Project Roundup: Holiday Inspiration!

I have to confess that I did not pre-plan a blog post for today.  I practically forgot that today is Monday.  Anne and I had a wonderful weekend together, as we celebrated our 6-year anniversary! We purchased our very first Christmas tree — a little guy, about 2.5 feet tall — that fits perfectly in our apartment, and enjoyed a delicious dinner at probably our favorite restaurant in Philly.

In conclusion: I didn’t write a blog post.  So, today I have for you a nice roundup of a few giftable projects I’ve created here on Scissors & Sage.  I hope that they inspire you to make something special for a loved one this holiday season.  And if they don’t inspire you — well, let me make it for you!

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These Perfect Peanut Butter Cookies really are perfect.  If you don’t believe me, make them yourself and find out!

Make Quick & Simple Fudge for your holiday hosts, family members, or friends.  It makes a big batch that can be distributed among many.

These Chewy Chocolate Jumbles are delicious, and can be customized with all kinds of added ingredients like nuts or dried fruit.

NON-EDIBLE

Make someone happy with this Honey Citrus Hand Scrub.  It smells incredible, and leaves your hands feeling very soft.  Easily gift it in a small jar.

This DIY Stencil Pillow is a labor of love.  There’s still plenty of time to begin working on lengthy DIY holiday gifts!  (This was also, believe it or not, the first project I ever posted on Scissors & Sage!)

Learn to make these Mirror, Mirror bathroom signs that are only readable when viewed through the mirror.  Check out the first installment of Mirror, Mirror here, too!

Feel like knitting?  This Cowl Me Crazy project has you covered.

These DIY Pencil Eraser Stamps require few materials and yield great results.  Use these stamps to create a matching set of custom stationery for a friend or loved one.  Need envelope inspiration?  Look here, and be sure to use old December issues.

Do you know someone who loves cooking or baking?  Give them the gift of a curated recipe box.  First, find a beautiful recipe box.  Second, learn to create custom dividers (see link).  Third, add recipes you think your gift recipient will enjoy — perhaps recipes that are important to you!

These DIY Dragonfly Earrings are cute and simple for the nature lovers in your life.

Make a statement with this Oscar Wilde Stencil Art.  It’s easily customizable if you know your gift recipient loves a specific quote.

I hope you enjoyed this roundup.  Be sure to let me know if you make any of these projects!  Share your creations using #scissorsandsage on Instagram and Twitter.

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Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies for Willie

Are any of you in the U.S. watching season 5 of Masterchef right now?  I am.  Although I watch on Tuesday nights because we don’t have cable.  Last night I witnessed the top 7 turn into the top 6, and I was devastated to see Willie go.  Beyond his original dish ideas and complex flavor profiles, he seemed to always keep his spirits high in the Masterchef kitchen, and was always incredibly humble.  I may or may not have welled up at the end of the episode.  Willie’s grandmother puts it best: “Your attitude will always determine your altitude.”

In honor of Willie, I decided to try a new recipe tonight.  These cookies, adapted from Baker by Nature, are unlike any cookies I’ve ever made.  While I initially felt defeated by the semi-unfamiliar baking procedure, I realized that Willie had to try many new things while on Masterchef, too.  He would appreciate these cookies, as they are delicious and sure-fire crowd pleasers.  So here goes!

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies for Willie (adapted from Baker by Nature)

Prep time: 20  minutes | Bake time: 10 minutes per batch | Yields: 32 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp flakey sea salt
  • 15 tbs salted butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, fork together the dry ingredients and set aside.

Place 8 tbs of butter in a wok or large saucepan over medium heat.  Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the butter had browned.  Remove from heat and stir in remaining 7 tbs of butter.  Add the sugars and vanilla to the melted butter.  Whisk until combined.  Add eggs and whisk together vigorously for 30 seconds.

Let wet mixture sit idle for 5 minutes, then repeat 30-second whisking.  Gently fold in the flour with a spatula.  Once the flour begins to disappear, fold in the three chocolate varieties.

Roll cookie dough into 2-tbs balls with your hands.  Be sure to place enough space between the cookies on the baking sheets.  When both sheets are prepared, bake cookies for 10 minutes, switching rack positions halfway though.  Let cool and transfer to a wire rack.  Continue until all cookie dough is used.

From Scissors & Sage

Do you have a go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe?  Or a favorite Masterchef contestant?  Who do you think will win the Masterchef title this season?

PS) Check out these Chewy Chocolate Jumbles I made last year–quite a different cookie, but just as tasty!

Perfect Peanut Butter Cookies

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I had never eaten a peanut butter cookie until I met Anne’s family — specifically, her grandmother Virginia.  Now, Virginia is kind of famous, and it’s not for her award-winning lemon meringue pie, or for her 400+ Scrabble score on most evenings.  It’s not that she’s enrolled herself in French classes, or that she re-taught herself how to play the piano later in life.  Virginia is a Super Ager.  You can read an article about her here, or watch a video of her here.

But back to the cookies.  Oh, the cookies.  I’m not usually one for crunchy treats (I’m more of a melt-in your-mouth-gooey-cookie kind of gal), but Virginia’s cookies had me singing a different tune.  I scrounged up this recipe in hopes of creating something like Virginia’s delicacies, and this recipe from Better Homes & Gardens could not be easier.  It requires minimal kitchen equipment and average pantry ingredients.

Read on to learn how to make perfect (literally, perfect) peanut butter cookies!

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Perfect Peanut Butter Cookies (via Better Homes & Gardens)

Prep time: 20 minutes | Bake time: 7-9 minutes for each batch | Yields: 40 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I sifted mine)
  • Additional granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375 °F.  In a large bowl, beat the butter and peanut butter with either a stand mixer or hand mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds.  Add the granulated sugar, light brown sugar, baking soda, and baking powder.  Beat until combined.  Beat in egg and vanilla until combined again.  Beat in the flour, adding a little bit at a time, until an even consistency.

Hand-shape the dough into 1-inch balls.  Roll them in a small bowl of additional granulated sugar.  Place balls 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet (ungreased or nonstick).  Using a fork, create criss-cross hatches on the cookies.  Bake for 5 minutes, and then rotate the cookie sheets in the oven for an even bake.  Bake for an addition 3-4 minutes until bottoms are light brown.  Transfer to a cooling rack.

Enjoy within 3 days, or freeze them for up to 3 months.

From Scissors & Sage

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These cookies are an amazing combination of crunchy and a little bit chewy.  I can already tell they will become a staple this summer — they pair perfectly with homemade vanilla ice cream!  Make them and find out for yourself!

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Lemon Ricotta Cookies

Last month, Scissors & Sage hosted its very first comment contest.  I am happy to announce that the winner of this Valentine’s themed mystery treat was Theresa of TheresaBuoy!  This experience gave me an opportunity to meet a new blog friend across the country, and to expand my blogging horizons (literally).  Thank you to all who participated.  I look forward to future contests on this blog!

The mystery treat I baked for Theresa was a batch of lemon ricotta cookies.  Perhaps you have never heard of these – I hadn’t until about a month ago.  I was in Isgro Pasticceria with my family when I saw these little fellows in the display case.  Now, I am Italian.  Like Brooklyn Italian.  But I had never heard of lemon ricotta cookies!  I was embarrassed.  I was confused.  I knew I had to try and make these myself, so my uncle helped me track down Giada De Laurentiis’s well-regarded recipe.

Lemon Ricotta Cookies (adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes | Yields: 52 cookies

Cookies:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 15 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • Sprinkles (optional)

Glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested

Preheat oven to 375 °F.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar using an electric mixer until fluffy (3-4 minutes).  Add the eggs and beat until fully incorporated.  Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest.  Beat to combine.  Stir in the dry ingredients.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Scoop 1 tbs of batter per cookie.  Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly golden brown along the edges.  Remove from oven.  Transfer cookies to a cooling rack and let stand for 20 minutes.

Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl.  Stir until smooth.  Spoon the glaze onto each cooled cookie.  Add sprinkles if desired.  Let the glaze harden for 2+ hours.  Package the cookies for up to two weeks.

From Scissors & Sage

I packaged these cookies up for Theresa in a decorative paper loaf pan.  These cookies are the perfect springtime cookie.  They are light and citrusy, and can be enjoyed in combination with this warming weather!

Chewy Chocolate Jumbles

There isn’t anything quite like having cookies on hand, and these bite-sized wonders are perfect for on the go or at home!  They are soft and chewy, and definitely leave you wanting more.  These cookies are a take on a 2007 recipe published in the Chicago Tribune by Michael Reinhart.

After a few adjustments, this is the recipe that Anne and I used:

Chewy Chocolate Jumbles (adapted from Michael Reinhart)

Prep time: 20 minutes | Baking time: 10 minutes per batch | Yields: 52 bite-sized cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped oatmeal
  • 1 1/4 cups semi-sweet & dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  2. Mix the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until creamy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Beat in egg and vanilla until light and smooth, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
  5. Stir in oatmeal, chocolate chips, and almonds, working together a bit at at time.
  6. Form tablespoonfuls on a non-stick baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes, and transfer cookies to a cooling rack.

Note: While the cookies may not appear to be done, they set and cool to perfection!

From Scissors & Sage

Do you have a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe?  Happy baking!