Sweetheart Sugar Cookies – for any occasion or anyone on your list

Who says sugar heart cookies have to be for Valentine’s Day. Isn’t everyone in love with someone. It doesn’t have to be just a boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse. You can love anyone you want. If you love someone, why not show it with sweetheart sugar cookies.

Ready to Bake!

First step – supplies and ingredients: baking sheets, parchment paper, rolling pin, extra flour for rolling, cooling rack, measure cups and spoons, flour sifter and/or colander for sifting (I’ll show you how), heart cookie cutter (the amount of cookies you yield will depend on the size of the cookie cutter. This cutter was about 1 1/2 inches.

This made 48 really thin and crunchy sugar cookies.

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)

1 cup sugar

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (meaning, you have to sift it and then measure)

1/4 teaspoons of sale (if you happen to only have salted butter, you don’t need this)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder (I prefer to use aluminum free)

1 large egg, lightly beaten (meaning, just wish it with a fork two or three times)

2 tablespoons orange juice or lemon juice, depending on what taste you want. If you don’t want the citrus flavor, use water)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I prefer to use the real stuff, not imitation)

1/4 confectioners sugar.

Instructions: cream the butter and the sugar. sift together the dry ingredients; add to the butter mixture and beat well. Add the egg, orange juice, and vanilla. Beat again until well mixed. Shape the dough into three flattened round, wrap with clear plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1/2 hour. Preheat over to 350 degrees F, 325 if you have a convection oven. Line baking sheets.

On a well floured board, or countertop (I like to use my granite island since it’s nice and cold, and as long as it is cleaned off thoroughly, its fine to work on) roll out the dough until it is 1/3 inch thick. Cut into shapes and set on cookie sheet – well enough apart so that they don’t cook together (I usually give it about an inch, but then risk it if I want to back in less intervals).

Well floured surface

Bake for 10 minutes. I found that with my 350 degree temp on my convection oven they took about 7 minutes to bake. So, without the convention, I would say 9 – 10 minutes. If they start to smell, they are done (also, don’t let them brown on the sides. if slightly browned, they will just be crunchier. Let them sit on the cookie sheet for about 1 minute before transferring them onto a cookie cooling tray. I use my mini spatula for this. Let cool.

I bought these little boxes at Michael’s; they come flat, you have to fold them (really easy). Perfect fit for the size cookie (1/2 dozen in each box).

Mix some confectioners sugar with a little orange juice or lemon, depending on what flavor you like. Spread over cookies and add decorations. You can also make up different colors of confectioners sugar to decorate your cookies with.

I used the leftover dough for cookie press cookies. You can use the any leftover dough once more before it starts to get sticky and/or too soft. to work with. If you refrigerate it again, you can roll it out and cut more cookies. This only takes more of your time. If you don’t have the time, you can refrigerate it and come back to it the next day – just roll out and cut from it again. I just like to cookie press it so I don’t have to roll it again. When using the cookie press, you can’t press on parchment. I transferred the cookies onto the parchment after pressing, using my small serving spatula.


Vanilla Banana Crepes with Cinnamon Apple Pieces

While on a business call, this recipe came up. Since I have some TLS Vanilla on hand, it was the perfect start to a well developed recipe. Most of the time someone comes up with a recipe and you have to go to the market to buy all the ingredients. Well for me, this wasn’t the case. If you don’t have the TLS Vanilla and/or Pumpkin mix, you can go here to find it.

What you need: non stick pan or crepe pan, baking spatula, spatula for cooking, coconut oil, apple, cinnamon, swerve sugar (if KETO), TLS vanilla powder, egg, banana, plate for serving. You can line the crepes with parchment paper so they don’t stick to each other.

Ingredients:

TLS Vanilla powder

1 egg

1 medium banana

What I found with this is you can mix it all with a hand mixer or spatula.

Instructions:

Mash the banana with the 2 scoops of TLS vanilla powder. Beat the egg in a cup – add it to the mashed banana and powder.

If you have a non stick pan, you can coat it with a little coconut oil – it may separate, but that is okay. I have a crepe pan I use, only because I find it easier to flip the crepes.

Once the pan is hot enough (you want it hot enough to cook quick, but not enough to burn the batter), pour a scoop of the batter on the pan and move the pan around in a circular motion so the batter will spread to the edges. If it doesn’t do it by itself, take the back of a spoon and spread it around yourself. Once the crepe starts to bubble, it is time to flip. You can use a spatula for this process so you don’t break the crepe.


Chewy Molasses Cookies

This recipe came from a Good Housekeeping cookbook I bought when I was first living on my own. It was alike a cooking encyclopedia. It has anything and everything from soup to nuts. Well, these cookies call for shortening and granulated sugar. I swapped the granulated sugar for confectioners sugar (same amount), and butter instead of shortening (same amount). The difference between the two swaps was the texture and the look of the cookies. After setting the cookies on the cookie sheets, I put them in the freezer for about 5 minutes, then baked them for 8 minutes. The images shows the cookies with the confectioner’s sugar.

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cold water.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients all in the same bowl, mixing well. Once everything is mixed, using an ice cream scoop, scoop dough into 1 inch balls. Dip balls into confectioner sugar and place onto cookie sheet 12 at a time. Place in freezer for 5 minutes, then bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.


Family Pizza Night

Ingredients

Pizza Night fixings (using one cup serving bowls, gather onions, peppers, mushrooms, olives, cheese, sausage, pepperoni (or any other fixing your hear desires).

2 servings if you have a 12″ cast iron skillet

4 SERVINGS with small serving cast iron skillets

12 oz. store-bought pizza dough (divided 4 oz. each), room temperature (You may need more depending on the size of your family).

5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided (1Tbsp., 1Tbsp., 2Tbsp, 1Tbsp. – see below)

8oz. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

Kosher salt

⅓ cup prepared marinara

¾ cup coarsely grated low-moisture mozzarella (more if you like cheesy)

3 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

Crushed red pepper flakes and torn basil leaves (for serving) (optional)

Dried herbs can be used in place of fresh (oregano, basil, pepper, etc).

Preparation

Step 1

Place a rack in top-most position of oven; preheat to 475°. Place dough on a work surface; drizzle with 1 Tbsp. oil, turning to coat. Stretch out to a 6″ round and cover loosely with plastic wrap (larger if using larger skillet). Run over dough with pizza dough docker (or tings on fork).

Step 2

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium. Cook sausage ahead of time, breaking up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned in spots and cooked though, 5–8 minutes. Transfer sausage to a small bowl.

Step 3

Roll dough to designed width for skillet.  Remove skillet from heat and carefully lay dough inside (use a wooden spoon to spread dough to the outer edges of the pan (may be hot). Season with salt, then spread marinara over entire surface of dough. Top with mozzarella, then any other fixings you want. Drizzle with another 2 Tbsp. oil. Peek underneath the crust—the bottom should be golden brown and crisp from residual heat in the skillet. If it’s not, set over medium-low heat on stove and cook until crust is golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Step 4

Transfer skillet to oven and bake pizza on top rack until crust is golden brown around the edges and cheese is browned in spots and bubbling all over, 8-10 minutes. (May take less time or more time depending on the calibration of your stove).  Let cool 2 minutes, then top with red pepper flakes and basil. Sprinkle with more salt and drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil.

There are so many other alternatives to making pizza. Reach out to me and I’ll let you know. For instance, I use a pizza stone for bigger pizzas, along with my cast iron (especially if I am cooking more than one pie in my convection oven).

https://img.shop.com/Image/240000/243400/243406/products/1470096985.jpg


Apple and Sweet Pepper Salsa

Have you ever been set to cook something you’d been thinking about all week and then changed your mind at the last minute. Well, that happened to me today. I was going to make a regular summer salsa, but thought, “summer is actually almost on its way out.” I was looking at the bowl of apples in the kitchen, and then went to the garden to see that my last harvest of tomatoes was long from turning red. Well, here came the thought of making apple salsa, rather than the traditional tomato salsa. Lo and behold, I didn’t know how it was going to taste because I’d never had anything like it before. May a mango salsa, but that’s a close to a sweet salsa I’ve come.

Here is what I did:

Cut and sliced two cups of apples, placing them in a cup with water and lemon juice (the lemon juice keeps the apples from growing). Apple brown when they hit the air. Quarter a red pepper and yellow pepper, slicing them about the same width and length as the apples (it yielded about 1 cup). Cut on jalepeno pepper in half, discarding the seeds and membrane, and slicking about the same width and length as the pepper. Quarter one medium onion, slicing the same width as the other vegetables. Placed all ingredients into the hand held mixer, chopping to desired size. Then add 1 tablespoon honey (amber unfiltered), 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, 3 tablespoons lime juice, and three sprigs of parsley.

Now for the tortilla chips or cups (scoops): Take a round tortilla, cut with a round cookie cutter, place tortilla in a cupcake pan, cooking for ten months on 350 degrees. Let set for a few minutes before removing from pan. I used small dishes I bought at Williams Sonoma. Chop all ingredients together to incorporate the wet ingredients.

Look what I found:

My husband made chicken thighs last night and we had some left over. I chopped up the chicken, took a tortilla shell, toasted in the over with cheddar cheese, laced the chopped chicken on top, and topped with apple salsa. What flavors melded together was amazing.


Apple Crisp

One of my favorite times of year is fall. I love the leaves turning colors, the cool air, and best of all, apple picking. We went to the farm. It was a little busy, so we picked apples and sunflowers, then continued on home to wash and dry the apples right away. A couple days later, I decided it was time to make something with apples. I chose this apple crisp recipe:

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and bake for 45 minutes. I found that convection with this recipe cooks the topping too fast and may burn it. I thought to put tin foil, but I wanted the topping to be crisp and not add any more liquid to the base. I used swerve white and brown sugar to cut down on the sugar content – still tastes the same.

Apple mixture: I placed 5 cups of apples (green tart), cored and cut in chunks) 1/2 cup white sugar (I used swerve), 1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, a pinch of ground cloves, 1/4 cup water into a 8 quart mixing bowl. After mixing everything together, I poured the ingredients into a 9 x 11 pyrex dish. I scraped the remains with my scraper to clear the bowl of any residue into the pyrex dish

.

Topping: In the same bowl, I placed 1/2 cup quick cooking oats, 1/2 all purpose flour, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I used swerve), 1/8 teaspoon baking powder, 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 cup of butter, melted (I used vegan butter). Mix all together until ingredients come together.

Spread the topping over the apple mixture, then bake

(remember 350 degrees on bake, for 45 minutes).


One Massive Red Cabbage – Two Delicious Condiments

I was first introduced to picked red cabbage with a dear friend I worked with downtown. We would go to the food trucks during lunch. We were hooked when Clover came to town. It was their chickpea fritter sandwich for sure that hooked me on pickled red cabbage.

I was traveling last weekend – wanted to go see the ever so talked about sunflower fields at Colby Farms in Newbury, but they closed them down early. Instead of turning around and going home, I was curious to see what their little market had to offer. I hit the jackpot. Fresh vegetables just the way I liked them – full and abundant. From the fresh asparagus, which you could pick just the amount you wanted to. the packed lettuce (arugula, romaine, and spinach). I also came upon this massive red cabbage. All I could think of at that moment was the chickpea fritter sandwich at Clover.

Imagine eight of these. I had to cut the cabbage head into eight sections in order to shred it on my mandolin, it was so big.

As I continued through the store, I happened upon the refrigerated items. They carried applewood smoked bacon. Another one of my favorites. This brought to mind the BLT on ciabatta from the original Flour Bakery in Downtown Boston. My goodness – it was all coming back to me. All the great eateries – oh boy! This is something I really miss. (TIP: When cooking bacon, use parchment paper for a lining on a cookie sheet – this way you have no mess to clean up and pans to scrub).

Back to the cabbage: When I picked up the massive red cabbage, I said, “I could make pickled red cabbage and have all the chickpea fritter sandwiches I want, and I don’t have to go to Clover. Well, once I got it home, I realized how massive it was and wondered what I was going to do with the other three quarters of the cabbage since the recipe I had for pickling called for only one cup of sliced red cabbage. Well, I had to think quick since I needed to film a Facebook Live video for the launch of my friends Virtual Pampered Chef Party. I quickly looked to see if I had a recipe for a red cabbage slaw. I figured this would go well on a BLT.

So there it was. I had about 11 cups of red cabbage once I shredded it. This is what I did:

For the red cabbage slaw, I combined what I judged to be one small head red cabbage (approximately 7 cups of shredded cabbage), 3 large carrots, shredded, 1/2 large onion (thinly sliced) with a vinaigrette that consisted of the following: 2 tablespoons dijon mustard, 2 garlic cloves (minced), 1/2 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 4 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1/4 tsp of red cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste

.

Then it was time for the Picked Cabbage. This is what I did:

I placed the remaining 4 cups of cabbage in a mixing bowl. I boiled 3 cups of hot water, poured that over the cabbage. Let it sit for about 5 minutes (this blanches the cabbage – its almost like a reverse canning process). Normally you would pour the hot water in the canning jar and let the cabbage ferment over night). I added 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt to a mixing bowl. In a separate container, I measured 1/4 apple cider vinegar and 1/2 white distilled vinegar). You can use rice wine vinegar too. I added peppercorns to the bottom of a mason jar. After mixing the ingredients together in the bowl, I transferred the. mixture into the mason jar. Then, I constructed a BLT my way!!

Here is the BLT:

Started with an almond tortilla wrap – heated up in toaster oven until just lightly toasted. Base is arugula, sliced garden tomato, red cabbage slaw, applewood smoked bacon. I could have added some mayo, but it wasn’t really needed.

,


Pulled Pork

I didn’t start making pulled pork until about two years ago. My kids asked me if I could make it. I wasn’t sure about it at first because I hadn’t used my crockpot in years. I first found a recipe with a barbecue base, and then recently started making one closer to the flavor of carnitas because I didn’t want all the sugar.

There isn’t too much you need to prep for this meal. The tools I used are cutting board, chef’s knife, tongs, Q-cooker, small saucepan, fork and strainer.

Here is what I did:

I started with a shoulder butt roast (pork roast), cut it in quarters, seared two tablespoons of olive oil until browed (right in the Quick Cooker. Once the searing was done, I added all the following ingredients right to the pot.

1 tbs packed brown sugar (I used brown swerve)

2 tsp paprica

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne

2 tbs oil

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cup chicken broth (Better than Broth – use 1 teaspoon per 1 1/2 cups of water

1 medium onion

I put the Quick Cooker on the pork setting and set it for pressure. It cooked for 1 1/2 hours. Once complete, I strained the juice and separated the bone and any fat from the meat.

.

After separating the pork, I was able to weight the left over fat and the bone. It weighed .33 oz. This was satisfying because it was a 3.75 pound pork roast.

I cooked the reserve until it reduced significantly (see below). Added the reduction into the pulled pork.

.


Goat Cheese Stuffed Roma Tomatoes with Prosciutto

When I had my catering business way back when, it was called Marchina’s (named after my three children – Mark, Christian, and Nina). The byline for the business was Simple but Elegant. I had a few items one the menu, and this was one of them. It was hit with all my clients!

Roma tomatoes are the right size oval for this dish. Their firmness allows flexibility for holding the goat cheese, and holds up under high heat.

Here is what I did:

Take the Roma tomatoes, cut in half and hallow out the seeds and pulp (reserve for cooking later if you like – otherwise compose or discard). I used my Core and More to scoop the seeds out.

After scooping, take herbed goat cheese(approximately 1 teaspoon (use regular teaspoon, not measuring). Place inside hallowed out tomato. Wrap with prosciutto over edges so that top is sealed. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 – 25 minutes. I placed my tomatoes on my large bar pan, which cleans easy after use and doesn’t need to be seasoned. Keep an eye out if your oven is hotter.

When they are finished cooking, take out and let sit for a good 10 minutes. If you bite into one, it will be really hot because of the heat and steam in the tomato. Once cooled serve with a salad and/or place on their own.


Pepper Steak

This recipe reminds me of my mom. She used to make pepper steak with white rice and the sauce would just soak into the rice and make it nice and flavorful. After posting this from my facebook live video, I challenged my 81 year old mom to post her recipe in my comments. Well, we’ll see!!

I started replicating a lot of moms cooking when I moved out of the house in my twenties. Living on my own (sometimes with roommates) I had to learn how to cook. Rents were so high in Boston (surprise) that I had to buy groceries and become very creative in the kitchen. I remember going to the grocery store and purchasing enough chicken and beef to get me through the week. I was never one of those college ramen kids, so I learned pretty quick, and mostly through trial and. error.

Although this isn’t my mothers recipe, this is what I did:

Steak – I used precut stir fry steak (approximately 2 pounds).. I rinsed it, pat it really dry (you want to pat it dry so it doesn’t produce any moisture when cooking (this will toughen the steak). You want to sear it so it keeps the juices in.

This dish is great with flank, skirt, or flat steak (the less expensive you get, the more you have to pound the steak). Here’s what you do to pound it: take plastic wrap and place it on the counter, place steak on top, then place another piece of plastic wrap on top. Pound with cube side first, then flat side (until steak is really thin). Pepper and toss with flour until lightly coated (if you are Keto, you don’t have to coat it). Set aside.

Prep a skillet with 1 tsp of oil and 1 tbs butter. High heat until butter is just browned (but don’t burn it). Toss the flour coated meat into the skillet, not crowding it (remember, we don’t want the meat to steam, we want it to sear). If you have to do it in batches, you may need to divide 3 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of butter. Sautés until beef gets crispy (flash cook for about 1 minute on each side). Turn heat down if it gets too hot (you can always take the pan off the heat too). Set aside.

Prepare the liquid: combine the following. Two cups of water, 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum, 1 tsp better than bullion (beef flavor), tsp sugar (I use Swerve sugar alternative), 1 tsp mince ginger, 1/4 cup soy sauce. Place to side.

After slicing the yellow pepper, red pepper, and onion (cut onion in half, then medium slices (around the same width of peppers). If you want to add green beans and/or asparagus to this meal you can. Toss all ingredients into the saucepan with two cloves of garlic minced (if you don’t like a lot of garlic, only use one clove). Add water as you cook the vegetables. I usually judge the water as I go because I like my pepper al dente (bit to the tooth). My husband likes the peppers mushy. :(.

Once peppers and onions are cooked to your liking, toss the liquid you prepared into the pan and cook (boil) until it thickens. The Xanthum Gum is the binder to this recipe. Toss in the beef and cook for two minutes.

Server over white rice and/or Chinese noodles.