Friday, December 20, 2013

Cute Melted Snowman Cookies!!

    Sometimes I feel like the holidays are one big Bake-a-thon.  Between parties, dinners, cookie swaps, and gifts for friends and families, I sometimes feel like I never leave the kitchen.  But as time consuming and expensive as cooking and baking can be, it is truly a labor of love....and if you spend enough time on Pinterest, you can find lots of fun and creative new ideas to try....which brings me to this blog post!
   Last year during one of my lengthy pinning sessions, I stumbled across these adorable sugar cookies that looked like melted snowmen!  Now, being the connoisseur of sugar cookies that I am, I thought the idea was fantastic!!  I mean, in what other cookie design are you allowed to sloppily squirt on icing in a free form and messy manner and it still looks cute?!  I decided I had to try them one day.  So, in my usual pinning fashion, my poor little snowman cookie pin sat untouched for a whole year until a few weeks ago when our school decided to have a cookie swap. 
   Now, there are several different melted snowman cookie designs floating around out there.  Some of them use a white gumball or malt ball for the head, and some use a marshmallow.  Some use red hots for buttons, some use M&M's, and some use sprinkles.  I used whatever I could find the fastest while running down the aisles of Publix on my way home to bake, because I stayed too late at school and knew I'd never get done with the cookies if I didn't hurry up and get started!  I have to say, though, this cookie design had quite the freeing effect on my mild and undiagnosed baking OCD. Usually I'm freaking out if a pearl sprinkle isn't lined up right or if I can't get the cake frosting to spread smooth, so it was kind of awesome to get to make cookies not perfect....on purpose!
    So, here is the step by step for super duper cutie patootie melted snowman cookies!!

   - Sugar cookies (baked and cooled)
   - 1 bag large marshmallows
   -  1 bag mini M&M's
   - powdered sugar
   - black food coloring
   - orange food coloring

Step 1  - Make your favorite sugar cookie recipe.   Use a round cookie cutter to cut out shapes.

Step 2 - Make a batch of royal icing  and pipe free form edges on each cookie using a piping bag and large round piping tip.  The larger the hole in the tip, the bigger the border of icing, and the less likely your fill icing will run over the edges of your cookie.

  Don't have a good sugar cookie recipe or don't know how to make royal icing?  
See my previous blog post on this HERE.

Step 3 - After all the cookies have border icing, take the remaining icing (minus 1/2 cup which will be used for piping later) and add water to it.  Whisk the water into the icing with a fork, spoon, or whisk.  It will start out really chunky, but keep whisking until it is a thick liquid, much like that of melted chocolate.  This will be your fill icing.

Step 4 - Pour the fill icing into a squeeze bottle.  I used a big squeeze bottle because I was making two batches of cookies, but a normal small squeeze bottle will suffice for a single batch.  Squirt each cookie with fill icing starting next to the border, and working your way to the middle of the cookie.  The fill icing should naturally "fill" in the gaps, so don't put too much.  Let it spread out on its own before you add more.  Too much fill icing = overflowing cookies and really big mess!

Step 5 - Set a large marshmallow in the wet fill icing at one end of each cookie.  This will be your little snowman's head.


Step 6 - While the icing is still wet, place 3 mini M&M's in random places on each cookie to mimic buttons spilling down a melted  snowman.

Step 7 -  Take the 1/2 cup border icing that was set aside earlier and use food coloring to dye MOST of it black (save a little bit to dye orange for the carrot noses).  Using another piping bag and tip, pipe eyes and faces onto the marshmallows.  I like happy snowmen, but expressions can vary, of course.  Excited snowmen?  Frustrated snowmen?  Melancholy snowmen? Oh, the possibilities..... :)

 Step 8 - Now here's where the little personalities of each snowmen show up! You'd think it be the facial features.... but what made the snowmen seem real for me was their cute little stick arms.  Pipe stick arms in different shapes and in various places on each snowmen. 

Step 9 - Now, use the little bit of icing left over to dye orange for the carrot noses.  

Ta-da!!!  Cutie patootie snowmen cookies!! Love Love Love!!

    Contrary to what I had expected, these cookies bagged beautifully!  I was worried about the marshmallow sticking out and not being able to tie the bag closed or it looking awkward, but it proved not to be an issue at all.  These little cuties were the perfect cookie swap treat!

Happy Baking!!!!!
       - Beth

Sunday, December 8, 2013

FROZEN Hot Cocoa - Recipe #2

  There is just something about a cup of hot cocoa that brings about an almost unrivaled sense of
happiness, warmth, and feelgoodness (yes, I made that word up.)  And the most important part about it, of course, is that it's chocolate.  It's a warm, delicious, drink made out of can you go wrong??!  Well, all these years I've anxiously awaited cold weather for the sole reason that it brings the joy of the holidays and deliciousness of hot beverages like apple cider and hot cocoa (because I certainly don't like being cold)....that is, until I was introduced to FROZEN hot cocoa! heard correctly.  Frozen hot cocoa!!  Now there's no need for cold weather to enjoy your favorite feel-good beverage!  You can enjoy it anytime, even in the summer.  Or, if you live in the insanely odd weather state of South Carolina, like I do, you can enjoy it on those few hot days in December when it decides to go from 40 degrees to 80 degrees in a 24 hour period.  Ridiculous, I know.  SC weather is a little cray-cray, but I diverge.
    Now....the first thing I thought about when I first saw a recipe for frozen hot cocoa was, "'s like a hot chocolate milkshake!"  And I love me a good chocolate milkshake....especially one from Rush's (for all you out of towners, that's a local burger and shake joint in SC).  So the thought of combining the cool, creamy, smoothness of a milkshake and the rich, warmfuzziness of hot cocoa.....what more could you ask for?  Over the last week or so, I've experimented with a couple of different recipes for frozen hot cocoa, and they were either too thick where you can't pour it out out of the blender, or too thin and runny (not cool), so I came up with my own recipe.  This sweet concoction is pretty much my guilty pleasure at least a couple times a week's so delicious!!!  My hubby likes it, and I just tried my recipe out on my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and my 5 year old nephew tonight, and they all approved!



        2 cups milk
        3 or 4 packets of hot cocoa (I love the Swiss Miss Dark Chocolate Sensation)
        4 cups of ice
        5 Tbsp sugar

        Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend until ice is crushed and consistency is smooth.  Pour
        into glasses and serve cold with whipped cream and sprinkles, if desired.    Serves 4-6.

  NOTE:  Make sure your blender is adept at crushing ice.  If not, you will have ice chunks...not cool.... and it totally takes away from the creaminess factor.  I used my Ninja Blender that my mamma in law got me for Christmas two years ago, and it works great for crushing ice!  Thanks Mrs. Patsy! :)

        So, here's a recap....

 If I don't blog again before the holidays, which is totally probable, Merry Christmas friends!
        - Beth

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Apple Picking Adventures

My husband and I at the SC State Fair
   Does anyone else out there gauge the change of the seasons by what seasonal coffee concoctions  Starbucks starts to advertise?  Well, when I saw the signs for the annual debut of the "Pumpkin Spice Latte" I knew my favorite season was finally here....fall!  I absolutely love fall for many wonderful reasons... one being the weather, which here in SC is perfect...still warm but with a crispness in the air.  But there are so many other reasons...some of which others might share (corn mazes, fall festivals, pumpkin carving, etc) and some of which are completely tied to my own idiosyncrasies and are absolutely ridiculous.  One example being my complete and utter love for the State Fair.  I have countless memories of the South Carolina State Fair as a child, because we went as a family every year.  Not only is the food amazing (can we say funnel cakes, corn dogs, vinegar fries, dipped cones, and cotton candy? And just for the record, I ate one of each of those items this!), but the people watching is priceless!! Plus....where else can you get deep fried Oreos and Donut Burgers???  And it's so much fun to go in all the buildings and see all the prize winning cakes, crafts, flowers, artwork, and more!  I always loved going to see the sand castle sculpture that someone makes every year...and when I was little, my brother and I also used to walk up to every single booth of all the candidates running for office and get a pencil and a sticker and we'd have a contest to see who'd collect the most, so it brings back fond memories. 
Here is our family at Sky Top Orchard in October 2011.
    Anyway, pretty much anything "fall-ish" makes me smile...but there is one new fall activity that I was just introduced to in the last couple of years that is going to become a new yearly tradition, I'm sure...and that is apple picking!!  I went for the first time with my husband and his family in October 2011.  We went to the Sky Top Orchard in Flat Rock, NC.
It was a blast!!  I came home with bags full of apples and spent the next few days baking like crazy making cobblers, applesauce, and the like.  I didn't get to go last year, sadly.  So when fall came around this year I decided an apple picking trip was a non-negotiable!  This time, since my hubby was busy, I convinced my BFF (I feel like I'm a teeny bopper when I say that...) and former college roommate, Katie, to come with me!
    We picked a great day to was a beautiful and sunny fall Saturday!  We started out the day with a stop at Starbucks for a Pumpkin Spice Latte, of course, to jump start our fall festivities and then headed up I-26 toward NC. Watching the leaves slowly get more and more colorful the further we drove north was neat. When we finally got there, it was packed!!  There were LOTS off families, kids, couples, and church groups.  We finally found a parking space, grabbed our buckets, had not-so-pleasant experiences with the port-a-potties, and then set off to pick! 

      Katie really wanted to get some Granny Smith apples, so that's where we headed first!  All the apples towards the bottoms of the trees had already been picked, so we were forced to go with Plan B.....climbing trees and contorting ourselves (quite unsafely, I might add) to get to the best apples.  It was quite a lot of work, and we got pretty dirty.  Note for next time:  Flip flops are not the best for climbing trees.

We totally tag teamed this one. Katie climbed and I caught!

Where's Waldo???

Something about this picture makes me think of the evil queen in Snow White....eek!

I decided I need to start working out.... I was huffing it up those big hills carrying my bucket of apples and this mom had a diaper bag, a purse, and her bucket of apples and was doing better than me.  And daddy over there had a baby!  Sad...I know.

Everybody we passed kept talking about "Pink Lady" apples, so we decided there must be something special about them....  So we climbed one of those trees and added a few to our collection.  Aren't they beautiful?? I love the light pink sides and speckles!

   After we were done picking, we had to indulge in the one food item that may or may have not been my main reason for wanting to go apple cider doughnuts!!!  I was first introduced to these little melt-in-your-mouth pieces of heaven when I went to Sky Top for the first time in 2011.  I honestly think Sky Top could run its entire enterprise on doughnut sales alone.  They are freaking amazing!!  I knew the line would be long, so I was expecting the worst...but it ended up being only about a 45 minute wait...and worth every second!  I was also happily surprised to find out that they had a new flavor in addition to the apple cider....pumpkin spice!  What more could a girl ask for?  So Katie and I decided to get a dozen doughnuts - 6 of each flavor.  I mean we had to get a full we could share with our friends and family, of course.  And it was cheaper to buy in bulk.  Totally justified.  :)

         After we finished our doughnuts, we decided to go get some lunch in Flat Rock.  We had dessert what? Don't judge.  We did take some pretty pictures on the LONG walk back to our car.

   Apple picking was a blast, and it was so much fun to hang out with my "woommate," as we used to say back in the day in college.... :)  I would highly recommend Sky Top Orchard, and I will definitely be back again next year.  Now I just have to come up with some yummy recipes for all these apples....
Thursday, October 10, 2013

Wedding Weekend in the ATL

       Presbyterian Church of the Redeemer, ATL
   I'm quickly beginning to run out of room in our spare bedroom closet for all the bridesmaid dresses that I'm accruing....and this week I got to add another dress to the collection!  It was a beautiful plum colored one shoulder gown (which became quite the fiasco as you will read about later) that I wore to my sweet sister's wedding on Saturday! I'm so excited to finally get a moment to post about everything!!  Because I was out of town this weekend, and not doing school work all weekend like usual (I'm super exciting, huh?), work kicked my I haven't had a moment free to post!  I bet my sister and her new hubby are having much more fun at Lake Tahoe right now on their honeymoon than I am sittting here on my sofa watching more about the government shutdown.  I'd honestly rather watch paint dry than hear anything else about that...which is why this is going to be my last sentence referring to it! Done. :)
My sister and her hubby to be with their pastor.
     Back to the was fabulous!  Sweet, small, worshipful, intimate.....everything that my sister wanted it to be.  About a week ago I thought she may just give up and go elope, but I'm so glad she didn't!  I totally related to the stress that goes along with wedding planning.  I remember the week before our wedding I just wanted to cry.  I was so tired of making decisions and coordinating things and communicating with people, I could have screamed.  But as I'm sure my sister experienced on Saturday, all the hard work and effort paid off.  Everything went as planned, and it was a beautiful day!

Me and my husband at the rehearsal.  He was such a huge help!
     We started the weekend festivities with the rehearsal at Presbyterian Church of the Redeemer in Dunwoody.  I am in love with their sweet little church! It's so quaint...the stonework is beautiful, and the pastor has a Scottish accent, which doesn't hurt anything.  I have decided that people with accents just sound more intelligent in general...unless, of course, it's a redneck accent. Not so much...  
  My sister's wonderful friend Christine directed the rehearsal and made sure everybody was where they were supposed to be, and my awesome husband watched from the side and so graciously ran around doing last minute errands and attending whatever little extra tasks that needed attending to .  I was so happy he was there!  After that, we had a lovely dinner at my sister and new brother in law's home in Atlanta.  It was a small, informal, Italian dinner with family and close friends.  It was great to see many of my family members who live far away and also get to know some of my brother in law's family members that I had never met before.

Here's all the ladies on my dad's side of the my brother! haha.  All my aunts, cousins, and of course the lovely bride (the one in the veil, of course...). :)

       The next morning I was an early bird up and ready at 6:30 so I could get my hair did! haha.  One of my guilty pleasures is having my hair done.  I'm in love with up-do's.  I think they are so elegant.  So I was super excited to see what gorgeous concoction my sister's hair and makeup artists would come up with.  I think both of our outcomes were beautiful!

My sister getting her "Old Hollywood" look.  I loved her birdcage vintage!
     After we got our hair did and got all gussied up, as my mamma says, we headed to the church.  After about 10 minutes at the church, I discovered that my zipper (which had worked perfectly fine the night before) was warped and would NOT go up!  I then proceeded to allow like eight women to try and persuade my zipper to go up with anything from vaseline to tweezers, including, but not limited mom, my sister's mom, the wedding director, the photographer, the florist, and the florist's daughter.  Random, I know.  After multiple failed attempts and less than 5 minutes before formal pictures, my mother saved the day with her tiny sewing kit from like the 1970's that had she had stuffed in the side pocket of my day's toiletry bag, which she just so happened to have in the car.  We spent the next moments together in the ladies bathroom of the church while she proceeded to sew me into my bridesmaid's dress.  Yes, you heard that correctly...she had to SEW the dress on me. For a split second in the bathroom I had a blonde moment and thought to myself, "Oh no...I'm sewed am I going to pee?" And then my brain reminded me that I was being sewn in a dress..not pants.  I worry about myself sometimes..
     I felt bad that I wasn't providing as much moral support to the bride as I should have been, but what do you do when you're stuck in a bathroom while your mom sews you in your dress?  I was kind of helpless.  But thankfully the church was dimly lit, and no one noticed that my dress had small stitches in the back.....
    We took some family pics while my sister and her hubby to be were doing shots with the photographer outside.

Me and my sweet hubby.

The with my lil bro, my mom, and my dad.

Me and my was so weird seeing him in a suit!   He never dresses up...  ;) 

     The ceremony was very worshipful and special. Laura and Bruce read their own heartfelt vows to one another and the pastor gave a beautiful sermon.  I even got to do a reading of one of Laura's favorite quotes during the ceremony, which was a very neat experience.  After reading the quote she wanted read, I connected with it immediately.  It is actually crazy how alike we are in our thinking.  The whole quote and her sentiments about it almost mirrored exactly the very first blog post I ever wrote and the actual reason why I named my blog "Finding Fairy Tales."  We are so cut from the same cloth when it comes to all things intellectual & spiritual.  My reading is below:

      If we are all honest with ourselves, (as cliché as it may sound) we all have an innate desire to live “happily ever after.”  We’ve been taught that “happily ever after” is only for story books and that hoping for such a thing is not only dangerous, but gives us unrealistic expectations about life and love and sets us up for failure.  Even so, our culture remains enamored by fairy tales.  From Cinderella to Braveheart, we are enchanted by tales of the transformed, because that is the deepest yearning of the human heart.  Just as the fairy tale princess needs the prince to risk his life, slay the dragon, and save her from captivity, or awaken her from her deep slumber with true love’s kiss, we live in a broken, sinful world and are in need of our own Prince Charming - our Savior, who can bring us from death into life by the transformative power of His unconditional love and sacrifice and give us our own happily ever after in Heaven with Him….. for eternity. 

The following passage may not be a typical one for a wedding, but I hope you’ll appreciate its powerful meaning for Laura and Bruce on this very special day. You’ll find it printed on the back of your program as well.
   “It is a world of magic and mystery, of deep darkness and flickering starlight. It is a world where terrible things happen and wonderful things too. It is a world where goodness is pitted against evil, love against hate, order against chaos, in a great struggle where often it is hard to be sure who belongs to which side because appearances are endlessly deceptive. Yet for all its confusion and wildness, it is a world where the battle goes ultimately to the good, who live happily ever after, and where in the long run everybody, good and evil alike, becomes known by his true name....That is the fairy tale of the Gospel with, of course, one crucial difference from all other fairy tales, which is that the claim made for it is that it is true, that it not only happened once upon a time but has kept on happening ever since and is happening still.”          - Frederick Buechner

   After the ceremony, we headed over to the reception.  My sister's decor theme was very shabby chic and rustic.  She had lots of tree stumps, tree trunk cross cuts, bronze lanterns, and colorful flowers.    Everything came together beautifully....

Daddy daughter dance...

I made the cupcakes for the wedding, but not the cake.  I think the arrangement turned out pretty cute!  Very free form and rustic....  The big tree slices that the cupcakes are on came from oak trees on our family's land in upstate SC.
Bruce's brother and I giving our toasts to the couple!

The cake favorite part!! Carrot cake.....yum!!


The Happy Couple!

    I am SO very happy for my sweet sister and her wonderful new husband!  It was an honor to be a part of their wedding ceremony, and I can't wait to hear about all their fun honeymoon adventures on Lake Tahoe!  Best wishes to them!!