Madysen Simanonis is a fan of the culinary craft. The 13-year-old actress regularly steps into the kitchen to make a variety of dishes.
"I like baking," Simanonis said. "Sometimes I get up on the weekends and just decide to bake something."
Simanonis is currently one of the ensemble cast members in "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical" running through Jan. 5 at The Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place in Chicago. The show is presented by Broadway in Chicago, Emerald City Theatre and First Stage. FYI: Visit BroadwayInChicago.com
Among favorite items she enjoys making are chocolate chip muffins, pumpkin spiced and iced cookies, monkey bread, "Elvis" pound cake for her uncle Joe, pretzel Jell-O, hot chili-cheese dip for her brothers and banana bread.
"For Thanksgiving, I made a squash souffle," she said, adding the recipe was super easy and one her family enjoyed.
Simanonis said when she was little she had a babysitter who loved to bake.
"She baked all the time and showed me how to taste the ingredients. It was one of the things I looked forward to doing when I went to her house," Simanonis said.
The actress said she was also inspired to cook and bake by her mother.
Simanonis, of Winfield, Ill., said she enjoys the cooking craft because "I love the way things turn out and then you get to eat it. And everyone says it was so good or you did a great job," she said.
"I made an Elvis pound cake for my uncle and he loved it. He had a huge smile on his face and it made me happy."
The following cookie recipe is from Simanonis.
PUMPKIN SPICED AND ICED COOKIES
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
15 or 16 ounces solid pack pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts (optional)
Vanilla glaze (recipe follows)
DIRECTIONS: Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let stand for 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Drizzle or spread with vanilla glaze. Makes about 5 dozen.
DIRECTIONS: Combine 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons milk, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract in small bowl. Mix well.