THE BEST Sugar Cookies

What is more perfect at Christmas than a beautiful tray of homemade sugar cookies?
Not much, my friends, not much.
The recipe below is the one I use every year. The dough is easy to assemble, the cookies smell absolutely wonderful while baking, AND, the fact that they're an uncomplicated and simple (and addictive) cookie means you can't go wrong. Because everybody loves them.
One warning, though: this recipe makes many cookies... and I assure you that, unless you have incredible self-control, it is very hard to only eat one, as, like I said earlier, they are ADDICTIVE.

Of course, these don't have to be for Christmas. They can be for Easter, St. Patrick's day...

The frosting can be a little tricky, true. But if you want to go for an uncomplicated cookie decor, I will give you a few tips. Just keep reading.



3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup margarine or butter, softened
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Sift flour, salt, and baking powder, then set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine (or butter) and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Gradually blend in the sifted ingredients until fully absorbed. Cover dough and chill for 2 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 200 °C (400 °F). Prepare and grease cookie sheets. On a clean floured surface, roll out small portions of the chilled dough to about 1/4 inch thickness (although I never measure). Cut out shapes with your cookie cutters.
  3. Bake cookies in the preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes or until the edges are barely brown. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.
  4. Decorate! Or leave them plain and enjoy right away.
For the icing, I used Martha Stewart's recipe. If you click on the sentence you just read you'll be redirected towards it.

Now, all of those who have made sugar cookies before remember their first try at decorating. 
When you start decorating, you have something like this in mind:

But then they end up looking like this:


So if you're a beginner and you're looking for an easy way to decorate your cookies, I suggest you spread white icing on your cookie and sprinkle colored sugar all over it, like I did on this Christmas tree:

Otherwise, for Christmas, if you make round cookies, you can draw these adorable little reindeer using an icing pen or one of those little cake decorator tubes you can buy at the supermarket. And if you want, you can use m&m's for the noses. Most of mine are little Rudolphs!

And again, if it's Christmas, you can follow this year's trend and make melting snowmen. I've seen melting snowmen cakes, cookies, cupcakes... a little sadistic, right? The good news is, they're really easy to make! And c'mon, they are just so cute.

I used a soft mint for the head, because the original idea was to use a marshmallow but since they have gelatin I searched the candy aisle and found these instead: 
It was a great idea because it really looks like snow... and to me it looks more realistic than those made with marshmallows!

I hope these tips were helpful to you! Enjoy :)

My Christmas in pictures

Hey y'all,
I hope you all had a Christmas as fantastic as mine. The food we ate was delicious, the jazzy Christmas tunes we listened to (quite a bit of Frank Sinatra and Micheal BublĂ©) were totally groovy, and there was a mountain of presents under the tree- even my dad (probably the hardest person on earth to shop for) had a ton of presents!
My dad's cousin Nico, who lives in Germany (yet he is Argentinian- another example of how my family is spread out across the globe), is visiting us over the holidays, which means an extra person to open presents with!

On the days leading up to Christmas we watched a bunch of Christmas movies we ordered from amazon. Of the seven we purchased, my favorites were Elf (of course), Christmas With the Kranks, Love Actually (I think this is everybody's favorite) and The Santa Clause.

On Monday my mom invited some new friends over for an afternoon of Christmas baking:

We literally made hundreds of sugar cookies and snickerdoodles. We still had some up until yesterday, even after giving some of them away. And trust me, cookies do not last long in our house, so the fact that we still had some in the house three days after baking them shows how many we had. I make these sugar cookies every year, and they are fabulous, by the way, so I'll post the recipe this weekend.

On Christmas eve, we all helped to prepare empanadas, traditional Argentinian turnovers which you fill with cow meat or a veggie mixture which most commonly would be corn, mushroom, black beans and olives.
As you probably guessed, mine were veggie.
Here is my mom holding our beautiful plate of piled empanadas, and my dad next to her holding our beautiful new umbrella over their heads:

Our tradition is to open all our presents on Christmas eve, over the course of several hours while we eat dinner.
My presents were super awesome: I got an apron with The Veggie Polyglotographer written on it, a bunch more baking stuff, books, clothes, bath products... I even got an electric hand warmer! It stays at 43 degrees for 3 hours!

I believe that the most successful present of all is the massage chair we gave Nico. Everybody's been taking turns on it since Christmas eve. It's amazing. I want one for myself.

  I mean, look at his face.

On Christmas day, we basically just sat around and relaxed until the late afternoon when we took a long walk to the movie theater to see A Long Walk To Freedom.
That movie is INCREDIBLE. Go see it. Now.
I learned so much I did not know about Mandela. His story really inspires me; it's proof that if you want something badly enough, if you work and work at it, without giving up a single time, you can get what you want. This movie really got me thinking.
And Idris Elba is a terrific actor. When we got home, I watched a video of him on Jimmy Kimmel, and was surprised to learn that he is actually nothing like Nelson Mandela. He managed to completely transform himself for the movie. I find that amazing.

The conclusion is, I absolutely adore being on vacation. Why can't we stop working and just be on holiday forever?

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies- oh my!

If you read my last post, you saw that I linked to several cookie recipes.
WELL, last weekend, I decided to make some. So I made the...
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies!
How were they?
They were good. 

That's a lie. They weren't just good, they were REALLY, REALLY good.  If you're looking for something chocolatey, chewy, soft AND fudgy, you've found your recipe!
I got it from Warm Vanilla Sugar.

I KNOW I should have posted this earlier, I'm sorry... But this week was crazy! 
You can forgive me though, because the MINUTE Christmas break started, when I got home from school this afternoon, I sat down to write this post. I'm not kidding. That's how much I love you.

My plans are to relaaaaax, bake (more) cookies and hang around with friends. Ahhhhh.



1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar


In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, white sugar, and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture. Cover dough, and chill for at least 4 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Roll dough into one inch balls with lightly oiled palms (you can use a cookie scoop to portion the dough, a tablespoon or a rounded teaspoon depending on what size you like).
Coat each ball in confectioners’ sugar before placing onto prepared cookie sheets.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes.
Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.

'Tis the season to be jolly, falalalala...

Today I wanted to share some Christmas cheer with y'all.  I need to pass on to you some of my excitement! It's in my heart, it's in my veins, and it's making me all jumpy!
If you don't feel the Christmas spirit yet, don't worry. I'm here to fix that.
Start by turning this song on:

While you listen, daydream about which of these Christmas cookies you're going to make a batch of.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Peppermint Chocolate Cookies

Brownie Sandwiches with Salted Caramel Buttercream

And now, read these adorable peanuts Christmas cartoons and feel the smile creep over your face.

 Charlie Brown Christmas
 Christmas Eve
Cute ornament

 Silent party
Better wayA Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

I know you're smiling!
Peanuts is one of my favorite cartoons.

What do you love most about the holidays?

Can you believe there's only eleven days left until Christmas?!


Oh, Christmas Tree!

Can you believe it's December?
I don't know about you, but I get totally excited about Christmas. I know some people think "yeah, whatever, I don't get into the Christmas spirit until Christmas day." I'm not one of those people. All through December I like to listen to good holiday music, bake Christmas goodies, and I even have an advent calendar. Like with trick-or-treating, the advent calendar will never get old for me.
But there's always one thing missing in my house every year: a Christmas tree.
Don't get me wrong, we do decorate our house for the holidays; we just don't have a tree. My parents stopped buying them a few years ago, simply because it's bad for the environment.
But this year we really, really wanted a tree, so we bought a plastic one.

I wasn't so sure about this fake tree business. It just seemed not-so-special and like we were cheating Christmas or something. But now that it's in our living room, I love it!  It's so cute! Unless you inspect it close-up, it totally looks real.
And we can use it year after year, so fewer trees will be killed. I'm proud.

How do you feel about fake Christmas trees?

Notice Olive, the psychedelic cat, having a moment under the boughs.

THE Cinnamon Roll Cake

Here's a riddle: What tastes like a cinnamon roll, is less time consuming to prepare and totally knock-your-socks -off delicious?
A cinnamon roll cake!

This weekend, we had old friends from Paris visiting. On Sunday, a request was made for an "American breakfast". My mom and I took charge. Along with pancakes, an omelette, and toast, we were thinking "what is another special thing we could serve?"
What came to mind was the classic and scrumptious cinnamon roll... the problem was, cinnamon rolls take a long time to make and bake.
I dashed to Pinterest and found this recipe. It is definitely a keeper!

This cake was sooooooo yummy... incredibly, fantabulously moist and buttery.
It smelled WONDERFUL while baking and, oh, it just has one of the gooey-est cinnamon swirls. My God, THE CINNAMON SWIRLS!
And the glaze, the glaze... YUM. That's all you need to know.
We cut the glaze measurements in half, because we didn't have the appropriate cake pan (ours was less wide), and there was less surface to cover with the glaze.



For the cake:
3 c all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 c granulated sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 and 1/2 c milk
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter

For the cinnamon filling:
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 c packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

For the glaze:
2 c powdered sugar
5 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract


    To make the cake:
  1. Grease a 9"x13" cake pan Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 °C  (350 °F).
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, salt, flour, and baking powder.
  4. Add milk, eggs and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
  5. Slowly add the melted butter and whisk until everything is smooth.
  6. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Set aside.
    To make the filling:
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, beat butter with electric mixer until creamy.
  2. Add sugar, flour and cinnamon and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. (It will look crumbly at first but keep beating, it will come together.)
  3. Spread the filling over the cake batter, leaving at least 1 inch of space from the edge of the pan. Swirl gently with a off-set icing spatula or a rubber spatula.
  4. Bake the cake for 28 to 32 minutes or until the toothpick inserted in the cake part comes out clean.
  5. Cool the cake for 15 minutes. Pour the glaze over the cake and spread evenly.
    To make the glaze:
  1. Sift the powdered sugar over a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Add vanilla and milk and whisk together until smooth and drizzling consistency. Spread over still warm cake.
  3. Keeps covered in room temperature for up to 3 days.
  4. Enjoy!

My Vegetarian Thanksgiving

This Saturday, we had a slightly early Thanksgiving with our friends.
It was a much anticipated afternoon... Thanksgiving is very special to me, because in spite of living in France where very few people celebrate it, WE do, which reaffirms my identity as an American all the more!

It was an afternoon of good food, good conversation and good people, as Thanksgiving should be.
Interestingly enough, my mom and I only made one of the dishes from my Thanksgiving Meal Ideas post... every recipe we used was new to us. But I am NOT exaggerating when I say that every single thing we ate was absolutely delicious.
Not even one dish was in the slightest way mediocre.

Have you ever wondered what a vegetarian eats at Thanksgiving? Well here's your answer.
(Links to the recipes are at the bottom of this post)

Pear and Fennel Salad

Squash, Spinach and Onion tart

Yummy Mashed Potatoes...

... and Vegetarian Wild Mushroom Gravy to pour over it!

Rosemary Roasted Carrots

 Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

"The Best Vegetarian Stuffing Ever" (The title of this recipe is not misleading: it really is the best I've ever had! Too bad I didn't take a picture of it from the inside. )

For dessert, we served Paradise Pumpkin Pie (a three layer pumpkin pie! Oh my!)!

 This is my bro and I before our feast started :P

Somewhere in this wild world we call the internet, I found this cute and free downloadable banner to print... It went perfectly on our wall! 

Now if you're interested in making any of these recipes, here's where you'll find them:

Pear and Fennel Salad
Mixed Baby Greens, Delicata Squash, and Caramelized Onion Tart
Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy
Rosemary Roasted Carrots
Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
The Best Vegetarian Stuffing Ever
Paradise Pumpkin Pie

What are you going to make this Thanksgiving?

On time and the present moment

I'm sitting in class, zoning out while the teacher explains something about irrational numbers, and I start thinking about what I'm going to wear for thanksgiving lunch. And that reminds me: I still need to bring all my summer clothes to the basement! Oh, but first I need to practice guitar before my lesson this afternoon; I'm not ready yet to perform in front of the others in my guitar class!
I can't wait to get home, and start getting these things done, I think to myself. Instinctively, I look at my watch- but wait-WHAT?! Oh no!!! IT'S NOT THERE!!!
Did I seriously forget my watch at home?
It's the strangest feeling. It's like I'm floating through space. There's no clock on the wall. The kids around me aren't wearing watches either. 
How am I supposed to know what time it is? How weird it is that I have NO WAY of knowing when the bell will ring, and how much time is left before I go home? 

In that moment, I did not feel at ease. That was yesterday morning: it was a very short school day, of only three hours. But the number of times I checked my wrist only to see- again- that my watch was missing, is astounding.
It's made me realize how dependent I am on my watch, and more importantly, how much I depend on time.
It's almost like I've become a watch myself, without even knowing it. In my life, I calculate every minute, deciding how much time I can give myself for this, how much time I should spend on that...
Because time, I feel, is always escaping me...

What if we had no time, no deadlines, no parts of the day; what if we could just be, with no worries, no goals, no clocks ticking...?
How would our lives be conducted?
I can't imagine it. I start thinking too hard, and it muddles my brain.
But I do know that something might need to be done; because I've just identified the major source of the stress I carry in life: time! I have no TIME! I need more TIME!

Where does time go? Where does the present disappear to?
I do my best to live in the moment; but it still makes me nervous to think that the clock is ticking...!

Take today, for example. There will never, ever, ever be a 21st of November 2013, ever again. Never in the future of the universe, ever.
Do you have some light to shed on this matter?

Thanksgiving Meal Ideas and Inspiration

Next Saturday, my family is having our American friends over for Thanksgiving Lunch. And my mom and I will be making all the food! This is a big thrill for me, and I've been dreaming of what we're going to make.
I am totally into keeping traditions, so I definitely want to make classics or modified versions of the classics, MINUS the turkey of course.

First off, I wanted to share this recipe for "Stuffed Potimarron" (potimarron is type of pumpkin found in France) from my friend Meg Bortin (The Every Day French Chef). This recipe sounds so fun and festive and I totally trust that it's fabulous because Meg's food always tastes so good.

The following recipes are what appealed to me most on Pinterest... If you like my selection you can go to the Thanksgiving pinterest board I created to find all the other recipes I pinned!

vegetarian mushroom gravy #vegetarian #thanksgiving
I'd like to make this Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy from Martha Stewart. I need my gravy this Thanksgiving!

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes
I thought this Healthy Potato Gratin from Food and Wine is beautifully arranged.

Vegan Food! This all looks amazing! ❤ French toast, tofu Benedict... Plus more

This Vegan Tofu and Vegetable Pot Pie from The Kitchn sounds like the perfect comfort food to me.

Lentil Mushroom Walnut Balls with Cranberry-Pear Sauce. Vegan.
These are Lentil Mushroom Walnut Balls from Oh She Glows. YUM! They'd be a great side to the Thanksgiving meal.

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic // The Live-In Kitchen

Last but not least, I will DEFINITELY be making these Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts From The Live-In Kitchen. I tried something similar to this in a Lebanese restaurant in the States. I've been craving some ever since!

OH! And if you're looking for a scrumptious traditional desert, make the Pumpkin Pecan Pie I posted last year. It's truly wonderful.

Or if you're more in the mood for muffins, make my Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. You'll impress everybody!

What will you be making this Thanksgiving?