Buttercream Cream Cheese Frosting for Sugar Cookies

I developed this recipe by cobbling together several recipes I came across.  We used it at *N*'s fifth birthday party to decorate cookies.  It worked perfectly well, and I was glad to avoid the shortening that so many buttercream recipes call for - yet be able to have the "sturdiness" of the cream cheese to prevent the frosting from turning into a melted buttery mess.

It tasted good in that it was pretty standard frosting.  I was most interested in its functionality, however, and it delivered.  The night before the party, I used my mini ice cream scoop to put two Tablespoon-size balls of frosting in individual paper Dixie cups, thus making the serving of the frosting in the midst of the craziness much easier.

Update: I made a half-batch next time, and it was enough to cover about 30 sugar cookies, 2.5" in diameter.

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
4 oz cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 4 Tablespoons half-n-half [or cream]
4 to 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
Food coloring [optional]

(1) In a large mixing bowl, soften butter & cream cheese almost to room temperature.
(2) Cream butter & cream cheese together until well blended.
(3) Add vanilla extract; mix thoroughly.
(4) Add 2 Tbsp half-n-half and food coloring.
(5) Add sugar, one cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached.  Add additional food coloring if desired.
(6) Add remaining half-n-half if needed.

Kid Participation:
* Run mixer
* Dump ingredients into mixing bowl
* Constantly stick fingers into frosting and sample


Orange-Glazed Orange Cookies

Original Recipe HERE

I'm not normally a fan of orange-flavored...anything.  Except Sunkist.  I would have put that stuff in an IV and mainlined it as a child if an adult had let me.  Probably because my parents only let me indulge on special occasions, and "Thou most desires that which thou canst not obtain" - or something like that.  Anyway, I wasn't sure whether to proceed with the orange in the original recipe or switch it to lemon.  I stuck with the orange and was glad I did.  It was noticeable but not overpowering.  Husband brought these to work and received raves for them.  I'm glad to have added another recipe to my small-but-growing arsenal of Cookies That Don't Involve Chocolate and Aren't Incredibly Dense (I Mean Satisfyingly Filling).  Broadening my horizons and all that.  This recipe made about 30 cookies.

I also am excited to have learned the trick of infusing the sugar with the zest.  It may have been in my head, but I do think it made a difference.  I've subsequently used the technique a few times with lemon.

* For cookies
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons orange zest
1 cup [2 sticks] unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 egg
* For glaze
1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 Tablespoon orange zest
Fresh orange juice

(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
(2) In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
(3) In  small bowl, combine sugar and zest by rubbing them together with your fingers until zest is completely incorporated into sugar.
(4) Using an electric mixer, cream together butter and zest-infused sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
(5) Add juice and egg; mix until combined.
(6) Reduce mixer speed to low.  Gradually add dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. If dough seems slightly soft, refrigerate it for up to 30 minutes.
(7) Using a medium cookie scoop (or 2 tablespoonfuls), scoop dough and roll into balls.  Place them 2" apart on cookie sheets.
(8) Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until very lightly browned around edges but still pale in the middle. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes on the cookie sheet.  Remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
(9) To make glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, orange zest, and enough orange juice to achieve the desired consistency (less juice for a thicker glaze, more for a thinner one). Spread glaze over top of cooled cookies; allow to set at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Store at room temperature in an airtight container (divide layers with wax paper so the cookies don’t stick together).

Kid Participation:
* Whisk dry ingredients
* Rub sugar and zest
* Scoop dough balls
* Drizzle glaze if thin; spread glaze if thick (and you don't mind losing a few broken cookies to a heavy-handed spreader)

Black Bean Burgers

Original Recipe HERE

Husband loves him some cheeseburgers.  Bacon cheddar burgers, to be exact.  If there is one on the menu at a restaurant, he will order it.  It's maddening...it's like "Groundhog Day" every time we go out to eat.  And he also loves to grill at home, though he himself has dubbed his offerings "bronto-burgers" because of their extreme girth and density (he packs the meat so tightly...wait, that doesn't sound right...).  I'm always on him to please not use so much breadcrumbs and to flatten them out more.

Finally I took matters into my own hands and made these.  And we all liked them!  I may have just earned myself a permanent job as burger master.  As expected, the kids took the patties out of the buns and ate everything separately, but even Husband had to concede that these non-bronto-burgers were good.  The ingredient list below made eight full-size burgers.

3/4 cup panko
3 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika [optional]
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 red or orange bell pepper, finely diced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup shredded cheese [optional]
cheese slices [optional]
(1) Combine panko with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil; mix with a fork to blend.
(2) Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add panko mixture to the skillet.  Toast, stirring frequently, until light golden brown. Remove from the heat; cool to room temperature.
(3) Place 2½ cups of the beans in a large bowl.  Mash with a potato masher or a fork until mostly smooth.
(4) In a separate bowl, combine eggs, 1 Tablespoon of oil, and spices. Whisk to blend.
(5) Add egg mixture, toasted panko, remaining ½ cup beans, bell pepper, shallot, and cheese to the mashed beans. Stir until evenly combined.
(6) Divide mixture into 8 equal portions, about ½ cup each. Lightly pack into 1" thick patties (I used my 15-oz can strainer to make uniform patties).
(7) Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Carefully lay half of the patties in the skillet; cook until well browned on both sides (8-10 minutes total).  Top with cheese slices during last minute of cooking if desired.
(8) Transfer cooked burgers to a plate and tent with foil.  Repeat with remaining oil and bean patties. Serve warm.

Kid Participation:
* Mash beans
* Mix together ingredients
* Form patties (if you don't mind cleaning up the resulting messy hands)