Beautiful Easter Egg Cookies…..

I just love to decorate cookies.  These are pretty and equally yummy.   My cut out cookie recipe is very basic.  I mix the dough the day before I plan to bake.  This gives the dough plenty of time to chill in the refrigerator.  Remember that the first batch you roll out is a little tough, after that, when you add the dough scraps to a fresh piece of dough, it gets easier to manage and roll out.

Check out my cookie baking tips.

When working with chocolate here’s what I do.  I use semi-chocolate chips and melt in the microwave for 30 second intervals.  Mix between each interval.  Microwave the chocolate until the chocolate is smooth when you stir.  Do not over heat, it will burn.  Do not allow any moisture/water to get into the chocolate.

Instead of dipping cookies into chocolate, I spread it with a spatula, like icing.  The best thing about this is that it sets up beautifully and make them very easy to transport.

Step 1:  mix dough, chill over night.
Step 2:  bake and cool cookies
Step 3:  melt chocolate chips and spread over cookie.  Add any decorations into the melted chocolate.  It will set up and keep decorations in place.
Step4:  once the chocolate is completely set, make simple icing and spread over cookie.  Allow the cookies to sit out at room temperature for several hours or overnight.  The icing will set and the cookies will package beautifully or go onto a tray without getting messed up.

Best Roll Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe

2 cups sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter, one pound at room temperature
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
7 ½ cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Icing (recipe below)

1) In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy and add one half of the sugar, beat, then add the rest. Add two eggs and beat. Scrape down the side of the bowl. Add the remaining three eggs and vanilla, beat until nicely incorporated.
2) Lightly measure out flour into a separate mixing bowl. Add baking powder and salt, whisk until blended.
3) Add half of the flour mixture to the egg/butter mixture and beat well. Add remaining flour and blend until all ingredients are incorporated.
4) Shape into a large ball and wrap in plastic wrap, then put into a large zip bag. Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.
5) When ready to bake, allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 375’ and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Have cooling racks ready to receive hot cookies.
6) Cut off a chunk and begin working with your hands to make it pliable enough to roll out on a floured surface. Roll to 1/8” thickness. Cut out with your favorite shapes and place on prepared sheets, leaving at least 1” of space between cookies. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Cool for five minutes before removing from cookie sheet onto a rack. Cool completely before icing.

For the icing:

3 cups powdered sugar
milk or water
1/2 teaspoon clear vanilla
gel food coloring, available at craft stores such as Michael’s

Put the powdered sugar into a medium size bowl.  Add liquid small amounts at a time and stir.  You will want the consistency to be thick enough that it will not run off the cookie but loose enough to easily spread.  Don’t worry, if it isn’t perfect on the first cookie you can either add more liquid or more sugar to get the right consistency.

When making different colors, use small bowls for different colors.

For the tie dye affect ice the cookie with white icing.  With a toothpick, dip into another colored icing and simply swirl through the freshly iced white cookie.  Very pretty.

Have a blessed Easter weekend with your family and friends!


Corned Beef Brisket…..

Everyone will be making corned beef tomorrow.  I made it this week for my clients.  I made it the traditional way and the way the package suggests which is to cover with water, add the enclosed seasoning packet and simmering for 2 1/2-3 hours.

Tomorrow we’re having Joe’s family over and I’m making traditional St. Patty’s Day fare.  I’m going to try something a little different with the corned beef.  I usually trim off as much fat as possible before cooking.  This time I’m going to save the trimming until after the beef is cooked tender.  I’m going to put it into a large roasting pan (that has a lid) with the seasoning packet and just cover it with water.  In other words, a lesser amount of water.  Instead of simmering on the stove top I’m going to oven braise at 325′ for 3 1/2 hours.  I think the combination of the very heavy roasting pan and consistent moist heat will make an amazing corned beef…we’ll see.

Once the meat is tender, I’ll remove it and add the halved red potatoes and back into the oven for 30 minutes or so.  I do not boil the cabbage as I think it has little flavor.  I much prefer sauteed cabbage.  It has much more flavor and is quite delicious.  I make it often throughout the year.

I will also make Margie’s Irish Soda Bread and homemade horseradish (scroll down to the next post).  Be sure to use lots of raisins in the soda bread as the recipe suggests.  The bread is so, so delicious!

Of course, I’ll make some sort of sweet ending.  I’m thinking assorted cookies as the corned beef dinner is so heavy.  Have you seen the strawberries??  They’re in season and so beautiful at this time.  If I can find some on sale tomorrow it may change what I’ll be doing for dessert…maybe strawberry shortcake?  I always change my mind, even at the very last minute!

Have a fun and safe St. Patrick’s Day!



Happy New Year!

Hello Everyone-

I am very much looking forward to my small New Years Eve get together this evening.    I’ve been puttering around my house, cleaning, organizing, vacuuming…I think I’m finally ready.

Here’s my final menu:

Crab cakes with roasted red pepper aioli-I bought a 1 lb. can of crab claw meat from Whole Foods..OMG, so good!
Fried calamari with marinara dipping sauce-This is pretty quick, only about a minute in the oil.  Serving with fresh lemon wedges.
Assorted olives and baguette-Straight foward, salty and delicious!
Parmesan and garlic stuffed mushrooms-These bake in a little beef broth for about 20 minutes.
Ham and gruyere swiss cheese in puff pastry.  Already baked, just needs a little warming and cut into squares.  Sort of an updated grilled cheese!

And for dessert….

Berries and mascarpone cream
Cinnamon streusel cheesecake squares
Chocolate chip cookies

I look forward to another year of cooking and experimenting with you!

Have a Happy New Year!


New Year’s Soiree….

Looking forward to a simple cocktail/appetizer party on Saturday.  As always, I obsess over what I’ll be serving.  (in a good way!)  In my experience I’ve found that most people really go for hot appetizers.  I think it’s nice to offer a couple of cold items  so that there’s something available between hot apps.  Olives are nice.  I like to offer some vegetables as well so that my guests have a healthy option.  I love the look of blanched broccoli on a vegetable tray.  *Blanching will make the broccoli very bright green and will make it less bitter.  Serve fresh cut veggies with my Light Bleu Cheese Dip.  No one will know it’s light, so good!

Another thing to consider is whether your guests will mostly be standing and mingling.  Always a good idea to serve items that are bite size and easy to eat.  Be sure to have plenty of cocktail napkins on hand as well.  If guests are a little shy about going up to an appetizer table, circulate them yourself or enlist another guest to do so.  This will put everyone at ease.

Here’s what I’m thinking…


1)  Fried Calamari with Fresh Marinara Sauce (the sauce can be made ahead)  Not sure about this one….like to have most everything done ahead of time! 
2)  Crab Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Aioli (make ahead, just warm in oven)
3)  Black Forest Ham and Gruyere Puff Pastry Squares (Ina Garten) great at room temperature (make ahead, serve at room temperature or warm in oven for a few minutes)
4)  Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms (make ahead, warm in oven)
5)  Proscuitto Wrapped Breadsticks with Boursin and Arugula (cold) (make ahead)


Mini Cheesecake Bites with Fresh Raspberry Sauce (make ahead)
Something Chocolate…not sure what….
Fresh Berries with Mascarpone Cream-beautiful, simple, and festive.  (make ahead)

I have time before my gig, so I’ll be changing things around a bit.  Will let you know my final menu.

Have a nice evening-


*to blanch broccoli, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the cut broccoli to the water and set the timer for 1 minute.  Drain and immediately plunge the  hot broccoli into a bowl of ice water.   Once the broccoli is cool, drain well.  Enjoy!

Best Holiday Cookies Ever!

Hi Everyone-

This is the perfect time to start cookie baking.  I find it much easier to mix one day, bake another, and decorate yet another.  This is a good time to get started.

First check out my tips for holiday baking essentials.  This is my equipment guide to successful cookie baking, easy clean up and efficient use of your time in the kitchen.

Cookie dough will keep very nicely wrapped in cling wrap and into a zip storage bag.  Label and date, as always, especially if you’re making a wide assortment of cookies.   The dough will keep nicely for 2 weeks.  I’ll be mixing gingerbread dough (aka “people cookies”) today.  I’m thinking I’ll mix approximately 6 batches as they are the #1 cookie tradition in our house.  My boys always look forward to these.

FYI, after the gingergread cookie dough has completely chilled, it may seem quite unmanageable.  Allow the dough to sit on the counter for 30 minutes before you begin.  Cut off a chunk and really work it with your hands to make it pliable to roll out on your board.  After you cut out the first batch, bring all the scraps together and add another chunk, working it together.  It is very easy after the initial batch.

Another lovely dough I like to use is a roll out butter cookie that has no levening.  It is the perfect recipe for layered and filled cookies.  Same deal here with rolling it out.  Use the same recipe for darling snowmen cut outs.

Mix your dough a day or two ahead then bake.   If you’re not ready to decorate at this point simply freeze the cooki  Pick a day closer to Christmas to actually decorate and put some aside for the kids to go crazy and decorate!  There is plenty of finger licking going on here, so I put their personal creations into their own bag.

I mix up my assortments as I do not like to decorate every cookie I make.  Lovely bars such as raspberry bars, and festive peppermint brownies are perfect because they slice beautifully and make for a pretty presentation.  My other Christmas cookie fav’s include santa thumbprints and chocolate dipped coconut macaroons.  Beautiful and delicious!

I’m so ready to get baking!

Have a great day-

Sausage And Sage Stuffing….

This is soooo delicious!  I use Jimmy Dean’s Sage Sausage, it’s perfect for this stuffing.  Make this stuffing to your own liking.  Use any kind of bread you like.  Cornbread is a delicious option with the sausage as well.  If using cornbread, dry it out the same way you would other breads.  (instructions below)  I save the bread crust ends and toast them for stuffing.  Remember, cold stuffing into cold bird.  This is hugely important when it comes to food safety. 

Sage and Sausage Stuffing

1 lb. bulk sage pork sausage
1 tablespoon butter
5 stalks of celery, cut into small pieces
1 large onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
10 cups dried bread cubes, *homemade or store bought
3-4 cups cold chicken stock or water

1)  Dump the dried bread cubes into a large mixing bowl, set aside.  In a large skillet, cook the sausage until browned.  Drain off any excess fat.  Dump sausage into the bread bowl.
2)  Add the butter to the skillet and add the celery and onion.  Cook 6-7 minutes or until veggies are soft.  Add the sage and parsley.  Mix well.  Add to the bread bowl.  Pour half of the chicken stock over the goodies in the bowl.  Gently fold stuffing ingredients.  Keep adding the stock until all of the bread is moistened.  Cool completely and refrigerate in a large zip bag.  Stuff the cold bird with the cold stuffing right before going into the oven.

*To make your own dried bread cubes cut leftover bread into 1/2″ cubes.  Spread over a cookie sheet, do not crowd.  Bake in 300′ oven for 15-20 minutes or until the bread is totally dried out.  Turn the bread cubes every 5 minutes.  Cool completely.  Store in a zip bag if you’re not using right away.

**If you’d like to bake the stuffing in a casserole dish, butter a 2 quart dish generously with butter.  Add the stuffing and pack in.  Add a couple of pats of butter to the top.  Bake at 350′ for 30-35 minutes.  Makes about eight 1/2 cup servings.

Gobble Gobble!