Tea Party Sugar Cookies

IMG_1210Hi friends– If you would be so kind as to indulge me, here is one more post with the gran-girls.  They are always up for a tea party.  So when we borrowed the “Frozen” movie (thanks Glenda!) to watch on a Saturday afternoon, it made perfect sense (??) to turn it into a Frozen Tea Party-movie afternoon.  There was lots of  cookie-cutting and frosting-flying all morning to get things ready.  Here’s our “fancy” snowflake cookies (disclaimer– these cookies were produced by 3, 5 & 7 year olds– tasty if not perfectly turned out!):

TEA PARTY SUGAR COOKIES
1  1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. amaretto (or almond extract)*
1 egg
2  1/2  cups flour
pinch salt
1 tsp. baking powder

IMG_1171With an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla, amaretto and egg.  Then mix in the flour, salt and baking powder.

Set the dough into the fridge to chill for at least an hour.

Then roll out the dough with a rolling pin on a floured surface.  Sprinkle a bit of flour over the dough as well so it doesn’t stick to the rolling pin.

Cut out your favorite shapes with cookie cutters and lay them on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Pop them in the oven at 375 degrees for 7 or 8 minutes, until they just start to brown around the edges.

Cool the cookies on a wire rack.  They are crispy good just as they are, but frosting makes them even better.

IMG_1180       IMG_1183Frosting:
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tab.  milk
a drop of two of food coloring
sprinkles (optional, unless you are cooking with small girls, then they are mandatory)

Mix the 3 ingredients with a fork until the frosting is smooth.  If you want it thinner, add a few drops of milk (be careful, it’s easy to add too much!).

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Lemonade Cake

IMG_9513Hello Cake Eaters– That should include most everyone!  We are big on cake around here.  So this week I set out for dinner with my Monday night buddies, this lemonade cake in hand.  It was a sweet evening together.  We sat out on Sally’s patio for a long, leisurely, laugh-filled dinner and then circled around to each share a summer day memory  and to pray for each other.  I was heart-warmed. Do love those gals…

So here it is.  Lemonade Cake.  Good for summer evenings with dear friends…

IMG_9547LEMONADE CAKE

Cake:
1  1/3 cup sugar
1/2  cup butter (room temperature)*
grated rind from one lemon
1/4 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1  1/4 cups buttermilk**

Frosting:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)*
8 oz. cream cheese
grated rind of one lemon
1 tab. lemon juice (no more!!)
4 cups powdered sugar (just a bit more than a 1 pound box)

With an electric mixer, cream together the sugar and butter.  Then mix in the lemon rind, lemonade concentrate, vanilla and eggs.  Finally beat in the flour, baking powder, salt and buttermilk.

Spoon the batter into two  9″ cake pans (or 1 9″x13″ land) that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Pop them into the oven for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Take them out when they just start to turn golden and are firm to the touch.

Let them cool completely before you frost them.

For the frosting, use the electric mixer to beat together the butter and cream cheese.  Then beat in the lemon rind and juice.  Finally leave the mixer on low to beat in the powdered sugar, increasing the speed as it is incorporated, until it’s all bended together.

Frost up that cake and trim it with a sunny slice of lemon and a little mint.

*If you are using butter straight from the fridge, microwave it a

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Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting

IMG_6730Hello you all– If we have a “official family food” around here, it’s got to be chocolate cake.  It’s a birthday dinner staple and every time Ani & Brian come down for a visit from SF, there’s a chocolate cake on the counter.  Chocolate cake is just so nostalgic and homey and always tastes just right.

So this week, when it was my turn to bring something to school for “teacher goodie day” on Friday, I couldn’t wait to try out this new sour cream chocolate frosting.  It was so creamy and had a slight tang– but still chocolate-y.  And it was shiny and soft and prettiest thing a chocolate cake be encased in on it’s way out the door to be eaten!!   By the end of the day in the teachers’ lunch room, there wasn’t a crumb left.

SOUR CREAM CHOCOLATE FROSTING
1 cup chocolate chips, melted (6 0z.)
1 stick butter, melted
2 heaping tab. cocoa powder*
8 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
3 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup sour cream

IMG_6724Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave about 1 1/2 minutes.  They should be mostly melted.  Stir them with a rubber scrapper until they are all smoothly melted together.  Set aside.

Stir the melted butter with the cocoa powder until blended.  Then with an electric mixer, beat in the cream cheese, vanilla and salt.  Slowly mix in the powdered sugar with the mixer and then finally the sour cream.  Mix just until it’s all incorporated.

This makes loads of silky frosting.  Pile it on your cake and it will be beautiful –and yummy!

P.S. –The cake is just a Duncan Hines chocolate cake mix–with a tablespoon of instant coffee granules thrown in to make it richer.

Mocha Frosting

IMG_9682Hi chocolate lovers (that should include most of you!)–  I have a predilection for the simplicity of cake mixes– except to make fruity cakes, carrot cake…  I know that doesn’t make me a very gourmet baker– but they are so light and tender.  Nevertheless, I draw the line on pre-made frosting.  ugh. It takes 5 minutes to beat up your own frosting and it is SO much tastier.  (Thank you for listening to me rant on that one).  So for years I’ve kept those little packs of instant coffee around to add in brownies or other chocolatey treats.  But I just discovered that mixing it into good old chocolate frosting, elevates it to a new level of delicious.  So here it is…

MOCHA FROSTING
1 stick butter (1/4 pound)
1/3 cup Hershey’s Dark unsweetened cocoa
1 tab. instant coffee crystals*
8 oz. cream cheese
1 pound box of powdered sugar

Melt the butter in the microwave and then stir in the cocoa and coffee crystals.  With the mixer beat in the cream cheese completely and then beat in the powdered sugar (starting on low so you don’t get a sugar blizzard!).  Spread it on your cake.  That’s all!

*Lots of baking recipes call for espresso powder, but I just use Nestle instant coffee packets– not fancy, but so much cheaper (sorry Jill– more affordable!).

This cake has salted almonds squished all over the sides.   A little extra yummm.

Cupcake-O-Rama!!

Hello friends.  My sis.  She’s amazing.  So when her kids wanted cupcakes for their wedding she said, “No problem!”  She whipped up close to 600 cupcakes.  And 6 gallons of frosting.  And all the goodies to decorate cupcakes at a “frost your own cupcake bar” for the wedding!
It was big fun.  The wedding guests frosted, sprinkled and chomped and then went back for seconds…

Luanne baked up 6 kinds of cupcakes.  There were white cake, mocha, strawberry,  banana, oreo and cocoa chocolate apple cake (an old family recipe).  Then she stirred up 6 flavors of frosting– strawberry, mocha, cream cheese, cream cheese chocolate, oreo and salted crarmel– with real homemade caramel and sea salt (the best!).  Next she rustled up assorted sprinkles, nuts, candies, fruit to top them all off.
Finally, she stacked them on a giant tiered
cup cake stand and voila!

   

Last of all she baked up a “giant cupcake” to top the cupcake tiered extravaganza.  Add on the top the bride and groom figurine from our mother’s 1949 wedding cake and it was a beautiful, bountiful cup cake feast– and a touch of fun for Matt and Andrea’s lovely day of wedding.
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Here’s Ted and Luanne, inaugurating the cupcake display.  Great Baking Lulu!