3.12.2014

Best Sugar Cookie Recipe


The best sugar cookie recipe I've tried so far, the dough is a really exceptional texture to work with, not crumbly at all.  It withstands rolling and re-rolling extremely well.  The cookies still come out very good.  I think the cookies are a little sweet if frosting or sugar is added on top of them, but kids think they are perfect, of course. This is my go-to recipe for all the kids' bake sale fundraisers, class parties, etc.

Ingredients

  • 4½ cups all-purpose flour (19.5 oz or 560g)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature*
  • 2 cups sugar (13 oz)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp milk
* OR 1 stick butter plus 3.5 oz (1/2 cup) vegetable shortening. I like substituting 1/2 cup shortening for 1 stick of butter. The butter I think contains more water which makes the dough and the cookies softer. With all butter I find I need some additional flour to make it the right consistency, but not with the shortening/butter combo.

Instructions
  • In a large bowl, combine and whisk together 4½ cups flour, baking powder, and salt until mixed.
  • In another large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugar until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs, vanilla, and milk and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. With the mixer at medium-low speed, gradually beat in the flour mixture just until blended.
  • Gather the dough into a ball and divide it into half. Roll each half to 1/4 inch thickness between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper and refrigerate on cookie sheets until the dough is cold, 2 hours or overnight is okay. I roll out the dough using two 1/4 inch pieces of wood molding with the rolling pin to get even thickness. 
  • Cookie dough can be also be tightly wrapped and frozen for up to a few months.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Get out the cookie cutters.
  • Remove chilled dough from refrigerator and run the rolling pin lightly over the top to smooth any bumps. Cut the dough into as many shapes as possible. Arrange on a prepared baking sheet, spacing about 1 inch apart. Gather the scraps of dough together and reroll and cut more cookies. The cookies can be decorated now with sprinkles, or you can wait to add frosting/icing after baking. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  • Bake for 12 to 16 minutes until the cookies are pale golden. With a spatula, transfer the baked cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
  • Frost with royal icing, cookie icing, or whatever frosting you like.
  • Store in a tightly covered container, separating and cushioning the layers with sheets of waxed paper.
 This recipe makes about 32 cookies of approx 3 inch diameter size.

Source: (This book has a lot of good recipes that I use)

3.11.2014

Macaroni and Cheese

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman - we don't use nearly as much cheese as she does.

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb of pasta 
  • 1/2 stick of butter (1/4 cup) 
  • 2 Tbsp flour 1 tsp salt 2 cups whole milk (or 1 cup skim milk plus 1 cup half and half) 
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard 
  • 1 egg, beaten 
  • 4 slices American or Cheddar cheese

Instructions:
  • Cook pasta according to package directions
  • In a saucepan, melt butter. Add flour and whisk for 2 minutes until the flour is cooked.
  • Add milk, mustard and salt. Whisk until it starts to bubble and thicken slightly.
  • Lower the heat to low.
  • Pour about 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the bowl containing the beaten egg. Whisk until blended.
  • Pour egg/milk mixture back into the saucepan. Continue to whisk until blended.
  • Add  cheese and whisk over low/medium heat until cheese is melted and blended into the sauce.
  • Taste the sauce and add more salt if needed. (Important)
  • Pour hot sauce over pasta to serve.

12.03.2013

Gingerbread Cookies with Royal Icing

I like this cookie because it's not too sweet, so it can take a good thick coating of royal icing and still taste perfect.

Ingredients
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1½ tsp baking soda 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice 
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves 
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger 
  • 2 eggs 
  • about 4½ cups all purpose flour 
  • Royal Icing for Cookies (below)
Instructions
  • Into large bowl, measure molasses, brown sugar, butter, baking soda, salt, all the dry spices, eggs, and 1½ cups of flour. With mixer on low, beat ingredients until just mixed. Increase speed to medium; beat 2 minutes. Blend in about 3 cups of remaining flour to make a stiff dough. Switch to spoon to mix when dough gets too stiff for mixer. Shape dough into a ball, wrap with plastic and refrigerate or use immediately.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. On lightly floured surface, roll half of dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut out cookies with cookie cutters. Place cookies on baking sheet about 1/2 inch apart.
  • Bake cookies 12 minutes or until edges are firm; immediately loosen cookies from sheet and remove to wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough and trimmings.
  • If not decorating cookies right away, wrap and freeze.
  • ROYAL ICING FOR COOKIES: Mix 2 cups confectioners sugar, 1/8 tsp cream of tartar, and 2 egg whites (or powdered egg white equivalent) until just mixed. Increase speed to high and beat mixture until stiff enough for a knife to draw a clean-cut path through the frosting. Spoon into piping bag fitted with a small round tip, like for writing. Pipe decorative outlines and designs on cookies.
Source:  Good Housekeeping Nov 1989 issue