Confetti Sprinkle Sugar Cookies

Sprinkle sugar cookies

So, yesterday, I totally had one of those panic realizations that Halloween is this month.  How did I forget something like that!?  This year has been going by so quickly, I can’t seem to keep up with the time!  Before we know it, there will be snow on the ground!  Although, I must admit, I am pretty excited to decorate our new place for Christmas.  Yes, I am weird like that.  I can’t help it, I love Christmas lights!

sprinkle sugar cookies

So, about these cookies.  Aren’t they just adorable?  What is it about sprinkles that makes everything cuter?  These sugar cookies are soft, chewy and just down-right delicious.  The rainbow sprinkles could definitely be exchanged for some holiday themed sprinkles.  Red, green and white for Christmas anyone?

Confetti Sprinkle Sugar Cookies

Yield: about 30 cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugars on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Mix in the dry ingredients with the on low speed just until incorporated.  Fold in the sprinkles with a spatula.

Scoop the dough into balls, about 2 tablespoons each.  Space them evenly on the baking sheets about 2 inches apart.  Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until the cookies are just set and the edges are barely browned, about 15-16 minutes.  Let cool briefly on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Strawberry Tart

Strawberry Tart

A week or so ago, my girls and I met up with a friend and her kids, and went strawberry picking at a local farm.  It’s one of the things I look forward to in the summer.  I missed it last year due to having a baby right around prime strawberry picking time.  This year, I was afraid I’d miss it because it was such a horrible year for it.  A long, cold winter that dragged into Spring.  Making it a hard growing season this year.  In result of the cold, the strawberries were small and the owners of the farm claimed to have lost several fields of berries.  But, we still managed to pick 8 quarts of those sweet, small and delicious berries.  Well, I say “we” lightly because my oldest daughter ate more than she picked and my youngest napped in the car.  Ha!

Strawberry Tart

Since I had 8 quarts of fresh, ripe, beautiful red strawberries sitting in my fridge, I had to think of ways to use them ASAP!  That is, whatever we didn’t eat.  So, I have several strawberry recipes to share with you all that I am pretty excited about.  But first, I just HAD to share this recipe with you.  After putting this dessert together, I was giddy with excitement.  Isn’t it gorgeous?

Strawberry Tart

First, I baked a sweet tart dough.  Then, I made a velvety pastry cream to fill the crust with.  To top it off, freshly diced (or in my case, whole) strawberries are piled over the top and smeared with jam.  Oh my.  It is definitely as good, if not better, than it sounds.  A show-stopper dessert fitting for the heart of summer.

Strawberry Tart

For the sweet tart dough

  • 1 /12 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 9 Tablespoons cold, or frozen, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk

For the pastry cream

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature cut into small pieces

For the berries

  • 4 cups your choice of berries (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and/or raspberries), washed and larger ones diced
  • a few tablespoons of strawberry jelly

Directions

For the dough, have ready a greased 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Place the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a bowl of a food processor.  Pulse 2-3 times to combine.  Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and pulse until the butter is roughly chopped, making sure there are no big pieces left.  Pulse in the egg yolk.  Then process until the dough starts to clump.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and lightly knead to incorporate any loose flour.  Gently press most of the dough into and up the sides of the prepared tart pan, saving a small piece to patch the crust after it partially bakes incase it cracks.  Wrap with plastic wrap and freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Once the dough is sufficiently chilled, grease the shiny side of aluminum foil and gently press down and around the dough.  (You don’t need weights since you froze the dough.)  Place on a baking sheet, then put in the preheated oven on the middle rack.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Remove the foil and patch the cracks if necessary.  Place back in the oven, uncovered and bake for another 8-10 minutes, or until the crust is lightly golden around the edges.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely before filling.

Meanwhile, make the pastry cream.  Pour the milk into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-low heat.  In a separate heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until well combined.  Very slowly, whisk in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the eggs to temper the eggs so they won’t curdle.  Whisk in the remaining milk.  Place the saucepan over medium heat and whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a boil.  Cook, whisking constantly, for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture is thick and the whisk leaves streaks through it.  Remove from the heat.  Whisk in the vanilla extract, then let sit for 5 minutes.  Whisk in a few pieces of butter at a time until fully incorporated.

Scrape the pastry cream into a bowl and press plastic wrap over the cream to prevent any skin from forming.  Place in the refrigerator until completely cooled 2-3 hours.  (Alternatively, you can chill it by creating an ice bath- place cold water and ice cubes in a large bowl.  Place the bowl the pastry cream is in, in the larger bowl with the ice.  Whisk every 10 minutes or so, and add more ice to the larger bowl until chilled.)

To assemble the tart, remove the tart from the pan and place on a plate.  Pour about 1 1/2 cups of the pastry cream into the tart, smoothing the top.  Remaining cream can be used as an extra topper, smeared on scones or eaten with berries as a separate dessert.  Place the berries in a mound in the center of the tart or sprinkle evenly over the top.  Microwave the jelly in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of water.  Brush or drizzle the jam over the berries.  Serve immediately or cover tightly and refrigerate.  It is best the day it is made, but will last several days in the refrigerator.

Source:  Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

Jelly Filled Donut Muffins

Jelly Filled Donut Muffins

Last week, my daughter’s kindergarten class had an “ABC buffet” in celebration of finishing the letter of the week they have been doing most of the year.  Each student had to bring in food starting with the letter they were assigned to.  Parents and siblings were invited in to the classroom to enjoy the buffet. We got assigned the letter J.  My daughter immediately thought of juice, but I couldn’t do something as boring or simple as that!  I was flipping through some cookbooks for inspiration, when I saw this recipe. Bingo!  I haven’t made these muffins in ages, so it was high-time to make them again.

Jelly Filled Donut Muffins

These were incredibly popular!  I had forgotten how good these are.  I doubled the recipe to make sure there were enough for everyone (and maybe a few extra to leave at home for us later).  You can’t go wrong, a buttery, moist muffin that is filled with jelly of your choice, baked to perfection, then dipped in melted butter and rolled in sugar.  Oh my gawd.  I used jelly that I had canned last year.  I filled half of them with blueberry lime and the other half with strawberry rhubarb.  These are best the day they are made, but will last for several days in the refrigerator.

Jelly Filled Donut Muffins

Yield: About 1 dozen

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • your choice of jam or jelly

For the topping

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • granulated sugar (1-2 cups)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Grease or line a muffin pan.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, milk, eggs and vanilla extract.  Stir the butter mixture into the flour mixture, until completely combined, but still lumpy.

Scoop half of the batter into the prepared muffin tin.  Spoon 1-2 teaspoons of jelly over the batter in the muffin tin, then top with the remaining batter.  If necessary, smooth the batter so it covers the jam.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 18-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs.  Let cool for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the 6 tablespoons of butter in a small bowl.  Place 1 cup of sugar in another small bowl.  Carefully removing the muffins one at a time, dip the tops in the melter butter, then in the sugar to coat the top.  Place on a wire rack.  Repeat with remaining muffins, adding more sugar to the bowl if needed.  Serve.

Source: Barely adapted from Cooking in the Moment by Kyra Alex

Brown Sugar Brownies

Brown Sugar Brownies

Growing up, my mom didn’t do a lot of baking.  She worked as a nurse practitioner an hour and a half away from home (the downside of living on an island in rural Maine).  In result of the very long hours and very long drive, she didn’t have time to cook a whole lot.  When she did have time bake a dessert, I always looked forward to these brownies.

Brown Sugar Brownies

These brownies are soft, sweet and amazing.  They are buttery with chocolate chips scattered in.  Oh my.  I could eat a whole pan if I didn’t have any self restraint.  They are really easy to mix up.  And, they make a great treat in a lunch!  Or midnight snack?

Brown Sugar Brownies

  • 16 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Grease a 9×13 inch pan.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and creamy on medium-high speed, about 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the vanilla extract and eggs and beat until smooth again, 1-2 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  With the mixer on low, slowly add in the flour mixture.  Turn the mixer to medium-low speed and beat just until smooth and fully incorporated.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Scoop the mixture into the prepared baking dish and smooth the top.  Place in the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs.  Let cool before slicing.

Source:  My momma!

Linzer Cookies

Linzer Cookies

Linzer cookies are something that I have always admired, but never tackled in the kitchen myself. For some reason, they always intimidated me in the beginning of my cooking days, then as time passed, I sort of forgot about them. Maybe because they aren’t a cookie that you typically see, so the thought didn’t cross my mind to make them. Then, I came across online, Ina Garten sharing her favorite cookie recipes for the holidays. This recipe was on the list. I checked it out, and knew I had to make them.

Linzer Cookies

I think the typical linzer cookie has ground nuts in the dough, but these ones were straight up butter. I was a little reluctant at first when I saw how much butte there was, in fact, in the recipe, but I decided to go with it. Ina knows her stuff. Oh boy, these did not disappoint. They were slightly crumbly, yet still moist. I decided to vamp up the cookies a bit and use caramel sauce I had in the fridge left over from the brie, as well as some homemade strawberry jam. They were SO good! I would definitely recommend the caramel. I preferred these cookies the following day. Partly because they became a little softer (I accidentally over-baked my cookies since I am still getting used to the convection oven), but, also time let the flavors meld together. These will be a show stopper at any upcoming holiday party! Or for any time of the year.

Linzer Cookies

Yield: About 15-18 sandwich cookies

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • your choice of jam flavor
  • caramel sauce, homemade or store bought (optional)
  • confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract. In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 cups of flour and salt. On low speed, slowly mix in the flour mixture. Mix until completely combined. If the dough seems too wet, slowly add more flour until the dough holds together, but isn’t crumbly.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and pat into a large disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats, and set aside.

Once the dough has chilled, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out circles with a plain or fluted cutter. With half of the circles, cut out a smaller circle or a small design with a mini cookie cutter. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets and place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Bake the cookies for 15 to 20 minutes, until the edges just barely begin to brown. Let cool completely before proceeding with jam. Spread desired jam on the flat side of each solid cookie. Dust the top of the cut-out cookies with confectioners’ sugar and press the flat sides together, with the raspberry preserves in the middle and the confectioners’ sugar on the top. Serve or store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for 2-3 days.

Source: Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa

Lemon Squares

Lemon Squares

So, I feel kind of bad. I promised this recipe nearly a year ago and I am only sharing it now! I apologize. I had made these for my mom on her birthday, as well as the pineapple upside down cake. I was sorely disappointed with the photos taken, so I waited until I made them again to try and photograph them. Well, I didn’t make them again until my sister requested them for her birthday this year! I really don’t understand what took me so long to make them again. I was missing out!

These lemon squares are divine. They are like a little bites of summer. They are sweet, lemony, buttery- delicious! These are for real lemon lovers. You can’t be weak hearted to eat these! Back in the day, when I worked at the cafe down the street, I would love to get these as a treat. These are a perfect treat. You will bring back an empty dish if you bring these to a cookout or party!

Lemon Squares

Yield: About 12 squares

For the crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the filling

  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • zest from 3 lemons
  • confectioner’s sugar

Directions

For the crust, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9×13 pan and set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, place the flour, sugar and butter. Process just until the ingredients start to hold together. Making sure there are no butter chunks left.  Place the dough into the prepared pan. Using your fingers, press the dough evenly over the entire bottom and about an inch up the sides. (Don’t worry about being exact.) Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until just beginning to brown around the edges. Let cool completely before filling.

While the crust is cooling, make the filling. In a large bowl, place the eggs and sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined, being careful not to overmix. Stir in the flour, 1 tablespoon at a time until each addition is well blended. Stir in the lemon juice and zest.

Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake at 350ºF for about 25 minutes or just until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Once cool, dust with confectioner’s sugar and cut into desired size squares.

Source: Lily’s Café Cookbook Revised Edition by Kyra Alex

Split Pea Soup

Image

Winter has come back in full force again. We had a little bit of a January thaw for the past week and a half, which was wonderful. We lost just about all of our snow and a good portion of the ice. The kids were going out to play every day and we didn’t have the wood stove going for days. Talk about a nice break! But, of course the freedom is limited for Maine in January. Today it’s back to single digits and maybe 4-5 inches of snow on the ground with more to come tonight/tomorrow, high gusts and below zero with windchill. Oh boy! At least chainsawing is do-able now.

With all these cold temperatures, it has me craving soup. Nothing better to curl up next to the wood stove with a steaming bowl of soup after spending time outside in the cold. This particular soup has been one of my favorites for years. It is so easy to make and extremely satisfying. Especially when you have a good hunk of bread to dip in it! I prefer not to put ham in it, but you can always throw some in if you’d like. And, like most soups, this gets even better the next day!

Split Pea Soup

  • 1/2 lb. green split peas, rinsed
  • 4 red potatoes, scrubbed and diced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • parmesan cheese

Directions

In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Stir in the split peas and bring to a boil again. Turn heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a small pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the carrots and onion. Cook until the vegetables are softened, about 8-10 minutes.

Stir the sautéd vegetables, making sure to scrap in the goodness of the butter and oil, and potatoes into the split peas. Cook for another 15-20 minutes, or until the split peas are soft, and no longer crunchy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve soup into bowls and sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on top.

Source: Adapted from Kyra Alex