MIY Studio Crafts Co. and Raining Cookies: Women supporting Women!

One of the main reasons that I began blogging was to connect with other women who were struggling with the big “what’s next” question. One of those amazing women is Mary Forbes. Mary is a lot like many of us moms who raised her kids and has worked most of her adult life, and then found herself in the position of asking herself “What do I want to do now”?

Many of us don’t know that answer right away, but Mary really did have an idea. She has always had a talent for all things crafty, especially with a needle and thread, or yarn. She wanted to create a space for women to come together, support one another and enjoy crafting. It didn’t happen quickly! She had to find the right place, fix it up, take care of her family, work at her job and successfully battle breast cancer!

Now Mary’s dream is a reality, and in Snoqualmie Washington! MIY Studio Crafts Company offers a variety of workshops and classes taught by either Mary herself, or other women from all over the state. I was eager to visit her studio and when a cookie decorating class popped up on the schedule, I jumped at the chance to sign up!

MIY Studio Crafts Co is a converted home that Mary purchase and turned into a warm and inviting crafting studio. The house was built in 1910, and needed some serious upgrading.

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When the railroad was built, it ran right through the front yard of the house. So, now the back of the home is the front entrance.

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I arrived a little early to take some pictures before our class began, which was focused on the basics of decorating cookies with royal icing.

The inside was redone and was bright, pretty and organized for any type of craft project one could imagine.

 

This class took place on Sunday morning, so Mary offered snacks and mimosas!

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The mimosas were quite popular!

I then met our teacher for the class. Julia Omholt from Raining Cookies is a young woman who operates her cookie business from a commercial kitchen in nearby Redmond, WA. Mary and Julia have known one another for many years. In fact, Julia makes cookies for wedding ceremonies and Mary served them at her daughters nuptials this past summer.

Julia brought everything needed to teach the class, which I really appreciated. Many of you know I like to bake and decorate cookies already. But, the most annoying part of that process is making all the icing, getting the consistency correct, and making all the colors….Well, that was all ready for us and all we had to do was the fun part! Oh and drink mimosas!

Each participant was given a folder with recipes for the royal icing, sugar cookies and a source list where we could purchase cutters, tips, and general baking supplies.

 

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Our box contained six cookies: 2 giant hearts, heart shaped sunglasses, XO, lips and a cookie that said “love”. This was a Galantine’s Day event after all!

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The studio had a designated space for demos, and Julia spent time going over the correct consistencies for our Royal icing. She provided both piping and flooding icings for us to work with.

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Our colors were red, pink and teal.

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Julia demonstrated her method for piping and flooding.

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Then it was our turn to practice on plastic covered lines before moving onto the cookies.

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Julia was very patient with us and provided detailed instructions on how to achieve the specific look of the cookies. It was fun to attempt to make the cookies as professional as hers!

These are my cookies below.

 

 

Have you ever purchased a cookie that looked great but tasted like paste? Well, that is not these cookies! Julia has wonderful flavor combinations, and these were delicious 🙂

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Mary is planning on having more baking classes and workshops, in addition to all the other great offerings that she has scheduled! And, Julia ships her cookies anywhere, so you can find out for yourself just how tasty they are!

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I love it when women support other women! I am proud to recommend and promote both of these ladies and their businesses. I plan to attend more of Mary’s workshops, especially over the holidays, to learn and create her beautiful projects.

You can find MIY Studio Craft Co on Facebook and on Instagram here

And Rainingcookies.com or follow on Instagram here

So proud of both of these ladies, both doing what they love and are passionate about. Taking the big steps to make their dreams come true 🙂

 

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Strawberry Basil Shortbread

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A really good friend was recently in town for just a couple days. He lives in California and has never been to our current home (which we have been living in for 12 years!) Yes, he is a good friend but, like all of us, has a very busy life and just has not had the time to visit as much as we all would like. So, when he told us he was coming up for a business meeting, we had to have him over for dinner. I was planning the menu when I realized he would be here on one of the hottest days of the summer (so far). I wanted a light and easy meal but still wanted to make some effort in honor of our buddy. I settled on rosemary mustard roasted pork loin with bacon, roasted vegetables (carrots, cauliflower and asparagus), homemade ciabatta bread and limoncello ice cream. I got to thinking that it would be nice to have something to go with the ice cream, you know a little something crunchy that would complement the lemon flavor. Strawberry basil shortbread just popped into my head and I had to try to make it happen. And that is how this recipe was born!

The trick is getting all the strawberry flavor and not all the moisture that comes with fresh fruit. I used freeze died strawberries from Trader Joe’s. The same brand that I used when making strawberry frosting for one of Sally’s baking challenges (the roll cake).

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I decided to grind the dried strawberries with the granulated to sugar to incorporate the berry flavor into the shortbread dough. My recipe was 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 cup dried strawberries which I then combined with my food processor.

altered

straw sugar

I wanted a course texture so the dough would have specks of strawberry

From here on it was a pretty straightforward shortbread recipe. I creamed the butter and strawberry sugar and added lemon extract. The flour and salt were added and mixed until just combined. I then added the finely chopped basil and mixed until thoroughly incorporated. The dough was chilled for 30 minutes and then I rolled it into a square roughly 6 in. X 6 in. 1/2 inch-3/4 in thickness.

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You can see specks of basil and strawberry and the dough has a pinkish hue

I used a ruler (because I am anal and a control freak) and cut 3 inch bars.

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These went on a parchment lined pan and were sprinkled with Demerara sugar for sparkle and crunch. This shortbread is not overly sweet but I wanted it to pair with the limoncello ice cream, so I resisted the urge to add a glaze. If it was to be served solo then I would add a glaze that would boost the strawberry flavor.

 

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Into the oven at 350F for 20 – 25 minutes

And voila!

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ice cream

I am happy with how well these complemented the lemon in the ice cream. I would like to perhaps enhance the strawberry flavor in the future. Maybe more than 1 cup of dried berries? Is there a strawberry extract that could be used? I am happy with the basil and don’t want to alter that as I am worried it could overpower the cookie. If any of you try this recipe please give me your thoughts and critiques, I would love your input!

Strawberry Basil Shortbread

  • Servings: about 30, 3 inch bars
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

This tender, savory shortbread pairs well with citrus notes or is delicious on its own. A unique item for your brunch guests!

Credit: Invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

-1 cup granulated sugar

-1 cup dried strawberries (fresh will not work as they contain too much moisture)

-3/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature

-1 teaspoon lemon extract

-3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

-1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

-2 Tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Combine the sugar and dried strawberries in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a flat blade. Pulse until the berries are coarsely ground and well incorporated with the sugar, 1 to 2 minutes. Be aware that this will create some dust.
  2. Cream the sugar mixture and room temperature butter-it must be room temp. I leave my butter out the night before to make sure it is soft, if the butter is too cold the dough will not come together.  Add the lemon extract.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add to the butter mixture and combine on low speed, just until the dough come together. Add the basil and mix until well distributed. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and form into a disc. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for, at least, 30 minutes. You may chill for longer but allow the dough to warm a bit before rolling out as it may be crumbly if it is too cold.
  4. Work with 1/2 or 1/3 portion of the dough at a time. Roll or pat into a 6 in X 6 in square. Using a sharp knife, or cookie cutter, cut bars or desired shape. Place on paper lined pan, sprinkle with sugar if desired.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Cool completely on a baking rack. 

 

 

Sally’s Baking Addiction, March Challenge

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Last month I began this baking challenge at Sally’s Baking Addiction. In February we made Molten Lava Cakes, and this month Sally’s challenge recipe is Sky High Chocolate Mousse Pie, in honor of π day on 3/14. You can find that recipe here. The pie recipe looked amazing, but my family is not a pie kinda crew. Fortunately, Sally always provides an alternative challenge each month (for the weirdos like us!). This month I made her Cinnamon Roll Cookies, and I am really glad I did! These cookies are really simple to make, I am so impressed by the sugar cookie dough that I intend to use it for the butterfly cookies I make each spring (more on those next month!)

The cookie dough is rather straight forward. Combine the dry ingredients and set aside. Begin by creaming the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. I did make one small tweak here and used vanilla sugar instead of plain granulated sugar because I always keep a jar of vanilla sugar handy for sweet recipes. After the creaming process the egg and vanilla were added, followed by the dry ingredients.

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The dough came together quickly and was the perfect consistency for the next step

The recipe stated that the dough was to be divided into two equal parts. The total weight of the mixture was 1 lb 8 oz, so each half was 12 oz. Each portion was to be rolled out, on a floured parchment, in a 9in x 7in rectangle. I like to measure my dimensions onto the paper, then flip it over so the ink will not transfer onto the cookie dough

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Then it is just a matter of working the dough into the pattern.

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Next the filling layer is applied. The mixture consisted of melted butter, cinnamon and more vanilla sugar.

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At this point it does resemble an actual yeasted cinnamon roll product. Starting with the long side, the dough is rolled into a cylinder. The process is repeated with the second portion of the dough and both “logs” are covered and chilled for, at least, 2 hours. The chilling process makes the cookies quite easy to slice and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

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The pans went into a preheated 375F oven for ~12 minutes, or until light brown on both sides. I had a yield of 32 cookies (16 per pan)

All cinnamon rolls need icing! This was another area where I made a couple changes. The icing was made with powdered sugar, milk, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon extract and the caviar of 1/2 of a vanilla bean pod. I wanted to really bring home the cinnamon flavor and I really like the look of the small specks of vanilla seeds in the icing.

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All that was left to do was to take their beauty shots! I tried to incorporate some of the lessons I learned from my food photography class.

 

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Oh we ate a lot of them! A truly delicious cookie, and a recipe that I will be making again! Check out Sally’s website, Facebook and blog for more wonderful cookie ideas!

 

 

Cookies, Fudge and Snow, Oh My!

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Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I had no idea this was going to happen today!

Fortunately I was prepared. I had already been to several grocery stores and stocked up on all the ingredients necessary to prepare for the upcoming festivities. I decided to make the Christmas cookies that I’d promised my mother-in-law for Christmas Eve.

I use a shortbread cookie recipe that was given to our culinary class by the head pastry chef. The book our chef had was pretty old and beat up and this was in 2013 so I don’t remember the title or author, so I will just include the recipe below. I love this recipe for a couple reasons. For one this dough is not too sweet so I can comfortably pile on the royal icing without fear of overdoing the sugar. For another, the dough is fantastic to work with. It freezes well for long term if needed and it is easy to roll out and cut the cookies. One change I do make is to add whole-wheat pastry flour to give the dough a nutty flavor and you may want to consider adding some vanilla or almond extract if you find the cookies a little too bland.

I mixed the dough and chilled it for 24 hours, then rolled out and cut my shapes. The cookies went into a 350°F for about 20 minutes. I wanted them slightly browned.

Anyone who has decorated cookies knows that the most labor intensive, and arguably the most important aspect, is getting the icing the right consistency. I used Antonia74’s royal icing recipe, which I found on Pinterest. It is similar to many other formulas using both meringue powder and cream of tartar for stabilizing; it also makes a large quantity. I don’t know why but I find it excruciatingly annoying to have to stop decorating and make more icing! I would rather toss half of it than stop to make more!

I gathered all my pearls, sanding sugars, and sprinkles and made white, red, green, black, yellow and sky blue icing. My go to consistency is a 10 second count.

A few short hours later…..

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When I finally finished cleaning up, I was shocked to see that it was still snowing. So, time to move onto the fudge. I use the very simple recipe found on the back of the Jet Puff Marshmallow Crème jar. This is one of the few things my mother actually baked and did not buy, as I am not a descendent from one of those families with a strong culinary heritage. In fact, no one in my immediate family was interested in producing home cooked meals. Hence my constant references to the food network and my short stint in culinary school! But this fudge is a keeper.

I use a thermometer and boil until 234°F and then add the rest of the ingredients.

Now I am set for Christmas Eve, just a few items to bake and cook for tomorrow morning then it is off to grandma’s house. Oh, one more thing..

hawks-cookies

Go HAWKS! Merry Christmas Everyone!

Short Dough I    yield: total dough weight 1lb. 9oz.

8 oz. Butter or butter and shortening

3 oz. sugar

1/4 t. salt

2.25 oz. eggs

12 oz. pastry flour

Directions

Using a paddle attachment, mix the butter, sugar and salt at low speed until smooth and evenly blended.

Add the eggs and mix just until absorbed.

Sift the flour and add it to the mixture. Mix just until evenly blended.

Chill several hours before using.

Holiday Biscotti

December is here and, at our house that means it is time to make this holiday biscotti recipe. I have been making these for several years now and they are one of the most requested treats from our friends and family. The recipe comes from Giada De Laurentiis, and to be honest, I tend to refrain from making her recipes as I find them to be rather one note. She tends to use the same ingredients in the majority of her recipes, which limits the flavor profile in her cuisine. That being said, this is one of the most versatile biscotti recipes that I have found to date. It is easily modified and can be used with just about any dried fruit and nut combination you find tasty. If you are someone who does not like hard, dry biscotti then you will appreciate these cookies. They are softer than traditional store bought, and keep for quite awhile in an airtight container.

Equipment that I Recommend

 

I love the website, Breadtopia. If you are an artisan bread baker then you probably already know all about them, but if not, do check them out. I get all of my instant yeast, parchment paper and unique flour blends from their website. They have an excellent collection of recipes with tutorials and videos for just about any type of bead you are interested in baking. I will be highlighting several of their products in the future when I do some artisan bread recipes. Today I am featuring their dough scraper and biscotti pan. I have two of these plastic, flexile scrapers, which are wonderful for extracting dough and soft batters out of mixing bowls. They hold up great in the dishwasher and I am hoping to get a couple more for Christmas! The biscotti pan is something that I didn’t even know I needed! It was part of a gift set from my husband last year and, at that time; I didn’t realize it was included in the package. It makes the forming of the biscotti, for the first bake off, so much easier than molding the dough by hand. If you have the option, and like to make biscotti, then consider the investment. You certainly do not need either of these to make the recipe successfully; they just make your life a little easier.

On to the Cookies

I followed the recipe as written, with one exception. I used orange zest instead of lemon. I have used lemon in the past and it is fine, but I do like orange and cranberries together a little more than the lemon. Whatever you have on hand will work. I also do not measure zest, life is too short for that! I just zest the whole fruit and have never had a problem.

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And like many others, I make my own vanilla sugar by adding used vanilla pods to a canister of sugar. I use it for anything that I am baking that calls for some extra sweetness.

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One place where you can get a bit bogged down is chopping the pistachios. I find that if I place 1 cup of whole pistachios into a plastic sandwich bag and gently use a rolling pin to crush them, it will equal (roughly) ¾ cup chopped nuts.

I put the complete batter into my biscotti pan and baked them off as recommended.

The biscotti need to cool for, at least, 30 minutes. In the past, I have stopped at this point and finished baking them off the next day, and they still came out great. Once they have cooled you need to cut them for the second bake off. I am not someone who can start at one end and cut even sizes all the way to the other end. I use a serrated knife and start by cutting the log into two equal pieces. Then cut those into quarters and so on, until there are 16 equal(ish) cookies. These are then baked until brown.

The recipe calls for dipping half the biscotti into melted white chocolate, but I prefer to spread one side (usually the not so pretty side) with the chocolate. I find that one 4oz. bar will cover all 16 with a thin layer. If you want a thicker coating then you may want to follow the recipe recommendation of 12oz. I like to control the amount of chocolate and then I sprinkle with white sanding sugar for a little sparkle. I am not a big fan of the colored sprinkles but I would eat them either way.

Now you just need a good cup of coffee! I hope you try these, I think you will enjoy them.