Category: Cooking

Lavender and Grey Baby Shower

Sometimes I get an order where I get to be creative and have fun.  Those are my FAVORITE orders in the whole wide world.  This time I was given a color scheme and an example of the banner that was being used for the party.

Can you tell by the lighting I was late night cookie-ing?

Can you tell by the lighting I was late night cookie-ing?

So out came the purple, grey and white icing, and somewhere there was a hint of pink too – apparently that didn’t make the photo though.  And from there I just got to be creative.  I incorporated different patterns that were on the banner and had a lot of fun with this!

Lavender and Grey Baby Shower Cookies

Of course there was extra icing left over, but all I had for cookies was a blank plaque and a bunch of tulips.  I didn’t want to make a bunch of tulips, so I had Averie helped me think of different animals that the tulips could be.  We ended up with an owl, a cat and a pig!

Tulip Cookie Cutter for Animals

 

Golden Girls Cookies

Faces are one of the hardest things to put on a cookie – right after faces are words.  Especially when there are lots and lots of them!

I had a request to make some Golden Girls cookies that combined both of those two things – faces AND words.

Mike from Semi Sweet Designs has previously conquered the golden girl cookies, so I can’t take credit for the idea!  He’s absolutely amazing, and if you’re looking for a talented cookier to follow, you should hop over and follow him!  The original artwork for these girls is done by Glen Hanson.

In the end, I was able to take some inspiration from Mike and create these beautiful ladies and all of the amazing quotes and phrases that go along with them.

Golden Girls Cookies

Golden Girls Cookies

 I only managed to snag ONE in progress shot of these lovely ladies.  Probably because I was so focused on making sure I didn’t spell anything wrong on the rest of the cookies! 

Work In Progress!

Work In Progress!

I’m going to have the Golden Girls’ theme song stuck in my head for WEEKS now.  Good thing I love it!!

Man Candy – Super Bowl Sunday

So apparently there’s a football game or something that I’m supposed to be paying attention to?  I’m not really sure…  I’m too busy hanging out in the kitchen, stuffing my face with amazing food!  Whatever’s going on in the other room sounds like fun, but I can’t bring myself to walk away from the smorgasboard of deliciousness!!

Especially these.

Man Candy

Man Candy

And here I bet you thought by the title of this post that this was going to be all about some good looking men.  It’s not.  It’s even better – it’s about FOOD!

I love man candy.  Or bacon/brown sugar little smokies.  Whatever you want to call it – and I don’t even like pork all that much (I can hear the chorus of “But you’re from IOWA!”, I know!).

It’s my absolute favorite appetizer.  I love trying to find random reasons to make it, but it tends to be forgotten most of the year… until Superbowl Sunday anyway.

We have other delicious food too…

I totally brought that full circle back to Man Candy again, didn’t I??  Guess I better leave you with a recipe then!

Man Candy
Cuisine: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Make as many (or as few) as you want - I recommend erring on the side of caution and having A LOT.
Ingredients
  • Little Smokies
  • Bacon
  • Brown Sugar
  • Toothpicks
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325
  2. Cut bacon into thirds
  3. Wrap ⅓ of a slice of bacon around each little smokie and secure with a toothpick.
  4. Place on a tinfoil lined baking sheet
  5. Cover (generously) with brown sugar.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes, or until brown sugar is bubbling

 

 

Cookie Cutter Organization!

FINALLY managed to go through my cookie cutters, sort them into boxes and get labels made.

Don't they look so nice and organized?!

Don’t they look so nice and organized?!

JUST in time for me to turn around and by a huge bag full of cutters and not have room in the boxes to store them.  And no, I’m not kidding 🙂  Guess I’ll be redoing this project here soon!

Scooby Doo Cookies – Averie and Mommy’s

Averie LOVES to make cookies alongside of me.  Often I don’t have enough time to make extra cookies or icing, but I try to make it a point to make blank circles whenever possible so that she can play while I work.  I had been asked to make some Scooby Doo themed cookies for a friend of mine, and since it’s Averie’s favorite show, I knew she would want to participate too!

Averie Decorating her Scooby Doo Cookies

Averie Decorating her Scooby Doo Cookies

I think she did a pretty darn good job in the end.  It’s definitely amazing to see her decorating skills improve over time.  She’s going to be one amazing cookie decorator if she keeps this up!

Averie's Scooby Doo Cookies

Averie’s Scooby Doo Cookies

I almost think hers turned out better than mine!

Scooby Doo Cookies

Scooby Doo Cookies

Amazing Friends – Christmas Cookies 2013

I have something I need to say before I go any further: I have some of THE MOST AMAZING FRIENDS IN THE WORLD!

Yes, that required all caps.  Yes, you might even consider that to be yelling.  But it’s true, and I don’t mind yelling the truth from the rooftops!

I had a TON of cookie orders for Christmas this year.  And on top of that, I decided that I wanted to do a market just before Christmas as well.  Needless to say, I was BUSY!  My friends came to the rescue!  It’s amazing what a little bribery of fried chicken and moscato will get you around here!  😉

Most of the time I flooded while they piped.  A couple of people worked up the bravery to pipe as well.  Others helped roll and cut cookies with Aaron, and still others just sat around and kept me company while I worked.  And they are ALL amazing.  Most of them even drove from 45 minutes or more away to help out.

Did I mention I have amazing friends??

It's amazing what you can get accomplished with a little help!

It’s amazing what you can get accomplished with a little help – this is only a handful of the cookies we worked on!

Anyway, here’s a selection of the cookies that were sold this year at the market and in gift boxes, etc. It was a crazy holiday season. There were over 1000 Christmas cookies decorated and sold!  And somehow, this was all I managed to take for pictures!

Oh.  Also, I celebrated the fact that I made these in advance quite a few times.

Royal Icing Transfers

Royal Icing Transfers

 

Never underestimate the power of friends, or royal icing transfers! 

Thankful for Cookies

It’s that time of year again!  Thanksgiving always serves as my ‘slow’ transition into the heavy workload of the holiday season.  This year we’re doing a market for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, so it’s not exactly a ‘slow’ transition.  Just check out our freezer!

Just a little bit of dough...

Just a little bit of dough…

The more impressive part of all that dough?  I made it myself!  Usually Aaron makes all the cookie dough, but I was feeling ambitious and helpful!  That picture was taken before I was done too – there were a couple batches of mint-chip dough that were made as well!

This year I struggled a little with what to offer for thanksgiving cookies.  We still did the standard turkey and leaves sets that we’ve done prior, but I wanted to do something different.  In my random brainstorming process I started to write down the sort of things that I was thankful for.  

I wish I had taken a picture of everything I scribbled on the paper – it included the basics like family, health, friends, career, etc.

And then I wrote down ‘cookies’ in the only space that was left, near the top of the paper.  When I looked back down, I could have sworn that the phrase I had actually written on the page was “What are you thankful for cookies”

That kicked off a lightbulb in my head that result in these simple and pretty cookies:

What Are You Thankful For Cookie Set

What Are You Thankful For Cookie Set

 

Blank white leaf cookies, with a pretty plaque in the center that read “I am Thankful for”.  I included a pen for writing, packaged them up neatly in my BRP box shop boxes and tah dah!

I seriously think these are my favorite cookies to date.   I just wish I could see what EVERYONE writes on theirs!

In other news – here’s a sampling of what was packed up to go to the market.  I definitely am thankful for cookies this year, among many, many other things!

Cookies for Thanksgiving NewBo Market

Cookies for Thanksgiving NewBo Market

Gingerbread Cookie Season Has Arrived!

I think a sign of being a cookier is that you mark the beginning and end of different times of the year by what kind of cookie dough you’re spending most of your time making.

As much as I love pumpkin spice cookie dough, I’m happy to see gingerbread season arrive!

This might be a self preservation thing though – mostly because I can’t eat as much gingerbread.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s amazingly delicious, but for some reason I’m more ‘satisfied’ after just one cookie, versus the pumpkin spice cookies that I end up eating one after another….

Nom Nom Nom!

Nom Nom Nom!

If you’re looking for a great gingerbread recipe, Karen’s Cookies has an excellent gingerbread spice recipe that I would suggest trying out.  It’s not the one we use, but it’s still darn tasty!

My favorite part of gingerbread cookies?  The simplicity of the designs means I can make the dough and the cookies on the same day and even get them packaged up without sacrificing any of the ‘cuteness’!

Gingerbread Men Cookies

Gingerbread Men Cookies

Which means I’m left with extra time to clean up things like this:

Pizza Making Fail

Pizza Making Fail

Oops.  Good thing the girls are downstairs playing and haven’t realized that it’s past dinnertime….

Homemade Sweet and Sour Chicken

I did it!  I finally found an amazing sweet and sour chicken recipe!

There are few things in this world that I love more than sweet and sour chicken.  I’ve tried a few different recipes, but they just don’t taste good.  I came to the realization last time I tried that the bottled sauces were disgusting, and maybe I just needed to suck it up and do everything completely from scratch.

So I dug around and found this recipe and jumped in head first.

Everything was incredibly simple, right up until the point where I had to fry the chicken.  I tried, mind you!  I’m not sure what it is about frying food, but I’m miserable at it.  Which is probably a good thing as it means we don’t eat much fried food around here…

Anyway, Aaron came to my rescue and fried the chicken for me, and then I put everything together.

Homemade Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe

Homemade Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe

It was A-MA-ZING!  And that’s probably an understatement!

This is definitely a keeper recipe, I wish I had known before how simply it was to make sweet and sour sauce.  I could have saved myself from dozens of terrible attempts with bottled sauces!

Unfortunately, I had printed out a stack of recipes, and I didn’t mark down where they came from, so I can’t credit the original source.  If it’s you, please tell me!!

Homemade Sweet and Sour Chicken
 
Author: 
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 1 (8 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained (juice reserved)
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1¾ cups water, divided
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2 drops orange food color
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2¼ cups self-rising flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 quart vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, combine 1½ cups water, sugar, vinegar, reserved pineapple juice, and orange food coloring. Heat to boiling. Turn off heat. Combine ¼ cup cornstarch and ¼ cup water; slowly stir into saucepan. Continue stirring until mixture thickens.
  2. Combine flour, 2 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, salt, white pepper, and egg. Add 1½ cups water gradually to make a thick batter. Stir to blend thoroughly. Add chicken pieces, and stir until chicken is well coated.
  3. Heat oil in skillet or wok to 360 degrees F (180 degrees C). Fry chicken pieces in hot oil 10 minutes, or until golden. Remove chicken, and drain on paper towels.
  4. When ready to serve, layer green peppers, pineapple chunks, and cooked chicken pieces on a platter. Pour hot sweet and sour sauce over top.

 

Donut Muffins

We were out of milk this morning, so I had agreed to bake something different for breakfast.  Then I got hooked on the idea of making these donut muffins and ended up sending Aaron and Averie to the store for milk anyway!

My two helpers were able to do all of the dipping/rolling.

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They were delicious – I actually think the ones that were ‘overcooked’ were better in terms of flavor and consistency.  I don’t think the whole ‘baked’ donuts worked out to be any healthier since they were doused in butter, but that wasn’t why I was baking them anyway – so that didn’t bother me!


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We doubled the batch – and clearly shouldn’t have.  We had so many leftovers that I ended up sending Aaron and Averie out the door with some for the neighbors.  We haven’t even met them all yet, so I reckon they might have thought we were slightly crazy bringing over random donut holes, but I suppose that fits, so who am I to correct them!

Donut Muffins
 
Author: 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup margarine, melted
  • ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup margarine, melted
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 24 mini-muffin cups.
  2. Mix ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup margarine, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir in the milk, then mix in the baking powder and flour until just combined. Fill the prepared mini muffin cups about half full.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until the tops are lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. While muffins are baking, place ¼ cup of melted margarine in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together ½ cup of sugar with the cinnamon. Remove muffins from their cups, dip each muffin in the melted margarine, and roll in the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Let cool and serve.