Friday, August 31, 2012

So it begins....

That time of the year. The time of the year I wait for on baited breath until that first chill of air rushes in from the Arctic and I grin...Fall has arrived, kids are in school and for me that means....

Halloween!!!!





You see, for my family, it just isn't a day of candy. It is bigger for us than Christmas. For many many reason, from heritage to just refusing to grow up, it is our most favorite time of the year! And so it started, the first Halloween Cookies. Trust me, there will be many more to come!



RIP Count Von Count

Sesame Street, where most every child begins their love of TV and all things plush. I know it was for me and my favorite was always Count Von Count! (Probably explains why I have a love for things gothic and I was a math major in college. O.o)



Sadly, the spirit behind Count passed away this week. (Yes, it was a bad week in general.) So, needless to say I couldn't not make a cookie set in honor of my favorite character. RIP Count, ah, ah, ah. ~wants to cry~




Count was very easy to make for those that wish to later. Check out this tutorials on how to use a Tulip Cookie Cutter and turn him into a vampire - Not So Spooky Vampire

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Final Fantasy Creatures

I know, another post today but I honestly cannot help myself. I have done a lot of sets of cookies this week and I really just want to show them all off but seriously cannot do them all in a single post. They all are just so different. I will say this though, this was my favorite set to do this week. 

How can it not be? I am a total geek, that much is more than evident from looking at the projects I take on. More than that I am an FF fanatic. I am talking buy the games, the sound tracks, map everything out and even know the b-days of the characters. Some people obsess over coins, I do FF.

So needless to say when my kids started playing FF I was just happy chocobo! They really have gotten into the game and are constantly searching for the older ones to play on console. ~geek mommy pride there~ My youngest is not playing the games as of yet but he is in the design process as it were. He is constantly drawing Chocobo's, Tonberry and Cactuar. Just to name a few. He is even constructing various Elementals and Aeons and creating his own now.

Well, this was for them. I had a lot this week, but had some extra so I went out on a limb for them and they were more than happy with the results mommy came up with. So here are their top five creatures as far as the kids are concerned right now. Mog, Chocobo, Bomb, Tonberry and Cactuar!

Chocolate sugar cookies with royal icing. All are hand cut and free handed.






One Small Step

"That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." - Neil Armstrong

These words have echoed through space since they were spoken back on July 20th, 1960. They will continue to echo through not only United States history but the history of mankind. That day Neil Armstrong became the first human being in history to step foot on the surface of the moon. 

Sadly this past week he took the final voyage to the heavens above. A living legend passed away and though he is gone his mark will continue to inspire people for generations to come. He was once quoted as saying - I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don't intend to waste any of mine - and looking back on his life, he didn't waste a moment. From being an astronaut to a teacher, he made sure his life was lived to the fullest and not only that he made sure the world was better for him having been here. 

These are in honor of him. RIP Armstrong, may your honor, valor and dedication be a beacon for future generations that anyone can touch the stars if they only believe they can. 




Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Angry Beaks & Birds

Angry birds, angry birds, angry birds. Those vindictive little fouls that over a few stolen eggs are willing to sacrifice the entire species, lol. What can I say, I love them. They are the perfect end to a day, flinging those little buggers through the air and smashing those pigs to high heaven. Even better when you are munching on a Chicken Club sandwich at the same time. LOL But hey, sometimes you need something sweet to go with your victory and that is when these babies come in.

Had posted a few pictures of these last month for my sons birthday party but I felt they deserved just as much attention as the cake got. Honestly, I don't think I have had a better turn out for themed cookies yet than these babies.

Now these are surprisingly easy to make and here are a few pictures to give you an idea of how to. To start, simple print out some of your favorite images of said Angry Birds on card stock paper, cut them out and then use those as cookie stencils.



After that, all you really need to do it create an outline like you would when making a coloring sheet for the kids. Just some black royal icing and have fun. It doesn't have to be perfect! Who cares if it isn't, it will taste just as nifty. (Always remember to let any black outline dry at least overnight before adding any more colors or your risk your icing colors bleeding together.)


After the base color dries, just full in the colors as you need, add more detail. I recommend letting colors dry at least 2-3 hours between unless you are doing a flooding blend. It helps things set a bit as well as helping keeping colors from bleeding. (Reds I recommend overnight just as with black.)


Now, if you aren't into doing this level of detail or you are just starting and want something a tad more for beginners and just as jaw dropping cool, try beak cookie pops. As with before, print out beaks on card stock, cut out and use as a cookie stencil. After that, just add a cookie pop stick before baking.


Outline and let dry overnight.


Fill, dry and enjoy!


Aren't they just so angry they're cute?!? Anything on a stick my kids can play with is always a hit in our house. These went over just as well as the mustache cookie pops. 



Monday, August 13, 2012

Doughnuts - A How to

Doughnuts....Aww the very mention of them makes your mouth water doesn't it. Those, either fried or baked, little rings of golden deliciousness that so many find so tempting in the morning. You stand in line for them, buy them days ahead, use them for fund raisers and more. Cake, glazed, chocolate dipped, cream filled or sprinkles on top. It doesn't matter. You grab one, some milk or coffee and go to town. Munch, munch, munch!!!!!! Oh so good! And so freaking easy to make!!!!!!!

 As promised I am posting a how to on Doughnuts. Now, these are super easy and you may just stop buying them from the store once you try these. From start to finish, including rise time for your dough, it should only take about an hour to make a full batch and gobble it down. And thankfully you are only going to need a few things and honestly nothing special you probably don't already have in your house.

Materials:
Round Cutters: 2 of them. 3 inch & 1 inch. If you don't have, the rim of a large glass and a kids medicine cup work in a pinch.
1 large pan
Oil
Go To Dough Recipe
Paper Towels.


Seriously, that is all you really need. Now you can have other stuff. Like A sugar or chocolate glaze, jams to inject or sprinkles to put on top. But this is just the basics here and honestly, the hubby loves eating these with no icing on them as well.

What to do:

  1. Follow Go to Recipe through step 13
  2. Roll out dough to half an inch thick.
  3. Cut out large circles and place on a lightly floured surface to rest.
  4. Cut out the center if you are going for standard, leave alone if you will be filling later.
  5. Cover and let rise until double in size. 
  6. Heat your oil to 350.
  7. Place dough into the oil, careful to leave room all around. (I have a large skillet and only do 4 at a time.)
  8. Let fry 1-2 minutes, just until lightly golden.
  9. Flip and let cook another 1-2 minutes or until lightly golden. Don't worry, this dough cooks fast.
  10. Place on paper towels to drain.
  11. Let cool until you can handle them, about 5 minutes.
  12. Now you can either serve as is or you can do what you want with them. Dip in a sugar glaze, a chocolate one, cover in sprinkles or fill with jams and cremes. (To fill, just use an injector you can get in the housewares section for like 3 bucks or a pastry bag and large tip)
Sugar Glaze - Thinned down with milk if you are going for the full dunk.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Breakfast Rolls - 4 Versions

Traditional Cinnamon
No Topping
Okay I don't know a single person who doesn't love breakfast rolls. Heck that "Yummy-Bun" place, you know the one I am talking about, makes a fortune off just that. People buy them like crazy in the can to bake at home, from their local bakery and more. Thing is, they are actually super easy to make and you don't have to limit yourself to just 1 type.

Orange Rolls
Cream Cheese Frosting
So I am going to break it down for you with 1 dough recipe, one I use for practically everything and show you different fillings you can do to keep things interesting at home. Today I will be giving you 4 different fillings and 4 different frostings.

All are super simple to do and you can prep all this the night before and just toss in the oven in the morning. (Which I love because I can prep everything in like 30 minutes before bed, after the kids are asleep so they are not under foot, and then just bake fresh in the morning.)

Candied Bacon
Maple Cream Frosting
Nothing will get the family out of bed and into the kitchen faster, willing to do what ever chore you want them to, like the smell of Breakfast Rolls roaming through the house. ^_~  Just remember that with great power comes great responsibility.

Before you start you need to get the most important thing....The dough. My "Go To" Dough. I swear by this dough and if I could only have one recipe in my kitchen it would be this.

I swear it is the best dough recipe to know because I have yet to find a dough related item - From English Muffins to Doughnuts to Pizza that I could not use this dough for. Learn it, love it, astound people by it! Mwahahahah! ~coughs~ okay, back to the task at hand.

What you need to prep and do:
 *Prep your choice of filling - Recipes provided below
 *Prep Go To Dough - Follow to step 13
 *Prep your choice of frosting - Recipes provided below

Now we will start on step 14 lol

14. Preheat oven to 350F.
15. Take the dough out of the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface.
Strawberry
16. Roll out gently until you have a rectangle that is 15 by 24 inches - Get a ruler, lol.
17. Smear your choice of prepped filling over the dough. Leave a 1/2 inch clean edge around the dough.
18. Roll up snuggly but not too tight.
19. Cut into equal slices using a serrated knife, careful not to squish your roll. 1.5 inches is my preferred thickness.
20. Place in a greased pan and cover. (With a cloth and let rise until double if you are baking now. With plastic wrap taunt if rising in the fridge overnight.)
21. Bake 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned on top.
22. Let cool ten minutes before frosting with preferred recipe.
23. Serve warm!

It is really that simple. Now for filling and toppings!!!!

Fillings

Traditional Cinnamon

  • 3/4 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Room Temp Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
Place all in a bowl and mix together well before smearing on the dough.


Strawberry
  • 2 Cups Thinly Sliced Fresh Strawberries
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
  • 1/2 Cup Room Temp Unsalted Butter
Smear butter over the dough. Mix together cinnamon and sugar before sprinkling evenly over butter. Toss strawberry slices in cornstarch before placing on top of the sugar.


Candied Bacon
  • 1 Cup Packed Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup Room Temp Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Chopped Cooked Bacon (Real Bacon Bits work)
Combine the sugar, butter, cinnamon and extract until smooth. Smear over the dough. Sprinkle with bacon.


 Orange
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • Zest of 1 Medium Orange
  • 1/2 Cup Room Temp Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
Combine everything in a bowl until smooth. Smear over the dough.



 Frostings


Classic Cream Cheese

  • 8 Ounces Softened Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Sifted Confectioners Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Clear Vanilla Extract
Mix together in a bowl until smooth before smearing on warm rolls.

Berries & Cream

  • 8 Ounces Softened Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Strawberry Preserves
  • 1/4 Cup Sifted Confectioners Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
Mix together in a bowl until smooth before smearing on warm rolls.


Maple Cream

  • 1/4 Cup Softened Cream Cheese
  • 1 Teaspoon Maple Flavoring (Found with extracts)
  • 1 1/4 Cup Sifted Confectioners Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Room Temp Unsalted Butter
Mix together in a bowl until smooth before smearing on warm rolls.


Orange Glaze

  • 1 Cup Sifted Confectioners Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tablespoon Pulp Free Orange Juice
Whisk together until smooth before drizzling over warm rolls.

Traditional Cinnamon W/ Classic Frosting


And that's all they wrote!

Hello Kitty!

When I was younger, much younger, I spent a lot of time with my Grandmother in East Cobb Marietta. Well grandmothers being grandmothers, she saw it fit to spoil me rotten every chance she got. That wasn't too hard in that neck of the woods. Everything was available, including toys from Japan.

You see, even back then I was into things that were not mainstream in the US as of yet. Hello Kitty and Badtz Maru were two of those. Back when I was a youngster, you whipper snappers, Japanese toys were not easy to find and there was no Ebay or Amazon to order from. (Yes, I just dated myself. LOL)

I was lucky though, there was one store near us that was a kids dream if you were into that type of thing. Sanrio Surprises! (Right next to the Great American Cookie Company and this was no mall people, an actually full store.) I loved going to Sanrio anytime I could. From the candy to the toys it was like a taking a trip right over to Tokyo as far as I was concerned. Five, six years old and I was standing next to all this primary color glory. It was wonderful.

Needless to say that love for Japanese toys and art was something I never really grew out of. (Heck I was collecting Pikachu toys in my 20's more fervently than my kids.) So when I saw Hello Kitty Cookie cutter I must have reminded my husband of the kids begging for toys - Can I please, please please order it! Please!!!!!! ~whines like a kid in a candy store~

So here they are in all their cute glory....Hello Kitty! And of course in honor of the man who had to listen to my whine like a two year old and then agree for me to get them, the hubby I had to do a special one for him that no one else could touch. Chef Kitty! (Even looks a tad ticked off, just like every chef I have ever met in the kitchen. :P )



And there we have it! Hello Kitty! Trust me I will be doing more from Sanrio now that I have my Japanese Cookies going on. hehe!



Sayonara!


Friday, August 3, 2012

Biscuits & Cherries

Quick update:

2 Recipes I have recently tested out in my home kitchen that I want to share with you. 

Great Grandma's Pioneer Trail Biscuits: One is for the most simple biscuit recipe I have ever come across and frankly, one of the best! I love it. Make it exactly as it says, with the butter Crisco as recommended by the author. (Thought I will say when it came to baking them I smeared down my pan with butter before placing the biscuits on it and then brushed the top with melted butter before baking.)








Let's Get Ready To Crumble: Two is for an amazingly tart Cherry Crumble that my family devoured in no time flat. I made it exactly as the recipe called and it baked up perfectly. I won't be making any changes or suggestions to this recipe. It is just perfect, for my tastes, as is. Even my most picky eater devoured an entire bowl full happily and he hates all things tart! 





And that about covers it! Enjoy them as much as I have! make sure to check out the rest of my Sweetly Approved recipes over on Pinterest! Sweetly Approved Board!

Rainbow Cake - A How To W/Recipe

Alright, this past week I posted a cake for "It's Okay To Be Takei" and it was a huge success.

Thing is I got tons of questions of how to make the cake layers the way I did without having to bake a whole bunch of different layers, level, frost and assemble. I have a tutorial on how to make a quick rainbow cake but that one comes out like most, with the colors swirled around. (Rainbow Cake) This one produces an even level color separation that is just astounding!

You honestly will not believe how easy it is!

What you will need:

  • Sheet Cake Recipe (At bottom of page)
  • Gel Food Colorings
  • Baking Spray
  • Measuring Cup
  • 9 Inch Rounds - 1 per 3 colors you will be prepping
  • Patience!

Now I will explain this as if you are baking a cake with 6 color - Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple.


  1. Prepare your cake batter.
  2. Preheat your oven to 375 F.
  3. Divide the batter into 6 bowls - 2/3's cup of batter each. (Anything left over use for cupcakes or something. If it very important to use the exact same amount per layer, why we are measuring before anything else.)
  4. Color each batter bowl.
  5. Spray 2 9 inch decorator level cake pans with baking spray. (Straight edged sides)
  6. Pour 2/3 cup red batter into one, 2/3 cup green batter into the other.
  7. Bake 10 minutes or until just set on top
  8. Remove from oven, carefully but quickly add orange batter on top of the red, tilt the pan around to layer evenly. Do the same with the other pan by pouring the blue on top of the green.
  9. Bake another 10 minutes or until the new layer is just set.
  10. Remove from oven, carefully but quickly once again add more batter. This time Yellow to Orange and Purple to Blue. Tilt to even out the batter.
  11. Bake 10-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs.
  12. Remove from oven.
  13. Let cool 5 minutes.
  14. Flip both layers out of pans.
  15. Immediately place the green bottom layer onto the yellow top layer.
  16. Let cool fully. 
  17. Decorate as you please!
It is really that freaking simple! And this is what it will look like if you slice through it! Neat huh?



Now for the cake recipe. I use a modified Texas Sheet Cake recipe for this. (This is not for the diet friendly)

What you will need - 
  • 1 Cup Butter Flavored Crisco (Seriously, pull out the shortening for this.)
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Full Fat Sour Cream
  • 1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda (Don't use more! If you do the cake will rise more and won't give you level layers.)
  1. In a large sauce pan, bring your water to a boil.
  2. Add in Crisco, melt and remove immediately from heat.
  3. Toss in everything else and mix until well combined.
  4. Now, either follow the instructions above for the rainbow cake or to just make a sheet cake..
  • Pour into a large pan, sprayed with baking spray and bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.


And that's all they wrote folks! Enjoy! 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Copy-Cat Chicken Sammich



With all the hoopla going on this week over a certain companies stance the copy cat recipes for Chicken sandwiches have been flying around more than pancakes at a lumberjack's convention. So, what does that mean for you? Maybe nothing but for thousands of people out there that have always wanted to know just how to make that chicken, it could be a dream come true.

So, here you have it, a Sweetly Approved recipe that needs a few tweaks in my opinion. (But not much.) First thing is first you will need this recipe - Almost Famous Chicken Sandwiches 

This is the recipe that I have found to be the closest to the actual restaurant. (Having being from the south and raised on that chicken and those waffle fries makes any southern an expert on that taste, lol.) Now I will say this, you need to do 1 more step to prep that I found out about by reading the comments for the recipe.

Make sure to soak your chicken breasts in pickle juice for 10-15 minutes before you start!!!!


Seriously, this makes all the difference in the world. Now I know there is a lot on that recipe but most of it is probably in your cabinets anyways. If not, it should be. Honestly, this stuff is staples that should be in most anyone's kitchen. The only thing I had to go buy was the Malted Milk Powder - which I have been needing for a while. If you don't know where to find that, look where they keep the hot chocolate mixes. Should be right there. About 3-4 bucks, US, a container. Trust me, it will come in handy.

Now, I did not use store bought buns and that is why my hubby said that this sammich tasted different from the fast food joints. (This recipe isn't exact but it is pretty freaking close. My daughter took a bite and looked at me odd before going - ~insert restaurants name here?~ She was shocked to learn it wasn't.

You can use store bought buns and I am sure it will probably taste even more like the real deal but if you want to "Kick it up a notch" as it were, try making your own. Seriously, not hard. Use my "Go To Dough" recipe, roll out the dough after first rise to under half an inch. Cut out with a cookie cutter. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes and brush with butter once done. Let cool fully before slicing, brushing with melted butter and toasting in a hot pan. It will really just make them perfect.

Yes, I know this isn't a confection but I figured since I was linking it in with my dough recipe and the dusting has sugar in it I could get away with it! LOL
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