Snow Day Sugar Cookies

If there’s one thing to know about me it’s that I love learning. I’m a visual learner so, in the age of the Internet, YouTube has become my best friend. It’s amazing, really, how many different kinds of things you can learn on YouTube these days. There are so many passionate people out there making videos about things they care about! Here are some actual snippets of my YouTube search history:

  • “How to add a color knitting”
  • “How to use the Uber app”
  • “How to braid a weeping fig”
  • “How to cut a tree slab”
  • “Replant phalaenopsis orchid”
  • “Royal icing flood consistency”

This last one led me down my latest rabbit hole. Anne’s mom shared the most delicious sugar cookie recipe from her friend a few years ago, and Anne and I like to experiment with making different shaped cookies and decorations. I found one YouTube channel by Julia M. Usher, a well-regarded baker with a specialty in making cookies, that offered a wealth of knowledge on the subject. Since Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays, I thought I’d give royal icing a try with these sugar cookie hearts.

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First things first: Make Laura Kutill’s sugar cookies! I hope I meet her someday to thank her in person for this incredible recipe.

Laura Kutill's Delicious Sugar Cookies

Prep time: 15 minutes | Bake time: 10 minutes per batch | Yields: 6-7 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until light. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla. Add half of the dry ingredients and incorporate. Add remaining.

Cut dough into thirds and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2+ hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll the dough 3/16″ thick on a floured surface. Cut out the cookies and place on a lined cookie sheet. Bake for 9-10 minutes until the edges begin to turn a light golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

From Scissors & Sage

Seven Steps to Flawless Rolled Cookies (via Julia M. Usher)

  1. Work with cold dough.
  2. Lightly flour work surface.
  3. Use a good, heavy rolling pin.
  4. Rotate dough while rolling.
  5. Roll dough relatively thin, 3/16″.
  6. Transfer cutouts with an offset spatula.
  7. Rotate for even browning.

Julia also shared her recipe for royal icing, as well as how to change the consistency for outlining, top-coating, and flooding cookies. Below are her clues to making excellent icing.

Royal Icing & Consistency Alterations (via Julia M. Usher)

Icing “Glue”

  • 2 lbs powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 5 large egg whites

Using the beater attachment, combine powdered sugar and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add in egg whites and mix at low speed. Scrape down sides before increasing to high speed for 1-2 minutes. Icing will go from a gray to white in color due to increased air circulation in icing.

If desired, flavor the icing (i.e. incorporate 1 tsp of vanilla or lemon extract).

Makes 4 cups icing, which is enough to cover several dozen cookies.

Note: Color the icing once the “glue” is distributed into smaller bowls.

Outlining Consistency

For 1 cup of “glue,” add 1/2 to 3/4 tsp water. Mix gently. The icing should fall in globs off of the spoon.

Top Coating Consistency

For 1 cup of “glue,” add 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 tsps water. Mix gently. The icing should flow slowly off of the spoon and create tracks in the icing that disappear after 15 seconds.

Note: Use this icing for covering cookies without outlining first.

Flooding Consistency

For 1 cup of “glue,” add 2 to 3 tsps water. Mix very gently so as not to create air bubbles. Tap down bowl on counter to help. The icing should run off the spoon a bit faster than top coat, and tracks in icing should disappear in 10 seconds.

Note: If icing is too watered down, sift powdered sugar into the mixture.

From Scissors & Sage

All in all, I’m really glad that I tried making royal icing. It certainly took a long time to get through all 90 cookies I made, but the end result was worth it. Now I get to share my cookies with friends and family this weekend!

PS) I decided to try making Julia’s parchment pastry cones rather than use the canvas pastry bag we have. She walks you through the steps to make these simple bags, and I have to say it was very worth it. You get to just throw the bags away when you’re done rather than clean out the canvas.

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PLEASE VOTE! {Update: I won!}

Happy Saturday, readers! It’s pretty unusual to find me here on the weekend, so you know it has to be for good reason!

All Free Knitting is a website chockfull of free knitting patterns for all skill levels. They receive millions of views each week, and are a staple in a knitter’s online arsenal of tools. Back in October, the editor of All Free Knitting, Kathryn Abrams, reached out to me because she wanted to include my knit tie for Anne on her site (with a proper link back to Scissors & Sage). You can find that feature on All Free Knitting here.

Kathryn reached out again in March because she selected my knit tie to be a part of her latest e-book, 9 Men’s Knitting Patterns. (Click here to download it!) I couldn’t believe she wanted to feature me as one of nine patterns. The best part? I asserted that the pattern had to be introduced using inclusive language if she wanted to include me in the book.

THEN, Kathryn emailed me a few weeks ago to tell me that my tie had been hand-picked to be included in All Free Knitting’s “Top 5 Father’s Day Knitting Patterns” contest. I of course accepted the invitation! The winner is determined by the number of favorable comments they receive on All Free Knitting’s post. The winner gets a $50 Amazon gift card! If me and my tie model win, the card is going straight into our Ball jar labeled “Wedding Fund.” The contest is open until Friday, June 17th.

Readers, please take a moment to vote for Anne’s knit tie! It would be an honor to win this contest and be recognized for my knitting. Here’s how you can vote:

  1. Visit All Free Knitting’s “Top 5 Father’s Day Knitting Patterns” post.
  2. Leave a comment letting them know which of the five patterns is your favorite.

Not only will one of the knitting patterns win, but there’s something in it for you, too! All Free Knitting will choose one commenter at random to win a copy of their book, Simple Scarves Made with the Knook, and the Knook Kit.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

It’s Hamantaschen Season

Hamantaschen season is the best season. Purim is right around the corner and although I’m not Jewish, I know a good pastry when I eat one. When I was looking into a hamantaschen recipe to try, the most popular comment I read was that these just don’t work. It was either the dough, the filling, or the triangles fell apart while baking. Many said that these weren’t worth trying, and that it’s easier to just go buy them from a bakery.

I’m here to say that there’s hope! I adapted this recipe from Bon Appetit, and Anne can attest to their swoon-worthy quality. I wouldn’t call the recipe too intensive, although there are a few steps involved. Baking with a friend or significant other definitely wouldn’t hurt! We ended up baking one disc of dough (see recipe below) and freezing the other to bake a week later. The second batch turned out just as delicious as the first.

Hamantaschen (adapted from Bon Appetit)

Active time: 35 minutes | Bake time: 16 minutes | Yields: 36 hamantaschen

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • jams or preserves

Whisk baking powder, salt, and flour in a bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat butter and sugar on medium-high until pale and fluffy, five minutes. Add two eggs one at a time, beating to combine after each addition. Scrape down bowl when needed.

Reduce speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix until the dough has come together. Divide dough in half. Form two discs about 3/4-inch thick, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2+ hours.

Place oven racks in upper and lower thirds. Preheat to 350°F. Take out one disc from the refrigerator, and let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes. Place disc between two sheets of wax paper. Roll out dough until 1/4-inch thick. Peel back upper wax paper and use a 3-inch cookie cutter to cut out rounds. Use a spatula to transfer rounds to parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Gather scraps and repeat.

Place 1 teaspoon of jam in the center of each round. Brush a beaten egg generously around the edges of the rounds. Fold up and pinch the sides to create triangles. Brush all exposed dough and seams with egg again. Take out second disc as you put the first batch into the oven.

Bake for 16 minutes or until light golden brown, switching racks halfway through. Let cool in pan for five minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container for 3-5 days.

From Scissors & Sage

Happy Purim, and happy daylight savings!

Moroccan Chickpea Soup

I don’t think that I’ve mentioned this on Scissors & Sage before, but beyond my work as a music therapist, I’m also part-time at a home and garden store outside of Philly called terrain. I was hired as a seasonal nursery associate, and have been really enjoying my time there.

Over the weekend, terrain had its holiday open house–a huge event that kicks of the season with festivities for all. I decided to enter myself into the employee soup competition with an original recipe for Moroccan chickpea soup. Although it didn’t win, I do think that it’s worth sharing here. Many people enjoyed it for its spicy kick and flavorful ingredients. It’s a recipe that I know I’ll come back to several times this winter.

It’s worth noting that this recipe happens to be vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free. Perfect for most any food restriction! I hope that you enjoy it, and that it warms your bones. It just got really cold in Philly.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Moroccan Chickpea Soup

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 1 hour | Yields: 4 quarts

Ingredients:

  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 2 Yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 32 oz canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup liquid from a can of chickpeas
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground coriander
  • 64 oz vegetable broth
  • 28 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onions and garlic, and sauté until cooked. Add spices and toast, stirring continuously. Deglaze using one cup of vegetable broth.

Add carrots and potatoes, and cook for five minutes. Add liquid from the chickpea can, and cook for five additional minutes.

Add diced tomatoes and cook for five minutes. Stir in tomato paste. Add remaining vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cover for 15 minutes.

Add chickpeas and lemon zest, and simmer for a final 5-10 minutes. Enjoy immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to five days.

From Scissors & Sage 

Spooky Sinner Cider Cocktail

This post comes courtesy of Anne Kenealy, Scissors & Sage’s number one fan and frequent behind-the-scenes editor. This isn’t her first post on the blog, although her last how-to was much more technical than the cocktail recipe that follows. She’s made this drink for many a guest, and everyone always seems to enjoy it. Make it at your next gathering, and it’ll be a crowd-pleaser!

From Anne: Every autumn around apple-picking season, this cocktail returns to our regular rotation here at the international headquarters of Scissors & Sage. Its sweet-tart zing makes it an almost irresistible tonic when the weather begins to cool, and it’s great in big batches for Halloween (hence its name) or Thanksgiving.

Non-alcoholic ginger beer has been a favorite cocktail mixer of ours since Moscow mules came back into vogue. Its snappy heat and carbonation allow it to blend well with neutral liquors like vodka and to balance stronger, smokier whiskeys. When we mixed it with fresh apple cider, the sweetness of the cider was cut by the spice of the ginger, and we knew we’d found a perfect match.

Spooky Sinner Cider Cocktail

Ingredients for two cocktails:

  • 3 oz. vodka
  • 6 oz. fresh apple cider
  • 4 oz. ginger beer (We use the non-alcoholic Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew.)
  • Two handfuls of ice
  • Two thin slices of apple (for garnish)

Add a handful of ice to a rocks glass and slip a slice of apple down the side of the glass, so that it’ll be visible when the drink is poured. Add 1.5 oz. vodka and 3 oz. apple cider. Top with 2 oz. ginger beer and stir to mix.

From Scissors & Sage 

Enjoy!

ALL PHOTOS TAKEN BY ANNE KENEALY