Archive | February, 2011

Custom Cuts: Always Say “Thank you!”

28 Feb

My godmother needed to send a “thank you” from her son for some help he received recently.  She thought about a fruit basket… but then she came to her senses and asked me to do some cookies.

I wanted something that looked a bit professional and masculine.  An interesting, and challenging, combo for a sugar cookie.

After testing – and liking – the woodgrain technique, I decided the look would be perfect for this order.  A slightly darker brown “thank you” gave the cookie exactly the look I was going for.

This same look would be really cute for a vintage birthday party.  Wood paneled basements anyone?


Advertisements

Hokey Pokey – Fresh Baked (well, made) Friday!

25 Feb

Two years ago, almost to the day in fact, I left for the most amazing two week vacation.  Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch.  14 days of green hills, fabulous wine, new sites and amazing people.

Needless to say, I was shocked and saddened to hear about the earthquake that hit Christchurch earlier this week.  While in New Zealand, I actually spent a majority of my time in this South Island city – with a lovely family who wanted to show me the sites and make me love their homeland.  They didn’t have to work too hard.

From the moment the plane landed in Auckland, I was in awe.  There is something so warm about the New Zealand people and the New Zealand land.  People are content and love life.  The land is green and sprawling.  Life is simple, in the most amazing way possible.

In honor of Kiwis everywhere, I thought I would make a New Zealand sweet.  Let me introduce you to… hokey pokey.

No, not the crazy dance you do at family weddings.

This is a spongle-like candy that tastes a lot like caramel and is sometimes covered in chocolate.  Side note, similar candy is called different things all over the world – most commonly honeycomb which more or less describes what it looks like.

New Zealand takes it to a whole other level.  Enter okey pokey ice cream.  It’s delicious.  No, honestly.  A hokey pokey cone along the east coast of the South Island… pretty much perfect afternoon.

Try this homemade version.  Let me be honest.  It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good.  Good enough to be a start.  And it’s easy.

All you need is corn syrup (gasp, I know… but this is a treat, not a dietary staple!), sugar and baking soda.

Combine the corn syrup and the sugar.  Heat until it boils.  Then add the baking soda and pour onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

See how it becomes this silly looking, bubbly mass?!  Let this cool and then break it into pieces.

I dipped my pieces into chocolate.  Because, chocolate never hurt anything, right?

I told you, easy peasy.  Alright, I did burn my first batch a bit.  So, maybe not easy peasy.  But pretty easy.So, hokey pokey is just one of many sweet memories from my trip to New Zealand.  The pictures are just a few others.

If you haven’t been, go.  Don’t let the flight be a barrier.  It’s easy.  And the amazing time you spend in New Zealand will be worth it all.

Until then, say a little prayer for all those down under.

Hokey Pokey
Printer Friendly Version

1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons dark corn syrup (I used light and it was fine)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
8 ounces chocolate, melted (optional)

Directions…

In a saucepan, combine the sugar and the corn syrup.  Once you place it on the heat you will not be able to touch it, so make sure it is well combined.

Place on medium-high heat until the mixture boils and turns a golden brown color.  This can take anywhere from 3 – 10 minutes, so watch carefully.

Immediately remove from the heat and whisk in the baking soda.  Pour onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Do not spread, just let it sit and cool.

Once cool, break into pieces and dip in chocolate, if desired.

Source: adapted from Nigella Lawson via FoodNetwork

Custom Cuts: Little Love Onesies

24 Feb

As promised, more onesies.

Sara contacted me to do some sweet treats for a joint baby shower for two of her co-workers.

She wanted a combination of jumbo cupcakes, mini cupcakes and onesie sugar cookies.  I loved the fact that she wanted a variety of flavors and sizes to make a visually appealing treat display – a girl after my own heart!

For the onesies, Sara was very open.  She told me the colors were spring – sunny yellow, bright orange, spring green, bubblegum pink and turquoise blue – and that she liked the hearts I did last Valentine’s day.  I figured, why not add the two together.

End result?  Simple, sweet onesies full of love.

Readable in Readers

22 Feb

Just as an FYI – if you use a feed reader, such as Google or FeedDemon, Kristina’s Confections now will (well, should) show up with the correct title and all.

It took a little work on my end.  Turns out writing computer jargon is not as easy as baking cupcakes or decorating sugar cookies.  Well, at least not for this girl.

Anyway, go ahead.  You know you want.  Subscribe!!!

Happy Birthday… Cheers to a New Decade!

22 Feb

My friend Caitlin celebrated a birthday recently.  I wanted to give her a little treat to memorialize this special day.  Cookies were in order.

Since it may or may not be a big birthday, I wanted to go with a fun, bold palette.  I think they turned out pretty well.

And I am still slightly obsessed with the candles on the cakes.  Why are they so darn cute?

It’s Raining… Babies!

21 Feb

Is it just me or is it raining babies these days?

So many friends of mine are pregnant.  And then there are friends of friends and co-workers of friends… all preggers.  Somethin’ is in the water people!

It’s crazy.  And it means I have been churning out onesies like you wouldn’t believe.

These darling onesies are part two of my friend Gillian’s order from a couple of weeks ago.  Her co-worker found out she is having a baby girl and Gillian wanted to surprise her with these cookies.

Gillian’s brilliant eye came through once again – I love (LOVE) the pink, orange and white palette.  Preppy, yet modern.

And we are not done people.  Stay tuned.  It’s onesie week galore!

Pizza Pizza

17 Feb

Sooo, I bet you thought I forgot.  No, no.  Well, maybe.  But then I remembered again.

I promised to tell you about my best pizza to date and the day has arrived.  Just in the nick of time for tomorrow’s Friday Night Pizza.  Phew.

Since you already have your dough made, let’s get started on making those caramelized onions.  I know, I thought the same thing.  They must be so difficult to make, since they are so gourmet, so delicious.  Well, folks, I’m here to tell ya – not so!

Making caramelized onions just takes some time and some patience.  Don’t have any?  Well, pour yourself a nice glass of wine and learn to sit back and let these onions do their thing.

Okay, first, you need to thinly slice the onions.  How many is up to you.  Since they do take a bit of time, I usually caramelize two onions in a batch – then I have leftovers for meals for the week.  As for the type of onion – whatever you have on hand will work.

Heat a bit of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  I usually do a teaspoon, give or take, for each onion.  Remember, you can always add but you can’t take away!

Now add all of your onions.  You want to be sure that the pan isn’t overcrowded.  I probably should have used our larger saute pan, but it was probably dirty.  OR I was too lazy to get it out (hey, it’s very heavy).

Lightly toss the onions so they are all coated in the oil.  And let them start cooking.  Now you can officially sit back and relax.

Stir occasionally.

The onions will start browning.  If it’s uneven or too brown, you can lower the heat a tad and/or add a bit more oil.  Don’t panic.  They’ll still be delicious.

See how much they cook down?  After about 10 minutes or so, add a bit of salt.  Again, let’s remember – you can always add, you can’t take away.

Side note – are you impressed that I remembered to take so many step-by-step pictures?  I am!

I decided to add a bit of balsamic vinegar – about a tablespoon or so.  This just adds a bit of sweetness and a little depth to the onions.  You can absolutely leave this out.  Another option is to add a bit of sugar (about 1/2 teaspoon per 2 onions), if you want.

Stir and continue to let the onions cook…

until perfectly golden brown and delicious.  You can use these for just about anything – in pasta, on quinoa, in an omelet or…

on pizza!

Now, roll the dough out – a circle or square is just fine – on parchment paper or a pizza peel dusted with cornmeal.

Brush with a bit of olive oil and slide into a preheated oven.  The oven needs to be hot.  Really hot.  Around 500F.  Shocking, I know.  But it works.

Now, don’t bake it all the way.  You are essentially par-baking the dough.  I found this keeps the dough from being gooey in the center.  No one wants wet, gooey pizza.

Now it’s time to start adding those ingredients.  Here’s my creation…

a layer of pesto…

add those (delicious) caramelized onions.  Don’t be skimpy!

Now some fresh spinach.  You could wilt it if you want, but I don’t think it’s necessary at all.

Add a few sun dried (er, oven dried in this case) tomatoes.

Now the cheese!  A layer of mozzarella…

and some goat cheese!  And now, now it is ready for the final bake.

Another 12 – 15 minutes more in that hot oven and…

voila!  Let it sit for a few minutes before you slice into it – just so the cheese doesn’t ooze every where, but rather sticks to the slice.

And finally… finally!… it is time to eat.

This pizza reminds me a bit of Amy’s No Cheese Roasted Vegetable pizza.  If you haven’t tried it, you should.  But good luck finding it (nearly impossible these days).

On second thought, just make some caramelized onions and layer some veggies.  This is really our new favorite pizza around here.

What’s your favorite Friday night pizza?

%d bloggers like this: