Heart-Shaped Sugar Cookie Twists

Valentine's Sugar Cookie Heart Twists- perfect if you don't want to roll and cut out cookies

I have this delusion that I can draw.  I look at something and think, “I can totally draw that”.  But any time I actually attempt to draw something it looks like I used my feet with my left hand behind my back and my eyes closed.  There’s definitely some disconnect between what my brain thinks I am capable of and what my hand can actually produce.  I have the same issue with cookie decorating.  In my head, I can totally do it.  I wish I could decorate gorgeous sugar cookies like some of the amazingly talented cookie decorators out there (Sweet Sugar Belle, The Baked Equation, Bake at 350… just to name a few), but I’ve come to accept that it is just not one of my talents. 

I do still love sugar cookies though, especially when they’re soft with just a little crisp around the edges.  I made these sugar cookies last Christmas as wreaths (you can find them in my FREE Holiday Cookies eBook here) and decided to try them as hearts.  I think they turned out super cute- and best part, no icing needed!  Sometimes simple is best.

Valentine's Sugar Cookie Heart Twists- perfect if you don't want to roll and cut out cookies

These Heart-Shaped Sugar Cookie Twists would be perfect for Valentine’s Day!  If you’re able to send homemade treats to your kid’s school, these would be a great option.  I know my daughter’s teacher would appreciate that they are less mess and less sugar without icing or sprinkles.  :)

Heart-Shaped Sugar Cookie Twists
 
Author:
Serves: 18
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ⅛ tsp red gel food coloring
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine shortening, sugar, eggs, and vanilla at medium speed until creamy.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, and slowly blend together.
  4. Beat until well combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  5. Divide the dough in half.
  6. Add the red food coloring to one half.
  7. Shape each color of dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to chill at least one hour.
  8. Preheat over to 400 degrees.
  9. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
  10. Shape ½ tbsp - 1 tbsp of red dough into a 6- inch rope.
  11. Repeat with the plain dough.
  12. Place ropes side by side and twist together about six times.
  13. Form twisted ropes into a heart, gently pinching where the two meet.
  14. Bake for 8-9 minutes, until just golden brown on the bottoms.
  15. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

 

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Creamy Potato Soup

I have a relationship with Blendtec that may include compensation or products for review. We have been big Blendtec fans in our house for a long time and I genuinely love this product and their fantastic customer service. As always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Creamy Potato Soup- served with cheese, bacon, and chives. Comfort food in a bowl

I was never a big fan of soup growing up, I guess because we just didn’t eat it very often.  I didn’t even branch out beyond tomato soup until a few years ago and just recently discovered that chicken tortilla soup is one of my favorite things ever.  I do have to say, it wasn’t officially cold in Texas until my Mom made a big pot of Beef and Vegetable Soup.  My dad was a meat and potatoes kind of guy; but the fact that the soup did, in fact, contain both meat and potatoes, didn’t make it suitable for dinner. 

Creamy Potato Soup- served with cheese, bacon, and chives. Comfort food in a bowl

My mom also the best potato soup.  It’s what I wanted over chicken noodle any time I was sick.  Even to this day it’s my go-to to warm me up and make me feel better.  Without Mom here to make it for me though, I’ve tried just about every restaurant nearby that serves it.  None of them are as good as Mom’s, so I finally decided it was time to learn to make it myself.

Creamy Potato Soup- served with cheese, bacon, and chives. Comfort food in a bowl

With my new Blendtec making soup is as easy as pushing a button.  I seriously couldn’t function in my kitchen without it.  We use it for everything from protein shakes, smoothies, to salsa.  The new Blendtec Designer 725 has so many more settings (like ice cream!) and uses SmartBlend technology, multi-speed pulse, a 100-speed touch slider.  I especially love the SmartBlend technology for my protein shakes- sometimes my protein would stick to the sides of my old blender, but now it alerts me when I need to add more liquid.  It will also sense and identify potential problems that could interfere with the perfect blend like loading errors, overheating, or air pockets – and then tells you how to fix them.  We use our blender every day- definitely worth the investment!

Creamy Potato Soup- served with cheese, bacon, and chives. Comfort food in a bowl

You have an option with this soup to blend it completely smooth or leave some of the texture from the potatoes intact.  I prefer a more chunky texture, so I don’t blend all of mine.

Creamy Potato Soup
 
Creamy Potato Soup- served with cheese, bacon, and chives. Comfort food in a bowl!
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 4 pieces of bacon
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • ½ cup cream
  • ½ tsp salt, more to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook the bacon until crispy, set aside.
  2. Saute the diced onion in the bacon grease until tender. Drain and set aside.
  3. Chop the potatoes into small chunks.
  4. Add the potatoes, chicken broth, onions, salt, and pepper to a large stock pot.
  5. Bring the potatoes to a gentle boil, allow to cook until just tender, about 10-15 minutes. You want them soft, but not falling apart.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and flour.
  7. Scoop out ½ to ⅔ of the potatoes and broth mixture into your blender. Blend using the soup button, or about 30-60 seconds until desired consistency.
  8. Add the flour and milk mixture to the remaining potatoes on the stove.
  9. Gently pour the blended potatoes back into the stock pot.
  10. Remove from heat and fold in the cream.
  11. Add remaining chopped bacon and other fixings such as shredded cheese and green onions.

 

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This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Blendtec.

Best Ever Pancake Recipe

The BEST pancake recipe- I've tried a lot of recipes, and this is by far the best. Perfect pancakes every time

I know food bloggers have a bad rap for throwing around the phrase “best ever” a little too frequently.  Friends.  Look at my eyes… these pancakes are the real deal.  I’ve been searching for the best pancake recipe ever, and I’ve finally perfected it.  Thick and fluffy, with a hint of sweetness, but not too much so you can still drown them in syrup.

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You know when you makes pancakes you always have that first sacrificial pancake?  The one that either gets burned to a crisp or is white and raw in the middle?  This recipe makes ten perfect pancakes every single time.  There are a few tricks that can help: if you’re using a skillet, make sure you have even heat.  Let your pan heat up while you make the batter; an easy way to test if your pan is ready is by flicking a tiny bit of water onto the pan.  If it’s hot and ready to go the water will sizzle immediately.  Always spray your pan with a little bit of nonstick spray to keep your pancakes from sticking (Yes, even in non-stick pans.  I’ve also tried butter, but it does change the surface of the pancake, so I prefer nonstick spray, like Pam.)  I received an Electric Griddle for Christmas- and I highly recommend it!  I love being able to to set the temp (I use 325 degrees) and make multiple pancakes at once.  It also makes perfect eggs- so smooth, no crispy edges or skirt.

The BEST pancake recipe- I've tried a lot of recipes, and this is by far the best. Perfect pancakes every time

Another tip for perfect pancakes is to use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to pour your batter.  This way you get happy, uniform pancakes.  When I add the batter to the griddle I start from the center and gently pour in a circular movement to help the batter spread into a nice round circle.  Don’t rush your pancakes- let that first side get gorgeously golden brown.  You’ll know they’re ready when bubbles start to form and pop on the top (the uncooked side).  To get a perfect flip without batter sliding around, be sure to purposefully shove your spatula (I like silicone or plastic, not metal) all the way underneath and use your wrist to turn them over.  My husband taught me that.  I was flipping them using my whole arm,  instead of a gentle turn of the wrist, which resulted in lopsided pancakes. :)

The BEST pancake recipe- I've tried a lot of recipes, and this is by far the best. Perfect pancakes every time

This is one of my favorite go-to recipes because I always have what I need to make it on hand.  I love that it only requires a few simple ingredients, takes only a few minutes to make, and tastes a million times better than box mix. 

Best Ever Pancake Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Simple ingredients and a few minutes time is all you need to make the perfect pancakes.
Author:
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3½ tsps baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1¼ cups milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in microwave for 30 seconds, set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, salt, and baking powder.
  3. Stir milk and egg together.
  4. Create a well in the center of the flour mixture.
  5. Pour the butter and milk mixture into the well.
  6. Use a wire whisk to stir everything together until just combined. It will be slightly thick and lumpy, but should be well incorporated.
  7. Allow the batter to rest while heating a lightly oiled skillet or griddle to medium high heat.
  8. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately ¼ cup for each pancake.
  9. Cook each side for 3-6 minutes, until lightly golden brown.

 

emily_grace

 

 

 

 

Easy Ratatouille Recipe

Easy Ratatouille Recipe

James made this recipe for the first time a few months ago when he was trying to use up some seasonal produce we had on hand.  He has since made it a few more times because he loved it!  Every time he takes it out of the oven he says it smells like a supreme pizza.  If you know me, you know my aversion to veggies;  I’ve come a long way in my efforts towards being a better eater, but that doesn’t include a big dish of cooked vegetables… yet.  Maybe if it did actually taste like pizza. :)

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Small Batch Cream Cheese Danish

Small Batch Cream Cheese Danish- soft, and so easy to make

The only bad thing about not hosting Christmas dinner is the lack of leftovers.  I never think to take any with me from my Mom’s because I always leave there so stuffed that I don’t think I’ll ever eat another meal.  But as I sit here two days later surrounded by boxes and piles of toys that need to find homes in my kids’ closets, I could sure go for some Overnight Caramel French Toast or Cornbread Dressing.  Really, I’d eat just about anything right now to keep me from having to clean up.  Part of me is itching to take the tree down and reclaim my living room, but the other part of me isn’t ready to go back to reality.

I got a little jolt back into reality when I went to the grocery store yesterday- we were out of paper towels, diapers, laundry detergent, dish detergent, and toilet paper… you know, all of those one off items that you don’t buy every trip but easily add $20 to your bill when you do.  I spent $100 on 5 items, and we couldn’t eat a single one of them.  Merrrrry Christmas haha. 

Small Batch Cream Cheese Danish- soft, and so easy to make

Needing to console myself after my shopping trip, I came home to make these cream cheese danishes.  I’ve been craving some of my Breakfast Cheesecake, but I wanted to try and find a way to make a smaller batch.  These small batch cream cheese danishes are soft, flaky, easy to eat with one hand, and so simple to make.  Perfect with coffee or a dollop of fruit preserve on top.

Small Batch Cream Cheese Danish
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 1 pkg Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ tsp vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream together sugar and cream cheese.
  3. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla.
  4. Unroll the crescent roll dough onto an ungreased baking sheet.
  5. Separate the dough into four squares.
  6. Spread the cream cheese mixture onto each square.
  7. Gently fold in each of the corners of the dough.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden brown.
Notes
Be generous with the filling, there will still be a little leftover. You can double this recipe, but still only use one egg yolk.

 

emily_grace

 

 

Holiday Cookies eBook: Free Download

Today is the big day!  I switched my site over from my previous SweetBellaRoos.com to Grace and Good Eats.  This change was a long time coming and I am so excited to begin 2015 with my new site.  When I started Sweet Bella Roos it was a semi-private blog, affectionately nicknamed after my daughter, and my Mom was my only reader.  I never imagined it would grow to what it is today or that I would still get so much joy from sharing a little piece of my life with all of you.  I struggled with a bit of an identity crisis, afraid to commit to being a “food blog”, but as my recipe development and food photography skills have (immensely) improved over the past five years, I’m finally ready to wear the title proudly.

To celebrate I’m giving away a free download of my Holiday Cookies eBook! 

FREE DOWNLOAD: Holiday Cookies- 10 delicious cookie recipes for the holidays and beyond

This digital cookbook features 10 of my most favorite cookies (never before seen on the blog).  Most of these recipes are my go-to, tried and true, recipes- with a few new ones thrown in to the mix.  These are the recipes I would pull out when I needed to bake some goodies to bring to work for a holiday celebration, to a potluck event at church, or even just a rainy Saturday deserving of cookies.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Holiday Cookies- 10 delicious cookie recipes for the holidays and beyond

Holiday Cookies is a 24 page PDF with 10 recipes, full page color photographs of every cookie, tips and methods, and includes:

  1. Chai Spice Cookies
  2. Browned-Butter Shortbread
  3. Sea Salt Caramel Pecan Sandies
  4. Lemon Sandwich Cookies
  5. M&M Monster Cookies
  6. White Chocolate Cherry Macadamia
  7. Peanut Butter Blossoms
  8. Oatmeal Cranberry
  9. Sugar Cookie Wreaths
  10. Mint Chocolate Fudge

These are all simple, easy to follow recipes that don’t require any crazy ingredients.  I’ve included a mix of chocolate, fruit, and spice so you are sure to find something to please everyone.  While these cookies are perfect for the holiday season, they can certainly be made any time of year!

DOWNLOAD THE EBOOK HERE

I hope you enjoy baking and sharing (and eating!) these cookies.  And I hope you will follow along with me on my new site.  I’ve changed the name of most of my social media accounts, so please make sure you are following me under my new accounts!

emily_grace

 

 

Restaurant Style Salsa and Frozen Cranberry Margaritas

I have a relationship with Blendtec that may include compensation or products for review.  We have been big Blendtec fans in our house for a long time and I genuinely love this product and their fantastic customer service.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Restaurant Style Salsa- my favorite recipe for when I need a chips and salsa fix!

Living in Texas we are lucky to have a lot of Mexican food, or Tex-Mex, restaurants to choose from.  I’ve learned that you can immediately tell the caliber of a restaurant by their chips and salsa; I’m pretty sure I cut my teeth on chips and salsa as a baby.  My top two favorites, Mia’s and Desperados, are a little ways from me in Dallas.  They both have amazing salsa, but are very different from each other.  If I need a quick fix we go to Mi Cocina, which is a chain, but really close to my house.  They have delicious brisket quesadillas, but their salsa leaves a little to be desired.

Restaurant Style Salsa- my favorite recipe for when I need a chips and salsa fix!

Rather than drive to Dallas every time I need a chips and salsa fix, I have found a recipe to make at home that takes no time at all in my Blendtec and is SO good.  My kids even eat chips and salsa with their peanut butter and jellies.  It’s pretty much a staple in our house.  

Restaurant Style Salsa- my favorite recipe for when I need a chips and salsa fix!

Restaurant Style Salsa
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4 cups
Ingredients
  • 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 10oz can hot Rotel, drained
  • 10oz can mild Rotel, drained
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • 2 jalapenos, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • Heaping ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Juice from ½ lime
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in your blender.
  2. Blend on the lowest speed for one minute.
  3. Refrigerate for up to a week.

 

I couldn’t function in my kitchen without my Blendtec.  We use it for everything from protein shakes, smoothies, salsa, to soups.  The new Blendtec Designer 725 has so many more settings (like ice cream!) and uses SmartBlend technology, multi-speed pulse, a 100-speed touch slider.  I especially love the SmartBlend technology for my protein shakes- sometimes my protein would stick to the sides of my old blender, but now it alerts me when I need to add more liquid.  It will also sense and identify potential problems that could interfere with the perfect blend like loading errors, overheating, or air pockets – and then tells you how to fix them.  We use our blender every day- definitely worth the investment!  I mean, it’s practically saving me money since I don’t have to drive to Dallas for my salsa fixes.  :)

And what naturally goes with delicious salsa?  Margaritas (for the 21 and up) of course!  These frozen cranberry margaritas pair perfectly with the hot, spicy salsa, but are also great for this holiday season! 

Frozen Cranberry Margaritas- easy and delicious!

Also made using my Blendtec, with it’s quiet, ultra high-speed motor, it has no problem turning ice into a perfectly blended restaurant quality frozen drink.  Make my Best Ever Chicken Enchiladas or Tamale Casserole and you don’t ever need to go out for Mexican food again!

Frozen Cranberry Margaritas- easy and delicious!

Frozen Cranberry Margaritas
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6 cups
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups cranberry juice cocktail
  • ¾ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¾ cup tequila
  • ½ cup orange liquor (such as Cointreau or Triple Sec)
  • 6 cups ice
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to blender.
  2. Blend on lowest speed until desired consistency.
  3. Serve in sugar or salt rimmed glasses.

 

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This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Blendtec.

Savory Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sara Lee®.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole- make it the night before, almost like a savory bread pudding

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen my #EmGetsStrong posts.  Since March of this year I’ve lost over 15lbs and 12 inches.  I’ve been working out with a trainer and lifting weights every week, but one of the biggest keys to my success has been focusing on my nutrition.  I started with baby steps of cutting sweets and mindless snacking.  I’ve learned to listen to my body and feed my muscles.  I’ve also strived to eat a healthy breakfast every day and make “better for you” swaps when I get the chance.

Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole- make it the night before, almost like a savory bread pudding

This Savory Sausage and Cheese Breakfast casserole accomplishes both of those goals!  I use Sara Lee® Delightful bread at only 45 calories per full-size slice to keep my calories in check without skimping on taste or texture.  The Delightful breads are available in Oatmeal, 100% Whole Wheat, Healthy Multi-Grain, and Wheat; and all heart-healthy while providing an excellent source of fiber in each serving (2 slices), with no artificial colors or flavors, and no high fructose corn syrup.

bread

This casserole comes together really easily and only requires a few simple ingredients.  It’s perfect for a crowd, and can be made overnight to serve the next morning.  It’s packed with protein, and no one will believe you’ve swapped out their higher calorie bread.  :)

Savory Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 Loaf 100% Whole Wheat Sara Lee® Delightful Bread, cubed
  • 16oz spicy breakfast sausage, fully cooked
  • 8oz colby jack cheese, shredded
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 tbsp butter
Instructions
  1. Fully cook the sausage, drain and set aside.
  2. Coat a 9x13 baking dish with butter.
  3. Remove the crust and cube the bread.
  4. Mix together eggs and half and half.
  5. In a large bowl, mix together the cooked sausage, bread, and cheese. Pour the mixture into the baking dish.
  6. Pour the egg and milk mixture over the bread, coating thoroughly.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (or at least 4-6 hours).
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes.
Notes
The bake time will depend on how chilled the casserole is. It's done when the eggs are set, the bread is browned, and the cheese is melted.

 

15363492993_151d497cf2_mSara Lee® wants to hear about the healthy transformations you’re making in your life.  Share your own story by participating in the 45 Delightful People program found here.

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sara Lee®.

Giftable Single Serving Hot Cocoa

Single Serving Hot Cocoa- perfect to gift in little containers filled with marshmallows, peppermint, etc

 I found these little plastic ornaments at Michael’s (orig. $1.99, sale $.99) a few days ago and thought they would be PERFECT to fill with something.  I love that they are square, and are able to sit up nicely, as opposed to the round ones you usually find.  The lids popped out no problem and they were super easy to assemble. …

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M&M Candy Pretzel Bark

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Glad & M&M’S®. All opinions are 100% mine.

M&M Pretzel Candy Bark- so yummy, and perfectly giftable for the holidays

I feel like I’ve been unusually on the ball this holiday season.  The house is decorated inside and out, I’ve been busy baking treats, and I’ve even remembered to move the Elf every night!  I talked my husband into a real Christmas tree this year (our fake one is starting to look a little “Charlie Brown”) and I already have presents under it.  Last year we didn’t even get our lights up on the house and I was up all night wrapping on Christmas Eve. …

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