Recipe of the Month – The Best Cutout Sugar Cookies

img_5490As a child, I remember baking Christmas sugar cookies which my brother and I would then decorate. I have done the same with my own kids. We do Halloween and Christmas cookies and sometimes even Valentine’s Day cookies. For years, I used the rolled sugar cookie recipe in a cookbook my grandmother gave me. The cookies were okay and frosted well so I never took the time to look for a better recipe until this past Christmas. A search on Pinterest turned up this recipe for the Just a Taste blog. We all liked the cookies and these will now be our go-to Sugar Cookie recipe. I have included the frosting recipe that we always use too.

Ingredients

3 cups flour

1/2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 1/3 cups sugar

2 large eggs

2 t. vanilla extract

Also – assorted cookie cutters, frosting and sprinkles

Directions 

In a bowl of a stand mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment), beat the butter (let it sit out to soften first) until smooth. Add sugar and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. Add the vanilla.

With mixer off, add flour, salt and baking powder. Beat just until combined. Remove dough and shape into a 6-inch wide disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.

Remove dough from fridge and cut off a piece. (I did mine in fourths.) Roll the dough between two pieces of wax paper until about 1/4-inch thick. Use cookie cutters and cut your desired shapes. Place them on the cookie sheets and bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until pale golden. Transfer to rack to cool completely.

When in doubt, remove the cookies from the oven just prior to them turning golden. They will crisp slightly as they cool and this way they will remain soft. If like your cookies crisp, bake them the full time.

Continue with the rest of the dough. Left over scraps can be re-rolled. I found that letting the dough sit out for a few minutes softened it up and made rolling easier (after 2 1/2 hours of chilling). If you chill your dough overnight, you mostly likely will need to let the dough soften.

Yield: about 4 dozen (depends on thickness of cookies and size of cutters)

Homemade frosting for sugar cookies

Ingredients

6 T. butter or margarine, softened

3 cups powdered sugar

2 t. vanilla

2-3 T. milk

Directions

Mix butter, sugar, vanilla and 2 T. of milk until smooth. Add more milk to reach desired consistency.

Recipe of the Month – Bacon Maple Fudge

fudge

My mom found this recipe at the end of a book she was reading (Maple Syrup Murder by Grace Lemon). It is a basic maple fudge recipe with bacon added to it because…well everything is better with bacon. It was delicious but my mom and I think it could use more bacon because…well what isn’t better with more bacon in it. If you don’t like bacon, then leave it out and simply enjoy some maple fudge.

Ingredients 

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup butter

Pinch of salt

¼ cup pure maple syrup

2 t. vanilla

5 slices of cooked thick cut bacon, cut and crumbled

Directions

Combine sugars, cream, butter, salt and maple syrup into a sauce pan. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower heat and continue to stir until mixture reaches the soft ball stage (drop a small amount into cold water -it should look like a small ball sinking) or use a candy thermometer). Remove from heat and add vanilla and crumbled bacon. Let mixture sit for about 10-15 minutes to cool and thicken up. Stir vigorously until mixture loses its gloss. Turn it into a buttered dish and smooth the top with a spatula.

Recipe of the Month – Easiest Oreo Cheesecake

img_5316I love Oreos and cheesecake so it seemed like a perfect idea to serve this wonderful dessert at Thanksgiving. It is easy to make and the accompanying notes from SouthernBite.com even tell you not to worry if the edges or top of your cheesecake getting brown. That is easy to hide with a little whipped topping and will still taste awesome. And they were right.

Ingredients

1 (14.3 ounce) package of Oreos, divided

3 T. butter, melted

4 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, softened

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 t. vanilla extract

4 eggs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9-inch spring from pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Place 18 Oreos in a gallon-size Ziplock bag. Crush the cookies with a rolling pin. Pour the crushed Oreos in a small bowl and mix with melted butter. Pour the mixture evenly into the spring-form pan and press firmly to bottom to create a crust.

In a bowl, combine softened cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until well combined. Add eggs and mix well. Roughly break up the remaining cookies and add them to the mixture, reserving some to sprinkle on the top. Gently fold cookies into batter and then pour onto crust. Lightly tap the pan on the counter to get out any air bubbles. Sprinkle with remaining Oreos.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the center is almost set. Cool and the refrigerate overnight (or at least 4 hours). Drizzle with chocolate syrup and add a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

Like Oreos? You might want to try Oreo Pie or Oreo Truffles. Rather have cheesecake? Then try this Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe.

Recipe of the Month – Brownie in a Mug

brownie-in-a-mug-13There is nothing like a warm, hot brownie straight from the….microwave? Yep, these single serve brownies are cooked in your microwave and are perfect for the days when you want a little sweet dessert but don’t have the time or want tons of brownies. (Wait, who wouldn’t want a ton of brownies?)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons water or milk

14 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 dash salt

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions

In a 12 oz. coffee mug, add water/milk, butter, vanilla and dash of salt. Whisk well.

Add cocoa powder, whisk well. Add sugar, whisk well. Add flour, whisk well.

Microwave for 60 to 90 seconds. Center should be slightly molten. Be careful not to overcook.

Enjoy with a spoon. Careful brownie will be hot. Also good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on it.

Want a bigger batch of brownies? Try this recipe for Frosted Brownies.

Recipe of the Month – White Lightning Chili

img_4885As the weather turns a little cooler (or at least I hope it does soon), I thought it would be good to serve up a warm bowl of chili. This is a nice version with ground turkey and Great Northern Beans from Rachel Ray’s 30-Minute Meals. It is a pleasant change from the typical red chili often served.

Ingredients

1 T. extra-virgin olive oil

2 lbs ground turkey breast

1 yellow-skinned Spanish onion, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 T. ground cumin

a couple shakes of cayenne pepper sauce (Tabasco, Red Hot, etc)

A palmful chopped fresh cilantro

2 cans (14 oz each) non-fat low-sodium chicken broth

1 can (15 oz) Great Northern beans, drained

Coarse salt to taste

Crushed tortilla chips for topping

Directions

Heat oil in deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add turkey and cook for a couple of minutes, keeping the ground meat moving. Add onion, minced jalapeno, garlic, seasons and cilantro. Reduce heat to medium and cook together for 5 minutes to soften and sweeten onion. Add broth and beans. Add salt to taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until you’re ready to serve.

Top bowls with crushed tortilla chips. Or top with cheese and chopped green onion.

Feeds up to 6.

Looking for other meals to warm you up, try Posole or Zuppa Toscana soup.

Recipe of the Month – Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

pulled porkWith school just beginning, I thought it would be great to feature a meal that takes little time to prepare and is delicious.

Ingredients

2 lb. pork tenderloin

12 oz. can or bottle of root beer

18 oz. bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce

1 thinly sliced onion (optional)

8 hamburger buns, split and lightly toasted

Directions

Place the pork tenderloin (and onion slices if using) in a slow cooker; pour the root beer over the meat. Cover and cook on low until well cooked and the pork shreds easily, 6 to 7 hours.

Drain well. Stir in barbecue sauce. Serve over hamburger buns.

Note: the actual length of time may vary according to individual slow cooker.

Recipe of the Month – Snickerdoodle Cookies

IMG_4757I am always in the mood for a home-baked cookie so when I needed to find something for my Receipe of the Month I knew I should turn to one of my favorite cookies – the Snickerdoodle. These cookies are easy to make and delicious. My kids loved them too! I found this recipe online and the only thing I would change is to add less cinnamon to the sugar the cookies are rolled in before baking.

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

2 3/4 cups flour

2 t. cream of tarter

1 t. baking soda

1/4 t. salt

3 T. sugar

3 t. cinnamon (I suggest 2 t. instead of 3)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix butter, 1 1/2 cup sugar and eggs thoroughly in a large bowl. Combine flour, cream of tarter, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Blend dry ingredients into butter mixture.

Chill dough for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix 3 T. sugar and cinnamon in  small bowl. Scoop 1 inch globs of dough and roll in sugar/cinnamon mixture. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. When done, remove from pan immediately.