Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Cookie Swap 2013

Our office held the third annual Christmas Cookie Swap last week. This has not been the best of years for just about everyone in our office.  There had been passing of loved ones, including my Geoffrey, cancer diagnosis of a coworker and family issues.  With all this, everyone was really excitement about having lots of different types of cookies and not having to bake them. It actually helped most of us get into the Christmas spirit. We had about ten participating this year and it seems to grow by at least one person a year.  Two of my coworkers actually switched their day in the other office just to be there. 
I like to make a large cookie as my contribution.  In the past I've made a gingerbread house, last year it was Santa and this year it's a Christmas Tree.  I hear they're headed for some stockings from Santa.


I also made these - Chocolate Thumbprint and Eggnog Biscotti, a little thank you to my office for helping me get through this past year.



Have a very Merry Christmas.
Sheila



Sunday, December 08, 2013

Gingerbread Men Pops and a Christmas Party

Every year my mother's residence has a wonderful Christmas Party.  My daughter Jennifer and grandsons Jacob and Jordan attend with me.  It's a lot of fun.  Appetizers, treats, family, friends and Santa!  It's a great way to kick off the Christmas season.

I also make her some special little treat to pass out to her friends and some of the wonderful employees that take such good care of her.  It's comforting to know they are there for her and she is safe.  This year it's gingerbread flavored pops.

       
 Jordan and Jacob with Santa

 Mom, Me and Santa

Enjoy the season!
Sheila

Monday, November 25, 2013

Maple & Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies

My neighbor Linda, lost her husband a little over a year ago and she has been so sweet ever since finding out about my Geoffrey.  Every so often she calls to check up on me. 

A few weeks ago she called to make sure that I wasn't spending Thanksgiving alone, inviting me to her house for the holiday.  I thought that was so nice of her.  These are a little treat for her and her guests.  I baked them two days ago and my house still smells like maple.


RECIPE
(adapted from Lulu the Baker)

1 sticks butter (1 1/2 cups) at room temperature
1/2 cup maple sugar (I got mine from Mount Mansfield Maple Products)

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring
3 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt (omit if you use salted butter)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugars until just combined.  Add vanilla and maple flavoring and mix.  In a separate bowl, sift together flour and salt, then add to the butter mixture.  Mix on low speed just until dough comes together.  Roll dough between two pieces of wax paper to a thickness of 1/4-1/2 inch and cut into individual cookies.  My cutter was about 3 inches.  Place cookies on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.  Put the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for 30 minutes then bake for 18 minutes until the edges just begin to turn brown.  Let cool for several minutes then transfer to a wire rack. 

*I left my cookies out overnight on the rack so they get a little crisper, the butter settles and they are not too greasy. 

Happy Thanksgiving
Sheila

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Applesauce Spice Cake {Muffins}

A few weeks ago I joined a group of other bakers from The Cake Slice who bake once a month from the same book.  They were just starting a new book, Great Cakes by Carole Walterso my timing was perfect. The recipes are top secret until we all post on the same day. 

My reason for joining was twofold.  1) I got to meet some wonderful bakers and 2) keeping me busy with something to do on the upcoming winter days. 

This cake recipe called for a fluted pan but I chose to make large muffins.  My changes to the baking time are at the end of the recipe below. 

However you make your recipe, cake or muffins, DO NOT leave off the glaze.  It's fabulous!!



This should definitely be on your baking list for the upcoming holidays, whether it's a cake for dessert or muffins for breakfast. 

RECIPE

2 1/4 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup pecans, lightly toasted and chopped medium-fine
2/3 stick butter
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 large eggs
1 medium tart green apple such as Granny Smith peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened applesauce

Position the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour 9 inch fluted tube pan.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices.  Stir in chopped pecans.  Set aside.

Cut the butter into 1 inch pieces and place in mixer bowl and beat on low speed until softened.  Add lemon rind .  Increase speed to medium and beat 1 minute.  Add shortening and mix 1 minute longer. 

Add granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, taking 3-4 minutes to blend well.  Add light brown sugar over an additional 3-4 minutes.  Scrape bowl occasionally.

Add eggs, 1 at a time at 1 minute intervals.  Reduce speed to medium low and add apple and vanilla.

Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture alternating in three additions with applesauce in two additions, starting and ending with flour.  Beat until incorporated scraping bowl occasionally.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth top.  Center pan in oven and back approximately 40-50 minutes or until cake begins to leave sides of the pan and toothpick comes out dry. 

Remove from oven.  Let cool on rack for 10-15 minutes, then invert onto rack.  While still warm, you may want to pour Brown Sugar Glaze over the top letting it drip down the sides naturally.  Garnish with chopped pecans if you wish.


BROWN SUGAR GLAZE

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream
3/4 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In small saucepan, melt butter and sugar together over low heat.  Stir in heavy cream and cook slowly until the mixture comes to a gentle boil.  Simmer 1-2 minutes.

Take pan off the heat and gradually add confectioner's sugar in three additions, whisking until smooth.  Blend in vanilla.  The icing should be pourable.  If too thick, thin with drops of extra cream. 

*As you can see from my picture I chose to make large muffins.  The recipe made 12.  Cooking time varied from 25-28 minutes.  Check at 25 and add a minute or two or three until cake tester comes out clean.   

Enjoy!
Sheila

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Wedding Planner Gift

A few weeks ago I made some wedding favor cookies in purple and orange (because that's what you do when the bride likes one color and the groom likes another). 


They liked them so much, they ordered cookies as a thank you gift for their wedding planner. 
I guess they were happy with both of us, plus it gave me an excuse to make some pretty fall cookies.



Sheila

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Happy Halloween 2013

Skeletons, spiders and webs...oh my!



Have a fun, spooky Halloween.
Sheila

Friday, October 04, 2013

Fall Birthday

What could be better than having a cupcake for your birthday...
when it's a yummy spice cookie of course!


Happy Birthday Ken
 Sheila

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Grandma's Baby Shower

Who says the new "mom to be" is the only one
you can have a baby shower for? 
These are for the new "grandma to be".
Congratulations!
Sheila

Monday, September 02, 2013

Back to School


Wishing everyone headed back to school,
whether it's elementary or college, a fabulous year.



Sheila

Thursday, August 22, 2013

4th Wedding Anniversary

Four years ago today was the most romantic, amazing, wonderful day that I have ever experience.  All of our family and friends came from near and far to celebrate with us.

Four years ago today I married my soul mate - Geoffrey.  If you asked me ten years ago if I would ever find someone so compatible I would have said he doesn't exist.  But, pretty much from our first date we were meant to be.  Like most couples we had our ups and downs but managed to make our life an "adventure". 


Never could I have imagined how much I would love the "normalcy" of everyday life.  Waking up together, going about our day and coming home to be together.  Geoffrey loved to be home.  Many a day he would come home, sit on the couch, sigh and say "I'm home. I love it here."

As some of you know, this year I will be celebrating by myself.  I lost my Geoffrey earlier this year secondary to his transplanted heart (which he received four months before our marriage) failing. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for everything he gave me, understanding, patience, laughter - oh, so much laughter, and best of all LOVE.   When he gave me a hug he would say "you fit just right!"


So, to end this post I wanted you to see our worse but absolute favorite photo of the two of us.  We even have it framed.  This will give you a little glimpse into our lives which I miss terribly.  Geoffrey's heart failed him and mine is broken and aches to have him back.


Hug the ones you love tightly today.

Love,
Sheila
  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Key-lime Swirl Cheesecake Bars


Today a co-worker had a little get together after work.  She called it "Sandals and Sangria". 
I call it a great finish to a busy day.
I made these for her as a little treat.  Super yummy, creamy and refreshing.


Crust:
2 cups graham crackers
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line 10x10 pan with parchment that hangs over the edges.  Mix the butter and graham crackers together and press into the bottom of the pan evenly.  Bake crust for 5 minutes and allow to cool completely. 
Filling:
2 (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs plus one large egg white
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup lime curd (from recipe below or premade). Divided.
Light green food coloring
Lime Curd
8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/3 cup plus 4 tbsp fresh lime juice
Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl using an electric mixer. Slowly add the eggs and yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Pour in lime juice and mix again.  Expect the mixture to look curdled, this is normal. Cook the mixture over medium heat in a medium-size saucepan until it looks smooth (no longer curdled.) Increase the heat slightly and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens. Clip a thermometer to the side of the pan and cook until the mixture reaches 170 degrees. Remove the curd from the heat. Transfer the curd to a bowl and press plastic wrap on the surface of the lime curd to keep a skin from forming.  Chill the curd in the refrigerator. The curd will thicken further as it cools. Covered tightly, it will keep in the refrigerator for a week and in the freezer for 2 months.
Tint the 3/4 cup of lime curd with food coloring until lime-rind green.  Set lime curd aside.
Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with mixer on medium high until smooth.  Beat in eggs on low speed one at a time.  Beat in the sour cream and vanilla then flour just until blended.  Remove 1 cup of batter and reserve.  Pour the rest of the batter over crust.
Mix 1/2 cup of tinted lime curd with the 1 cup of reserved batter.  Place spoonful or dollops of this mixture, in no particular fashion, on top of the plain cheesecake batter.  Dollop the remaining 1/4 cup of lime curd across the previous mixture.  Use a skewer or butter knife to swirl the mixtures together to create a marbleized effect. 
Bake for 35 minutes at 325 degrees.  Let cool completely in pan and then refrigerate.  Lift cheesecake out of the pan with parchment.  Cut into bars.
* I used premade lime curd.
Enjoy!
Sheila

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cinnamon Sugar Sand Dollars


Looking for something super simple
for your next beach party or cookout?
Everyone will love these...if they make it to the party!


Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cup powdered sugar
2 whole egg
2 egg separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 pinches of salt
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
cinnamon sugar
sliced almonds

Directions Part One:

In large bowl, cream together butter and powdered sugar until very creamy.  Add the 2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks only.  Add vanilla and salt and mix well.  Add flour and baking powder and mix until completely blended.  Dough will be very soft.  Form a round disc with the dough, wrap in plastic wrap and frigate for at least two hours or overnight.

Directions Part Two:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper
  • Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick on a floured surface and cut out circles or use sand dollar cutter.
  • Brush cookies with reserved egg whites.
  • Press 5 almond slices into the center to form a sand dollar then sprinkle each cookie with cinnamon sugar.
  • Bake for 11-13 minutes.  Checking often at 10 minute mark.
  • Remove from oven and let rest on baking sheets for 3 minutes.
  • Transfer to cooking rack to cool completely.
  • Makes up to 4 dozen.
  • Store in an air tight container for up to 5 days.
* I halved the recipe which made 20.


Adapted from Mama Miss
Enjoy!
Sheila 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

"I do"

Jason and Kathleen were married recently on a beach of Cape Cod. 

Congratulations
Sheila

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Happy Birthday Geoffrey

Today would have been my husband's 63rd birthday. Not that he would have loved that number but he would have enjoyed the day to it's fullest. 

I made this cake to celebrate his life with cookies in all the things he loved - barbecue, crazy shirts, summer and spicy food.




I love and miss you more and more each day.

Love,
Sheila

Thursday, May 30, 2013

High School Graduation

Cookies for a young man graduating from my old high school. 
Seems like a million years ago.



Congratulations Matthew

Sheila

Sunday, May 26, 2013

God Bless Ryan

Baptism cookies for a friend's new grandson Ryan.


Thank you Karen,
Sheila

Thursday, May 09, 2013

It's a BOY!!!

Congratulations to my friend Holly. 
She is going to be a new auntie.


Sheila

Monday, April 15, 2013

Internet Friendship

Sometimes you meet the most wonderful people and sometimes those people are not standing in front of you but miles and miles away.  You may not even know where they live exactly or anything about them other than you're now friends.  This happened to me very recently.  Through all the grief and emotional ups and downs in my life since losing my husband Geoffrey, there were all these wonderful women in a special group on Facebook that helped me get from one day to another.  All their kind words, virtual hugs and smiles, as well as silly and serious postings about random events in their lives filled my days and evenings when there was no one here but me. 

Other new friends were made from postings on my "Pixie's Treats" Facebook page. One particular new friend, Vivi, is having a new addition to her family.  She asked me if I could make some of my baby buggy cookies for Lori's shower and I was thrilled.  Nothing is more miraculous than a new baby.  They don't know if it's a boy or girl so she decided on gender neutral lavender.



Thank you Vivi and all my "Sweet" friends.
Sheila

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Marvin K.

I belong to a wonderful "Sweet" group on Facebook and we are currently finishing up a cookie swap.  The theme was favorite childhood book.  Well, first of all, I was never much of a reader and second I couldn't remember books from that long ago.  However, when combing through my grandchildren's books I came across a family favorite.  You see, my son did have a favorite book and when he was two (and couldn't actually read it) he would read it over and over emphasizing every page.  I loved watching him.  He later passed along copies to his nephews and there it was...the copy he gave to Jacob for Christmas 2003.  Perfect! 



Shannon, I hope you enjoy the cookies and the book
as much as our family did.
Sheila

Monday, March 25, 2013

She said Yes!



Congratulations
Sheila

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Operation Cookie Takeover

Today I packaged up these cookies to send to our men and women serving our country in Afghanistan.  What started out as a simple request, to send 1000 cookies, has exploded to over 11,000 home baked and decorated cookies being shipped.  Please check out Operation Cookie Takeover Facebook page for more information and to see more amazing cookies.

http://www.facebook.com/#!/OperationCookieTakeover?fref=ts


 
I love this country!
Sheila

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Thank you from my Heart

My husband Geoffrey received the gift of life almost four years ago - a heart transplant.  Shortly after, we were married and have enjoyed life to the fullest ever since.  However, about six months ago he started to have the same symptoms again and he was relisted for another heart. 
 
On February 11th, I lost the love of my life.  He was the funniest and most caring person I had ever met and he understood me, and there will never be another like him. 
 
 
These cookies were made as a thank you to the many doctors and nurses at Brigham & Women's Hospital, Shapiro Cardiovascular Center, that took care of him before his transplant, after and tried to save him recently.  They are the most amazing group of professionals I have ever met.


 
Thank you,
 Sheila

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Arrggg Matey...Birthday Pirates



 
Happy Birthday Burton!
 
Sheila

Monday, February 04, 2013

Cowboy Valentine

Hubby spent quite a bit of his life in Texas
 attending college and working.

So I surprised him last year with
Vintage Cowboy Valentine edible image
 and western cookies

as well as lots of hearts for my sweety.
 
Love you Geoff...with all my heart!
Sheila
 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dear Tali,

 
Love,
Gamma

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