A Tale of Two Parties, Each Involving Cookies with Royal Icing

I recently helped host two parties, both for babies. One was an early celebration for my granddaughter’s first birthday. The color scheme was pink and white. All. The. Way. My family had been waiting a long time for a little girl since I grew up in a house with six brothers, then raised three sons and loved-on one grandson. It was always “Judy and the boys.” But not anymore.

The other party was a baby shower for the daughter of one of my besties, LouAnn.  The color scheme was sky blue and white, with a few cherished googly eyes thrown in for fun.

Both parties were designed with love and whimsy. For the baby shower, co-host Nan, decorated white pumpkins with ribbons. I had never considered bedecking pumpkins in this way, but when I saw hers, I was suddenly ALL IN on party spirit. Nan’s natural enthusiasm for life has a way of doing that to you.

She inspired me to make pretty pumpkins for my baby girl’s party. I bought white pumpkins and spools of ribbon to match the delightful print of the table runner my daughter-in-law, Meera, had purchased. Thanks to Meera, I am now obsessed with the color and pattern of this line of paper products from The Rifle Paper Company.

When I went to decorate the pumpkins, I got a heaping case of startitis and texted Lou Ann to ask if I could bring the supplies to her house and let her work her magic on them. She whipped these up on her kitchen counter while her dinner cooked. I love them! They make me smile.

Lou Ann is one of those creatives who gets in this peaceful place and calmly creates beautiful objects. It is as much a pleasure to watch her work as it is to work alongside her. Long-time readers of Judy’s Chickens may remember the  post I wrote on how she used greens from my yard to make a stunning winter floral arrangement.

Individually Wrapped Frosted Cookies for Party Favors

One of the tasks I took on for both parties was to make frosted cookies for party favors. I invited Nan and Lou Ann to come over for the morning day to help me out. I had never successfully negotiated how to use royal icing and a piping tool to decorate cookies. They were pros. A lot of what they taught me is explained more succinctly than I could ever express in the blog, Sally’s Baking Addiction.

You will need a disposable piping bag and a #2 or #4 piping tip. A Ziploc bag works fine if you run out of piping bags.

Gel food coloring has more color pigment than regular liquid food coloring, so you need less and the colors are truer. The girls taught me to poke a hole through the foil lid with a toothpick and use the toothpick to add color. We made three bowls of icing: white, sky blue, and pink.

They showed me this nifty way of filling a piping bag.

First, they piped an outline onto the cookie to create a nice edge.

After the outline dried, they used a miniature spatula to fill-in the interior space with icing. You may need to thin the icing with water, first. This filling-in process is called flooding in the icing world.

In addition to piping supplies, Nan brought this awesome adjustable rolling pin that keeps the dough thickness consistent when rolling out cookies. This leads to more even baking.

How to Make Royal Icing

Ingredients:
3 ounces (6 T) pasteurized raw egg whites 3 tablespoons meringue powder
1 pound (4 cups) confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
Water for thinning icing, as needed
Gel Food Coloring
Piping bags and tips

I mixed all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. I made the first batch with vanilla extract and the second batch with lemon zest. Both were good. You can store leftover icing in the freezer.

After we made the blue and white cookies, Lou Ann got busy on the dresses.

When she added the pink, I melted.

After the girls left, I decorated a few cookies for my grandchildren. I pushed the easy button on those and used a pastry brush to slather on the frosting without piping an outline first. Still cute, especially when I added the fun sprinkles from The Kitchen shop in Nashville. I purchased the cookie cutters and the adjustable rolling pin from there, as well.

I was babysitting that day, so in between all the rolling, baking, piping, flooding, and laughing, we women of the kitchen took turns holding my darling granddaughter.

Long before I learned about royal icing and piping, I frosted cookies another way with my grandson:

“Dog!” says my grandson.

A Few Other Party Touches:

Leave it to Nan to come up with a specialty drink for a party. She loved this cocktail when she had it in Las Vegas and figured out how to reproduce it.

These asparagus roll-ups were the best I have ever tasted. Liz, another host for the baby shower, created them. She used a combo of Boursin and Parmesan cheese in the spread.

My DIL ordered this delicious and gorgeous strawberry cake from Baked on 8th.

My sons’ generation refers to a baby’s first birthday cake as a “smash” cake. Baked on 8th makes those as well. This one has strawberry frosting and was out of this world. The blue high chair was used by my husband’s father. We continue to use it with love and careful attention — it may not be up to today’s safety codes.

My future DIL (!) Lily, ordered the flowers from the Green Hills Kroger. Ever since Lead Floral Designer, Liz Blalock joined their staff, the floral department has blossomed with beautiful arrangements.

The two parties were back to back events. Each was very different, but both were filled with many delightful moments, now memories, enhanced by the special touches of all who were involved in planning and hosting. After each event was over I had that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Corny, but Oh so TRUE!

Related Posts

Winter Floral Arrangements Using Greenery from the Yard

 

 

How to Make Birdhouse Gourds for Fall Decorating

 

 

Old-Timey Vanilla Bunny Cake

 

 

 

Chocolate Birthday or Valentine’s Day Cake

 

 

WWMD? A Bucket of Spring Veggies as a Centerpiece

 

 

Group Project: A Shibori Dyed Quilt

 

 

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© 2014-2019 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

Chicken Chat LIVE!

Here chick, chick, chick.

A few days ago, the production crew of Nashville Public Television’s weekly program,Volunteer Gardener, came over to film an episode on urban hen-keeping. After the team finished filming the TV program, they stayed and broadcast a Facebook LIVE segment. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Facebook LIVE.

The white arrow doesn’t always work, so if it doesn’t, try this link.

Watch the live program and learn things you didn’t know to wonder about like chicken egg production (No, they don’t need a rooster), what chickens do all day, what they eat, their most unusual eyesight, and the requirements for getting a Domestic Hen Permit.

Special thanks to the ever-creative producer of Volunteer Gardener, Greta Requierme for giving me the opportunity to teach about keeping a flock of urban hens. She searches the state to come up with unique and interesting stories for the program and has made it the number one watched show on NPT. Much thanks also to the hilarious host, Julie Berbiglia, Public Education Specialist for Metro Water Services. She was delightful and put me at ease throughout the two interviews.

The end of the LIVE broadcast got a little crazy with the chicken humor, but they couldn’t didn’t edit it out …

Related Posts
Eulogy for a Chicken
Putting Your Garden to Bed with a Blanket of Cover Crops
Family Dirt
Edible Landscaping with Nashville Foodscapes
Roasted Fig Preserves with Lemon and Thyme

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Always check my blog for the latest version of a recipe.

© 2014-2019 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies!!!

Yesterday, I was cooking at The Nashville Food Project with my friends when I spied Catering and Events Manager, Katie Duvien, pulling out two sheet pans of peanut butter cookies from the oven.

They smelled so good, I had to have a taste. Just a smidge, as my mother would say. I wasn’t the only one breaking off smidges.

“They only have three ingredients: one egg, one cup of peanut butter, and one cup of sugar,” said Katie. This easily-remembered recipe makes them perfect for scaling up in a commercial kitchen and at home.

After she recited the ingredients, I was already thinking about adding crunch by using a crunchy peanut butter. And why stop there? What about adding M&M’s, oats, or a Hershey’s Chocolate Kiss?

On my way home, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a container of all-natural crunchy peanut butter and a few ingredients for dinner. I prepped and baked the cookies while my Sheet Pan Sausage, Peppers, and Potatoes cooked in the oven.

These cookies make for a great quick dessert. A tip from my husband — if you are going to use all-natural peanut butter, you might want to consider adding a little salt to the top of the cookies before baking.

Yield: 12 cookies

Ingredients

1 egg
1 cup crunchy or creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar (could use half white and half brown sugar)
Optional: dot with M&M’s or chocolate chips on the top

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350º

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

Add dough by the spoonful to a parchment-lined sheet pan. Use a fork to make the traditional crisscross marks on the top. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.

By the way, The Nashville Food Project caters events as a social enterprise. Katie and her crew of volunteers are always coming up with new ideas for boxed lunches for board meetings and luncheons across Nashville. Email her at katie@thenashvillefoodproject.org if your organization is interested in home-cooked meals made with fresh ingredients. If you are interested in assisting with meal prep, sign-up at Hands on Nashville.

I spied them making these gorgeous spinach wraps yesterday.

Other fun recipes from The Nashville Food Project:

Oven-Roasted Strawberry and Rosemary Jam

Outrageous Roasted Rosemary Cashews
 

Popular fall desserts from the blog:

Marion’s Crazy Good Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips

Mom’s Pumpkin Pie

Mrs. Walker’s Cranberry Nut Pie

Applesauce or Apple Pie?

If you enjoyed this post, please share and become a subscriber! Be sure to confirm the subscription on the follow-up letter sent to your email address.

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Always check my blog for the latest version of a recipe.

© 2014-2019 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

My Favorite Blueberry Pie

It was Friday night, the beginning of the last summer weekend on the lake. We were finishing dinner on the deck when we were suddenly overcome by a scourge of mosquitos just as dusk fell. We decided to head inside. Everyone grabbed something from the table to clear it as we skedaddled into the house.

I had baked my favorite blueberry pie for dessert about an hour earlier. Most bakers know not to cut into a fruit pie until the filling has had a chance to cool and set, but we had momentum in the room; the kind that comes from vigorous teens after a mad dash. It didn’t seem like the time to wait for a pie to set.

As everyone cleaned the plates and loaded the dishwasher, I sliced and plated the pie. The kids passed the plates around the room, bucket-brigade style. Not wanting to move en masse to find a seat at the table, everyone stood where they were and ate their pie. No one spoke, so intent were they on their warm slice of pie with its thick puddle of juices, not too sweet berries, and thick, crunchy crust.

It was a moment in time that I cherish — everyone content and huddled together in my kitchen.

I usually make blueberry pie in late June and early July when blueberries are in season. To store surplus berries, I measure out 4-5 cup increments (enough for a pie) and place in storage containers in the freezer.

Yield: One 9″ Pie

Ingredients


One 9-inch double pie crust ( I adore Trader Joe’s frozen pie crusts)
4-5, occasionally even 6, cups blueberries (all fresh or a mix of frozen and fresh)
1 teaspoon freshly zested lemon
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⅓ cups granulated sugar
⅓ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons butter, cut into thin slices
1 egg and a sprinkle of sugar for egg wash, if desired

Instructions

Preheat oven to 450º. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven on the middle rack to preheat with the oven. I find that cooking pie on a hot pizza stone helps the bottom crust cook more fully.

Prepare or purchase a double pie crust. Unroll one crust, use a rolling pin to smooth it out, and place in a 9″ pie pan as described in my Strawberry Rhubarb Pie post. Set aside.

 

Pour blueberries into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir together.

Cook on medium heat, stirring often, until thick, bubbly, and glistening. The juice color will change from dull to shiny within five minutes. Stir in vanilla extract. Remove from heat.

Pour filling into unbaked pie crust. Dot with sliced butter.

Roll out second crust, place over filling, and tuck in edges.

Crimp edges and slash crust with a knife to create vents for steam.

If desired, add an egg wash to the upper crust for a more finished look. Using a fork, beat egg in a small bowl. Use a pastry brush to spread over crust. If the wash puddles in the dimples of the crust, use a paper towel to mop it up. Sprinkle sugar over top.

Here’s what the crust looks like with and without a wash.

  

Here it is with a stockinette pattern piecrust from Mason Dixon Knitting. Here is a link to the piecrust instructions. So fun!

 

Place pie on the preheated pizza stone and bake for 10 minutes at 450º. Reduce heat to 350º and cook for 35-45 minutes. After the first ten minutes at 450º, you’ll notice the crust will already be lightly browned. To keep the crust’s edges from browning too much, place a pie crust shield  over the rim. If you don’t have one, cover rim with strips of foil.

The pie is done when the crust turns golden brown and the juices start to bubble out.

Birthday Pie

SOME people request blueberry pie instead of cake for their birthday. For my husband (and for me, too), it has to be THIS recipe because after 35 years of eating blueberry pie with the subtle tastes of nutmeg and cinnamon in it, other blueberry pies taste bland by comparison.

Goodbye summer of 2019!

And, Becca and Joe, I’ll be back next summer to get more blueberries from Rosebud Farm. It was at their farm that I filmed the sheep for the story The Sheep of Nashville: The Chew Crew. You two sure make retirement look like fun!

Other Fruit Desserts
Mom’s Apple Pie with a Cheddar Topping
Homemade Grape Jelly
Mrs. Walker’s Cranberry Nut Pie
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
My Favorite Peach Custard Pie
Very Berry Clafoutis
Fruit and Nut Bread

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Always check my blog for the latest version of a recipe.

© 2014-2019 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.