Friday, January 29, 2010

Let's talk Valentines

I seem to have Valentine's Day on my brain lately. Probably because I have so much love in my heart, or maybe it has something to do with the cookies, cakes, and candies involved. I'm sure it's a mixture of both. But either way I've had an immense desire to bake sugar cookies. So I caved, and I baked, but I shared so that I wouldn't eat them all. I used a recipe from my Sister-In-Law Becky. Yes I have a sister Becky, but I'm lucky enough to have two Becky's in my life, and this particular recipe is from Becky Jo. It's a sour cream sugar cookie recipe and I found it quite delightful, easy, and has ingredients I had on hand. I hope Becky doesn't mind my sharing.

Notice how the picture gets up close and personal with this pink little darlin, that's how I feel about my cookies, very personal. Or rather there are only five cookies left and I didn't want them to look sad and lonely, so I really zoomed in so you could feel their sugary essence. These cookies can be rolled and cut out into fun shapes, but this time I just free formed them into balls and flattened them out a bit before cooking, sometimes that's just easier, and who doesn't like easy?

Becky's Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

1/2 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. sour cream + one dollop (strange I know, but dollop away)
1 egg
2 and 2/3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. almond extract
(I also added the zest of one lemon as I love all things lemony but this is optional)

Combine the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, almond extract and sour cream. Cream those ingredients together and then add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir until good and combined. If you're going to roll and cut this dough you should form into a ball and refrigerate for a half hour first, but if dropping by spoonful no need to refrigerate. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. I find these cookies taste best with a butter cream frosting that has almond extract in it also.

But if you're not into baking, here's an even easier Valentine for you. This is what Hallie and I made to give as neighbor gifts for Christmas, but could easily be used for Valentine's Day too. Just use Valentine colored M&M's or candy.

First start with one really cute Kindergartner who is anxious to help.

Here are the main ingredients you'll need:

1.) Almond Bark: this candy coating stuff is awesome, I cover everything with it, but a crowd pleasing favorite seems to be popcorn. 2.) I use this tender white popcorn, or you could air pop popcorn, but whatever you use I think it's best to find something without butter.

So pop two bags of popcorn, and pour the popcorn into a bowl. Once the popcorn has cooled off sort the popcorn into another bowl to get rid of any unpopped kernels. Don't skip this step, or you'll be paying your neighbor's dentist bills.

Then cut your almond bark into small pieces and put into a microwave safe dish. Follow directions on package to melt, seriously follow the directions, if you over cook this stuff it turns all weird and clumpy, and this is the point of no return. If this happens start over with new almond bark, there is no going back. Don't even try, and don't try to teach your Mother-In-Law how easy it is to use almond bark only to ruin it for your first time ever, she will be sorely disappointed that her son chose you to marry. Trust me on this one.

Okay so the ratio I have found to work the best is the two bags of popcorn to one bag of almond bark. Pour the melted almond bark onto the popcorn in a bowl all the while stirring from the bottom so that all the pieces get coated. When you've stirred it thoroughly then pour the coated popcorn onto parchment paper or aluminum foil and quickly sprinkle with M&M's or your candy of choice (at Halloween it's fun to use candy corns). Then wait for this to dry.

Have your Kindergartner interview you and ask about the weird things you used to do to entertain yourself as a kid. It helps the time go by.

Once you have filled your kitchen counter and kitchen table with popcorn you should have enough for your 10,000 neighbors.

Sadly I didn't take any cute pictures of the packaging (I know, how did I not do this, it's beyond me) anyway I use clear cellophane bags (buy them at Michael's with a coupon) and put a cute bow and Valentine on top, saying something like: Valentine you make me pop! Then deliver to neighbors and friends who are guaranteed to love you forever!

Happy Valentine Making!


Mommas Soapbox said...

YUMMMMMMMMMMMM...... I'm on my way over... I thought I heard you say you needed someone to sample. LOL

Dawn said...

I love that popcorn! Thanks for the yummy reminder!

Courtney said...

I want you to be my neighbor again - unfortunately, i don't want to move to utah.

pam said...

I am so craving some frosted sugar cookies. Hope you saved me some. Looks like you fixed the valentine cushion. So cute.

Jen said...