Sunday, October 30, 2011

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How to Stripe Your Icing

Ever wonder how bakeries get more than one color in their icing decorations? The trick is called "striping," and it's actually pretty easy to do. All you need are decorating bags, clean paintbrushes, icing, and gel icing colors.

These cupcakes were for a birthday party for two of my nephews. The theme of the party was Cars. I couldn't find any good Cars muffin cups or cupcake decorations, so I just used these generic car and truck muffin cups I found at JoAnn's and then striped the icing. The older boys said they looked cool. :)

How to Stripe Your Icing

What You'll Need:
1) decorating bag(s)
2) gel icing colors
3) icing
4) clean paintbrushes (ones that you've never actually used with paint!)

There are two ways you can do this. If you've got good quality gel icing colors, dip your paintbrush in the color you want to strip your icing. Run your paintbrush up the inside of your decorating bag. You can repeat this process on the opposite side of the bag with the same color or a different color. Then fill the bag with white icing. As you push the icing through the bag, the color you striped along the inside of the bag will transfer to your icing.

If you have the liquid kind of food coloring instead of gel colors, you can still create the same effect with a slightly different procedure. In small bowls, mix some icing with the color you want. Then use a small spatula or knife to spread some of the icing along the inside edge of the decorating bag. Repeat again on the opposite side. Fill the rest of the bag with white icing.

For the above cupcakes, I didn't have the right kind of gel icing color, so I used this last method with small amounts of blue and green icing.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Apple Crumble Squares

This recipe was originally in a Family Circle magazine. I cut it out over a year ago. I meant to make it then, but I think I got caught up in making too many pumpkin recipes last fall. Now that apple season is here again, I finally found a chance to make them when we were asked to bring treats into work to celebrate Boss's Day last week.

Apple Crumble Squares

Ingredients for cake:
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4-6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1/4 cup apricot preserves

Ingredients for topping:
2 cups flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a jelly roll pan with cooking spray.

For the cake, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat well after each. On low speed, beat in almond extract, flour, and salt. Spread into pan.

Spread apple slices over top of cake. Put apricot preserves in microwave-safe dish and melt on 50% power for 30-40 seconds or until it is easy to spread. Brush apple slices with melted preserves. Bake for 25 minutes.

In medium-sized bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Stir in butter until mixture is thoroughly moistened and becomes crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over cake. Bake another 35 minutes.

Cool on wire racks completely before dusting with powdered sugar. Cut into squares.

Yields: about 24 squares

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Baked Stuffed Apples

Years ago, I watched a Rachel Ray episode where she made these baked apples. Since I love apple crisp, I quickly jotted down this recipe as best as I could remember it. The recipe has remained on a scrap of paper for years now. Every year I think, "I'm gonna make this!" Well, last night, I finally did.

According to my scribbled notes, it looks like Rachel Ray recommended using McIntosh apples or anything crisp. All I had at homes was a Braeburn apple and some Granny Smith apples. I'm saving the Granny Smith apples for my next recipe, so I used the Braeburn for this one.

The apple turned out fairly well, but I wonder if it would have been better with a different type of apple. Also, I must admit I prefer good old apple crisp to this. In fact, after I finished eating the baked apple, I was really in the mood for some apple crisp!

Baked Stuffed Apples

4 apples
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup walnuts (I substituted pecans, and it turned out O.K.)
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Trim the top of the apple. If the apple doesn't stand upright on its own, you can trim the bottom as well. Scoop out the center of the apple with a melonballer. (I don't own a melonballer, so I ended up using my grapefruit knife.)

Blend the remaining ingredients together with your hands. The mixture should become crumbly. Fill the cavity in each apple with the mixture.

Place the apples in a shallow pan. (I used a pie plate.) Add a little water to the bottom of the pan.

Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Butterscotch Bliss Cookies

This week's cookies are a re-vamping of my very first entry. This time I used butterscotch chips in place of peanut butter chips.

The best part about these cookies is how soft and chewy they are, even days after baking them.

Butterscotch Bliss Cookies


1 cup melted butter (2 sticks)
1 ½ cups white sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs (beaten)
2 ½ cups flour
¾ cups chocolate chips
¾ cups butterscotch chips
2 cups coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a large microwave-safe bowl.

Then mix in the white sugar and the brown sugar. Add the salt, baking soda, and vanilla. Mix well.

In a small bowl, beat the two eggs. Add the beaten eggs to the mixture in the large bowl and stir thoroughly.

Add about half of the flour and incorporate it into the dough. Then add the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and coconut. Stir until the chips are evenly distributed.

Finally add the remainder of the flour and mix well. Drops by teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.

Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. To make sure your cookies remain moist, remove them before they start to really brown.

Cool cookies for two minutes before transferring from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

Yields about 5 dozen cookies.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Wedding Cake

I didn't make this wedding cake, but I couldn't help but post the photo. The cake is from my friends' wedding this weekend. It was a lovely cake, a beautiful ceremony, and a fun evening!

I'll be back tomorrow with a new cookie recipe.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Waiting and Waiting and Waiting

Fives years ago, I had an article accepted for
Hopscotch for Girls magazine. Guess what arrived in the mail today? The October 2011 issue with my article in it!

So how did a five-year-old article end up in a new magazine? Well, let's just say the publishing industry is as glacial-paced as the rumors say it is. :)

Actually, I knew when it was accepted that it would be published in the October 2011 issue.
Hopscotch is part of the Fun for Kidz Magazine Group. All of their issues are based on themes, and I had written my article on the history of women's marathons specifically for their issue titled "Foot Fun," which had been planned five years in advance.

When they sent their acceptance postcard back in 2006, I followed their instructions for submitting the manuscript via email. For five years, I didn't hear anything further from them. I was beginning to think it wouldn't be published after all. Then on October 1, a mysterious check arrived in the mail. I ran to my local library to see if they had the new
Hopscotch issue yet, but no luck. Their most recent copy was the August/September issue.

And then today . . . my author's copy was in mail. :)
It was my very first accepted manuscript. And now I can add it to my slowly growing pile of publication credits.

Oh, and I'll be hounding all of my local public libraries to make sure their October issue is prominently displayed. :)

(If you know a girl between the ages of 8-12 who might like a fun, wholesome magazine, you can check out
Hopscotch here. There is also a boys' magazine called Boys' Quest. Samples of both magazines can be found in most public libraries.)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Squared Cookies

These cookies have twice the chocolate and twice the peanut butter, so some friends and I decided we should call them Chocolate Peanut Butter2 Cookies. (I couldn't get the number 2 in superscript in the title.)

This recipe is adapted from the September issue of the King Arthur's Flour catalog. I added a bit more water than they called for, and substituted both peanut butter chips and chocolate chip for the mini peanut butter cups in the original recipe. I also used salted butter instead of unsalted.

Chocolate Peanut Butter2 Cookies

1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2-1/2 tablespoons water
3/4 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 375. Grease cookie sheets.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

In a mixer bowl, beat together the sugars, butter and peanut butter. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and water. At a slow speed, gradually add in the dry ingredients until thoroughly incorporated. Stir in both kinds of chips.

Scoop onto greased cookie sheets. Bake for 7-8 minutes. You should be able to smell the chocolate. Cool for one minute before removing to wire racks.

Yields: about 50 cookies