Cold Winter, Warm Kitchen

FEBRUARY 19, 2014
Brrrrr …. 2014 is off to a cold start!
 
I am ready for spring. I think everyone would agree that this has been a winter to forget. I have never been the type of person to complain about the cold, and I'm not a big believer in seasonal depression. In fact, I actually like the winter months. I enjoy wearing my warm winter coat and my favorite hat and mittens. I crave hot chocolate and warm pastries. I find beauty in fluffy snowflakes and an ice-covered lake. This year, we even have the Winter Olympics to help celebrate the season. But none of my usual winter comforts can overcome the brutal wind chills and constant snowfall. Enough is enough!
 
This winter has me dreaming of sun, shorts, and smoothies. Even when I do watch the Olympics, I find that Sochi is warmer than Chicago—usually by 50 degrees! It’s so warm that skiers are eating the snow to cool down! My answer to the winter blues is to stay busy in the kitchen. If it's going to be cold, then bring on the warm recipes. This month, I'm baking heart-shaped Valentine's Day cookies and experimenting with different warm soups, from Japanese ramen to all-American chicken noodle to Sochi-inspired borscht. My recommendation is to not let the winter months get you down. Take to the kitchen and play around with new ideas or old favorites.
 
Stay warm! Spring is right around the corner … I hope.
 




Heart-Shaped Cookies:

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 teaspoons milk (approximately)
 

Icing:

3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups powdered sugar (sift after measuring)
4 teaspoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract or ¼ teaspoon almond extract
Food coloring (optional)
 
Preparation:
  1. In bowl, sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Cut butter into flour mixture as you would for piecrust.
  2. In another bowl, beat together sugar and eggs. Add to flour mixture. Then add just enough milk to moisten slightly. Flatten dough into a disk, flour lightly, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.
  3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. On a floured surface, roll out dough and cut into heart shapes and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in preheated oven 9 to 12 minutes until light golden. Remove to a rack to cool slightly.
  5. Prepare icing: Mix butter with powdered sugar and milk to make a thin icing. Then stir in extract and, if desired, food coloring. For a sheen, frost cookies while still warm.


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