Loving Pink Hearts For Your Valentine

Loving Pink Hearts For Your Valentine

Loving Pink Hearts, the perfect expression of love for your Valentine! It’s not too late to bake a batch!

Growing up in Louisiana, we baked the Plain Roll-Out Cookies in the Cook’s Tour of Shreveport. For every holiday and in between, we made triple batches of cookie dough and went on week-long cookie decorating binges. Billie Apple said, “There was blue icing on the ceiling!” It was everywhere, but my mom loved to see her girls baking in her kitchen.

In all of my years of baking cookies, I have never found a better plain roll-out cookie recipe!

Here’s what you will need for Loving Pink Hearts . . .

Equipment:

Tips:

  • Follow the recipe for Plain Roll-Out Cookies, page 276 in Cook’s Tour of Shreveport.
  • Use room temperature unsalted butter.
  • Sift the flour four times – this makes the cookie dough light and airy.
  • Mix with an electric stand mixer, but don’t over beat the cookie dough. It makes the dough tough.
  • Wrap in parchment paper and chill for a couple of hours or overnight.
  • Rolling out the dough – allow the chilled dough to warm up by setting it on the kitchen counter but not too long!
  • Before rolling out the dough, lightly dust a Silicone Baking mat and rolling pin with flour.
  • Test the oven temperature with an extra thermometer.
  • Don’t over bake the cookies.
  • Cool on wire racks.
  • With parchment paper to separate the layers, package and freeze until ready to decorate.

Tips for icing will be on the next blog post.

Loving pink hearts — Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

Loving Red Velvet Cake

Loving Red Velvet Cake

Loving Red Velvet Cake with a mountain of white, fluffy icing on top! It’s the perfect cake to bake for your Valentine!

Cake Baking Tips:

  1. 3″ X 8″ round cake pans are an ideal size for three-layer cakes.
  2. Always place a round piece of parchment paper in the cake pans, spray with Pam, fill 1/2 full with cake batter, and bake in a 350º preheated oven.
  3. Bake the cake ahead, cool completely, wrap in foil, freeze. Take out of the freezer 3-4 hours before you frost it.
  4. When a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, the cake is ready.
  5. Test the oven’s temperature with an extra oven thermometer. Adjust the temperature if necessary. My oven was 75º off!
  6. With a long serrated knife, trim off the top mound of each cake layer.
  7. Be sure to make plenty of icing. Use a flat spatula to transfer each cake layer.
  8.  A large offset spatula is the best tool for frosting a cake. Watch the video for tips on frosting the cake.
  9. Bake cakes for all occasions.
  10. Enjoy!

Loving Red Velvet Cake . . .

Red Velvet Cake

Loving Red Velvet Cake! The perfect cake to bake for your Valentine!

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 T. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup dutch processed cocoa
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups Vegetable Oil
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 dashes red food coloring

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º degrees.

    Line three 8 inch round cake pans with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray; set aside.

  2. Combine dry ingredients, set aside.

  3. Mix cocoa and boiling water, set aside.

  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the remaining wet ingredients; add the cocoa mixture. Gradually, add dry ingredients.

  5. Pour batter into the prepared cake pans.

  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

  7. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.

  8. Ice with your favorite icing.

  9. Enjoy!

Baking Playtime Blueberry Muffins

Baking Playtime Blueberry Muffins

Sailing around the British Virgin Islands turned out to be our favorite trip of all! It didn’t take long to settle into relaxing days filled with sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, whale watching, touring The Baths & the islands, viewing the beautiful white, sandy beaches & turquoise-blue ocean. 

In addition to sailing our yacht and guiding our island tours, the Playtime captains cooked delicious breakfasts, lunches, appetizers, and dinners. What a treat!

On Christmas Eve, we docked in a bay of Virgin Gorda and settled in for a delicious, Scallop dinner followed by family-game night.

Christmas morning, we awoke to find one of the Playtime captains, Kelsey baking Playtime Blueberry Muffins. She served them with granola-topped yogurt, fresh fruit, orange juice, and cranberry/mint flavored water for a festive Christmas breakfast. The meal and especially, the Playtime Blueberry Muffins were delicious! Kelsey with Playtime Charter

For a lifetime, I have baked Blueberry Muffins. But none compare to Playtime Blueberry Muffins. Could it be Kelsey’s secret blueberry muffin recipe?!!Playtime Blueberry Muffins

I requested her recipe. Much to my surprise, within minutes it arrived in email box! Kelsey included a couple of her baking tips too. Secretly, I wondered if my batch of blueberry muffins would compare to Kelsey’s Playtime Blueberry Muffins?

Kelsey’s Baking Tips:

*Frozen blueberries will chill the batter and won’t sink while baking.

*Bob’s gluten-free baking 1 : 1 flour is a great substitute for all-purpose flour.

Testing The Recipe:

Back in Dallas, I am baking Playtime Blueberry Muffins. I follow Kelsey’s directions. So far, they are looking great . . . creaming the butter and sugar, adding the dry ingredients alternating with milk, and stirring in the Wyman’s frozen blueberries. In no time at all, I scoop the batter into the muffin tins and put them in the oven. After about 25 minutes they are lightly browned. While they are cooling on a rack, I cannot resist. I sneak a piping-hot blueberry muffin, slice it open, slather on some soft butter and bite into it. Juicy blueberries mixed into a moist cake-like muffin. They taste 95% as good as Kelsey’s blueberry muffins. Success!

Would you like the recipe?!!

Playtime Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 t. vanilla
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour or Bob's gluten-free baking flour
  • 1 t. salt
  • 4 t. baking powder
  • 1 cup milk (I used whole milk)
  • 4 cups frozen blueberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

  2. Mix the butter and sugar until it's fluffy.

  3. Slowly add the eggs then the vanilla.

  4. In a separate bowl mix the flour, salt, and baking powder.

  5. Alternately add the dry mix and the milk to the wet mix.

  6. Mix in the blueberries.

  7. Place into the muffin tin. (should be enough for 12 huge muffins or 24 regular size muffins) and sprinkle extra sugar over the top of each muffin.

  8. Bake for about 35 minutes. (Keep an eye on them. Boat ovens are funny so my timing might be off. If you see them baking golden and the toothpick goes in and comes out clean they are done.)

  9. ENJOY!!

Decorating With Royal Icing

Decorating With Royal Icing

Decorating with Royal Icing is the best way to decorate gingerbread houses.

National Gingerbread House Day is on December 12th. Now is a good time to stock up on candy and gingerbread houses.

When my children when they were toddlers, I started decorating gingerbread houses with them. That’s another way of saying that I have 20 + years experience in decorating gingerbread houses. So I am passing along my tips and tested recipes. Hoping they will save you some time and money.

Here’s a great recipe for Royal Icing.

Decorating With Royal Icing

This Royal Icing is the perfect consistency for decorating gingerbread houses.

Prep Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 12 cups powdered sugar
  • 8 egg whites
  • 1 t. cream of tartar

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a wire attachment, add all of the ingredients.

  2. Beat the mixture at high speed, until it is thick and holds its shape.

  3. Trim the tip a pastry bag, add pastry tip, fill 1/2 full with Royal Icing.

    Pipe decorations onto the gingerbread houses and assemble fences and decorations.

  4. + Be careful to squeeze pastry bag from the top and not the middle!

  5. Tip: Be sure to cover the bowl with Saran Wrap or a lid because the Royal Icing will dry out! No need to refrigerate the Royal Icing.

Building With Royal Icing

Building With Royal Icing

Building with Royal Icing – the secret to building gingerbread houses is the Royal Icing. The Royal Icing recipe’s powdered sugar/egg white ratio needs to be just right!Building with Royal IcingI’m sharing 25+ years experience of decorating and planning gingerbread house parties! With these tips you will be ready to host the most spectacular holiday party!

National Gingerbread House Day is right around the corner – December 12th!

Back when my children were toddlers, we started our holiday tradition of decorating gingerbread houses. In the beginning, the gingerbread houses’ walls would not stay together. So we supported them with soup cans until the Royal Icing set. That’s when I started testing Royal Icing recipes.

After years of trial and error, I discovered the perfect Royal Icing! So without further ado, here’s my tried and true Royal Icing recipe . . .

Decorating With Royal Icing

This Royal Icing is the perfect consistency for decorating gingerbread houses.

Prep Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 12 cups powdered sugar
  • 8 egg whites
  • 1 t. cream of tartar

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a wire attachment, add all of the ingredients.

  2. Beat the mixture at high speed, until it is thick and holds its shape.

  3. Trim the tip a pastry bag, add pastry tip, fill 1/2 full with Royal Icing.

    Pipe decorations onto the gingerbread houses and assemble fences and decorations.

  4. + Be careful to squeeze pastry bag from the top and not the middle!

  5. Tip: Be sure to cover the bowl with Saran Wrap or a lid because the Royal Icing will dry out! No need to refrigerate the Royal Icing.

Build It And They Will Come

Build It And They Will Come

Build it and they will come – just like Iowa farmer Ray(Kevin Costner) hears a mysterious voice in the cornfield saying “If you build it, he will come” in the movie, Field of Dreams. Build it(the gingerbread houses) and he(friends & family) will come to decorate and celebrate!Gingerbread houses

Weeks before the holiday party, be sure to start baking the gingerbread houses. The gingerbread dough is easy to make and they are easy to build. However, they take a little bit of time. No need to worry if the gingerbread houses will keep. They will keep for weeks, even a couple of months.

If baking the gingerbread houses seems too ambitious, buying gingerbread house kits is a great option.  Either way, be sure to bake some gingerbread chimneys. When it’s time to decorate the gingerbread houses, top off the chimneys with cotton candy for the ‘smoke!’Gingerbread House Party

National Gingerbread House Day is on December 12th. Build it and they will come!

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Gingerbread for Houses

This is a great recipe for gingerbread houses and gingerbread boys. It's easy to work with, never crumbles and the cookies turn out perfect each time!

Prep Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 T. ground cinnamon
  • 2 t. ginger
  • 2 t. cloves
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. nutmeg
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add all of the ingredients.

    Beat the ingredients until well mixed.

  2. Divide the dough in half. Flatten each half into a disk. Wrap each disk in wax paper. Chill for 3 hours or overnight.

  3. Preheat oven to 350º.

  4. On a lightly floured Silpat® baking mat, roll out half of the dough tp 1/4" thickness. With the gingerbread house cookie cutters, cut out each section - 2 roofs, 2 sides, front, back and chimney pieces. Repeat with the remaining dough.

  5. Slide the Silpatº baking mat with the cut out house pieces directly onto a flat cookie sheet.

  6. Bake for 20 - 24 minutes until firm but not too browned.

  7. Place the cookie sheet on a wire rack for cooling. Immediately, recut with the house pieces with the cookie cutters. This provides very straight edges!

  8. After the house pieces set a bit, 4-5 minutes, remove from cookie sheet and place directly on the wire racks to cool completely.