My Favorite Color

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Green is my favorite color.
So, I thought I’d share a very St. Patrick’s Day-ish post showing you just a few of my favorite things.
Luckily, James’ favorite color is also green, so he puts up with my collecting. :)
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This is one of my favorite purses. I reminds me of spring!
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This colander was the first green dish that I bought. Now I have lots of green dishes!
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Like these plates. This was our everyday china that we registered for our wedding. We have dinner plates, salad plants and cereal bowls in this color. Love them!
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Love these glasses! I found them recently at Target. The green matches our dishes exactly! Score!
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Gotta have dish towels to match the dishes…
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This canvas is one of my favorite wedding presents. It was given to us by my friend June. It has our wedding date on it and a “B” — I like collecting B’s now, too. :)
Hope your day is filled with lots ‘o green and no pinching!

Louisiana Chicken Pasta

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This meal is delicious. It is honestly one of the best things I’ve cooked in a long time. It’s so simple and easy to make. Seriously, go make this right now. :)
Louisiana Chicken Pasta
Adapted from: Newlywed Nibbles
The Cast of Characters:
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1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, uncooked and cubed
2 Tbsp of butter
8-10 oz of bowtie pasta
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 c. whipping cream
1 Tbsp. corn starch
1 Tbsp. water
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Directions:
Put 1 Tbsp of butter and the olive oil to a large skillet and heat on medium heat. Add the cubed chicken and season with salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning.
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Cook the chicken thoroughly, until the edges are golden brown.
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Remove from heat and set aside in a bowl. Add the rest of the butter to the skillet (don’t clean the skillet first) and throw in the bell pepper and onion.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a pot of boiling water according to package directions.
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Add the Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to the skillet. Stir well and cook until the peppers and onions begin to soften.
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Meanwhile, add the cornstarch and water to a small bowl and whisk to combine.
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Once the peppers have softened, add the whipping cream to the skillet and mix well.
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Simmer until the mixture starts to bubble.
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Add the cornstarch mixture and cook for another 5 minutes. The sauce will really start to thicken.
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Drain the pasta and add it to the pan, along with the chicken and tomatoes.
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Stir well.
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Serve in bowls and garnish with chopped tomatoes.
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Doesn’t that look yummy?

I Have A Plan

A menu plan that is.
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Lately, I’ve been reading the What’s Cooking message board over at TheNest.com. I get lots of recipe ideas and advice from the super awesome ladies over there.
One thing many of them do is a weekly menu plan. I figured since it’s Spring Break and I have time, I should jump on the bandwagon!
First, I printed out the menu/grocery list from here.
Then, I decided what recipes I wanted to make for dinner this week:
Wednesday: Dr Pepper Pork Chops
Thursday: Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff
Friday: Frozen Pizza (original, huh?)
Saturday: Chicken Tostada Upside-Down Bake
Sunday: Meatloaf
I’ll link back to the recipes once I’ve made and posted them. And on Sunday, I’ll let you know how well we did in sticking to the plan.
Hopefully, this will help save money as we’re not eating out every night. My grocery store bill for this week was $108, but I had to buy some staples, like corn starch and Cajun seasoning, etc., that I haven’t had a need for.
Maybe next time I won’t have to buy those things, too.
And the leftovers will be great for lunch.
What do you think? Does it help to plan your menu in advance? Any recipes you think I should add to my repertoire?
Happy Tuesday everyone!

Chicken Parmigiana

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Yesterday, I decided to make the Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Parmigiana for the first time ever.
Chicken Parmigiana is one of my favorite Italian dishes. I love, love, love it.
But let me just disclose this right up front — the sauce in this dish is *sweet*. And I’m not a fan of sweet marinara sauce. I like my marinara tangy. So, even though I love and admire the Pioneer Woman, I will continue to search for the perfect Chicken Parmigiana dish.
You’ve been warned.
Chicken Parmigiana
The Cast of Characters
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4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
Salt And Pepper, to taste
1/2 cups Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 whole Medium Onion, Chopped
4 cloves Garlic, Minced
3/4 cups Wine (white or red)
3 cans (14.5 Oz.) Crushed Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1/4 cubes Chopped Fresh Parsley
1 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
Spaghetti, cooked Al Dente
First, put the chicken breasts in a Ziploc bag and pound to thin with a kitchen mallet. I’m not fancy like that, so I used a heavy can.
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Mix flour with some salt and pepper and dredge the chicken breasts in it.
Put the butter and Olive Oil in a large skillet and warm on Medium heat.
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Add the chicken breasts to the skillet and cook until one side is golden brown.
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Flip ’em over and brown the other side.
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Once they’re nice and toasty, remove them from the skillet and set aside.
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Now, *don’t* clean the skillet. Chop up the onion and garlic and add it to the juices.
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You want it to be nice and golden.
Let’s pause for a moment so I can tell you about these super-awesome herbs I use. 
I like fresh herbs just as much as the next gal, but I have to buy fresh herbs each time I use ’em cause they go bad before I have a chance to whip up my next recipe.
So, I found these freeze-dried herbs at our local grocery store. They’re great, because you use just as much as you would fresh herbs (You know how you have to use less if you use a dried herb? Not a problem with these!). Plus, no refrigeration required — just stick ’em in the cabinet and use them the next time you need ’em!
Here’s the garlic…
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And the parsley…
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Now, back to our regularly-scheduled programming.
Here’s where you add some white or red wine to the onions and garlic.
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I like a little wine with my dinner.
I used some of our wedding wine. We still have about a dozen bottles of it in the pantry.
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It’s a sweet Riesling, which probably didn’t help with the whole sweet marinara sauce. Oh well. You live, you learn.
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Give it a minute to reduce and cook off some of the wine. You want it to be a nice golden brown color when it’s through.
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Now, add in the crushed tomatoes.
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Let it simmer for about 25-30 minutes.
Stir in the parsley and drop in the breaded chicken breasts.
Cover the chicken with shredded Parmesan cheese and cover the pan. Cook on low for a few minutes to let the cheese melt.
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Serve with spaghetti topped with sauce and the chicken.
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Enjoy!

Not Me Monday

 

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.
Last week was sooooooo long. This week is Spring Break, and sometimes it felt like I was never gonna make it.
But I did!
Mom and Dad came over Friday night and spent the weekend with us. We went to see Alice in Wonderland on Saturday night. It was really good. We saw it in 3D IMAX, which was even better.
On Sunday, I cooked lunch (tortellini with pasta sauce) and helped my dad make dinner (steaks with mashed potatoes and green beans). Mom helped me make M&M cookies — I’ll post the recipe later. It was delish.
And here’s what I did *not* do: I did *not* have a dirty kitchen until my totally awesome mom helped me was all the dishes and clean all the countertops. You see, dishes are my least favorite chore.
Since I hate to wash them, there are *never* more dishes than I have room for in my dish washer, so I *never* leave the leftovers to clean on another day. And, as you imagine, I *never* got around to doing them.
Wanna see what it looked like after?
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Look at those clean dishes! Aren’t they fabulous?
Mom and Dad left this morning. Mom flew to New Mexico to visit my sister and nephew. Dad went on a fishing trip with some friends.
So, we’re “babysitting” their puppies for them.
And here’s where my next confession comes in. We totally do *not* let our dogs sleep with us. We are *not* those people. Yeah, right.
We got a King-sized bed as a wedding present from my boss. He’s a great man. So you would think that with a HUUUUGE bed, I would have plenty of room at night, right?
Wrong.
Imagine this pup…
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Curled in a little ball on my right side.
And this one…
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Right beneath her up against my legs.
This one…
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Likes to sleep behind my legs in the bend of my knees.
And finally, this one…
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Insisted on being right up on my pillow behind me.
All of them had to touch me. Including my husband. At times, it felt like I was a mummy, wrapped inside my blanket. The pups, except for Kaylee, all slept on top of the covers, preventing me from moving very much.
So, you can imagine my night.
I’m a little sleep-deprived.
Well, that’s all for me. Happy Spring Break!

Fetch 101

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This is Kaylee. She *loves* to play fetch.
So, when it’s beautiful and sunny outside, we like to oblige.
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There are two things you need to play fetch. The first is a willing dog. The second: an Alfalfa spike.
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Kaylee runs as fast as she can to go get the ball.
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Sometimes she brings it back.
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But not all the way.
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And then she’s off again!
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Sometimes she has more fun entertaining herself.
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She’s ready for anything!
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Georgie likes to watch.
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Bella did, too. For a while…
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But soon, she was ready to go back inside.
It was hot, so we agreed. But only after Kaylee had one more run:
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Isn’t she cute?

So excited!

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Not sure if this qualifies as a Nerdy Things Thursday post, but what the hey…
I am *so* excited to go see this movie this weekend.
Why? Robert Pattinson’s hotness, of course. Oh, and to see the new Eclipse trailer on the big screen.
Last night, I found the 10-second teaser and about died. I squealed! James thought I’d seen a mouse or something. When I told him I was just excited about the new Eclipse trailer, he just rolled his eyes.
“I’m going to fight for you … until your heart stops beating.” 
This morning, a longer version was released…

Squeeeeee!

Wishful Wednesday: Gown

I have a thing for blog carnivals this week. I guess it’s because it gives me something fun to post about without having to think too hard, haha!
Anyway, this week’s Wishful Wednesday topic is:
‘I wish’ …. I could wear/could have worn _____ dress on my wedding day!
Well, I’m going to be kind of boring here….. I *loved* my wedding dress. Loved it. I wouldn’t wish for something different — it was perfect for me!
It was from the Galina collection at David’s Bridal.
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I remember the day I found it — I was with my mom and as soon as I put on this dress, I just knew. I know that sounds really cliche, but I really did have this just wonderful feeling. I started crying, and she did too. It was a wonderful day!
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Here’s the full-length view from my bridal portraits. The beading is so beautiful, and I love all of the lace. I especially love the small train at the back! Squeeee!
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This is my favorite bridal portrait — you can’t really see the dress, but I couldn’t resist posting it!
My favorite thing about this dress? It’s not trendy. I think it’s very classic and timeless. I could see passing it down to my daughter to use for her wedding day. Even if it’s just a piece, like Tess did in 27 Dresses. :)
So, how about you? What wedding gown would you love to wear? Head over to Kelsey’s blog to see what everyone else lists!
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday’s List: Spring Wish List

 
 
 I need a pick-me-up after the long, grueling day I’ve had. What better way than to make some wishes?
A while back, I posted a Wish List of things that I’d love as presents to make things a little easier on The Nerd. Well, that just happens to be the topic of this weeks’ Tuesday’s List over at Love From Texas.
I’ll play along!
This spring, I’d really *love* some new accessories for my camera:
#1 – Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 Medium Telephoto Lens

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This lens would be great for photographing fun events this spring and capturing my nephew’s first birthday party later this summer…

#2 – Canon Speedlite 580EX II Flash

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This flash would be fantastic for inside — to make my photos not be so yellow and washed out. :)
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Gotta have something fun to carry it all in, y’know…
It may be asking a lot, but a girl can dream, right?
How about you? What are your Spring Wishes for? Head over to Jessica’s blog and see what everyone else is wishing for!
Happy Tuesday!

Frustrated

Today, I am frustrated.

Frustrated by so many things. Like how I never seem to have enough time to catch up on all of my work. There’s always something else to do. So, things get neglected.

Like my blog. I haven’t had much time to write about my life these last few weeks. I have so many things I want to share with you, and it frustrates me that I just don’t have time to write the posts.

My health. I have wanted to work on eating right and exercising regularly. I’ve been to the gym one time since I made that commitment. One time. I just don’t have time to spare to go to the gym. There are e-mails to answer and questions to figure out. Books to publish. You know the drill.

My family. This weekend, I got to spend lots of time with my sister and nephew. It was so great. I’m frustrated because they live so far away — New Mexico. My brother and his daughter live in Denver. My parents live nearby, and we see them pretty much every weekend. But I wish there were some *babies* here that I could dote on.

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See what I mean? Wouldn’t you want to be around that cute baby all the time?
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Nanna likes to tickle him. His giggle is so infectious!
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He loves trucks! What boy doesn’t?
But — things are looking up! Spring Break is next week. And hopefully, I’ll have some time to get my head on straight. I just feel so stressed out and …. frustrated.

One final cause of frustration: I was *supposed* to start a Wilton Cake Decorating class tonight. But the wonderful Michael’s store in Frisco canceled the class and moved me to the Saturday morning class without *telling* me. So, now I have to give up two hours of my Saturday for the next four weeks. Ugh. I hope I learn lots.

I was really looking forward to getting away from everything for a few hours and learning something new and creative.

Instead, here I am….frustrated.

Spring is Here…Sort Of

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You may have noticed… my blog has a new look! I worked long hours into the night, but *finally* got it looking how I wanted it to!
I thought the old look was a bit too “wintery” and wanted to change things up a bit. Plus, I read online recently that blogs should always have a white background because it’s easier to read. And I noticed that all of the “professional” blogs I read have a white background. So I thought it would be a good time to change things up a bit.
This weekend has been a lot of fun. My sister and her baby, Hyrum, came to visit my mom. So, James and I packed up and headed to Mansfield for the weekend!
It was so nice and sunny yesterday, we took advantage of the great weather and went to the Dallas Arboretum to take some “spring” pics of the baby!
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Isn’t he a doll?
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He’s such a happy baby.
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Always smiling and laughing.
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And he’s a wiggle worm. Nanna had a hard time holding on to him!
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He’s such a momma’s boy, too.
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The flowers were just blooming and were so bright and colorful!
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Hyrum was curious about everything — including this fountain!
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We had a good time, too!
I wish they lived closer so we could hang out with this happy baby all the time. He has such a sweet spirit and personality!
Happy Sunday everyone!

Nerdy Things Thursday: Vampires

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Since I’ve been MIA the past few Thursdays, I thought I’d come back with a bang and tell you about one of my latest obsessions: Vampires. Yes, this week on Nerdy Things Thursday we’re going to talk about one of MY nerdy obsessions.
I admit it: I am so the cliche young married woman who can’t help but compare her husband to the vampire who started it all (at least for me)…Edward Cullen.
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I first picked up Twilight right before the movie was released in theaters. I couldn’t put it down. Since I’m in my car so much every day for work, I downloaded the audio books and blew right through the entire series.

I still maintain that Illyana Kadushan makes a much better Bella than Kristen Stewart. Without the crazy hair.

Anyway, by now I’ve listened to the entire series at least four times … and I just finished listening to my favorite, Breaking Dawn, for the hundredth time (not really….just guessing).

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Yes – I love Breaking Dawn. I love the happy ending. I love the cheesiness of it all. I don’t, however, love the name Renesmee. Really!?!

Soon after my obsession with Twilight began, I stumbled upon the HBO Series True Blood. Oh my goodness. Talk about your blood thirsty vampires.

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My favorite? Eric Northman.

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Y-U-M.

This promptly brought about my desire to read the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris. Thanks to a wonderful Christmas present from my sister-in-law extremely thoughtful brother, my desire has been fulfilled!

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I can’t wait for May for the next one!

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And now, I’m anxious to begin two new series: the Anita Blake (no relation) Vampire Hunter series and the Riley Jenson Guardian series.

What vampire books would you recommend? What is it about those lusty, dangerous blood suckers that gets us (or is it just me?) all hot and bothered? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Until next time, live long and prosper!

Apricot Sugar Cookies

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I can’t take credit for the deliciousness that is encompassed in these cookies. I have never really been a big fan of sugar cookies. They were either too crispy or too soft, and most of the time they tasted more like flour than anything else.
But all that changed the day I found “The One.” I’m talking about the perfect sugar cookie recipe, courtesy of Our Best Bites.
I made these sugar cookies for Valentine’s Day. The secret is the almond extract. All the other recipes I’ve found use vanilla. I will never go back to vanilla. Never.
These cookies are just the right texture. And the flour is not overpowering. Add in the Glacé Icing (flavored with almond extract, too) and it’s a delicious experience you just can’t miss. I *love* these cookies.
And now I’ve taken them a step further. My dad mentioned to me how he thought the flavor of these cookies would really be enhanced by adding some dried apricots to the batter. Seriously? Apricots? Oh yes. Apricots.
So, I tried it. They are de-lish. No icing required. No sugar added to the top. The fruity apricots are enough to carry this cookie. So here’s how to make ’em:
Apricot Sugar Cookies
Ingredients:
1 cup real butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 6 oz. package of dried apricots
Directions:
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy – about two minutes. Add in eggs and extract and mix to incorporate.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until completely combined.
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Cut the dried apricots into small cubes and add to the sugar cookie dough. Mix with a slick spatula, spreading the apricots throughout the dough.
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Roll the dough into small balls and place on a greased cookie sheet (or one lined with a Silpat) about two inches apart.
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Press down on the tops of the balls with a glass tumbler with a smooth, round bottom. Flatten them into small discs about the same thickness.
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Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until the bottom edges of the cookies have begun to turn lightly brown. 
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Let stand on the cookie sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
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Y-U-M!
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Don’t these look delicious? It’s so hard not to just gobble them all up!
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*Sigh.*



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