Scrabble Cookies

This is less of a tutorial and more of an add on (courtesy of my sister) to the Bra and Pantie Cookies post from a while back.

Scrabble cookies

 

1. Naturally, we start with the basic sugar cookie recipe. When you roll them out, instead of using a cookie cutter, use a pizza roller, or knife to cut the dough into 120 1″ squares,  bake and let cool. I suggest doing this a day before decorating.

2. For the icing, you will need to make stiff meringue icing, adding water and sugar to meringue powder until it reaches a stiff consistency that you can pipe through a small round tip. Make sure to taste it first, you will know quickly if you have not added enough sugar. Separate into three bowls and dye one bowl black, cover and move to the side.  For the second batch you will pick your outline color. my sister decided to outline some cookies in pink to write me a message and some in white, but you can use whatever color you like!

Happy Birthday cookies

3. Make the same icing recipe, but with more water so that it will spread nicely between the outlines, and set aside. This is the background color so it is best left white.

4. Put the white thick outline frosting in a piping bag with a small round nozzle and carefully pipe around the edge of each cookie. This can be seen in the Bra and Panties tutorial. Let dry completely.

5. Once dry, use a larger round piping nozzle to pipe the softer icing into the middle. You may want a knife to help spread it to the edges so it completely fills in between the outline.  Let dry completely.

6. Now we add the letters and values. Use the picture below to carefully hand pipe each letter and number value. I suggest using the small round piping nozzle so you can get fine detail and more easily fix/hide shaky hands or mistakes. Let the black dry completely.

scrabble tiles

 

7. This step is optional. If you decided to make a colored outline, carefully outline each tile you want. My sister outlined my name and a “Happy Birthday” message, outlining the blanks between words and adding a pink heart in the center as well. This is where you can get creative though and do whatever you like! (or nothing if you prefer more authentic scrabble cookies).

full set of scrabble cookies

Et Voila! The best part is sugar cookies are better with age, especially if you are like me and eat them for breakfast dipped in your coffee. They also turn whatever area they are displayed in, into an ongoing scrabble game! Enjoy!

coffee and cookies

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Dim Sum at Home

I am nostalgic for dim sum.  It reminds me of being young and taking the train into San Francisco’s China Town for sticky rice and dozens of strange looking dumplings filled with delectable treasure. The smell brings back memories of large lazy susan’s, matriarchs flagging down carts filled with pretty little stacked bamboo steam boxes and rolling myself out of the restaurant at the end, stuffed so full and wishing I could have stayed longer.

Unfortunately, where I live now, I have to drive at least a half an hour for good dim sum and finding a good dim sum brunch partner has been near impossible. While I found some great recipes online, not many had good photos, advice for freezing, folding or wraper use. So here, in one place, are a bunch of pictures with two intro recipes for Siu Mai and Pork Wontons as well as the perfect dipping sauce, folding options and freezing instructions.

ready to eat

Siu Mai

Ingredients:

  • 3 dried Chinese black or Shiitake mushrooms
  • 6 oz peeled deveined shrimp (I used medium, feel free to use large)
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • ¾ cup ground pork
  • 1 TB oyster or fish sauce
  • 1 tsp Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry if you must)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp granulated sugar
  • about 20 wonton wrappers (you are supposed to use round gyoza wrappers, but I liked the flared look of the squares) You can find these in the frozen section of most grocery stores or your local Asian market.

peeling wrappers

Directions:

  1. If you are using frozen wrappers, move them from the freezer to the refrigerator. If you forget this step and need them to thaw more quickly, go ahead and thaw on the counter, just make sure to leave them sealed so they don’t dry out.
  2. Soften the mushrooms by soaking in hot water for approximately 15 minutes. Squeeze out excess water.
  3. Soak the shrimp in lightly salted, warm water for 5 minutes and pat dry.
  4. Mince mushrooms, shrimp and green onions.
  5. Add minced ingredients to the ginger and pork and mix thoroughly.
  6. Shu mai fillingRefrigerate for at least an hour to let flavors blend. I like to even leave over night.
  7. Place unused wonton wrappers under a damp cloth to keep them moist. (I don’t have a photo of this, but I just wet a paper towel and drape over the top, just make sure you squeeze out any excess water so it doesn’t make them soggy).
  8. Wet edges of wrapper and place 3 tsp of filling in the center.
  9. moisten wrappersfilling amount 2Gather up the edges and gently fold so that the wrapper forms a basket around the filling with the top part of the filling exposed.
  10. I start by folding in the sides and the pleating the corners aroundstep one shu mai foldshu mai folded
  11. Steam for 5-10 minutes until filling is cooked, or place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to freeze (more on freezing below).
  12. finished shu maiMakes about 20-25 dumplings.

Wontons with Pork and Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • ½ lb ground or chopped pork (the big difference is texture)
  • ½ lb shelled and deveined medium shrimp
  • 3-5 water chestnuts (I used the canned variety from the regular grocery store and they are small so I use more)
  • 1tsp grated ginger, I use a micro plane (if you like ginger you should consider adding a bit more)
  • 1 TB oyster or fish sauce
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 TB Chinese rice wine or rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • a few drops sesame oil
  • Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • Wonton wrappers (30-40 ish)

Directions:

  1. Like I said in the Siu Mai recipe, If you are using frozen wrappers, move them from the freezer to the refrigerator. If you forget this step and need them to thaw more quickly, go ahead and thaw on the counter, just make sure to leave them sealed so they don’t dry out.
  2. Finely chop shrimp, pork, water chestnut and ginger.
  3. Combine all filling ingredients (ie everything except the wonton wrappers)
  4. wonton fillingAs with the Siu Mai recipe, refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.
  5. Place unused wonton wrappers under a damp cloth to keep them moist. (I don’t have a photo of this, but I just wet a paper towel and drape over the top, just make sure you squeeze out any excess water so it doesn’t make them soggy).
  6. filling amountWet the edges of the wrapper in use and then place a heaping tsp of filling in the center of the wrapper. (this one was a bit exaggerated so you could see how I wet them).
  7. There are several folding options I tried (and plenty more if you feel like spending some time on the web):

Bring edges together and twist to seal.
pleat one side 3 times from the left and three from the right and press into flat side to create a curved look (pictured ish, it takes practice, I’m not perfect!)

folded wontons8. Cook right away or freeze (directions below).

  • You can boil wontons (5 – 8 minutes) or fry them in a pan with a little oil (about 2 minutes) or steam them (5-8 minutes).
  • I suggest frying and then adding a little steam at the end for a mix. I am not the best at wrapping them and sometimes they tear which makes boiling my least favorite option, however they do taste wonderful boiled.

Freezing for Later

ready for freezing

This step is important to me because I like to make a ton and eat them for breakfast, snack, lunch, whatever for days and days after and if you do it right they can hang out in the freezer for a month or so. This also makes all the work of folding those little buggers worth it.

The most important thing to remember is DO NOT COOK BEFORE FREEZING.
Did you read that? FREEZE RAW.
It is best to lay them all out on a lined cooking sheet uncovered first and place in the freezer for 30min to an hour.  This gets them set enough for a zip lock bag.
Then, place as many as you like into FREEZER Zip Lock bags (the non-freezer kind don’t protect them from burn very well so if you use those they will not last nearly as long in the freezer).
When you take them out, don’t thaw, just put right in the steamer or boiling water. YUM!

Dipping Sauce

dipping sauce

We can’t get this far without something to dip our dim sum in!

You could go with just soy, or something simple, but this little recipe is real perfection.

Ingredients:

  • 2tbs Soy Sauce
  • 2tbs Chinese Rice Wine or Rice Vinegar
  • 1tbs Red Chilly Oil (from the Asian section at the regular super market)
  • Juice of 1/4 to 1/2 of a lemon (this is really to taste, I like to use less but my husband loves more so what can I say?)
  • ground white or black pepper to taste

Directions:

Whisk together and serve!

The big deal about this recipe is to play with the amounts. I rarely measure but rather start small and taste with my fingers until it gets to my liking. You may like it heavier on the vinegar like I do, heavier on the citrus like my husband or light on the heat (more group friendly for parties) it is totally up to you!

I hope that these beginner recipes have give you the confidence to enjoy dim sum at home. I welcome any additional questions and hope to bring you some more advanced recipes in the near future!

Happy eating.

Pintastic Super Bowl Party

Sadly, the Broncos were massacred and our house of orange and blue turned to heavy drinking quickly, but I like to think the following recipes and printables kept spirits a little higher. I will definitely be turning these into party staples especially as we get closer to March Madness.

It all started when I came across this colored caramel corn recipe. I did not use koolaid, I simply mixed 15 drops of food coloring in with the baking soda on the side before mixing the soda into the caramel corn. Mixing the popcorn in the oven after it is coated is ESSENTIAL. I forgot about it and it was chewy. In hindsight, if you forget to stir just turn them into popcorn balls, don’t try and serve it loose.

The first caramel corn recipe is pretty, but not the best flavor, a little bland.  I mixed my blue caramel corn with the best caramel corn recipe ever (the darker corn pictured). This recipe has brown sugar instead of white and molasses which makes it a very dark caramel that is impossible to dye, but tastes oh so perfect.

mixed caramel corn

If there is a giant bowl of caramel corn there has to be a way for people to carry personal servings around and accidentally throw in the air when the Broncos score. Enter these perfect cone printable! Just roll and close with washi or clear tape and there you go. I printed them on blue and orange paper for the broncos, but you could do this with any team colors or no color at all.  The link also has a printable for cup labels. I used these for my party but found that people were not that into using them so I say don’t bother with that one.

http://snapcreativity.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/printable_party_superbowl.pdf

 

Another fun food dying project that was perfect for orange and blue (but again works with any color) were these swirled sugar cookies. I made the dough a few days in advance and just left them in the freezer until the day of. This is a great time saver for when you know you have a ton to do the day of and just want to throw them in the oven. Plus you still get the house smelling like cookies when everyone arrives.swirl cookies

I wanted to make wings because they are the quintessential football food, but I really don’t like the process so I made this buffalo dip instead. It has shredded chicken, franks, cream cheese and sour cream in it and everyone that ate it couldn’t stop talking about it. Some people even added it to their salad. YUM!

rolling out crackersThe dip suggests using carrots, celery and ritz, but instead of ritz crackers I decided to make my own jalapeno Cheeze-its.

I doubled this recipe and added 3 roasted jalapenos chopped up into tiny pieces. For extra fun I used a round cookie cutter twice on each piece to make them the shape of footballs and instead of a toothpick to poke air holes, I used a three prong fork so it was more like laces.  

My big note on the crackers is that I had to bake them longer than the recipe called for and after they cooled I baked them again to make sure they were nice and crispy. Two days later, the leftovers are stale so I am going to bake them again and see if I can get another round of crisp out of them. Another plus, their orange for the UNITED IN ORANGE theme!

cracker footballs

For decorations I found this blog and went all out with their free printables.  I used the water bottle labels around  blue dixie cups and scattered the other around the living room and food. Then I took this football field buffet table idea and spun it with butcher paper and paint pens. I made one end zone the vintage Broncos end zone and the other a more modern version with the current logo.

football table cover

 

Broncos Flags

vintage broncosHAPPY PARTYING! (and pinning)

 

Jams

Its been a while. The world got crazy. But here I am again with a few good recipes made with apples, rose hips and grapes after a few frosts that lead to some pretty amazing Apple Butter and Grape Jam.

The secret here is that every jam follows a basic recipe of a few pounds of fruit, a package of pectin to give it the right texture, and a few cups of sugar to make sure it’s sweet. It all gets boiled down together into a delicious, sticky mess.

Lucky for me and my friends, apples, rose hips and citrus all have pectin naturally, and if you use enough, you can forego the store bought pectin. Even better, after the first frost (or the first few) all that freezing and thawing creates more sugar in the fruit, which means less refined sugar needed when you boil it all down.

The first recipe is more of a process for making grape jam than a recipe and it is specific to grapes that can be picked off the vine late, store bought will require more sugar.

Rose Hip & Grape Jam

Unfortunately, we did not take a ton of good photos of the process so you will have to rely on my descriptive writing skills to follow along 😉

Rose hips are a great source of pectin and the flavor is actually really nice, but they are a PAIN IN THE ASS to work with. The seeds are tiny and spiky, they fill the whole center of the rose hip and getting them out can lead to the total destruction of the tiny bit of fruit you are after.  These were free to us as we have a serious wild rose bush problem and were able to pick two pounds in an hour, but honestly, I am not sure they are worth the effort.

We washed all the grapes and removed the larger stems before pressing the grapes to get out all the delicious juice. After pressing we saved about two gallon ziplocks worth of pulp, not quite the whole two pounds.

Next we boiled the juice, pulp and a cup of rose hips (seeds removed) in a big pot with only 1/2c of added sugar. The real hard part was constantly stirring so that it wouldn’t burn (ok, we may have let it burn a little, oops). We did this for over an hour until a dollop on a frozen plate kept it shape. 

As someone who does not usually love grape jelly – this may be my new favorite.

Now apple butter. Also one of the easiest things ever. Again, this process is specific to apples that can be picked after the first frost or two, as store bought require more sugar which creates a different flavor, not bad just different.

apple butterWe boiled down as many apples as we could fit in our biggest pot with 3/4c apple cider vinegar. We did not add any sugar or pectin to this because late season apples have it all.

Luckily you do not have to sit and stir this, the apples will create plenty of juice to keep them rolling for an hour as they break down.

Once they are mash-able go to town (I used a potato masher) and then pressed the mash through a fine metal sieve (use whatever you might have in your kitchen, get creative! No need to buy a sieve) to get out all the seeds and weird bits that don’t break down.

Finally we boiled it all down again, this time stirring constantly for up to an hour until it passes the frozen plate test.

voila, delicioso!

S’moregasm brownies

This was not actually my idea, but rather a glamping (glamorous camping) kitchen mash-up miracle created by the one and only Caitlin McKenna!

All you need is butter, brownie mix, vanilla, graham crackers and marshmallows. 

brownie prep

You could get a pre-made graham cracker crust but who wants to pass up the opportunity to break out the culinary hammer and a ziplock.  Drizzle melted butter over the crumbs while mixing (4-8tbs) and then press into the bottom of a greased 9×9″ brownie pan.

In the meantime, make your box brownies as instructed (Caitlin adds some extra magic in the form of a dash of vanilla) and pour the brownies into the crust.

smore pie

Then, grab your mallows and push into the brownie mix leaving the top quarter or so exposed.  We used the really big mallows and it worked really well but I imagine minis would be delicious as well.
cooked smoresWe baked at 8000ft of elevation so you may have to experiment, but we baked according to box brownie instructions and removed them a little early using the darkness of the mallows as a guide.  

They came out gooey and the mallows had melted into the brownie batter – sinfully delicious s’more variation. Enjoy!

And thank you to Caitlin again for the post!

Radish Refrigerator Pickles

Radishes are so delicious especially in the summer and they flood the farmers market just begging to be saved for the winter.  The more pickles I make the more I value vegetables that don’t require too much pre-prep and have a brine that doubles as a salad dressing – these definitely fit the mold.

radish boiling

This is based off a Pinterest find that I tweaked after finding there was not quite enough liquid and to add a bit more spice to make the brine more flavorful as a salad dressing.

I grabbed 3 large bunches of radishes from the farmers market – cut the greens off and save for radish green pesto 

Cut radishes in quarters (halves if they are small) and mix with the salt in a large bowl and cover with ice. Set aside.

In a medium size pot bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil.

Rinse off radishes and add to liquid. Bring back to a boil and then remove from heat and add to jars.

You can sterilize and process the cans or throw them into the fridge – your choice.

So beautiful, so delicious!

radishes done

Ingredients:

3 radish bunches

1/4 c salt

2 c  Apple Cider Vinegar

3/4 c sugar

1.5 tsp Coriander Seeds Whole

1tsp Peppercorns

Pickle Update

 

The Pickles looked beautiful with local wild flowers at the wedding and guests are rolling in with the recipes now that they are digging in and cooking with them at home.

Pickle displayThis first pictures is of the Watermelon rinds, bread and butter, carrots and beets.

IMG_9223Here are the jalapenos, cherries and lemons next to our homemade cider and label design by Aaron’s lovely aunt.

Hopefully I will follow this post soon with some delicious recipes for consuming these delectable delicacies.