Thursday, October 28, 2010

Royal Icing

My favorite icing for rolled sugar cookies! This will also harden up so you can pre-make decorating pieces (ex: flowers). Make sure you follow the process completely or it most likely will not turn out.


3 level tablespoons meringue powder (I use Wilton's but I have seen recipes where powdered eggs can be used)
1 pound pure cane confectioners sugar
5-6 tablespoons lukewarm water


Make sure utensils are grease free.

Mix together sugar and meringue powder at low speed until blended. Add water and mix 10 minutes at low-medium speed until icing loses its sheen. To prevent drying, immediately cover tightly.

Store in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks, to reuse, beat on low to restore original texture.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

I have tried many vanilla buttercream frosting recipes and so far this is my favorite! I love the texture and taste that comes from using heavy cream! I use this on cakes but also rolled sugar cookies (when I want the kids to get more involved in decorating them).


1/2 cup shortening (regular vegetable Crisco - if you get butter flavored it will turn your frosting yellow)
1/2 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar (I prefer Domino's pure cane confectioners sugar - better texture than powdered sugar from beets)
1 teaspoon imitation vanilla extract (prefer clear so it does not affect the color)
1/4 cup (or less*) heavy cream (you can use regular milk)


Cream shortening and butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue beating until well blended. Add vanilla and cream blending on low speed until moistened. Beat at high speed until frosting is fluffy.

*Reduce the amount of cream for a stiffer frosting for decorating purposes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pasta with Tomatoes and Corn

A great side dish!


1 box pasta (I used 1/2 of a 1 lb box of Barilla Mini Fusilli the time I took this picture)
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 can (15 ounces) corn, drained - or 15 ounces frozen corn
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
4 leaves basil, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste


Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a medium skillet, sauté onion in olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes and simmer for 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

Add corn and sauté for 2 minutes.

Drain pasta and toss with sauce.

Stir in cheese and basil before serving.

Pasta with Ricotta and Vegetables

All I can say is YUMMY and it's great as a left-over too!


8 ounces penne pasta
2 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups asparagus or green bean, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup light ricotta cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped - or 1 tablespoon dried basil, crushed
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 large ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons grated parmesan or Romano cheese


Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting any oil or salt.

Add broccoli florets and asparagus/green beans during the last 3 minutes of cooking; drain.

In a large serving bowl, combine ricotta cheese, basil, thyme, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Add cooked pasta and vegetables to ricotta mixture. Add chopped tomatoes. Toss to combine. Sprinkle each serving with grated cheese; serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Nutter Butter Ghosts & Snowmen

A great treat to make with little ones! My son gave us many giggles as he attempted to apply the eyes on the ghosts :)



Package of Nutter Butters
12 oz white chocolate
Mini chocolate chips


Melt white chocolate.

Dip Nutter Butter into the melted white chocolate coating both sides. I found that I had to “paint” the chocolate on some sections in order to cover it all.

Lay on wax paper. Add two mini chocolate chips for eyes. Let harden on wax paper.


Create Nutter Butter Ghosts but add some orange colored chocolate for a carrot nose and some milk (brown) chocolate for stick arms.

Spaghetti Squash Bake

This is another good recipe I found for spaghetti squash!


1 medium spaghetti squash, cooked however you like
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons parsley
Pinch of thyme
2 tomatoes, chopped
Dash of salt & pepper
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 cup fine bread crumbs
4 teaspoons parmesan cheese


Mix ingredients together. Place in a greased 2 quart casserole baking dish. Top with parmesan cheese.

This is prior to baking
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Rolled Sugar Cookies

I have tried a few different rolled sugar cookie recipes but this one is by far my favorite!


1 1/2 cups butter (room temperature)
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt


Cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt.

Cover and chill dough for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick. I like to start with 1/3 of the dough and then add more with each new batch I roll out. That way you can work with a smaller surface and the dough at the end is not flaky from being over exposed to the flour.

Cut into shapes with cookie cutters.

Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 6-8 minutes. Cool completely.

Makes approximately 24 cookies.

Frosting: I prefer royal icing (as seen in these pictures- holds better to the cookie) but butter cream frosting is also good. I'll blog on those recipes at a later time.

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I love recipe for those that like cookies but don't care for the super sweet ones!


2/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips*


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt.

Combine the butter mixture with the oats mixture, mixing well. Stir in cranberries and white chocolate.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

*For a sweeter cookie you can increase white chocolate to 1 cup.

Pot Saucy Pasta

I love a good meal that only requires using one pan!!


1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, sliced into small wedges
1 jar spaghetti sauce
2 cups pasta, uncooked (I prefer penne)
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 cup shredded cheese
2 cups water*


Brown the meat and onion in a large nonstick skillet. Add water, spaghetti sauce, pasta, and mushrooms. Cover, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 35 minutes (until pasta is tender). Stir in cheese. Serve :)

*You may need to add more water during the cooking process to prevent burning.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Creamed Potatoes & Peas

One of my favorite side dishes!!


1 pound small red potatoes
2 1/2 cups peas (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup butter
1 green onion, sliced
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash pepper
2 cups milk


Scrub and quarter potatoes; place in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add peas; cook 5 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add onion; sauté until tender. Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper until blended; gradually add the milk. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir often for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Drain potatoes and peas; toss with sauce.

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Garlic and Basil

I had never heard of spaghetti squash until this year. This recipe caught my interest and now that I am more familiar with this form of squash I am interested to learn more ways to prepare it!


1 small spaghetti squash (about 3-4 pounds)
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup finely chopped fesh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake spaghetti squash for 60 minutes (it’s easy – just wash it and put it on a cookie sheet). Let squash cool for 10 minutes.

Cut squash in half, lengthwise (I also cut off the ends as I found it helps).

Use a spoon to remove and discard the seeds.

Use a fork to scrape the squash to get long, lovely strands. I was surprised to find how easily it falls from the skin into nice strands that resemble spaghetti noodles). If the squash seem difficult to scrape, return the squash to bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Heat a large sauté pan with the butter and the garlic over medium-low heat. When garlic becomes fragrant, add basil, salt and spaghetti squash strands. Toss well, sprinkle in the Parmesan cheese and taste to see if you need additional salt. The spaghetti squash should have a slight crunch (not mushy) - but if you like it softer, cover the pan and cook 2 more minutes.

I found that you can bake the squash ahead of time and store the spaghetti like strands in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the dish. You will just have to increase your cook time a little since you will be starting with cold squash.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

I have been on a long search for a cream cheese frosting that not only tastes great but hold well for decorating. I finally came across this one that appears to work great!

What you need:

1/2 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)
6 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
4 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

What you need to do:

Blend butter and cream cheese together for 1 minute. Add the vanilla and blend. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, blending for about 30 seconds between adding each cup. Whip on high for about 2 minutes (until real fluffy). I have learned that the ingredients between recipes I have tried are very similar - it's the technique that really makes the difference! This recipe will easily frost 2 dozen cupcakes.