Saturday, February 21, 2015

Westcave Cellars

My friend and I went to Westcave Cellars today and we LOVED it!! We sampled a large list of wines for only $10!!  My favorite wine was their Sweet Red, followed by their Sweet Rose.  We sampled the wines and enjoyed a glass outside on their vinyards.  I'm looking forward to going back some time when they have a band playing outside.  

For more information visit their website:

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

My first attempt at using royal icing to decorate sugar cookies!! One of my coworkers has a cookie business and she was nice enough to give me some pointers!! She suggested I start by visiting the University of Cookie, great website with lots of video tutorials and helpful links available. I used an old sugar cookie recipe I've had since college, and I got the royal icing recipe from Bake at 350.

Sugar Cookie Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all pupose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Sugar Cookie Directions
  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth.
  2. Beat in eggs and vanilla. 
  3. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. 
  4. Cover and chill dough for at least an hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
  6. Place the dough on a piece of wax paper. Place another piece of wax paper on top of the dough. Then roll out the dough until it is 1/4 inch thick. It'll be easier to roll if you do small portions of dough and leave the rest of the dough in the refrigerator. Once the dough gets warm, it's harder to work with. 
  7. Cut into shapes with a cookie cutter.
  8. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 5-8 minutes.

Royal Icing Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp meringue powder (I found this at the craft store)
  • scant 1/2 cup water (scant means just slightly under)
  • 1 lb powdered sugar
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp of light corn syrup
  • 1/3 tsp clear vanilla extract (I found this at the craft store)

Royal Icing Directions
  1. Combine the meringue powder and water.
  2. Sift in the powdered sugar, and beat on low until combined.
  3. Add in the corn syrup and the extract.
  4. Beat for about 5 minutes or until stiff peaks form.  If it's to runny, add more powdered sugar. Here's a link with photos of what your icing should look like when you're done Bake at 350: Royal Icing.
You'll use this thicker icing as an outline. I started piping with a #3 tip and then switched to a #5 tip.  Once I had all of the cookies outlined, I was ready to start filling them in.  I slowly added water to the icing until it was thin enough. Here's a really good explanation on how thin the icing should be from University of Cookie:

Once I had the right consistency, I poured the thin icing into a squeeze bottle. I squeezed the icing onto the cookies and followed the University of Cookie's video tutorial:

I had some issues with my squeeze bottle getting clogged, so I guess next time I'll need to do a better job of sifting and mixing the powdered sugar.  I also didn't use enough icing on my cookies, but again it's a learning experience!! I can't wait to try some more techniques soon!!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

M&M Cookie Bars


2 1/8 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 (12oz) bag M&M's


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
  2. Line a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with foil.  The foil should hang over the edges of the dish by about 1 inch so you can remove the bars after they have baked.
  3. Spray the foil-lined dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  4. Mix the flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside. 
  5. Whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and white sugar in a large bowl until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.  Mix well.
  6. Fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture; do not over mix.
  7. Fold in 1 cup of M&M's and turn the batter into the prepared pan.  
  8. Sprinkle the remaining M&M's on top and press lightly.
  9. Bake about 24-28 minutes. 
  10. Allow the cookie bars to cool in the dish until the bars are at room temperature.
  11. Remove the bars from the pan by lifting the foil and transfer the bars to a cutting board. 
  12. Cut into squares and serve. 

I found this recipe at Fantastic Family Favorites