Snow Day ~ Giant Cookies

Like most of those on the NE Corridor, we are  in the midst of  snownami 2010, which equates to very excited little boys bouncing off the walls at 6 o’clock in the morning.  Good thing I’m a morning person!Anyway, in addition to the digging out and snow play that will be happening, one of my favorite things to do on a cold, blustery, wet, or otherwise nasty day outside is to bake.  It’s something that the kids enjoy doing with me, and, * BONUS *, you’re left with something yummy when all’s said & done.  Since I volunteered to bring something in for Wyatt’s pre-school Valentine’s party tomorrow, I was already prepared for some time in the kitchen. 

When  Jackson turned one last month, his birthday fell on a Wednesday.  To make it easier on everyone, we decided to have a brunch on the Sunday before to celebrate, complete with cake, ice cream, singing, etc.  That left us with the question of what to do on his actual birthday.  I didn’t want to do a whole other cake, but I also wanted to celebrate in some small way, too.  At some point I thought it would be fun to try making one of those giant cookies that you get at the mall.  It couldn’t be that difficult, right?  And my favorite go-to website for all things recipe-related, All Recipes, just happened to deliver on my search request of “giant cookie”

So, check out the link for the recipe, I won’t bother to re-post it here.  Be sure to check out the reviews for alternate ideas/tips.  I did take one person’s suggestion of baking it in a cake pan to achieve perfect roundness and even baking, but this does make it turn out more like a bar cookie than, well, a cookie-cookie.  Today, we are going to try out a heart-shaped variation, with my cool new heart-shaped silicon bake pan alá Targét.  I’ll try to post pictures when we’re done.  For now, here’s the Jackson version:

I have to say, it was super easy, and SO delicious!  I used a recipe I had on hand to make the icing, and pulled out my Wilton pastry tips, but honestly, store-bought frosting works just as well, if not better.  I tinted mine with some food coloring & piped it through a freezer bag with the pastry tip on the end. 

One more thing: you don’t need the icing, or an event for that matter, to enjoy these cookies!  If anyone tries them, I’d love to hear how they turn out.

******** Updated 2/14/10 *******  Here is our Valentine’s cookie:

We used candy hearts and “glued” them on with icing globs.  Too bad Wyatt’s party was cancelled due to the snow storm…. it totally sucked that we had to eat it ourselves…

Creative Eats and a Sale!

Today is Jackson’s 2 month birthday, and I’m finally starting to feel the stirrings of what seems like my creative itch returning.  Maybe it’s the promise of spring, and all things new.  Maybe it’s just that it’s been so long, that whatever it is inside of me that says I must make things simply cannot be squelched anymore.  I seem to be always full of ideas, but no time lately to give to creative ventures (at least not if I feel like sleeping!).  But I’m hoping that will all change with my budding motivation, and the Philly Etsy Team‘s new Thing-A-Week challenge (based on the slightly more commitment-intensive Thing-A-Day challenge).

Anyway, until that happens, most of my creative energy has been put into Max’s party and FOOD!  This is what I managed to get done:

Two flag/pennant banners as pictured hanging above Max for re-usable party decorations,

 

Double chocolate-raspberry birthday cake, as requested by the birthday boy.  I used a delicious chocolate sour cream frosting recipe, and the largest raspberries known to man for the decorations.  In the middle was a deadly but delicious raspberry cream layer.  Only 46 grams of fat per serving!

 

 

As promised 6 or so months ago, Bakerella‘s cupcake bites to bring to Max’s preschool.   Mine don’t look quite as refined as hers, but they still turned out ok… I didn’t have the right size cookie cutter, so I basically had to “sculpt” them by hand.  By the time they were covered in chocolate, they sort of lost their cupcake shape a little.   They didn’t last long, though, so they must’ve tasted good!

Also, since we’re on the subject of the coming spring, I’ve decided to do some spring cleaning in ye olde Etsy Shoppe.  There’s not much left in there, but if you include “spring cleaning” or a reference to this blog post in the notes to seller, I’ll give you 20% off everything in the store through the weekend.  Some of my listings recently expired, so if you’ve been eyeing something that you don’t see anymore, just ask- I might still have it, but  just didn’t relist it.

Speaking of weekends, have a great one!!

 

😉

A Hallowed Occasion

Well, we’re here, the big day.  I basically had one work week to pull the boys’ costumes together, and, although I was forced to use WAY more duct tape that I had hoped, I think they came out ok.  I think I mentioned before that Max wanted to be a robot.  I decided to stay away from the cardboard box look, although, in retrospect, it probably would’ve saved me a lot of time, aggravation, and money.  Do you know how difficult it is to find silver fabric?  Yes, it had to be silver.  The only thing I could find was this heavy, quilted fabric that I think is used for making things heat-safe.  I normally am very enthusiastic about Halloween costume-making, but I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a project more.  This stuff was such a P.I.A. to work with, and made a complete mess that it sucked all my enthusiasm very early on.  At least if he has a meltdown, we know he won’t combust.  I just kept picturing his beaming, proud face once he got to put the whole outfit on & show everybody, and it made it all worth it.  We got a battery operated LED light for the front panel, which Max could hardly contain himself over, and, as a surprise, LED Christmas lights to go around the edges.   Here he is, my little robotic oven mitt:

 

This shot shows his lights a little better.  I love the look on his face:

Wyatt’s costume, on the other hand, was almost too easy.  After much hemming & hawing over whether he would be a garden gnome or Frankenstein, Frankie won out:

 

 

All I had to make was the mask.  I got his jacket from a local thrift store (I think it might be for a girl- shhh) and dyed it dark blue, since it was originally heather gray which just didn’t seem fitting for a proper ghoul.  It’s just a wee bit too small, but it said 3T!  Oh well, hopefully he’ll at least keep the mask on long enough to get some good loot.

 

I made some delicious eyeball treats for Max’s school party, courtesty of Bakerella‘s cake pop recipe.  I couldn’t get the chocolate coating nearly as smooth as she does, but I think it kind of added to the creepiness of them.  I added red food coloring to the insides for extra grossness, and “painted” the irises & pupils with tinted melted chocolate.  Hopefully the pre-schoolers won’t be too traumatized to eat them.  They were fun to make, and absolutely delicious:

Waiting...

Waiting...

All Dressed Up for the Party

All Dressed Up for the Party

 

 

I hope everyone out there has a fun, safe, and Happy Halloween!  😛

Sick of cupcakes yet?

Hey, thanks to my purchasers of the cupcake pin cushions!  I hope to get some more listed by the end of this week- you guys rock!  Ok, so, I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed, but I am noticing a definite trend here….  This is part of what I sent to  Joanna, one of my Pay It Forward recipients:

 

In addition to a few things for her, I made two apron sets, one for each of her girls.  Please ignore all of the wrinkles!  I didn’t exactly follow any instructions to make the apron, but there is a tutorial posted on Block A Day if you’d like to give it a try (I simplified a bit).  It’s fully reversible, and, not that I have pictures of the backside, but it sort of has a Holiday flava…

I had fun making all of the baked goods (you can kind of see the backside in this pic- again, ignore those wrinkles!):

They’re all Wyatt-approved (and luckily still drool-free).  I wouldn’t let him near the ones with the tiny beads, though.  I may make a few sets for the shop, since the kidlets seem to like them as play food, and in this age of lead-painted toys,  sometimes handmade is better…

Anyway, for some more linky-love, I just have to share this tutorial I found from Bakerella.  It’s for cupcake pops!  Apparently, Nickelodeon has a website: giveback.parentsconnect.com. For every back-to-school tip or recipe you give, they’ll make a donation to Feed the Children’s Kid’s School Basics Program. You can leave tips through September 25th. And if you do leave a tip, be sure to say so in the comments on this postat Bakerella, because you could win some goodies!  I haven’t left a tip yet, but I’m planning on it.

Photo courtesy of Bakerella

Photo courtesy of Bakerella

Her cupcakes are true works of art, but the pops were even featured on a Martha Stewart segment (you can watch it here— take a peek if you want to hear Martha use the word “terd-like”- funny!) I am SO making these for Max’s birthday this year!

Lazy Cookies and the Best Dang Chicken I Ever Made

I used to enjoy cooking a lot more.  I’d find exotic recipes that sounded interesting & delicious, and maybe have a few oddball ingredients, like coconut milk or something, but that didn’t deter me.  Sometimes these dishes would take a couple hours to prepare. In a way, it was fun to make a mess of the kitchen, all for the sake of trying something new.

Then I had kids.

For obvious reasons, I don’t quite have the time that I did in the past to devote to culinary exploration.  That, and there’s usually at least one little person hanging on an extremity while trying to cook over a hot stove.  Not to mention, they just don’t care that freshly shaved ginger root adds a much better flavor than the powdered alternative.  It’s just yucky.

So began my quest for quick and easy, stripped of all flavor, get it on the table before someone has a meltdown, meals.  Usually our repertoire consists of spaghetti, breakfast for dinner (brinner if you watch SCRUBS), fish sticks, and fries.  Anything else at this point is a crapshoot.

Most nights I don’t plan ahead, and last week I had some chicken that I was clueless as to what to do with it.  Something made me look on the back of my box of cornstarch, and I saw a recipe for “Crispy Fried Chicken”.  Now, usually I steer away from any recipe that has more than, say, five ingredients, because nowadays our pantry is usually pretty bare, and I just can’t be bothered (yes, I am lazy like that).  While this recipe breaks my 5 ingredient rule, I think I was intrigued by the claims of “crispy”, since I’ve never really mastered the breaded chicken thang.  I scanned the recipe, and thought, “This is never going to work, how do you get crispy fried chicken from a mushy mess of glop?”  But, do you know what?  It worked, and it was awesome!  Even the kidlets ate it, and they are chicken nugget elitists.  So here, friends, is the recipe, from my box of corn starch:

12 precut chicken pieces                1/4 tsp black pepper

1 egg                                               1/4 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp vegetable oil                           1/4 c water

2 tsp soy sauce                                1/2 c all purpose flour

1 tsp salt                                          1/4 c corn starch

1 tsp sugar                                       1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp poultry seasoning                vegetable oil

Wash & cut chicken.  Mix together egg, 2 tsp veg oil, soy sauce, salt, sugar, seasoning (I used fajita seasoning), pepper & garlic powder in a large plastic freezer bag.  Put chicken in the bag & shake, coating each piece. Place bag in fridge for 1 hour.  Add water to chicken.  Mix flour, corn starch, and baking soda together and then place the mixture into the bag with the chicken.  Shake the bag, again coating each piece (this is the globby mess I was referring to).  Heat oil in skillet & fry pieces until light golden brown, turning occasionally.  Drain on paper towels.  Enjoy the awesomeness

 

 

Another favorite of mine I have come to refer to as “Lazy Cookies”.  We just made these yesterday, and I have to say, this recipe even surpasses my 5 ingredient rule by only having 3 ingredients.  And clean-up couldn’t be easier.  As long as you like/can eat peanut butter, this one is a no-brainer:

1 egg

1 c sugar

1 c peanut butter

Beat egg & sugar together until smooth, add peanut butter & mix.  Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet about 2″ apart, and flatten with a fork.  Bake at 375 for 10 minutes until golden brown.  Makes about 2 dozen.  Yummy!

 

We just happened to have white chocolate chips on hand, so we threw them in, too.  Talk about instant gratification- these were so easy & delicious, and were done fast enough that I was able to keep the wee ones distracted while they baked. 

Cookies + super easy = WIN/WIN

 

 

Preparing for Easter

One of the many treats we’re having for the Easter holiday this year is birds’ nests– these are so fun & easy to make with the kidlets, and I think they look great.

Basically, you just melt chocolate chips in the microwave, then stir in a package of chow mein noodles until they are totally coated.  Then, you scoop & form little “nests” onto waxed paper & wait for them to harden completely.  Once they’re dry & hard (that’s what she said), you “glue” the eggs in with peanut butter.

I personally like to use the Cadbury Mini-Eggs, because they’re sooo delicious, and they look most like the real thing, but I’ve seen people use jelly beans, jordan almonds, malted milk eggs, or even yogurt raisins.  The only think I might change about the process is the peanut butter- it’s ok, but it sometimes shows around the edges, & doesn’t always stick as well as you need it to…. I think using a little bit of melted chocolate as glue instead could resolve this problem- you’d just have to melt it in small batches so it doesn’t cool too fast.

What holiday treats are you making this year?