make: simple DIY packaging

I don’t know about you but Valentine’s Day really sneaked up on me this year.  I feel like I am scrambling to get everything in order and ready for tomorrow.   Because of this, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite ways to package and label gifts.  This quick and easy technique will come in handy for Valentine’s Day or any occasion.  I often do this as a personalized gift tag and I’ve even used it to make last minute place cards/napkin rings at a dinner party.

Here’s what you will need:
+ Card Stock
+ Scissors
+ Ribbon
+ Double Sided Tape
+ Wax Paper
+ X-acto Knife/Utility Knife
+ Pen or Marker

Start off by wrapping the items in waxed paper like a present and secure the packet closed with double sided tape.  Then, take the card stock and write out your valentine’s sayings.  I like mine to be more clever than romantic so I chose a few of my favorite song lyrics and TV show references.  I also hand wrote mine but if you hate your handwriting, you can also type and print the sayings on the labels.  I’ve pdf’d a few of my favorites, you can download them here.

With a scissors, cut the labels into squares and rectangles and using an X-acto knife, cut two slits on either sides of the label.   Next, take the ribbon and “thread” it from the front to the back and then back to the front again.

Wrapped the label around the sugar cookie pocket and secured using tape. Voila, easy and personalized Valentine’s. I think my favorite may be this Downton Abbey inspired one:

Did you see last night’s episode?!?!?  Matthew and Mary just have to get together in the end.

xoxo
Katie

whisk: sugar cookies

A couple of years ago, after a particularly hectic holiday season, I started sending valentines to my friends and family in lieu of Christmas Cards.   And because I’m always eager to share my latest baking successes with my friends and family, these Valentine’s usually contain some type of baked good.  This year, I’ve decided to go with good old-fashioned sugar cookies.

I have to say, the recipe that I am most frequently asked for is a good sugar cookie recipe.  My first response is always, what kind of sugar cookie do you like?  Because like Chocolate Chip Cookies most people fall into the soft and chewy camp or team flat and crispy.   For a long time I was a flat and crispy with butter sugar cookies being my go to recipe.  Then about a year ago I was in Ft. Worth and tasted a cookie from J. Rae’s Bakery and I immediately switched teams.  Then I set about finding a good soft and chewy cookie. I’m going to show you how to make both.

First up, the flat, flaky, buttery goodness of French Butter Cookies

French Butter Cookies
Recipe via Martha Stewart
1 cup (2 sticks or 16 T) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt

Notes:
+ The recipe says that this makes 5 dozen, but I’ve never gotten more than 3 out of it… maybe I like my cookies thicker than Martha.
+ Since this recipe is really all about the butter, use the best that you can afford.  I found the Kerrygold at Costco of all places.
+ If you’re like me and baking at high altitude, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t need to make any adjustments to this recipe.

To make the cookies:
In an electric mixer with your paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar, beat on high until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

sorry for the shadow, but this is what creamed butter & sugar looks like when you are finished.

Then mix in egg and vanilla until combined.  Be sure not to mix this on high because it will spill over the edges of the bowl.  Sift together the flour and salt and add to the mix.  Stir on low-speed until flour is combined.  If you are going to make round cookies, then roll the dough into multiple logs (I usually make 4 so that they will fit into a gallon size ziploc bag).  If you are going to to roll them out, make four flat discs.  Place in a ziploc bag and refrigerated overnight.

Heat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment or silpat.  Allow the dough to come to room temperature and roll it out.  Be sure you are working on a clean surface and lightly flour it before rolling the dough. Cut using a cookie cutter and place on the baking sheet.  Bake for 15-20 minutes rotating the pan in the oven halfway through.  Allow to cool on a rack.  Set aside until ready to frost.

For the softer, chewier cookie, Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies
via Pie in the Sky

Ingredients (sea level)
1 1/2 sticks (12 T) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Notes:
+ This makes about 50 cookies.
+ High Altitude Adjustments: Increase vanilla to 2 teaspoons, decrease baking powder to 3/4 teaspoons

To make the cookies:
In a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar.  Beat until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Then beat in the eggs and vanilla.  Scrape the bowl down and sift in the flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix on the lowest setting until combined.  Divide the dough into four discs and chill for at least an hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees.  Lightly flour your clean working surface (I used my counter) then roll out the dough using a floured rolling pin.  Cut shapes using a cookie cutter.  Place on cookie sheets lined with parchment or silpats.   Bake for 8-10 minutes rotating the pan in the oven halfway through.  Allow to cool on a rack.  Set aside until ready to frost.

I like to ice these with Royal Icing, this recipe makes enough to frost about 50 cookies:
1 cup + 2 T powdered sugar
3 3/4 teaspoons of meringue powder
1/4 c water or milk
1/4 tsp. almond extract (optional)

Combine in a mixer and beat on low-medium speed for about 10 minutes.  Add food coloring and use a knife to frost the cookies.

On Monday I’ll show you a fun way to package your valentines.  Do you have a favorite sugar cookie recipe?

xoxo

kw