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Phoenix, Arizona, United States
The most important thing in my life is my family. I love my dear husband and 4 wonderful children (ages 11 through 18). I am a stay-at-home mom (my dream job!). Some of my favorite things to do include cooking (and eating!), photography, reading, piano, flute, watching my favorite TV shows, swimming, traveling, and most recently...using the rip stick with my kids. I would love to attend culinary school someday & fit my love of photography in with that somehow. My dream vacation is Italy - something I was recently blessed to experience! I'd love to return and see more of that beautiful and DELICIOUS country! My days are usually full of running kids to and from activities - scouts, sports, music and church. Sometimes I have to remind myself to breathe, but I absolutely LOVE my crazy life and the people I am lucky enough to share it with!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

SUGAR COOKIES (from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)

MAKES ABOUT 3 DOZEN.  You can garnish these cookies simply with sanding sugar or sprinkles before baking, or bake them first and then cover with Royal Icing.

4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
Colored sanding sugar or sprinkles, for decorating (optional)
Royal Icing

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, vanilla, and salt; mix on medium-high speed until combined.4With mixer on low speed, add flour in two batches, mixing until just incorporated.

Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and pat into flattened rectangles; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 week.

Preheat the oven to 350°F, with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one rectangle of dough to a scant 1/4-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out shapes. Using a small offset spatula, transfer shapes to prepared sheets, placing about 2 inches apart. Chill in freezer or refrigerator until firm, about 15 minutes. Set scraps aside. Repeat process with remaining rectangle of dough. Gather all the scraps, and roll out again. Chill 15 minutes; cut out more shapes, and place on sheets.

Decorate cookies with sanding sugar or sprinkles, if using, before baking. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are golden around the edges and slightly firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate with Royal Icing, if using. Top icing with sanding sugar or sprinkles, if using. Cookies can be kept in an airtight container, layered between sheets of waxed or
parchment paper, at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Royal Icing is best applied by piping it onto cookies, rather than spreading it with a knife or offset spatula. Pipe the outline of the cookie first, then draw tight zigzags within the outlined area to fill it in (this is known as flooding). While the icing is still wet, apply dots or lines in contrasting colors, or decorate with sprinkles or
sanding sugar. To stretch polka dots into flourishes, drag the tip of a toothpick or wooden skewer through the dots.

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