Monday, October 29, 2012

Spooky Bug Cookies

I had big plans for Halloween cookies, they fell through, you know time issues and all.  If you are like me and are crunched for time but want a quick Halloween cookie to bring to a party or to share with your family and friends then boy oh boy do I have the cookie for you!

This is what you will need....

3/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour

Toy bugs for stamping
Food coloring (optional)
Paintbrush (optional)

See all that butter, you know these are going to be good!

Eventually you will need to preheat the oven to 350 but these bad guys will need to go into the freezer for a while so don't heat your oven quite yet.

Cream the butter and sugar together and slowly mix in the flour.  Stop adding the flour once the mixture is a bit crumbly   If you find your mixture isn't holding together add just a bit more butter.

If you want colored cookies add some food coloring to the mixture and kneed it together.  I used Ameracolor super black for mine.

Once you have your cookies all mixed up it is time for the fun to start.

Pinch off a generous tablespoon of dough from your main mixture and role into a ball then flatten out by hand to about 1/4 inch thick.  

Next dust your creepy crawlies in flour and stamp into your cookie.  I used a rolling method where I applied pressure to the right of the bug and then slowly rolled it to the left.  that way you get a fairly even indentation in your cookies and don't have to worry about making it too thin.  

Alliteratively you can paint your bugs with watered down food coloring and stamp them into a lighter colored dough.  Both ways turn out equally as spooky.  

Once all your cookies are stamped place them in the freezer for a good hour or more.  Freezing the cookies helps keep them from spreading and keeps the indentations more visible in the cookies.  While the cookies are in the freezer heat your oven to 350. 

Bake cookies for 15-20 min, keep an eye on them the edges will start to turn golden brown when they are done.  Remove and transfer to a cooking rack right away. 

If you want to take pictures of your cookies, remember to do it before you leave for the party, don't do it as you are running out the door or you end up with lame fuzzy pictures like this.  

Hope you enjoy and that you all have a spooktacular Halloween!

Korean Savory Rice Cakes

As most of you know I taught English in South Korea for 3 years, and met my husband over there.  Living in the US is great but we both really miss the food.  Tonight I surprised him with a little taste of home.  I made him tteokbokki a popular Korean street food.  I decided to go all out and make the ddeok (rice cakes) from scratch.

Ddeok in Korean
I have to say I am very proud with how well the rice cakes turned out.  I can't wait to try the sweet version some time this week!

To make these yummy rice cakes, this is what you will need:

1 1/2 cup rice flour (not sweet rice flour)
1/2 tsp salt (you may want to reduce this just a bit I am still toying with the measurments)
3/4 cup water

Add the rice flour, salt and water into a bowl and mix till combined. The mixture should be sticky but not smooth... it will look like large cheese curds (sort of).

cheese curd-ish looking mixture

Once the mixture is combined you will steam it for about 30 min.  You can use whatever kind of steamer you have.  I have a bamboo one which normally I would line with cheese cloth...but I was fresh out so wet paper towels had to do instead.

Remove the rice cake from the steamer after 30 min, either place in a bowl to kneed by hand or if you are lucky throw it in your bread machine.  I am not lucky so I had to kneed it by hand.  Be careful, the mixture is really hot.  I wore kitchen gloves to kneed the whole thing until it cooled down enough to hold with my bare hands.  You need to kneed the dough for quite some time about 20min or so.  The dough should be smooth with no lumps.

Smooth dough with no lumps
Next you get to have a lot of fun and play with the dough like it's play-dough.  All those years of making play-dough snakes will finally come in handy.  Take a chunk off your dough ball and role it into a snake about the width of your thumb.  

Finally cut your snake into 1 inch pieces, or into whatever size rice cake you want.  

Now you are ready to make lots of different delicious foods with your ddeok like tteokbokki!

I will post a recipe for tteokbokkie later, I am still refining it, but here are some pictures to tide you over until then ^^  
The finished product

Onion, hard boiled eggs, and green onions (missing fish paste and cabbage)

This is most of whats in the sauce


Everyone is in the pan

Mmmmm enjoy!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


So just a bit of general info for you all....

Who are you?:  I am Vanessa a freelance artisan baker, I have been baking my whole life but from 2010 I have been attempting to make my passion for baking into a career.

What are your prices?  I am just starting out and hope to have set prices for my baked goods coming soon, however if you are interested in an order now is an exciting time for you because I am willing to negotiate prices.

How do I place an order? Send me an e-mail at and let me know what you want.  Don't see what you want on the blog, no worries I do custom orders.

How long does an order take? I can do one to two dozen painted sugar cookies in a turn over of about 3 days, If you want sugar cookies with 3 or more colors of royal icing the turn over is closer to a week.  These times can change and if you are in a pinch and I don't have any other orders, I can get a batch of painted sugar cookies done for you on the same day of order.

What are your flavors? I currently do lemon sugar cookies, orange sugar cookies, chocolate chip sugar cookies, chocolate sugar cookies and shortbread.  If you are looking for a special flavor I am more than happy to give it a try!  I am constantly trying out new flavors.

What do you use for icing? I use a lemon or orange or vanilla royal icing, that is light and meringue like when dried.  I have also used a glaze in the past (no meringue powder) if you prefer that.

Do you ship cookies? I have not shipped cookies yet, but I am more than happy to.

Do you make cakes? Yes, but I don't feel that they are at retail quality yet... give me a few more months :D

Any other questions?  Please feel free to ask either in the comment section or via e-mail

Have a yummy day!

Thank You ARBEZ

I have been attending a class called "When Dreams Meet Reality" and it has really changed my life.  It is what has inspired me to take my passion to baking to the next level and try and make it into a career.  Be sure to go and check them out Catherine is a very inspirational speaker, with tons of experience in job search world.  If you are a bit lost in your job right now, or starting fresh like me taking one of her classes could very well change your life.  It is well worth the money you put into it!  

So as you can see I am very passionate about the class I am taking, and very thankful for all that I have learned and discovered about applying for jobs, resumes, and how to find your dream job.  As a thank you I wanted to make some cookies for the class and for Catherine.  

Catherine's motto is "Change your stripes"  (if you haven't noticed her company name is zebra spelled backwards) To keep with the company theme I made here zebra cookies.  

Now this was a daunting task because Catherine actually owns her own zebra named Joe, so the woman knows a thing or two about zebras.  Because of this I had to bone up on my zebra skills.  I studied lots of pictures on line before decided that it was much more practical to go with a more cartoonie zebra than a real looking one...the real ones have way to many stripes!

I hope you all enjoy the zebras I know I sure did!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My Sunday Morning

Sunday mornings are special breakfast days for Lee and me today our special breakfast was fresh beignets.  

Sunday mornings are special breakfast days for Lee and me today our special breakfast was fresh beignets.  I cheated on these, they came out of a box mix my folks picked up while in New Orleans. 

.  However I do have a recipe for them that I can't wait to try out.  For now you will all just have to deal with lots of yummy pictures.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mini Sweet Potato Pies

It's Fall, my favorite time of the year!  It is extra special this year because my folks finally planted a garden which means lots of fresh produce for me and Lee.  Our haul from this past weekend included a ton of mint and parsley, sweet potatoes and squash.  The sweet potatoes that I took home were gargantuan  like the size of both of my hands put together! 

 I was pondering what to do with all the sweet potatoes when Bridget at bake at 350 came to my rescue.  She had a post about an amazing sounding sweet potato pie !  Now with it just being the two of us, Lee and me I knew a whole pie would go bad....or I would eat the whole thing in one sitting, so I miniaturized the whole pie concept and made mini pies ^.^

Mini Sweet Potato Pie with Sugar Topper
{slightly modified from Bake at 350}

sweet potato puree:
3 large sweet potatoes
water to cover

10 graham crackers (the full sheets, rectangles) or 1 1/4 cup of graham cracker crumbs
3TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
pinch kosher salt
5 TBSP butter, melted

3 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1 and 3/4 c. cooled sweet potato puree
1/2 c. half and half
1 TBSP fresh lemon juice (orange or pineaplle might be nice as well)
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves

sugar topper:
1/2 cup sugar
1 TBSP corn syrup 

First peal and boil your sweet potatoes. 

Make sure you don't put your peals down your garbage disposal, unless you want to clog your sink, and have it snaked only to have the snake go through you  pipe and have a sink full of icky water gush onto your kitchen floor at 12:30 at night and spend the next half hour sopping up the mess while praying you aren't leaking water into the apt. below you.  Now if this sounds like fun by all means put the peals down the disposal ;)

Once soft pure your potatoes or mash them, use a food processor  hand blender (what I used) or just do it by hand.  Get the potatoes as smooth as you can.  Let the potatoes cool.  While they are cooling you can mix up the crust.

Preheat oven to 350

Either grind your graham crackers with the sugar, ginger and salt or just mix the crumbs together.  Add the melted butter and mix until the crumbs are moist.

 Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners and add about 2-2 1/2 TBS of the crumb mixture to each cup.  Press the mixture to the sides and bottom with your fingers.  Now it's time to mix up the filling.

Whisk eggs and sugar together until well combined, then add the cooled sweet potatoes, lemon juice, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.  Mix everything up until it's nice and smooth.

Add 1/4 cup of the filling to each of the mini pie crusts. I think I added a bit more to some of mine, use your best judgement.  You can try to smooth the tops if you want, I didn't but I wasn't to worried about a nice flat top either. 

Place mini pies into the oven and bake 40-50 min or until the filling only sightly jiggles in the pies.  
Let cool for about an hour and then refrigerate.  

While the pies are cooling you can whip up the fancy toppers.  Place sugar and corn syrup in a small sauce pan and turn heat to medium, stir mixture constantly, when it starts to melt and turn amber turn the heat down to low, stir till smooth and a dark amber.  Take a spoon full and drip over a Silpat mat making lots of fun designs.  Work fast or your sugar will go hard on you.  

Once pies are cool break off chunks of your sugar designs and place on top of pies. Serve and Enjoy!

If you are planning on serving the pies the day after, don't add the sugar topping until you are ready to serve, otherwise it melts all over the pies.  


Monday, October 15, 2012

Chuseok Cookies 2012

Bottom Row Left to Right: Seongpyon (rice cake) Happy Chuseok, little girls hanbok
Middle Row: Little boys hanbok, Korean fan, Persimmon, plate of seongpyeon,
Top Row: Lady's Hanbok, Man's Hanbok 

Korean Thanksgiving has come and gone again.  Now that Lee and I are state side we don't do much for the holiday.  However this year Lee informed me that we would be having dinner with one of his Korean friends.Awesome I'll make cookies I thought, then a few days later Lee told me dinner was off.  Then the day before Chuseok the dinner was back on o.0 sooooo what did I do?

 I made cookies of course, these bad boys were baked iced and painted all in the same day.  The icing was still a bit wet while I painted them thus the super pastel colors....which magically work.  So happy Korean Thanksgiving Everyone!

Cherry Cupcakes

A last taste of summer.  
Well a belated taste of summer at least.  I found these photos hidden in with my cookies.  It was a batch of yellow cake and cherry cupcakes.  

The icing is a cherry butter-cream flavored with some of the juice from marciano cherries. 

 I'll work on putting a recipe together but to be honest I winged the whole thing but am super pleased with how it turned out!

Enjoy <3

Turkey Cookies

Turkey day is almost upon us.  I love thanksgiving, I get to spend the day in the kitchen with my family which for me is the heart of my home.  

These gobbling goodies were made by cutting a paper template out and then cutting around it to make the shapes.  I will change this up a bit this year if I make them again because when I made the template I forgot to take into account that the icing on the cookies adds a bit of extra space. 

I think I will try these as peacocks as well... I think they might look kind of cool.

Have you ever tried making 3D cookies?