2 Pounds of Butter in 2 Days

I can go days, weeks, without baking.  All of a sudden something will come up and I am baking like a crazy lady.  This week:  Easter; my mother's birthday; my father's birthday; and an 'early' Easter at my in-laws (really, a 'look what the Easter Bunny brought for Moira' dinner...too cute).  What I did the past two days is absolutely crazy, considering I am 32 weeks pregnant. (I am feeling the aftermath of my craziness today...ouch!)  Besides my aching back and feet, the end result was 4 wonderful treats, ready for the celebrations and lots of butter.  Mmmmm, treats.  Mmmmm, butter.

I saw these Raspberry Lemonade Bars from Handle the Heat over at Pinterest and could not resist the urge to try them out. It just sounded like summer, and God knows we could use some summer in Buffalo, NY right now.  They are super-tangy and sweet, and chewy.  Different...but I can't stop sneaking a bite or crumb here and there, so we will say addicting in their own little way.

My father's birthday was earlier this week.  I made him peanut butter cookies, to be delivered during our visit.Nothing fancy, just classic, wonderful peanut butter crisscross cookies.  I used the recipe from a Chow Life which is pretty much the recipe I remember from my youth...lots of peanut butter, lots of butter, lots of sugar!  Who doesn't love dozens of cookies, all to themselves?

My mother is celebrating a big one this year (I won't disclose that information Mom, I promise).  I really wanted to make something wonderfully special but to my mother's taste.  She asked for something with fruit in it.  (PERFECT!!!  I have been craving fresh berries lately!)  I love reading Joy the Baker's blog and found her recipe for a Big Berry Birthday Cake with Vanilla Whipped Buttercream Frosting with Rose Water.    OH MY GOD!!!  The crumb of the cake I have tasted so far is amazing.  I am waiting to frost the cake until celebration day tomorrow, so I will have to share the fabulousness of the dessert after that.  Stay tuned!

Moira and I made the sugar cookie cut-outs for Easter.  She loves baking cookies and is super proud when she gets to tell people that she made the treats they are eating.  This sugar cookie is THE sugar cookie recipe I have been using for all of my holidays, specifically Christmas, for years.  I love it!  However, I have been on the search for a frosting that satisfies me.  I have settled for the past couple of years on a sugar frosting with just confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and milk....until yesterday when I decided for a change to try a plain old buttercream recipe.  The verdict?  This is it for us!

Here is our favorite Sugar-Cookie Cut-Out recipe.  I added some lemon zest and lemon extract for the spring occasion.

1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour

Beat butter and shortening in a medium mixing bowl on medium speed until creamed.  Add sugar, baking powder and a dash of salt.  Beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl.  Beat in egg and vanilla until combined (I added 1 teaspoon lemon extract and 1 tablespoon lemon zest here).  Add the flour and mix until fully combined, using a wooden spoon if needed.  Cover dough and chill at least one hour until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 375.  Roll one portion of the dough out at a time on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut out your shapes and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until edges are firm.  Cool on the cookie sheet for 1 minute then remove to a wire rack to cool.

Buttercream Frosting

1/3 cup butter, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
(I also used 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract)
4 Tablespoons milk

Beat butter in a medium bowl with hand mixer until creamed.  Add sugar and mix.  Add vanilla (and lemon).  Gradually add milk until desired consistency is reached.

Frost your cookies and let them set for a couple of hours before stacking.  And, although it is tempting, try not to eat the frosting out of the bowl!


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