Valentine crispy messages

valentinecrispysSome 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

valentinecrispies3And 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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cupid’s treat cup

cupidscupI ran across these on KraftFoods.com, one of my favorite sites for easy recipes, and just had to share because they are soooo darn cute.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 square BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted
  • 2 cups boiling water, divided
  • 2 pkg. (3 oz. each) JELL-O Strawberry Flavor Gelatin
  • 1-1/2 cups cold water, divided
  • Ice cubes
  • 1 cup thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping
  • Decorations: assorted Valentine sprinkles and candies

And here’s how you make it:

  1. Draw a heart design or write a Valentine’s Day message in each of 8 (6-oz.) clear plastic cups by piping chocolate onto insides of cups. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm.
  2. Add 1 cup boiling water to 1 pkg. gelatin mix in medium bowl; stir 2 min. until completely dissolved. Stir in 1 cup cold water; pour into cups. Refrigerate 1 hour or until gelatin is firm.
  3. Meanwhile, add remaining boiling water to remaining gelatin mix; stir 2 min. until completely dissolved. Add enough ice to remaining cold water to measure 1 cup. Add to gelatin; stir until thickened. Stir in COOL WHIP; spoon over gelatin layer in cups. Refrigerate 3 hours or until firm. Decorate as desired.

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Valentine cookies: flooding fun

redheartValentine’s Day is on our doorstep and wouldn’t it be fun to flood beautiful cookies for your kids to take to school with their Valentine cards? Yes, you could go and get some from the grocery, but if you want some great tips on how to be the envy of the other moms, read on.

Icing – First of all, you have to have the right type of icing: royal icing. Don’t let the name scare you, it’s just one pound of confectioner’s sugar, five tablespoons of meringue powder, a half cup of water (or less) and gel-paste food coloring (available at most bakery and craft stores; the food coloring in grocery stores is usually very watery taking more of it to achieve the color you want). You’ll need to mix the icing until it’s fluffy, yet dense, about seven to eight minutes. Then you’ll need to use the icing immediately or transfer it to an airtight container.

Coloring – Separate your icing into the number of colors you need for your project. Then color your icing one drop of gel at a time. It’s a lot stronger than you might think. Once all the icing is the colors you need, separate them again so that you can thin one half for flooding. With your second set, thin each color with one teaspoon of water at a time. Often, one teaspoon is all it takes depending on how many times you’ve separated your icing. Now you have thick and thin versions of all the colors you need.

Tools – Trim one corner of a resealable bag and insert a #3 icing tip with a connector. Repeat this process for each of your colors (thin and thick). Then spoon each into a bag. (I always mark the thin bags so I don’t accidentally ruin a cookie by trying to trim it with the thin icing.)

Flooding technique – Now that your icing is prepped, take a cooled sugar cookie and pipe an outline around the shape. Allow it to set for 10 to 15 seconds and then you can flood the cookie with the thinner version of the color. While the flooded color is still wet, you can add a different thinned color to make polka dots or other designs. Doing it quickly will allow the second color to settle into the flooded color and dry flat. Allow the flooded colors to set for several minutes before adding any additional piping or layers to your design.

Okay, now that you’ve read the basics, here’s how you create the red heart cookies shown:

  1. Pipe red icing using a #3 tip around the outer edge of a cooled sugar cookie.
  2. Allow the icing to set for at least 10-15 seconds.
  3. Pipe the thinner red icing into the center of the cookie and spread it out to the corners with a toothpick.
  4. Allow the cookie to set for at least 4-5 minutes and then pipe red zigzags on the cookie using the #3 tip again.
  5. Allow the cookie to set for at least a half hour before packaging.   

 Happy baking everyone!

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simple chocolate transfer

chocolatetransferChocolate transfer is another one of those techniques that can appear difficult when in reality it is very easy. Today’s post is just the basics, but I’ll follow-up with more complex ideas very soon.

So, for an easy chocolate heart to top your Valentine cupcakes, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Chocolate wafers (the right type of chocolate is essential, not all chocolate is equal when melted)
  • Wax paper
  • Heart stencil
  • Resealable plastic bag
  • Double boiler (or microwave if you’re very careful and only heat in 8-10 second intervals massaging the chocolate between heating)

And here are the easy steps:

  1. Lay your stencils under wax paper so that you have a guide while piping.
  2. Melt your chocolate and insert it into a resealable plastic bag.
  3. Snip one corner about a ¼ inch and pipe the chocolate over the stencil in one motion per side. If you stop and start your heart won’t be smooth.
  4. Allow the chocolate to set for at least 3-4 minutes.
  5. Carefully peel the heart from the wax paper and apply it to your cupcake.

I know, simple!

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Valentine mailbox

Valentine mailboxThese Valentine mailboxes are so adorable from my friend at currentlycrafting.com. She found the boxes for $1 at Target and then simply embellished them with beautiful craft papers. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • small mailbox
  • scrapbook paper
  • mod podge
  • sponge mod podge applicator and paintbrush
  • chipboard letters
  • fine sandpaper

For all the how to details and more pictures, check out her post at currentlycrafting.com.

And remember, we would love to see and maybe share your ideas. Send us an e-mail at ideas@celebrationshoppe.com.

Happy crafting!

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cookie decorating frenzy

Gingerbread houseWe hosted our annual cookie decorating party yesterday and I have to say it was a hit. Not only did the kids have fun with the sprinkles, but the moms got to catch up over a glass of wine. In the end I think Santa will be quite pleased with his assortment and the creativity that went into his goodies on Christmas Eve. Was wonderful seeing you girls!

And for those of you who are a little more serious when it comes to decorating for Santa, check out how to make a beautifully shaped cookie and flood it with icing.

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goodies as gifts

Peppermint barkSo how many of you can go the season without a little peppermint bark? When I was in corporate America we would get huge tins of it from vendors, so believe me… my family has eaten their weight in it over the years. So when I thought of giving gifts “from the heart” and from the kitchen this year, I thought of peppermint bark. Here are the ingredients from MarthaStewart.com: (This makes about 2 ¼ lbs.)

  • 2 pounds white chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 12 large candy canes
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint oil

And easy steps:

  1. Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet with parchment, and set aside.
  2. In the top of a double boiler, melt white chocolate, stirring constantly.
  3. With a chef’s knife or meat tenderizer, cut or pound candy canes into 1/4-inch pieces.
  4. Stir pieces of candy canes and peppermint oil into the melted chocolate. Remove from heat, and pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet; spread evenly. Chill until firm, 25 to 30 minutes. Break into pieces, and serve. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

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Riverbirch branch chandelier

Christmas chandelierI saw this in a Pottery Barn magazine and just had to figure out how to do it. It’s actually a good deal easier than you might imagine. You just have to be willing to screw a few holes in the ceiling. (Your hubby can patch them later.) So here it is. You’ll need:

  • Riverbirch tree branches (these trees are naturally white), or regular tree branches and some white spray paint
  • 8 eyehooks
  • Heavy duty fishing line
  • Christmas ornaments with ribbon
  • Wood glue

Steps:

  1. Arrange your branches and glue them to one another using strong wood glue (you don’t want anything crashing down on your holiday festivities).
  2. Once you’ve allowed the branches to dry (overnight), drill or screw four eyehooks into the corners of your newly formed chandelier.
  3. Next tie the fishing line (be careful of the length, you don’t want to try and measure after your hubby is holding this thing up in the air) to the eyebolts.
  4. Tie on your ornaments with festive ribbon.
  5. Now it’s time for putting the holes in the ceiling; no worries, a little caulk will take care of it after Christmas.
  6. Finally there is the lift and tying the fishing line to the eyebolts in the ceiling.

Stand back and marvel at your beautiful handmade and eco-friendly chandelier. Happy Holidays!!

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simple setting

Christmas SettingsPlace settings don’t always have to be complicated and sometimes the less so the better, especially during the holidays when there is so much to do. Here are a few ideas:

  • Ornament
  • Candy cane
  • Ribbon
  • Holly

Post a comment and share your simple setting ideas for Christmas.

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light up your Christmas cookies

Christmas Light Cookies

These cookies would brighten any holiday gathering (from brightideas.com) and little hands can help decorate them. Here’s what you’ll need and how to make them:

  • 4 cups M&M’S
  • 1 18 oz. roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 16 oz. can vanilla frosting
  • 1 14 oz. package red licorice laces
  • Resealable plastic bags
  • Drinking straw
  • Christmas light shaped cookie cutter

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Knead the flour into the cookie dough until smooth.
  3. Roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. By hand, or using a Christmas light cookie cutter, cut out shapes.
  4. With a spatula, gently transfer the cookies to a baking sheet. Using a drinking straw, press a hole at the top of each cookie and place them in the frig for 5-10 minutes. (Chilled cookie dough keeps its form during baking.)
  5. Bake for 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  6. Separate different colors of M&M’S, and set aside.
  7. Spread vanilla frosting on top of each cookie. Arrange a solid color of M&M’S on top of each cookie.
  8. Let the cookies dry for 30 minutes. Run licorice laces through each hole, connecting the cookies into one continuous strand.

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