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!

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.

Enjoy!

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.

Enjoy!

 

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Dear loyal PLFF readers (all 5 of you),

I’m sorry I’ve been MIA the past few weeks.  Life at my real job has been pretty awful and it’s left me with zero desire to cook anything new, to spend time taking picture of anything new I do cook, and even less of a desire to sit at the computer and blog.  Heck, to be honest, the only reason I’m blogging right now is to procrastinate the enormous amount of work waiting for me when I get into the office later this morning. 

I do have a few recipes waiting in the wings to get blogged, hoping to get a little more caught up this weekend. 

On to the recipe – chocolate chip cookies.  Now I know everyone seems to have their go-to recipe for chocolate chip cookies and I was the same way.  I was a traditionalist, loved me some regular old Tollhouse cookies.  Then these cookies came along – the chewiest, softest chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had! 

I took a batch camping over Memorial Day weekend.  To say they were a hit amongst our friends is one of the biggest understatements I could possibly make.  I was sticking a roasted marshmallow in between two cookies.  Others soon followed suit.  Then everyone started skipping the marshmallow and just devouring the cookies.  We ended up leaving the next afternoon because of bad weather.  Others stayed.  They requested that the cookies stay also.  I thought about it.  And that’s as close as I came to leaving the remaining cookies. 

They are THAT good. 

One year ago: Spicy Vodka Cream Pasta and Old School Hamburger Casserole
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Chewy Chocolate Chip cookies
original source unknown (My mom got the recipe from someone at work)

2 ¼ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup softened butter
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 small package instant vanilla pudding
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips                              

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

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. 

Beat butter, granulated sugar, vanilla pudding, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in large mixing bowl until creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in morsels.  Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.  Bake 9-11 minutes (high altitude, go closer to 8-9 minutes) or until golden brown.  Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Enjoy! (and you don’t have to share.  But you’ll make friends if you do!) 🙂

Bridal shower cookies

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‘Tis the season PLFF readers!  No, not Christmas, but wedding season!  One of the many weddings we have this year is my cousin Steve and his wonderful fiancée, Hollie.  It totally killed me to not be at home in STL for her bridal shower a few weeks ago.  You know me, I LOVE planning a good party, and I positively adore Hollie.  So it totally bummed me out to not be there and help with the food and cupcakes (although apparently my mom did a killer job making the raspberry lemonade cupcakes and the car-bomb cupcakes).  I couldn’t stand not helping at all, so I volunteered to make the shower favors – cute sugar cookies monogrammed with Hollie’s soon-to-be new last initial. 

I wanted something simple, yet adorable (just like Hollie!), and to incorporate their navy and bright pink wedding colors.  And when they were done, I knew I had achieved just that.  And after several rounds in bubble wrap, they safely made it to STL for the shower. 

Sorry I couldn’t be there Hollie, I wish you guys they best.  The wedding is just weeks away, and I know you’ll be an absolutely beautiful bride.  Congrats from me, Scott, and all of the PLFF readers!

oh, and I used my go-to sugar cookies recipe and royal icing recipe.  Here’s my royal icing tutorial if you’re new to decorating sugar cookies.
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Perfect Party Cookies

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Sprinkles make me happy. 

And I don’t think I’m alone in this matter.  Who doesn’t love sprinkles, let’s be honest.  Good rainbow sprinkles make me think of funfetti cake, ice cream sundaes, birthdays and being a kid.  So when Stephanie posted the Perfect Party Cookies a while back, it brought up all those same feelings – cookies with sprinkles?  Yes please. 

Unfortunately, I had the batter all mixed up when I realized the only sprinkles I had were the crystallized sugar kind.  Boo. I used them anyway, but didn’t quite have the same effect that Stephanie’s did.  So make sure you use the good, old fashioned kind of sprinkles when you makes these. 

And you should make them.  Soon.  They come together very quickly (don’t even need to break out the stand mixer), so there’s really just no excuse not to make them.  After the crazy work week I had, one of these cookies was just what I needed to restore a little Zen in my day. 

Ok, you caught me.  I ate more than one… 🙂

One year ago: Herb and Cheese Beer Bread

Perfect Party Cookies
courtesy of Stephanie Cooks

1 cup flour
1 cup boxed yellow cake mix
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
4 tbsp colored sprinkles

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cake mix, and baking soda.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, combine egg and egg yolk, melted butter, and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth and slightly creamy.  Add in white and brown sugars and mix well.  Add in flour mixture, stir with a spatula until combined.   Stir in chocolate chips and sprinkles.  Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350.

Scoop batter by the tablespoon (or a medium cookie scoop) onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper of silicone mats.  Bake 12-15 minutes (high altitude folks, I only needed 11 minutes) until the middle is set and edges start to slightly brown.  Cool for 5 minutes on the sheet, then remove to a cooling rack.

Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies

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Ok, so remember the awesome gooey butter cookies I posted last week?  Well I’ve heard through the St. Louis grapevine that other cake mixes can be used to literally make about a thousand variations on the gooey butter cookies, including strawberry, chocolate, key lime, orange, the possibilities are endless.  I consider myself a purist when it comes to the gooey butter, but I had a dark chocolate cake mix in the pantry (who knows what I originally bought it for) and a spare stick of butter and block of cream cheese, so I figured I would give it a whirl.  And whoa.  It was like an ooey brownie! They were chewy and rich and super yummy.  I still think the original are my favorite, but if you’re a chocolate lover, then you really MUST try these.  

Chocolate gooey butter cookies
Adapted from gooey butter recipe, original source unknown

8oz cream cheese, at room temp
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 box dark chocolate cake mix
powdered sugar

Cream together cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer.*  Add egg and vanilla and beat until just combined.  Slowly add in cake mix and beat until combined.  May have to finish by hand, batter gets VERY thick.  Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350.  Shake a few ounces of powdered sugar in a small bowl.  Scoop dough by the tablespoon (or a medium cookie scoop) and drop into powdered sugar.  Roll dough in powdered sugar.  Knead sugar into dough, and finish by again rolling dough in powdered sugar before dropping on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Chill dough in between batches. Bake for 14-16 minutes. Yields about 3 dozen cookies

*I’ve busted two hand mixers trying to make gooey butter cookies, in the days before my Kitchen Aid mixer.  I don’t recommend using a hand mixer, the batter is just too thick and sticky.  If you don’t have a stand mixer, mix dough with your hands, just spray your hands with cooking spray first.  I had to resort to this method both times that my hand mixer broke. 

Gooey butter cookies

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I’ve been a bad blogger lately.  Like many others, but December is packed to the gills with holiday parties, holiday baking and general holiday craziness that I haven’t spent much time on the computer.  But this week I hope to make up for it at least a little by sharing some of my favorite cookies for the holiday season.  Here’s my whole cookie tag if you want some additional ideas.  You can see last year’s cookies here.  Last year I made peanut butter cookies, kitchen sink cookies (oatmeal, white chocolate, craisin, macadamia nut), and gooey butter cookies.  Oh the gooey butter cookies.  I posted this recipe last year with the others, but the picture isn’t so great, and these cookies are so amazing that I feel like they deserve an encore.  And bottom line, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to (*sticks my tongue out*).

As I’ve mentioned before in the regular gooey butter cake post, gooey butter is a phenomenon known only to native St. Louisans and the occasional Georgian.  But the whole world really should experience it’s awesomeness.  And gooey butter gets even better in cookie form.  These cookies have been oogled over by everyone that’s ever tried them.  And here in Colorado, since no one’s ever heard of them, they are even more fawned over.  I’ve been bribed for the recipe on more occasions than I can count.  Our co-workers look forward to them every year, and rightfully so – they are soft and chewy and just downright delicious!

So if you make ONE new cookie recipe this year, I highly recommend this one.  You won’t regret it, I promise!

Gooey Butter Cookies
original source unknown

8oz cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla
1 box yellow cake mix
powdered sugar

Cream together cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer.*  Add egg and vanilla and beat until just combined.  Slowly add in cake mix and beat until combined.  May have to finish by hand, batter gets VERY thick.  Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350.  Shake a few ounces of powdered sugar in a small bowl.  Scoop dough by the tablespoon (or a medium cookie scoop) and drop into powdered sugar.  Roll dough in powdered sugar.  Knead sugar into dough, and finish by again rolling dough in powdered sugar before dropping on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Chill dough in between batches. Bake for 14-16 minutes. Yields about 3 dozen cookies

*I’ve busted two hand mixers trying to make these cookies, in the days before my Kitchen Aid mixer.  I don’t recommend using a hand mixer, the batter is just too thick.  If you don’t have a stand mixer, mix dough with your hands, just spray your hands with cooking spray first.  I had to resort to this method both times that my hand mixer broke. 

Fall Cookie Arrangement – the final steps!

Ok, so you’ve seen all the steps of making a cookie arrangement:

– the cookie recipe

– the royal icing demonstration

– basic candy making

Now it’s time to put everything together and finish it off.  First, you need to pick out a basket or container to be the base.  I chose a cute fall basket I found for 50% off.  Even better, right?  You’ll want to fill your base as much as possible with floral foam.  You can find this at any craft store for pretty inexpensive.  I filled the side crevices with crinkled shredded paper that I had on hand.  I forgot to take a picture of this before we started adding stuff, sorry about that.  Here’s the closest picture I could get of the base:
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Then plan out how you want to arrange your cookies – how many rows, how many cookies total.  I picked out 12 cookies that I thought looked the best, had 3-4 more on standby in case that wasn’t enough or there were some casualties.  I did the back row first, made the rows progressively shorter and tried to keep cookies in between each other as much as possible – so no cookie was hiding the one behind it.  Don’t over-fill it – remember you still have to add tissue paper and the candy sticks.

I did the tissue paper next, taking half-sheets of tissue and securing them with toothpicks.  I stuck mostly with the brown, adding a few half-sheets of orange in the middle for some extra color.  But my cookies were pretty colorful, so I didn’t do too much to distract from the cookies. 

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Once the tissue would mostly done, I maneuvered in between cookies and tissue to add in the candy pumpkins.  If you do the pumpkins before the tissue, you’ll never be able to get your hand in there to secure the tissue.  Same with the cookies, don’t overload with candy – these are just supposed to be accents and to fill in any gaps and holes.
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And voila!  Now you have a beautiful edible centerpiece!  Would make a fantastic gift for anyone and can easily be tailored to any holiday or gift-giving occasion. 

I hope you see how easy and do-able these things are.  They take some patience, yes, and a fairly open weekend, but nothing is super complicated or difficult.  You can do it!

And good luck to Arapahoe Douglas Mental Health and their Raising Spirits auction and wine tasting tonight!  I’m so happy to participate and thank you so much for being such a wonderful employer!