Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

My selection of Thanksgiving theme cookies - these are going to a staff Thanksgiving celebration.
Happy Turkey Day! ( a bit early, but no matter!)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Halloween Platter

 A Halloween platter I made for my fellow teachers .

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Birthday Cookies

I haven't done any decorated cookies in quite a while and I'm anxious to get back to it. Every three months at school, we have a birthday celebration for those whose birthday fell in the past three months. Each time a different group of teachers is responsible for the food and can choose any theme they want. This time it's our turn, the elementary teachers, and we decided to throw a real "kids" birthday party( elementary school, get it?!)
I'll be making marshmallow creme-filled cupcakes as well as these simple, but colorful, fun cookies. I actually had the round cookies frozen and was waiting for some opportunity to use them- this was the perfect excuse!

                                                All set up and ready to go

                                                dots and squiggly lines- fun to do!

                                         happy faces- frosting was a bit runny but they're still happy!

                                                  Hope the teachers like them!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The joy of my life

Almost the whole summer has passed without a post. I spent my entire summer with this gorgeous creature above! Who has time for cookies and cakes when that little girl is so delicious to kiss and hug!?
Ronny is 3 months old now , summer is over and school is back in session. How nice for me that my daughter lives so close to school- I can just drop in for my daily "fix" on the way home from work!
Actually, I've been fairly busy lately with some baking in the few "spare" hours I have between schoolwork , Ronny , husband and other children!
A colleague at school wanted a cake to celebrate a niece's entrance into first grade. I have been wanting to make a cupcake cake for a while now and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. The cake is made in the shape of an "alef"- the equivalent of "A" and also "first grade" in Hebrew. There were 30 chocolate cupcakes with a yellow tinted cheese buttercream frosting. The writing is cutout fondant letters.  It was a hit at the party (she requested two more(!) for other parties)  and I had lots of fun making it.Hopefully there will be more to come.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy 4th of July!!

These are the cookies I made for a large order for a 4th of July party. The customer wanted 50 stars and 50 flags. I usually bag the cookies and tie a ribbon on to close them ,but this time I thought I'd try something different ( especially since the thought of tying 100 bags was not very enticing!). I started looking around for alternatives and found the idea of bag toppers. Just fold them over and either staple or punch holes at the top and run ribbons through to tie. I opted for the easier method. After a lot of web searching, I got to the job of designing on Publisher. It looked fine on the screen, but then I had terrible problems with the printing. Finally transferred it over to Word and it was fine, although the whole process took HOURS! I 'm positive there is an easier way with some program that is already out there and I know I will eventually find it! For now, I am pleased with the results and more important- the customer loved them!!

Happy 4th to all!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Peanut Butter Creme- Filled Devil's Food Cupcakes

I haven't baked in a long time, except of course for sugar cookies to decorate, but for some reason, that's different. The cookies are so easy to make and they are , for me, a means to the enjoyment of the decorating part.
I tend to bake less in the summer for obvious reasons- hot, sticky,less desire to eat baked goods ( thank goodness for that ), but every once in a while, I sit down and leaf through my cookbooks and huge three-ring notebooks with recipes I have accumulated and vow to make someday. Last night I got the urge and just went with it. After finding a recipe which I had all the ingredients for, I jumped right in, at 10 o'clock at night.(I'm on vacation- I can sleep in!)
The combination of chocolate and peanut butter is one of my favorites and this recipe by Bobby Flay is one I have had on my list for a long time. I used the recipe as is , except for the gananche frosting. I had some chocolate buttercream frosting on hand so of course I used that instead. I piped it on using a medium sized flower tip.
They are as delicious as I had expected them to be, so I sent them with my daughter when she went back to the army this morning. Otherwise I would have finished off the whole bunch and the two new pairs of pants I bought would not have liked that at all!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Amazing Giveaways!

If you like decorating cookies or even just looking at them, then you have to visit Glory's blog "Glorious Treats. She does some of the most amazing work I 've ever seen and her blog is lots of fun to read. This week she is having three ( yes 3!!) incredible giveaways for cookie cutters from three of the best cookie cutter sources there are.
The first is from Foose Cookie Cutters, the second is from Copper Gifts and last but certainly not least is from a truly amazing site called Ecrandal. Even if you are not into decorating cookies yourself, it's lots of fun just to see the interesting shapes they make.

These amazing designs are from Ecrandal.

            These are from CooperGifts.

                                            These fun ones are from Foose.
So take a jump over to Glorious Treats - feast your eyes and join in the fun! Who knows? Maybe you'll even win!

Friday, June 18, 2010

She's here!

She's finally arrived!
Wednesday, June 16, 2010 2:32 a.m.
Baby girl ( no name yet!)
8lbs. 1oz.
and just the most gorgeous thing ever created ( that's the "grandma " in me talking- did you expect something else!?)

I'm participating in Tidymom's I'm Lovin' It Fridays - Have a look!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Practicing baby cookies

We are still waiting ( somewhat impatiently!) for my eldest daughter to give birth. To help pass the time I am baking and decorating baby theme cookies. She will  probably have a party when the baby is about a month old and I am planning on setting up a dessert table for the event. These are just practice ( they've already been eaten!) Hopefully, next time I post there will be some exciting news!



Flowers for a Friend

A friend of mine had some surgery last week and I thought I would brighten her day with a flower bouquet- one she can enjoy looking at AND eat at the same time!


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

More Summer Fun

Here are a few more cookies I made for friends at school to wish them a happy summer vacation.
I am still working hard on perfecting the icing- not sure if I like the corn syrup glaze , royal icing, a combination of both, or maybe someting I haven't even tried yet. Well, now's my chance to experiment! I have all summer to work on it!

 sailboats( just in case you couldn't figure that out!)
wrapped candy
 ( I 've seen these on other blogs and just love them- didn't have a cookie cutter so I found a picture and made a template.)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cookies for Summer

Yeah!  Boo hoo! One more week of school. Actually, I love my work, but teaching has such a high rate of burnout and anyone who thinks teachers have an easy job should come try it for a week  day. As much as I enjoy being with my students, I find that by the end of the school year, I really need the summer to "recharge" my batteries. Teaching the little ones (K-2) is like being on stage all day long! I really am just a frustrated actress!
I made these summer time cookies for my colleagues at school to wish everyone a Happy Summer! My plans for the summer include working more on cookies during the break and perfecting some of my skills. And of course, the most important thing- my eldest daughter is giving birth to her first child ( my first grandchild and my Mom and Dad's first great- grandchild!!). We are on pins and needles now. Her due date is June 16th so I suppose it could be any day now- just waiting for that phone call!  Anyways, I will have something exciting to keep me occupied this summer!

So , what are you doing this summer? I'd love to hear !

coconut trees

beach balls and sandy feet

bite of watermelon, anyone?

sea shells by the seashore

sunny smiles

flip floppin' along

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Making Bread

I love making and decorating cookies, but second to that is making bread. When I first starting experimenting with bread, I bought a bread maker. After a while I decided to try it the old fashioned way. What a difference! For me, the kneading by hand is almost primal.The mixing of those simple ingredients together to form a loaf of bread, is theraputic. Watching it rise ( well , I don't actually sit there watching it- at least for the whole time!), shaping it, and baking in the oven as the house fills with an unrivaled smell, is an amazing feeling. ( Little things excite me!)
I love to experiment with new kinds of bread. One thing I still haven't attempted is a sour dough starter. Another two weeks and school is out so that is on my to do list for the summer vacation. This time I made two kinds of bread- a "health " bread with spelt flour and flax seeds. Delicious- those are the rounds loaves above.

The whole grain bread recipe made 4 loaves(!) so I stuck them in the freezer. Took one out yesterday , warmed it in the oven for a bit, and it was just like fresh baked.

Whole Grain Bread ( for 4 loaves- you could halve it if you don't want so much bread)
* note: If you choose to include the cracked wheat in the recipe, it needs to soak in water overnight. I didn't happen to have any at the time, so did not use it, but have done so in the past and it adds a great crunch to the bread.

650 grams bread flour
200 grams whole wheat flour
220 grams spelt flour
20 grams gluten
35 grams dry yeast
40 grams sugar
750 ml. water
70 ml. olive oil
20 grams salt
3 grams fresh ground pepper
100 grams flax seeds
100 grams roasted sunflower seeds
100 grams cracked wheat, soaked in water overnight

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add all the dry ingredients.
  2. Slowly add the wet ingredients and knead for about 10 minutes or until the dough separates from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Transfer to a work surface and knead the dough by hand until smooth.
  4. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size.
  5. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and form each one into an oval shape. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover and let rise again until doubled in size.
  6. Preheat oven to 230 C, lightly flour the top of the loaves and, using a sharp knife or razor, make diagonal slashes across the top.
  7. Bake 30 minutes, until the loaves brown and when the bottom is tapped, it sounds hollow.
  8. Cool on a rack. Be sure it is completely cool before slicing. (I can never wait that long!)

Flax Seed and Spelt Flour Bread( makes 2 round loaves)

250 grams sifted bread flour
180 grams spelt flour
100 grams whole wheat flour
10 grams gluten
15 grams dry yeast
30 grams sugar
10 grams salt
350 ml. warmish water
30 grams of wheat bran
50 grams flax seeds

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, add all ingredients except for the water
  2. Mix thoroughly and slowly add the water while the mixer is running. Knead about 10 minutes until you get a soft and very flexible dough.
  3. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size.
  4. Divide the dough in two and form each one into a round loaf. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and let rise again until doubled in size.
  5. Preheat oven to 230 C, lightly flour the tops of the loaves and makes slashes with a scissors or sharp knife.
  6. Bake 15 minutes then reduce the temperature to 200C for another 20 minutes until the bread browns.
  7. Cool on a cooling rack before slicing.
P.S. Gave my bread machine away to someone who wanted a more "instant" bread method. At least it went to good use!

An added note (5/28/10) this post is participating in "I'm Lovin It " party at TidyMom- jump over and take a look at everyone's entries. http://www.tidymom.net/2010/05/im-lovin-it-cleaning-bathroom.html

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pretty Cookies

Decorating cookies really does relax me. I spent Sunday morning home, all by my lonesome ( I love that "me" time) and decorated cookies. I try to have some in the freezer all the time, so whenever I get the urge to decorate, they're always there.
These are for no special occasion- just going to give them away to whoever I happen across. That's fun just in itself!


Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Chocolate Chip Bread Rolls

Chocolate Chip Bread Rolls

I recently received a small  recipe booklet from a local yeast company. I must say, most of the recipes look really good and it was just a matter of which one to start with. Bread is one of my favorite foods and I'm a chocolate freak so the combination of the two of them together sounded like a winner. Hard to decide if they are a roll or a glorified muffin, but whatever, they're darn good!
Easy to make, delicious ( and addicting!) to eat; I highly recommend giving them a try.

Chocolate Chip Bread Rolls
makes 20 rolls
3 1/2 cups self- raising flour ( 500 g.) ( I didn't have any so I made my own)
8 grams active dry yeast
50 grams butter
1 cup milk ( 250 ml)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup brown sugar ( 50 g.)
1/2 package chocolate chips ( 150 g.)
How to:
Place all ingredients except the milk and butter in the bowl of a standing mixer. Mix together thoroughly using the kneading hook, and slowly add in the milk. Add butter and knead for 4 minutes on high speed until the dough is soft and flexible.
On slow speed, add the chocolate chips  until blended in thoroughly. Form a  large ball of dough and place in a bowl. ( I just used the same one.) Sprinkle lightly with flour and cover. Let rest for 30 minutes.
Form small balls of dough ( about 50 g. each). Place on two parchment covered baking sheets. Make two diagonal slices on top of each ball with a sharp knife or blade. Cover and let rise for 40 minutes.
Brush with a beaten egg and bake 15 - 20 minutes in  a 200C ( 190 F) preheated oven.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

10 Things

This is a list of ten things about me that no one,or at least, very  few people, know about me. I was driving to work this morning and this thought came to me about something to write (don't worry, I was still paying attention to the road!) Just one of those things I felt like doing- no great reasons, just because. So here they are, not in any particular order of importance:

1. I was the star of my highschool musical performance - we did "Funny Girl" and I played Fanny Brice.
2. I originally majored in Drama in college, thinking I was going to be the next Barbra Streisand ( yeah, right- that faded rather quickly!)
3. I love to drive in the car by myself, put on my favorite music full blast and sing my heart out (and I don't care who's looking either!).
4. I'm a closet eater-I mean I don't really eat in the closet-I  just  eat ( more than I should) when no one is home or no one is watching.
5. I hate folding clothes.
6. I feel guilty about many mistakes I think I made with my children.
7. Believe this one or not- I have a very difficult time spending money on myself. Not sure why- just do.Can't remember the last time I bought myself a new piece of clothing.
8. This has to do with the previous one- I HATE clothes shopping! Hate trying things on, nothing looks good on me anyways.
9. I was an exchange student (AFS) in high school- went to the Philippines and loved each and every minute.
10. Without my glasses or contacts , I am considered legally blind. See fine with them, but without- can't go from the bed to the bathroom!

So there you go- some not so earth -shattering tidbits about me.
Here's a picture of a few little animal cookies  I did. If you didn't guess from some of my previous posts- cookie decorating is one of my favorite pasttimes.
 Have a good one!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Join the Party!

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

I am joining in on this Ultimate Blog Party for the first time. I'm not exactly sure if I am doing what I am supposed to be doing , but I'm giving it a try. If this is your first time visiting my blog "Welcome"!
A little bit about me:
My name is Yael , originally from Syracuse, N.Y. and have lived in Israel for the past 30 years. I have three grown daughters, have always loved to bake but only in the last few years taken it on as my true passion.
I teach elementary school and as much as I enjoy my profession, would love to take a new direction in my life, with baking and cookie decorating as my avenue. But the bills still have to get paid, so for now, I leave it as my free time activity and look for any opportunity and occasion to bake for someone!
Last year I took a professional pastry chef course and had the time of my life, learned an amazing amount and realized that this is really what I want to do. How to do it is another story and I'm working on that all the time.
I'm looking forward to visiting other blogs participating in this party. Would love to read any comments , short or otherwise, just to let me know you've been visiting. Have a look around - anxious to meet some new friends!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Lime- Basil Macarons

I love the way these cookies look. The variety of possibilities for color and taste is amazing to me. I 've read endless blogs and articles about the secrets of making them and although once in the past I tried, I decided that Passover was the perfect time to give it another go seeing as they contain no flour. In our house, it is a tradition to bring each other a little gift for the holiday and this year my daughter gave me a beautiful cookbook "Ottolenghi" by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. It is a book I would not necessarily have pulled off the bookshelf on  my  own, but boy am I glad she did! Wonderful recipes, beautiful pictures and great explanations. After spending the whole holiday leafing through the book ( over and over again!), I knew I had to try something. Being restricted by what I had in the house at that moment , I went for the macarons. They have three choices- salted nut and caramel, chocolate and lime/basil. I thought the lime/basil sounded different and interesting so I gave it a try. I followed the directions to the tee, and I think for a beginner, they came out quite well. A cute little foot formed on them and the insides were soft and chewy while the outside was just crunchy enough without falling apart when you bite into it. I loved seeing the bits of basil throughout the cookie itself and the filling as well. The combination of the lime and basil is unexpected but quite delicious. Reactions here were positive.

Lime- Basil Macarons  from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

about 20 macarons

110 grams powdered sugar
60 grams ground almonds
2 egg whites ( 60 grams)
40 grams sugar
5 basil leaves, finely chopped
lime zest from 1 lime

Basil Lime Filling
100 grams butter at room temperature
45 grams powdered sugar
juice and zest from 1 lime
5 basil leaves, finely chopped

Make the filling :
Cream the butter and powdered sugar together ( the recipe says to do it with a rubber spatula, but I did it in the mixer) until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the lime juice, zest and basil leaves and mix together until all are well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a cool place but not the refrigerator.

Make the macarons:
Heat oven to 170C. Sift powdered sugar and ground almonds.
Place egg whites and sugar in mixing bowl and whip on high speed  until the whites become thick and full of air- stable but not dry.
Fold a third of the meringue mix into the sifted almonds and sugar until fully incorporated.
Add the rest of the meringue mix and fold until the mix is smooth and shiny.
Fill a disposable piping bag with the meringue mix and pipe small, equal-sized ( I  draw circles in advance and then turn the parchment paper over.) circles onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Tap the entire baking sheet on the counter to even off the circles and let them sit  in the open air for anywhere from 15 -30 minutes.
Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven for 12 minutes- depending on your even, you may need more or less time. The macarons are finished when they separate easily from the parchment paper without sticking. Be careful not to overbake them.
Fill a disposable piping bag with the filling and squeeze a small amount on one cookie. Sandwich with another cookie. Leave at room temperature to set for about 2 hours. They can also be refrigerated for a shorter amount of time, but they should be removed in ample amount of time to serve them at room temperature.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Candied Peanuts and More

Again, I have not met my own promises and more than a month has gone by since my last post.Excuses- moving, heavy work load, etc., etc., etc. So, that's it for promises to myself! Whenever I get to it, I get to it- maybe I'll be more diligent without the "promises" hanging over my shoulder.

Passover is a few days away and I have been busy shopping and preparing, even though this year we will be a small  intimate group for the Seder. Just my husband and the three girls and they have all told me not to go overboard with food. Yeah- right- a Jewish mother not going overboard with food? Or any mother for that matter?! I spend a lot of time looking for new and innovative recipes, but when push comes to shove, I know my girls are waiting for the traditional food I always make. So the matzo balls are made and frozen, chicken soup goes in the pot and on the stove tomorrow, as well as the chopped liver and charoset ( a mixture of chopped apples, walnuts, cinnamon, and wine, resembling clay- a reminder of the mortar the Israelites, as slaves in Egypt, used to build the buildings). The only thing a bit different this year is the meat. I bought a veal shoulder roast and now I have to figure out what to do with it. I've been searching around for an appealing (and easy) recipe, but have yet to come up with something interesting. If anyone out there has any suggestions, PLEASE send them along my way!
In the meantime, as usual, I concentrate on dessert. What can I do- my sweet tooth and my love for baking always get the upper hand. So far I made a jelly roll (unfilled and frozen until Monday morning), yummy tasting cookies from  Smitten Kitchen, which were very easy and fun to make, the famous chocolate caramel matza crunch that I have made for years and never knew it came from Marcy Goldman at Better Baking, and some candied peanuts from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. I also used his adapted recipe for the matza crunch, but added some Heath Bar bits on top which I had laying around, begging to be used.

Candied Peanuts- so easy and addictive!
Chocolate Caramel Matza Crunch

Happy Spring, Easter and Passover to all!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dessert Table

I've been very busy this past week, preparing for my first "real" order of desserts. An aquaintance is having a progressive Valentine's dinner with 18 guests- drinks and appetizers at one person's house, dinner at another house and finally, dessert and dancing at the third house. I was asked to do all the desserts! This is a real opportunity for me since all the guests are foreign embassy diplomats and if I do this right, it could generate some not so bad business!
The hostess wanted all bite-sized desserts, lots of chocolate( of course, for Valentine's Day) and whatever else I chose. So here is what I chose- there are 7 different desserts with enough for 2-3 portions per person.
 mini pecan cups
mini red velvet cakes with cinnamon buttercream frosting
( frosting tastes amazing!) From Baked!

meringue cups filled with a white chocolate-mint ganache

meringue kisses sandwiched with chocolate ganache
(these were spur of the moment made with the left over meringue)

cheesecake topped brownies( to die for)

white chocolate panacotta, strawberry base and cinammon streusal topping
tri-color cakes/cookies with chocolate glaze
flavored with almond paste, layered with apricot jam and amaretto
what could be bad?
this recipe is from "baked"- highly recommended!

chocolate-orange liquer truffles and raspberry truffles

Everything is ready to go- just have to load it all into the car and deliver! Even though it was a lot of work, I planned it well and didn't really feel the pressure. Besides, I loved every moment of it- wish I could trash the day job and bake all the time!
Wish me luck- hope they like everything!