Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies

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Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies

I grew up using the 70s version of the Betty Crocker Big Red Cookbook quite a bit. We didn’t have a lot of cookbooks, other than some church collaborations. In fact, my mom doesn’t even usually cook from recipes. But she got that big red binder for her wedding, I think, and when it was time to bake sugar cookies to decorate, she always opened it up.

Once I got married, I had my own Big Red Cookbook, but it was the newer, 2001 version. All I could remember was that my mom’s sugar cookie recipe came from the big binder and had cream of tartar in it, but none of the recipes in there seemed to match. A few years into our marriage, we found the same version of Big Red that my mom had in a used bookstore and grabbed it up. Still, the sugar cookie recipe didn’t call for cream of tartar. I was so confused.

Then – aha! There are TWO sugar cookie recipes in the older cookbook. Mom’s recipe is the Deluxe Sugar Cookies. I don’t know what makes them deluxe, but to me no other sugar cookie tastes just right. These are soft but the bottoms are sturdy; the taste has that almost tart flavor of a snickerdoodle due to the cream of tartar.

I was so glad to find this recipe again. I am no great decorator of cookies, but I took a cue from Betty there, too: she suggests letting an Andes mint melt on the top of a hot cookie and then spreading it around the top for “frosting.” Bingo! They don’t look awesome, but they taste delicious. And thanks to it being 2015 instead of 1976, we have Andes creme de menthe chips to make this even easier.

Andes Mint "Frosting" on Sugar Cookies

So just in case you don’t have your own classic cookie recipe for the season, this one makes a perfect cookie for decorating and snacking, with or without frosting.

Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies

Yield: 40-60 cookies, depending on size of cutters

Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar

Instructions

With a mixer, cream together powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, almond extract, and egg until uniform. Stir in flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar until you have a smooth dough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 375F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

Let dough rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes, then roll out on a clean, floured surface to about 1/2 an inch. (Thin, but not too thin.) Cut out with cookie cutters and transfer to lined cookie sheet.

Bake 7-9 minutes, until cookies are golden around the edges. Let cool for a minute, then transfer to wire racks to cool before decorating.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/12/old-fashioned-sugar-cookies/

Do you have a go-to Christmas cookie recipe?

Chocolate Date Candy {Secret Recipe Club}

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Date-Nuts Balls

It’s Fall! Maybe for real this time! Yes, in this part of Tennessee it’s rarely fall before at mid-October. But every year we somehow forget about how that happens and moan and groan about it through September.

This year I was determined not to be upset about the summer weather. And that worked … until we hit October 1st. And darn it, I wanted some fall then. So now it’s finally cooling off and we will enjoy our three weeks of fall before mild winter hits. 😉

Please forgive my Fall over-styling, then, but I was a little excited.

These little date candies come to you via the Secret Recipe Club from Melissa, author of Smells Like Brownies. Strangely enough, Melissa is probably the only SRC member I’ve met in person; she was one of my sister’s friend in middle school. We also went to the same high school; she would have been a freshman when I was a senior. SO WEIRD!

So now Melissa is, like me, a stay-at-home mommy who passionately loves to bake. She is also very health-conscious and a pescatarian. I will say that after #Choctoberfest I really just wanted to make a steak for SRC! But since Melissa doesn’t go that route, instead I made this yummy date candy balls that are a lot more healthful than, say, Millionaire Shortbread Bars.

Date-Nut Balls

I thought the coffee powder might be a little overwhelming for the rest of the flavors, but I liked the balance between it and the cocoa. I was sure my kids would take one taste and refuse to eat them because NUTS and COFFEE, but they gobbled them right up. Score for Mommy!!! A healthy snack that gets them good fat from nuts and vitamins from the dates.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Date Candy

Yield: 18-20 balls

Adapted from Smells Like Brownies.

Ingredients

  • 1 c. pitted dates
  • 3/4 c. chopped nuts (I used almonds and pecans)
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. instant coffee or espresso (optional)
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 T mini chocolate chips (optional)
  • unsweetened shredded coconut, for rolling (optional)

Instructions

Toast chopped nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until they smell nutty. Put nuts and dates in a food processor and run until they are well chopped and combined.

Add cocoa, coffee, salt, vanilla, and chocolate chips to the mixture and pulse until combined.

Use a small cookie scoop (about 2 teaspoons) to measure some of the mixture into your hand, then roll into a ball. It should press together pretty easily; if not, you can add a teaspoon of water or honey to the mixture and pulse again. If desired, roll balls in shredded coconut. Place on a plate and refrigerate for a little it before serving. Store covered in fridge.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/10/chocolate-date-candy-secret-recipe-club/

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Millionaire Bars (with a Little Cheat) #Choctoberfest

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Millionaire Bars

Shortbread that’s crumbly and caramel that oozes … chocolate and crunch and when I eat it makes me snoozes …

OK, nice try.

But these are a few of my favorite things.

I am a big-time caramel lover. Toffee. Butterscotch. Basically any form of caramelized sugar will do. (I almost forgot this peanut butter pie where the filling is peanut butter caramel. OOOOOOH so good.)

I am a big fan of buttery shortbread, too, so when I first saw these bars in the Baked cookbook, they really spoke to me. I have made them exactly as written in Baked once. But after I realized I was basically making dulce de leche for the filling … well, this time I fully intended to buy dulce de leche in a jar.

But then we were away for some of fall break, and yesterday I was at home with three kids and realized I would have to take all of them to the grocery store if I wanted that to happen. My kids are 6, 4, and 2, and I won’t say taking them all somewhere is a nightmare … but anywhere three kids can ask me to buy stuff for them constantly while I try to focus on shopping tends to be a disaster.

But I did have a really old bag of Kraft Caramel Bits in the cupboard. So voila – totally cheater caramel filling! Use whatever caramel or dulce de leche you love for the filling; I won’t tell anyone. It all tastes good.

Millionaire Shortbread

This post is my third in a series for #Choctoberfest with Imperial Sugar. Imperial Sugar provided me with a case of sugar to bake with, but I have received no other compensation for this series.

Millionaire Bars

Yield: about 20 bars

Millionaire Bars

This is very lightly adapted from the Baked: New Frontiers in Baking cookbook.

Ingredients

    Shortbread
  • 1/2 c. Imperial Sugar granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Caramel
  • one 10 oz. bag Kraft caramel bits, or dulce de leche or other caramel sauce
  • 2 T water or cream
  • Chocolate Layer
  • 6 oz. dark chocolate - I used a 3.5 oz bar very dark (85%) Lindt Excellence chocolate and 2.5 oz. semisweet chocolate
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 c. butter, cut into cubes

Instructions

Shortbread

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9x13 pan (you can use your butter wrappers).

Cream together sugar and softened butter. Add 2 cups flour and beat until well incorporated. Add egg yolk and beat until just combined. With a wooden spoon, add additional 1/2 cup flour and mix well. Press into the baking dish and then prick all over with a fork.

Bake 20-25 minutes, until brown around the edges. Let cool completely in pan.

Caramel

Place caramels and water or cream in a large measuring cup. Melt in the microwave for 2 minutes, then stir rapidly until uniform. Pour over cooled shortbread, spreading with a spatula. Refrigerate until cooled and hardened. (With these caramels, it doesn't take long - about half an hour. Homemade dulce de leche or caramel sauce may take 2 hours to set up and cool.)

Chocolate Layer

Add chocolate, honey, and butter to a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl, and microwave on high 1 minute. Stir, and cook an additional 30 seconds. Whisk together with a fork until completely melted and smooth. Pour over caramel layer and spread with a thin spatula.

Refrigerate dish at least 1 hour, until the chocolate sets.

To Serve

VERY important: Remove the dish from the fridge half an hour before you want to cut the bars. This will make sure the chocolate doesn't crack and the shortbread is soft enough to come out of the pan.

Use a sharp, non-serrated knife to cut into small squares. Serve. Store extras in fridge for up to 4 days, covered.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/10/millionaire-bars-with-a-little-cheat-choctoberfest/

Don’t forget to enter the $350 Chocolate giveaway!!

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White Chocolate & Banana Krispy Treats #Choctoberfest

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Banana Krispy Treats with White Chocolate and Coconut

This is my second recipe for #Choctoberfest with Imperial Sugar. Don’t forget to enter the $350 chocolate giveaway – you can find the Rafflecopter to enter on this post.

Choctoberfest-2015-1

Did you ever go to Disney World and have one of those Rice Krispie Treats from the confectionery on Main Street? They have a huge layer of chocolate and are topped with sprinkles or candies. I think when we went to Disney World when I was a kid, we once ate those for dinner. They are gargantuan and so good.

I saw some Banana Rice Krispy Treats on Shugary Sweets and decided to make them for my dorm boys. They are pretty heavy on the banana flavor; if you want a lighter banana note, use a small box of the pudding mix instead of a large one. These are a great, tasty dessert when you’re looking for something quick that looks fancy! I topped mine with melted Lindt white chocolate and some shredded coconut for a tropical flair, but these would be great with dark chocolate, too! (And maybe some peanuts for a Chunky Monkey feel?)

Banana Rice Krispy Treats

This trick would work with any flavor pudding mix, too, so go crazy! Let me know what flavor you decide to make.

Banana Krispy Treats with White Chocolate

White Chocolate & Banana Krispy Treats

Yield: 16 giant or 32 more reasonably-sized krispy treats

White Chocolate & Banana Krispy Treats

Recipe source: Shugary Sweets

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. butter (one stick)
  • two 10 oz. bags mini marshmallows
  • 5.1-oz. box instant banana cream pudding mix
  • 10 oz. crispy rice cereal (about 6 cups cereal)
  • 8 oz. white chocolate, melted
  • optional: shredded coconut for topping

Instructions

Grease a 9x13 pan and set aside.

In a large pan, melt the butter completely over medium-low heat. When melted, add marshmallows and stir until the marshmallows are completely melted. Fold in pudding mix, then add cereal and mix well.

With greased hands, press the mixture into the 9x13 and set aside.

Melt chocolate in the microwave for 30-second intervals. Pour or drizzle over cereal mixture (make sure it's no longer hot - wait about 10 minutes after making the treats). Sprinkle lightly with coconut if desired.

Let cool at least 30 minutes. Check that chocolate is set. Cut into squares.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/10/white-chocolate-banana-krispy-treats-choctoberfest/

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Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies PLUS a Giveaway for #Choctoberfest

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Choctoberfest-2015-1

Guess what today is? It’s October 5 … and that marks the beginning of #Choctoberfest! I have never participated in something like this before, but I thought it would push me to share a few recipes. It has been super fun to prepare for, and I am excited to peruse all the CHOCOLATE. I will probably gain 10 pounds just looking at my computer screen.

#Choctoberfest is a virtual event put together by The PinterTest Kitchen. Bloggers from around the world will be posting their favorite chocolate recipes, and you’ll get a chance to win some awesome prizes. What’s not to love?

Here’s what this event is all about!

#Choctoberfest would not be possible without our sponsors, starting with our 2015 Gold Sponsor, Imperial Sugar. Imperial Sugar has been a trusted name in family kitchens since 1843. Their sugar products and sweeteners are made from non-GMO cane sugar and ensure consistently delicious results. We’ll be using Imperial Sugar whenever we use sugar in our recipes this week, and can’t wait to share the sweetness with you!

You can find Imperial Sugar on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more. Make sure you visit the recipes section of their website for some sweet inspiration, and you can also find coupons on their website if you want to try out Imperial Sugar yourself.

Imperial Sugar and our other sponsors have banded together to contribute some awesome prizes for our #Choctoberfest giveaway! Entering is simple – just click below to follow us on Pinterest. Here’s what you could win:

We also have a nonprofit sponsor this year – Rescue Chocolate! They make vegan chocolate treats and donate 100% of their proceeds to animal shelters.

Enter now to win the #Choctoberfest prize. Hurry, because we’re picking the winner on October 12 at 8:00 AM, so if you don’t sign up before then, you’ll miss your chance!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A huge thank you to all of the other blogs participating in #Choctoberfest 2015. Check out their blogs throughout the week for chocolate recipes you won’t be able to resist: The PinterTest Kitchen2 Cookin’ MamasA Day in the Life on the FarmAloha FlavorAmy’s Cooking AdventuresAngels HomesteadBalancing MotherhoodBless this MessBusy-at-HomeChocolate SlopesCoconut & LimeColie’s KitchenCookaholic WifeCooking In StilettosCooking With LibbyCookistryCopyKat RecipesCravings of a LunaticCrumbs in my MustachioCulinary CoutureCupcakes Take The CakeDeliciously SavvyEat It & Say YumFairyburgerFamished Fish, Finicky SharkFarm Fresh FeastsFood Hunter’s Guide to CuisineFull Belly SistersGet Off The Couch and CookGrumpy’s HoneybunchHey What’s for Dinner Mom?Honey and BirchI Can Cook ThatJane’s Adventures in DinnerJessie WeaverLife on Food Life, Love, and Good FoodMajorly DeliciousMoore or Less Cooking Food BlogMother Would KnowOr Whatever You DoPoet in the PantryRecipes Food and CookingRhubarb and HoneySassy Southern YankeeSavory TartSeduction in The KitchenSerena LissySumptuous SpoonfulsTake Two TapasThat Skinny Chick Can BakeThatsSoYummyThe Chonchudo FilesThe Crumby CupcakeThe Dinner-MomThe Saucy SouthernerThe Spiced LifeThe Spiffy CookieThe Two Bite ClubThe Weekday GourmetVintage KittyWendy PolisiWhat A Girl EatsWhitBit’s Indian KitchenWit Wisdom & FoodZesty South Indian Kitchen

Are you a blogger who is interested in joining us during out next community event?

Sign up here now!

We’ll make sure you get an email about our next blogger event.

Now, onto this first yummylicious chocolate recipe. {BTW, I received a case of Imperial Sugar to bake with for #Choctoberfest. How fun is that? Much more fun than my husband thought it was to lug 40 pounds of sugar from our mail room down to our apartment.}

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

These cookies are looking ahead to the holidays. I love to try out new cookie recipes around Christmas, and crinkle cookies have become some of my favorites. I will whip out the from-a-box-mix red velvet crinkles when I need something simple, but these chocolate-peppermint ones are great for a special dinner or cookie swap. Yes, they are slightly more time-intensive, but well worth the effort. When I made this batch, I played around with it a little. I got the highest compliment from my husband’s department chair, who said she was going to put these in her Christmas baking repertoire!

I made them a little more “Jessie” just by switching out corn syrup for honey and canola oil for coconut oil. Not that it makes them healthy – but I just prefer to use those more natural ingredients when possible. Plus they are what I always have on hand. You can substitute equal amounts of those original ingredients if you want.

Imperial Sugar #Choctoberfest

As I baked, I loved wondering if my grandmothers or great-grandmothers used Imperial Sugar, too, since it’s been around so long. My research says probably not, because they were in Ohio and not the Southeast … but who knows? Given that I also took my (wonderful, wonderful) measuring cups from my Grandma’s kitchen, I felt very connected to her as I was cookie-making!

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

Enjoy! Let me know if you make these.

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

Yield: about 3 dozen

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

These little tastes of Christmas are adapted from Bakers Royale.

Ingredients

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  • 2 1/2 c. Imperial granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil
  • 3 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 T honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp. of peppermint extract or 8-10 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • 1 c. powdered sugar and 1/4 cup granulated Imperial sugar, for rolling

Instructions

Melt butter in the microwave and set aside to cool. Melt chocolate for 1 minute in microwave, then an additional 30 seconds, stirring each time. It should be able to be stirred smooth, but if not, another 30 seconds should do it.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

With an electric mixer, beat together sugar, oil, butter, and honey until smooth. Beat in eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, and peppermint extract or oil. On low speed, add the melted chocolate and mix until combined. Add flour mixture and mix on low until incorporated.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 or 350 (see baking note below). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Form the dough into golf-ball sized balls. Roll each ball in granulated sugar, then the powdered sugar. Place balls on cookie sheet and press down slightly just so they don't roll around on the sheet.

Baking: I baked these two ways - for 12 minutes at 325, which gave an almost fudge-like cookie (but it has to cool entirely on the cookie sheet, because they will just melt over a cooling rack) and then at 350 for 15 minutes, which gives you a firmer, crispier cookie. Cookies will deflate when you remove them from the oven, giving them the crinkle texture.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/10/chocolate-peppermint-crinkle-cookies-plus-a-giveaway-for-choctoberfest/

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Asparagus and Goat Cheese Frittata

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Asparagus and goat cheese frittata

I’ve been working on an article this past week about farm-fresh foods that will run in a magazine in April. It can be hard to think about spring vegetables when it’s September, but I took an inspirational trip around Fresh Market.

Which is always problematic for me.

Fresh Market always smells like cinnamon, at least around the fall, and I am pretty sure they put some chemicals in that scent that make you want to spend all your money there. Unfortunately, it’s right by my gym, so when I am leaving the gym and starving I think, “Hmmm … I could just stop by Fresh Market and grab a $9 sandwich!”

Anyway, I get paid for these articles so I figured it was OK to spend money on good produce with which to experiment. I got a little happy, though, and came home with every spring-type thing I could find: asparagus, beets, leeks, strawberries, broccoli, and radishes. For three recipes.

This asparagus recipe is one I decided was a little too upscale in taste for a magazine aimed at parents. I really don’t know what I was thinking, other than I wanted to use asparagus and was hungry. If your kids will eat asparagus and goat cheese, more power to you! When I was chatting about this on Facebook, one of my friends said his kids thought it looked “hairy” with the dill. Ha! Oh, children. Maybe some day.

So while this recipe is delicious, I am 100% positive my children wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole. Sigh. Oh well, all the more for me.

(I am certain this would also be delicious as a quiche, and that was my original intent, but then I got lazy. A quiche will need to bake longer, though, usually 45-60 minutes at 350 in my experience.)

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Frittata

Yield: 6-8 slices

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Frittata

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • 1 T butter or bacon grease
  • salt and pepper, plus ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 5 eggs
  • ¾ c. whole milk or half-and-half
  • ¼ tsp. dried dill or 1 tsp. fresh dill, chopped
  • ½ c. goat cheese crumbles

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400F. Snap asparagus ends off. Cut asparagus into 2-inch pieces.

In a 12-inch, ovenproof skillet, melt butter or bacon grease over medium heat. Add asparagus pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and saute 5-7 minutes, until crisp-tender. Remove from heat.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, dill, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle goat cheese crumbles over the asparagus, then pour egg mixture over it all.

Bake 20 minutes, until eggs are set. Let cool slightly before cutting into slices.

**If you use a smaller skillet, your frittata will be fluffier, but it may need to cook a little longer.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/09/asparagus-and-goat-cheese-frittata/