Saturday, December 20, 2008

Angela's Cookie Exchange

Thank you so much to all who participated. I can't wait to start baking!!
I'll be happy to post any late submissions in later posts, so if you still have a recipe to share, send it to me at .

Linzer cookies from Jenifer:

2 Cups All Purpose Flour, Plus more for dusting
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
¼ Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Blanched Hazelnuts
1 Cup Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
2/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Large Egg Yolks
½ Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
½ Teaspoon Lemon Zest
½ Cup Raspberry Jam
¼ Cup Confectioners Sugar

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In a food processor, pulse hazelnuts until finely ground. Whisk the ground hazelnuts into the flour mixture and set aside.

With an electric mixer beat butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, vanilla, and lemon Zest; beat to combine, scraping down the sides of mixing bowl as needed. With mixer on low speed, add hazelnuts-flour mixture, and beat until just combined.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide in half, and shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least one hour or overnight. Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator, and let stand until slightly softened. On a large piece of parchment paper lightly dusted with flour, roll dough to 1/8 – inch thickness. Freeze until firm, about 20 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove one sheet of dough at a time from freezer and working quickly, cut into round, scalloped shapes with a Cutter or self made template. Cut out center from half the shapes with a smaller cutter. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until dough is crisp and lightly golden all over, about 15 minutes. Transfer “cookies” to wire rack to cool. Spread the flat sides of the whole cookies with raspberry jam. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the cut-out cookies. Just before serving, Place cut-out cookies over whole cookies; serve.

Oreo Cookies from Leslie

1 devil's food cake mix
1/2 c. shortening
2 eggs

Mix the above ingredients together. Roll the dough into balls just a bit bigger than a marble and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Cool cookies.

8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 square butter
2 tsp. vanilla
2 to 4 c. powdered sugar

Mix all of frosting ingredients until smooth. Frost BACKS of cookies and place together to make sandwich cookie.

Thumbprint Cookies from Megan

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
2 egg yolks
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup jam or jelly, any flavor

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar and egg yolks. Mix in flour a little bit at a time until a soft dough forms. Roll dough into 1 inch balls. If dough is too soft, refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes. Place balls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Use your finger or an instrument of similar size to make a well in the center of each cookie.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown on the bottom. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks. When cool, add your favorite jam or jelly.

Chocolate Minty Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup cocoa powder
1 egg white
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour

Peppermint cream filling:
2+ cups powdered sugar, sifted
10 - 15 drops peppermint extract (to taste)
1/4 cup half and half (or water if you are going to keep the cookies around unrefrigerated for a while)

Pre-heat the oven to 350F degrees, position the racks in the middle of the oven, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat.

Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and cream some more, scraping the sides of the bowl a time or two. Stir in the vanilla extract, cocoa powder, egg white, and salt and mix until the cocoa powder is integrated and the batter is smooth and creamy and the consistency of a thick frosting. Add the flour and mix just until the batter is no longer dusty looking. It might still be a bit crumbly, and that's okay.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface, gather it into a ball, and knead it just once or twice to bring it together into a smooth mass. Divide into two pieces place each into a plastic bag and flatten into disks roughly 1 inch thick. Put the dough in the freezer for 20 minutes to chill.
One bag at a time remove the dough from the freezer. On a well floured surface roll it out very thin (remember these are going to be sandwich cookies) - roughly 1/8 inch thick. Or you might find it easiest to roll it out between to Silpats or pieces of plastic. Stamp out cookies in whatever shape you like - I used tiny scalloped circles here. Place on the prepared baking sheets, and bake for 7-10 minutes, or until they small of deep warm chocolate with toasty overtones. Larger cookies will take longer to cook than smaller ones. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack (if you have one).

While the cookies are baking, go ahead and make the filling. Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer, whisk together the sugar and half and half until nice and fluffy. You want the filling to be thick enough that it doesn't ooze out the sides of the cookies after they are filled, so if you need to add more powdered sugar, do so in small increments. If you need to thin out your filling, add more half and half a few drops at a time. Whisk in the peppermint extract a bit at a time, and taste as you go, the peppermint flavor shouldn't be overwhelming. When the cookies have completely cooled slather a bit of filling on half of the cookies. Top each slather with another cookie and enjoy!

Makes about 3 dozen 1 1/2-inch sandwich cookies.

Buckeyes from Debbie

1 1/2 cups peanut butter
6 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 whole graham crackers, pulverized into crumbs (optional)
4 cups semisweet chocolate chips


1. Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper; set it aside. Using a wooden spoon, mix together the peanut butter, sugar, butter, vanilla extract, and graham crackers, if desired, in a large bowl. (The dough will look dry.)

2. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls. Set them on the prepared cookie sheet and insert a toothpick into each ball. Chill them in the freezer until hard, about 30 minutes.

3. Melt the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl set atop a pot of simmering water over medium-high heat. Stir continuously until smooth. Remove the pan from the heat. Using the toothpick as a handle, dip the balls into the melted chocolate, leaving a small circle at the top uncovered. Place the dipped candies back on the cookie sheet and refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 2 hours. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Although the centers are traditionally creamy, you can add graham crackers to the mix if you prefer crunchy. Makes about 7 dozen buckeyes.

Melinda's Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

(I borrowed the photo from Martha)

½ cup Shortening
1 cup Sugar
1 egg
1 tsp Vanilla
2 2/3 cups Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Nutmeg
½ cup Sour Cream

Heat oven to 425 F.

Mix thoroughly shortening, sugar, egg and vanilla.
Measure flour by dip-level-pour method. Mix dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream.
Divide dough and roll out to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters; place on greased baking sheet.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until delicately golden.
Makes 4 to 5 dozen 2-inch cookies.

You can sprinkle with sugar prior to baking or frost them after they cool. Cream cheese frosting is especially good!

Cream Cheese Frosting
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.

Surprise Package Cookies from Michelle and Marissa

"Each of these buttery cookies has a chocolate mint candy inside"
1 c butter (no subsitutes) softened
1 c sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 t vanilla extract
3 c all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t. salt
65 mint Andes' candies

In a mixing bowl,cream butter and sugars. add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, gradually add to creamed mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until easy to handle. With floured hands, shape a teaspoonful of dough around 42 candies, forming rectangular shapes. Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove to racks to cool.In a microwave or saucepan, melt the remaining candies and drizzle over cookies. YIELD: 3 1/2 dozen

Cream Wafers from Maxine

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup whipping (heavy) cream
Granulated sugar
Creamy Filling
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla, lemon extract or peppermint extract
Food color, if desired

1. In medium bowl, mix flour, 1 cup butter and the whipping cream with spoon. Cover and refrigerate about 1 hour or until firm.
2. Heat oven to 375ºF. Roll one-third of dough at a time 1/8 inch thick on lightly floured surface. (Keep remaining dough refrigerated until ready to roll.) Cut into desired shapes with 1 1/2-inch cookie cutters. Generously cover large piece of waxed paper with granulated sugar. Transfer cutouts to waxed paper, using pancake turner. Turn each cutout to coat both sides. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Prick each cutout with fork about 4 times.
3. Bake 7 to 9 minutes or just until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
4. Meanwhile, mix all Creamy Filling ingredients until smooth. Add a few drops water if necessary. Spread about 1/2 teaspoon filling between bottoms of pairs of cookies.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Don't Forget!!

Don't forget to send me your favorite Christmas cookie recipe today for my online cookie exchange!! Send your recipe to

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Winter Wonderland

This weekend we had a little snow. It was about as close to looking like a winter wonderland as Boise gets this time of year. Valerie was so excited that she could not stand it. She flung open the back door, burst out onto the patio, eagerly balled up snow in both fists, paused for just a moment with a puzzled look upon her face, and then promptly burst into tears because her feet and hands were freezing. It was almost like watching in slow motion (I may have laughed - a little). We properly dressed her thereafter and helped her build a snowman - well, half a snowman anyway. We named him Chester. Come by and visit him before he melts away. In Boise, there's no guarantee that he'll be back another day.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tape People

Can you believe these are made from ordinary scotch and packing tape??
Thanks to my mother-in-law for sharing these amazing creations!!

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you...

Tagged by Jenifer:

The rules: bold anything you have done.
My added rule: Italicize anything you plan to do in 2009.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a Praying Mantis (Not likely to ever happen; they are sooooo scary!)
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris (*Sigh*, I wish)
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Been to the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa at the Louvre (Again, *sigh*)
20. Slept on an train (Does the one at Disneyland count?)
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (Shhhh....)
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (I don't suppose the gondolas at the Venetian count?)
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (Exactly how much is this??)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (*sigh*.... - oh you get the idea)
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check (My lawyer advised me to plead the 5th)
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Tied a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a Bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person (I've seen enough episodes of King of the Hill to feel like I've been there.)
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Visited Italy

Tag, you're it!!! I tag everyone on my blog list and anyone who sees this and wants to play along.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I Love Cookies!

‘Tis the season for baking wonderful, amazing Christmas treats;
Unfortunately we’re too far apart to share our most favorite sweets.
I guess the next best thing is to share our receipes and photos online,
Good tidings of sugar and sprinkles from your house to mine.

Please join me in my First Annual Online Cookie Exchange!
Send your favorite Christmas recipes to me by email at
by Friday, December 19, and I will post them the following day at
Send photos if you have them. Recipes are always better with pictures!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Santa, Cupcakes, and Puppies, Oh My!

This was Valerie's thrid visit to Santa, and though she was a little wary at first, she calmed down right away and was wishing Santa and his elves a Merry Christmas in no time.
She's quickly figuring out the part about asking for presents. Now, we just have to get her to understand the naughty vs. nice part... She was exceptionally naughty after her visit to St. Nick. She ran down almost the whole length of the mall while I walked as fast as I could behind her in my no-way-I-can-run-in-these shoes.

She brought home the CUTEST cupcake from daycare the other day. Isn't it adorable? She couldn't wait to stick her fingers in the chocolate frosting and lick them off.

And, finally, introducing the newest member to our family, Geronimo (we call him Moe). He's been a great puppy so far. Valerie loves having a new friend, and we love having Moe around to help tire her out as he chases her around the house, across the yard, and through the doggy door (she refuses to use the people door now). My brother and his wife and our friends in Nampa also got puppies from the same litter. You should see them all playing together!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I Love the Holidays

Things have been crazy busy at our house, as I am sure they have been at yours. Aren't the holidays wonderful? Sure, we squeeze lots of extra activities, tasks, and social events into our schedules, but at least it's fun stuff. I love any excuse to buy and wrap presents, make crafty things, decorate my house, and bake yummy treats; so give me a time that brings all of that together, and I am certain to feel like life is magical.

I am also lucky enough to celebrate my anniversary (7 years!) and endless family birthdays in December. Danny's birthday was Saturday and it was a rather momentous one. I love telling him how lucky he is to be married to a girl in her 20's. ;) There is certainly no shortage of blessings and happy celebrations in my life, and I especially appreciate the opportunity to be surrounded by family, friends, and holiday whimsy this year when so many things seem to be going wrong in the world. I hope everyone is able to live in the moment a little bit this season and enjoy the simple pleasures of Christmas. We can worry about everything else in January, right?

Here are a few of my favorite things about the holidays:

#1 - Favorite Christmas Song: Oh Holy Night

#2 - Favorite Christmas Music Albums: Mariah Carey, Transsiberian Orchestra, Christmas with the Chipmunks, and the Time-Life Treasury of Christmas

#3 - Holiday MUST: Real Christmas Tree

#4 - Longest-Running Family Tradition: Mom's butterscotch rolls on Christmas morning

#5 - Unfulfilled Christmas Wish: To go ice skating and see the tree at Rockefeller Center in New York

#6 - A gift I'd like to give this year: Chocolate mice from L.A. Burdick