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Sweet Valentine’s Surprise

13 Jan

sugar-cookies

While I can’t believe it’s already 2015, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.  Valentine’s Day is a great time to let someone know how much you love them.  And that can be anyone special in your life … your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, kids, best friend … whoever means a lot to you!  I think a homemade Valentine is a great gift.  Why not make your special someone homemade Valentine cookies with messages?  We have a terrific recipe from when we were featured on WGN-TV last year.  Of course, these look amazing in our personalized treat boxes so you don’t have to limit your sweet treats to just one person!

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Sugar Cookie Recipe

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and egg.  Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl.  Add to butter mixture and mix to combine.  Roll out dough between two sheets of parchment to ¼ inch thickness.  Chill for 1 hour to overnight.  Cut into shapes and place on parchment lined baking sheet.  Chill again for 15-20 .  Bake at 350 for 7 minutes, rotate pans, then bake for approximately 3 minutes more until cookies are just beginning to turn golden brown.  Cool on wire racks until completely cool.

Cookie Glaze

3 ¾ – 4 cups powdered sugar
6 Tablespoons whole milk
1 tsp almond flavoring
6 Tablespoons corn syrup

Combine powdered sugar, milk, and flavoring.  Mix until smooth.  Add corn syrup.  Stir until combined and smooth.  If desired, add paste food coloring.

Tips

  • Chilling sugar cookie dough for rolled and cut sugar cookies hardens the butter in the dough so that the cookie dough rolls out more easily.  After cutting the cookies, you can chill them again so that the cookies retain their shape while baking.
  • Instead of store bought frosting, take time to make a cookie glaze which makes cookies look professional, smooth and dries hard for decorating.
  • Use paste food coloring to make vibrant colors for cookies.  Liquid food coloring may change consistency of glaze or royal frosting.  Experiment by combining different colors to make unique shades.
  • For a clean edge on the cookie, outline with royal frosting, then fill in with cookie glaze.  This stops the glaze from running down the sides of the cookie.
  • Great tip for decorating:  Use a squeeze bottle to “fill” surface with glaze.  Spread glaze to corners with toothpick or small knife.  You can purchase bottle at any craft store or Wal-Mart
  • Once the glaze is dry (can take several hours) decorate cookies with a pastry bag for a professional look.  Pastry bags are available at any craft store or in a pinch use a zip-log bag.
  • Experiment with different types of sprinkles, sugars, and decorations.  For instance, make a border with pearl candies or large sprinkles and/or use sanding sugar for a sparkling effect.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Jennifer

Holiday Peppermint Bark (Recipe!)

8 Dec

We were recently asked if we’d like to be a part of a homemade holiday gifts segment for WGN-TV.  Carol Mackey showed viewers her homemade peppermint bark in our personalized gift boxes … the perfect gift for friends and family!

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Carol was nice enough to share her recipe so we could share it with you.  Just in time for the holidays …

Peppermint Bark

Ingredients:
1 lb chopped bittersweet chocolate
peppermint extract
1 lb chopped white chocolate
crushed peppermint

Directions:
Line a 11×17 baking sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper. Melt bittersweet chocolate over a double boiler, stirring constantly. Stir in four drops peppermint oil or more to taste. Spread chocolate evenly onto the prepared cookie sheet. Chill until just set, about ½ hour. Melt white chocolate over double boiler, stirring constantly, if white chocolate seizes add a little canola oil. Quickly spread white chocolate mixture over chilled dark chocolate, spreading to the edge of the pan, sprinkle with peppermint. Chill until set. To cut, I trim the edges with a chef’s knife and then cut into squares and cut the squares into triangles.

 

I love how Carol tied off the boxes with red and white twine.  So festive and ready to gift!  Her homemade peppermint bark would make a great gift for teachers, friends, neighbors … anyone, really!  Of course, you can fill our boxes with any of your homemade goodies for the holidays.  I’ve even used them to give holiday treats for dogs (I love to bake homemade dog biscuits).

If you give homemade holiday treats, how do you gift them?  Share your creative ideas (and recipes!) with me in the comments below.

xoxo,

Jennifer

Photo courtesy of Carol Mackey.

To learn more about Carol Mackey and her recipes & classes, please visit her site at carolmackey.net

 

 

I Like Warm Hugs

2 Dec

fb-givingTuesday

As Olaf, the popular snowman from the movie “Frozen” would say, “I like warm hugs.”  Of course, a warm hug to a snowman is probably not a good idea, but the idea behind it is that Olaf cares about others. Today is #GivingTuesday.  Yes … the hashtag is intentional.  #GivingTuesday is a social movement created to inspire giving back.  It happens the day after “Cyber Monday” to encourage people to give back and remember the reason of the season.  Today The Stationery Studio is participating by donating 5% of every purchase to feed those in need.  Our goal is to reach $5,000 (maximum) to donate to our local food pantry.  The holiday season is often a time when food pantries are at their lowest and really in need.  I am excited and honored to be a part of #GivingTuesday because it’s something at the core of my personal values.

Giving back comes in so many forms.  Sometimes it’s as simple as giving someone a hug when they’re having a bad day (Olaf the snowman would approve).  Or just listening to someone who really needs to get something off their chest.  Giving back can be a  massive undertaking like taking on ending world hunger.  Or making sure everyone has a warm bed to sleep in.

I encourage you to find a way to give back this holiday season.  Make it an annual tradition with family or friends.  Need ideas?  I’ve got a few to get you thinking (and doing!):

  • Start a bake sale and give the profits to your local food pantry
  • Gather needed items for your local pet shelter
  • Visit an assisted living home and listen to residents stories
  • Deliver presents for those in need (ask a local church)
  • Help out at a local food kitchen
  • Offer to make meals for a neighbor or friend who’s ill
  • Have your kids write holiday cards to service men and women fighting for our country overseas
  • Smile at someone who could use some encouragement

So the last idea seems trivial, right?  But that’s the idea.  Giving back doesn’t have to be some grandiose plan or idea.  It can start with you just thinking about others and how giving back can start with a simple gesture.  I’d love to hear how you or your family give back during the holidays.  You can help inspire others and give people ideas.  Tell me in the comments below or write me on our twitter or facebook page.

Happy Holidays and happy giving back!

xoxo,

Jennifer