Monday, December 8, 2014

Rudolph the Reindeer Cookies


I have not decided if I love the holidays because of the family, friends and food that joyously fill the season  OR if I just really like reindeer antlers. =D  On my baked goods.  On my socks.  On my head.

Last year I made gingerbread latte cupcakes in a jar to match the antlers on my head for my good friend's Holiday party.  Naturally, since I re-wore the same antlers to this year's party, I had to find another treat that would look great with antlers.  And big red noses.

These Rudolph cookies take a little time to put together, but they aren't difficult to make.  With some free time and a helper Christmas elf or two you may want to try them this year for yourself to liven up your own holiday parties.



Reindeer Gingerbread Cookies
Makes 30 2-inch cookies.  

Ingredients/Supplies
Your favorite gingerbread roll out cookie dough recipe*
2-inch round cookie cutter
1 bag white Candy Melts
1 bag light brown Candy Melts
Various sprinkles;  I used silver sprinkles, pearls, white snowflakes and pink hearts
Wilton eye candies
Red candy (M&M's, jelly beans, etc)

*I used this one from The Decorated Cookie. The only difference is that I needed to add a lot more flour once I started rolling out the dough.

Directions/Assembly:
1.  Prepare dough as directed.  Cut out faces using a 2-inch round cookie cutter.  Bake and set out to cool.
2.  Melt white Candy Melts in microwave and pipe antlers onto wax paper.  I did this freehand, but you can find a stencil on the internet as well.
3.  Place various sprinkles onto antlers while they are still wet. Silver sprinkles look like snow!
4. Let dry. You can speed up this process in a freezer.
5.  Once cookies are completely cool, melt brown Candy Melts and using a small spatula or butter knife to spread a thick coat over cookies.
6. While the candy melt is still wet, press antlers to top of cookies. Hold in place a few seconds.
7. Press Wilton eye candies below antlers.
8. Press red candy under the eyes. (or brown/black candy if you want regular reindeer instead of Rudolphs)
9.  Let cookies dry for 15 minutes before moving.

You can use all kinds of sprinkles for these cookies. And if you use an edible pen you can change the look of the eyes as well.  Add the slighlty different shaped noses and antlers and they can take on so many different personalities!

I added little hearts to some of the antlers because who said that Rudolph couldn't have secretly been a girl???



I also tried making some "regular reindeer".  Instead of a red candy nose, I used a large upside down chocolate chip.


They were still cute, but c'mon.  We know what we want during the holidays.  THAT RED NOSE.


I also used these cookies the following day for Rachelle's annual holiday cookie exchange.  I couldn't bake two separate  yummies in one weekend... there are not enough hours in the day, I am not Beyonce.

I hope everyone's holidays have started off as wonderful as mine.  I am knee deep in gingerbread lattes and cookies, burlap tree skirts and woodland creatures and we are only half way into December.  Can't wait for the rest of it!  There's still deep fried turduckens to eat, tamales to make, and Christmas Cheer to spread.

xoxo,

Anna

P.S. Oh, and just so you guys know.  I think it's time to retire the antlers.  I have gotten much good use from them the last two years.  What's next?  Elf ears?  How can I dress up like a penguin?  Anyone know?




Sunday, November 23, 2014

Gizdich Farms Raspberry Green Apple Crisp



I have something for you guys!  A super delicious yet relatively easy recipe for your upcoming Thanksgiving dinner.  Or dinners if you're lucky like me.  I have FOUR to attend this year.    Two down, two more to go!  For number two (a Friendsgiving) this crisp.  I can't ALWAYS bring cookies. (Yes, I can.) 

The recipe was sourced and inspired by last month's visit to Watsonville (California) to visit  the boyfriend's old stomping grounds.  Watsonville is known for their agriculture -- STRAWBERRIES! -- they are home to both Driscoll's and Martinellis.  November is well past berry season, but we made it in time for the tail end of apple season.   


Along with touring apiaries and old highschools, we took a quick trip to Gizdich Farms.  It's an orchard where you can pick apples and berries, eat at their in-house bakery thats uses their own fresh fruit, have a picnic, shop at their market, or buy their fresh apple juice.  We didn't have time to pick apples, but we did have enough time to go to the pie shop.  Who doesn't have time for pie?  It was delicious.  We also went by their market where I picked up some of their free recipes.  Glad I did because I picked up this little gem.  

Crips are basically one step short of a pie and I can get behind that.  Less work and still delicious!  Until pies stop intimidating me so much I think I shall stick with crisps.  I was drawn to this recipe because they used both apples AND raspberries.  


The combination of the tart fruits and the cinnamon sugar is great and they even use walnuts!  It's a great spin on a traditional Thanksgiving apple pie for sure.


Raspberry Green Apple Crisp
Use a 12 cup baking dish, bake at 375* for 20 minutes, and then for an additional 40.  Serve warm, preferably with ice cream.

For the topping:
1 c. rolled oats
3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. unsalted cold butter
3/4 c. walnuts

For the filling:
10 large green apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 1/3 c. raspberries 
1/3 c. sugar (or less, to taste)
2 tbsp. lemon juice

Directions:
1. Mix oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in a bowl.
2. Add butter and and cut in (with a pastry cutter) until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
3. Fold in walnuts.
4. Set aside in a refrigerator while you prepare the apples.
5. Combine apples, berries, sugar and lemon juice is a  separate bowl.  (Amount of sugar is optional. Use less if you prefer a more tangy dessert.)
6. Butter your baking dish, and spread apple-raspberry filling evenly.
7. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
8. Uncover dish and bake for an additional 40 minutes, or until apples are soft and topping is brown and toasted.  
9. Serve warm.  Add vanilla ice cream if you want to be someone's bff.
I loved how the raspberries melted into the apples.  


And I loved the added walnuts.  Did you guys know that I am slightly allergic to walnuts, but I eat them anyways?   Such risky behavior.  

I shall try to be more active on here, I seem to have fallen off again.  I blame the two weddings I was in.  They stole my free time.  Oops.  But I wouldnt have had it any other way.  BFF Pammy and my favorite Hugo are happily married and my heart is still full for two of the friends I am most grateful for in this world.  

I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Friendsgiving, Happy Turducken or whatever you call your day.  Just make sure there's a lot of  Gluttony and Gratitude in it.  


xoxo,
Anna 



Disclaimer:  I did not use Watsonville apples for this.  I did not have any left by the time I baked. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Safari Giraffe Jars


Safari Giraffe Jars!  Giraffe Cookies!  Well, kinda giraffe cookies.  I had time to make these cute animal jars but not time to go my usual crazy pants self for the cookies.   Why not?  Because these were for Pam's bachelorette party last weekend and I was too busy crafting all the things to cut out tiny giraffe cookies like I had originally planned.  But they are color coordinated and let's face it -- adorable.  So all is well.


I made two batches of shortbread cookies; one chocolate chip and one orange almond.  (Recipes below)


And then I alternated cookies as I stuffed them in these decorated giraffe jars. 




To make jars like these you will need:
1. Clean Mason Jars
2. Stickers/Label for the front (Michael's)
3. Giraffe ribbon (Etsy)
4. Giraffe Charms (Etsy)
5. Plain Cupcake Liners (Michael's)
6. Hot Glue Gun

General Assembly Instructions:
1. Hot glue the ribbon around the side of the lid.  (I found it easiest to tie the ribbon in a bow and then attach it to the lid separately.)
2. Fill jar with yummy cookies.
3. Place the top lid over the jar, and then cover it with cupcake liners.  Screw on the side lid over the liner.
4. Hot glue charm on top of the liner.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
I followed this recipe, but omitted the orange zest and juice and added 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips instead. 

Almond Orange Cookies
I followed this recipe, but added two small drops of orange food coloring instead.  Not enough to make them bright orange, just enough to make them more giraffe colored.  =)

Both recipes and flavors worked well together.  

But wait why was I making giraffe jars for a bachelorette party?  Because we went on a Safari, duh.   Pammy isn't big on the traditional Vegas-esque, drinking clubbing bachelorette parties and neither am I.  She's getting married at the zoo in September, so a Safari made sense.   And she's also going through a giraffe phase.  After all of this prep work  it kind of made me into a fan too! 


For the record the Safari was not in Africa. HAHA.  It was in Santa Rosa (Northern California) at Safari West.  Hopefully the bride to be had fun!  There were a bunch of animals to look at, we went glamour camping and took a "winos and rhinos" tour.  We dressed in animal print pith helmets and animal shirts.  Oh and I also made her wear a zebra veil that was attached to one of the hats because what on earth could she possible wear that day? You can see more pictures of the adventure on Pam's blog here.  

Aaaaand now it is time to plan Bachelor Party #2.  The life of a Maid of Honor is hard.  

xoxo,
Anna 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Puff Pastries: Inspired by miette



Hey guys, I lied a little.  Well no, I lied a lot.  Instead of properly preparing for Colombia by only eating lettuce and dustballs for the last three weeks, I have been eating big ol' burgers and  lots of  fancy artisan ice cream instead.  It's hot and ice cream is good okay?  Can ice cream be my spirit animal?  Is that possible?  Or just weird? Oh it's definitely weird... okay, I was just kidding anyway.

This last minute treat was completely justified though.  It was a baking date with the fair Rachelle and it allowed me to get some quality time in (with her and a toy I hadn't played with before) AND have something to blog out!  Win-win. She emailed me, suggesting eclairs and it only made sense to proceed with our endeavour since we had both bookmarked a recipe in our miette cook books ages ago.  I first went to miette  about two years ago and fell in love with their colors and decor, the whole shop and of course... the pastries!  We each have our own copies.  They both came in handy.



I was reminded of a very important life lesson on our date.  You can't always be perfect.  And that's okay because chocolate ganache and sprinkles can, in fact,  fix most anything.

This applies to broken hearts (obviously) or puff pastries.  But today I am talking about the latter.  Neither of us had made puff pastries before.  We certainly did not excel at our task.  We did quite a few things wrong, actually.

Our biggest mistake was assuming that we knew better than our cook book.  We were directed to pipe the puff pastry into 5x1 inch strips using a 1/2 inch diameter piping tip.  We used math and convinced ourselves that they must have meant TWO strips. Two strips of dough would bake itself together, right?


Wrong.  As evidenced above, we ended up with really big donuts... that could be divided into two.  Like one of those popsicles from childhood.  I get strawberry, you get orange but we break them in half and share!  Not much of a pretty sight to see.

And piping into them was much of a disaster since they didn't fluff up properly and we had to fill them in at least two places!  Pastry cream all over the place!  At least I got to use my cool little machine though...

Yet we had a great time laughing over our mistakes and then trying our best to fix them.  This is where we were saved by chocolate and sprinkles, the real heroes of today's story.

We zig zagged the ganache instead of dunking them.  (Bonus:  You can see the vanilla bean specks!)


We added some straight-from-miette sugar flowers to the prettiest ones.  ... and ta-dah.


We had eclairs!


We had cream puffs!


Sure there's a few flaws in them but thats okay!  At the very least TWO of them looked and photographed wonderfully,right?  ;)  Plus they were delicious. Just like an eclaire should taste like.   And we had an awesome afternoon.  We didn't let puff pastries defeat us!

I am quite confident that for our next date, Rach and I will master our technique and I will bring something even prettier to share!

xoxo,
Anna

(For the recipe, I encourage you to buy the miette book and follow the directions properly. I don't like to post exact recipes from books, nor will I post recipes when I don't think I have the recipe down enough.  Soon though, soon!)