Friday, October 30, 2009

Soft Sugar Cookies

Halloween Sugar Cookies
by Lori
Got a bit of time on your hands? And a little holiday cheer in your heart? Then you should make these sugar cookies with your child/children/spouse/self.

Because they are YUM. I got the recipe from my practically perfect in every way (baking included) sister-in-law, Maria, who got it from our fabulous aunt, Laurie, who must have gotten it from the ultimate goody guru. I think the secret is the sour cream.

Soft Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups sour cream
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
6 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. almond flavoring
1 tsp. vanilla

Maria's directions:

Cream together the butter, sugar and eggs.
Add sour cream, flour, soda, salt and flavorings.

The dough is fairly sticky, so you will need to use a fair amount of flour when rolling the cookies out. (I like to put it in the fridge for a few hours to help it firm up).

Cut out shapes and bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 7 minutes. (I never set the timer when I bake, I just watch the cookies. Someone taught me once that the cookies are done when the tops are no longer "shiny" and there are small air bubbles on top.)

Frost with your favorite butter cream frosting. (I also add a little almond flavoring to my frosting--maybe 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon or something).

My directions
Do all the above (letting your daughter roll out the dough. Daughters love to roll out dough). But when you forget to "just watch the cookies" and you burn one batch (me=not practically perfect in every way), then you should designate that dozen for experimental frosting by your four year old.And, in general, you should have fun making these cookies. And you should not mind the flour and frosting EVERYWHERE. Because isn't it fun to hear your child direct, "Now, one tea-scoop of salt!," after scrutinizing tsp for a few seconds? Isn't that worth a flour/frosting covered kitchen? Sometimes it really is!

And...sometimes it's really not! And on those days, when you don't have a bit of time on your hands (but you do have a little holiday cheer in your heart!), then you should buy Halloween Oreos. Because they are orange and black. And they have ghosts and bats and cats and witches imprinted on them. And doesn't that make them the perfect Halloween cookie?? October is the only time we buy Oreos.)

Whatever cookies you choose, my friends, here's to a happy, tasty, Halloween!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

French Peasant Bread

Here is the recipe:

1 package (2 1/2 tsp.) dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
4 cups flour
corn meal
melted butter

Place yeast, water, sugar, and salt in warm bowl and stir until dissolved. Add flour and stir until blended. Do not knead. Cover and let rise one hour or until doubled in size. Flour hands, remove dough from the bowl and place in 2 rounds (they're not particularly pretty, and yes, the dough should be very sticky and goopy!) on an oiled cookie sheet sprinkled with corn meal. Let rise an additional hour. Brush the top with melted butter (sometimes I just use cooking spray!) and bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and cook an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and brush again with butter. Serve warm.

Here's what I love: You are making 2 loaves at a time. You don't have to wait for your yeast to proof. You don't have to knead a thing. Seriously, you stir it all up with a spoon and that's it!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Carrot Cake

Sini’s Carrot Cake Recipe (courtesy of her mom)

3 c carrots, grated
2 c flour
1 1/2 c sugar
1 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
3 t cinnamon
4 eggs
1 1/2 c vegetable oil
3 t vanilla
1 small can crushed pineapple

Preheat oven to 350. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients and mix. Pour batter into a greased cake pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the cake comes out clean. Cool before frosting.

1 package cream cheese, softened
1 cube butter, softened
3 t vanilla
powdered sugar
chopped nuts (optional)

Mix cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Sini uses a beater to mix them. Keep mixing and add powdered sugar a little bit at a time until you get the desired consistency. Sini doesn’t know exactly how much she uses--probably about 3 cups. Spread frosting on the top of the cake. Garnish with nuts if desired. Enjoy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Kathy's Soft Sugar Cookies

Kathy's Soft Sugar Cookies

2/3 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. milk
3 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt

Cream butter and sugar; add eggs. Dissolve baking soda in milk and blend. Add vanilla. Sit flour and salt; add gradually to mixture. Chill. Roll about 1/8" thick and bake on a greased cookie sheet @ 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

The dough is very sticky, so sometimes I add a tiny bit more flour, but mostly it's important to chill it for a long time. Mine was in the fridge for several hours (or maybe overnight, I can't remember). Then I roll it out on powdered sugar. This time I also tried keeping the cut-out cookies in the fridge for a few minutes, and I think that helped them keep their shape in the oven. Oh, and I do mine a little thicker than 1/8".

Creamy White Frosting
(From Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)

1 c. shortening
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. lemon, orange, or almond extract (I used almond)
4 1/2 c. sifted powdered sugar (about 1 pound)
3 to 4 T. milk

In a medium mixing bowl beat shortening, vanilla, and extract with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Slowly add half of the powdered sugar, beating well. Add 2 tablespoons of the milk. Gradually beat in remaining powdered sugar and enough remaining milk to reach spreading consistency.

When I used this for a birthday cake I used 1/2 c. margarine and 1/2 c. shortening. For the cookies I used 1 c. butter. I liked both ways, and I think both would be better than just shortening. I frosted 30-35 cookies (about 4") with this recipe.