Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cupcake Cookies



There is this game called "Buying Groceries With Children." Any of you guys played it? It's got life-like graphics and sound effects, and apparently its an old classic, because even my parents played it for awhile when they were younger. I think there's an app for it now.


Basically you have to get from "the car" all the way through "the check-out lane" and then back to "the car" without screaming, crying, injuries, or loss of a child AND you have get every item on your list without getting any junk food. I'm awful at it. I've never made it past Level One.


One (or more) of the children always end up crying. Usually because one (or more) of the other children have hit them. And then the other one hits back and they are both crying which makes the baby cry because she just wants everyone go get along. And the guy back at the meat counter starts walking out front like he legitimately thinks something is wrong with one (or more) of my children. So to avoid an all-out confrontation I start speed-shopping to another lane where he can't see me and at the same time becoming insanely interested in how much protein is in a can of boiled spinach while at the same time promising my children snacks made entirely of preservatives and sugar and red dye 40 which never actually works until I show them the bag and they are clutching it to their tear streaked little faces. And even then, it only buys me another 7 minutes. And when the guy at the meat counter comes walking around the corner again, I just head for the door. I am never going to save the princess.
 

But I am going to make cupcake cookies. I mean, I did. I made these ones. And you can too. You know, if you want to.

1. Start by outlining the top of the cupcake with thick white icing and a #3 tip. It seemed kind of complicated to me so I made a super-cryptic drawing to make it even more complicated. Let me know if you figure it out and save the princess. I'll be hiding behind the mustard greens.


2. After the outline has dried a bit, fill it in. Use a 15 count icing for that puffy-reminds-me-of-dairy-queen look. (Or is that just me?)
3. Outline the bottom half and let it dry for an hour or so.
4. Fill it in with 15 count blue icing. Be careful not to overfill.
5. Add some dots while it is still wet.


6. (Not pictured) Eat.
7. Repeat.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Nebraska Huskers Cookies and a Miracle Cure

UPDATE -- The winner of the Box of Goodness is -- 

BRANDI G. who said -- "I had a really bad week were all my cookies were bleeding AFTER I bagged and sealed them up.  So they would go in the bag looking beautiful, and when I checked on them the next day SpongeBob looked like he had running mascara, etc...  I have found that with transfers onto white, you can't use a really strong cooler.  I did some blue and silver Air Force symbol transfers for a white cookie, and they bleed after I placed them on the cookie :( "

Check your email for my message Brandi!!



Apparently, there is this real-live world-wide epidemic of "If-Anything-Can-Go-Wrong-It-Will." You can try hiding if you want to...but its not going to work. It will find you under all those blankets in the back of your closet and it will take your ice cream. And it will sit by your side, waiting patiently until you come out and start working on that fantastic project you have been dreaming about since you were 12 and started having real thoughts that weren't about candy and getting your mom to finish your homework for you...

Let's take for example....THESE cookies. These cookies even made my son cry. (I am not kidding.) (I wish I were.)

Round 1-- I made royal icing transfers for these cookies. I wanted to use my dehydrator instead of leaving them to dry on a baking sheet. So I piped the logo onto wax paper that I had taped onto little pieces of cardboard. And the cardboard curled up on the edges in the dehydrator, and consequently the transfers as well. So I threw those away and had to start over.

Round 2-- I made the outline too thin which made the transfers brittle and completely unstable and they shattered into a jillion pieces when I tried to take them off the wax paper. My trash bin is now the proud owner of a jillion pieces of proud Huskers royal icing in addition to the curled up logos.


Round 3-- I accidentally bumped the dehydrator when I was putting the top on... and changed the temperature from 90F to 135F. The wax paper melted into the transfers. Again with the trash.

Round 4-- I FINALLY got the transfers safely into the dehydrator, safely out of the dehydrator, and safely off the wax paper. I was taking no chances. I put them very gently on to a baking sheet and set it on top of my microwave so they would be out of range of my children's hands, breathing, or you know, some freak wind that blows through my kitchen window and shatters glass all over my otherwise healthy and sanitary royal icing transfers. My microwave just happens to be next to my refrigerator  and someone (me) shut the fridge door a few minutes later and...I KID YOU NOT -- a PENCIL rolled off the top of the fridge and on to...the top of my transfers breaking half of them. A pencil. You guys thought I was kidding about the pencil mutiny... This is the point at which my child started crying. And through his tears, I heard him say-- "I'm just so sad because you love your cookies!!" So you know, I definitely couldn't freak out. Or throw them away again. Or scrap the project entirely.


Round 5-- For the good of the children, I soldiered on and finished the cookies. I used the broken transfers and added sanding sugar to the top to cover the cracks. Which was a great idea because as soon as I placed the red transfers on the white icing they started developing the dreaded blotch! And I was mighty pleased with how everything was finally turning out....until the next morning when I looked at the cookies and realized the little "N" on the scalloped cookies had bled all over creation and the cookies looked like they had contracted their own little real-live world-wide epidemic. So I gave in and took pictures.


The way I see it, if you or someone you know are experiencing this epidemic -- there are two solutions. And you should do both of them.

Solution 1 -- Link up a project you have accomplished that makes you feel happy. It can be cookies or cards or a painted wall or a complete makeover of a piece of furniture that you dug up in your backyard and now its your entertainment center.

~~~GIVEAWAY CLOSED~~~

Solution 2 -- Leave me a comment telling me about your worst case of "If-Anything-Could-Go-Wrong-It-Did." or tell me about something you love -- by the end of August and I will have my good friend Rand M. Generator pick someone to win a giant box of "I hope you feel better." And it will include cookies. Lots of cookies. And candy. And cookie cutters. And it will not include dried shrimp or octopus or an "I told you so." Because those are the worst. Especially when they did.

~~~ GIVEAWAY CLOSED~~~




Monday, August 20, 2012

Under The Sea Cookies


As I was standing in the check-out line today, aside from thinking about how weird it is that they sell super glue and candy right next to each other, and also about how they never sell my favorite candy  at the register anymore and how candy has kind of morphed into these weird size packages that you feel guilty buying because they are too big for one person to comfortably eat in front of another human being...but if you share, then everyone ends up with like 12 M&Ms and nobody's happy. Except, maybe the candy company.

Aside from that, I was also kind of thinking about buying a farm. But not living on it. I want someone else to live on it. And take care of it, and feed the animals and fix things that get broken.  I just want to know that I am not going to run out of butter and eggs. A farm seems like a perfectly legitimate solution to me. 


Before I moved here, my neighbor kept a rooster in the back of their truck in the parking lot. So...I'm pretty much a chicken expert by now. I would buy one today if I thought it was allowed in my backyard. And also if I knew where to buy one. And also if I could be sure that the chicken and my daughter would get along. And if someone else promised to clean up after it. And if it wouldn't bite me. Do chickens bite people? Is this going to be one of those things where I see an adorable little chicky and I buy it and adore it for like two days and then it gets all lonely and kind of squawky and sad because it is by itself so I have to get a few more so they can have a full basketball team and before I know it, my entire backyard is full of chickens running around hiding their eggs so I can't find them because they thinks its funny, only its not at all funny because I'm also trying to avoid stepping on any of the backyard toys that didn't get put away before it started raining and now everything is kind of rusted over and covered in chicken feathers...and I still don't have eggs because I never was very good at hide-and-seek?

I guess driving my vehicle to the store doesn't sound like such a bad idea after all.


You know what else isn't a bad idea? Clicking over to The Cookie Cutter Company to see how I made these sea creature cookies. Step-by-step tutorials and everything. And also I may have said something funny over there. But I'm not telling you what it was. But you can be sure it wasn't the story about how I was afraid to jump off the diving board and embarrassed my mother so much that she never made me take swimming lessons again.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Colored Pencil Cookies


Did you guys know they still use pencils to write with in kindergarten??!! They used those things when I went to school! And for comparison sake...I also had floppy disks and played Oregon Trail. And died of Diphtheria every single time I played it. I never made it past Kansas.


I kind of thought by this time though, they would have invented better technology for kindergartners. Like a really cool headband (that also has to be very soft and perhaps quite stylish) that could catch their very brilliant thoughts and laser print them into some leather bound journal called "My Very Brilliant Thoughts" without them having to hold some chewed up piece of wood and graphite in their little hands. That's not very hygienic. And I try to teach my kids good hygiene. You know, like...don't chew on your own shoes. (It's a work in progress.)



Since I threw out all the pencils in our house during The Great Pencil Rebellion though, I have to find some more to send with my child to school. I'm thinking that maybe I will just send these and hope his teacher has a few extra Kindergarten Thought Transcribers lying around.

PS -- I don't actually know any cats named Max. Mostly they are named Ginger. Or Scott.
PPS -- I don't know very many cats.


Can anyone guess what this cutter was originally designed to be used for? I'll give you a hint, I squished it for THESE rockets first, and then a little more for THESE popsicle cookies. After the popsicles, I just had to make one edge a little more pointy and it was the perfect pencil cutter! Apparently though, they make actual cutters for pencil cookies that you don't have to squish before you can use them.


If you want to outline these in the same order that I did...this would be the way to do it. This picture looks really weird, and I actually thought about not including it. If I had a thought transcriber though, this would be pretty amazing. You can be sure of that.


Once the outline is dry,  you can fill in the spaces with all your fun colors. To be honest, you don't really have to fill in every other space and let it dry. Since you have the black outline there, if you are careful, you can just fill in all the spaces at once. I am not really careful.


What's the wierdest thing on your child's school list? Is there anything I should get my kindergartner even though it's NOT on the list?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Let's talk about HUE. -- Color Experiment

Let me just say something first that has nothing to do with cookies or color or anything really that you would ever care about -- I am a vegetarian.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way....Let's talk about South Korea again, shall we? When we first moved here, going out to restaurants was like a game of Chance. My husband and I would randomly point at items on the menu and hope we liked it. (For the record, we are, in fact, reasonably sane adults that have somehow made it to this point in our lives by making actual decisions.) We just didn't speak Korean. We had no way of knowing what we would end up with. My husband got octopus and I got something that looked like spaghetti but instead of tomato sauce, it was hot red pepper sauce. We have also ordered neck bone soup, intestines, and once we even ordered a hot dog without realizing it. I may have lost 12 pounds in the first 2 months that we lived here.

We eventually figured out how to read Korean and then each time we ordered something new, we tried to figure out what words were the same as something else we had ordered and if they had any of the same ingredients. Then one day, we got a book that had pictures and told us what everything was and we all lived happily ever after.

Making icing colors is kind of like eating out in South Korea. If you don't know how to mix red and yellow to make orange, you are going to end up losing 12 pounds. No wait...that's not what I meant. What I mean is, you need to know what is in your food coloring so you can make the color you want.

Do you remember that one time I was talking about making pink icing and we wanted it darker so I said to add brown, because it has an orange base? Yeah...that didn't make sense to a lot of people. It took me a long time to realize that Americolor Chocolate Brown had an orange base. But it took me a lot less time to realize that black has a purple base to it. I mean...have you LOOKED at your hands after you get black food coloring on them?

The way I see it, you have a couple of choices to make. You can spend the next 4 months analyzing what happens each time you add a certain color to a different color and see what patterns you find...OR...you can get a "guide" to the color bases of your food coloring.

Also, you can either do this yourself, or let your children do it. You know, in the name of "education" and "providing quality learning activities in the middle of summer when all your children want to do is lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling and complain about how there is never ever ever anything to do besides lying on the couch and complaining."

So...you know...your choice.


You need some seriously fancy equipment for this -- a bowl of water, food color, and a paper towel. Email me if you have any trouble acquiring these items. I can give you a list of suppliers.

Draw a line of food color across the bottom of a paper towel. Honestly, I just blob up a bit of food color and then swipe the paper towel across. It doesn't need to be beautiful or perfect or anything at all that would make you or your not-bored children stressed out.

Put the bottom edge of the paper towel in the water. The water will creep up the paper towel and across your line of food color.

As the water crosses your food color line, it will start to separate into different colors. (See the blue coming out on the top right?) Once the water is an inch above your line, set the paper towel somewhere flat and dry. It will continue to spread as it dries. 

This is, obviously, black. Isn't it cool? I can see at least 3 different colors in it -- turquoise, blue, and magenta. And now it makes sense why your icing turns out kind of a purple gray instead of black when you don't add quite enough black food coloring. And why a true gray is so hard to achieve. Any guesses what you would add to make it more gray and less dirty lavender? (Here's a hint. I would add a smidgeon of green.)

Brown is my favorite because it turned out looking like a campfire. We already talked about how this brown is orange based. It is very easy to see that in this picture! You can also pick up the traces of pink and...surprisingly -- light green along the top edges. (It makes sense though, right? If there wasn't green in there...it would be just orange.)

This explains everything, I think. People are always asking me how to make a deeper blue. And I tell them to add purple and then they think I grew another head and started dancing the polka on top of a school bus in the rain. Seriously though -- that's all that those crazy-smart color people at Americolor did. The two color washes are nearly identical except for the purple color at the bottom of the royal blue.

And greens. Getting *that* particular shade of green used to be very difficult for me before I realized that all greens are not created equal. Leaf green is heavy on the yellow with a bit of blue added in. Forest green has three different shades of blue, some turquoise, and some yellow. It would be safe to say that this would not be the food color shade of choice if you were trying for a spring green.

I ran out of attention span before I could do anymore. Feel free to put your children to work and see what your own favorite food color shades are hiding!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Butterfly Cookies -- Cookies and Cards

There is a bit of a pencil mutiny at my house this week. It started with one of the brightly patterned school pencils. My 5 year old told me that something was wrong with it and he didn't want to tell me what it was. I automatically assumed that he had A) jammed it into some unknown crevice in our house just to see if it would fit and now couldn't get it out or B) it had magically written itself all over our newly painted white walls. Neither option was desirable.

After chasing him around the house and under the kitchen table, I discovered that a short piece of the graphite core had broken and come out. Trying to stay calm under the pressure, we solved the immediate crisis with a pencil sharpener, only for that wily pencil to turn right around and break off another chunk of itself. I'm a pretty determined person, and I don't like to lose. So I sharpened it again. And again. And again. And then I threw it in the garbage while my child wasn't looking.


But then-- and here's where things get weird -- I tried to sharpen the other pencils in our house. Apparently, they had all stayed up really late last night carousing with the crayons and the mechanical pencils and decided that they were going to go on strike until they got equal treatment. (Which, in all honesty, is not likely to happen given the way they carelessly lose themselves in the school drawer and refuse to show up at school time.)

I even tried sharpening the colored pencils. The red ones were siding with the school pencils while the blue one remained neutral. I tried showing them the pencil that ended up in the trash, but that didn't seem to affect them. It was like they were actually CHOOSING to be emotionless, inanimate objects with no power to control their own future. So I moved the mechanical pencils into the kitchen and left the wooden pencils alone in the school drawer to contemplate the consequences of their actions.


Which leads me to this question -- Do pencils go bad? Not just naughty, but is there anything that makes the graphite core weak and prone to break? Does it happen over time or with crazy humidity? Or is it just something they are born with and I need to learn to love them for who they are? Because I can do that. I'm a crazy lover. I crazy love lots of things. Like my kids, cookie cutters, a house with a backyard....these butterfly cookies....


Its the first Friday of the month, which means I get to shamelessly copy one of my cousin Pam's fantastic card designs again. I actually LOVE creating a cookie from her cards because it gets me out of my groove and I try something new nearly every time. Like these blue inlays for the butterfly..

1. First, I traced the cookie cutter I was going to use on a piece of paper and randomly scrawled a design on it and hoped it would somehow resemble the fun pattern on my cousin's card.
2. I placed that piece of paper under some wax paper and piped on top of it. I know some people like to tape their wax paper down and make multiple copies of the item to be piped over. I would do that if I wasn't lazy.  Instead, I just slide my pattern to a new spot and pipe over the top again and again. I made a ton of extras, but as it turns out, these guys were pretty sturdy.
3. Let your transfers dry for AT LEAST 12 hours. 24-48 hours is even better. You can bake some cookies while you are waiting. (<---- This is actually a good idea, because you are going to need some cookies to finish the process.)
4. Outline and flood the cookies all at the same time. Take care to get near the edges of the cookie, but don't go all the way to the edge. You don't want the green to show under the blue inlays.

 5. If you want, add some polka dots to the wet icing. 
6. Gently remove the blue wing inlays from the wax paper. I cut the wax paper from between each set of wings first so that I am only working with one piece at a time. Then, I use a very thin knife to separate the two.
7. Carefully place it on one side of the butterfly and press lightly so the green icing and blue wings are nearly the same height on the cookie. (If this doesn't make sense -- just throw that blue wing thing on the cookie and call it good. It will probably look the same.)
8. Add the other wing.
9. (Not pictured ) Look at your cookie and think about how amazing you are. (Not that *I* do this step.) (Often.)

Pam is turning one of my cookies into a card. You should go check it out HERE....if you feel like it.

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