Vanilla & Thyme Cookies

When it comes to baking, I am one of those people who like to have immediate results; sure, it may take hours, but at the end of the day, you have a finished product. In order to make myself stretch a little as a baker (and as a person), I decided to try the recipe for Vanilla & Thyme Slice & Bake Cookies by A Beautiful Mess. Now the recipe says you can chill the cookies for a mere two hours, but since overnight was the optimal time, it seemed like the perfect place for me to start.

For the cookies:

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, plus more for decorating
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. First, cream together the butter, sugar, and the seeds from the vanilla bean. To remove them just slice the bean down the center, and then use the tip of your knife to scrape the seeds out. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the thyme and egg and whisk together until well incorporated.
  2. Then stir in the flour and salt until a dough ball forms. You may need to use your (clean) hands to press the dough together here. Roll the dough into long cylinder, cover in plastic wrap, and freeze for at least 2 hours or overnight. You can keep this frozen in your freezer for at least a month (probably longer).
  3. When you are ready to make cookies, remove from the freezer and allow to sit out for a few minutes while your oven preheats. Then slice into 1/4 inch or slightly thicker rounds and place on a baking sheet lined with a baking mat or parchment paper.
  4. Bake at 325°F for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the cookies on a cooling rack.
  5. In the meantime, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Dip the cooled cookies into the glaze, then place back on the cooling rack to allow excess glaze to drip off (put some wax paper underneath for easy clean up). If you are feeling fancy (remember, we are going for real life Martha here), you can decorate the tops with a few thyme leaves as well.

Notes:

  • This recipe was a winner for me. Personally, I’d skip the glaze if I was making them for just myself, but if you are a big fan of sweet, the thin vanilla glaze really does give you that little something extra. Plus it makes for a prettier cookie if you top it with the fresh thyme leaves.
  • Texture-wise, these cookies are much more like a shortbread than your the average slice and bake you get from the grocery store. They also don’t bake up in the expected manner. It sounds strange, but they “dry out” rather than expand and bake. So you have to watch them a little more closely. I baked for the minimum recommended time and then checked on them every two minutes afterwards until they were done.

Friday Link Love

It has been a roller coaster of a week. Sure, there have been plenty of things going on at work and at home, but emotionally I’ve been all over the place, and I can’t seem to put my finger on why. Also, I don’t seem to be having much luck at controlling it, so I’ve just been giving everyone a heads up when it seems to be heading for a downward swing. Andy and I spent most of yesterday evening laughing helplessly over how everything, and I do mean everything, was disproportionately annoying me. Kitty snuggles and some delicious Cuban food went a long way towards improving my mood. This weekend I am looking forward to spending time with a couple of my friends and cleaning like a mad woman before my in-laws arrive next week. I’d like to get as much done as I can since I don’t think I am going to have a ton of time once the work week starts. Here are some links to help you kick off your weekend.

Valentine’s Day is past, but I am still loving this heart inspired DIY.

This woman makes jewelry from old family letters. So cool.

I very much want to try my hand at making this Chocolate Raspberry Zebra Cake.

While I am all for the power of a positive mindset, there is some to be said for the Healing Power of Complaining.

Living in a castle surround by flowers and arts supplies? This is a real life fairy tale.

Speaking of fairy tales, I would be over the moon to get the chance to take a trip like this. My princess dresses would be packed before they even finished telling me about the offer.

This shirt is a frank reference to a life long condition of mine. Too much for casual Friday?

As someone who is still fairly new to wearing a full face of makeup on the daily, I really enjoyed this tutorial on incorporating a pop of color in a way that is still refined.

Image from here.


The Art of Movement

One of the things I’ve always wished I could do was be a dancer. I ran around in Ballerina costumes until mother nature decided that I was in no way going to be the necessary body type, in college, I took weekly classes with the Ballroom Dancing Club my freshman year and then took belly dancing at the local YMCA for a while, but none of this magically morphed me into one of the characters from Center Stage or Shall We Dance. Mostly I don’t completely embarrass myself at weddings now. The dream never really went away though, and when I saw the NYC Dance Project created The Art of Movement, I fell in love and immediately started daydreaming about what it would be like to able to be the physical embodiment of music.

It also helps that there are some beautiful costumes that are being masterfully manipulated. Caught me with dance and held me fast with fashion: someone clearly knows the way to this girl’s heart.

Images from here.


My Valentines Day Wishlist

I know that today is supposed to be all about couples, hearts, flowers and candy, but I want to get touchy feel-y for a moment and talk about the most important relationship you’ll ever have, the one with yourself. As someone who has had some serious self image issues her entire life, I know that the inner voice we all have can be a real bitch sometimes. I’ve said some truly horrible things to myself, things I would never say to another person, and that’s pretty messed up. It’s taken most of my adult life for me to start to love myself, and it’s a struggle some days.

Looking in the mirror, I see a chubby secretary/part time bookkeeper that is almost 31, doesn’t make as much as her husband, and defends herself with sarcasm and self deprecation. That’s only part of the story, though; I’m also a sparkle fairy hippy with an ass that won’t quit, a group of friends and a husband who think I am wonderful, and some serious baking skills. Whenever I start dwelling on the former, I force myself to start listing things that fall into the positive category. All of that is to say this: don’t let your relationship status dictate how you feel about today. You’re awesome and you deserve something special, even if you have to buy it for yourself. Below is a Me-intines Wish List, and remember the words of the incomparable RuPaul: “if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

  1. Magic Wand EarringsCatbird
  2. Sweet Plumb BombshellVictoria Secret
  3. Donuts & Coffee Milk Chocolate BarCompartes
  4. Jilted Vice LipsitckSephora
  5. Eberjey Colette ChemiseAnthropologie
  6. Lace up Ballet FlatsH&M 
  7. Orange Blossom Natural PerfumeThorn & Bloom
  8. GBBO Innuendos Wall ArtOh My Frame
  9. Sweet & Vicious: Baking with AttitudeAmazon

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!!!


Very Vanilla Baked Donuts

I felt like doing a bit of baking the other day, but I wasn’t really feeling cakes, cupcakes, or really any of the things I usually make, so I decided to go back to something I play around with a bit last year, donuts. After a bit of Pinterest research I can up with a simple recipe for Vanilla Glazed Baked Donuts. Which seemed pretty straight up and perfect to me.

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Ingredients

For the Donuts

  • For the Donuts
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup+1 1/2 tablespoon skim milk (full fat milk works too)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used vanilla paste instead since I wanted a stronger punch of vanilla)

For the Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 small pinch salt
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons milk
  • Optional: food coloring and sprinkles

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray a donut pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, milk, butter and vanilla extract.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir together until no flour bits remain and all the ingredients are well combined. Try not to over-mix the batter.
  6. Use a large ziplock bag, cut a corner off the bottom of the bag and pipe the batter into each donut cavity, filling 3 ∕ 4 of the way full.
  7. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. While the donuts cool, make the glaze.
  10. In a medium bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and salt.
  11. Add 1 tablespoon of milk, and whisk to combine. If the glaze is too thick, add additional milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
  12. Add food coloring if you wish.
  13. Once the donuts are completely cool, dip them into the vanilla glaze. Return to the wire rack and sprinkle with sprinkles. Allow the glaze to set for about 30 minutes before stacking or serving.

Notes:

  • These donuts were just solidly okay, well, I think they are only okay, Andy ate three and declared he’d eat the rest before letting me throw them away. I had the same issue with them as I had with the other donut recipes, they aren’t anywhere as good as what I can buy somewhere else. It’s a little disheartening. Is there some donut magic rule that I am missing?
  • As you can see in the “ingredients”, I substituted vanilla paste for the extract called for. I think the paste has a stronger richer flavor, and I think it added a bit more depth to the overall donut. I will probably use it in my glaze as well next time.
  • Be very careful not to over mix. I forgot the butter and had to add it in after the mix had come together and just those few extra stirs made for a noticeably more toothsome product.