Category Archives: Kids in the Kitchen

Pineapple Angel Torte

I think I might have been a little tough on Jello salad recipes in yesterday’s post; perhaps having a little too much fun at the expense of an iconic American dish.

Today, in an effort to make amends, I am going to share another old family recipe that has a filling quite similar to … gulp … a Jello salad. I also want to tell you about it because it is DELICIOUS and would make a perfect Easter dessert. Fruity, fluffy and very light, which is perfect after the ham and scalloped potatoes which are so often an Easter staple.

This torte is a favorite of my Aunt Andi, my mom’s sister, and my grandmother made it on her birthday for many years. I promise, it is that good.

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There is my amazing aunt. Pretty hot stuff, huh? I love those 60’s hairdo’s! Tres chic!

Her name is actually Diana but to us she will always be Aunt Andi. And she’s still just as gorgeous.

Pineapple Angel Torte

This recipe is a tough one with some exotic and complicated ingredients …

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Just kidding!

Here’s what you need …

  • 1 can – 1lb. 4 1/2 oz – Crushed Pineapple, undrained
  • 1 package – 3 3/4 oz – Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
  • 2 cups Whipping Cream
  • 1 Angel Food Cake

That’s it! I know right about now you have your doubts but I promise you, it is wonderful. If it just feels too much like cheating, I understand. If making an angel food cake from scratch would make you feel better, I won’t judge. You are safe here.

Here’s what you do …

Pineapple-Torte-5This is a great recipe for kids to help out with! Sara is stirring together the can of undrained crushed pineapple and the instant pudding mix.

Pineapple-Torte-8Mix until combined and let sit for 5 minutes.

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Next, split your angel food cake into three equal layers.

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Whip the 2 cups of whipping cream – I draw the line at Cool Whip but again, I won’t judge. Gross.

Nathan just peeked over my shoulder while I was writing, saw this picture of Sara and Grandma, put his head on my shoulder and said in a sweet, quiet voice “I miss grandma”. Me too, Nathan. Sniff. If you are new to my blog, that’s my mom – Grandma as she’s known around these parts. She comes down to visit with us a lot and we miss her when she’s not here.

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Add the whipped cream to the pudding/pineapple mixture

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and gently fold it in.

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Put your first layer of cake on your serving dish and spread with a third of your pineapple mixture.

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Repeat with the second layer.

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Top and finish with the remaining pineapple mixture. Chill for one hour.

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And there you have it, Pineapple Angel Torte.

Now, let’s back up for a second. You may have noticed that we could have been smarter about the layering of this particular cake. Angel food cakes are tapered. They are smaller at the bottom. Thus for proper balance and stability, one should invert the layers and construct the cake using the top, which is in fact larger, as the bottom. Sadly, Einstein was not in the kitchen with us that day. We did it backwards. My mom has made this cake correctly a million times so I blame her. Okay, now I feel guilty. It was all my fault.

The good news, it still tasted great. Thankfully, physics has no impact on flavor.

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Meanwhile, Sara has moved on (probably because she wanted no part of the backward cake layering) to help her great-aunt Andi with a big pot of Taco Soup (another family favorite). Yes, we made the cake when my aunt was here visiting. Just for her. I told you she was still gorgeous.

Pineapple-Torte-19See, once it is served, you can’t even tell it wasn’t perfect all along.

Enjoy!

I am pleased to announce that if you like, you can now follow my blog on Bloglovin. Because I have actually figured out how to set it up there. I think. We shall see.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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David’s Delicious Breakfast Sandwich

I am late in posting today because I have been “tinkering” around on Facebook and have FINALLY added a “Welcome Company” fan page. It still needs some fine-tuning and tweaking but it is up and I am excited about it. I would be so happy if you would join me there by clicking the “like” thumb on the sidebar – right over there, to the right. Yup, that’s the one!

I am so thankful for the new friends I have made through this blog and look forward to having more conversation and interaction with you on Facebook. Thank you for reading and encouraging me – you are all such a blessing.

So, as I am running behind and because my sweet son asked me to feature his favorite breakfast on a post sometime, I have decided share with you this quick and easy breakfast sandwich. David will be so excited to come home from school today and see his sandwich immortalized on the internet.

I make this sandwich just about every morning as David must have it at least 4 out of 5 school mornings. He loves it and I love sending him out the door full of protein and sugar-free; so it is a win-win for both of us.

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I know it looks simple, and it is, but the magic is in the egg …

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Gorgeous, right? This is how my dad always made “fried” eggs. My mom is a phenomenal cook but my dad, he was the egg man. A little bit of butter in the heated pan, crack the egg in once the butter has melted and then add about a teaspoon of water, cover and seal tightly with a lid and just a few minutes later, on medium heat, you have the perfect egg. Soft and silky and scrumptious.

The next trick is the cheese, sliced perfectly thin for just the right melt.

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This magical little tool is how you get the perfect slice of cheese. No more giant hunks lopped off with a boning knife. Perfect little gossamer strips of cheese. Fewer calories and all of the flavor, just something else to love.

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I found this cheese slicer in Norway about 20 (gulp) years ago. Wow! 20 years; I’ll have to scan those pictures and write a Norway post or two one of these days. It is one of my favorite places on earth. You can get these slicers all over now but it might be fun to go to Norway to get one.

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Now, here is where the sandwich is very specialized for David. Whole grain bagel, un-toasted, butter on both sides, cheese slices on the bottom.

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Top the cheese with the egg.

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Break the yolk and smear it around a little to spread out that rich yumminess and to avoid sudden splurts of bursting yolk with the first bite. Mom doesn’t need any additional shirts to wash or egg yolk to clean off of the dog, who is sure to be close by begging her boy for a bite.

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And there it is, David’s Delicious Breakfast Sandwich (no, that is not how I normally serve it to him, that is just a pretty breakfast sandwich posing for the camera).

Breakfast-Sandwich-11A thumbs up from a happy kid. What other reason could I possibly need to make the same egg sandwich morning after morning?

Now, if this were my favorite egg sandwich, it would be on a toasted and buttered English muffin and would have just a little bit of Dijon mustard. My husband would have to add meat (ham or bacon) and jalapeno peppers.

Give it a try and let us know what you think and what favorite things you add to make it …

“(your name here)‘s Favorite Breakfast Sandwich”.

Thanks for visiting today – I’ll see you on Facebook!

Family Dinner Favorites: Easy Parmesan “Risotto”, the Perfect Side

Yesterday, I promised to tell you about the “Risotto” I served with Barefoot Contessa’s Lemon Chicken Breast. I would NEVER want to disappoint you so here is the scoop on this incredibly easy and delicious side dish that you MUST have in your culinary arsenal. This is also a Barefoot Contessa Recipe – of course, the woman is a genius – and comes from the “How Easy is That?” cookbook; here’s the link …

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Easy Parmesan “Risotto”

“Risotto” is in quotes because the end result is a creamy rice dish but the preparation is nothing like a risotto; that is why it is easy.

Put the arborio rice in a dutch oven with chicken or vegetable stock and cook it in the oven for about 50 minutes. No ladling stock, no standing over the stove.

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Play around with how you finish it. Change up the vegetables or cheese. You may need to reduce the cooking time slightly and add a little more “finishing” stock than it calls for to make sure it is creamy and not sticky.

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Easy-Risotto-5“Nathan, what do you have in your hand?”

“Peas mommy, I yike dem!”

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Frozen Peas, the perfect snack for a five-year-old. Who knew?

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The only thing I can’t tell you is how the Easy Parmesan “Risotto” in Ina’s cookbook picture is white as cooking the rice in stock makes the dish a creamy, buttery color. Which I think is very attractive.

I have a lot of recipes I love. This is one I will never be without!

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Family Dinner Favorite: Taco Soup

Installment #3 in the Family Dinner Favorites category comes from my little sister, Rachel and is pretty new to my family but is an absolute favorite of hers; and she has some P.I.C.K.Y. eaters. I’m not sure how this recipe came to her originally, but I am sure glad it did.

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Taco Soup is a cross between a soup and a chili or a “Stoup” as Rachael Ray would call it – oh wait, that is stew and soup. Oh well, you get the idea. However you want to classify it, the great thing about this quick, simple and nutritious dinner (actually, those are all pretty great things) is that the most difficult thing about it is opening the cans. Low fat and packed with fiber (lots of beans) and the kids will love it. You can’t go wrong.

Here’s what you’ll need:

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  • 2 pounds of lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 Can Corn
  • 1 Can  Creamed Corn
  • 1 Can Pinto Beans
  • 1 Can Kidney Beans
  • 1 Can Black Beans
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes (or Rotel with Green Chilies)
  • 2 Packages Taco Seasoning
  • 1 Package Ranch Salad Dressing Mix
  • 1 Can Whole Black Olives, drained (Optional but Awesome)

One of the really cool things about this recipe is that the liquid from the corn, tomatoes and beans is what makes the liquid in the soup. No additional water or stock.

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It is also a great “kids in the kitchen” recipe – they LOVE dumping the cans into the pot. And, if you are weird like us, while you chop the onions you can have a who can stand the onion fumes the longest contest with your eight year old. He won. I was cryin’ like a baby.

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Now that the onion contest is over, brown them with the ground beef.

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Have your helper start dumping in the canned ingredients and stir until combined.

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Add the taco seasoning packets and the ranch dressing packet (I know it sounds strange, but somehow it works).

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Give it a good stir and simmer for at least 20 minutes to heat through and give the flavors a little time to develop.

Serve with corn tortilla chips and your favorite toppings:

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Topping Ideas:

  • Sour Cream
  • Avocado Chunks
  • Grated Cheese
  • Sliced Green Onions
  • Jalapeno Pepper Rings
  • Pico de gallo or chopped tomatoes

That’s it. This is also a great crock-pot meal. Brown your meat and onions and the put it all together in the crock-pot – everything but the black olives that is – and let it simmer on low for 6-8 hours; add in the olives, sprinkle with your favorite toppings and have a little mid-week fiesta!Taco-Soup-15

Is it too Late to Say “Happy New Year”?

Yes, I am three days late but I still can not miss the chance to wish you HAPPY NEW YEAR!  A BLESSED New Year full of promise and adventure. I am so hoping yours started a lot “healthier” than ours did, which brings me to the culprit behind the belated salutation – a nasty virus. For your own sake, I will say no more about it.

Despite that which I will not speak of (nasty virus), the Holiday season is still in full swing around here … siggghhhh. Yep, full swing. Long ago, crazy newlywed me thought it would be sweet to humor my adorable new husband and agree that the festivities (including decorations) shouldn’t end (or get put away) until after his early (but not nearly early enough) January birthday. I love Christmas. I love my house all done up for Christmas. I also love the fresh start of the New Year and am at this point I.T.C.H.I.N.G. to get the decorations down and the house put back in order (well as ‘in order’ as it ever is). Truth be told, with the uhum … nasty virus… it wouldn’t have all been put away by now anyway but I still find myself longing for that fresh clean slate. Silly, I know. My husband doesn’t ask for much so the Christmas lights twinkling into mid-January really isn’t that big of a deal.

So, how do the Brewers ring in the New Year? With food, of course. Even when we’re sick. We also celebrate at home in our PJs with our kids, a roaring fire, a good movie and a few fireworks (not the incendiary kind, the pop and leave steamers of colorful confetti paper all over the yard kind) wondering who will actually make it to midnight. Exciting? Maybe not, but it is my favorite kind of party and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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That is how I grew up and I have very happy memories of New Year’s Eve. I want the same for my kids. My dad was a ski-area manager so he worked late into New Year’s Eve and then was back up the mountain at the crack of dawn New Years Day. Needless to say, my parents didn’t party like rock stars, everything they did was family oriented. I think that is why I am the same way; that and the fact that I am over 40 with three young kids and could no longer party like a rock star even if I wanted to. Say what you will about keeping your mojo but I am good with my jammies and my slippers.

My mom always made the evening special for my sister and I. First of all, we got to have Dr. Pepper. For us, soda was a treat and a whole can of Dr. Pepper was a BIG deal! I actually drank a Dr. Pepper this year and it was heavenly! Partly because my throat hurt so badly it was the only thing that sounded good. Is it just me or is there something delightful about carbonation on a sore throat? She always put out fancy little finger foods and festive plates and napkins. Just to make it special. Just for us. My kids had a blast with the plastic champagne flutes that I bought just for them.

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Our feast this year consisted of pigs in a blanket, mini-quiche, cheese tarts and hot wings with homemade blue cheese dressing, sparkling cider and a little bit of good Cabernet (it was New Year’s Eve, I had a virus, I wasn’t dead).

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I had planned on making French Onion Soup from a recipe I found on one of my very favorite blogs, My French Heaven by Stephane Gabart, but I could only muster enough culinary gumption for heat and serve. I think the soup is on the menu for tonight, I am so excited to try it!

David helped me make the favorite of the night, pigs in a blanket which were created out of 7 hot dogs I had in the fridge and puff pastry from the spare freezer. You can do just about anything if you have puff pastry in the freezer.

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I told him seam side down (even showed him) but he’s eight and in the end, liked the crazy pastry puffs sticking out the side anyway.

We did fireworks at about 9pm as making it to midnight wasn’t looking good for any of us.

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Happy-New-Year-7He looks a little scruffy ruggedly handsome (he’s been sick) but it was such a cute picture that I had to put it in.

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If his feet aren’t bare, they are in flip-flops.

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I think they look like Charlie’s Angels in this picture, if Charlie’s Angels were under the age of 11 and two of them were boys.

So that was our New Year’s Rockin’ Eve!

Who made it to midnight? Nathan … and Gary and I, but only because Nathan did.

I am so excited for 2013 and have so much to look forward to and share here on this little blog that I have come to love writing so much. Thank you for encouraging and supporting me. Thank you for reading and liking my posts for sharing them on Facebook and Pinterest and for leaving your comments that are so important to me. I have made some wonderful connections since I started this new venture in October and I can’t wait to see where 2013 takes me.

A few things to watch for in the coming months …

More on the Hacienda, the fixer-upper that only I would be crazy enough to take on (well my husband and I – he is either crazy too or just really loves me). Next up, master bathroom remodel.

Many, many more recipes as I am finally going to put together the family cookbook that I have wanted to do for so long.

My love/hate (mostly love until I’ve been shredded by a Palo Verde branch) relationship with gardening in the desert and the creatures that inevitably visit us on the “Brewer Nature Preserve”.

Healthy food and fitness posts as I am going to try not to get any chubbier in the process of writing a cookbook and testing recipes.

Lots of memories and stories and of course, faith and family life including, but not limited to, all the birthday parties, holidays, celebrations, mischief, mishaps and mayhem you can stand. Inevitably, there will be some posts that will really only interest our grandmas but they are part of our story and our memories which is a big part, the biggest part, of what this is all about.

Thanks for joining us on the journey. As always, you are Welcome Company!

White Chocolate Dipped Gingersnaps

ready-to-serveThese are my favorite “go to” Christmas Cookies. Versatile, delicious, easy and one batch makes a lot of cookies. I found this recipe several years ago in one of those little “Best Christmas Cookies Ever” type mini-magazine cookbooks that you pick up on impulse at the checkout stand. You know just in case you didn’t already have the “Best Christmas Cookie Ever Recipe” amongst the hundreds of recipes you already have and actually might just find it in this particular little magazine so you buy it because you can’t take the chance you’ll miss out on the best thing that has ever happened to you. As it turns out, this little magazine did actually have the recipe for the “Best Christmas Cookie Ever”.

Over the years, I have happily shared this recipe with countless friends and now I am going to share it with you too!

White Chocolate Dipped Gingersnaps

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Molasses – I use “Full Flavor” Molasses
  • 4 Cups Flour
  • 4 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Ginger
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • Additional sugar to roll cookies.

White Chocolate Dip:

  • 2 – 12 ounce Packages Vanilla Baking Chips
  • 1/4 Cup Shortening (Crisco)

Directions

In a mixing blow, combine sugar and oil; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Sugar-and-OilAdd molasses and mix well.

MolassesHere is a little trick that may or may not be life changing for you …Measuring-Molasseswhen you add the molasses use the same measuring cup that you used for the oil and the molasses with slip right out without sticking to the sides. Yes, I do watch entirely too much Food Network.BatterGorgeous!

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and gradually add to creamed mixture, mixing well after each addition.Adding-MolassesKeep going, you’re almost there.DoughPerfect, such a beautiful dough.

Now, shape the dough into 3/4 inch balls using a small scoop for uniform size.scoopAnd then roll the cookie balls in sugar.A-roll-in-the-sugarAhhhhh, there’s my sweet boy.Nathan-helping-2You didn’t think I could post a recipe without pictures of my helper did you? The sugar rolling step is perfect for little helpers. Here we are experimenting with a roll in Turbinado Sugar which turned out to be a little much. We recommend sticking with the plain old granulated stuff.Nathan-helpingNext, place the sugar rolled balls 2 inches apart on a baking sheet (mine is lined with a Silpat mat to prevent sticking but parchment paper works just fine too).Ready-for-the-ovenBake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until cookie springs backward when touched lightly. A little less time will give you softer, chewier cookies and a little more crispy and crunchy.bakedFresh from the oven and smelling fantastic. Remove to wire racks and cool.

What to do next? These cookies are so beautiful and delicious just as they are (go ahead, try one) which brings up the question to dip or not to dip? This is entirely up to you but you really must try the white chocolate dip at least once. The white chocolate dresses them up and puts them over the top but the gingersnap really is wonderful on its own too. ready-to-dip

If you decide to dip (which really is a good decision), melt the chips with shortening in a microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each until not quite melted as to not scorch the chocolate. Keep stirring until the heat of the mixture fully melts the chocolate.

Melting-chocolateYes, my picture shows the chips in a pan that clearly can not go in the microwave and is obviously on its way to the stove top. This is the way the original recipe says to melt the chips. I did it this way. I should not have. I know better. Melt them in the microwave, unless you can properly care for your melting chocolate and are not likely to be distracted by a five-year-old, a dog, the phone or the doorbell or all at the same time. Trust me, unless you use a double boiler, this can go wrong quickly and will only end in heartbreak. Use the microwave.ready-to-dip-2Okay, now that your chocolate is perfectly melted, dip the cookies halfway and shake off the excess. Place on waxed paper or parchment paper to harden for about an hour. dipped-and-dryingIf you want to get festive, right after dipping (before the chocolate hardens) decorate with colored sugar or sprinkles.sprinkledNow, here is where it get’s interesting. If you are a ginger lover and can take a pretty big flavor punch, sprinkle your cookies with a little bit of chopped crystallized ginger.Crystallized-GingerHeavenly!ginger-toppedThese are the cookies that we leave out for Santa. I hope you love them too and that they become a part of your Christmas traditions! Thanks for reading, I’d love to know if you try them and what you think!

My Grandmother’s Ice Box Cookie Recipe

My Grandmother’s Ice Box Cookie Recipe

Click here to read the story behind the cookies.

Finished-Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 pound butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 1 Tablespoon of cold water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt (less – about half – if you use table salt)

Directions

Shape into a small “log” roll. Refrigerate several hours, slice and bake at 350 degrees 10 minutes.

WAIT, WAIT, WAIT! Okay, so those were my grandmother’s instructions, written back in the day when knowledge and technique were assumed.

I have added slightly to the “how to” of the recipe:

Cream the butter and sugars together in a stand mixer (or with an electric mixer) until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.

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Add and incorporated the eggs, one at a time.

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Add and incorporate the vanilla and the soda dissolved in water.

Mix salt into the six cups of flour and mix into butter mixture one cup at a time.

Flour

Mix in the roughly chopped walnuts (or the nut of your choice).

Walnuts

Add-in-Nuts

If you have a dreamy little brown-eyed boy, let him lick the beater.

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Shape the dough into three rectangular log rolls by placing the dough in thirds onto sheets of plastic wrap. Use the wrap to help you shape the dough.

Wrapping

Log

Logs

Seal it up and refrigerate for several hours, otherwise, it will be impossible to slice – also, this is why they are called “Ice Box” cookies.

After the dough has chilled, remove the plastic wrap and slice the cookies 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.

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Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes.

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Cool and store in an airtight container or freeze.

Enjoy!