Valentine’s Sugar Cookies

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter

Valentine’s Sugar Cookies

Valentine’s Sugar Cookies

Following our pizza-making extravaganza, we decided to address our desire for dessert.  Lily thought pretty Valentine’s sugar cookies would be most appropriate.  And if you give a Lily a Valentine’s sugar cookie, then she will surely want a tea party! There is nothing I enjoy more than a good old fashioned tea party. 😉Tea Party

We have tried countless recipes and by far the best we have used is a recipe posted on  Thank you Jill Saunders!  If you would like to read the original post, here is the link.  We also used a royal icing recipe from the same site.

This sugar cookie recipe yields a good amount.  Between decorating mishaps, a little snacking and a lot of sneaking, a surplus of cookies is always appreciated in our home.

Following the sugar cookie recipe, I have also included the icing recipe we used.  In reality, these cookies are so good you don’t even need the icing.  We did it more for a decorative effect, keeping Martha “Lily” Stewart happy!

Valentine's Cookie

Cookie Dough

First in a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until smooth.  Then, add in the eggs and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt.  

Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar and mix well.  Cover the dough and chill for at least one hour.

Valentine's Cookies


First, preheat your oven to 400°F.  Then, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Next, roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface to desired thickness.  Lastly, cut out the cookies from the dough and place  them on the baking sheet.

The recipe on allrecipes said to bake for six to eight minutes.  We needed to bake ours for a bit more.  We may have rolled our cookies thicker than the recipe suggested.  Regardless, your cookies should be lightly brown around the edges.  This is all up to personal preference.  If you like a crispier cookie, leave them in longer.  If not, pull them out sooner.

Making Frosting


Now, it’s time to get to the frosting.  First, we placed all of the ingredients into the bowl and then mixed until everything was incorporated.  Our frosting came out a little too stiff, so we added more water.  We added a little at a time until the consistency of the frosting was to our liking.

Frosted CookiesFinally, we decorated the Valentine’s sugar cookies.  You can dip them face down into the frosting, use a brush to apply, or in our case use an itsy bitsy teenie weenie spoon.

Frosted CookiesHere are Lily’s pride and joy, not to mention deliciousness, her Valentine’s Sugar Cookies!

Tea PartyIt takes a steady and studied hand to pour the tea! Lily is quite the hostess.

Tea Party Table The tea has been poured, the Valentine’s sugar cookies have been baked and frosted, and all of the guests have arrived.  The tea party may commence! 

Tea Party

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Valentine's Sugar Cookies
A delicious rolled and cut out sugar cookie!
Write a review
Prep Time
1 hr 40 min
Total Time
1 hr 50 min
Prep Time
1 hr 40 min
Total Time
1 hr 50 min
  1. 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  2. 2 cups white sugar
  3. 4 eggs
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 5 cups all-purpose flour
  6. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  7. 1 teaspoon salt
  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add in the eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar and mix well. Cover the dough and chill for at least one hour.
  2. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll to desired thickness. Cut out cookies from dough and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 6 - 10 minutes. Allow to cool on a rack.
Dad and Daughter


Royal Icing
A shiny icing perfect for sugar cookies!
Write a review
  1. 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  2. 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  3. 6 tablespoons warm water
  1. Sift the confectioners’ sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the meringue powder. Add the water and mix until fully incorporated. If the icing is too stiff, add more water to the icing a bit at a time. Dip your cookies or use a brush to apply the icing.
  1. If you plan to make this ahead of time, put a wet paper towel over the container before placing the lid on top and sealing it. You can also divide the icing into containers and add different food coloring to each to desired intensity.
Dad and Daughter

Any questions or suggestions, let us know and comment below!

Valentine’s Pizza

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter
Valentine's Pizza

Valentine’s Pizza

Valentine’s Pizza

The family and I decided to spend Valentine’s Day by having a pizza party at home.  In honor of the holiday, we decided to make heart-shaped Valentine’s pizzas.  You might say to yourself, “Why not just call your local pizzeria?”  I will give you three reasons: family bonding, better tasting, and personal satisfaction.  Heart-Shaped PizzaIt may seem a little intimidating to make your own pizza, but as long as you have the right equipment and know a few procedural steps, you will have no problem whatsoever.  You will be crushing the national-chain competition in no time.

Before you begin, you will need to purchase a pizza stone, pizza peel (paddle), and a pizza wheel/cutter.  When looking for your pizza stone, make sure that it has a large enough surface for your purposes.  For a pizza peel, it doesn’t need to be anything special just as long as it has a tapered edge.  The flour that you’ll be spreading on the peel does most of the work.  


One technique that you’ll need to master is pounding and stretching out your dough.  Again, it sounds more difficult than it actually is.  Place your dough ball on a floured pizza pizza peel.  Starting around the edge of the ball, press the dough down with your finger tips.  Make sure to pound down the entire edge before working your way to the inside of the dough.  Once the dough has been flattened, pick the dough up, hold the edge with one hand, and stretch it out with your other hand as a fist.  Once you have stretched it enough, you can continue with both fists.  When your dough has been stretched to your size preference, lay it down on your floured-pizza peel.  You will want to make sure you have enough flour on your peel so that the pizza slides onto the stone, but not too much so that it will stick to your dough and burn on the underside of your Valentine’s pizza.  

When you have your dough on the peel, you will need to move quickly and efficiently.  Make sure you have everything ready and at your fingertips at this point.  You don’t want to be fumbling around and cutting onions or opening jars of sauce while your dough is slowly soaking up the flour you sprinkled on the peel.  


At this point, top the dough with any toppings that you would like: sauce, onions, sausage, garlic, oil, peppers, cheese, broccoli, chicken, etc.  The sky is the limit.  When the toppings are on, give the peel a little shimmy and shake to see if the dough will move freely on the peel.  Put the edge of your peel at the back of your stone and at an incline.  Start to shimmy and shake your peel so the pizza starts to slowly slide onto the stone.  As the pizza slides, slowly pull the peel back toward the front edge of the stone.Heart-Shaped Pizza

For the oven, I place the stone on the oven rack when it is in the lowest position.  I preheat the oven to the highest temperature possible.  Give the oven a bit more time to preheat so the stone will be at the same temperature.

We made a Valentine’s pizza with red sauce, mushrooms, sausage, and grated mozzarella.  For another, we used pesto for the sauce and topped it with ricotta and fresh mozzarella.  We baked them in the oven until they were golden brown. DEEELICIOUS!

Please let us know how your creations tasted!

The Great Bird Count

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter

The Great Bird Count 2Last week was The Great Bird Count from February 14-17.  The bird count was started by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society.  It is an online data collection of, you guessed it, bird sightings.  You simply register and keep track of the birds you observe during the four-day period.  You are able to see in real time the different variety of birds from all over.  This is a great activity for school or home.  We loved the opportunity to enjoy nature and have Lily learn and experience at the same time.

The Great Bird Count

We celebrated the week with a few different bird activities.  We made sure to read one of Lily’s favorite books, Riki’s Birdhouse by one of her favorite authors, Monica Wellington.

DSC_7635In reality, Lily loves all of her books. Monica Wellington mixes a whimsical and child-friendly perspective with informational text. Engaging and educational,  gotta love that.  She also incorporates extension activities at the end of every book.  In Riki’s Birdhouse there are plans for building and installing a birdhouse, a recipe for bird food cupcakes, and other resources for further exploration.  Lily had us read this book every night last week.  She is definitely obsessed!

The Great Bird CountWe also built a birdhouse of our own, without following any particular plan.  Lily and I found some scraps of plywood.  We measured and cut the pieces we needed.  Then we used brads to join the pieces.  I also have a 1 3/4″ hole saw drill bit that we used to make the entryway for our feathered friends.  Lastly, we drilled a 3/4″  hole just below and slid a dowel in for a perch.  My next step is to learn how to build a house for people.  Can it be as easy as the birdhouse?  Lily loved painting the birdhouse.  She chose red for the base and black for the roof.  In all honesty, I think she did a much better job than I would have ever done.  We can’t wait to see if we get a family living there in the springtime.

The Great Bird CountLily also drew and painted some of the birds we observed in our backyard, starting her first science journal.  She definitely has an artist’s hand.  It also helps that Kelly, her mother, is an exceptional art teacher and artist.  Kelly taught her to draw a bird using a few basic shapes. Lily used marker to outline her bird and then added watercolors to finish.  It was amazing to me the care she put forth into her creation, not to mention the actual finished piece.  Sometimes it is hard to believe that my daughter is just four years old.

The Great Bird Count

We really enjoyed The Great Bird Count and all the activities that it inspired.  You probably wouldn’t believe that simply looking out your window at some backyard aviators could be the source of so much fun.  We are all looking forward to next year’s count! 🙂

The Great Bird Count

Bird Seed Ornaments

Bird Seed Ornaments

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter

DSC_3934What better way to deal with the harsh temperatures of winter than to make some tasty treats for our flying friends outside. 


My family found a great recipe online to make bird seed ornaments.  Since we recently celebrated Valentine’s Day, we just had to use heart-shaped molds.  Here are the ingredients we used:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin, such as Knox
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 4 cups birdseed

We combined the water and corn syrup in a saucepan over medium-high heat, bringing it to a boil and stirring until the syrup dissolved.  Once it boiled, we dropped the heat to a simmer and added the gelatin.  Again, we continued to stir until the gelatin dissolved.  At this point you will want to move quickly to avoid the liquid from setting to soon.  


We poured the liquid into a mixing bowl and added the flour, stirring until fully incorporated.  Then we added the bird seed and made sure to mix it well.  You will want to make sure all the seed gets covered by the gelatin or you’ll have some sad looking ornaments.  


We then crammed and pushed the mixture into cookie cutters.  Once we filled the molds, we put holes toward the top of the hearts in order to string them when they dried.  We used a straw to create these holes.  


Make sure you take time to ponder the mysteries of life.


After they dried, we tied some decorative ribbon around them to hang them in the backyard.  DSC_3867This also gave Lily some greatly needed practice with tying.

When everything was all said and done, we would definitely recommend this project to anyone.  It’s a great activity to do with the children and to attract some beautiful and bright wildlife to your yard during the dark days of winter.  


Just don’t let your child eat the birdseed, no matter how delicious it looks!

If you would like more information on the process, this is the website where we found the recipe.



Apple Pie

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter

43It has been a while since Lily and I have documented one of our cooking adventures until now. Both Kelly and Lily have taken several trips this autumn to the orchard and have collected a sizable amount of apples.  What better way to celebrate the fall season than with a sweet and tart apple pie.  I wish I could say that Lily and I used a recipe that was handed down for generations and generations within our family, but alas that would be a lie.  With modern technology and the Internet, we visited one of my favorite sites to use for cooking inspiration:  Now, we’re not sure who Grandma Ople is, but we do appreciate the sharing of her recipe.  We also got our pie crust recipe off allrecipes too.

5This is the recipe:

Best Ever Pie Crust


  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup of water


  1. In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour and salt together.
  2. Cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  While I did this, I placed an ice cube into my water to make sure it was nice and cold.
  3. Stir the water into the flour until it begins to come together.  It is important that you do not overwork the dough.  This isn’t bread we’re making.  It doesn’t need to be kneaded.  Sorry, couldn’t help myself.  Just work it until it forms a ball.
  4. Split the dough in two equal portions, wrap, and refrigerate for a few hours.  To be honest, we didn’t wait for it to be chilled and it turned out fine.  You will just want to work quickly.

1After we made the dough, we decided to go old school and purchase an old-fashioned peeler/corer from Target.  So glad we did!!  It was so much easier than using a handheld 3peeler/corer.  We came straight home and started peeling and coring.  Once Lily got started, we no longer had an unpeeled apple in the house.


We loosely followed this recipe from Grandma Ople:

Grandma Ople’s Apple Pie

  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of white sugar
  • 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 8 – 9 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (enough apples to heap higher than the rim of the pie plate)
  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  2. Stir in the flour until fully incorporated.
  3. Stir in both sugars and water.
  4. Increase heat slightly and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes.  Make sure to periodically stir to avoid burning on the bottom of the saucepan.
  5. Press out one portion of your pie crust in the bottom of your pie plate.
  6. Fill the plate with your apples, mounding slightly.
  7. Assemble a lattice topping for the crust.  You will need the lattice so the sauce will be able to filter down into the pie.
  8. Pour your sauce slowly over your pie, making sure it doesn’t drip over the side.  Don’t you dare waste a drop of that delicious sauce.
  9. Place strips of aluminum foil around the rim of the pie plate, covering the edge of the pie crust.  This will ensure that the edge of your crust will not burn.
  10. Place in a preheated 425 degree F oven for fifteen minutes.
  11. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for thirty-five to forty-five minutes longer.
  12. During the last fifteen to twenty minutes of baking, remove the aluminum foil from your pie.
  13. Remove the pie, cool, add vanilla ice cream, and enjoy.

7My family and I enjoyed this recipe immensely, but I would definitely make some modifications:

  1. I couldn’t make an apple pie and not put cinnamon into the mix.  Sorry Grandma Ople!
  2. The next time we make this pie, we will definitely split the sauce into one large and one small portion.  We’ll mix the larger portion with the apples and place them into the plate.  Then we’ll take the smaller amount and pour on top of the lattice crust.

Once again, thank you to Grandma Ople for your recipe.


And a special THANK YOU to the lovely photographer, my Kelly!!  I paid her in apple pie and kisses!