Sunday, May 22, 2011

Graduation Cupcakes

My best friend's sister graduates from Law School at Elon University today. Friday John and I were invited to a cookout to celebrate with Jen and her family. I searched and searched for some simple, cute, and sweet cookies to take to the cookout, and I stumbled these graduation cap cupcakes. They were super easy to make!!

Step 1: Make your cupcakes.
I started by making chocolate fudge cupcakes with butter cream icing. I found the cake mix at Harris Teeter, doctored it up a little (that's my secret), and made some homemade buttercream icing to go on the cupcakes.

Step 2: Make your graduation caps.
You will need:

And some icing. I used royal icing but you could probably use some leftover buttercream icing from your cupcakes. ** Freeze your chocolate before you start building. I didn't do this and the chocolate started to melt as I was handling it. **

Start by flipping a Reese's upside down. Add a dollop of icing on the top. 
Then place one chocolate bar on top. Don't press down too firmly or else it will break. Let it dry for about 30 minutes. 
Next, it is time to add the tassel. I made some "gold" royal icing for the tassel to match Elon's colors. I used a #3 Wilton tip to create the tassel. If you do not have these materials at home, you could easily grab a can of pre-made decorating icing at a local grocery story. Start in the middle of the cap and add a thin line of icing that barely hangs off of the side of the cap. Then add a small dot in the middle of the cap. 

After letting the graduation caps dry for another 15-20 minutes you can add them on top of the cupcakes. 

The cupcakes were a hit at the party! Everyone was so excited that the graduation cap decorations were edible. I would definitely recommend making these for your next graduation party! 
Congratulations Jen!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


A month or so ago John and I bought 4 tickets from Living Social to see the Carolina Mudcats. Unfortunately, we have been too busy to go. Last night we finally got around to planning a baseball date with Sarah and Ford next Wednesday and I couldn't be more excited!! Since I don't have any baking to do until later this week I found my cookie inspiration tonight from our upcoming baseball game. 


On Friday I will be going to a cookout to celebrate Jen's graduation from law school and I wanted to bring something creative for my dish. Check back later this week to learn an easy way to create graduation caps out of household candy!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nurses Appreciation Week

Last week was Nurses Appreciation Week, and although we should always be appreciative and thank our nurses for what they do, this is the time to go above and beyond to show our appreciation. My sister-in-law is a PA here in Raleigh, NC and loves her nurses. She always comes up with the cutest ideas for little gifts for her nurses throughout the holidays. This year during nurses appreciation week she asked me to make some cookies for her office. I felt so honored! 

Baking these cookies was so much fun but also a little challenging. Most of the time when I bake I have cookie cutters to help me shape the cookies, but not this time. I searched everywhere for cookie cutters that were doctor/nurse related and I had no luck. Therefore, I had to shape the cookies myself. I did use a round cookie cutter to help with some of the circles, but just used a regular butter knife to shape the rest of the cookies.

I think someone needs to open up a cookie cutter store here in Raleigh!!!! OR if you know of a place that has a variety of cookie cutters please let me know!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

A couple of months ago I got the bright idea (from a Southern Living magazine) that I wanted to grow some strawberries. Unfortunately, I never got around to planting them. Next year, right? Well, since I couldn't grow my own strawberries this year I thought I would plan a double date with the Bakers to go strawberry pickin' at a local strawberry patch. Everyone had a blast, even our husbands!!

I wanted to try something a little creative with the strawberries so I searched and searched and found a recipe for strawberry shortcake cookies.
2 cups of diced strawberries
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter cut into small pieces
2/3 cup heavy cream
sanding sugar for sprinkling

1. Heat your oven to 375 degrees. 
2. Mix strawberries, lemon juice, and 1 tbsp of sugar.
3. In a separate bowl whisk the flour, salt, butter, and remaining sugar. Stir in the cream until the dough starts coming together. Stir in the strawberry mix until combined.
4. I use an ice cream scoop to drop the dough onto the baking pan. It seems to come out easily and it makes the perfect size cookie. Sprinkle sanding sugar on the tops of the cookies.
5. Bake the cookies for about 20-24 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Polka Dots

This is my first week of no graduate school (woo hoo), so my best friend, Sarah, and I decided to start up our weekly date nights again. We went out for Kanki (Japanese) and then did a little shopping. I had been asking her to make me some of these SUPER CUTE magnets for my whiteboard at school (see the Zesty Baker to get yours!) and she has been wanting some monogrammed cookies, so we decided it would be the perfect night to exchange orders!

 ** Flooding tip **

 When flooding cookies I use Wilton bottles (shown below).  I always cut the tips a little more to help the icing flow better. I got mine at Michaels but I have also seen them at walmart, as well as, online (amazon). They are super cheap!

 To get the polka dot look I start by flooding  my cookie like normal. (See below).
Then I immediately take the other color (white) and squirt small droplets into the icing. At first it was hard to get the dots the same size but it started to get easier after a little practice.  :) After letting the icing dry for a couple of hours, I used black royal icing to pipe on the monogram. 

Hope they are tasty, Sarah!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Bittersweet Goodbyes

Friday was a bittersweet day for us at school -- a vital member of our office staff, Angela, had her last day. Although we are all excited that she will be starting her job as the lead secretary at another school, no one wanted her to leave. My assistant principal asked me to do something a little special for Angela so I decided to try to make a cookie bouquet.

I got the idea from a cookie bouquet my parents and John's parents sent to me on my first day of teaching. Since it was my first time ever doing a project like this and my husband put me on a "dollar a day" budget (haha) because he says I spend too much money,  I had to be quite creative. I got the sticks (rods) from the craft section at Walmart.

The vase was originally a plastic cookie cutter container. I cut the top and the handles off the sides and covered it in wrapping paper. The bow inspiration came from my friend, Sarah {the Zesty Baker}. She made these bows with the girls she babysits. I highly recommend them because they are extremely easy, cute, and cheap! Here are the directions I used: recycled bows

I filled the inside of the container with rice.

Then I rearranged the sticks and.....

Next time I think I will make larger cookies but I am still very happy with the final project! I'm looking forward to me next one... maybe a baby shower centerpiece or father's day gift. After all, my sweet tooth comes honestly, dad! :)

Good luck Angela! You will be missed at school but I know we will keep in touch!
I am so very happy that God has blessed you with this opportunity. :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Volunteer Luncheon

Tomorrow the faculty at my school is hosting a volunteer luncheon for all the wonderful parents who take the time out of their day to come help out! I, of course, signed up to bring cookies. After seeing {SugarBelles} blog I was inspired to make cookies that look like pieces of fruit. I made regular sugar cookies in the shape of lemons, limes, and oranges. I have a few extra apples from another project (check back this weekend for pictures of that!) that I will probably throw in as well. For right now I think the color scheme goes best without the bright red apples.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!! 
THANK YOU wonderful parents :)

Monday, May 2, 2011


It's that time of year again when many of my friends are getting engaged and/or married!! IT'S MY FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR!! One of my good friends, Lauren, got engaged to the love of her life, Daniel, over the weekend. Lauren, Sarah, and I are going to get gelato tomorrow night and I wanted to take Lauren a little something special to let her know how excited we are for her. 

After chilling my chocolate chip cookie dough for about 20 minutes, I rolled it out about 1/2 inch thick.

Then I used cookie cutters and placed the dough on my pizza stone. Yea... I know, weird, but I like cooking on the pizza stone because it is easier to get my spatula underneath the cookies when I transfer them to the cooling rack. 

After baking the cookies, I set them out on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes. During this time I make my royal icing. I use about 4 cups of powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons of meringue, and 6 tablespoons of liquid (water/vanilla/almond). Then I mix on high for approximately 6 minutes. 
Once the icing is finished, I separate it into piles and start mixing up the colors I am going to use. I then use the royal icing to outline my shapes. I noticed that my chocolate chip cookie dough never seems to hold shape the way the sugar cookie dough does. Sometimes I take the cookie cutter and go back over the chocolate chip cookies once they come out of the oven, but I didn't do that this time. I wait about 20 minutes for the outline to dry, add water to the royal icing so that it will spread over the cookie easier, and then I begin flooding. 

After about 30 minutes, I added the monogramming and then the polka dots. 

In the morning I will wrap them up, tie a little ribbon around it, and give them to the new bride-to-be to enjoy! It's all very simple. Give it a try and let me know if you have any advice!!

Congrats Lauren and Daniel!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Two weeks ago one of my students lost everything from one of the tornadoes that went through Raleigh.  The school has helped provide her with a bookbag, notebooks, pencils, etc. And thanks to donations from Susan and Marianna, this little girl will gain a couple of outfits, a toothbrush, shampoo, and soap. I have posted a picture of the outfits below. THANKS again so much for your support and thoughtfulness!

As far as baking goes, I really didn't have time to do a lot this weekend because I had to take the Reading Specialist Praxis and go to a wedding. I did find the time to make 2 cookies for some of the kids I babysit. My best friend {The Zesty Baker} surprised me Friday with edible "paint" pens, and I couldn't wait to try them out. I made a Mickey Mouse cookie using the paint pen and the Minnie Mouse Cookie using regular icing. I can't wait to practice some more with the pens!!