Cream-Filled Christmas Cookies

If there is one thing that absolutely completes the holidays, it’s spending time in the kitchen baking sweets and treats galore!  Baking is a tradition that began for me as a little girl growing up.  Each Christmas Momma would pull out all the ingredients to make every variety of cookie imaginable for several days straight.  {Martha Stewart has nothing on this Momma of mine!} My sisters and I would help her decorate or fill each cookie, occasionally sneaking bite or two… or twelve, until we would be on a sugar high and Momma would be pitching a fit because we were eating all of her holiday gathering treats and gifts!

Now my girls do the same with me.  They ice, fill, and strategically arrange M & M’s or sprinkles on cookies to steal and eat share with family and friends.

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As I join The Everyday Home Blog‘s virtual cookie Exchange, I wanted to share a cookie (that I swiped from an old Better Homes & Gardens magazine & tweaked just a little) that has been a favorite tradition in our home for nearly our entire marriage; buttery, sweet, simple, and colorful cream-filled cookies that our own Christmas celebrations would not be complete without!

Now, just a little disclaimer before I share this recipe. These buttery, melt-in-your-mouth, bite sized cookies are really, really unhealthy and extremely addictive.  As a matter of fact, when I made them for work last week I was told they were like crack.

So bake these fattening, addictive cookies at your own risk.

cream-filled christmas cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup cold butter, absolutely NO substitutes (I used Kerrygold butter for my recipe)

2 cups cake flour (I used King Arther brand)

3-4 tablespoons organic, heavy whipping cream

Sanding sugar

Powder sugar frosting (recipe to follow)

Putting it Together:

Preheat your oven to 375º.

In a medium mixing bowl, cut the butter into the flour until the pieces are the size of green peas.

I actually used the pastry attachment on my Kitchen Aid for this and it worked out great!

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Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the cream over the mixture and gently toss with a fork, pushing to the side of the bowl.  Repeat until all of the butter and flour mixture is combined into a dough that you can roll into a ball.

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Roll dough on a lightly floured surface to an 1/8 of an inch.  Cut into rounds using a cookie cutter.

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Using decorative & themed baking tools sure keeps the fun in Christmas baking! I LOVE this rolling-pin from Williams-Sonoma … sturdy for rolling as well as themed for keeping spirits bright!

Place the cut cookies on an ungreased, non-stick cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with the sanding sugar.  With a fork, poke four parallel rows in each cutout.

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Bake 8-10 minutes, or just until the edges begin to brown.  Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Now for your Powdered Sugar Frosting: In a small bowl, mix together 2 cups sifted powder sugar, 2 Tablespoons softened butter (no substitutes), 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract and enough heavy cream to make a spreadable frosting. If you are coloring the frosting with just one color, add a couple of drops, mixing well. If using more than one color, divide icing before coloring. I used “Wilton” gel coloring in sky blue for my blue frosting and “Candy-n-Cake” brand powdered food coloring in red to get a true red.

Spread a smidgen of the powdered sugar frosting on the non-sugared side of a cookie and then top with another cookie round.

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Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

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These are actually super easy to make; the most tedious part is carefully icing the cookies without grasping them to hard and crumbling them in your hand.

Serve your pretty little cream-filled bites of butter with hot cocoa or a cold glass of milk (skim milk not allowed).

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These dainty bite-sizes delights are perfect for parties, potlucks, gifting, and being absolutely naughty on your diet.

You can’t eat just one.

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And if you want to change these up just a little take Andes peppermint crunch, and top your cookies when they have about 1-minute left to cook.  Let cool and then ice with frosting that has 1 teaspoon of real vanilla extract instead of the peppermint flavoring.

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These cookies are very delicate, so pack with care if you are taking them to an event of gifting them.

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They’ll be a hit no matter where you serve them!

Take a little time to check out all the other fabulous cookie recipes that are a part of the Virtual Cookie Exchange today!

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Healthy Italian

Of all the international flavors out family enjoys, Italian is probably our most favorite.  I love the flavor of fresh herbs in a tomato based sauce (generally with Italian sausage added) mixed with pasta and a sprinkling of cheese.

Mmmmm!

Generally it doesn’t matter how it’s prepared, I love pasta!  But, pasta is not something I eat a lot of these days.  While low in calories, it is very high in carbs, carbs that process as a sugar.  Not something I am wanting in my diet as I am down to my last 30 pounds to lose.

Recently I was scrolling through a favorite read by NASCAR driver wife, Samantha Busch, and found her own healthy Italian recipe.

Suddenly I was craving Italian and had to try it out!  With just a few minor changes we enjoyed a delicious, flavorful Italian dinner ready in under an hour.

Made with spaghetti squash and topped with a rich marinara and fresh summer squash this was an Italian dish that was perfect in all ways!

Healthy Italian

Ingredients:

Large Spaghetti Squash

zucchini

Yellow Squash

Baby Spinach leaves

Fresh Basil (I used purple Basil from my garden)

Garlic cloves, minced

1 Can of no-salt added diced tomatoes with garlic, basil & oregano

2 (8 ounce) cans no-salt added tomato sauce

Vidalia onion 

2 Chicken Breast Cutlets

Italian Seasoning

Olive Oil

Directions:

Cut your spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds.  Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with black pepper, place on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 about 45 minutes.

While the squash is cooking, Take your cans of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes and add to a saucepan on the stove.  Chop half of the Vidalia onion and add to the tomatoes with a little Italian seasoning.  Simmer on medium about 15 minutes to allow flavors to mesh.

Take an immersion blender and puree the tomato mixture into a smooth sauce.

pureeing the marinara sauce

pureeing the marinara sauce

You’ll need two skillets.  In the first, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add your chicken breast cutlets seasoned with Italian seasoning.  Cook on medium heat about 12 minutes, turning once.

chicken cutlets seasoned with Italian seasoning

chicken cutlets seasoned with Italian seasoning

In the second skillet, Slice your squash & zucchini and add to a non-stick skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a clove of minced garlic.  Saute until squash is tender, but crisp.  Add a cup of spinach leaves and cover with a lid about 3 minutes to wilt.  Remove from heat.

Love fresh summer cooking!

Love fresh summer cooking!

Take your spaghetti squash out of the oven and scrap this insides out, making “noodles” for your marinara sauce.  Cover with the sauce and fresh veggies.  Add a little fresh basil to the top and serve with a protein of your choice.

Italian done healthy

Italian done healthy

There is so much flavor in this simple dish you never even miss the pasta!

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I hope you’ll try this flavorful alternate to traditional Italian style spaghetti.

Have a great weekend!

I’m linking up with Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday today!

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The Cookie Monster {Paleo Style}

Sometimes Mommas have to be the bad guy, even when we don’t want to.
Sometimes we have to say no, even when it’s difficult.
We know it is for the benefit of our kiddos, but getting them to understand that is sometimes very difficult.
Sometimes……
Then there are times that Mommas find a solution and suddenly “no” becomes “YES” making all right in the world again.
This has been the story of my life lately as we are having to change our eating habits again, making them just a little cleaner.
When we began eating clean months ago with my lifestyle change & weightloss, things like migraines seemed disappear from our home.  That is until my Madeline would go away for sleepovers, or youth group trips, or sporting events…. places where  food (while absolutely delicious to a teenager) didn’t necessarily sit well afterwards.  After missing fourteen days of school this year with migraines (all after weekend adventures & a couple of family trips), we decided things had to change.
Healthy just got healthier as we are now going very clean and taking more of a natural (some call it Paleo) approach to eating.  Wheat & grain seem to be the source of her problems, so we are beginning to eliminate them from our diet.
The result?
No more headaches, and absolutely delicious chocolate chip cookies that were devoured in a matter of minutes as they came out of the oven the other night!
2 Cups almond flour (or meal)
2 Tablespoons coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup Spectrum organic all-vegetable shortening
1/4 cup honey
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips (dairy & soy free)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  I lined one large cookie pan with payment paper to help prevent sticking.  In a food processor, blend together the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda and salt.  Add the shortening, honey and vanilla and blend until thoroughly combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.  Take a tablespoon of the dough and flatten on the cookie sheet. Leave a little space between each cookie.  Bake about 7 minutes until the cookies are golden.  Allow to cool a few minutes or enjoy hot from the oven with cold milk!
{You can also press the cookie dough into a brownie pan and make delicious cookie bars.}
And just a side note …. these cookies are very addictive and while the ingredients are natural, they do not make a “diet” cookie.  These are a definitely a treat if you are trying to lose weight & not a part of a low-fat lifestyle.
But they are good.
Really good.
I hope you’ll give them a try!

 

Fit Friday: Taco Soup

There are no words to describe how busy it’s been since the new year rolled over.  I have been working five days a week at the gym with varying hours throughout the day and evening, plus a couple of Saturday mornings.  My client schedule is finally growing as people are making the decision to change their lives for a bit healthier style.
It’s crazy, but I’m having fun!
Despite being so busy, I am still finding time to get into the kitchen and cook for the family.  It may be as simple as grilled chicken and a salad (doesn’t everyone use their grill in 30 degree weather?), but it is made with love and the anticipation of a family supper each night.
It has been a little chilly downright cold around here, so last week I put together a hearty pot of Taco Soup for our supper.  There are a lot of great recipes out there for taco soup, but I created my own lightened up and heart healthy version.
And it was soooo good!!
And it was even easier to make!

 

INGREDIENTS:
64 ounces unsalted beef broth + any extra water for coverage
3 pounds ground turkey breast or extra lean (97/3) beef
2 cups frozen corn
2 cans no-salt added pinto beans, drained & rinsed
2 cans no-salt added black beans, drained & rinsed
2 cans no-salt added basil, garlic & oregano diced tomatoes
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
3 large jalapeños, seeded and chopped
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 packages Mrs Dash Taco seasoning
fresh chopped garlic, & chili powder for cooking the ground meat
Fresh chopped cilantro for a garnish
 
 
 
In a large skillet add your ground meat to brown.  Sprinkle with chili powder and add the chopped garlic to cook with it as well.
While the meat cooks, in a large stock pot (or crock pot) add the beef stock, corn, beans, tomatoes, bell pepper, jalapeños, onion and the contents of the Mrs Dash seasoning packets.  Mix together and heat on medium.
When the meat is ready, drain well and add to the stock pot.
Allow to simmer on medium 30-45 minutes to give the flavors time to mesh and the veggies to cook through.
See, I told you it was easy to make!
I served the family’s soup with a dollop of non-fat Greek yogurt and thin & crispy no-salt Xochitl corn chips.
I promise, this is so good that you won’t miss the salt.
Or the fat.
In fact you’ll want another bowl for lunch the next day!
I hope your New Year is off to a great start!  Now that things are settling down a bit, I hope to be posting more and I definitely plan on catching up with all of you!