Sunday, November 9, 2014

Big Hero 6 - Baymax Vanilla Macarons


Did anyone go see the new Disney movie Big Hero 6 this weekend? With 3 kiddos (a 10 year old and 7 year old twins) this one was a no brainer.  Robots AND Heros? Yeah total no brainer.  And Disney definitely has their movie formula pretty down to a science.  Young kids that lose parents/parent figures early on and must persevere through the hardships to realize the true meaning of loving something and the goodness that triumphs over evil.  Yup, it works well so why mess with a good thing?!


The robot in the story is the lovable Baymax.  Baymax is a personal healthcare companion programmed to fix anyone in distress.  He's pretty much the most awesome robot ever and totally inspired me to make some Baymax macarons.  Is that weird that I automatically said, yes I'm going to make him in macaron form? 

Once you have your macaron mixture combined, pipe the characters onto parchment by tracing from a printout underneath the parchment paper
I've only made macarons one other time, and didn't even post about it.  I used the Italian method, and they came out ok.  Definitely far from perfect but at least they were recognizable as macarons!  I used the same method for these Baymax ones.  I'm not even going to try to post directions, but you can see a step by step How To over at Annie's Eats.  She posted a great tutorial here on how to make macarons using this Italian method.   My one suggestion (which everyone seems to agree on) is to measure all your ingredients with a scale.  It's pretty easy to do, so don't get worried that its a lot of extra trouble.

Just to give you and idea of how un-perfect mine were, check out the underside.  They should be flat not like this.  My trouble is knowing when they are done.  You don't want them to brown too much, but you need them done enough to not stick when trying to remove them.  Depending on your oven, you should bake them for about 8 minutes then check them every minute to see if they are done.  


I had some vanilla beans so thought it would be the perfect flavor for Baymax.  Add his accents with black and white melted candy wafers and some large black flat sprinkles for eyes.  


Even though Baymax is a robot, he's got a heart of gold.  He will make you cry.  


Chocolate buttercream seemed to fit well with his center.  


And Disney totally set this up for a sequel, if they want to go this route.  Overall I really enjoyed the movie and the kiddos gave it a big thumbs up.  Right there on par with Guardians of the Galaxy.  


For anyone looking for the recipe, please head over to Annie's Eats for her step by step tutorial.  I followed it pretty much exactly, except adding some vanilla bean seeds (scrapped from one vanilla bean pod) when she points out to add color/flavor.  Once the macaron mixture is ready to be piped, I traced it onto parchment on top of some Baymax templates that I printed out from Google (thanks Google!).  The chocolate buttercream, is store bought, to save some time.  You can use any type of flavoring for the centers since vanilla goes so well with pretty much anything.  

Did you see Big Hero 6 and if so what did you think???

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Minions (and Evil Minions) No Bake Cookies


I needed to take a break from all of the Halloween Right Into Thanksgiving and Christmas Season that we are in. I mean we go Trick or Treating, then bam - Christmas commercials and displays everywhere.  I love the holidays and all, but sometimes you gotta take a vacation from them.  


And we love love (love!) Minions here.  I've been meaning to make these Minions forever, like ever since I saw they made Mint Milano mini cookies.  Mint Milano cookies are so yum on their own, but then the geniuses over at Pepperidge Farms went and shrank 'em.  And of course I was all like "you had me at mini".

And if you're not familiar with Minions, where have you been?? J/K - they are the little yellow henchmen of Gru in the Despicable Me movies.  

For some of their best scenes, check out this YouTube compilation:



And for some reason - I'm not really sure why - I just happen to have yellow and violet Wilton Color Mist hanging around in my sprinkle cabinet.  What is Color Mist? Well it's basically like spray paint for food.  To make the color for these little minions, just spray some cookies yellow and some purple (for the evil minions).


All the rest of the detail is done with melted candy wafers and some royal icing eyes.   


They are fun on their own or super cute added as cupcake toppers too!


And you've got whole lotta' little Minions (and evil Minions) that are pretty quick to put together and so easy - especially since no baking is needed.  A super cute addition to a Minion party table!

Minions crack me and the kiddos up every time we re-watch one of the Despicable Me movies. Make a batch of them while you wait patiently for the Minions movie due out summer of 2015! Can't wait!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Triple Pumpkin Beignets


I told myself I was banning making any pumpkin stuff this season since there is obviously an overload of pumpkin and pumpkin spice on the market.  But you know I honestly love pumpkin everything! 


So I caved and made some triple pumpkin beignets. To me beignets taste like part doughnut and part funnel cake and are best served warm with powdered sugar.   Triple pumpkin because these little fritters are 1) pumpkin shaped 2) there's pumpkin in the dough AND 3) there's a little pumpkin spice pudding inside them. And please, whatever you do, don't forget to sprinkle with lots and lots (and lots) of powdered sugar!

See all of the pumpkiny details here at SheKnows

Happy Halloween Eve!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Coffin and Skeleton Mini Cakes


Only a week until Halloween! Are you ready? (and by ready meaning ready for another Halloweeny treat??


First off, have you seen the Cheetos Bag of Bones that Frito Lay has out right now? It's filled with white cheddar skeleton parts so you can build your own skeleton.  I searched down a bag and had to come up with something fun to make with them.


And if you have skeletons, you kinda need coffins right? These are made from a couple of things.  Cookies and creme sugar wafers make the basic coffin shape and the bottom of the coffin is chocolate graham crackers.  Cut into the shape you want and use melted black candy wafers (or you can use melted chocolate chips too) to glue the pieces together.


Once you have your edible coffins (now that's a weird word combo!), cut out a similar coffin shapes from a chocolate sheet cake.  I just did this by eye balling the size and trimming as needed.  Then frost with chocolate frosting.  You don't even have to be neat because it basically gets covered anyway!


Add some candies on top of the cake - not needed but it makes them more fun.  I used candy coated sunflower seeds in Fall/Halloween colors.  I use Sunny Seeds as they taste great and come in in so many colors and themes.


Then add your skeleton parts on top!


I never really thought I'd be crafting edible coffins - that just seems a little strange, but you know when you have edible skeleton parts handy, you have to fill a need!  

Happy Only 1 Week to Halloween to you all!  Curious, how many of you actually dress up for Halloween? (Meaning you specifically - not the kiddos!)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Scary Toss it All in Halloween Fudge


Less than 2 weeks to Halloween! Let the fun begin! Woooo! Let's start with some scary toss everything in fudge.  OK - it might not be scary or have everything in it, but it is fun.


For this fudge I used the basic 2 ingredient method (frosting and chips) and then just added a bunch of fun stuff to get the look/taste.


There are lots of posts (here's one) out there for 2 ingredient fudge.  So simple and easy.  

The basic ingredients:
1 bag (11.5 ounces) of white chocolate chips
1 can (16 ounces) of vanilla frosting

Melt the chips in a microwave safe bowl until smooth.  Add the can of frosting.  Add in all your fav stuff.  I used crushed up mini vanilla wafers, candy coated sunflower seeds (Sunny Seeds), Halloween pumpkin Peeps, chocolate chips, skeleton head/spider candies, black sugar sprinkles, and a little purple food gel.  Spread the fudge mixture into a 9X9 pan.


And add more fun-ness on top!


Cut into squares and you've got yourself a little scary halloween party in fudge form!


You could make fudge for any holiday season, just mix and match colors.  So easy to throw together.  I may have 1 or 2 more Halloween posts coming too - but I really LOVE seeing all the other fun and Halloweeny treats being thought up out there.  There is an amazing amount of creativity in the big wide world! Have an awesomely awesome week!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Healthy Candy Corn Striped Smoothies


I think it's officially safe to call it Candy Corn season! It's chilly in the morning and night hear in the Northeast, and all the Halloween candy is out in full force everywhere.  I'm not a huge fan of candy corn (but my kiddos are) so I'm trying to trick them today with some candy corn striped smoothies.


There is no actual candy corn in these - so you could call it false advertising, but whatever anything to get them to try it.  These smoothies are made from greek yogurt, pineapple and tangerines.


In a blender, add 1 peeled tangerine with 1/2 cup of yogurt and about 1/4 cup of milk.  And blend it up until all smoothie-like.  If it's too liquid-y add a little more yogurt.


Do the same with the pineapple.  I used 1 cup of frozen pineapple with 1/2 cup of yogurt and 1/4 cup of milk.  The "white" layer is just the yogurt and milk with about 2 tablespoonful of honey.  You can also add honey to the orange and pineapple layers if you like your smoothie sweeter.  Then just layer the colors one on top of the other.  Easy.


If you want deeper candy corn colors you can add a little orange or yellow food coloring but I was trying to keep it pretty simple.  Top with a little pineapple and freeze dried orange.  If you don't drink right away, pop them in the freezer until served.  (You'll need to thaw them a little if you freeze for too long obvi).


 I thought they were super yummy. A fast and healthy "candy corn" treat! Here's hoping I fool the kids into eating these today!


What is your favorite Halloween treat? And what are you whipping up this Halloween?

Monday, October 6, 2014

2 Kinds of Black and White Cookies - Chocolate & Vanilla AND PB&J


Do you guys like mashups as much as I do?? I could spend all day on Pinterest checking out all the mashed up things.  So I made mashup cookies.  Peanut Butter and Jelly + Black and White Cookies aka Half n' Half Cookies.  

If you read the blog at all, you may know my kiddos have peanut and tree nut allergies.  Well 2 out  of 3 have allergies so we've really avoided nut treats around here.  Fortunately, my 2 kids are not so allergic that they can't be near peanut butter or have stuff manufactured in a facility that handles nuts.  

Since 2 kids are allergic, we almost treat the 3rd like he's allergic too - it was always way easier that way, but recently he's been asking to try peanut stuff and surprise - we found out he does like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  


The kids also love Black and White Cookies - the popular cookies in NYC (which is only about 30 mins from our house so these cookies are available everywhere around us).  And if you've never had Black and Whites, immediately go buy some or better yet make them.  They are part cake/part cookie with chocolate and vanilla icing on top.  Seriously good stuff so I thought I'd make them some homemade Black and Whites but also make the un-allergic kid a PB and J version.  


I used this cookie recipe from Martha Stewart Living - which was really simple to make.  The base cookie is the same for each version.  


Once cookies are cooled, spread 1/2 with the grape jelly icing and 1/2 with the peanut butter icing and/or 1/2 with the white icing and 1/2 with chocolate icing.  Ice the flat side of the cookie.  A note about icing consistency, it should be thick enough to stay on the cookie without dripping off (see the white icing pic above? That's too runny and needs to be thicker - add more confectioners sugar if that happens!).  The icing should also be nicely spreadable without lines (see the peanut butter side on pic below?  That's too thick.  Add a 1/2 teaspoonful of water or corn syrup if that happens!).


My icing technique is far from what it's supposed to look like.  Here's what most Black and White cookies you can buy look like:


See how nice and perfect they look? Mine are homemade but messy! The recipe was easy and tasted great (can't go wrong with a Martha recipe right?)

Cookie base recipe can be found here.

For the Icings:

1 cup of confectioners sugar for each flavor
1 Tablespoon of light corn syrup for each flavor
1 Tablespoon of creamy peanut butter
1 Tablespoon of grape jelly
1 ounce of your favorite melted chocolate

Directions:
  • Add 1 cup of confectioners sugar to 4 separate bowls (if making both kinds of cookies)
  • Add 1 tablespoonful of light corn syrup to each bowl.  Mix well.
  • Add peanut butter to one bowl, jelly to a bowl, and melted chocolate to 3rd bowl.  Mix well.
  • Add more confectioners sugar as needed until icing spreads without being too runny.
  • Add water by 1/2 teaspoonfuls if the icing is too thick.   
  • Ice each half of a cookie with the icings.  Allow to sit out until icings are hard to the touch.  

If you like peanut butter and jelly sammiches, you'll love these PB and J Half n' Half cookies.  Eat one with a glass of milk and your'e good to go.  And if you have nut allergies like my other 2 kids, make the traditional Black and White ones (also a big hit) or you could use soy nut butter too in place of peanut butter!).  

Hope you like them! And speaking of mashups, check out my bloggy friend Dorothy aka Crazy for Crust.  Her new book, Dessert Mash-Ups, just dropped and its totally up my alley.  I think I HAVE to make the sconuts or strawberry pie cupcakes! 


Check it out here on Amazon!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sugar Wafer Monster Halloween Treats


It's monster season people! Halloween always brings out all the monster'd up food and treats.  I love it!  This year I made some easy sugar wafer monsters.  Sugar wafers - you see them in almost every convenience store for like a buck a pack.


Dress them up and make them into cute little Halloween monsters.  


Normally you can get them in the traditional vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavors (my favorite is strawberry - plus it's pink!) but Voortman also makes lemon and cookies 'n creme and a bunch more.  


To make the monsters, just use whatever edible accessories you have around.  I used royal icing eyes, mini m and m's, candy corn, and Sunny Seeds.


The awesome peeps over at the Sunflower Food Company make chocolate covered sunflower seeds (aka Sunny Seeds) and they sent me a bunch to try out.  So many colors and variations.  I LOL'd when I saw the Lobster Poop!  They also makes a bunch of other fun products too like Snack Mixes, Chocolate Rocks, Popcorn Cobs, and Mini Gum Squares

Just attach them (and the other candy) with some melted chocolate or candy wafers.  Add more to decorate any old way you can imagine.  So easy and fun.


My kiddos actually really liked this treat (they are my worse critic these days!).  I think I may bring them in for their school Halloween party too.


If you have a second check out the fun products over at The Sunflower Food Company.  I use their Sunny Seeds all the time! Here are some other treats I've used them in: 







And can you believe it's the end of September? What fun things are you planning for this fall season? Get ready for pumpkin and apple picking pics galore!  Thanks for stopping by and have an awesome week!