Thursday, December 22, 2011

Making Cookies with Friends (Plus a few recipes for cookies, frosting and chili)

We love to decorate cookies during the Christmas season. Some years it is my friends and I making fancy, intricate gingerbread snowflakes. Other years it is a wild explosion of colors in the form of copious amounts of buttercream frosting and a festival of sprinkles.

This was one such year. We had some young friends over earlier this week to enjoy dinner and some time together.

Jack, David, Christy and Ellie seemed to have a good time.

Each kid had his or her own style of decorating their cookies. Ellie only made a few, but they were nice.

Christy seemed happy to develop a Sponge Bob theme in her decorating.

Jack was very industrious, cranking out more cookies than the other kids. He seemed to have a lot of fun.

David spent some time decorating and some time visiting with Larr. He, too seemed to have a good time. Here he is with his zombie snowman cookie.

Gina, Connie and I took the chance to visit. I liked talking about knitting with Gina. SHe has two shawls in the works, aiming for Christmas.

It is definitely my favorite sugar cookie recipe. It is not too sweet and has a nice crumb in the mouth, but holds together nicely for decorating.

Sugar Cookie Recipe
from: Sweetopia blog


2 1/2 cups butter (at room temperature)

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

seeds from 1 vanilla bean (or 3 tsp vanilla)

5 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1. Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer on low to medium speed. (Use the paddle attachment). Mix until thoroughly incorporated – for about one minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a plastic spatula and mix again for a few seconds more.

Over mixing the butter and sugar in this step will cause too much air to be incorporated into the dough. If you’d like a light and fluffy cookie, that’s ideal, however the dough will spread more during baking; not ideal if you’d like the cookie to hold its shape.

2. Add eggs slowly and mix. Scrape down the bowl with your spatula at least once and mix again.

3. Cut open your vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out. Add to mixing bowl. Alternatively, add liquid vanilla extract. Stir briefly.

4. Sift your dry ingredients together. (Flour, baking powder and salt).

5. Add all of the flour mixture to the bowl. Place a large tea towel or two small tea towels between the edge of the bowl and the electric mixer so that the flour won’t escape. Mix on low speed for 3o seconds. Remove the tea towels and observe the dough mixing; when it clumps around the paddle attachment it’s ready. It’s also important at this stage not to over mix the dough (the glutens in the flour develop and the dough can become tough).

6. Roll the dough out between 2 large pieces of parchment paper. Place on a baking sheet and into the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour.

7. Roll out the dough further if you need to, and cut out cookie shapes. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Re-roll scraps and repeat.

8. Put cookie dough shapes back into the fridge for 10 minutes to 1 hour to chill again. They will then hold their shape better when baked.

9. Preheat your oven to 350°F or 176°C.

10. Bake cookies for 8-12 minutes or until the edges become golden brown. The baking time will depend on the size of your cookie.

11. Let cookies cool to room temperature and decorate!


Royal Icing Using Egg Whites:

2 large egg whites

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

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

For Royal Icing with Egg Whites: 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.


Butter Cream Frosting
from:the Created By Diane Blog

1 cup butter

1 cup shortening

6 cups powdered sugar

2-4 Tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract. if you are making white frosting use clear vanilla.

Beat butter with mixer until pale and fluffy, add sugar and milk along with extract mix until smooth and creamy.

*If the weather is super hot, over 100 and I’m afraid the buttercream will be a mess, I sometimes use all shortening.

**If I want a very rich butter taste, I use all butter and no shortening.

*** for Chocolate Buttercream I use ½ to 1 cup of unsweetened cocoa in place of some powdered sugar.

(I made this recipe up with stuff I had at home as I did not want to go out in the snow.)

2 pounds Ground Beef
1/2 Onion, chopped
3 Garlic cloves, minced
2 cans Busch's Beans
1 can Tomato Soup
1 cup Water
3 tea. Beef Bouillon
2-3 TBL. Basil, dried
1 tea. Cumin
1-2 tea. Chili Powder (depending on how spicy you like it)
1-1.5 tea. Smoked Paprika
1-2 cups Corn, frozen or canned

Brown the beef, pouring off excess fat. Saute the onion and garlic with the beef. Add in the remaining ingredients. Simmer for at 30 minutes. Serve with crackers.

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