The Best Soft Sugar Cookies

This is my mom’s recipe, and let me tell you, they are the best! They are chewy, soft, thick, and not overly sweet. The perfect mix in a sugar cookie 🙂 my secret’s to the perfect sugar cookies are chill the dough, cut your cookies thick, and add lemon zest! This recipe has all of those things included and is my go-to sugar cookie recipe. I use this recipe for all holidays, and even made them adorned in baby pink and pearl sprinkles, for Paisley’s first birthday party favors 🙂 a must try! I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Sugar Cookie Ingredients:
– 3 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 tsp. baking powder
– 1/2 tsp. salt
– 1 cup butter (2 sticks) butter, softened
– 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
– 2 eggs
– 2 tsp. vanilla extract
– zest of 1 1/2 – 2 lemons

Directions:
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together, set aside. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add in the vanilla. Gradually, blend in the sifted ingredients until fully absorbed. Add in the lemon zest. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours, I usually do mine overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Grease your cookie sheets. On a clean, well floured surface, roll out small portions of chilled dough to 1/4 -1/2 inch thickness. The thickness of your sugar cookies is very important! If you roll them too thin, you will end up with a crunchy sugar cookie. Some people like that, but I prefer the big, fluffy, soft ones. You may need to roll the dough back and forth in your hands to warm it up a bit before rolling out. Cut out shapes using cookie cutters.
Bake 6-7 minutes, or until edges are barely brown. You really want them barely brown, take them out once you notice any brown along the edges of the cookies. It will keep them softer and avoid that crunchy texture. Remove and cool on wire racks. Cool completely before frosting.

Frosting Ingredients:
– 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
– 4 cups powdered sugar, more or less depending on consistency
– 2 tsp. vanilla extract
– 1/4 – 1/3 cup milk, more or less depending on consistency

Directions:
In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream butter. Add in powdered sugar and vanilla until crumbly. Gradually add milk until frosting reaches desired consistency, you can also add more sugar as needed. Add in food coloring to make different color batches.

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This is the difference between a crunchy sugar cookie and a thicker sugar cookie, the thicker one is definitely the best!

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Here is a little trick, while the oven is still warm from baking the cookies, place a paper towel on the range and set the butter on top of it. The warmth will soften the butter, so you can make the frosting without waiting!

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If you’re wanting to do different colors, separate out the frostings into individual ramekins and color as needed.

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Easy Sesame Chicken

I know I’ve posted a lot of beef recipes lately, so here’s a delicious chicken one for you guys! I’ve been planning on making this for awhile, but have sort of been putting it off. Here comes another crazy fact about me and my tastes… I despise eggs! At this point you’re probably thinking, “what the heck is wrong with this girl”?! Now, I don’t hate eggs entirely if they’re cooked into something such as a cake or bread, something where they are not detectable then that’s fine. However, I have a hard time getting past something that has chunks of egg in it or that eggs are one of the main ingredients. My mom told me my hatred of eggs began when I was a wee lass and she fed me half cooked scrambled eggs… That would be enough to scar anyone in my opinion! I have boycotted eggs for a long, long time now, while I was pregnant I tried to face my fear and I made some scrambled up with cheese and it was just as disgusting as I thought. I couldn’t even finish them, and I made Josh eat my portion. I know it’s probably mostly in my head, but the mind is a very powerful thing, so I will just continue to live my egg free life and be happy 🙂
Anyways, to get back to the point…. This recipe has the chicken coated in a cornstarch/egg mixture and then fried in a pan. To me, this screamed scrambled egg coated chicken! However, I finally put my big girl panties on and just made the dang recipe, and…. It was good! You can’t even taste the egg and it really acts as more of a breading anyway. I’m happy I made it and will repeat the recipe again, but I think I may try a bit of a different sauce. The sauce in the original recipe was good, but just seemed to be lacking something. I’ll have to experiment around with it in the future. Great weeknight meal though and really fast and easy!

Chicken Ingredients:
– 4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
– 1 large egg
– 2 tbsp. cornstarch
– 1 tsp. each of salt and pepper

Sauce Ingredients:
– 2 tbsp. soy sauce
– 1 tbsp. water
– 1/2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil (I omitted, because I didn’t have any on hand)
– 1 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
– 1 1/2 tbsp. rice vinegar
– grated ginger, (I used ground ginger, about 1/2 tsp.)
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 2 tbsp. sesame seeds
– 1 tbsp. cornstarch

Directions:
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the “Chicken Ingredients”, (the egg, cornstarch, and seasonings). Trim off any excess fat from the chicken breasts and cut them into small pieces, about 1-inch in size. Toss the chicken in the egg/cornstarch mixture to coat.
Heat a large pan with about 2 tbsp. of canola oil. Let the oil come to temperature and then dump the entire bowl of chicken and egg mixture into the hot pan. Cook the chicken, only occasionally stirring until it’s golden brown and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Drain off excess oil from the pan.
While your chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a small bowl, stir together all the “Sauce Imgredients”, the soy sauce, water, brown sugar, vinegar, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, cornstarch, and sesame oil if you’re using. Set the mixture aside.
Once the chicken has finished cooking and the oil drained, add the sauce right to the hot pan. Mix the chicken and sauce around, once the sauce warms it will thicken right away. Once the sauce is heated, turn off the stove and move the pan to another burner to cool.
Serve the chicken on top of brown rice and sliced green onions if you like!

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Restaurant Style Beef Enchiladas

I just have to share with you these awesome enchiladas I made for dinner tonight! Enchiladas have always been a hard thing for me to master, mine somehow never end up tasting like the Mexican restaurant ones. I stumbled across this recipe from The Pioneer Woman and thought it sounded great. Well, I am so happy to report that these enchiladas were awesome and tasted similar to restaurant style! Whoo hoo! 🙂 this recipe has a few more components to it, but don’t skip any steps, I really think that’s what makes it!
I did halve this recipe, since I’m only feeding three of us, and not PW’s brood. I’m going to just type up the amounts of everything I did and if you wanted to do the full batch, just double the amounts 🙂

Ingredients:
For the Sauce:
– 1/2 tbsp. Vegetable oil
– 1/2 tbsp. All- purpose flour
– 1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce
– 1 cup chicken broth
– salt and pepper, about 1/4 tsp. each

For the Meat:
– 3/4 pound lean ground beef
– 1/2 onion, minced
– 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
– 1/2 tsp. seasoning salt

Other Ingredients:
– 10 small corn tortillas
– 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
– 1 small can sliced black olives
– 1 cup chopped green onions (optional)
– 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

Directions:
Start by making the sauce. In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the flour and oil and whisk into a paste, cooking for 1 minute. Add the enchilada sauce, chicken broth, and salt and pepper to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for 35 minutes.
While the sauce is cooking, start on the meat mixture. Brown the ground beef in a pan with the onions. Drain off the excess fat and return the meat to the pan. Stir in the green chiles and seasoning salt. Set aside.
Next, move on to frying the tortillas. Heat some canola oil in a pan over medium heat. Fry each tortilla, one at a time, until just soft, not crisp. You really don’t want any crispness at all, just enough to absorb some oil and become a little blistered, about 30 seconds per side. Remove the tortillas promptly to a paper towel lined plate, to sop up the excess oil. Repeat until all tortillas have been fried.
Finally, we move on to assembly! Preheat your oven to 350F. Pour some of the red sauce into a baking dish, enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Dip each tortilla into the saucepan of sauce and place on a clean working surface. Now, start layering, by beginning with a spoonful of the meat mixture. Then you will add the olives (and green onions if you’re using them) on top of the meat, followed by the shredded cheese. Roll the tortilla end to end and place seam side down in the bottom of your “saucy” prepared pan. Repeat until the pan is filled. Pour the remaining red sauce over the rolled up enchiladas and top with your remaining cheese. Remember you can never have too much cheese in Enchiladas, so feel free to add some more! 😉
Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle cilantro over the enchiladas before serving, if you desire 🙂

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Lasagna Roll-ups

I had some spaghetti sauce leftover from when I made it last week, that I didn’t want to go to waste. I didn’t really feel like making a whole pan of lasagna so I just took a little short cut and made lasagna roll-ups. I’ve made an Alfredo roll-up rendition before that turned out well, so I decided to give it a try with a lasagna spin.
I do have to make a confession, I am not a huge cheese fan… I am sort of grossed out by a lot of cheese’s and I am not into experimenting with new cheese’s at all. I find blue cheese disgusting and am just really close minded to any of the others, besides the “normal” ones like cheddar, jack, and mozzarella. I also despise American cheese and will only eat it on a burger from a restaurant if there’s no other cheese options offered. I am sort of a freak about cheese (as you can probably tell) and even have to have cheddar cheese cut super thin for me to eat it, like I said…. Freak! Lol
Anyways, to get back on topic, I don’t care for ricotta cheese very much, and cottage cheese is even worse. This makes it sort of a tough when it comes to lasagna. Normally when I make it (which isn’t very often) I just do as little of the ricotta mixture that I can get away with. Today though, I didn’t have any on hand nor did I really want to use it anyway, so I just left it out! I just put the meat sauce and a lot of mozzarella cheese in the roll-ups and it was just fine that way, I didn’t even miss the extra cheese! I think I’m going to try my hand at making a lasagna this way in the future and see how it comes out. I’ll keep you updated on that experiment 🙂

Ingredients:
– lasagna noodles, just the regular kind, not no-boil
– your favorite spaghetti meat sauce, probably about 2-3 cups
– lots of shredded mozzarella, about 2-3 cups
– your favorite combination of Italian seasonings, I just did a mix of oregano and basil this time

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375F. Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside.
Cook the lasagna noodles to al-dente, since they’ll be going in the oven you don’t want them to turn to mush. Place about 1/2 cup of your meat sauce in the bottom of your prepared pan.
Once the noodles are cooked, start building your roll-ups. Place one lasagna noodle flat on a clean surface. Add a good amount of meat sauce right on top of the noodle and spread the sauce from end to end. Top with quite a bit of shredded mozzarella and then finish off with your Italian seasonings. Roll up the noodle from one end and keep rolling until you reach the far end. Place the lasagna roll-up seam side down in the prepared pan. Do this same procedure for the rest of the lasagna noodles.
Once you’ve got all the roll-ups situated in the pan, pour your remaining sauce directly on top, and top with the rest of the shredded cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, to get a nice color on the cheese.
Serve with garlic bread and a nice side salad.

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Delicious Spaghetti Meat Sauce

Oh Spaghetti meat sauce…. This is another one of those recipes that I’ve searched a long time for the perfect one. I have this go-to spaghetti sauce that I normally make, but it’s just not “the one”. This is my idol, The Pioneer Woman’s recipe and it’s super good! I think next time I’ll leave out the green peppers, they were a bit too strong for my taste, but other than that, it was very good! I’ll definitely be making this again!

Ingredients:
– 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
– 1/2 onion, diced
– 1/2 green pepper, seeded and minced
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 cup beef broth, she also sates that you can use white wine in it also
– 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
– 1 can jarred marinara sauce
– 1 small can tomato paste
– 1 tsp. ground oregano
– 1 tsp. ground thyme
– 2 bay leaves
– 1 tsp. Kosher salt
– 1 tbsp. Sugar
– 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
– spaghetti noodles, or any other pasta you would like. This recipe makes a lot so make ample pasta!
– Parmesan cheese for serving and mixing in your sauce at the end if you want

Directions:
In a large pot (stock pot size) brown the ground beef. Drain the excess fat and set meat aside in another bowl, (don’t clean the pot that you browned the meat in). Drizzle in some olive oil into your stock pot and add in the onions and green peppers. Stir it around and cook for a few minutes, then add in the garlic. Stir and cook for an additional minute.
Pour in the beef broth (or the wine) and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Add in the crushed tomatoes, marinara sauce, and tomato paste. Stir to combine, and then add the oregano, thyme, sugar, salt, bay leaves, and the red pepper flakes. Stir all together and then add the ground beef back in. Give that a big stir and turn your heat to simmer. Place the lid on your pot and let simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Bring a pot of salted water to boil and add in your pasta. Try and time this to where your sauce will finish about the same time as the pasta. Then you won’t have to wait to dig in!
After the hour, add some more liquid (water or beef broth) if it needs it, and give it another big stir. Let simmer for another 30 minutes or so. Discard the bay leaves before serving.
Serve with a nice side salad and a piece of yummy garlic bread!

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Pizza Pasta Bake

We love pizza in our house! I mean we really love it, Friday’s are our pizza nights. Some weeks we order it, and some weeks we make our own. Either way we get our pizza fix and it is glorious! 😉 I found this recipe and it had pizza in the title, so right away I was pretty much sold! I knew Hubby would be pretty excited for this too, so I gave it a shot!
It was different than I was expecting, but still pretty good. I think the pasta part was just throwing me off a bit. Hubby and Paisley really enjoyed it and it was better the next day, not my favorite recipe, but it’s blog worthy I suppose 😉 I hope your family enjoys it!

Ingredients:
– 1 pound lean ground beef
– 1/2 onion, diced
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
– 1 (14 ounce) jar pizza sauce
– 1/2 cup water
– 1/2 box pasta, I used rotini for this recipe
– 2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided
– 25 slices pepperoni, divided
– I didn’t this time, but you can add other ingredients to the casserole such as mushrooms, green peppers, olives, jalapeños, etc! The sky’s the limit, just think what you normally like on your pizza and add it in!

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare an 8x 11-inch casserole dish, by coating it with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside for later use.
Bring a pot of slated water to boil, and add in your pasta. Cook the pasta to “al-dente” or not completely done, since it will be going in the oven. While your pasta is cooking, brown the ground beef with onion, garlic, and the Italian seasoning. Drain the ground beef and return the meat to the pan. Once your pasta is cooked, drain it and return to its pot.
In a large bowl, mix together the water and pizza sauce. Slice 15 of your pepperoni slices in half and add the halves to the bowl with the pizza sauce and water. Next, add to the same bowl the cooked pasta, and the 1 1/2 cups mozzarella. Stir well.
Pour the pasta mixture into your prepared pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese, and place the remaining pepperoni slices on top. Cover with aluminum foil and place into your preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes with the foil on. Once the time is up, remove the foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.
Serve with a side of garlic bread and a nice salad, this is fantastic re-heated too!

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Homemade Mac and Cheese with Smoked Sausage

Before I go any further, I just have to say that this is not a healthy recipe by any means. There’s sausage, pasta, and lots of cheese! It’s certainly a rich meal and one for a splurge night, my family loves it and doesn’t complain when I tell them this is for dinner!

Ingredients:
– 1 package beef smoked sausage
– half a box of any pasta of your choice, I like bow ties with this recipe
– a bunch of shredded cheddar cheese, I usually just guesstimate, but I would say its close to 3 1/2 cups (I warned you there was A LOT of cheese)!
– splash of milk

Directions:
Start by slicing up your smoked sausage and placing it in a pan. Cook the sausage over medium heat, turning the slices over once, so they get a nice brown color. While your sausage is cooking, bring a medium sized pan of water to boil. Once the water is boiling, add in your pasta.
Once your sausage is cooked, remove it from the pan and place it on a paper towel lined plate. This will absorb some of the excess grease. Drain your pasta and place it back into your warm pot. Add the cheese and a splash of milk, keep stirring it until the cheese is totally melted. Add in the sausage at this time and give it another good stir!
Serve with some veggies on the side or mixed in, to make this a tad bit healthy! 😉 Enjoy!

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