Classic Black-and-White Cookies

Classic Black-and-White Cookies
Classic Black-and-White Cookies

Cake or cookie?  Or both?

Black-and-White Cookies are one of my family’s favorites. Whether they’re bigger than your head or bite size, everyone ooh’s and ahh’s at the sight of icing dripping over the edges of the part cake/part cookie dessert. They weren’t hard to make, but they took time and were messy. So, put on an apron, clear the counter, and get ready for some serious Cookie Therapy.

These cookies were so delicious, everyone in my house said, “Just one more.”  This recipe yields a lot of cookies so I froze a bunch. Even defrosted, they were yummy. You know I love a party.  How fun would it be to make these using food coloring on the white icing to match a color scheme?

Happy baking, hon!

Measure ingredients.
Measure ingredients.
Use a paddle attachment to mix ingredients.
Use a paddle attachment to beat until light and fluffy.







Drop batter onto cookie sheet.
Form tablespoon size dough balls.
Bake until
Bake until edges begin to brown.







Spread white icing on 1/2 of cookies.
Spread white icing on half of each cookie.
Spread chocolate icing on other half of cookies.
Spread chocolate icing on the other half of each cookie.






Let icing set
Let icing set.

Classic Black-and-White Cookies


2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter (I used margarine*), at room temperature

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup whole milk (I used almond milk*)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups cake flour

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoons baking powder

Icing Ingredients

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/3 cup boiling water

1ounce bittersweet chocolate, melted

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2.  Place flours and baking powder in a bowl and mix well.

3.  Place butter (or margarine) and granulated sugar in a mixer fitted with a paddle and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions. Add milk (or almond milk) and vanilla and beat well. With mixer running, gradually add dry flour ingredients to butter mixture, beat until completely mixed

4.  Form the dough into tablespoon-size balls and place about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.  Transfer to oven and bake until edges of the cookies just begin to brown, about 25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and repeat with remaining dough.

5.  Icing:  Place the confectioners’ sugar in a large mixing bowl and add water, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is spreadable but still thick.  Transfer half the icing to another mixing bowl and stir in the melted chocolate. Set aside to cool.

6.  Spread half of one side of the cookies with the white icing and the other half with the chocolate icing. Set aside until the icing hardens.

Yield:  about 6 dozen cookies

Substituting margarine for butter and almond milk for milk made these cookies dairy-free.

Source:  Family Circle magazine

Character Driven Gingerbread Cookies

Sassy, classy, tasty gingerbread ladies!
Sassy, Classy, Tasty Gingerbread Ladies!

I’m right in the thick of it! The Holidays, of course.

Time seems to fly more quickly between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. With four kids coming and going, I am constantly grocery shopping, cooking, baking and doing laundry.

Since I’m sure you don’t want to see pics of laundry (Hubby’s nicknamed me the “Laundry Wench”) or my Dining-Room/Dorm-Room-Depot, I’ll be posting recipes. I’m raising my virtual glass of sherry (Julia Child-style) in a toast to being the Kitchen Queen, Domestic Goddess, or whatever euphemism you can think of for someone who dons an apron for hours and falls asleep with her head on the kitchen table.

Just because I don’t have time to write doesn’t mean the words stop forming in my head. I “write” while I drive, sleep, run, cook and bake. Gingerbread men and women bring out a desire to create dialogue!

Hence, they are…

CHARACTER DRIVEN COOKIES! (clever, don’t you think?) 

Dough's made and ready to roll!
Dough’s made and ready to roll!
Cookies by the dozens.
Cookies by the dozens.







Creators of Characters.
Creators of Characters
Decorating takes concentration.
Decorating takes concentration.






Cookie Crowd.
Cookie Crowd.
"Snowman Stylin'!"
“How do you like my ‘Snowman Stylin’?”
"Oh no, not the gumdrops!"
“Anything but the gumdrop buttons!” said the Gingerbread Man from Shrek.
Little Boy, Gingerbread Man, Hipster and Snowman
Little Boy, Gingerbread Man, Hipster and Snowman.

Gingerbread Cookies


3 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon ground ginger

1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup molasses

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)

To decorate the cookies, use your imagination.  We used Royal Icing (recipe below), Mini M&M’s, Cinnamon Imperials, Sparkling Sugar and French Dragées. We used toothpicks and paintbrushes as decorating tools.


1.  In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.

2.  In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar and egg on medium speed.

3.  Add molasses, vanilla, and lemon zest and continue mixing until well blended.

4.  Gradually stir in dry ingredients until blended and smooth.

5.  Divide dough in two, wrap each half in plastic wrap, and store in refrigerator for a couple of hours.*  Let dough come to room temperature before rolling cookies.

6.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease or line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

7.  On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to about 1/4 inch thick.  Thicker cookies = softer cookies; thinner cookies = crispier cookies.

8.  Cut out cookies with desired cookie cutters. Bake cookies for 7-10 minutes.

9.  Once baked, allow cookies to cool before decorating.

Yield:  24 five inch tall cookies.

Source:, “The Most Wonderful Gingerbread Cookies” by gingerkitten D

*Dough can be stored in refrigerator for up to 4 days. It can also be frozen for later use.

additional flour to your cookies.

Royal Icing 


3 3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar

3 Tablespoons meringue powder (also know as dried egg whites)

6 Tablespoons warm water


Beat 4 to 5 minutes by hand. Stir in optional flavors and desired tints. Royal icing is white, so if you stir in vanilla flavoring, it will turn the icing yellowish. If icing gets too thick, add tiny bits of warm water until you get the consistency you want.

Yield: About 3 cups icing.

Happy baking, hon! 

Fall Fete (Dessert and Decor)


I recently hosted a Fall Fete, or festive celebration.

Hon, you know how much I love a theme.  And baking.  Combining my favorite season with decor and dessert energized me more than usual.  The morning after the Get Together, we drove through the stunning Lehigh Valley to visit one of our college daughters.  I guess I was still buzzing from the night before because, when I ordered coffee with lunch, the Barista said, “Decaf for you?”

Flowers, pumpkins and pumpkin trees.
Flowers, pumpkins and pumpkin trees.

Look what I found at Trader Joe’s.  I’d never heard of pumpkin trees before, but apparently that’s what those branches with real, mini pumpkins growing on them are called.

Window display.
Window display.  I love to merchandise!
I love merchandising!
I collect decor for every season and am a big fan of using what I  have and embellishing it.
Snoopy-dressed-as-a-pumpkin and youngest daughter's ceramic bunnies welcome friends.
Snoopy-Dressed-as-a-Pumpkin and Youngest Daughter’s ceramic bunnies welcome friends.
It must be the children's writer in me that sees this porcupine candle as a character!
It must be the children’s writer in me that sees this porcupine candle as a character!
Cupcakes, candy and a Haunted House.
Cupcakes, candy and a Haunted House Kit.

I couldn’t resist this Haunted House Kit from Williams-Sonoma.  Orange icing inspired the Decorate-Your-Own-Cupcake Station.  The flavor of the icing is


…candy corn!  And the Hershey Kisses aren’t chocolate, they’re pumpkin spice!  So much yumminess!

Dried Fruit, Pumpkin Mini Muffins, Rice Krispie Treats and Crudites.
Dried Fruit, Pumpkin Mini Muffins, Rice Krispie Treats and Crudites.
Apple Crumble
Apple Crumble.

You can bet I tried a little of everything!


Pumpkin Muffins

Apple Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream

Rice Krispie Treats (made with M & M’s and candy corn)


Dried Fruit


Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins 


Hot Apple Cider

Hot Chocolate

Coffee and Tea


A candy bat is caught in a giant spider's web.
A candy bat is caught in a giant spider’s web.
The candy corn fence is adorable.
The candy corn fence is adorable.







Maybe next year, we should have a Kids-Versus-Grown-ups Haunted House contest!
Assembling the Haunted House looked like fun.  Maybe next year, we should have a Kids-Versus-Grown-ups Haunted House contest!

Pumpkin Muffin Recipe:  click here

Apple Crumble Recipe:  post under construction (source, Mama’s Gotta Bake)

Gluten Free Spinach Tomato Cheddar Quiche


Call me a quiche snob!

I can’t bring myself to buy quiches that have 25 plus ingredients, many of them unpronounceable. Sure, I eat my share of processed food. But why buy something when a) the recipe is easy to follow, b) all the ingredients are familiar, and c) the homemade version is healthy and delicious? Plus, quiches freeze well. I’m always happy to pull one of out of the freezer, add some salad and/or soup and call it a meal.

One of my daughters is gluten free so this was my first attempt at making gluten free pastry dough. It was definitely more work than making regular pastry dough, which is a cinch if you have a food processor. I was surprised how well the gluten free dough held its shape. If you want the recipe for regular pastry dough, click here and you’ll link to a previous post,  Broccoli Cheddar Quiche.

Happy cooking, hon!

Gathering Ingredients
Gathering ingredients.
Dried beans weigh pastry dough down while bakes for 10 minutes.
Dried beans weigh pastry dough down it while bakes for 10 minutes.
Shredded cheddar and steamed spinach.
Shredded cheddar and steamed spinach.
Steamed spinach and chopped tomato.
Steamed spinach and chopped tomato.






Ready to go in the oven.
Ready to go in the oven.
Gluten Free Spinach Tomato Cheddar Quiche ready to eat.
Gluten Free Spinach Tomato Cheddar Quiche ready to eat.



1 3/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick butter, plus extra for greasing

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup water

pie weights or dried beans (I bought a bag of navy beans, these can be used again after weighing down dough in oven.)


1.  Grease a deep 9-inch tart or pie pan.

2.  To make pastry dough, place the flour, xanthan gum, and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until it resembles fine bread crumbs.

3.  Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the egg and a little water. Using your hands, mix in the dry ingredients to form a dough. Invert it onto a gluten free floured surface and knead well. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.

4.  Roll out the dough and use it to line the prepared tart pan. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

5.  Remove the dough from the freezer, line with parchment paper, fill with pie weights or dried beans, and bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove parchment paper and weights and let the pastry cool slightly before adding filling.



10 oz. shredded Cheddar cheese

2 Tbsp. flour

1 (10 oz.) pkg frozen spinach, steamed

1 medium tomato, cut into chunks

3 eggs, beaten

¼ to ½ cup half & half or a little milk

Dash of pepper and dash or two of nutmeg


1.  In a large bowl, toss cheese and flour together.

2.  Cook spinach according to directions; drain well.

3.  Add spinach and tomato to cheese.  Add eggs to spinach/tomato/cheese mixture.  Add half & half (or milk).  Add pepper and nutmeg; stir.  Mix well.

4.  Pour into piecrust.  Sprinkle nutmeg on top.

5.  Bake 45 to 50 minutes until golden brown.  (Hint: If crust is browning and middle of quiche isn’t set, use a pie rim cover or tin foil to cover perimeter of crust until quiche is done.)

Serves 6 to 8.

*Source for gluten free pastry dough:  Gluten Free Baking by Michael McCamley

Another Snow Day? Valentine’s Marshmallow Snowmen

Valentine's Marshmallow Snowman
Valentine’s Marshmallow Snowman

Another Snow Day?  Kids are home?  Run out of ideas?

Here are mine.

Valentine’s Marshmallow Snowmen (and Snowladies):

My K-2 After School Enrichment class made these Monday and, believe it or not, they waited to taste the “art supplies”…ummm, candy….until everyone was finished.


“Art Supplies”:

–large marshmallows

–lollipop sticks (or assemble these on a plate w/o sticks)

–icing (or “glue”)

–red candies, such as red M & M’s, red hots, red candy melts, licorice, sour belts, etc.

–candy melts for hats and noses, other options:  candy corn, cherries

–food coloring and toothpicks (or “paintbrushes”) and/or edible markers

–edible candy eyes

–pretzels (for arms, we used brown food coloring to paint the branch arms)

–OR use whatever you have in the house.

Orange candy melts, which are just white chocolate with food coloring.
Orange candy melts, which are just white chocolate with food coloring.
Cut orange candy melts into small, narrow triangles for carrot noses.
Cut orange candy melts into small, narrow triangles for carrot noses.
Assembling Snowman.
Assembling Snowman.


Each child got a plate with a glob of icing, marshmallows, a plastic knife and candy eyes. The rest of the candy was in bowls, so they could choose how to decorate their red-candied Snow-people.  Easy peasy!  The kids made Snow-families, some carrot noses stuck out and others were iced to the side of the face.  Branch arms were drawn on with toothpicks dipped in brown food coloring.  Pretzels make nice branch arms, too.

Warning:   Eating too many Marshmallow Snowmen in one sitting will cause a sugar rush!




Other ideas:

My other ideas are mainly food related because one of my mottos raising triplets plus one is “If all else fails, bake!”

Valentine’s Sugar Cookies

Valentines Sugar Cookies
Valentines Sugar Cookies

Melted Snowman Cookies 

Melted Snowman Cookies
Melted Snowman Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookie in a Cup

Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Cup.
Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Cup.

Indoor Spa Day

Tween Daughter with avacado mask
Tween Daughter with avacado mask.

Happy Snow Day, hon.

Pass the Applesauce Potato Latkes (aka Potato Pancakes)

Potato Latkes
Potato Latkes

Hon, these potato latkes tasted as good as they smelled!  I tripled the recipe below, then portioned and froze them, ready to defrost and reheat at a moment’s notice. Prepping and frying latkes is a lot of work, which is why I make them only twice a year. Yes, they’re cooked in oil. But, they’re worth it on occasion, especially if served with applesauce or sour cream.


potatoes grated in food processor
Grate potatoes in food processor.
onions grated in food processor
Grate onions in food processor.
Latkes frying.
Fry latkes in oil until medium brown on each side.
Latkes frying.
Add more oil to frying pan when oil level drops.
Drain latkes on brown paper bags to retain their crispiness.
Drain latkes on brown paper bags to retain their crispiness.



4 large potatoes, peeled and grated (I used a food processor to grate potatoes and onions.)

1 cup onions, grated

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Corn, canola or vegetable oil

brown paper grocery bags, cut open and flattened on a counter


1.  Insert grating disc in food processor and grate potatoes.  Place potatoes in a colander sitting in a bowl or sink.  Drain excess liquid.

2.  Grate onions in food processor.

3.  In a large bowl, combine drained potatoes with eggs, salt, pepper, baking powder, flour and onions.  Mix well.

4.  Pour a layer of oil in frying pan and heat on a medium heat.

5.  Drop potato mixture by spoonfuls into hot oil.  (Be careful, because they splatter.)

6.  When one side of a latke is medium brown, turn and brown other side.

7.  Drain on paper bags.

Yield:  approximately 25 latkes, depending on the size of the spoon and amount of mixture you drop into the oil.

*If not serving right away, you may freeze latkes once they’ve cooled. When ready to serve, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place latkes in a single layer on foil-lined cookie sheets.  Bake approximately 15 minutes or until crisp.

Serve with applesauce or sour cream.

Pass a Piece of Pie

Pumpkin Pies
Pumpkin Pies
Apple pies
Apple Pies

Guess what I’m thinking of when I run these days?  Pie, of course!

After a pie baking day when I did not eat a piece of pie, I’ve been dreaming about dessert on Thanksgiving.  If you think I will be stuffed from dinner, you’re right.  But…

there’s always room for dessert!

Recipe for Pumpkin Pie

Recipe for Apple Pie

I made all the dough the same way, but some rolled out beautifully and some did not. After trying fruitlessly to roll out the top of one pie, I had an idea care of Ceramics class.

Apple pie, rolling pin and heart shaped cookie cutter.
Apple pie, rolling pin and heart shaped cookie cutter.

I used a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out smaller sections of dough, which I then overlapped to form the top crust.  Do you like the result?

Apple pie covered in hearts.
Apple pie covered in hearts.

I also decided to make mini Apple Pies in a muffin tin. After lining the muffin tin with baking cups, I formed small pie crusts, added the apple filling and pinched the crusts closed.

Form mini pie crusts in baking cups.
Form mini pie crusts in baking cups.
Close-up of mini pie crusts.
Close-up of mini pie crusts.
Apple filling
Apple filling
Spoon apple filling into mini pie crust.
Spoon apple filling into mini pie crust.
Sprinkle a sugar/ cinnamon mixture on top and bake.
Sprinkle a sugar/ cinnamon mixture on top and bake.

The mini apple pies gave off a lot of liquid, which seeped out of the sides of the baking cups causing them to stick to the muffin tin. So, next time, I would drain the apple mixture more as well as double or triple the baking cups in each section.

Happy baking, hon!

Thanksgiving Dinner–Southern Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie
Pecan Pie

I love pecan pie!  While showing off photos of my lovely-looking pie, I was informed that I pronounce pecan incorrectly.  I say pee-CAN, but was told it should be pronounced pi-CAHN.  Either way I say it, my mouth waters just thinking about one of my favorite desserts!

In addition to apple and pumpkin pies, I’m adding this pie to my Thanksgiving dinner menu.  I found it in a Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking cookbook.

Happy baking, hon!

P.S.  How do you pronounce pecan?

pie crust and filling ingredients
pie crust and filling ingredients
ready to go in the oven
ready to go in the oven
Pecan Pie:  Enjoy!
Pecan Pie: Enjoy!


Basic Pie Crust

1 1/3 (325 ml) cups flour

1/2 (2 ml) teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (125 ml) vegetable shortening

1/4 cup (50 ml) ice water

Food Processor Directions:  Insert steel blade in food processor.  Mix flour and salt, then place the mixture in the food processor.  Add shortening and process until mixture resembles cornmeal (about 5 seconds).  Slowly pour ice water through feed tube and process until dough forms a ball (about 5 to 10 seconds).  Chill dough for easier handling.

Shortcut:  If you don’t have time to make your own crust, use store-bought, unbaked pie crust.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


3 large eggs

1/2 cup (4 oz/ 125 g) sugar

1 cup (10 oz/ 315 g) dark corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup (2 oz/ 60g) unsalted butter, melted (I used margarine)

1 1/2 cups (6oz/ 185g) large pecan pieces, cut into halves and quarters

Whipped Cream, optional


1.  Roll out the crust and form a pie shell in a baking dish.

2.  To make the filling, in a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla.  Whisk until blended.

3.  Whisk in melted butter (or margarine) .

4.  Using a spoon, stir in pecans.

5.  Pour filling into pie crust.

6.  Bake pie until filling is set.  The cookbook’s recipe recommends 45-50 minutes baking time, but my pie took 65 minutes to bake, so I suggest watching the pie to see how much time it needs in your oven.  The center of the pie should jiggle slightly if the pan is given a gentle shake.

7.  Transfer to wire rack and let cool.  Serve warm or a room temperature with whipped cream, if desired.

*The pie can be covered with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

*I made my pie a few weeks in advance and froze it, covering it in plastic wrap and tin foil.  I’ll thaw it the day before Thanksgiving and warm it in the oven on 250 degrees F before serving.

Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

Vanilla Chai Cupcakes
Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

Hon, these were sooo yummy.  The chai flavor was interesting and the cupcakes themselves were light and fluffy.  Dessert anyone?

Prep: 25 mins. Bake: approximately 25 mins. + cooling

Yield: 12 Servings


1/2 teaspoon each ground ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups cake flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup 2% milk


6 tablespoons butter, softened

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 to 4 tablespoons 2% milk

Ground cinnamon


In a small bowl, combine the ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and pepper; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and 1-1/2 teaspoons spice mixture. Gradually add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.

Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 24-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

In a large bowl, beat butter until fluffy; beat in the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and remaining spice mixture until smooth. Add enough milk to reach desired consistency. Pipe frosting over cupcakes; sprinkle with cinnamon. Yield: 1 dozen.


Chicken, Bean and Quinoa Salad

Chicken, Bean and Quinoa Salad

If you like chicken and lemon/lime flavors, you’ll like this protein packed, summery salad. According to Oxygen magazine, where one of my health conscious daughters found this recipe, there are 27 grams of protein in the salad.  I thought it was delicious and I hope you do, too.  Happy cooking!

Makes 2 servings

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 6 oz), pounded to 1/2″ thickness


Juice of 1 lemon (approx. 1/3 cup)  {comment:  use less lemon and lime juice in marinade if you like a milder lemon flavor}

Juice of 1 lime

Zest of 1/2 lemon

Zest of 1/4 lime

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground chili powder

Pinch of cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes


4 cups romaine lettuce

1/2 cup roasted or canned corn kernels

1/4 cup black beans

1/2 avocado, diced

1/2 cup chopped heirloom tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped orange bell pepper

1/2 cup cooked quinoa


Juice of 1 lemon (approx. 1/3 cup)

Juice of 1 lime

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 chopped fresh cilantro

Pinch of sea salt

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1.  In a bowl, mix together marinade ingredients.  Place chicken in a large Ziploc bag or container.  Pour mixture onto chicken.  Mix well by shaking bag or tossing in container with closed lid.  Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, divide all of the salad ingredients into 2 plates.

3.  Remove chicken from bag or container and grill in a pan on stove for 2 to 3 minutes per side.  Place cooked, sliced chicken on top of salads.

4.  In a bowl, combine dressing ingredients.  Pour over salad and serve.