Thursday, February 26, 2009

a new twist on an old classic

The week before Reese's birthday, I watched a Valentine episode of Martha Stewart and she had a guest on the show making the cutest cookies I have ever seen! LoveBug cookies, which she decorated beautifully. As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to make them for Reese's birthday. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a ladybug cookie cutter anywhere, and I didn't have enough time to order one online. Instead, we improvised and used the same recipe to make princess cookies. We used candy-making squeeze bottles to decorate the cookies with royal icing and then embellished them with dragees and sprinkles. I had SO MUCH fun making these cookies!

When Reese woke up from her nap, she really wanted to help me decorate her cookies!

I was excited to try a new twist on a classic sugar cookie with these chocolate cookie cutouts and thought they were absolutely delicious! Here is what you'll need:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Sift flour, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon into a bowl.
  • Place butter and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Turn dough out onto a baking sheet lined with a nonstick baking mat. Form dough into a disk on baking mat and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
  • Lift baking mat from baking sheet. Roll out dough between baking mat and plastic wrap to 1/4 inch thick. Remove plastic wrap. Cut out cookies with a cookie cutter of your choice. Transfer baking mat to a baking sheet. Transfer baking sheet to freezer, freeze until very firm, about 15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove baking sheet from freezer and trim scraps. Re-roll scraps between a nonstick baking mat and plastic wrap and repeat process.
  • Bake cookies until crisp, about 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.
For the royal icing, beat together 1/4 cup meringue powder with 1/2 cup water until peaks form. Add 4 cups confectioners' sugar and continue mixing until smooth. If mixture seems too thick, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix until desired consistency is reached. If mixture seems too thin, add confectioners' sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.


I love this flat iron!

On our trip to Utah/Montana for Thanksgiving this past year, I misplaced my flat iron. This is very upsetting for a few reasons. Firstly, as I was packing for our trip, I debated whether or not to take my flat iron because I knew in Utah I could use my sister's straightener and in Montana I could use my Mom's. (And, now that I share a suitcase with Reese, I am all about packing light!) But, I packed my straightener anyway, thinking it would just be easier to have my own. For the entire two weeks I was gone, I didn't use my flat iron at all. And I am almost positive that I didn't even take it out of my suitcase. So, when I unpacked my bag when we got home and it was not there, you can imagine how upset I was. Ugh. I knew I shouldn't have packed it! I asked my sister, sister-in-law, and Mom to look at their houses to see if I had possibly left it there (even though I knew the chances were slim). To no avail. I'm fairly certain some TSA guard "forgot" to put the flat iron back in my bag after searching through my things. What else could have happened?!

Anyway, flat irons don't come cheap these days, especially not one you'd actually want to use on your hair. (Note: I admit. I am a hair snob. I lived with a hair stylist for a few years, what can I say?!) I have gone months without a flat iron--I'm not really sure what I was waiting for or when I would replace it...I was probably still hoping that mine would show up one of these days.

Today, on a routine trip to Costco, what should I see almost as soon as I walk in, but a mountain of Chi flat irons....and, it gets better...they were a third of the price you would pay at a salon! Oh, Happy Day! I was so excited, I almost got two! I wanted to call everyone I know to see if they are in need of a flat iron, but I thought this might be a more efficient way. So, if you live in the DC area and need a flat iron, get to the Pentagon City Costco! If you don't live around here and need one, and your Costco doesn't have them, let me know and I will run back for some more! (or maybe you could get them at

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Birthday Girl

Our baby girl turned one over the weekend! I can't believe how fast time flies. The poor thing had a fever for much of the weekend, but she perked right up when it was party time.

When we put her cake in front of her, Reese wasn't quite sure what she was supposed to do, but she did seem to love the "sprinkles"!

here Reese is carefully picking off the sprinkles and Jack is patiently waiting for Reese to share

Here is a shot of the spread. My mom and I had a fabulous weekend preparing for the party! We made lots of sugar cookies--one bunch with a valentine sugar cookie pan and one bunch of chocolate sugar cookies with a crown cookie cutter. My favorite part was decorating the cookies. My mom and I cracked up as we used the "dam and flood" technique of frosting the valentine cookies. My mom kept cracking jokes, like "I feel like a sixth grader!" (we were making a mess!) while I tried to keep a steady hand with my own cookies. Note: It is not easy to frost cookies while you are shaking with laughter. We also had snackie skewers for the kiddies: angel food cake with berries, rice krispie treats with apple slices, strawberries with chocolate drizzled marshmallows, and bananas covered in sprinkles.

These were my favorite part! Some of the crowns look a little rough, but they were so fun to frost!
Reese woke up the next day feeling much better. And when she saw a cupcake that had been left out from the day before, she had to have it. This cupcake was a slightly more manageable size for Reese, but again, all she wanted to do was pick off the sprinkles! I was hoping she might stuff it in her face, but she is a pretty neat eater, so no such luck.This looks like one happy birthday girl, on her first full day as a one-year-old!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

cabin fever

It has been a longer and colder winter than I've had in a long time! So, when we had a break from freezing temperatures today, we decided to take advantage of it by heading to the zoo! The weather was perfect! Reese loved hanging out with her friends, seeing the hippos and tigers and monkeys and elephants (we saw a lot of animals today!), and spending an afternoon outside, like the good ol' days of yesteryear.
I got to hold Matthew so his mommy could take a picture for Jessica and Sterling. I think Matthew might have a pound or two on little Reesie, even though she does have 4 months on him. A second before this shot was taken, they were holding hands. Doesn't Reese have a look on her face like she got caught with her hand in the cookie jar? Busted!

A woman after my own heart!

my little social butterfly
I guess I forgot to take lots of pictures of all the animals we saw. oopsies. But, I promise this is us at the zoo.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

I scream, you scream...

...Reese LOVES her ice cream!

"Mom, I'm eating ice cream here. Beat it."