Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Stained Glass" Cookies

I received quite a few requests to please explain the technique I used to achieve a stained glass effect on a cookie, so to be nice I decided that I would do that for you all.

It is almost Christmas after all.

Remember though, it is NOT my intention to ever become a tutorial writer.  I don't mind sharing here and there, but there are already awesome cookie artists out there that cover pretty much anything you could ever want.

I learned cookie artistry by researching techniques and mastering them.   I don't mean to sound crass, but seriously, do your own research.  Play around with different techniques and never feel limited to only cookie icing be it glaze or Royal.

Be adventurous and use BOTH.

Anyway, last Easter I made these cookies and I was thrilled with the way they came out.  I had seen the technique used by Corriecakes  and I knew I had to figure out how it was done.

So I did.

I was hoping that I would get to make them this holiday season and my prayers were answered.

This technique is super easy and works up quickly.  First off, roll, cut, and bake your shapes.

Go wild and use whatever shape your heart desires.

Make some marshmallow fondant.  Flavor it with something crazy like bubble gum.  You can use commercial fondant, but just know that crap is nasty.  Just stop being lazy and learn how to make your own.

Roll and cut the fondant with the same cutters you used for your cookies. Make a few extras just in case.  Let the shapes sit for about 15 minutes to become firm.

Lightly paint the cookie surface with corn syrup and then adhere the fondant to the top of the cookie.

Use a detail consistency (Thick Shampoo) Royal Icing to outline your designs making sure that you connect all the areas so that your stain will not run into other areas.

Make your "stain" in little wells of an artists palette or a styrofoam egg carton like me, using 1 Tablespoon Corn Syrup, 1 teaspoon water (or Cake Batter Vodka), and desired coloring.

Mix it, mix it good.

It should be thick enough to stay on a paint brush, but will immediately run when touched on a surface. Using your paint brush, lightly fill sections with desired colors.

These cookies will dry with a shiny, hard, candied effect.

Bada Bing

Badda Boom.  

You know you live in the South when you see names like Miss Martha, Earlene, and Skip....

This is Home Girl.

Now go make your own cookies!!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Meet and Greet Monday: She Bakes

The weeks leading up to the Christmas Holidays are always the busiest of times in the baking and sugar art world.

Go figure.

That is why I did not write Meet and Greet last Monday as EVERY one of my Cookier Friends is so busy and I knew that adding "one more thing" to an already full plate would be enough to send someone over the edge.

I won't be the responsible party that makes a baker lose their shit.

NOT that I know what it's like to lose my shit...

Tennessee Country Christmas
I thought it might be nice to just feature myself today as a Cookier "Interview-ee".  I think I am still narcissistic enough to pull it off and that way I did not have to bother anyone that is deep in the throws of decorative holiday cookies.

Hope you enjoy this post as I rarely every let people get to know me on a deeper level...even if it is just about cookies.

Vintage Themed Holiday Cookies
She Bakes: Let's give a rousing sugar welcome to "Home Girl" from She Bakes!!!  (This would be me.)

Home Girl: Thank you, so much for having me this morning!!  I'm glad I could pull myself away from the design bench to do this interview with you!!  I still have so much to do, so let's get down to business and answer these burning questions!!  By the way, do you have my requested Venti Starbucks' Salted Caramel Mocha Latte with a double shot??  Oh, good.  Thank you!
She Bakes: How did you fall in love with baking?

Home Girl: I fell in love with baking and decorating at a very young age.  My paternal grandmother, "Mutti" was from the Black Forest region of Germany and she baked these amazing cookies called Almond Spritz.  She would also take me and my little sister into a local place named Plaza Bakery (in Virginia Beach, Virginia) where they have the most wonderful Cakes, Cookies,  and Petit Fours.  My personal favorite is an Almond pound cake with Lemon or Pineapple Curd nestled in between the layers of dense, moist cake and covered in fluffy white, almond decorator icing.
She Bakes: Just for my own survey, did you ever have an Easy Bake Oven as a child?

Home Girl:  I did!!  I received my Easy Bake Oven for Christmas in 1977 at the age of six.  It changed my life forever.  Notice that my parents were also nice enough to get me a stand-up mixer, too!!

(See that Teddy Bear in the photo?  I wish I still had him.  He was an 18 inch Steiff and would be worth a lot of money today.)

Home Girl circa 1977

She Bakes: Name your top five Cookie Artists that you swoon over in no particular order.

Home Girl:  I can only name five?  Seriously?  Well, the first cookie blog I ever laid eyes on was Cristin's Cookies. I just adore her work and she is seriously one of the nicest people that walk the planet.  Of course, there's The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle and Lilaloa both of whom I learn so much from.  I might be slightly obsessed with Arty McGoo and her amazing work.  A new Top Five Cookie Artist for me is Mike from Semi Sweet Designs.  LOVE, LOVE, FREAKIN' LOVE his work.

I could seriously go on and on and on...there are just so many incredible sugar artists out there!!
She Bakes: What is your "goto" sugar cookie recipe?

Home Girl: I fell in love with this cookie recipe about 4 months ago and never looked back.  It's light and dreamy, works like a champ, and never needs to be chilled.  Why mess with what I consider to be perfection in a cookie?  I use to rely on a cookie made with granulated sugar, but since switching to one  that uses powdered sugar, I have found that I much prefer the flavor balance.
She Bakes: From what I can gather, you're also a restaurant trained chef...what is your favorite cuisine to both cook and eat.

Home Girl: That's a difficult question to answer!!  I am well versed in all aspects of cooking, regional and worldly cuisine, and baking, but I would have to say my most favorite is All Things Italian.  Northern Italian, more specifically.  I love, love, LOVE a good cream sauce with properly made delicate veal, slices of Prosciutto, and sweet, fresh garden peas with the proper hint of garlic and cracked peppercorn.  I serve this with Cesar Salad, made from scratch croutons baked in butter, sprinkled with fresh grated Parmesan Cheese, and a house-made dressing.  There might be a Tiramisu for dessert if you've been very good.
She Bakes: What is your most favorite thing about cookie art?

Home Girl: I love how creating a set of cookies relaxes me.  It's my therapy.  I turn on some music, go into my design room and get completely lost in piping icing onto a small surface.  It truly completes me and makes me blissfully happy.  I also love the look on someone's face when they see their cookies.  That's pretty awesome.
She Bakes: If you could send cookies to anyone famous, who would it be and why?

Home Girl:  Khloe Kardashian.  Without hesitation.  She deserves to smile considering how this past year has been so difficult for her.  Out of all my Kardashian sisters, she is the one I identify with the most and she's a shining example of how to gracefully deal with other people's bullshit and not jump on that train to Crazytown.  I give her "mad props" for that.  She's keeps it classy, yet gangsta.  (If anyone has that Koko connection, PLEASE hook a sista up so I can make cookies just for her!  It's on my bucket list!!!)

Let It Snow, Please!  
She Bakes:  Word on the street is that you're physically disabled.  Care to discuss this part of your life with us?

Home Girl: This past year I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Osteo-arthritis in all my major joints such as my hips, knees, feet, ankles, neck, back...pretty much everything BUT my hands, thank God.  I am very limited as to what I can and cannot do.  This coming New Year will be hard for me as I venture into medically necessary treatment that I do not want to do.  It's not gonna be fun, but I'm a fighter and I'll just kick this shit's ass, too.  It makes me sad that I can not work in a commercial bakery anymore, but I do what I can with my home oven.
She Bakes:  Outside of baking and decorating, what are your other passions in life?

Home Girl:  There are so many!!!  First and foremost is my relationship with My Divine, My God, and becoming more connected to my spiritual world. Right behind Him are my seven children ranging in age from 26 to 11.  I love photography, sewing, quilting, all things foodie, and living in Olde Towne, Portsmouth, Virginia.  That's how I became "Home Girl".  Passion for me, is in the creation of a "home".
She Bakes: That's all the questions I have for you today, Home Girl!  Thank you so much for taking time out of your extremely crazy busy week to talk with us!

Home Girl:  Not a problem, at all.  Thank you.  You'll be leaving now, right?

Ho Ho Ho

This is Home Girl...I mean, She Bakes....I get so confused.

Now, leave me alone so I can get all these cookies finished!!!!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

This and That Thursday

Posting on a Thursday has always been my favorite day to write.  It was started sometime ago by my Mama over at Mental Pause Mama.  (She needs to get back to writing, by the way.)  I like it because it gives me a chance to data dump my brain and for someone like me, it's often necessary so the creative pathways don't get clogged up.

Holla' if ya feel me.

I am going to enjoy the holiday season this year.  I will take the good with the bad and just relish in it all.  I will have no expectations of others except for love.  Pure and simple.  Life is just too short to get caught up in the bull shit.  Seriously.


When you live with only guys, never expect that you can leave 6 decorator tips in a paper towel on the counter for longer than 2 minutes because somehow one of them will throw that shit in the trash and then dump kitty litter on top of it.


I learned about Saint Nicholas Day from my friend at Jill FCS (Funky Cookie Studio) as she is hosting a Santa Share on her Thursday Throwdown.  I love learning about different holiday traditions and this one is so wonderful.  On December 5th, you put out your stockings or shoes in celebration of Saint Nicholas, who spent his life giving to others.  On December 6th morning, you will hopefully find a small gift and some sugary treats.

It makes me want to get all the decorations out and decorate the house today.

I had some left over Chocolate Cookie Dough that I had flavored with pure Peppermint Extract instead of Vanilla and then I rolled some Andes Peppermint Crunch bits into it and cut those bad girls out....

OMG.  So good and festive!!

You can get the recipe here.  I bow down to Lilaloa every time I make this recipe!  I just love how versatile it is and how well behaved it acts.

Playing with flavors is one of my favorite things to do.

I'm working on Victorian Inspired Cookies for a Dessert Auction at The Hill House Museum located in Olde Towne, Portsmouth, Virginia.  I have fallen in love with these Santa's!!

This is Home Girl and I feel so much better now.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Happy The Elf

I'll admit it.  I have been a fan of the Elf Antics for a while now.  I think it's a  fun tradition for the whole family to have the little sprite running around creating havoc and mayhem.

At least that is what my Happy the Elf does.

He's not one of the new fancy one's from that EOTS company.  Happy is a vintage elf (circa 1940 ish) and we have been good friends for quite some time.

Here he is messaging his friends on Elf Book.

This year I knew I wanted to make Elf Cookies, but I just hated the Elf Cookie Cutters that I saw. Most of them had a "boxy" feel to them.  I am pretty particular about my cutters and when Cristin from Cristin's Cookies asked for art submissions, I jumped up and did my happy elf dance!

I drew up exactly what I was looking for in an Elf Cutter and it went up against several other great designs which were voted on in a blind trial.

Guess what happened?  My design was picked as the favorite!!

Guess what else happened?


I squealed with joy when I got the box in the mail!  Cristin's cutters are amazing.  They are sturdy, without flimsy sides, and make nice, clean cuts when making cookies.  They are easy to clean and come beautifully packaged in pink paper and a cutter care card.  The box is so nice that after I use my special cutter, I always put it back into it's special home.

I just love the way the Elf Cookies came out!!

I think Happy the Elf loved them, too.

He munched on one of the cookies because he said that he was super hungry after being in the attic all year long.

This is Home Girl and I hope that if you partake in the whole Elf antics experience that you're having a great time, too!!

Check out all these great ideas for your own Elf Fun!!  If you don't have an Elf and don't want to pay a lot, go to a thrift store.  There are usually tons of the vintage ones for cheap!!!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday Meet and Greet: Cristin's Cookies

Good Monday morning to everyone!  I'd like to introduce you to my sweet, talented, adorable friend from Cristin's Cookies.  Cristin is my own first Cookie Crush.  I completely fell head over heels with her cookies and their gorgeous glazed icing.  I have even had the chance to co-produce a cookie cutter with her, but I'll tell you more about that story later this week.  

I was terribly honored when she agreed to answer my burning questions and I know that you will love her as much as I do!!  

1. How did you fall in love with baking and how old were you?

My daughter and I started baking and decorating cookies for Christmas only. I had bought a 1995 Better Homes and Garden magazine featuring Christmas Cookies and my mother had given me a couple cookie cutters. The cookies were basically just shapes with sprinkles on them. Then in November of 2009, I saw a penguin cookie cutter advertised in a magazine. I hunted it down and found it at That was the first cookie cutter I ever bought and I loved it. My cookie journey really began with that first cookie cutter. Then I found Susan of The Painted Cookie and picked her brain about cookies. I started my Cristin's Cookies blog on January 23, 2011 and joined Facebook shortly after on March 10, 2011. Finding so many friends on Facebook that enjoy decorating cookies helped to grow my current obsession.

2. Just for my own survey, did you ever have an Easy Bake Oven as a child?

Yes, I had an easy bake oven. Being able to make baked goods with a light bulb is a very good thing.

3. Name your top five cookie artsist that you swoon over in no particular order.

Oh gosh that's a hard one. There are so many that I not only swoon over, but completely admire and want to be like.
*Of course the amazing Callye of Sugarbelle's. I was lucky enough to meet her and she's just as nice in person as she is on her blog. I was nervous as can be - as in SHAKING, but she is warm and kind and makes you feel very welcome, even though she is the top celebrity in the cookie world! Her cookies are just beautiful and she provides easy to follow tutorials on every cookie she makes. The time that she dedicates to helping the cookie community is amazing. 

*And one of my all time favorites is Jill of Jill FCS. Her cookies make my jaw drop every time. My favorite style is with an outlined design because I think it makes the design pop and almost all of Jill's designs are outlined and they are always so creative and unique. And she rally's us all together in the fight against Leukemia for the Go Bo foundation and she pulls it all off with a smile.

*And Anita of Sweet Hope Cookies. Her cookies are beautiful and YUMMY (yes, I've had them) and she's funny as heck and down to earth and real. She comes up with tons of recipes and shares them with the cookie world. She fights against ALS and gives us the opportunity to be a part of the cause and she inspires us all to do nice things for other people. Random Acts of Kindness. She is the gal.

*Georganne of LilaLoa. Have you tried her chocolate cookie recipe? I don't even like chocolate, but I LOVE those cookies. She makes gorgeous cookies, shares her tutorials and for a long time she was doing it from the other side of the world. When I said that I'm incompetent at making eyes, a large container of different colored royal icing eyes showed up at my house Air Mail from Korea! She's a sweetie and an incredible designer of cookie cutters.

* Pam of CookieCrazie is such a complete sweetie and she responds to blog comments too. I was a glaze gal from the very very start, but Pam made being a glaze gal COOL. I felt like a complete outsider in the beginning especially when I saw the amazing designs and puffiness of the gorgeous cookies that others were creating. You know the kid that's different from the others and feeling out of place? That was me. Then I found Pam. All her cookies are made with glaze icing. She showed me that whether cookies are decorated with royal icing or glaze icing or fondant, or whatever, we're all part of a loving cookie community and see the talent in each other's work. 

I also love the gorgeous creations from Shannon of Artfully Delicious and Laurie of Cookie Bliss and Kim of The Cookie Puzzle and Melissa of Simply Sweets by Honeybee and Laura of Laura's Cookies and April of April's Sweet Boutique and so many that I could go on forever.

4. What is your favorite and least favorite thing about working in Glaze Icing as opposed to Royal Icing. 

Taste, taste, taste. Glaze icing is just plain yummy. I tried to make the switch to Royal Icing a couple years ago so that I could have those beautiful puffy creations that I drool over, but my kids rebelled. Glaze icing does not stay where you want it to stay. It doesn't ever get puffy. It takes longer to dry. Can't use a dehydrator. It gets craters if you're not careful. Lots of difficulties with working with glaze icing. But they're yummy and once you figure out what works for you with designing them, they can be beautiful. 

5. What was your favorite dish from your Thanksgiving feast.

I laughed when I read that question. I'm a vegetarian. I ate a muffin and mashed potatoes for dinner on Thanksgiving. We go to my in-laws for dinner and there is normally also salad and corn, but not this year. We brought the dessert. It was wonderful to be with family and friends though.

6. You're an avid cyclist, what is your dream ride?

I've actually done my dream ride. Several of them. My first century was one of my favorites when I rode in Napa alongside grapevines and flowers and beautiful hills and then down to the coast near the beach. My other favorite ride is a triple century that is down South in Malibu. You start at 4am in the pitch dark and can hear the ocean waves near you, but can only see what your bike light ahead shows and then the sun comes up and you have a glorious day of cycling and rest stops with energy bars to keep you going and then it gets dark again and the ending of the ride has these killer hills and descents and you have to finish before 4am to get credit for completing the ride. In the last 2 years of running Cristin's Cookies, I haven't had the time or strength to participate in those extra long endurance rides, but they are my favorite and I hope to get back to that strength.

7. If you could send cookies to any celebrity, who would it be and why? 

Hmmm I've never thought of that one. In all honesty, I'm much more star struck with our cookie gals than television or movie stars. I guess I have to pass on that one. I spend so much time on my cookies, I'd rather send them to someone that I know will appreciate them or to lift someone's day. It would be really fun to bring them to a children's hospital or a retirement home instead.

8. You make the most awesome cookie cutters, how did this come to fruition and where are you hoping to take this aspect of your artistry?

I'm a cookie cutter addict. I've spent more money on cookie cutters than I care to divulge. Thankfully I don't buy shoes or get my hair done or shop. When I started making my own cookie cutters, it was really just to make my own designs. When I bought a cookie cutter, I often saw things I would want to change about it. It was an extremely painful process to learn to make my own cutters (and still is sometimes). My first cookie cutter was Polly the ice skating penguin and she is still my very favorite. I squeal whenever I make those cookies. It's such a thrill when people purchase my cookie cutters and the tutorial cards. And seeing them pop up on Facebook, makes me smile huge. As far as the future, it is still very new to me. I've only had my Etsy shop open since Dec 27th of last year, so coming up on my one year shop anniversary soon. At this point, I think my goal is just to keep it up. In all honesty, it's not easy to design the cutters, make the cookies, photos, blog, ship and so on. I love it, but it's also a juggling act. I love that I'm often able to include a handmade cookie into some cookie cutter orders. I love seeing the designs come out as I see them in my head. I love the excitement of others when I come out with a new cookie cutter.

9. Are you going to CookieCon? 

Yes, I've bought my ticket. I'm still super nervous to meet all these amazing cookiers that I've idolized, but I'm excited to go.

10. Outside of cookies, name 5 passions in your life.

Mellissa, Nick, Sarah, Abigail and Aidan. And my daughter just drove up, so I'm going to go soak up 3 of those favorite passions ;-)

See, isn't she just the most amazing person?  She is a driving force in the cookie community and I'm glad she represents the "Glaze Girl's" with such class and elegance! 

Make sure you "like" Cristin's Facebook Page HERE.  Want to order some of her incredible, well-crafted, cookie cutters that come with free awesome customer service?  Check out her Etsy Shop HERE.  

This is Home Girl and I wish you a fabulous week and a Happy Cyber Monday Shopping Day.