Sunday, December 5, 2010

Grandma, Grandpa & Stratton at the Christmas Tree Farm

My mom and dad (Grandma Kathie and Grandpa Calvin) took Stratton to the Christmas Tree Farm this weekend. He had such a good time with the horses and Sage. That little guy loves animals. Here are the pictures my dad took from Saturday.

Day 13 of 12 Day Christmas Blog Challenge

Day 13: Favorite Cookie Recipe

Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies Recipe

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1 cup butter (softened at room temperature)
1 egg, lightly beaten (egg should be at room temperature)
3 Tablespoons half-and-half
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) .
2. Sift together all-purpose flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
3. Cut in butter and blend with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.
4. With a fork, stir in lightly beaten egg, vanilla and half-and-half. Blend well with fork, then your hands to ensure thorough blending. Chill dough for one hour for easier rolling.
****If you are not rolling the dough, chill for 15 minutes then skip to step 6 for baking.
5. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into shapes.
6. Place on baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Sprinkle with sugar or leave plain for decorating with icing.
7. Bake for 6 - 7 minutes, or until lightly brown.

Sugar Cookie Icing Recipe

2 teaspoons milk
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
assorted food coloring colors

1. In a small bowl, stir together the milk and confectioners sugar until smooth.
2. Beat in corn syrup and the vanilla extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If the icing is too thick, add additinal corn syrup to thin slightly.

3. Divide the icing into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to the preferred color intensity. Paint the icing onto the cookies or pipe with decorator icing tubes and tips.
4. Top with candy decorator balls, holiday sprinkles or any other festive design. Enjoy, these are as much fun to decorate as they are to eat!

The following are sure fire tips for the perfect sugar cookies:
* If you are rolling the dough to use cookie cutters, remember to keep the dough chilled. As it warms it sticks to the rolling pin and the surface you're rolling on.
* The thinner you roll your dough, the crispier the cookie will be. This recipe calls for rolling the dough 1/4 inch thick, which makes them soft with just the right amount of crispness around the outside of the cookie.
* Soften the butter at room temperature for about an hour or two before mixing. Butter that isn't softened won't mix properly and your cookies will be flat. Do not microwave butter to soften, it will soften unevenly.
* The eggs should also be room temperature. Cold eggs can cause the batter to curdle.
* Halfway through the baking process, take a minute to rotate the baking sheets from back to front for even baking. This step is worth it to prevent unevenly baked batches of cookies.
* If you are making more than one batch, do not put the dough on hot cookie sheets. It will spread as you're placing the dough on the sheet, and baking will be uneven.
* The brand of flour makes a difference. Gold Medal or Pillsbury flours are lower-protein. King Arthur flour is higher protein which produces slightly drier, cakier cookies.
* If you want extra dough, this sugar cookie recipe freezes well. You can freeze the dough for about four weeks as long as it is tightly wrapped.

Day 12 of 12 Day Christmas Blog Challenge

Day 12: Show off your Christmas lights/decorations

These pictures were taken with my phone so they aren't great. I'll take some more tomorrow.
 Stratton, my mom and I made these today. They were really fun.