lollipop & panda bear cookies

lollipop-panda-bear-cookies

My oldest son’s last day of preschool was this past Friday and I volunteered to provide the end of year treat. His class was loving called the Panda Bear class so I, naturally, wanted to make Panda Bear cookies. I had everything ready. I baked the lollipop cookies a day in advance and I had all my cookie decorations ready to go… or so I thought. Long story short, I fell asleep Thursday night while reading the boys a book and didn’t wake up until 12:30 a.m. {Oh yeah!}

After a large cup of coffee I pulled out all of my decorating supplies to find that the black icing I needed for my panda bear was in fact gel… it came out slimy! So plan B was quickly devised. I had just enough black icing to make one panda bear and the rest became lollipops. {This is precisely the reason you don’t promise anything specific when baking for these types of things!}

Okay, okay, so down to business. Both kinds of cookies started out the same way. I used the lollipop cookie pan from Wilton; just make sure your dough is only about half the size of the indention as the cookie will spread. And, make sure that your cookie is fairly thick so that your lollipop stick will hold the cookie up once it cools.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Can cream cheese or vanilla icing
  • Colorful sprinkles
  • Tube black writing icing (for the panda bear)
  • Mini Oreo cookies (for the panda bear ears)
  • Chocolate chips (one for each panda bear eye; use dairy free for kids with allergies)
  • Brown M&M (for the panda bear nose; use dollop of chocolate icing or leave off for kids with allergies)
  • Resealable (freezer weight) bag
  • #4 icing tip
  • Icing tip connectors (available in craft and baking stores)

And here are the easy steps:

  1. Snip the corner of your resealable bag, insert your connector and add on your icing tip.
  2. Place about two large spoonfuls of icing into the resealable bag and pipe an edge around each cookie. (Tip: Go slowly so that your icing clings to the edge of your cookie. Sometimes when they cool they’ll become concave.)
  3. Place about four large spoonfuls of icing in a microwave bowl and heat for 15-17 seconds. The icing will be a little soupy, but will pour easily into your cookie and will dry flat.
  4. Once your icing has set completely, at least one hour (less if refrigerated), you can decorate.
  5. For the lollipop, simply take your icing bag with the #4 connector and pipe a spiral on the top of your cookie. Immediately apply your crystal sprinkles.
  6. For the panda bear, pipe two dots and apply the Oreos as the ears. Next, using the black writing icing, draw the black eye area and the nose/mouth area (using the picture as a guide). Quickly apply the chocolate chip eyes and M&M nose.

As for packaging, make sure your cookies are allowed to dry for at least four to five hours before inserting them in clear cello bags and tying them with colorful ribbons.

My son’s class seemed to enjoy them and I hope you will too. Happy baking!

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creative pirate party ideas

pirate-birthday-party-invitations  

Aargh! If you’re looking for a modern twist on the ever so popular pirate party, you’ve come to the right place. Round up your crew and take a look at these:

The pirate ship invitations and pirate skull invitations are both our exclusive designs. And not only do we offer vibrant colors and personalization, we designed the back of our invitations too… plus we offer color envelopes all for as low as $22!  

The table décor is a blend of high quality paper product designers. We just loved the paper crepe placemats {I’ve used mine more than once!}, the red polka dot napkins, the red stripe plates and cups {running out of breath}… you get the picture! And of course we offer all of them in our shoppe.

The ship is a real wooden toy from Step 2, complete with five pirate figurines. {My sons love it and it’s quite sturdy.} And the pirate flag in the background can be created without sewing a stitch. Read our step-by-step instructions and watch a how to video!

And the pirate pop, well… that is my creation {blush}. Those who read me often know that my youngest son has severe food allergies. So when my oldest wanted a pirate party, I had to create something fun that didn’t have milk or egg in the recipe. The rice crispy treat is of course the perfect answer and then I just embellished it with my favorite cream cheese icing. Read all the details on how to pull this fabulous treat off for your little pirate.

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Valentine crispy messages

valentinecrispys Some of you may wonder why crispy treats. Why not sugar cookies? The simple answer is, I have a child that suffers from severe food allergies and crispy treats are an easy sweet to modify. So here goes. For this fun treat you’ll need:

ingredients:

  • 6 cups rice crispy cereal
  • 1 bag large marshmallows
  • 3 tsp butter (or vegan Smart Balance)
  • 1 can cream cheese icing
  • red food coloring

tools:

  • heart shaped cookie cutter (inch deep)
  • parchment paper
  • cooking spray
  • large spoon
  • resealable bags
  • icing connectors (NOTE: These are available at craft stores and are roughly 4 for $2)
  • #4 and #2 icing tips
  • toothpicks

valentinecrispies3 And here are the steps:

crispy treats:

  1. Melt butter and marshmallows over low heat.
  2. Lay out a piece of parchment paper and spray your heart cookie cutter with cooking spray so that your crispy cereal will release easily.
  3. Add your rice crispies to your marshmallows and butter and stir well. (Tip: Add the cereal a little at a time to ensure you don’t make them too dry.)
  4. Spray a large spoon with cooking spray and then scoop up the crispy cereal and mold it into your cookie cutter. Pack down the cereal mixture and set the newly formed heart to the side. Repeat until you’re out of mixture and allow them to cool for at least 15 minutes before icing.

 icing:

  1. Spoon out about a half of the icing into two bowls and tint it pink red (gel food coloring works best).
  2. Clip the corner of a resealable bag, insert the bottom of a connector, and add 3 large spoons of icing into the bag. Place the #4 tip on the outside, secure the top of the connector and pipe an outline on the heart.
  3. Microwave the remaining red icing in the bowl for 10 to 15 seconds until dripping but not soupy.
  4. Slowly spoon or pour red icing into the heart area and smooth it in with a toothpick. Doing this quickly will produce a smooth surface once the icing dries.
  5. Allow the icing to set for at least five minutes.
  6. Taking a second resealable bag, clip a corner, insert the bottom of a connector, spoon in the pink icing, attach the #2 tip and the top of the connector, and pipe your lettering.
  7. Set your crispies aside and allow them to harden for several hours before packaging. 

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batter up baseball cupcakes

baseball_cupcakes Okay, so I’m loving KraftFoods.com this week, but I had to share this idea too. These are super easy and a great addition to any baseball themed birthday. Or, better yet, just a great treat to take to the ball field this spring.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pkg. white cake mix (and required additional ingredients)
  • 10 OREO Cookies, crushed
  • 2 cups thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping or can white icing
  • Tube red decorating gel
  • White muffin cups

And here’s how you make it:

  1. Prepare the cake batter as directed on the package and stir in cookie crumbs; spoon evenly into 24 paper-lined medium muffin cups. (NOTE: To make these egg and dairy free, use puree apricots, two halves to one egg, in the place of the egg and ice with dairy free can frosting.)
  2. Bake and allow cupcakes to cool completely.
  3. Frost cupcakes with the whipped topping (requires storing the finished cupcake in the refrigerator). Or, if you decide to use regular icing, heat it in 15 second intervals in a glass bowl in the microwave and dip your cupcakes allowing the excess icing to drip off before setting them aside to cool. Use the decorating gel to draw stitching lines on top of each cupcake to resemble a baseball.

Happy baking!

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owl cupcakes

Owl cupcakes These owls were so much fun to make and easy enough for little helpers. Here’s what you need:

  • Brownie mix (we used puree apricots in the place of egg and filled the cups ¾ full)
  • Oreo cookies
  • M&Ms (replace with Skittles for egg and dairy free)
  • Cashews
  • Chocolate sprinkles
  • Cream cheese icing

While your brownie cupcakes are cooling, tint your cream cheese icing orange and divide your Oreo cookies (we removed the white filling, but you could leave it). Next, ice each cupcake, apply your cookies face up, sprinkle the top of the cupcake with chocolate sprinkles to resemble feathers and add the cashew as the hooked nose. Finally, using a toothpick, place a small amount of icing on the back of the M&Ms and apply as the owls eyes.

(Tip: Oreos tend to get soggy when not kept in airtight containers. Plan to ice and decorate within an hour or two of serving.)

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pumpkin crispy treats

Pumpkin Crispy Treats

You’ll likely notice that I use a lot of crispy cereal to make goodies (e.g., Pirate Pops). Since my youngest son has severe food allergies, they have proven to be a fun way to include him in all the fun party treats and the guests don’t even realize (or care) that the treats are egg and dairy free. I’ve outlined the easy steps on how to make these fun goodies for your Halloween bash.

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witch brooms

witch brooms This was my second experiment of the weekend and it also turned out well. It’s really simple and once again can be made egg and dairy free for the little ones with food allergies simply by using dairy free chocolate.

Ingredients:

  • Pretzels, small sticks (Tip: Look at your local brands, you want the thinnest pretzel stick you can find so that the chocolate holds it together easily)
  • Melting chocolate (I used Wilton’s orange candy mold chocolate; it melts easily with no clumps)
  • Decorating sugars

Tools:

  • Wax paper
  • Tie wrap
  • Resealable bag

Steps:

  • Taking 10 pretzels, tap them flat so that they are all the same length and then place a tie wrap about a 1/3 of the way down (I left one on in the picture for reference)
  • With your hand, gently turn the bottom of the pretzels to give them a fan effect so that they will stand on their own
  • Place about 4-5 chocolate blocks in a resealable bag. Heat it in the microwave for no more than 15 seconds at a time, massaging between, until you have a smooth chocolate to work with
  • Snip the corner, no more than a 1/8 inch, of your bag and pipe a dollop on the top of the pretzels. Allow it to set for a moment and then apply one pretzel stick as the handle. You may need to pipe a little extra chocolate on top so that the bottom of the stem is covered
  • Hold the handle with your finger for about 10 seconds and then it should stand on its own while it dries (Tip: You want your chocolate warm, but not hot, when you apply the handle, otherwise you’ll have to hold it much longer.)
  • Embellish with sprinkles immediately before the chocolate hardens
  • After the broom has been allowed to dry for at least 15 to 20 minutes, you can pick it up, remove the tie wrap and pipe on an icing band as decoration

Tip: Store your brooms in an air tight container if you’re not serving them immediately, otherwise your pretzels will get stale.

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crispy pirate pops

100_3614

My oldest is celebrating his fourth birthday this week and we’re hosting a swashbuckling pirate party. I thought I would share a few of the baking ideas I’ve got cooking.

The first is a crispy pirate pop. These will not only be in the goody baskets we’re giving to his buddies, we’re also taking them to his preschool class on Friday. Here are the ingredients, a tools list and simple steps on how to make them for your matey!

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princess pops

Princess Pops Playing around in the kitchen this weekend we made princess pops: Oreos dipped in pink chocolate, embellished with a crown outline and packaged in clear cello bags with pink ribbon. These could be a great treat for goody bags or add a name tag and use as your placecard. Here’s how you can make some for your princess.

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