My Cake Decorating Gallery

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fall Treats - Put it in a Waffle! Apple Waffles

If you're in the mood to splurge and add some fall flair into your breakfast, these apple waffles are delicious! My nearly 4 year old decided he only liked plain waffles and refused to eat these (isn't that annoying), but the little guy gobbled them up and I thought they were great. The Husband wasn't here but he will love these, being an apple dessert lover.

Cinnamon Apple Waffles
adapted from MrBreakfast's Apple Waffles

2 cups flour
3 T sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 t cinnamon
1 t vanilla
1 large apple, finely diced

Wisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in one bowl. Separate the eggs - eggwhites in your kitchenaid mixer with the whip attachment (or bowl you plan to use for whipping), and the egg yolks in a separate bowl (Yes, I know, three bowls have to get dirty and for that I apologize profusely).

While the mixer is whipping up the eggwhites on high speed (goal is stiff peaks) and your waffle iron is heating up, wisk the egg yolks and add in the milk and stir to combine. Then mix the yolk/milk mixture in with the dry mixture, and don't overmix. Stir in vegetable oil, cinnamon, vanilla and fold in the stiff eggwhites. Carefully stir in the diced apple (I used a large granny smith and it was quite nice having a tart contrast with the sweet maple syrup).

Scoop into your waffle iron (I spray mine first to avoid sticking), and cook until your preference (The Husband likes soft and I like crispy waffles!) Enjoy with pure maple syrup or a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

I hope you enjoy, these were really delicious - they look whole wheat/healthy too but it's just the cinnamon. ;)

Make Ahead Treats for Deer Camp

Well, it's well into the fall season here in Michigan and I have finally broken the long streak of no baking at our house (really have been good over here!) to do a few things this week. I made several things for The Husband to take up to opening day of Deer Camp - a few new recipes which I think turned out great: World's Best Lasagna from AllRecipes.comDutch Apple Pie With Oatmeal Streusel from, Martha Stewart's Muffaletta, and Make Ahead Breakfast Burritos.

For the pie, I tried a new-to-me recipe for Fool Proof Pie Crust and since I only made one pie, I really wonder how it all turned out! I couldn't exactly cut a sliver to test it out before sending it along, haha. If the crust is good, I will use it for a cherry berry pie I plan to make for Thanksgiving.

Most of these things went directly up north with The Husband so I either didn't get a photo or just have a fuzzy snapshot from my phone. For the lasagna, I had a few scraps of the components leftover so I made a tiny one that The Husband and I tried (before popping the main one in the freezer), and it was good! Also for the muffaletta, I made a small one using a sourdough bread bowl (the large one used a large French Boule), so that The Husband and I could share one for lunch before he headed up north. (So the picture of the cut muffaletta is actually the small one!) It was so delicious, I used hot sopressetta, capicola, hard salami, and black forest ham, along with provolone, arugula, and the muffaletta olive spread from Costco (which is utterly delicious by the way!). This is a wonderful make-ahead sandwich for a party or picnic - no mayo so it can sit out, and it is best if it sits in the fridge overnight. Cut into large (or small) wedges before serving. Yum yum yummy yum, and simple!

For the make-ahead breakfast burritos (I didn't realize you could do this with eggs and that they'd taste good after being frozen and reheated!), I just cooked up 1 lb of breakfast sausage, blotted the grease, and then added onions and bell peppers, and then after those were soft, added 10 eggs and scrambled those. Then I warmed 10 burrito sized flour tortillas and rolled up a scoop of filling with shredded cheese in each one, and wrapped with foil. The 10 breakfast burritos  I had a little bit of filling leftover so I made two small fajita sized ones that The Husband and I froze and tried the next morning. With the oven at 350 it really took about 30 minutes for the small ones to heat up, so I would recommend either popping them in well before you need them, or microwaving for a few minutes (Deer Camp doesn't have a microwave so we were testing the oven method). Before eating, top with some salsa! I didn't get a picture but the ziploc bag of 10 foil wrapped burritos is easy to imagine and lots of people have blogged about this using all sorts of add ins like potatoes and rice! Yum! What a nice grab-and-go alternative to all those quick breakfasts that are all sugar and no protein. We will be making these again for sure.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Great Beef Stew inspired by Chef John's Beef Merlot

Based on one of my favorite sources for recipes, Chef John at Food Wishes, we had a great beef stew last night. I followed his method except first fried about a half pound of bacon and set the bacon aside to add in later. Then, I browned the seasoned beef really well and I started with 6 lbs of fresh trimmed beef chuck. I put the heat on high and even my super huge nonstick pot could get some of the beef a nice golden crust - that's what you want, brown yummy goodness! The butcher man at Kroger was really nice to cut me fresh roasts from the back since they only had one in the meat case. Then he gave me a free 50 gas pts for my "inconvenience".. what a nice guy!

After I browned the big chunks of chuck beef, I dumped the bacon grease out (leaving the browned goodness stuck to the bottom of my pot) and added fresh olive oil. Then, I threw the roughly chopped 2 onions, a package of carrots chopped into large pieces, and a package of celery hearts chopped into large pieces. I browned all of the veggies for a good while until they were golden browned on some sides. I think I learned that step from Pioneer Woman - she browned her carrots and such before a pot roast. Since all my portions are larger, you can see I was making a double batch in a giant pot, and I am glad I did because honestly there wasn't that much leftover - probably not enough to freeze, I think we will easily eat it in a day or two.

After the veggies were browned (season with S&P to taste), I started the wine portion of Chef John's instructions - I put in 2 cups of wine (didn't double it but then added another cup later to cook down so I'd recommend at least 3 cups to start). I added 4 or 5 cloves of garlic, chopped, too. I let the veggies and wine cook until the wine was reduced to half. Then I added 3 cups of beef stock and the rest of the ingredients - a bundle of fresh thyme, some bay leaves, a good bunch of halved mushrooms, a tablespoon of flour and instead of more flour, I used 1 packet of onion soup mix. I put the top on and let it simmer for 1.5 hours. I checked it a few times and realized I could add the rest of my beef stock carton (the 4th cup) and another cup of wine, and it was still plenty of time to cook all that liquid down. By the time it was 1.5 hours in, and time to take the top off, there was hardly and liquid but enough to keep going and the meat was starting to get tender - I added the crumbled bacon in. By the end of 2 hours, everything was perfect. Since I was low on liquid, I finished the stew with about a half stick of salted butter which made it pretty awesome. Since we don't usually eat potatoes, I served the stew with mashed/pureed buttery creamy cauliflower with chopped green onions mixed in. The Husband said "this is one of your best". We typically eat low carb but a bit of soup mix or 1 table spoon of flower (6g carbs) doesn't affect us negatively and really made a big difference in the velvety glaze at the end -- instead of soft meat/veggies sitting in brown water. I love Chef John's recipes - so far each one has been excellent. I love his videos and listening to his cheerful and humorous description of how to do the recipes. What a cool job he has! I hope you try his Beef Merlot, it's wonderful!

Here is Chef John's original recipe. I didn't take a picture but the end product looks just like his except mine had halved mushrooms and crumbled bacon throughout as well. Next time I might try some tomato paste in there but not sure - it was so good as is!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Middle Eastern Feast

One of our feasts last summer - chicken shwarma, lamb kofta, & grilled eggplant!
Every once in a while, nothing sounds better than a Middle Eastern feast! This is a good menu for entertaining - easy to prep ahead and throw things on the grill, lots of exciting flavors and spices, and very healthy. I often use this menu to entertain when I am not eating carbs but my guests are not low carb - there's plenty of food to satisfy everyone.
Chicken Shawarma spices - you can marinate overnight
Here's the menu:

Grilled Chicken Shawarma Skewers from The Shiksa (I skip the second frying step myself and do the skewers on the grill, and I only use boneless skinless chicken thighs - yum!)

Lamb Kofta Kabobs from AllRecipes (this recipe is legit, tastes just like restaurant quality and I simplify by putting all spices/onion chunks/garlic cloves/parsley in the food processor to make a paste & save some time, and then mix that in with the ground lamb).

Lamb mixed with the seasonings for Lamb Kofta
Grilled Eggplant - Simply slice eggplant into 1/4in slices or so, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper and grill until soft and charred and ridiculously yummy. (Seriously, eggplant tastes 1,000 more amazing prepared this way).

Add some fresh herbs to your hummous, basil-garlic-lemon is so delicious!
Megan's Hummus - I love hummus on any occasion and homemade always seems to taste the best. I always use my sister-in-law's recipe: In your food processor, puree 1tsp grated lemon peel, 2 T fresh lemon juice, 1 can garbanzo beans rinsed/drained, 2 T tahini sauce, 3 T olive oil, 2 T water, 1 garlic clove, 1/8 t cayenne pepper, and 1/4 t salt. Really puree for a long time to make it super smooth and I always add more lemon and garlic or salt, or make a double batch, etc. Adjust to your liking! I added some lemony basil once and it was fabulous! You can spread it over a plate and sprinkle with paprika and drizzle with olive oil and serve with pita wedges, or save in the fridge for 3 days.

Rice Pilaf (from a box), Sliced lettuce/onion/tomatoes, and Pitas and garlic sauce - I tried making that pure-garlic-yummy sauce that comes with chicken shawarma before and it was a fail, so I just head over to my local Middle Eastern restaurant and buy a large tub and a dozen or so pitas and that takes care of that! I don't typically have time to make my own bread. If anyone knows how to make that garlic sauce, let me know!

So for low-carb people, just make lettuce wraps with the shawarma and koftas with onions and tomato and garlic sauce - soo good! Eggplant is a great side and my new favorite vegetable to grill. For everyone else, the yummy fresh pitas and rice fills out the meal wonderfully. Instead of just making the same ole barbecue chicken when you have guests this summer, try something different and go middle eastern on the grill! You will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Costco Hack: Bubbly Baked Spinach Artichoke Jalapeno Dip

Yum! I've tried some free samples of the La Terra Fina spinach dips and always thought they were pretty good, dip some veggies and crackers in there - they do not disappoint. La Terra Fina even sent me some a year or two ago, but I didn't have any recipe ideas for them nor know if I'd buy them again. True - if I was at Costco and prepping to entertain some guests, it's a good option to pick up a tub and a lot better than the dips I find on the shelves at Kroger. My "pretty good" assessment was related to the dip when it was served cold. Then, months later, one day I read the tub and noticed it said "try warm!"... so I did... it changes my assessment from "pretty good" to "100% addictive." Free samples or not, I highly recommend you try it as a hot spinach dip - yum!! I've made my own dips as well and I will still continue to buy this dip.

I tried the artichoke/jalapeno flavor as well as the typical spinach/artichoke flavor and it wasn't spicy enough for me. Then, I had a great idea to take my favorite spinach/artichoke flavor and amp it up with chopped jalapenos and bake it with a panko breadcrumb topping...because.. why not? This is really a great semi-homemade Costco hack that anyone can do and be proud to serve as an appetizer. The dip has a crunchy topping, creamy melty center and a zip and zing from the jalapenos. You can taste the the ingredients are real - this is key for a store-bought dip. Tons of flavor and definitely a keeper! I do tend to eat a lot at once and then have awful garlic breath. Worth it! Don't you love dips for appetizers? Let me know if you've found a product or recipe I should try - Kitchen Bliss loves happy hours.

Easy Spicy Bubbly Baked Spinach Artichoke Dip
By Kitchen Bliss

Supplies You'll Need:
1 tub La Terra Fina Chunky Spinach Artichoke & Parmesan or whatever spinach/artichoke type dip you'd like
1 package Panko bread crumbs
1 jar of sliced jalapenos

This is super easy and adaptable! Decide how much dip you'll need - decide on the serving dish and scoop out enough dip that will fill the bottom of the dish. Think about how spicy you want to make it and chop up that amount of jalapenos and mix into the dip, and taste periodically until the dip is spicy enough for you. Spread the jalapeno-spiked dip into your serving dish and sprinkle a layer of panko bread crumbs on top. Bake at 400 degrees until brown on top/around the edges and the center is warm. Let cool a few minutes before serving so that it isn't too hot for the first person who dips in! Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Twice Baked Yukon Gold Potatoes with Caramelized Onions, Gruyere, and Bacon

Since we have a smoker, we often have people over for a BBQ. The Husband is not a fan of potato salad so that's not anything I'm ever going to make at home (save for a hot bacon german potato salad), so I've looked into other potato dishes, especially ones you can make in advance. The twice baked potato is a perfect match - savory, nice for a special occasion, and you can customize it to your preferences.

I think I originally got the gruyere and caramelized onion idea from a Cooking Light recipe... I forget what they recommended or what made it "light".. who cares! My version uses yukon gold potatoes, adds bacon, and jazzes up the presentation - my favorite way to dress up a twice baked potato is to turn it on it's end. I saw this somewhere on a blog a few years ago and it stuck in my head. It looks very attractive. You could use very small potatoes for bite-sized appetizers, or I have used medium sized potatoes fully expecting guests to take 2 or more (halves). I love potatoes in any fashion, don't you? Too bad I cut them out of my diet most of the time!

Elegant Twice Baked Potatoes - Yukon Gold, Caramelized Onions, Gruyere, and Bacon
By Kitchen Bliss

Base Ingredients:
1-2 medium sized potatoes per person, plus 3 extra for filling
salt and pepper to taste

Customizations I have used:
gruyere cheese (amount varies per how many people you are serving)
bacon - my preference is to bake in the oven and then crumble
1 large onion
green onions or chives
sour cream
heavy cream or milk

More ways to customize:
Fresh herbs besides scallions and chives - whatever your preferences are, thyme, basil, dill, etc.
Cooked veggies besides onions - broccoli, sun dried tomatoes, leeks, celeriac, fennel, roasted garlic, etc.
Cheese, glorious cheese - parmesan, sharp cheddars, cream cheese, swiss in place of gruyere, pimento spread, gouda, creamy havarti, pinconning, etc.
Sour cream

Let me know what great combinations you've come up with!

Bake washed and poked potatoes in a preheated 415 degree oven until fork tender. Let potatoes cool slightly enough to handle them, but still warm enough to spoon out the insides. For the extra potatoes you baked, just peel and set aside in your large bowl.

For the remaining potatoes - Cut each end of the potato off slightly, in order to make a flat end which will be the bottom of your potato cup - very sturdy! Cut each potato in half. Use a spoon (a toddler spoon is usually thinner and the right size for small potatoes) to scoop out the insides but try to leave a 1/4inch thick shell of skin/potato, so that you end up with a cup. Sometimes I make a mistake and scoop too far and reach the bottom of the cup - have no fear, for minor cup breaches, it really doesn't matter - you will be filling it up with mashed potato soon and it will still probably hold up and look OK. No one is looking at the bottom of these things.

Great! The hard part is over. You have a big bowl of potato yumminess to be mashed up with whatever toppings you so choose. In the example photo above, I mashed the potatoes with butter, cream, salt, pepper, lots of sharp cheddar cheese, sliced green onions, crumbled bacon, and some sauteed onions. I used green onions cut on a bias and stuck one in the top of each potato for a cute and tasty decoration. Don't forget to salt and pepper your filling to taste - no one wants any bland potatoes.

The last step is to either put the assembled potatoes in the fridge overnight, maybe with suran wrap on top, or bake them straight away. I would recommend an oven of 375 and bake until warmed through and the cheese is melty. I reserved some shredded cheese and crumbled bacon for the tops for decoration as well. It gives your guests a preview of what deliciousness is inside. After you pull them out of the oven, then top with the fresh herb garnish, if using.

The first time I made this recipe, which I don't think I have a photo of - I used the Cooking Light version of caramelized onions and used gruyere, as noted here (except I added bacon):

  • 2 cups vertically sliced red onion
  • 2 teaspoons sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • garlic clove, minced
  • Melt butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sugar; sauté 8 minutes or until browned. Stir in sherry, Worcestershire, thyme, and garlic; cook 1 minute or until liquid evaporates, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe - I think the presentation is unique but easy enough, and another great tip is you can make these ahead. Then before serving, bake in an oven until heated through and the cheese on top is melty. I'm not sure if you can freeze ahead, but if some one tries it, let me know. I seem to recall twice baked potatoes do usually freeze well, no?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Reese's Peanut Butter Brownie Tart - Behind The Husband's Back

Calling all Peanut Butter and Chocolate lovers!!

We were having dinner guests over and I had plenty to do in the realm of dinner so I wanted a tasty, pretty but easy dessert. I also was in the middle of an unusual situation where most of my cake pans were in boxes and possibly in storage, though I was in my new house already. One thing I did have was my fluted false bottom tart pan. It's pretty big, 10 inches wide and 1 inch deep. I had this idea if I could use a brownie base in a tart pan shape, then I could maybe do some embellishments to make it into something new and special. 

I'm not above using box mixes if I feel like it, and my favorite brownie mix is any kind of Ghirardelli. One of their brownie boxes - I usually go for Double chocolate - fills up my tart pan nicely. It baked in about the same time as you would expect a single layer of short brownies to bake - maybe a little less if your tart pan is bigger than your brownie pan, maybe more if vise versa - so keep your eye on it. 

I cannot remember the specifics but The Husband was going to be out of town yet we were hosting some of his relatives whom we see maybe once a year. His sister and family and parents were there too so it was a nice group. This was a chance to make something The Husband hates and I never get to make - anything involving peanut butter! I love peanut butter. I know there are tons of people who don't like it. I, however, love love love it. We were having salmon for dinner, and PB/Chocolate in no way makes any sense for dessert, but I didn't care. The Husband was out of town and my mind was made up.

I had never made peanut butter frosting before and selected a recipe and it was ridiculously good. I would use it again in a heartbeat on chocolate cupcakes, chocolate cake... Anything. For this peanut butter lover's chocolate tart, there were two other things I did to push it over the top. First I took several Reese's Peanut Butter cups and placed them inside of the brownie batter which I had just spread into the tart pan. I put in maybe 6 or more, so that every piece when sliced liked a pie, would get some extra peanut butter goodness. Lastly, after quickly piping on a basic design (just using a snipped ziploc bag as my pastry bag filled with the soft peanut butter frosting), I took it to one more degree of delish by adding toppings: some roasted spanish peanuts sprinkled on top, some shaved chocolate curls (use a vegetable peeler on a bar of any kind of chocolate), and a drizzle of Sander's milk chocolate hot fudge dessert topping (which, if you are from metro Detroit, is a decadent splurge just on its own).

Was it all too much? Probably, but I love chocolate and peanut butter and was sorry I only had a small triangle since we had so many people over. I sent the last piece with our out-of-town relatives instead of hoarding it like a pig (though it did cross my piglet mind). A small piece was great with some ice cream - the Reese's PB cups were taken over by the dark fudgy brownies and rich and sweet peanut butter frosting. Yes, it was sweet on sweet on sweet. Probably wouldn't win any Top Chef competitions due to its lack of balance.. and store bought brownie mix. I'm OK with that! It was delicious and you probably know a chocolate and peanut butter lover as well - I know they will love this easy dessert.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Brownie Tart
By Kitchen Bliss

1 box Ghirardelli brownie mix
1 recipe Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frostin' (see recipe below)
6 or 8 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Optional Toppings:
Sander's milk chocolate hot fudge topping
1 chocolate bar, such as semi sweet, bittersweet, milk chocolate
1/2 cup of spanish peanuts

Mix up brownie batter according to directions on box and spread into a large tart pan with removable bottom (10 inches wide, 1 inch tall -- or use a 10 inch springform pan). Unwrap Reese's PB cups and press into the brownie batter in whatever pattern you'd like. Bake according to box, checking early and remove from oven when just set, for fudgy brownies.

Mix up peanut butter frosting recipe. After brownie cools, remove from springform pan or tart pan and transfer to serving plate. Decorate with frosting in any manner you choose and then top with toppings.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frostin'

Originally from the recipe seen on the A Cooking Bookworm blog.

1 block (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (half a stick) softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar
2/3 cup of creamy peanut butter (do not use 'natural,' the kind you need to stir)
2-3 tablespoons milk or cream

Cream the soft cream cheese (nuke it in the microwave for a few seconds, if you forgot to leave it out for a few hours) and together with a mixer. Stir in vanilla and peanut butter. Slowly add the powdered sugar and add enough cream or milk to make it spreadable or pipe-able - whatever consistency you'd like. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

My First Gumbo

This was my first time making gumbo, last September. I was really excited to try it - I am not sure if I've had it before so I'm obviously not a gumbo expert, BUT, I kept getting okra from my CSA and I wanted to put the fresh farm okra to good use. This is a great recipe to do that!

I found out that there is pretty much one recipe for gumbo for every family from Louisiana, so I sifted through tons of recipes online. The gumbo purists seem to agree that there are no tomatoes in gumbo and that you must use file powder (ground sassafras leaves), so I decided to give both of those a "go." I used tidbits from recipes here and there and was really happy with the results overall. I might try it with tomatoes sometime, and definitely will use more creole seasoning to kick it up! I used more oil vs flour than listed below, but it was too oily - I ended up spooning some extra oil (also probably from the sausages) off the top of the soup towards the end of cooking. I adjusted the amount of flour to 1 cup below, which should help, I think.

Kitchen Bliss Gumbo
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup flour
1 large onion
4 stalks celery
1 large or 2 small green bell peppers
5 cloves garlic
1.5 large cartons of chicken stock (2 full cartons is probably fine)
4 bay leaves
1 lb andouille style sausage, such as Dearborn brand, cut lengthways and then sliced
2 - 3 Tablespoons creole seasoning, such as Tony Chachere's
1 Tablespoon cajun seasoning (I found one without salt, just spices - McCormick brand)
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
3-4 teaspoons file powder
2 cups sliced okra
1 rotisserie or whole cooked chicken, shredded
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails cut off
1/2 bunch green onions

rice, for serving

Cook the vegetable oil and flour in the bottom of a heavy sauce pot to make a roux:  slowly whisking pretty much constantly (every time I left it, I rushed back to find little bits but the little bits kind of blended in later so it was OK), over medium low heat until mahogany in color. This takes 20 min or so. Meanwhile, in a food processor, coarsely chop onions, celery, garlic, green bell peppers. Scrape into roux and start adding other ingredients: chicken stock, sausage, bay leaves, creole and cajun seasoning, thyme.

Bring to a boil and then turn down and simmer for 30 or 40 minutes. Add shredded chicken, file powder, and sliced okra. Simmer for 20-30 minutes more, adjust for seasonings - add more creole, cajun, file, or salt and pepper to taste. I noticed some extra oil on top at this point, perhaps from my sausages, so I skimmed it off the top and it was fine.

When ready to serve, put shrimp into simmering gumbo and then turn it off and the residual heat will cook the shrimp within a few minutes. Serve in a large pot and ladle over rice and top with chopped green onions, more file powder or creole/cajun seasoning to taste.

I really enjoyed this and we all had seconds. I liked mine with a little more cajun/hot seasonings. We had a bunch of leftovers and I scraped the leftover rice into the gumbo and it really thickened up nicely and made great leftovers. I think this is one of those recipes that you can adjust and make it to your family's liking, I hope you try gumbo soon and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Kitchen Bliss Favorite: Delicious Shortbread Cutout Cookies

I am often looking for simple recipes with natural ingredients and no nuts so that I can feel good about sending in a home baked treat with my young children to school. For Son #1's birthday, I know he doesn't care for cake and besides his obligatory birthday cake and ice cream for his party, which he didn't touch, I wanted to make him something he loves - cookies. I ordered some cute dinosaur cookie cutters from Amazon and it matched a few other dino-themed things I had going on for the party. I quickly made up a basic icing out of powder sugar and milk with some fun colors and sent a big batch of iced dinosaur cut outs for his class in pre-school and served the rest at the party. These cookies were soo good. I liked them way better than cake and ice cream, too. You could spend a lot more time decorating them than I did (I spared you the close up photo of the sloppy dino decor), and they were a bit delicate but dinosaur cookies have a lot of small body parts sticking out which easily break off. The taste and quality were worth it. I would possibly roll them out thicker so they would hold up better next time, like I did with the hearts below.

When Valentine's Day rolled around, I wanted to make this recipe again and create simple cut out hearts for Son #2's potluck lunch at school. Since the kids are only 1 year old, just simple sprinkles on top were a fitting decoration and made this a doable recipe on a busy weeknight.

I found this recipe by googling "bakery style cut out cookies" and eventually finding a recommendation to this shortbread Joy of Baking recipe. I love it, I will definitely only use this recipe for cut out cookies going forward.

See Recipe Below, originally from: Joy of Baking

Shortbread Cookies:

2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) salt
1 cup (2 sticks) (226 grams) unsaltedbutter, room temperature
1/2 cup (60 grams) powdered (confectioners or icing) sugar
1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract

In a separate bowl whisk the flour with the salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat until smooth (about 2 minutes).  Beat in the vanilla extract. Gently stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated.  Flatten the dough into a disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill the dough for at least an hour or until firm.  (I found the less it chilled, the easier to roll and cut - and then just make sure to chill it again after cutting out shapes, before baking - shapes held up great!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) with the rack in the middle of the oven.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into a 1/4 inch (.6 cm) thick circle.  Cut into rounds or other shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter.  Place on the prepared baking sheets and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. (This will firm up the dough so the cookies will maintain their shape when baked.) Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, or until cookies are very lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.