Sugar Cookies

Christmas Sugar Cookies

As a lover of sweets, I desperately needed an upgrade from Betty Crocker’s bagged sugar cookie recipe so I went searching.  Not only did I find a sugar cookie recipe but also a buttercream frosting recipe (from here and here).  These cookies are exactly what they claim to be, thick and soft.  The best part is the recipe is perfect for birthdays, holidays, parties, and everything in between.



1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
5 1/2 cups flour
parchment paper


1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Using a mixer, cream together butter and sugar.
3.  Add egg and vanilla.
4.  Mix in the sour cream.
5.  Combine salt, baking soda, and flour; add to the mixture.
6.  Roll the dough onto a floured surface until 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick.
7.  Use seasonal cookie cutters to cut dough into shapes.
8.  Place cookies onto a greased, parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 7-8 minutes.  The cookies will NOT look done (still pale in color with no golden edges) but do NOT leave them in any longer.
9.  Let cookies sit on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.  Make sure to allow cookies to cool completely before adding any frosting.



1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4-1/3 cup milk


1.  In a mixing bowl, cream butter.  Beat in sugar and vanilla until the mixture is crumbly.
2.  Gradually add milk until frosting reaches desired consistency.
3.  Add food coloring and get creative!
Recipe Source:  Peppermint Plum

Fabulous Finds: NYE

Never having been a huge fan of New Year’s Eve, as proven by my six consecutive years of babysitting throughout middle and high school, I am continuing my low-key New Year’s plans by enjoying a dinner out at a tapas restaurant with some of my favorite people followed by games and drinks at my friend Erin’s house.  Sounds way more fun in my opinion than spending $150 to get into a Chicago bar to stand shoulder to shoulder with randoms unable to hear anyone or get a single drink.  Wow, I sound old and crotchety, sorry.  If you are hosting your own get together, here are a few ideas I found on Pinterest to help get your creative hosting wheels turning.  However you are choose to celebrate, have a blast ringing in 2012.


Baked Penne

Baked Penne

Not going to lie…this recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe took 50 minutes of me in the kitchen chopping, stirring, draining, and mixing.  Not OK.  Although it turned out to be a recipe of Italian restaurant quality, much to Justin’s dismay (he absolutely loved it) I don’t see myself making this again unless it is for a special occasion in the future (i.e anniversary, dinner, parents in town, etc).

Prep Time          50 Minutes
Cook Time         15 Minutes
Makes                6-8 Servings


3/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 1/2 lbs broccoli florets
12 ounces penne pasta
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3) cut into bite-sized pieces
3 ounces smoked mozzarella, shredded
8 ounces jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped into pieces


1.  In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and melted butter.  Set aside.

2.  Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish and set aside.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3.  In a large pot, bring the water for the pasta to a boil.  Stir in one tablespoon salt and the broccoli.  Cook broccoli for 1 minute until it is bright green.  Quickly remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon to a plate and set to the side.

4.  Return the water to a boil, add penne pasta, and cook until al dente (about 1-2 minutes less than normal since the pasta will cook in the oven also).  Drain pasta and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Leave in colander.

5.  After wiping large pot dry, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and return to medium heat.  Add the onion, cook about 5 minutes until softened and browning.

6.  Stir in garlic and thyme.  Cook about 30 seconds while stirring constantly.  Add flour, salt, and pepper.  Continue to cook about 1 minute while stirring constantly.

7.  Slowly whisk in chicken broth and heaving whipping cream.  Bring to a simmer, whisk often.

8.  Add chicken.  Cook for 6-7 minutes while stirring occassionally.

9.  Stir in sun dried tomatoes and shredded smoked mozzarella.

10.  Add cooked pasta and broccoli to the sauce.  Stir.

11.  Transfer the pot mixture to the prepared 9×13 baking dish and sprinkle with the bread topping.

12.  Bake about 15 minutes until the casserole is bubbling and crumbs are lightly brown.

Even the little ones I nanny loved it!  Can’t argue with that!


Christmas Wrap

While attending one of our six family Christmas get-togethers this holiday weekend, we were asked to participate in a Christmas Rap.  While I initially was terrified of personal humiliation due to my non-existent lyrical rapping skills, I was relieved when our group was handed a black bag full of crepe paper streamers, scissors, tape, markers, foam, and props from The Dollar Store insinuating that we would be wrapping humans not rapping rhymes.  Thank goodness.  This challenge created by Justin’s super creative and organized Aunt Joy forced all the 30+ family members away from the football game, the aimless snacking at the dessert table, and the individual conversations to work-together to create their wrapped Christmas character and unforgettable family memories.