Baking Lady Locks Cookies

Baking Lady Locks Cookies

We’ve talked about it before…. the Pittsburgh Wedding Cookie Table.

As we say around here, “It’s a ‘Burgh Thing.”

And no respectable wedding cookie table would be without Lady Locks.

As much as I love baking cookies, I have never truly mastered the esteemed Lady Lock.

But one of my best buddies has….

She baked them for my first son’s wedding, and she baked them for my second son’s wedding.  So when I offered to help bake some cookies for my oldest daughter-in-law’s sister’s upcoming wedding, I asked Tracy if I could pay her to bake some Lady Locks.

Her reply…

“How about I teach you?”

When I told my daughter-in-law we were going to make them this past Sunday, she was so excited.  She had been googling the recipe to give them a try, but was a bit hesitant to tackle these, so she wanted to join in the lady lock baking lesson too.

Now my grandma made these every year for Christmas and for special occassions like family weddings.  I tried her cryptic recipe a few times years ago, but they never came out quite right.  At one point in time I had her special lady lock pins, but somehow they are nowhere to be found.  (I likely tossed them out of frustration after trying several times!)

Fortunately, Tracy still has her grandma’s, which were handed down to her mom and then her.  I found a local store in the Strip District of Pittsburgh, In the Kitchen, that carries them and sells them online for anyone interested in purchasing (which I did).  It’s important you get the correct kind.  Expert old-time bakers were able to make these on clothespins (and some people still call them clothespin cookies), but I can’t even imagine!

Baking these are not for the light of heart or spirit.  Though they are made from just a few simple ingredients you likely have in your pantry, these tasty little buggers are a bit tedious to make.  (Especially when you double the recipe and have a 1-1/2 year-old helping!)

Tracy generously allowed me to share her Mom’s recipe here, which was a COMPLETE success!  (Probably because she did most of the hard work….. after all…. my granddaughter did need to take a few breaks to swing and play in the pool and eat lunch and join Pap Pap for a tractor ride during the 5-hour bake-a-thon!).  Colleen, her mommy, was a trooper rolling and tapping and filling the whole time – even while 8 3/4 months pregnant (this girl never ceases to amaze me!).

We filled half of our 200 lady locks with pink-tinted vanilla filling and the other half with white almond-flavored filling.  They both are melt-in-your-mouth divine.

Here is the recipe.  The best ever, full-proof success lady locks recipe.  Thanks Tracy!

Lady Locks Cookies

  • Servings: approximately 100
  • Print

Cookie Shell Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 lb butter
  • 1 cup water


  • 1 1/2 cups Crisco
  • 3 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 3/4 cup canned Evaporated Milk
  • 4 1/2 Tbsp. flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla


Mix flour and butter with pastry blender like when making pie crust to form crumbly mixture.  Stir in water until dough forms.  Shape dough into 2 balls, cover with saran wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare the Lady Locks Pins by rubbing your hands with Crisco and then rolling the pins in your hands to grease them.  (You only have to do this for the first batch – they will be greased enough after that from each subsequent baking.)

Roll out dough to 1/8″ thick on floured surface.  Cut dough into 2″ x 1-1/2″ rectangles.  Wrap each rectangle of dough around Lady Locks Pin pinching edges well to seal.  To do this is a bit tricky.  You must pinch the dough together, then roll it in your hands and/or on a lightly flour-dusted counter (or both!) to get them smooth and even. Then take a butter knife and cut through the center of the dough on the pin to create two evenly-sized pieces – pushing  them apart about 1/8″.  (You will get two cookies from each pin).

Fill a cookie tray or baking stone with dough-wrapped pins about 1/4 inch apart.  Bake approximately 10 minutes until just lightly browned.

When they come out of the oven, you can allow them to cool a minute or so, then you need to tap the ends of the pin on the counter to loosen the baked dough and slide off the pin on the narrowest tapered side.  (It’s a bit like playing hot potato, but necessary to remove the shells from the pins.  Tracy says if you leave them cool too long on the pin, the will likely stick to them and break in the process of removing.)

Once you have baked all of your shells, and they have cooled, prepare the filling.

With an electric mixer, beat the Crisco.  Add 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, and beat again.  Add 1/4 cup canned milk, and beat again.  Add flour.   Beat again.  Add salt.     Beat again.  Add 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar.  Beat again.  Add 1/2 cup canned milk.  Beat again.  Add vanilla (or almond extract).  Beat again.  If you are going to tint your filling, add food color, and beat one final time until incorporated.

Using a pastry tube or decorator with small tip, fill shells with filling.

These cookies freeze well, and actually taste phenomenal straight out of the freezer.

Do you have another favorite Lady Locks recipe?  I’d love to hear how you make them.


Cheers & Hugs,

The World Needs More Henrys

#Writing101 Day Six: A Character-Building Experience

Today’s assignment is to write about one of the most interesting people I’ve met in 2014. The twist is to develop and shape the portrait further in a character study.

Henry, Strip District Meats

Henry – Butcher & Salesman “EXTRAordinaire” at Strip District Meats, Pittsburgh, PA

Henry is a pretty “ordinary” guy by all usual accounts.   But spend about five minutes with him, and I’ll bet you will feel differently.

Henry Strip District Meats

Henry chatting with Janet on our recent trip to the Strip District

If you would pass Henry on the street, you might smile and nod, but he wouldn’t particularly stand-out based on his physical appearance.

Henry is not tall, nor is he short.  He is an average height, average weight, middle-aged, African-American man whose skin is not extremely dark nor light, just a medium, warm cocoa color.  His arms are strong with muscles that show Henry works hard – not at the gym, but in life.  His hands are large and strong, but clean and manicured.  He has a bushy, but well-manicured mustache and a greying, tightly trimmed beard.   Henry’s cheeks are sprinkled with a scattering of freckles, his nose round and broad, his lips are full.  His eyes are the shade of strong espresso – one shines brightly, while the other twinkles as if in a permanent state of “winking.”

Henry Strip District Meats

Henry and Janet – Now we are all BFFs – that’s how Henry is

Henry is a butcher and salesman at Strip District Meats in Pittsburgh, PA.

When my friend, Janet, and I recently made a Trip to the Strip, we sauntered into Strip District Meats in search of some ground lamb Janet wanted for a new recipe for Greek Moussaka she was trying (which was DELISH by the way – she shared some with us!).

As we gazed through the glass encased shelves of meats ranging from smokey bacon and spicy sausages to plump chicken thighs and marbled delmonico steaks to boneless python (yep – you read that right… “boneless” python – because who likes  bones in their python?!??!!), a warm, cheerful male voice greeted us.

Enter Henry.

Enter delight.

Enter zest for life, passion for his job, expertise, dedication, knowledge.

Enter warmth and kindness.

Henry immediately engaged us from the word “Hello” with his twinkling eyes, the spring in his step, and his excitement to show us the lamb, all the way to talking me into paying $19.95 per pound (a steal on sale from the usual $32.95 per pound) for the ABSOLUTE best, most melt-in-your-mouth, cut like butter, tender Wagyu steaks I’ve ever eaten in my life.  (which Henry spent 15 minutes examining at least 30 different steaks before choosing just the right two for Marty and me)

Henry found the most perfect rack of lamb, which he offered to expertly and exquisitely cut into the most beautiful chops for Janet to share with her Dad.  His favorite, and her gift to him.

Who knew meat could be so intriguing?

Henry does – because he makes it that way.

Henry IS Strip District Meats.

Without Henry, our visit to this “butcher shop” would have been uneventful.

But WITH Henry…….

our visit to Strip District Meats was the HIGHLIGHT of our Trip to the Strip.

We hugged Henry before leaving the store (and carrying our heaviest bags of the day).

The world needs more Henrys.

People that embrace life to its fullest.

People who exude passion and purpose in their work.

People who make others want to be part of what they are and what they do.

People who are passionate about life and passionate about their jobs.

People who make us enjoy the “usual.”

People who make the usual EXTRAordinary.

I want to be a Henry.

The world needs more Henrys.

Cheers & Hugs,


The Best Sandwich I Ever Made!

…or maybe I was just really hungry….

… but O. M. G. – I made the BEST tomato sandwich for lunch yesterday!

This was after staring at the overflowing bowl of tomatoes I picked the day before that is sitting on the counter with the abundance that is finally coming out of my tiny, little neglected 😦  garden.

(I AM going to do better next year – –  – she says every year!)

Oh  why do they have to come all at once!?!  Wouldn’t it be nice to have about five or six a week ripen throughout the whole year?  But NOOOOO – – – we get 30 at once for a couple weeks – then NOTHING!

And homegrown ones are so much sweeter than what we can get around here in Western PA the rest of the year at our local grocery stores.

tomato cut

So I plopped a couple slices of honey whole wheat bread in the toaster, smeared some mayo on them, then sliced (now this is a WHOLE new experience for me!!) some


I bought last weekend at Penn Mac in the Strip District.

Oh people – let me tell you….  actually – I can’t describe how YUMMY it is!!!

My favorite before this was smoked gouda, but WOWZERS, did this make for a good tomato sammie!!  (and I’m thinkin’ I must have a thing for smoked cheese…)

smoked buffalo mozarella

On top of the sliced cheese, I layered some fresh basil as if it were lettuce (oh how I love the anisey, licorice-like taste and smell of fresh basil!), then finally the tomatoes, a pinch of salt, and smooshed it down.

tomato sammie whole

And seriously – I’m sorry I did not get a very good photo, but I did not have the patience to check it before diving into it, and then it was too late for any retakes. 😐

tomato sammie

So I hope I described it well enough to get you to try.  A simple, but oh so delish sandwich for a hot summer lunch or dinner or snack!  Heck – – – I’d even eat this for breakfast!


Cheers & Hugs,


A Trip to the Strip – It’s a ‘Burgh Thing

Anybody that knows anything about Pittsburgh (aka da ‘Burgh) knows a Trip to the Strip  – –  Strip District that is – –  is a must to get the full “flavor” of our amazing city.  Whether you are shopping for fresh produce…

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Produce

in a range of colors…

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Produce 2

or looking to “spice up your life”

Penzy's Spice Strip District Pittsburgh PA

with the best smoky paprika – or my (are you ready for the “big reveal?”) top secret ingredient to my baked beans recipe – Penzy’s Barbecue of the Americas spice,

Penzy's Spice Pittsburgh PA Strip District

The Strip District is the place to go.  The Strip District is a neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that is about a half square mile area of land northeast of the central business district bordered to the north by the Allegheny River and to the south by the Hill District. The Strip District runs between 11th and 33rd Streets and includes three main thoroughfares — Smallman Street, Penn Avenue, and Liberty Avenue — as well as various side streets.

So Saturday was the day for my buddy Janet and me.  Janet had not been to the Strip since she was a child, and since she is only around for a few months in the summer before heading South, we decided to squeeze a field trip in.

Penzys Strip District Pittsburgh

After sniffing our way through Penzy’s, we visited In the Kitchen where we admired this beautiful Polish Pottery.  Can you find Janet?  Her top blends in with the pottery pattern! 🙂

In the Kitchen Strip District Pittsburgh Polish Pottery

The streets are filled with yummy treats – like these whoopee pies, cannoli, apple strudel, macaroons,

Strip District Pittsburgh PA

lady fingers, and sticky buns, and mini pineapple upside down cakes – oh my!

Strip District Pittsburgh PA

Mike Feinberg’s is THEE iconic place to find your ‘Burgh-theme party supplies.

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Mike Feinberg Co

It is black ‘n gold through and through

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Mike Feinberg Co

for anything Pixburg or Stillers

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Mike Feinberg Yinz Yinzers

even black ‘n gold flamingos to go with the sweet glasses Janet found!

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Mike Feinberg Black n Gold Flamingos

I wanted to get her these tights for Christmas – we’ll see…..  look out Jan!

Strip District Pittsburgh PA

There are colorful fruit kabobs…


and colorful artistic displays…

Strip District Pittsburgh PA

and a trip to the Strip is just not complete without a visit to Pennsylvania Macaroni Company – Penn Mac to us Yinzers.

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Penn Mac

You will find bucket after bucket of every kind of olive

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Penn Mac

pickled peppers, and pickles

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Penn Mac

pitted and stuffed….


or fresh and unpitted.

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Penn Mac

The Parmigiana Reggianno and fresh homemade mozzarella is the best outside of Italy (and of course I bought both AND some awesome olives).

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Penn Mac

Here’s a little glimpse of my basket…

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Penn Mac

Some of the sweetest music can be heard on the streets by local street artists.


But Black ‘n Gold definitely reigns supreme on these streets.


So if Yinz need any Stillers or Buccos or Penguins gear – The Strip is your one-stop shop.


Janet and I discovered the most amazing store of all on this trip!

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Strip District Meats

Strip District Meats!

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Strip District Meats

Not only because you can find boneless python – for only $35.95 per pound – because who likes bones in their python?!?!?!

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Strip District Meats

But mainly because of Henry!

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Strip District Meats

Henry has worked at Strip District Meats for 11 years, and he is the most amazingly sweet, informed, fun, and charming salesperson and butcher you will ever meet!

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Strip District Meats

Not only did he specially cut Janet’s Lamb Chops exactly to her specification (which just so happened to be whatever Henry thought was best!),

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Strip District Meats

but that little charmer talked me into buying a couple of Wagyu Steaks for Marty and me at the GREAT DEAL of only $19.95 – drastically on sale from the usual $31.95 per pound.  Oh they better be good Henry!  He went through three cases to pick the best two out for me.  Did you know Wagyu Beef are given daily massages and beer to drink (which so appealed to another shopper near me that he asked to be signed up to be a Wagyu Cow, until Henry gently reminded him –   with a swift hand motion across the neck – that they get their heads cut off after about 18 months of this spa-like treatment…

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Strip District Meats

But if Wagyu or Lamb Chops are not your “cup of tea,” how about some Ground Camel – or Alligator – or Kangaroo – or Ostrich – or only the finest hind legs of rabbit?????!!!!!…..

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Strip District Meats

Melanie was Henry’s apprentice, and just as sweet – and even a little cuter (if that is possible 🙂 ). What a great place to shop that I will never miss again when visiting the Strip!


There is any kind of bread you might crave,

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Wholeys

and a visit to the iconic Wholey’s is a must before ending your day at the strip.


Strip District Pittsburgh PA Wholeys

And look what I found!!  Striped Bass!!  (Could our one that got away be in there?!?!?)  (and if you look really close – you can find me in this picture – you know – the one with the camera – caught in the mirror above the fish tank)


Strip District Pittsburgh PA Wholeys

In case you need some fish heads or bones, the price is right…



and they are quite fresh!


Strip District Pittsburgh PA Wholeys

Janet and I split an amazing Lobster Roll and one of Wholey’s Famous fish sandwiches for lunch before ending our shopping excursion and running out of money.
Strip District Pittsburgh PA Wholeys

It was a great day to go “dahntahn.”

Cheers & Hugs,