Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sugar cookies for kids to decorate

  Sometimes I just want something easy to make.  And sometimes it works out that I have extra dough from a project I am making.  And that makes it a win-win situation. 

  My son had hockey pictures this past weekend.  The same weekend we made Reese cookies thingies, and Printed sugar cookies and gingerbread men cake pops. ( up next!)  So I wanted something special, but I also wanted quick.

  So here it is, something you can do quickly and let the kids decorate while you watch TV and eat a few cookies.  Not like I did that, nope, I just ate one cookie.

  So these are like any other simple sugar cookie. Just pick a shape, cut and bake.  Then when cooled, ice them with glaze icing.  I make my icing whiter with Americolor soft gel paste in white.  It really makes a difference for when you are drawing, the colours will pop more.  I also make sure to let them dry over night, so when you colour you are less likely to push the pen through the icing.


  Now just to let you know that I wanted to be doubly sure that they were dry, so I aimed our fan at them over night and they were perfect.  I then let my kid go to work, with Americolor pens and told him, again, not to press too hard.  He made a bunch of different things, hockey men, smiling suns, and some things I could not figure out.  We did this last year for his yearly check up with his surgeon.  The staff each got their own cookie, with a one of a kind design.

Working hard.  He was mad, the red pen ran out, oh the horror!

This was his first one, a summer scene, I did not have the heart to tell him it is now winter.
   To make them a little more colourful I give them a boarder.  I used to try and pour the sprinkles over the wet boarder but I found that the ink would catch some of the sprinkles.  So I had to pipe my boarder then pick  up the cookie and sort of roll the edges in the sprinkles.  It won't be perfect, but you can always say that your kid did the sprinkles.  And then they will think your kid is gifted.  See, that is how you parent!

You don't have to use coloured icing as it won't show through the sprinkles, this is just the colour  I had left over.  On the other hand if you want colour but don't want to buy lots of  different sprinkles, just use a coloured icing and white sanding sugar.  The colour will show through.

See?  Sprinkles make everything better!

Just a few of his works of art, those ones on the top left are hockey guys, the rest, well mostly people and squiggles.

These were so small I was able to just use cake pop bags.
  I just let them dry a few hours then popped them into cake pop bags, tied them with curling ribbon and they were good to go.  Each kid got their own, and my son was very proud.

  I am so sorry I did not get the picture of the one he made for the Cake Boss, he drew a cake and wrote his name.  So cute.

 These would be great for a craft at a party or as a gift, with some edible pens.  You can get Wilton brand at Michael's, and with a coupon not too costly.  I like Americolor better, only because they have a finer tip.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I love grocery shopping! And my two amazing finds.

My son with the Heart trophy.

  So this is a pointless post, but I just had to share to two amazing things I found at Wal mart.  I know stupid maybe, but I squealed like a girl ( which I am) really loudly in the store when I saw these.

  But first to make it worth while for you to be here, there is a super cute picture of my son from his hockey fun day today.  He had a skills competition and did really well.  I love how cute he is in his huge hockey jersey.  It was so big I had to put grommets in it so we could tie it up. So funny.

  Anyway, on to the two newest amazing things ever, or at least until I go shopping again.  I love the holidays because Wal mart always sets up their holiday section with all the special candy, and I could spend hours there.  So when I found this I seriously squealed.

You read that right, it is half a pound!  It is bigger than my hand people!
   I don't know what the heck I am going to do with it, I mean it is as big as a small plate, and I could never eat it all.  But, in the name of all that is holy I had to have it. Hubby just rolled his eyes, he just doesn't get it.  Why I married him, I'll never know.
And then the sky opened up and angels sang!
  Do you see that?  That right there is Chex Mix, you know, the cool party mix that all good bakers make for the holidays.  I have never, I mean never made this.  I have dreamed about it, and thought about it and really seriously looked at the Chex cereal, but never did it.  So when I saw this I was so excited.  It has to be good.

  I really think the stars aligned for me tonight, I think I may need to buy a lottery ticket.

  So thanks for indulging my silliness, and if you have any suggestions for what to do with that huge peanut butter cup, you let me know.  It could be like a contest, who has the coolest idea for the ginormous peanut butter cup.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Printed Sugar Cookies - Week 9 of the 12 Weeks of Cookies Blog Hop

I love these cups, my Aunt got them for me.  Oh and the cookies are super cute too.
  Have I mentioned before that I really like this blog hop thingy? It is really opening my eyes to a bunch of new ideas and great new blogs to read. I think that when I started this out I thought, I will never have anyone but family read this. (Hi Mom, Norma, Lynda and all the rest:) But I think that is the norm, unless you know other bloggers how are you going to get out there and share what you love? Well this hop has really helped and I think that I was just lucky to find it.

  Anyway for this weeks post, I am actually making a cookie. Are you amazed? I am, sort of. I actually wanted a reason to use my edible printer again so it all worked out.

  I wanted to make some really cute Christmas card like cookies, but I could not find any cute designs on google that would work. For some reason or another they would not enlarge without pixilating. And I have no idea what that really means, other than it looks blurry. Hubby tries so hard to work with me, but you know he is secretly thinking about killing me. Or something. Anyway I also did not want to pay for images. You can find many of them on line on places like Etsy.  But since these are just for me and work friends I wanted to keep it cheap.  So I found Tom Kat Studio.  I had read about them on a few other bloggers sites and never took a look until now. 

  Don't check them out right now, because you will be there for hours.  Finish this first then go look, it's only fair, you were here first.  Okay fine, but make sure you come back!

  Alright, so where were we?  Oh yeah cookies.  So I found the cutest printable and got Hubby to figure it out, and we printed them out on my edible printer.  Hubby was patient and got them as close to the size of my cookie cutter as he could.  I then cut them out and left them in the plastic bag the sheets come in so they would not dry out.

  I made a batch of I am Baker's  amazing sugar cookies.  I already posted the recipe here before.  They are to die for and so easy.  My only issue is spreading, which is not as bad as it used to be.  But I am finally going to use a trick I read about on many other blogs.  The latest is University of Cookie, and they explain it well.  Basically as soon as your cookies come out of the oven, use your cookie cutter and cut out the cookie again.  It will trim it up and leave you all these little cookie edges to eat.  Or if you save them, like I did, you can make sugar cookie truffles.  If they turn out I will post them for sure.

These are the cookies right after I used the cutter to trim them.  Once they cooled a bit the extra bits just pull away.
   So I baked my cookies and once fully cooled I mixed up a batch of glaze icing and set to work.  First with thick piping glaze you outline your cookie.  Then with flood icing you just fill it in.  This is the easiest part.  I made my icing white with Americolor soft food paste in white.  If you look at glaze it is white, but not a super bright white like I want, because it gives the perfect background for my printed sheets.
Outlined and ready to fill.

I didn't worry about air bubbles as they are all going to be covered.
   I let them dry over night, and the next day got to work putting the images on.

  I followed what I read up about on Sweetopia.  So I set up with my cookies, a small bowl of light corn syrup, a food only paint brush, my print outs and a wet cloth and a few paper towels.

  To start use your paint brush to brush a thin layer of corn syrup on top of the iced part of the cookie.  Use the damp towel to get any extra corn syrup off your fingers, then the paper towel to make sure your hands are dry.  They have to be dry or the icing sheet with tear.
These are all done, I love how cute the image turned out.
   Take the icing sheet and peel the backing off.  Then line up the icing sheet on the cookie and use your fingers to smooth it out.  Once you are done all the cookies you can start on your boarders.

  I think if you want a really decorative boarder you would need to use royal icing.  And one day I may be brave enough, but not today. So I made my glaze really thick and tinted it red with Americolor super red.
I used a Wilton #2 tip to pipe this boarder.
  I just did a thick line all the way around the cookie and then while it was still wet I took a dry food paint brush and used it to sprinkle red disco dust on.  Make sure that the rest of the cookie is dry or else you will have disco dust stuck everywhere. Once they dried out for a few hours I went back and used a clean dry brush to get off any extra disco dust.
This is just after I put the disco dust off, I let it dry for a few hours they brushed off the extra, there was disco dust every where.
  I think these turned out really cute, and it will work with any image.  Maybe you have family pictures for the holidays, how fun would that be.

  You could also write on these cookies and send a note or something cute.  Maybe even let the kids fill it out and leave it for Santa.

  I usually package these type of cookies in plastic bags tied with ribbon.
You can sort of see the disco dust, in person they really glitter.

These were small enough that I was able to use cake pop bags, much cheaper than the cookie bags I usually use.

* if you don't have a printer and I bet most don't, you can get sheets printed at most bakeries.  If they make image cakes they can do it.  Just be aware that they are charging a lot.  I did mention before that my printer was $35 and the ink was about $95, so if you plan to do this often it is cheap enough to buy.

I make some plain cookies with my extra cookies and decorations.
  Now I also had a few extra cookies and did not want to print out any more icing sheets. So I took a few left over decorations from my Reese cookies thingies and just stuck them on with some light corn syrup.  I then did  a plain red boarder and wrote something on them with Americolor pens. Just simple.  How cute would it be to make gift tags?

Gift tag cookies would be so cool.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's Tradition, The old boxed Gingerbread house

Just like every year!
   So every family has traditions, some are really cool and sentimental. Some are just dorky and some just make you wonder why, every year you bother.  (I'm looking at you Mom, buying fruit cake every year, that no one eats!)

  Anyway I started a small tradition with my son when he was 2 I think.  I would buy him one of those pre baked gingerbread houses and either Hubby or I would help him decorate it.  I really did not care what it looked like, or the fact that he ate a bunch of pre made icing.  it was fun and he was so proud of it.

  So every year we do some version of it.  One year my sister even got him an Easter one.  And my son and I then had this conversation, keep in mind he was like3 or 4.

Me: I really like your house, what are those two bunnies doing? (there were two jelly bean like bunnies)
Son: they are having Sexy Time. ( with a strait face, I kid you not!)
Me:....................( I mean really, what would you have said to that?)

  So thanks dear sister for turning my sweet little man into a "sexy time" talkin kid.  Wow that is the thing traditions are made of.
Pointing out the coconut snow.

  Anyway, back to Christmas.  I usually try to get the house kit on sale or with a coupon, you know because it never gets eaten and sits out for over a month.  I scored this year, I got this huge kit for $5.  Not too shabby people!

 So I like to clear off the dining room table as best I can, set out all the stuff that comes with the house and let my son get to work.  He usually likes me to put the icing on and he takes a swipe with his finger, licks said finger then puts on a candy.  Lather, rinse, repeat and by the time diner rolls around you have one sugar high kid. 

  This kit was really complex with a tree and men and everything.  Which is sort of cool, but stupid at the same time.  Why the heck I thought more things to put together was a good idea I will never know.  Oh well.
Can you see what he is going, eating icing that's what.

  Anyway my son went to town and was so proud of his house.  I laugh because he makes sure I know that it has to stay out until after Christmas and all the family has seen it.  My concession is I get to take a picture with him in front of it every year.  Goodness he is cute.  Well to me at least.

  Anyway, do you have any family traditions that you love?  Hate?  Wish your mom would stop getting that darn fruit cake?  Let me know, it's always neat to hear about new traditions.
Ready for Santa's approval.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Reese stuffed Oreo's and meeting the Cake Boss

Nothing better than chocolate and more chocolate.
   Have you ever just seen something on line and thought "I need that, now!" I mean other than shoes and cute purses, you  know food wise.

  Well I have, and it happens on a daily basis, so it seems I am going to have to bake 30 different things every day to even make a dent in my to do list.  Which sort of puts me a little behind right, oh well.  I will live to be 300 and then I will be done.  Maybe.

  So anyway, when I saw these on Cookies and Cups I was almost drooling on the keyboard.  Thank goodness for my self control.  What? I have some, really.  If you will notice she posted this a little while ago. And I am just getting to them now.  So there!

  Well I knew this would be perfect for me.  I had a bunch of peanut butter cups, thanks Halloween, and Oreos.  I don't really eat Oreos but I had bought some to dip in chocolate a month or so ago when they were on sale.  And like most things I forgot about them.

  So I decided to make them because they would be so cute decorated for Christmas right? And it would let me use my new fondant cutters to make decorations for them.  See? That is how you justify buying fondant cutters when you don't even use fondant.

  Sigh, my mind works in very different ways.

  So to start I planned this out, and I usually do plan out my baking so I can do a little each day.  I got my fondant ready.  And by ready I mean I mixed half fondant and half gum paste together. I got this idea from Sweetopia.  She said it makes for a harder drying decoration, and I like the taste. 

Dry Gum paste, ready made fondant and the little shaker thingy I use to sprinkle icing sugar while I roll out my stuff.
 So I mixed up my fondant in green and blue using Americolor soft gel paste.  I wear these cheap plastic gloves so the gel doesn't stain my hands.  Once it is all mixed in you can take the gloves off.  I use this sprinkle tin I got in the dollar area of Micheal's, and it works great to put just a bit of icing sugar down.

I use cheap plastic gloves to mix in my gel paste colour, saves your hands from all the colour.

  So I did that, then set up my table with sheets of waxed paper, and then got all my little fondant thingies out. Then I had to set up for my son so he could make his own "eating play doh" to work with me.  He ate most of his and made some things.  He was occupied for about 40 minutes, which is good, it gave me enough time to get my stuff done.

  I rolled my fondant mix out thin and then used these great fondant cutters.  I love that they not only cut but they emboss the cut out.  So I used my holly leave and made like a million leaves then put them on a wax paper sheet to dry out for a few days.  Then I rolled out my blue fondant and did the same with my snow flake cutter.  I love how they turned out, and my kid snuck a few to eat.  Weirdo that he is.

These cutters are great, you first cut out the shape, then with the shape still inside you push the plunger to emboss it. Then pick up the cutter and push the plunger to get the shape out.

The one on the left is not embossed, just cut.  Sorry for the bad picture.

  And now for some cute pictures.

He needed a bit of each colour, and I think he used half of them, he ate a lot though.

I just put out all my tools for him and he goes to work, keeps him busy and lets me do my thing.

This is what my son made, that pile of orange poop, he said it was a cross.  Don't judge, he knows his shapes I swear.

  Anyway, I was going to make tiny little red circles or roll balls, but seriously how long would that have taken me?  Too long, so I had these large circle sprinkles and I spent like half an hour picking out all the red ones.  Not one of my smartest ideas, but you know, it worked, and I guess technically, it was faster.

  I let them set for a few days, I wanted them hard so they would be easy to work with.

  When I was ready I got to work making the cookie thingies.  You can make as many or as little as you want.  On the other blog she used double stuffed, which I bet would be way better.  But I was cheap and had only bought the regular oreos.  ( just a note, I bet fudge cookies would be really good too!)
My cookies were really warm, so with a knife they came apart really easily.
  So I took the oreos and pulled them apart.  And I had a hard time because I am Oreo impaired.  So I used a knife to sort of cut the one wafer off.  I will keep these plain Oreo halves as I have some plans for them.  But you could also save them for making a crust for a cheesecake or whatever.

I got 15 Reese sandwiches out of one bag of Oreos.
  Then I did what I was told on Cookies and Cups and sandwiched the Reese cup, which I had unwrapped, in between two of the Oreo halves.  Then I put them in the fridge while I tidied up, just to let them set up a bit.

  I used candy melts of coarse because I love how easy they are to work with.  I think you could use holiday colours and it would be so neat.  But I'm too lazy for that.  Anyway melt your chocolate and then dip the cookie thingies and put them on wax paper to dry.
I let them dry before I decorated them.
  Now to decorate you could dip a cookie then put the decorations on, but that seems like it would slow me down.  So I dipped them all, then put on the fondant decorations.  I used a small plastic bottle to put dots of melted chocolate on the cookie and then placed the decorations.  And voila, there you have it.
Very festive, and they are big so you won't need many.
   I usually make nut free things for most things because hubby is allergic and then most schools and such do not want anything with nuts.  So if you are doing these, do not use the left over melted chocolate for anything else.  It is worth it to just toss it to be on the safe side.

  Now if you don't really have the time to make decorations, which I will totally understand, just use sprinkles.  Seriously that would have been a good idea, but you know I had to justify the fondant cutters.

  They were really good and I really like how cute they looked.

  So on top of this all I wanted to share our pictures with the Cake Boss.  We waited over 2 hours to meet him today.  My son made him a cookie and Buddy said he would be eating it on the bus after the show.  How sweet is that?  Anyway just wanted to add the pics to share. It was a rushed signing because there were hundreds of people.  But he was very nice and signed our books, shook our hands and thanked my son for the treats.  How fun!

Telling Buddy that he made the treats for him.

Buddy saying thank you for coming.

 Up next some super cute sugar cookies.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mudslide cupcakes in a jar - week 8 of the 12 weeks blog hop

These are the perfect portable treat!  Oh and there is booze in there!

  So I am really enjoying this blog hop. I have been so lucky to be able to join, even though I have not made a cookie yet.  I hope this week is no different because I have been wanting to make these for a very long time.

  I first saw the cupcake in a jar on Glorious Treats and was smitten with them right away.  I did attempt them once, and it did not end well.  I bought the wrong size jars and didn't figure it out until I went to put my cupcakes in the jars.  Sigh; I was upset, but not upset enough to not make them.  They tasted great, looked bad, and I ended up with about 2 dozen jars and no reason to use them.  I did eventually figure out that the jars were perfect to put itty bitty cookies in.  So I was really just being prepared for making little jars of cookies.  See I am smart.

Any guesses as to the secret ingredient?

  Anyway, on with the treat for today. I had been thinking about what I could make that was different and sort of sinful and you know, over the top.  Then it hit me, Mudslide Cupcakes.  My theory being that a mudslide is decadent and chocolaty and full of alcohol.  I was so excited because I had a bottle of Irish cream in the pantry.  But like every other bottle of liquor in my home, it was old.  But I figured it would still be good, it's alcohol, that doesn't go bad right?  Well I was wrong, it was past due, a year past due.  What kind of person lets liquor go to waste like that?  Well I do, we got lots of stuff when we first got married and the first few years after.  But we are not drinkers.  Not because we are against it or anything, we just don't drink. Hubby will have the rare beer now and then.  I used to, trust me Hubby has a few stories he could tell, but he won't.  If he knows whats good for him.  Anyway my plan was almost lost, but I decided that this blog could not go on without some sort of booze, so I made the hubby go with me and I got another bottle, a smaller bottle. But still, I got booze!

I used a little bit of milk, like 1/4 cup, then 2 TBS vanilla bean paste, and the rest was Baileys. Lot's and Lot's of Baileys.

    So to start I bought the right jars this time, the little ones, and washed and dried them. Then I got to making the cupcakes for them.  I used a cake mix.  Again.  I know.  But I like the texture and I really wanted to use what I had on hand.  So I had box mix and worked with it.  For each jar you need 1 1/3 cupcakes.    I baked them in wrappers because if you don't then you have to grease and flour a muffin tin and then you have to wash it after.  So, your welcome, cupcake wrappers it is.

  I baked and cooled the cupcakes and then got to making the icing.  I had planned to make it with all Baileys, but that would have been wrong.  So I put in a little milk, just to make it not too boozy.  It turned out really boozy, but I don't think it's enough to get you drunk.  I mean I am still typing this after eating a cupcake right?  Well there was not as much icing on the cupcake as in the jar, so maybe don't drive right after eating this. (I am a cheap drunk)

Mudslide cream cheese icing
(I just sort of made this up as I went)

2 packages of cream cheese
1 cup butter
icing sugar*
2 TBSP vanilla bean paste or just vanilla
milk or Irish cream or half of each **
Irish cream flavouring to taste (if you are not using the real stuff, and if so replace the booze with milk)
1 cup chopped malted milk balls

*as much as you need to get the amount and consistency you need
** same as the icing sugar as much as you need

  Mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla bean paste until light and fluffy, then add a little milk.  I then added some icing sugar to thicken it up.  Now I just started dribbling in the Irish cream, and I put in a lot. I wanted the flavour to really come through.  I added enough to make the mixture really sort of thin, almost like tooth paste, then I just kept adding icing sugar until I made it thick enough to hold when I piped it.

  I had enough for 12 jars (I used 16 cupcakes) and I also had enough for 3 large cupcakes ( for me) and 2 dozen mini cupcakes to give to the elevator guys at work and there was still about 3 cups of icing left over.  So you can half this if you are making less, which is probably the case.  I just like to make lots then use the extra later, I froze it, so I can use it whenever I like.

  Then just to go over the top a bit I wanted to add some crunch, but not a lot of crunch, so I took some malted milk balls I had from Halloween and crushed them up .  I put them in a freezer bag and used my meat tenderizer to crush them, they where hard!

All set up to go, I made three at a time.

  To get set up, put your icing in a piping bag with a large star tip.  I use disposable bags, of course and I used a lager tip, the kind you would use to frost large cupcakes.  I cut my cupcakes and got my jars lined up to put them together. I worked 3 jars at a time

From the left, the first layer, then icing, then crushed milk balls.

  First put 1/2 of a cupcake into the bottom of the car, then pipe on a layer of icing.  Now you can sprinkle a little bit of the malted milk balls if you like, and I like, so I did.  Then put another 1/2 cupcake and repeat.  At this point depending on your jars you may put in another layer or stop now.  It's all up to you. I ended up putting 1/3 of a cupcake on for the 3rd layer. When you are done, make sure you make the top swirl of icing nice and sprinkle the malted milk balls to make it look like the top of a nice cupcake.
All done!

  Now a few things I found.  The tops of the cupcakes don't drop into the jar like the bottoms, just push it in a bit.  Then as you layer you may need to push down your cupcake layers to make it all fit in nicely.  No worries it works great.
All ready for the fridge, with a spoon tied on.

  Then you just put the lids on and they are done.

  I got a little crafty here, and made tags.  I used some of my scrap booking stuff to cut out two shapes.  I punched out flowers then some circles.

I used my die cutter and my sticker maker to make it easy to attach my tags.  I wrote with  a glitter pen.

You can either tie this on or make it easy and just stick them on the lid.
  Once you are done you can just leave them as is, or like I like to do, tie a spoon on with a ribbon.  Makes it the perfect one serving treat.

I had a few extra cupcakes so I made them for me to eat at home.  Also for the guys at work who are busy I made 2 dozen mini ones so they could eat them faster.  Also a little less booze so they can keep on working, just kidding not enough for regular people to get a buzz, just me!

  Now these need to be kept in the fridge due to the cream cheese.  They taste like a Baileys cheesecake, they are so rich and the little crunch of the malted milk balls really adds something.  I will make these again for sure!
  Hope you try it out and check out Glorious Treats, she had done a lot of different jar treats.