Mmm...Food...

State Cookies + Archie Griffin

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Sometimes, you just feel like making cookies from scratch. And you have cookie cutters to represent the states you live in. And so you make state-shaped cookies from scratch.

What?

I tried a new recipe – the hubs didn’t love it, but I did! Whenever you are rolling out dough and using cookie cutters, you need to make sure you are using a recipe that won’t rise or puff up at all, because that would jeopardize your shapes. They are already going to look a little wonky – don’t make it worse!

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I used this VERY simple recipe from Nestle. I ended up drizzling chocolate on them to make them a little extra sweet, but you could also ice them as they show on their website.

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OKAY BUT THEN our department of about 50 people were planning our “Celebrate Archie” day, as Archie prepares for a job transition, which included an Archie “trivia” game with our staff…

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And then an ice cream social, with these adorable balloons…IMG_7834 IMG_7838

And I thought, I SHOULD MAKE OHIO COOKIES! So I made these…some Vanilla Almond cookies with a football cookie cutter, and some of the afore mentioned chocolate chip cookies shaped like Ohio, and with a little extra chocolate love. Also I made a LOT more than six, but I forgot to take a photo, and this is what was left near the end…

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I think he liked them! I’ll miss seeing this face around the building everyday…IMG_7841

Mmm...Food...

Snowflake Cookies

In the past, I’ve made myself a “creative agenda” on weekends where I have downtime. It usually consists of projects that I’ve been wanting to try, but are totally not important in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes, when I would do this, I would end up not enjoying the activity I had so looked forward to doing, because it would suddenly feel more like a “to do list” instead of a “just for fun” activity.

Well, on Sunday afternoon, I had a sudden urge to do some holiday baking, so I did. And I have to say it was a lot more fun than when I spend time checking creativity off my to do list. And I’d say the result was pretty fun! Not to mention, I had some lucky coworkers on Monday morning.

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{Sorry for the office iPhone photo…}

I’ve tried a few sugar cookie recipes over the years, and I have a few that I regularly go to. The one I used this week comes from Tidy Mom’s Halloween Cookie post. I cut the recipe in half and made 16 large cookies. They are Vanilla Almond Butter Cookies, and are similar to my other go-to recipe from Bake at 350. I used the same Royal Icing recipe as last time, also from Bake at 350.

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People make royal icing sound so difficult, but it’s actually incredibly easy. The hardest part is taking the time to actually decorate the cookies. And I don’t have a very steady hand, so it will definitely take some practice…

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I very highly recommend rolling out your dough between two sheets of wax paper. It’s MUCH easier and less messy than throwing flour all over your kitchen.cookies4

I have a full set of Christmas Cookie Cutters from Crate & Barrel, but it doesn’t look like they have that particular set anymore. I love these huge cutters though!cookies6

I use a pastry bag with a very little whole in it to outline the cookies. I know I probably need tips for my bags, but whatever. A hole works! cookies7

Then, I thinned out the rest of my icing with a couple of tablespoons of water – just until they are the consistency of syrup. Then I use those cheap little plastic squeeze bottles you see in the picture. They were like, $2 at Michaels. You “flood” the cookies and spread the icing around a little with a toothpick.cookies8

Once the icing hardened, I used some of the original icing in piping bags to make the designs. Like I said, not the steadiest hand…but it will come with time, I hope!cookies9cookies11

Daily Notes, Life As I Know It, Mmm...Food...

Chocolate Cupcake Comfort

I have basically broken the cardinal sin of blogging: be consistent. Sorry about that.

It is a busy and exciting time in my world. We’re not only planning our wedding, but making lots of great and exciting plans for the whole year ahead of us (more on that as things develop). And on top of wedding planning, traveling, and trying to eat a lot healthier, I just have not been doing the amount of baking I used to do. In fact, I’ve had very little time for fun cooking in general! And when we do cook, it’s your pretty standard go-to foods, like the chicken and veggies we all know and love 🙂

So over the weekend, I was home with the parents in Wisconsin. Upon arriving at dad’s house on Saturday night, he requested that we make some cupcakes together – some good old fashioned father-daughter time. So I pulled up a recipe and we got to work on some good ol’ basic chocolate cupcakes using his stand mixer that is likely older than I am. This quick iphone photo is all I have to show for it (please expose the far from perfect icing designs):

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And I actually used Joy the Baker’s recipe for chocolate cupcakes (and no, not the cookie dough / toasted icing part), and they were PERFECT. I honestly think this will be my primary cupcake recipe from here out. They were light in flavor, and made for the perfect texture. Then Dad and I whipped up some basic chocolate buttercream to top it off.

There is something so comforting about doing the things you love with (or for) the people you love. I spent half of my weekend shopping with my mom, and half my weekend galavanting around town with my dad and stepmom. In spite of the fact that I came down with a pretty bad cold right before I got home, my time there was relaxing, refreshing, and all around a great weekend of comfort!

Mmm...Food...

Favorite Food of 2012 {year in review}

Okay, my FAVORITE food from this year was the result of many hours spent perfecting the cake ball: I give you many versions of the ultimate cake bite.

Early in the year, I perfected my chocolate cake recipe, so these giant cake bites were insanely delicious.

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Next, I played with specializing those cake bites, and was only too happy to donate about 300 cake bites to Songs for Sound earlier this year. Music to my taste buds.

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Finally, I switched up the recipe and made these sweet funfetti golden birthday cake bites (from scratch, of course), and loved the result.

goldenI also must throw out an honorable mention to these tiny little pink champagne + strawberry cupcakes. Yum!

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Daily Notes, Mmm...Food...

Hello, Chocolate Cake

No matter how many sweets you make, you just can’t go wrong with a good ol’ classic chocolate cake. Over Labor Day weekend, I indulged in a lot of selfish activities…like sewing, reading, trashy-tv-watching, and of course, baking.

I’m not going to share this recipe with you quite yet, since I’m working on a little business and a little website. So why share the goods! But doesn’t it look delicious and tempting? Rest assured, it is (well, was). I hope you all had a great Labor Day Weekend, during which I hope you “labored” in your favorite ways!

Daily Notes, Mmm...Food...

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Senior year of college, our suite-mate Sam made THE most killer peanut butter blossom cookies (Sam, give a shout out if you’re reading this). She was kind enough to share her recipe with us, and from time to time I love to pull out this classic cookie favorite. Please enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1/2 c. margarine (I used butter and they turned out just fine)
1/2 c. peanut butter
2 T. milk
1 t. vanilla
1 egg
Hershey’s kisses* (I recommend dark chocolate)

*The recipe calls for 48, but when I made them I ended up with about 28 cookies. I suppose it depends on how big you make them!

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all ingredients together (except hershey’s kisses) until your dough is combined and smooth. Scoop the dough into rounded spoonfuls and roll the ball in some regular sugar. Place the sugar-coated dough balls on your cookie sheets a few inches apart from each other. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Right when they come out of the oven, push one hershey’s kiss into the middle of each cookie. Move to cooling rack and let cool completely.

ENJOY!!

Life As I Know It, Wistfully Whimsical Wishlist

Baking Nerd Alert {mm likes}

While I love perusing dresses and other fashions online, I also (secretly) peruse all sorts of wonderful baking goodies. A few things have risen to the top of my wish list lately…

While this cake pan LOOKS boring, it’s actually a 6-inch pan which, if I owned maybe 3 of them, would let me make skinnier cakes…

Like this one from I Am Baker, for example.

I’m always wanting to make cake pops, even with my little experience. It requires lollipop sticks and candy melts, two things that I think my roomie and I would agree we do NOT want overtaking our pantry.

I’ve talked about it for a while, but I REALLY need a candy thermometer to make my own homemade marshmallows. Soon. Very soon.

Last but not least, and I know this is so random, but I really want a huge cutting board. Like, big enough to set over my stove top and have at it. Maybe something like this one from Fancy.