Kid-Friendly Sugar Cookie Recipe + Decorating

Last Halloween, Evie and I had the most fun afternoon making these sugar cookies together. They are so easy, and come together really quickly too (they only take 7 minutes to bake!), making them the perfect parent-kid holiday tradition. We made them again at Christmas, and of course we had to do them again for Evie’s Valentine’s Day party for her little preschool friends.

I love this recipe so much that Evie and I were invited to share our experience at our local Whole Foods here in Birmingham last Christmas. We had the best morning meeting new friends, sipping cocoa, and going crazy with frosting and sprinkles. If you were there that morning, you took home a copy of the recipe, but here it is for those who weren’t there with us!  Thank you Whole Foods Birmingham for providing our ingredients, because we all know that the better the ingredients, the better the cookies will taste!

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Kid-Friendly Sugar Cookies
Yield: About 3-4 dozen, depending on the size of your cookie cutters
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar (I used the 365 Organic cane sugar, which gives it a slightly different texture, but regular white granulated sugar works great!)
2 eggs
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

-Preheat oven to 375. ­
-In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda, whisking to thoroughly combine. ­- -Cream butter and sugar using a stand mixer.
-Add in eggs and vanilla extract, mixing till combined.
-Add sour cream and mix until combined. ­
-Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until it all comes together in a thick dough.
-Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead slightly until all of the crumbly bits are incorporated and the dough is smooth. ­
-Roll dough onto floured surface to about ¼” thick.
-Cut out using floured cookie cutters and transfer to a parchment­-lined baking sheet. ­
-Bake for only 7 minutes for a 3” cookie (more or less depending on size of cookies). If the cookie starts to brown on the edges, then they’ve baked too long!
-Let cool slightly. ­Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting and decorating.

Kid-Friendly Participation: Let the kiddo whisk together the dry ingredients, help them roll out the dough, and they love to dip the cutters in a pile of flour and press them into the dough.

Easy Buttercream
1 stick unsalted sweet cream butter
1 pound of confectioner’s sugar
8-­10 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract or ½ pod of scraped vanilla bean ­

-Cream together butter and 1 cup of powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. ­
-Add 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time, alternating with milk, until desired consistency. ­(Add more sugar for a thick buttercream, add more milk for a thinner buttercream.)
-Add vanilla and mix till incorporated.

Kid-Friendly Participation: Measure out the milk for them and let them add it in the mixer, alternating with you adding the sugar. 

Once your cookies are baked and cooled, it’s time to load on the frosting and sprinkles. Since we made these for our friends instead of just our family, I felt like I needed to handle the frosting, because, well, Evie would lick some off the spatula before putting it on the cookies. So I frosted, and she sprinkled. WFcookies4

Look how sweet her sprinkles turned out!

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When Evie decided that she had had enough and was ready to move onto the next thing in her life (she’s a preschooler after all), I decided to make a batch of royal icing and do some cookie decorating myself. This is very cathartic for me personally, and not something I often get the chance to do, so don’t feel like this is something anyone will actually be expecting you to do! Here’s my easy royal icing recipe in case you want to try your hand at it:

Easy Royal Icing
Yield: About 1.5 cups, depending on liquidity of eggs and how thick or thin you make it
1 egg white
1 pound of confectioner’s sugar
Lemon juice

Put the egg white in a large bowl. Add in sugar 1 cup at a time until you reach your desired consistency. You’ll want a somewhat thick consistency for what I did below. If it gets too thick, just add in a tiny amount of lemon juice to thin it back out. Keep experimenting till it’s just right!

Separate equally into 3 bowls, and add food coloring. Fill piping bags fitted with a small round tip. Pipe the outline of the cookie and flood the outline with icing. If you have gaps or if it’s not smooth, use a toothpick to smooth it out. If you want your colors to be separate (like the xox cookie or the arrows), wait until the icing has tried before piping your designs. To make the hearts within the heart below, flood the cookie, then pipe small dots while the icing is still wet. Run a toothpick from top to bottom of the dot and it will make the heart design!WFcookies2WFcookies3

Happy Valentine’s Day! And thanks again Whole Foods for letting Evie and me invade your cafe to share the fun!

{Waffle Wednesday} Valentine’s Day Edition: Buttermilk-Cherry Waffles

This waffle recipe is a twist on classic blueberry waffles, instead using crushed cherries and all of the good juices inside, and topped with sweet fresh whipped cream to balance the sour and the sweet. I used jarred Morello cherries from Trader Joe’s, but you can use whatever variety of cherries you can find, but I would definitely use a dark variety, and frozen is fine too! (But stay away from the bright red Maraschinos, those are more for topping sundaes than for baking!)

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Buttermilk-Cherry Waffles with Fresh Whipped Cream
Yield: 4 large waffles
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup corn starch
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or vanilla bean paste (better than extract!)
1 cup jarred Morello cherries
Half pint of heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup granulated sugar (more or less, depending on how sweet you want your whipped cream to be.)
Dark Chocolate (optional)

A note about batter consistency: waffles are really forgiving. If your batter is a little to thick or a little too thin, chances are good it will still turn out just fine. If you ever feel like the consistency really is off though, gradually add in a little more flour if it’s too thin, or a little water or milk to thin it out if too thick. 

-Combine dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and whisk thoroughly to distribute ingredients.
-Add buttermilk and oil to mixture and stir to combine.
-Add eggs one at a time, mixing till incorporated.
-Stir in vanilla extra or paste
-Crush the cherries using the back of a spoon, then add in cherries and the juice. (Note: crushing the cherries to this consistency will let the waffles maintain the flavor, without the overwhelming bite of a whole cherry in your waffle.)
-Pour batter into waffle iron and press till golden brown.
-To make the whipped cream, whip the heavy cream in a mixer using the whisk attachment, slowly adding in the sugar to taste once the cream starts to thicken. For best results, make sure the cream, bowl, and whisk are all chilled.
-Top warm waffles with fresh whipped cream, and grate a little bit of chocolate on top, because it’s Valentine’s Day, and that is just a classy move.

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Christmas with InSinkErator

I’ve been working on some fun holiday content for InSinkErator, yes, the garbage disposals! They have partnered up with the brilliant minds at Big Communications here in Birmingham, it’s been a lot of fun to work with everyone. Head over to south.insinkerator.com for all the recipes, crafts, entertaining tips, and more!

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Santa at The Summit

Santa photos are definitely meant to be treasured. When Evie had her first Santa photo a couple years ago, all I really wanted was for our town to have a “pretty Santa.” I’m not trying to be a snob, I promise. But after wrestling your kid into a fancy outfit and shoes, fixing their hair, and standing in line with them for who-knows-how-long, why settle for a mediocre photo?

Enter: Santa at The Summit.

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We were pretty excited to be asked to be part of this launch. I’ve been shopping at The Summit since it opened when I was in the 8th grade, and we all know that their reputation for being Birmingham’s premier shopping center really can’t be touched.

It’s located down near Saks Fifth Avenue, and has its own dedicated store front. Here’s all of the problems the Summit’s North Pole solves:

  1. Waiting in line. You can make a free 15 minute appointment by clicking right here. SCORE.
  2. Having a bored kid. Oh my goodness, there is whole kid-friendly wonderland for keeping them entertained while they’re waiting their turn. Teddy bears, a mini kitchen, and kid-sized tables and chairs abound, all of which can be purchased at Pottery Barn Kids, should your kid latch onto something they suddenly can’t live without 😉
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  3. Weary parents. Sur La Table has a fancy Jura espresso machine set up in the middle of the North Pole, so you can re-energize while your kid plays. There is also hot cocoa for the kids!6U1A4575.jpg6U1A4447.jpg
  4. Ugly setting. Maybe it’s because of my career as a prop stylist, but I really value the scene around Santa as much as I value Santa himself. The Summit North Pole is expertly designed in neutral whites and metallics and therefor offers a no-clash-guarentee with your kiddo’s outfit. And yes, a full range of photo packages and photo gifts are available! And all of this gorgeous decor, mamas? West Elm!
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  5. Bonus features: one-stop Summit gift card purchases are right there, and the cool people at Swoozie’s donated wrapping paper to offer complimentary gift-wrapping with a suggested donation.

All photos are by the awesome Jennifer Hagler Photography, aren’t they wonderful?  Thank you so much Jennifer!! And thanks also to Jeannie Leighton for making this fun morning happen, you are something else, girl.

Merry Christmas!

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Feather-Crusted Apple-Pecan-Rosemary Pie

Admittedly, it seems trivial to post anything. My friends’ whose children are still in an orphanage in India are at sanitation risks bc of the flooding in Chennai. The planet is on the brink of war. My new friends in Nepal are facing shortages of fuel, medicines, and other basic resources. My heart breaks not only for Paris but also for the people who are scoffing at those who pray for them. The world is so broken and hurting. I have control over NOTHING. But I guess I’ve always loved baking because of what a comfort it is to both create and eat. Comfort food is a real thing! This weekend my family celebrated our Thanksgiving, and it was so much fun. This is what I made for them. I really loved being in the kitchen and making this, and even more I loved laughing with my siblings while we sat in the kitchen and ate it. It was a good time in the midst of a bunch of bad things. They really loved this pie, I hope you do too! ApplePecanRosemaryPie3
Double-crust Pâte Brisée (I use Martha’s every time, but you can use prepared store-bought too!)
1 stick of butter
4 tbs AP flour
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 cup (or more!) pecans
Couple sprigs of fresh rosemary, removed from the stalk and roughly chopped
1 egg, beaten
1-2 tbs raw sugar
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-In a large sauce pan or stock pot, melt the stick of butter on medium heat. Once melted, sprinkle in flour and stir until thick.
-Pour in water.
-Stir in sugars and spices and whisk until thoroughly incorporated.
-Add apples, pecans, and most of the rosemary into the sauce pan and coat thoroughly with the glaze.
-Let the apples hang out in the sauce pan on medium-low while you prepare the pie dough, stirring occasionally.
-Turn oven on to 425F.
-Roll out half of the pâte brisée on a floured surface; transfer to pie dish by loosely rolling the dough onto your rolling pin and rolling to over the pie dish. Press into dish and make holes with the tines of a fork.
-Create feathered crust by cutting feathers out free-hand with a pairing knife. Use a dull table knife to make the patterns on the top of each feather. Create a feathered look around the edges by cutting small notches out with the pairing knife. (See detailed photo below.)
-Add filling.
-Lay feathers on top of filling. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar and the remaining rosemary.
-Bake at 425F for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 350F and bake for another 45-50 minutes.

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Sugar Cookie Class at Whole Foods Birmingham!

Last month Evie and I made some Halloween sugar cookies together, and I really think it was one of my most favorite things I have ever done with her. I know I’m a professional baker, but being able to throw perfection out the window and just focus on making memories with my daughter was so great. So I’m really excited to announce that we’ll be leading a Mommy + Me Christmas sugar cookie class at Whole Foods Birmingham on December 5th! (We have already been practicing together, she made a lot of the ones in the photo below!)

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In this class, you and your kiddo will learn how to make these delicious thick, soft sugar cookies that are perfect for decorating. I’ll also run you through an easy buttercream recipe, and then of course we’ll go all out with sprinkles! I love decorating cookies like this because they’re perfect for both mommies and little hands alike. You might not be learning how to make picture-perfect royal icing cookies in this class, but you’ll definitely be learning how to use this simple recipe to make precious memories with your little ones.

The cost of the class is just a $5 per person donation that will go to Lifeline Children’s Services’ UnAdopted program. UnAdopted works in 7 countries on 3 continents with older orphans who are at risk for aging out of the system. They teach life skills to help these vulnerable children learn how to survive as adults outside the gates of the orphanage where they have been raised.

To sign up for this fun event, just click here to reserve your spot via Eventbrite! You’ll also get a fun little take-away gift and a copy of the cookie recipe.

See you December 5th at 10am! (BYOApron ;))