face stickers to decorate pumpkins, but this was the first time for carving this year. We got down to work as soon as they were out of the bag! L and D had a great time pulling the guts out. We examined all the seeds and strings. We have read a really great story about how a pumkin comes from a little white seed, and the path that it takes to grow and become a pumkin. The story is Pumpkin Shivaree by Rick Agran I highly recommend it! The kids told us what shapes they wanted for the face and we helped them cut it out. My mother-in-law had gotten us this really cool Pampered Chef kids knife so the kids can help us in the kitchen, and it worked amazingly with the pumpkins. The kids were able to cut through all by themselves with us just making starter cuts. They had a blast! I just realized that I don't have any pictures of the finished pumpkins. Well I will work on that later. For now just enjoy the process pics!

Miss D watching her brother before she starts

L really digging in

Showing off the pumpkin guts

Not to be outdone!

Asking daddy for help

We did roast out seeds after we were done, and they were super tasty. I'll see if I can find that recipe as well!

Halloween Goodies

This last week has been jam packed with Halloween festivities for the kids. It started with a mom's group Halloween party on Saturday. I made cupcakes. Half were decorated as pumpkins and the other half as bats. I had gotten the idea from this book, and tried my hardest to make them look like the ones in there. I got close, not exactly the same, but I think close. The bat wings were a bit too large and heavy, they pulled the tops off the cupcakes. But you live and learn right? Then Monday we had spooky cupcake decorating with the kids. Basically it was a mess of frosting, candy, and sanding sugar, but the kids had a blast! Then today I hosted a candy corn day at the library. I made triangle sugar cookies, and topped them with royal icing. I was going to use the candy corn cookies as my cookie of the week, but have something else up my sleeve. I was very happy with how they all turned out and will give you the recipe for the cookies and royal icing that I made.

Candy Corn cookies

The bats before the wings

Pumpkins (Tootsie Rolls used as the stem)

Bat with wings (the wings were melted candy melts)

Cut out sugar cookies:

12 tbsp. ( 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg yolk
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 350. Using mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy. Scrape bowl as needed. Add sugar, and beat until combined. Beat in egg yolk, and vanilla, and then flour and salt. Scrape dough onto a piece of wax paper, pat into a disc, and cover with another piece of wax. Roll out dough to 1/4" thick. Cut out with cookie cutters, and then place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until golden brown on the bottom and light golden on edges. (about 15 min) Let cool 5 min, and then transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Royal Icing:
(combined from the and Alton Brown recipes)

2 large egg whites

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

3 cups (330 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

1 tsp. vanilla extract

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the egg whites with the lemon juice. Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined and smooth. The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. Cover with plastic wrap when not in use. I put them in plastic baggies and piped it onto the cookie.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cookie of the Week!- Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars

Again sorry but no pictures. I can tell you that the mom's at the play group REALLY loved these. They are more of a grown up cookie then a kid friendly cookie. They are ooey, and gooey, and taste like a gourmet twix bar. I got this recipe from the November 2009 Martha Stewart Living Magazine. I saw these, and ran out the next day to get the ingredients. You won't be sorry you made these.

For the crust:
4 1/2 ounces (9 tbsp.) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for the parchment
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. table salt

For the chocolate caramel:
10 1/2 ounces milk chocolate, chopped (2 cups)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
3 ounces (6 tbsp.) unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. table salt
1 tbsp. sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350. Make the crust: Line a 9" square baking pan with parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides; butter parchment, excluding the over hang. Beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 min. Add flour and table salt, and beat until just combined.

2. Press dough evenly into pan, and bake until lightly golden browned, about 30 min.

3. Make the chocolate caramel: Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium high heat, washing the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming, until amber, 10-12 min. Remove from heat. Add butter, cream, and table salt. Bring to a boil, stirring until smooth. Pour over chocolate. Let stand for 2 min. Stir to combine, and let stand until cool, about 10 min.

4. Pour mixture over crust. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight. Run knife around edges; lift parchment to remove whole bar from pan. Sprinkle with sea salt. Trim edges, and cut into 16 bars. Bars can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Mine turned out very gooey, and the crust was very crumbly and not quite like the picture in the magazine but totally worth it.

Cookie of the Week!- Vanilla Meringue kisses

edit: I did just find the picture of the vanilla kisses. See like I said they got a little too golden brown, but tasted super yummy and melted in our mouths!

Okay so I know I am way behind, and I'm sorry. The good news is that I have still been making these cookies every week, the bad news is that I haven't been able to sit down and blog, and now I have lost the pictures of them. So please bear with me. I promise that this Friday will be back to normal!

So on with the recipe, I got this one from the America's test Kitchen Family Baking Book. If you do not own this, you need to. It has all the info and recipe's you could possibly need or want. They also have great substitutions, and advice for when things go wrong.

The recipe is:

3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. salt
4 large egg whites
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

* Please be aware that they may not turn out if it is a humid day out. So if it is raining, please wait a day or two to try to make these.

1. Adjust the oven rack to the upper middle and lower middle positions and heat the oven to 225 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small bowl.

2. Whip the egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar together with an electric mixer on medium low speed until foamy, about 1 min. Increase the mixer speed to medium high and whip the whites to soft, billowy mounds, about 1 min. Gradually whip in the sugar mixture, about 1 min. Continue to whip the whites until they are glossy and form stiff peaks, 1-3 min.

3. Use a spoon or a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip to make 1 1/4 inch wide meringue kisses on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 1 inch apart. (I just used a ziploc freezer bag and sniped the corner off to pipe the kisses on the baking sheet, and it worked really well!)

4. Bake the meringues for 1 hour, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking. Turn the oven off and allow the meringues to cool in the oven, about 1 hour. Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool to room temperature before serving, about 10 min.

Now when I made these they turned out a golden brown, and I'm not sure if that is correct. But they tasted super yummy and melted in our mouths. I also tried to make some peppermint, but they did not turn out quite right. The egg whites just didn't want to fluff the right way. I tried twice and each time tried to add the peppermint extract in at different times. Neither helped. Not sure what the problem was, maybe it was too humid. But after the second time I did just pipe the mixture on the baking sheet to see what happened. They still tasted very yummy, the only difference was that they were more button shaped as opposed to a kiss shape. Oh well. Try again, right?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Cookie of the Week!- Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprints

Something that I really think is fun about doing this cookie of the week thing is that my friends and family are finding me fun new recipes to try. This one is from my sweet mother-in-law. I have a fantastic relationship with her and really appreciate everything she does. I dropped the kids off on Tuesday for her to watch them for an hour. I had a meeting that I could not take the kids to and she always lets me do that. She had ready for me a new family cookbook that someone on Adam's dad's side put together, a child safe knife that I forgot I mentioned I was looking for, and a recipe pulled out of a Martha Stewart Magazine for me to try out. That made my day! How sweet for her to think, Kelly might like to make this for her blog. Now mind you, I doubt she has ever been to a blog and read something, but very sweet none the less. So here is the Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint cookie recipe from Martha Stewart:

Any jam or jelly can be used. The recipe calls for raspberry jam, but I chose seedless blackberry jam. I hope these go over well, I'm bringing them to a play date this morning.

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup raspberry jam

1. Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Beat peanut butter and butter with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add sugars, and beat until pale and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients, and mix until combined.

2. Scoop level tablespoons of dough and form into balls. Roll each ball in granulated sugar, and transfer to parchment lined baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.

3. Bake until cookies are puffy, about 10 min. Remove from oven, and make indentation in centers by pressing with the handle end of a wooden spoon. Return to oven, and bake until edges are golden, 6-7 min. more. Transfer sheets to wire racks and let cool completely.

4. Heat jam in a small saucepan, stirring, until loosened, about 30 seconds. (We used the microwave) Spoon about 1/2 tsp into each indentation. Cookies can be stored in a single layer for up to 1 week.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Cookie of the Week- Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies!

I don't have a picture of this one either. The pictures just didn't do this cookie justice. I'm also sorry that this is a day late, I've had a crazy week! But I have been enjoying doing the cookie of the week that I now plan on doing it through to the new year. Then I will see if I'm burned out by then.

Last weekend Adam and I had one on one time with each kid. We never get to do that anymore, and D had a fit when daddy left her with mommy. How dare he! So I spent that time with each kid making cookies. D and I made the Peanut Butter Gluten Free cookies, and L went fishing with daddy for the first time. He was so proud, L got 3 nibbles, and daddy got none. And then we switched. Daddy and D went to feed the geese at Notre Dame and L and I made Oatmeal Butterscotch cookies. I got this recipe on the back of a generic package of butterscotch chips a few years ago, and I liked it so much it became a staple in our house.

Both of my kids LOVE to bake with me, but what I have realized these last few weeks, is that it is too hard to do with both at the same time. D doesn't mind helping to dump the ingredients into the bowl, but L has discovered that there is measuring that comes before hand, and he wants to be apart of that. He loves to crack the eggs on the side of the bowl, and he loves to help me pack the brown sugar into the measuring cup. He asks excitedly after each ingredient, "So mom, what's next!" I have even showed them how to scoop, scrape, and squeeze with an ice cream scoop to make even sized cookies. They also know that the oven is very hot, and to not touch, even if it's not on.

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour
1 bag butterscotch chips
2 cups oats

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream together the butter, sugar, and eggs. Add the rest of the ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 min.

Pretty easy huh? These come out nice and chewy and not too crunchy. Perfect!

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