Friday, December 30, 2011

Secrets of a SPECTACULAR sugar cookie!

This post comes a little late for your holiday baking, but I just had to share my top 2 sugar cookie tips since I have seen many a sugar cookie misfortune this holiday season.

First, let's think about what a sugar cookie is. According to Wikipedia, "A sugar cookie is a cookie made from sugar, flour, butter, eggs, vanilla, and either baking powder or baking soda. Sugar cookies may be formed by hand or rolled and cut into shapes. They are commonly decorated with frosting, sprinkles, or a combination of both. In North America, decorated sugar cookies are particularly popular during holidays such as Christmas and Halloween." May I point out one thing - a sugar cookie is made with BUTTER. Not shortening. This is very important for the end result to be ridiculously decadent and just what you've always wanted.

My standards are high. I would say that 9 out of 10 sugar cookies I see during the holidays do not meet my standards (not a very scientific ratio - I just know it is a lot!). Eating a sugar cookie can be a blissful event if you follow these 2 tips:

#1 - Roll 'em thick! No thin sugar cookies here. The thicker the cookie the more heavenly it will feel in your mouth - seriously. Also, a nice thick layer of frosting compliments a plump cookie.

#2 - Do NOT overcook sugar cookies! This is by far the most important rule to sugar cookie making and the rule I see broken the most. Resist the urge to leave the cookies in longer! You will look at them and think, "Those are not quite done. They need another minute or two." But DON'T DO IT! Take them out. Trust me. See below? The cookie below was left in the oven too long...

The cookie below is perfect! Sugar cookies are not meant to be brown. If they are brown around the edges, you have cooked them too long. Sugar cookies are not meant to be crispy in any way. There is nothing more disappointing to see than a beautifully decorated sugar cookie that is brown and crunchy.

Now everyone has their favorite recipe but I think mine is the best sugar cookie recipe. In fact I've had people say my sugar cookies are the best they've ever had. My sister's boyfriend says I should sell them and make a business out of sugar cookies. Just sayin'. If you are interested in my recipe, leave me a comment. If there is enough interest I will post it here on the blog. I hope these tips help you make amazing sugar cookies because that is how it was meant to be.

And if you ever need an idea for some entertainment at a party or get-together, for children or adults...bake up a batch of sugar cookies, make some frosting, set out some sprinkles and sparkling sugar and watch your guests have a blast decorating cookies. Seriously. Even adults love decorating sugar cookies. I have done this numerous times this holiday season and it has been a hit every time!

Do you think YOU have the best sugar cookie recipe? Let me know, because I would love to put it to the test! Happy baking!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I wasn't blogging, but I was still creating...

Despite my lack of blogging, I have still been creating. Here are some of my creations:

Every girl needs a coordinating holiday hair piece!
A turkey clip from felt and ribbon for my baby girl to wear on Thanksgiving.

A Thanksgiving table

Creating a little holiday magic for my kiddos.
I love watching little kids decorate the Christmas tree!

I made an outdoor Christmas tree by wrapping garland around a tomato cage and adding a strand of white lights (an idea I got from Pinterest. You can follow me on Pinterest HERE.)It looks really nice all lit up at night and was made with items I had on hand. Here it is with a light dusting of snow from a winter storm last week:

I'm lovin' our Christmas mantle this year!
Some fluffy garland decorated with glittery, gold snowflakes, gold stars, and
some chocolate brown, sparkly ornaments.
All this highlights the large nativity picture that depicts the reason for the season.
I think it is beautiful.

And I couldn't forget our annual gingerbread house decorating. I was the architect and my son was the decorator. It is my way of conquering my OCD ways by allowing my son to place the candy wherever he wants, in whatever pattern he wants. It is a really great exercise for me in letting go. My son loves it and I love making memories with him!

So there you have it. If you have any questions about the details of any project, let me know. And I will try not to wait so long to blog about my projects.
Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

'Oh Christmas Tree' Fruit and Cheese Tray

So I've been on a bit of a blogging case you haven't noticed :). I was suffering from a mild case of blog burnout. But I hope to be back blogging more regularly - maybe.

I wanted to share this super easy Christmas fruit and cheese tray I put together for my son's preschool Christmas party. I signed up to bring a healthy food item for 12 kids. So that ruled out sugar cookies or cupcakes piled with frosting...I needed something festive looking and fun for the kids. So the fruit and cheese tray in the shape of a Christmas tree was created:

Isn't it cute? And it was so easy to put together! Grapes, sliced apples, pear slices, and cheese cubes with a little fruit dip "tree trunk" and some cheese star "ornaments." The kids went crazy for it - particularly the cheese. Kids love cheese. You can never go wrong with cheese cubes at a kids party. And cheese slices cut into shapes with a cookie cutter? Even better!

Just about any fruit/veggie tray can be jazzed up by creating a shape using the items on a big platter. A heart for Valentine's Day, a flag shape for the 4th of July, a snowman or tree shape for winter/Christmas... the possibilities are endless!

It's the small and simple touches that make things special...