Butter Pecan Cookies

This Butter Pecan Cookie is a light flaky crispy cookie and is perfect to complete the Christmas cookie platter, or to bring to any family or even non family gathering.  It will be uniquely yours.  It will never look exactly like anyone else’s cookie platter.

I remember as a child the cookies that were always baked right before Christmas. Those buttery, crispy, pecan cookie from years past.  This cookie is perfect by itself or dipped in a cup of hot chocolate, or in my case a cup of creamy hot coffee.

This Butter Pecan Cookie is a light flaky crispy cookie and is perfect to complete the Christmas cookie platter, or to bring to any family gathering.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Prepare the cookie sheet, I line the sheet with tin foil and spray with non-stick stray.

Ingredients:
2 sticks/ 1 cup butter, softened
1 cup canola oil
1 cup regular sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste ( you can also use pecan flavoring)
4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cream of tartar
2 cups pecans, chopped
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Additional ingredients used for decorating the cooled cookies
1 cup dark chocolate chips melted with 1 tsp coconut oil ( I microwave 15 seconds, stir, 15 seconds, etc. until melted)
1 cup  pecans, finely chopped
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In mixing bowl, beat butter and oil for 1-2 minutes. Add regular sugar, beat, add powdered sugar, beat.
Add eggs one at a time, beat between adding eggs.
Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients about 1 cup at a time.
Beat between additions.
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The choice is yours to either cook the cookies now or refrigerate first.  If you need them right away simply use a scoop or spoon, grab some dough, roll them in a ball, roll in some regular sugar, or not, up to you and place on the cookie sheet, squish down with a flat bottom cup until they are about 1/4 ” thick.  This will most likely create the most uniform cookies.
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Bake at 325 degrees for 12-15 minutes, take out of oven, they should have a slightly golden tint around the bottom edges.  Let cool for 1-2 minutes before you take off the pan.
Let cool completely before you either sprinkle the chocolate out of a plastic bag with a tiny little hole cut into the corner or just spoon chocolate over one end and then sprinkle chopped nuts onto the chocolate.
This Butter Pecan Cookie is a light flaky crispy cookie and is perfect to complete the Christmas cookie platter, or to bring to any family gathering.

If you don’t have the time to cook all the cookies, feel free to get a piece of plastic wrap and roll the dough into a log.  Refrigerate for up to 3 days.  These are great as slice a bake cookie.  They do take a few more minutes to bake-most likely 14-16 minutes.

This recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies- kind of depends on the size of the cookies you make.

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Nutty Baklava

Baklava is so decadent and heavenly.  Nutty, sweet, gooey, crunchy all at the same time.

MeasuringSunshine-Baklava is so decadent and heavenly.  Nutty, sweet, gooey, crunchy all at the same time.

Homemade baklava  is so much better than store bought in my book.  You have so many choices in the ingredients you can put in the baklava.  You can use your favorite nut, I have used walnuts, almonds and Brazil nuts.  The type of honey, type of cinnamon or other  spices.

You will need:

9×13 baking pan
1 package of frozen filo dough-defrost in refrigerator 2 days before making baklava
1 lb. of nuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, or pretty much any other nut you would like to use.(chopped finely)
1 cup melted butter give or take- have extra butter on hand if needed
1 Tbsp of cinnamon, and any other spices you might want to add. (I will also use fresh nutmeg, powdered clove, you can also use pumpkin pie spice)
Honey syrup- recipe follows

Syrup ingredients:
1 cup honey
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup water
2 cinnamon sticks or 1 tsp of cinnamon

Bring to boil ,lower temperature and simmer for 15 min. Stir during cooking process.  After the 15 minutes turn off heat and let cool.

To put together the baklava:
Brush bottom of 9 x 13 pan with some of the melted butter.  Add layer of filo, brush with butter, add layer of filo, brush with butter, do this 4 more times.  Add layer of chopped nuts and cinnamon.  Add 5-6 more layers of the filo brushed with the melted butter.
When you have used all the nuts and cinnamon- add 7-8 layers of the butter filo to finish off the top.

Put pan into freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Pull pan from freezer, get a very sharp knife and cut long diagonal cuts through the dough.  When you have completed the cuts it will look like a pan of diamonds.
Bake for about 1 hour- it will look nice a golden color.
Take out of oven.  Pour syrup gently over the top of the baklava.  I normally pour about half and wait 5-10 minutes and then pour the remaining syrup over the top.

NuttyBaklava-MeasurningSunshine-Baklava is so decadent and heavenly.  Nutty, sweet, gooey, crunchy all at the same time.  You have so many choices in the ingredients you can put into it.

Tips:

Make sure filo is completely thawed.
Keep filo covered with damp towel while working with it.
Either precut filo to fit the pan or just fold the filo to fit. ( this is what I do- just adds additional layers of buttery filo.)
Freezing pan after layering will help to firm up the layers before you cut them- this is not required.
Let sit for several hours for syrup to soak it completing and baklava is cooled.
Some people leave baklava out for several days, I however, will usually store covered in the refrigerator.

Easy Potato Salad

Summertime always brings with it parties and barbecue’s.  The most important dish is the creamy and ever so satisfying potato salad.  The all american easy basic potato salad.  Always a family favorite.
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We almost always have the ingredients in the house and takes minimal time to whip up.
It doesn’t matter what type of potato you use, I prefer red, gold or white but it’s because you don’t have to peel them.  You can use russet potatoes but make sure to peel them, the skin is too tough.
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Ingredients:
3 lbs potatoes, red, gold, white, etc.
10 eggs
1 can olives
3-4 stalks celery
3-4 large dill pickles
2-3 tbsp fresh dill
3/4 – 1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup mustard or a little less if you prefer

First step is to boil the potatoes, I really try to do this the night before I need the salad, get a big deep pan and fill 1/2 way with water.  Pick potatoes just a little bigger than an egg. Wash the potatoes and drop into the water before you turn on the burner.  Add the eggs on top.  The water should be just covering both the potatoes and the eggs. Gently boil until the potatoes are fork tender. Pour out into a colander, strain.  Put them into a big bowl and put into the refrigerator to cool.  If you waited until the last minute to decide to make the salad-I have done this a lot- then you can run cool water over them for a few minutes until cool enough to start to cut them.
Cut the potatoes into about 1″ cubes,  peel the eggs and slice in half, separate the yolks and put into a small bowl.  Chop the egg whites into small pieces.
Chop the celery, pickles, olives into small pieces.  Chop the dill finely.
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Now take the yolks and mash, add the mayo, mustard, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper and add 1-2 tbsp of pickle juice from the jar.  Mix this all up and pour into the bowl with all the other ingredients that you finished chopping.
You can stir this up with a spoon or do what I do and mix with my hands.  This way doesn’t seem to mash the potatoes up and the salad looks better.
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Cover and chill until the barbecue is ready.  Remember to keep this salad cool during the summer.
Here are a few other options to add:

Onions
green olives
parsley
bacon

Lemon Cheesecake

This is my much in demand cheesecake.  Lemony, creamy and very very decadent. Guaranteed  to be the hit of the gathering, holiday or office party.
You can serve it plain, with a dollop of whip cream or any type of fruit toppings.

 

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Gather the ingredients.
Lemon Cheesecake-MeasuringSunshine
Crust:
1/2 cup melted butter
3 cup graham cracker crumbs( you can you butter cookie crumbs, etc)
1/3 cup sugar
Mix together and dump into the spring form pan.”1
Lemon Cheesecake-MeasuringSunshine
Easiest way to get it tamped down is with a small flat bottomed cup. Edges should go up the sides up to 1″.  Doesn’t have to be perfect.
You can wrap the spring form pan with aluminum foil if you want to use a water bath.  I have tried it both ways.  I personally don’t care if my cheesecake has a crack in the top so I will usually pass on the water bath.  Texture is about the same either way.
Lemon Cheesecake-MeasuringSunshine
Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Cheesecake ingredients:
3 tbsp grated lemon rind
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
4- 8 oz package of cream cheese
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla paste
4 large eggs

Grate 2-4 good sized lemons- enough to get 3 tbsp lemon rind.  Juice lemons to get 3 tbsp juice.
In mixing bowl, cream 4-8oz packages of cream cheese.  you can use full fat or 1/3 less fat cream cheese. The full fat is richer but I use the 1/3 less fat cream cheese. Its a little lighter and I don’t feel so guilty about eating it.  Add 2 cups sugar the 3 tbsp lemon juice, 1/8 tsp salt, 1 tbsp vanilla paste.  Add 4 eggs, 1 at a time.
Pour into the 10″ spring form pan.
Lemon Cheesecake-MeasuringSunshine
Bake for 55-60 minutes or until center is firm- poke it with a toothpick- if it comes out mostly clean its done-  don’t forget it will continue to cook after you take it out of the oven until it starts to cool.
LemonCheesecake-MeasuringSunshine

Optional topping:  3/4 cup sour cream smeared over the top of the cooled cheesecake, add any type of fruit on top of the sour cream. Serve and enjoy.

Best Sugar Cookies

This is the best sugar cookie recipe, its soft yet crunchy, a perfect cookie for decorating.
I’ve made these cookies every Christmas since 1984 with my kids and then with the grandkids.
I love those community cook books, this one has been adapted from a 4H cookbook.
( The recipe was called “Polly’s Mother’s Christmas Cookies” the recipe was donated by Joice M. Beatty, Napa, Ca.)
Best sugar cookies, homemade cookies with homemade butter-cream frosting. good for holiday baking and gift giving.
You will need:
1 cup butter
4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup of milk ( I use half and half)
2 large eggs
optional items to add:
1 tablespoon vanilla paste- for the light colored cookies-if you use the paste and not extract-remember you will see little dark dots in the vanilla cookies and the buttercream.
1/3 cup dark baking chocolate powder- for the chocolate cookies.
I usually make a batch of both and later you will see why I decided to do this.
Best sugar cookies, homemade cookies with homemade butter-cream frosting. good for holiday baking and gift giving.
Now this is a little different so read the recipe carefully.
Mix the softened butter together with the flour and baking powder. ( Weird right?)- add the chocolate to the dry ingredients here.
It will look a little like pie crust- crumbly
Separately, mix the sugar, milk and eggs and vanilla in a bowl.
Add the sugar mixture to the dry ingredients and mix together.
When it basically is one big ball of dough, wrap it in plastic wrap or whatever you choose to use and put into the refrigerator overnight.
This is required for this dough.  The least amount of time it can be in the refrigerator would be somewhere around 6-8 hours.
Best sugar cookies, homemade cookies with homemade butter-cream frosting. good for holiday baking and gift giving.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
This dough gets pretty stiff so while you are gathering the rolling pin, and all the cookie cutters take it out of the refrigerator and let sit at room temp.

Add flour to the cutting board and to the rolling pin and start rolling the dough.  I usually cut the dough into smaller more manageable pieces.
Roll dough to 1/4″ thickness.  If they are thicker they will be softer cookies, and you will need to bake longer.
I put foil on the cookie sheet and spray with non-stick spray.
Space the cookies at least 1″ apart, they will puff a little.

Cook for 10-12 minutes.  10 minutes they will be softer, 12 minutes crunchier.  They will not be brown, except maybe a little on the edges if you cook them the full 12 minutes.

If they are brown then the oven is too hot or you cooked them too long.

Here is the reason I make both vanilla and chocolate.
Best sugar cookies, homemade cookies with homemade butter-cream frosting. good for holiday baking and gift giving.
After I’ve cut all the other shapes I roll out into rectangles both the leftover vanilla and chocolate and then place one on top of the other and roll. Cut into slices and flatten to 1/4″.  Bake the same as the other cookies.  These cookies are softer.

For all those that don’t want to make the buttercream frosting and do all the decorating.  This cookies is still perfect if you just add colored sugar or sprinkles before baking.

I have to thank my daughter for taking most of these pictures for me, they turned out awesome.