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Brown Bananas Again? Try this Delicious Banana Cookie Recipe!

Banana Cookies

When the kids come to visit, we always have leftover bananas. Try this delicious twist on the usual banana bread or cupcakes…..Banana Cookies! Soft, chewy and delicious. You may make them before the kids arrive!

Banana Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ripe smashed banana 
  • 3.4 oz package banana cream instant pudding mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350*F
  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Combine flour, baking soda and salt, then set aside.
  • Combine butter and sugar and mix with an electric mixer.  Add banana, dry pudding mix and the eggs, then mix together until smooth.
  • Combine dry ingredients into the mixing bowl with banana mixture.
  • Add the white chocolate chips.
  • Scoop rounded tablespoonfuls of cookie dough onto parchment lined baking pan.
  • Bake at 350*F for 10 minutes or until slightly golden.
  • Cool for several minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.
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THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS

MUSICAL NOTES“When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad….I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad!” MUSICAL NOTES Oscar Hammerstein’s song resonates holiday for me.   “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” and “In My Own Little Corner” are amongst his other iconic pieces which conjure emotion. Click to listen ….My Favorite Things – Julie Andrews

With the constant stream of men charged with sexual harassment these days, it’s a breath of fresh air to  revisit the lives of beautiful people and read quotes which helped make them famous.  My favorite Oscar Hammerstein quote is: “A bell’s not a bell ’til you ring it, A song’s not a song ’til you sing it, Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay, Love isn’t love ’til you give it away!” Reading it closely, I now wonder if, in today’s world, someone would misconstrue that as sexual harassment……

In a recent edition of “O The Oprah Magazine, staff and readers were asked to respond to the question of the month; “WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE HOLIDAY SONG?” The responses were varied and personal as you might imagine. They ran the gamut of predictability to absurd, but all a fun quick read. My personal favorite with the response from the Senior Web Editor, Ruth Baron, whose ultimate holiday song was, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” She stated that she grew up Jewish and that song convinced her that all of her “Santa-believing” friends could have anything they wanted.

One of my favorite things at any time of year is cookies. Around the holidays, however, from early November through late December, I’m partial to the gingerbread cookie. The aroma of these delicious little morsels screams, “Welcome home!”  to all who enter your kitchen, that is if they aren’t burning :). 

Here it is….the Ultimate Gingerbread Cookie. Remember….under-bake, serve warm (reheat in the microwave if you need to before serving) AND they go well with hot spiced apple cider with a splash of rum.

THE ULTIMATE GINGERBREAD COOKIE

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Ingredients
  1. • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  2. • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  3. • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  4. • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  5. • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  6. • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  7. • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  8. • 1 cup white sugar
  9. • 1 egg
  10. • 1 tablespoon water
  11. • 1/4 cup molasses
  12. • 4 tablespoons white sugar
Instructions
  1. Mix together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses.
  4. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture.
  5. Shape the dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar.
  6. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. You don’t need to flatten them.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven.
  8. Allow cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Makes approximately 30 cookies. Store in an airtight container.

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  • Unbaked cookies can be stored in the freezer and popped in the oven!

Dear Friends,

Wishing you the happiest of Holidays and health in the New year.

Cheers!

Laura

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN! No Tricks, Just Treat Yourself to this Delicious Pumpkin Cookie with Cream Cheese Frosting!

Cookies are hands down the ultimate comfort food for fall. It seems that every holiday celebration features a favorite cookie as a part of the seasonal celebration. Serve these little Pumpkin bites warm with a cold glass of milk. Don’t forget….always underbake!

PUMPKIN COOKIES WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

pumpkin-cookies

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 oz. cream cheese
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.
  2. In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Stir in the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture by hand until just combined.
  3. Drop on prepared baking sheets by heaping tablespoonfuls; Butter the bottom of a drinking glass and then dip the bottom of the glass in a bowl of sugar. Flatten the dough balls with the bottom of the glass until they are about ¾ inch thick, dipping the glass in sugar as necessary to prevent sticking.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 13 to 15 minutes. Cool cookies on wire rack.
  5. Once cookies have cooled completely, frost or drizzle with cream cheese frosting.
  6. While the cookies are cooling make frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and pumpkin pie spice and beat until smooth and creamy.
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This Desert puts the Pretty in the Peach!

Summer should get a speeding ticket! I honestly don’t know where it went! Looking forward to sweater weather has never been my thing, so I still hold on to summer as long as I can….and my white jeans. I was elated when the Today Show fashion consultant said that your white skinny jeans can be a fall staple this year. Not that I needed the affirmation, but it was good to hear.

The end of summer has left us a bounty of juicy peaches to enjoy! Searching for great peach dishes through collections of cookbooks and recipes, I have found that although the “plus-it-ups” are fun, many of the old basics and “Mom Recipes” are still the “Blue Ribbon Winners!”  This peach recipe can be made in an 8×8 casserole or individual ramekins. Hot out of the oven, serve it up with some cool & creamy vanilla ice cream. Life is good…..and here it is…..easy & delicious…..

MOM’S PEACH CRISP

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INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350*
  2. Arrange peaches evenly in an 8×8-inch baking dish or stack the peaches halfway up in a ramekin.
  3. Mix flour, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl using a pastry cutter until evenly crumbled.
  4. Fold oats into flour mixture; sprinkle and press topping into peaches.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until topping is lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

Dear Friends,

Cheers to summer, cheers to peaches and cheers to doing what makes you happy! Until next time…

🍑Laura

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Gimme S’more Lovin’ this Summer!

Ahhhhh….summertime! Picnics and seasonal celebrations calls for putting a twist on your favorite treats! 

All the ‘fixins’ for a desert s’mores buffet seems like a great idea until the next day when the ants have invaded the delicious droppings from the well intended sweet treat. “What was I thinking,” you remind yourself.  

Well, alas, here is an inviting alternative to the work and the mess while preserving the integrity of the sweet s’more…. S’Mores Cookies which I found in a back issue of Cuisine Magazine.

No more long, hot, dangerous pokers prancing around the fire in the dark, carrying a flaming marshmallow in search of that elusive graham cracker and chocolate. This delicious cookie even looks the part!

S’Mores Cookies

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Enjoy the delicious taste of s’mores without the mess with these S’Mores Cookies!

Makes 4 dozen cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup fine graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. each baking soda and kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened (8 Tbsp.)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup each granulated sugar and packed
  • brown sugar 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 24 large marshmallows, halved horizontally or the new flat ones 
  • 48 Hershey’s chocolate bar pieces (4 bars)IMG_8128

Preheat oven to 375°.

  1. Whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
  2. Cream butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 5 minutes.
  3. Beat in egg and vanilla until incorporated. Blend in flour mixture on low speed just until incorporated.
  4. Scoop dough with #60
    scoop (about 1 Tbsp.) onto ungreased baking sheets.
  5. Bake cookies 4 minutes. Top each with a marshmallow half and bake until golden, 4–5 minutes more.
  6. Transfer cookies to cooling racks, press chocolate pieces on top, and let stand 5 minutes. 

Dear Friends, Cheers to summertime, picnics and all of the celebrations that create great memories! I love this s’mores cookie, because the thought of rescuing the little ones from flaming marshmallows and dangerous sharp pokers is relieving at best! Feel free to shop my latest finds for trends in style for home and you!

Cheers and happy baking!

🍷 Laura

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HOW TO KNOW WHEN YOU ARE TOO OLD TO BUY GREEN BANANAS

You can’t turn it back, I keep reminding myself….But now I realize that there are definitely 5 signs that let you know you are getting older.

What led me to this realization was a recent trip to the west coast of Florida. As we strolled from the airport security to our gate, we were approached by a man on an electric cart asking us if we’d like a ride. Normally the dudes on those carts transport fat people, old people, celebrities, people with physical challenges or lazy people and they just whiz on by, but this time stopped to see if Steve and I would like a ride. A RIDE? US? You’ve got to be kidding! I didn’t think we were any of those! That was the first sign.

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While hiking in the woods several weeks ago with my son, his wife and my granddogter, Harper, they asked if I wanted to sit down and rest for a while. I teach step aerobics, I reminded them, and myself. That was sign #2.

 

 

 

I no longer get carded, even if it’s required by law and on Tuesdays at our local outlets, I never have to show my driver’s license in order to get the senior discount…sign #3.

Perfect strangers ask me to watch their stroller and packages in a shopping mall and sometimes even their sleeping baby in the stroller….sign #4.

And last, but not least, the catalogs and email inbox have gone from Victoria’s Secret to AARP and Frontgate.

Trying to maintain my sense of humor about the aging process, I have lumped women and men into categories; everything from those who literally let themselves go to those who habitually try to reverse the process. What used to be called a moo moo is now called a tunic, and lifting faces or face lifting has been replaced by pumping some kind of shit into wrinkles to puff them out making someone appear to have stayed in the boxing ring too long.

I used to wonder why anyone would want to live in a 55+ community but now I get it. Reminders of inevitable aging are everywhere, not just in the mirror, and perhaps living in a community that isn’t youth focused isn’t such a bad thing. I, for one, love being around young people and find delight in sharing their youthful optimism and humor, so I’m not sure how happy I would be in that kind of community.

At 61, there is a realization that there is an end, and I find myself counting the hopeful years that we have left living in good health. I have some rules to follow like never taking a selfie or face timing from below my chin…and always holding the camera over my head, forcing us to look up.

Over the past few weeks, I have felt with the pain of my daughter in law’s sudden death of her mother and the pain of Steve’s daughters coming to terms with the few months their mother had left after finding out she was stricken with pancreatic cancer. There are no words, but one thing I do know is that time is precious, too precious not to waste on negativity of any kind. So, as my Steve always says, “I have no yesterdays. Time took them away. I only have today and hope for tomorrows.”

Upon returning from our trip to Florida, I distinctly noticed by the smell,  that I had left some bananas in the fruit bowl that were way overripe…so I tried this amazing banana bread that I recently found on Pinterest. I’m still not sure at what age I should no longer buy green bananas, so instead I did some research about how to quickly ripen bananas. As for this delicious recipe, I did modify it and make it without the glaze which reduced the sugar and the calories. The banana bread is so flavorful, the glaze isn’t necessary.  I’ve added it in the event you may want to give it a try. 

CARAMEL BANANA UPSIDE DOWN BREAD

Ingredients
½ cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
About 2 bananas, sliced in ¼ inch rounds
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1½ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup mashed overripe bananas
2 large eggs
⅓ cup coconut oil or oil of choice
⅓ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Caramel Glaze: (Optional)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9X5 inch loaf pan.
Spread the brown sugar on the bottom of the loaf pan. If using nuts, sprinkle them evenly over the sugar. Dot with the butter. Put it in the oven for about 8 minutes. Stir the mixture until dissolved and spread evenly on the bottom of the pan. Place a single layer of the banana slices on top of the sugar mixture along the entire bottom of the pan.
Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add all the remaining wet ingredients and beat just until combined. Do not over-beat.
Pour the batter over the sliced bananas in the pan.
In an oven preheated to 325 degrees F, bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean but moist.
Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting it on a cake platter.

To prepare the Caramel Glaze, place the butter, brown sugar and heavy cream in a small saucepan (you can also microwave the ingredients for a minute). Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let it sit for a minute. Pour the glaze evenly over the cake (on the upside down side with the bananas on top).

FIVE WAYS TO QUICKLY RIPEN BANANAS

1) Bananas in a bunch take about 24-48 hours to ripen. Bananas that grow together also ripen together, so only separate the ones you want to ripen more quickly.

2) Placing bananas in warm places takes about 24-48 hours to ripen.

3) Place the bananas in a paper bag. It takes about  12-24 hours to ripen.

4) In the oven, ripening bananas takes about 30-50 minutes. The peels turn shiny lack when they are ripe. 

5) Microwave your bananas 30 seconds-2 minutes. 

Dear Friends,

Thanks for swinging by today. I know my article was somewhat tongue in check with a bit of morbid reality thrown in, but laughter is always a great cure for worry, and it makes sense not to worry about things you can’t control. So, after all of this, I will continue to buy green bananas now that I know how to hurry the ripening of them.

Until next time…

Cheers to lots more years!   Laura

 

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Add This Delicious Little Pumpkin Cookie to your Fall List of Things to Bake

Now that the election is over, giving thanks to our Veterans, and with Thanksgiving in TWO WEEKS, it’s time to focus on feel good things. This cookie is so delicious and fills your kitchen with mouth watering fall smells of cinnamon and pumpkin. Warning….. if you decide to sample one hot out of the oven, be prepared to have another. These cookies are simple to make and if you like cakey cookies, you’re in for a treat. One tip: when you do go to roll them into the cinnamon sugar, they are a little sticky, so put a little butter on your hands.

CINNAMON PUMPKIN COOKIES

Makes 27 COOKIES

fullsizeoutput_19f8.jpegINGREDIENTS:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin (we use Libby’s canned pumpkin)
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cinnamon chips

Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set aside.

3. Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla and mix until combined, about 3 minutes. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Stir in the cinnamon chips.

4. In a small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon. Shape dough into rounded tablespoons and roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Lightly press down on the cookies with a spatula or the palm of your hand.

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to brown around the edges. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for two minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

Dear Friends,

No matter what you hoped for in this election, we need to focus on just being nice and remain hopeful. Take time to thank our Veterans, share a cookie and share a smile.

Cheers,  Laura

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SURPRISING DOLLAR STORE TRICKS (AND TREATS) FOR ENTERTAINING

So, you are invited to holiday parties for every holiday, and the worst thing is when you forget to label your dish with your name, or it gets washed off, and you either never get your dish back, or its months, and yes, maybe a year or two. And when the next occasion arises to use that perfect dish,  you  insanely look everywhere. After every cupboard, drawer, and storage bin has been ransacked (that’s an extreme word, but true) you realize that you took an appetizer to Sally’s house, and never got your dish back. SOLUTION: THE DOLLAR STORE.

I know, I know, your mother always told you to watch your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves. However, can you put a price on your favorite pumpkin platter or your divine deviled egg dish? NO. The seasonal serving opportunities await your dollars at the dollar store. By the way, I am not making any money endorsing this retail establishment, although, not a bad idea!

Today, we are going to a fall clambake and my $2.00 purchase created this fun seasonal serving idea for a delicious desert that I call PUMPKIN PIE CHEESECAKE BITES. I have two favorite versions for this dip.

Normally now, I just leave the serving dish with the leftovers at the party, but this one came out so cute, I’m conflicted, so I may bring it home 🎃

PUMPKIN PIE CHEESECAKE BITES

RECIPE 1 (a little sweeter than recipe 2)

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Ingredients

¾ cup International Delight Pumpkin Pie Spice Creamer
1 3.4 oz package pumpkin spice instant pudding
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed
Graham cracker crumbs for garnish

DIRECTIONS

In a bowl, whisk together the International Delight Pumpkin Pie Spice Creamer with pumpkin spice instant pudding. Set aside for about 5 minutes.
In a mixing bowl, beat together the softened cream cheese and sugar.
Add in pudding to cream cheese mixture and beat.
Once well combined, fold in the 2 cups of thawed whipped topping and refrigerate.
When ready to serve, fill bowl with Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Dip topped with graham cracker crumbs.

If you can’t find pumpkin spice instant pudding (it’s pretty  seasonal), you can use either vanilla or cheesecake instant pudding with a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.

PUMPKIN PIE CHEESECAKE BITES

RECIPE 2

INGREDIENTS

1 -15 oz. can pumpkin puree
1 -8 oz. container Cool Whip, thawed
1 package 1.5 oz. Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 

Directions

Cream together all ingredients with an electric mixer until well combined and fluffy. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve. Serve with Vanilla Wafers, Cookies, or Graham Crackers.

img_6499Dear Friends,

Celebrating something every day helps to create the happiness we all deserve to have. For me, its difficult to overlook the inevitable snow, but I love enjoying the beauty of this season and everything that comes with it.

Cheers to you! Laura

 

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THE PERFECT COOKIE

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I have always marveled at those perfectly shaped cookies in the bakery department at the grocery store.  I’m never sure what’s in them or how they got to be so perfect, but I’ve finally found the magic recipe!

Cookies are a personal thing; some like chewy, some like crunchy, but personally, I like them just a little underdone and buttery…Eating a cookie made with fake butter is definitely a waste of calories. Browning the butter is a plus up in the flavor of this cookie.

So, here it is….(drumroll)…

SALTED BROWN BUTTER CINNAMON CRINKLE COOKIES

Makes 36 cookies

INGREDIENTS
10 tablespoons butter, sliced
2½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F
  • Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Place the butter in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the butter melts and begins to foam.
  • Continue to cook,  until the butter becomes an amber color, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
  • Add the granulated and brown sugar.
  • Pour the cooled butter into the sugars and mix on medium speed to combine.
  • Add in the eggs and vanilla, mixing just until smooth.
  • Slowly add in the flour mixture until just incorporated.
  • Cover the mixing bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Place the powdered sugar in a shallow bowl. Divide the chilled dough into 1- tablespoon sized balls.
  • Roll each ball into the powdered sugar and place onto the prepared pan, about 2- inches apart.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cookies are set.
  • Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

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Dear Friends,

Thanks for stopping in. Share a cookie and share a smile to brighten someone’s day. Until next time…..

Laura