Archive | October, 2011

Easy Jack-o-Lanterns

28 Oct

Sometimes I think decorated cookies are so much a part of my kids’ lives that they are no longer impressed and/or interested in them. But every once in a while, they will surprise me. Like the other day when I was at the school volunteering and one of my sixth-grader’s classmates came up to me and said, “Hey, aren’t you Casey’s mom?” I said, “Yes, I am”, to which she replied “Oh, cool! Casey said you’re the best cookie decorator in the WORLD and you’re going to make cookies for the whole sixth grade for Halloween!”  Reaaaaallllly….

Sure enough, after checking with Casey, I find it is true that I have been volunteered to supply cookies to the 6th grade. So I needed a “cool” (6th grade cool) idea that would be easy and fast since I had a whole lot of ‘em to do. Very soon afterward, I saw this post by Sweet Sugarbelle. It was an answer to prayer. Ok, maybe not really. But it did save my bacon. Here’s what I made:

I did it a little bit differently than she did, so check out her post, too, and choose which way you want to do it. Her way is a little bit neater, but I think my way is a teensy bit faster, which is what I was aiming for for this project. Here’s how I did it.

First bake a ton of pumpkin cookies. I used the basic pumpkin cutter that comes in a lot of Wilton sets. This one happened to be from the Spooky Shapes set, but it is also in several other sets.

Next, I stenciled on some faces using the Jack-o-Lantern stencil from the Wilton Halloween Stencils. (This method would also be cool on plain circles or squares using some of the other stencil shapes.)

To stencil, I use an offset spatula, and squeeze a little frosting onto it.

I’m using Royal Icing here, which is unusual for me. But Meringue Powder Buttercream would also work.

Then anchor the stencil to the cookie using two fingers, and swipe the frosting-ed spatula over the stencil.

Then carefully lift off the stencil.

Ok, now if you want your stencils to look nice and perfect, you’ll want to wash off the stencil in between each use. But if you’re in a hurry, and it doesn’t really matter how they look, then by all means, continue on without washing.

Like so.

Ha ha… I actually had some friends come over when I was at this point. I just kept praying that they wouldn’t walk into my kitchen. You don’t exactly want anyone to see them when they look like this.

I did some in black and some in yellow, and they looked equally horrible.

It looks like they have milk mustaches. But the good news is, that it doesn’t matter in the least. Yay!

Next, outline in orange. I used a PME 1.5 for outlining. It’s my favorite outliner!

Actually on the bottom three, I forgot to switch my tip, and outlined with a 2. Then I remembered and switched it back to the 1.5 for the rest. Can you see the difference? The 1.5 is just a little more defined. I like it better.

After outlining, you’ll want to wait a bit and let your outline dry. But if you’re doing a ton of them like I was, by the time you get to the last one, your first ones will be ready to fill in.

Fill in with a larger tip. I used a #2, but a #3 would also work. This is a cool trick I learned from Callye–

Fill in every-other section and let it dry for about a half hour. (Or, like the outlining, if you have several dozen to do, by the time you get to the last ones the first ones will be ready.) Doing it this way helps SO MUCH with keeping definition in your design. Best tip EVER. Thanks Sugarbelle!

Then fill in the remaining sections.

Then add a stem.

I usually do green stems on my pumpkins, but I had seen some pumpkins done by Laura at A Dozen Eggs that had brown stems, and I loved it!  So I had to try that this year.

You could add some green vines at this point, but I was in simplify mode, so I left them off. It’s cute either way.

Cute, easy, and you don’t have to have any artistic ability to do these.  You could try this method with all kinds of stencils.  I’m definitely going to keep it in mind for Christmas cookies this year. Give it a try!

Oval Set Winners

27 Oct

Here are the winners of the oval cookie cutter sets:

Melody James
I LOVE your cookies! They are so cute! And what great ideas you come up with for these basic cutters! I wish I had half your creativity! Adorable!

Christine
I think those are cute Karen! I especially like the pumpkin with the candy inside and those spiders holding the candy are are so cute! My Grandson’s 1st birthday is Saturday the 29th, so we are doing a Halloween themed party! Planning on making the cute little mummies, pumpkins and candy corn cookies for the party bags and I am going to attempt the “great pumpkin” cake (using a bundt pan) for his 1st birthday cake, can’t wait to see the orange frosting all over him! LOL Again, that’s for sharing and have fun getting your little ones ready for Halloween! ;)

Glenda
This blog makes me want to bake! I’d love to try some of these ideas!!!!

Sandy
WOW…gotta try those

Kenni
Those pumpkins and monster faces are too cute! I also love that you cut up the oval to make candy corn.

Congratulations everybody!  I’ve sent you all emails, so look for that. If you don’t see an email, you can write to me at contact at karenscookies dot net with your mailing address.

Halloween Ovals *GIVEAWAY CLOSED*

22 Oct

So I said was going to get another post up last Friday. Not the one that just passed yesterday— the one a full week before that.  Then I had sick kids, I was sick, and you combine that with time flying at break-neck speed, and here we are.  Life happens. Sorry about that.

But hey, let’s not look back. Let’s look forward! I have some Halloween ovals to show you! I really should have shown you the ovals first and then ended with the rectangles, because I really liked the rectangles better, which sorta makes this anti-climatic, but such is life.

So we have a set of oval cookie cutters.

Half are plain-edge, and half are crimped edge. I used the plain edge for these cookies.

First are some Halloween treat buckets.

Had a little bleeding on the handle on the one on the left, because I was lacking patience. If you don’t want bleeding, you must wait. Don’t put a dark color on a wet lighter color. Wait. Patience! (Yoda voice)

Next, some plain pumpkins.

These are easy. Just draw an oval in the center that is about three-quarters of the height of the pumpkin. Then add ridges heading outward and slightly upward. Does that make sense? Then add a stem and maybe a leaf. You can have pumpkins in all kinds of sizes. Who needs pumpkin cookie cutters?

Next, I tried just a bunch of candy.

It looks too stark to me. Maybe more candy?

Remember in my rectangle post, I made some monster faces? Frankenstein, Mummy, Dracula, and a Skull and Crossbones. Here are their oval counterparts:

Here are the rectangles and ovals together, just for comparison’s sake.

Definitely like the rectangles better, but the ovals are cute in their own way.

These next guys were my favorite, and they were also the most simple. I wanted something really easy for the smallest ovals, so I decided on spiders.

I loved doing them. They took about 10 seconds and added a lot to the plate of cookies.

And my other favorites were equally easy. Candy corn!

What? You say these aren’t ovals? Well, you would be right. But all I did was cut a sliver off of each side of the oval (at an angle) to make cone shapes. I loved that it worked, because now I can make any size of candy corn. The smallest were almost the same size as real candy corn. Cute.

Here’s a platter of the ovals:

Fun stuff.

I have a handful of sets of oval cookie cutters to give away. I’m probably not going to get them to the winners by Halloween, but the good news is that the uses for oval cutters is ENDLESS.  You can use them all year long, and then when next Halloween gets here (in the approximately 2 seconds that will take), you’ll have them to make all the pumpkins, candy corns, spiders, or monster faces you want.

Comment on this post by Wednesday, October 26, midnight, and you’ll be entered to win a set of your own. I’ll choose 5 winners using Random.org. Please enter only once.

Thanks for reading! Good luck this week getting all of your Halloween preparations together. I have 4 little costumes to figure out this week. Do you have a lot to do before Halloween?

Rectangle Cookie Cutter Set Winners

14 Oct

Look at me all on the ball for announcing the winners. Woo hoo! :)

Thanks to all who entered to win the Rectangle Cookie Cutter Set! I enjoyed reading your ideas and your sweet comments about my cookies. Thank you so much!

Here are the winners:

Missy

I would try all the designs you did. Love the candy bars and the little tricker treaters.

Gisele Oakes

They are all totally adorable! Wish I had the patience to do cookies like that!

Heather D.

These are so creative! I love thinking outside of the box…or rectangle! ;)

Congratulations, ladies! Have fun with your rectangles! I’ve sent all of you an email, so you can just respond to that email with your mailing address and we’ll get them sent right out. If you don’t see an email, you can write to me at contact at karenscookies dot net.

I have another little giveaway coming up later today, so stay tuned.

Thinking Inside the Box *GIVEAWAY CLOSED”

10 Oct

I’ve been talking a lot about my desire to learn to think outside the box a little more. I am always completely blown away by Callye (Sweet SugarBelle) and her ability to make anything out of nothing. In fact, I really need her to be my buyer because I’ll pass right over certain products (like the Wilton Fangs cookie cutter, for example) and then she’ll do something totally crazy awesome with it.

So I’m trying to learn. And after meeting Callye last week, and learning some of her methods for thinking outside the box, I came home totally stoked to try some new things.

I love the rectangle set of cookie cutters.

I actually resisted liking them for quite some time. Because really, you can do without them in a pinch. You can use a ruler and a pizza cutter and get all the rectangles you could ever want. But once I bought this Fox Run Set, I wondered why it took me so long to get them! They have come in handy for so many things, and are so infinitely easier to use than a ruler and pizza cutter.

I have been wanting to feature them for a while, but didn’t really know what to do with them.

Well, I came home from Cookie Camp all fired up to be creative. I knew I wanted more Halloween cookies on the blog. I knew I wanted to feature the rectangle set. So I decided to think outside the box by thinking inside the box. Get it? Inside? The box… because it’s a rectangle….

Yeah.

So the first cookies I came up with were these guys:

I’m quite sure Frankenstein has been done on a rectangle before, since his head is a giant rectangle and all. But I was proud of myself for thinking of the other ones! :D

Then I thought just some spider webs would be cute and simple.

Easy, simple.  Anyone can do it. Outline, flood, let dry, then add a spider web and spider. Easy peasy.

Then I got crazy ambitious. I had just seen the most adorable cookie done by Haniela, that was just a silhouette of a child blowing a dandelion. And then I saw a Halloween card that had the silhouettes of trick-or-treaters. I figured it was a sign, so I tried it.

I think it has potential! It isn’t perfect, but it’s kind of a cool effect. I want to try it again soon.

So then I got off my ambitious kick and went back to simple and less creative.

I don’t have a Kopycake (obviously! Ha ha), and I really didn’t feel like spending a ton of time getting the font just right, so I didn’t. I just looked at a picture of fun-size Hershey bars online and went for it. These are pretty small– about the actual size of a fun-size candy bar. So I kept them super simple. Although it doesn’t look too impressive up close like this, when they were mixed into a platter of cookies, it totally worked. I’ll show you that in a minute.

The next two were thoughts along the same lines. I wanted a haunted house, but a rectangle is kind of limiting. So first I did another silhouette-type design:

And then I got an idea. How about just a haunted door?

Does it work? I don’t know. I’m not sure I’ll do it again, but it was worth a shot.

I recently got to see a Cookie Artisan (Maryann) platter of cookies in real life. They were amazing. I loved her sign, and so I got the idea to do a scary “KEEP OUT!” sign.

I tried to make the lettering look rough and scary. I piped it on and then scraped at the edges a little with my boo-boo stick. I think next time I could do it better. But not bad for a first shot.

This next one is a simple idea that wasn’t executed as well as I’d hoped, but again, it has potential. I think that’s what I’m learning about “thinking outside the box”– sometimes you have to try it a few times to make it work, but you know if you’re on the right track.

Next time I’ll do the background a different color. But it’s cute in its own way.

I really liked this next one. It was fun to do, super simple, and it turned out cute.

I know what you’re thinking. That this isn’t a true rectangle. Which is true. But all I did was trim the tiniest bits of the top left and bottom right corners off before baking so that the bag would have some dimension. Easy easy easy.

I thought it needed some depth, so I painted on some charcoal black petal dust in the corners where the bag would be folding inward.

Here’s how it looked afterward:

Just like the fun size candy bars earlier, I went super simple with the candy in the bag. You just want the overall look to be there.

So those are my thinking outside-yet-inside-the-box cookies.

And I tried some Glorious Treats tricks for photographing my cookies. You know, like actually putting them on a plate and stuff. :D I hope she’ll be proud of my attempts at taking some prettier photos.

Here’s one:

And another:

Look Glory! Props! :D I’ll get the hang of this yet.

I came away from this little exercise realizing the the possibilities for the Rectangle Set of cookie cutters is seriously endless. What would YOU do with them?

Comment on this post by Thursday October 13th at midnight (wherever you are!) and I’ll enter you to win a set all your own. Please enter only once. I’ll choose THREE winners using Random.org.

Another fun (similar, yet different) project coming up soon!

Cookie Camp!

6 Oct

I’m back from Cookie Camp! I’ve actually been back for a few days, but when a mom goes out of town for five days, it seems like there’s a lot of catch-up, plus I’ve just been trying to get my head back on straight. Sometimes that takes me a while. So anyway, sorry for the delay.

Cookie Camp was great! I met lots of wonderful people– many of whom I knew a little bit before from emailing and blog-stalking, but it was great fun to meet them in person and talk cookies (and other stuff, too).

I told you I would take lots of pictures, and I did take some, but they are TERRIBLE.  So I had to pick out the best of the bad to share with you. I’m so sorry. Someday I’ll learn to be a better photographer.

For our first challenge, we were given 5 cookies– a cupcake, teacup, butterfly, car, and a (somewhat funky) Easter chick. We could decorate them however we wanted. I was blown away by the talent and creativity. I hope you can see enough detail in these pictures.

Here are the teacups:

Crazy, right? I mean, the creativity was astounding. I loved the jellyfish, done by Cancun Cookies (Bea). Can you guess which one is mine?

(butterfly- top right corner)

Here are the cupcakes:

It’s a cupcake, people! We were supposed to vote on our favorite and the winner got a prize. How do you pick just one of these?  Can you guess which one is mine?

Beaver- top right, second row. I started doing the beaver and then glanced over and saw Callye (Sweet Sugarbelle) doing an animal of some sort too. I almost changed what I was doing because I knew she would do it so much better. Hers was the gray cat, and it won. :D I knew it!!

Here are the cars:

You have to remember that we were in the sticks– no cell coverage, no internet– so no referencing any kind of pictures or clipart or anything. Amazing!!   Can you guess which one is mine?

The Cookie Police.  I stared and stared at that cookie, trying to come up with something besides a car, and just couldn’t. And then look what the other ladies came up with!

The funky Easter chick:

There are no words. Seriously, the cuteness!  The flowers in the basket were so pretty, and done by one of my favorite cookie bloggers, Cookie Crazie (Pam). She is the only one that uses glaze for her cookies, and what she does with it is AMAZING. It was fun to watch her work.  Any idea which one is mine?

The elf. Not my favorite work. But the shape fit pretty well! I LOVED what people came up with for these.

And last but not least, the butterfly.

I told you before I went that I was nervous about being around these amazing decorators, and I was serious. Once I got there, I was even more nervous because they are SO talented. I could have sat and watched them decorate for days. Any guesses on which one is mine?

The trees with the bears. Did you know there were bears up there at camp?? We even saw one of them. I guess there’s a daddy bear and a baby bear. We just saw the baby bear and we made a lot of noise so we wouldn’t have a run-in with Daddy.  So they were the inspiration of my poorly executed bears! :D

You know when you see awesome food blogs and you wish that you could taste the beautiful delicacies that they showcase? Well guess what? I got to taste a Glorious Treats cupcake! Glory has been an inspiration to me since I found her blog several months ago. I love her style and her beautiful photography. She made some cupcakes just for me!

Ok, fine. It wasn’t just for me. It was for everybody at camp. But that included me, right? :D The cupcake was just as delicious as I imagined it to be, and now when I read her blog, I will just drool even more. Here she is baking the cupcakes, while chatting with Pam.

Two of my favorite bloggers in one spot. Callye was actually right there, too, but the picture was not flattering and I didn’t want her to kill me, so I cut her out of the shot. You’re just going to have to believe me that she was there. Really! I met her!

It was great to learn from the best. I learned more about how to think outside the box, and I came home re-energized to try new things with cookies. I’m in the middle of a project right now that I’m excited to share with you. It is thinking outside the box and inside the box, all at the same time!

That was cookie camp in a (big, long) nutshell! I’m glad I got to go! I hope you can catch some of the inspiration by looking at all of their cookies.

(P.S. We also did a group project where we decorated a cookie “neighborhood” together. My pictures of those cookies turned out way too bad to share, so I’m going to have to ask permission to use somebody’s pictures. I’ll post or link to another blog soon, because those turned out really cute, too!)

Witch Set Winners

6 Oct

We have some winners! The winners of the Wilton Witch Set cookie cutters are:

Isabel:

I love it!! thanks a lot from Spain,

Jen:

Those look like fun. For the cauldrons what about having it bubble over in electric green bubbles with luster dust? It could be a spooky brew!

Emily:

I think I say this about all of your cookies but these really are some of my favorites. Have so much fun at cookie camp!

Congratulations to all the winners! I have sent you all emails, so check your box, or send your mailing address to contact at karenscookies dot net.

A Cookie Camp recap coming up…

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