Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lemon Loaf

This was shared by a Mother on "Sobo Mom's" and it has quickly become one of my favorite go-to recipes. Lemon loaf is super easy to make and most likely you will have the ingredients in your home. A great treat to have during the holidays when friends and family stop by--just add a cup of coffee or tea and everyone will be smiling.


1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk, I use 2%
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 lemon, zested


1 lemon, juice of
1/4 cup sugar


1. In a large bowl cream together butter and sugar.
2. Add eggs one at a time until creamy.
3. Blend in milk.
4. In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking powder, salt & lemon zest
5. Pour into butter/sugar batter and combine.
6. Pour into greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
8. Bake in 350f degree oven for 50-55 minutes, pending on your oven
9. While loaf is baking, combine lemon juice & sugar in saucepan. Heat last 5 minutes of baking time and heat until sugar is dissolved.
10. Remove loaf from oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes.
11. Remove to rack and while still hot and poke toothpick holes all over the top of the loaf, and spoon glaze evenly over loaf
12. Cool.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

1 stick butter
1 jar Peanut Butter (I use Skippy's Reduced Fat Creamy)
Confectioners Sugar
2 containers of Baker's Dipping Chocolate

In medium sauce pan, melt the butter
Add the peanut butter (yes, the entire jar!) until the two meld together into liquified peanut butter
Add confectioners sugar until consistency is solid enough to roll a "ball" in the palm of your hands(yes, your hands will get dirty and sticky and creamy...from peanut bad can it be!?!?)
Set aside these "balls" on a wax paper covered cookie sheet and then refrigerate for at least one night
Melt dipping chocolate according to package's directions
Dip balls into chocolate until covered and return to wax papered cookie sheet
Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight and have a happy chocolate rush for breakfast.

I do not recommend using chocolate morsels/chips for melting or semi-sweet anything. Milk Chocolate all the way!!

This recipe will yield: 50-80 balls, depending what size "balls" you like (go ahead, insert 8th grade humor here)

When stirring the peanut butter and sugar, be sure to rest the wrist. Child labor is great to use at this point (or if you are alone, a KitchenAid mixer)

You can add liquor--kahlua or chambord-- to the mix (you wont even taste the alcohol). When people ask for the recipe it just makes it sound more grown up :)

This is not an exact measurement recipe. Somewhat vague, but once you get the right consistency, things will go from there. Lots of trial and error: In my years of tweaking this recipe, I have yet to meet a version I didn't like.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Squares

4 bricks of reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 tubes of chocolate chip cookie dough (better to have extra than not enough, I always say!)

Pre-heat oven to 340*
Grease the bottom & sides of a 9x13 pan
Spread the bottom & sides pan with cookie dough so it is approx 1/4" thick
Beat together cream cheese and eggs
Spread the mixture on top of the cookie dough
Slice the 2nd tube of cookie dough into 1/4" circles and layer on top of cream cheese mixture with the edges touching
Cover with foil and bake for 30min
Remove foil and bake for add'l 10min
Let cool and cut into squares

Monday, December 14, 2009

Stained Glass Cutout Cookies

These cookies are so pretty, aren't they? What a genius idea: cutout cookies, with jolly rancher candies melted in the center to look like stained glass!

I followed this recipe from Simply Recipes exactly...there are great directions there. Only note I have is to really fill the centers of the cookies with the candy to over-filling. Pile it up! The first batch I didn't, and some of my stained glass centers had holes :)

In the end, I'm only lukewarm about this recipe. They sure are pretty, but I wasn't in love with the taste (probably because I'm not a big jolly ranchers fan). Also, they were a lot of work, and not lots of fun for the kids as we didn't get to use tons of different cookie cutters, and they weren't decorated after they were baked.

So if you want a cookie to standout on cookie trays, this is a good choice. But if you're making just to have fun with your kids, I'd probably skip this one and go with a traditional cutout recipe where they can choose their cookie cutters and do some decorating.

Peppermint Meltaways

So, I got a KitchenAid stand mixer for my birthday. I know, how lucky am I? In the instruction manual/cookbook that came with it, there is a recipe for no-cook mints that sounded good to me. I made a few changes (notably, adding chocolate. I mean, come on! These were screaming out for chocolate!), so here it is with my changes:

3 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon mint extract
2 drops food coloring (optional)
Approximately 4 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup chocolate chips


Place cream cheese, mint, and food coloring of your choice in the mixer bowl. With paddle mixture, beat on speed 2 until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating on speed 2 after each addition until combined. Keep adding sugar until the dough is VERY stiff. I think I added a little too much sugar as after my last addition, the dough didn't come looked kind of like dippin' dots. It still worked okay, but be careful as you get near the end of your 4 cups. It may take a little more than 4 cups...the original recipe called for 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 cups. I used 4 1/4 cups, and it was the last addition of about 1/2 cup that sent my dough over the edge so I'm guessing 4 cups would have been perfect.

Form dough into small balls (I used about a rounded teaspoonful of dough for each mint), flatten slightly, then press with the back of a fork if desired.

Place mints on a cooling rack.

Place chocolate chips in a medium sized microwave safe bowl. Microwave 20 seconds, then stir well. Continue microwaving in 20 second increments, stirring well after each 20 seconds. Remove from the microwave when the majority of the chips are fully melted...keep stirring until the remaining chips melt (if they don't all melt, return to the microwave for 10 seconds, and try again to stir them all in). Using a rubber spatula, transfer the melted chocolate to a plastic sandwich bag. Cut a very small amount off one bottom corner of the bag. Pipe the chocolate out through the hole on to the cookies.

Store the mints tightly covered in the refrigerator.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Coffee Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

I used this recipe on smitten kitchen as a starting point, making just a few changes, mostly to make it nut-safe. These are outlandishly good. They have a strong coffee flavor, but my kids still liked them.

1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee granules (I used decaf since that's what was in the house)
1 tablespoon boiling water
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces chocolate chips (eyeball it based on the size of your bag...I have an 8 oz bag so used about half of it)

Dissolve the coffee in the boiling water and set aside to cool.

Put about 1/4 of your chocolate chips on a cutting board and with a large knife, cut the chips into smaller pieces. You'll end up with some piece that are practically shaved, and some rather large pieces. Transfer to another container and continue with the rest of the chips until you have chopped them all. If you're not worried about nut allergies*, you could just use mini chips and skip this, though I really liked how the different sized pieces of chocolate tasted in the cookies.

Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth and well-blended. Beat in the vanilla and coffee. Reduce the blender speed and mix in the flour until just incorporated. With a rubber spatula, fold in the chopped chocolate chips.

The dough will be very sticky. Transfer it to a gallon sized ziplock bag. Flatten the dough slightly with your hands pushing on the outside of the bag, then use a rolling pin to roll the dough out until it fills pretty much all the bag. You'll need to leave the bag unzipped while you do this, and you'll have to stop occasionally to unstick the plastic from the dough to remove trapped air or straighten out the bag so you don't get creases. It works pretty great, though, and the dough should be about 1/4" thick when you're done. Seal the bag and place it on a flat surface in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Cut the plastic bag along the seams to expose the dough. Using a pizza cutter, cut the cookies into squares (whatever size you'd like...mine were about 1 1/2" square, or at least that's what I was aiming for). Place cookies on baking sheet. They don't really expand when cooking, so you only need to leave about 1" between cookies. Prick each cookie twice with a fork, pushing all the way through the cookie until you touch the tray. (Try to avoid any larger pieces of chocolate when you do this...I had trouble a few times with the tines of the fork getting stuck in a big glob of chocolate!)

Bake for 18-20 minutes until very lightly browned. Cool for a few minutes on the tray, then transfer to a cooling rack.


*Note about nut allergies: it's hard to find chocolate in the supermarket that is nut-safe. I've had the most luck finding standard sized chocolate chips that are nut-safe. Trader Joe's are my favorite, though as always with allergies, check the bag to make sure they're safe as manufacturing processes can change.

Molasses Sugar Cookies

Mmmm, these cookies are pretty easy to make, and are my husband's new favorite cookie. They have a wonderful smell and a yummy taste, too.

I followed this recipe from allrecipes exactly, so I'll just include a link. Only note is that this made A LOT of cookies for me...over 60 cookies! I don't know if I made mine too small, though they seemed a good size. Just a warning if you're not sure about this recipe, you may want to half it. Luckily we liked these, or else I'd have a ton of cookies to throw out!

Brown Sugar Brown Butter Shorties

The other day, I tried a bunch of new cookie recipes, and these were among my favorites. They have a deep, almost nutty flavor which is pretty impressive given that they don't contain any nuts.

Due to imperfect rolling of the dough into a log, my cookies had somewhat flat bottoms instead of being round. As a result, one of my sons called these "tombstone cookies", a name that may stick in our house as it rolls off the tongue a little easier than "brown sugar-brown butter shorties". Or perhaps next time I'll just be more careful to make a round cylinder so my cookies don't resemble tombstones!

I found this recipe on smitten kitchen here, and made only very minor changes. Her recipe is originally from Gourmet magazine, so here's a link if you want to hark back to the original unchanged version.

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Sugar in the Raw for rolling (optional)

Place the butter in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the butter is a light brown and smells nutty. Pour into a container and place in the fridge until firm, possibly overnight. Remove from the fridge and allow to return to room temperature so the butter is soft but not melted. This is important...I believe this is why some commenters on the recipe on smitten kitchen reported bad results. After one hour in the fridge (what the linked recipe called for), my butter was still liquid-y. If the butter you use is liquid-y, the cookies probably won't turn out right! I browned the butter first thing in the morning, put it in the fridge, then once it was solid, took the container out of the fridge to soften while I made a different batch of cookies. It was perfect after that.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the flour and salt, mixing well. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer or electric beater, cream together the butter and brown sugar until well-combined, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated. Add the flour/salt mixture and mix on low speed until the flour is just incorporated. Don't overmix! The dough will be pretty firm.

Form the dough into a cylinder, any diameter you want...these are sliced cookies so the diameter will determine the size of your cookies. Try to make it round, unless you want your kids to excitedly exclaim, "These cookies look like tombstones!" Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove dough from the fridge and roll in sugar in the raw. Slice cookies with a sharp, NON-serrated knife to approximately 1/4" thick. If you use a serrated knife, the cookies will have lines in them from the serration. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until the cookies are slightly browned. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

I thought these were outstanding and well worth the bother of browning the butter. This recipe only makes about 2 and a half dozen cookies, which went FAST in our house. I would recommend making a double batch of these.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Gingerbread cookies

This is the last of the cookie recipes shared by Dana. These all sound so good I think we should try to get her to be a regular contributor here!


3c. flour
2t. ground ginger
1t. ground cinnamon
1t. baking soda
1/4t. ground nutmeg
3/4c. (l & l/2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2c. molasses
1 egg


Mix first five ingredients together. Beat butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Press dough into a thick,flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least four hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350. Roll Dough 1/4in. thick. Cut into shapes with 5in. cookie cutter. Place 1 inch
apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes.

Cinnamon Star Cookies

Another recipe Dana has shared with us. Yum, these all look delicious!


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup softened unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs


Beat all ingredients on low until combined. On medium, beat until well blended. Form dough into a ball, wrap wih plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours. (I usually make the dough the day before and refrigerate overnight. I don't wrap it in plastic. I just leave the dough in the mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using half the dough at a time, roll the dough 1/4 of an inch thick, on a floured board, with floured rolling pin. Cut dough into shapes. Place cookies 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. Frost with icing and decorate after the cookies are cooled.

2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Mix until it's at the consistency that you want. You may need to add a little bit more sugar or milk until it's the right consistency. Frost as desired.

Butterscotch Lace Cookies

Here's another recipe shared with us by Dana:


1 c butter, melted
1 1/2 c packed brown sugar
2 1/4 c rolled oats
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp molasses, if desired
3 tbsp flour
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla

Add sugar to butter; pour over rolled oats. Let stand at room temperature overnight so oats absorb butter.

Heat oven to 375. Mix remaining ingredients into oats. Drop level TEASPOONfuls of dough 2 inches apart on heavily greased baking sheet. Bake only 12 cookies on a sheet. Bake 5 to 7 minutes, or until brown around edges. Allow to remain on sheet a few minutes until firm, then immediately remove with spatula to cooling rack.
Makes 6 dozen cookies.

Double Ginger Crackles

Dana, another mom of twins, has shared a couple of cookie recipes with us! All look delicious! Enjoy!


2 1/4 cup flour
2 3/4 t ground ginger
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
6 oz (3/4 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/3 c granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 c molasses
3 T finely chopped crystallized ginger (I chopped dried ginger
slices i found in the bulk foods department at Wegmans.) (Note from WhatACard: For those of us not lucky enough to live near a Wegmans, I've found crystallized ginger at Trader Joe's, in the chocolate and nut section)

Position racks in the upper and lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking liners.

In a medium bowl whisk flour, ground ginger, baking soda, and salt. In a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment (or a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer) beat the butter and 1 cup sugar on medium-high speed until well blended. Add the egg, molasses and crystallized ginger; beat well. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed until well-blended.

Pour the remaining sugar into a small bowl. Using a 1 T cookie scoop , a small ice cream scoop, or two tablespoons, shape the dough into 1 inch balls. Roll each in sugar to coat and set the balls 1 to
2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through (I was able to do this; I don't know how important it is - you could try just baking them on the one rack you have and see what happens). Bake until the cookies are puffed and the bottoms slightly browned, 12-14 minutes. (I think I left mine in too long and they were hard.) If you touch a cookie, it should feel dry on the outside, but soft inside. The surface cracks will look a bit wet (mine never developed surface cracks for some
reason.) Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Butterscotch Sugar Cookies

These are my all-time favorite cut-out cookies. The butterscotch chips add such a delicious flavor! The only HUGE downside is that I haven't been able to find nut-safe butterscotch chips, so I haven't been able to make this in years. But so long as you're not dealing with nut allergies, I'd give this one a go as it's such an improvement over plain sugar cookies! I got this recipe from my mom; I think it was originally from Land O Lakes butter.


1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup butter, softened
3 cups flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla


Add all ingredients besides the chips to a large mixing bowl.

Place chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 20 second intervals, stirring well after each 20 seconds. Remove as soon as they are about half melted...they'll finish melting as you stir them (if they don't, but back in for 10 more seconds and try again). Pour into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients (use a rubber spatula to get it all out).

Beat on low speed for about 2 minutes until well-combined.

Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm (1 or 2 hours)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 1/8" thick. Cut with cookie cutters. Place about 1" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake approximately 6-7 minutes (really will vary depending on how thin you rolled the dough...usually takes me a bit longer) until the cookies are lightly browned on the edges.

As with any rolled cookie dough, the dough gets tougher the more times you re-roll it, so try to make the most of each roll, placing cookie cutters close together. Of course, if you're making this with kids, you're probably out of luck on that front :)

Once the cookies have cooled, you can decorate them however you'd like.

For the frosting, I just use a basic buttercream icing:


Half a stick of butter, softened (room temp, NOT melted!!)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk


Mix it all up with a mixer until smooth. If it's too thick, add a little more milk. If it's too thin, add a little more sugar. I usually end up going back and forth between the two a few times before I get it perfect.

Divide it into different bowls and use food coloring to tint it whatever colors you'd like.