Friday, May 27, 2011

make your own cupcake wrappers

A few days ago, someone asked me if I wanted to help make some wedding shower cupcakes. (Umm, YES, please.) And then I realized that I have NO IDEA what a wedding shower cupcake should look like. So I did what any normal person would do. Which is... absolutely nothing for a couple of days. Then I spent some time with my good friend, Google Images. And then I got this great idea to use cupcake wrappers. (You know, those pieces of paper that go around a finished cupcake.) But...you know....since I live in Korea...I have limited options. So I decided to make some.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to find a template and re-sizing it over and over again until it fit. Seriously, my children almost went hungry in the process. (It's a good thing my son licked the bowl after all the cupcake liners were filled. I think it gave me that extra 20 minutes I needed.) Seriously though, I love making liners. You can make them in any color and pattern you want. And it makes me feel better about buying those weirdy scissors back when I thought scrapbooking would be cool.

And the best part about cupcake liners? Not having to answer the flavor question over and over again. Just use color-coded flavor cards. You could probably make your cards a little cuter than mine, you know, if you want to. And if your child isn't starving while you are making them. Because children should eat well balanced meals, not icing and cupcake batter. (Just sayin.)

And in case you decide to make your own liners....I made a super high-tech sharpie marker template for you to use. Simply right click on the photo and copy the image. Paste it into a word document and make it the exact size as your paper. (You will have to set your margins at "0.0" first.) You could also open the image in paint or some other art type program and color the liners first. Or just use it as a template to cut liners out of colored paper. I am sure that there is a much easier way to do this. But...for all the love that is in the world...I can't think of one. And its probably time for me to go make some delicious food product with lots of vegetables and lean protein to make up for yesterday.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

and the Korean goods go to...

So...I've got this whole pile of Korean stuff just burning a hole in my apartment. It's anxious to get on its way. And I'll be honest, I can't wait for it to leave either. There were a few cross words between us yesterday...and things just aren't going to be the same from here on out. I think its just time to let go and live our own separate lives. So after adjusting for double posts (I'm so glad to know that I'm not the ONLY one who forgets to leave contact information!) ...




Tara from The Sugar Tree I hope you are ready because this random assortment of Korean goodness is headed your way! Send me your address when you take a break from saving the world.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Boy graduates vs. Girl graduates

I made some graduation cookies. I don't actually have any "graduation" cookie cutters....so I used this guy.









Happy Graduation Class of 2011! And...Congratulations....and...Good Luck!

Royal Icing with Dried Egg Whites

I'm actually kind of surprised that anyone cares how I do anything. When people first started asking me how I make royal icing I would reply with,

"You know...just like everyone else does. Egg whites...powdered sugar....done."

I really wasn't trying to brush anyone off or keep some kind of weird icing secret. And it was only later that I found out that most people use a meringue powder to make royal icing. But it's still basically the same way.

Dried Egg White Royal Icing

4 tsp dried egg whites
1/4 c room temperature water
1 tsp lemon juice (or 1/4 tsp cream of tartar) *** BOTH ARE OPTIONAL
3 c powdered sugar

~~OR, for a larger batch ~~
1/4 cup dried egg whites
3/4 cup room temperature water
1 Tbsp lemon juice (or 1/2 tsp cream of tartar) *** BOTH ARE OPTIONAL
2 pounds powdered sugar


Mix water and egg whites in the bottom of a mixing bowl. Let stand 3-5 minutes. Add lemon juice or cream of tartar if you choose. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and mix on medium just until combined. The resulting icing should also be about stiff peak thick. (Because I like it that way. If you don't like to make it stiff first, then don't add all the powdered sugar.) I usually wait until after I color my icing before I thin it down. But...you know....do what you want.

NOTE: The lemon juice and the cream of tartar are for YOUR protection. They stabilize the egg whites. If your beat egg whites too much, their protein structure will be compromised and they will sink and get all "weirdy" and then you will have to get rid of them. And probably cry. And then try all over again. BUT if you add lemon juice or cream of tartar, they will beat at stiff peak phase for a while longer, giving you time to realize they are ready even though you got totally distracted by the firetruck that drove into the river across the street. Personally, I love the flavor the lemon juice adds to the royal icing so I almost always add that instead of cream of tartar. Plus...let's be honest. It's WAY cheaper. And you can judge me if you want, but I'm totally the kind of person who cares.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

the thing about Korea

~~~CONTEST CLOSED~~~

I don't know why I've kept this whole "living in Korea" thing quiet for so long. There are some great things here that you all should know about. And one of the most adorable cookie cutters I've seen in a while. I lie awake at night feeling bad that none of you have ever seen this cutter. Okay, no, not really. But I can imagine that if it ever occurred to me late at night, I probably would stay awake thinking about it. In fact...I've decided to give away some of my favorite Korean things. So....here we go!

This picture represents the sum total of cookie cutters I have purchased since moving to Korea. Just LOOK at that adorable little hippo cutter! It's maybe 2 inches wide. Maybe. (P.S. In answer to quite a few questions -- my husband is in the army. They told him to move here. They let us come with him. We LOVE it.)

Most kitchen utensils come in pink here. I know this is totally a crummy picture and you can't tell...but the spatula really is pink. And I just love those tiny little pie tins. I'm about 100% sure that they aren't really pie tins. I think they are for dipping sauces. But they are shaped EXACTLY like tiny little pie tins. And that's why I bought them.

These are some very non-cake/cookie/sugar in anyway related items. But....I just don't care. I love that while Korean use chopsticks just like most other Asian countries...they use a SPOON for rice. Because, let's be honest. When you are hungry, you just want to EAT. Like, you know, a lot, at once. Without spoons, I would be very thin, and angry, because one single rice grain at a time just wouldn't do it for me. Oh, and those other things are animal rice shapers. Just for all you bento-box lovers or people who want their children to eat rice. Or you know, anyone who wants to shape something soft to look like an animal.

And...if you are VERY lucky...I will include my very favorite candy. It's basically deliciousness mixed with strawberries and cream in candy form. Seriously, I only just shared these with my husband for the first time last week. And we've lived here for almost a year now.

All you have to do to enter is leave me ONE comment. Tell me where you would live if you had to move out of the country you are currently living in. It would be helpful if there was a way for me to contact you. Leave your comment by Saturday, May 21st at midnight Hawaii time.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

confession to a crowd

It's time that I just come right out and say this to everyone.
I live in South Korea. It's in Asia. I moved here with my family last summer. I love it here. It is, however, quite a bit different from the United States where I have lived pretty much every second of my life until I moved here.

Its hot and HUMID here in the summer. Like, really hot and humid. I always imagined that they would have beautiful, folded Asian fans for sale everywhere. As it turns out these type of fans are about a million times more efficient. Seriously, a million is not an exaggeration. My 4 year old can get a gale force wind going with one of these fans. I'm telling you -- its a genius design.

This is bibimbap. It might be my new favorite food. Of all time. If you have a Korean restaurant near your house, don't even think about it -- just GO. There is a pretty good chance they will serve bibimbap. Food places here are a little different from the states in that it is not uncommon for them to only give you 5 items to choose from instead of a giant menu. And bibimbap is almost always one of those items.

This is a hanbok. (Okay, so technically it is a chocolate cookie...but its decorated like a hanbok.) Its a super traditional dress. I love that the skirt is made with lots of flowy fabric. There is a wedding hall near my house so I get to see gobs of ladies dressed in these, in all sorts of colors. And boys wear something different, but I'll be honest, I only pay attention to the girls' dresses. They are BEAUTIFUL!

South Korea has been around for kind of a really long time. Centuries and centuries. And they were pretty good at building things to last. Like these ultra-traditional houses. This looks almost nothing like those amazing buildings. Every single square inch of those buildings was crafted for a reason. And they are not made out of chocolate cookie.

So... now you know why I make my own cookie cutters. And why I haven't made cookies for days and days. (Because the water reservoir for my town collapsed and my town was without water off and on for the last week.) And why I can't always use blogger. (Because sometimes this country doesn't approve of blogger or maybe blogger doesn't approve of this country. It's hard to tell.) And if just one of you tries bibimbap then I'll just mark this whole week off as a success.

Oh...and if you are planning to travel to South Korea in the next couple of years you better tell me or I will be so mad!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Navy daisy cake

I don't know why I do this to myself. My little girl is going to have her first birthday next month. I want to make a cake that is navy, white, and yellow. So that's basically all I can think about these days. Someone needs a cake for something completely unrelated to my daughter's upcoming birthday? No problem....I basically make her birthday cake anyway. And between now and then I will probably exhaust all possible navy, yellow, and white designs in my head and the day before her party I will be totally stressed out because all of the designs are "used" and nothing will be fun and exciting anymore and I will have no option but to change the whole party to red and white. Maybe I can trick myself by trying to plan a red and white party NOW....and then switching to a navy, white, and yellow party later.

Okay...so as I'm writing this post...as I'm waiting for the picture to upload ... this young daughter of mine that will be having her navy, white, and yellow first birthday next month JUST STARTED WALKING!! For real. 3 whole steps. Just like that. So now it's totally okay that I made this prototype version of her birthday cake a month early and for something else entirely, right? I think I'm going to go give her a graham cracker to celebrate. Happy Mother's Day everyone!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Owl cookies

Things rarely work out exactly as I imagine they will. Like, one time, I planned this huge Thanksgiving meal for kind of a lot of people  (more than 20) while my husband was deployed with the army. And then in the two days before Thanksgiving...every single person canceled. So my little boy and I had macaroni and cheese for Thanksgiving dinner. Not quite what I had planned. (This is not a depressing story. Don't feel bad. It's funny. Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving Dinner. My little boy loved it.)

Almost every single cookie I make is another example. Let me show you what I mean.

1) The square owl cookies-- the brown completely bled into the blue. This was not ideal. Buuut...it looks kind of rustic, so I'm going to go with it and call them "rustic owls."

2) See the blue square cookie on the right? I was going to make a lot more of them. But for some reason, I forgot and didn't make very much blue icing. At all. Soooo....I made a whole bunch of purple and brown ones like the square cookies on the left.

3) The flowers. I don't know WHAT I was thinking. But these did not turn out like that. Thank goodness, because these are way cuter than the weirdness I had planned for them.



The only ones that turned out just how I planned were the owl cookies. And that's because I forced them to. I threatened them with time-outs and everything. 

I used a Wilton ghost cutter. I cut off the arms with a knife and cut the ears into the head with a round cutter. (This description is kind of grossing me out. Oh, and between you and me --Let's just pretend that this picture doesn't look so un-appetizing, shall we? Ahh, yes, what? It's a beautiful photo of delectable looking cookie dough? You want to reach right into your screen and have some? Oh, why thank you. You're too kind. I'm blushing. ) And then, I flipped the cookie over because I'm seriously neurotic and I wanted it to be EXACTLY as I planned. And it was. It was like a cookie dream. Except, if it were a dream, I would probably be flying too.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

a flower on a cake

I made a cake. It was kind of a last minute thing. Which...as it turns out...works pretty well for me. I'm kind of into that whole "instant gratification" thing. So a lot of what I make doesn't require hours of planning and preparing and thinking and...you know...whatever else people with lots of patience and exactness do when making cakes and cookies.

The flower was a bit of a challenge though. Flowers need time to dry so they don't look wilted when you put them on a cake or cookie. Its a good thing I had just made those cameo cookies. I had a bag of white chocolate chips just STARING at me from the counter while I was standing there wondering how in the world I could make a flower in only a few minutes. In the end...I just rolled up the petals and dipped the back in melted white chocolate. Instant flower.


And in other news...Easter candy is on sale. I don't know what is wrong with me. I walked past that rack 4 times. I rifled through the candy and realized I don't really like any of it. And I kept coming back anyway. The best part is that it was like I was trying to fool myself.

"Oh, I'll just walk past that giant pile of candy because I need to check out the frozen spinach..." 

I guess I can only say no to myself 3 times. Because on that 4th time...I caved and bought some weird bag of Easter candy that no one in my family will eat. But, I'm telling you, that was one cheap bag of candy. Maybe I'll try to melt it down and add it to rice krispie treats and then avoid grocery stores until the clearance candy is gone. Let me know when its safe to buy food again.

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