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::kitschy kitchen:: Star Wars Sugar Cookies

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We go to the mall almost every Wednesday. This week we’ll go today because of the holiday. PTB buys his comics on that day. I get a treat at Starbucks and a chance to browse Williams Sonoma. It’s silly, and really the only thing we manage to do consistently, but we always have fun with our mini-trip.

I really enjoy it when, not only do I manage to drag him into Williams Sonoma with me but, he buys me something! Well, I guess this doesn’t totally count as being exclusively for me. I have never ever managed to even stay awake through an entire Star Wars movie. So yeah. But the part that is for me was the cookie recipe and my first set of cookie cutters. Although, these are more of cookie presses I guess.

I’ve never been let down by the recipes that come with my Williams Sonoma toys and these cookies were no different. The cookie cutters were incredibly easy to use, so if you have a Star Wars fan buy them now before they are gone!! As long as you kept the dough chilled and didn’t let it start to melt while you were cutting, the dough doesn’t get stuck in even the tiniest of details. And since they are presses, it makes every bit of dough turn into the perfect cookie. Just shove the last bits into a mold, press, and perfect cookie!

What You Need
Step One

1 1/2 sticks of butter
1 egg
Step Two
1 cup sugar
Step Three
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Step Four
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt

Seriously. Take your butter and egg out ahead of time. Don’t fake room temp butter. Leaving it out ahead of time DOES make a difference!

In an electric mixer, beat the butter on high speed until creamy. Reduce the speed to medium and slowly add the sugar. Beating for approx. 2 minutes.

Add the egg and vanilla and beat for 1 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl once.

In a small bowl, sift together step four ingredients. Add half the mixture to the wet ingredients and beat on low until no longer dry. Add the remaining flour and continue on low until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough onto a clean work surface and divide in half. Shape each half into a disc and wrap with plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days. This is my favorite part because I only make half the cookies at a time. That way, two days later, we have a fresh batch of cookies with very little work!

Once you are ready to make the cookies preheat the oven to 350F and let the dough rest for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to about 1/4″ thick.

Don’t be afraid to push on the cutters! They will only go so far. For me, the dough would lift up with the cookie cutter and then I would just drop it onto the parchment lined cookies sheet.

Space the cookies on the sheet about 1″ apart. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.

Let cool on the sheets on racks for 5 minutes and then transfer the cookies to the rack cool completely.

Enjoy your buttery sugary goodness!

You can make royal icing to decorate. Or you can buy the prefect colors from Williams Sonoma for decorating. I think the advantage to the press is not having to decorate them. And really, they don’t need any extra sugar. They are perfect on their own. But then again…I have never been one for icing.

::kitschy kitchen:: Not Just Plain Vanilla

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Last week I finally made the lavender cupcakes I have been dying to try. I don’t know why I was so excited about the idea of cooking with lavender. I had never thought of it as something edible, but it just sounded perfect. I found the Silver Cloud Estates Lavender Extract and I was on my way. Their extract is amazing. The flavor does not cook off or freeze away. This makes it perfect for baked treats or frozen delights (I can’t wait to have an ice cream maker!) Just opening the bottle is like filling your kitchen with a little bit of heaven. My favorite part of the cupcakes was that they were a huge hit, but no one knew quite what is what that they liked about them. Since it was such a different flavor, they couldn’t pick it out. The best was that it wasn’t overly obvious either. PTB was convinced the floral flavoring was from the purple icing. My sister-in-law thought the same thing, and thought the green ones tasted different ūüôā

Anyway, enough about those cupcakes! Have I said enough to make you want to try them yet?

Today, I returned to Village Spices and sought out more fun extracts. I narrowed down the choices to almond, coconut, and rosewater (the company sells cardamom extract too! but the store did not have any). Eventually I will have them all of course ūüôā I just wish I could test them more easily. These 4 oz. bottles will last forever!

So today I bought the rosewater extract. I am envisioning a summer of Rosewater Lemonades and a variety of other new experiments. I am excited to make some cookies using the rosewater extract and some cardamom (PTB’s favorite spice). Rosewater is popular in Middle-Eastern cooking and in Europe for flavoring marzipan. I’m not sure why it isn’t a huge hit here. We seem addicted to vanilla extract. I’ll admit, I use vanilla in almost all my baking, but with my discovery of Silver Cloud Estates, that may be changing. For a simple recipe, just substitute the vanilla extract with any extract you like. Be creative, be daring, and share what you come up with.

If you have used rosewater extract before, and have suggestions, I am completely open to it. I can’t wait to get started! I just need to buy some lemons first ūüôā

::local flavor:: Tony Luke’s

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This past weekend, I joined some of the My Latest Distraction boys and spent my days and nights surrounded by geekiness at the Philadelphia ComicCon thrown by Wizard. ¬†I actually had a really great time, because despite the event’s name, there weren’t many for comic-related activities. ¬†We’ll be posting a ton of stuff about the weekend on My Latest Distraction, so please check it out!

One thing that these conventions do is connect the people and the “celebrities”. ¬†That term needs to be used very very loosely. ¬†On Friday, we arrived earlier in the day, and got to a bunch of people before the masses arrived. ¬†We did a short “interview” with none other than Philadelphia’s own Tony Lucidonio aka Tony Luke. ¬†Really, the interview consisted of one question. ¬†“Why are you here?”

He didn’t really know either. ¬†Apparently he is in a movie called The Nail which has gotten some attention. ¬†I had never heard of it. ¬†I gave him a card for Not Just Take Out so that he could feel like his time was well spent ūüėČ And I had my picture taken with him!

Now that I am writing this post though, I have to be honest. ¬†I have NEVER had a Tony Luke’s cheesesteak. ¬†I’m sorry. ¬†The only time I would really have the opportunity is at Citizen Bank Park and the line is so long! ¬†So, I guess they must be good. ¬†I’m told that they are very similar to the cheesesteaks from Jim’s on South Street. ¬†Those are my favorites! ¬†So, Tony, if you are reading this, I am very sorry. ¬†Maybe I will have one some day. I hope so! ¬†And when I do, you can be sure I will talk about it all over the site. If it does taste like Jim’s I am all for it!

I do have some issues with you, Tony Luke. ¬†You were nice and all, but how much do you need to push a product? ¬†Did the economy hit the “going out for a cheesesteak market” so badly that you needed to endorse something? ¬†You were in a movie, that had to have some sort of pay day. ¬†We walked by your booth later in the day Friday, and then again Saturday, and again Sunday. ¬†You weren’t there after the first visit. ¬†On Friday afternoon, I did see what you were there pushing though. ¬†This disappoints me beyond belief. ¬†And, ps, thank you for not mentioning it at all when we spoke to you.

Tony Luke, I know I am not your target market. ¬†Considering I have never eaten one of your cheesesteaks, I am certainly not the person who would be buying a microwaveable version of it. ¬†And, ok, so I have a food blog that is mostly about cooking, so again, I am probably not going to be microwaving a cheesesteak. ¬†But just the concept of this is so disgusting to me (please note: I don’t put meat in the microwave anyway). ¬†Why, Tony Luke, WHY?

I wanted to be informed before bashing you. ¬†You didn’t deserve a bashing. ¬†You were one of the nicest people at the ComicCon. ¬†So I went to your site, and I watched the video. ¬†It does make it seem a little less disgusting to me. ¬†I still won’t eat it. ¬†But I am happy to see that the recommended way of making this delicacy involved a stove and oven. ¬†Overall impression though? ¬†A microwavable meal shouldn’t require an nine minute video.

If you are Tony Luke, and you are reading this: ¬†I am sorry, I just had to voice my honest opinion. ¬†Thanks for being such a nice guy on Friday, and hopefully we’ll see you one day at your shop!

If you aren’t Tony Luke and you are reading this, I have two questions for you:

#1.  Have you eaten a microwaved cheesesteak?

#2.  Where is your favorite steak sandwich from?

Potato Leek Soup

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Sometimes, when it comes to cooking, I feel the need to make the most complicated meal possible. ¬†Other times, I need it to be beyond easy, but I still want to cook. ¬†Usually, I would say I fall right in the middle of that. ¬†These soup packets caught my eye one day while shopping and I had to try it. ¬†I’m not really sure how much easier it was than making soup from scratch to be perfectly honest, but it made it feel like making potato leek soup from scratch was easy. ¬†Which it is. ¬†So don’t be scared if you are a beginner. ¬†I also liked the idea of it being pre-made, but still using real potatoes. ¬†It was also nice to have control over the broth used, etc (vegetable broth for a proper vegetarian meal?).

So, yes, there is a bit of effort put into this soup. ¬†But it isn’t the end of the world. ¬†Why am I posting potato soup right when it gets hot out? ¬†Blend it completely and you have Vichyssoise, a perfect summer dish. ¬†Will I buy this soup packet again? ¬†Maybe. ¬†It still took an hour to make, and required some extra purchasing. ¬†Has it encouraged me to try to make potato leek from scratch? ¬†Definitely.

::gadget:: The Perfect Egg Timer

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We’re off celebrating a graduation today so this post is short and simple! ¬†On one of our many trips to the mall, I managed to drag PTB into Williams Sonoma for a quick browse through. ¬†It always makes it easier for me when he finds something that fascinates him. ¬†On this particular trip it was the Egg-Per’fect Color Changing Egg Timer.

Let me just tell you. ¬†This package screams of the classy (expensive) kitchen gadgets you expect to find at Williams Sonoma. ¬†Especially with its $5 price tag. ¬†Can’t beat that. ¬†It was worth a shot. ¬†I’m not a huge hard boiled egg fan, so maybe this would encourage me to boil some eggs for him. ¬†Then again, maybe not.

With a changing color as it cooks, fool proof technology, this egg timer can handle not only hard boiled eggs, but medium and soft as well.  Again, fancy, right?  Add it to your pot just as if it were any other egg and let them go.

We were (I was) excited to see it change color. ¬†So I watched it for the first few minutes. ¬†I would have made perfect soft boiled eggs. ¬†I quickly got bored though and moved onto the next thing. ¬†So yeah…perfect? ¬†I don’t know. ¬†You still have to have some sense of the time or just watch the pot. ¬†Close to the egg it quickly went from “hard” to completely colored in. ¬†There wasn’t a moment to spare!

Ok, there probably was. ¬†I exaggerate. ¬†PTB says the eggs were GREAT! ¬†Again… not a fan, so I wouldn’t know. ¬†But on the list of kitschy things to have, it is small, and convenient, and adds a tiny bit of fun to boiling eggs. Unfortunately though, it isn’t classy enough to be sold through Williams Sonoma’s website. ¬†Thank goodness for Amazon.