Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gingerbread House

 Every year during the holidays, I bake a gingerbread house and decorate it with lots of different candy. These are pictures of the gingerbread house I made last year. I made the typical royal icing that I use to decorate sugar cookies with, but found it to be much too thin. I thickened up the icing by adding an extra cup and a half of icing sugar and it was much easier to work with.

For the gingerbread, I used the Gingerbread Snowflake recipe from my Martha Stewart Cookies

To keep things simple, I place gummy bears and gingerbread people in little groups around the house and a few trees here and there to fill up the extra space on the icing covered cakeboard I used as a base.

I used candy coated chocolate which look like rocks (found at my local bulk food store) to form a path to the door of the gingerbread house.  I piped green icing stars onto jujubes and used them as bushes. The snowman is made of gingerbread as well. I was sure to roll a few pieces of gingerbread dough into little balls and baked them along with the gingerbread house, so that I could cover them with white icing and form a snowman.

Overall, this is a simple gingerbread house, but I had a lot of fun baking and putting it together.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Family Cookbook

Although many recipes can easily be found on the internet, they may not be the exact same as the ones "mom" used to make. With the holidays around the corner, it would be a great time to collect those amazing family recipes and put them into a Family Cookbook.

There are so many family recipes from my childhood that I would love to be able to re-create for my own children. I know my sisters would also love to have the precise recipes for the coconut waffles, butter tarts and other treats which bring back so many memories.

The Family CookBook Project makes it easy to preserve and share all those special recipes. It regularly $99 to create a Family CookBook, but available for only $39, while quantities last! Check out the details below.  Happy Creating!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Straight Talk-The Perfect Plan to Save Money on Your Cell Phone

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Straight Talk for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Sunflower Cookies

Sunflower Cookies by the hundreds! I made these for my friend's wedding and at first, I had trouble finding a Sunflower Cookie Cutter. However, there was one in my Wilton 101 Piece Cookie Cutter Set all along! I just didn't realize it, because it had so many petals. I ended up piping out all the petals using Wilton tip #30 and the sunflower cookies turned out to be quite pretty. Next time, I would probably try harder to find a cookie cutter with only 6 to 8 petals as it would have saved a lot of time.

I was hoping to make Sunflower Cupcakes to go with the sunflower cookies, but did not have enough time. I'll have to try making the sunflower cupcakes for another occasion. I probably wouldn't have had enough counter space for everything either! I had to put a lot of the cookies on my kitchen table to dry overnight.

At first I thought that the cookie on the left looked nice and rustic, but decided that the brighter sunflower on the right would be nicer. The sunflower cookie on the left was my first attempt at mixing the yellow shade that I thought would look best. However, it had a little too much copper in it. In my opinion, both look nice. The shade you would want to go with just depends on what you prefer. The final mixture of icing (pictured on the right) contained 1 part copper, 3 parts lemon yellow and 1 part daffodil yellow. To get the color on the left, I used 2 parts copper, 2 parts lemon yellow and 1 part daffodil yellow.

I used this sugar cookie recipe, 
Sugar Cookies

and this royal icing recipe,
Royal Icing

For the petal icing, I had to add extra icing sugar to stiffen the royal icing so that the lines on the petals would not run. I added one extra cup of icing sugar to start and then gradually added a little more until it was stiff enough to stay on the paddle attachment of my mixer when lifted out of the bowl. I had to be careful not to make it too dry and stiff. The icing should still be shiny, and if it gets too dry, just keep adding half teaspoons of water until it gets smooth and shiny again.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Caterpillar and Watermelon Sugar Cookies

Summer is almost over, but a fun way to remember all the fun times and welcome in a new season is to bake some sugar cookies! I made different sized circle shaped sugar cookies and cut a few of the larger ones in half before baking them.
So, with the half circles, I piped on some royal icing caterpillars and made watermelon slices. The caterpillars were pretty easy as I just piped circles in different colors, one right after the next. Then when the icing dried a bit, I used a black edible ink marker to draw on a little eye and some antennas. Of course, the caterpillars can be made in a combination of any colors, bright, pastel, rainbow.......whatever matches your theme or mood.

For the watermelon slices, I simply piped on a green half circle, then flooded the rest of the cookie with red icing. Next, I put some black icing dots on it and used a toothpick to pull the black circles out to make them look like seeds.

I also made some square shaped cookies, put green icing on them and sprinkled sanding sugar onto them. Those were a lot of fun to eat, because they were nice and crunchy and looked a bit like grass!

These cookies would be perfect for a picnic, barbecue, garden party, summer get together or even a Hungry Caterpillar themed party.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Saving Money Using Straight Talk

This post brought to you by Straight Talk. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Straight Talk is a great cellular phone provider that helps cut your cell phone costs in half. That makes for a lot more money left over to buy baking supplies. At least, that is definitely what I would do with the savings! What would you use the savings for? Straight Talk has unlimited monthly plans which cost only $45 per month and include calls, text messaging, picture messaging and web. If everything you need is included, what more can you ask for? You can call a friend to get that recipe you have been wanting to try out! Also, there aren’t any activation, reactivation or termination fees. Low rates are also available for international calling so you don't have to be afraid to  call anyone you want, even if they live far away.

With Straight Talk, 411 calls are included at no extra cost, and you don’t have to sign a contract as you do with many other companies. You get nationwide coverage and can choose from quality brand name phones and even reconditioned phones starting at only $10! Smart phones with touch screens, app capable, with such features as voice navigation, camera, video recorder and music player are just some of the choices available.

These days, mom knows best not only  when it comes to the kitchen, but cell phones too! 

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Party Cookies

I made these fun party cookies for a 2nd birthday party. They are sugar cookies in the shape of party hats, cupcakes and tiered cakes. I decorated them with royal icing and Sanding Sugar.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Flower Cookies

I made flower cookies for a summer barbecue using the daisy flower cookie cutter from my Wilton 101 piece cookie cutter set. They turned out to be almost 4 inches wide which is a bit larger than the cookies I usually make. I originally wanted to make traditional yellow sunflowers, but decided to make pretty pink flowers with a bit of purple to accent them. I already had the white and green circles for the center of the cookie which I made using royal icing.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Soft Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

I made these soft gingerbread cookies for a summertime birthday party instead of the usual decorated sugar cookies that I always enjoy making. They smelled so good and made it feel like the winter holidays.

I have noticed that some people prefer soft gingerbread cookies, while others prefer crispy gingerbread, so make sure to have both types within each batch. It is quite easy to make them soft or crispy depending on how thick or thin you roll the cookie dough and also how long they are baked for.

For the dough, I use this perfect gingerbread cookie recipe from Martha Stewart: Gingerbread Snowflakes
I use it as both my soft gingerbread cookie recipe and my crispy gingerbread cookie recipe.
For the icing, I used this Royal Icing Recipe.

I usually don't cut out large cookies such as the ones the recipe indicates so I usually get about 40 cookies instead of 16. The cookies I make tend to be in the 3 to 4 inch range.

Using the Martha Stewart gingerbread cookie recipe, I end up with 3 disks of dough so I bake each one separately. I roll out the first disk to 1/4 inch thickness, cut out the shapes and bake according the instructions from the recipe. For the second disk, I roll it out just a tad thinner, cut out the shapes and bake it for about 2 minutes less. These turn out a bit crispier for those who like crispy gingerbread cookies. For the third disk, I roll the dough out just a bit thicker than 1/4 inch and bake it for 2 minutes longer than the original batch. These will produce soft gingerbread cookies for those who prefer them to be soft.

That is my easy way of getting crispy gingerbread cookies, soft gingerbread cookies and perfect gingerbread cookies all from mixing up one batch of Martha Stewart's gingerbread cookie recipe. Everyone gets the gingerbread cookie they prefer too!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monogrammed Cookies for a Communion

I made these monogrammed cookies for a communion. I mixed the round monogrammed cookies with decorated cross shaped sugar cookies. The colors for the communion were chartreuse and white so I tried my best to tint the royal icing the shade of chartreuse. It was a bit tricky because I had never made such a specific color before. I usually just make cookies any color that I mix up randomly. Luckily, I came across Sweet SugarBelle's wonderful royal icing color chart. For chartreuse colored icing, it said to mix 5 parts lemon yellow and one part leaf green, so I did. SugarBelle has many, many fabulous tips and is such a talented cookie decorator. I'm so glad I went searching for a way to make chartreuse colored icing and discovered her blog!

With my first attempt to make a "specific" icing color, I think it turned out quite well as my friend was happy with the results.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Butter Cookies

These are storebought butter cookies that come in a round tin. They are inexpensive and taste quite good. I used to eat them all the time as a child and haven't had them for many years, so I thought I would purchase a tin to snack on. I must say that they don't taste exactly the same as they used to, but I'm not sure if it is my tastebuds that have changed or the butter cookie recipe itself. One thing that is different is that the rectangular and the pretzel shaped cookies used to have coarser sanding sugar on them and now they have a finer sugar on them.

Friday, May 13, 2011

{} Home Bakery Bundle Giveaway

This post brought to you by Dr. Oetker. All opinions are 100% mine.

As much as I love baking, when it comes to pizza, I often go with the store bought frozen variety. It doesn't cost nearly as much as take-out and is so convenient to enjoy as a snack, easy lunch or dinner. I have tried making my own pizza before, but have always had an issue with the crust. It would either stick to the pan, be too crispy or just too soggy.

Fortunately Dr. Oetker has a new type of pizza now available at all major grocery retailers across Canada. It's called Dr. Oetker Panebello Bakery Crust Pizza  an   and for a pizza that is made with such high quality ingredients, it is extremely well priced at only $5.99 to $6.49. The crust is exactly what I have been looking for. It is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, just like fresh artisan bread you would get from a bakery.

 If you aren't too fond of making your own pizza or would simply like a break, there is a fabulous giveaway for the chance to win 1 of 5 $500 Home Bakery Bundles. Feel free to visit Home Bakery Bundle Giveaway and enter online between May 4, 2011 to June 13, 2011.

Each Prize Pack is worth $500 and includes:

- 8 Coupons for 2 of each of the new Dr. Oetker Panebello Pizza Varieties including:

  • Vegetables and GoatsCheese
  • CountryPepperoni
  • ClassicCanadian
  • Bruschetta

- 1 Breville Toaster Oven

- 1 Pair of Dr. Oetker Oven Mitts

- 1 Dr. Oetker Pizza Cutter

- 1 Williams-Sonoma Pizza Peel

*The contest is open to Canadian Residents Only.

Good Luck! 

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sparkly Springtime Butterfly Cookies

I made these shimmery, sparkly springtime butterfly cookies since the weather is warming up and it's so wonderful that the butterflies will be out and about soon.

I simply cut mini butterfly shapes out of sugar cookie dough, piped pink, orange and yellow royal icing onto them and dipped them in matching sanding sugar. I love decorating cookies with different colored sanding sugars, because it is such an easy and inexpensive way to make them so shimmery and pretty. They were so delicious and the sanding sugar (or as some may call it, decorating sugar) added an extra crunch to them!

Monday, April 25, 2011

10 Tips on Successful Cookie Decorating

I was decorating sugar cookies this weekend and noticed that there were many things that would help me improve when it comes to sugar cookie decorating. There are so many ways to decorate sugar cookies, but I usually use royal icing and sometimes sugar sprinkles too.

Here are 10 simple tips that I think would have helped me decorate the cookies I made this past weekend:

1. Plan out the design that will be piped onto the cookie ahead of time

2. Make a list of all the icing colors and approximately how much of each color you will need before tinting the icing

3. Have all the supplies you need, ready and in one spot

4. Have a clean spacious area where you will be decorating the cookies. For instance a kitchen table, or countertop

5. Clean as you go

6. Decorate the cookies with friends or family so you have some good company

7. Listen to your favorite music while decorating the cookies

8. Have a few pictures of cookie designs on hand for inspiration

9. Practice piping the cookie design onto parchment paper first

10. Relax and have fun!

Do you have any tips on cookie decorating? Please feel free to share them in the comments section.

Happy decorating!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Gluten Free Cupcake

When I hosted a birthday party and was planning out the food to accomodate a few people who were on a gluten free diet, I had come across a small obstacle when it came to the birthday cake. Since most people attending the party were not on a gluten free diet, I figured it was okay to get a regular cake. What about those who could not eat the cake though? Fortunately, the bakery where I ordered the cake from also made cakes that are gluten free, because I wouldn't know where to begin if I had to make a gluten free cake. I opted for a giant gluten free cupcake (a cupcake cake) that would serve 4 to 6 people which was perfect. The guests were all happy and everyone got to have some cake!

I didn't get a chance to try a piece of the gluten free cupcake, but heard it was delicious.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Which Type of Cookie Cutters are the Best?

Although, most Cookie Cutterswork well and serve their purpose of cutting shapes out of cookie dough, I feel that each different type of cookie cutter has it's own specialy quality.

Since I am a cookie fanatic, my cookie cutter collection has become quite large. I love to have cookie cutters of all different shapes and sizes. I used to buy the tin cookie cutters since they are more widely available in stores and economical at the same time. I also have some plastic ones from my Wilton 101-Piece Cookie Cutter Set. Then there are copper cookie cutters as well. My very first copper cookie cutter was in the shape of a star and was given to be by a friend. When I first saw it, I thought it was beautiful and shiny. I love using it because it is so sturdy, easy to wash, and will not rust at all. Of course, you can only make so many star shaped cookies. That's why I have added a few more copper Cookie Cuttersto my collection since then.

Here are some reasons why I like each type of cookie cutter and a few ways in which they differ from each other.

Plastic Cookie Cuttersare:

-Great for kids to use
-Good for cutting things other than cookies, such as cheese, sandwich shapes or cutting play dough shapes
-They are usually lower in cost and easy to find in stores
-Sometimes they don't cut as well and if you may end up with cookies with edges that are not really smooth
-Easy to care for, easy to wash and dry
-They can't rust!

Tin Cookie Cutters:

-Are easy to find in local stores
-They are affordable, so you can get lots of different shapes without spending too much
-They cut pretty well, but may sometimes rust if not cared for properly

Copper Cookie Cutters:

-Are really nice and easy to take care of
-They are sturdy
-They don't rust
-They cut really well
-Not as easy to find as plastic or tin cookie cutters, as they don't seem to be widely available in stores
-They cost more than the other types of Cookie Cutters

Overall, I can't say that any type of cookie cutter is better than another since they each have their good and not so good points. It just depends on what they are being used for and how often they will be used. Those are just some of my thoughts and opinions based on experience. Keep in mind that I only bake cookies as a hobby so if you have any advice, thoughts, or opinions, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Happy Baking!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cute Kids and Mini Teddy Bear Cookies

I made these cute cookies, both gingerbread and sugar cookies just for fun. I decorated them to look like a dressed up little boy and girl. I also made mini teddy bears to match.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bear Cookie Treats

I made these bear shaped cookies as an experiment. They are a somewhat healthy variation of the sugar cookies I usually make.

Instead of using butter and white granulated sugar, I replaced them with peanut butter and organic cane sugar. I rolled the dough out as I usually do and then cut them out into mini bear shapes.

I thought they would make a fun snack or treat for those who love to eat cookies.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Camoflauge Gingerbread and Sugar Cookie Men with Matching Gingerbread Dogs

I made these camoflauge gingerbread cookie men, sugar cookie men and gingerbread dogs for my brother in law's birthday. He loves to go hunting and has a dog so I thought it would be fitting to make camoflauge men and dog shaped cookies to go with them. Everyone ate most of the cookies before dinner, but my sister was sure to save the giant cookie men for them to enjoy later. I used the giant persson cookie cutter from my Wilton 101 Piece Cookie Cutter Setfor the big cookies and for the regular sized ones, I used the dog and regular size person from the same set.

I usually don't use such dark colors since I usually make bright girly cookies, but this was a fun experiment. My brother in law's eyes are blue and I had already mixed about six colors for these cookies so I took a shortcut and used my wonderful edible ink markerfor the blue part of the eyes. I just waited for the icing to dry and then drew on the blue parts.

I also used the same blue edible ink markerto monogram the dog collar with a D, which is the first letter of the dog's name. I kept the icing on the dog simple since it took so long to make the many many camoflauge cookies. I can't even remember how many I made! :) I was also thinking that some people may not like too much icing on their cookies and would enjoy these cookies as well. Apparently I was wrong, because this group loved for the sweet royal icing to cover the whole cookie!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sparkly Purse Shaped Cookies

I made these purse shaped sugar cookies for my friend's birthday. She absolutely loves sugar cookies with royal icing and her favorite color is purple so I thought I would make these pretty treats for her speical day.

I piped black royal icing onto the cookies and then let the icing dry overnight. The next day, I added purple icing designs to them and covered the wet icing in purple sanding sugar to add that pretty sparkle to them.

They would also make wonderful bachelorette party favors or girls night out cookies!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ice Cream Cone Cookies

These are some ice cream cone shaped sugar cookies that I made and decorated with royal icing. I thought I would have some fun and put sprinkles on them too. The colorful flowers are just royal icing that I had leftover. I piped the icing onto parchment paper in the shape of little flowers and let them dry (24 hours) before removing them from the parchment paper.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bright Butterflies

Since spring seems to be right around the corner, I thought I would share these bright and colorful butterfly cookies. They are sugar cookies decorated with royal icing.

The royal icing recipe I used can be found here and the sugar cookie recipe can be found here.

I noticed that using the best ingredients, such as real butter and a high quality vanilla will produce the best tasting sugar cookies. When I was a child, we always used grocery store bought vanilla and I could never really smell it after the cookies were baked.  I didn`t know the difference at the time, but after using Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla and some other premium varieties, the cookies were more fragrant and I could really taste the vanilla.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pinwheel Cookies

My friend had made the dough for these peanut butter pinwheel cookies before coming over, so all we had to do was shape the dough into 1' thick squares.

Then roll them each of them out onto parchment paper. The chocolate dough (below) was rolled over crushed peanuts.
We then placed the peanut butter dough over top of the chocolate dough.

Using the parchment paper, we rolled the dough into a log.

We trimmed the rough ends off each end of the log.

Sliced the log into 1/4 inch rounds and placed them each an inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Then we baked them.

Here they are, baked and ready to eat!

The chocolate peanut butter pinwheel cookies turned out very well. I am glad my friend chose to make these, because I have seen them before, but would not have attempted to make them on my own. It was fun and I can't wait to try experimenting with different flavors!
The full recipe can be found here.