Super Simple Sugar Cookies

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

I've been working on the perfect sugar cookie recipe for almost two years now. I've made them for everything from work retreats to asking my bridesmaids. Designer cookies without the price (because your girl is not paying $20+ for sugar and butter). Even my cousin who is a pretty decent chef in her own right said - and I quote - "these cookies are pretty good". She's not one to heave out compliments often, so I'm taking that stamp of approval and running with it. I've also not received a complaint yet, so I figured I'll share my recipe with those who are interested! I do have one disclaimer... in the world of casual-baking, I'm relatively new. But I've got a few ground rules about anything I try to tackle by myself! The recipe must:
  • Be easy.... aka no fancy tools, no crazy ingredients. If I can't find it (without help) at the Harris Teeter or if I don't have the tool in my pantry (pre-wedding registry), then it's just not happening.
  • Look pretty when it's done. I love to make things as much as the next person, but I fall under the philosophy of "pics or it didn't happen" on the homemade goods. If it's going to come out and you have to say "just wait until you taste it", then I'm probably not making it.
So that's why these cookies are so easy. If you have the right tools (cough, hand-mixer, cough) then they're super easy. This particular recipe makes cookies that are meant to be covered/decorated with royal icing - this is not the recipe I would use for a more traditional sugar cookie that is sprinkled with granulated sugar!

Here's what you need:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • Tools: Two mixing bowls (large and medium size), rolling pin, cookie sheet, cookie cutters, parchment paper is optional but I prefer it!
Here's how you do it:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Optional: throw your cookie sheet(s) into the refrigerator. I like to keep my cookie sheets cold so the cookies keep their shape as I'm preparing the whole sheet. I usually use two medium-to-large size cookie sheets so I can alternate cutting shapes and cooking a batch until I run out of dough.
  • Bowl #1 (larger) Cream together butter and granulated sugar until smooth. You can use a mixer to help with the butter, but if you're mixing by hand, pop those bad boys in the microwave for like 15 seconds before adding to the sugar. 
  • Bowl #1 (larger) Mix in egg as well as vanilla & almond extracts.
  • Bowl #2 (medium) In the separate bowl, combine dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt. 
  • Little by little add in the dry mixture to the wet. Mixture should be roughly like Play-Doh. You DO NOT have to chill this dough. If you need to make the dough in advance, you can chill it, but bring back to room temperature before rolling out.
  • Scatter some all purpose flour onto a clean surface.
  • Roll out workable sections of dough onto floured surface - you want this dough to still be relatively thick (about 1/4 inch but not less).
  • Cut desired shapes and place onto cookie sheet (cooled and with parchment paper if desired).
  • Bake 6-8 minutes per sheet. I have found that in my oven, 7 minutes is perfect!
  • Place on cooling rack and let cool completely before decorating! 
  • If not decorating until the next day, remember to cover cookies so they do not get stale overnight!

My biggest tip for these is to make the cookies one day and decorate them the next. Altogether can feel like a bit much for one night - not matter how precise you are with a pipe bag. You HAVE to let these cookies cool before you decorate them. If you don't have time for that and you're reading this in an attempt to make something tonight... just go get yourself some break-and-bakes and call it a day. 

Sharing more about royal icing soon... I promise. This post was long enough. 

Wedding Day Inspiration

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Although I went to school for event planning and even worked as a wedding planner for a period of time, I cannot say that I've always had a clear vision for what I imagined my wedding would be. I've always loved weddings, but I've never been the girl who always dreamed about hers being a certain way. Nevertheless, I couldn't be happier to be back in my element - planning out details that I know will remain sentimental to Andrew and I throughout our lives.

In the process of selecting our venues and vendors, almost everyone we have inquired with or solidified has asked for us to identify three words that we would use to describe our vision for our wedding day. At first I felt the exercise was a bit cheesy - BUT it ended up providing us some guidance as moved throughout the process and kept bringing us back to our overall goals. We used the words of elegant, timeless, and festive to help guide us into selecting Sacred Heart Church for our ceremony and the Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel for our reception.
While North Carolina has some of the most spectacular views and destinations, we've never imagined our wedding as an outdoor affair. We wanted the pomp and circumstance of big church wedding and are going the route of a ballroom reception to help us create the atmosphere we want to achieve. The church is historic and the ballroom has stunning, modern chandeliers with a neutral pallet. With many outdoor-focused venues, there's so many elements you have to bring in or create from scratch. Rentals can get more costly and catering staff may have to work kitchen spaces where they may be unaccustomed. I loved the fact that our venue is already a formal setting with their own kitchen and staff housed in the facility. I also knew that our budget would most likely not allow us to fully transform an outdoor space into an elegant and *comfortable* affair in the North Carolina August heat. We feel confident that no matter which elements of decor we select, our venues will provide us an aesthetic backdrop that we love.
As someone who loves color and especially loves a good event theme, I have to constantly remind myself that "timeless" is a goal of our event. I want to be able to look back on our wedding photos, eighty years from now, and feel that the style and aesthetic is something I'd still feel comfortable with and proud of. Andrew and I are lucky to share the same viewpoints on our style and what we'd like to prioritize. We've decided to stick with a classic white and black scheme with hints of "greenery" - meaning that we are hoping the elements of green come from our florals or other aspects not as obvious as guest table linens or bridesmaids dresses. Green is my all-time favorite color and I think will be a great "pop" to mix in during this season where depending on the weather, it could be extremely hot, middle of a hurricane, or finally starting to cool down for fall (fingers crossed!).
You know that feeling when there's something in the air that just makes you excited? For some its tailgating before a big game, others it might be a graduation. There's something celebratory about the feeling of "festive" that I'm hoping to capture for our wedding day. Of course Andrew and I are excited to begin our lives together as husband and wife - we want to ensure that our guests also feel that sense of excitement and liveliness that we will be feeling. We want to celebrate the making of this moment - our fondest memories and favorite shared items, whether it be a signature cocktail or our home state's designated flower. There's also something hospitable about festivities. There's good food and beverages - let's not forget about entertainment. But more than that, people are taken care of. We want our guests to feel that they too are a priority on our day because they mean so much to us. We wouldn't be the people we are today without our friends and families who support us.

All that being said, here are the pictures I've gathered to help guide our planning process! Fingers crossed as we continue bringing this vision to life!