Thursday, November 29, 2012

Let it Snow

Raise your hands if it snows where you live. (Not raising my hand here).

We've had 1 winter of really awesome snow. I got stuck in my Grandma's driveway on Christmas. Then, that January it snowed so bad our roads were closed. After about a day of not being able to go anywhere, I was over it. Really, I was always over it. I'm not a cold weather kind of girl. I like the idea but not the actual cold.

Cookies are really good though.

Snowflake Cookies via @cupcake_n_bake #Winter #Christmas

Last Christmas, I bought an 18 pack of Christmas themed cookie cutters. I don't know what I need 18 Christmas cookie cutters for, but I needed them!

Snowflake Cookies via @cupcake_n_bake #Winter #Christmas

I'll be honest; my snowflake cookie cutter was too plain for flooded icing. I mean, I've used it to make flowers. So, I decided just to pipe a few designs. I used white and pale blue icing. 

Snowflake Cookies via @cupcake_n_bake #winter #Christmas

I pretty much just winged the designs. Oh, and I used my snowflake wrapping paper as inspiration. Hubby loves the wrapping paper, but it's honestly my least favorite of what we have. It came in a pack my mom gave me. Free wrapping paper is free wrapping paper, right?

Snowflake Cookies via @cupcake_n_bake #winter #Christmas

After I had finished piping my designs, I sprinkled blue and white sugar crystals lightly onto the cookies. Snowflakes sparkle, right?

When I finished, I let them dry, then I boxed them up. I got a few small white cupcake boxes from Wal-Mart, and I just discarded the cupcake inserts. They were perfect! 

I secured the box with some Merry Christmas washi tape. It's my favorite!! Then, I took the cookies to my in-laws' house. I'm on a mission not to eat a single cookie until Christmas, so I'm giving all my baked goods to random people in my family. Trust me; this is a great accomplishment!

Snowflake Cookies via @cupcake_n_bake #winter #Christmas

These cookies were simple and cute. Let the holiday baking begin!

So tell me - are you baking cookies to spread the Christmas cheer, or are you waiting until Christmas?

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Turtle Brownies

I'm starting my Christmas baking this week, but I thought before I started, I would post one last non-holiday dessert. So, I started looking around my pantry, and I found half a bag of caramels and pecans. Instantly, I came up with an idea.

Caramel Turtle Brownies via @cupcake_n_bake

I love all things turtle. Hubby loves brownies. So, I decided to put the two together. Plus, I'm sorta lazy, so I used a boxed brownie mix. Hey, what can I say. I don't even know how to make homemade brownies. My mom was never much of a cook, so we do things the half-homemade way. At least I didn't buy them pre-baked :)

Caramel Turtle Brownies via @cupcake_n_bake

All you need to make these delightful treats is a box of brownie mix, half a bag of Kraft Caramel Bits, and half a bag of crushed pecans, oh, and the ingredients needed with the brownie mix. (I'm not a fan of large pecan pieces).

Mix up your brownie mix as directed, then add you caramels. Mix them up well. Then, add your pecan pieces. You don't have to use the entire half a bag. See, I told you it was easy!

Caramel Turtle Brownies via @cupcake_n_bake

Heat your oven as directed on the box of brownie mix. I used the 8x8 pan size. It took way longer to cook the brownies than as directed, though, so be sure to check your brownies with a toothpick. It took mine around 1:15 to bake fully, and as you can see in the picture, they are still a little gooey. Hubby likes them that way though.

Caramel Turtle Brownies via @cupcake_n_bake

I know we just got finished with Thanksgiving, so I really didn't need to bake brownies. But, I thought it would be nice to have some sort of dessert break between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Plus, I haven't had brownies in a while, and boy were they yummy!

So let me know what you think. Do you jump right from Thanksgiving to Christmas, or do you feel like you need a break too?

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Reese's Pieces Peanut Butter Cookies

As a child, my aunt made peanut butter cookies, a lot. I guess she did that because they were easy and cheap. Plus they would keep me and my cousins quiet. You see, I lived right next door to her. My cousin was a year younger than me, so we were best friends. My aunt would leave her door unlocked, and I would often wake her up, playing, early in the morning.

It never failed, though. The smell of peanut butter cookies wafting through the kitchen made my day. I loved them then, and I still love them now.

Reese's Pieces PB Cookies via @cupcake_n_bake

Since Thanksgiving is coming up, I decided I would make some fall themed peanut butter cookies. Enter Reese's Pieces. These wonderful little snacks were calling my name from the snack machine at work, and they gave me a brilliant idea. Everyone loves M&M cookies, right? Why not Reese's Pieces? 

Here's what you need: Print it Here
1/2 cup of butter
1/2 cup of peanut butter
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of packed brown sugar (light or dark)
1 farm fresh egg
1 1/4 cups of self-rising four

Reese's Pieces PB Cookies via @cupcake_n_bake

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together butter, peanut butter, sugar, and brown sugar. You can use either light or dark brown sugar. Or, if you're like me and you have just a little of both, combine them!
  3. Beat in the farm fresh egg.
  4. Add the flour until well combined.
  5. Fold in the Reese's Pieces like you would chocolate chips. If you want, you could also chop the Reese's Pieces up, then add them.
  6. Chill for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Roll into 1 inch round balls, then place on a cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork to make those awesome marks.
  8. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are light brown. Don't over bake; you know how easy it is to mess up a peanut butter cookie!
Reese's Pieces PB Cookies via @cupcake_n_bake

There, wasn't that easy? The longer you cook them, the more solid they will be. If you are like me, you kind of like them gooey. 

And how about those Reese's Pieces? I love that they are fall colors and give the cookies a fall twist. 

Reese's Pieces PB Cookies via @cupcake_n_bake

I originally wasn't planning on making so many cookies (this recipe makes 3 dozen). However, it is Thanksgiving. So, I'm sure the ladies at work would love some cookies. Let's hope so, because I really don't need to eat so many cookies. 

Anyways, if you're looking for a great new peanut butter cookie recipe, try these! I'm sure the kiddos will love them.

Reese's Pieces PB Cookies via @cupcake_n_bake

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ballerina Piggy

First of all, let me start off with a disclaimer. Hubby ended up taking most of the pictures for this post, so I had to do some serious editing. Word of advice: never leave your husband to finish and take pictures of a cake even if you have prepared him to the best of your ability. I will get to the story later.

Anyways, my mother-in-law called me up with a emergency. The little girl that she babysits was having a birthday. Long story short, grandma thought mom was making the cake, and mom thought grandma was making the cake. Can you say fiasco? Luckily, I was ready and willing to make an emergency birthday cake for Miss Sarah.

Ballerina Piggy Cake perfect for little girls' birthdays via @cupcake_n_bake

Before I start on the cake, I have a story to tell. It's funny now, but I was very upset at the time. 
First, I had loads of trouble with this cake. The ballerina skirt kept stretching. The pole was going through the head of the ballerina, and the ruffles on my cake kept sliding off. By the time I was done with this cake, I vowed to never do ruffles again. But, let's be honest; I'll probably try one more time (a long long time from now).

Then, I forgot I had to go bridesmaid dress shopping with my little sister. So, I had to leave the almost finished cake with Hubby. I gave him very specific instructions. 1. The pig is already put together, and there are holes already in the cake. All you have to do is put the stick in the center hole and add the extra leg. 2. Take a lot of pictures of the cake with NO clutter in the background.

When I got home, the cake had already been picked up. I looked at the camera, and I maybe 4 pictures, all with clutter. Yeah, he's a good listener. Also, as you can see above, the pig is missing a leg. Oh, and it's head is on backwards. What gets me is the pig's head was already the body when I left. OMG! This is so mortifying to me. Luckily, I was told the extra leg was added after the picture was taken, and no one could tell the head was on backwards except me. Still, he is hear-by banned from cake decorating.
Now to the cake.

How To: Ballerina Piggy Cake via @cupcake_n_bake

I used homemade buttercream icing on stacked 12 inch round cakes. I needed to makings of frosting. First, I base coated it. I did this a couple of hours in advance. I got it as smooth as I could, then I let it crust over. This may take a while, so I like to let it crust overnight. 

How To: Ballerina Piggy Cake via @cupcake_n_bake

After it was crusted, I frosted a second layer. I smoothed the frosting out as much as possible. Since the sides were ruffles, it didn't matter how smooth the sides were. 

How To: Ballerina Piggy Cake via @cupcake_n_bake

To get the ruffles, make sure your icing is thick. This is why I had the sliding problem. You'll need to use a #103 tip. Starting at the bottom, place your tip (large end) facing the cake. Pipe a back and forth motion upwards holding your back almost vertically. Do one column at a time. Trust me, you'll get the hang of it. 

Chill for one hour so the ruffles will set. 

How To: Ballerina Piggy Cake via @cupcake_n_bake
Making the pig was very simple. It's basically just round fondant. The arms were oblong, and the hands were colored with a black edible marker. The eyes were Wilton Candy eyes. If you liked to play with play dough as a kid, fondant pigs are easy!. 
I had a problem with my pig wanting to sink. So Hubby made a platform for me. You will never believe that the platform was just a cut-out CD covered in zebra duck tape and superglued to the pole. 
I painted skewers in pink and white for the banner poles. I printed Sarah's name on a sheet of paper, and simply cut out the design I wanted. Finally, I used light pink thread to pull it all together.
How To: Ballerina Piggy Cake via @cupcake_n_bake

This photo was sent to me. She loved her cake so much that she made her mom keep the piggy. I hear it's sitting on their kitchen table in a plastic bag. 

Still, I doubt I'll be making anymore piggy cakes in the near future!

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Twitter Tuesdays #2

Hey guys! Are you ready for another Twitter party? I sure am! But first, I want to mention a new facebook group I've been visiting. It's called Bloggy Girl's Club, and it's pretty awesome.

Bloggy Girl's Club is a group on facebook made specifically for us bloggers. It's a great way to get new blog traffic, and you can really learn a lot. It also has a matching blog. The lovely ladies in the group share great feedback, and they are always ready to give moral support. If you haven't checked it out, you should.

Now to the party, ya'll.


Here are the rules:
1. Please Grab a Button either above or from the sidebar.
2. Please follow me. My Twitter handle is @cupcake_n_bake, and I should be the 1st link.
3. Follow a few other guests. Don't link and run!
4 Spread the knowledge. I'm sure your friends would like some more Twitter love, too.

Ok guys, it's time to party. Let's link up!

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Did you notice the title of this post? Well, if you didn't know, I was singing the theme song in my head when I wrote it. I used to love the Ninja Turtles. I'm talking cartoons, movies, even the new stuff! My absolute favorite was Rafael. I think that's because secretly I wanted to be a rebel.

Well, recently I was asked to make a Michaelangelo cake for a birthday party. So back to my childhood I went.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cake perfect for boys' birthdays via @cupcake_n_bake

I wanted to do this cake simple. I sorted through a ton of pictures on Google, then decided on one similar to what you see above. I used a 12x18 cake pan; so, as you can imagine, I needed a pretty large picture to trace. I cropped an image into four quadrants, then enlarged each piece. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cake via @cupcake_n_bake

I printed each piece onto a normal sized sheet of paper. Then, I cut the pieces out. 

After my cake cooled, I froze it. Once it was frozen, I removed it from the freezer and leveled it. It's always easier to level and frost a cake when it's frozen. This keeps the crumbs from getting all in the frosting. I then used a knife to cut my design out of the cake. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cake via @cupcake_n_bake

After I got the cake the size and shape I wanted it, I crumb-coated it. I did this in white buttercream frosting. If you are new to baking, a crumb-coat basically allows you to make sure your outer coat of frosting will not have loose crumbs in it. 

I let the crumb-coat sit for a few hours to crust over. Then, I actually used my orange first for the bandana. I covered the ends pretty easily, then I frosted a design to make it look like it was covering eyes. Then, I did the green. Since my orange was already there, I was able to carefully outline the bandana and fill in the rest. It wasn't perfectly smooth, but it was close enough.

Next I piped the white for the eyes and black for the pupils and mouth. It wasn't too complex, so frosting the entire cake didn't take very long. That's why I wanted to do a simple cake!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cake via @cupcake_n_bake

Since the cake was for family, Hubby got to attend the party. He said the cake was a big hit, and I got many texts from attendees that confirmed. The birthday boy was especially excited that it was Michaelangelo. 

It just goes to show that if you follow the K.I.S.S. model, and just Keep It Simple, Stupid, decorating cakes don't have to be a daunting task.

What do you think?

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