Saturday, January 29, 2011

Camo is the new color!

Has anyone else noticed all of the camouflage out there these days? It's everywhere. On baby clothes, bedding, party favors. You name it, it probably comes in a camo color choice. With this recent awareness of the world around me I tried it out in a Valentine's Day cookie.

I really like, no I really love these cookies. After playing around with a few, I got another idea.

A bucket!
I picked a few of these up when they were deeply discounted, thinking I might have a purpose for it someday.
Guess What? Purpose Time

Now I present to you...

"The Bucket of Love" 

What man would not want a little "manly" love like this? I tell you any man would want a bucket of love for his V day present. Ladies, give your man some manly love this season and keep the last fashion trend in mind!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Rebel WITH a Cause

When it comes to the kitchen and recipes, I rarely follow the rules. So to anyone who hasn't yet picked up a wooden spoon or spatula, for fear of doing it wrong. Don't worry you CAN break the rules.

If I'm baking, ok who am I kidding, really never do I measure exactly (go ahead give me a big sigh and shake your head.) I never worry if I have ALL the ingredients as I tend to substitute anyway. Sometimes I mix the dry and wet all at one time instead of alternating (usually doesn't mess it up!). You get the picture right. I tend to walk to the beat of a different kitchen drum and I think most of the time, it all turns out ok!

This past weekend I needed an accessory for our roast dinner. I had an afternoon that was quiet, so I spent the day reading cooking blogs looking for something new. A secret pleasure of mine! As always, while on the web, I found the perfect complement to our dinner. Cheddar Black Pepper Biscuits from Joy the baker .

You guessed it, I didn't follow the rules and substituted ingredients and I didn't use a biscuit cutter! Mostly because I didn't have sharp cheddar on hand and I rarely use shortening so didn't have that either. However this recipe does call for cream of tarter which I know big S will be happy to see me using. (It is the one spice that I seem to have umpteen jars of)
BTW - Does anyone else have 10 jars that random spice?
How does this happen? 
I blame my collection of cream of tarter on the home-made play dough days.  
Anyway, I digress...back to biscuits

The big S had been watching football afternoon so after I rolled out the dough and went to grab the biscuit cutter I remembered the collection of football cookie cutters I just got and had yet to use. You guessed it...I decided helmet shaped biscuits would be fun. :) I know only us women can understand the goofy stuff...big S just said mmmm, they also look like brains or pork chops.
REALLY???? brains? oh well, I love him anyway.

Here they are:
adapted from Joy the baker:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 TBS sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cream of tarter
3/4 tsp salt
12 TBS butter (1 1/2 sticks) cut in small squares
1 egg
3/4 cup buttermilk + 1 TBS
1/2 cup shredded colby jack
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
black pepper and dash of cream for the tops

This recipe is simple and gets big pay out in the flavor department.
Pre-heat oven 425`. Mix all dry ingredients in mixing bowl. With the paddle attachment cut the butter into dry ingredients. This just means put in the butter and let the mixer beat until you have a crumb mixture. Add the cheese and black pepper and mix until well blended. Whisk buttermilk with egg and pour into dough. Use he dough hook attachment to knead the dough about 2 minutes. You may need a dash more milk because of the added cheese. Turn the soft dough ball out onto a floured surface and roll until its about 1 inch thick.
Use a biscuit cutter or like me, a cookie cutter to cut your biscuits.
  Brush tops with cream and black pepper. Put on ungreased baking sheet and bake 12-15 minutes.

These biscuits are sooo easy, they make the kitchen smell scrumptious and add the right amount of carbiliciousness to any meal. They bake up beautifully and would definitely impress anyone you have over for dinner.

Next time I will probably try all parm or maybe even romano. I think the extra sharp bite will meld with the bite of the black pepper. I could just use sharp cheddar, but that would be like following the rules, Right?

So go ahead, try some baking. I have faith in you and don't worry....breaking the rules is perfectly acceptable.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Trial and Error

How do most of our greatest inventions happen? With great minds of course, but also quite by accident or pure trial and error. So with that in mind I took a different approach to a cookie recently. It was for a baby shower and the request for a monogram. I had given monograms a go before and the result was eh...ok. It pleased the customer and received oohs and awws, but I was disappointed in the result.

With that in mind, this cookie was going to get a different approach. Insert superhero dantadah music here.

My first attempt was using royal icing. (You know the cookie that was only eh..ok.) the medium I normally use to decorate. I knew it had the "firmness and strength" needed for the cookie but wasn't sure on looks.
I tried to make "monogram O's" out of royal icing on wax paper. However I had trouble transferring the O's to the cookie without a lot of breakage. And because I get enough stress from my "real" job, the cookie business needs to be a stress free zone. Thus, I tried two different techniques. One being wet on wet (green cookie), it was probably the best of the two. I had to do something different with the onesie shape because the yellow was dry. So I tried just scripting the O. Both of these did get the job done but I wasn't happy with it. 
Since those cookies I'd moved onto other shapes and designs until a week ago when I got a call for a baby shower and guess what: Monograms! EEEK.
Secretly I was thinking oh can I talk them into something different, but knowing that I need to keep "the customer is always right" in mind I stayed positive.
Needless to say the brain went on overload and I began to think what else could I do? I do tend to do things the hard way most days, and I was pretty sure other cookiers out there had already mastered this, but for me I had to learn by doing and thinking it through. This was a growing moment. With great hope I decided to try melting chocolate wafers. It was taking a risk as I didn't really have a back up plan and had a short time to get them done...but here is the result.

Let me start with yes this pleased me. I was very happy with the overall "look." I do have to say though that these M's did not have the durability I was looking for. There was some breakage while trying to fix the platter, but with a soft touch they melted back together.

This was an awww ha moment as Oprah would say. I'm pretty sure I will keep this strategy the next time I need monograms and may even try almond bark because it might have the strength that the baking chips didn't.

So back to the title: some of our best creations come from trial and error. Happy Baking and if you don't succeed the first the cookie and try again another day!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Don't drink the water!

The past few months have been full of baby showers. So don't drink the water around here! Don't get me wrong, I like the business but eventually we must have some bachelorette parties, bridal showers and weddings to start the baby business all over again. There have been lots of baby mamas and lots of baby cookies. I didn't know how to share them, so I just decided I'd pick a few of my favorites.

Classic, simple, elegant.
Classic carriages, I love this baby shape

Now for a little theme: This shower was for a couple adopting two babies; a boy and a girl. I'm so proud for them and hope the adjustment goes well.
These baby animals were toppers for the cupcakes.
It was fun to do a pink and blue color scheme for one shower.
 And finally....the little buckaroo.

It seems I have a favorite until I make the next cookie and it moves into top spot. I love these bandanas!

  So many designs, not enough events. Lets have some love connections people. I want to make cookies for a wedding! :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Creativity!....Easy as 1, 2, 3

Recently I declared that I'm really not that creative. I know it seems like a sham considering I bake custom cookies and all, but I don't feel like I am. So in order to not be faking it anymore, I'm ramping up my creative ways and bringing you along.

It's really rather simple and if I can do it, so can you. (I know it's an overused cliche'.)

Start with something simple - mine?  
Rice krispie treats

Now look at that basic idea and think how can I change it up.

Marshmallows and rice krispies....two rather simple ingredients but with a few quick changes you can take the normal basic rice krispie treats to a new level. 


1. Take out the regular white marshmallows and use a festive color/flavor.

2. Instead of basic, bland, pan squares, dust off a cookie cutter. (dusting one off isn't my problem, it's choosing ONE shape)

3. Add something you wouldn't normally think of doing. In my case it was chocolate drizzle.

And presto 1, 2, 3!

As I said, creativity is easy as 1, 2, 3. I'd love to hear about your "bland and basic" change up. So leave me a comment.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Time flies when you're having fun

It's been 13 years. Years that seem to have flown by. Years that have been filled with laughter, sadness and wonderful memories. The importance of 13 years you ask? Well, on January 8, 1998 at 4:45 and 4:46 I delivered my twin boys. As I became a mom that day, my life was changed for ever.
The boys have given me so many opportunities to be a proud mama. The latest is their endeavor as a cadet with the United States Navy Sea Cadets. Shanon joined two years ago when he was 11 and Shelby joined a year later.
To celebrate their birthday, we sent cookies to the unit for their drill weekend.
Happy Birthday Boys. I love you very much! You make me proud everyday.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cookies - The perfect way to say Thank You!

Have you ever needed or wanted to send a little note to someone but just didn't know quite what to say? Well I was in that sort of quandary this weekend. 

I will get to my predicament a little later, but first the lead up story. I am in the education field, so I am very privileged to get a long winter break. Not only does the break provide great family time it also gives the man of the house and myself to spend a little extra time together. (He travels for work EVERY week.) But this holiday break was a downer as he had to work. So guess what...I tagged along! Oh thank you Delta Sky Miles!!!! Well the destination was Cleveland. Not really the place I'd try to hit when throwing a dart on a map in the middle of winter, but it was "work" for one of us after all.

I knew immediately what my plans would include: A Diners, Drive-ins and Dives tour of Cleveland. Before I started packing, I already had places in mind to visit. Before the plane landed, my itinerary was mapped out. (Just one of my little faults, over planning)

I will say that I packed in a lot of food in 2 days! Way more than I should have or will again very soon....but it was for GUY. Of the places I went, my favorite was a little cafe in Tremont, Cleveland. Lucky's Cafe was a gem. I was greeted at the door with a very warm welcome. I arrived before the kitchen opened but enjoyed a cup of joe from the counter and relished in the ambiance. I did wait around until I could order their "from scratch" granola. It was worth the wait. This is a MUST stop for anyone traveling through Cleveland. I promise you won't be disappointed. 

So back to my original predicament. How to tell them just how much I enjoyed their warm hospitality? I was a little nobody from waaaaaay out-of-town and they took me in like a neighbor down the street. OH WAIT I know....Cookies. But how - what design- Then it hit me. Their logo from the website. Without further waiting, here's what I came up with. 

Their logo (cute don't you think)
My ode to Lucky's.

So off my thank you cookies go. Lucky's save a seat for me, I'll be back.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Blog Stalker No Longer

I realize this is two posts in one day. I promise to not do this again. After spending my morning creating the blog, I wanted to pay tribute to some of the women that I have unofficially been "stalking" these past few months. I have admired their work, been jealous of their creativity and wished that some of their ability would find it's way through the computer keys to my hands. 

I have not met any of these girls, but it would be somewhat of a "bucket list scribble" to do so. I will start with the first blog I found and have been following since. Bridgette over at bakeat350 is a beauty! I fell in love with her cookies and they've been an inspiration to my cookie designs.

The next lady of cookies I've admired over the past few months is Amanda at i am baker. She makes the cutest cakes on the block (which I refuse to tackle just yet), but her cookies rank #1 also. She works with a different medium than I typically do, but is amazing with glaze. She is also a genius at creating cookies from anything she sees.

I will finish this post (which seems very long at this point) with the latest blog I've been stalking, Callye the sweetsugarbelle. She is absolutely one of the most artistic cookiers I've seen. I am in awe of her cookie creations and can only hope to become half as talented.

There are many fantastic cookie decorators out there. These just happen to be a few of the ones I've admired over the past few months. I hope with each cookie and each design I grow stronger. Thanks ladies for being an inspiration to me and so many others. Have a great year!!!

New Year = New Adventures

As I write this first post, I am thinking of all the "blog stalking" I've been doing over the past year. I have read countless posts for my real job (educational posts) and in the more recent past I've been reading tons of posts for my new endeavor of baking. I'm not sure I understand all the ins and outs of blogging, but decided it could be a new adventure of 2011. I'm sure I will look back at this original post one day and think...eeek. However, one must start someplace. 

So let me introduce my blog. I started a baking business - 66 Cupcakes - this past year and have been growing my customers, my abilities and my passion. I still have so much to learn and hope this blog is one way to grow. I'm sure my family, life and profession will creep into this blog from time to time but for the most part it will be a road side stop along my baking travels.

So welcome.... and I hope you'll come back again.