Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Whether it’s the unseasonably warm weather in Chicago, the excessive windows in my apartment taunting me with sunshine or the fact that all my college friends are planning their spring break trips, I’ve really been craving summer lately. Since I can’t slip away to to any white-sand beaches any time soon, I decided to bake a little something summery. I found this recipe on Pinterest for Crinkly Lemon Cookies and knew they were just what I needed for a break from the Windy City winter.

As it turns out, they were super easy and pretty cheap. I will certainly make these again. Check it!

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

1 box lemon cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon zest (I used a little less and just used the zest of 1 lemon.)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon extract
Granulated sugar for coating (about 1/2 cup)
Powdered sugar for coating (about 1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Add first six ingredients (everything except the sugars) into a bowl.

Stir until well blended. I just used a fork. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes.

Use a cookie scoop and drop small dollops of batter first into the granulated sugar until coated, then into the powdered sugar and then unto a non-stick cookie sheet.

Bake for 6 – 9 minutes or until edges are gold brown.

Enjoy!

If Cookies Gave Me a Hot Bod

It’s 9 P.M. on a Monday, and I’m curled up on the floor with a blanket and a cup of coffee watching Friends with Benefits because I actually cannot move. In fact, just typing right now is making my arms hurt. So I’ll make it quick.

In a nutshell, Women’s Workout World knocked my on my @$$ today. I wasn’t more than 20 minutes through Body Fit and my knees were shaking like an Acrophobic in a hot air balloon. When we got to free weights, my arms straight-up stopped working. Then there was the abs and the pushups and oh, gosh, it hurts just thinking about it!

So I came home had had not one, not two, but three cookies before dinner. Whoops! There goes whatever calories I might have burnt off. Oh well. They were delicious and totally worth it. So I hope you can enjoy some guilt-free Christmas cookies too. They’re calorie-free I promise. (#probablylyingbutmindovermatter)

Peppermint Kiss Cookies

1 bag Hersey’s Kisses, Candy Cane
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons milk
red & green colored sguar

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Remove wrappers from candies.

Beat butter, sugar, vanilla and egg in a large bowl until well blended. 

Stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture alternately with milk to butter mixture, beating until well blended and dough forms. I suggest popping the dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes; it makes this next step much easier. 

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in red and/or green colored sugar. Place on an un-greased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 – 10 minutes until cookies are set. Remove from oven. Let them cool for about 2 minutes.

Press a Kiss in the center of each cookie and twist a little bit to secure it. Remove the cookies from the pan and cool on a rack. 

Serve with some gingerbread men (from the Betty Crocker mix of course) and some Ritz crackers and peanut butter dipped in melted chocolate chips and you’ve got yourself a darling little Christmas spread!

Pumpkin Cookies

It’s funny how often accidents lead to great things. A few weeks ago, I forgot to eat the lunch that I brought with me on Thursday. The next Friday, I didn’t bring a bag to work with my lunch in it (since my lunch was already in the fridge at work). So afterwork on Friday, I ended up with a couple empty Tupperwares but nothing to carry them home in. It also just so happend that my boyfriend was meeting me after work to meet up with some friends for dinner, so I asked him to bring a sack for me to carry my Tupperware in. 

He forgot.

Not feeling like carrying my empty containers into a nice restaurant, the only solution was to buy something from the closest store so I had a bag to carry them in. That store was Crate & Barrel. The cheapest thing we could find there was a darling set of pumpkin cookie cutters. 

I didn’t have to have those pumpkin cookie cutters for long before deciding that I obviously had to make pumpkin cookies — both pumpkin shaped and flavored. The recipe I sought was just a few clicks away. I opted for the first one I stumbled upon to be honest with you, which was this one.  This was my first time ever trying pumpkin cookies, but I knew before even trying them that they needed cream cheese frosting. So that’s exactly what I did. Check it.

Pumpkin Cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest (I didn’t actually use this, but I’m sure it’d be great if you did!)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of salt  
1 jar cream cheese frosting
food coloring, sprinkles or other decorating supplies 

In a medium bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar and orange zest (which I did not use).

Stir in the pumpkin.

Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix well.

Sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. If you don’t have an actual sifter (the name of which I don’t even know), you can use a whisk to make the flour and spices nice and airy — works like a charm. 

Stir into the pumpkin mixture. I can usually use my hand-held mixer for about half of the flour mixture, and then I start to stir by hand with a spatula. 

Chill the dough for 30 minutes. Since the dough is easiest to work with while it’s cold, I like to separate it into two parts. That way, I can work with one part while it’s cold, and then switch it out for the other section as it warms up. Wrap each section with wax paper and pop it in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes (which are pumpkins — duh!).

Place onto an unprepared cookie sheet. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove immediately and let cool on a cooling rack.

Decorate! My favorite part … even if I did have to spend an hour and a half and go to five stores before I found orange sprinkles. 

Biscotti

My grampa is Sicilian and awesome. He’s taught me the art of stuffing and eating an artichoke, how delicious ricotta cheese is on waffles and the importance of a crunchy biscotti meeting a hot cup of coffee. Granted, he probably wouldn’t be happy about the fact that my biscotti are vanilla-almond and not anise, but at least it’s a start. 

Since I’ve been on my fall kick lately, more often than not I can be found sipping on coffee out of a cute mug and admiring my darling view. On Saturday morning, I poured myself a cup of Guatemala Antigua in my favorite mug and couldn’t help but notice that something very important was missing. 

 

I was missing a crispy, crunchy  biscotti to dunk in there! So I cracked open one of my favorite cookbooks, Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, and flipped right to Almond Biscotti page. I could tell from the start that it was a great idea. 

When I was done baking, I knew that the first thing I had to do was wrap up a few biscotti and stick them in the mail to send back to Gramps. I won’t know the official opinion for a few days, but I have to say that I think they turned out great. 

Almond Biscotti

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons finely shredded orange or lemon peel (I did not use either, I substituted 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract instead)
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds (I used sliced instead)

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Spray two cookie sheets lightly with Pam; set aside. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.

 

Place eggs and egg yolks in well and stir into the flour mixture. 

Add butter and vanilla (or orange or lemon peel if you feel like it); stir until dough starts to form a ball. Stir in almonds. 

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; divide into three equal portions. Shape each portion into a 14-inch-long loaf. 

Place loaves about 3 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets; flatten loaves slightly until about 1 1/2 inches wide. 

Bake 25 – 30 minutes or until firm and light brown. Cool on cookie sheets for 15 minutes.

Transfer baked loaves to a cutting board. Use a serrated knife to cut each loaf into 1/2-inch slices. Place slices on cookie sheets. 

Bake for 10 minutes. Turn slices over; bake for 10 to 15 minutes more or until crisp and dry. Serve with coffee, milk or cocoa.