Lemon Sugar Cookies

It’s recipe swap time again!

The theme of this swap was dessert.  How could I resist?  And lucky for me, I got something perfectly portable to take on our camping trip last weekend.  The problem was that not all of the made it TO the camping trip.  In a taste-test/quality assurance attempt, Scott and I might have eaten three.  Each.

These are so amazingly tasty.  Imagine a snickerdoodle.  Only sub the cinnamon for a very subtle lemon flavor.  AMAZING.  I normally love the pucker-up and punch you in the face lemon desserts.  But this is different.  This is a subtle, light lemon flavor that tastes only fresh and light and amazing.

I know it’s a little early to be thinking about Christmas cookies, but I will definitely be making these again at the holidays.  They would be a fantastic addition to any cookie tin.  I know I wouldn’t kick them out! Thank you to Life and Kitchen for the recipe!

One year ago: Chorizo and Rice Stuffed Zucchini and Summer Veggie Pasta
Two years ago: Sweet Potato and Poblano Salad

Lemon Sugar Cookies
courtesy of Life and Kitchen, originally from Two Peas and Their Pod

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
zest of 2 large lemons
1 1/2 cups gradulated sugar, plus another 1/2 cup for rolling
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

Using a mixer, beat butter and sugar until smooth.  Add lemon zest, egg, vanilla and lemon juice.  Mix until combined.  Reduce mixer to low and gradually add in dry ingredients.

Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour (this will keep your cookies from getting too flat and crispy).

Preheat oven to 350.  Roll rounded tablespoons of dough into balls and roll in sugar.  Place on baking sheets at least 2 inches apart.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until the edges *just* start to turn light brown and cookies are set.  Cool for 2 minutes on baking sheets before removing to cooling racks to cool completely.

See the recipe swap round up below!


S’Mores Cupcakes with Homemade Marshmallow Fluff Frosting

I have a slight obsession with my kitchen torch.

So when my 12-year-old friend Caitlin came over to bake with me, I talked all through lunch how fun it was going to be to use the torch on these cupcakes.  She kept rolling her eyes at me and saying “you’re really excited about that, aren’t you?”  I told her just to wait, that she would understand once she got to use it.

And when the frosting was done and it was time to torch, I did the first 2.  Her eyes got kind of big, and she asked “can I try it?”

So I showed her how to use it.  And then I didn’t get it back. 😉

“Told ya it was fun!”

She grinned.  “Ok, you were right.  It’s pretty fun.”

So if you don’t have a little kitchen torch yet, you should get one.  They are wicked fun.  And you can get one for like $20 at Bed Bath and Beyond!  Totally worth it.

One year ago: BBQ chicken and Pineapple Pizza and Peach Blueberry Cobbler
Two years ago: Chai Tea Bread and Baked Jalapeno Poppers

S’mores Cupcakes with Marshmallow Fluff Frosting
cupcakes inspired by Annie’s Eats
Chocolate cupcake recipe courtesy of Hershey’s
Marshmallow Fluff recipe courtesy of Marshmallow Madness, as seen on Annie’s Eats

For the graham cracker crust:
1 sleeve graham crackers, ground into crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
5 tbsp butter, melted

for the cupcakes:
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (high altitude, reduce to 1/2 tsp)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda (high altitude, reduce to 1/2 tsp)
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

for the frosting:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
pinch of salt
2 large egg whites, at room temp
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

for the graham cracker crust:
Preheat oven to 350 and line 2 cupcake pans with paper liners.  Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter.  Mix thoroughly.  Drop a scant 1 tbsp of graham cracker mixture into each liner and press down to line the bottom (a small bottle works well for this).  Bake for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven the oven temperature.

for the cupcakes:
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Stir in boiling water (batter will be very thin).  Scoop batter into cupcake liners.  Bake for 20 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  Let cool completely.

for the frosting:
Combine sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.  Heat the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 240 degrees on the candy thermometer.

Meanwhile, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  As the temperature of the sugar mixture begins to approach its endpoint, begin whipping the egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  Once soft peaks have been reached, lower the mixer speed to low.

When sugar mixture reaches 240 degrees, remove from heat.  Pour the syrup in a very slow, steady stream down the side of the mixing bowl (while mixer on low) until it has all been incorporated (go very slowly so you don’t cook the eggs).

Once the syrup has been incorporated, increase speed to medium-high and whip until stiff, glossy peaks form and the mixture has been cooled considerably, 6-7 minutes.  Blend in vanilla and beat 2 minutes more.  Scoop into frosting bag and pipe onto cooled cupcakes.



Cars Cake Pops

Pit Stop?

I was a little skeptical when a our friend Roschelle proposed this idea for her son’s birthday.

But I have to admit, they turned out pretty cute!

To make the road-like cake pops, I coated the pops like normal, only stuck them upside-down on a silpat to make a flat top, like this:

Then dipped the flat parts in brown candy melts:

Then used a yellow candy melt pen to draw on the dashed yellow lines to make it a road.  Roschelle had found these Cards “squinkies” (not edible) that I attached to the pops with the candy melt pen.  Ka-chow!

Mater is my personal favorite:
Mater: I’ll have some of that there pistachio ice cream.
Sushi Chef:   No, no. Wasabi.
Mater: Oh, same old, Same old, what’s up with you?


One year ago: Friendly’s Fried Chicken and Lamb Shank Sliders
Two years ago: Instant Pancake Mix and Coq au vin

Wheat Beer Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Two of my husband’s more favorite things in the world.  Beer and cupcakes.  Really, it was only a matter of time before someone figured out how to put the two together.

You might be skeptical, but look how well Guinness and cupcakes go together.  Brilliant.

Could a wheat beer be any less brilliant?

The answer is no.  It’s just as brilliant.

The original recipe calls for Blue Moon or Corona (easy would be equally as delicious).  I happened to have Easy Street Wheat in the fridge (gotta support the local brews!).  Worked just as brilliantly as Blue Moon or Corona would have.  I imagine whatever your favorite citius-y beer is, it would work just fine.

One year ago: Chicken and Pineapple Quesadillas and Tequila Lime Chicken
Two years ago: Pasta Bolognase, Blackberry Cobbler, and Broccoli Sausage Pasta

Wheat Beer Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from Miss Make and  Sweet Tooth

for the cupcakes:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder (high altitude folks, reduce to 3/4 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, at room temp
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs, at room temp
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp orange zest
1 cup wheat beer of your choice (I used O’dell’s Easy Street Wheat), plus more for brushing tops
1/4 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 375 and line 24 muffin tins with paper liners.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add orange zest and vanilla.  Scrape down sides well.

Combine milk and beer in large measuring cup.  Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with beer mixture.  Increase speed to medium high and beat well for 30 seconds.

Scoop batter into cupcake liners (filling 2/3 full).  Bake for 16-18 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean.

While cupcakes are still warm, poke holes in tops of cupcakes with a toothpick.  Brush tops with additional beer.  Cool completely before frosting.

for the frosting:
8 oz cream cheese, at room temp
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
zest of 1 orange
orange slices, for garnish

Combine cream cheese and butter in bowl of electric mixer.  Beat on medium high speed for 3 minutes.  Scrape down sides.

Gradually add powdered sugar while beating on low speed.  Add orange juice and zest.  Beat well to combine.

Spread or pipe (I used a 1M tip) on cooled cupcakes, top with orange slices.


Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting


This is another recipe you’ve kind of seen before.  I made these cupcakes for my honey last year for his birthday.  But I wasn’t thrilled with how the chocolate frosting turned out.

But when I saw the recipe for this frosting, I knew it would be perfect.

As I’ve mentioned before, cream cheese frosting is always my favorite – it’s not nearly as sweet as most buttercream frosting.  A chocolate version certainly didn’t disappoint.

I actually have a quality control department when it comes to my frosting.  Her name is Erin.  Every cupcake of mine (or anyone else’s, likely) she’s ever eaten, she licks all the frosting off first.  It’s always her favorite part.  So whenever I make a new cupcake, I always look to Erin and make sure she’s eating all the frosting first.  Then I know I got it right 🙂

One year ago: Perfect Party Cookies and The Perfect Mac and Cheese
Two years ago: Roasted Ratatouille Pasta

For the cupcake and filling recipe, see here

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from How Sweet It Is, as seen on A Bitchin Kitchen

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup dark cocoa powder
1-2 tbsp of milk, as needed

Add butter and cream cheese to bowl of stand mixer.  Beat on medium high speed for 3 minutes.  Scrape down sides and add vanilla.  On low speed, gradually add powdered sugar.  Mix in cocoa powder.  Add milk 1 tsp at a time if frosting if too thick.


Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies


It’s not unusual for me to be a little behind on trends.  Call me skeptical, I take a lot of convincing.  I swear I was the last person on the planet to buy a pair of skinny jeans and riding boots.

Now you’re lucky if you’ll see me in anything but my skinny jeans and riding boots.

I felt the same way when these cookies started circling the blogosphere.  I thought to myself, “hmm, those sounds good, but surely they can’t be AS good, right?”

Then when they popped up for the 57th time in my Google Reader, I figured it was time to give them a go.  And with the What’s Baking theme as “baking with Valentine’s Day colors,” I figured it would be a perfect time for pink frosting and sprinkles.

Consider me converted.

To say these are *just* like the Lofthouse ones you can buy in the store doesn’t doo them justice.  I don’t want my cookies to taste store-bought.

These cookies taste as good as the Lofthouse ones probably do right before they get packaged.

They are soft and chewy.  The frosting is sugar-y enough that it makes you feel like a kid again.  Even if you’re like me and don’t typically care for sugary frostings.  All of that kindly goes away when you take a bite of these cookies.

They are that good.  They really are.  Trust the skeptic in me that’s currently fantasizing about eating more cookies. And wearing skinny jeans and riding boots.

One year ago: Pappardelle Campagnolo
Two years ago:  N’Awlins BBQ shrimp

Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies
adapted from Hostess with the Mostess, as seen on Annie’s Eats
yields 2 dozen large or 4 dozen small cookies

for the cookies:
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
5 tsp vanilla extract

for the frosting:
5 cups confectioners sugar (powedered sugar)
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp vanilla extract
7-8 tbsp milk (plus more, as needed)
food coloring in color of your choice
sprinkles, as desired

For the cookies:
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt, whisking to blend well.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and sugar and beat on medium high speed until soft and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Scrape down sides.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Add vanilla.

With mixer on low speed, gradually add in dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated and evenly mixed.  Cover and chill dough 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

To make large cookies, scoop a scan quarter cup of dough and roll into a ball.  For smaller cookies (which I did), scopp dough using a 1 1/2 tbsp cookie scoop and roll into a ball.  Flatten balls slightly and place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.  Bake for 10-12 minutes (10 for small, 12 for large) or until just set.  COokies will not brown.  Let cool on baking sheets for several minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.

for the frosting:
Place confectioners sugar in a medium bowl.  Add melted butter, vanilla, and milk to the bowl and gently whisk until smooth.  Add additional milk if necessary, 1 tsp at a time, until desired consistency is reached.  Tint with food coloring of your choice.  Use an offset spatula to frost cookies, adding sprinkles immediately if desired.  Store in an airtight container.


Black Bottom Cupcakes


We’re going to be on sweets over load here at PLFF over the next few days.

I’m sure no one will complain with stuff like this showing up.

Ok, now this is not the first time I’ve made these.  I made them a long, long time ago and while they were incredibly tasty, they didn’t turn out so pretty.  Don’t remember?  See here.  But don’t judge.

When Scott requested these as one of his 3 cupcakes for his big 30th birthday bash, I was excited to try to redeem myself.  But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t peek in the oven every few minutes to see what they looked like.

But this time was successful both in taste and presentation (now I sounds like the annoying guy from Cupcake Wars), so I feel like I really redeemed myself this time.

Don’t like whiskey? Don’t be afraid.  If you can hold your nose while you’re mixing ingredients, the whiskey flavor is very subtle in these.  You get a hint of the actual whiskey flavor, not just the burn of the alcohol and the flashbacks of drunk frat boys.  Wait, that doesn’t happen to anyone else?

One year ago: Cream Puffs
Two years ago: Creole Jambalaya

Black Bottom Cupcakes
courtesy of Jack Daniels Spirit of Tennessee Cookbook, as seen on Milk and Honey

For the filling:
8 oz cream cheese, at room temp
1 egg, beaten
1/3 sup sugar
heavy pinch of salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup whiskey
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup oil
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350.  Line muffin tins with paper liners.

For the filling:
Beat together cream cheese, egg, sugar and salt.  Stir in chocolate chips and set aside

For the cupcakes:
Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

Combine whiskey, water, oil, vinegar and vanilla in a mixing bowl on low speed.  Gradually add in dry ingredients until combined.

Fill cupcakes 1/2 full with chocolate batter.  Drop 1 tbsp of cream cheese mixture in center of cupcake batter.  Bake 35-40 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  Remove from pans to cool completely on cooling racks.


Owl Baby Shower cupcakes

Just showing off some cuteness today.

I used my new favorite white cake recipe, my go-to cream cheese frosting recipe for the white ones.

I spiked some of the white cupcakes and frosting with some lemon zest and pink dye for the pink ones.

Turned out rather adorable, if I do say so myself.

And just so you aren’t totally recipe-less today….

Any frosting I made is based on this recipe.  Sometimes I add citrus zest, like in the raspberry lemonade cupcakes, the margarita cupcakes, and the cherry limeade cupcakes.   When I do that, I swap out citrus juice for the vanilla. Sometimes I add booze, like in the Irish car bomb cupcakes.  Or I’ve added cinnamon, like in the pumpkin butterscotch cupcakes.  But I always start with this recipe.

One year ago: Pasta House Salad and Spicy Pasta with Shrimp and Mussels
Two years ago: Black Bottom Cupcakes and Ham and Cheese Frittata

My Go-To Cream Cheese Frosting recipe
a PLFF original recipe

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Add cream cheese and butter to the bowl of stand mixer.  Beat at medium speed for 3 minutes.  Scrape sides of bowl.

Reduce speed to low.  Gradually add powdered sugar, scraping sides of bowl if necessary.

Add vanilla, beat at medium speed for 1 minute.

Frost cooled cupcakes.

Champagne Pound Cake

Guess who got a new camera lens?



Guess who had WAY too much fun taking pictures of the champagne pound cake with her new camera lens?



This girl!



Ok, about the pound cake.

It was good.

But honestly, it reminded me of more of a coffee cake than a dessert.

Which is fine, it gave us permission to eat the rest for breakfast.

Which would make it a fabulous addition to any brunch. Or dessert.  Or snack.  Whichever is easiest for you to justify.

One year ago: Chai-infused french toast with Apple-honey syrup and Champagne cupcakes/cake balls
Two years ago: Autumn Harvest Bread and Chunky Italian Soup 

Champagne Pound Cake
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
yields 2 loaves or 1 bunt-sized cake

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup champagne or sparkling wine
3 tbsp sour cream
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup canola oil
5 cold eggs
2 tbsp vanilla extract

for the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp champagne or sparkling wine

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour 2 bread pans or a bundt or tube pan. set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Sift mixture, set aside.

Stir together champagne and sour cream in a small bowl, set aside.

In the bowl or stand mixer, beat sugar, melted butter, and oil until well combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Beat in vanilla.  Beat on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes or until thicker and lighter in color.

Add one-third of flour mixture, beating on low until just combined.  Add half of champagne mixture, beat until well combined.  Repeat with another 1/3 of flour mixture, half of champagne mixture, and remaining flour mixture.  Scrap batter into prepared pan(s).

Bake 50-55 minutes for bunt/tube pans, 35-40 minutes for bread pans, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool in pan(s) on wire rack 15 minutes.  Turn out onto rack, cool completely.

To make glaze:  Combine powdered sugar and champagne and stir until combined.  Drizzle over top of cake.


Creamsicle Cookies


This month’s What’s Baking challenge was chosen by Melissa from I Was Born to Cook.  She chose “Snow Day Treat.”

It’s a good thing I didn’t actually wait for a snow day.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Here in Denver, we’ve gotten a few snows that would shut certain cities down for days.  But around here,  6-8 inches around rush hour is just enough to be a pain in the ass.

But not enough to warrant a snow day.  We got to get a good foot of snow for that to happen.

And so far this winter, no such luck. We’ll probably get that in like May.

For now, I’m enjoying this 50 degree January.

But in the spirit of this challenge, I chose to pretend it was a snow day.

When I think of Snow Day Treats, I think of something that can be made without running to the store.  Because let’s be honest, snow days are for staying in your PJs.

Last time I had a snow day, I made Everything Pretzels.  I love working with yeast on snow days.  Rising times are jsut perfect for watching mindless tv or taking a nap.

But, if I’m not feeling yeast, I make cookies.  I always have everything on hand to make cookies.  You just never know when the mood will strike to make cookies.  And I find, when that mood comes, I don’t want to stop and go to the store.

When I saw these cookies, I knew I had to make them, pronto.  I have stacks and stacks and lists and lists of desserts to try.  When one gets immediately moved to the top of the list, you know it’s gonna be good.  And whoa, were they good.  Much like the Dreamsicle Ice Cream from this summer, these cookies had the perfect orange-vanilla combo.  We had some friends over for dinner, and I brought out these for dessert.  The 4 of us almost polished off the entire batch.  Just. Could. Not. Stop. Eating. Cookies.

Don’t wait for a snow day.  Make these this weekend.

One year ago: Cranberry Scones and Leek and Potato Soup
Two years ago: One-Pot Pasta con Broccoli (and ready in less than 20 minutes!)

Creamsicle Cookies
as seen on A Bitchin Kitchen, originally from Baked Perfection

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
zest of 2 oranges
1 3/4 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars together until creamy.  Beat in egg and vanilla until incorporated.  Gradually beat in flour mixture, being careful not to over mix.

Stir in orange zest and white chocolate chips.

Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop dough onto cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.   Bake for 8-9 minutes, until just golden around the edges.  Yields 2 1/2 dozen cookies.