Barnyard and Zombie Cookies Using Royal Icing

I had a customer ask me to do 50 barnyard cookies to accompany a barnyard cake. I obliged. I was a touch nervous at first, but ended up having a blast. So much so, I found myself getting up at 3:30 AM just so I could work on them. I’d like to share them now.

Here is a rooster.
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Some pigs, a barn, a couple of horses, cows and some chicks.

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And so, naturally, I had to take this innocent project and turn it into blood and gore and zombies. Truth: I love The Walking Dead. I’m not sure if I’ve ever publicly admitted this online, but I am a huge fan. (AND OMG LAST NIGHT! SO MUCH I WANT TO SAY!) I love the show so much, my house is peppered with TWD toys and figurines. I don’t really give a shit about zombies, but I love that show. And one day I hope to write the longwinded post as to why I love the show so much. But for now, I’ll just share some cookies with you.

These were made for our halloween block party.

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They were made for kids and I only realized after setting them down on the table outside that they might be a touch too graphic and/or gross for young eyes. But then I watched my own son bite the head off of the guy on the left and well that made it all worthwhile. DSCF0194

That’s all for now! I’m really enjoying blogging again. Although I’m not sure anyone actually reads anymore. :] But that’s OK. I haven’t been documenting my life much over the last several years and I miss it. So, maybe I’ll just think of it as a personal archive/diary of sorts, which is kind of funny because that’s why I started this puppy way back in 2001.

Over and out.

Mom It Down! Orange-Basil, Maple Cookies

Commenter, eep suggested I post the recipe of the orange-basil cookies I consumed before my long run on Saturday. It’s a mega easy recipe. It’s not the healthiest cookie on earth, but when you plan on running off over 1000 calories, I think it’s OK to indulge in a cookie or four.

What you will need

  • Cookie sheet(s)
  • Parchment paper OR silpat
  • Standup mixer

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons finely chopped, fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups flour, sifted

Mom It Down!

Preheat often to 375. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Set aside.

In mixer, combine butter and sugar. Beat for 3 to five minutes. Add egg, mix. Add orange zest, honey, basil, vanilla and salt. Mix. Add sifted flour. Mix.

Form roughly 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch balls in palm, roll in sugar, place on cookie sheet, and press with fork, glass bottom, or fingers. (These will take patterns and keep them pretty well. So feel free to use something decorative to press them with.)

Makes 24 cookies depending on how big you like your balls. :]

Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden.

Overcoming Obstacles

I bet you could make this dough ahead of time and refrigerate it until ready to use. It’s pretty sturdy dough. They are very simple.

Variations

I think lemon zest would be amazing as well. And really any spice would work. The dough is very versatile. I might try a rosemary version of this as well.

You can use honey instead of maple syrup.

Nutrition

Each cookie is about 150-155 calories and 15-20 grams of carbs. (Let me know if you need more nutritional information. I have it all.)

I’m In How Magazine!

I’m in How Magazine this month. Please stop by and read the interview.

How Magazine

Back when I was a full time graphic designer, I got a few pieces in How, but never an interview. And I never would have predicted all those years ago that I would one day be interviewed for candy. So cool! So weird! So awesome! So grateful for the opportunity. Thank you How!

Gluten-Free Cheddar Cheese Buttermilk Biscuits

Edited to add:

Toby has informed me that he does NOT like these biscuits.

Him: “I don’t know what you’re doing, but they are just weird. I do not approve.”

Me: “Then why are you eating one?”

Him: “Because I’m hungry.”

Heh.

Anyway, I’m going to leave it up, but maybe steer clear until I tweak the recipe a bit more, and get his approval. And, yeah, his approval does matter as he’s the one who’s been inhaling the gluten version all these years.

Anyway, I’ll be back with a better one soon!

———–

Do you like biscuits? I do! I have been making a cheddar cheese and chive buttermilk biscuit for years. My family devours them. They are super light and fluffy and are simply amazing. Thing is, they are made with cake flour as well as all-purpose flour and I’ve been working on trying to get something similar using gluten-free flour(s).

Anyway, here is a recipe I’m happy with. However! I reserve the right to repost this recipe—or an entirely NEW recipe—at a later date. Because I am not totally convinced I can’t make these even better.

Not to undersell what you see here! Because these are pretty damn good. I am very satisfied with the flakiness and taste. I am not completely 100% satisfied with how much they rise (the gluten ones rise impressively!) and the texture but only when you compare it to the original biscuits. Does that make sense? I get the feeling they are fine on their own. But it’s hard for me to not compare them. I’d love to have someone taste-test them, someone who hasn’t ever had my original biscuit. Anyway! Try them!

What you will need

  • Cookiesheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Biscuit cutter or something similar, a glass will work.
  • Rolling pin (although, not entirely necessary.)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups gluten-free flour, siftted
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
  • 3/4 cups buttermilk

Before I dive in, the key to good, flaky biscuits is in the process. You want cold butter, and you want visible pieces in the mixing. I have pictures below. Basically, you want your dough to look like a giant mess in the end, not something smooth like you might see with bread. Think: visible bits of ingredients. So, keep that in mind when mixing these puppies. Also, make sure you have your cookie sheet lined and ready to go. You want to shock the cold butter; the sooner you get them into the oven, the better.

Ready?

Preheat oven to 450.

Sift flour.

Add dry ingredients. (Sifted flour, salt, sugar [if using], baking powder and soda.)

Grate the cheddar cheese. Add it to the dry ingredients. I added about 3/4 cup to the ones shown. Feel free to adjust to taste. Please note! Add your cheese BEFORE your butter and buttermilk. Consider it a dry ingredient.

Remove your unsalted butter from the fridge and cut that up into smallish pieces.

Add that and using your hands, mash it a bit between your fingers. You want to see the butter. Don’t make it look like cornmeal or something even finer. Less is more and more is better!

Add your buttermilk.

Mix it up using a wooden spoon, but not too much!

Roll the dough out without handling it too much. Cut out your biscuits and add them to the cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 to 13 minutes or until golden brown.

Variations

Add some chives! I didn’t have any this time around, but I highly recommend them. If you DO add chives, add them when you add the cheese.

Mom It Down! Earl Grey Chocolate Ganache Tart

Have you ever eaten something so good it makes you want to punch, slap or kick shit? This tart will do just that.

I first got wind of this tart from Catherine on Twitter. She wrote something about a reviewer stating, “This tart is so good, I want to punch people when I eat it.” I knew exactly what the person meant. Of course I had to make it. So Catherine sent me the link and I made it that very day.

You should make it too. And feel free to modify it, as I have below. Although the original is perfectly amazing as is.

I’ve made this tart three times. The first time, I followed the recipe, changing only the crust as I didn’t have any chocolate graham crackers. (I normally don’t have any graham crackers in the house at all, but we’d gone upstate a few months back and made s’mores and I took the remaining crackers home with us.) But don’t worry! If you don’t have graham crackers, you can use pate sucree, my favorite homemade crust. The second time I made this tart, I used pate sucree.

Anyway, the recipe below features a graham cracker crust, this time I added a flavor and I’m quite pleased with the end result.

What you will need

Ingredients

For crust:

  • 9 graham crackers (basically, one package, mashed up)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar

For filling:

  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • flavoring, in this case three Earl Grey teabags
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate (less than 65% cocoa)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For glaze:

  • 2 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 3/4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon warm water

Mom It Down!

Preheat oven to 350.

On stovetop, bring cream to slight boil. Remove from heat, add teabags, set aside.

While the tea is steeping, crush up graham crackers. I used my hands. Hands are handy! The big pieces will mash up even more when you add the sugar and butter and press it into the pan.

Add butter and sugar and mash it up some more.

Press it into a buttered flute pan.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Go back to your tea and cream mixture. Ring out your teabags being careful not to tear the bags.

Put 9 ounces of chocolate into a metal bowl. Set aside.

Reheat your tea and cream mixture. Pour it over the chocolate. Leave it for a couple of minutes.

While that’s melting the chocoalte, in separate bowl, add salt, eggs and vanilla.

Whisk that together.

Delicately whisk the cream/chocolate mixture without agitating it too much. (You don’t want to add a bunch of air to the mixture.)

Add egg mixture to the chocolate. Pour over baked pie crust.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the sides are baked and the middle wobbles a bit. It will continue to cook after you remove it from the oven. Like this:

The sides will flatten as it cools. The tart will be very level. Let it cool completely.

When you’re ready and the tart is cool, take two tablespoons of heavy cream and microwave it for about 50 seconds. (You can boil it too, but it’s hard to boil that small amount, so I just microwaved it until it was hot.) Pour over chopped chocolate, whisk until it melts. If you have trouble getting it all to melt with that small amount of cream, feel free to put it over a pot of simmering water, or a bain-marie. That’ll take care of business. You want it to be SUPER smooth. Add your water and light corn syrup, and pour it over tart. Turn tart to coat it evenly with the glaze.

You’re done! Let it sit for an hour, until the top hardens and cools.

Overcoming obstacles.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can break it up over the course of the day. You don’t have to do it all at once. You can do the crust and leave it for however long. You can make the ganache, bake it and then leave it for however long. I would suggest measuring out all the ingredients, preparing and baking the crust, then go clean the house or something. Make the ganache filling, bake the tart and then go put the baby to sleep, walk to dog—whatever. Come back to it later when you have another 30 minutes. The last time I made this, I took a nap with a sick baby while the tart cooled (for two hours!). This is a very easy recipe that tastes impossibly not easy. It tastes better than it looks.

Variations

Dude, you can flavor this puppy so many different ways. When I was in school, we infused cream for ganache with citrus, tea, ginger—you name it. Or just make it with some amazing high-end chocolate.

That’s another thing, the better the chocolate, the more amazing the ganache. However, the first time I messed with ganache at home, I used Baker’s Chocolate. I used Baker’s for the first attempt at this tart as well. It’s easy to find and cheaper than most high-end chocolate. So if you screw up, you don’t feel as bad. High-end chocolate can cost a pretty penny! But if you want to knock the pants off people? I recommend getting some super awesome chocolate.

If you have questions about how to flavor the ganache, ask away! I will happily help out.

Nutritional Stuff

One more thing: I calculated the calories (because I am still watching my calorie intake every day) and the whole pie is roughly 4400 calories. Each slice (It’s rich! So good luck eating more than the sliver shown above!) is roughly 270 – 300 calories assuming you get anywhere from 16 to 18 slices per pie. I don’t think that’s too bad! :]

Mom It Down: Easiest Peanut Butter Fudge Ever

I was craving fudge on Sunday, specifically peanut butter. So I read through a few recipes and came up with this one. The original recipe was taken from All Recipes and I modified it a bit. Anyway, it’s just too damn good and easy not to share. I don’t have any photographs because my card reader seems to be broken. Forgive me for that. But it’s super easy. I promise.

What you will need

  • Saucepan
  • Mixer
  • 8 x 8 square pan
  • wax paper (optional)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Fill mixing bowl of KitchenAid with powdered sugar. Set aside.

Melt butter in your saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and milk. Stir often. Let the mixture boil and after it boils let it go for 2 minutes. It will bubble up quite a bit.

After 2 minutes or so, remove from heat and add peanut butter and vanilla extract. Stir up until mixed well.

Pour liquid over powdered sugar.

Using the KitchenAid beater attachment, mix that until all the powdered sugar is incorporated.

Spoon into your square pan, evening out as much as possible. Cover the surface with wax paper. It’s going to be oily. That’s normal. Refrigerate. You’re done!

Overcoming Obstacles

Oh my goodness, there are none. This recipe could not be any simpler. I had fudge within the hour.

Variations

I bet adding some peanuts or chocolate chips to this recipe would be divine. If you try it, let me know.

In other news

I’m still pregnant. Duh. Last night I had this weird sensation that I was going to go into labor. Obviously that didn’t happen. I’m not sure how much more my pelvis can take. It feels really bruised and I find walking more and more impossible. Granted, it doesn’t help I had to dig my car out of an igloo of snow yesterday. Yeah, that was fun.

But enough listening to me bitch; go make some fudge!

Mom It Down: Homemade Deodorant!

I can be really stinky. Unfortunately, my armpits (and feet!) are my biggest culprits. I used to go weeks and weeks without having to wear deodorant. But something changed in my late 20s. (I blame hormones. I blame them for everything.) Nowadays, unless I want to fill up an entire subway car with my stink, I have to wear something.

I am forever searching for a natural deodorant that actually works. I have tried Toms of Maine and it just doesn’t work. (It works for my husband, however.) By the end of the day I end up smelling like an onion sandwich.

Old Spice works (and they offer a stick without aluminum) but they are owned by Proctor and Gamble and I try not to support P&G whenever possible. The Old Spice sticks are also filled with other questionable ingredients, so I’m not pleased with them either.

I’ve also used Arm and Hammer deodorant. But the sticks include chemicals such as propylene glycol. And I’m a little bit wary of propylene glycol (PG). While I’m pretty certain that it won’t cause harm in small amounts, industrial strength PG is used in engine coolants, antifreeze, paints, enamels and varnishes.

I always come back to the same question: If I can find something completely “natural” that actually works, why not try it? (Plus, the hippie in me gets a boner for such things.)

Last Friday, friend and twitter contact Mary wrote about making her own deodorant. I’ve always wanted to try this, but never really researched it. So I reached out to Mary and she totally came through. (Thanks, Mary!)

Today I’d like to share that homemade deodorant recipe with everyone. While this doesn’t fall in with my usual “Mom It Down” recipes, it’s pretty awesome. (And it is actually edible! But don’t eat it, because that’s weird and I can’t imagine it tastes very good.)

One more thing I should mention: I put this stuff to the test yesterday. I had an 8-hour pastry class, one where I spend all 8 hours standing next to and over many, many hot ovens. Plus, we’re made to wear long-sleeve, chef jackets. Guess what? It worked!

What you will need

  • Saucepan
  • Spoon

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons shea butter
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch

Mom It Down!

Put everything into a saucepan.

Over low heat, mix until melted and milky in color.

Remove from heat. If you’re adding a secondary smell, add it now.

Pour into a lidded container. (I made a label for the one made with patchouli because I’m a dork.)

Put it into the refrigerator to firm up.

You’re done!

Overcoming Obstacles

The refrigerated mixture will be rather hard—the consistency of very cold butter. At room temperature, it will loosen up a bit. This is perfectly normal. Mine ended up being the consistency of lotion as did the one I made for my husband.

The smallest amount goes a long way.

Shea butter and coconut oil can be pricey. The good news is, they go a long, long way. I reckon you could get a good year’s worth of deodorant out of one container of each. In the end, I know it’ll be MUCH cheaper than buying deodorant sticks all the time. And your body will thank you.

One last thing from Mary: she mentions that baking soda can irritate freshly-shaven skin. Please keep is in mind, ladies. I would wait a little bit after shaving to apply it.

Variations

As mentioned earlier, feel free to add essential oils to your mixture. I did one all-natural (smells like cocoa butter) for Toby and one using a dash of patchouli for myself. (Might as well turn the hippie up to 11, right?) Be warned, however, that some essential oils can irritate the skin. I would suggest testing any oils before adding them to the deodorant.

As usual, please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!

NaBloPoMo: Mom It Down: Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

This could very well be some of the best pancakes I’ve ever had. But I’m a terrible judge of food right now. You could hand me a buttered Saltine and I’d rave about it.

Anyway, these are great. My son gobbled them up. And they’re easy to make.

(Please note: I used my iPhone to snap the pictures, so they aren’t perfect.)

What you will need

  • Bowl
  • Skillet
  • Whisk or spoon (or both!)
  • Hungry family

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (low fat)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Mom It Down!

Put your dry ingredients into a bowl. Give that a quick stir.

Separate your egg white.

Add all the wet ingredients to the flour mixture.

Whisk that up.

In a hot skillet, spoon in your pancake batter. Heat until they bubble, flip, heat some more.

You’re done.

Feed child, self.

Overcoming Obstacles

There really aren’t many obstacles here. I reckon if you wanted to you could omit the egg white-only part and just toss in two eggs. But the egg white makes it nice and fluffy

If you don’t have any buttermilk, simply add a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice into a measuring cup. (Vinegar works best, but either will do.) Top off with milk to equal one cup. substitute that for every one cup buttermilk.

Please note!

This batter keeps really well. I make the recipe above and place the leftover batter in an airtight container. We have fresh pancakes for two or three days. :] It sure beats that frozen crap!

Variations

Spice these babies up if you wish! Add some chocolate chips or bananas, they’re really versatile. We tossed in a few ground flax seeds one day. The sky’s the limit, my friends!

As usual, any questions and/or comments let me know.

Brioche! And My Recent Busy Days.

Forgive me in my delay (yet again) in updating. The Etsy feature has sent me so many new customers and orders, I don’t know which end is up anymore! Don’t get me wrong, I am ecstatic by the turnout. But holy CRAP have I ever been busy!

I’ve been making lollipops for days and days straight. It’s a good thing Em is in school three days a week so I can run out and make candy. But this is exactly where I want to be. I could not be happier with the way things are going right now.

Let’s see, what else is going on? Pastry school!

We’re learning all things bread at school, which has been awesome. Bread (and candy!) is ultimately why I decided to go back to school to refine my baking/confectionary skills. I love bread. It’s just so alive and amazing. Plus, the variety! It’s never-ending.

We went from studying the direct method of bread-making, to the sponge method. We’re now onto brioche and donuts. Oh yes, you read that right: donuts.

I don’t have recipes to share just yet, but I do have some pictures!

Sadly, I have none of the donuts as they are all in my Toby Joe’s tummy. (This fact is hilarious, as Toby Joe doesn’t like sweets. I found his weakness! Ha!)

I’ll have a Murray post up later today. He’s taking the morning off. (And his Mama is off making lollipops.)