Saturday, July 4, 2020

Fourth of July Cookies

Fourth of July Cookies

Happy 4th of July! I hope you are enjoying time with family and practicing social distancing, and wearing your face covering to protect yourself and others from the COVID-19 pandemic. I am home with hubby relaxing, baking and decorating cookies. Allen made his awesome mild and spicy baked chicken wings and I made my yummy potato salad. Last week, I ordered some new cutters from Mike at Semi Sweet Designs (bald eagle, firework, USA, top hat mini cutters, half circle (for bunting cookie), 4th of July script, and truck with firework cutters, and combined them with different size star shapes I have. I use large and small shooting star, and two different flag cutters I purchased recently from Fancy Flours. I was excited to make these cookies and love the patriotic color combination of red, white, and blue. The dough is vanilla with red, white and blue jimmies sprinkles.

Fourth of July Cookies

Fourth of July Cookies

Yield: 3 Dozen Cookies (Depending on cutter size and thickness of cookie)

1 cup, 2 sticks Unsalted Butter, softened

1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar

1 Large Egg

2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

2 3/4 cups All Purpose Flour

1 teaspoon Coarse Salt

1/2 cup Red, White, and Blue Jimmies

Fourth of July Cookies

Fourth of July Cookies

In a large bowl whisk together the flour and salt; set aside.

Cream butter and sugar in a hand held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment on medium speed; 1-2 minutes. Do not overmix.

Scrape sides of bowl with spatula and mix for a 10 seconds.

Fourth of July Cookies

Fourth of July Cookies

Add eggs, and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated. Do not overmix.

Turn off mixer and add the flour mixture and cover mixer with a kitchen towel, and then turn mixer on low speed and incorporate. 

Add sprinkles and mix just until incorporated; about 10 seconds.

The dough is ready when it begins to clump around the paddle attachment.

Fourth of July Cookies

Fourth of July Cookies

Form the dough into a disk shape and cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours or overnight. I chilled the dough for 2 hours.

Heat oven to 400°F.

Use two sheets of parchment paper with the dough in between and roll with rolling pin until desired thickness is reached.

Cut out shapes.

Place onto cookies sheets lined with parchment paper, and put in freezer for 20 minutes. The cookies hold their shape when you do this.

Fourth of July Cookies

Fourth of July Cookies
Bake 7-10 minutes or until the edges have slightly browned. My cookies baked in 10 minutes. 

Oven temps vary so check the cookies at the 7 minute mark.

Make sure cookie sheets cool in between baking. I place them in the freezer for a few minutes.

Do not use hot cookie sheets or the cookies will spread and lose their shape.

Wait 5 minutes before transferring the cookies with cookie spatula to wire racks to complete cooling; about 1 hour.

Decorate once the cookies are cool to the touch.

Fourth of July Cookies

Fourth of July Cookies

Note about using sprinkles in cookie dough:
  • The cookies do not have a perfect shape so be mindful of this. 
  • Try not to roll out dough too much as the sprinkles will tint the dough.

Royal Icing
4 Egg Whites

4 teaspoons Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed

6 cups Powdered/Confectioners' Sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon Clear Vanilla Extract

1-3 teaspoons, room temperature water (if needed)

Fourth of July Cookies

Vanilla dough with red, white, and blue jimmies sprinkles

In a large bowl, sift the powdered sugar; set aside.

Separate the yolks and add the egg whites in a bowl.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg whites and lemon juice.

Transfer to a stand or hand held mixer with paddle attachment and mix on high for 1-2 minutes.

Add the vanilla extract and mix for 5-10 seconds.

Cookies just taken out of the oven

Cookies just taken out of the oven

With the mixer off add the sifted powdered sugar, cover the mixer with a kitchen towel, and then turn the mixer to low speed and beat until smooth. 

The consistency using this recipe is thick and great for borders and detail work.

If you need a both a border and flood-like consistency keep reading below.

If you only need flood consistency icing, add 1/2 teaspoon of water and mix for 5-10 seconds, and repeat until you reach the right consistency. Be careful that your icing does not become too runny or you may have to start over.

Red, white, and blue royal icing in Sweet Sugarbelle Icing Bottles

Various sprinkles and Rainbow Dust Metallic Food Paint
I found the best way to make royal icing is to separate the icing in plastic containers with lids according to the different colors I need. I save the containers when I order a pint of soup from Chinese takeout. These containers are great for icing. You can also use Tupperware or Pyrex.

Keep the containers or Tupperware/Pyrex covered until you are ready to color. 

I use AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste Food Color in Super Red and Royal Blue.

Use 1-2 drops at a time until you reach the desired color. Colors darken over time so be careful not to add too much color.

Once you have the colors completed in each container, take the amount you need of the border icing consistency and place into icing bottles, tipless bags, or pastry bags with desired tips.

My set up; important to cover kitchen table with plastic tablecloth for easy clean up

My set up 
Then with the remainder of the icing, use a spritz bottle with room temperature water to make flood consistency icing. Just spritz one or two times in the container and stir together with a small spatula or knife. A little water goes a long way. This works for me and I get the flood consistency I need. This part takes some practice. Then transfer the flood icing into icing bottles, tipless bags or pastry bags with desired tips.

I find doing it this way is easiest as you end up with the same color for both the border and flood consistency.

Decorate your cookies.

Do a border and then fill it immediately. If you are adding layers let the first layer dry completely. 

I use a cookie stick to reach edges, and to pop any air bubbles. 

Let the cookies dry overnight.

Stars all decorated

Please keep in mind if you are baking and it is humid, you may need more time for the cookies to dry. 

Since it is summer and my apartment kitchen is not air conditioned (poor me), I use a floor fan while I decorate. I left the fan circulating on low for several hours. This helps dry the icing.

Adapted from Sweet Sugarbelle, Rainbow Funfetti Cut-out Cookie Recipe:

Check out Semi Sweet Designs for great cookie cutters and tutorials:

Check out Fancy Flours for all your baking supplies:


-Sophia/Two Frys

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Chocolate Espresso Cake

Chocolate Espresso Cake

This Chocolate Espresso Cake is actually Ina Garten's recipe, Beatty's Chocolate Cake (link below) from her Barefoot Contessa At Home cookbook (pgs. 164-167). Allen loves this cake and requested it for his birthday yesterday. I have made it several times and decorated it with a woodland theme to look like a tree stump. For the top of the cake, I added adorable animal sugar decorations from Fancy Flours, and topped with CK Products Metallic Gold Edible Glitter Flakes. The recipe is perfection and if you know me at all, Ina Garten's recipes are my favorite. I love the texture and rich chocolate-coffee flavor of this cake. It is moist with a tender crumb. The coffee in the frosting is prominent and brings out the chocolate in a most decadent way. If you love chocolate and coffee, you need to make this cake. As if there wasn't enough coffee in the cake, I served it with coffee ice cream. 

Chocolate Espresso Cake 

Cake Ingredients
2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter to grease cake pans

1 3/4 cups All-Purpose Flour, plus extra to coat cake pans

2 teaspoons Baking Soda

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

3/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1 teaspoon Coarse Salt

Chocolate Espresso Cake

Chocolate Espresso Cake with woodland theme

2 cups Granulated Sugar

1 cup Buttermilk

1/2 cup Vegetable Oil

2 Extra Large Eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1 cup Freshly Brewed Coffee (I use Bustelo Espresso)

Chocolate Espresso Cake

So yummy!

Chocolate Coffee Frosting Ingredients
1 1/4 cups Confectioners'/Powdered Sugar

1 tablespoon Instant Coffee Powder

6 ounces Semisweet Chocolate, chopped

1 Extra Large, Egg Yolk, room temperature

1 cup (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Chocolate Espresso Cake with woodland theme

Adorbs animal sugar decorations!

Heat oven to 350°F.

Line 2, 8" or 9" cake pans with parchment paper and use baking spray (such as Wilton) or butter and flour; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract; set aside.

Brew hot coffee and measure 1 cup; set aside.

Allen about to blow out his candles and make a wish

Yay, happy birthday hubster! 
Using a hand held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on low, add the flour mixture and combine; about 1 minute.

Add the wet ingredients and mix on medium speed; about 2 minutes.

Scrape sides of bowl with a spatula and mix again for 5-10 seconds.

Add hot coffee and mix until combined.

Mixing the dry ingredients
Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix for 5-10 seconds.

Pour batter into cake pans, 2/3 full.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. My cake baked in 30 minutes. Oven temperatures vary so check the cake at the 30 minute mark and adjust baking time accordingly.

Remove from oven and cool in pans for 30 minutes, and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cake is cooling make the chocolate coffee frosting.

Batter ready to bake

Baked cake
Chop the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl over a medium size pan with simmering water.

Stir chocolate just until melted, turn off heat, and set aside to cool completely.

On medium speed using a hand held or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth; about 3 minutes.

Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and mix; about 3 minutes.

Ready to frost the cake

Turn off mixer, add the powdered sugar, cover mixer with large kitchen towel, and beat on low speed until incorporated; about 2 minutes.

Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix for 5-10 seconds.

Dissolve coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of hot water.

On low speed, add the melted/cooled chocolate and hot coffee, and mix until incorporated.

Great to use on cakes and cookies!
Place the first cake layer top side down on cake stand or plate, and cover with the chocolate coffee frosting.

Add the second cake layer top side up and frost the cake, and decorate as desired.

Place the cake in fridge to set.

Remove 1/2 hour before serving.

Store covered cake up to 5 days in the fridge.

Adapted from Ina Garten, Beatty's Chocolate Cake recipe:


-Sophia/Two Frys

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Southwestern Pasta Salad

Southwestern Pasta Salad

I came across this Southwestern Pasta Salad in Taste of Home. This is a vibrant, colorful and hearty pasta salad. I bumped up the flavor, added cracked black pepper, and increased some of the ingredients for a bold and kicked up taste. The original recipe has sliced avocado on top but mine was not ripe, so if you have avocado, slice it and add it just before serving. This dish is perfect for a backyard BBQ and as an accompaniment to chicken or burgers, and for sharing with your family. See the adapted recipe below.

Close-up,  Southwestern Pasta Salad

Southwestern Pasta Salad

1 cup Salsa, Medium

1 cup Lime Juice, Freshly Squeezed

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 1/2 tablespoons White Wine Vinegar

2 teaspoons Ground Cumin

1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

1 teaspoon Coarse Salt

1/2 teaspoon Cracked Black Pepper

1 package (16 ounces) Uncooked Cavatappi (or Spiral) Pasta

So yummy!

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 2-3 hours

1 1/2 cups Fresh or frozen whole kernel Corn, thawed

1 can (15 ounce) Black Beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, whole or sliced in half

1 can Black Olives, sliced and drained

1 Green Pepper, chopped

1 Red Pepper, chopped

1 small red onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, divided


Pasta salad perfection

In a small bowl, whisk together the salsa, lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, garlic cloves, cumin, cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt;  set aside.

In a large pot, boil water, add salt and cook pasta according to package directions. 

Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water; set aside.

In a large bowl, mix with a spatula or wooden spoon the pasta, tomatoes, corn, beans, olives, peppers, onion and 1/2 cup cilantro. 

Pour salsa dressing over salad and combine. 

Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours to set. 

Before serving sprinkle the rest of the the cilantro.

For the Southwestern Pasta Salad recipe, visit Taste of Home:


Sophia/Two Frys

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Mom's 90th Birthday

Mom's 90th Birthday

Today was my Mom's 90th birthday. Many months ago, my brother planned to throw her a big bash at a restaurant in NYC, but due to COVID-19 and the current state of affairs, sadly we had to postpone it. Hopefully, we can plan a celebration for her if things get better. I cannot believe my Mom turned 90 today. She has dementia but thankfully is at the stage that she still knows us all. I am ever so grateful she is still with us. She is feisty, stubborn and it is difficult to get her to eat these days, but I love her very much.

Mom's 90th Birthday - German Chocolate Cake by Sonia Moura Diamantis
My sister-in-law baked a lovely German Chocolate Layer Cake. It was a rich and decadent chocolate cake, and the coconut pecan filling was sublime. The chocolate frosting was not too sweet and velvety smooth. So yum! My Mom definitely enjoyed her cake and seeing us all together. We had to celebrate maintaining social distancing protocols and wore masks. We called my cousin Pati and uncle Rodrigo in Florida to sing happy birthday with us. My brother also bought her huge 90 balloons which she loved.

Mom's 90th Birthday!

90 - a milestone

During these uncertain times, we need to be thankful for special moments like this. I know I am. Especially now more than ever we need to keep our family close and cherish each day we have together. Happy birthday, Mom.

Mom's 90th - German Chocolate Cake

Yay Happy 90th Mom!

3 layers of German Chocolate Cake

-Sophia/Two Frys