Monday, October 28, 2013

A Few More Fall and Halloween Treats

This weekend I made a few more sugar cookies for fall and Halloween.  There were some great sales at Michael's this weekend, so I grabbed a few new-to-me cutters.  I also went ahead and bought a few clear bins to categorize my growing collection of cutters.  So far I have separate bins for the following categories:  Halloween, Fall/Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring/Summer Holidays, Guy Stuff, and Girly Stuff, Shapes, and Animals.  I can't figure out yet how to subcategorize animals though.  I'm thinking maybe mammals, reptiles, birds, marine creatures, and insects. 

The colors for the leaves came out better than I anticipated.  I was especially happy with the rusty red maple leaf.  I was going for the color palette of the plate below, and it came pretty darn close.  I used variations of orange, brown, burgundy and copper for these cookies.

 
I still can't figure out how to make the broom look like a broom.  It keeps coming out looking like a spatula.  The green has some yellow added to it to make it more electric green.
 


And the mini cookies were more fun than I thought.  A little cookie and icing goes a long way when making miniature cookies like this.  They are perfect size for little hands, and make sharing a breeze.  The Halloween candy bowl is full of chocolate fun size bars, so I think we are ready for trick-or-treaters now. 

Hope your week goes well, and don't forget to Fall Back an hour on Sunday, November 3rd.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Halloween Cookies

Today is the last class for public budgeting, and it also marks the halfway point of the Master's in Public Administration program that I'm currently working toward.  One year down, one more to go!  So a batch of sugar cookies were the perfect way to celebrate and also get in the Halloween spirit.  I normally don't like eating candy corns, but I absolutely loved making candy corn cookies.  They were so easy to shape without the use of a cookie cutter.  I used a thicker icing so that I could outline and flood in one step.  The black outlining really makes the colors pop and hides the uneven edges between the color changes.  I will definitely make these again this weekend.
 So the interesting part about not having a candy corn cookie cutter is that you get different sizes for each row of triangles that you create.  I cut out triangles, then snipped dough from each corner then rounded them off.
 I think my favorite of this group is the pumpkin.  It was my first time trying to mimic the wedges of a pumpkin.  Next time I will make the RIP lettering a bit bigger, and also go lighter on the brown for the acorn and the broom.  It was definitely a welcome study break.
 
Enjoy the candy, tricks and treats that you create this month.  And thanks for stopping by!
 
 
 


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Rainbow Cake Push-Ups and Unicorn Cookies

I volunteered at Commencement this weekend.  The weather was sunny with a mild beach breeze, and the experience in managing a processional and recession of graduating students was very rewarding.  Since my niece's birthday party was also on the same day, I spent Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings preparing rainbow cake push-ups and unicorn cookies in rainbows colors. 


I watched a few tutorials on You Tube to get an idea of how to make these rainbow cake push-ups.  So what I did was get a box of cake (yellow or white, doesn't matter) and followed the package directions.  Then I divided the batter evenly into six bowls and added Americolor gels.  This yielded three cupcakes per color.  I used a cookie cutter that fit inside the push-ups to cut each cupcake, then trimmed the top and bottom and sliced the round cutout into three pieces (9 slices per color x 6 colors yielded 54 slices).  I used store bought vanilla icing and piped that in between the 4 slices of cake and topped it with rainbow sprinkles.  Michael's sells the push-up containers in sets of 6 and 12; I bought the set of 12.  You'll end up with a few extra slices.  Just throw the scraps together to make cake pops.  So there you have it...rainbow cake push-ups.

I made the unicorn cookies on Thursday night, then iced them on Friday night.  One batch of royal icing divided evenly into six bowls will be more than enough icing.  I chose to make the icing in one consistency and piped it with disposable sandwich bags.  Easy.  Then Saturday after the icing was completely dry, I added silver edible dust on them to give them a sparkly sheen.

My niece really liked the rainbow treats, and her Mom did a great job of making sure everyone - both young and older - had a good time. 

Now onto household chores and studying.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hello Stranger!

What's up!??  I feel like a stranger on my own blog...yes, it's been 16 months since my last post, but who's counting, right?  There's still knitting and cooking going on around here, as well as a fairly new-to-me hobby: making sugar cookies with royal icing. 

Before I get into those fun topics, though, I should mention that my foot injury from October 2011 healed completely, thank God.  The combination of the bones fusing together correctly, albeit slowly, and physical therapy were just what the doctor ordered for my type of injury.  And another update you might not already know about is that I'm currently in graduate school.  Yes, after 20 years of working, who knew I'd want to step back in the classroom again?  Perhaps the biggest encouragement is working in higher education day to day with some of the nicest faculty around.  Their passion for teaching really inspired me to want to go back for an advanced degree.  Other colleagues had gone through Master's in Public Administration programs at CSUN and CLU and had positive experiences there, and recommended the programs to me.  Looking at the curriculum for the program seemed appropriate for my career path because I was already familiar with quite a few of the course topics.  So the big question was:  could I commit two years to school?  It's worth a try.  I'm certainly not getting any younger, so here I am.  Back in school.  You won't see me around the blog on a regular basis, but I will do my best to stay in touch!

Now onto the fun stuff:  sugar cookies.  Since January (three months now) I've been making sugar cookies.  It all started with the fact that hubby and I both love sugar cookies from Royal Bakery.  They have this wonderful thick royal icing, and they keep things simple by making only round ones with yellow smiley faces.  Well, I got to thinking that $2 for a sugar cookie is worth it, but could I make one just as good here at home?  Why not give it a try?  My baking years were pretty much limited to high school and college, so I haven't baked very much since then.  I really didn't know where to start, so off to Google searching "sugar cookies with royal icing."  There's a whole world of blogs and fanatics out there, just like the knitting world, complete with its own convention called  CookieCon...just like Stitches West and ComicCon.  So there I go on YouTube to watch all the tutorials I can learn from, and you know there are some wonderful and brilliant gals out there who are patient enough to photograph, video, and share their knowledge to curious folks like me.  I especially owe thanks to the Dean of Cookies and Visiting Professors over at University of Cookie.  I follow each of their blogs because I learn so much from them!  Next trip to Michael's Arts and Crafts, go buy yourself a copy of Bridget Edwards cookie book:  Decorating Cookies: 60+ Designs for Holidays, Celebrations & Everyday.  With these resources I've been able to make some pretty cute cookies.  Take a look:
My personal favorite cookie because of my nickname Bea (pronounced Bee) and because they fit perfectly into little small hands like my nieces and nephews.  Now these I made for hubby's co-worker upon request:
And the knitter in me just loved making these adorable sheep cookies.  I've made them with gray feet and head before but this particular time didn't feel like making more icing.  So they got purple head and feet.
Here's a close up of the sheep.  Did you know that there is actually an icing color for white?  These were made white white Americolor gel.  So make sure you take the time to use white color gel.


The reason why these cute little sheep got purple head and feet is because I made them the same weekend that I made these purple owls.  I was inspired by a cute little dish at Michael's.  You know the bins that are strategically placed along the front registers so that you have something to contemplate on purchasing while you've already made your purchase selections?  Yeah, I fall for that way too often even though I'm fully cognizant of these marketing ploys. 

I'll have to practice a bit more on my owl...like giving him some feathers on his chest and some wing details.  It's a tulip cookie cutter with the center petal removed.  What a great idea, right?  Not my idea, so I can't take credit.  This last week, I made some miniature teddy bears and cupcakes with polka-dots because I've been itching to practice on flat polka-dots.  Flat polka-dots are pretty neat.  I'm already thinking of other shapes to make with flat polka-dots.
So much fun putting all of those dots on.  This minature teddy bear, much like the bumble bee, is the perfect size for tiny little hands.  Take a look:
And yesterday I made these Star Wars Stormtroopers.  I was inspired by Callye Alvarado from Sweet Sugar Belle and how she accomplished the perfect Batman eyes.  I still have to work on keeping the black icing coat from showing on the edges.
Here's a close up with more detail.  I tried adding the stripes along the sides like other cookies I've seen, but it didn't look good so I skipped it altogether.
So that about wraps up what I've been doing the last 3 months...besides working, studying and all the other stuff in between.  Who would have thought I'd take an interest in anything other than knitting?  Why would I want to take up another hobby?  Really?  There are only so many hours in the day.  These are questions that I've been asking myself, and the only honest answer I have is that it takes a bit of practice and technique so I'm enjoying the challenge.  And it involves sugar cookies, so my family and I have something to enjoy when it's all done (can't do that with knitting as quickly).
 
Hope you're doing well, and glad to see you stopped by to say "Hello Stranger!"

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Napili Shores in Maui

Napili Shores, Maui

Our vacation in Maui last month was restful and relaxing.  Unfortunately, I broke my foot a week before our vacation, so we had to slightly adjust our plans to accomodate for my temporary disability.  The Jones fracture I sustained was a clean break on the fifth metatarsal of my right foot.  Luckily, no surgery was required; I just needed a lace-up ankle brace and hot/cold treatment to promote healing of the bone fracture.  We were really impressed with LAX and Maui airports' wheelchair accomodations; we were quickly whisked to the front of the TSA line; however, I did have to go through full body patdown since I couldn't walk through the regular scanner.

We rented a wheelchair upon arrival in Maui, and Kurt was so wonderful about taking me everywhere including shopping, restaurants, evening sunset watching, and daily trips to the swimming pool and jacuzzi.  I took two books (The Kite Runner and Pretty Birds) and two knitting projects (Amiga and Leaf Lace Shawl).  Memorable foods on this vacation included Fried Rice from The Gazebo (rice with Portugese sausage, bacon, Maui onions, green onions, diced purple cabbage, and scrambled eggs), French Toast and Moco Loco from The Seahouse, Mai Tais and Coconut Shrimp from Cheeseburger in Paradise, and Meadow Gold POG for breakfast everyday.

Leaf Lace Shawl
I mostly worked on the Leaf Lace Shawl during our week in Maui so it's near completion...I'm halfway through the Edging Lace chart, so eight more rows and I can bind off.  I charted in Excel the main body repeat of the Leaf Lace Shawl pattern and printed it out so it would be easy to work on while on the plane and while on vacation (see photo above).  It worked out so well, I'd highly recommend this for any travel knitting with charts.  No plans to incorporate beads on the edging.  The yarn I chose for this project is Madelinetosh Pashmina in Baltic, a dark rich shade of blue.  Finished project photos coming soon.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pork Lumpia

Pork Lumpia

Lumpia are one of my favorite deep fried foods...pork filling, vegetables, seasonings, and a wafer thin wrapper all deep fried.  What's not to like?  This past week I watched quite a few You Tube videos on how to make lumpia.   I took ingredients that I liked most and combined them for my version below:

Pork Lumpia
1 lb. lean ground pork
1 carrot finely grated
1/3 c. cilantro finely chopped
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 egg
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1/3 c. chopped white onion
1/3 c. chopped green onion
1/2 c. finely shredded cabbage
2 c. canola oil for frying
1 raw scrambled egg for sealing each lumpia

Place first seven ingredients in large bowl and mix together with a spoon (or your hands if you like).  Set aside.  In a small fry pan, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil over medium heat.  Add ginger and garlic first.  Wait 10-15 seconds, then add white and green onions and shredded cabbage.  Saute quickly for 2 minutes just until vegetables begin to soften.  Pour into meat mixture.  Fill each lumpia wrapper with 1 tablespoon of filling (it doesn't take a lot) and seal with egg wash.  Filling will yield 36 to 42 lumpia.  Deep fry in oil 2-3 minutes.  Then carefully place on a platter with paper towels to soak up any excess oil.  Use sweet chili sauce for dipping and enjoy!

Making Lumpia

Making Lumpia

Making Lumpia

Sweet Chili Sauce

Friday, August 12, 2011

Elote - Mexican Corn on the Cob

My lunch today: corn on the cob with butter, mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, and tapatio sauce.  Parmesan cheese is a convenient substitute for Mexican grated cotija cheese.  This tasty and popular street food is a big favorite at our family barbeques all summer long.  The sweet white corn is such a treat all by itself.  If you're not a big fan of mayonnaise, try it with lime and chile powder.

Elote (Mexican Corn on the Cob)

Arranging the ears of corn upright in my tamal steamer I was able to steam 20 at once.  Split in half, they go a long way as an appetizer while all of the tri-tip and chicken are grilling away.  What's your favorite summer food?