Sunday, December 30, 2012

Simon's Portrait

Well, we are winding down the holiday season! Here's a great portrait of Simon drawn by my young friend, Vivian. I think she captured his true self - smacking his lips after eating some forbidden holiday cake!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Tree Cupcakes

Merry Christmas!

I made these cupcakes for a friend over the weekend. They are plain chocolate cupcakes with vanilla wiss buttercream frosting. You could use another frosting, of course, but make sure it is not too soft or your trees will slouch and look all lumpy.

First I made the snow by piping a ring of white frosting around the edges of the cupcake and dipping it in white nonpareil sprinkles. You could use coconut instead. Don't worry if it's lumpy. It just adds to the "snowbank" effect.

Next, using a star tip, pipe the tree by piling the green frosting in a tight circle. Decorate your tree using whatever strikes your fancy. I used more nonpareils, some snowflake sprinkles, some beautiful edible gold star sprinkles and a blue ball on top.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Holiday Decorations - Minneapolis and Saint Paul

Nicollet Mall & Sixth Street

The view from my bus stop - 6th St & Nicollet Mall

Rice Park in Saint Paul - View of the Landmark Center

Decorations in Rice Park

Rice Park - the lights are to call attention to a night of live music at the skating rink at the Landmark Center.

Decorations in Rice Park

Decorations in Rice Park
Decorations on the Lawson building - 5th Street and St. Peter in St. Paul.

Christmas Cookies

Add caption
 Traditionally, my family decorates peanut butter cookies for Christmas. I don't know why we don't decorate sugar cookies; I guess I should ask my mom :)

For these cookies, use the full-fat, salty peanut butter like Jif or Skippy. Natural peanut butter or low-salt will not work well. You may need to add some flour while rolling out the dough. We decorate with a simple buttercream (butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt beaten together).

Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 cups flour

  1. Cream together peanut butter, butter and sugars.
  2. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla.
  3. Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add to wet mixture until well-combined.
  4. Refrigerate dough for atleast an hour before rolling out.
  5. Roll out dough about 1/4 inch thick and cut shapes. Bake at 350F until edges of cookies are browned.

Some of these cookies are upside down. Can you spot a snowman and a Christmas tree? How about a psychedelic flower?

My sister made this fox from a star cookie!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Easy Ginger Cookies

I made these chewy cookies last week - on a weeknight! That's how easy these come together. Normally, I don't do a ton of baking during the week because I have very limited time after work (and enjoy my beauty sleep). What's great about these cookies is that, unlike a lot of cookie recipes, the dough does not need to be refrigerated before baking.  I modified the recipe at the link below by adding a teaspoon of ground ginger, reducing the nutmeg to 1/4 teaspoon and rolling the dough in turbinado sugar instead of regular white sugar. I love the crunch of the turbinado! These cookies keep quite well for several days as long as you keep them in an airtight container.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Recycled Paper Snowflakes

Did you make paper snowflakes when you were a kid? I don't really remember making them but I'm pretty sure we only had those crappy safety scissors with rounded tips (except my mom's sewing scissors which were absolutely off limits, as I recall). Anywho, every time I've tried to make them as an adult they've never really turned out right.

I decided to give it another whirl this year and made these snowflakes out of old magazines. I have LOTS of old magazines and might have a slight magazine-hoarding problem. I have issues (get it? "issues"!). I made four snowflakes from each page and strung them on embroidery floss. These are very simple to make but take time. You can make them while watching tv!

If you need a little help, here's a link with some snowflake patterns:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Winter Cupcake Decoration

I saw this idea on Pinterest and couldn't wait to try it out. It's very easy and you don't need expert piping skills to pull it off. What do you think?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Decorations Downtown Minneapolis

Gaviidae Commons

Downtown Target Atrium

Lobby of the Wells Fargo building
US Bank Building - live music in the lobby

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Orange Cranberry Cake

Cranberries are in the stores! I grew up in Cranberry Land (aka southeastern Massachusetts) so cranberries are a required ingredient for the holidays. I often buy a bag with no real purpose in mind. They never go to waste!

I made this dense cranberry cake (a coffe cake type of cake) for a brunch that I hosted. It was delicious - not too sweet and plenty moist, with a crunchy sugar coating baked on top. The only changes I made to the recipe in the link below is that I added a teaspoon of almond extract and added about a quarter cup of additonal sugar to the batter.

Here is my rescue reindeer (found at a creepy estate sale, with no nose or antlers, and purchased for a quarter) having a taste. He gives it the North Pole Lick of Approval.