New Year. New Name.

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Happy New Year! With the start of another trip around the sun, I’ve decided to shake things up around here. Lolly’s Sweet & Savory Treats is now Hickory Creek Lane. Over the past few years, I have enjoyed making food, taking lots of pictures, and writing stories to go along with what’s going on in my kitchen. I don’t publish blog posts as much as I’d like, but I still find this little hobby of mine fun and I felt it was time to transition with the changes that have occurred in our neck of the woods.

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Most notably, we welcomed our little rump roast into the world two  years ago and we followed that with a move from the suburbs of Columbus to the rolling hills of Walnut Creek. My focus on food has shifted from making more complicated recipes and trying new restaurants downtown to creating nourishing and simpler family meals that invigorate our lives. I have also come to love the beautiful backdrop that now surrounds us in Ohio’s Amish Country and I want to find ways to incorporate more about this unique community we call home. IMG_9935

As for the name change… the land on which we live is peppered with shagbark hickory trees and there is a gentle creek that runs adjacent to our driveway. Hence, Hickory Creek Lane. I’m excited for the new year and new home cooking adventures in Amish Country. I hope you will stop back again soon. :)

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Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cookies with Bourbon Caramel Frosting

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I love the celebratory feeling in the air. The Christmas music jingling through radio speakers, the colorful lights peppering the night sky, and the excited anticipation of having a few days of vacation to spend with the ones we love. Just this week I was picking up a couple of last minute items at the grocery store and I was so pleasantly surprised by how many cordial exchanges I had with people I encountered. The store was packed, but nearly everyone seemed to be maintaining an attitude of Christmas cheer. Even when my own mood was slightly dampened after the cashier scanning the things I was buying didn’t ask to see my ID when she rang up the wine I had in my cart (first time this has happened), I couldn’t stay mildly offended too long because she was just so bubbly.  I did think about telling her my newly found interest in neck cream, but I refrained. Excellent decision on my part. I am very thankful I am on the eve of celebrating my 31st Christmas, silver strands of hair and all.

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That celebration wouldn’t be complete without Christmas cookies. I tend to struggle when it comes to making up my mind when I am trying to narrow down what treats I want to make for the holidays. I decided to revamp a traditional Amish cookie recipe that I love and came up with these vanilla bean buttermilk cookies with bourbon caramel frosting. The cookie from the previous recipe I used was good, but it was a little dense and tough. I reduced the amount of leavening agents, added an extra egg yolk, and used real vanilla seeds to make a cakier and more flavorful base. As for the frosting, I also added real vanilla bean seeds, kosher salt, and some good bourbon to enhance the depth of one of my favorite frostings of all time. I finished everything off with a sprinkling of toasted chopped pecans and the end result was a new and improved version that my family loved. I had so much fun experimenting with changes to this cookie that I am hoping to do more remixes of classic recipes. It’s an excellent creative outlet and a fantastic way to brush up on my seriously rusty knowledge of chemistry.

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There are only a few hours before old Saint Nick makes his rounds. I hope your shopping and preparations are drawing to an end and you are ready to enjoy this most wonderful time of year. May the joy of Christmas fill your homes and hearts; and may this next year be the best one yet. Peace on Earth and good will to men.

   

Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cookies with Bourbon Caramel Frosting

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

For the Cookies:

  • 1 cup ( 2 sticks) unsalted REAL® Butter, at room temperatures
  • 2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeded
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

For the Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted REAL® Butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeded
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons high quality bourbon (I used Maker’s Mark 46)
  • ½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)

Directions

For the cookies

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and ensure racks are positioned in the middle. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Place butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk, one yolk at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the seeds/pulp from the vanilla bean. Mix until well-incorporated.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, stir together the baking soda and buttermilk. Turn the mixer on low, and alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure dough is evenly mixed.
  3. Use a 2 inch cookie scoop to drop dough onto baking sheets, spacing at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or just until the edges/bottom of the cookies have lightly browned. Be careful not to overbake. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

For the frosting:

  1. Place ½ cup unsalted butter into a medium-sized sauce pot. Melt butter over medium-low heat. Add the brown sugar and gently whisk until smooth. Bring mixture to a low boil before gradually adding in heavy cream while continuing to whisk constantly. Bring the caramel back to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes while continuing to whisk constantly. Turn the stove off and remove from heat. Add in the salt and vanilla bean seeds and mix to combine. Allow to cool to a luke-warm temperature.
  2. Add the powdered sugar to the cooled caramel, ½ cup at a time, and mix well with the whisk attachment of a handheld mixer (or a stand mixer if you prefer) after each addition. Add in the bourbon and mix until smooth. Frost the cooled cookies and sprinkle with chopped pecans, if desired. Enjoy!

Source: Lolly’s Sweet Treats Original

Spooky Frankenstein Rice Krispie Treat Pops

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Of all the holidays, Halloween is my favorite for making festive treats. There are so many cute ideas floating around the interwebs and I find many of them so irresistibly charming. These spooky Frankenstein Rice Krispie treat pops were no different. I was particularly drawn to them because of the ease and I had romantic ideas of my little rump roast helping me make them. As usual, the reality of situation was far different from my expectation and Smith was more interested in putting his toy tractors in my salad spinner. But I had lots of fun doing it myself and my little laddy enjoyed eating them. It was a win-win situation.

I used melted chocolate chips to dip the pops in and it worked pretty well. However, I recently learned, from my binge-listening of America’s Test Kitchen podcast, that the chocolate chips aren’t the best option for melting and dipping/coating confections because of the addition of emulsifiers in the chips themselves. You see, chips are designed not to fully melt as they are most commonly used in baked goods. In the future I will use a chocolate bar, but I had to use what I had on hand this time around. Just a little fun fact for you.

If you are looking for a last minute Halloween treat, I would highly recommend some spooky Frankenstein pops. If nothing else, you will enjoy the classic flavors of one of the most beloved treats.

Here are some more downright petrifying ideas to get you in the Halloween spirit:

Spider Web Cupcakes

Spooky Marshmallow Ghosts

Chocolate Skeleton Cookies

Harry Potter Butterbeer Cupcakes

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Frankenstien Rice Krispie Treat Pops

Yield: 9  3″x4″ pops

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for utensils, pan, and your hands
  • 10 oz bag of marshmallows, regular or mini
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2- 2 cups semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • Green food coloring (I prefer AmeriColor)
  • Sugar eyes (available at most craft stores or on Amazon)
  • Popsicle sticks (available at most craft stores)

Directions

  1. Grease a 9×13 baking dish with butter. Set aside. Melt the butter in a large pot (I used a Dutch Oven) over medium-low heat. Add the marshmallows and stir and fold gently with a buttered scraper (so the scraper wont stick to the marshmallows). Continue this process until the marshmallows are fully melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Stir to combine. Add in 2-3 drops of green food coloring and stir well until color is evenly distributed. Add in the cereal and gently fold until well-coated. Transfer the mixture to the greased pan. Use  your buttered scraper or your hands (careful it could be hot!) to gently press the Rice Krispies into the pan. Allow to cool for at least one hour.
  2. After the treats have cooled, use a buttered knife to cut into roughly 3″x4″ rectangles. Transfer to parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Carefully insert a popsicle stick into the base of the rectangles.
  3. Place chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave, stirring after 30 second increments until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Pick the pops up by the popsicle stick. Turn upside down and slowly dunk top about 1/2 inch into chocolate. Pull straight out and slowly twirl pop as to remove excess chocolate. Place on parchment or baking mat and repeat with remaining treats. Transfer remaining melted chocolate to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip or a plastic sandwich Ziploc bag with the tip cut off. Pipe a mouth onto the treats. Pipe two dots where you want to place sugar eyes and then place eyes onto the dots so that they will stay. Allow chocolate to harden and enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Rice Krispies

Apple Crumb Coffee Cake

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A good coffee cake is an underrated baked good. Most recipes are easy to make, they can be fixed ahead of time, they are great for crowds, and best of all they transform a standard cup of joe into a quaint occasion. Our friends from college visited us last weekend and I decided a seasonal version of apple crumb coffee cake would be wonderful shared with some of our favorite people.

This particular recipe is from the gregarious Emeril Lagasse. A brief side note about Emeril: I will always hold a special place in my heart for this man. When I was in middle school, The Food Network was added to our cable package and I became obsessed with Emeril Live. One of the big highlights of my day was watching his show at night after I finished my homework. It was so fascinating watching him entertain the studio audience with his catchphrases “BAM!” and “let’s kick it up a notch!” and I tried to start incorporating a similar narrative into my detailed construction of nighttime snacks.  I was a pretty wild child, if you can’t tell. I think even my parents lovingly teased me about my infatuation with my boy, Emeril. I eventually stopped watching his show and replaced it with more age-appropriate social activities; but it was fun while it lasted.

Okay enough about New Orleans’ favorite chef; and back to this coffee cake. I was very pleasantly surprised how well it turned out. I am often so swept up in the pumpkin mania that surrounds this time of year, that I forget how delicious apples are in baked goods. This cake is well-spiced and scattered with generous chunks of apples and then topped with a crumb topping that balances the whole concoction. Don’t be deceived by the homely appearance of it. It really is anything but ordinary. Luckily I sent the majority of the leftovers home with our friends so I wouldn’t end up eating most of it.

If you are looking for a seasonal treat to jazz up your weekend morning, may I suggest this gem from my childhood friend, Emeril?

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A few snapshots from Autumn in Amish country:

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 Apple Crumb Coffee Cake

Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups apples, chopped (I used 3 medium honey crisp apples)
For the crumb topping:
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 inch springform pan with butter and line with a circle of parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Cream together the stick of butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition and scrape down the sides. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a third small bowl stir together the sour cream and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the sour cream mixture. Stop the mixer, remove bowl and carefully fold in the apples just until evenly distributed. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and spread out evenly.
  3. Next, make the topping by combining the sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and butter in a medium-sized bowl. Mix using your fingers or a fork until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the topping over the cake and carefully press into the batter. Bake until golden brown and set, 50-55 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Remove from pan and serve.

Source: Emeril Lagasse

 

How to Make a Well-Balanced Smoothie

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Let me go ahead and preface this post by saying that I am not a licensed dietitian or nutritionist. I am a mere mortal, who has learned a lot about making well-balanced smoothies through the wisdom of dietitians, reputable podcasts, and reading over the past few months.  As a result, I’ve been able to experiment with a lot of different ingredients and discover the combinations needed to create a smoothie with nutritional staying power. Smoothies and protein shakes have become pretty popular in the last few years and, unfortunately, just because something sounds healthy, doesn’t always make it so. A lot of these drinks are essentially sugary milkshakes in disguise and they lack the nutrients necessary to keep us properly fueled. This may lead to a shameful run-in with cinnamon rolls, hypothetically speaking- maybe.

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When building my morning smoothie, I try to incorporate three main components: carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fat.

The carbohydrates are complex and come from the fruits and vegetables.  The need to add in extra sugar is eliminated if you use extra ripe fruit. I also always add in a generous handful of spinach (and sometimes kale) as a way to kick start my vegetable intake for the day. Don’t worry- when you blend it all together, you can’t taste the spinach. As for the kale, you have to blend that extra well or you will be tasting “spinach with hair” as Jim Gaffigan so lovingly describes this green. I’m sorry, I love vegetables, but it’s true.

I’ve included a list of the fruits and vegetables I have personally used and loved. You may notice I didn’t include raspberries on the list because I have found they tend to make the smoothies too tangy and gritty for my liking.  Also, I typically use frozen fruit to make the smoothies thicker and more scrumptious.

Carbohydrate:

Fruits- About 1 cup

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Peaches
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Bananas

Leafy Greens: 2 generous (and well-washed) handfuls

  • Spinach
  • Kale

For the protein portion, I prefer using a good quality whey protein powder. It turns out we don’t get nearly as much protein as we should and this is the component that helps keep our hunger at bay. I have also used cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt when I don’t have the former option available.

Protein:

  • High quality whey protein powder (>15 grams of protein per scoop/serving)
  • Greek yogurt (1/2-3/4 cup)
  • Cottage cheese (1/2-3/4 cup)

Adding healthy fat is necessary to help stabilize blood sugar and increase our good (HDL) cholesterol. Contrary to my previous belief, nut butters count as a healthy fat and not a protein. Incorporating a healthy fat also makes the smoothie extra delightful.

Healthy Fat:

  • Natural peanut butter: 1 tablespoon
  • Natural almond butter: 1 tablespoon
  • Coconut oil  (unrefined, cold-pressed is best): 1 tablespoon
  • Canned coconut milk: 1/4 cup
  • Avocado: 1/4 cup

To provide the right consistency for drinking, I always add a liquid base to my smoothies. Using milk will add a little extra protein; but I often mix and match depending on my mood. Here are my favorites:

Liquid Base: 1/2-1 cup total depending on your preference

  • Unsweetened almond milk
  • Unsweetened coconut milk
  • Milk
  • Water
  • Cold-brew coffee

To top off my scrumptious breakfast, I usually add in a little extra jazziness to brighten my day.  I’ve listed my favorites below:

Extras: Usually between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon

  • Ground flaxseed
  • Chia seeds
  • Espresso powder
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Fresh lemon or lime juice
  • Orange zest
  • Canned pumpkin (it is that time of year)
  • Cinnamon or any other spices you fancy :)

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Some of my favorite combinations are:

  • Banana- spinach-peanut butter-coffee-almond milk-cocoa powder-chia seeds (inspired by one of my favorite local restaurants Zest)
  • Blueberries-banana-spinach-coconut cream-coconut milk-ground flaxseed-fresh lemon juice
  • Mango-pineapple-coconut cream-coconut milk-fresh lime juice
  • Strawberries-banana-spinach-avocado-almond milk

The possibilities are endless and delicious depending on your personal preference. Again, I am only sharing what I have learned and not intending this information to be dietetic law. Wishing you all a happy and healthy day!

SourcesNutritional Weight and Wellness, Nutrition Diva

 

 

 

 

Savory Butternut Squash Bisque

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That distinct Ohio Autumn crispness has floated into the morning air the past two days and it has sparked in me a fierce urge to cook and bake. The summer humidity always dampens my desire to be in my kitchen, but my oven and stove were working overtime this past Sunday afternoon.  Our house temperature rose to a stifling 76 degrees, but whatever. It was fun, albeit steamy.

One of my weekend projects was this soup.  I had scooped up a hefty butternut squash at the grocery store without any recipe in mind last week. This, unfortunately, tends to result in me throwing out a rotting squash because no plans come to fruition and I always vow to waste less “next time.” But then the vision of a silky and earthy butternut squash soup danced in my head and I was researching recipes in no time.

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I have a personal preference for savory spices with starchier vegetables like sweet potatoes or butternut squash. They are already sweet to begin with and I think adding spices like cinnamon and nutmeg makes these types of dishes seem more like a dessert. As a result, I added thyme to this bisque instead. The addition of flavorful leeks and sherry really make this soup extra lovely. Sherry is one of the best ways to take a creamy soup up about 50 notches. It adds a whole new dimension and richness. I highly recommend using it if you can; plus- it lasts forever! I think the sherry I have was originally my great grandmother’s and my mom gave it to me when my parents were moving.

If you are in the mood for soups and you are in the autumn spirit, I highly recommend making this soup. It makes a great side dish and is wonderful topped with crème fraiche and good balsamic vinegar. You could also make it a main dish and jazz it up with a few crumbles of thick bacon. Either way, I don’t think you can go wrong.

Happy Tuesday, everyone.

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Looking for more soup recipes? Here are a few of our favorite soup recipes from the archives:

Wedding Crab (or Lobster) Bisque- the beloved soup recipe served at our wedding (sherry is in this recipe, too!)

Sweet Potato Chili– a healthy and hearty soup with no added sugar

Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheese– creamy and rich

Corn Chowder– all of the flavor of summer before we say goodbye

Crab and Corn Chowder– shellfish and corn go together like peas and carrots

Sweet and Spicy Chili– a little sweet and a little heat make for a classic soup

Cream of Mushroom– earthy and satisfying

French Onion Soup– let’s be real, the best part is the cheesy bread on top

Chicken Tortilla Soup– for those who want a little extra spice in their lives

P.S. We have three new ladies in our family: Ruth, Idgie, and Sipsey. They are Rhode Island Red laying hens and we love getting fresh eggs every day. Fresh eggs are so much richer and more flavorful than those found in the grocery store and one of our girls is a double-yolk-laying machine.

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Savory Butternut Squash Bisque

Yield: About 6 side dish servings

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large leek, white and light green part only, chopped and rinsed well (about 1 cup total)
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 3cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Crème fraiche and balsamic vinegar for topping, optional

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven. Add in the leaks and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add in the squash, thyme, black pepper, and salt. Stir and cook for an additional 5 minutes, continuing to stir frequently. Add in the sherry and cook for about 2 minutes longer to allow the liquid to reduce.
  3. Pour in the chicken stock, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce hit to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes or until squash is tender.
  4. Using a hand blender or regular blender, blend the soup until desired texture is achieved  (I personally like a few chunks and bits left). Return the soup mixture to the Dutch oven. Add in the milk, cream, and any additional salt or sherry as your personal taste indicates. Stir to combine and reheat to desired temperature.
  5. Ladle soup into bowls. Top with a dollop of crème fraiche and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

 

Source: Slightly adapted from Merrill Stubbs at Food52

Aunt Khaki’s Crispy Sugar Cookies


I’ve written of my beloved Aunt Khaki many times before. Though we have lived on different sides of the country for over two decades,  I feel particularly close to her.

There was a brief stretch of time when she and my cousin, Camille, resided in Ohio and It was so much fun. Khaki always led us on exciting adventures.  She’d take us swimming and camping, we went to the local high school musicals, and she always threw the best birthday parties long before the creators of Pinterest were probably even born. Remember that Nickelodeon show, Double Dare, where contestants had to complete a challenge or get pied in the face? Khaki used that as the premise for Camille’s 6th birthday party and I remember thinking it was the most incredible event I had ever experienced. The point is, I have looked up to my aunt from an early age. She has instilled in my a love of exercise, food, photography, party planning and the confidence to experiment with recipes. It’s always so much fun when we can get together and this past holiday weekend was no different.

Naturally, Khaki brought along an ohio cookie cutter in her suitcase (because who wouldn’t?!)  and she decided to whip up a batch of some of her delicious sugar cookies. The recipe is from Alton Brown and it’s one she has been using for a few years. She usually throws in some extra flavoring extracts and rolls the dough fairly thin (about 1/8-1/4 inch) so that the cookies are extra crispy. They are so scrumptious that it took all of my willpower not to bring a handful home with us when we left because I knew it would get ugly.

If you are looking for a fantastic crispy sugar cookie, this is a recipe for you. Happy Friday, all!

  

 Aunt Khaki’s Crispy Sugar Cookies

Ingredients 

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon praline extract, optional
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough
  • Sanding sugar or crystals, optional

Directions 

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Add egg and milk and beat to combine, scrapping down the sides with a spatula as necessary. Add in the vanilla and praline extract and mix until well-mixed.  Turn the mixer speed to low and gradually add flour mixture until just combined.. Divide the dough in half, wrap in parchment paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

2. After the dough has chilled, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out cookies using desired cutter. Place cookies on baking sheets, one inch apart, and sprinkle generously with sanding sugar. Bake for  7 to 9 minutes or until cookies turn lightly brown on the edges.  Remove from oven, allow cookies to cool on sheet for about two minutes, and then transfer to baking rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container for a few days or freeze for a few months.

Source: Slightly adapted from Alton Brown