Assemble The Minions!

So, my sister calls me and reminds me that I said I would make cookies for her son’s birthday. I love that she reminds me. This year, she said the theme was Minions. “The little yellow guys from Despicable Me?” I asked. She said that I could make purple ones, too. Not having seen the second movie, I was a little confused. Purple ones?  Needless to say, I did a lot of research the minute I got off the phone.

Minion CookiesNow, the design. Yes, having feet and arms would have been super cute, but also time consuming. I thought about all the cookie cutters I own and then it hit me… Larry. (Of course, I just had to Google his name “Veggie Tales cucumber”.) I had made these cookies previously for my sister. All I had to do was stretch out the ends of the cookie cutter a little. When I pressed out the cookies, all I had to do was cut them across the middle.

I can’t stress the importance of making royal icing ahead of time. I did mine a couple of days before. The reason is that the colors need time to develop. Also, if you know that you are going to be doing cookies with eyeballs, making icing early will give you time to make icing eyeball transfers. Luckily, I already had color eyeball transfers I had made previously from icing leftovers on another project.

Icing the cookies was fun. The purple minion’s hair and I never seemed to agree. I just chalk it up to everyone having a bad hair day.  I wanted the eyes to match the minions, so I used brown and purple eyeballs. The trim on the goggles I dusted with silver luster dust because I wanted it to stand out. I don’t know if the kids noticed, but I did. Enjoy.

p.s. Maybe, one day I will get around to watching the second movie. It’s pretty sad, considering that we own it.

 

Team Avatar

Avatar Cookies PlateOr should I say, “Team Boomer-Aang”? I had been wanting to make Avatar or Korra cookies for about a year. I just couldn’t decide on how I wanted to make them. Finally, I decided to make them using a stencil and my airbrush machine. I love my Silhouette Cameo. It cut out the stencils within a minute. Thus making this project super easy.

Avatar Emblem CookiesI made the stencils about 2.5″ in size, so the cookies had to be about 3″. I used a biscuit cutter for the round cookies and freehand cut the squares. I decided to airbrush on the four Element symbols (water, earth, fire, and air).

Avatar Oopsie CookieI wanted to show you the “oopsie” cookie. This is what happens when you accidentally move the stencil in mid-spray. Also, if you spray too much and the mist starts to bead up, it will form a droplet and bleed under your stencil. I found a trick to this. If I felt that I sprayed too much and a droplet would form when I lifted the stencil, I would lightly pat the spot with a dry paper towel. A Q-tip would probably work as well.

Overall, I would have to say that they turned out well. Now, to decide which element I should weld. Fire? Water? Of course, metal bending is pretty awesome! Enjoy.

Avatar: The Last Airbender and Korra can be seen on Nickelodeon.

Note To Self…Make A Half Batch Next Time!

Peanut Butter CookiesI was craving sugar, in cookie form. I thought about all the different kinds of cookies and what ingredients I had on hand. I thought, hmmm, I have not made peanut butter cookies in ages. So, peanut butter it was. Now, let me say that I have always made the dough, rolled it into balls, and squished them with a fork. Not this time. I used my handy dandy 2 tsp. scoop to do the job…and then I squished them with a fork. I am so glad I did not roll them out. The recipe card I wrote when I was a teenager stated that it made 3 dozen. Apparently, I used to make bigger cookies. When I finished scooping out all the dough onto the sea of parchment lined pans, I counted 88 cookies. By my calculations that is 7.33 dozen. With that being said, I ate peanut butter cookies every day for every meal for over a week.

I made about 4 dozen plain and then added mini chocolate chips to the rest of the dough. The consensus of the house was the plain tasted better. I guess I was craving chocolate at the time. Who knows. All I can say is when I was finished cooking all the cookies I immediately took a pencil and made a note on the recipe card of the updated amount it made. When I took pictures for this blog, I was trying to find the perfect backdrop to go with the cookies. When I found the multiple numbers, I said this is perfect. Hence, the title of this blog entry.

p.s. I learned a little in writing this blog. I was going to attach a link for the recipe. Because, let’s face it, everything is on the internet these days. I was looking up the name of the book and found out that Bell’s Best 2 was by “Telephone Pioneers of America Mississippi Chapter #36”. I had to call my dad and ask him where he bought the cook book. He informed me that the book was done in Jackson, MS and he said that one of the beekeeper’s wives was selling it, so he bought one. We were talking about how southern cookbooks, especially church cookbooks, have the best recipes. Then I told him that he should make sure that he kept that cookbook. He said, I think that I threw it away. I gasped. Hopefully, he is just kidding.

Peanut Butter_Chocolate Chip CookiesSo, I didn’t find the recipe to link. I am just going to have to type it out. Hopefully, I won’t get sued for posting it. Hopefully, you won’t be turned off by the cup of shortening. Since everyone has an aversion to shortening. The recipe was published in the 80’s. Everyone used shortening back then.

 

Peanut Butter Cookies
by Bell’s Best 2

1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup peanut butter
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
dash of salt

Mix & bake 375° for 10 minutes.
Makes about 3 dozen

I’m sure that the recipe did not say “mix & bake”, but that is what my recipe card said. Sorry, I was a lazy teenager.

First, I mixed the shortening, sugars, and peanut butter together. Secondly, I added the egg and vanilla and barely mixed. Finally, I added the dry ingredients and stopped my Kitchenaid when everything was incorporated. Also, I made 7.3 dozen.

So, there you have it. Peanut Butter Cookies…a lot of them. Enjoy.

 

Muesli Granola Cookies…”Good For You” Cereal You Want To Eat.

I find it funny and awesome that Target will clearance product just because they decide to change the packaging. Hence the awesomeness of me snagging quite a few boxes of their Simply Balanced Granola Cereal. I had all intentions of eating the several boxes of muesli, leaving my daughter the berry blend granola. But… it didn’t happen as planned. There was no way we could eat all of the cereal I had bought before they expired.

Granola Cookie DoughI didn’t want this healthy cereal to go to waste, so I thought about other ways to use it besides floating in milk. One idea that I thought about was oatmeal cookies  – with a twist. I went online and started looking at muesli and granola cookies, but most of the recipes were for making them from scratch with ingredients I don’t normally stock.  I finally found a few recipes that were closer to what I was looking for. My first attempt, while they tasted good, didn’t look so hot. They spread out and were as hard as rocks within 24 hours. I called my cooking adviser – my dad – and asked him what went wrong. He said there was way too much butter and no acid to make them rise… aka baking powder. So, I took my dad’s suggestions and made a ton of adjustments to the recipe. Basically, I had to make up my own recipe and hope for the best because that first batch was a flop and a waste of good ingredients.

Granola Cereal CookiesTake 2.  A few days after I baked the first batch, my daughter asked me where the rock-cookies went. She had been eating them in spite of the danger to her teeth.  I told her that I threw them in the garbage because she had eaten all of them that were edible. She asked if I could make more, so I did. This time they turned out perfect. I was so excited that I called my dad as soon as I ate one. I told him that he was a mad genius and the cookies turned out awesome with his suggestions.

Muesli Granola CookiesHere is the recipe for those of you that want to try to make them yourself…or maybe you have some “good for you” cereal lying around that needs to be used.

 

 

Muesli Granola Cookies
ASweetThingToDo.com

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/8-1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon honey (a drop)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
2 cups muesli/granola cereal

-Using the paddle attachment of your Kitchenaid, cream butter and sugars together, until light and fluffy. Add egg, water, and vanilla and mix until combined. In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon together. On low speed, add dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in cereal.
-Place cookie dough in refrigerator. While dough is chilling, preheat oven to 350°F. Using a 2 teaspoon scoop, place rounded scoops onto a parchment lined baking sheet. (Will fit 20 cookies on one full sized sheetpan.) You can chill the dough on pan in fridge again, if desired. Bake for 9:99-11:11 minutes. (Take out of oven before lightly browned and may still appear undercooked.) Cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes (will continue to cook without browning). Then fully cool by sliding parchment with cookies onto cooling rack.
-Makes ~70 (2 tsp.) cookies. Will use 4 baking sheet pans.

A few side notes about the recipe. Honey…you can omit if you want. I just put it in there because I saw it in so many of the healthier recipes. I figured a drop couldn’t hurt. Cinnamon…I don’t care for cinnamon and there is already some in the cereal anyway, so I omitted it. Granola/muesli…I used 1/2 cup of the berry blend granola and 1 1/2 cups of the muesli. As long as you have a total of 2 cups, I don’t think the amounts matter. (btw…I probably used half of a 15 oz. box.) The cooking time…pure laziness. I only want to press “Timer” and one other button. You can start at 9 minutes, if that makes you feel better, and watch it from there. Every oven is different…I don’t understand why, but they are. The scoop…mine is a 2 teaspoon scoop made by Oxo. It looks like a miniature ice cream scoop. I love love love using it for making cookies, especially chocolate chip. It is easy to use and you have uniform cookies. Also, They don’t spread into each other. Chilling the dough…I find that chilling the dough and pan helps mine stay thicker and not spread so much. Again, always optional. Enjoy.

Mario, Luigi, & A Few Items You Can Grab Along The Way.

My son decided that he wanted to have a Mario themed birthday this year. I had already done Mario cookies, so I was feeling pretty confident about making them again… and the cupcakes. The wheels in my head were turning and I started sketching out the cookies I wanted to do. I asked my son, “Of the one’s off this paper, which cookies do you want me to make?” Not a smart move.  He choose almost all of them. But, they were so cute that I kind of wanted to try them all anyway. Maybe that is why I wound up making too many cookies. I wanted to have enough of each character. If I only made one batch of dough, there would have only been about 6 of each character. I didn’t want to be the cause of some upset kid (or adult…lol) because someone ate all the stars and they didn’t get to have one. Anyway, I learned my lesson…152 iced cookies later.

Bowser Castle CupcakesSo, let’s talk cupcakes. I wanted the cupcakes to look super cool. I looked at a few ideas online, but most of them had characters on top of the cupcake. Which would have been pretty cool, but costly. Instead, another “that’s perfect” moment happened. I decided to do the end flagpole scene when you clear a course on a Super Mario game. It took me a couple of days to cut out, draw, and tape the cupcake wrappers. The flags I printed out and cut. Now, I know the flags are supposed to be triangle shaped, but because of size issues and the way they printed, I had to cut them as a rectangle. I still think they turned out awesome. Originally, the top of the flagpole was going to be a Lemonhead, but because of my son’s love for marshmallows, a new idea was born. We topped cakepop sticks with mini marshmallows and colored the sides with a yellow food marker. Genius, I tell you.

Mario Kart 8 CookiesOk, back to the 152 cookies. I had so many cookies that I had to be strategic on divvying up the icing into different colors. I made sure that I iced the had-to-do cookies first. That left the yoshi eggs and emblem cookies last.  I put disco dust on the stars to make them sparkle. The mushrooms were easy. The blue mini mushrooms turned out to be my favorite. The fire flower and boomerang flower (Mario Kart 8) took a little more work. I went through my cookie cutters and found some possiblities (like the letter “K” or “V”), but they just didn’t look right. So, I had to make my own cutters. I decided to pipe out the leaves and make transfers. I wanted them to have depth. I made a few extra transfers, just incase they broke or didn’t match up right. The question mark boxes – don’t ask me why I freehanded them when I had my KopyKake machine setup and ready to go. Probably because I didn’t want to stop and print out the question mark. Since I had the KopyKake setup, I used it to make the Mario and Luigi emblem cookies. (Plus, my son thought the machine was cool and wanted to turn it on and off for me.) I was at the end of icing the had-to-do cookies and decided to make different color yoshi eggs, since I had a little bit left of every color.

Question Mark Cheese CubeOne last edible decoration…question mark blocks of cheese. It was a very tedious process. I happen to own a question mark imprint stamp. So, I stamped all four sides and top with a question mark and stuck a toothpick in them. (If you decide to do something like this, I recommend wearing food handler gloves. It made it easier to handle and I got to tell everyone, “Don’t worry, I wore gloves.”) Now, would I do it again? Probably not. Even though it looked cool, not everyone noticed and it took forever to do.

At the party, there definitely wasn’t enough room to put out all the cookies. So, I kept 75% of them in my Snapware containers, but had baggies for everyone to take as many as they wanted home. The cookie and cupcake designs were a hit. My son loved the party, as he should, since he made out like a bandit. When the party was over, I looked at all the cookies leftover. What is a girl to do? I took some to my neighbors and I made my husband take bags of cookies to his co-workers. Happy people everywhere. Enjoy.

Let’s Have A Luau.

Like I said last year, asking your kids what kind of birthday theme they want more than two weeks before their party is for the birds. My daughter and I were walking around Hobby Lobby and I spotted a row of luau party supplies. I “suggested” to her that she have a luau themed pool party. She saw the party supplies and her face lit up. She said that was a great idea…and so the planning began, finally.

Luau CupcakesThe cupcakes were easy. I had liners that matched the plates and napkins. I made rainbow colored cupcakes with white buttercream icing. They were topped with a cute umbrella like the kind you might put in a fruity drink.

Flip Flops and FlowersThe cookies were flip flops and flowers. I got the idea from one of my favorite cookie blogs. The flip flop cookie cutter is from Wilton. The hibiscus flower cutter I had to make myself because I did not have a flower cutter with five petals. My daughter wanted glitter or sparkles on the shoes. After the base coat dried, I piped on the strap and while the royal icing was wet, I added sprinkles. She said the cookies turned out awesome. Yippee!

The party went well and it didn’t rain.  When it was time for dessert, all the kids decided that they wanted a cookie AND a cupcake. The key to happy kids at a party is always making enough sweets for them to have one of each. Enjoy.

The Amazing Spider-Man…2

It is that time again. In my daughter’s class, each Friday a different student is responsible for providing a special snack.  When her turn came around again, I asked her what kinds of snacks the other kids had brought. She said fruit roll ups or store bought sugar cookies, usually. She and I both knew that store bought cookies just would not do. I started thinking of what kind of theme I wanted for the cookies I was going to make. It is almost the end of the school year and it is getting hotter outside. My first thought was suns/flowers. As I was sketching out ideas, I had a “that’s it” moment… Spider-Man! The movie had just come to the theaters. The timing was perfect and I have made Spider-Man cookies before.

Spidey Masks SideviewI have a custom cookie cutter that I made for doing faces, but I felt that it was too big. Recently, when I was walking through the Easter section at a store, I found a set of small cutters. One of the cutters was an egg, but when I saw it I knew it would be perfect for making faces. That’s why I bought it, and it turned out to be just the right size for Spidey. I asked my daughter, as I held up each of the cutters, “Would you rather have one of these (big custom cutter) or two cookies of these (small “egg” cutter)?” I reminded her of the Yoshi eggs that I made recently with the same cutter, and the decision was made.  All I needed to do was brush up on the how-to from my favorite cookie blog.

Spidey EyesI wanted all the faces to have uniform eyes, so I printed clipart of Spider-Man’s mask. Mainly, because I didn’t feel like getting out the Kopykake machine. Food markers and cut-out Spidey eyes can’t be that hard. Well…it wasn’t hard, just tedious. I will say the next time I trace with food markers, I will either put tape on both sides of the paper, or I will create a stencil. By the time I was finished, the piece of paper was soaked and torn. 70 cookies = a lot of eyeballs.

Every time I color icing, I learn something new. This time it was a lesson in red. I didn’t want to use too much red coloring, so decided to add brown to darken it.  I did darken it, but it looked muted. I was so upset at the results that I figured I was going to have to make another batch of icing. I made more icing and decided to go ahead and make the cookie dough, too. About 45 minutes had gone by and it was time to get back to coloring the icing. I decided to salvage the muted brown-red by turning it into black. I opened up the container of red icing and low and behold, it had turned to a perfect shade of red. I was happy and mad at the same time.  I just spent all that time making another batch of icing. Arrgh… The thing to remember about coloring royal icing is that the final color develops over time. When I make black, I stop adding coloring when it is a dark gray. The next day it will be black. So, with all of this said, I’ve learned to always make the icing the night before.

Spidey Masks TopdownI wanted to make these cookies special for boys and girls, so I made Spider-Girl cookies,too. They were pink with glitter (disco dust) eyes. (I am fully aware that the real Spider-Girl from the comics is not pink and sparkly.  Honestly, she looks more like Venom-Girl, but I am not ready to get into a lengthy discussion about it right now.) With this in mind, I asked my daughter’s teacher to let me know the number of boys and girls was in the class.  There were 20 students total.  Giving each student two cookies, I only needed 40 cookies for my daughter’s class.  From the dough I had made, I was able to cut out 70 cookies, so I was able to make some for my son’s class, too. I don’t know of any teacher that is going to turn away homemade decorated sugar cookies. Do you?

Now, because I made so many, meant that there was going to be a lot of piping. Finding the right tip for the spiderweb lines became a small problem. I am glad that I had a few extras. I started with a Wilton #1, but the lines were too big. Then, I tried my PME 00 and PME 0 tips, but they kept on clogging. Finally, I used a PME 1 and it worked. Yippee!

Spidey_Gwen_CarI wrapped pairs of cookies in treat bags and boxed them up for the kids. The next day, I walked each of my children to their classroom. I informed their teacher that I made the cookies without almond extract, for those in the class with nut allergies. Also, I assured them that the glitter on the pink cookies was edible. When I picked the kids up from school, they said that everyone loved the cookies. The girls especially liked the glitter, as I knew they would. Because, all girls love glitter! Enjoy.

It’s a me…Mario.

For everything in life, it seems like a two weeks notice is the standard heads-up. As soon as you are given the notice, you should act right away. Don’t wait until the “date”. So, you are probably wondering what all that means. I am going to fill you in on the details.

Mario PlateA good friend of mine asked me to make Mario (of Nintendo’s Super Mario fame) cookies for her son’s birthday party. She texted me a good month in advance. I told her that I would research it and let her know. I had never done Mario cookies, so I wanted to make sure that I would be able make some. So, a couple of weeks goes by and she calls me to see how everything is going. I told her that I wouldn’t be able to make Mario himself, but had no problem with stars, mushrooms, etc. She said that would be fine, but…the party date was moved up and in less than a week. Of course, I replied that I would still do them.

Mario GroupI thought of all the icing colors that I would need yellow, red, green, white, and black. I made Stars, Mushrooms, question mark blocks, and Yoshi eggs. The cookie cutters were pretty easy to come by and I only had to custom work for the mushrooms. I used a star cutter for the Invincibility Star.  For the Mushroom, I popped out a circle and cut off an angle.  The “?” Block is just a square, and Yoshi’s Egg was made using an Easter egg cutter I had.  I cut and baked all the cookies the night before. I woke up early and started icing. I started with the mushrooms and Yoshi eggs, since the first color was going to have to dry, before the second was added. Then, I iced the stars and question mark blocks. I made so many cookies that I ran out of yellow icing. It was ok, my kids used the extras to do cookie art. I added the second colors, question marks, and then the eyes.

I was torn on one thing:  The stars. To sparkle or not to sparkle? That was the first question. The answer…sparkle, of course. The second question was disco dust or gold luster dust? I decided that luster dust would be easier and less messy. Even though disco dust would have looked awesome. Maybe next time. I’m sure one of these years my son will want Mario cookies.

Even in a time crunch, everything turned out fine. The party was a hit and so were the cookies. Enjoy.

Hang Your Favorite Ornament On The Tree.

Marbled OrnamentsThese were on my list of cookie ideas that I had last year, but they didn’t make the cut. So, this year they were a must have. I love blue ornaments. We even have them on our tree.

Oddly enough, I don’t own any ornament cookie cutters, and because of this I had to make my own. These were super easy and icing them was fun. I got to do marbling. I flooded the cookie, piped a few lines and drug a toothpick through the wet icing to make a cute design. Once the blue icing was dry, I piped out a bit of icing on the top and added silver sprinkles.

Have A Sweet Holiday TopperThe bag toppers were the most tedious part of the whole cookie process. Design the toppers in Photoshop (done by my husband), print the toppers, cut the toppers, fold and hole punch the toppers, attach hand punched holly leaves and rhinestones, and tie on a ribbon. Needless to say, it took me two days to do 150 toppers. The next time I have to make toppers, I will definitely do them as soon as I know they will be part of the cookie order! Have A Sweet Holiday! Enjoy.

A Christmas Tree Found In The Snow.

Brushed Christmas TreesI had other cookie design ideas, but when I saw this one, I decided to give it a try. I had a rectangle cookie cutter, but I wanted it to be fluted. I had a fluted rectangle cookie cutter, but it was way too big. What was I going to do? What anyone with a little imagination would do…I grabbed my Pampered Chef potato crinkle cutter. I need the cookies to be a certain size. So, I took a piece of wax paper and folded it into a 2 inch strip. Worked like a charm.

I needed stars for the tops of the trees. I took some yellow icing and piped it out into star transfers and then sprinkled them with some disco dust while they were still wet. Let them dry overnight and then peeled them off. Transfers need to be one of the first things you do, before you start icing the cookies, since it takes a day for them to dry.

I chose white as the background for these cookies. I figured that it would look like snow. I was up until 4am with the gingerbread men and flooding white icing onto these cookies. The next day was crunch time, since the base coat was now dry. Time to brush on the trees. I still need a lot of practice with embroidery brushing, but for my first time, it wasn’t too too bad. The tree reminded me of the ones in the movies, where the family goes into the forest to find the perfect tree and finds a big huge one. Only to remember that they have to drag it all the way back to the car. After I brushed on a few trees, I noticed they needed a little something. So, I attached some red sprinkles before the green icing started to dry. It wouldn’t be a Christmas tree without a few ornaments and a star on top. Enjoy.