We Threw A Party!

The weekend after Thanksgiving was the big engagement party that we threw for our cousins and their new fiancées. It was a big success! My sister made most of the food, and I made a ton of desserts. The decorations were pretty simple – we hung some lanterns in a tent outside, and I bought these big gold balloons that looked great with the high ceilings of my sister’s living room.I set up a dessert buffet with a few different types of desserts.I made blue and gold sugar cookies to match the colors on the invitations.Salted Caramel Shortbread (my new favorite dessert).Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding (so amazing you should make it right now) in little cups with mini silver spoons.I also made caramel apples, rice crispie treats, brownies, and mini pumpkin cheesecakes, plus I had bowls of Reeses Cups and Ring Pops.

We had such a great time welcoming two wonderful girls to our family!

Fall Baking

It’s getting cool here in Scranton, and yesterday I pulled out my tall boots and warmest sweater. I’m going to be baking like a crazy person this week – 224 sugar cookies and 200 mini desserts, and I’m trying to expand my recipe book with some yummy fall flavors. Here are some of the recipes that I am dying to try:

Salted Caramel Apple Hand Pies from Just a Taste

Mini Cinnamon Rolls from Iowa Girl Eats

Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread from Annie’s Eats

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes from Pinch My Salt

Apple Cider Caramels from Blondie’s Cakes

Coffee and Donut Cupcakes from Always with Butter

Engagement Cookies!

Last month was very exciting because 2 of my cousins proposed to their girlfriends in the same week! Luckily both girls said yes (no big surprise), and their brothers, sister, mom and dad spent the week at the beach to celebrate. I couldn’t make it to the beach, but I did want to send a little gift to let them know how excited I was.As usual, I chose my favorite format for showing my love – sugar cookies!Since I didn’t have an engagement ring cookie cutter, I used 3 different-sized circles to get close, then I drew on the diamond with white icing, covered it in sanding sugar, then drew on the ring in yellow icing.Because the cookies needed to get to the beach safely, I wrapped them individually in cellophane bags with a chevron backing card, and packed them in some pretty pink bags.I added these fun glitter letters and tags to top the bags – I think they were a big hit!

Graduation Candy & Cupcake Buffet

This past weekend I was hired to create a cupcake and candy bar at a graduation party for a young man with a serious sweet tooth. His mom wanted to have something special for all the graduates at the party, and there is nothing that kids like more than candy. We went with the classics – Gummy Worms, Sour Patch Kids, Reese’s Cups, Hershey Kisses, M&Ms and colorful gumballs.The focus of the table was a big cupcake tower that I made from graduated sizes of foam blocks covered in coordinating wrapping paper. It was great for displaying the 6 dozen red velvet cupcakes that I made for the occasion.I also made 60 frosted sugar cookies that I wrapped in clear cellophane bags so they would be easy to take home. There were piles of white paper bags on either end of the table so the guests could bring their treats home. It was a big hit!


Apple Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

I am posting this recipe for Breakfast Cookies with the very strong belief that all cookies are absolutely appropriate for breakfast. Cake, cupcakes, candy and pizza are also wonderful breakfast foods as well. I have also been know to live for days on just a giant bag of salt & pepper potato chips, so I don’t judge.

However, the healthy eater in my house (Anthony), decided that we should eat better this week after several big parties this week. I have been thinking about variations on the granola bars that I made a few months ago – something simple and easy to grab in the morning, but filled with healthy and delicious ingredients.These cookies are sweet, but not crazy sugary, and the oats and whole wheat flour make them taste and feel a little healthier for the morning. They also smell AMAZING while in the oven, so they are a great treat to bake first thing in the morning.

Apple Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Time – 20 minutes prep, 15 minutes baking

- 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter (or any nut butter)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (can substitute all-purpose flour)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
- 1 large apple, peeled and diced

1. Preheat over to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat baking mat.

2. In a stand mixer or bowl with a hand mixer, cream together butter, peanut butter and brown sugar. Add egg and vanilla and continue mixing until well blended. Add flour and baking powder, continue mixing. Finally, add in oats and apples and mix until just blended.

3. Scoop dough onto the lined baking sheet in small balls, then press down into flat discs (this is important, as the cookie will not spread while baking). Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and cool cookies on a wire rack.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Tips

There are approximately a billion chocolate chip cookie recipes, and everyone seems to have a favorite one. I made a big batch this week and wanted to share some of my favorite tips for making them more delicious, no matter which recipe you use.

1. Melt the butter before you start. I always forget to leave the butter out to soften it, and I usually want to get started baking RIGHT NOW. Instead of creaming the room-temperature butter together with the sugars at the beginning of the recipe, you can add melted butter. Some of the sugar will dissolve into the butter and the cookies will be delicious!

2. Get yourself a portion scooper for even-sized cookies. This one is good, but they come in a variety of sizes depending on what size cookies you like. It also makes scooping out a ton of cookies very easy.

3. Bake one sheet at a time. No matter how anxious you are to finish your cookies, only bake one sheet at a time. This ensures that the heat is even on all of the cookies, and stops you from opening the oven door a million times and changing the temperature.

4. Save some for later. Scoop the cookies out on a lined baking sheet and stick it right in your freezer.A few hours later, the cookie balls will be frozen through and you can drop them into a freezer bag or storage container. When all of your cookies from the first batch are gone, you’ll still have ready-to-bake cookies in your freezer (mine are sitting between a tub of cake balls and a tub of buttercream frosting). When you’re ready for more, just bake them like fresh dough.

5. Store baked cookies in an airtight container with a slice of fresh bread. The bread will keep the cookies moist, and will even bring hard cookies back to life. It is miraculous.

I may or may not be eating a plate of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies for lunch right now.

Mustache Cookies

For some reason my niece and nephew really like mustaches. They are little hipsters. When we were in Chicago a few weeks ago, I saw some mustache cookie cutters and I had to get them. I finally made a batch last week, and added sticks so they could hold them up before eating them. I brought a few to our Easter party this weekend – they were a big hit!They are perfect for a party and you can buy some in my etsy shop!

Easter Treats

I am baking for our family’s Easter party this weekend, and I made these Easter Egg sugar cookies yesterday. Usually I decorate actual eggs, but these are much tastier. I have a few more things on my list to make, including some of this good stuff:

- The Secret to Chocolate Chip Cookies via America’s Test Kitchen

- This Asparagus Gruyere Tart from Martha Stewart has been on my list of things to try for a while, and I had it at the shower I went to last weekend – it was amazing!

- Jello in Real Eggs from Just a Taste is hilarious, and I am thinking of giving it a try.

- If you’re crazy, you might try this tutorial from Shauna Sever – How to Make Your Own Marshmallow Peeps.

- This Arugula Pistachio Pesto from Love and Olive Oil looks delicious.

- I have a huge craving for these Mussels in White Wine Sauce and might give them a try next week.

- The 100 Greatest Cooking Tips of All Time from The Food Network.

Have a great (and delicious) weekend!

Tetris Cookies!

I gave Anthony a very late Valentine’s Day present this morning – Tetris Cookies. What they lack in timing, they make up for in awesomeness.

To make the cookie shapes, I printed out the tetris shapes on paper, cut them out, then set them on top of the rolled out cookie dough and used the paper shapes as a guide to cut out cookies. It was a little bit more involved than using cookie cutters, but not too bad.

For frosting, I piped the black outlines on the cookies first, then flooded the insides using a thinned-out royal icing. Next time I make them, I will probably coat the whole cookie with a color first, then pipe the black on top.

Anthony had fun setting them up on the table this morning, playing a game of cookie Tetris. He usually only gets to eat my rejects from cookies that I make for other people, so he was super excited to have a batch all to himself.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I made these cookies over the weekend and I am in love with them.There are a few different things going on.

For the small hearts, I used a small fondant cutter to make the cookies, then decorated them with light pink disco dust, hot pink sanding sugar and metallic silver spray.

For the medium hearts, I went freestyle with the love script, stripes, curves and silver dragees.

And for the large hearts (my favorite), I followed this tutorial, and they are much easier than they look.

I loved the way they came out so much, I almost packed them up and put them in a box to save forever. But the most fun part of making cookies (for me at least) is sharing them with other people, so I gave them all away before Anthony could finish them.

I hope that you are having a wonderful Valentine’s day! I am celebrating by finishing up some invitations for a wedding, shipping some glitter letters for another wedding, and making lasagna in cupcake tins. Tomorrow is my 32nd birthday, so if I get all of my work done in time I am going to take the day off and relax, do my nails, eat some junk food and watch some scary movies on Netflix.

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