Everyone’s talking about Whitney Houston. Most are mourning her death. I’m not gonna lie, I’m sad as well. Why? For one, I was overly optimistic that she was going to have a successful comeback one day. And, two, she’s partially (let’s say it again, PARTIALLY) responsible for who I am today and holds a place in a few of my memorable milestones. Let’s talk about four of these:
1- Whitney taught me to dance. It’s true, you can ask my mom, my dad and my older sister who had to put up with me dancing around in our living room. Now, some of the music I was dancing to were Christian a-cappella bands (believe it or not, I could really groove to some of that stuff!) while others were jams from the day. There was a lot of Whitney in this mix.
2- Whitney taught me to sing loud and proud. I can’t sing. Whenever I say this to my best girlfriend (who is an amazing singer) she always responds to me with “you can carry a tune!” That always empowered me, but never satisfied me. I always wanted to be a singer, but God decided to bless everyone around me, yet not me, with that gift. But, despite my seagull sounding voice, I can always belt it out with Whitney. And, hey, I even learned that if I turned her up loud enough on my stereo, that I sounded just like her. Who knew?
3-Whitney gave me an opportunity to share my faith. During my early years of high school, I was sitting in our high school auditorium listening to a motivational speaker, who ended her presentation with a video where Whitney’s “Greatest Love of All” song was the soundtrack. The message from the motivational speaker was focused on positive change in our youth and learning to love yourself. My friend, who was next to me, starting bawling because of the powerful words in Whitney’s song. After the assembly, she confided in me about the rough path she recently chose and I was able to pray with her. Whenever I hear that song today, I’m reminded of this beautiful moment so long ago.
4- Whitney was in one of the first R-rated movies I ever saw. Can someone say “The Bodyguard”??
There you have it. My positive Whitney reflections. Now, let’s get on to these COOKIES! (No, I have no better transition than this…) For one of our first Valentines Days together, Ben bought me an entire package of the Lofthouse sugar cookies you find at most grocery stores decorated for every season and holiday. Some might think this is sweet, but once I tell you that HE ate every single one of those cookies, you will quickly change your mind. It didn’t necessarily bother me that he ate the cookies, because I don’t like them. But, it did bother me that my Valentines gift that year was actually a gift for himself!
Every time we walk by these cookies in the store, I’m pretty sure I see drool falling from Ben’s gawking mouth. I decided long ago to search for a recipe to make them homemade for him sometime, but that idea slipped my mind and never came to fruition. Then one day, Annie popped up with a recipe and I quickly bookmarked it, yet unfortunately didn’t quickly make them. Finally, after almost a year later, I made them this weekend for Valentines Day, in miniature form.
The favorite soft sugar cookies you find in the stores, but homemade and better!
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 5 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 1/3 cup (5 1/3 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 7 Tablespoons milk (plus more, as needed)
- Food coloring, optional
- Sprinkles (optional)
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients just until incorporated and evenly mixed. Cover and chill the dough for 1 hour.
When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone liner. Scoop a tablespoon of dough (about 3/4-ounce) and roll into a ball then place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing cookies 2 inches apart. Using your fingers, slightly press the top of each cookie. Bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating cookie sheets halfway through baking. It is important not to over bake. The edges should not even be brown. Let cool for at least 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, melted butter, vanilla and milk until smooth. You will want a thick consistency, but not too thick so that it is hard to spread on the cookie. Whisk in additional milk, one teaspoon at a time, to reach desired consistency. Tint with food coloring, if desired. Use an off-set spatula to spread each cooled cookie with the frosting. Top with sprinkles if desired. Store in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.