Valentine’s Sugar Cookies

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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. ūüėČTea 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¬įF.  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!
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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¬įF. 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!
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  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

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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!

Apple Pie

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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!

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

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This Valentine’s holiday, Lily and I decided to make something sweet and fancy at the new 2same time.  We took on the task of making chocolate-covered strawberries.  Most people would probably claim they could easily purchase them already prepared, which we do not deny.  But we believe there are three main reasons why everyone should put both the time and effort into creating these treats themselves:

  1. When you purchase the chocolate-covered strawberries, already made, you can never be entirely sure of the product’s quality.
  2. It’s definitely cheaper to make them yourself.
  3. And lastly, the sheer joy of sharing this experience with your child.  Not to mention this should keep your child pleasantly occupied and out of trouble for thirty minutes.

Hopefully with these reasons and maybe some of your own, you will decide to attempt this impressive dessert.  Lily and I made them for the kids at her daycare in addition to my students at school. And from the comments we received, there wasn’t a single person who didn’t love them.


Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

2-3      Quarts Fresh Strawberries

16       Ounces Milk Chocolate Tollhouse Morsels

8         Ounces White Chocolate Tollhouse Morsels

3         Tablespoons Vegetable Shortening

1         #1 or #2 Cake Decorating Piping Tip


When we first purchased the strawberries, we made sure to rinse them right away so they would have enough time to dry before dipping them in the chocolate.  We even laid them on and covered them with paper towels.  The last thing you want to do is get any moisture into your melted chocolate, the mixture will bind up and you will need to start over.

So to start, Lily and I put a small saucepan over medium-low heat with only about of inch water in it.  You can start the water on a higher setting, but there is such a thing as getting the chocolate too hot.  If you do start higher, make sure to lower the heat to the point where the water is just simmering and not boiling (no bubbles).

Once we achieved the simmer, we set the heat to the lowest possible setting and placed a glass bowl over the saucepan.  Two things here, you need to make sure the bowl isn’t too small where the bottom of the bowl is touching or too close to the water in the saucepan.  Secondly, the bowl shouldn’t be too big where there isn’t enough contact with the heat to melt the chocolate efficiently.  And yes, you are correct.  This is also known as a double boiler.  We just don’t see the point in buying and storing a pot that you may only use four to five times a year.

When our double boiler was ready, we put the milk chocolate morsels and two of the three tablespoons of shortening in the bowl.  We stirred the mixture periodically until all the chocolate was melted and it was of a smooth consistency.  At this point, we left the bowl on the pan, but took the pan off the stove.  We began by holding the strawberries by their green tops and dipping them into the chocolate.  (If you want again to achieve that Martha Stewart look and avoid a flat bottom, you can put toothpicks in the tops of your strawberries, dip them in the chocolate and then stick the other end of the toothpick into a piece of Styrofoam so the strawberries won’t have to lay on a cookie sheet before the chocolate hardens.)   Since we didn’t want to get too fancy, we placed the dipped strawberries on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet and placed them in the refrigerator for the chocolate to harden.

Meanwhile, we prepared the double boiler for the white chocolate.  Once ready, we put all new3the white chocolate and the last tablespoon of shortening in the bowl.  Repeating the same process for the milk chocolate, we melted the white chocolate.  Instead of dipping, we cut a small corner out of a sandwich bag, slid the piping tip into the hole of the bag (making sure that it didn’t slide through the hole, even upon slight pressure), and filled the bag with some of the melted white chocolate.  We then drizzled the white chocolate across each strawberry.  And yes, if you like to be fancier, you can actually use a pastry bag instead of our cheap fix.

Once each strawberry was drizzled with white chocolate, we put them back into the refrigerator.  You could, even at this point, put some of them in your mouth, your choice! But definitely enjoy and share these treats when ready!new4

Mushroom Risotto

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Chef Lily is bringing her expertise to your kitchen.  She allowed me to watch while she once again demonstrated her creativity in the culinary arts.  Step-by-step, she explained to me the tricks and techniques of making a simple, but successful, mushroom risotto.

The following are some suggested ingredients for the mushroom risotto.  Although, Chef Lily wanted to stress the fact that each person should make this recipe their own, allowing for individual tastes and preferences.


Mushroom Risotto

Olive Oil

2-8 oz. Packages of Sliced Cremini Mushrooms

1-2 Shallots, finely diced

1 cup Arborio Rice

5 oz. Dry White Wine

32 oz. Chicken Broth

3-4 Tbsp. Butter

Grated Parmesan



Chef Lily always begins by gradually warming her broth on low heat in a saucepan.  While warming, she preheats her sauté pan on medium-high heat.  After putting 3-4 Tbsp. of olive oil in the pan, she begins to sauté the mushrooms, allowing them sit in the pan and brown with out much movement.  She assures me that everyone should avoid the temptation to continuously stir the mushrooms.  Once the mushrooms have browned, Chef Lily seasons them with salt and cracked black pepper to taste and sets them aside.

Using the same pan (Chef Lily would never waste that beautiful caramelized mushroom flavor in the pan!), reducing the heat to medium-low and adding 1 more Tbsp. of olive oil, she cooks the diced shallots.  When the shallots have softened, she adds her rice to the pan and initially stirs to mix the rice and shallots.  When the rice becomes opaque (after only a few minutes), she pours in the wine.  At this point, the broth is added to the rice, only two ladlefuls at a time.  Chef Lily told me that this 1is where the love comes into this dish.  Once you add the first amount of broth, you must stir the risotto, maybe not continuously, but quite often, before you add the next ladles.  She tells me the only secret to this part of the recipe is making sure there is enough liquid in the pan so all of the risotto can cook evenly.  The process of adding the broth should take between fifteen to twenty minutes for the risotto to cook fully.  Once the risotto is cooked, depending on preference (al dente, etc.), Chef Lily adds her mushrooms back into the pan.  Lastly, she dots her risotto with the butter, sprinkles it with Parmesan and serves it immediately.  She tells me that she doesn’t want to make any master chefs out there feel bad, but this is the best risotto she has ever had!

So there you have it folks, a complex and feared dish simplified so even a child could prepare it!

And if needed, Chef Lily will entertain any questions you may have about her dish!