Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bridal Shower Goodie Bags


Goodie bags complete!


Even though the bridal shower sugar cookies were my original idea as the party favors for Jessica's bridal shower, I couldn't stop there. I must admit that I got a little carried away. Don't ask me to define "a little," I'll let you judge for yourself. :-)

It all got out of control because I started looking up party favor bags online and kept coming across so many different ideas of what I could do. And it just kept going from there.

I found these awesome party favor bags, that I custom ordered from Accent the Party. I found some other favor bags that fit our theme, but these were practically the same price and far superior in quality! (Only complaint is that some of the little bows kept falling off and I didn't have any glue.)

From the same company I ordered the bags, I also ordered some charming miniature calla lily candles to honor Jessica's grandma Lillie (aka Mi Ma), who passed away in December 2010. Jessica was very close to Mi Ma and I knew that she wanted to find ways to include her in the wedding, so I thought these would be a great way to include Mi Ma in the bridal shower.


Miniature calla lily candles


As kind of a semi-gag gift, I put together little custom bottles of hand-sanitizer. Because Jessica keeps hand-sanitizer everywhere. :-) They had custom ones you could order online, but they'd come out to like $100... ummm, no. I could make them myself for so much cheaper! I ordered little 2 oz. lidded bottles from SKS Bottle & Packaging, filled them up with hand-sanitizer, and slapped on a label that I made in Photoshop. I thought these came out so cute!


Hand-sanitizer


Inside of the goodie bags. So glad they all fit!


Jessica's sisters, Shaniq and Tillie (fellow bridesmaid and maid-of-honor), came over and helped me assemble the bags and get prepared for the shower. I was so excited for people to see these goodie bags, and everyone was really happy with the way they came out!

Shaniq and Tillie, my partners in crime!


I'm so proud of my goodie bags!


I made the bridal shower invitation too. :-)



Me, Jessica (the bride), Tillie, and Shaniq at the shower


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bridal Shower Sugar Cookies

Pink and black wedding cake cookies!


 My dear friend Jessica is getting married soon, so her family and I threw her a bridal shower this past weekend at my parents' house. One of my big projects was to do the party favors so, of course, I have to include some sort of yummy baked treat! I've never really had a completely successful result at attempting to make decorated sugar cookies before, so I thought that it was time to try again. With more patience. Hopefully.

The color theme for Jessica's party is pink and black, so I thought that I'd make little wedding cake shaped cookies with soft pink icing and black polka dots. 

Instead of using the recipes that I already have and scouring the web looking for new recipes, I thought that I would use ones that others have found successful. I ended up using Dorie Greenspan's sugar cookie recipe and the Brown Eyed Baker's royal icing recipe, both I thought had great results.

I was apprehensive about this entire cookie making and decorating process. I make cookies, really good cookies! But I don't decorate. To be honest with you, I almost quit during the outlining process, haha. It took me several, several cookies to get the hang of outlining. So many, that some of the goodie bags didn't have these cookies in them. :-( I'm pleased with myself that I kept trying and that the cookies turned out really cute. Maybe I'll try cookie decorating again sooner than later this time around. Maybe Easter? :-)

So, I also made garlic artichoke dip and a salad for the shower, but things got kinda hectic towards the last minute and I didn't get a chance to take pictures. But I do have another salad recipe that I'll share VERY soon that I cannot get enough of!


Waiting for the icing to dry

Finally finished at 1am!

With Jessica at her bridal shower



All-Occasion Sugar Cookies
Recipe found on the Brown Eyed Baker
Originally from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 146-147

2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
10 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature (1 stick and 2 Tbs)
1 c. sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Sugar or cinnamon sugar, for dusting (optional-- needless to say, I didn't do this)

Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for a minute or so, until smooth. Beat in the sugar and continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and pale. Add the egg and yolk and beat for another minute or two; beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and steadily add the flour mixture, mixing only until it has been incorporated – because this dough is best when worked least, you might want to stop the mixer before all the flour is thoroughly blended into the dough and finish the job with a rubber spatula. When mixed, the dough will be soft, creamy and malleable.

Turn the dough out onto a counter and divide it in half. If you want to make roll-out cookies, shape each half into a disk and wrap in plastic. If you want to make slice-and-bake cookies, shape each half into a chubby sausage (the diameter is up to you – I usually like cookies that are about 2 inches in diameter) and wrap in plastic. Whether you’re going to roll or slice the dough, it must be chilled for at least 2 hours. (Well wrapped, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.)

Getting Ready to Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

If you are making roll-out cookies, working with one packet of dough at a time, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to a thickness of ¼ inch, lifting the plastic or paper and turning the dough over often so that it rolls evenly. Lift off the top sheet of plastic or paper and cut out the cookies – I like a 2-inch round cookie cutter for these. Pull away the excess dough, saving the scraps for re-rolling, and carefully lift the rounds onto the baking sheets with a spatula, leaving about 1½ inches between the cookies. (This is a soft dough and you might have trouble peeling away the excess or lifting the cutouts; if so, cover the dough, chill it for about 15 minutes and try again.) After you’ve rolled and cut the second packet of dough, you can form the scraps into a disk, then chill, roll, cut and bake.

If you are making slice-and-bake cookies, use a sharp thin knife to slice the dough into ¼-inch-thick rounds, and place the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1½ inches between the cookies.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the sheet at the midpoint. The cookies should feel firm, but they should not color much, if at all. Remove the pan from the oven and dust the cookies with sugar or cinnamon sugar, if you’d like. Let them rest for 1 minute before carefully lifting them onto a rack to cool to room temperature.

Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.

Storing: The cookies will keep at room temperature in a tin for up to 1 week. Wrapped well, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.


Royal Icing
Originally from the Brown Eyed Baker

4 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbs meringue powder
6 Tbs water

Mix all ingredients on low speed for 7-10 minutes or until the icing loses its shine. Add more water by the teaspoon if it appears too stiff.

Separate the icing into separate bowls in you're using more than one color. Add a couple drops of food coloring until you get your desired color. (I used Americolor soft gel paste in soft pink and super black.) Cover bowls with a damp towel to prevent icing from hardening.

Outline the cookies. Instead of using decorating bags, I just used a ziploc bag with a small corner cut off and filled that with frosting to outline the shape of the cookies.

Flood the cookies. After outlining the cookies and letting the icing harden, add a couple drops of water to the rest of the icing that you'll be using. You'll want to add water until the icing has a syrup consistency. Then, I put the icing in a squeeze bottle with a top that has a small opening. Using the squeeze bottle, fill the inside of the outlines of the cookies. You don't have to put too much-- just use a toothpick to spread out the rest of the icing.

If you're going to use more than one color, wait until the icing has hardened before you start filling in the cookies with other colors. (So I waited until the pink icing was nearly hardened before I started adding the black icing to make the dots.)

You can check out the Brown Eyed Baker's tutorial on how to decorate your cookies with royal icing. She has a detailed step-by-step process (with photos!) on how to decorate your cookies.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies


Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

I originally saw these cookies on Chrissy's So Delushious blog, but are originally from another fabulous blog that I love called Picky Palate. These massive cookies looked so incredible, I decided to make them right away for my friend Jessica's family's party despite being specifically asked to make their favorite dessert, lemon bars. ;-)

I stayed true to the original recipe, though my cookies spread out a little more than I wanted which may be due to the high altitude here in Albuquerque. I added more flour after testing out a couple cookies, but that didn't help too much. Next time, I may try to adjust the entire chocolate chip cookie recipe for the high altitude.

One thing that I did do that I noticed helped the cookies from spreading out too much, was to use less cookie dough on the bottom portion of the cookie as well as the sides. That also gave me more cookies. :-)


Close-up!


I wasn't too sure how the cookies would be received at the party because people have different tastes (seriously, how can anyone not like these but hey you never know!) and some parents might faint seeing their kids walking around with these gargantuan mounds. I didn't have to worry about either, because my friend's family immediately hid them so that none of the guests could have them. Lesson learned, always make two batches from now on (one for the family, another for the guests)!

Off to the party we go!


Also, the next morning, I received this text message from Jessica's sister, Tillie. I wonder if Chrissy made these cookies for John Legend before he proposed to her? :-)


Proof these cookies are a winner!


Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe originally from the Picky Palate

1 c. softened butter (2 sticks)
3/4 c. light brown sugar (packed)
1 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbs vanilla extract
3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 package Oreo Cookies (Double Stuff)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a stand or electric mixer cream butter and sugars until well combined. Add in eggs and vanilla until well combined.

In a separate bowl mix the flour, salt and baking soda. Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips until just combined.

Using a cookie scoop take one scoop of cookie dough and place on top of an Oreo cookie. Take another scoop of dough and place on bottom of Oreo cookie. Seal edges together by pressing and cupping in hand until Oreo Cookie is enclosed with dough.

Place onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake cookies 9-13 minutes or until cookies are baked to your liking.

Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. 


Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It began with snickerdoodles...


I thought that it would be appropriate for the very first post of this blog to be the very first thing I ever made, which was snickerdoodles. When I was eight years old, my third grade class compiled all of our mothers' favorite recipes and turned them into a cookbook to give to our mothers for Mother's Day. I don't remember any of the recipes, except the snickerdoodle recipe because it was the only recipe that my mom allowed me to make.

I'm pretty picky when it comes to snickerdoodles, which I attribute to this recipe. Because this was the first snickerdoodle that I ever ate, a real snickerdoodle must look and taste like these cookies. For me, snickerdoodles MUST be cracked and they MUST be rolled in cinammon sugar. Also, I normally don't like shortening in cookies, I usually believe that you have to use butter but, for me, shortening must be used in these cookies. I don't have any justification for any of this reasoning, it's just the way it is. You show an eight year old something, they will think that's the way it should be... even 22 years later.

So I share with you my snickerdoodle recipe that I still love to this day.


Snickerdoodles
from my third grade Mother's Day cookbook

Ingredients:
1 c. butter flavored shortening
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 c. flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
cinammon sugar (1/2 c. sugar and 1/4 tsp. cinammon)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cream together shortening, sugar, and eggs. Sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Stir flour mixture into the sugar mixture until dough forms.

Form dough into small balls (about the size of a ping pong ball), then roll in the cinammon sugar mixture and place on a cookie sheet.

Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes. Cookies should have spread out and have cracked. Be careful not to overbake, cookies will look undone in between the cracks, but will continue to cook when removed from the oven.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

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