The Easter Bunny is just around the corner

In honor of Easter, we wanted to share an adorable recipe from Julia Usher's book, Cookie Swap. These "bunny bottoms" are too cute and too tasty to resist.

Lemon–Poppy Seed Cottontail Cookies
Makes 2½ to 3 dozen (2¼-inch) “bunny bottoms”
Here’s what Peter Cottontail might look like if you were following him down the bunny trail. These amusing bunny bottoms are as tasty as they are whimsical. If time is of the essence, skip the optional decorating steps and serve the cookies un-iced. They’re wonderful this way as well, particularly if you prefer your cookies less sweet.

Lemon Icing (optional)
1 recipe Royal Icing (below)
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
A few drops yellow soft gel food coloring
About 6½ tablespoons strained freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided (optional, to thin icing)
About 2 tablespoons white nonpareils (optional, for coating the tails)

Lemon–Poppy Seed Cookies
2¼ cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1½ tablespoons poppy seeds
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (1½ sticks) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, chopped into tablespoon-size pieces
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1½ tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
1½ teaspoons pure lemon extract (or ½ to ¾ teaspoon pure lemon oil)
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Powdered sugar (optional; as needed to thicken icing)

1. Make the Lemon Icing (optional). Prepare 1 recipe Royal Icing and mix in the lemon extract (or oil). If desired, add a few drops yellow food coloring to make pale yellow bunnies. Portion off about 1½ cups icing for use in Step 2. (Cover the surface of the remaining icing flush with plastic wrap and refrigerate until used in Step 7.)

2. Pipe and dry the bunny ears and tails (optional). Line two or more cookie sheets with parchment paper. Thin the icing to a thick outlining consistency by adding 2 to 2½ teaspoons lemon juice. Mix well. Fit a pastry bag with a small (¼-inch) round tip and fill with the icing. Pipe 2½ to 3 dozen pairs of (1½- to 2-inch-long) ears on the prepared cookie sheets. (Alternatively, make fondant ears by rolling white or tinted fondant to a 1⁄16-inch thickness with a pasta machine or rolling pin; then cut it into ears using the top portion of a bunny-shaped cookie cutter.)

After you’ve shaped the ears, pipe 2½ to 3 dozen (½-inchround) tails on a separate prepared cookie sheet. While the icing is still wet, sprinkle the white nonpareils evenly over the tails to add texture.

Allow the icing tails and ears to dry about 48 hours, or until easily removed from the parchment paper without breaking. (For fondant ears, allow about 1 week of drying time.) Slide a thin-bladed knife under each piece to loosen it before lifting. If the ears should break when loosening (long icing pieces can be fragile), try gently peeling the parchment paper away from them instead. First cut the parchment paper around each ear; then peel off the paper, working one ear at a time.

3. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line two or more cookie sheets with parchment paper.

4. Mix the Lemon–Poppy Seed Cookies. Combine the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

Place the chopped butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-low speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the egg and beat until light, about 1 more minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to ensure even mixing.

Turn the mixer to low speed and beat in the lemon zest, juice, and extracts, followed by the flour mixture. Mix just until the dry ingredients are incorporated.

5. Roll the dough between your palms into 1¼-inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. For the most uniform balls, first portion the dough into mounds using a level 1½-inch (#50) scoop or 1 level tablespoon per mound; then roll into perfect balls. Flatten each ball into a 1½-inch disk by barely pressing it with the palm of your hand.

6. Bake 9 to 10 minutes, or until puffy, set, and lightly browned around the edges. Do not overbake. Immediately transfer to wire racks with an offset spatula. Cool completely before decorating or storing.

7. Glaze the bunny bodies (optional). Remove the remaining icing from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature. Add enough lemon juice (about 5½ tablespoons) to make a thick glaze. Mix well. (The glaze should thinly coat a “test” cookie, but you should not be able to see through it. Adjust the glaze consistency as needed by adding more juice to thin it or powdered sugar to thicken it.)

Set a wire rack over a sheet of parchment paper. (The paper will catch the glaze drippings and make for easier cleanup later.) Work with one cookie at a time. Hold the cookie by the bottom and completely immerse its top in the glaze. Turn the cookie right side up and gently shake it to remove excess glaze and to smooth the top. Place on the rack. Repeat with the remaining cookies.

Before the glaze dries, slide a paring knife under each cookie to sever any drippings that may be clinging to the rack. (The glaze will otherwise dry onto the rack, making it more difficult to remove the cookies later.) Dry at least 2 hours before assembling.

8. Assemble the bunnies (optional). Portion off about ½ cup of the remaining glaze and add enough powdered sugar to make a thick paste for gluing. Fill a parchment pastry cone with the icing and cut a small (1⁄8-inch) hole in the tip.

Work with one cookie at a time. Glue a tail to the top of the cookie near an edge; then glue one pair of ears to the back of the cookie. The ears should extend 1½ to 2 inches off the edge opposite the tail. Set the cookie aside and do not move it until the ears have dried in place. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Store as directed. Do not stack the cookies, or the ears may break.

Note: There will be leftover Royal Icing. Cover and store as directed (p. 151) for another use.

Royal Icing
Makes about 4½ cups, enough to top-coat 4 to 5 dozen (3-inch) cookies
This icing is by far my favorite frosting for cutout cookies. Because it contains high-protein egg whites, it dries quickly with minimal spreading; it also holds food coloring quite well with limited to no bleeding. Use this thick formulation as edible “glue” for gingerbread construction projects or adjust its consistency for other cookie decorating techniques.

Note: Since the egg whites in this recipe are not heated, it is best to use pasteurized whites to minimize the risk of food-borne illness, especially when serving the very young or old or those with compromised immune systems.

Prep Talk: Tinted icing is best used the day it is mixed because the color will dry more uniformly. Otherwise, the icing can be made 1 to 2 days ahead and stored in the fridge. Bring the icing to room temperature when ready to use and stir vigorously to restore its original consistency. Once applied to cookies, the icing should remain at room temperature so it sets into a crunchy candy-like coating.
Important: Unless you’re using the icing, always cover the surface flush with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming.

2 pounds powdered sugar
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
About 11 tablespoons pasteurized whites (or 5 large egg whites)
Flavoring, to taste
Soft gel food coloring of your choice, to desired shade (optional)

1. Mix the powdered sugar and cream of tartar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir in the egg whites by hand to moisten the sugar. Fit the electric mixer with a whip attachment and beat the mixture on low speed to evenly distribute the egg whites. Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and continue to beat about 2 minutes, until the icing is silky and very white. (The icing will lighten and thicken as you beat it.)

2. Beat in flavoring and/or food coloring, if desired. Mix well before using.


Tasty Thursday

So, we're still sticking with fun appetizers to serve at your March Madness parties for the month. Try this tasty gem from Goat Cheese by Maggie Foard.

Bruschetta with Olive Oil and Herbs
2–3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
2 French baguettes, sliced on the diagonal
2–3 tablespoons finely minced fresh herbs, such as oregano and rosemary
2–3 varieties of goat cheese

Fresh Tomato Tapenade
1 pound fresh ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped (canned diced organic tomatoes also work)
2 cloves garlic, minced and poached in 1/4 extra virgin olive oil for 1 minute
1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
1 tablespoon capers
1/4 cup chopped basil
3 ounces crumbled goat feta
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (or heat a stovetop grill, if you prefer).

Slice the garlic and combine with oil in a glass measuring cup. Warm in the microwave for 1 minute to flavor the oil. Brush the baguette slices lightly with the oil. If you are doing them in the oven, put the oil side up; on the grill, put the oil side down. When the bread is browned to your liking, remove from the heat and arrange on a platter. Sprinkle with the herbs and serve with the assorted cheeses and the Fresh Tomato Tapenade.

To make the tapenade, combine the ingredients in a medium bowl shortly before serving at room temperature.

Makes 8 servings


A little Post-St. Patrick's Day Yumminess

Julia Usher, author of Cookie Swap, shares some recipes perfect for St. Patrick's Day.

Tasty Thursday

How about another easy March Madness appetizer? This recipe from 101 Things To Do With Meatballs by Stephanie Ashcraft will blow you away!

Meatball Jalapeño Poppers
13 jalapeños, stemmed
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
13 frozen, fully cooked meatballs, thawed
13 slices uncooked bacon, cut in half

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Slice each pepper in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, and rinse out. Spread the cream cheese in each jalapeño half. Cut the meatballs in half. Place each meatball half, cut side down, over cream cheese. Wrap a half slice of bacon around each stuffed jalapeño and secure with a toothpick. Place on a baking sheet and bake 25–30 minutes, or until bacon is browned. Serve immediately on a platter. Makes 26 appetizers.

Important note: Use plastic gloves when cutting and preparing peppers to prevent skin irritation.


A piece of Gibbs Smith history

Below is an article from The Standard-Examiner chronicling a piece of trivia from the Gibbs Smith history files. Catherine Smith, wife of Gibbs and co-founder of the 40-year-old independent publisher, grew up in the Peacefield house.

Preserving history / Home filled with family memories
By Wendy Green (Standard-Examiner correspondent)


LAYTON -- When Mary Morgan-Burnett's cousin asked if she'd like to move into the home off East Gentile Street where her recently-deceased, beloved Aunt Oma lived for 50 years, Morgan-Burnett eagerly accepted.

Her husband, Steve Burnett, had just finished officer training in South Carolina when the newlywed couple moved into the historic Layton home in 2004. They've since added three children to their family: Molly, 4, Maggie, 2, and Jack, 8 months.

Maggie was born in the home in July 2007, when Morgan-Burnett delivered so quickly, there wasn't time to get to the hospital. Maggie became the 21st person born in the home; the 20th was born in 1924. A story detailing the events of her birth ran in the Standard-Examiner Nov. 29, 2007. In that story, Morgan-Burnett said the home's history was a blessing to her on the day of Maggie's birth.

"For everything to go so smoothly, we know we had help. There were definitely angels attending that day," she was quoted as saying.

Morgan-Burnett, the youngest of eight children, remembers visiting the home owned by her Uncle George and Aunt Oma Wilcox, every Christmas Eve throughout her childhood. The Wilcoxes bought the home in 1955 and worked hard to preserve the original feel while adding new plumbing, wiring, floors and cupboards. Oma searched antique stores and thrift shops for features she could add to her much-loved house: from furniture and lighting, chosen for their appearance and history, to the marble fireplace she bought for $60 as a broken heap of marble removed from the First Security Bank board room in Salt Lake City when the building was remodeled.

It's truly a home filled with memories and family treasures.

Morgan-Burnett has kept many items exactly where her Aunt Oma left them. The large picture of boys playing with a dog still hangs where Oma placed it, the decorative chandelier acquired from an old hotel hangs over her antique grand piano, photos of ancestors lovingly arranged in various beautiful frames cover the wall leading up the stairs to the room the Burnetts' two oldest daughters, Molly, 4, and Maggie, 2, share. The girls' room has a custom door cut to fit the deeply-angled roof line.

The house was built in 1877 by Oma's great-uncle Hyrum Adams, son of Elias Adams, the founder of Layton. Hyrum was the first white boy born in Layton because Native Americans were the only inhabitants in the area prior to the Adams' arrival.

The house began as two small rooms built of adobe. The property was called Peacefield after the Massachusetts farm of John and Abigail Adams. Additional rooms, a granary, barn, buggy sheds, a garage and a carport were added by various occupants over the next 100 years. The barn on the property is now the home office of Gibbs-Smith Publishing. The large Symphony Homes development behind the house shares the Peacefield name.

The home has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living room, office, dining room, kitchen and large utility room. The wallpaper in various rooms is just as her Aunt Oma left it. Several solid bronze doorknobs, acquired from the old Walker Bank building in Salt Lake City, were chosen by Oma for their shared monogram of a W on each knob.

Another special treasure in the home is a door hung on an interior closet. The glass on the door features a large, detailed etching of the Salt Lake City Temple and Brigham Young monument. From one end of the home to the other, the care and attention shown by each resident is evident.

When Morgan-Burnett first moved in, she was often asked by local youngsters what it was like to live in a "haunted house." The Burnetts haven't experienced any ghosts or other negative experiences in the house. They work hard to care for the home, maintaining the original features while adjusting where necessary to make it a more suitable home for a modern family with small children.

Owning an historic home can be challenging. A water leak in one room forced the girls to relocate to a room upstairs until the leak is resolved and the resulting damage corrected. Steve Burnett said it really needs a full-time carpenter to keep up with the repairs and necessary modifications.

Despite its challenges, Morgan-Burnett said her family is perfectly comfortable in the home her sweet aunt so lovingly assembled.

"You can't purchase a home with this much personal history. We love the memories we have here. We love the history here; we thrive on it."

Cabin restored to reflect the 1800s
LAYTON -- An old-fashioned skeleton key opens the door to the tiny cabin.

Inside, a fireplace on the right serves as the focal point of the room. Two antique rocking chairs, one that converts to a recliner, face the hearth. Various items sit on a tiny desk off to one side including a tiny box containing glasses that fold into a square. Photos of the cabin's past residents sit atop the fireplace as if looking over the room where they shared their lives.

The little log cabin sits undisturbed on property that features a large historic home housing Steve and Mary Morgan-Burnett's family of five, the home office of Gibbs-Smith Publishing, and a working farm.

It's hard to believe the one-room cabin, measuring only about 12x12 feet, was once the home of two young married couples.

The cabin was built in 1856 by newlyweds Richard Pilling and Catherine Adams along with Catherine's older brother, George Washington Adams, who married Richard Pilling's sister Mary Ann.

According to descendant Harris Adams, these two brother/sister couples built the single-room log cabin a mile north in Snow Creek hollow and moved into the cabin together, hanging a blanket down the middle at night for privacy.

Harris Adams, a Layton resident, researched ancestor Elias Adams for over 35 years for his book, "Elias Adams-A Pioneer Profile," published in 2007.

Harris Adams said the couples lived in the home together until they had small children.

A narrative provided by Mary Morgan-Burnett, who resides in the large historic home with her family, states, "After (the two couples) left, Elias Adams, Jr. (a younger brother of George and Catherine) and his bride, Elizabeth Rose Harris, moved into the cabin. Originally located about a half mile east near the Valley View Golf Course, the cabin was moved up the hill and built into Elias Adams, Jr.'s house."

Harris Adams said Elias Adams, Jr. had several teams of oxen drag the cabin up the hill onto a bluff so he could see the sunset. He moved it onto his own land off Oak Ridge Drive and as his family grew, he added more rooms. Elias and his wife Elizabeth had seven children. Elizabeth died soon after and Elias raised the children alone for 14 years. He was considered to be one of Layton's finest men.

Harris related the story of Elias's second marriage to Harris's grandmother, Lettie May Bennett.
"They met at a town dance when Elias asked Lettie to dance and later asked to escort her home. Lettie agreed if her friend Nellie could accompany them. That was Lettie's first date with Elias Adams."

He was considered a fine gentleman and Lettie adored him. The two were married when Elias was 60 and Lettie, who had just turned 27, could no longer be teased as an "old maid" by her friends.

The couple had several children together but had been married only nine years when Elias was severely injured in an accident with a runaway colt. He died in 1912. Harris said Lettie remained a widow for 45 years, "always expressing her deep respect and affection for her husband."

When Elias Adams Jr.'s home was demolished in the 1980s, Oma Wilcox had the cabin moved to her property off East Gentile Street, originally built by Hyrum Adams. It was placed on a stone foundation in 1986 and the interior was restored to reflect the 1800s era. From floor to ceiling, Oma's efforts remain a tribute to the little cabin's occupants of the past.

Tasty Thursday

Who wants another March Madness recipe? Try serving this AMAZING appetizer from 101 Things To Do With Chicken by Donna Kelly and Stephanie Ashcraft while watching some fab b-ball games this month!

Blue Cheese Chicken Dip
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1-1/2 cups hot chicken wing sauce
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 bottle (16 ounces) chunky blue cheese dressing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a pan, combine shredded chicken and wing sauce. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer over low heat for 8 minutes. Spread cream cheese over bottom of a greased 8 x 8-inch pan. Pour chicken mixture over cream cheese and then drizzle blue cheese dressing over top. Bake for 15–18 minutes, or until bubbly. Serve with an assortment of tortilla chips, crackers, and pita triangles. Makes 10–12 servings.


It's Wedding Season!

Brides-to-be everywhere are planning for the biggest day of their lives. Flower arrangements, cake flavors, centerpiece colors, menu selections and many more decisions are being ticked off the bride's checklist.

For brides still looking for stunning inspiration, Weddings by Tara Guerard is the perfect solution! Eleven stunning, elaborate and even jaw-dropping weddings are profiled in this $30 coffee-table book. Everything from the letterpress invitations, customized table settings, bouquets, signature cocktails, and much more are beautifully photographed by Liz Banfield.

So if you are looking for some nuptial inspiration, be sure to pick up a copy of this fast-selling book.

For even more wedding ideas, check these other Gibbs Smith wedding titles...


Tasty Thursday

It's time to break out that quesadilla maker and eat something fabulous! This week's recipe is from Quesadillas by the lovely Donna Kelly, and it's not just a plain old tortilla and cheese. Try serving this up at your March Madness party, it'll be a hit! Or maybe even this weekend's Academy Awards party, too.

Pizza Style
8 (9- to 10-inch) flour, wheat, or garlic tortillas
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
1 (6-ounce) can sliced black olives, drained
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1 (8-ounce) package sliced pepperoni, whole or diced
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Lay 4 tortillas on the counter and spread about 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese over each. Sprinkle a few olives, 2 tablespoons onion, and 2 tablespoons bell pepper over cheese. Lay pepperoni on top, covering entire surface. Sprinkle another 1/3 cup cheese over top. Cover each with one of the remaining tortillas.
3. Brush a little water on top of each tortilla. Spread 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese in a thin layer over top and press down with a wide spatula, making sure the cheese is pressed into the tortilla. Repeat with each quesadilla.
4. Place quesadillas, Parmesan-crusted side up, onto a wire rack standing on a baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, checking frequently so as not to burn. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

NOTE: Skip the Parmesan crust and pop quesadillas into the quesadilla maker for an even easier meal!