Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Halloween Cookies with Royal Icing

Halloween Cookies with Royal Icing
     Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I know some people don't consider it to be a holiday, but I do. I love the decorations, the costumes, and the great holiday treats. I have some fond memories of Halloween from childhood into adulthood.

     I enjoy going to Goodwill or Savers looking for that perfect costume. The rummaging through the clothing racks looking for that just right item to complete a costume what fun! Some people think yuck! But I think this is fun. Easily amused I guess. I'm still debating if I want to dress up to hand out candy this year. I might just go with a simple costume for that, but if I had someplace to go this year I might really do it up.

     Well since it was the Education Minnesota Conference and I did not have to work. My daughter asked if we could make Halloween cut out cookies. Now one might think that my daughter is school age, but she is actually in college. Obviously she still likes to do the holiday stuff too. So it was decided that on Friday we would make cookies together.

     On Thursday I went to Michaels and they just so happen to have all kinds of Halloween cookie and cupcake decorating supplies on clearance. Much to my surprise I found a kit by Wilton with 7 Halloween cookie cutters in it. It was perfect for what we wanted to do so of course I had to pick it up.

     The next step was finding a cookie recipe where the cookies were soft. No crunchy cookies in this house. I almost made the lofthouse cookies but then I thought I'd check out the Wilton site for their cookie recipe. I also needed a royal icing recipe too and I found one on this site as well. I did change the icing a bit just to make it a little more spreadable.

     I just want to warn you that it did take us about three hours to make these cookies from start to finish. That includes cleaning up the kitchen too. But do not fear these cookies are well worth the time and effort. Besides I think they turned out pretty cool.

     So if you want to do something fun for Halloween give these cookies a try. You will not regret the time and effort that you put into it, and besides everyone will be in awe over your awesome cookies.
Cookie Dough 
1 C (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 C sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t no-color almond extract
2 3/4 C all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1 t salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add in the egg, vanilla, and almond extract. Mix flour, baking powder and salt, add 1 cup at a time to butter mixture, mixing after each addition.
Do not chill the dough.
Divide dough into 2 balls. On a floured surface, roll each ball into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Dip cookie cutter in flour before each use. (I didn't do this and I had no problem cutting them with my cookie cutters).
Bake cookies on ungreased cookie sheet on top rack for 6-7 minutes. Let cool slightly on pan before transferring to a cooling rack.
Let cookies cool completely before icing them.

Easy Royal Icing
1 C powdered sugar
3 t milk
3t corn syrup
coloring paste, various colors

Mix together until smooth. Add coloring and mix well. Recipe adapted slightly from
I transferred the icing to squeeze bottles to decorate the cookies. It worked rather well. I also made about 3 different batches to color. One white, one gray and one black. I cheated with the orange and just used some orange frosting from a can. I just heated it a little in the microwave and then spread it on the pumpkins.

Recipes from

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars
     It's pumpkin season! I bought my pumpkin for Halloween to carve up into an awesome jack-o-lantern. Everywhere I look there is pumpkin flavored this and pumpkin flavored that and I personally love pumpkin flavored anything. I really can't get enough of it. I'm a willing participant of these yummy treasures.

     Now when I got my Taste of Home magazine there were these delicious looking pumpkin bars I couldn't resist making. They had pumpkin and cream cheese and pecans. Yum! The picture alone in the magazine was enough to make my mouth water and so I just had to make them.

     Let me just say these bars were super simple to make. They also will not last long in your house. Mine lasted 3 days tops. They are so good.   I also want to say that I've never tasted anything like them before. I know I will be making these again real soon.

     I did change the recipe slightly. It originally called for allspice and cardamom and I did not have that on hand so I just used nutmeg instead. It still turned out great.

I hope you enjoy these as much as my family and I did.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars
1 1/3 C all-purpose flour
3/4 C sugar, divided
1/2 C packed brown sugar
3/4 C cold butter, cubed
1 C old-fashioned oats
1/2 C chopped pecans
1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, softened, cubed
2 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground nutmeg
1 can (15oz) solid-packed pumpkin
1 t vanilla extract
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350. In a small bowl, mix flour, 1/4 C sugar and brown sugar; cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in oats and pecans. Reserve 1 cup for topping.
Press remaining crumb mixture on to bottom of a greased 13x9 inch baking pan. bake 15 minutes.
In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg and remaining sugar until smooth. Beat in pumpkin and vanilla. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until blended. Pour over warm crust; sprinkle with the reserved crumb mixture.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean and filling is set. Cool on a wire rack. Serve or refrigerate, covered, within 2 hours of baking.

Taste of Home Sept/Oct 2013 issue

Friday, October 18, 2013

Apple Crumb Pie with Pat- A- Pan Pie Crust

Apple Crumb Pie
     I finally went to the apple orchard this month. Something that I wanted to do way back in September, but I tell you it was well worth the wait. I love going to the apple orchard in the fall. The apples just seem to taste so much better when one gets them from the orchard rather than the store.

     The atmosphere is also so wonderful. You can smell the apple brats cooking and the kettle corn being popped plus people are milling around with children and dogs in tow. The air is crisp and these sights and smells just add to the experience. 

     I was fortunate enough to try a new apple this year. It was called Sweet Tango. I guess it is a cross between a Honey Crisp (one of my favorite apples) and Zestar. They are sweet, crispy and tangy. I just cut those apples up and ate them with caramel sauce. I really want to go get some more they were so good.

     Besides the Honey Crisp and Sweet Tango apples I bought some McIntosh apples. McIntosh apples are perfect for making apple pie so I decided to find a recipe in my new cookbook. I just got this new Amish cookbook and it has some really good recipes and I choose a pie crust that you can make in the pie pan and the apple filling is just as easy.

     My husband a few days later told me that he really loved my apple pie. He commented on how the pie was full of apples and the filling didn't ooze all over. He liked how it stayed together so that each bite was a mouthful of apple goodness.

     Sorry I didn't get a picture of a slice of the pie. I forgot to take a picture when I first served it up and after that it honestly went so fast I didn't have a chance to get a picture. All I know is I'm going to have to make this pie again.

     One thing you might like about this pie is you make the pie crust right in the pie pan and the pie filling doesn't take too much effort to make. I do have a apple, peeler, corer gadget. It is one of the best things that I've ever purchased. I use it a lot believe it or not.

     Well here is the two recipes. I hope you enjoy the apple pie!

Apple Crumb Pie with Pat-A-Pan Pie Crust

Pat-a-Pan pie crust
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 C vegetable oil
3 T cold milk

Place flour, sugar and salt in a 9 inch pie pan and mix with your fingers until evenly blended. In a measuring cup combine oil and milk and beat until creamy. Pour all at once all over the flour mixture. Mix with a fork until the flour mixture is completely moistened. Pat the dough with your fingers, first at the sides of the pie plate and then the bottom. Flute the edges. Set this aside and prepare the apple filling.

Apple Crumb Pie
1/4 C sugar
1 t cinnamon
6-7 C sliced McIntosh apples
1/2 C butter, softened
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1 C all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 425.
Mix the sugar and cinnamon with the apples in a large bowl and put into the unbaked pie shell. Mix the butter, brown sugar, and flour in a medium bowl for the topping. Sprinkle over the pie. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350 and bake for 30 more minutes. Cool on a wire rack until the pie is firm, about 45 minutes. Store any leftovers in a sealed container. The pie will keep for about 5 days.

Recipe from The Amish Cook's family Favorite Recipes

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
      Oh this afternoon was a trying afternoon. Not that my students were misbehaving, they were just loud. It just seemed that as the afternoon wore on they got louder and louder. By the time we were heading for the bus my head was pounding.

     I knew that I needed either a drink or some chocolate. So since it is the middle of the week I opted for chocolate. Chocolate with peanut butter.

     I found this recipe on Pinterest and decided that they look like just the ticket for me. I really wanted chocolate, but this had a bonus of peanut butter. Plus this recipe had a minimal amount of ingredients.

     These cookies were perfect! About the time I started to mix them up a thunderstorm came rolling through. I love making cookies when the temp has cooled off and there is rain coming down on the roof. It is also a perfect time to eat warm cookies with a tall glass of milk. YUM!

     I followed the recipe almost exactly except I used chunky peanut butter. I was trying to use up some peanut butter in the cabinet and I figured what could a few peanuts hurt.

     I ended up making about 4 dozen cookies with this recipe even though the original recipe said it makes 2 dozen. I must have made my cookies a little bit smaller, but they are in my opinion a good size. This way I also get to eat a few more.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 C Chunky peanut butter
1/2 C shortening
1 1/4 C brown sugar
1 egg
3 T milk
1 T pure vanilla
1 3/4 C all purpose flour
3/4 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
1 C semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375. Cream peanut butter, shortening, brown sugar, egg, milk and vanilla together. In a separate bowl mix flour soda and salt together. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture. Mix well. Add chocolate chips and mix together well. Drop by teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes. Cool slightly before removing from pans and cool on wire racks.

Adapted from Silver Boxes