Lemon Cake, Part Deux

So yes, once again I'm a repeat offender.  I made the lemon cake again.  What can I say?  It was my boss's birthday, and his wife told me he loves lemon cake!  In my own defense, though, I did it up a little different, using fresh whipped cream as frosting, and fresh raspberries on top.  SO good.  I'd actually venture to say that it was better than the lime frosting!  Especially in the middle of winter, such a refreshing dessert!  I've gotten rave reviews in the office so far (but hey, who's going to call me up and say, "Hmmm. Yeaaah.  Your cake kiiiiinda stunk. Sorry!" ;)

So I don't leave you hanging, though, I've got a non-baked good recipe to share.  The other night I made this OUTSTANDING soup that my best friend of 10 years, Anne,emailed to me.  She told me it's incredible, and that I had to try it.

Oh. my. god.

She was right, it's amaaaazing!  While I'd normally make a soup like this in the fall, when squash is more plentiful (or maybe it's just my grocery store, but I had to buy organic.  It's all they had!), this was so satisfying on the chilly and rainy Sunday we had this week in DC.  The only warning I'll throw out was that peeling and cubing an acorn squash was like nothing I've ever experienced before.  Flat out: it was hard.  Be sure you have a sharp knife!  Also, if you wait to peel, core, and cube your apples until after the squash, you'll feel like a ninja with your knife skills.  Substantially easier!!

On to the recipe!

Apple Squash Soup
Acorn squash makes the richest soup, even though it can be difficult to peel; butternut or even yellow zucchini may be substituted. This simple soup adds color and elegance to any meal!


3 tablespoons butter
2 cups chopped onion
About 3 pounds acorn squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed (about 6 cups)
2 Granny Smith or other tart apples, peeled, cored, and cubed
3 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup apple cider or apple juice
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1-2 Granny Smith or other tart apples, for garnish
In a large soup pot, melt butter. Add onion and sauté until tender. Add squash, apples, chicken stock, and salt.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 25 minutes or until squash and apples are tender. Puree the soup in a blender (I used my immersion blender, worked beautifully!) and return to soup pot. Stir cider into pureed soup. If necessary, reheat soup until hot. Pepper liberally.

Grate or chop apples into tiny pieces just before serving and garnish each bowl of soup.

**I also added a few shakes of cinnamon and nutmeg to mine, which turned out excellent.  Anne likes to add some curry powder to hers.  There's a ton you could do with this!  I also think that some warm, chewy french bread is a must when eating this soup.  SO good!

Cookie Fail/Win

**Note to my faithful readers: I made these cookies about a month ago.  I didn't want to post until I had a recipe for you!  These would be great any time of the year, perhaps some heart-shaped treats for your favorite valentine? :) I also have a recipe for pumpkin pie coming up that will knock your socks off!  Same thing, just waiting to get another copy of the recipe here (I lost mine! Woops!).  Enjoy, and I apologize for being a little late!**

Alright folks. I gotta be straight with you.
The "horn" cookies didn't make it to fruition. This is the point where I tell you all that *cringe!* I'm human. See, the recipe calls for evaporated milk, and I'll be darned if that's not RIGHT next to the condensed milk in the grocery store! My snarky, sarcastic side says I should blame this cookie failure on the grocery store...but I'm fully aware that I was rushing through my list of things to buy. The worst part? I even opened the can!!! The only reason I caught the mistake was that I looked at the recipe to see that it called for 6.5 oz of evaporated milk and thought, "Gee, this a 14 oz can, what a pain...wait...CONDENSED?!?!!? OH come ON!" So I scratched the idea (and about 6 cups of flour on top of that..."ouch!", says my wallet) and moved on.

So what I have for you today are some perfectly delightful Sugar Cookies, courtesy of Everyday Food Magazine. They turned out to be really cute, thanks to my new cookie cutters, and sparkly white decorative sugar from my favorite cooking store: Hill's Kitchen. Seriously. If you live here, go there! It's nothing short of the best!!

Today's sugar cookie recipe was a bit strange. The method to make them was very much like making pie dough, in that it required the butter to be cold and cut into the dry ingredients. I made these right after my mix-up with the horn cookies, so I started off flustered. Genius that I am, I forgot to add one of the sticks of butter at the beginning! So where it says "Pulse until it looks like coarse crumbs" I was thinking, "Well, not really...but onward!" Yep. So I added the eggs, the vanilla, and I pulsed and pulsed wondering just why it wasn't looking like "wet sand" as the recipe said. So I walk over to grab a spoon to clear the sides of the bowl, and what do I see? a FULL stick of butter on the counter. I won't repeat the expletives that were shouted for your innocent eyes...but I'm pretty sure my landlord upstairs might think I have Tourette's after this day of madness.

So here's where, if my husband were home, I would cry and probably throw a couple things around. Since I had no audience, my thought was, "Well...at this point it can't get any worse!" so onward I went.

AND IT WORKED!!!!!! Holy guacamole folks. I was seriously not expecting this. I cut the butter into pieces, popped them in the food processor, and together it came. Amazing. These cookies turned out so cute, and so delicious! I used a simple recipe for royal icing for some of them, and I used red and white sugar for the candy canes. So while I hope you don't feel the need to throw things around or scream expletives while you bake them, I do hope you enjoy them as much as I with did! With that, on to the recipe!

Citrus Sugar Cookies adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food, December 2009 issue

Makes 40 3-inch cookies
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for working
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1. In a food processor, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (if you're like me and you don't have a food processor, you can sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and then grate the butter into the dry mixture, lightly tossing to incorporate). Add sugar, eggs, and lemon zest and process until the mixture resembles wet sand.
2. Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured surface; knead several times until dough comes together. Divide into 3 portions; flatten each into a disk. Roll each disk to an 1/8-inch thickness between sheets of parchment (or wax paper). Stack dough (still in parchment/paper) on a baking sheet; refrigerate 20 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with racks in middle and lower thirds. Working with 1 dough sheet at a time, peel off parchment. With lightly floured cutters, cut dough into desired shapes and arrange, 1 inch apart, on baking sheets (reroll scraps). Refrigerate 15 minutes.

4. Bake until cookies are set but still pale, 7 to 9 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool completely.

Another word for the wise? I used a spoon to decorate my cookies, and I found it to be the easiest way to get to the edges without looking too messy. The biggest trick is icing all the cookies before the frosting hardens in your bowls, so if you're really smart you'll recruit some helpers!  Or, you can be like me and watch The Goonies on TV like a zombie, and before you know it you're all done! :) Enjoy!
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