Inspiration Challenge {Paris}

Imagine all of the beautiful sights, flowers, landmarks, artists, or landscapes I could have drawn inspiration from for this challenge. And I go and get inspired by… a rat. Can you honestly blame me? Seriously, we’ve got the landmark, we’ve … Continue reading

Inspiration Challenge {Down The Rabbit Hole}

It’s always a good idea to have friends whose minds work a little differently than yours. It helps you to stretch your imagination. I came up with this month’s theme: down the rabbit hole. But it was Melissa’s (Simply Sweets … Continue reading

Inspiration Challenge {Sky}

Did you know that my very first post was March 4th, 2011? Please don’t go looking for it. I’ll have to hide under my covers for a week!

So, my- well, Ellie’s Bites’s, birthday is tomorrow and Dr. Seuss’s birthday was yesterday. How cool is that? I am thinking back, and I remember the mind numbing sinus headache I had while trying to write my first post. And I am thinking, or trying to think, of the mind numbing sinus headache I have right now. And I’ve come to the conclusion that despite Dr. Seuss’s birthday, and despite Ellie’s Bites’s birthday, and despite Benjamin’s birthday later this month, I don’t like March.

March IS full of great reasons to make cookies, though. And I was especially excited about my idea for March’s inspiration theme: the sky. I decided to take this opportunity to show you how I do most of my Seuss inspired cookies. (By making you a Seuss inspired sky, of course!)

Dr. Seuss Inspired Sky (Ellie's Bites)


These are some of the simplest cookies you can make! Start off with a cookie and base coat it. Let the base coat dry. The following pictures are for making these cookies, but this is the same exact technique I used for theseseuss inspired sky (Ellie's Bites)

  1. You’ll need a cookie (base coated and dried), a black food color marker with a thick brush, and one step/ 20 second consistency icing.
  2. Use the black marker and sketch your design. You can cut out a shape and use it as a template (that’s what I do when I make my one fish/two fish) but since these were just clouds, I free handed them.
  3. After letting the ink from the marker dry, fill in the shape with the icing. (The icing should be thick enough that you can outline with it and have it hold its shape, but still thin enough to flatten out smooth.)

I went a little further and added some “Oh The Places You’ll Go” balloons, and one “Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now” inspired bird. These were all using the same outline with black food color marker and fill with icing technique.Dr. Seuss Inspired Sky Challenge (Ellie's Bites)

But the thing that makes these truly Seuss inspired are the details. Sketch these in with a thin tipped black food color marker. Seuss Inspired Sky Cookie (Ellie's Bites)

Now for something TOTALLY different… go see what Melissa made for you at Simply Sweets by Honeybee. I want a bowl of these in every room of my house! While you are there, you can link up your sky themed project. You’ve got all month to come up with something, so have fun with it!

If you liked these cookies, you may like any of these Seuss inspired cookies that I just rounded up here.

Next month’s topic will be “Down The Rabbit Hole”. I’m sure with Easter coming up, you have a few bunny inspired treats in mind!





Inspiration Challenge {Love}

I wouldn’t consider myself a conspiracy theorist, but what do you think the chances are that this winter’s freakishly cold temps and heavy amounts of snow are all masterminded by Disney’s marketing department as a tool to promote the movie Frozen?

Think about it.

Just…. think about it.

We’ve seen it three times. In the theater. Do you know how expensive it is for a family of four to go to a movie theater? The soundtrack is on in the car. Every time we get into the car. And last week, when we dropped Ben off at daycare, we got out of our car as another father and daughter were opening their car door. And guess what was playing in their car.

Still think it’s a coincidence?

I know I’ve got Frozen on the brain! When I was brainstorming ideas for this month’s Inspiration Challenge (cohosted with Melissa at Simply Sweets by Honeybee), I couldn’t help but think of the movie where only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart.

If you haven’t seen the movie, you may not get this (but I can’t imagine you haven’t seen it….). At one point, Anna asks Kristoff if he’s some sort of “love expert”. He replies “no, but I have friends who are.” So I made Kristoff’s friends. The love experts.

Frozen Trolls Love Experts Oreo Truffles

If you saw the movie, you get why I wrote “Sven’s friends”. If you didn’t see it, just go on thinking it’s a typo. Then go see the movie. It will also explain why the love experts are rocks.

Frozen Trolls Oreo Truffles

I’m not a cake pop maker. Cake pops and I  have a love hate relationship. I love to eat them, hate to make them. These are Oreo truffles. A thousand times easier, and OMG, drop what you’re doing and shove three in your face amazing.


  • 18 Oreos
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • candy melts (to get the grey, I used 1 cup of pure white and 1/4 cup of black)
  1. Crush those Oreos into teeny tiny crumbs.
  2. Mix together the crumbs with the cream cheese until the crumbs come together and a soft dough forms (I found it easiest to use a hand held mixer)
  3. Using a tablespoon sized scoop, form the crumb mixture into balls and set aside.
  4. Melt the candy melts together as per the package instructions.
  5. Drop a ball of crumb mixture into the melted candy coating and roll it around until it’s covered. Slide a fork or slotted spoon under the ball and lift it out of the coating. Gently tap the fork on the side of the bowl to shake off the extra candy coating.
  6. Set the ball on wax paper. Sprinkle with green coarse sugar or sprinkles. Allow to harden completely.

This makes about 18.

Frozen Troll Cookies (Ellie's Bites)

This is what Kristoff’s friends really look like. If you’re more into cookies. I didn’t make a tutorial, but I used a Hello Kitty face cutter to make them.

Now, head over to Simply Sweets by Honeybee to see the gorgeous cookies she made. I “LOVE” them! And make sure you add a link to your love-themed project to her Linky Party. And start thinking about March’s Inspiration Challenge: The Sky.

If you like this, you may like

Inspiration Challenge {Warm & Fuzzy}

As I sit here writing this the snow is coming down outside. Our schools closed from Monday Dec 23rd until today. They went back today, January 2nd, and they are already almost promising that the schools will close tomorrow for weather.

Do you have ANY idea what my house looks like after the kids have been home that long? Or how desperately I need the few days to put it back together?

Strangely, it at least comes at a convenient time. January’s inspiration theme is “Warm and Fuzzy” and the warmest and fuzziest things I can think of will probably be stuck inside my house tomorrow.

Warm and Fuzzy Kids (Ellie's Bites)My kids in their fleece PJs. Is there anything cuter than warm, fuzzy, fleece feety pajamas? I will definitely need therapy when he grows out of them. She’s already decided that she doesn’t like the feety parts. She won’t even sleep in socks. Or wear them in the house. Or even outside if she can get away with it. That’s why the little bitty icing toes. But she has cute toes so I can get past the no feety thing.

So tomorrow, you’ll find us eating popcorn

Warm and Fuzzy- Popcorn (Ellie's Bites)drinking hot cocoa

Warm and Fuzzy Hot Cocoa (Ellie's Bites)and watching movies.

Tonight my kids will be sleeping with those warm and fuzzy fleece pjs inside out.

Warm and Fuzzy Snowflakes (Ellie's Bites)Fortunately I got a sneak peek at Melissa’s Warm and Fuzzy recipe and I made sure I have all of the ingredients for tomorrow! I’ll be making that for sure! And pondering next month’s challenge: “Love”. Awwww.

How are things where  you are? Warm and fuzzy fleece feety pjs? Or itty bitty exposed toes?

Inspiration Challenge {Lazy Sunday Mornings}

What do “Calvin and Hobbes” and “Peace and Quiet” have in common? On the surface,  absolutely nothing, right?! But, if you think about it for a second, you’ll realize that they are two things that I haven’t seen on a Sunday morning in way too long. (And two things that I miss dearly!)

When Melissa and I were brainstorming topics for this year’s challenges, I came up with this one. This year, Ben started Sunday school. Since he’s with the three year olds, he only goes twice a month, but if you remember, my husband has worked every Sunday for the last almost three years. This would be the first time in ages that I would have a WHOLE TWO HOURS to myself on a Sunday morning.

I had grand plans for those two hours. That is until I realized that every other parent whose children are in Sunday school, also goes to Starbucks to sit and read for two hours and there was not an empty seat to be found. So I spent that first morning walking so slowly and meticulously around Target that I’m sure security had a camera fixed on me.

Anyway. Lazy Sunday mornings. I’m not too sure I remember how to do them right.

Coffee Cookies (Ellie's Bites)

I am pretty sure that heaven is probably waking up to the sounds of Sunday Morning With Charles Kuralt, dragging my teenage butt down the stairs to bagels and lox, a hot cup of coffee, the Sunday comics, and not a care in the world. And what I wouldn’t do to be able to enjoy a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning now. To drink it while it’s still hot. To drink it before it gets knocked over by a preschooler and his Harry Potter Halloween costume Quidditch broom.

And that’s why I made these cookies. Coffee Roll Out Cookies (Ellie's Bites)If you’re not a coffee lover, then these cookies aren’t for you. If you’re a coffee liker- you’re good. My inlaws are tea drinkers and I’m pretty sure they were responsible for the damage done to this platter of cookies. If you’re coffee obsessed, then I’m warning you not to taste the row-dow (what Ben calls raw dough, and what we all now call raw dough). You won’t make it to the point of rolling them out. The dough itself tastes like the best coffee ice cream you have ever tasted.

If you’re lucky enough to make it to the point of baking the cookies, you won’t regret it.

Cookie Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp coffee extract
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (plus more for rolling)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar.
  2. Add egg and extracts and mix well.
  3. Sift flour, espresso powder, and salt into the butter mixture and beat until smooth and the dough comes together.
  4. Preheat oven to 375F and line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment.
  5. Turn the dough onto a generously floured surface and knead gently into a smooth ball. Roll out to 1/4 inch. Cut out shapes and place on lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 9-12 minutes (check after nine, if the cookie still looks wet in the middle bake a little longer. I have a double oven and my baking time varies greatly depending on if I use the top or bottom section, and what kind of baking sheet I use.)
  7. Remove from oven, let cool for five minutes on the baking sheet then remove to a rack to cool completely.

*note- I got my coffee extract at Sur La Table and I saw it shortly after, and much cheaper, at Homegoods. If you can’t find it, use three tsp espresso powder and increase vanilla by 1/2 tsp.

*You should get 18 cookies or so depending on the size of your cookie cutter.

Icing Ingredients

  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tbsp meringue powder
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp coffee ext
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp light corn syrup
  • Chocolate Brown food coloring gel (I used Americolor)

Here’s where you can have a little fun, too. I added 1 tsp of espresso powder and an extra 2 tsp of coffee extract. I like my coffee to taste like coffee. But there are so many flavorings out there! If you like a good pumpkin spice latte, add a half tsp of pumpkin spice emulsion to your icing. If you like Irish coffee, add a tsp of whisky (boil it for at least two minutes to reduce the alcohol content first if you want). My point is, the possibilities are endless. Coffee goes with everything.

  1. Place all ingredients into a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
  2. Beat until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl when necessary, for about two minutes.

If your icing is a little thick, add some more water 1/2 tablespoon at a time. You want it to be a one step consistency (also known as 20 second icing) thick enough to outline, but thin enough to flood with. Drag a knife through the icing and count the seconds until the icing smooths over again. It should take a count of 10-20.

Coffee Cookie Collage (Ellie's Bites)

  1. Outline one half of the cookie with the icing.
  2. Immediately fill in the outline. Wait 10 minutes or so for the icing to crust over a little bit.
  3. Outline the other half of the cookie and…
  4. Immediately fill in the outline. Allow cookies to dry for several hours if you plan to package them.

Now, I can’t wait to see what Melissa has made for us! Go check it out at Simply Sweets by Honeybee and while you’re there, you can link up your {cookie, cake, recipe, craft} Lazy Sunday Morning themed project.

Now I’m brainstorming next month’s project- “Naughty or Nice”. It just sounds fun!

Inspiration Challenge: October {Junk Food} Oh- And A Giveaway!

****Giveaway is closed, winner has been notified by email******

We’re baaaaaack! (It’s almost Halloween so it’s expected that you read that in little Carol Anne’s voice.)

I’m not actually talking about classic horror movies, though. I’m talking about those inspiration challenges that Melissa from Simply Sweets by Honeybee and I used to do. It turns out that exes may be exes for a reason, but fun projects that you did with your friends can be revisited over and over.

We changed the rules a little this time around. When it comes to our monthly topics, we’re not limiting our projects to cookies. We will be doing cookies, cakes, cupcakes, recipes, or crafts. Anything we want as long as it is inspired by the topic of the month.

This month, we’re talking about “junk food.” You know- since Halloween is coming up and all.

Dark Chocolate Potato Chip Donut (Ellie's Bites) October 2013 Challenge Junk Food

I tried to gear my project to the junk food that may actually be LEFT in your kids’ trick or treat bags after a few weeks. It’s all well and good to come up with a recipe using peanut butter cups or Skittles. But good luck finding those, even the next day. If the kids didn’t get to them, I guarantee the husband did. But potato chips? Yeah. They’ll still be there.

And what is more “junk food” then putting junk food on top of junk food?

So, I made these donuts from scratch. Yeast dough, pot of very hot oil, glaze bath and all. I wanted to push myself a little. If you want to make them, you certainly can. I’ll tell you how I did it at the end of this post. If you don’t want to fry them yourself, I won’t judge you. Just pick up some plain glazed donuts from the bakery and read on!

Dark Chocolate Covered Donuts with Dark Chocolate Covered Potato Chips (Ellie's Bites) October 2013 Challenge Junk Food

You will need: Plain glazed donuts, chocolate ganache glaze, and chocolate covered potato chips.

First, make your chocolate covered potato chips.

  • A small bag of chips. I couldn’t find a small bag with ruffles although they would be ideal. I used Kettle Cooked chips with sea salt. Just make sure you are using a chip with some substance to it. I don’t recommend baked chips. And I certainly don’t recommend sour cream and onion flavored.
  • 4 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate.
  1. Break chips into small pieces and spread in a single layer on parchment.
  2. Melt chocolate in a clean, dry, microwave safe bowl. (Try microwaving it at half power for one minute then stirring it, then half power for 30 second increments, stirring in between) Do this until the chocolate is smooth.
  3. Use a fork or spoon to drizzle the chocolate over the potato chips. Let them sit until the chocolate is set.

Make your chocolate ganache.

  • 4 ounces bittersweet or dark chocolate
  • 4 ounces heavy cream
  1. Heat cream in a microwave safe bowl until it is hot to the touch.
  2. Chop chocolate into small pieces and place in a small bowl (make sure the bowl is wide enough to fit your donuts).
  3. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Whisk together the cream and chocolate until it’s smooth.

Assemble your treat.

  1. Dip the top of your donut into the chocolate glaze.
  2. Sprinkle the chocolate covered potato chips on top.
  3. Let the glaze set then enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Potato Chip Donut October 2013 Challenge Junk Food (Ellie's Bites)

And now a little thank you for being such a good friend! First, head on over to my Facebook page. There, right under the cover photo, you’ll see an icon that looks like a present. Click on that and follow the instructions. That is good for the chance to win these little goodies I picked up at Sur La Table. (Sorry for the cheesy cell phone picture!)

****Giveaway is closed, winner has been notified by email******

photo halloween baking goodies

Then go over to Simply Sweets by Honeybee to see what junk food she came up with ( I don’t even know. We decided with this round of challenges, no sneak peeks!) While you are there, you can enter to win another prize! Also, she just did a major page overhaul, so make sure you take some time to look around.  At some point this month, you can link up your own junk food inspired project!

Keep an eye out for our November challenge! The inspiration is “Lazy Sunday Mornings”. Don’t forget, you can come up with a cookie, a cake, a recipe, or even a craft.

You can find the recipe I used to make the donuts here. They are, for lack of better words to describe them, OMFG good (drool).

Inspiration Challenge: May {Cookies You Fear}

I have to start off by saying, there is not much I fear about cookies anymore. I guess it would be different if I had a business selling my cookies and needed to accurately make whatever my customer asks for. But since I mostly make them for fun, or for friends who give me a lot of creative freedom, I am able to pick and choose what and how. And when and where for that matter.

There was one last thing, NOT a cookie, that I had feared so I conquered that instead. I had always been afraid to make anything that required a candy thermometer. A few weeks ago, I made caramels, and in honor of this month’s challenge, I made marshmallows. Ok, so the marshmallow recipe I used didn’t call for a thermometer, but it DID involve boiling sugar, which can be a little scary and anyway, marshmallows were on my baking bucket list. Check.

I chose to use this challenge to make cookies based on a book that I REALLY wanted to “cookie”, that if it hadn’t been for this challenge, I wouldn’t have had a reason to make them. To make things difficult, I used a technique I don’t really use. I painted them.

In The Night Kitchen 3 (Ellie's Bites)

“Have you ever heard of Mickey…..” who falls into a dream, and strait down “In The Night Kitchen”? I really kind of love this book by Maurice Sendak. The illustrations are bright and colorful and the story is ADORABLE.

In The Night Kitchen 1 (Ellie's Bites)

Mickey falls into The Night Kitchen and strait into the batter of the cake about to be baked by the three bakers. They mistake Mickey for milk, and mix him in then pop him into the oven- ready to bake “a nice Mickey cake”. Mickey bursts out of the oven crying “I’m not the milk and the milk’s not me, I’m Mickey!”- (Ben’s favorite line by the way). Then Mickey makes an airplane out of bread dough and flies into the sky, dropping down into the giant milk bottle.

In The Night Kitchen- The Bakers (Ellie's Bites)

In The Night Kitchen- Micky Flying (Ellie's Bites)

In The Night Kitchen- The Milky Way (Ellie's Bites)

Before waking up from his (trippy?) dream, Mickey scoops up some milk from the bottle and pours it into the cake batter, thus saving breakfast. As the bakers bake the REAL breakfast cake, they chant “Milk in the batter, milk in the batter, we bake cake and nothing’s the matter!” (Another favorite line. In fact the other day, we made coffee cake for breakfast just so the kids could add the milk to the batter while singing that nothing’s the matter!)

In The Night Kitchen 2 (Ellie's Bites)

I can’t possibly, with my description or cookies, do justice to this book. If you have littles, I highly suggest it. (Try to ignore the fact that when he isn’t covered in cake batter, Mickey is stark naked. If that bothers you, this book isn’t for you.)

To make the cookies, I base coated squares and a scalloped circle in white. After they were fully dry, I painted the background onto the cookie with food coloring, a bit of water, and a clean brush that I only use for cookies.

In The Night Kitchen- Mickey (Ellie's Bites)

Once the backgrounds were dry, I brought out the white icing again, and piped and flooded the shapes I wanted to make pop. After that dried completely, I painted the 3D areas.

In The Night Kitchen 3D (Ellie's Bites)

It was really fun to make these cookies based on a book I find adorable. They weren’t easy, but I LOVE the end result!

In The Night Kitchen with Book (Ellie's Bites)

Sadly, this was the last month of Melissa’s (Simply Sweets by Honeybee) and my year long inspiration challenge. We really enjoyed doing this and working together each month to come up with a new source of inspiration and challenge ourselves to stretch our comfort zone. Mostly, we enjoyed seeing what you all linked up when you played along! Don’t forget you have the whole month of May to link up your challenge.

Just because we are not continuing to play every month, that doesn’t mean we won’t be coming up with random projects here and there! And in the meantime, use the things you find around you for inspiration, take a picture, and link it up to Simply Sweet Saturdays, every week at Simply Sweets by Honeybee.

Thank you to everyone who played along!

(I will be updating this post with links to all of the past projects when I have a few minutes to organize things….)

Inspiration Challenge: April {April Showers}

Rain is not my most favorite thing in the world. I have thick, curly hair which frizzes easily, and frizzing is the only thing that it does easily.

Actually, I don’t really hate rain. I hate my hair.

To be perfectly honest, I like rain. As long as it’s warm. A good warm spring rain. It’s good for puddle hopping, and it’s good for the environment, too. It’s not really good for my sinuses, but it helps the kids sleep well. So I can live with it.

This month, Melissa (Simply Sweets by Honeybee) and I chose to use spring rain as our inspiration to make some cookies. Specifically April Showers.

April Showers Umbrellas (Ellie's Bites)

I made some rain splatters and some umbrellas (to keep our hair as frizz free as possible).

I don’t actually have an umbrella cookie cutter, but I realized that you can make an umbrella out of just about any shape! A raindrop, a circle, or a square. The best part, is that if you own the sets of graduating cutters in these simple shapes, you can make them in any size!

April Showers Cookie Cutters

I didn’t make an umbrella tutorial, but it is fairly straight forward.

April Showers- Inspiration Challenge (Ellie's Bites)

Cut out and bake your shape. Outline the top half of the cookie and decorate it in the umbrella pattern of your choice. Let this half dry for a while. Then outline and flood the bottom half in white. Let the whole thing dry for several hours or overnight. To make a stormy sky background on the white half, cover the umbrella half with a paper towel and spray the white with Wilton’s silver color mist. Be a bit heavy handed (although it goes against your instincts). Before the alcohol evaporates and the color dries, use a paper towel or a clean paint brush (that you only use for food) to wipe parts of the color away in streaks. After that dries, outline and detail your umbrella top and add a handle with grey piping icing. When the handle dries, you can use a bit of silver luster dust mixed with vodka to paint the handle and make it pop.

Speaking of heavy-handed, I may have gone a little overboard with Picmonkey’s photo editing options! I had a lot of fun making my cookies look “stormy”. Here is a straight out of camera version.


Now, go check out Melissa’s cookies at Simply Sweets by Honeybee. They are so perfectly spring rain like!

So, we are nearing the end of our year long inspiration project. May marks our twelfth project and we thought it might be fun to take some risks. Is there a set of cookies that you have been wanting to make, but you’ve held back because you were afraid? Maybe a character or theme that you’ve been wanting to cookify, but you didn’t have a specific reason and you felt it was too intimidating to try only for fun? Here’s your reason! Next month, May, we are going to face our cookie fears. Make that set that you didn’t think you could. Then share it.

Until then, don’t forget to stop by The Cookie Puzzle everyday in April. Say “hi” to Kim and when you can, share a few posts. Help spread awareness for autism.

Inspiration Challenge: March {Spring Is In The Air}

Hey… wait. Where did February go?

I know the groundhog said there would be an early Spring, but I didn’t think it was possible to make a whole month actually disappear!

We didn’t get much snow here in New Jersey again. I’m sorry Midwest. I really don’t mean to rub it in. A bit of snow would have been nice, especially since I actually bought the kids snow suits and boots this year.

Anyway, it won’t be too long before we can go back outside to play. And the playground!

There is one sure way to know that spring is in the air around my house. You look for something else in the air:

Bubbles (Ellie's Bites)

My kids are OBSESSED with bubbles. In warmer weather we can go through a bottle a day. Since Ben actually thinks he is Willy Wonka, his favorite thing to do is chant “Bubbles bubbles everywhere, but not a drop to drink” while his sister blows bubbles into the air.

Once again, and I’m sorry, I don’t have a tutorial or even multiple photographs. If you do have the desire to make these, I can tell you that the bubble wand is a baby rattle with the little bumps on the side cut off. The bubble bottle is my latte cup cutter ( a gift from my friend Kim at The Cookie Puzzle who knows how to combine coffee and cookies- my two obsessions!). I know I have to get on the ball and get some tutorials out there. I lost my daylight working hours again and I haven’t had a chance to look for a light box.

My friend, Melissa, however MAKES tutorials. Not only does she make them, she records them and shares them on YouTube! She is awesome and she made the most AMAZING “Spring is in the Air” cookie. The way her mind works just stops me in my tracks. So head over to Simply Sweets by Honeybee and see for yourself. While you are there, you can link up your Spring is in the Air cookie.

Next month, we’ll be celebrating April Showers. Warmer weather, humidity wreaking havoc on royal icing again, allergy attacks. There is just so much inspiration to be found in THAT topic! lol.

So, what says “Spring is in the Air” to you?