The BEST Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

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Last week we had a cookie decorating play date. We had so much fun decorating our gingerbread people and our sugar cookies. Many cookies were “lost” during the decorating process. Our little friend M concentrated so hard on completely covering her Christmas tree cookie in yellow frosting that I don’t think she decorated that many cookies. Sasha and Penelope were more into eating the cookies than worrying about whether or not they were adequately covered in frosting.

I found my sugar cookie recipe on one of my favorite blogs (Pinch My Salt). Nicole made her recipe for Halloween cookies. She uses powdered sugar and a tiny bit of almond extract, which I believe makes these cookies the BEST COOKIES EVER! I will be using this recipe for my Christmas cookies from now on; I may even use them for my Valentine’s day cookies, St. Patrick’s day cookies, April Fool’s day cookies, and every other holiday they are THAT good. Thank-you Nicole, we now have a family favorite that I am sure is going to become a tradition. I am sure her recipe for cream cheese frosting is lovely, however I decided to use a powdered sugar frosting that would harden. You must make these cookies, at least once. ENJOY!

Check out her recipe here.

If you want to read more about our gingerbread people check it out here.

Here are some photos of our decorating.

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Here is M concentrating so hard on her yellow Christmas tree.

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Sasha enjoying her hard work!

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Penelope ate her cookie so fast. I told you these cookies were good!

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Here are some of our sugar cookies and gingerbread people.

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Here is M’s cookie that she worked so hard on. More sprinkes ended up on the plate than the cookie, oh well.

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Gingerbread Men and Women

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This year I made real gingerbread people. Last year I made them from a dry mix I bought in a box. The real deal is no comparison, these little cookie people get better each day. The girls and I had some friends over for a cookie decorating extravaganza. I think everyone involved had lots of fun. I told the girls that we were going to “paint” the cookies with frosting, this excited Sasha (2 1/2) and our friend M (almost 2). We used popsicle sticks as our paintbrushes, which worked wonderfully for our needs. The cookies may not win any awards for beautiful design, but I think they are the best looking gingerbread cookies I’ve ever seen.

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My girls kept eating the cookies. As you can see Sasha hardly has any frosting on her cookie, just enough to say she frosted it.

I got the recipe from Martha Stewart’s website, and it was delicious. This week I will be making more gingerbread people for our families. We also made cut out sugar cookies, I will post the recipe tomorrow.

Martha’s Gingerbread People

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The frosting is a powdered sugar, a tiny splash of vanilla, and a splash of milk. I used Wilton’s Icing Color in red, blue, green and yellow.

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Craft Apron

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At the end of October my oldest niece O celebrated her 4th birthday. O loves to paint using watercolors, and she is really good at it. I thought I would make her a little art/craft apron to protect her clothes. I did not use a pattern for this apron, and completely improvised everything. For the pocket “flower pot” I ironed on a stabilizer to the back of the yellow fabric, to give it more structure. When making the flowers I did whatever came to me. I attached them to the green fabric by using stitch witchery. I also added a decorative stitch to the flowers. I hope O enjoys her new apron and gets lots of use out of it. It was fun to make and watch it come together.

Here is a link to free patterns and tutorials for making your own apron.

These are links from blogs I currently read that offer apron tutorials:

Retro Cocktail Apron at Craft Stylish

Craft Apron at Creative Little Daisy

A Walk in the Park Apron at Craft Leftovers


Focaccia Bread

As the weather gets cooler I begin to crave hearty foods, like homemade soups and breads. Awhile back I made Old-Time Beef Stew and with it I served some homemade focaccia bread. Sasha, now 2 1/2 loves to help in the kitchen, and I thought this focaccia would be the perfect opportunity for her to help.

I used Michael Chiarello’s Potato Foccacia recipe for the dough, and instead of topping it with potatoes I used dried thyme, rosemary and cheddar cheese. It was great for dunking into our stew.

For the Dough:

1 envelope active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup lukewarm whole milk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt, preferably gray salt

Combine the yeast, sugar, and milk in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add 1/2 cup of the flour. Stir well, cover with a towel, and let rest in a warm place for 25 minutes.

Mix in the olive oil, salt, and 1 cup of flour, until well incorporated. Add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough adheres to the hook. It should remain soft and slightly sticky. Continue mixing for about 6 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Remove from the bowl, shape the dough into a ball, flatten slightly, and put into an oiled bowl. Turn to coat. Cover the bowl with a towel and put in a warm place for about 1 hour, to let the dough rise until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Oil a baking sheet.

Lightly flour the dough and punch it down. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until smooth. Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 12 by 10 inches. Brush off any excess flour and transfer to the oiled baking sheet. Brush the dough with olive oil and leave to rise for 30 minutes.

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Dimple the dough by poking your fingers into it. Add dried herbs and cheese.

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Please don’t lick your fingers until you are completely done dimpling the dough!

Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden brown and the bread is crisp on the bottom. Let cool in the pan to room temperature. Cut into squares, “fingers,” or triangles to serve.

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Here Sasha is enjoying all her hard work.

What Does Your Kitchen Look Like?

I subscribe to several different blogs, and I see some amazing stuff that people are making. This always leaves me wondering what do these people’s kitchens looks like? Are they stocked to the brim with every cooks dream tools?

We’ve recently moved to a new place. When we first looked at our apartment, I was a little concerned that the kitchen was going to be too small and kind of cramped. It was definatly smaller than my kitchen at our condo. After being here and cooking in it for two weeks, I now realize that I love this kitchen. It is laid out much better than my last kitchen, and it is a better use of space. In fact, I still have cupboards that are empty!

I don’t have fancy equipment. Most of my stuff is hand-me downs, bought second hand or Christmas gifts. Of course if I had all the money in the world there are things I would purchase, but I have made due with what I have quite nicely. Someday thought, I want to have a six burner gas range.

Here are some photos of my kitchen. If you post about your kitchen in your blog, send me a link so I can snoop!

Pantry/Storage Closet

Looking into kitchen from dining room

Standing in dining room looking into kitchen

Pumped Up Mac & Cheese

Whenever I am in the kitchen, Sasha always asks me if I am cooking mac ‘n cheese. I am sure most toddlers could eat this meal morning, noon and night; Sasha would be tickled pink if I place a plate of mac ‘n cheese in front of her for breakfast. Although nothing beats homemade mac ‘n cheese, at times it is just easier to use the boxed variety. Now I know that mac ‘n cheese isn’t the healthiest lunch option, but it is quick and easy, and perfect for a mom with lots to do. I’ve tried to healthify (cut some calories) the boxed variety by adding a fraction of the requested butter and using low-fat or non-fat milk.

Awhile back I saw Jessica Seinfeld on Oprah, talking about her new cookbook Deceptively Delicious. I do not own nor have I read her cookbook, but the idea of getting kids to eat healthier foods is something I want my kids to do. Luckily I don’t have to be so deceptive with my cooking right now, my kids are excellent eaters and I hope they remain that way.  Mrs. Seinfeld “sneaks” vegetables into her recipes so her children get the added benefit of extra vitamins and nutrients.  I didn’t have to sneak any vegetables in to my mac ‘n cheese, I just stirred in a can of peas and carrots, and pumped up my mac ‘n cheese with additional Vitamins A, C, and K, along with additional fibre (which we could all use). My girls loved the chunks of veggies in their mac ‘n cheese and I was happy to know they were getting the additional vitamins and nutrients they wouldn’t have had with plain mac ‘n cheese.  So peas have another helping! 😉

Pumped Up Mac & Cheese

1 box Macaroni and Cheese
1 small can peas and carrots (drained and rinsed)
Milk
Butter or MArgarine

Prepare macaroni and cheese according to directions on box. A few minutes before the macaroni is tender stir in peas and carrots. Strain macaroni, peas and carrots. Stir in milk and butter. Enjoy!

My Kids Love My Cooking

I have been so lucky to have children that aren’t picky eaters. Ever since I introduced solid foods, the girls  haven’t turned down anything. As a baby Sasha loved asparagus and Penelope enjoyed my roasted brussels sprouts. When I was introducing baby food to the girls I started off with the veggies. It seems like most parents start with the fruits, since they are sweeter and the babies are more likely to be more willing to eat sweet foods. Whether or not this is why my kids love their veggies, if I have any more children I will also start them out on veggies.  Like most moms I have tons of photos of the girls with food all over their faces. I thought I would share a few.

Sasha enjoying fresh basil. She liked dunking it in her milk.

Penelope enjoying her first Oreo cookie.

Can you tell she loved the lasagna?

Pesto Couscous made Penelope happy!

Sasha LOVED this Daring Bakers Challenge!