Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Freebie New Year's Cupcake Wrapper

Just right click, set up your printer options and print!  Or download to your desktop
so you can save it on your computer.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011 Annual Cookie Decorating Party & Marshmallow Fondant Tutorial

If you have been following my blog for a while now, you have probably seen photos from our cookie party we have each year.  This year was even better as we had sweet new faces as well as the girls who come each year!  I enjoy this party so much because it is just for me and my friends.  No kids allowed!  :-)  I love kids as much as the next person, but it is nice to be able to get together with MY friends and do something that I love to do!

Anyway, we had a great turn out and the cookies were adorable when we were all done. I have been collecting cookie decorations for years now and I have sooo many to share.  Sanding sugars, non-parielles, jimmies, cute little shapes as well as candy coated sunflower seeds, Sixlets, and icing eyeballs.  You really can't have too many!  I found these little tart cups at our local dollar store.  They were awesome for this purpose.  I love the scalloped edges!

 This year I added a few designs to my cookies.  I have seen some of the ideas online and some I made up myself as I go.  Hope you enjoy the ideas and if you want to copy them, feel free! 

One of the things I played with this year was marshmallow fondant as a background. It was so fun.... like playing with PlayDoh!  I cut the fondant with the cookie cutter I used so that it fit perfectly on the cookies.  I will include the fondant recipe below.  I made my fondant anise flavored because we all love it.  The cookie icing, however, is vanilla or lemon.  I think that will go over better with others who might not love anise like we do!  The bottom reindeer cookie with the 2011 on it is made with fondant as are the backgrounds of the blue Happy Holidays and the O'Holy Night cookies.

The blue tree with snow below was made with fondant as was the white quilted cookie with blue pearls and the ornament cookie. 

The square cookie with the white tree on the white background was also done in fondant.

Marshmallow Fondant and How to Use It on Cookies

This is the original recipe, but I've changed it up a bit and I've got a few notes to add.


  • 1 package (16 ounces) Fireside white mini marshmallows
  • 2-5 tablespoons water
  • 2 pounds (about 8 cups) sifted confectioners' sugar  
  • plus extra confectioners' sugar for rolling fondant
  • Pinch of salt


About 2 pounds marshmallow fondant.


Step 1

To make marshmallow fondant, place marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 30 seconds on high; stir until mixed well. Continue microwaving 30 seconds more; stir again. Continue until melted (about 2 1/2 minutes).

Step 2

Using a mixer, mix sugar & salt into marshmallow mixture. Flavoring should be added at this point.  . Generously sprinkle extra powdered sugar onto counter. Turn marshmallow mixture onto counter.  Separate into pieces per the color you need. Add your coloring here. This allows the coloring to flow easily through the fondant.  Dampen your hands with water.  Start kneading like you would dough. Continue kneading, adding additional confectioners' sugar to the counter so the fondant doesn't stick. If the marshmallow fondant is tearing easily, it is too dry; add water (about 1/2 tablespoon at a time) kneading until fondant forms a firm, smooth elastic ball that will stretch without tearing, about 8 minutes.

Step 3

It's best to allow Marshmallow Fondant to sit, double-wrapped, overnight. Prepare the fondant for storage by coating in confections' sugar and wrap in plastic wrap and then place in resealable bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible. Marshmallow Fondant will keep well in refrigerator for several weeks.

Step 4

When not working with fondant, make sure to keep it covered with plastic wrap or in a bag to prevent it from drying out. When ready to use, knead fondant until smooth. Roll out fondant 1/8 in. thick.

Step 5

To color fondant: If you need to tint the entire batch of fondant, add a little icing color to the melted marshmallow mixture before adding confectioners' sugar. For smaller amounts of tinted fondant, add icing color to portions of fondant as needed.

My notes:
In case you are wondering.... this fondant does get hard (like a royal icing would) on the cookies, but it still tastes great and keeps the cookies somewhat soft.  If you flavor it with vanilla, it tastes a lot like candy corn, which to me is too sweet.  I put anise flavoring in it this time and will try lemon next time.  I also added a dash of salt to the recipe.  This cut some of the sweetness.

I have made this using the medium-sized marshmallows too.

I usually separate the larger mass into smaller balls before I start kneading in the color and the extra powdered sugar. If you make it the day before you need it, it really makes the color nicer. Always put LOTS of powdered sugar down when you are rolling the fondant out. It will keep it from sticking. Put powdered sugar on the top of the fondant before you roll it with your rolling pin too. Be generous with the powdered sugar, you can't use too much. Pretend you are playing with Play-doh and have fun with it! 

The original recipe had you put shortening on the counter and your hands, but I found that this just made a big mess to clean up and really was unneccesary.  I just wet my hands often and added more powdered sugar. 

In order to use it on cookies, roll the fondant to about 1/8 inch thick.  Cut the shape you used for your cookie with the same cookie cutter. You can also use a smaller shape than the one you used so that you will have cookie edges.  I did this with the square Christmas tree cookie in the picture just above.  I cut the square cookie with a larger cutter. Then I used a smaller square cookie cutter for the background.  I then used a tree cookie cutter to cut the tree out for on top.  In order for the fondant to stick to your cookie and to itself, use a little of your icing.  You can then add icing on top to decorate, or you can use dabs of icing to hold your little decorations on.  Enjoy and have fun!


Kid's Hot Cocoa Birthday Party

My son's 9th birthday happens to fall right before Christmas, so this year we moved his party ahead and celebrated early.  Why didn't I do this before?  It gave me a lot of time to prepare and we had a blast getting ready instead of putting this on top of present wrapping and Christmas parties & dinners.

I decorate mostly in red, white and light blue for Christmas, so I decided to go with those colors for his party too.  I am sure the pictures speak for themselves.  Everyone had a good time and the cocoas (especially the Nutella cocoa) were yummy!

I found a lot of these ideas on the internet by searching for hot cocoa party!

These cups are made using those GIANT marshmallows!

The table is wrapped with wrapping paper.

Did I mention that my son has a large personality?

The cake is a Mario Power-UP mushroom.  I just baked a cake in a large metal mixing bowl, put it on top of a cake stand, covered it with chocolate icing, rolled fondant and painted eyes on the bottom of the cake stand with chocolate.
Happy birthday, to my little one!


Tom Ka Gai

Okay... I know I will get yelled at for calling this soup by the Thai name Tom Ka Gai.  For one, I'm not Thai and I followed no recipe for this soup so... I guess I will need to call it my adaptation of Tom Ka Gai.  Okay?  I am in no way saying that this is the classic Thai soup.  Don't you love when you go to a cooking website for recipes and the comments are all about how the dish is NOT whatever they are calling it? 

Anyway, this soup I made is much like Tom Ka Gai but it has a few added extras which I think compliment the soup very well.   It was VERY tasty.  There is nothing like going to a Thai restaurant, ordering Tom Ka Gai and finding that it tastes like leftover dish water.  Ick.

MY Tom Ka Gai

7 Chicken Breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces and sauted in 1 tbsp of oil
15-20 white button mushrooms
1 can of coconut milk (2 cans are better if you like it extra creamy and with more calories!)
7 cups of chicken broth
1 Tbsp lemongrass
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp Thai green curry paste
1 red bell pepper, diced
30 green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 sprigs of cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Saute chicken in a frying pan, set aside.  Saute mushrooms in olive oil and set aside.  Fill stock pot with chicken broth and coconut milk.  Add lemongrass, fish sauce and curry paste.  Add chicken, mushrooms, red bell pepper and green beans.  Simmer until the pepper and green beans are tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with cilantro.



Saturday, October 22, 2011

Free Halloween Printables

Hello, Friends!  I wanted to take the time to make new cupcake wrappers this year, but I haven't had time, so I am reposting these from last year.  Just right click on them to print.  I tested this and it worked on my computer.

Witch hat toppers!  Just add a toothpick and stick into your cupcake icing.

Cute cupcake toppers... same thing.  Add a toothpick and stick.  These are larger than this when printed out.

If you would like to see my cookies from last year, pop over to this page to see them all plus get some tips on where to find the decorations for cookie baking.

and if you need a cute party appetizer for that great Halloween bash you or a friend is having, check out these mini-cheeseball appetizers.

I hope you have a spooky Halloween!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall Birthday Celebration: Squid Ink Pasta with Mussels, Dark Chocolate Cake and Cheezy Pizza Bread

Don't you just love Fall? Nothing makes me want to cook more than that change of seasons!   All of those pumpkin recipes!  I have already made a pumpkin roll, pumpkin spiced lattes and an apple pie, apple sauce and apple crisp.  Love it! 

One of the other things that comes with fall is our whole family's birthdays.  We go from September through December... one per month.  I had a gamer birthday party for my oldest 11-year-old son as seen here.

Today is my husband's birthday, so I am making a cheezy pizza bread and some great squid ink bow tie pasta with mussels... his favorite. 

For the pizza, I do nothing terribly fancy.  Make a pizza dough using the THIS recipe, spread the dough on a greased pan, and then top it with olive oil, chopped garlic, 5 different cheeses of your choice and then sprinkle with paprika and white pepper.  Delicious!
The special dinner of mussels and squid ink pasta is a great birthday dinner for my husband.  He loves mussels and it is fairly simple to make. 
Aren't these cute?  How could I resist a striped pasta???

So, I cooked the pasta according to the package directions. 

Add some chopped garlic to 1 cup of canned, chopped tomatoes and 1 cup of chicken broth and 1/2 cup of white wine {or just 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth if you have no wine}.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add the mussels and cover to steam them until they open.  If any of them fail to open, throw the unopened ones out. 

Top pasta with the mussels and the sauce and sprinkle with cilantro or parsley.  Dig in!

The other thing I made is my husband's favorite cake, Hershey Dark Chocolate Cake.  YUM! The recipe is on the back of the cocoa box but instead of using the boiling water, I used freshly brewed espresso.

Seriously, this is the best chocolate cake ever.  You really only need a small piece.  It is really rich.  My little one was home from school today until his antibiotics kick in.  He was feeling so much better that he wanted to help decorate the cake, so he picked his dad's favorite candy and told me how to put them on the cake.  {I wouldn't let him touch it.... germy little thing!}  Then he picked the candles from my candle stash {blush... yes, I have one}.  This is what he came up with. 

Happy birthday, Sweetie!
Enjoy what is left of Autumn!  I know I will!
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