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Cut-Out Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting

December 6, 2016

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cookies_3First, I need to say a big thank you to everyone who hung with me these last few weeks. I know that service on Espresso and Cream has been very spotty and the site completely crashed in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. But I’m happy to report that the site is now up and running on a brand new server that should be large enough to accommodate Espresso and Cream readers for a long time to come. Whew! 

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is cookie baking. I know that there is an abundance of desserts this time of year, and baking goodies at home is hardly necessary, but I couldn’t make it through the month of December without doing at least a bit of baking.

This year Ainsley helped with her first Christmas cookie baking and it was SO fun! I mean, she mainly stuffed frosting into her mouth by the spoonful and only frosted a couple cookies before declaring that she was done, but seeing her participate in a tradition that will no doubt continue to happen for years on end was the sweetest.

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine about sugar cookies. Specifically how they can be so disappointing in flavor and texture. Some of the prettiest sugar cookies I’ve seen have been the most tasteless and some of the ugliest have been the yummiest. Isn’t there a happy middle ground? Yes, yes there is. These cookies, I like to think, strike a wonderful balance between downright tasty and pretty/cute/fun to decorate, too. Although Royal Icing always gets the best results in terms of looks, I find that it’s just plain gross to eat. And while the powdered sugar and milk combination might be temping because it’s so easy, I think we can all upgrade our game a little bit this year to something that requires just a tiny bit more effort.

The sugar cookies themselves don’t stand well on their own. They are from an old, old Southern Living Christmas cookie book that my mom and I both use every year. If I were making plain old sugar cookies I wouldn’t make these, but once they are topped with buttercream they have the perfect taste and consistency to pull the whole thing off. One tip: I always suggest erring on the side of under baking rather than over baking because I love a soft, chewy sugar cookie, so keep a close eye on these cookies while they bake as oven temps can vary!

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting
 
The cookie recipe is "Old Fashioned Christmas Cookies" from the Southern Living Cookie Book. I couldn't find this old recipe anywhere online to link to, so I'm sharing it below!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Frosting
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Make the cookies: Heat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a nonstick baking mat (Silpat).
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugars to the butter and beat 2 minutes more or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined. Add the milk and vanilla and beat until just combined.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until combined. Do not over mix. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
  4. Roll dough to ¼-inch thickness on floured surface. Cut into desired shapes and place cookies, 1 inch apart, on baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until just barely golden brown around the edges. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to wire cooling rack and cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and salt until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add in the vanilla and milk and beat until just combined. Beat in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until frosting is smooth and creamy. Frost cookies with frosting.

 

Family

Christmas Cards 2016

November 22, 2016

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Growing up one of my favorite memories around the holidays was getting Christmas cards in the mail throughout the months of November and December. I’ll admit that I wasn’t always the most willing participant in being a part of our own family Christmas cards, but I do remember it always being a big deal. What outfits would be worn? Where would we take them to make the photo unique? Would we get them taken before the freezing temps and cold weather?

Now as an adult one of my own favorite traditions is sending out Christmas cards with my own little family. Finding and updating addresses and getting the cards all ready to go isn’t my favorite task, but taking photos and finding the perfect holiday card is definitely at the top of my list. We actually keep a folder with all our past Christmas cards, and I have high hopes of one day turning those old cards into a photo book of sorts to look back at how our family has changed over the years.

This year my talented friend Jessica of Jessica Bonestroo Photography took our photos in September while it was still warm out, and I’m so thrilled with how they turned out. I had a horrible time selecting just one to use! Since we’ll be sending cards to friends near and far, including some that don’t have social media, I also included a little announcement about Baby Hofmeyer #2 on the back!

Our cards this year came from Tiny Prints and I was just giddy with the end result. We went with the “Frosted Fun” card with scalloped edges and red text and added a single photo to the back. I also couldn’t resist upgrading to gold envelopes for a little something extra special.

If you’re still looking for the perfect Christmas card you can shop the full selection of Christmas cards over at Tiny Prints.

Food & Recipes

Pie of the Week #6 // Apple-Cran-Raspberry Pie

November 15, 2016

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This week’s pie of the week might not be for everyone. Whew. Okay, I feel like I just needed to get that out there before waxing poetic about how much I love this pie, because it’s true. It’s not a pie that everyone will love, but I certainly love it and will be making it more than once this holiday season.

Inspired by homemade cranberry sauce – the stuff you make with real, whole cranberries, not the stuff in a can – this pie is tart and tangy and nearly requires a heavy dollop of whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream to balance the tartness of the cranberries, raspberries and apples. The mix of three fruits produces a pie filling with great texture and interest, and while it might not be a home run that everyone can agree on, it’s certainly a pie that my little family can get behind.

I was inspired by recipes I’ve made in the past, and this recipe from Cooking Light, which I tweaked slightly to fit my flavor preferences and the ingredients I had on hand.

Pie of the Week #6 // Apple-Cran-Raspberry Pie
 
Ingredients
  • Pie crust for a 9-inch double crust pie
  • FILLING
  • 2 cups peeled and diced apples
  • 1½ cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 cups frozen raspberries, thawed
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • CRUSH WASH
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • Coarse sugar for dusting
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Line a 9-inch pie plate with one of the pie crusts.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the filling ingredients until well combined.
  3. Roll out remaining crust and cut into strips. Use strips to form a lattice pattern on top of the crust, going over and under every other strip. Pinch edges of crust to seal together. Trim off excess crust around edges and roll/crimp crust edges to finish.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together the egg yolk and heavy cream. Brush mixture on lattice and edge dough and sprinkle with the coarse sugar.
  5. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour more, until filing is bubbly and crust is golden brown. If necessary, cover crust edges with a pie crust guard or aluminum foil to prevent over-browning.
  6. Cool completely before serving.

 

Family, Fashion

Family Fitness + First Trimester Workouts

November 14, 2016

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It’s crazy for me to think that at 14 weeks pregnant, I am now officially out of the first trimester. Everyone’s favorite question to ask a pregnant woman is, “How are you feeling?” Truth is, I’ve been feeling less than stellar with non-stop morning (err evening) sickness and falling asleep on the couch every evening around 8:30 pm. Staying committed and focused on fitness has been a challenge, but I’ve been determined to stick to a consistent fitness routine with this pregnancy, even if I’m not sticking to the most normal eating habits.

So what have I been doing? Well, I’ve given up the more intense exercises like running, sprint intervals and weekend Crossfit with Joe in favor of exercises that are a little more low intensity. That includes my favorite 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme videos, the new Core de Force videos from Beachbody and lots of long walks with Ainsley since we’ve been enjoying some amazing fall weather and unseasonably warm temps. I’ve been following modifiers as necessary to keep my heart rate within a reasonable range and avoiding exercises that require me to lay on my back now that I’m in the second trimester.

Joe also frequently takes Ainsley with him on runs which gives the entire family a chance to workout at the same time. Running 4 or 5 miles with Ainsley is common for Joe, but what most people don’t know is that Joe has an anaphylactic reaction to an unidentified insect or food. Three times since we’ve been married, Joe has gone out on a run and come home looking something like the Hulk. Face red, breathing impaired, body breaking out in hives. It’s been scary, to say the last, and it’s made me think about ways that we can both be safer while we’re exercising and spending time outdoors.

Enter Road ID. Road ID bracelets are comfortable, stylish athletic bracelets that can be worn around the clock or any time you’re spending time being active outdoors. They can be branded with your name, address, emergency contacts and any important medical information, such as Joe’s allergy.

Road ID has been on my radar ever since Joe had his first reaction while on a run. But after seeing how much time we spend individually running and walking with Ainsley, it seemed more important than ever. As a family, we do everything to keep ourselves and Ainsley safe. We buckle our seat belts, wear helmets and now we have our Road IDs in case anything should happen to us.

I got the Wrist ID Slim 2 in grey and Joe got the same but in blue. We both agreed they are incredibly comfortable and lightweight to wear, something that’s important to us while exercising, and Joe was especially impressed with how cool the band looked. We’re thrilled with the products, to say the last!

Bonus for E&C Readers: Now through 11/18, take advantage of all Road ID products marked down to $15, $20 and $25 along with 20% off all gift cards, while supplies last!

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®  & Road ID but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #roadid #RoadIDItsWhoIAm  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Food & Recipes

Pie of the Week #6 // S’Mores Pie

November 8, 2016

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Today’s pie of the week is a good one, my friends! Okay, if you’re my husband then you probably disagree – the man has a serious dislike of “fluffy” things including pudding and whipped cream, which is why I decided to gift this pie to my mom’s co-workers rather than keeping it in our house. That said, if I was left with this pie in the house it wouldn’t be long before I would eat the entire thing on my own!

Although this chilled pie would probably be better suited for summertime, I tend to think that the s’mores flavor profile is good any time of the year. In fact, I think you could easily bring this pie to the table during the holiday season and almost everyone would be pleased. The marshmallow flavor is quite subtle, but if you’re looking to boost that a bit, I would suggest adding some miniature marshmallows to the top of this pie when garnishing just to be sure the message and flavor comes across.

The pie can be kept in the refrigerator, covered in plastic wrap, for up to three days, if it lasts that long! Just be sure to top with the whipped cream right before serving for best results!

S'Mores Pie
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • Crust
  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Filling
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 (7 oz.) jar marshmallow creme
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Topping
  • Whipped cream, graham cracker crumbs and chopped chocolate
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Add the butter to the bowl and stir until well combined. Press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake 10 minutes; cool completely.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the ¾ cup heavy cream to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate and salt. Whisk until completely smooth. Cool.
  3. In a very small pan or saucepan over medium heat, heat the water. Sprinkle the gelatin over water and allow to dissolve. Whisk mixture together until gelatin dissolves completely, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
  4. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the heavy cream on medium speed until very soft peaks begin to form. With the mixer running, slowly pour the gelatin mixture into the cream and continue to whisk on high speed 2 to 3 minutes more or until firm peaks form (the gelatin will prevent true stiff peaks from forming.) Slowly whisk in the marshmallow creme and vanilla until evenly combined and smooth.
  5. Stir together the marshmallow mixture and the semi-cooled chocolate mixture until evenly combined. Pour mixture into the prepared crust. Refrigerate 4 to 8 hours or until filling is set. Top with whipped cream, graham cracker crumbs and chopped chocolate just before serving.