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Category Archives: Cookies

Brushed Embroidery Cookies

For the past few months, my husband and I have been attempting to buy our first home.

Maybe it’s just me or maybe it’s just the current market…but house hunting so far feels like some form of cruel punishment for crimes I swear  I didn’t commit.

It’s been the same thing every time.  We look at a house and I completely fall in love with it.  I spend most of my spare time on Pinterest and dreaming up ways to make my new house absolutely perfect.  I have every room planned and paint colors picked out…

And then we don’t get the house.

Because investors keep using their piles of cash to steal my house.

It’s frustrating and super depressing.

And then my husband is all patient and logical and says things like “it wasn’t supposed to be our house” and “our house is still out there” that make me want to kick him but domestic violence is frowned upon so I don’t.

Instead I just pout about it and he cuddles on me until I love him all over again.  And then we watch Doctor Who and have a wonderful evening where I’m not thinking about evil investors with piles of cash who keep steeling my house.

Since I can’t decorate my house yet, I have to settle for decorating cookies.

Recently I’ve discovered brushed embroidery.  This is basically a fancy shmancy method to creating delicious little works of art.

 

My very first attempt at brushed embroidery

The basic technique involves piping icing and then using a damp paint brush to brush the icing.  The resulting effect is pretty stunning.  I will admit this is a time consuming project since each cookie has to be decorated one at a time (each cookie took me an average of 2-5 minutes once I got the hang of the technique).

 

For these, I added additional piping to create a more ornate look

I used two tutorials in order to learn this technique:

I used the recipes for the cookies and icing from The Decorated Cookie.

For the base icing, you must let it dry completely before doing the brushed embroidery (I let them set overnight – about 12 hours total)

Here a couple excellent examples of extraordinary brushed embroidery on other blogs:

from Sprinkle Bakes

From Sweetambs

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The Smythe-Smith Musicale Care Package

I have confession to make…I hope it doesn’t make all of you think less of me…

I read romance novels.  Regularly.  It’s a serious addiction.

But, as a housewife, I would argue that reading of any kind is far superior to falling into the stereotype of bonbon eating, soap opera watching, and nosy neighboring housewife.

I also fall into that stereotype…but my husband loves me anyways.  And who in their right mind doesn’t love a bonbon?

Let me be clear, however, as to which romance novels I read.  You will not, for example, find me reading Danielle Steele, Nora Roberts, or anything else which is likely to be adapted into a Lifetime Movie.

Not that I don’t occasionally indulge in a little Lifetime Movie Network from time to time.  Or frequently.  Don’t judge me!  Can I help it if they suck me into their tales of love, betrayal, and mystery?

But when it comes to novels, I have standards!

  • Historical romance only (generally Regency, but I also enjoy Edwardian or Georgian)
  • Intelligent heroines
  • Dialogue needs to be amusing and witty
  • Absolutely NO melodramatic bodice rippers
  • Minimal use of outlandish euphemisms (I can handle the occasional “throbbing member” but keep your “glistening swords” and “silky folds” out of my books)

As with all rules, there are exceptions.  I have one: standards may be broken only upon strong recommendation from my friend, Katie, whose judgment on romance novels I trust above all others.

It was her, after all, who found the Bridgertons…

If you are an avid reader of historical romance, then I sincerely hope you know the Bridgertons.  This book series, written by Julia Quinn, are among my absolute favorite!  So if you don’t know the eight Bridgerton siblings (famously names in alphabetical order) I suggest you find out.

Seriously, your life will be better for it.

I recently had the incredible opportunity to meet Julia at a book signing where (even though the rules clearly stated no outside books were allowed) she signed my tattered old copy of The Viscount Who Loved Me (book 2 of the series), which remains my favorite romance novel ever.

Have to admit…I was a little starstruck!

Katie discovered the Bridgertons on a lazy summer afternoon when we were in high school.  A trip to the bookstore led her to randomly pick up a romance novel, whereas I chose an anthology of re-written fairy tales.  Because all young teens spend their summers reading…right?  My book was terrible, whereas Katie would not stop bursting into a fit of giggles at regular intervals.  As she snickered about over-ripe citrus fruits and unfortunate bee stings leading to marriage proposals, I was immediately intrigued.  Luckily for me, Katie is a fast reader and I was able to steal the book soon after.  I re-read it about once a year and it is the very same book I had signed by Julia.

Since Katie had yet to read the two latest novels from Julia Quinn (a quartet about the Smythe-Smiths and their terrible musicales) I got book one, Just Like Heaven, signed by Julia Quinn to send to her.

Since I couldn’t possibly send just a book, I decided to put together a care package.  I recently posted about how I create gift baskets and care packages are much the same.  Using Just Like Heaven as inspiration, I put together my Smythe-Smith Musicale care package.

Package included: signed copy of Just Like Heaven, music note coffee cozies, Lady Grey tea, and decorated tea cookies.

The tea cookies (which is really just what I chose to call them, they are really just frosted sugar cookies) were made using recipes from The Decorated Cookie.  I used the color flow technique to cover each cookie with the grey frosting, and then before they had set I piped on top with the light blue frosting.  In the future, I will likely thin out the piping frosting quite a bit so that it blends into the frosting a bit more, creating an even surface on the cookie.

Here is a short list of some of my favorite romance novels

It should be noted that Kresley Cole falls under my “exceptions” for romance novels.  The Immortals After Dark series is a modern-day paranormal romance series and is absolutely hysterical!   No sparkling vampires here…but you do get a bat-shit crazy soothsayer Valkyrie with an obsessive crush on Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and witches as competitive with their Xbox as they are with their spells.

Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

Lately, I feel a bit like I have multiple personalities.  These personalities have very conflicting ideas about how my body should be treated.

My dominant personality is Beth.  She is short and cute (just like the name).  She enjoys baking and spending countless hours planning and creating one of a kind parties that include ice cubes with strawberries frozen inside and at least three kinds of dessert.  Beth sees nothing wrong with eating five key-lime shortbread cookies with lime icing for breakfast and is unapologetic about owning six frilly pink aprons.  She is basically Martha Stewart without the jail time.

The desserts from a Christmas party – cranberry pies, mocha chocolate trifle, chocolate pot de creme, eggnog cheesecake, and muddie buddies.  There were only 9 people at this party – too much?

However, there is a second personality that has been taking over little by little.  This is Elizabeth.  Elizabeth doesn’t get shortened to silly names like “Beth” or “Liz” or any of that nonsense.  It is only Elizabeth, like the mother f*cking queen!  She accepts no excuses.  She eats Greek yogurt for breakfast and runs a 5K like a champion!  She thinks that bucket of Easter candy should be thrown away because she doesn’t eat garbage like refined sugar.

So it’s a constant battle between these two (and my waistline).  I really do enjoy both of them.  Beth obviously provides my life with some deliciousness and fun while Elizabeth keeps me practical and healthy.  But living with both of them is no easy task.

Right now Elizabeth is forcing me to work out (Husband and I are doing P90X because we are crazy people who like to torture our bodies into being fit) and is keeping me running my 5K’s (one every month for 2012 is my goal).  Beth, however, is busy in the kitchen making delicious treats like this:

*the tags were handmade for me by my friend, Angela

These are not just any chocolate chip cookie – these are Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread cookies and they are little squares of pure delight.  I got the recipe from Use Real Butter (who got it from Smitten Kitchen).  You can follow one of these links to get the recipe!

I suggest making a double batch of these little treats, you will thank me later.  Husband was very displeased when the cookies ran out after I made only one batch (most of which got sent to an out-of-state friend).  So I made two batches the following weekend, which made him one happy camper.

One Bowl Cookie Bars

Why bake?  I think this is an excellent question and one with many possible answers (the most obvious being that we bake in order to enjoy delicious treats).  It really is a lot of work when you think about it.  First there is finding the right recipe (but WHICH cookie recipe is the BEST cookie recipe?), then the gathering of ingredients (it’s difficult to find cream of tartar when you don’t realize it’s NOT a cream at all), then the arduous task of perfectly measuring each ingredients (but, my batter looks NOTHING like the picture), and finally the painstaking decoration process (which on occasion has resulted in sprinkles ALL OVER my kitchen floor).  So with all of that work, why bake?

To me, that’s like asking a marathoner, why run?  Sometimes there is no reason, but you do it because sometimes you just feel an uncontrollable urge to bake banana cupcakes with a mocha cream filling and banana butter frosting.  Some people would call it an addiction I suppose, but then I say give my sugar filled IV and point me towards the kitchen.

My husband is always telling me that I need to slow down and do less.  He usually tells me this after I have descended into a flour covered heap on the kitchen floor, moaning about everything being ruined because I only had time to make three different flavors of cupcake!  The fourth would have made all the difference and two dozen cupcakes might not be enough for nine people!

My most recent encounter with this has to do with my intense need to bake something for every important occasion in my office (birthdays, retirements, holidays, and sometimes just because).  One of my assistants was leaving (she got a much better job) so I wanted to bake something for her last day.  Her last day happened to coincide with our kitchen being renovated, a trip to Las Vegas, and a bridal shower looming over the horizon.  So I was just a little bit busy (not to mention kitchenless).  But I was not to be deterred – this girl deserved my baked goods, so I was going to give her baked goods!  I am a baking machine!

The original of this picture belongs to the creative mind of Allie Brosh - click on the photo to go to her blog site Hyperbole and Half and I promise you won't be disappointed.

So there I was on a Tuesday afternoon, desperately scouring the internet for a decent recipe for cookie bars that required one bowl, one pan, and ingredients I already had (which were technically packed away in a plastic tub, location undetermined, but I would worry about that later).  I found a lot of recipes that were close, but not close enough!  So I scoured my baking brain and prepared to do something that is no easy task for an untrained baker – I was going to have to create my own!  I used some of the recipes I did find to create a basis for proportions and came up with this recipe for these cookie bars!

The result had a hint of butterscotch taste to it that was unexpected but delicious!  I added a few sprinkles just for fun.  It’s a very easy recipe to change depending on what you have in your kitchen – I think next time I will make it with all peanut butter chips!

One Bowl Cookie Bars

Ingredients

½ box of unprepared yellow cake mix (can substitute vanilla or white)
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup graham cracker crumbs
½ cup butter (melted)
1 egg
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup peanut butter chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease an 8×8 pan and dust with a tbsp of the cake mix
  3. Mix together the remaining cake mix, sugar, and graham cracker crumbs
  4. Add the melted butter and egg and mix well
  5. Add in the chips
  6. Press the mixture in the prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown