Easy Avocado Recipes & Ideas

Hello, dear friends!!

It’s been a while since my last post…I apologize. LIFE has happened. Again. It’s funny how it does that. 🙂

Since my last post, Mac and I have moved BACK to Michigan. Unfortunately, the job we thought was his dream job just did not work out the way we had anticipated and we missed the life we had started to build here in MI. SO…we packed up our things and moved for the third time in a year. (UGH…moving sucks, but I’ve become a pro! If you need any tips…let me know!)

As we’ve been getting back into the groove of things, I’ve been noticing that one of my recipes on Pinterest has been getting a lot of attention. My Avocado & Egg Pizza recipe is the most popular recipe that I’ve posted, so I thought I’d post some of my other easy go-to recipes that involve my favorite fruit (Yes, avocado is a fruit…in case you didn’t already know that!).

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The following recipes can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, snack, or as part of dinner. I always have avocados on hand and I eat about half to one whole avocado each day. I tend to buy them in packs of four and I buy them a little on the green/hard side so they will ripen throughout the week. Most people associate avocados with guacamole, but there are SO many other wonderful things you can do with avocados!

Now don’t get me wrong…I love a good guac, but ONE of my favorite ways to eat an avocado is to cut it in half, take out the pit, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, grab a spoon, and DIG IN! YUM! Some people may find that a little strange…but it’s the easiest way to enjoy an avocado’s creamy goodness! (Pictured here with some bacon for some extra protein…and on a paper plate because this was breakfast during one of our moves. No judgement please!) 🙂

The SECOND way I like to enjoy avocado is in my Dill Avocado Cream. This is awesome on everything and SO simple to make…just 3 ingredients! I spread this on sprouted whole grain toast, add a dollop on top of salmon, or spread on a sandwich. The 3 ingredients you’ll need are 1/2 a ripe avocado, 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt, and 2/3-1 tablespoon fresh or dried dill. Mash up the avocado and stir together with the yogurt and dill, season with a little salt, and Enjoy! (Note: this makes 2 servings!)

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(Pictured: Dill Avocado Cream on a grilled salmon burger with roasted sweet potato “chips” and roasted Brussels sprouts, Dill Avocado Cream on sprouted whole grain toast, and Dill Avocado Cream on a salmon burger sandwich with cucumber, red onion, and tomato…YUM!)

I tend to enjoy my avocado for breakfast and lunch because Mac isn’t a huge fan. This THIRD recipe is equally as easy to make and can be enjoyed for breakfast or lunch…or dinner. 🙂 I call it Avocado Bruschetta…but it could also be called Fresh Avocado Salsa…or Avocado Salad. Call it whatever you’d like….I’ll call it DELICIOUS!!

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I apologize that these pictures aren’t the greatest, but you won’t be disappointed by the flavors!

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 a ripe avocado, cubed
  • 4-5 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/2 tbsp red onion, diced
  • 1 tsp balsamic glaze, for topping
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Stir together in a bowl and put on top of your favorite toast or English muffin! If you haven’t tried balsamic glaze before, YOU NEED TO TRY IT! It is reduced balsamic vinegar until it is syrupy and adds a sweet balsamic flavor to different recipes. I drizzle it on salads, grilled fruit, and grilled or roasted chicken!

A variation of the Avocado Bruschetta: Add 1/2 cup rinsed black beans to the avocado mixture and top grilled chicken or fish!

Avocado is also great sliced as a side to accompany grilled chicken and veggies (it adds a cool, creamy contrast to the charred flavor of the veggies), alongside green chile scrambled eggs for breakfast, tossed inside your favorite omelette, or diced with some red onion and enjoyed with 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese!

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Any way you slice it (pun totally intended 🙂 ), Avocados are fantastic! Not only are they tasty, but they are super healthy too!

How do you enjoy avocados? I’d love to hear new ways to enjoy this perfect little fruit! 🙂

Happy Eating!

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Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies…Mmmmmm!

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Ok…so today Mac left for another week away (such is life on an IndyCar team)…and that left me here…by myself…again.

I guess I need to get used to his travelling…because it will happen every week from February through August. I know there are things that I needed to be doing, but I found myself sucked into the Food Network.  This channel is ADDICTING. I can’t help it. There are so many delicious things that are created on each show that I feel like I just NEED to try…

THAT HAPPENED TODAY.

While watching Giada at Home, Giada was showcasing comfort food recipes with her sweet little girl, Jade.  The first recipe she shared was a recipe for Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies.

Um. Yeah.

As I was watching her mix together eggs, sugar, vanilla, butter, chocolate, flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, salt, and chocolate chips, I thought, “Hey! I have all of those things! I’m going to make those!

Well, I didn’t have all of the EXACT ingredients, but I had a couple of pinch hitters that would work.

You can find her original recipe here.

AND here is what I used:

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  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (Pinch-Hitter #1: subbed for semi-sweet chocolate)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temp
  • 1 instant coffee packet (Pinch-Hitter #2: subbed for the 1/3 cup choc. covered espresso beans)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temp
  • 2 tablespoons water, at room temp
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

NOW here is what you do:

  1. Place your oven rack in the center and preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In a small bowl (set up like a double boiler), combine the 6 ounces of chopped chocolate with the butter.  Bring water in pot to a light simmer and stir the chocolate occasionally until the chocolate has melted completely and the mixture is smooth. (You can also microwave in 30 second increments stirring after every 30 seconds, until smooth.)
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together the coffee packet, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In another medium bowl, whisk together egg, sugar, water, and vanilla.  Gradually add the dry ingredients and stir until thick and smooth.
  5. Fold in the melted chocolate/butter mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Using an ice cream or cookie scoop, scoop level 1/4 cup (2 ounce) dollops of the batter onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake until slightly puffed and the tops begin to crack, about 18-20 minutes.  Allow to cool completely on the baking sheets before serving.

These cookies are DEEEELICIOUS. They are cakey, fudgy, and super chocolatey with a hint of coffee yumminess…

They are particularly good with an ice cold glass of milk…..MMMmmmMMMmmm! 🙂

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You have to try these. At least once. SO. GOOD.

Enjoy! 🙂

I’m Back….It’s Been a While!

Life has happened and I’ve been away from writing for a while….

Let me give you an abbreviated version of  what’s kept me away for the past few months.

In the fall, I decided that I needed to get a part time job to be around people and because I was becoming slightly stir crazy at home everyday.  I also figured the extra money wouldn’t hurt (right??) and this would keep me busy while I worked toward transferring my teaching certificate. I began working at Barnes and Noble in September and met many lovely, wonderful people, and enjoyed the business of book selling, but my favorite part of the job had to be story time with the little ones. However, as the holidays got closer, my part-time hours became less part-time (you know what I mean if you’ve ever worked retail), and my longing to be back in classroom only grew stronger and stronger.

At the same time, Mac received a job offer that he’d been anxiously waiting for for almost two years….an offer he couldn’t refuse (said in my best Godfather voice)! 🙂 His new job would take us to the Chicago suburbs, and we only had about a month to accept the offer, pack everything, tie up any loose ends, find a new place, and move.

So here we are now….after a whirlwind month and a half, we are unpacked and mostly settled, and I’m back to being a “housewife”….at least for the time being. 🙂

Last night I made one of my hubs favorite soups…Baked Potato & Leek with Cheddar & Bacon.  Before I broke down and finally asked my mother-in-law for the recipe, I tried various different potato soup recipes (all yummy in my opinion), but all with the same result. He didn’t like it. “That’s not in my mom’s recipe,” “It doesn’t taste the same,” “Are you sure that’s supposed to go in there?,” etc., etc., etc.

My mother-in-law emailed me her recipe (I think she got it from a magazine years ago) a couple of weeks back and since we are heading into what feels like the gazillionth round of “polar vortex” frigid temperatures, I thought it would be warming and satisfying for dinner last night. (BTW, I am EXTREMELY tired of polar vortexes, snow, static electricity and winter…This has been the LONGEST winter everrrrrrr!)

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This soup is so yummy and tastes like a baked potato….what could be better?!?! I have to admit that this recipe is a little labor-intensive, and may get easier after the first time, BUT it is so worth it!

This recipe makes about 6 cups, or 4 servings.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • 2 medium russet potatoes (about 1/2 lb. each)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups sliced leeks (about 2 medium leeks; white and light green parts), rinsed well
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 thick slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 1/4 lb.)
  • 2 Tbs. thinly sliced scallion greens or chives

1. Heat your oven to 375 degrees and scrub those potatoes well in water. Pat dry and pierce with a fork a few times. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake until very tender when pierced with a fork (about 1 hour). Let cool completely on a wire rack.

2. Melt butter in a soup pot over medium-low heat.  Add the leeks and garlic, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened (about 10 minutes). Add the broth and 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the leeks are very tender (about 20 minutes).

**Note: To clean (as leeks can be sandy), I slice the leeks thinly and then place them in a wire/mesh strainer and rest the strainer in a bowl. I run cold water over them and give them a few shakes/swirls and let them drain.

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3. Meanwhile, put the diced bacon in a skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crispy (about 8-10 minutes).  Transfer the bacon bits with a slotted spoon to a saucer lined with paper towels to drain and cool.

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4. When the potatoes are cool, cut ONE in half length-wise. Use a large spoon to scoop the flesh in one piece from each half.  Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.  Coarsely chop the potato skin and the entire remaining potato and add to the pot with the leeks.

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5. Puree the contents of the pot in a blender until very smooth (you will need to do this in batches). Return the pureed soup to a clean soup pot and reheat over medium-low heat.

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6. Whisk together the milk and sour cream until smooth and then whisk the milk mixture into the soup, along with 1/2 cup of the cheddar.  Stir in the diced potato.  The soup should be fairly thick, but if it seems too thick, thin it with a little water.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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7.  Serve garnished with the remaining cheddar, bacon, and scallions or chives.

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I’m going to say it again….this soup is yummy! I may have some of the leftovers for lunch! Mmmmmm!! 🙂

I’m glad to be back…I hope my next post isn’t so long in the making…

Have a great week! 🙂

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Easy Pumpkin Oatmeal for Breakfast

Ok, so if you read my last post, you’ll know how much I love fall! This morning we woke up to a very chilly morning and I thought that nothing sounded better for breakfast than a nice big bowl of tummy-filling, and soul-warming oatmeal. Mmmmm! 🙂

After I climbed out from under the mountain of comforters on our bed and threw on my favorite sweats and sweatshirt, I made my way into the kitchen to gather my ingredients. I remembered that I had some leftover pumpkin puree in the fridge, so why not make warm pumpkin oatmeal, right?!?

This recipe was an experiment..but it turned out wonderfully and so delicious! It is also really easy!!

So here is what I gathered for this recipe:

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  • 1/2 Cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 Cup water
  • 1/8 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Chia seeds
  • 1/8 cup dried plums

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the oats, water, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and salt. Stir and cook for 3-5 minutes until thick and the oats are soft.

Place in a bowl and top with brown sugar (or your favorite sweetener), Chia seeds, and dried plums (dried cranberries would be yummy, too!).

This serves 1 and has about 9 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein.

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So good. Period. 🙂

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Crispy Rice Treats: A Little Taste of Fall

WARNING: You are about to read about a delicious and easy, sweet fall treat that is not low calorie or “healthy” and LOADED with marshmallowy, pumpkin goodness. Sometimes we just need something a little naughty….and what could be better than a bite of fall!

There is something so lovely about fall…It’s easily my favorite season for various reasons. I love fall for the beautiful colors that mother nature dresses herself in.  The oranges, reds, pinks, yellows, and greens blend together like the fabric of a beautiful dress and it’s often breathtaking.

I also love the cooler temperatures. Now, I’m not a fan of winter or cold. At all. BUT I LOVE sweatpants, sweatshirts, sweaters, blankets, and all things comfy and cozy. I love to sleep with the window open at night and snuggle close under a mountain of deliciously warm comforters and blankets, or sit on the couch under a cozy blanket in front of the fireplace ablaze with a crackling fire.  Makes me feel nice and warm just thinking about it. 🙂

I also love throwing on my favorite old sweatshirt with jeans or a new cozy sweater and boots and going for a drive in the fall to see mother nature in all her beauty and to find new fall faves.  We did this last weekend.  Since moving to Michigan, we’ve heard about many of the things this state is known for…and one of those things is a must-do in the fall.  We went to visit a local Cider Mill for some fresh apple cider and warm cinnamon-sugar donuts.

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These donuts and apple cider were yummy!! I can see why they are a fall fave of Michiganders.  So after our Cider Mill outing, I decided I wanted to make one of my fall faves….pumpkin crispy rice treats. (Mac prefers the regular crispy rice treats, so I made those too….I’ll share both recipes with you.)

There is something so warm and comforting about the taste of pumpkin and pumpkin spice and that is what makes these treats so special… 🙂

Pumpkin Crispy Rice Treats

**You can find the original recipe here, but as usual, I made a change or two.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 tablespoons butter, plus more to grease the pan
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 (16 oz) bag regular marshmallows
  • 3 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups crispy rice cereal
  • fall colored sprinkles

Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish and set aside.

In a couple layers of paper towel, place the pumpkin puree and press to release the moisture.  (I usually press the puree about 3 times using fresh, dry paper towels each time. If you don’t do this, your treats will be soggy….trust me). It should look like this:

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In a heavy saucepan or cast iron pot, melt butter over medium-low heat.

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Add the pumpkin puree and cook until it is warmed through (it will be lumpy). Fold in the 16 oz. of marshmallows, stirring frequently until almost completely melted. Stir in vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt.  Remove from heat.

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Allow the marshmallow mixture to cool for 10 minutes.  Fold in 1 1/2 cups of the mini marshmallows and let the mixture cool for about another 5-10 minutes. Add in the crispy rice cereal and the last 1 1/2 cups of mini marshmallows.  Stir until combined.

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Press into the baking dish and sprinkle with fall colored sprinkles. (See tip below.) Allow to cool completely before cutting. Makes 12 Large crispy treats, or more if you cut them smaller. 🙂

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The pumpkin treats are on the right and I’m a dummy and forgot to take a picture after I cut them, but here is a picture of the regular crispy treats cut into squares:

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Look at all of that crispy, marshmallowy goodness!! YUM! 🙂

The recipe I follow for the regular crispy rice treats is from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. The recipe is here. I follow this recipe for the most part except that I use a 16 oz. bag of regular marshmallows, and the rest of the bag of mini marshmallows from the recipe above.

TIP (Thanks to my mother-in-law 🙂 ): In order to easily press the crispy rice mixture into the pan, turn the empty marshmallow bag inside-out and spread butter on the bag.  Slide the inside-out bag over your hand like a glove and use your “gloved” hand to press the mixture into the pan.  You may think this sounds crazy, but it’s so much easier than trying to press it into the pan with a spatula. 🙂

What is your favorite season? Do you love fall as much as I do?

Oh, one more things about fall that I LOVE…my Birthday is in the fall!! 🙂 🙂

Enjoy the treats!

Happy Fall!

Slow-Cooker Smoky Beef and Bean Chili

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I can’t think of anything better and more tummy-filling on a chilly fall night than a nice big bowl of spicy, beefy/beany chili with a side of warm cornbread from the oven.  It hits the spot every time and warms me to the core! 🙂  It also happens to go great with football!  (I know some people will argue that REAL chili doesn’t have beans, but I prefer chili with beans…so there.)

This is a recipe that I stumbled upon a few years ago from Real Simple Magazine and I’ve added and changed things and made a bean-less version (for my non-bean-eating husband).

I love this recipe because I can throw everything into the slow-cooker and not worry about it until dinner (FABULOUS!).  This is also great because I throw the leftovers in the freezer and warm them up when we want chili again! Can’t get any easier than that!

I’m going to post my two versions of the recipe.

The first is my take on the original WITH beans.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1-15.5 ounce can of kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1-15.5 ounce can of black or pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1-28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 12 ounces lager beer
  • ¾ pound beef chuck, cut into ¾-inch pieces (stew meat can be substituted)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons chopped chipotles in adobo sauce (depending on your heat tolerance level)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

1. In a large skillet, sear beef. Drain on paper towel. Set aside.

2. In 4 to 6 quart slow cooker, mix together the beans, tomatoes and their juices, beer, beef, yellow onion, garlic, tomato paste, flour, chili powder, chipotles, cumin, and ¾ teaspoon salt.

3. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or on high for 4 to 5 hours. Serve with corn bread, sour cream, and shredded cheese.

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(NOTE: The picture above is actually the bean-free version with some beans added, because I wanted beans in my bowl when we had this the other night!)

The second version is bean-FREE!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1-28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 12 ounces lager beer
  • 1 to 1 1/2 lbs 90/10 ground beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons chopped chipotles in adobo sauce (depending on your heat tolerance level)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large skillet, brown beef. Drain on paper towel. Set aside.

2. In 4 to 6 quart slow cooker, mix together the bell peppers, tomatoes and their juices, beer, beef, yellow onion, garlic, tomato paste, flour, chili powder, chipotles, cumin, and ¾ teaspoon salt.

3. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or on high for 4 to 5 hours. A few minutes before serving, stir in the corn just until corn is warmed through.  Serve with corn bread, sour cream, and shredded cheese.

Either version is yummy and super-tummy-filling. Our favorite side with this recipe is good-old-fashioned cornbread! MMM!!

What’s your favorite Fall recipe??

Happy Fall! 🙂 Enjoy!

Easy Sugar Cookies!

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Mac, my wonderful husband, loves sweets, but he LOVES sugar cookies.

Particularly sugar cookies from a little bakery cafe back home, Elegance Bakery.

Well…I love to bake, but I’m not a huge fan of sugar cookies because they tend to need to be refrigerated and then rolled, and cut, and decorated.  They are just a lot of work. Usually.

So Mac has been asking for the past few weeks if I could make him some sugar cookies and today, since it was chilly outside, I decided to give in and bake him some sugar cookies.

(I’m such a good wife!) 🙂

I researched various different sugar cookie recipes and read the reviews so that I could get an idea of what I was about to dive into…I finally decided on this simple recipe from callmepmc.com.

This recipe seemed simple (I had all of the ingredients) and NO REFRIGERATION needed!!! (YAY!!) 🙂

That means no waiting around for an hour or more before rolling, cutting, decorating, and baking! Whoop, whoop!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used Gluten-Free, All-Purpose Flour from Trader Joe’s because that’s what I had on hand.)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Various colored sugars or sprinkles for decorating (you can also frost/glaze these if you prefer)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy; about 5 minutes. (Note: I let my butter get SOFT-almost mushy-before putting it in the bowl. I think this helps get it nice and fluffy!)

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Once creamed well, add egg and vanilla.

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In a separate bowl, SIFT together flour, baking powder, and salt. (NOTE: I find sifting makes cookies seem fluffier….it could just be me, but I always sift.)

Spoon the flour mixture into the butter mixture a little at a time until well combined.

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Split dough into two parts, and roll one half of the dough out to 1/8 inch thickness. (NOTE: I use powdered sugar in lieu of flour on my rolling pin and counter-top.)

Dip cookie cutter in powdered sugar before cutting. (NOTE: I don’t have any cookie cutters, so I use a small juice glass.) Roll and cut until all dough is used.

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Decorate with colored sugar or sprinkles.

Bake on and ungreased cookie sheet, or use parchment paper for 6 to 7 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet before removing to cooling rack to cool completely.

TA-DA!! 🙂

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If you want to frost or glaze these, do that after they have cooled completely.

Here is a recipe for a yummy, but simple glaze.

What you’ll need:

  • Powdered Sugar
  • Fresh Lemon or Orange Juice
  • Food Coloring (optional)

In a small bowl, combine a couple tablespoons of powdered sugar with some fresh lemon or orange juice until smooth (will be slightly liquidy). If too thin, add more sugar. If too thick, add more juice. Add food color of choice to create desired color.

I hope you had a SWEET Sunday like me! 🙂

Happy Baking!