Gram’s Sugar Cookies

These sugar cookies always bring back nostalgic memories of Christmases spent with my grandma in Pennsylvania.  She had to have spent weeks preparing for our trips, as her house was filled with more goodies than a young mind can imagine.  I remember eating dozens of these cookies each visit, convinced that there were no other sugar cookies that could compare.  They are soft and sweet, but not overly so and when paired with frosting they are perfect!  The recipe makes a lot of cookies, but unfrosted ones can last weeks in the freezer. So, in the spirit of Christmas:

photo-7Gram’s Sugar Cookies
~1 cup brown sugar
~1 cup white sugar
~1 cup Crisco
~1 tsp vanilla
~1 tsp lemon flavoring
~2 eggs
~5 cups of flour
~2 tsp baking powder
~1 tsp salt
~1 tsp nutmeg
~1 cup buttermilk
~1 tsp baking soda

Mix together the butter, sugars, vanilla, and lemon flavoring.  Then add the 2 eggs.  In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.  Finally, mix together the cup of buttermilk with the tsp of baking soda.  To the sugar mixture add alternately the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture until it is all mixed together.  Refrigerate overnight.  The next day, preheat the oven to 350.  Roll out the dough on a floured board, cut into shapes, and bake for 9-11 minutes.  The cookies will be evenly cooked, but should not be browned.

I would recommend tackling cutting out the cookies one day and frosting another day, as it makes about 5 dozen cookies.  We usually use the frosting recipe on the back of a powdered sugar box.  It is delicious and adds just the right amount of sweetness!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

With Thanksgiving on my mind and the lingering feeling of still being too full from yesterday, I decided a pumpkin recipe was in order.  We received this recipe from a family friend and my older sister Jessie made them to take to Thanksgiving and they were delicious!!

photo-6Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
~1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
~1 1/2 cups sugar
~1 cup pumpkin puree
~1 egg
~1 tsp vanilla
~2 1/2 cups flour
~1 tsp baking soda
~1 tsp baking powder
~1 tsp cinnamon
~1 tsp nutmeg
~1/2 tsp salt
~16 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar on medium speed with a mixer until fluffy.  Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla and beat until well blended.  In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together (flour, soda, powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt).  Add this dry mixture to the wet pumpkin mixture and mix well.  Hand stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by heaping teaspoons 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 13-15 minutes or until lightly browned, but be sure to not over bake.  It makes roughly 3 dozen cookies and can also be topped with cream cheese frosting if desired.  🙂

Sticky Date Pudding

Until a few weeks ago, I had never even heard of sticky date pudding.  But then I heard about it for a few weeks before I finally gave in and made it (in hopes that the not-so-subtle hints my teammate Lauren was dropping for me to make the cake would cease).  Boy am I glad I finally took the hint and made it!! It is delicious and would be the perfect dessert after Thanksgiving, or really any time you can come up with an excuse to make it.

Sticky Date Pudding
(adapted from an Australian recipe)

date pudding slicecake:
-1 cup of pitted, chopped dates
-1 teaspoon of baking soda
-1 ½ cups of boiling water
-½ cup of butter
-1 cup of brown sugar
-1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
-2 eggs
-1 ¾ cups of self-raising flour **(see below)

caramel sauce:
-1 cup of brown sugar
-1 ¼ cup of half and half
-½ teaspoon of vanilla
-1/4 cup of butter

Directions:
entire date pudding cakePreheat the oven to 350.  Grease and flour an 8×8 or round cake pan.  Place the dates and baking soda in a bowl and pour the boiling water over.  Let stand for 20 minutes.  Using an electric mixture (or just muscle in my case), beat butter, sugar, and vanilla until creamy.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Using a large metal spoon fold in the flour mixture and then add the date mixture until thoroughly combined.  Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick entered in the center comes out clean.  Turn immediately onto a plate (I turned it onto one plate and then flipped that over onto another plate so the pudding was face up).  In the last 15-20 minutes while the pudding is baking, prepare the sauce.  Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring continuously, until the sauce comes to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer (the original recipe called for 2 minutes, but I probably simmered it for about 10 because my timing was a bit off, but it still worked great!).  Ideally the timing works out so that it is done simmering right as you take the pudding out of the oven.  Pierce the pudding all over with a skewer.  Pour ½-¾ cup of warm sauce over the warm pudding.  Let stand for 10 minutes and then serve, drizzling the left over sauce on top.

**Self-raising flour: if you don’t have any on hand, you can make your own.  The basic conversion is 1 cup of flour + 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder + ½ teaspoon of salt.  To get the 1 ¾ cups as called for in the recipe, I just doubled this (2 cups flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt and then removed ¼ of a cup of the mixture).

Lauren loving it!

Notes/Variations:
-I used Medjool Dates and once they were pitted and sliced it measured to about 1 1/2 cups total (I didn’t pack them down tightly, just allowed them to space out as they did when placed in the measuring cup)
-I went the tried and true method, but you can also play around and add walnuts for an extra crunch or even try adding a teaspoon of brandy to the mixture before baking

Enjoy!!!