I hope that everyone is having a wonderful holiday! I can’t believe it’s already the new year! Time really flies! This holiday season, as a class mom, I was responsible for helping with holiday party at the end of the year. This meant mass cookie decorating. I was stumped, I had never done this with more than three kids, tops!
Cue Pinterest. I was constrained by a time limit of 20 minutes for eighteen kids, so I knew there would be no time to waste on passing out decorations or cookies and such. I determined that I should pre-package a kit for each child that consisted of the following:
2 sugar cookies
(1) 2 oz. container of silver decorating balls
(1) 2 oz. container of mini holiday M&M’s
(1) 2 oz. container of holiday gummies
(2) mini candy canes
(1) small popsicle stick for spreading icing
I made sure each child had a plate to decorate the cookie on so the decorations wouldn’t get everywhere. I also pre-prepared (3) bags of colored royal icing for each table of 4-5 kids so they all had a bag of red, green and white icing to share in disposable icing bags sealed with a rubber band at the end. I cut off the tips at the event so the icing stayed fresh and made it 2 days in advance.
This went very smoothly. Each child had a great time either decorating or eating the decorations. The pre-packaged kits were very helpful for the event and made everything run so efficiently. I think we pulled off a great activity at the party and got everyone in the holiday spirit! How did you start and end your holiday season?
Things have been so busy that I have found myself seriously neglecting my blog. Not to say that I haven’t still be making things, but I haven’t had time to share all the lovely things I’ve been doing with my girls.
Well, this coming week is Halloween! I can’t say that I am an avid participator in the holiday, but being a class mom and having two small girls who love dressing up, I find myself getting sucked in. While both my daughters are having Halloween parties at school, I volunteered to bring the cupcakes for my youngest since I will be missing her parade to be at the eldest’s class party.
I wanted to be sure to make something that was a little more thoughtful than the regular store-bought cupcakes (seeing as how there is no specialty cupcake store in my area that I know of). I scoured websites and Pinterest for a simple yet fun Halloween cupcake and found this. I had to slightly modify it based on the ingredients that I was able to find, but I think that they ended up really cute.
I know that both my daughters were very excited to help make the witches hats (especially the unwrapping of the kisses, and then making sure that they were still good… haha!) These were relatively simple to make, and I took a little shortcut, buying a boxed cake mix since I was a little pinched for time. Below is the quick and dirty on how I made them:
Hat Assembly: Unwrap the kisses. Place buttercream frosting using a very small tip to ice the bottom and place it in the center of a wafer, pressing down firmly. Pipe a ring around the bottom of the kiss to the wafer and finish with a bow. Set aside.
1 box Devil’s Food Cake (makes 24 cupcakes)
Cupcake Assembly: Using a large round tip, pipe the frosting onto the cupcake starting at the outer edge and then spiraling inwards. Sprinkle the sprinkles of your choice around the sides of the frosting and place one of the witches hats on the top of the frosting. I kinked them a little so that you could see the frosting with the sprinkles peeking out from under the hat as a little teaser.
I ended up making the frosting green and having the girls sprinkle purple and orange sprinkles on the cupcakes before adorning each with a hat. I think that these turned out really cute and they were really quick and easy to make with the kids help. Hopefully all of my daughters friends will have as much fun eating them as she did in making them! Happy Halloween everyone!
My previous post touched on my breakfast ritual with my daughters. Luckily, one of the coffee shops in town brings a taste of the city to its patrons, having pastries from Balthazar’s delivered to their shop on a daily basis. A particular favorite of mine is the cranberry scone. These are the perfect combination of buttery, slightly sweet from the cranberry and sprinkle of sugar crystals on top, and surprisingly, there is no orange zest as you typically find with any baked good containing cranberries.
Well, I wasn’t lucky enough to find the recipe for these online, so I turned to the Ina Garten as a base recipe to start from. One good thing about making these, I finally used my stand mixer, that has been sitting on my counter accumulating dust for years. This wonderful piece of machinery made everything incredibly easy. My daughters were fascinated with seeing the stand mixer work as well as how easy it was to operate.
While this recipe was good, it wasn’t of the same quality of Balthazar’s. I think that in order to get there, it needs more butter, just a small twist of sugar, and I did omit the orange zest as well. I did love that the egg wash with the sugar crystals really made these scones look amazingly delicious. My youngest daughter ate a whole scone for herself once these came out of the oven. It was quite amazing because they were each almost the size of her face! While not what I was aiming for, they were still quite delicious!
One of my main sorrows in leaving the city is the lack of a good sit-down bakery to enjoy delicious baked goods for breakfast (I’m not talking about cupcakes). Ever since our first daughter was born, we made a ritual of going out to breakfast on the week-ends. I would bring my daughter to one of the various coffee/ bakery shops around us and we would enjoy some quality mommy-daughter time. It was always such a pleasant way to begin the week-end. In moving to the suburbs, I had a hard time finding the perfect breakfast spot that had the ambiance and the the quality of baked goods. One of our favorite places to frequent in Brooklyn was a wonderful little bakery called Blue Sky Bakery. They make the most delicious muffins. All of them are fresh-made daily and incorporate seasonal ingredients, such as fresh pumpkin or apple in the fall, peaches in the summer, and so on. On any given day, they have at least 10 varieties to choose from. My daughter loved to eat all of the fruit out of my muffins and we thoroughly enjoyed the varieties offered each day.
I wondered if I could find the recipe for these muffins, as the shop only had two base recipes, one bran and one non-bran, with different fruit mixtures for variety. I was in luck and thank you Google for helping me find it! These are seriously the best bran muffins I have had and I was so excited to find the recipe out there. I found out that it was published in a cookbook “Table of Contents“. You can use any combination of fruit in these muffins and they are always amazing. I made these as my two year old sat on the kitchen counter watching me create these wonders and when they were done, she dug in, eating all the fruit out of the center, just like her sister used to do. It’s like they’re related! You should try these muffins out. Not too sweet, very easy and fast, extremely delicious!
Blue Sky Bakery Bran Muffin (makes 2 dozen)
2 and 2/3 c buttermilk
2 large eggs
2/3 c vegetable oil
3 c. wheat bran
2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp baking soda
1/2 c. dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp granulated sugar, divided
1 1/2 – 2 cup fruit (I used raspberries and peaches)
Preheat oven to 425 and coat muffin tin with butter or cooking spray.
Mix buttermilk, eggs and oil in a medium bowl.
In seperate bowl combine wheat bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar and salt.
Pour wet mixture into dry one and mix until just combined.
Place about 2 tbsp of batter in each muffin tin (the batter will expand to fill about 1/2 the cup). Place a generous layer of fruit (about 2 heaping teaspoons) into each cup. Measure 2 tsp of the sugar in a small bowl, taking pinches with your fingers, sprinkle the sugar over the fruit. Divide remaining batter evenly among the muffin cups. Place remaining 2 tspn of sugar into bowl and pinch and sprinkle the sugar over the top!
Bake for 5 minutes. Rotate muffin tins front to bake to ensure even cooking and bake for another 11-13 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Do NOT overbake.
Cook on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove muffins from tin.
So it’s happened. My baby turned two. When did this happen? I can hardly believe that time has flown so quickly! I don’t know if it’s because I’m so tired these days or if life is just too full of things to do, but having to even consider planning a birthday party for my daughter seemed beyond me at this point. Planning playdates for two children seems to so difficult and this seems to be one of my shortcoming as a parent. I look for the easy playdate where friends have more than one kid so that all the children can keep each other occupied. Is that terrible of me? Don’t lie, I’m sure I’m not the only one!
I am glad to say that my second daughter is quite gregarious and will run around to almost everyone after she has acclimated and flirt outrageously with them. For this I am very grateful that she finds her happiness instead of having to have someone define it for her.
Well, I may not have planned a big party for her, but I did get my act together enough to make her cupcakes to bring to school as well as have a small gathering with family to celebrate. For her cupcakes, I opted to make a lemon cupcake with a lemon buttercream frosting. I have made these before for my first daughter’s first birthday, noted here. However, instead of mini-cupcakes, I opted for large ones. The recipe will make about 16 large cupcakes. I used the buttercream frosting here and added half a lemon with half a lemon’s zest. It turned out quite nice, if I do say so myself! I also opted to use a pre-made candy flower by Wilton’s, which I got from Michael’s.
When my eldest daughter learned that I was going to be making cupcakes she insisted on helping. It was quite hilarious how she helped me with the icing. For every cupcake iced and flower she placed, she would then help herself to a small taste of icing. And with each taste, she would exclaim “I love helping you make cupcakes mommy! Mmmm!!!” What a comedian! Although, I must say, she was surprisingly exact in measuring the perfect amount of batter needed for cupcakes. I may have to employ her services in the future. Haha!
Anyways, the cupcakes were quite delicious and my youngest daughter was quite enthusiastic about the blowing out of the candles. She actually blew the candle out too quickly the first time, requiring us to re-light them before we finished singing happy birthday. And, she was singing happy birthday to herself for about 3 weeks straight. What a great age this is, toddlers are like little comedians! Happy birthday my wonderful, funny, intelligent and daring girl!
Cookies decorated by my almost-5-year-old daughter
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I don’t usually celebrate this holiday, but since this is coupled with President’s day as a 3-day week-end, as well as the weather being unbelievably frigid, I was looking for indoor activities that would keep two active young kids occupied and engaged.
My eldest daughter L.O.V.E.S. baking and decorating cookies. Ever since she was almost 2, she’s been helping out with baking in the kitchen or helping to decorate cookies for this occasion or that occasion. I have been a little bad about keeping up with baking lately so I figured I owed it to her to give her a decent baking and decorating session. If the little one wanted to join, so much the better.
After my visit home last summer, I mentioned to my mom how I was envious of her great cookie-cutter collection. She immediately told me that it was mine for the taking, which thrilled me to pieces! She packed it all into a box and mailed it to me and it was better than Christmas when they arrived! My eldest daughter was SO excited she immediately started making plans of all the different cookies she was going to make. I think she was a bit disappointed when I packed them away and then forgot to make any cookies for the Christmas holidays. Oops. So this was my chance at redemption!
It’s so crazy to think that my daughter is almost 5 years old. She can roll out dough, cut out cookies and ice them (kind of) and decorate them all by herself! It’s amazing when I think back to the first time she decorated cookies and what a mess it was. Not that this wasn’t a mess as well, but in a different way. Maybe I’m lucky the youngest wasn’t interested in making or decorating cookies!
I used a simple sugar cookie recipe I found from Epicurious, which I have used in the past and it works beautifully as it issimple in method and number of ingredients. I would highly recommend it as they are simple, yet tasty. I would, however, note that you likely only need half of the icing recipe that goes with this as you will have too much left over.
May you be surrounded by love and happiness (and warmth) today. Happy Valentines everyone!
My daughter recently celebrated her fourth birthday. As a part of her birthday, she asked if she could bring cupcakes for her classmates. I don’t mind bringing goodies for the kids to celebrate a birthday. I actually think it’s quite nice and fun for the kids to be able to celebrate something in school and I know that my daughter was so excited to turn four like all of her friends.
I wanted to make something special for her so I looked at my trusty pinterest and found the cutest pin of a panda cupcake. The link didn’t work but the images were enough for me to be able to figure it out for the most part. I didn’t have a lot of time so I decided to use a cake box mix and dress up the cupcakes really cute. When my daughter saw the panda cupcakes I had started before she went to bed, she was very excited, exclaiming how cute they were. When she woke up in the morning, she saw all of the panda cupcakes and excitedly said “Mommy, there are so many more cute pandas!” She couldn’t wait to share them with her friends at school. I hope it was a memorable celebration!
1 C butter, softened
4 C confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 T milk
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat until well incorporated. If the mixture is too thick, add more milk.
Icing piping bag with a wide circular tip
small bowl of granulated sugar
semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Bake chocolate cake batter in mini cupcake tins, as directed.
2. Using your icing piping bag, pipe the frosting onto a cupcake, as smooth as possible. I piped from the edges and moved into the center and then piped extra icing in the center to really give the cupcake a rounder shape.
3. Taking the iced cupcake, roll the icing in the granulated sugar until completely covered.
4. Starting with the nose, place a chocolate chip sideways a little lower than the center of the cupcake. Follow with two chips with points down as eyes and then two chips with flat side facing up as ears.
5. Using tweezers, place the chocolate sprinkles to form the mouth.
6. Using a very thin piping tip, squeeze small dots onto the eyes.
Voila! You have cute little panda cupcakes that are fun to look at and yummy to eat!