Monday, January 20, 2014

The cookies that restored my faith in...well, cookies.

It's taken me five tries to begin this post for some reason.  It was one of those jam-packed weekends and every time I sit down, something happens and I have to step away, then I lose my train of thought.  Or someone loses a wooden arrow over the fence and needs me to let them back inside because the door locked behind them as they went next door to get it.  Twice.  Or someone comes and lays down on the guest bed to hang out while I type. This is blogging in real life, folks.  And if this post makes absolutely no sense, at least I had an excuse right?  Ah motherhood at it's finest.  We wouldn't want it any other way, would we? 

I'm basically here to talk about a cookie, but I wish we could chat about Downton Abbey and how my heart is breaking for Anna.  Just as a side note.  Since my mind is going eleventy-hundred directions at once right now.

There was a point a few years ago, after finding out that my daughter and I couldn't ingest gluten anymore, where I went through my tried and true recipes and threw most of them out.  Realizing that we could no longer make certain items, or convert them (deliciously) into gluten free options kind of bummed us out.  There were a few recipes that were so amazing I kept them in the back of my recipe binder.  One in particular, was a recipe for sugar cookies.  What makes them special is the almond flavoring.. and the use of powdered sugar, rather than regular sugar.  It's the kind of cookie that bakes with a slight crunch on the outer layer but has a tender texture inside.  Topped with fluffy icing, this cookie seems like a treat you'd pay for at a coffee stand.  It is a fact that I have even become friends with perfect strangers over this particular recipe.  The title at the top of my recipe card reads, "The Best Sugar cookies EVER."  They were that good.

Sadly they didn't convert easily into gluten free cookies, and my experience with gluten free sugar cookies have been a bit disappointing with the exception of this vanilla bean sugar cookie recipe.  Probably because I was comparing them all to the BEST SUGAR COOKIES EVER.  Ya know? Anyway, fast forward to a few months ago when my man did some Costco shopping for us and brought home a surprise bag of gluten free cup for cup flour.  It is the Namaste brand.  I know it's at Costco right now and that it's a blend that is supposed to replace flour in any recipe cup-for-cup but I threw the bag away when I decanted my flour into a canister, so I can't give you any more specifics.  (Please don't throw rotten tomatoes at my head.  Thanks.)  I used that flour throughout the holidays and it was great.  So... I decided I'd give these sugar cookies another try using what I had on hand.  It worked!!  I added 1/2 tsp xanthan gum for a binder because nobody likes too many crumbles in their cookie and those of us who attempt gf baking know all about that.  I prepared myself that they would not taste exactly like the regular version, but they were as close as I've ever gotten, and they weren't a pain in the neck to handle with the rolling out and cutting process which is a first!  I was so happy with them that we made a batch for the Seahawks game.

I had seen some fun decorative candies at JoAnn's last week (lips, googly eyes, smiley teeth, moustaches, and some other colorful sprinkles.  My kids flipped out decorating their little blue monster faces.  Apparently this sort of activity is very fun for the tween crowd.  I'll have to keep that in mind for the future. 

 There was a lot of "tasting" along the way.  Some things never change.  (And my son decided not to comb his hair that day.  In case you were wondering.  Ha!)
 There might have been some sprinkle overload... Hey, if a little is good...

 I gotta be honest, eating something with eyes is freaky. 

 Anyway, the sugar hit the bloodstream immediately and we cheered the Seahawks on as they made it to the superbowl. 
And Ava got some new eye glasses.  She suddenly transformed into an older child on me and I don't like it much.  But she looks pretty cute in her new glasses... and she can see the white board at school now, which is a good thing.  I don't even want to think about the fact that I'm going to have a teenager on my hands in about two months, when Joe turns 13!!  (She chants, "I will stop time, I will stop time." You may be seeing a lot more photos of my kiddos from this point on, as I attempt to do just that.  Ha!)

Speaking of photos, I've been primarily using my 50mm lens again. I think I was in a photo-taking slump with a phone camera in my hand more than my Canon.  It's been so long since I used my 50, that I'm almost having to relearn how to use a fixed lens, rather than a zoom lens-  I forgot how much fun it is to shoot with!! Kind of breathed new life into my lack of desire to photograph things, which is just in time for my shop reopening. I am shooting for February 5th so stay tuned... it's getting crazy over here!!  

So before someone comes in and I get side tracked again... here is the recipe for both gluten free and regular cookies:

The best sugar cookies EVER:
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter at room temperature
1 egg
1 tsp real vanilla extract
1 tsp real almond extract
2 1/2 c flour (either an all purpose for regular cookies, or the Namaste cup for cup for gluten free.)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum *ONLY if making these gluten free
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar

*Mix sugar and butter then add egg, vanilla and almond.  Add dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Refrigerate in discs for 2-3 hrs.  Lay out disc onto parchment and place another piece of parchment over top, then roll out to about 1/4 thickness or slightly thinner.  Cut into desired shapes and place on lined baking sheet.  Bake at 375 for 7-8 minutes. 

(I used half recipe of this icing and added 1 tsp almond into it as well but you could use any icing you like. Royal icing is also nice on these cookies.)

And now I need to get the hoodlums lunches packed for tomorrow and move the laundry off my table so we can eat dinner.  I've got a busy week of restocking flour sack dishtowels for the shop ahead of me. (I'm doing the Eat drink & be merry design in a couple fun colors for the everyday...along with the butcher chart cow and blue mason jar towels) It's going to be a good week I can tell. 

What's on your agenda for the rest of this week?


  1. one of the things that I noticed about your blog a long time ago was all the pretty pictures of desserts! not sure what it is about sweet things that make for great photos but "it works!"
    total cuteness with the glasses! :-)

    1. Oh thank you!! Now if only my waistline was as photogenic. Lol!! :)

  2. The cookies look delicious! You probably have heard this already, but gluten-free baking works so much better when you bake by weight, not volume. That is, if the Namaste mix was cup-for-cup, it meant that a cup of it weighed the same as regular flour (125g). But you can use any GF mix this way; just always substitute by weight, not volume. It makes such a difference, especially when you're converting a non-GF recipe! Also, I've found that the best mixes (mixed up yourself or storebought) are about 50-70% whole grain flour (brown rice, sorghum, etc.) and 30-50% starch (cornstarch, potato, tapioca, etc.).

    1. Thank you!!! I actually just read this tip last week and have yet to try it bit I am going to now that you have seconded that tip! Still learning as I go and always appreciate the help and encouragement!

  3. Thanks for sharing this cookie recipe with us today, I have a friend of mine that can only have gluten free stuff and I bet she would just go crazy over these. I am going to have to try them for her. Your kids are getting bigger, mine are as well. I really notice it when I look back a pictures......~sigh~ I guess that is life right. At least they are growing and are healthy. Have a great week hun. ~hugs~

    1. Aww thanks friend. We cant stop time...sure wish we could just freeze it a bit! :)

  4. What fun and how cute, eyes and all! Seems more and more folks are going gluten free, so how nice that you converted it. Good luck as you prepare to reopen your shop. Happy week!

    1. Its so nice how many gf options ava and I can find now. Sure wish we didnt have to but since we do it makes things so much easier. Happy week to you too girly!

  5. Thank you so much for posting this. I have been trying to go gf due to joint pain (I am 45 and my joints feel 80). I am on my second week and feeling better but having a hard time adjusting. I think I will make these this weekend. I here king arthur flour has a gf flour also.

  6. Thanks for sharing the recipe . I buy it all the time at costco. Here is there web site for those who don't have a costco near buy .

  7. Yum. I'm not an almond extract kind of girl, but I bet these would be fabulous with orange zest or extract too! Yay, gonna try!

  8. These sound so good right now (guess I should have read your post AFTER lunch) that I had to grab a yogurt to finish the post : ) The decorations look like such fun although I am with you in liking a cookie without eyes. And from one Seahawk fan to another - Superbowl here we come!

  9. oh goodie! i have been doing gluten free fro TWO..yes two days. kinda getting ready for the next surgery and really want to eliminate it from my diet for the most part. with my new parts i think it will help with things. and i have a voracious sweet tooth and sugar cookies are my FAVORITE! so i will pin these. i have heard of the namaste flour at costco. went the other day and couldn't find! but when i do i am baking these! looking forward to your shop opening and if you want to put a BRAVE quote or something on some flour sack dish towels...i would really buy them! since i do dishes by hand....ugh! i know. i am whining again but flour sack towels are THE best for you xo

  10. Oh my goodness! I've been searching for a gluten free sugar cookie recipe! I'm so excited to try this!

  11. I've gone gluten free this week.
    I'm not allergic to it, but my body sure does resist it.
    My joints are hurting from inflammation…I feel so much better when I'm off of it.
    WHY do I keep going back? makes me so mad at myself to know better and not do better!!!

    Here's to another try at it….what better way to get started than to bake cookies???

  12. Your cookies look so yummy. And cute with the faces! We don't have any flours like that here but I get pretty good results with Orgran GF flour if I use a decent margarine (am dairy-free as well) and especially if I chill the dough before rolling it out. Thank goodness we can still have cookies, hey?

  13. those cookies!!!!!
    i remember seeing his face cookie over at instagram... it's my fave.