Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Skulls and Skeletons

So...I like to have money. And I like cookie cutters. It's a tricky business combing those two things, really. A few days ago, I was looking at a clearance rack of a local store. They had the usual textbooks from 2 years ago, expired bread, random candles in scents that NO ONE wants to smell....and then I found some cookie cutters! Well, really, it was one cookie cutter but there were 3 of them. To make this find even more exciting, let me just tell you that in the year I've lived in Korea, I have only seen 5 or 6 cookie cutters. So, you know, this was a big deal to me. It was a cookie cutter. And it was on clearance. Forget about the fact that it was a tulip cutter, and I have no immediate reason to make tulips. None of that mattered. It was a cookie cutter, and I was actually touching it. At a store. And I wasn't dreaming. So I did what any normal person would do and I bought one. And then, I did what any normal cookie making person would do and I bought the other two.

And then I dropped the cutter on the floor while trying to keep my little girl from crawling out of the cart. And it landed upside down. And the world of possibilities opened wide. And it became my new Halloween girly skull cutter.


****** GIVEAWAY CLOSED *******

And then I decided to give away the other two cutters. And a tiny little whisk. Because -- HELLO! It's tiny. That makes it adorable. And you want one.  So, because this is just a little giveaway (little -- get it?) you only have 3 days to enter. Leave me a comment telling me the best thing you've ever found on clearance. Or your favorite color. Or the best thing to serve with a grilled cheese sandwich. Just make sure I can contact you and leave your comment before midnight Pacific Standard time on Saturday, September 3, 2011.

Oooh. I forgot to add that there will be two winners. Each winner will get one cutter and one whisk and my children's fingerprints all over the package. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

BLACK cookies for Halloween


Once upon a time, like 2 weeks ago, I had this great idea. I got excited every time I thought about it. (And yes, it may have been Halloween related, and may have helped spur on this ridiculously early parade of Halloween cookies) So I made my cookies. And as the cookies were baking, I realized that I was probably the 400th person (counting my grandma) who had ever come up with this idea. And I was sad for at least 7 seconds until I realized, it just doesn't matter. It's STILL a good idea. Especially since it results in the easiest cookie you will ever decorate.

See, I had lots of Halloween design ideas that were, ...well, black. And we all know that black icing tends to leave black teeth. Which, is okay for a teenager's Halloween party, perhaps even desirable...but for adults and good friends that you would like to keep as good friends? Not so much. So I added just a little bit of black food coloring to my already dark brown chocolate cookie dough and made black cookies. No bitter after taste...and no black teeth.I was surprised at how little black coloring I needed. And I would definitely recommend using a chocolate cookie dough to begin with. And add black just a little bit at a time. And then enjoy all your extra free time because you didn't have to ice these cookies black before you could start decorating them! Maybe take up knitting or something.


NEED MORE? 



To make the cat -- use the Wilton cat cutter. I cut the tail a little deeper with a knife and used a bubble straw to cut the legs a little higher. Because I'm neurotic. That's why.









One time, over SEVEN years ago, I bought a 13.5 ounce bottle of black food coloring. As much as I wish it was over between us... we're still holding steady. 








These glowing jack-o-lantern cookies are another great design to make with black cookie dough.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Candy Corn, Pumpkins, and Vampire Cookies

Are you excited? It's the square Halloween cookie tutorials series finale. Anything could happen! I could magically whip up a million cookies and stack them to the moon and then light them on fire and call them a beacon of peace.  Or ... not. Actually, that doesn't really sound like a good idea to me at all. I'll probably just stick with the remaining tutorials and call it a day. Ready?

HOW TO MAKE A SQUARE CANDY CORN COOKIE

Pipe a yellow rectangle on the bottom of the square and a white rectangle on the top. Then stop. And take a break. For at least an hour. You've earned it. Piping rectangles is tough work.

Fill in the middle with orange icing.  And then take another well deserved break. This time, maybe work in some snacks.

When the icing is dry, add some white dots for the eyes. Let it sit for a couple of minutes and then add the black dots on top. Use a food marker to add a nose, mouth, and eye brows. You could skip the eyebrows, but then it would just be a square shaped candy corn cookie WITHOUT eyebrows. Nobody wants that.

HOW TO MAKE THE VAMPIRE COOKIE

Start in the middle of the hairline and pipe a swoopy number 2 with black icing. Then go back to the middle and do the opposite towards the other side. Then fill in above that line with the black icing. You can work left to right if you want, but I found that starting in the middle helped things look a little more symmetrical. And, apparently, that's important to me. Let it dry for 30 minutes. Or longer if you accidentally added way too much black food coloring and you're real nervous now that it's going to bleed into any color it comes in contact with. (Hypothetically, of course.)

Fill in the rest of the square with that light pinkish-peach color. And let that dry for another good chunk of time.(And secretly be SO GLAD that the black coloring seems to be staying exactly where it should be.)

Pipe the white dots for the eyes, and add black dots on top. Pipe a little dot with the face-colored icing for the nose. I drew the mouth on with a food marker, but next time I would just get up the gumption to mix an insanely small amount of red for the mouth. I think it would look better if it was thicker. Anyway....after you do whatever you choose to do for the mouth, add some teeth. I just piped little dots, and then drew them down into a point with a toothpick. Done and done.

HOW TO MAKE SQUARE PUMPKIN COOKIES

I LIKE these guys. I didn't thing I was going to, but they surprised me. Start out by piping orange vertical stripes on your square cookie. Try to keep the spaces the same width as the lines. It helps if you scratch out the dimensions with a toothpick on the first one. At least, if you are spatially challenged like I am. Let those dry for an hour, or until they've lost their shine. 

Then fill in the remaining spaces. And wait for those to dry. I know, the waiting is getting old. But this is the last time. I promise. 

For the eyes, I piped an upside down "u" shape first, and then added a tiny amount to the middle so that it would still retain a mostly crescent shape. (Icing is SO TRICKY sometimes, isn't it?) Pipe tiny little triangles for the nose. And then do the mouth. A little advice, unless you're using thick icing, make sure that the space you leave for the teeth is actually bigger than you want them to be. My icing kind of slid into that space and made the teeth smaller than I had planned. Which turned out okay this time. I mean, who wants giant teeth? Not me, that's for sure. But if YOU or your pumpkins do, that's totally cool. Do what you want.

Mummy and Cat Cookies


You know how there are some things you're just NOT good at, no matter how simple they seem to be? And everyone else in the entire world is some kind of mad skills EXPERT at it. And you keep trying anyway, hoping that if you pretend hard enough that one day you will be able to fool yourself into believing that you might actually be capable of accomplishing said task.

Sewing is like that for me. I can't do it. I shouldn't do it. But sometimes I forget.  I wanted to make a purse for my little girl. I was certain I could make it work out this time. I had all the pieces cut out. (And by that I mean I cut out some rectangle-ish squares of fabric.) And then my little boy said, "Good job Mom, you're almost done. Now you just need to NAIL IT TOGETHER." Clearly, he knows me too well. So I gave up and made cookies instead. BUT, as it turns out, piping cat whiskers is another one of those simple things that I just can't do. Who knew?

HOW TO MAKE A SQUARE CAT COOKIE

We'll start with the cat because I want you to stop staring at those cat whiskers as soon as possible.

This cookie is seriously beyond simple. Ice a square cookie black. (If you are concerned about what black icing will do to the person eating this cookie, make your icing brown with cocoa powder first, and then add black.) Let this dry for an hour or so.

Pipe small green dots for eyes. Then pipe a tiny, tiny dot of black in the middle. Take a toothpick and pull the black dot down and then pull it up to create cat eyes. Pipe a little pink or purple nose and again, I used a toothpick to make it a little pointier. But you could just leave it as a dot, I suppose. You know, as long as that's what makes you happy at the end of the day. I'm not here to judge. But don't do the whiskers like this picture. Because they are super weird and they are waking me up at night.

Do them like the blue lines in this picture. Close together in the middle and STRAIGHT. Much easier, and less likely to give you nightmares about the Chesire Cat coming alive in your kitchen and trying to eat your other cookies.

HOW TO MAKE A MUMMY COOKIE

This guy seemed so complicated until I actually started making it. And then it really wasn't tricky at all. But, seriously, I won't tell anyone if you don't. I mean, I won't tell anyone ELSE. It will be our secret. Just you, me, and the world. No one else needs to know.

Pipe some lines on to a square cookie. Mummies are kind of just wrapped up all sorts of different ways so if your lines aren't exactly like these, that's okay.

Fill in the triangular-ish section with... hmm...I was going to say "flesh colored icing" but -- I mean -- its a mummy. I don't think they have flesh anymore. And now the word "flesh" is kind of grossing me out. So, fill that section in with some light pinkish-peachish colored icing. And then pipe some more white lines in between the other white lines. Let it dry for half an hour while you try to get that word out of your head.

Add some random lines on top of all the other lines. I did the top diagonal line first and let it dry for 10 minutes before adding the bottom diagonal line.

Pipe on some big ol' white dots for the eyes and then some black dots on top of that. I added a mouth with a black food marker because I didn't want to change my tip on the black icing to a #1 tip. But, YOU CAN if you want to. Just don't tell me and try to make me feel all bad inside for being too lazy to change my piping tip. I could probably do without that today.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Frankenstein and Monster Cookie Tutorials

Let's be honest. I made a lot of different square cookies. And I, personally, adore those little guys. And I have a tutorial for every single one of them. But you don't love me enough to read one eternally long post detailing each cookie. Not all in one sitting at least. So I broke it up into pieces. But in a good way. Not in a China vase falling off the top shelf kind of way.

Oh, and for all of you that don't know this -- I use just ONE consistency of icing. It's roughly 12-15 second icing. But do what you want. If you like your cookies with a piped outline and a flooded middle, then go right ahead and do that. Just outline each area first and fill in. You know, just like you always do. 


HOW TO MAKE FRANKENSTEIN

This guy is seriously my favorite. But don't tell the other cookies I said that. First -- make a square cookie. I'm just going to assume you can do that all by yourself. Pipe a jagged line across the top of the cookie and fill in the rest of the square. Let it dry for an hour (or 6 if you have super humidity issues.)

And then forget to take a picture of the next part because you're just so excited about finishing it. And ruin your tutorial. And let the world hate you. Then hide in your closet eating ice cream with your children. And then come back and fill in the jagged part with black icing for hair.

Just real quick -- I did this two different ways. They both have nearly the same outcome. And I'm probably insane for caring.... See the guy on the left? I piped that black icing real quick and moved on. Seriously, I don't even know if you can tell, but the guy on the right has slightly more jagged hair. I like it pointy. So after piping THAT black icing, I went back with a toothpick and gently pulled each lock to more of a point over the top of the green icing. So....you know....be insane with me if you want. Or be efficient. It's totally up to you.

Then pipe on some big ol' white dots for the eyeballs. Let it sit for about 2 minutes and then add the black dots on the eyes. Pipe a tiny green dot for the nose. Then you can either pipe on the mouth and the stitches or use a black food marker. And then love him forever.


HOW TO MAKE THE MONSTER GUY

Umm, this one is real easy. You're gonna love it. Probably. As long as you're into that whole making-easy-and-cute-monster-cookies thing.

First, cover a square cookie with purple icing. I used Americolor's electric purple in case you were wondering. And, I just have to say that this cookie really is square. My camera is actually magic. It somehow manages to turn squares into trapezoids. Every time. Seriously. I'm not kidding. This is not just some excuse for a poorly cut out cookie.  I can tell you don't believe me. That's cool. I don't mind. Just be sure to let your cookie dry for an hour or so.

Add 3 white dots for eyes. I found it easiest to put the middle dot on first and then the outside ones. It helped with centering. (And clearly, I could use some help with that!)  Then pipe a half circle in green for the mouth, pulling up just a bit on the sides. Let those two dry for about 2 minutes and then add the tiny green dot for the eyeballs and little white dots for the teeth. Again, I'm obsessed with toothpicks and used one to pull the teeth into more of a point. But, little round teeth are cute, too.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Halloween Cookies --NO cutter required!

I have been wanting to make Halloween cookies for way longer than is culturally acceptable this year. I'm still not completely sure that it is, in fact, okay yet. But I have two excuses. And I'm just going to pretend that they are both valid reasons for messing up the seasonal continuum by forcing fall holidays to be celebrated during Beach Season.

1) It dropped about 10 degrees here and all the humidity in the entire country went to Japan. Or somewhere else that is decidedly NOT here. So, you know, it's basically fall in Korea now.

2) Umm, this is a little embarrassing to admit, but I noticed on Pinterest that someone had pinned some Halloween cookies I made a long time ago. Like, a LONG, LONG time ago. Pretty much the second set of cookies I ever made. And THEN about 14 or 20 people re-pinned those cookies. So that pretty much sealed the deal for me. Because it's like how my mom always used to tell me to change my underwear in case I got hit by a car. (Because then somehow everyone would KNOW.) I mean, what if I get cookie decorating amnesia tomorrow and NEVER make another cookie? Then everyone would wonder how often I change my underwear. I mean... those cookies would be the last thing they remember about me. And I can't take that kind of stress. So....Halloween cookies in August it is. Take that world.

And the best part about these cookies is that you don't have to have any cookie cutters. AND... I have a tutorial planned for each of them. Just to make up for talking about underwear. Because that's probably worse than making Halloween cookies so early.


Get all the tutorials here --

Frankenstein and Monster Cookies

Mummy and Cat Cookies

Candy Corn, Pumpkins, and Vampire Cookies 


NEED MORE?





 Recipe for chocolate cookies that won't spread in the oven.









Royal Icing recipe using powdered egg whites




If you decide you DO want to use cutters... these are by far my favorite square cutters.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Back to School Backpack Cookies

Can we talk? I mean, is it safe here? You've all got my back, right? You're not going to turn me in to some kind of agency that people turn other people in to, are you?

Look -- it's about this whole going-to-school thing. You've all got me a bit nervous  I mean, my little man still has another year before he is of kindergarten attending age. I haven't even thought about it...until I started rambling around the blogosphere and apparently, when my child goes to school he will come back as some mutated form of himself that has a driver's license and no longer wants to lie under blankets giggling and reading stories with his mother all afternoon.

See, here's the thing. Just two days ago, he said to me, "When I'm big like Daddy, you can still cuddle me." And I plan on holding him to that. Especially now. I mean, it's on the internet. That's totally binding, right? So...I'm just wondering if I should be starting anti-behavior modification tactics now, or if I should just wait until he goes to school and then bribe him into thinking I'm still cooler than the kid with the skateboard and mustache that he sits next to in class. Because if its the first option, I'm probably going to have to put in some kind of mail order and there's no telling how long that will take. And I can't handle waiting for a solution to this almost immediate problem that I didn't have yesterday.

Oooh, and THEN on top of all that -- I have to worry about whether or not he will have any friends. And if kids will be nice to him. And if he's going to be short for his age.  And if he will actually eat the lunch I packed for him. And if he's going to start saying words that aren't even real words just because other kids say them. Wait, actually, he makes up his own words now, so that one will probably be okay. But the rest of those things are going to keep me up late at night trying to figure out Pinterest just so I can block out the emotional wreckage this monstrosity called "school" has left behind. Either that, or I'll just make some cookies and lie under a blanket giggling and reading stories with a little boy while I can.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back To School Apples

You know how your car stops you from going more than 140mph because it has a governor? I need that. But for cookies. Isn't there some kind of warning light I can buy? Maybe with a little siren and a British voice that says "STOP NOW."

See, I wanted to make some back to school cookies. I'm running out of time, I know.  But I really wanted to do it anyway. I settled on something simple. I made some apples. They were cute. I added a little shine line and everything. And then I decided to add some sugar on top.

And for some reason, that made me think about an image I had seen somewhere. An apple with a mustache. It had to be done.

And then naturally, the mustachioed apple also needed a bowler hat. Because if you have a mustache and NO bowler hat....total creepsville for apples.

And then...everything just kind of spiraled out of control and I'm not sure that I remember everything. There are some moments in there I might not be too proud of in the morning....one thing led to another and I ended up with these guys.

And these guys. But I'm pretty sure I'm still gonna love them in the morning.

Seriously. I am now accepting applications for director of  the Just stop. Right now. Walk away. department. And probably an intern too.

PS -- We're totally talking hypothetically here about my car going 140mph. Because that's wrong. And dangerous. And a car built in 1979 couldn't possibly go that fast anyway. Even if it is in Wyoming.

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