Soft Sugar Cookie Recipe {Iced Autumn Leaves}

Soft Iced Sugar Cutout Cookie Leaves

I am looooooving these amazing cookies!

I’ve been meaning to try a new Soft Sugar Cookie recipe for awhile and I’ve been browsing a bunch of sites and recipes, trying to get plenty of tips.

I settled on a recipe that incorporates sour cream and I rolled the dough thicker than I normally do, and cooked it a little less.

Pretty darn perfect.  :)

I typed up the recipe suggesting either vanilla or almond extract.  I prefer the almond, but my kids seemed to prefer the batch I made with vanilla.  Both were good, though.  The only thing to remember is that in the icing, you can use more vanilla than almond extract.  Most people seem to prefer it when the almond isn’t overpowering.

I used my royal icing for the cookies because it dries hard and shiny – which makes them easy to stack when storing/displaying/gifting – and because it’s easy to dip them right into the icing to make the whole ordeal quicker.

Soft Iced Sugar Cutout Cookie Leaves

I liked rolling it out between the waxed paper because it was easy to transfer to the fridge on the back of a cookie sheet, and then I could just pull it out and cut out my cookies.

Soft Iced Sugar Cutout Cookie Leaves

Re-rolling the dough {and having to add the flour to re-roll it} makes the cookies slightly tougher, or less soft, but I didn’t find the difference noticeable, really.

And I’m not about to throw out excess cookie dough.

Soft Iced Sugar Cutout Cookie Leaves

Make sure they’re nice and thick and that you don’t over bake them.  They should NOT be browning on the edges before you take them out – that will eliminate the softness you’re looking for.  In fact, they should look slightly underdone when you take them out.

You can use just about any cookie cutter shape you like.  Here are the Wilton Leaves and Acorns 9-Piece Aluminum Cookie Cutter Set that I used:

 Wilton Leaves and Acorns 9-Piece Aluminum Cookie Cutter Set

Oh, and the recipe called for parchment lined pans.  I did bake the cookies on parchment paper when I used my regular pans, but what is pictured above are my aluminum Doughmakers Biscuit Sheets, which are textured and so the cookies don’t stick.  If you don’t have pans like these, use the parchment paper.

Soft Iced Sugar Cutout Cookie Leaves

I made the icing while the cookie dough was in the fridge and just set it to the side until later.

For best results:  cover with plastic wrap when not in use, and make sure to stir it often when dipping the cookies in it.

Soft Iced Sugar Cutout Cookie Leaves

You can see that I used plenty of gel coloring to make the icing bright and bold.

Soft Iced Sugar Cutout Cookie Leaves

You can put the icing into a plastic baggy or decorating bag and draw it onto the cookies instead {kind of like my Chocolate Almond Mummy Cookies} but I had been seeking a different method.  I found a few places – and a video – where people were suggesting that you just dip the cookies into the icing.

It worked.  Rather well.

I found that it worked best if you stirred the icing often, even between each dip, and if the cookies were thick enough, you didn’t even get any icing on your fingers.

If the icing was too thick, the cookie may stick a little, and you chance it breaking.  If your icing feels too thick and is pulling back when you try to lift out the cookie, sprinkle in a few DROPS of water and stir to thin it just a bit.  Not too much.

And I’ve tried both a skewer and a fork to scrape off the extra icing.  I prefer using the fork because it’s better than the skewer at efficiently stirring the color into the icing and re-stirring it every few minutes while icing the cookies.

When you lift up the cookie and scrape off the extra icing, don’t actually touch the cookie with the fork.  While still holding the cookie upside down, or tilted to the side, move the fork through any globs of icing that are above the surface of the cookie.  If there’s too much icing on them, it will drip over the sides and leave little puddles around the edges.

Then just let them sit on some wire racks until the icing hardens.  It will harden on the outside thinly at first, so don’t pack them away or plate them right away if you have the time to wait.  Let them sit for at least an hour, but a few hours is ideal.  Just in case.  You don’t want crushed/smudged icing after doing all that work.

And I might say, “all that work,” but, really, it’s easy to do.  It can take awhile due to all the steps, but it is SO worth it.

Because:  yum!

Soft Iced Sugar Cutout Cookie Leaves

Soft Sugar Cookies with Icing

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla (or almond) extract
1/3 cup sour cream
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Icing:
2 cups confectionery sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons meringue powder
1 teaspoon vanilla (or 1/2 teaspoon almond) extract
3 to 4 tablespoons water

Cream together the butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg, sour cream, and extract until smooth. In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder, then slowly mix into the wet ingredients until just combined. Do not over mix. Separate the dough in half and roll each piece out between two sheets of waxed paper to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Refrigerate dough for an hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Remove dough from refrigerator and cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters. Gently gather scraps and reroll on a floured surface. Place cookies an inch apart on parchment lined cookie sheets and bake for 9 to 11 minutes. Do not over bake! Take them out when they appear just about to be done, and before they brown. Let cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Mix all of the icing ingredients together with a fork. Start with 3 tablespoons of water and add more, about a 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until you reach a consistency where a thick line of icing slowly and smoothly drips off of the fork when lifted from the bowl. Dye it your desired color, dividing it between separate bowls first if using multiple colors.

Dip the tops of the completely cooled cookies into the icing. Gently pull out the cookie and use a fork or skewer to scrape off excess icing without touching the cookie itself. Set cookie on top of a wire rack that’s positioned over waxed paper or foil and allow to harden completely, letting the cookies sit for at least an hour. Store covered.

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And click here to print the free PDF version of the recipe:  Soft Sugar Cookies with Icing

Enjoy!

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Autumn Leaf-Shaped Mini Pizzas

Autumn Leaf Shaped Pizzas

This is going to be somewhat of an image-heavy post since these cute, little Autumn Leaf Shaped Mini Pizzas are actually easier to explain with photos.

This was a fun dinner we did one night.  The girls helped me out.  And I’ve done this before, for example with dinosaurs, but I used our leaf cookie cutters this time to give it an autumn spin.

And to make the pizzas from scratch, you follow my Easy Pizza Dough Recipe.  Except, once you roll out the dough, you cut out leaf shapes instead of transferring the whole thing to a large pan.

For the cheese topping, I used three kinds:  colby jack, cheddar, and mozzarella cheeses.  I used the sliced versions they sell at the store that are meant for sandwiches and burgers because they’re easier to cut with cookie cutters.  And the extra cheese left over after cutting out my “leaves” went into some macaroni and cheese the next night.

I used 3 flavors of cheese to give it more of a colorful fall-leaf feel, and even if you’re hesitant about doing this, I can assure you – all of the flavors taste amazing on the pizzas.

How To Make Autumn Leaf Shaped Pizzas

As you can see in the photos, I used the cookie cutters to cut out both the dough and the cheese.  I topped the dough with tomato sauce, spices (especially garlic), Parmesan cheese, and then a leaf shaped slice of cheese.

It is a little difficult to get the dough to keep it’s precise shape and to fit the cheese over the dough with the shapes lining up in with an exact perfection… but that’s okay.  Really, one of my favorite parts of these little pizzas is the cheese that drips over the side of the crust onto the pan and mixes with the extra garlic powder and Parmesan and gets all crispy and delicious.

If you’re not into that, this may not be the recipe for you.

Here is the Wilton Leaves and Acorns 9-Piece Aluminum Cookie Cutter Set, in case you want to use the same ones I did:

 Wilton Leaves and Acorns 9-Piece Aluminum Cookie Cutter Set

And another pic of the yummy finished pizzas:

Autumn Leaf Shaped Pizzas

As I said, I used my Easy Pizza Dough Recipe to make this, which you can also print as a free PDF by clicking here:  Easy Pizza Dough.

Enjoy!

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Pretend Play: Raking Autumn Leaves

Pretend Play:  Raking Autumn Leaves ...... a fun fall activity for kids!

This is such a wonderful fall activity!

My girls have had – and are still having – so much fun with this Pretend Play activity of Raking Leaves.

And it’s so simple, too!

I bought 3 bags of 50 leaves each at the dollar store, and we already had the rakes – although I think we bought them at the dollar store in the spring.

Pretend Play:  Raking Autumn Leaves ...... a fun fall activity for kids!

I do suggest using plastic rakes because they’re safer for indoors.  We also have metal and wooden rakes, but plastic worked best for this.

Also, I prefer doing this activity on the carpet, but it does work on the tile and wood floors.  To be honest, though, I found raking the leaves up on carpet with the plastic rake to be somewhat soothing.  Meditative, even.

To store the leave we use a basket that we already had, but you could also use a plastic baggy.  {That’s what I plan to store them in at the end of fall.}

Pretend Play:  Raking Autumn Leaves ...... a fun fall activity for kids!

Another thing these leaves are perfect for is throwing.

Rake up a pile and toss them into the air!

Seriously:  these are made of fabric, so they kind of flutter down gently.  The whole reason I decided to do this with my kids is because they adore the Elefun Game so much.  And, really, the Elefun game isn’t perfect.  The butterflies/fireflies come out too quickly and there aren’t enough of them, but my girls still love catching them AND collecting them afterwards.

But that’s why I bought 150 leaves for this activity – so there would be enough to entertain both of them.  Plenty to keep them busy with raking and throwing.

And organizing.

My 4yo would make piles of the leaves, sorting them by color and counting them.  And my 2yo made piles that were her “birds nests.”

The options are limitless.

Pretend Play:  Raking Autumn Leaves ...... a fun fall activity for kids!

And, like I said, this activity can be extremely affordable.  I already had the rakes and the basket, and I bought the 3 bags of leaves for a buck a piece at the Dollar Tree.  The plastic rakes can also be found in the outdoor toy section or garden section of places like Target or Kmart even Walgreens – at certain times of the year.

BUT, if you’re having trouble finding the items you need, here are some Decorative Fall Leaves and a Gardening Tool Set from Amazon:

Decorative Fabric Fall LeavesPlastic Gardening Tool Set for Kids

And please let me know if your Little Ones enjoy it – and if they come up with any games of their own!

And check out these other Pretend Play ideas, too:

Pretend Play:  Makeup

Pretend Play:  Post Office and Mail Carrier

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Fall French Toast

Fall French Toast

French toast is one of my favorite breakfast foods.

I’ve made it so many times that I usually don’t measure things, but I made sure to for this recipe.  :)  Either way, tho, feel free to adjust the measurements.

And this time, I changed things up by making it more autumn-themed.  Great for Halloween, Thanksgiving, or fall in general.

I cut up the bread with leaf and acorn cookie cutters and used plenty of vanilla extract and cinnamon in the egg mix.  Of course, you could substitute {or combine} it with almond extract, if you’d like.  {If you’re looking for something a little more fruity – check out my Tropical Almond French Toast!}

The shapes were fun for the kids {and me} but if you don’t want to go to the trouble of cutting out them out, you can still make this french toast with normal square slices of bread.

Fall French Toast

Stale bread always works best for french toast.  Fresh/soft bread tends to fall apart once you soak it in the egg mixture, and the stale bread is much easier to cut with the cookie cutters.

I didn’t have any stale bread, tho, so I laid out the bread pieces I was going to use on the counter the night before.  Let it sit uncovered and not overlapping for the best results.

I used regular sandwich bread.  A few slices of white and a few of wheat.  I happened to have them both, and I loved the combination of colors.

For each slice of bread, I got 3 medium or a combo of 3 medium and small leaves and acorns.  The extra bread can be used for croutons or breadcrumbs.

I used the Wilton Leaves and Acorns 9-Piece Aluminum Cookie Cutter Set, which you can see here:

Wilton Leaves and Acorns Cookie Cutter Set

Fall French Toast

Once you have your leaves and acorns cut out {you could also do this step the night before if it’s something you don’t think you can accomplish in the morning before your coffee kicks in}, then whisk together the other ingredients in a bowl.

Melt some butter on a griddle or in a large frying pan.  Dip the bread pieces in the egg mixture, turning to coat both sides and allowing to sit for a minute so the bread soaks everything up.

Fall French Toast

Look at all that yummy cinnamon!

I stopped using my hands to lift the bread from the egg mix and transfer it to the griddle years ago.  Too much breakage.  And messiness.  I use a fork for large slices of bread, but I used two for some of the more delicate leaves here.  Didn’t want them falling apart.

Fall French Toast

Cook them for a few minutes on each side, until browned.

I suggest dipping a few pieces at a time and transferring them all to the griddle at once, so you have a couple of batches cooking at once.

Fall French Toast

When they’re finished, you can either transfer them directly to the serving platter, or put them in a oven safe dish in an oven that’s been preheated to a low temperature to keep them warm.

I served these with just maple syrup {see photo below}, but you could also sprinkle on some powdered sugar or some Cinnamon Sugar.

Fall French Toast

Fall French Toasts {with leaves & acorns}

Ingredients:

10 slices stale bread
1 cup whole milk
6 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla or almond extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

The bread is easier to work with if it’s stale, so if you only have fresh bread, leave it out on the counter the night before.

Cut leaf and acorn shapes from the bread slices. Use a combination of white and wheat for more color variation. Reserve remaining bread pieces for breadcrumbs or croutons.

Preheat a griddle to medium heat (about 350°F).

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon.

Melt some butter on the surface of the hot griddle. Dip the bread pieces in the milk mixture, turning to coat both sides, and lifting with one or two forks so that the shapes don’t break apart. Place the bread on the griddle.

Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Serve immediately, or keep warm in a low temperature oven.

Serve with maple syrup, and optionally with powdered sugar or a cinnamon sugar mix.

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And click here to print the free PDF version of the recipe:  Fall French Toast

Enjoy!

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Leaf Chain Fringe Earrings {Product Review}

Leaf Chain Fringe Earrings in Antique Gold

I just received these Leaf Chain Fringe Earrings and totally had to share them!

I don’t normally buy long, dangly earrings, but these intrigued me.  Especially the color.  I mean, they’re available in shiny gold and in silver, but when I saw the antique gold I was simply enchanted.

I have other jewelry in a similar color and I love how it goes with so, so many different outfits; how it can be dressed up or dressed down.  Kind of funky, kind of bohemian, kind of feminine.

Anyway, I love how they hang, playfully peaking out of my hair when it’s down and gracefully drawing the eye when it’s up, brushing against my shoulders.

They do make a slight jingle when I move quickly, but it doesn’t bother me.  It’s not annoying.  I actually find it kind of fun, but it may bother some people.

I think they’re comfortable, and, even though I can feel the weight of them enough to know they’re there, I don’t consider them heavy.

Also, for some reason the image above doesn’t show the hook, but it’s worth mentioning that they’re fish hook earrings.

And, finally, yes:  they are called “leaf chain fringe” earrings but they most definitely look like feathers.

Albeit the discrepancy in the description, they’re fun and beautiful, and I’m happy I decided to get them.  Totally my style.

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Turkey Treasure Buckets

Turkey Treasure Buckets | Great Thanksgiving Activity for Kids!

This November, in the spirit of Thanksgiving and Autumn, one of the projects we did was to make these Turkey Treasure Buckets.

My girls LOVE being outside.

They’d sleep out there if I let them.

Anyway, I wanted a project that would involve nature.  So we made some turkey buckets to collect autumn leaves.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a ton of beautiful, colored leaves where we live in Florida.  Our backyard pretty much has a bunch of brown Live Oak leaves.  And some sticks, and some mulch, and some grass…

So, nature:  yes.  Beautiful fall colors:  not so much.

I feel bad, too, because we we just in Georgia a couple of weeks ago and we collected a ton of fantastically bright fallen leaves.  But I didn’t think to bring any home with us.

So, we improvised.  Used what we had.

And the kids had a blast.

Turkey Treasure Buckets | Great Thanksgiving Activity for Kids!

We started with some copper-colored mini buckets from the bargain section of Target and a handful of clothespins.

We painted the clothespins with a variety of colors and sprinkled sequins over the wet paint to represent the turkey’s feathers.  It was messy, but fun.  My girls love painting.

And we only did one side.  You could do both if you prefer.

I cut a quick face out of construction paper while they were painting, and they helped me glue on the eyes, beaks, and waddel.  Then I hot glued the faces to the buckets.  This was a sure way to keep them securely attached, but with an easy way to remove them later to reuse the buckets for another project.

Then, they clipped on the clothespin “feathers.”

Voila!

Turkey Treasure Buckets | Great Thanksgiving Activity for Kids!

Here’s a picture of my baby searching the backyard for treasures.

The clothes pins are a little heavy, but my girls wanted as many as possible.  You could always use less if the weight is problem for you.

Turkey Treasure Buckets | Great Thanksgiving Activity for Kids!

And here’s one of the buckets, filled with leaves and sticks.

They had so much fun with this.  And they played with the buckets over and over, filling them with all kinds of treasures, including tiny toys.

And I had a blast watching them and helping them seek out fun discoveries in the backyard.  It’s so great to spend some outdoors with my girls.  I’m sooooooo happy that the coolness of fall is finally showing its face in Florida!