Monday, April 29, 2013

Baking Monday – PB Choc Chip Shortbread

Take note, peanut butter lovers - these are seriously good! Shortbread, pb, and chocolate: three of my favorite things all wrapped up together.

The original recipe calls for sea salt, which gave the cookies a slight salty crunch. I found that to be distracting, because I couldn't decide if I liked it or not. (I notice today that in the updated version of the recipe, sea salt is changed to regular salt. If you're into the salty/sweet thing, give the big salt a try.) I did these as slice-and-bake, but looks like you could do them as drop cookies or cutout as well (mini chips would probably work best for that). One recipe makes two dozen small mouth-melting cookies. Enjoy!

Friday, April 26, 2013

70th Birthday Cookies

A friend ordered this assortment for her husband's birthday party. She didn't have any ideas for the theme except - maybe something Irish? I LOVE the way these turned out! I also used Lila Loa's color matching trick on the icing this time around. Genius!

I've long admired Sweet Sugarbelle's creative use of cutters, but can't say I've ever been very good at it. (See: snowman / number eight "duh" moment, for example.) But I was really proud of this one! I made a beer mug by piecing parts of other cutters together: a cupcake, a number "6", and the bottom of a pill bottle (leftover from my sister's graduation from pharmacy school.)

Wah-lah! Beer mug! Cheers!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Baby Shower Goodies

Up today: treats for our good friend's baby shower last week. These baby blue onsie cookies were wrapped up for favors.

Brown sugar cupcakes with vanilla buttercream icing ...

... and a two tiered cake: chocolate with peanut butter filling and vanilla with raspberry.

I was SO nervous transporting this cake! I can't imagine how bakeries do it all the time!

Sweet treats to celebrate a little boy who we are looking forward to meeting! 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Baking Monday - Chocolate Surprise Cookies

This recipe is a re-run, because there was Easter candy to use up yet again. I bought an assortment of chocolates to put out during our party: Dove eggs (yum), Crunch eggs (yum - according to the children), and caramel Hershey's kisses ... a surprising yuck. They just weren't very good. I saved the remainders thinking they could at least be used in a baked good. The kids also collected lots of Reese treats on their egg hunt, so those also got the surprise cookie treatment.

These cookies are pretty yummy, but it was discovered that the candy also has to be good for it to be a winner.

Peanut butter eggs - WIN! Delicious! Disappeared quickly!

Hershey's caramel kisses - yuck! Still no good! Maybe we just got a bummer batch, but - yuck!

I'm sticking with Rolos for next year! 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mini Candy Crush Cookies!

I'm thinking that Candy Crush sweets and parties will start popping up all over the place soon (how awesome would that dessert table be?) since so many of my friends seem to be just as addicted as I am, and many bakers will probably do it much better! (I realized afterwards that I forgot to do the color bomb, rats!)

It's been forever since I've made sugar cookies just for fun, so these were a happy treat. I used leftovers from a recent order to make these tiny goodies. I used this mini cutter set to make most of the shapes (plus an icing tip for the circles/ovals and the bottom end of a moving van to make the squares.) Half of the colors were already in piping bags, but the rest were spread by hand since the cookies and quantity were so tiny. See the spotty background in the light blue squares? Completely unintentional - I had another batch of icing go spotty last weekend for an order, grrrr. However, it made a perfect jelly texture!

The kids were so funny - one by one, they saw the dish on the counter, said, "Oooh! Little cookies!" then paused for a moment and made a happy gasp when they recognized the shapes. Thanks, Candy Crush for sucking valuable hours out of my day! (It's probably a very good thing to only get five lives at a time!) 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Baking Monday - Soft Sugar Cookies

Fun cookies today! Jump over and read the description of the recipe - how could anyone NOT want to try them?

The dough got a double mini scoop - don't they look like ice cream? Adorable!

Finished off with vanilla (green) and cinnamon (light brown) buttercream that happened to be leftover in the fridge.

The recipe calls for oil in addition to the butter. I was a bit wary, because I haven't had great luck with oil in cookie recipes in the past, but no fear - these are really good! Both soft and crunchy at the same time, and the flavor is excellent. I split the recipe in half, which made thirty jumbo-sized cookies. These would be a nice addition to my sugar cookie rotation. Yum! 

Friday, April 12, 2013

What Do You Hear? Sound Game

Okay, so I did plan one game for the kids over spring break. I've always brought out a basket of plastic eggs as part of our Easter decorations - the kids always find fun things to do with them for a couple of weeks, then they go away until next spring. This year, they were purposed!

I originally saw the idea on Kirsten's blog and saved it in my things-to-do-someday file. I've been trying to do more auditory sensory activities lately with Clark, so it was a good time to try it out.

I filled the eggs with little things found around the house and labeled each one with a number.

The kids had to shake each egg and guess what could be inside. Some were deceptively similar!

It was pleasantly surprising to see all three kids get in on the action. Not making a big deal about it seems to be the key to getting everyone involved. 

Here's a copy of the game sheet - it's labeled with things that should be easy to find around the house. Personal use only, please!

Download What Do You Hear? game sheet here.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Spring Break WOOO!

We don't usually go away for spring break - maybe a day trip here and there - and usually just enjoy being home and not being on a schedule. This year, however, I had major vacation envy. SO many of our friends (and it seemed like most of my FB friends) were away last week. Plus, 30-degree weather hindered most of our usual spring activities (Bike riding! Story Garden! Ice cream!)

However - our break turned out quite nice. Monday we all enjoyed doing a whole bunch of nothing all day. On Tuesday, the kids played Wii while I logged in five work hours. I felt guilty that we weren't doing anything wholesome, but you know what? The kids were having a great time, and no one was fighting, plus I was getting paid ... so it was all good. They all got together with the few friends that were still in town at different times during the week.

The kids' one request (okay, third request after "Can we play Minecraft?" and "Can we have candy?") was to walk down to the creek behind the playground. Thursday looked like the best weather of the week (50 and sunny!) and we spent about two hours mucking around.

Dora and Theo found creative ways to cross the creek back and forth, while Clark and I hung out on the trail and collected sticks.

We did one fun thing on Saturday - went to the mall in Syracuse to try out their ropes course. As expected, Dora loved it. Theo ... not so much. He got all harnessed up, but took a look at the first walk and started making "get me down" gestures. I thought it would be more climbing (which Theo loves) but it turned out to be all balancing (not his favorite).

I don't blame him - I wouldn't have gone near it. Look at this crazy girl! I just followed around the perimeter, taking pictures.

The mall also has a science arcade where the boys spent their time while Dora climbed. That turned out to be sensory overload for Clark (though he stuck it out for longer than expected), but Dora and Theo had a great time on all the spinning simulation machines. A fun end to a relaxing week.  

Monday, April 8, 2013

Baking Monday - Easter Chocolate Spritz Cookies

These cookies were my only attempt at a spring-y, Easter-ish dessert this year. 

Me: What do you think? Do they look like bird nests?
Dora: (long pause) 
Dora: They taste really good, Mom! 

Okay, at least she knows how to be polite. Nests or not, they were still pretty cute. The only thing that would make them better would be peanut butter instead of plain M&M eggs, but I really could not risk having a bag of peanut butter eggs in the house.

Verdict: very yummy, and a bit on the small side, so it's easy to eat multiple cookies without even blinking. Enjoy! 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Baking Monday - S'mores Treats

So, why does someone who doesn't like marshmallows keep making marshmallow desserts? Two reasons: half a box of Golden Grahams left over from Valentine's Day snack mix (which I cannot make again, since I ate 90% of it last time) and mini marshmallows left over from an OOTM hands-on spontaneous activity.

Admittedly: I kind of phoned this one in. Short on time and inspiration that week. As it turned out, due to bad weather and sickness around the house, these never made it out to their intended recipients, so the kids and I ended up eating most of them (me after picking out the mini marshmallows. I'd do without the extras next time.) I like the tip to put the chocolate chips in the freezer before mixing them in - keeps them from melting in with the coating like last time. Best eaten within a day or two - the cereal gets much less crunchy after that. Super gooey and sweet - big hit with the kids!