Berry Royal Icing

I hope everyone is having a nice long weekend! We had a nice surprise today. Bryan didn’t have to go into work today! So I was awakened to the sound of an unepected male voice over Ben’s monitor! It was nice that he decided to surprise me, though.

We had a great day. We had a nice breakfast, took the kids to the playground, then brought them home to play in the sprinkler. At about 10:30, he says to me, “It’s only 10:30? What do you do with them the rest of the day?”. Welcome to my world :)

While he was keeping the kids busy in the kiddie pool, I had some unexpected time to play in the kitchen. I made some cookies to bring to my inlaws tomorrow.

I know they aren’t the reddest red, or the bluest blue. There is a reason. The red stars have no food coloring at all, and the blue have less than a drop. I had some raspberry syrup (that I made by boiling and straining some frozen raspberries last weekend) in the fridge. I made the same syrup with some blueberries.

The blue did take a little tweaking. It started out a little too purple. So I added a dash of green to try to cancel out the red (as per by this post by LilaLoa). Then I added a bit of navy blue. The red, although a little pink, was fine the way it was. I really like the way they came out. Especially since I made them on a lemon cookie.

Do you see the little flecks of lemon zest in the cookies? I don’t know if these are going to make it to my inlaws tomorrow!

Chocolate Raspberry Sandwich Cookies

Last weekend was the first weekend in a long time that we didn’t have any birthday parties, Girl Scout field trips, or Sunday School.  It didn’t matter that it was absolutely gorgeous out. I had no intention of leaving the house. I didn’t even plan on getting myself or the kids out of their PJs. Despite the spring weather, we had an all day date planned with Mickey Mouse and his Clubhouse.

As good as it sounds, I always forget what spending the whole day indoors does to two VERY high energy kids.

Around 10am, Ellie started getting antsy. Inspired by Mickey, I decided to make some mouse shaped cookies for the kids. I thought Ellie could help, and we’d have them as a treat after lunch. Since we wouldn’t have time to decorate them, I figured I would make them sandwich cookies, and I would die the filling a Mickey-like red. But I wanted to try something a little different. I had a bag of frozen raspberries in the freezer (is that redundant?). So I heated the berries in a small saucepan with a splash of water until they broke down into a liquidy state. Then I strained them through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds (bringing flashbacks of making Ben’s baby food) and returned the liquid to the pot. Then I boiled it a little longer until it was reduced to a syrup. I let the syrup cool, while Ellie and I made the cookies using LilaLoa’s chocolate cookie recipe.

Oh, those little hands look like they may have grown a little since the last time I took pictures like this!!!!

For the filling, I adapted from this recipe by Confessions of a Cookbook Queen.

  • 1/2 envelope unflavored geletin
  • 2 TBSP cold water
  • bowl of hot water
  • 1/2 c shortening
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 c powdered sugar plus more if needed (I wound up using a whole one pound box)
  • raspberry syrup- cooled to room temp (made by cooking frozen or fresh raspberries until liquid, then straining them to remove the seeds, then boiling the liquid to reduce it to a thicker syrup)
  • (optional) drop of red food coloring
  1. Place geletin in a small cup with the cold water, place the small cup into a larger bowl with the hot water. Leave until the geletin liquid is transparent (the geletin is disolved). Remove the small bowl from the hot water and allow to cool to room temp, but not set up.
  2. Cream together the shortening and vanilla.
  3. Slowly add the 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and mix thoroughly. The mixture will be a bit dry.
  4. Add your raspberry syrup until you get your desired color. ( I used about a tablespoon)
  5. Add powdered sugar until the filling is back to a consistency where it is still sticky, but you can roll a little ball that will keep its shape.
  6. If you want, you can add a drop of red coloring. With the tablespoon of syrup I used, I got a dark, bubblegum, pink color. I really wanted red. If you want pink, the coloring is optional.

When I made these Halloween Oreos, I took a little of the filling and pressed it flat, then used my cookie cutter to cut the same shape out of the filling as the cookie. The Mouse cutters are bigger so it worked, but it was kind of a pain. You can do that (especially if you are using a different shape) or you can just roll a small ball out of the filling and press it between two cookies. Then, use a sharp knife to cut away any overhang if you want. Or, you can just put a cookie in your mouth, follow with a small spoonful of filling and chew. It’ll work any of those ways.

Since these were to be an after-lunch treat, I snuck them into the front room, where I get one tiny corner of natural light, so I could take pictures. I thought the kids were eating lunch.

After about 5-10 minutes I hear a piercing scream coming from the kitchen/living room. “MOM!!! BEN’S BLEEDING, THERE IS A LOT OF BLOOD!!!!!” and I panic because I thought I left the knife I used to cut carrot sticks on the counter. It took me a heart stopping second to realize what I DID leave on the counter.

The red food coloring came off of the wall, windowsill, counter, armrests, and -eventually- his hands and face. I don’t think the chair cushion will ever be the same, though.

The next morning, again, we had nothing to do. And I briefly contemplated staying in and being lazy again. Them I loaded the kids into the car and we spent the morning on the playground. Playing hard.

Princess Cookies

I made these cookies for a playdate we had this weekend.

I used a bell cookie cutter and just cut off the little bump on top. I am almost positive I have seen this before, but I couldn’t find it. If anyone knows, let me know. I am almost positive it was a SugarBelle design. Needless to say, these were influenced by her either way!

My favorite one is the sweet little “Ella” with her pigtails. The cookie is not quite as sweet as the real life Ella, though :)

I made one for Ellie:

One for her friend, Kaitlyne:

One for Kaitlyne’s little sister Ella:

And I didn’t forget Ben :)

(I try to have Ben spend as much time with Ella as possible. I am hoping some of her calm, chillness will rub off on him.)

Mostly these were a chance to play with more luster dust.

 I made them with their eyes closed for two reasons. One- they were kind of last minute so they fewer colors I had to mix, the better.      Two- I wanted to try the blue luster dust eye shadow.

I’m expecting the summer playdate invitations to start rolling in any minute now!!!!

Mother’s Day Cookies

I know it’s almost a week after the fact, but I wanted to share the cookies I made for mother’s day!

Did you have a nice one? Mine was…. meh. Since my husband works every weekend, he wasn’t around. And he forgot to have the kids make me anything, even a card :(

I know I shouldn’t complain. He bought me a present, and gave it to me a few weeks ago. Our coffee machine died, so he bought me a Keurig. Not complaining. It was a nice gift.

Then, Monday, while I was at work, he took the kids to AC Moore, bought canvasses, paint, and brushes, then had the kids make me two masterpieces. And he was (sorta) forgiven. (Part of me will always be a little bitter that he didn’t even have the Keurig ready to go for me on Sunday.)

I really don’t mean to be so negative. Brunch was nice. The kids and I met my family at a restaurant. And I made some Mother’s Day cookies for all of the mothers who joined us.

Ellie and I found a cute stamp at AC Moore, and I used it with food color on a polka dot background.  (I used this recipe that I posted yesterday)

You’ll need your cookie- flooded and dried overnight, a brush that you use only for food, and a small amount of undiluted gel food coloring (1). Paint black food coloring onto the stamp with a food only brush (2). Press the stamp lightly and evenly onto the cookie (3). Remove the stamp by picking it straight up, being careful not to move it sideways and smudge the “ink” (4).

I did a little Googling and found that the typical rubber stamps that you find in a craft store are NOT foodsafe. Personally, I think that for the amount of time they are in contact with the cookie, they are probably OK. After seeing the things that kids put into their mouths, I have forced myself to be less stressed out about things. But if you are concerned there are companies that make stamps especially for food. I also found a bunch of tutorials on how to use rubber stamps on cookies that don’t specify food safe vs non food safe stamps. So I am probably overthinking this (I do that).

After the stamp dried, I was trying to decide how to border the cookies when I found these gorgeous cookies by The Sugar Tree. So I added a ruffle around the edge.

And sprinkled it with a little glimmery pixie dust.

But here are the real works of art that eventually made my Mother’s Day:

How was your mother’s day?

 

 

Orange Chocolate Chip Roll Out Cookies

So, I am apologizing in advance if I say anything today that makes no sense. If you read my post last week, you might remember Ben started climbing out of his crib. So, we converted his crib to a toddler bed, and gated his door. And sometimes to get him to sleep I would have to rock him.

That didn’t last long, as soon as I’d get him to sleep and try to lay him down, he’d wake up and that was it for the nap. So I started just leaving him in his room, eventually he’d fall asleep, or at least play quietly for a while.

Last Saturday, he figured out how to get over the gate. He used anything he could push up to the door to boost himself up. So bit by bit, I removed his box of diapers, laundry basket, ottoman, and even rocking chair from his room.

Yesterday, Bryan called me at work to say we have a problem. He (Bryan) was in the shower while Ben was “napping” when all of a sudden he hears, “Hi Daddy” and peeks out of the shower door to see Ben standing there wearing all of his sister’s jewelry.

How did he get over the gate this time? He removed the bed rail (the thing that keeps him from falling out of bed) and propped it up against the gate and just scaled it like a tiny mountain.

I have been so exhausted that, when I went to make cookies for Bryan to take to work for Nurse’s Appreciation Week, I wanted to make a recipe that could stand on it’s own without any icing. I was just too darned lazy to base coat these.

(Forgive the picture, too. It was taken at night.)

Ever since LilaLoa shared her vanilla variation, it has become my go to recipe. It tastes similar enough to the cookies I have been making for the past five years, but they are soft, and stay soft literally for weeks. They hold their shape, and the edges don’t brown. They are amazing.

I wanted to try to bring out the orange flavor a little and I remembered another amazing cookier, Sweet Ambs, and the description of her recipe on her Etsy page. I was intrigued by the thought of adding cardamom to the cookie, but since I am not all to familiar with that spice, I was hesitant to buy a whole jar of it. Then I discovered that Whole Foods sells some of the rarer spices in bulk, so you can just scoop a little into a baggie and give it a try!

So I brought home my new spice, and set out on a Google search, hoping to find a recipe that would give me a guideline as far as how much to use. It is a pretty powerful spice. Most of the recipes I found were for chocolate cardamom cookies. And since I love the taste of dark chocolate and oranges, my recipe was born!

Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies   Adapted from LilaLoa and inspired by SweetAmbs

  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 tsp orange extract
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom (more or less depending on your preference, 1/4 tsp was perfect for me)
  • 4 1/2 cups flour (see note about the flour on the original recipe)
  • 1 cup mini semisweet or dark chocolate chips
  1. In a small bowl, add the orange zest to about 1/2 cup of the sugar and mash them together with a pestal or the back of a fork.
  2. Cream the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and add the orange sugar, then the regular sugar. Beat them together until fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla and orange extracts. Mix well.
  4. Add the salt, baking powder, and cardamom, and mix.
  5. Add the flour a bit at a time and mix after each addition.
  6. Mix in the chocolate chips.
  7. Preheat oven to 375F
  8. Turn 1/3 of the  dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it forms a smooth ball.
  9. Roll out with a lightly floured rolling pin to 1/4 inch, and cut out your shapes.
  10. Move shapes to a parchment covered baking sheet and chill while the oven finishes preheating.
  11. Bake for 7 1/2- 8 minutes.
  12. Let cool before decorating.
  13. Repeat with the other 2/3 of dough.

Just a note, you’ll want to use a sharp, sturdy cutter to get through the chocolate chips.

Also, these cookies taste just as good with a coat of royal icing. I used them for my mother’s day cookies. I will share them later this week!

These cookies will not make your children sleep, but they might make it easier for you to ignore the fact that they are not. (But if you are interested, the only sound I have heard for the last half hour from upstairs is the sound of furious pacifier sucking!!!!)

Reason 1,327,452 That I Love Luster/Pearl/Petal/Color Dust

One of Ben’s daycare teachers asked if I could make cookies for her daughter’s first birthday. The theme is lime green, purple, and zebra print. When I asked what shade of purple (because there are only a couple thousand different purples), she sent me this picture.

So, of course, I took the flower theme throughout the whole set of cookies :) (Oooh…. take my word for it, the purple matches much better in person!)

I have a theory, when it comes to platters of cookies, that there need to be at least 3 sizes. First, you need medium. These are the cookies the men will eat, and the parents will pick out for the kids. Then you need large. These are the cookies guests will wrap in a napkin and take home “for their husband”. But most importantly, you need bite sized or small cookies, because these are the cookies most people will eat, and when they come back for another, they will always pick a small one.

I wanted to make little daisies for the bite sized cookies, but I found when I added my yellow sugar beads to the center, they looked so pastel and dull next to the vibrant green and purple. So, I pulled out my handy ceramic egg carton, shook a little bit of Wilton’s yellow pearl dust into one section, and a little bit of orange extract into another section. And I brightened up my little yellow sugar beads.

1- Dip your brush first into the extract, then into the pearl dust. Blot the brush onto the side of the dish to remove any excess liquid.

2- Paint your sugar beads.

I am not being paid my Wilton, or comped in any way, lol! It’s just that with all of the colors they have out there, the possibilities here are endless!

I really love how these turned out, and I hope little Bianca has a wonderful happy first birthday!

Apple Cookies For The Teachers

I don’t have control over our TV at all. If it’s on when the kids are home, it’s showing Sesame Street, Blue’s Clues, Lazy Town, or Phineus and Ferb. After the kids go to bed, Bryan takes control of the TV and we watch “COPS” or…ahem… Lifetime Movie Network. Don’t worry, he’s not ashamed.

Since I have such limited screen time, I have narrowed the shows I am addicted to down to two. “Mad Men”, and “Once Upon a Time”. Since they are both on Sunday nights, I DVR them and watch them during the week, while Ellie is at school, and Ben is “napping”.

Today, I went into work in the morning, instead of my usual Monday afternoons, so I found myself alone in the house while Bryan was picking up Ben from daycare. I promise this story has a point, and IS related to the cookies I made for Teacher Appreciation Week.

While I was trying to decide what to write about, I was watching “Once Upon A Time” and Googling “why do we give apples to our teachers?” What I found was that it started way back before refrigeration when apples kept longer than many other fruits. OK, maybe, but I was thinking there may be a more symbolic meaning. Then, from the TV, Regina/The Evil Queen did what was probably the only nice thing she has ever done. She provided me with the answer I was looking for. “Apples are a symbol of health and wisdom.” Thank you.

So I made these cookies for my kids’ teachers to wish them good health and to thank them for the wisdom they share.

I am going to link these up to my friend, Melissa at Simply Sweets by Honeybee. She’s hosting a link party so everyone can share their teacher appreciation ideas. You have to see the amazing 3D cookies she made!

First Birthday Cookies

When Ben was born, I got into the habit of holding him while he napped. In my defense, we had our condo on the market at the time so I wasn’t allowed to do much else, other than clean and sit. I wasn’t even allowed to cook, just incase someone wanted to come see the place during dinnertime. We weren’t allowed to have dishes in the sink or even in the dishwasher, and there had better never be a lingering smell of food in the air! Unless it was some sort of comforting baked good. I always had some chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer waiting to become freshly baked cookies as soon as I got that phone call from the scheduling center!

So, needless to say, we would drop Ellie off at preschool, come home, straighten up, and I would plant my butt on the couch, Ben in my arms, and catch up on season’s 1-5 of “Lost” on Hulu.

This pattern had to end when we finally moved and I went back to work a week later. The caregivers at the daycare kind of insisted I stop holding him, and try to get him into the habit of napping in his crib. He had no problem with this, actually. He slept just as well in his crib as he did in my arms. Turns out I was the one being spoiled by the habit.

So, flash forward about 22 months from that first crib nap and Ben has learned to climb out of that safe, warm, comfortable crib. We knew it wasn’t safe to keep him there, he could seriously hurt himself if he fell trying to scale the walls in the middle of the night, so we converted his crib to a toddler bed. And here, I find myself holding him while he naps again. Sigh.

We CAN let him alone in his room, and he will usually (eventually) go right to sleep. But sometimes we find him on his floor or like this:

Today was one of those “nap resisting days” where I left him in his room, after sustaining scratches all over my face, and a bald area where he pulled out a chunk of hair. He just isn’t going to nap whether I rock him or not. And here I am on the laptop, furiously editing photos and trying to write this post. And I am so glad I finished these cookies yesterday instead of waiting until the last minute! (These are made to match the First Birthday Cupcake line for Ben’s daycare director whose son is turning one this weekend.)

I guess I can’t rely on naptime to get things done anymore! Oh… I hear screaming coming from upstairs! And Ellie is due to get off the bus in about five minutes. Sigh.

I’m going to link these up to The Bearfoot Baker’s “The Color Blue” Linky Party. Isn’t it a nice coincidence that she is asking for blue cookies the day after I made these :)

Little Birthday Cakes

We forget, as we grow up, how difficult it really is to be a child. First, there is the whole “lack of speech, can only cry when I need something” thing. And even as words are added to their vocabulary, sometimes they still can’t express exactly what it is that they want. And even more frustrating, when they are older, and they have words to express almost everything that they want to communicate, we grownups don’t always take everything they say seriously. They have such tremendous imaginations. If there was a way to channel the ideas coming from the mind of an almost six year old, and make those ideas a reality, how fantastic could this world be?

And sometimes, their ideas are just born out of necessity. For example:

“Mommy, can I get this?”

“Not today.”

“But it’s Rebecca’s birthday and I want to get it for her.”

First of all, Rebecca is Ellie’s American Girl Doll. Second of all, this is the first I am hearing of her birthday.

“Ellie, you don’t have any money to buy that today.”

“But mom! She’s FAMILY! She is my DAUGHTER!”

OK. We agreed we were not going to buy the present, however, we decided that I would bake her a cake and we would have a little party.

If you think I go overboard, would you believe my husband bought the doll a present?