Thursday, October 31, 2013


The night is dark
The owls they hoot
Black cats are mewing
and no Mitchie to toot
It’s Halloween and our
Boy is sick  - so grab a
Bag and fill for him
‘cause  missing Halloween
Is almost a sin!

Sugar Cookies

2 cups AP Flour, plus Wondra flour for dusting the dough while rolling
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter (1stick) room temp 
1 cup granulated sugar, I prefer the super fine but regular is OK
1 large egg (room temp, always when baking)
1 tsp vanilla extract

In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture, beat until combined.  Divide dough in half, flatten into disks.  Wrap each in plastic, chill until firm, at least 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325°degrees

Either use Silpat mats or line cookie sheets with parchment.  Remove dough from fridge and let stand for about 5 minutes.  Roll out dough between sheets of parchment, put a little Wondra on the dough.  Depending on your oven bake 10-18 minutes.  If you notice that they are getting more done on one side than the other, rotate the pan in the oven half way through the cooking time.

After you have rolled out your dough, very carefully cut out your cookies and place on the Silpat mat.  It is a little tricky when using these big cutters so just be patient and careful.  I only made (8) cookies so I put the leftover dough in the freezer and it will keep up to three months - let it thaw out overnight in the fridge.

Take the cookies out of the oven and let them cool for a few minutes on the Silpat mat and then transfer to a cooling rack until completely cool.

Now for the frosting - most cookie decorators will flood the cookies with royal icing, in this case white, and then go back with colored royal icing for the detailing. I find that I have better luck flooding the cookie with a simple icing of just powdered sugar and water, no recipe, just until I get it to the consistency that it will spread but not run on the cookie. Let the icing completely cool and then go back and do the detailing.  I will then do the detail work with royal icing which is what I did last night.  Having said that I tried using icing bottles for the first time and did not have a good experience and went back to the pastry bag.  Will try again later and share with you then.  Here is link to Good Things by David royal icing recipe, it is a great recipe, no fail:

Happy and safe Halloween and thank you for stopping by. 

Silpat Mats, available at all cooking stores, Williams Sonoma, Amazon
Jolly Roger Copper Cookie Cutter by coppersmith Michael Bonne on Etsy

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


On Tuesday I feature an item that I like to have in my “arsenal.”  It might be a craft item, something for sewing, a needed item for household arts or my latest kitchen gadget. In a recent post I featured the wonderful onion chopper, that is the sort of thing I will feature, tell you where you can find it and why I think it is a good item. It will usually be something that I don’t want to be without or run out of just when I need it for a project, a meal, for entertaining or to give to a guest. 

Panibois, wood, wooden tray, wooden baking mould, wooden mold, cooking mould, producer, innovation, French cooking tradition, baking ring, baking circle, bread mould, personalized mould, wooden ring, napkin round, sandwich ring, food box, wooden range, food tray, banneton, wooden cutlery, wooden display trays, plancha, baker, confectioner, chocolate shop, caterer, delicatessen, restaurant, cheese retailer
Panibois translated from French is "wooden pan."  On the bottom of their web page it says "inventor of the wooden baking mold."  This is an item that I have used for years and is available at many different sites and stores.

I order from a company in Missouri called Technobake, If you want to check them out once you are on their home page click on "Home Baking" and the panibois page will come up.  If you have not used these products before you might find it fun to order the "sample pack."  At Christmas when I am most likely to be giving away baked goods I like to use the one called "Duc." These molds can be used more than once and extra liners may be ordered.  They look unique, are great fun to bake with, no pan to wash and people love to receive a yummy baked item in this unusual packaging. A six-pack of the "Duc" is $12 and comes with liners. The crates shown are not for baking but for presentation.  I love the little one because it is just the right size for a little jar of jam, a small cake in a Panibois and enough room to snuggle in a little sack of fudge or whatever candy you are making this Christmas.

Shipping varies so the more you order the bigger bang for your buck shipping-wise.  If you have a friend that might like to order these too, combine your orders and share the shipping costs.

I put together a little Halloween cake using "Duc."

 Out of the oven...
Frosted and hit with pumpkins, jimmies and a pick!
In a bag with a tag and tied with ribbons, ready to deliver!


Jimmies & Pumpkin Sprinkles, Autumn Accents Harvest Mix
Ribbon, Hobby Lobby
Pick, Hobby Lobby
Label Graphic, Scalloped Circle Graphic from Etsy seller Digitalfield
Circle size, 1.786 x 1.786
Font, TT Hanford Script, size 12.25
Clear Plastic bag, Perfect size for "Duc," Walmart in the grocery section

Sunday, October 27, 2013

“AUTUMN...THE YEAR'S LAST, LOVIEST SMILE.” ― William Cullen Bryant

 I have lived in Eagle, Idaho for a little over a year.  Had you asked me before I moved here to list the most beautiful states to see beauty in the fall, Idaho would not have been on that list.  It is so beautiful here in the fall.  I took all but one of these photos on Saturday, the second photo I took on Thursday and it was taken in downtown Eagle. The fisherman is in the Boise River.  The rest of the photos are within about 1/4 mile of my house.  Going anywhere these days, the view elicits enough oohs and ahhs to make a 4th of July grand finale happy! Idaho, so beautiful.


Photos taken with Nikon Coolpix and edited in Picasa

Friday, October 25, 2013


Last night was the monthly gathering of the Steel Magnolias group.  I volunteer to make the dessert each month for this group.  Dessert last night was sweet potato cupcakes with brown sugar cream cheese frosting and vanilla bean ice cream.  The group has dinner each month at the home of Jerri Stanfield who is the Executive Director of Alzheimer's Idaho a grass roots organization located in Boise.  All of the members of this group care for someone who is affected with Alzheimer's and this monthly outing gives them a chance to get out and have an evening with others going through the same circumstances and be able to relax and enjoy the company of good friends.  I am honored to make dessert for them.  This is definitely not an evening of low-cal desserts.

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/8 cups granulated sugar
3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste*


In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine the milk and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla  bean paste. Turn the machine on; pour the mixture into freezer bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 20 to 25 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving

I use a Cuisinart ice cream machine

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 15oz can sweet potatoes (unsweetened), mashed (yams are OK)
1/2 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350° - line two cupcake pans with 24 muffin papers. Set aside. In a medium bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt, set aside.  In your mixer or large mixing bowl beat butter until creamy, add sugar and beat on high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, beating on low after each addition until combined.  Add mashed sweet potatoes (or yams) and vanilla beating until combined.  Add the flour mixture; beat until combined (batter will be thick).  Divide evenly between the muffin cups and bake about 20 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched.  Cool in pan on wire rack for a minute then remove to a rack to cool completely before frosting.

Yield 24 cupcakes

Note: If not using greaseproof cupcake papers double your papers because you will get bleed through the papers and it will have a much nicer look if you double the papers.

One 8oz package cream cheese, at room temperature
3 sticks butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
6 cups powdered sugar
2-3 tsp vanilla bean paste

In a mixer add the cream cheese and butter and whip until fluffy, then add the brown sugar and the vanilla bean paste and continue whipping until well mixed then put your mixer on low and gradually add the powdered sugar a little bit at a time until it is all combined, turn up the mixer and let it whip the frosting for several minutes.

Note:  This is enough frosting to frost a two layer cake so if you are making this for 24 cupcakes you will have leftover frosting.  You can either put in the fridge if you plan on making something in the next day or two or you can freeze for a week or so.  This frosting is good on things like zucchini and carrot bread, any of the nut breads.


Spider cupcake stand at Ross
Cupcake papers and picks at Hobby Lobby
Wilton 2A round tip
Pastry bag Ateco Flex 12

*Vanilla paste available at some grocery stores, specialty food stores and online, a good alternative to using vanilla bean, not as expensive, much easier to use and gives a wonderful flavor and those nice little vanilla specks!