~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Lemon Crinkle Cookies... Moving on with posting more cookies in the cookie series. These lemon crinkle cookies were an absolute favorite. Such a unique and lemony cookie. Chewy and soft... and totally worth having the recipe in my recipe index. 

As much as my husband doesn't care for lemony desserts, this lemon crinkle cookie managed to be one of his very favorites... actually, it was on top of the list from all the cookies I made. So I'm excited to share the recipe... especially for all you lemony dessert fans. I think you'll enjoy this cookie... or at least I hope so:)

While the normal crinkle cookie will have you dip the cookie dough in icing sugar before baking, I felt the icing sugar could easily be omitted... it's just a thought I had as the icing sugar sort of disappears as it bakes and there's little of it left on the surface, so I think next time I'll just skip that step. Or maybe the cookie needs the dunk in the powdered sugar... I don't know:). I'll leave that up to to you.

However, what I thought went really well... was a drizzle of lemony icing sugar glaze I topped the cookies with after they had cooled. I'm sorry I didn't have the chance to photograph them with the glaze, but hopefully mentioning the glaze will be enough to give you the main idea... The thing was that the cookies not only looked pretty with the drizzle, but the glaze added yet another dimension of lemony goodness. Sort of pumped up the lemon flavor one extra notch.

The original recipe has you add some yellow food coloring as an option. If you don't mind adding food coloring  to your baked goods, then feel free to add a few drops as it will help the cookies to have that lemony look. I was tempted to add a touch of turmeric for color, but backed out of the idea as the cookies were going to be given away. Maybe next time I'll try the turmeric idea:). So here's another cookie recipe that's considered a winner. Hope you enjoy...

Wishing you all a most blessed Christmas... 
Remembering Christ's birth was for a reason... 
That we might have eternal life. 

" But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man. " Hebrews 2:9

You will need: adapted from Cooking Classy

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
10 TBS unsalted butter, softened
1 cup + 2 TBS granulated sugar
1 TBS lemon zest
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 TBS fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp lemon extract ( I used 1 tsp)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar (optional)
lemon icing glaze optional, not pictured  (icing sugar+lemon juice to drizzling consistency)

Directions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper
1. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
2. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, whip together butter, sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy ... scraping bowl occasionally.
3. Mix in egg then blend in egg yolk.
4. Add lemon juice, lemon extract and vanilla extract; mix until combined.
5. On low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
6. Pour powdered sugar into a small bowl.
7. Scoop 1 1/2 tablespoon of dough and shape into a ball.
8 Drop ball in powdered sugar and roll to evenly coat.
9. Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough making sure to space cookies 2-inches apart.
10 Bake in preheated oven for about 10 - 13 minutes. Cool on baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Note: If desired, opt to make a lemon icing sugar glaze to drizzle cookies by mixing lemon juice with icing sugar till drizzling consistency. Drizzle over cookies and allow icing to set.

Store cookies in an airtight container or freeze.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Strawberry-Pecan Rugelach

Strawberry-Pecan Rugelach... Ok, so we've probably all heard about rugelach cookies... they've been around for a long time. Originally dating back to Jewish origin, the rugelach is a crescent type of cookie that's filled with a myriad of fillings. Rugelach cookies may be known in different countries by different names... and in Romania, rugelach are simply known as "cornulte". Romanians like to fill them with bits of Turkish delights and cover them in plenty of powdered sugar. 

The rugelach dough is a tender type of dough... normally made with plenty of butter (or lard/shortening) along with the addition of either sour cream or cream cheese. The dough usually doesn't have any type of leavening, however, there are older recipes that do use yeast to make the cookies super light and tender. The non-leavening version is a bit less complicated and has more of a crumbly texture...

What I really like about making rugelach is that you can use up those jams you may have sitting in the fridge, or those  small amounts of nuts or dried fruits you may have hanging in the freezer. And if you don't have any nuts or fruits on hand, you can simply use  a bit of jam... any flavor you prefer. In all honesty, even if you don't have any jam on hand, you can get away with a generous dusting of cinnamon-sugar filling. That's what's nice about the rugelach, you can make as many different filling variations as you like. You can even go a bit fancy and use chocolate, marzipan, or even a poppy seed filling. Lots of variations...

Because I had some strawberry jam on hand... and some pecans, my variation was simply a strawberry-pecan rugelach:). But you can make the rugelach your own. Be creative and use ingredients you have on hand. Hope you enjoy....

Tip: Dough needs to be chilled for a couple of hours or more... so plan ahead.

Ingredients: adapted from Family Baking Book (ATK)... makes about 32 cookies, recipe can easily be doubled.

For the dough:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (5 ounces) flour
1/8 tsp rum extract, optional
couple drops of almond extract, optional
1 tsp freshly grated orange peel

For the Filling:
1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) of sugar
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon, or to taste
1/2 cup strawberry jam, can use jam of choice
1 cup (four ounces) pecans, chopped fine, can use walnuts even mini-chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried fruit of choice, cranberries, apricots golden raisins, can be omitted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Topping, optional
icing sugar

Directions:
Make Dough:
1. Beat the butter, cream cheese, sugar, vanilla,  rum and almond extracts(if using), orange peel and salt together until light and fluffy.... about 3-6 minutes. 
2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. 
3. Reduce speed and add flour. Mix until just combined.... about 30 seconds or so.
4. Remove dough from mixer bowl and place onto a floured counter.
5. Divide dough into two equal pieces. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours or so. I left mine overnight in the fridge, and then took it out  to soften a bit on the counter before rolling.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 375 F
  • Line two large baking sheets with parchment.
Assemble Cookies:
1. Roll each piece of dough into an 11 inch circle, about 1/4 inch thick. I ended up using a large dinner plate to cut a nice circle, but it isn't needed.
2. Spread about 1/4 cup of the jam on top of each round. 
3. Sprinkle each with 1/2 cup of pecans. 1/4 cup dried fruit of choice, if using and 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon sugar. You could use less of the cinnamon sugar, if you like.... I did.
4. Using a pizza cutter(or knife), cut each dough round evenly into 16 wedges. 
5. Roll up each wedge(starting at the wide end) into a crescent. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, with the pointed end underneath. 
6. With the pointed end of cookie on the bottom, place each cookie about two inches apart unto the prepared cookie sheet.
7. Brush the melted butter over the cookies and sprinkle with a tiny amount of the remaining cinnamon sugar.  If you use too much sugar it will eventually burn as it bakes... so use minimal amount and place it only on top of the cookie... use about a pinch.
8. Bake cookies until pale gold and slightly puffy, about 20 min. 
9. Immediately transfer the hot cookies to a wire rack... removing any burnt sugar/filling that may have leaked out around the cookie... and cool completely before serving. Don't allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet as it will be hard to remove the baked on sugary filling around the cookies.... and they won't look pretty.
10. Dust with icing sugar if desired.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Oatmeal Cream Pies... and Homemade Marshmallow Fluff(no corn syrup).

Oatmeal Cream Pies... and Homemade Marshmallow Fluff(no corn syrup). Ok, so this was one of those recipes I made for the youth group this year that needed the step-by-step photos. So I've included them... and therefore the long post:).

I made the cookies totally from scratch... even the marshmallow fluff:)! And since I was going to make my own marshmallow filling, I opted to skip the corn syrup and used honey instead. If you want to use corn syrup, feel free to do so. Or if you are in a real hurry, you can just buy the marshmallow fluff. 

The nice part about this recipe is that you can skip the filling completely.... and you'll still have some wonderful cookies! The cookies are quite soft and yet chewy... and loaded with flavor. They're a treat! 

I'll admit, they aren't the healthiest of cookies when you include the filling... they 're actually a bit sweet... but ... once in a while... they are worth it:). Interestingly, I ended up cutting the cookies in half... felt better about it:). 

A fun little project that makes some delicious cookies. Hope you enjoy...

"What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me?
I will offer to Thee the sacrifice of Thanksgiving, 
And will call upon the name of the Lord." 
Psalm 116: 12,17

Wishing all my readers a most blessed Thanksgiving!

You will need: adapted from Cooking Classy

Tip: I found it easier to freeze the cookies before filling. The cookies are quite soft and can break easily, so if they are frozen it makes it easy to spread the filling without having the cookies crack. 

1 3/4 cups + 2 TBS all-purpose flour
1 cup quick oats, slightly ground in a food processor to about half their size
2 tsps cocoa powder
2 tsps cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup coconut oil, not melted
1 cup + 1TBS granulated sugar
2 1/2 TBS molasses
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

Marshmallow Fluff/Creme: adapted from CHOW

¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup honey 
¼ cup water
Pinch of salt
2 egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or use vanilla beans from 1/2 vanilla pod

Marshmallow Buttercream Filling: adapted from Cooking Classy
1/2 cup butter,  at room temperature, maybe a little bit colder
1- 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar (I used only 1 cup)
1/2 vanilla bean pod, seeds only (or use extract to taste)
8 oz. marshmallow fluff/creme(homemade or bought)

DIRECTIONS:

Make Marshmallow Fluff/Creme 
Note:You can also whip the eggs ahead to soft peaks and then make the syrup... this way you don't have 2 things going on at the same time.

1. Combine the sugar, honey, water and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

While the sugar mixture is boiling: 

2. Add  egg whites and cream of tartar to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. 
3. Whip on medium-high speed till  soft peaks. Turn off mixer. 
4. When the sugar mixture reaches 240 degrees F. remove from heat and turn the mixer speed to low .
5. With mixer running, slowly drizzle the syrup down the side of the mixer bowl. Once all of the syrup has been added, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form... and the mixture has cooled substantially. This should take about about 7- 9 minutes. 
6. During the last minute or two of beating, add vanilla extract or beans, if using
7. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


Make and Bake Oatmeal Cookies
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper
1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oats, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Set set aside.
2. Using a  paddle attachment of an electric mixer, whip together butter, coconut oil, sugar and molasses on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. 
3. Mix in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. 
4. Stir in vanilla extract. 
5. Slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Refrigerate dough while you clean up. 
6. Using a 1 1/2 TBS ice cream scoop, form and shape dough into balls. You can slightly flatten balls a bit.
7. Bake in preheated oven 10 - 12 minutes ... I baked mine for exactly 10 minutes, you don't want to overbake cookies, as they should still be a bit soft. 
8. Allow cookies to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies are quite fragile so be careful when spreading filling. You might want to refrigerate or even freeze them for a  bit so that they don't break on you. 
9. Spread marshmallow buttercream filling along bottom side of one cookie and place another cookie to make a sandwich. 
10. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. 

Note: I stored my unfilled cookies in the freezer... and then defrosted them slightly before filling them 

Make Marshmallow Buttercream Filling: You know, if you want, you can totally skip the butter and additional sugar and simply use the marshmallow fluff alone... it will be a bit softer but it works:) 

1. Using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, whip butter on medium-high speed, until pale and fluffy, about 3 - 4 minutes. 
2. Add powdered sugar and blend on low speed until combined, then increase speed to medium-high and whip for an extra minute. 
3. Mix in marshmallow fluff and thoroughly combine.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pecan Sandies... with chocolate and caramel topping

Pecan Sandies... with chocolate and caramel topping. Here's another cookie in the cookie series I've been posting lately.

This cookie was actually considered as a finalist in a Christmas Cookie recipe contest. Of course I had to make them:). I loved the look of the cookies... and knew I could not go wrong with chocolate, nuts and caramel. That combination is always a winner.

While you don't need to top the cookies with the pecan half, I chose to do so because I needed to pack them. I found the caramel stuck to everything(!)... so I needed to come up with something on the spur of the moment... therefore the pecan half:). But you can easily skip it if you are serving them on a platter and don't need to stack them.

So here's another idea for a cookie that's sure to please. Sorry about the blueish photos... some of them were taken at odd hours in the midst of the baking frenzy:). Hope you enjoy...

You will need: adapted from Cook's Country Dec/Jan 2012 issue

1 cup pecans, toasted
2 cups(10 oz) all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
12 TBS butter, softened
4 TBS coconut oil, not melted
2/3 cup(4 2/3 oz) light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
25 soft caramel candies
4 TBS heavy cream
1/2 cup(3 oz) bittersweet chocolate chips
extra half pecans for topping, if desired

Directions:

1. Process pecans in food processor until finely ground.
2. Combine flour, pecans, and salt. Sets aside.
3. Beat butter, coconut oil and sugar on med/high until pale and fluffy... about 2 min.
4. Add egg and vanilla and beat till combined.
5.  Add flour mixture and mix until just combined... scraping bowl as needed.
6. Refrigerate dough for for 1 hour... I left mine overnight and allowed dough to soften a bit.

  • Preheat oven to 350 deg F
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper
7. Roll heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
8. Using the back of a floured 1/2 measuring teaspoon, make indentation in center of each ball.
9. Bake cookies till edges are lightly browned...be careful not to burn... about 12-14 minutes.
10. Remove cookies from oven and reinforce indentation with teaspoon.
11. Let cookies cool for about 5 minutes before removing from baking sheets. Allow to cool completely. Can freeze cookies at this point and assemble later as needed.
12. Combine caramels and cream in a saucepan and cook on low stirring until smooth.
13. Melt chocolate(in double boiler or microwave).
14. Fill each cookie dimple with a bit of melted chocolate(about 1/2 tsp) and spread up the sides. I like to place in fridge and allow chocolate to set before adding caramel.
15. Top each chocolate covered cookie with about 1/2 tsp caramel. Allow to set completely. I place mine in the fridge to speed up the process. 
You can top caramel with a half piece of pecan, if desired.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cranberry Bliss Cookies... a recent FAVORITE cookie.



Cranberry Bliss Cookies... When I first saw this recipe on Cookie and Cups' website, I instantly loved the look of the cookie.... and well, the name too:). Of course, I filed it in my " to do list of cookies"...  and am SO glad I made them! 

Funny thing is, I always add my own spin to most recipes, and I chose to do so with this one as well. But I am sure staying true to the original will yield a fantastic cookie as well... but I'll post my version because I loved the changes and plan on making them this way in the future.

I ended up subbing in a bit of coconut oil for some of the butter, just because I like the flavor coconut oil imparts to cookies. And because I love to play around with flavors, I added a bit of "everything"... enough to make the cookie unique, but not too much as to overpower the cookies. A little bit of spice always works:).

While the original cookie had a frosting and topping added to the cookies... similar to the Cranberry Bliss Bars from Starbucks, I chose to omit them for these cookies. It's kind of interesting I did that, because the topping and frosting is what originally attracted me to the cookies in the first place. However, I just felt the cookies were amazing as is... maybe it was because I made them smaller and loved how pillowy soft they looked. 

If you are interested in making the topping and frosting as well, do feel free to check the original recipe in the link below. I suppose if I would have made my cookies bigger and flatter I might have been tempted to add the frosting and topping... Actually,  I might do that next time, as they sure look pretty all frosted up:). 

These cookies are quite ideal for a Christmas cookie exchange.... especially if you frost them with tiny bits of chopped cranberries....they'll be quite festive looking. Hope you enjoy...   

You will need: adapted from Cookies and Cups

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup coconut oil, not melted
2 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
2-3 drops almond extract*
2 tsps vanilla extract
2-3 drops rum extract*
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
pinch nutmeg*
pinch ginger*
pinch cinnamon*
2 1/4 cups flour
1 cup white chocolate chips(I used Toll House)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried cranberries
* can be optional

Directions:

1. Using an electric mixer, cream butter, coconut oil and cream cheese together until smooth.
2. Add brown sugar and beat for and additional 1-2 minutes...  or until fluffy.
3. Add eggs, vanilla (and optional extracts, if desired), baking soda, salt and optional nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, if desired. Beat until thoroughly combined.
4. Add flour and combine on low speed.
5. Stir in white chocolate chips and chopped cranberries.
6. Remove and chill dough for at least 2 hours ... or overnight.. can even freeze dough.
  • Preheat oven to 375° F
  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
7. Remove dough from fridge and form dough in 1 inch balls( or whatever size you prefer). Place dough on baking sheet, about 2 inches apart  and flatten slightly if you prefer your cookies flatter or do not flatten if you prefer your cookies rounder and more mound-like with a softer cookie dough interior .
8. Bake for 7-11 minutes,  depending on size... or until edges are golden and centers are just set.
9. Remove and cool completely.

Note: I made another variation using the basic dough... with dried strawberries chocolate chips and all butter, omitting coconut oil then drizzled with white chocolate.... the cookies were still good, but somehow I much preferred the coconut oil version and white chocolate chips with cranberries. 


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nutella Pocket Cookies... Nutella "Dreams"

Nutella Pocket Cookies...  or Nutella "Dreams".  It's been quite some time since my last post. I've been quite busy... but I thought to stop by a bit and post a few new recipes. 

Every year about this time, I bake cookies for our annual church youth weekend retreat. And I've made it a habit to post some of the recipes I bake here on my blog. Normally in my baking frenzy, I don't take step-by-step pictures... so the recipes I'll be posting will most likely just have the directions without the usual step-by-step photos. Maybe one or two will have  a few photos for clarification, but for the most part, the directions should suffice. 

It's a bit awkward for me as well not to include the step-by-step photos:)... as I'm so used to a ton of photos attached to a single recipe... but bear with me while I post these cookie recipes in the near future. Hopefully you'll be inspired to make one or two... why, with Christmas around the corner the cookie recipes might come in handy:). 

In any case, here is the first... in a series of cookies. This particular cookie was a  personal favorite of my husband... who tends to sample the cookies...just to make sure they are all right:). Hope you enjoy...

You will need: adapted from Mrs. Fields Cookie Book

Cookie:
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract, or a bit more:)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
pinch of salt

Filling:  
Note: You can use a chocolate ganache filling instead if you like

Nutella, as needed ... about 1 slightly rounded teaspoon per cookie

Topping :

icing sugar

Directions: 
1. In a bowl of an electric mixer cream butter on medium speed about a minute or so.
2. Add icing sugar, brown sugar and pinch of salt; beat till smooth.
3. Add yolks and vanilla and mix till light and fluffy using medium speed. Scrape bowl as needed
4. Add flour and and blend until thoroughly combined. 
5. Remove dough, form into a ball and flatten into a disc.
6. Refrigerate for 1+ hours. I left mine overnight.

Prepare Filling:
1. If making chocolate ganache, prepare while dough is chilling. Scald 1/2 cup cream and add 1 cup chocolate chips, combine and set aside to thicken and cool) 
2. If using nutella, place in fridge to harden a bit so that it will be a bit easier to scoop teaspoons unto the cookie.  

Bake Cookies:
  • Preheat oven to 325 deg F
  • Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
1. Remove cookie dough from fridge... if dough has been sitting in fridge overnight or longer than an hour allow to soften a bit before proceeding with recipe. Otherwise, the dough will crack.
2. Flour counter top and rolling pin. Using the floured rolling pin, roll dough to about 1/4 inch  thick. 
3. Cut circles with a 2 inch round cookie cutter(you can also make them a bit larger or smaller depending on preference, just adjust baking time).
4. Place cookie circles onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Continue with rest of dough, using all scraps, until dough is used up.
5. Place 1 teaspoon of nutella(or ganache) in center of cookie circle and top with another circle. 
6. Completely seal the edges of the cookie with the tines of a fork. 
7. Bake until cookies are lightly golden brown around the edges, being careful not to burn... this can take anywhere from 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness and size of the cookies. Just keep an eye on them...
8. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Sprinkle with icing sugar, if desired... or you can be creative and drizzle chocolate over the top.