How to Make Royal Icing and Decorate Cookies

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.

TNFP’s 3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

Recently, I was cooking at The Nashville Food Project with my friends when I spied Catering and Events Manager, Katie Duvien, pulling out 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. Apparently, 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 the commercial kitchen or at home.

After she recited the ingredients, I was already thinking about adding crunch by using crunchy peanut butter. I made my first batch that evening while another super-quick recipe, Sheet Pan Supper: Italian Sausage, Peppers, and Potatoes, roasted in the oven.

My friend, Vesia, who has been making these cookies regularly since I posted the recipe, uses brown sugar for half the sugar. She said it makes them moister. I agree.

Ingredients for One Dozen

1 egg
1 cup crunchy or creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar (half white and half brown)

To Scale It Up:

To make 6 dozen cookies, follow this recipe: 6 large eggs, 6 cups sugar (I use ½ white and ½ brown) and 6 cups crunchy peanut butter (a 3-pound container)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350º

Mix eggs and sugar, add peanut butter. Use a spatula to scrape ingredients from bottom and sides of bowl and mix again.

Add cookie dough by the spoonful (or use a #40 cookie scoop) to a baking sheet.

Use a fork to make the traditional crisscross pattern on the top.

Bake for 12-15 minutes. Do not over bake. As soon as the cookies have spread and turned light brown, they are ready. When making multiple batches, rotate baking sheets after eight minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Wrap after they cool so they don’t dry up.

Other Darn Good Cookies:
Mary’s Award-Winning Chocolate Chip Cookies
Italian Sesame Seed Cookies
Italian Ricotta and Lemon Cookies
Oats, Sorghum, Ginger, and Cranberry Cookies
My Favorite Rollout Butter Cookies

Other fun recipes from The Nashville Food Project:
Oven-Roasted Strawberry and Rosemary Jam

Outrageous Roasted Rosemary Cashews
 

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© 2014-2020 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.

Banana and Granola Multigrain Pancakes

This is my new go-to pancake recipe. You almost feel virtuous eating these carbs with their nutritious complement of grains (oats and cornmeal) and flax and sesame seeds.

The recipe is based on the banana multigrain pancakes I had at First Watch restaurant, my favorite of the breakfast food restaurant chains.  After ordering the pancakes two Saturday mornings in a row, I was taking notes on how to make them when I spied the First Watch, Yeah It’s Fresh cookbook on a countertop. I bought the book and made the pancakes the next morning with a few modifications.

These pancakes are delicious — light, crunchy and healthy. I love them!

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ cup rolled oats
1½ teaspoons cornmeal
1½ teaspoons ground or whole flax seeds
1½ teaspoon sesame seeds
3 eggs, beaten
1¼ cups whole or 2% milk
½ cup butter, melted
Banana, blueberries, or strawberries
@judyschickens Granola

Instructions

In a medium bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. Set aside.
In a larger mixing bowl, beat eggs and add milk. Set aside.
Melt butter. Set aside

Now you have three containers of ingredients.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and gently mix on slow speed until blended, maybe 20 seconds. Add the butter and blend briefly until ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Pour ¼ or ½ cup of batter into a preheated, ungreased, pan. Add thick slices of banana (or any fruit) and two tablespoons of granola to each pancake.  Smush the add-ins down into the batter a little. Cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side.

If you don’t plan to eat them right away, cook all the batter, cool the pancakes on a wire rack, and store in the refrigerator.

I recommend buying the cookbook and trying the Lemon RicottaPancakes too. They are scrumptious! You can buy the cookbook online here.

By the way, if you are looking for a few recipes for Easter dinner, check out this link where you can learn to make this bunny cake and my favorite ways to prepare lamb.

Oldest trick in the book …

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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.