Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Freaky Fungus!

 At the beginning of the school year I told my 4th graders that I love making fun things with food!  Since that day they have been asking and begging for me do to bring something in.  I decided Halloween was the perfect opportunity since we always have a classroom party.  I needed something fun that wasn't just your average cupcake, because these kids were expecting something really cool.

I had seen at Target a creepy Petri-dish Jello set, however it looked really phoney.  It had large gummy spiders and other large gummy things that you would not normally find under a microscope.  This wasn't going to work if I wanted to blow these kids away.  So I decided to start researching how to make the Petri dishes look more realistic.  I started by ordering Petri-dishes off of  Once they arrived I got to work.  I bought strawberry sugar-free jello (I find that it tastes the same as regular, and these students will have plenty of sugary cupcakes, cookies, and candy!, and went through my collection of sprinkles.  I tried several different kind I came to the conclusion that black non-perils dissolve the best and really look like mold... Perfect!

The next trick was to make enough for the whole 4th grade!  

  • Plastic Petri-dishes
  • Any red sugar-free Jello (one box makes about 25 dishes)
  • sour gummy worms
  • black non peril sprinkles

  • Rinse out and air dry Petri-dishes
  • Make jello according to package
  • Lay out dishes on a cookie sheet or wire rack and fill
  • Gently shake sprinkles into dishes, do not over do it.  They will dissolve to look like mold, and if you have to many it just look like a black blob
  • Let sit in fridge until solid.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve

 My students went crazy for them!  Hope yours do too!  

Monday, October 15, 2012

Easter in October!

I was looking in my refrigerator and noticed I needed to use my eggs before they went bad so I decided to hard boil them.  While they were cooking I remembered a picture I had seen of Easter eggs that looked like dragon eggs because there were a crackled green color.  I thought to myself, well it is Halloween, and Dragon Deviled Eggs" would be a perfect treat!

  • Eggs
  • Red and green food coloring
  • 1 cup distilled vinegar
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp sweet relish
  • 2 Tbsp mustard
  • garlic salt, pepper, and onion powder to taste

Hard Boiled Egg Directions:
  • Place one layer of eggs to a large saucepan, do NOT over crowd the eggs.
  • Add water (just enough to over the eggs)
  • On high heat bring water to a boil
  • Take the eggs off the heat once water starts to boil and cover.  Let sit covered for ten minutes
  • Transfer eggs gently to a bowl of ice water, leave eggs in the water until they have cooled.
Once the eggs were done cooling I gently rolled each one on a cutting board to crack the shells.  This way the food coloring will penetrate the shell and leave a crackled pattern on the egg white. I pulled out my green and red food coloring, distilled vinegar, and got to work.  

Directions for Dying the Eggs:
  • Mix 20 drops of green food coloring with 5 drops of red, a cup of vinegar, and 2 cups of water all together in a class bowl.  
  • Add eggs.  Make sure eggs are completely covered in the dye mixture, rotate occasionally, and leave over night.
 (Matt thought these looked like rotten avocados!)
  • Under running water gently take the skin off the eggs. They will look like this:

  • Cut eggs in half with a paring knife and scoop out the yolk.
  • Mix yolk and last 5 ingredients on a bowl.  Combine completely
  • Spoon the yolk mixture back into each egg and put the two halves back together letting a little of the yolk squish out for effect.

This is a super fun and easy project to do with kids in the kitchen!  Who doesn't love a good Dragon Deviled Egg!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

October is here!!!

It is finally October! Which just happens to be one of my favorite months of the year! Why, you might ask... well that is because there are so many crazy fun things you can do with food in October.  To celebrate, all the posts this month will be Halloween related.  Hope you are as excited as I am!

To start October off right, I will show you one of the first Halloween meals I made.  This was the beginning of my obsession with Halloween food.

Halloween happened to fall in the middle of the week and we both had to be up in the morning, but I wanted to do something fun.  I decided to create the perfect dinner; spooky and fun all in one!

Graveyard Meatloaf and Brainy Cottage Cheese 

  • Stouffers Family Pack of Mini Meatloafs (You can make your own meatloaf if you want, but I told you I am all about semi-homemade)
  • Mashed Potatoes (I used the instant box...Don't judge, I was a college student at the time!)
  • Cottage Cheese
  • 1 package of Raspberries
  • Red and Green Food Coloring
  • Make Meatloaf and mashed potatoes according to package
  • Separate mashed potatoes into two bowls.  Leave one bowl white and color the color green for grass
  • Put the green mashed potatoes on the plate and add two mini meatloaves on top to look like graves
  • Pipe the white mashed potatoes on top of the "graves" to give an image of ghosts. I used food coloring for eyes
  • Tint the cottage cheese red, and garnish with red raspberries 
  • Serve and Enjoy!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

To a Sweet New Year!

I always look forward to family gatherings.  One because I enjoy spending time with everyone, and two because it gives me an excuse to create something fun! Not that I really need one.... I love to cook and create!

This particular family get together was to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.  To usher in a "sweet" new year you typically eat a sweet tasting meal.  Some of the more popular items include pomegranates, honey cake, and apples dipped in honey.  I have never been a big fan of honey cake, but I wanted to make something symbolic.  Then it dawned on me, I can make honey cookies! And for a touch of fun I used my cookie cutter to shape them like apples!  I even used red, yellow, and green food coloring for an authentic apple coloring.  Look at that, honey cake and apples dipped in honey all in one!

I modified my sugar cookie recipe to incorporate the honey.  (I must say, after the reviews I received, I might just use this recipe for all my sugar cookies!)

  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk 
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 
  • red, green, and yellow food coloring
  • apple cookie cutter
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line cookie sheet with parchment paper
  • In a large bowl, beat together butter, white sugar, honey, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.
  • Add egg and egg yolk until mixed completely
  • In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, corn starch, salt, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a little at a time.  Mix until dough is thoroughly combined.
  • Separate dough into three small bowls and add food coloring.  Wrap each batch in plastic wrap and let sit in fridge for at least an hour.
  • Roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper until 1/4 inch thick.  
  • Use an apple shaped cookie cutter and transfer shapes to cookie sheet. Let set in the fridge for about 10 minutes.  This insures the shapes integrity.
  • Bake for 10-11 min until edges are slightly brown.  Allow to cool completely before enjoying!

These cookies are not only great to ring in the New Year but they are also a fun and tasty fall treat!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Birthday Celebration Pt. 1


I decided I wanted to do something extra special for my two best friends birthdays this year. The three of us have been friends for 20+ years.  We have been through everything together; daisies, gymnastics, school, theater, etc.  Being the creative person I am, I knew it couldn't be that hard.  

Lets start with Tiffany.  She has had a Dr. Pepper obsession for as long as I can remember!  So when I came across a Dr Pepper cake recipe on Pinterest I couldn't contain my excitement.  This was the perfect birthday gift.  One snag... she lives in Chicago. Hmmm.....

I had to brainstorm how to get this cake to her.  Mail it?  I guess, but it might fall apart in the mail and the frosting will never survive.  CRAP!  Now What?

The recipe on Pinterest was way to elaborate for my "the simpler the better" motto, but I remembered my cousin telling me once that if you use a box cake mix and a can of soda you can omit the eggs and oil that the mix calls for.  Perfect!  Now the cake wont spoil over night and I will not have to freeze it.  Now the problem of the frosting.  The cake should already be sweet due to the soda, so a glaze should complement it nicely and ship very easily in tupperware.  

Now that I have my game plan.... lets start baking!

Ingredients for the cake:
  • Cake Mix
  • 12 ounces Dr. Pepper
  • allspice (to taste)
  • cinnamon (to taste)

Directions for cake:
  • In a large bowl combine cake mix and 12 ounces of Dr. Pepper. 
  • Start by adding about a 1/2 teaspoon of each, allspice and cinnamon.  Mix till there are no lumps in the batter.  (Hint: The spices really add to the Dr. Pepper flavoring)  Add more of the spices if needed.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 min.  Check if done by sticking a toothpick in the center and having it come out clean.
  • Once done let cool.

Ingredients for the glaze:
  • 4 ounces of Dr Pepper
  • 2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp caramel
  • allspice (to taste)
  • cinnamon (to taste)
Directions for glaze:
  • In a small pot pour 4 ounces of Dr. Pepper and spices.  Let it start to simmer
  • Add caramel and whisk together
  • Slowly add powdered sugar a little at a time while continually whisking the mixture.  The mixture will thicken a little. (Hint: You may not need all the powdered sugar, add to your taste preference.)
  • Let cool

For the finished product, drizzle the glaze in any design you desire and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Now to ship the cake to Chicago!  I baked the cake in a tinfoil cake pan so that it could be shipped right in the pan.  It would help keep the integrity of the cake shape during the shipping process.  Once the cake cooled  completely I wrapped it very tightly in tinfoil and in clear plastic wrap.  Once the glaze cooled completely I poured it into a small Tupperware container and wrapped it tightly in clear plastic wrap. I secured the two packages with zip lock bags blown up to act as air pocket cushions.

Tiff obviously loved it since she sent me a picture of it half eaten! Mission Accomplished!

Make sure to tune in next week for Nicole's Birthday present!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Off to School We Go...

As I was setting up my classroom and sharpening all those #2 pencils for the upcoming school year, I came up with a clever cookie idea:
Sugar Cookie Pencils! 

It doesn't matter how old you are, going back to school or office supply shopping is always fun and nostalgic.  I mean who can resist buying new pens, pencils, notebooks, Post It notes, etc.  Definitely not me!  Well this recipe is going to make your shopping trip even sweeter and more memorable.

  • 2 cup soft unsalted butter
  • 3 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbs Butter Extract
  • 6 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • white frosting (any flavor is fine)
  • yellow Sugar
  • 1 bag each of pink and black Candy Melts
  • Cream together butter and sugar til light and fluffy
  • Add eggs, vanilla extract, and butter extract, mix
  • Add dry ingredients.  Mix til thoroughly combined... but do not over mix
  • Wrap in plastic and let sit in refrigerator for at least 3 hours 
  • When ready to make the cookies slightly roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper to soften it. Do not roll too flat.
  • Pull off small balls of dough and roll into long cylinder tubes about 1/4 in diameter.  Pinch the tips to look like points. See below:
  • Once the "pencils" are formed, let sit in the fridge for at least ten minutes to firm
  • Bakes at 350 degrees for 10-12 min, let cool
  • Frost cookies with a white frosting and roll in yellow sugar ........ (Hint: Only frost a few at a time so the frosting does not harden.  If it hardens the sugar will not stick as well.)
  • Melt pink Candy Melts in microwave safe bowl and gently paint the melted candy on the flat side to create an eraser.  (I used a butter knife because it had a nice flat edge.)

  • Finally, melt the black Candy Melts in a plastic piping bag. (Hint: Plastic bag works too.)  Pipe two thin black lines to separate the eraser from the wood and pipe a black tip on the point to create the look of lead.  Feel free to add any other embellishment you would like.  I chose to draw a small black line to look like it says "no. 2."
What student wouldn't want to start off the new school year with a few freshly sharpened "Sugar Cookie" Pencils? Now go make this school year extra special!

Monday, August 13, 2012

All Good Things Must Come to an End...

 Summer seems to go by faster and faster each year.  Not that I can complain, many people do not have a career where they get to enjoy a true summer vacation like I do.  Just one of the many perks of being a teacher!

In honor of summer coming to an end, I thought I would post my: 

'Gummy Bear Beach Party Cupcakes'

I made these cupcakes for a weekend at my friends beach house.  Don't worry, I made mini cupcakes!  No one wants to eat too many sweets when they are in a bikini!  

  • Betty Crocker Chocolate Cake Mix
  • 1 cup sugar free chocolate pudding
  • 1 can of vanilla frosting
  • blue food coloring
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 large bag of gummy bears
  • box of cocktail umbrellas
  • one quart size zip-lock bag 
  • wax paper
1.      Bake cupcakes according to box adding cup of sugar free pudding to the batter.  This insures the cupcakes stay moist. 
2.      While the cupcakes are baking, mix blue food coloring into frosting one drop at a time until you get your desired shade of blue. (Hint: Do NOT over mix.  It looks best with ribbons of white and dark blue mixed in.)  At the same time, mix the brown sugar and the white sugar in a zip-lock bag for a beach colored sand effect.
3.      Frost the tops of each cupcake with the blue frosting.  Create peaks with the tip of the knife to give a wave effect
4.      Tear a small piece of wax paper as shown below and cover half the cupcake. The uneven tear helps to create a crooked line for the sand.

5.      Dust the sugar mixture on the uncovered half of the frosting.
6.      Add gummy bears to the top of the cupcakes.  Make them look like they are laying in the “sand” and playing in the “water.” (Hint: You can also use Teddy Grahams.)
7.      For a final touch, add the cocktail umbrellas!

      Feel free to embellish your "beach party" as much as you want.  You can even add fruit loops and sour belts for rafts.  Now go enjoy my cupcakes and soak up the last bits of summer while you can!