14 December 2010

Christmas Creations

I've been working for awhile on Christmas presents. I prefer to hand make presents, whenever possible. It's usually not possible, because I wait until the last minute to start. This year, I didn't wait until the last minute. In fact, I'm almost done. So as not to ruin the surprise for anyone, in case some of the people on my Christmas list stumble upon this blog, I'm not going to post pictures yet. The spoiler alert is that I'm proud of some of my Christmas creations, and some other creations are causing me to brainstorm backup presents I can buy for people. Anywho, pictures will be up in a couple of weeks.

Also, I'm creating cookies right now. I want to get them made and packaged for people at school this week, because I'm still hoping for snow days. I used two recipes from one of my favorite blogs, How Sweet It Is. The Fat Fluffy Snickerdoodles are out of the oven and cooled, and they are everything they promised. (I heart a snickerdoodle, in general, but these are way above par.) Right now I'm about three-quarters of a my way through a batch of Hot Cocoa Cookies, and they smell awesome. I'm nervous about them still, mostly because I didn't have enough regular flour, so I made them with half self-rising flour. I convinced myself it wouldn't be a problem, but I have to wait for the marshmallows to cool before I can test my theory. 
Row upon row of snickerdoodles: a beautiful thing
Oh, hey there, hot messy blobs!
My cookies are much flatter and uglier than the ones on the blog. I'm going to blame it on the self-rising flour, and not my sub-par baking skills. But, I'm still going to give away the ones that are somewhat aesthetically pleasing, if only because it leaves more snickerdoodles for yours truly. Not really in line with the giving spirit of the season. I'll ponder my shortcomings while I eat snickerdoodles until I puke. 

P.S. Do yourself a favor and bookmark How Sweet It Is. Or add it to your blogroll, or RSS feed, or whatever it is the cool kids do to keep up with their favorite blogs. How Sweet It Is gets updated frequently, and has a good mix of sweet and savory recipes. And, Jessica, the blogger, is hilarious. She's the blogger I wish I could be.

05 December 2010

Not an Apple Cup post

This weekend was the Apple Cup, the rivalry game between the University of Washington and Washington State University. Normally, I'm a WSU Cougars fan, because I grew up on the east side of the state, and I'm always a fan of the underdog. (The Cougs are perpetual underdogs.) This year, the Apple Cup was late in the season, the last game actually. The Huskies needed to win to get into a bowl game, and the Cougs would love a chance to ruin that for them. I didn't get into the rivalry this year, just because I would rather have a team from Washington go to a bowl game than some other team. (Spoiler Alert: The Huskies won by a touchdown in the last minute of the game.)

The other thing that may have softened my heart towards the Huskies is that my main squeeze's oldest niece is freshman at UW this year. She's also the reason for this post (which should have been one of the first posts, but I am a slacker). Her birthday was about two weeks after she moved up to school this year, and I know how much I loved to get care packages at school, so I made her Huskies cookies for her birthday.

I made my own cookie cutter (which is a whole other story). It was also my first trip into the land of royal icing. I made the first batch with a regular sugar cookie recipe, and I didn't like them. They were too thin and wafery. I like puffy cookies, so I remade them with a chocolate recipe dough. Much better tasting, but they didn't travel as well as I had hoped. 

Cut outs before they go into the oven.

15 November 2010

Nutella cookies

One of my favorite things in the world is peanut butter cookies. A good peanut butter cookie is a wonderful thing. Paula Deen makes one of the best, easiest peanut butter cookies. I change her recipe a bit: I put 3/4 cup of sugar, and 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and I add about a 1/2 tsp of vanilla. (Really, I just pour a bit of vanilla in. But if you measured it, I think it'd be about 1/2 tsp.)

Some people love Nutella the way that I love peanut butter cookies. I don't feel that way about Nutella. Really, I could take it or leave it. But I had some left over from another baking adventure, and I thought I could improve on Nutella by combining it with my peanut butter cookie recipe.

They turned out pretty good. They tasted a little bit like hazelnut brownie cookies. Which I don't hate. 
Nutella cookies in the oven.

Nutella Brownie Cookies
(adapted from Paula Deen's Peanut Butter Cookies)

1 large egg
1 cup Nutella
1/2 cup flour (the Nutella is more liquid-y than peanut butter, so I had to add flour)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Mix all ingredients until dough forms. Drop by spoonful onto parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from sheet and allow to cool. 

07 November 2010

Homemade Oreos

Yep. You heard that right. Homemade Oreos. I first saw them posted here, at the Bake at 350 site, which I love. In the not too distant future, I see myself making Homemade Nutter Butters, Homemade Animal Cookies, and Homemade Hostess Cupcakes.

When I made my first batch, I never realized how many more batches I would need to make. They are so good that I want to share them with everyone. But they are so good that they also disappear faster than I can make them. I made them so often that I nearly had the recipe memorized. Seriously. They are good. 

Happy (belated) Halloween

I made all sorts of Halloween/Harvest type desserts, and I'm not posting them until November. Maybe I'm not cut out for this whole blog thing...

Every year, my roommates and I throw a "Nacho Pumpkin" party. We get together to carve pumpkins and eat nachos. I stole the idea for these "Caramel Apple Cookies" from the decorated cookie blog.

I also made fall leaf cookies, using royal icing and my Food Writer markers. (I need more practice with both.)

Also for the party, I made pumpkin cookies and candy corn cookies, using some sparkle Wilton frosting I found. You can kind of see those cookies in the background of the leaf picture, but I don't have any good pictures of just those cookies.

Another fun October event is my church's annual "Harvest Fest". We set up a carnival and invite everyone in the neighborhood to come play games and eat lots of treats and candy. I made some cookies for the treat table, and made four cakes for the cake walk. My original plan was to have a cake that looked like a pumpkin face, a cake that looked like a spiderweb, a cake that looked like Frankensteins monster, and a cake that looked like a caramel apple. Once I had frosting on all four, I realized the pumpkin cake looked goofy, but was okay, and the spiderweb and apple cakes were hot messes. I liked the Frankenstein face, so I decided to scrape all the frosting off of the other cakes and make them Frankensteins monsters, too. I'm not super proud of any of the cakes, but they worked out for the cake walk.
Super goofy pumpkin cake. Not even the right orange color.

First Frankenstein cake. I used a different frosting, so he looks a little nauseous. 

Frankenstein #2. Used to be a spiderweb cake. 
Frankenstein #3. Those sticks are to hold the Press and Seal wrap off of the frosting while I transported them to church. Don't want to make them look even more goofy.

I'll try to be better about posting things in a timely manner. :)

25 October 2010

Oldies, but goodies

Here are some of my past creations...

My friend Kirstin loves the pigeon books. LOVES them. So I made her this birthday cake. (Please tell me you know about the pigeon.)

For a friend's "Luck of the Irish" birthday party, I made this leprechaun hat cake. It was green inside.

A friend wanted to be a chef, so I made him this cake for his birthday.

24 October 2010

Five Minas (talents)

Matthew 25:14-30 is one of my favorite Bible passages. Jesus tells a parable about a man who entrusted his servants with minas (talents) before going on a journey, "each according to their ability". When the man returned, he asked the servants to describe what they had done with what he had given them. The first was given five talents, and gained five more. The second was given two talents, and gained two more. The man's response to both of them was "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things! Come and share your master's happiness!" The third was given one talent, and hid it in the ground, so only had the one talent to return to his master. Needless to say, he didn't get the same response from the man. 

I know God has entrusted me with talents. Somedays, I forget what they are. Somedays, I forget that they aren't really mine, and are just on loan. Most days, I'm not sure exactly why I was trusted with them, or what to do with them. My hope is that this blog is a place to hold me accountable, so that I'm not burying them in the sand, like the third servant. My desire is to hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"