February 10, 2014



What better way to show your undying love than to bake up a batch of treats you are sure your sweetheart will love?

This Valentine's Day show your love with a little love from your kitchen. A homemade treat is the perfect way to say, "I love you" to those special people in your life. Stick a treat in your child's lunch box, deliver a few sweets to your friends or put together a tray of goodies to take to work to share with co-workers. Everyone will appreciate your effort, and you will receive plenty of hugs and kisses in return.



Sugar Cookie Bars

Frosted sugar cookies are a favorite among many, including me. I have a major weakness for frosted sugar cookies. Recently the fifth-grade team and office staff at my school supplied a nacho bar along with desserts for lunch. Brooke Hakert, an instructional coach at my school, brought these bars iced with hot pink frosting and heart-shaped sprinkles. I couldn't believe how yummy they were and how much they taste like a big, soft frosted sugar cookie.

1½ cups sugar

1 cup butter, room temperature

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

1 egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2½ cups flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray jelly roll pan (15x10x1) with cooking spray. In your mixer cream butter, cream cheese and sugar together. Add in egg and vanilla and mix until incorporated. With mixer on low, add in your dry ingredients; flour, baking powder and baking soda. Mix until just combined. Press dough evenly into your prepared pan (dough will be sticky). Bake for 20 minutes until edges begin to golden. Cool completely before frosting.

Brooke's Frosting (she eyeballs everything so she doesn't have an exact recipe):

2 tablespoons melted butter

powdered sugar (almost one bag)

milk

dash of salt

vanilla extract (or Brooke used almond extract)

Mix until you get the consistency you want.

Almond Frosting (Better Homes and Gardens recipe):

½ cup butter

½ teaspoon almond extract

½ teaspoon vanilla

2½ cups sifted powdered sugar

3 tablespoons light cream or milk

few drops food coloring

In a small mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in almond extract and vanilla. Alternately add powdered sugar and light cream or milk, beating until smooth and easy to spread. To tint, if desired, stir in a few drops food coloring. Makes about 1½ cups of frosting.



Love Knots

Barb Edwards, a first-grade teacher at my school, baked these for our Christmas cookie exchange in 2008. They are tender and slightly sweet. The recipe belongs to the grandmother of her husband, Pat. She baked these at Christmas time every year.

3 eggs

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup sugar

½ cup milk

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

4½ cups flour

1 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs; add sugar, milk and vanilla in one bowl. Sift flour and baking powder together in one bowl and cut in butter with fork until crumbly. Add milk to mixture. Mix until dough is easy to handle. Form into knot shapes and place on cookie sheets. Bake for 15-18 minutes.



Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

Finally there's chocolate chip cookie dough that can be eaten without baking it first. Trisha Yearwood loves to eat raw cookie dough so she figured out a way to make it safe to eat by replacing the egg with applesauce. The applesauce works as the binder. Trisha made the cookie dough balls on an all chocolate episode of her cooking show on the Food Network.

2/3 cup (1 1/3 sticks) butter, room temperature

¾ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed

¼ cup applesauce

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1¾ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Dipping Chocolate (a mixture of dark and milk chocolate):

12 oz dark chocolate wafers or semisweet chocolate chips

6 blocks chocolate-almond bark, such as CandyQuik

For the cookie dough balls:

In an electric mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, applesauce and vanilla together until smooth. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together, and with the mixer running, slowly add to the butter mixture. Mix in the chocolate chips. Scoop out the batter using a mini ice cream scoop and roll it into balls. Place the dough balls about an inch apart on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and transfer them to the freezer for 30 minutes to let the dough set up.

For the dipping chocolate:

While the dough is chilling, melt the chocolate wafers and chocolate-almond bark together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove the chilled dough balls from the freezer. Using two spoons, dip the balls one at a time in the melted chocolate, rolling them to coat fully. Returned the dough balls to the wax paper-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.



Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

Your loved ones will be thrilled to pieces with these adorable red cookies cut into heart shapes for Valentine's Day. You will be thrilled they were so simple to make.

1 box red velvet cake mix

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 large eggs

½ cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

powdered sugar, for rolling the cookies

heart shaped cookie cutter, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon liner and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix and flour. Whisk until clumps disappear. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together cake mix, flour, eggs, oil and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Take about 1 tablespoon of cookie dough and form into a ball. Roll the ball in powdered sugar until fully coated. Place cookie dough balls on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until edges are set and cookies begin to crack.

Let cookies sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes. If desired, cut cookies into heart shapes, using a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Transfer cookies to a wire cooling rack and cool completely. Eat the cookie scraps.

Note: You don't have to cut the cookies into heart shapes. They are great round too!