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Archive for January, 2012

I made sugar cookies for our Valentine Card-Making party.  I used my mom’s recipe, which is my all-time favorite sugar cookie recipe.  I haven’t posted it on my blog before, because the dough is a little tricky to work with, as it’s a bit sticky.  But after trying four different sugar cookie recipes, my family and I think this makes the best tasting sugar cookies.

Usually I have my great helper and baker, Natalie, to help make sugar cookies for our card-making party.  But, she spent the night at a friends’ house so I had to frost them all myself!   (If you’re like me, you probably enjoy decorating the first 8 cookies or so … then you’re ready for them all to be frosted!)

I made hearts, lips and cupcakes … perfect for a party of 12-13 year olds and their moms, right?

Back to the recipe.  The dough needs to be refrigerated before rolling and cutting the cookies.  And, the dough tends to be sticky, so you have to use a well-flowered board.  You end up working in a bit of extra flour into the dough as you’re getting it ready to roll out.  But again, the cookies taste oh so good!

I think sugar cookies taste best when frosted with butter cream frosting  (instead of royal icing or fondant).   You don’t get the smooth surface, but the cookies taste so much better.  I use the Butter Cream Frosting recipe on the back of the Powdered Sugar box.  Sometimes I use royal icing to outline the cookies and add decorative lines and squiggles.  I just ran out of time to pipe/outline the cookies this time.

Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

3 cups Flour

1  cup Sugar

1  tsp. Baking Soda

2 tsp.  Cream of Tartar

1  cup Salted Butter, softened

2 Eggs, slightly beaten

3 Tbs. Milk

1  tsp. Vanilla

Directions:

1.  Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda and cream of tartar.  (If I don’t feel like getting out the sifter, I just whisk the dry ingredients in a large bowl).

2.  Add the butter and cut it in as you would for a pie crust (using a pastry blender).

3.  Add the eggs, milk and vanilla to the flour mixture.  Mix with a wooden spoon.  Dough will be sticky.

4.  Wrap dough in wax paper and refrigerate for at least 1  1/2 hours.

5.  Flour pastry board and rolling pin.  Roll out dough, sprinkling with flour as you go.  Roll dough out to desired thickness.  Cut into shapes, dipping cookie cutters in flour before cutting.

6.  Bake cookies at 400 for 8 to 10 minutes (depending on dough thickness and your oven temp).

I use Silpat Baking liners, which makes it easy to remove sugar cookies from cookie sheet.

Butter Cream Frosting

1 lb. Powdered Sugar

1/2 cup Salted Butter, softened

1/4 cup Milk

1 tsp. Vanilla

In a medium to large-sized bowl, add powdered sugar, butter, milk and vanilla.  Use a hand mixer to beat the frosting until completely mixed.  Separate portions of the frosting and add food coloring for desired colors.

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I just returned from a “girls’ trip” to Park City/Deer Valley, Utah.  This was our 18th year of getting together at a ski destination for a few days of skiing, catching up, eating & shopping.  We started out as a bunch of single gals, most of us working in the tech industry.  Now years later, we’re all married or with significant others, have kids, pets and very different lives.

We live all over the U.S., but we still make time to come together for a great few days of “girlfriend time”.  As I explain to my husband each year, it’s much cheaper than therapy and oh, so much better!!!

This year, we went back to a favorite destination … Park City.  We were there during the first weekend of the Sundance Film Festival.  I’ve never seen Park City so crowded!!!  While it’s fun to see a few celebs, we did decide it’s best to go to Park City at the end of Sundance or avoid the festival all together.

During the festival, there is no parking on Main Street (and what limited parking you can find is expensive).   You have to get dinner reservations at least a month in advance.  And, most of the nicer restaurants only offer pre-fix meals.  Many of the hotels and rentals jack up the lodging prices.

Utah hadn’t received much snow this year.  The first day of the festival it started to snow.  And, I believe it is still snowing in Park City.   Beautiful!

We do love Park City because of the great restaurants & shopping.  But our big draw is really the Deer Valley Ski Resort.  In 30 years of skiing, it’s my all-time favorite ski mountain.  It’s well-groomed, limited crowds, no snow boarders and has amazing services & ammenities.  And, there are many great lodging options near Deer Valley.  We always love to rent a condo or home — which makes for an affordable place when split among friends — and also provides a great place to hang out after skiing.

Here’s my “best of” list if  you’re considering a trip to Park City …

Favorite Restaurants:

  • Purple Sage – 434 Main Street.  A long time favorite of ours.  It’s known as an American Western Bistro.  The food will not disappoint.  Order the Butterscotch Pudding.  It’s amazing.
  • Reef’s – also on Main Street.  We tried Reef’s for the first time this trip.  It was a delicious Mediterranean meal.  And, the service was exceptional!
  • Cafe Terigo – Italian meets French at 424 Main Street.  Great for lunch or dinner.
  • Chimayo – at 368 Main (look for the orange hanging lights).  Great Southwestern food.
  • Empire Canyon Grill at Deer Valley – the best food on the Deer Valley ski mountain.  It’s become our destination of choice for lunch when skiing.

Restaurants we wanted to try, but couldn’t get in (due to Sundance crowds) …

  • J&G Grill at the St. Regis.  J&G gets great reviews both on food and service.  Reservations are a must (and you need to get them well in advance for Sundance).
  • Talisker on Main.  I tried to get reservations 2 weeks in advance of our trip.  They only had seatings at 10 pm.  The restaurant is small, but looks wonderful.  Next trip!

We’ve eaten at most of the restaurants on Main Street.  Some of the ones that have been around for ages (Grappa, Wahso) are no longer favorites.  And, if you’re in Park City during Sundance, you need to get reservations weeks in advance.

Favorite Shopping Spots:

  • Silver Lake Village Shops at Deer Valley (on Royal Street) — it’s great to browse these clothing and ski shops, to see what the “beautiful, wealthy skiiers” wear.
  • rootd — Cute home accessories and jewelry store at 577 Main.
  • Butera Home — off Main Street on Herber.  Barclay Butera’s original home & design store is in Newport Beach.  It’s an all-time favorite store of mine.  His store in Park City is perfect for the mountain cabins and homes!
  • Fatali Gallery at 556 Main St.  This gallery features the landscape photography of Michael Fatali.  You’ll see some of the most amazing photographs of Southwestern U.S. scenery.  It’s best to go to the gallery at night, when you can see the impact of lighting on the photographs.
  • Olive & Tweed – fun fashion and jewelry on Main.

Lodging Tips:

  • Some of the most beautiful homes and condos to rent are in the Deer Valley area.  We’ve used VRBO(Vacation Rentals by Owner) and some specific Deer Valley lodging websites to locate lodging.  If you are there to ski Deer Valley, here are the great areas (many ski-in/ski-out):
    • If you are there to ski Deer Valley, Silver Lake and Black Bear are great locations (many ski-in/ski-out).
    • If money is no object, the St. Regis is at the base of Deer Valley.  And, the Montage is between the Deer Valley and Park City ski resorts.
  • If you are renting a home or condo, it’s great to stock up on food at Whole Foods Market (Redstone Center) or Fresh Market (closer to downtown Main Street).
  • If you enjoy wine and beer, remember that the grocery stores don’t sell alcohol (with the exception of 3.2% beer).  Snow Creek Plaza has the best wine selection in Park City.

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