Xanadu, your neon lights will shine...

Birthdays...when we were growing up, my parents instituted a "birthday party rule."  Birthday PARTIES were every other year...on the "off years," we could invite a friend or two to dinner, or to the movies, and over for cake.  I have no idea where they came up with this idea, but we decided to carry on the tradition with kiddo, too.

xanadu decorated cookies + a recipe for vanilla-clementine cut-out cookies
I had been thinking about one of my teenage birthdays...I think I was 12 or 13.  One of the movie theaters in "the city" was having a special showing of Xanadu.  I think the movie came out a couple of years earlier and I already had my white roller skates and knew all of the songs by heart.  My parents took a few of us down for the movie.  I can't remember much else from that birthday...just Xanadu.

{photo credit olivia-newtonjohn.com}
Please tell me you're a Xanadu fan, too!  I loved all things Olivia Newton-John.  Her voice, her face, her accent, her perfect hair!!!  Remember those thin hair ribbons?  And, that off the shoulder white top?  Oh!  And, that cowgirl outfit?  And Gene Kelly?!?  Oh my gosh...yeah.  I loved Xanadu.

xanadu decorated cookies + a recipe for vanilla-clementine cut-out cookies
In my mind, I was ONJ as Kira....in reality, I was a frizzy-haired girl with braces who was a little (a lot) wobbly on those skates, but man, it was fun to pretend.

decorated cookies: olivia newton-john in Xanadu + a recipe for vanilla-clementine cut-out cookies
The week I was thinking about those birthday memories, I got an email from McCormick.  They're celebrating their 125th (!) birthday this month. Did you know September is the most popular month for birthdays?  I didn't, either!

xanadu decorated cookies + a recipe for vanilla-clementine cut-out cookies
To celebrate, McCormick is igniting a conversation about birthdays and asking people all over the globe to share their favorite birthday flavor story.  For every story shared on McCormick's website or social media channels, McCormick will donate $1 to United Way to feed those in need.

In honor of birthday month, they released a new vanilla extract: Extra Rich Pure Vanilla Extract.
It's luscious and rich...25% stronger than the classic vanilla and the perfect balance between sweet caramel and bourbon-rummy flavors.  It is PERFECT in baked goods...and also to dab a little behind your ears. ♥
McCormick Extra Rich Pure Vanilla Extract + a recipe for vanilla-clementine cut-out cookies

I used it to make Vanilla-Clementine Cut-Outs for the Xanadu-inspired cookies.  The strong vanilla flavor combined with the sweet and fresh clementine is just swoon-worthy.  The cookies also have a little kick of salt that balances out the flavors so well.  I love them almost as much as I love Xanadu. ;)

print recipe photo printrecipe.jpg
Vanilla-Clementine Cut-Out Cookies
{makes about 12 cookies, depending on cutter size}

2 & 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons McCormick Extra Rich Pure Vanilla Extract
zest of one clementine
1 teaspoon clementine juice

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add in the egg, vanilla, zest, and juice.  Beat until well combined.  Add in the flour mixture on low speed, mixing until just combined.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Once chilled, roll to 1/4" thick on a surface dusted with flour, and cut with cookie cutters.  If the dough becomes sticky, refrigerate.  Place shapes onto parchment-lined cookies sheets.  Freeze the shapes for 5-10 minutes before baking to help retain the shape.

Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until done.  Cool completely on wire cooling racks before decorating.  Use royal icing to decorate.
xanadu cookies decorating tutorial

What's one of your favorite birthday memories?  Does it involve Xanadu?

xanadu and olivia newton-john decorate cookies + a recipe for vanilla-clementine cut-out cookies



  1. Nine months from Christmas and New Year's is September......just sayin.

  2. You are such an amazing cookie artist.
    I am much older but my girls and I loved Xanadu.
    And I still have a soft spot for ONJ.
    Sh'es the one that I love:)
    Lovely lovely cookies!

  3. I love these cookies and your memories you shared of your Xanadu movie birthday celebration. Your parent's idea to celebrate birthdays with parties every other year...love it and wish I had thought of it when my kids were growing up. Both their birthdays are in September, twenty days apart :)

    1. Paula!!!
      I love your comments!
      I love you!

  4. One of the first things I looked up when Youtube became popular was the movie clips from Xanadu! I love this movie.

  5. I'm from Spain and I looooove Xanadu. I saw the movie for the first time in a summer cinema when I was four and I know all songs !! It brings back good memories ...

  6. The one shoulder dress is killing me. In a good way, of course.

  7. I'm alive! And the world shines for me today!

    OMG, this is awesome, I also thought I was Kira, I painted her in my notebooks, she was like a dream with that hallo around, the perfect hair! And the soundtrack of that film is so good... but the film itself...it is one of those films I regret seeing again because I remember when I watched it for the first time when I was about 14 years old, when it premiered (1980 or 1981) I thought it was an amazing, a magic film... but when I saw it again, when I was over 30 years old.. I thought is was quite a bad film.. so I preferred to keep those great memories intact... but the memory of me dreaming around what I saw in the film when i was 14... that was Magic! And so are your biscuits, I really enjoyed seeing them and the fact that you share those memories of it in such a sweet way! Thank you so much!

    You have to believe we are magic
    Nothin' can stand in our way
    You have to believe we are magic
    Don't let your aim ever stray
    And if all your hopes survive
    Destiny will arrive
    I'll bring all your dreams alive
    For you

  8. I mean. I already loved you. But now I love you even MORE.

  9. Didn't know that about September. The most popular birthday month on hubby's and my side of the family is December (ugh - Christmas birthdays!) and April (6 in10 days). I decided long ago the "kid parties" were going to be VERY infrequent (lots of kids). Besides I feel weird having parties with the expecting gifts thing. We usually do a Halloween party every other year instead.

    Your cookies are adorable - I think I'm a little older than you, so the Xanadu movie, I don't know it. Know the music though. And I love ONJ, especially in Grease!

    Thanks for sharing your talents - you have many.

  10. Love this post! I'll look for that vanilla!
    PS: I remember the majority of Cabbage Patch Kids that I came in contact with had September birthdays:)

  11. Interesting design. It inspires me a lot. I would try this for my son. He will love it.

  12. Love this post Bridget! I always loved Olivia NJ, too! :)

  13. LOVE this! I have to laugh because I just got a new phone (and with it room to actually keep music on my phone!) and the first thing I bought was the Xanadu soundtrack...haha. Perfect timing :)

  14. sooo cute! might have to watch that again soon!

  15. Wait a minute!
    Extra RICH Vanilla flavoring!
    I die!
    I double die!
    Skating parties!
    I pass out!
    White skates!
    One of my true loves!
    Please tell me you had humongous POM-POMs on your white skates!
    If you had POM-POMS on your skates we're more than just besties 4ever!!!!!
    We're like SOUL SISTERS 4eternity!
    These cookies are MAGIC!!!!!

  16. Bridget, I have never even seen Xanadu, but Olivia Newton-John was the entertainment at Disneyland for our all-night graduation (H.S.) party! :) One of my favorite Birthday memories is the year I turned 12. My mom threw me a surprise party and I was truly surprised! I even got a cake from the bakery (and not a box, haha!) decorated with Snoopy and the rest of the gang. I was given a Peanuts autograph book, which I passed around (even to my parents). I still have that little treasure in my cedar chest.:) Oh yes, your cookies are so, so fabulous, as well as your photos!


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  22. I never saw the movie (I was a new mom at the time) but my favorite scent was Xanadu. It wasn't out for long, but I loved it.

    My most memorable birthday was my 6th. I stood up on a picnic table at lunch and invited the entire 2nd. grade to my party. My mom was horrified. One hundred boys and girls was too much for her. She canceled my party. I was mortified.

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