Friday, December 28, 2012

Sumptuous Finger Foods!

Hope you all had a great Christmas
and are now gearing up
to enter into a New Year!
We've had a busy week
and are even partying it up
with more Christmas celebrating
with family as we speak.
We even had SNOW
on Christmas day -
which was a first time
experience for many adults!!!

If you need some snack ideas
for your upcoming New Year's gathering
or for game night,
check out the lastest
Wedded Bliss article
for some super yummy options!
(photo by Jamie Maldonado)

Have a happy and safe
New Year's and

Friday, December 21, 2012

Visions of Sugar Cookies

Yea, I know what you're saying.
Those cookies don't look Christmas-ey AT ALL.
That's the beauty of the sugar cookie.
It can be anything you ever dreamed it could be.
Cookie cutters, no cookie cutters,
they will still taste the same...awesome.

We traditionally make these cookies
every year around the holidays,
however, any pics I have of those past
holiday sugar cookies are on a
temporarily dead computer around here. 
Wedding cookies it is!!!!

The cookies in these pics were made for
THE sweetest, sweetest girl I tell you
(who I think should STILL be a
youth intern or AT LEAST a college kid)!
She was instrumental in our two oldest daughters lives...
leading by example outwardly AND inwardly.
Staci was the most beautiful December bride
and last year, these cookies made it all the way
to her wedding in Oklahoma!
We have been so blessed to have had her
AND her two equally as awesome
sister's be a part of our lives!!!

For this week's Free Recipe Friday
I am sharing with you this great old Martha Stewart recipe.
Cookies that we've made for ten plus years.
Once they are made, the dough is kept refrigerated
and can be brought out
to bake a few cookies at a time or a big batch.
Go ahead a make a batch of these up
and if you leave some for Santa,
he just might not leave your house!


2 cups flour (more for rolling out)
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup real butter (1 stick)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Non stick baking sheet or one lined with parchment
Royal Icing and other assorted candies, optional

With your mixer or in a large bowl
using a hand mixer,
cream together the sugar and butter
until it's pale yellow in color.
Add in vanilla and egg, mix well.
In a separate bowl, or right in the
measuring cup, combine the flour,
salt, and baking powder.
Slowly add in to first mixture
until just combined.
Don't overmix.
Divide by hand into two disks.
Wrap tightly with cellophane and refrigerate
several hours or overnight.

When you are ready to bake,
preheat oven to 325.
Remove one disk from the fridge
and let it warm up (about 15 minutes).
Dust your clean countertop with
a bit of flour. Begin to roll out dough
to 1/8 inch thickness.  Sprinkling flour
on top of dough to keep from sticking.
Continue rolling and rotating dough
until you reach the desired thickness.
Using cookie cutters (if desired)
begin cutting out your shapes. 
Either place on a cool cookie sheet
to bake immediately or
 a floured cutting board to keep in the fridge
to keep them from becoming too warm.
If you want to top with M&M's or sprinkles
instead of icing, do this before baking.

Once your cookie/baking sheet is full
bake for about 10 minutes.
You will barely see a golden color around the edges.
Don't bake them until they are brown.
Pale, pale, pale is what we are after here.
Remove from oven and let them sit a minute or two
before removing them to a cooling rack.

You can now place cookies in a ziploc baggie,
freeze them, or save them to decorate later.

For the first six years or so that we made these,
we basically did not use Royal Icing
as we do now.
If you want to go the Royal Icing route,
the internet is full of that easy to find recipe.

In our early years, before meringue powder
and not wanting to use raw egg whites,
we made a thick
powdered sugar and milk icing
with a few drops of vanilla or butter flavoring.
You seriously cannot mess it up.
Combine 2 or more cups of powdered sugar
with a few spoonfuls of milk and whisk away.
If it's too thick, add a tiny bit more milk
only adding a little at a time -
it takes surprisingly less milk than you would think.
It will be thinner than toothpaste (sorry)
but a bit thicker than honey.
(Now is the time to add coloring
if you want anything other than white).

After getting our mixture to just the right consistency,
we spooned it into a good ziploc baggie
 and snipped a small piece off of the corner.
We outlined each cookie with this thick icing
and in a matter of minutes, it was firm to the touch.
Using the leftover icing,
we thinned it with milk to a pourable
almost runny consistency.
We then used a teaspoon to 'pour in' the icing
in between the hardened outlines.
Now the tough part.
Letting the cookies 'dry.'
This may take a few hours or overnight,
depending on that good ol' humidity.
Once dried, cookies can be stacked a bit
and touch each other without fear of
any smudges. 

Leaving the cookies to 'air dry'
will not affect their texture
or dry them out.

From our crew to yours,
we hope you have a very
Merry Christmas!!!!!

And Happy (early) Anniversary
Staci & Tyler ;)

Friday, December 14, 2012

from our Cheesey Family to Yours ~

Although we've had many years of overeating
at Thanksgiving,
this year we kept it simple.
There were certainly those years
when the girls were small and we had to
visit every house and every relative,
but, at this chapter in our lives
things are a bit calmer as far as that goes.
Fewer houses to visit during the holidays
means a simpler time for all of us.

Now, back to our 'simple' Thanksgiving feast.
By a small meal I mean that
on the day OF when it was just our
little family (The newlyweds had other plans)
we ate a pretty small meal.
Don't get me wrong, we feasted over the weekend,
but on Thanksgiving day, we lounged at home
and ate a simple, yummy meal.
Loungey days are just the best aren't they?!
Spiral cut ham, roasted asparagus with
garlic, olive oil, butter and lemon.
To the side, we had a mixed green salad
with walnuts, craisins, bleu cheese and
a balsamic vinaigrette.
The icing on the cake was our Cheesey Bread.
This week's Free Recipe Friday.  YUMMO!
This bread would be so great with anything
from soups to salads to pasta - anything!
You can even tweak this recipe to add
any of your favs making it a great
holiday or super bowl crowd pleaser.

1 unsliced loaf of sourdough bread
12 oz. sliced provolone cheese
1/2 cup of butter, melted
1/2 cup or so of green onions, chopped

a few teaspoons of spices such as
garlic powder, garlic salt,
fresh thyme, poppy seeds - use your favs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the bread length-wise and width-wise
without cutting through the bottom crust.
This can be a little tricky going the second way
but the bread is very forgiving.
Just hold it a bit firmly and use
a good serrated knife.

Place the sliced bread onto a
foil lined baking sheet.
Insert slices of cheese in-between the cuts of bread.
As you can see in the pics,
it may look like alot of cheese,
but once melted, I was wishing I'd used more.
I didn't quite use the whole package of provolone.
So don't skimp.
Next time, I will use it ALL.

Melt butter in a small bowl
and combine with your choice of spices
along with the chopped green onions.
Pour over bread, spreading the cuts apart
and letting it get down into all areas of the bread.
Cover bread with a sheet of aluminum foil
and bake for about 15 minutes.
Remove foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
I hope you'll try this bread out
it is oh so easy and would be great
with most anything!


Friday, December 7, 2012

Fa La La La, Chocolate!

With our traditional 70 degree
December weather around here,
we've about given up on
ever having a white Christmas.
Putting up Christmas decor and sweating?! 
That's Texas for ya.
However, if you wanna have
a 'snow' covered kitchen,
get the kids involved in making these...
our most favorite-est cookies EVER.

Don't be fooled though.
You may think Martha Stewart
invented these - but these cookies
have been around for a very long time.
Even way back into my childhood.
Taking these to a family event
when we were younger was like
arriving with the Queen mother!
Ooh, aahhh.
You will become a celebrity
if you bring these to a festivity.
Well, maybe.

My big sis was always the one
in our family that was/is the 'go-to'
girl for making these.
She's just 'always' made them.
And we are very happy about this.
Do you have someone in your family
that is responsible for making
certain things for get-togethers?!
Maybe you should start by making these!!!

1/2 cup shortening
1 2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
5 tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Powdered sugar, several cups to roll dough in

Cream together (mix together)
the first three ingredients.
Once well combined, mix in eggs.
Set aside.
In a separate microwavable bowl,
melt butter and mix in the cocoa
to make a soft paste.
Combine this into the creamed ingredients
and mix well.
In another separate bowl or
right in the measuring cup,
combine flour, baking powder and salt.
Alternately add flour mixture and milk
into the mixing bowl.
Mixing well between each addition
and beginning and ending with the flour.

Cover and refrigerate the cookie dough
for several hours or overnight.
(will yield: appx. 4-5 dozen - depending on size)
When ready to bake,
preheat oven to 350.
Pour several cups of powdered sugar
into a medium sized bowl.
Remove dough from fridge and
using a teaspoon, scoop dough into a
1 to 1 1/2 inch size ball and drop into
the powdered sugar.
Using only one of your hands
(always try and keep one hand 'clean'
during cooking and one hand to dip or batter
things - your phone will always ring
or you will need a free hand to
itch your face or something - trust me)

Okay, back to rolling your cookie dough balls
into the powdered sugar...
do not be skimpy with this -
pile on the powdered sugar!
Roll 'em around good and pack it on.
Place on a baking sheet that's been sprayed
with non-stick cooking spray.
I do the 3,2,3,2,3 method when loading
a cookie sheet.
I start with 3 balls of cookie dough across
for the first row,
then two, the next row 3, etc.
By alternating the rows,
it gives the cookies room to spread
and not stick together.
Fill up the baking sheet and bake for 13-15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let rest for a minute or so
before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling.

It's really a good idea to use two baking sheets
when baking cookies so you can
alternate pans and start each batch
on a cooled cookie sheet.
This way you can have one sheet baking
while you are prepping the next batch.
And they won't start to melt before baking.
We often consume most of these cookies
as they come out of the oven. (kidding)
BUT, if you have some left on your
cooling rack, place them in a sealed container
to keep fresh.  And/or double this batch!!!