Saturday, February 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Lily!

We had a fun celebration for Lily's Two-year-old birthday. I think this party was more for me than for her. It was a lot of fun to do.

We did a Tinkerbell theme. We did ring-around-the-rosy, (Lily's favorite game), We had a bubble machine and popped the bubbles with wands. We also danced to the music from the new Tinkerbell movies. I made everyone balloon butterflies. I also had some cupcakes frozen from a family February Birthday Party. I just thawed them the night before. We got some light up Fairies from the dollar store for the cake decoration and party favors.

It was such a fun party and you can tell from Lily's expression that she was really excited.

Lily's actual birthday was on a Sunday, so I made her favorite, chocolate chip pancakes. I added the smile and strawberries for her birthday. She ate only the whipped cream smile and kept asking for more cream!

I can't believe that Lily is already 2 years old! She is such a fun little girl. She is ALL girl. She is always carrying around a menagerie of dolls, barbies, and girl characters. (We have a collection of Star Wars bobble heads and she ALWAYS can pick out princess Leah from the bunch). She is a very nice big sister. When Amelia is crying and I can't get to her right away, Lily starts sharing her toys. I came back to find Amelia in the swing with three dolls, princess leah, and dress up shoes. All the things that make Lily happy, so of course it should work for Amelia? Right?

She is starting to talk a lot more now. Pete told her once, "Lily you're stinky." She said, "I Not Stinky, I Cute." She is quite the character!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sugar Cookies

So my sisters wanted me to blog about my sugar cookies. Cathy's DO's and DON'Ts for sugar cookie decorating:

1) DON'T do it all in one day - make the dough, bake, and decorate on different days. Unless you are a neat freak and really organized, it makes a huge mess and it gets more stressful and less fun to decorate.

2) DO roll the dough after making the cookie dough to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick on parchment paper. Roll out other portions of dough in the same fashion and store them stacked on top of each other in a covered jelly pan. This will keep for about a week. (I have left it longer, and the dough gets a little dried out, but I couldn't tell a difference once they are baked). Once I am ready to bake the cookies, I pull out a sheet at a time and roll lightly to make sure it is even. Then I cut away! It's really easy this way because the dough is still cold from not having to work it too much.

3) DON'T skimp on the thickness of the dough. I used to always roll out the dough as thin as I could in order to make MORE cookies. Not until I went to my sister's BeccaCrockers house to decorate cookies, did I realize I was rolling them out too thin. Keep to 1/4 inch thick, no less. They will taste better and keep longer without getting stale. I usually double the recipe below so I'm not tempted to make the cookies too thin.

4) DO turn the pan half-way in baking. I know this is a general rule. Depending on the oven, it may not matter, but I know that if I forget, half of the sheet is under cooked and half is over cooked. (You want to look for a slight tint at the bottom of the cookie - that means it's done. Any brown on the top means it's overbaked).

5) DON'T take the cookie off the sheet right out of the oven. Let the cookie finish cooking and harden on the tray for at least a few minutes before putting on the cooling rack. How many times have I broken a VERY hot cookie when I'm over anxious?!

6) DO some decorating on the cookies before baking. It's fun to try new things and you won't get as 'burnt out' with decorating. See the video below for some ideas.

7) DON'T waste scraps. Clump them all together and roll them out on one of the parchment sheets. If I have the energy I cut and bake the new dough after it has cooled in the freezer for 10 minutes or fridge for 20 minutes. Or, I'd save the dough for a fun cookie day with the kids the next week.

8) Do use light cookie sheets. I find that any non-stick or dark surface sheet ends up overcooking the bottom.

9) DON'T decorate hot or warm cookies. Let the cookies cool COMPLETELY before decorating. I usually will bake and then wait a few hours or until the next morning to decorate.

10) DO try some new techniques! Sanding is my favorite. You get sanding sugar and tint the icing to match. Put the glaze on the cookie. Pour the sanding suger on the cookie over a bowl. The bowl will catch the excess. You can get Sanding sugar at a baking store, or for the different holidays they sell sanding sugar in combo packs at Target and Walmart.

11) DON'T attack a messy counter with a wet towel. I get out my bench scrapper and scrape up all of the excess glaze and sugar. Then I go to town with the counter spray.

12) DO have fun! This isn't rocket science! Any 'mistakes' still taste good!

Sugar Cookie recipe: (Al's Recipe from our family cook book)

Sugar Cookies – Alison

1 cup butter ** ¼ tsp. almond extract (optional)

1 ¼ cup sugar 3 ½ cups flour

2 eggs 1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. vanilla ½ tsp. salt

Beat butter until creamy. Beat in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and almond extract. In a separate bowl, combine flour baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Form into a large blob and wrap in saran wrap and chill for at least one hour. Roll out and cut into shapes. Cook at 400° for 6-8 minutes, but check them at 4 or 5 minutes if you have small shapes.

** Reading the cookie blogs, some people use butter others use shortening. I use half and half. Butter for flavor, shortening for the flakiness

Almond Glaze


  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 tsp Almond extract
Stir confectioners' sugar, corn syrup, extract and milk together. This glaze must be stirred each time you use it. If it is not stirred before each use it will dry with a mottled look instead of a solid color.

(This recipe I play with until I get the consistency that I want).

Royal Icing - (For details that you add after glazing and sugaring)


Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).

NOTE: Keep all utensils completely grease-free for proper icing consistency.

* For stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.

**When using large countertop mixer or for stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.

Thinned Royal Icing: To thin for pouring, add 1 teaspoon water per cup of royal icing. Use grease-free spoon or spatula to stir slowly. Add 1/2 teaspoon water at a time until you reach proper consistency.

Most bakeries use Royal Icing for the glaze as well, (a little more watered down). But, I don't like the taste of SO MUCH royal icing.

Here's a video I liked from YouTube. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Healthy Recipes Experiments

Ahi Tuna - I thought I should blog my recipe above. Pete surprised me and bought an Ahi tuna steak from Costco. My new way of looking for recipes is to do a google image search. I like things that LOOK good to eat. You eat first with your eyes. I found this blog and tried out the recipe. FormerChef. I didn't have a spice grinder for the coriander, so I did a Seseme seed crust instead. It turned out really good. It tasted like really good sashimi. So, the $11 we spent at Costco went to good use since it usually costs $50 if we go out to sushi. The only problem with this meal is I was the only one that liked it. Pete liked the salad but any kind of raw fish makes him queasy.

Shrimp, pasta, & vegetables - I found a good cooking blog - CafeLynnLu - I modified the recipe a bit. I combined this recipe and the basic recipe for shrimp scampi. (A little butter oil, garlic, lemon juice, cook shrimp, then I followed the recipe for cooking the vegetables). This one the kids actually liked.

Wasabi mashed Cauliflower – I had this with a Teriyaki salmon. Very good, but not kid friendly. Lily did like the mashed cauliflower without the wasabi.

Lentil Soup – Cuisinart Pressure Cooker Recipe – This is my lunch staple. Lily will eat this soup as well.

So, this is the 3rd time that I am trying to lose baby weight. It seems to be a lot harder this time around. First we had the holidays .. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Birthdays (Amelia, Me, Pete, and our anniversary). Now it’s February, and I’ve traded in the fried cheese curds, (yes it is a real thing, it’s at A&W .. Really Good!) for whole wheat bread and salads. My problem, as always, is the FOOD.

So here is my problem, I like to try new things and experiment. However, with kids they just like really simple foods.

Calling for Healthy recipes that kids will eat! (Something that doesn't have cream of chicken soup as the main ingredient).