Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sugar Cookies

Have you seen those beautifully decorated sugar cookies? The ones with the beautifully smooth decorations in cute shapes? I won't tell you how many blogs I subscribe to that feature these at least weekly. Let's just say it's possible to read that much about a cookie.

I don't find myself particularly creative, but I really wanted to make pretty cookies like that. I don't have any friends with impending baby or wedding showers, where I could show up with adorable and insanely appropriate cookies. But I can make them anyway!!

I made the basic recipe for sugar cookies from Oracle Betty. They came out perfect! I don't think I've ever had a rolled cookie come out that perfectly. Actually ... I still haven't. The dough never really firmed up enough to roll out and cut, so I just rolled bits of dough into a ball and flattened them out. Maybe that's been my problem all along?

Who cares about the cookie, though. They're just frosting vehicles for this experiment.

I took some tips from this great tutorial on decorating cookies. In fact, I'd recommend you follow those instructions over the insert that comes with Wilton's meringue powder. The #1 lesson to learn is: don't be afraid of runny icing. It won't run that much, and is probably easier to work with.

Ah, displaying my lack of creativity. Or lack of artistic skill. Or both. I made these around Thanksgiving, so fall leaves seemed like the perfect pretty design. These look more like the Batman insignia than pretty leaves. Part of this is because I let the white icing dry, so the decoration would sit on top. The other part was that the meringue powder makes the icing stiffer.

With a little fiddling, this could make pretty and smoothly decorated cookies!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pumpkin Bisquick Scones

Some time ago I ran across this recipe for scones on a new (to me) blog. I'm not even sure how I ran across it, but isn't that how all the best discoveries are made?

To be fair, these probably aren't exactly scones. But like any good country woman I love my Bisquick, and I do enjoy an excuse to make pumpkin flavored anything. I gave my mom a scone pan one year for Christmas, as she was interested in some Scottish recipes. Scones don't get any more Scottish.

You can see another project in the background.

I just plopped these out with my trusty cookie scoop. Skipped the Splenda (Bisquick is just a glorified mix of flour and sugar) and chocolate chips. I didn't have any mini chips on hand anyway, since I don't ever buy them, but I wouldn't contaminate the pumpkin and pumpkin spices flavors anyway.

These were stupid easy to make, and I bet if you put a little more effort in to them they'd make a nice addition to your afternoon teas. If you do that kind of thing. I just like cookies.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Hi. Happy new year!

I used the month of December 2009 to enjoy the holidays, and I hope you did too. Here's what's happened in between now and then:

  • All the California family got together for Thanksgiving. I loved it.
  • I worked at my new job.
  • I helped hang gutters before the first big rain in our new house, and it ended in tragedy. OK, not really, but it's a funny story. Well, maybe not so funny as gory. Let's just say ... I haven't run in a month.
  • I got the house (specifically, the upstairs bathroom and guest bedroom) in order for family to visit. Had no idea that picking out, much less hanging, curtains was such a pain.
  • Re-caulked two bathtubs. One failed. I hate caulking.
  • In-laws came, and drywalled in the garage. Not kidding. Luckily this distracted everyone enough not to notice that I picked out a superbright sea green for the laundry alcove. Heh heh heh.
  • I read the first three Twilight books. You see, my popular culture knowledge drops off around 2004, when we decided cable was just not worth it (and proceeds to become less worth it). Since everyone's been going on about it, I gave in. I'll have to say it wasn't as bad as expected, although keep in mind that my expectations were very, very low. This about sums up the first book. And if you'd like to know what I thought about it, go read this guy's blog. I guarantee it's a better use of your time than actually reading the books. Really, this is what people think is healthy? Yikes, guys. Husband: thank you for not eating me. (I'm still waiting on the Life of Pi and Sense and Sensibility from the library, so don't judge.)

Obviously, I wanted to spend the holidays entertaining and having fun with family and friends. I hope you did too! This meant a lot less computer time. And I'll be the first to say I didn't miss being tied to my email/google reader/bank accounts.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen ...

I was on a cinnamon raisin bagel kick for a while. Actually, cinnamon raisin anything. So I got some raisins and tried making this cinnamon swirl bread. I don't have a bread machine, so I'm not quite sure why I didn't get the kind of dough that you can roll out and roll up to make that pretty swirl.

It still looked pretty nice! There was enough dough for two loaves, so I made some mini loaves as well. And it satisfied my cinnamon raisin craving just fine.

Time went on and I didn't really do anything with this loaf. It just kind of sat on the counter for a while.

Then one morning, I was thinking about french toast. I've never actually made it; it seemed really hard (and who could go up against IHOP?). But this loaf was going to go bad, so I consulted the Crocker Oracle for french toast.

I'm lame, I know. It's easy to make. I was intimidated for nothing.

Even with fairly thick slices, a whole loaf of bread makes a lot of french toast. There's probably still some in the freezer. Yes! You can freeze french toast!

This has to make you think: why not make french toast out of any bread that's been around a little too long? Or what other kinds of bread can you make in to french toast? Gingerbread? Pumpkin?