Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Best Sugar Cookies Ever...with fun colors found in nature!

Its no surprise food dyes are bad for you. I even remember them talking about the red & yellow dyes when I was a kid. Reading the list of chemicals most harmful to kids has reinforced the fact that we should try to avoid them when we can. It's not terribly hard for me to avoid them in food at the grocery store (except at Halloween), but my real weakness? Frosting! Specifically, frosting for sugar cookies! I am fine making them with white frosting, but I've made them in fun colors previously so that's what my kids expect. When we start talking about making sugar cookies, they immediately start deciding what color they want "theirs" to be. Ugh! Do I take this happiness away from them too (as if the M&Ms aren't enough)? Or, do I look for alternative & natural colors found in nature? Clearly I try the latter since I'm blogging about it.

My ideas:
white=no dye (easy)
pink=beet juice or maybe strawberries if they are juicy enough (but, I have boys & they don't want pink)
purple=blueberry juice (I did this once with the witches hats, but they were really more violet)
green=spinach juice (dare I try it?)

Last week we made cookies & these were the color options. My youngest picked purple. This time I used more juice & they actually turned out purple! Perfect! My oldest chose green (little did he know). This past summer I pureed some spinach & froze it in ice cube trays. Normally when I defrost one, there is juice. This time, there was no juice. So, I put the entire cube in the frosting. Now the frosting looks white with green flakes in it. It truly looks more like something you should be dipping a veggie in than something that you should be eating on your cookie. But I taste it & it tastes great! Just like normal frosting. There is so much sugar in it, you can't taste the spinach at all. Now for the true test: I tell my oldest that his frosting is more like white frosting with green sprinkles in it. He takes one look at it & says "no mom!" Then I give him a taste. "Ok mom!" Whew! They passed the test & my boys have thoroughly enjoyed their cookies. To top it all off: I feel like I just snuck some veggies into their systems. I LOVE IT!!! (It may be worth a note that the older these cookies get, the flavors are starting to come out. I couldn't taste the blueberries or spinach at all initially. Now its been 5 days & I taste a hint of them, though just a hint & I'm still fairly certain if you didn't 'know' you wouldn't taste the difference.)

Not to be a total bragger, but I do make the best sugar cookies. They aren't easy, but they are so worth it! That junk you buy at the store doesn't even compare. Here's the recipe:

Sugar Cookies
Mix together:
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup butter (must be room temperature, sometimes I pop it in the microwave to soften (melting some of it))
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Stir it until it all sticks together & essentially forms a ball (this is the 'not easy' part-your arm will be ready to fall off by the time you're done). Refrigerate the dough 15-30 minutes so its not so sticky when you roll it out. When you do roll it out, you'll need to use a decent amount of flour to keep it from sticking. Bake 8-10 min at 400 degrees.

Butter Cream Frosting
1 box powdered sugar
1 stick of butter, softened
6 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
Mix it all together & add your favorite color found in nature's finest food & frost. Frost when the cookies are cool. Also, let the frosting harden a bit after you frost them & then you'll be able to stack them on a plate.

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