Valentine’s Day Cookies – Part 2

Yesterday I posted about the cookie part of the Valentine’s Day sugar cookies that I made. However, everyone knows the best part of any good sugar cookies is the frosting.

Some places will use royal icing for their frosting and pipe it onto the cookie. While this definitely allows for a clean and professional look, they don’t taste that great. For these cookies, we use a frosting that has a much better flavor, but has to be spread onto the cookie and has a more rustic feel.

Sugar Cookie Frosting

3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup margarine (Imperial or Blue Bonnet) *cut up if cold
1/4 cup half-n-half

  1. Pull all of the ingredients in the mixer
  2. After blending, whip on high for 5 minutes
  3. Add food coloring if desired (*I prefer gel food coloring)

I would like the thank my friend Kristin Boyd for coming over to photograph this baking session. Kristin is a trader by day, amature photographer by night. She is currently taking a photography class that focuses on environmental photography. For her homework each week, she is asked to photograph people in their natural environments. So when I asked her to come over and take pictures of me in my kitchen for this blog, it was a win-win for both of us! I hope you enjoy the pictures.

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What do you think? Could I be the next Food Network Star? Or maybe just a really good Room Mom.

Valentine’s Day Cookies – Part 1

Sugar cookies are my favorite. They taste good, they are pretty to look at and they are a Brethauer family staple. We first learned the recipe when my family took a trip out West and visited my pen pal (who was the daughter of my father’s medical school roommate) and her mother made them in the shape of starts. Since that point, we’ve often referred to them as “star cookies” regardless of the shape we chose to make.

For Valentine’s Day, I decided to make some heart-shaped “star cookies.” I often make these in 2 (sometimes 3) steps.

First you have to make the dough. then refrigerate it for at least an hour before rolling out. And I tend to wait a day before frosting the cookies. That way, you can ensure that they are 100% cooled and you don’t get too tired!

Rolled Sugar Cookies (AKA Star Cookies)

1 cup sugar
1 cup butter (softened)
3 Tablespoons half-n-half
1 teaspoon vanilla (I use vanilla bean paste)
1 egg
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Combine dry ingredients. Set aside.
  2. Beat sugar and butter until flurry. Add half-n-half, vanilla and egg. Mix well.
  3. Add dry ingredients in two parts. Blend.
  4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap. Chill for at least one hour.
  5. Roll dough onto well floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters. (*Don’t roll the dough too thin, unless you want crispy cookies!)
  6. Bake at 400 degrees F for 8 minutes.

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Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on frosting!

Fighting Poverty with Cookies

A huge part of what makes my job so awesome is the incredible people who work here. It is inspiring to be part of an orgnaization that is full of intelligent, high achieving people, who have left fields like consulting, banking, and real estate management to come and work at a non-profit. The need to do something “meaningful” became greater than the desire to make a lot of money or “prestigious” career. And while Robin Hood is certainly “best-in-class” when it comes to fundraising and grant making, few people outside of the New York financial community have ever heard of it. But trust me, it is an awesome place to work.

If you don’t believe me, just read the email exchange I just had with my colleague. If this doesn’t show you just how incredible this place is, I don’t know what will.

———————————————————————————————————–

From: Molly
Sent: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 1:55 PM
To: Laura  

Want to get a chocolate chip cookie at paradise :)

From: Laura
Sent: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 1:56 PM
To: Molly
Subject: RE:

 Of course I do.  I was going to leave for my meeting at 2:30, want to go down in 15 and I’ll just leave from there?

From: Molly
Sent: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 1:57 PM
To: Laura
Subject: RE:

Perfect. I love that I can always count on you to partake in a mid-afternoon cookie break. It is really a big part of what makes you so great.

From: Laura
Sent: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 1:58 PM
To: Molly
Subject: RE:

A really big part of what makes you so great is that you request mid-afternoon cookie breaks.

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I am so happy that I have finally found a place of employment where people really “get” me. It took a few years, but I am here. And there are cookies!

(via)

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Hood

At Robin Hood, you never really know who is going to show up at our offices (since I started the following folks have walked through the doors at the hood: Christy Turlington, Admiral Mullen, the Chairman to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and all his secret service offices, Mayor Bloomberg and countless billionaire hedge fund managers), how much money we will bring in during one day (in 2011, we raised over 160 million dollars, which is over 400,000 dollars each day), or what artist has signed on to perform a concert to benefit Robin Hood (just last year we had Lady Gaga, the Black Eyed Peas and Sting – just to name a few!) But those are the big things, and this blog is about the little things.

Well yesterday there were a couple little things to celebrate.

I received an email mid-morning letting me know that I had a delivery upstairs. I wasn’t expecting anything and my mom had just sent some cookies, so I couldn’t imagine what it could be. Well, needless to say I was SUPER excited to open the packaging to reveal this:

"The Organizing Issue"

I spent the rest of the morning looking at all of the wonderful organization solutions that Martha and her team came up with for all the various areas of your home. I LOVE having a friend “on the inside.”

Then, as the afternoon “slump” set in, we received a floor wide email alerting us of delicious baked goods someone brought in from Chelsea Market. Instantly, a herd of people (including myself) ran over to the designated table. We sampled brownies, rugelach, and sugar cookies. YUMMY. After devouring nearly every treat, we decided to use our creative artistic abilities to capture this afternoon fun. You’re welcome for that.

Clearly it was a slow day in the hood. But sometimes, that is just what you need.

Performance Review

Here at Robin Hood we are in full blown performance review efforts. People are filled out self reviews, writing new goals and having meets with their managers to discuss their performance and progress during 2011.

Thank you Mom for helping me out during this stressful time.

I can just hear my manager now… “Pro, your mom sends us delicious homemade treats. Con, you spend way too much time writing your personal blog at work.”

Hopefully the “pros” win out and I get to keep my fabulous job.

Happy Friday!

Extreme Cookies

I love the Food Network. And while I don’t want every show regularly, I can normally find someone on that channel worth watching. Whether it is The Next Food Network Star, 30 Minute Meals with Rachel Ray or the Barefoot Contessa, I am pretty happy to watch these chefs in action. Many times, when I am either baking or cooking, I turn it on in the background as inspiration. Well, after these last few weeks, I think I am ready for my own show on the Food Network, or at least a guest appearance.

Over the past few weeks, I think I have made more than 20 dozen cookies… and I am not just talking chocolate cookies, which I can pretty much make in my sleep at this point. I am talking extreme cookies. Think Halloween candy meets cookie dough. Below are a list of the cookies I have recently made:

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Caramel Rolo Cookies
Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
Kit Kat Cookies
Butterfinger Cookies
Milkyway Cookies

and my favorite, an Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie. That’s right – EXTREME.

Now, when I made them, I followed this recipe. They turned out well, but I probably wouldn’t do this again. I would stick with my usual Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and just wrap that dough around the Oreo. Either way, these cookies are ridiculous. I could only eat a half of the cookie before reaching my stomach capacity.

Please leave a comment with your favorite type of cookie or an idea that you would like to see me try. I am open to just about anything!

A Gift for Your Budding Chefs

Taste Buds (formerly known as Cupcake Kids) has just launched their first cooking product. If you have a small child (or even someone who is child at heart) this is a great holiday present.

The kit contains Taste Bud’s favorite cookie recipe and is easy to personalize by adding “cookie bling” (i.e. chocolate chips, sprinkles, marshmallows or more). They are easy to make and will definitely create fun memories in the kitchen, not to mention tasty treats!

While you are on the website, check out their winter class list. The gingerbread classes are a favorite among budding chefs and teachers.