The Book and a Cuppa Swap is here!

2016BOOKANDCUPPAButton

Book nerds unite! It’s time for this year’s FANTASTIC book and cup reader swap! You have no idea how exciting this is to me! It’s been nearly 3-1/2 years since I left the book industry to become a Mom and Pastry Chef and there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t miss the joy and bustle of it! So joining up in this swap, to read new books, as well as meet fellow book nerds? So. Much. Yes.

Want to join in on all of the glorious magic (because reading IS very much like magic)? Visit the official site, here

You know how a seemingly large amount of women have a giddy habit of collecting things like shoes and purses? Well, besides children’s books (500+) and cake stands (which I own over 20 of at this point), I may or may not have discovered a new “habit” to collect. Coffee Mugs! Because who doesn’t love an awesome coffee mug? Or two. Or maybe a dozen. Need some mug-tastic inspiration? Here are just a few on my MUST-HAVE-NOW list:

The Happy! Mug from Pier 1 Imports! Anyone else breaking into a happy dance? I might be.

And this AWESOME Star Trek Mug! To boldly go…

OR this Have Courage Mug! from Etsy. Because courage is contagious.

And this BUT FIRST COFFEE mug, for all the fellow mamas out there. No explanation necessary.

OR maybe this I Turn Coffee Into Cakes!

Because coffee…and cake….and well, ME!

And just because my bookseller friends will always hold a special place in my heart (Lori, Julia, Katie, Sarah, Jen), this is one of the cutest coffee or tea mugs I’ve found for their express enjoyment: The Cat and Mouse Mug!

What are your favorite MUST-HAVE-NOW mugs? I’d love to know!

The Children’s Book Worm! Interview: Mandi Pimental!

Hello fans! Since I am currently recovering from surgery and restricted from being up and about in my kitchen, I’m debuting a special book related treat for you: interviews with guest bloggers who, like me, have a passion for the written world of Children’s Literature! You all may know that after 17 years as a children’s lit specialist, children’s literature has been and still is a very important part of my life. And because I believe in the timeless magic with the written word, I am always beyond thrilled to make friends with other adults who also feed into this particular passion. So with no further adui, I am honored to introduce you to my first Book Worm Interview with the lovely Mandi Pimental! Enjoy!

11426633_10154019099314358_1076047957_n

What is your favorite thing about browsing through a bookstore? What is your favorite current bookstore?

Can I say everything? [laughs] I can spend hours in a bookstore – I’m so in love with the written word and traditional print. My favorite bookstore is Barnes and Noble. I love the vibe there.

 Do you have a particular book from your childhood that has taught you something important as an adult?

I’ve always had a voracious appetite for learning. My top picks would my children’s Bible, my elementary encyclopedia set and I loved childhood fairytale stories – so Cinderella.

Are there any favorite childhood books, within a series or as a stand alone, that you continue to re-read as an adult?

There is a teen/young adult series titled Secrets of my Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita that I still read because it reminds me of my life in Hollywood. I also love Little Golden Books and have started collecting them for our future littles.

Do you read any new children’s literature, for yourself, now as an adult? If so, what are some of your current favorites?

I am actually working on a children’s book project, so I have done some reading for research. But my favorites to still read with my nieces and nephews are classics like Goodnight, Moon, Ramona, Judy Blume and The Bernstein Bears.

,
If you have children or are wanting to have children, which books from your own childhood would you collect for your child’s 1st library?

One of my best friends just brought me over a box for our future littles, as we are trying to start a family, and there are so many classics in there that I spent almost two hours pouring over them. The titles that I mentioned above of course, as well as educational titles on colors, numbers and shapes, classic Winnie The Pooh and Harold and the Purple Crayon!

If you were ever able to write and publish your own children’s book, what would your book be about? Is there a particular message that you would hope to convey within it?

I have one that’s been in the works for a while, I am a professional journalist, so it’s on the back burner while I work on other projects – but it’s a Christian children’s book about how they can apply obedience and helpfulness into their own lives, even though they are little.

Three Cheers for our 1st Children’s Book Worm, Mandi! I adore how she has stuck to so many of the classics! And I love how she mentioned that her elementary Encyclopedia from childhood has had so much meaning to her as an adult! I can only just imagine how well loved that childhood Encyclopedia is.

Intrigued? Who else is clamoring to know more about Mandi’s writing her own Christian Children’s Book? I am!

Catch up with all of Mandi’s many blogging adventures (& prepare to be WOW’d by a plethora of gorgeous photos) at her lifestyle blog Nosh & Nurture!

Thank you for the lovely interview, Mandi!

xoxo

Happiness Project Recipe #61: Strawberry Field Summer Salad!

strbysalad

Alright, my friends! When my Mom took my Daughter & I to Wendys after one of my specialist appointments last week, and I tried their new strawberry chicken salad, I fell head over heels for their salad menu! Which, for me, is kinda a big deal. Salads are personal to me. They need to be just right for me to truly enjoy them. Particularly if I want to go back for seconds (or thirds). Call me Goldilocks from the classic fairytale, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, where I need to try everything available first before I decide on what I like most. Snobbish, perhaps? Yes. And I’m not ashamed to admit it. Being a little picky with my sense of taste in regards to creating good food? Makes sense to me.

Anyhow, back to this salad! I decided to re-create Wendys strawberry chicken salad, with a couple of tweaks. Wendys salad has onions (which I detest, like you wouldn’t believe) and bits of cubed chicken (which I can only take for so long). Both of which I omitted for my own personal “snobbery.” Which you can very easy add in, if those two additions sound appeasing to you. It’s your salad, right? Right. So with a little bit of tang, a whole lot of sweetness and the perfect blend of crunch, you might fall in love with this salad as much as I have. Since I had 3 large bowls of this last week. Proud of me, sister?

10 ounces of mixed spring lettuce and baby spinach, washed and lightly patted dry.

1-1/2 cups washed, sliced fresh strawberries

1-1/2 cups seedless red grapes

3 to 4 tablespoons of toasted sunflower seeds

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

*1 cup cooked and cubed fresh chicken, optional

1-2 cups Apple Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Salads are easy. That’s what I’ve come to love about them. So this one is no exception.

Once you’ve washed and sliced (or diced) up the strawberries, set them aside while you wash and pat the two types of lettuce dry. Throw those leafy greens into a large serving bowl. Add in the strawberries, grapes, lovely toasted sunflower seeds and blue cheese. Mix together briefly. And now pour in up to 2 cups of the apple vinaigrette dressing.

Toss together the entire mixture, with your salad utensils, or by hand, until everything is nicely mixed and coated.

And serve. Just like that. So simple, it’s kinda mind boggling to me. Which is just one of many reasons why I have finally (FINALLY) become a salad lover. About time.

What’s your favorite summer salad? I would love to know!

The Liebster Award 2015! Thank you!

liebster-award-a

Awe! Just a couple of days ago, I was nominated for the Liebster Award by fellow Mommy blogger, Kristi at mustbeamomblog.com! Which was incredibly sweet of her! An award that I am completely honored to accept, considering how casual I am about my recipe posts. Point in case? Most of my Mommy blogging friends post new entries once or twice a week! Which I most definitely do not, due to a whole slew of time and health related reasonings. So knowing that a Mommy blogger out there in this vast, complex blogging world of ours, considered me for such an honor, kinda floors me. And tinkles me pink! So thank you so very much, Kristi!

For those of you who are as casual or new to the blogging world as I am, The Liebster Award is a Blogging Award for new bloggers, of any genre, who have less than 1k followers, who the presenter would like to recognize and support. And it’s pretty awesome, if I say so myself. What a truly lovely way to find, explore and create like-minded blogging friendships!

When nominated there are 6 things to do:
1- Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you with a link to their blog.
2- Post the Liebster Award badge on your blog.
3- Write 11 facts about yourself.
4- Nominate 5+ bloggers (with fewer than 1,000 followers) who you feel deserve the award.
5- Answer the 11 questions posted by the presenter.
6- Write 11 questions for your nominees.

For those readers here who have just recently been introduced to my blog, here are 11 little tid bits about myself:

1. I’m a word person, at heart. I’d rather have a written conversation between a friend or family member than a verbal one. There’s something magical & incredibly authentic about the way a person shares oneself through the written word. That’s nothing at all like the verbal one.

2. I love being alone, more often than not. Now granted being alone to me is REALLY being alone with my entire family of 6 (4 of whom are not human) but still. My Family is my solace and my reprieve and I rarely feel the need to ask for anything more.

3. Before I went to Pastry School, and well before I became a Mother, I was a children’s literature specialist of 17 years. It was my world and nearly everything else revolved around it. To this day, even though I no longer work within the book industry, nearly 95% of all I read (when I have the time) is still children’s lit. Nothing else gets my heart like that of a children’s novel. There’s nothing else nearly as transcending. You can take the bookstore out of the girl but never the love out the book nerd.

4. Before I underwent my hysterectomy 6 months post birth, and was thrown into full menopause, I was an avid collect of scarves. Scarves were my THING. And even though I’m not able to wear any of them anymore (hot flashes, my friends), I still hold much fondness for my well loved collection, and display them with much enthusiasm.

5. I have a classic Winnie the Pooh stuffed bear who is now nearly 20 years old. Who I still occasionally hug at night, when I’m feeling sad or alone. Not ashamed to admit this at all.

6. Give me a good cup of white chocolate mocha and I will quite possibly be your friend forever. Seriously. It doesn’t take much to make me happy.

7. Even though my little Family is planning on moving to Maui within the next two years, I’m not a water person. In fact, I’m actually rather terrified of vast expanses of water. You know, like an entire ocean of water. In which a tiny little island like Maui sits. Why? Tsunamis. Tsunamis, people.

8. My three closest, best friends are my Mom and two sisters. My Family & I are very close, no matter how different each of us may be, and it’s because of this closeness & combined strength that I’ve braved my way through so many trials and hardships. They are my rock and my shelter. And a blessing unlike any other this world could give. Friends come and go. But Family is forever.

9. I’m a certifiable FB addict. And, no, it doesn’t bother me that I am. Not one bit.

10. I’m pretty hard core about my beliefs about how I parent. I believe in play, free play, for as long as possible for my daughter, and generally let her do anything that she wants within reason. I also believe that no one other than my husband (& sometimes my in-laws) have the right to say anything about the way I parent. I see far too many parents out there in the public thinking that it’s perfectly okay to look at another parent in a disapproving manner. Which I think is entirely disheartening and quite honestly, rather rude. Every parent parents in their own way, and has every right to do what is best for their own child. No matter what anyone else thinks.

11. My Life’s Motto: Just when the Caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a Butterfly.

Questions from Kristi

1. What got you interested in blogging?

While I was working part time at a local bookstore, I decided to go to Pastry School for 3 months. Not long after I had completed my 3 month course, I found that kitchen wizardry was a growing, driving passion of mine, as well as therapy for battling depression and endometriosis pain. Which soon became a recipe blog for all of my friends and family. And has now become a joyful monthly adventure of mine, chronicling the many beautiful experiences that I have found within motherhood.

2.What celebrity would you love to have over for dinner? Why?

The Dahli Lama, who is the true reincarnation of grace, wisdom and selflessness.

3. What is your biggest accomplishment in life up to this point?

Being a Mother and overcoming the many, many obstacles to become one. When my Husband and I first started trying to become pregnant back in 2011, we knew that because of my history with tumors and the severity of my endometriosis pain, the chance to conceive naturally was very slim. In many ways, I chose to put my own physically well being at risk for the chance to become pregnant, no matter the pain and depression I battled my way through. My Daughter was the goal. Nearly 2 years later, right when I had finally conceded in scheduling the unavoidable full hysterectomy, I found out that I was pregnant. Our Miracle became reality. And my Daughter was worth all of it.

4. What is your favorite travel destination? Why?

Maui. As soon as I stepped off of that plane, my heart felt like I had found my true place. My true home. My husband and I are now planning on moving our family of 6 to the island within the next two years. In our 11 years together, we’ve always known that we were not meant to be in the Bay Area and visiting Maui earlier this month, confirmed this sentiment of ours.

5. What blog post are you the most proud of so far?

My Daughter’s Pink Lemonade Birthday Cupcakes. Which represents so much of my Daughter’s bubbly, affectionate, feisty personality.

6. Where do you get your blog inspiration?

Pain and depression and the need to share my story.

7. What is your favorite childhood past time?

Reading. My twin sister and I were true, stereotypical bookworms while growing up. Wherever we were, there was sure to be a book or two in hand.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

My anxieties. Sometimes I live in my head far too much. Which always (always) eventually come out screaming. Which I’m fairly certain, drives my Husband batty at times.

9. Best song on the radio right now?

My favorite two songs are Geronimo by Sheppard, and Conqueror by Estelle and Jussie Smollett. Geronimo gets me dancing. Conqueror keeps me fighting my through my many current physical struggles.

10.Other than writing do you consider yourself creative?

I do. Growing up I loved writing, singing, drawing and now, creating cakes & cupcakes for my pastry business.

11.What is the one adjective that best describes you?

Courageous.

And now to my Liebster Award Nominees! I am so very happy to have run across your blogs and love reading through so many of your posts (when I have the time, that is).

For those who I have nominated, here are my questions to you:

QUESTIONS TO MY NOMINEES:

1. What inspired the creation of your blog?
2. If you could send a letter of advice to yourself back when you were in grade school, what would that advice be?
3. If you were able to choose any dream career, what would it be and why?
4. What is your favorite blog post?
5. If you had an opportunity to sit down to dinner with any important figure within your generation, who would it be? What would you say?
6. What is your all-time favorite novel?
7. What is your favorite word and why?
8. If you could create your own charity, what would it be and who would it benefit?
9. What is your favorite time of day; morning, afternoon or evening?
10. What is the one adjective that best describes you?
11. If you were known for one thing in your lifetime, what would you most like to be known for?

Bloggers who I LOVE following and would like to nominate are:

oddlylovely.com (my favorite lifestyle blogger!)

jenkellerart.blogspot.com (a mommy friend of mine who is an incredibly talented illustrator!)

monkeygal2.blogspot.com (one of the wisest women I have ever met!)

socutephoto.com (a lovely up & coming family photographer who I’ve worked with!)

accidentalhappybaker.com (such wonderful personality!)

thejoyblog.net (this lady is doing something remarkable!)

booksinckidsblog (children’s lit reviews, author interviews, new scheduled releases and much more!)

Thank you so very much for the nomination, Kristi!

All of my Favorite Things GIVEAWAY: KitchenAid 5 Speed Hand Mixer!

iceblueka

It’s a SPECIAL All-of-my-Favorite-Things GIVEAWAY! To celebrate all of the support and recognition I’ve received from all of my followers (YOU), I wanted to do something I’ve never done before! A two part giveaway featuring a few of my favorite kitchen accessories!

Since I have a rather small kitchen, every inch of counter space and storage space counts. Particularly when it comes to storing and displaying my favorite baking tools. So I tend to like small, pretty things. Like this KitchenAid 5 speed Hand Mixer. Point in case, not only do I have my beloved KitchenAid Stand Mixer (which I use about 90% of the time with my recipes), I also have one of these super functional KitchenAid Hand Mixers, as well. For all of the quick, little jobs. Because I LOVE (LOVE) KitchenAid products! From size, to versatility, to functionality & (beautiful) design, KitchenAid products tend to be my go to for everything I do! Brownies, cakes, cookies, muffins, you name it! I LOVE KitchenAid! Hence my 1st All-of-my-Favorite-Things GIVEAWAY today for THIS lovely ice blue 5 speed hand mixer!

But enough with the gabbing! Let’s get to the details! Here’s how to enter: leave a comment below with your favorite kitchen accessory (& a link to it, if you’re so inclined to share it with us) and tell me why you love it! Commenting begins today, Sunday, February 15th from 1:00pm-1:00pm on Monday, February 16th. One lucky commenter will be chosen at random to receive this fantastic KitchenAid Hand Mixer! Winner will be contacted on Tuesday, February 17th.

From my Heart to your Kitchen, THANK YOU for all of your support!

Happy Baking, my Friends!

xoxo

Happiness Project #35: Pink Lemonade Birthday Cupcakes!

Image“One year ago, on March 8th, at 10:36am, a Miracle changed my life in the best of ways. And at long last, this Warrior heart of mine became whole. Everything I had ever believed to be good and true and beautiful in this world, came in the form of ten little fingers, ten little toes, two rosy cheeks and one button nose. She, who was, and is still this Angel of mine. And every day since then, the brightness of her smile lifts me up, the music of her laughter brings me joy and the warmth of her embrace enwraps my heart in wonder. In ways I could never imagine before, this beautiful, mischievous brown eyed Sweet Pea, gave to me the most precious gift a mortal could ever be blessed with. The gift of Motherhood. The gift of Meaning. The gift of Love. And with every beat of my heart and every fiber of my being, I give thanks for the Miracle of my Baby Girl. She, who is my everything. She, who is my world. Always & Forever.”

Two days ago, my Baby Girl officially became a walking, babbling, contagiously charming Toddler! A Toddler! Something I’m still having a difficult time wrapping my head around! Don’t mind me while I get a little teary eyed at this. Considering that my Sweet Pea is not only my only child but also the light of my life, I was determined to give her the best & yummiest of all 1st birthdays! Which meant showering her with the one thing that I do best; baking. A LOT of baking. Incorporating all of my favorite flavors: chocolate, lemon and vanilla. So after brainstorming a rather exhaustive dessert menu, incorporating HER favorite thing as well, meaning bath-time, I decided that in combination with lemon duck sugar cookies, rainbow cake truffles and chocolate covered strawberries, I wanted to create a special cupcake just for her. A cupcake that represented everything that I love most about my baby girl’s loving, tenacious and incredibly mischievous personality. A cupcake that everyone would love. So what cupcake is it, you ask? A Pink Lemonade Cupcake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting! The perfect blend of sweetness and beauty. The perfect blend of happiness and love. In a baked treat, that is. 

After scouring the internet for recipe suggestions and then botching an entire batch (after following what I had sadly mistaken to be a a good recipe) , I realized that the only way to create perfection was to strip it all down to the basics and do what I had learned most important in Pastry School. Which meant doing it the French way. Which, in my opinion, is truly the best way. So here it is, my friends. My Baby Girl’s Pink Lemonade Birthday Cupcake! From my heart to yours…

*Break out that dusty kitchen scale and set it to measuring it’s weight by grams! You will need it for this one!

180 grams egg whites

320 grams whole milk

1/2 cup pink lemonade powder

400 grams cake flour, sifted (NOT all-purpose flour!)

400 grams granulated sugar

6 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon kosher salt

226 grams unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a small bowl, combine the eggs whites, milk and pink lemonade powder. Mix. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on a stand mixer, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder & salt and mix with the paddle attachment for 1 to 2 minutes at low speed to blend. Add in the softened butter and 1/3 of the egg white/milk/lemonade mixture. Mix at low speed until the batter gathers together into a moist paste. Beat at medium speed for 1-1/2 minutes to develop structure. *Use a stopwatch or timer for accuracy* Scrap down the sides and bottom of the bowl. This will guarantee a smoother finished batter.

Beat in the rest of the egg white/milk/lemonade mixture in 3 batches, beating for exactly 20 seconds after each addition. *Use a stopwatch or timer for accuracy* Do not over mix or the batter will deflate and your cupcakes will not rise correctly.

Using a spoon or small cookie scoop, divide the batter evenly between both cupcake pans. Bake for 18-20 minutes, inserting a toothpick, if need be, to check for proper dryness. Do not fret that the top of your cupcakes are not pushed up in the center like a dome. The use of cake flour creates a flat baked surface because of it’s particular density. Cool the cupcakes throughly on a wire rack before frosting.

Ready for some yummy Lemon Frosting? You should be! Here’s what you’ll need:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

pinch of kosher salt

1 tablespoon lemon extract

3-4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

In a large bowl, on a stand mixture, cream the butter for 3 to 4 minutes at medium speed. Drop the mixer speed down to it’s lowest setting and add slowly add in 4 cups of powdered sugar. Once the sugar has been completely incorporated with the butter, beat in the salt, lemon extract and 3 to 4 tablespoons of cream. Whip on high for 3 to 4 minutes until the frosting reaches your preferred texture. If you’re planning on piping on the frosting and the consistency is too soft, cover and chill in the fridge for a few minutes.

Frost, frost, frost away (and maybe add some pink sprinkles on top for a little extra sparkle!)

These adorable duckling cupcake toppers were created by the brilliant T-Cakes Franklin! You can find her on Facebook under T-Cakes Franklin.

So from this Stealthy Kitchen Mama to you & yours, may every day be filled with a little bit of sweetness and a whole lot of love. Birthdays or not.

Happiness Project #34: Grandma’s Fresh Apple Cake!

Image

A little over a week ago, while I was over at my Mom’s house, I came across an old & well used Notebook of Recipes that my Grandmother (on my Mother’s side of the family) had contributed to (possibly) back in the 1980’s. As you could imagine, I was near bubbling over with giddiness because of this particular find. Not only because I grew up on so many of my grandmothers very own cookie and cake recipes, particularly her Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and Traditional Angel Food Cake, but also, because in my family, I am virtually the ONLY baker. Truth. I couldn’t tell you why either. That’s simply the way it’s always been. Though I’m certainly not complaining. I’m usually very excited about being the sole bearer of all-things-yummy when confronted with family gatherings. Baking, after all, to me, is more than just tinkering around with “that” new recipe I’ve been drooling over or assembling my large, enthusiastic group of taste-testers. When I bake up recipes, new or old, especially for my family, it’s my way of giving back to the ones I hold most dear. It’s my way of giving love. And I wonder if this is how my Grandmother felt whenever she dug her hands into a ball of flour or sat in front of her oven, waiting patiently for a new cake to rise. I wonder, if she too, felt truly at home and relaxed, with chocolate chips sprinkled all over the kitchen island and a dripping whisk in hand. If, in this one area of homemaking, it felt perfectly okay to create a little messy chaos. Because even though 55 years separate my Grandmother & I, I can’t help but wonder if we share more than just a family tie (& the love we have for one another). Perhaps I also share with her, this love & driven passion for kitchen wizardry. Something passed down through the years. Something I truly hope that I will always honor her legacy with. And what an amazing & inspiring legacy it is! Those of you who know my 91 year old Grandma Betty, I’m sure, will agree. So in the hopes of preserving these precious family recipes, I did no creative tinkering with this 1st (of 4) cake recipes. I’m hell bent on preserving her kitchen legacy, one recipe at a time.

So with no further adieu and much pride, I present to you my Grandma Betty’s Fresh Apple Cake!

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cups diced, raw apples, peeled *there was no preferred apple listed in her recipe so I used Granny Smith, a very traditional apple used in baking*

1/2 cup margarine (or butter), melted

3/4 cups chopped nuts *once again, there was no preferred nut listed in her recipe so I used pecan chips, though walnuts work well also*

2 eggs

Confections sugar (for sprinkling)

Told in my Grandmothers Exact Recipe:

In a large bowl, sift flour, sugar, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt. Add apples, nuts, margarine and slightly beaten eggs. This will be a thick mixture. Mix it well. Pour into a 9×13 inch pan, greased well & bake in a preheated oven 325 for 1 hr. to 1 hr & 15 min. Cool slightly & sprinkle with confections sugar.

My Notes:

I ended up using a 9 inch round cake pan and therefore needed to keep the cake in the oven for a longer period of time, 1 hour & 45 minutes to be exact. After I tested the cakes center (a couple of times) for firmness, I pulled it out of the oven and let it rest overnight. The next day, however, when I went to gently pop it out of the pan, I discovered that it’s center had fallen in (which upset me greatly.) Fortunately though, after texting my Mom about it, she assured me that it was indeed supposed to fall in it’s center, the way it did. You can imagine how relieved I was at knowing this, particularly since I had never made an apple cake before. However, even though I still wasn’t convinced that I had done her recipe due justice, my Mom ended up taking it home with her that night and you know what I did most of the night? I couldn’t help but fret about it. This is what we do, as bakers, when re-creating new or very traditional recipes. We fret. But you know what? Apparently, it tasted even better the next day, after all of the flavors had seeped well enough in!! Enough so that my Mom’s boyfriend ate THREE whole slices! THREE!! Now that, is what I call a happy success!! =)

Enjoyed my Grandmothers Fresh Apple Cake? Stay tuned for the rest of her traditional dessert recipes! Coming soon!

Happiness Project #34: Messy Happy Hearts Sugar Cookies!

Image

Valentines Day. A day of cards, flowers, chocolates and valentine cookies. In other words, a day filled to the brink with words, sweets and sometimes very quirky displays of endearment. A day that I don’t actually believe in. Yes, one that I do not believe in celebrating, at least as an adult. And no matter any of the many varied arguments in Valentines Day’s defense, my very grounded opinion of this day will not be swayed. Trust me on this. However, I DO believe that Valentine’s Day has much to offer (as well as many valuable lessons to impart) for school-age children. Sharing, especially when establishing core values in the lives of children, is caring, in the best of ways. So much to the bemused delight of those near & dear to me, I decided to whip up some Valentines Sugar Cookies this year. Something I have NEVER done before. Never. It must be the new mother in me pouring out, right? Which meant it was finally the appropriate time to pull out my quite hefty 40lb marble pastry board and little used but much loved rolling pin. As well as un-dusting one of the best sugar cookie recipes I have ever found. Think mid 1900’s. Needless to say, I was very excited. So for all of you cookie monsters out there or those of you who DO celebrate Valentine’s Day, here’s a little something yummy from m to you…

For the Sugar Cookies:

1 cup salted butter, softened at room temperature

1-1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat your oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat Mats.

In a stand mixture, cream the butter, sugar and eggs at medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in each egg, one at a time, until well mixed. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt, adding the heavy cream as needed, until throughly combined. This dough should be a stiff not soft texture. If it’s too soft to handle, cover and let chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.

Break out that pastry board (marble is always preferred over wooden) and rolling pin. Quick tip, one of the most valuable things I learned while in Pastry School is that rolling pins are NOT all created equal. The most efficient rolling pin for cookie dough? The classic wooden pin with no handles.

Once the cookie dough is stiff enough to roll into a large ball, lightly flour your pastry board AND rolling pin (so the dough doesn’t stick to either surface while being rolled out). Roll out the dough to around 1/4 inch thick. Grab those heart cookie cutters and shape, shape away =)

Bake for 8-10 minutes and let cool on a wire rack while you’re creating the buttercream frosting.

For the Buttercream Frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract *clear vanilla extract if you want a white colored frosting*

3-4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

In a stand mixture, beat the butter for 2-3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Drop the mixture speed down to a lower setting and sift in the powdered sugar until well incorporated with the creamed butter. Increase the mixer speed to a medium setting and add in the salt, vanilla extract and heavy whipping cream. Whip for 3-4 minutes until nicely thickened.

And now, FROST, with or without your favorite colored dye!!! And SPRINKLE!!! Sprinkle away!!!! That’s the whole fun of creating sugar cookies, after all, right? Especially if your little ones are helping you!

Happy Heart Day, my friends!

P.S. My Mom gifted me with a beautiful personalized cutting board (featured above) for my birthday this year! Jealous? Go to redenvelope.com for your own!

My Happiness Project!

Hello friends! Welcome to my recipe blog, where I’ll be sharing some of my favorite recipes featured in my “Happiness Project.” Since happiness, to me, is measured by simple, everyday pleasures, baking has become a very prominent focus in my current lifestyle. And since so much of my happiness (& sanity) comes from baking for others, this is my way of sharing this adventure of mine with you, one yummy treat at a time. Most of these recipes are very easy to replicate, so don’t be afraid to break out that whisk, throw down some flour & get baking! Your tummy will thank you (& your friends will too!) Happy baking! =)

%d bloggers like this: