Olaf Sugar Cookies

Give Thanks

I hope you and yours had a very Happy Thanksgiving. Ours was a wonderful one. My family and Grandparents joined us for my first Thanksgiving. Everything was delicious and I’m certain everyone left with a happy heart and a filled tummy. That was my goal! We then joined my in-laws and spent the day with them on Friday. It was so nice to see everyone.

firstthanksgivingturkey

Here is a real life snap of me with my oven roasted turkey. I am tired and sweaty after cooking all day Wednesday and my kitchen is a mess but my heart was happy and I was so proud of my turkey.

Now that Thanksgiving is over I can start thinking about Christmas. Christmastime is a wonderful time of the year but I won’t start thinking about Christmas until Thanksgiving has passed. I hate the holiday creep. It is officially December so that means Christmas cookies!

There is this movie that Disney released about a year ago. It takes place in the winter, everyone seems to be wearing their winter jackets throughout most of the movie, there is even a very cheeky snowman in it by the name of Olaf. This movie is called Frozen in case you haven’t heard of it. ;)

Olaf Sugar Cookies

Do you want to build a snowman? I made a batch of these cookies for the school bake sale back in September. Let’s just say they lasted as long as a snowman would last in the heat of the summer.

Olaf Collage

Decorating sugar cookies is so fun. However I am not an expert (sure wish I was though!). Since I am not an artist and could not trust myself to freehand a snowman that would resemble Olaf I went to the internet for help. I found a coloring page image of Olaf, printed it out, and cut off his head. I only had room on my cookies for the head.

Place the cut out on top of your cookie, using a toothpick dot around the features so you can trace them with the icing, lastly I traced the outside of the head and mouth and the outside of the cookie with icing first. Letting that harden before flooding it in. They were so fun to make and my girls loved the snowman surprise when they got home from school.

Making the icing has a bit of a learning curve, but don’t fret! You can do it! The icing you pipe around the shapes needs to be thicker so it will hold up. The icing you use to flood the shapes will be thinner but not thin. Think like syrup or honey. It will spread out slowly. I have linked below to a very helpful tutorial about decorating.

Olaf Sugar Cookies

OLAF SUGAR COOKIES
Ingredients
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the icing:
recipe from Sweet Sugar Belle
4 pounds powdered sugar
3/4 cup meringue powder
1-1/3 cup warm water
2-4 tablespoons flavoring extract like vanilla, almond, lemon, mint, etc. (not oil based)

DIRECTIONS
1. In a medium bowl whisk together flour and baking powder.
2. In the bowl of a kitchen mixer, beat together unsalted butter and sugar.
3. Once mixed well, add in egg and vanilla.
4. Add in flour mixture about a cup at a time.
5. Mix until dough forms and begins to clump together. If it appears crumbly keep mixing it will come together.
6. Roll dough into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and allow to chill in fridge for 30 minutes before using.

When ready to use:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. To roll dough place between lightly floured parchment sheets. I like the cookies between 1/8 -1/4 inch thick.
3. Place cut out shapes on parchment lined cookie sheet.
4. Put cookies sheet in freezer for about 5 minutes.
5. Bake for about 8 minutes. Let sit on the cookie sheet for a minute or two to set before placing on cooling rack. Cool completely before decorating.

For the icing:
1. In stand mixer with whisk attachment add the dry ingredients. Stir on low to mix sugar and meringue powder.
2. Combine water and flavoring extract and SLOWLY pour into the sugar while mixing. At first icing will be very liquidy.
3. Mix on medium-high speed until icing is fluffy and stiff peaks form about 8 minutes. Stop mixing as soon as icing becomes stiff.

This icing will keep for 1 month

At this point you can add color to your icing. Sweet SugarBelle does such a fabulous job of explaining everything so PLEASE read her great tips! Plus she has videos that show you way better than I could explain it. Plus she makes some of the best looking decorated sugar cookies I have seen!
Read more about adding color to your icing here
Read more about outlining and flooding your cookies here

I love to use AmeriColor food gels when I color my icings.

DECORATING THE COOKIES
First you pipe the outlines with thicker icing. Let set until hardened. I used a small fan to help speed this process along.
Once the outline is hardened you can flood your cookies with thinner frosting. Do it in steps. Allow to harden. Then fill in another color.

Posted in Desserts | Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Turkey Leftovers

Tomorrow is the big day! I think this year I am extra excited for Thanksgiving because my family will join us for the first time in our home for Thanksgiving. For the last nine years we have traveled for every holiday and this will be the first one spent in our home. Cooking for others is my love language and I couldn’t be more excited to give my love to my family.

There always seems to be leftovers and when it comes to how to use up that leftover turkey I have you covered. Forget the sandwich and take a look at these options. With fourteen different choices I hope you find one you’ll love.

I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how thankful I am for you. I love creating new recipes and sharing them with you.

Have a lovely and happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey Leftovers

Starting at the top left

Row One
1. Turkey Wild Rice Soup –Wild rice provides such a nice texture in this soup
2. Asian Chicken (Turkey) and Rice Soup –A great soup using star anise and fish sauce to give it a deep flavor

Row Two
3. Creamy Chicken (Turkey) and Wild Rice Soup –Similar to the first soup but with the addition of cream
4. Southwest Chicken (Turkey) Soup –Black beans, hominy, and green chilis give it a nice southwestern flavor
5. Chicken (Turkey) and Stars –A childhood favorite

Row Three
6. Three Bean Turkey Chili –Substitute shredded turkey for the ground turkey
7. Chicken (Turkey) Fried Rice –Substitute cooked cubed turkey for the chicken
8. Slow Cooker Chicken (Turkey) Philly Sandwiches –Use shredded cooked turkey

Row Four
9. BBQ Chicken (Turkey) Bacon Quesadillas –Kids and adults will love these leftovers
10. Mexican Lasagna –Mexican food is a great way to use up the turkey
11. Baked Tacos with Chicken (Turkey), Black Beans, and Sweet Corn –Ready in 15 minutes!

Bottom Row
12. Pasta with a Spicy Herb Cream Sauce –Shredded turkey would work wonderful in this delicious pasta dish
13. Turkey, Bacon, Vegetable Alfredo Shells –Another quick dinner in less than 30 minutes
14. Turkey Parmesan Casserole –Ready in about 20 minutes

Posted in Holidays, Main Dishes, Pasta, Soups | Tagged as: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grandma’s Make Ahead Potatoes + Best Darn Turkey Gravy Ever

Holidays are full of traditions. That is what makes them so wonderful. In my family Grandma’s mashed potatoes are part of the tradition. When I was little I called them potato cake since she would bake them up in a large disposable aluminum pan. If you don’t have any family favorite mashed potatoes I beg you to make these.

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

When I asked my family what I should included on the Thanksgiving menu the number one answer was “Grandma’s potatoes”. Well of course! They are full of cream cheese, sour cream, and butter. My cream cheese hating daughter LOVES these potatoes. Which makes me giggle when she goes back for seconds.

These can be boiled, mashed, and prepared a couple days in advanced. Freeze them or refrigerate until ready to bake. I am planning on baking mine on Wednesday then reheating in the crock pot on Thursday.

Gluten Free Turkey Gravy

Good gravy! Mashed potatoes are not complete without gravy. This is a gravy that uses up all the tasty turkey drippings and basting sauce. Bonus is that it is gluten free. Double bonus is it is the BEST gravy I have ever tasted. I think using wine when cooking the turkey really helped add a depth of flavor to the drippings that wouldn’t be there otherwise.

To keep this gravy gluten free I made a slurry out of stock and cornstarch to thicken the gravy instead of the traditional flour roux. And to be 100% honest I am a busy mom of four and I did not have the time (or take the time) to pour the drippings into a separate container and wait for the fat to separate. The pan drippings went straight into my large measuring cup and stock was added until it yielded 8 cups total. No muss …and there certainly wasn’t any fuss from my Friendsgiving crowd.

mashedpotgravy

So pour the best darn gravy ever over my favorite mashed potatoes and have yourself a Happy Thanksgiving!

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

GRANDMA’S MAKE AHEAD POTATOES
Ingredients
5 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons salt
1 -8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter, softened

Directions
1. Place potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water, add salt. Boil over medium0high heat until potatoes are fork tender about 20 minutes.
2. Drain the water from the potatoes. Add potatoes back to hot pot. Mash. Stir in cream cheese, sour cream, and butter until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Place in a greased 9×13 casserole dish. Cover with foil. Refrigerate until ready.

To bake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Uncover potatoes, drizzle 2 tablespoons butter on top and sprinkle with paprika, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
3. Remove foil and continue to bake for 20 minutes. Serve as is or with gravy.

Best Darn Gluten Free Turkey Gravy Ever!

BEST DARN TURKEY GRAVY EVER
Ingredients
pan drippings
turkey stock
1/2 cup cornstarch

Directions:

1. Empty pan dripping into a large measuring cup.
2. Add enough stock to the measuring cup to equal 8 cups total
3. Place roasting pan on two burners over medium-low heat. Deglaze pan with 1/2 cup of stock.
4. Slowly whisk in remaining drippings + stock into roasting pan heat until hot
5. Combine 1 cup of stock with 1/2 cup of cornstarch whisk until dissolved. Pour into roasting pan.
6. Bring gravy to a boil, whisking constantly until thickened. Season with salt and pepper

Posted in Gluten Free, Holidays, Sides | Tagged as: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Chicken (Turkey) Parmesan Casserole

Have you noticed a theme around here lately? I have become a little obsessed with using up leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Thinking outside of the (bread) box has been my goal when developing these recipes. Poultry pairs so well with pasta and my family never complains when I serve pasta.

Chicken (Turkey) Parmesan Casserole

The title of this recipe is slightly misleading since I used turkey here but I figured most people would recognize Chicken Parmesan more so than Turkey Parmesan. This way you can easily swap turkey for the chicken and vise versa.

Chicken (Turkey) Parmesan Casserole

This is another one of those quick dinners since the turkey is already cooked. If you don’t have any extra turkey on hand you could poach a couple chicken breasts or use the meat from a rotisserie chicken. You can get this dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes. Yay!

Chicken (Turkey) Parmesan Casserole

Chicken Parmesan is traditionally breaded and fried but since we are using sliced or shredded turkey (or chicken) it makes it difficult to bread and fry. So in order to get that breaded flavor I sprinkled a little Italian bread crumbs combined with Parmesan cheese over top the shredded turkey. It worked! The flavor was there without the pesky frying. Yay!

Chicken (Turkey) Parmesan Casserole

CHICKEN OR TURKEY PARMESAN CASSEROLE
SERVES: 8 Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes
1 pound spaghetti, broken in half
1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese
2 cups shredded chicken or turkey
1 -24 ounce jar spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a 9 x13 casserole dish, set aside
2. Boil spaghetti according to package directions, drain
3. Pour spaghetti into the casserole dish, dot cottage cheese on top
4. Pour spaghetti sauce over the noodles and slightly stir to wiggle the sauce down into the spaghetti
5. Spread 2 cups shredded turkey or chicken over the spaghetti
6. Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan, sprinkle evenly over shredded turkey or chicken
7. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the casserole and bake uncovered for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly

Chicken or Turkey Parmesan Casserole

HOW DO YOU USE LEFTOVER TURKEY?

Posted in Holidays, Main Dishes, Pasta | Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments
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