The List – One More Thing to Check Off

It’s been a long time since my last post. Life happens and I have somewhat come to accept this although I do miss blogging terribly and have hopes of someday once again making it part of my life.

Blogging was a huge benefit to me for several years while in between hobbies/interests and when Hubby was still more of an anomaly at home rather than a staple. Looking back it is funny to see how I filled the gap of him being gone so much. There were odd jobs, volunteer opportunities, activities and clubs with the kids, crafts, and most recently my blog, gardening, cooking, and canning. Although I still cook and can and still have a garden (although for some reason it doesn’t seem all that important anymore), the blogging just as all the other “fillers” that either faded into nonexistence or were put on the back burner until I can get back to them, ceased.

Honestly I can’t say I don’t have time to blog, because although Hubby is home pretty much 24/7, he does his own thing a good portion of that time. My time management priorities, however, have not yet recovered from the transition of him being so present in my every day life. That plus having moved on to other goals on my “list”…you know the one, the list that everyone has, either written or mentally filed deep in our brains, of those things we want to experience or try. Some might call it a bucket list, but for me it’s not so dramatic. My list is just a compilation of things I’d like to learn or do at some point during this life, and if not during this one, perhaps in the next. Blogging was on that list, and although that is something that could (should?) be on going, having moved on to new challenges keeps the hours in my day pretty full. So until congress finally passes the bill changing the hours in a day from 24 to say 36 or more, I think I’m doomed to just go with the flow and enjoy the ride.

So you’re probably wondering why I’m even making a post. Well, the one thing I truly miss about blogging, that I have yet to find any sort of comparable replacement, is the support I received from other bloggers and readers. I didn’t “live” for likes or comments, but when I did get them, they sure helped to justify what I was doing or sharing. Yet, even when a post would go by without a single comment or like, just having it out there and knowing others might be reading it, gave me a sense of completion. Does that sound sad? Throwing something out there on the world wide web to help cement my own purpose? I hope not. I don’t consider myself necessarily a needy person, constantly in need of affirmation for every little thing I do. I am human though and even though Hubby and the kids are extremely supportive and encouraging, sometimes I need to go beyond the security of my home and risk putting it all on the line for the world to see – on the internet.

What I wanted to share today were some photos of one of the things I’ve been working on for about 6 months now that had been on my “list” for many years – decorated sugar cookies. Nothing truly spectacular or life-changing, but something that I wanted to learn how to do and do to the best of my ability. What a ride this has been. I am having so much fun baking and decorating cookies and candies and now might even delve into the world of fondant covered cakes. There were so many techniques and tricks I had no idea were out there, and I can’t wait to try them all. My biggest problem now is finding a home for everything I make. Hubby is completely supportive of me sitting at the table working for hours on cookies, making them beautiful, but always asks “so who are those for?” Who indeed? The family can only eat so many sugar cookies before they get tired of them and I only have so many people to give them to. Yet, I keep going.

Valentine’s Day was a perfect opportunity to make cookies and surprisingly I did manage to give them all away without a single complaint from any recipients. Christmas too was no problem, as was Halloween. So what’s next? The one aspect of sugar cookies that does make sharing them with the same people over and over again possible is being able to make variations on flavors. Halloween and Christmas last year I was still just getting used to the basics, but with Valentine’s Day I moved on to a chocolate sugar cookie with strawberry flavored royal icing as well as dabbling in fondant. With the variations available in flavorings, I might just be able to pull off giving cookies away to my family and neighbors for at least a few more months. After that maybe I’ll move on to cakes.

So here are some pictures of the Halloween, Fall, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day cookies I’ve made so far. They took a long time to make, but I think the time was worth it. Perhaps I’ll get a chance to make some posts with recipes, etc. on Simple Grateful Cooking someday.

Thanks for stopping by ~ A Simply Grateful Tilly.

Halloween Cookies:

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Fall Cookies:

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Christmas Cookies:

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Valentine’s Cookies:

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The Sugar Cookie Quest – Variation #1: Soft Drop Cookies

Sugar Cookies are one of those cookies that pretty much every loves.  What’s not to love?  They are tasty, full of sugar, and typically have icing, decorations, or sprinkles on them.  Does it get any better than that?

The only thing that would make them even better would be to have a recipe that comes together quickly, as many recipes for sugar cookies are quite labor intensive. Although there is a time and place for rolling out cookie dough, cutting it into wonderful shapes, and hand frosting each one intricately — that time and place has yet to reveal itself in my home.  Typically when it comes to baking I want to get in and get out so I can begin my next project.  Not that I don’t enjoy baking — don’t get me wrong I love it.  It’s just that there aren’t enough hours in the day to stop and indulge in long-winded baking projects as often as I want to, so an alternative is required.

Of all the cookies I bake, sugar cookies are the ones that have caused me the most distress. Growing up my father always made the sugar cookie dough used in a cookie press.  I love these cookies and to this day they are my favorite, trouble is I have no luck when it comes to using a cookie press.  I have had no less than six of these gadgets, all different models, types, and makers, and each one I have either broken or not been able to get it to work.  Incompetent?  I suppose so, but there are just some things, such as mechanical inclination, that evade me most of the time.

In order to enjoy the sugar cookies I grew up with, I have been reduced to making the dough, flattening it on the counter, and cutting out shapes.  Sure this is a viable option, but it just isn’t the same, and is certainly not a quick project.

Being that sugar cookie dough is so versatile and able to be used in so many recipes other than just cookies (there really is not such thing as “just cookies” but you get what I mean), I decided it was time to start a quest for sugar cookie recipes that were quick, easy, convenient, and heck, why not even see if I could come up with one I could pop most of the ingredients in a jar.

The first recipe I tried turned out excellent.  It was a soft sugar cookie that took very little time to make, as it is a drop cookie, and even less time for the family to devour. There is still some tweaking to be done, but for now, this one remains in the running for a potential place in my permanent cookie recipe binder.

Soft Drop Sugar Cookies

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Yes, those are Christmas sprinkles! I had some leftover and rather than open a new container…

1/2 Cup Butter, softened

1/2 Cup Vegetable or Peanut Oil

1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar

1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar

1 Egg

1 tsp. Vanilla

1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

1/2 tsp. Cream of Tartar

1/4 tsp. Salt

2 1/4 Cups Flour

  • Cream butter, oil, and sugars in large mixing bowl until smooth.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  • Add baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.
  • Add flour slowly with mixer on low.
  • Place heaping teaspoons of dough on parchment lined cookie sheet and top with sprinkles. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes, just until edges start to brown.
  • Remove from oven and let cookies cool on sheet for 3 minutes before removing to cooling rack.

I prepared this recipe using a mixer, as originally instructed, but would prefer not to have to drag out the mixer if I don’t have to.  Next time I make this dough I will not only experiment with combining all the dry ingredients as would be in a jar, but also I will try hand mixing the cookies to see how they turn out.  If this works, I will definitely be putting jars of this cookie mix on the pantry shelf.

For now, I am glad these wonderfully soft and flavorful sugar cookies turned out and I am on my way to finding the perfect sugar cookie recipe, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.