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Sugar Cookie Hearts

Heart Shaped Cookies2Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and you might be on the search for a treat to bring to work, school, church, the neighbors, etc.  If you’re looking to impress, these are the choice for you!  Would you believe me if I told you that these cookies are extremely easy to decorate?  It only takes 3 colors of royal icing (red, white and pink) in 3 squeeze bottles and a handful of toothpicks.  An off-set spatula to spread the icing is also helpful.

Royal Icing Squeeze Bottles

I saw these cute hearts originally on Karen’s Cookie blog.  Karen’s Cookies is my latest favorite discovery.  I’ve bought a few baking items from her store and plan to purchase more in the future.  She recently started a blog to share photos of her delicious creations, including these cookies.

To create the marble hearts, you simply flood the cookie with the royal icing and then quickly dot the background with another color.  While it’s still wet, run a toothpick through the dots and they magically become hearts!  Below is a quick photo tutorial on how to create the marble hearts on the cookies…

Heart Cookies Steps

…and then a few photos on how to create the tie-dyed look.

Heart Cookie Swirl

Again, just make sure you are working one or two cookies at a time so that the icing is still wet.  This causes the different colors to set into each other for flat results.  A few more helpful hints?  It helps to keep the bottles tipped upside down in glasses so they are ready to go.  Additionally, keep paper towels nearby to wipe your toothpick(s) after each use. For more detailed instructions, visit Karen’s Cookie blog.

Heart Shaped Cookies3I am now a fan of the royal icing recipe provided by Karen’s Cookies and her sugar cookie recipe.  Although, I do still like the original royal icing I used and will continue to use both.  You’ll be very proud of yourself after making these cookies.  And, you’ll have a hard time eating them since they’re so pretty!

Sugar Cookies

Printable Recipe

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup superfine sugar (or granulated sugar processed in food processor for 30 seconds)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract, optional
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar and salt at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the egg yolk and beat until fully incorporated.  Mix in the whole egg, vanilla and optional almond extract.  Beat until full mixed.  Add the flour, then beat at low speed just until combined.  Be careful to not over-mix.  Divide the dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap.  Store in fridge until firm, at least one hour and up to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 375˚F.  On a floured work surface, roll the dough to 1/4-inch thick, sprinkling with additional flour as needed to prevent sticking.  Use cookies cutters to cut into shapes and place on parchment or silicone-lined pans.  Bake until cookies appear dry on the surface and are light golden brown on the edges, about 10 minutes (or a few more for larger cookies).   Let sit for 2 minutes before removing from cookie sheets.  Allow to cool completely on cooling racks before decorating.

Source:  Karen’s Cookies

Royal Icing 2

Printable Recipe

3 tablespoons meringue powder
4 cups (1 lb) powdered sugar
6+ tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional

Beat all ingredients together until stiff peaks form (about 10 minutes).  Divide into separate containers, depending on how many colors you plan to use.  Mix in food coloring.  Add water to thin each color out so that when it runs off the spoon it quickly dissolves back into the remaining icing within 10 seconds.  Add powdered sugar if need to thicken.  Pour into squeeze bottles and decorate cookies.

Source:  Karen’s Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip CookiesYes, this is another cookie recipe.  I told you I’m addicted! Not much to say about these because they are just this recipe with chocolate chips instead of raisins.  Ben declared these as his favorite cookies the night I first made these.  (Here’s a hint: He says that about every cookie I’ve made lately!)  Flattering, but proof that he’s easy to please.  🙂

I think these are best eaten right out of the oven.  Just don’t burn your tongue. Instead, let them cool for at least 5 minutes then go ahead and indulge while the chocolate is still melted.  Yum!  You can also turn them into sandwich cookies, which is another one of Ben’s faves!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Printable Recipe

1 cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups light brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°.

In a large bowl beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs and vanilla with a hand held mixer until well blended. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture, stirring until just combined.

Fold in rolled oats and chocolate chips. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto a cookie sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 2 minutes and remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Source: Annie’s Eats originally from Deborah’s Culinary Confections

(This month we are giving back to the King family.  Visit Pennies on a Platter from January 1st to 31st to increase the blog hits which will in turn raise more money for Veronica and her children.  Please read this post for more information. You may also make a monetary donation by clicking on the PayPal button in the left hand column above.)

Peanut Butter M&M Cookies

Peanut Butter and MM Cookies

Earlier this week, Ben came home from work and told me we were invited to a friend’s to watch football and eat pizza.  Whenever we go somewhere for dinner or a party, I never like to arrive empty handed.  The catch?  Ben told me this at 4:15 PM and we were expected to be there at 5:15 PM!  I had very little time to think of what to bring and then actually make it!

Enter these cookies.  I had some M&M’s in the pantry that I’ve been wanting to use up.  They were leftover from these Christmas Crunch Cookies where we picked out the red and green M&M’s and left the rest.  I also knew that I needed to find a recipe where I had all ingredients on hand, so these cookies were perfect!  And, perfect they turned out indeed!  They are soft and chewy, but of course with a little crunch from the M&M’s.

Peanut Butter and MM Cookies2

I’m afraid I have become a bit addicted to cookies in general.  It doesn’t help that every Thursday night I bring a batch to the college group we lead through church.  Lately I’ve been leaning on the Perfectly Puffy Chocolate Chip Cookies because the kids love them!  But, I wanted to try something new this time while not having to go to the grocery store.  So, I tried these cookies once again without the M&M’s and used butter instead of shortening.  They were still soft and chewy, but not puffy (because of the butter).  Lesson learned?  If including M&M’s, use shortening so the cookies are thicker and can hold the M&M’s.  If not including M&M’s or any type of addition, use butter which creates a flatter cookie, but is a little tastier.

Do you prefer butter or shortening?  There is a butter-flavored shortening that I use in some cookies, too.  Do you have reservations on one or the other?  Puffy vs Flat?  Chewy vs Crispy?  For me, it depends on my mood.  🙂

Peanut Butter M&M Cookies

Printable Recipe

Yield: 2 – 3 dozen cookies

1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup shortening (or butter for a flatter cookie)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons milk
1/2 large bag of M&M’s

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.

Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the shortening (butter), sugars and peanut butter.  Stir in the egg, vanilla and milk.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Using a wooden spoon, carefully stir in the M&M’s.

Drop by tablespoons onto baking sheet and lightly press down with a fork to barely flatten cookies.  Bake for 10 minutes.

Source:  Adapted from Baking Junkie

(This month we are giving back to the King family.  Visit Pennies on a Platter from January 1st to 31st to increase the blog hits which will in turn raise more money for Veronica and her children.  Please read this post for more information. You may also make a monetary donation by clicking on the PayPal button in the left hand column above.)

Chocolate Haystacks

Chocolate HaystacksThis is not the first recipe post of the new year you want to read if you have made a resolution to start eating healthier.  I’m not one to make new year resolutions, so in a sense I’m rebelling and trying to drag you down with me.  🙂  These cookies have been in my family for quite some time now.  One of the easiest (no bake) cookies to make!

The ingredients may sound strange…chow mein noodles, butterscotch and chocolate?  What?!  Actually, many haystack cookies are made with only butterscotch chips, giving it the light tan color that appears more like a haystack.  Others stir in peanuts, marshmallows or other fun additions.  I personally love the butterscotch and chocolate combination along with keeping it simple, leaving out the extras.

These cookies will surprise you.

Chocolate Haystacks

Printable Recipe

Yield: TBD (I didn’t count and will update when I make them again)

6 ounces butterscotch chips
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 to 4 cups dry chow mein noodles

Line sheets of wax paper on kitchen counter or on large cookie sheets.

In a medium heavy saucepan, melt the butterscotch and chocolate chips over low heat, stirring frequently.  When chips are almost completely melted, remove pan from heat and continue to stir until smooth.  Stir in the chow mein noodles, combining until all noodles are covered with the chocolate mixture.

Drop by tablespoons onto wax paper and let cool until hardened.  Store in an airtight container, with sheets of wax paper in between each layer to avoid cookies sticking together.

Source: Pennies Original

(This month we are giving back to the King family.  Visit Pennies on a Platter from January 1st to 31st to increase the blog hits which will in turn raise more money for Veronica and her children.  Please read this post for more information. You may also make a monetary donation by clicking on the PayPal button in the left hand column above.)

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Peanut Butter BlossomsPeanut Butter Blossoms are such a classic cookie that most people make only during the holidays.  Can anyone tell me why?  I’ve been hunting for the reason that these aren’t enjoyed all year long!  There isn’t a seasonal ingredient in the recipe, so I’m baffled.

One reason I do not make them all year long is because I forget about them.  Maybe that’s your reason, too?  As I’ve stated before, I love the chocolate and peanut butter combination so I’m not sure why I forget to make these “easy to whip up” cookies.  But, here’s your reminder.  And, maybe I’ll just have to remind you (and myself) again this spring, summer and fall!

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Printable Recipe

Yield:  2 1/2 to 4 dozen*

48 Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 375˚F.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the shortening and peanut butter. Beat in 1/3 cup sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg, milk and vanilla, mixing until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Gradually beat the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until just combined.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in a bowl of sugar.  Place on the prepared cookie sheet.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Immediately remove from the oven and place unwrapped chocolate Kisses into the center of each cookie, slightly pressing.  Allow cookies to cool completely on a cooling rack.

*Recipe Note: You will have to make these cookies pretty small in order to get 48 of them.  My batch turned out to be only about 2 1/2 dozen.

Source:  A Bloggable Life, originally from Hershey’s

Christmas Crunch Cookies

Christmas Crunch CookiesI’m.so.tired.  This week has been a busy yet very fun week.  Saturday was Judah’s first birthday party (so fun!), Monday we had a Christmas party to attend, Tuesday we hosted the college girls for a Christmas baking night and last night we hosted the Ugly Sweater Christmas party where we ate the sweets we baked.  Today, we are finishing off the week with some final Christmas shopping “down the hill”.  (We quickly learned that’s what these desert people call it when you head down the mountain pass towards LA.)  Phew!  ‘Tis the season, huh? 🙂

Because of this busyness, I haven’t even had time to bake for my Christmas baskets.  I’m now toying with not doing it this year.  <sigh>  But, I think I can say I’ve done enough Christmas baking for the season.  There are, however, a couple of recipes I want to try yet this weekend.  We’ll see if I get to them…

Christmas Crunch CookiesThese Christmas Crunch Cookies are one of the sweets we baked together on Tuesday.  I was excited to add this recipe to the list at the last minute because of the Christmas colors in it.  Just pick out the red and green M&M’s, then you can save the rest to make this White Chocolate Chex Mix, or something else you may have in mind.

The super cool thing about these cookies is that the original source also gives instructions on how to assemble most of the ingredients in a jar and give as a gift!  I just wanted to make the cookies, so I didn’t create any jars.  But, I might put it on my “to do” list next year!

Christmas Crunch Cookies

Printable Recipe

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup M&M’s
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup Rice Krispies
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, vanilla and egg.  Add the sugars and cream together until smooth.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and baking powder.  Slowly stir it into the egg mixture.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until blended.  (The dough will be crumbly.)  Drop rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Source:  Blue-Eyed Bakers

Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies

Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies

These next couple of weeks I’m predicting you’ll see quite a few sweets posted here.  I’ll admit, it’s not only because I’m making them for holiday parties or gift baskets, but partially because when winter hits my sweet tooth enhances.  🙂

The other day I was thinking about how I haven’t been using a couple of my cookbooks that I’ve had for a few years.  At the same time, I was craving some chocolate cookies.  So, I dusted off one of the books, opened it up to the cookies section and baked the first chocolate recipe I found where I had everything on hand.  I should’ve known that this recipe would be a bust just by looking at the list of ingredients.  They were like eating chalk!  Fail.

The cookbook I chose to use that day is a compilation of recipes from members of a certain church.  I usually really like this kind of collection as they are tried and true dishes that you probably have enjoyed many times at a church potluck or gathering.  Keeping this in mind, I decided to continue on to the next cookie recipe in this book (again, where I had all ingredients on hand).

Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies2

Enter these Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies.  Oh my!  I’m so glad the previous chocolate cookies were a fail so it forced me to try these instead!  It was interesting to me that it included graham cracker crumbs, but I think it is the “treasure” part of these cookies.  The combination of coconut and chocolate chips with the sweetness from the condensed milk and graham crackers had me at “hello.”  Again, I omitted the walnuts (can you tell I’m not a big walnut fan?) but will still include it in the recipe below.

Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookie

Printable Recipe

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup flaked coconut
12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375˚F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, flour and baking powder; set aside.  In a large mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the condensed milk and butter until smooth.  Add the graham cracker mixture; mix well.  Stir in the coconut, chocolate chips and walnuts.

Drop tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheet.  Bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Source: Sara Mungons via Highland Hills Baptist Church Cookbook, 2000