Monday, July 28, 2014

Bachelorette Cookies - Royal Icing

My "little" brother is getting married at the end of the week.  I can't believe it!!!  While he is certainly not little anymore (in fact, he' been taller than me since high school), it's still a little weird for him to be getting married.  Despite that fact that he's getting married makes me feel incredibly old, I am over the moon happy for him and his bride to be.  There's been a lot of celebrating going on recently, and of course, I've been baking and crafting to celebrate the occasion, because that's what I do :)

I hosted a shower for my sister-in-law-to be, and I'll share details on that soon, but first I couldn't wait to share these bachelorette party cookies.  Can you say cute and fun?  Even better - they are Delicious - with a capital D.  Love love Love these cookies.  

  

I had been wanting to try royal icing for a long time, but had been a little (or a lot) intimidated by it.  This occasion gave me the push I needed (with a little inspiration from Pinterest!)
After giving the Royal Icing a try, I have to say that it is definitely not as scary as I thought, however, it IS time consuming.  So not something I want to do all the time, but for an added "WOW!" factor, it's certainly possible.  Royal icing gives you a lot more detail when frosting cookies, so f you are looking for something fancier, definitely give it a try.  If it's your first time doing royal icing, I recommend attempting now more than 2-3 colors - it will make your life much easier, I promise! 
Just a note - the meringue powder for the icing can be found at either a craft store (like Hobby Lobby or Michael s, in their baking isle) or at the grocery store.


Royal Icing Bachelorette Cookies
Ingredients:
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 TBSP meringue powder
  • 5 TBSP water (plus more later for thinning)


Since this is a bit of a special recipe, there are also some tools you will need.  
  • Sugar cookies (make sure they are completely cooled!)
  • Gel Icing colors (I use Wilton brand)
  • Small containers with lids for each color of icing you want to use
  • Spoons
  • Toothpicks
  • Pastry bags with small round tips (I use size 2 or 3 for flooding, and smaller/other sizes for designs and decorating)
  • Squeeze bottles

Instructions:
First things first, you'll need to make your icing.  Combine the powdered sugar, meringue power, and water in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low until well blended, then keep mixing!  You will want to mix for about 5 minutes until the icing has a matte appearance (it should not be shiny at all).  Now you will need to add a tiny amount of water - start with 1/2 teaspoons, until it becomes piping consistency.  Piping consistency is when you pick some icing up with a spoon and let it run back into the bowl, it should take about 5 seconds for the icing to be reabsorbed into the rest of the icing.  You can also test out a small amount in your pastry bag as well.  Try not to let your icing get too runny at this point (although if it does get too runny, you can add more powdered sugar to stiffen it up)
*Hint - while you are working with royal icing, make sure to keep any icing you are using covered in a container so that it does not harden on you!  Any pastry bags you are not using (but have incing in them) should be stood up in a glass with a bit of water in the bottom so that the icing in the tip does not harden)*
Ok, so now you have piping icing.  The next step is to tint your icing the color you want to outline your cookies.  Once your icing is colored, you are going to pipe a border around the edge of each cookie.  Let the icing set and harden.  
Next step will be flooding your cookies.  Once your border has hardened, you are going to thin out some more icing.  Take some of your icing in a separate bowl, and add a tiny bit more water.  Now you want the icing to flow off a spoon and disappear in 2-3 seconds back into the bowl of icing.  Let the icing stand about 5 minutes to let any bubble come to the surface, then give the icing one more gentle stir to pop the bubbles (this will save you time later).  Once icing is thinned out, use your squeeze bottles to "flood" your cookie with your main color of icing.  *Hint, you can use a toothpick to help drag the icing to the corners of your cookie if need.  Toothpicks also work great to pop any air bubbles that appear on your cookie.  
Before moving on the the next step, let you cookies dry and harden really well.  You can even leave them out overnight, if needed, to make sure the icing is completely dry.  depending on the weather or the temperature of your kitchen, your cookies could be dry in an hour, but wait longer if you are unsure.  The royal icing helps seal in the moisture of the cookie, so depending what type of sugar cookie you use, you shouldn't have to worry about them drying out. 
Finally, once your main color is done, you are ready to decorate with your piping icing again.  Let dry for at least an hour before packaging or storing.  I do not recommend freezing cookies that have been decorated with royal icing as the icing with gather condensation in the freezer and look funny. 
Congratulations!  You did it!  You decorated with Royal Icing!

To make lingerie cookies, I used a heart cookie cutter - who knew?!



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Linking up at some of these great parties!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

#100 Happy Days (vol. 3)

Ok, this post is getting really long and I'm missing some pictures - I'm sorry!  But enjoy my happy moments from the last few weeks :)


Day 16 (7/1) Lazy day with some reading :)


Day 17 - My flowers are blooming!


Day 18 - Went to see a friend's band play

Day 19 - Happy 4th of July!  We had great weather for our badminton games :)

Day 20 (7/5) - Date night with my husband :)

Day 21 - In between rain showers went rollerblading!

Day 22 - We avoided the rain and got some volleyball in!

Day 23 - So proud of myself for cleaning out my closet and my dresser.  Have two bags of clothes to donate!

Day 24 - Woodfired Pizza with my mom in the teeny tiny town of Berne

Day 25 (7/10) - Laundry and getting ready for camping again!

Day 26 - Another hiking club password

Day 27 - Celebrating my birthday with friends (and later family), my friends even surprised me with a birthday muffin while camping

Day 28 - Monday night means volleyball night - love this Monday night tradition!  Matt even played this week

Day 29 - Breaking in the new measuring spoons and cups I got for my birthday

Day 30 (7/16) - so happy with how my flowers are doing this summer!

Day 31 - Tried a new recipe of chicken and potato kabobs - definitely a keeper and recipe coming soon!

Day 32 - Capped off the night with some awesome weather for volleyball in the valley.

Day 33 - Bachelorette party one of two for the weekend - celebrating with my husband's cousin!

Day 34 - Celebrated my future Sister-in-Law's bachelorette party - I'm pretty proud of the garter set I made.
Day 35 - Saw an Eagle while Canoeing

Day 36- we won two games in volleyball tonight!!!!  And I served 10 in a row to help lift out team to victory in the first game - it was an awesome feeling!

Day 37 (7/23) - Visit from my momma!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Gluten Free Strawberry Muffins

Love Love Love me some summer produce!  One of my all time favorites - strawberries!  I get so excited when the Driscoll strawberries start appearing in stores and the prices on berries start to drop - it means strawberry season is on the way!  This year our strawberry season was a bit late (due to our late spring) and only started in mid-June.  I, however, was super happy with the late season, since the opening of strawberry picking coincided with my first day off for summer!  I got a little over zealous (of course) when I first went picking, and picked about six pounds (Side note - I love that there is a pick-your-own strawberry patch just outside of town - literally less than 10 minutes away.  Makes it easy to go every few days so we can always have fresh strawberries to eat as long as they are in season!). 

So, I had six pounds of strawberries, and while my husband is a champion strawberry eater, this was a bit much for just the two of us.  I also knew I didn't want to freeze the berries, as I haven't really found myself using up the berries I freeze - they just don't compare with the fresh ones!  So while I was definitely enjoying strawberries, yogurt, and my homemade granola for breakfast, I needed another way to use up some berries.


So I did what any girl does and headed to Pinterest and started searching for strawberry recipes.  I found a few strawberry muffin recipes and was intrigued.  When I saw this one was even "healthy" I knew I wanted to give it a try right away.  These muffins are about 110 calories each - perfect for breakfast for my husband or a morning snack for me - and they're delicious!

Gluten Free Strawberry Muffins
Recipe adapted from Dashing Dish

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (may also use Greek yogurt)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup sugar (depending on taste)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cup Driscoll strawberries (diced and patted dry)
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line muffin tins with silicone muffin cups, or use a silicone muffin tin.  (The regular paper cupcake liners do not work well with this recipe, if you don't have silicone muffin cups or a silicone muffin pan, use foil liners instead)
Place the oats in a blender or food processor and chop them up until they are a fine powder.  Blend in yogurt, eggs, sugar, baking powder and baking soda and mix until smooth.  Stir in strawberries by hand.
Divide batter into 12 muffins and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Eat warm, eat when cooled, or freeze for a later date!
Enjoy!

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Linking up at some of these great parties!

                  

 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Lamp Post Cards

So now that school is out, I'm finally having some more time for crafting (yay!).  One thing I want to do quite a bit of this summer is make some cards, both for myself, my family, and some for Operation Write Home as well.  I sent off my first package of cards to Operation Write Home at the end of May, and I'd like to send even more before the summer is over.  I have a goal of making at least 52 cards this year (my first year participating), one for each week.  Some people send in hundreds of cards (amazing!) but I'm trying to not overwhelm myself and just starting out with averaging one per week.  You can check out my progress over time on my sidebar :)


I'm really really really happy with how these cards turned out.  They were pretty simple to make, once I got the idea in my head (hardest part of card making for me - coming up with ideas of how the card should look!).

The background paper is from Michaels
The black silhouette was cut using my Cameo and is a shape from the Silhouette store
The sentiments are Paper Smooches
Have a great rest of the week!
Linking up at some of these great parties!


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

#100 Happy Days (vol. 2)

I'm back :)
Here's what's been making me happy lately

Day 6 (6/21) - So so happy to be able to drive my car again (even if the AC still isn't fixed, at least I can drive my own car again!)

Day 7 (6/22) - Our new screen tent - which I love - no getting eaten by bugs while trying to relax or eat dinner!

Day 8 (6/23) - Hiking with my husband in Tettegouche State Park

Day 9 (6/24) - Sleeping in my own (dry!) bed!

Day 10 (6/25) - Got to spend a little quiet time reading from my Nook



Day 11 (6/26) -  It was cool enough in the morning to make some cookies and I tried a new recipe!

Day 12 (6/27) - Had an awesome run - maybe my hip is finally starting to feel better!

Day 13 (6/28) - Celebrated the wedding of one of my college friends, with one of my best friends!

Day 14 (6/29) - I was feeling lazy after my late night last night, but I spent time in the afternoon making cards - happy with how they turned out!
Day 15 (6/30) - Volleyball was canceled tonight - which was not a happy thing, but I relaxed and did some reading instead.



Monday, June 30, 2014

Painted Star Cookies

Happy 4th of July week!  I can't believe June has come and gone already.  Why does summer go by way to fast?  I'm excited to be sharing this post and participating in Raise.com's 4th of July Celebration! (PS - Raise.com has an exchange program to buy and sell gift cards, if you haven't already checked it out, I encourage you to do so!)  But back to this delicious (and easy!) recipe!
I love celebrating the 4th of July!  Even though my husband has to work, we still make it a good day.  We always have our friends over for a badminton tournament in-between my husband's morning set up, and having to go back to work for the concert.  We love to play badminton with our friends and we always have lots of good things to eat and grill and have our own early cookout.  Of course, I have to make dessert :)  Usually I make a cake, but sometimes cookies are good for sweet treats on the go!

I found these cookies when I was searching for a recipe to use an egg yolk.  (Let me tell you, it was a long search!).  When I make sugar cookie bars, they need one egg and one egg white.  What to do with the leftover yolk?  I have been on the hunt for recipes that use just one egg  yolk.  This is one that I came across that I think I will be making a lot more in the future - super duper easy and gives the impression of frosted cookies without all the work!
What do you do with your family to celebrate the 4th of July?

Painted Star Cookies
Recipe Adapted from Gwenny Penny

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup Crisco/shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg yolk
Directions:
To begin, cream together the shortening, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Slowly blend in the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Chill dough for at least an hour.
Once dough has chilled, roll out on a floured surface and cut with cookie cutters.  Aim for about 1/4 inch thick.  Place cookies on ungreased baking sheet (or baking sheets covered with silicone mats - I love 'em!).


 Now for the fun part - decorating!  Do this before baking!  Mix one egg yolk with 1/4 tsp water.  Separate the mixture into small bowls and color with food coloring - I used gel food coloring for a richer color. Once you have reached your desired color, take a paintbrush and paint the egg yolk onto the unbaked cookies.  I just used paintbrushes from the kids section at the craft store that I got for a dollar. 



Once decorated, bake at 400 degrees for six minutes.  Don't over bake!  And bam!  You have decorated cookies, that you don't have to frost after baking - love simple recipes like this!


Happy 4th of July!



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Friday, June 20, 2014

#100HappyDays

I'm late to the game with #100happydays I know!  However, I saw that The Questionable Homesteader was restarting the challenge, I thought maybe I would participate too.  I don't currently have a smartphone, so participating on Facebook the way everyone else was would not work for me - but posting pictures on the blog every week or so sure would :)


So's here's my first few pictures.  Happy Day everyone!

Day 1 (6/16) - Strawberry season started today! I can't wait for my husband to get home so I can surprise him with this strawberry-y goodness.  Love fresh picked strawberries!

Day 2 - Canoeing for the first time this year, my parents came along too!
Day 3 - More rain - but I think the birds are enjoying the birdbath at the end of our drive way.  Right before I took the picture, three more were there splashing and playing.

Day 4 - Our power was out from about 4 am till noon.  I was bored... but productive and got my desk all cleaned up!

Day 5 - It finally stopped raining long enough to do some laundry!




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