Christmas Cookies....Round 1

Two posts, one day, I know....shocking.  While I have the camera, computer, time, and myself all together at once, I have to take advantage.  This past Tuesday I received an email inquiring about some basic Christmas cookies for an open house event.  Since I was going through dough trials at the time I had quite a bit of red velvet made up so I asked if that would be okay for the party, and with approval I proceeded with a cream cheese royal icing.  Now, I have really elaborate Christmas cookie designs pinned on Pinterest and I don't think there is any way to get all of them done this year.  Not to mention, I have to be very careful not to get too terribly excited with the orders or I will add too many details (which were not requested) and potentially push the deadline too close.  So, with the reins pulled in tight, I started on my first set of Christmas cookies (snowflakes, stars, houses, and trees).  

Have a look:

I would also like to point out that I learned how to use the white balance on my digital camera this week, and these pictures were all taken at night.  I will work on better backgrounds next, but hey, we have advanced to almost real pictures now!


My First REAL Order!!!

This is how it begins....I received an email on Tuesday saying that the pirate cookies I made a couple weeks ago (you can see them here) had been seen by a friend of the family.  This friend loved the cookies and asked for my contact information.  After reading the email, I was excited but went about my day not thinking much else about it.  Later that afternoon my phone rang.  It was the daughter of the friend, wanting to order 3 dozen cookies for a baby shower.  I was in the car at the time and tried to collect all of the info I could think of and told her I would call her the next day with the quote.  How fun is this: the baby's gender is unknown, the colors are cream, melon, and turquoise, and since the order was needed on such short notice the shapes were up to me!  This time I got excited and the excitement stuck.  All I have are my trusty iPhone photos, so some of the cookies look a little dark and have a glare, but here they are:

I will deliver them later today, I hope they LOVE them!!

Holiday Craziness...

Okay, I have to be honest.  The shop just called back on my truck and my mood has dampened slightly since my original plan to start this post.  Correction - mood majorly dampened.  Who wants to go from calculating the month's budget and coming out ahead, even after Christmas shopping, to then being so far behind you aren't sure how your going to make it through the 10th, much less the first of the year.  Sad day.  But, I am trying to tell myself that I am lucky, the problem is repairable, I am not totally without a vehicle (just until Friday), the engine isn't blown...I am lucky and it will be okay.  Phewf.  Enough of that....back to happier times.  

So, company came just before Thanksgiving, and this company arrived wanting to make cookies!  I had all of the cookies ready and the icing prepped so only the fun part was left.  I really went all out.  Made my first attempt at royal icing transfers, tried a new turkey design, and baked horse shapes (without an icing plan)...  Here are some photos of the fun:

The few remaining transfers:

 My best friend's niece catching on SOOOOOO fast:

I did not get enough pictures before, but here are some creations by the team, all packed up and ready for the Thanksgiving trip back home to the family:

 This is a platter I arranged once our company had left and we headed north to celebrate with my husband's family.  I know you have seen these already, but I feel like this is one of the best photos I have had to share:

At my sister-in-law's house I realized I had not gotten any pictures of my latest turkey creation (transfer and all).  I also feel that a random remark from one of my close friends needs to be shared...She accidentally called the transfers royal icing "transplants" which is actually perfect in a way, and totally hilarious!

I am sooooo looking forward to my first-ever Christmas cookies!!!!


Mmmmmm, s'mores!

I found a nifty little recipe for s'mores cut-out cookies, which I will post on my recipe page.  Since my husband loves all things sweet, especially s'mores, I thought it was worth a shot.  I didn't get a picture of the raw dough, but lucky for you, my recipe source, Sweet Hope Cookies did:

You can see all of the goodness that is a s'more - inside of the cookie!  They baked up well, and kept their shape without any spreading at all.  I thought it would be appropriate to ice some of these like campfires, here is my end result:

Because this recipe made twice as many cookies as the recipes I am used to using, I made some other shapes too:

Will you be my bridesmaid?!?

This little project was actually my very first cookie request, but I had to keep it a secret until the cookies went out.  Between the small number of cookies I have created thus far, and some help from Pinterest, a friend of mine asked me if I could make "bridesmaid" cookies.  I said of course, and went on the hunt for a dress cutter that would be big enough.  Hobby Lobby had a dress cutter, but for a single-cookie gift it was just too small.  So I set out on another internet adventure and sent Miranda pictures until we found one that we liked.  We ended up not writing on them after all, but they are pretty stinkin' cute!

I think the ribbon really adds something special.  Miranda bought some precious tags to attach to each cookie bag, I hope the bridesmaids LOVE them!  Congrats Miranda!

Pumpkin Spice Turkeys!

So. I have decided that I love the process of making cookie dough and cutting out the shapes about as much as I love decorating them.  On the other hand, I HATE bagging the cookies.  Do not ask me why, I have no clue.  But I HATE it.  Whew, okay....now that I have that out there - new cookie flavor.  Oh wait, one more confession: all I use to take pictures is my iPhone.  Okay, now maybe my conscience is clear.

Here is the rundown: It's Saturday evening.  No plans on going anywhere else.  Nine times out of ten, I have all of the ingredients I need to make cookies...not this time.  The recipe called for pumpkin spice emulsion...HA.  Who has that on hand?  So I improvise.  I substituted the emulsion for canned pumpkin (pure, not pie filling).  Me being me, 3 tiny scoops didn't seem like enough so I tossed in a little extra for good measure.  The recipe warned that this mixture might be a touch sticky but I feel that was a giant understatement.  After lots of flour and re-rolling I managed a few acorns as a test batch.  And, although they spread to the point that they looked like they had been run over by a car, they were DELICIOUS.  I am not sure you are getting this, these cookies are a life-changer, although a sticky mess.

Plan B...refrigerate overnight = much better.  However, the cookies still spread some.  This means that you not only have to refrigerate overnight, but you have to chill the shapes too.  I know, I know, some people swear by that process anyway, but not me.  People, I don't have that kind of time to wait around...but for these tasty little smackrels I will make the sacrifice.  

So, what have we learned?

1. I HATE bagging cookies
2. Substitute equal parts canned pumpkin for emulsion
3. Dough is STICKY no matter what version of pumpkin you use
4. Refrigerate, Refrigerate

And here we are, pumpkin spice turkeys (two ways):


Pirates and Princesses

Late last week I was asked if I could make pirate and princess cookies, and before I even contemplated it I said yes.  Luckily I had both a dress and balloon cookie cutter on hand.  I know what you're thinking..."a balloon (+ confused look)."  Just hang with me on this one...I again found inspiration from my blog friend, and you can see her version here.  Anywho, I had another little project going this weekend, so I just threw these into the production line as well. 


Hopefully these make for some happy kids!


Farm Animals!

Animals are my life, at home and at work.  So, it is only natural that I go on a hunt for animal themed cookie cutters.  Sadly, livestock-shaped cutters that are both cute and recognizable are hard to come by.  Enter eBay.  After rigorously searching the internet, I found a set of Wilton farm animals cutters, circa 1988 - and I bought them.  This covers the cow, pig, lamb, and foul - but no horse.  I am still working on finding that last one.  Anywho, let the adventure begin.

 I included my set-up because those who know me give me a hard time for being too organized.  I can tell you that this is an activity where organization definitely pays off.  Back to the cookies.  I actually have a picture of the start of the process this time.

And the finished goods:

The cows were the biggest hit by far :)

Chapter 3: Birthday Cookies

So my sister's birthday has now come and gone (Oct. 23rd), and sadly it fell on a very busy work week so I was a little behind.  Nonetheless, I was determined to make a cookie bouquet for her.  I raided the local craft stores for what I thought I might need, stocked up on some YouTube footage, and went to work.

Since my blog efforts literally began today, I don't have many pictures, but this is what I came up with:

All-in-all, I think the colors turned out great and the balloons were the best of the bunch.

Autumn Inspiration

After my spiderweb extravaganza, I again found inspiration from some of my new blog friends and decided it was time for round two.

Courtesy of Sweet Sugar Belle
Courtesy of Sweet Sugar Belle
Courtesy of Bake at 350

 I have to say I was the most excited about the pumpkins but never made it that far, as I seem to have run into a shelf-life issue.  Being a newbie at this cookie thing, I didn't pay attention to how long they were out to cool, or out again later to dry and I think the butter became rancid in some of the leaves and acorns.  So once it was pumpkin-icing time, the cookies had to be disposed of.  Anywho...I got through the leaves and acorns okay, and even tried making some chocolate cookies this time.  I also tried the Wilton Color Mist spray to make the leaves look a little more realistic.  Warning: allow the cookies to dry fully before applying a new color...you might also use the green sparingly or your leaves will look moldy - yuck.

Confession...these were a little simpler than the spider web cookies, but I am in LOVE with the acorns.  I am putting these in the win column.

 Happy Fall!

The cookies that started it all...

It was the middle of October (so roughly a month ago) and I was minding my own business looking for something fun to make for Halloween. That is when I happened upon these...

 Courtesy of Sweetopia

And so it began.  Expansive blog reading lead to supply acquisition, which caused a kitchen take-over, and ultimately, my first cookie fail...


Be patient they said.  Charcoal turns to black they said.  False. 

They also said practice makes perfect.  Turns out this one is true.  It also turns out that the original blog I was reading is written by a girl in Arizona...Texas and Arizona have *slightly* different humidity levels (strong sarcasm intended).  So, I ventured off to two blogs written by Texas girls.  Result: recipes from the Woodlands are much more effective in College Station.

So, what have we learned?  Nothing I didn't already know from my line of work...research does not equate to perfection.  But, pretty good for a "first shot" - if I don't say so myself: