Friday, December 10, 2010

MY Sugar Cookie Recipe and Buttercream Frosting

I won't call this recipe the best since there are so many out there, but it is MY absolute favorite and I have been using it for over 10 years. This recipe makes nice, thick, and SOFT sugar cookies -- so if you are one of those weirdos that likes thin, cripy sugar cookies, you can just take a hike.

3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream

Sift dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the egg and vanilla. Mix well. Add sour cream and mix well again. Slowly add in your dry ingredients until combined. If your dough is too sticky, refrigerate for awhile to make it easier to handle.

The next part is very important to the quality of your cookies. Separate your dough into two balls (just to make it easier to roll out). Form into a round disk and start to roll out. DO NOT use too much flour when you roll your dough, using too much will make your cookies tough (darn gluten). You can even use powdered sugar to roll out your dough which will not make your cookies tough. Roll out your dough to 1/4" thick - No thinner! Use a ruler if necessary. Cut out your shapes however you like, being mindful to use your dough space as you're cutting wisely. You really only want to roll out your dough twice since working it and rerolling it and adding more flour will start to affect the quality of your cookie.
Your oven needs to be preheated to 350 degrees. Leave about 1-2 inches between your cookies on the sheet. Bake your cookies for FOUR minutes, rotate your pan, then bake for an additional TWO minutes (sometimes my first batch needs 3 minutes after I rotate the pan, but my oven gets a bit warmer the longer I leave it on, and 2 minutes usually does the trick). Take the cookies out even though they may not look done - they are! Do not be fooled. I pity the fool that leaves these babies in too long. Transfer your cookies immediately to a cooling rack, then use your spatula to swat your kids hands away.

Me and my kids can eat these cookies by the dozen just as they are - bare. However, if you must frost, frost with this:

1 cup softened butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1-2 tbs. whole milk or whipping cream

I start beating my butter and slowly add in the powdered sugar, then vanilla, then milk. I like to warm my milk just a bit so its coldness doesn't affect my nicely softened butter. Whip that up until it is your desired consistency. Frost away.
Pictures are from valentine's day 2009 - we have yet to make these for Christmas yet, but we will, oh yes, we will.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Decorating Idea for the Holidays - Peppermints!

I love the holiday look of red and white peppermints. I found these ornaments at Kohls and spent about $8.oo on all three (they were 50% off). I knew right when I saw them what I wanted to do.
In true Shana fashion I copied one of my old crafts instead of coming up with something new -- I just changed the colors from my Halloween cardstock circle garland to red and white. These are just paper circles fed through your sewing machine one right after the other. I used 4 different sized circle punches and created strands of varying length of in white, red, and then ones with red and white mixed, sometimes layering the colors together.
My peppermint ornaments had glitter on them so I thought it would be fun to add glitter to the white circles. I liked the effect, but I wouldn't say working with glitter is fun. It's messy and no matter how careful you are - you will spill it. Promise.
I used white sewing thread to hang the ornaments, then attached them to the ceiling with a thumbtack -- please note, the ornaments I used were plastic so they weren't too heavy, be mindful of how heavy the ornaments you choose are or you might have trouble hanging them. The circle strands will only need a bit of tape since they are so light. I have this arrangement hanging over the counter in my kitchen.
This was fun and easy, with the hardest part being taking a picture of the finished product that didn't show my dirty kitchen - you can bet I trimmed that picture above to cut out my messy countertops and sink full of dirty dishes.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holiday Gift Card Holders

I know a lot of people dislike giving gift cards as gifts. Something about them being too impersonal or not very thoughtful. I don't mind giving or getting them, but if you do, here's a quick craft to increase your gift card's thoughtfulness.
I am very comfortable with felt. If you prefer a different medium, like fabric or scrapbooking materials -- go for it. This could easily be made with fleece or card stock and scrapbooking embellishments.

I cut two rectangles of felt 4 3/8 x 2 5/8. I found my reindeer pattern online simply by googling 'reindeer outline.' You may have to copy the image into your word processing program to adjust the size. You can add a pre-made embellishment as well - they are sold in a lot of forms at the craft store - felt, foam, paper - use whatever design you like. If you are a scrapbooker, you most likely have something in your stash you could use. If you're a sewer, you most likely could whip up one of those cute yo-yo flowers from your scraps to put on. The possibililtes are endless.
Once I had the front done, I attached them together using a blanket stitch, leaving one end open, then sewing a button on for closure. Scrapbookers - you can attach eyelets for ribbon to thread through and tie in bow.

To add to the gift card, I attached the whole thing to a Scentsy bar (because who doesn't love Scentsy?). You could attach it to your loved one's favorite candy bar or a bottle of their favorite lotion -- any small thing to add to the gift card to make it a bit more personal.
hmmm. . .who could be getting a Joann gift card from me?