May 29, 2012

An Artists Palette

Happy Birthday Sophie! 
I've been friends with Soph's mom since high school so we go wayyyyyyy back.
I love creating for her kids birthdays - they always have great ideas of what they want
and 99% of the time it's CHOCOLATE!
Last year Sophie challenged me with asking for slumber party cupcakes, jumbo's of course
with lots of buttercream.





May 23, 2012

Bon Voyage - Party 1

My sister, brother in law & nephew leave in 2 weeks for China and will be there for a few years.
Last week they flew up to our dad's house in Northern California to spend some time with him and take Sal on his first airplane ride (age 4 mos).  Sal was a good little traveler and they all enjoyed their visit.  Our aunt & uncle live a few hours from our dad, so they drove up for the weekend.  Aunt Cheryl emailed me and asked me if I could send her some "going away" cookies so she could take them and surprise everyone.  I didn't have much time to get them in the mail so I stuck with 3 shapes...a plane, a rectangle & a cloud. I don't own a cloud cutter so I used a scalloped circle that I bent to look like a cloud... it came out just fine.

Did I mention my sister loves my lemon cut out cookies?  She does.. we learned that at her baby shower. I think she inherited it from my dad because he enjoyed his fair share at my grandpa's 90th birthday.

I am feeling a little challenged because my brother in law's family is throwing a party next week so I need to come up with different designs for that party. 

Rectangle cutter transformed into a "letter"


Scalloped circle cutter "Cloud"


Stay tuned for the next "Bon Voyage- Part 2" post coming next week!

May 22, 2012

Jungle Fever

This is one of my favorite tricks..make a royal icing transfer and then stick it on your cookies or cupcakes.   It prevents mistakes from happening, you know the ones where you waste a cookie because icing drips out in all the wrong places?  Yep, those.

I start out by drawing the face shape on a piece of paper.  For this set of cookies, I used 2" x  2" pieces of wax paper.  I put the wax paper on top of my drawing then piped the outline and flooded it.  After it dried for several hours I went back and added details to the face.  The next day I flooded my cookies and peeled the Monkey face off the wax paper and gently put it on the cookie. 
Monkey Face

cookie done

Do you know what tip I used to make the Lion's hair & ears?
the answer is at the end of this post




Answer: Wilton's leaf tip #67 works great to make ears

Happy Anniversary to US

They say time flies when you are having fun.. it sure does!
13 years ago today, we said I DO

I still remember it like it was yesterday but yet so much has happened in the last 13 years..
we've celebrated anniversaries, birthdays, communions, high school graduation (Congrats Nicholas), lost loved ones, returned to Juls hometown in New York several times, traveled to Hawaii with our friends, gained 2 brother-in-laws, a sister-in-law, a niece & nephew....but what hasn't changed is the love we have for one another.

 I am so thankful each and every day for who I married and for the family that he belongs to.  I am thankful that no matter what he is always there for me and supports me in everything I do even if I'm having a stubborn moment.

Happy Anniversary Juls 

xoxo S.


If we were getting married today, I'd make my own cake just like the one above
6" vanilla cake with fresh raspberries

May 22, 1999 ~ Miramar Beach, Santa Barbara, CA

Dumont Dunes, Feb 2007

May 18, 2012

Wishing I was in Kauai

A few weeks ago (I'm very behind in blogging) my boss went to a trade show.  He sat in my office the Friday before and said "The show is Hawaiian themed, what do you think…"   I said, "I think cookies… pineapples, shells and starfish. I will bag and tie them with business card attached to each."  He loved that idea so I went to work on them as soon as I got home. I baked up 4 dozen cookies and a 2 batches of royal icing.  It’s hard to gauge how much icing you need for cookies, a lot depends on the size of the cookie itself.  I find that I can usually do 2 dozen with one batch of royal icing.  He said the cookies were gone in a heartbeat and they drew a lot of attention to his table - perfect, that's what we wanted.
We had the best pineapple we've ever had when we were in
Kauai.  We stopped at an observation point going up Waimea Canyon.  A vendor was selling pineapple
from a cooler.. it was so good. The 4 of us stood there eating it in the parking lot... I've never had another one taste like that. Yum!





Summer is almost here... 1 month and 3 days to go!

In Memory of Our Niece

In Memory of Our Niece
05~18~2012

We wish you were here to meet your little brother.  He is such a sweet boy, full of smiles, drool, squeals and snuggles. We know you would be such a proud big sister.

Happy 3rd Birthday Denise!

Love, Auntie Steph & Uncle Juls 

May 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom

Back in June 2009, I tried making the "flower pot" or "bouquet" cupcakes
and they pretty much FAILED !   When I went to search for that post, I laughed when I saw the pictures at my beginning attempt with fondant.  The fondant daisies were sliding off the tops & the sticks poked thru alot of my cupcakes and slid down the sticks.   My granny called me the night before my mom's birthday and asked what kind of cupcakes I was going to make for my mom and proceeded to tell me about the cupcake bouquet she saw on Food Network. I told her that I had made them before but they were an epic fail and I wasn't happy with the results.   I think this challenged me, to make them again so my granny could see.

After work I popped into Michaels for floral foam and wooden sticks.  I decided to do mini cupcakes instead of standard cupcakes. They are lighter in weight and I thought I'd have better luck keeping them on the sticks.   It worked! What I didn't realize is how hard they would be to transport set up. I really should have waited to pop them on the sticks when I arrived at my destination.   I lost 2 in the trip up the hill to my mom's..but after rearranging the sticks you couldn't tell that anything was missing.

Happy Birthday Mom... So happy we were able to celebrate with you!
Doesn't she look great for having  40 yr old & 34 yr old daughters?
I can only hope I look as good as she does at 63
xoxo

May 14, 2012

Mother's Day

I was a busy baker this weekend...
My mom's birthday is May 12th, so we celebrated with a luncheon
and yesterday we had a family bbq in honor of Mother's Day.

This cake was inspired by the Gerbera Daisy I picked up at Trader Joe's for my mom.  I used 5 different Americolors to come up with the different shades.   I used Peach, Terracotta, Electric Pink, Super Red & Orange.  I plan on making another ombré cake for a birthday at my office this week so I will take step by step photos to go along with my instructions below.  It is a lot easier than you think, you really can't do it wrong. I work fast because my icing melts in the bag quickly from my hot hands. 

To make your own Ombré cake you need :
  8" - 4 layer cake
  Fluffy Buttercream (1 batch)
  Wilton tip 104 (or 105,106,107 if you don't have 104)
  Syran wrap
  decorating bag
  cake turntable
  Americolor dye

1. Layer your cake with frosting in between each layer
2. Make your buttercream
3. Add the lightest dye to your entire batch of buttercream.
4. Crumb coat your cake and chill in the fridge
5. While your cake is chilling, mix your colors
     1a.  Lay syran down and put about 1 cup of the lightest color on the syran wrap. Wrap it like
          a burrito and set aside (so one end is open).
     2a.  Now add a little more dye to the remaining buttercream.   Repeat Step 1a.
     3a.  Repeat step 2a.  until you have 4-5 colors and no more buttercream left.
6. Take your cake out of the fridge and put it on your turntable
7. Put the darkest color of icing in your decorating bag fitted with tip #104.  Start at the base of the cake,
    with fat end touching the cake and ruffle it all the way around a few times.
8. Remove the buttercream "pouch" from your decorating bag and put the next color in.  Repeat this
    step until you have used all the colors.  I used the lightest color up to the center of the top of the cake

9. There you have it, your very own Ombré cake!
Beautiful Coral color

inside filled with chocolate..yum!

I hope all the Mother's out there had a wonderful Mother's Day!

May 9, 2012

Baseball Season

Grams had fun doing these with me.  I frosted & she put pieces on top of the cupcakes.  Would you believe I used my flower formers to make the shape of the baseball? Sometimes it's the simpliest things that make fondant work so much easier. 
Flower formers

I wish someone would invent a grass tip with more holes..
talk about hand cramping!  Didn't Grams do a great job?
I think she had fun working with me, next time I'll let
her to the grass & save my hand (just kidding Grams)

Red stitching is painted on with a small paint brush & red dye diluted




Let's go Dodgers!

May 8, 2012

The Perfect 'Stache

I've always thought mustaches were so cool (as long as they aren't on my husband).  It must go way back to growing up with a grandpa who had the perfect 'Stache for so many years!  I remember watching him wax it so it would curl at the ends and often he would say "Damn I'm good".  A few years ago my brother in law grew a nice one, I think Gramps was a wee bit jealous of it.  He grew his back but it would not curl like it use to so he shaved it off. It took my grams a day or two to even notice that he was clean shaven.  I noticed it before her, the minute I walked in the door.   With or without it, we love him just the same. 

FRED makes the coolest cookie cutters. They cut and then you can imprint the texture with the back side. I didn't use the texture side this time, I went with sanding sugar on top of the wet royal for a different look.  Super easy set to use even though they are plastic. I shouldn't dog plastic cutters, they work but my preference is straight metal or copper. The painted metal & plastic cutters aren't sharp so they often make a messy edge on the cookies. I just scored the karate set last week off Amazon.com and Paper Source has quite a bit of the FRED product line.   Hopefully I'll have some time and can make karate/UFC style cookies for the next fight night at our friends. 
Gramps & his 'Stache - 2006

FRED cutters




My favorite, the perfect 'Stache

May 2, 2012

April Showers bring May flowers

You know the saying..
April showers bring May flowers.  My iris' are in full bloom and so pretty.
I still can't believe it's May. I'm not sure where the last 4 months went.

Lately I've been stuck on ruffles & shades of coral... mixing Americolor orange, pink and peach to make pretty variations.  This month's Food Network Magazine had a spread on colors you can make with grocery store food coloring - you know the cheesy package of red, yellow, green & blue.  I'm tempted to go buy a box just to see if I can copy the colors they came up with .. it was amazing that 4 colors made that many shades of icing.  You can see for yourself here on their website.

I mailed this set of cookies to my childhood friend, Jennifer. They just finalized the adoption of a beautiful girl named Emily in April and are having a party to celebrate.  When she opened the box all the cookies were intact (Thankful that USPS was kind to my cookies that were double boxed and bubble wrapped) and were the same colors as the dress she had picked out for Emily to wear to her party.  









 

Recipe for the cookies is here:  No Chill Cut out cookies
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