Monday, July 25, 2011

Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

I am always on the look out for the best sugar cookie. In fact, this is probably my third or fourth sugar cookie recipe on my blog. I guess I am always on the hunt for the perfect soft sugar cookie, and thanks to annie's-eats for posting this recipe, I think I have found it!

These cookies are everything a sugar cookie should be: soft, flavorful, easy, delicious. Probably not the best cut out sugar cookies, but that's another thing I like about this recipe, you don't have to worry about cutting them into shapes, scooping them onto the sheet is good enough. This recipe definitely ranks up there with one of my faves. I really think I should make every sugar cookie recipe I have one day, do a taste test and really see which one is my favorite:)

I did a few things different. I am out of vanilla (I know! Blasphemy!) so I had to be creative. Instead of vanilla I added a half-teaspoon of butter-vanilla bakery emulsion and a half-teaspoon almond emulsion (emulsions are more flavorful than extracts and don't cook out when baked). I also halved the recipe, which was a smart move on my part because it probably would have been scary how many I would have eaten if they were around. One day I will have self-control when it comes to sweets. One day:)

Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

Yield: about 2 dozen large cookies
For the cookies:
4½ cups all-purpose flour
4½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
1½ cups (3 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
3 large eggs
5 tsp. vanilla extract

For the frosting:
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/3 cup (5 1/3 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
7-8 tbsp. milk (plus more, as needed)
Food coloring (optional)
Sprinkles (optional)

To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and whisk together to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until soft and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients mixing just until incorporated and evenly mixed. Cover and chill the dough for 1 hour.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, scoop a scant quarter cup of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball slightly and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the cookies at least 2-3 inches apart. Bake about 10-12 minutes or just until set. (Do not overbake! The edges should be no more than very lightly browned if at all.) Let cool on the baking sheet for several minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To frost the cookies, place the confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter, vanilla, and milk to the bowl and whisk until smooth. Whisk in additional milk as necessary, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. Tint with food coloring if desired. Use an offset spatula or spoon to frost the cooled cookies. (If the frosting begins to thicken as you decorate, just continue to whisk in small amounts of milk to keep it workable.) Top with sprinkles if desired. Store in an airtight container.

Source: adapted from Hostess with the Mostess

Thursday, July 21, 2011

5 Years and Counting...

Yesterday was our 5 year wedding anniversary. I can't believe it's been 5 years! Since we live in Chicago away from family, it was a little difficult to try to find a baby sitter. So, our little rug rat was the third wheel on our anniversary date, same as last year:) But it ended up being really fun. We went to my favorite restaurant here, Tasso's. I've been a little obsessed with Greek food lately. I think it's safe to say it's my favorite kind of food now. I've eaten such good Greek food here that I'm completely hooked, I think my husband is getting a little annoyed because every time we want to go out to eat I suggest a Greek place and he always reminds me how the last place we ate at was Greek. I just tell him that if we lived in Greece, we would eat it for every meal:) But if you are in the Naperville area in Illinois at all, you have got to go to Tasso's! They have this appetizer called flaming cheese-it's pretty much the best thing in this world! They take a big chunk of the most amazing cheese, pour ouzo on it and then light it, and viola-flaming cheese! They then squeeze lemon juice over it. It's really so good. The waiters there are so friendly and sweet.

Here are some pics of our anniversary night-filled with-none other than lots of yummy, yummy food:)

Flaming Cheese! Our waiter Jimmy was awesome:)
You can tell what a joy Eleni was to have at dinner:)

Happy Anniversary Micah! Love ya:)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hello, I'd like you introduce you to something...

...your new, tastiest best friend. With a marshmallow center, coated in creamy caramel, then smooth white chocolate, and finished off with a sprinkling of jello powder-yes-jello powder. My mom tried these bad boys at a baby shower she went to a while ago, she gave me a call and told me about them and I knew I just had to try them! Neither my mom or I are big marshmallow fans, but we love these! I mean....just look at them!

Ok ok, so they don't LOOK perfect, I had some issues with the dipping. My sis in law helped me dip them for a baby shower we made them for. It was a boy baby shower, but we didn't like the blue jello powder as much as pink strawberry powder, so they turned out pink but I don't think anyone minded:) I hope next time I try these they will look more appealing, it was a little tricky trying to keep them upright after dipping them in the caramel.

The caramel I used for this is soooo yummy! You can use it to dip pretty much anything in it. So here's the recipe, and I'm off to have my third marshmallow pop for that bad?? Ok-it might be kiiiinda bad but it tastes o so good!

There's one problem, I haven't found any recipes for this type of caramel covered marshmallow pop with the jello powder on they don't technically have a let's call them...Heaven on a Stick!

My sis in law and I at the baby shower we displayed the pops at,
wanna know a secret about her?? She's got two babies in her tummy! :)

Heaven on a Stick Marshmallow Pops


10 oz bag regular marshmallows
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 bag (14 oz) caramel candies, unwrapped
1 bag vanilla candy melts in your choice of color
About 20 lollipop sticks
Box of jello powder (the best flavor I have found so far is strawberry, but you can use any color/flavor you want)
Parchment paper
Cut lollipop sticks in half and insert into marshmallows.

Combine condensed milk, butter, and vanilla in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook until the butter melts and combines with the milk. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Stir in the caramels and cook, stirring constantly until the caramels melt and the mixture is smooth. Reduce heat to low and simmer the caramel, stirring one minute longer.
Remove from heat and dip the marshmallows in the caramel, covering about 2/3 of the marshmallow. Place dipped marshmallows on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes, or until caramel is hardened and is easily lifted from parchment paper.
Melt candy melts in a bowl according to instructions and dip the caramel marshmallows in the melted candy. Immediately sprinkle on the jello powder.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sunday Dinner: Rosemary Garlic Salmon

Last summer Micah and I were on a grilling kick. We tried grilling everything, but our best creation we ever grilled was a rosemary garlic salmon. I got Micah a grill for Father's Day so we decided to try out our salmon again. It's so super easy to make, we have even made them on our panini press before. It's really a fool proof recipe because you wrap the salmon up in foil and put it on the grill, so you don't have to worry about it falling apart. We like to serve our salmon with grilled zucchini and onions. I also cooked up some boiled potatoes and made a rosemary butter to toss them in. So good! This meal has such yummy, fresh, summer flavors. We may have to make this once a week:)

Now this is now an exact recipe since we just made it up, so I will do my best to figure out the portions of everything:)

Garlic Rosemary Salmon

Samon fillets
few cloves of garlic
few sprigs of rosemary
oilve oil
lemon slices

Set a salmon fillet in a sheet of tin foil. Drizze with olive oil, then salt and pepper to taste. Mince a couple cloves of garlic and spread on salmon (you can do as little or as much as you like, I probably do 1 1/2-2 gloves per fillet, depending on size of garlic cloves). Then lay a few sprigs of rosemary over garlic, then top with a few slices of lemon. Wrap up well in foil, making sure edges are sealed so no juices get out. Throw on grill for about 10 minutes, depending on thickness of salmon. Like I said, you can also throw it on a panini press, check after 10 minutes also.

Grilled zuchini and onions

Coat with olive oil, then salt and pepper. Cook on grill a couple minutes each side, they don't take long to grill. We've also done asparagus before, cook same way:)

Rosemary Butter
(this is the recipe I use to toss my boiled potatoes in, this butter would also be amazing on steak or lamb.)
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbl fresh rosemary leaves, removed from the stem
1/2 tsp orange or lemon zest (I used lemon)
1/4 tsp crushed red chili pepper
1 stick butter, softened

Combine all of the ingredients. Make a log by spreading the mixture across a length of waxed paper. Roll the log back and forth to make a smooth tube about 1 1/2 inches thick. Twist the ends and store in the refrigerator or wrap airtight and store in the freezer. *If you are going to use this to toss with potatoes, I'd recommend melting it a little before tossing. After dumping potatoes in a collander to drain, just put the butter right in the bottom of the hot pot so it melts a little before putting potatoes back in.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Not so Cheesy Mac and Cheeze

Hey everyone! I just got back from Utah a couple days ago for about a two week visit. It was a blast! But, now life goes in, we are back in Chicago and I am back in the kitchen:)

I bought some nutritional yeast a while ago for a RAW dip I made...I actually should post the recipe because it was really good! Ok, making a mental note to post that next:) Anyways, a couple days before we left for Utah I wanted to make something simple, use ingredients I already had, and make something both my 14 month old and husband would like-that seems to be a challenge sometimes. I found a vegan mac and cheese recipe on the internet that called for nutritional yeast. I have been wanting to use up my nutritional yeast because it is so good for you but just haven't known how to use it so I thought this would be a good experiement. I made this cheezey sauce and put it over whole wheat pasta. I decided not to tell Micah that it in fact didn't have any cheese in it and just wanted to see how he would act:)

Micah came home from work and saw me making the mac and cheeze, he got so excited and said "You're making homemade mac and cheese!" O boy- I thought, this better be good! He took one bite and said "this is so good!" Micah hates whole wheat pasta and he said "This sauce even makes me like whole wheat pasta!" I kept bugging him and asking "Do you really like it? I mean really?? Or are you just saying that?", he finally caught on and said "Is there something secret about this mac and cheese, like there's no cheese in it or something?" I caved and told him, he couldn't believe it. The best part of all is that Eleni loved it! I'm excited to have a new staple in my home, and if I raise my kids eating this mac and cheese they will never know the diference:)

A happy baby makes a happy mom:)

O-and I didn't bake mine, just put the sauce right on top of the pasta! Yum!

Mac and Cheeze
from serves 8

2 cups elbow macaroni
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
pinch paprika
2 pinches mustard powder
1 1/2 cups plain unsweetened nondairy milk (I use soy)
1/2 cup veggie broth
1 teaspoon umeboshi vinegar, optional (makes it saltier) (I left out)
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard (I left out as well-Micah hates mustard so we never have it)
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegan margarine (I actually used regular butter, so mine wasn't 100% vegan)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs, optional


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly spray baking dish, if baking. Cook pasta according to package directions. In the last 4-5 minutes of the pasta cooking, start making the sauce. Combine all dry ingredients (flour, nutritional yeast, salt and spices) in a medium pot. Do not turn on heat yet.

2. Add the milk and veggie broth. Whisk to incorporate all ingredients and get all the lumps out. Now turn on the heat to medium high. Keep whisking/stirring as the sauce heats because it will start to get thick pretty fast. Once it gets nice and thick. turn off the heat and add the umeboshi vinegar, mustard, soy sauce and vegan margarine.

3. Mix well. If you didn't use the umeboshi vinegar, you can add more soy sauce if you think it needs it. If your sauce ends up too thick to your liking, just add a little more milk or veggie broth to thin it out. When pasta is finished cooking, drain it and put it back in the pot that it was cooked in.

4. You have 2 options to serve this. You may go ahead and pour all of the cheese sauce on the pasta (there will be a lot!) and stir until everything is combined. Serve the cheesy goodness as is.

5. Or, you can mix about 3/4 of the sauce with the pasta, put it in prepared dish, and then pour the remaining cheese sauce on top. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and bake for 15 minutes, until browned.