Tag Archives: royal icing

Christmas Cookies: New Additions to the Family

If you follow me on social media and/or are a co-worker or family member (which let’s face it is about 99.9% of my readers), then you know I recently finished up a batch of sugar cookies.

I know what you’re thinking.

We get it Sarah. You bake. Blah. Blah. Blah. 

If that’s what you’re saying in your head right now, you’ll be happy to know I was ‘over them’ about a week ago. Truth is, if I don’t post about them today, we’ll be into the New Year and my sugar cookie-filled jolliness will be overwhelmed by resolutions and complaining about all the new people at the gym.

So in an effort to not repeat myself from year’s past posts about similarly shaped cookies, I’ll simply focus today’s post on the new additions to the Murphy Zalewski Christmas Cookie Family.

Fun fact: Did you know that Matt doesn’t even like these sugar cookies? Each year I end up making alternative batches of cookies and treats each year for him because he prefers a soft cookie to a hard one.

#peoplepleaser

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

This year’s bunch featured some old favorites (see presents and trees) and a few newbies.

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

It’s amazing what opportunities open up when you decide to add two new colors to the mix. The trees got trunks, Frosty got a hat and nose and Frosty’s faceless friend Gingerbread George made an appearance.

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

In other news I finally discovered that the squiggly portion of the ornament was actually the metal part so they joined the fam again after a few years of being shunned for their awkwardness around the holiday.

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

And let’s not forget everyone’s favorite Santa, who got a spray tan and his brows done for the 2016 holiday season.

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

In an effort to always improve, I thought this year might be a good time to share how far we’ve come with this particular Christmas cookie family.

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

And just like the holiday season, some years your tree is pretty and some years Santa threw back one too many before the annual family photo. The important thing is that you all spent time together.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m off to make a long and unrealistic list of fitness and organizational goals for the coming year. Here’s to giving it the old college try!

Happy New Year!

 

Cookies and Catch Up

Great news, guys. The Murphalewski Bed and Breakfast just wrapped four straight weeks of out-of-town guests. That means 7 midwesterners are entering the winter season a little bronzer than usual and many local restaurant staffers here in Sarasota are actually starting to think I have friends. It’s a win-win!

Now you may be asking if I’m glad the four-week rush is over. Truth is, I loved having our friends and family stay with us. Each visit came with a reminder of how blessed we are to have friends and family that love us enough to leave crappy weather behind and sit on the beach all day. We realize our location may benefit us this time of year but regardless, we appreciate the time and effort (and flight delays) spent coming to visit.

So what have I been doing with all my free time since the last houseguest left on Sunday? Baking cookies of course.

IMG_5485

It seems like the only thing I have to show for the last 4 weeks, aside from the slightly increased body fat percentage, are pictures of cookies long ago eaten by co-workers.

It’s not like me to leave you hanging over a holiday weekend without some sort of ode to a sweet treat on the blog, but I’ve been sidetracked. You see, I’ve been trying to come to grips with the fact that our entire shopping district has been lit up like Rockafeller Center on Christmas Eve since October 24th. I’ve been wrecking my brain trying to figure out in what world this is acceptable but then I remembered a saying my dad always says this time of year.

You know, this might be the last nice day we have to put the Christmas lights up so we better get to it. 

Wait. I’m sorry. He usually waits until an ice storm is in the vicinity around December 20th to say that. And they still live in Illinois so…

So in spite of the extremely prematurely lit palm trees and unseasonably hot temperatures, I thought I’d share a few photos from the last four weeks to catch you up.

image

image

image

but how about that sweet lady in the background?

image imageimageimageimage

image

image

IMG_5484sugar cookies, royal icing, baking, breakfast at tiffany's cookies, bridal shower, dessert, tiffany blue sugar cookiesIMG_5482sugar cookies, royal icing, baking, breakfast at tiffany's cookies, bridal shower, dessert, tiffany blue sugar cookiesAnd now you know what my photostream looks like. I’ve got two weeks until Thanksgiving and our next visitors so if you need me I’ll be either running or napping in preparation. Happy Friday!

 

Love Languages and Christmas Cookies

It’s hard to believe another Christmas is already upon us. A chance to look back on the past year and celebrate your accomplishments. A chance to look forward and make resolutions for the coming year. And a chance to visit that familiar self-induced hell of cookie decorating.

Just kidding. Kind of.

They say people fit into one of five different love languages. That emotionally, they need things like acts of service or words of affirmation to feel loved. And that receiving love is incredibly important to your relationship with others.

What does this have to do with cookie decorating you might ask?

Well they also say that you should tailor your love showing to the specific language of those you with which you have a relationship.

But because I think assuming you like physical touch would be the wrong choice in this scenario, I decided to settle for another year of holiday cookies.

holiday cookies, christmas,  sugar cookies, royal icing, christmas cookies, baking, iced cookies

I’ll admit I was a little disappointed when I over-thinned my white icing just in time for Santa’s beard. The result? Santa Dog. Coming soon to a dog park near you.

holiday cookies, christmas,  sugar cookies, royal icing, christmas cookies, baking, iced cookies

holiday cookies, christmas,  sugar cookies, royal icing, christmas cookies, baking, iced cookies

holiday cookies, christmas,  sugar cookies, royal icing, christmas cookies, baking, iced cookies

I was a little disappointed until the boys and I had our annual Christmas cookie decorating party and the two of them showed me artistic skills I can’t even begin to compete with.

holiday cookies, christmas,  sugar cookies, royal icing, christmas cookies, baking, iced cookies

Look at the depth and layering. The color quality and sparkle. The heavy use of sprinkles.

holiday cookies, christmas,  sugar cookies, royal icing, christmas cookies, baking, iced cookies

I must admit I prefer the boys’ cookies to my own and I have a feeling it has a little to do with the quality time and acts of service involved.

holiday cookies, christmas,  sugar cookies, royal icing, christmas cookies, baking, iced cookies

 

holiday cookies, christmas,  sugar cookies, royal icing, christmas cookies, baking, iced cookies

Merry Christmas!

Happy Daylight Savings Day!

Happy Daylight Savings Day! And good morning to those of you with small children.

Please know that Swiss Mountain Dogs with a precise feeding schedule share your child’s excitement for the 6:00 hour. May you be blessed with a short nap at some point today.

So how many Elsa’s did you count on Friday? I was going to attempt the Elsa-spotting drinking game but then I remembered I wasn’t in college and had to go back to work for the rest of the day. Regardless I had a count of 8.

8 Elsas. If that sounds low to you it’s because it is. My sister said Jake had 5 Elsas in his class alone. I even bought enough candy for 250 Elsas, but apparently living behind a gate and between two family-friendly streets only gets you a handful of trick-or-treaters. Either that or the cold really did bother them anyway.

I guess a low of 65 will do that to Floridians.

bears family, chicago bears costume, pet costume, football player, swiss mountain dog, swissy, greater swiss, Finn

Disclaimer: When the home team is playing far worse than the Bears in an off-year, no one will heckle you for your last-minute Halloween costume.

pet costume, halloween, swiss mountain dog, bernese mountain dog, football player, greater swiss, finn

But as Cubs fans say, there’s always next year. And next year when that little 4-year -old Luigi walks right past and tells us he’s already had enough candy for this year, I will chase him down, shove a king-size Snickers in his tiny plastic pumpkin and tell him there’s no such thing as too much Halloween candy. Never give up kid. Never give up.

But I digress.

It did cool down ever so slightly this week so I decided to try out a new chili recipe. I was getting a few complaints from a certain someone who will now be my certain someone from this day forward that my go-to chili recipe didn’t have any meat in it so I experimented a little for this one. Fortunately it worked.

pumpkin steak chili, taste of home, chili recipes, fall recipes, dinner, dutch oven, quick chili recipe

I sort of loosely based it off of this recipe from Taste of Home but I’ve found that with chili you have a little more wiggle room on ingredients so don’t be afraid to try something new.

Pumpkin Steak Chili

 

  • 2 center-cut high-quality sirloins, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • chili sauce (garlic chili sauce and cholula)
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes 
  • 1 C canned pumpkin
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp chili powder

In a dutch oven, saute onions until transparent. Add chopped steak and cook until browned. Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Add spices and chili sauce to taste and water to thin. Simmer for at least an hour. Add a bay leaf to bring up the flavor.

pumpkin steak chili, taste of home, chili recipes, fall recipes, dinner, dutch oven, quick chili recipeServe with chopped avocado, crackers or smoked shreddd gruyere cheese. Add more hot sauce.

Enjoy!

 

 

What music do mummies listen too?

Wrap Music.

This Halloween joke was brought to you by Brent J. from Upper Arlington, Ohio

Thanks Brent!

I apologize for my blog infrequency but you know I’m not one to miss a holiday so it’s only fitting that I bring it back for one of my favorites.

I love Halloween. I would say it’s my favorite holiday but I say that about every holiday so I doubt you would believe me if I did.

Halloween is totally my favorite holiday.

I’m the kind of girl who gets into the spirit by making an entire batch of chocolate covered pretzels 7 days ago only to find out that Halloween was not for another week.

royal icing, sugar cookies, halloween, iced ghost sugar cookies, halloween dessert, cookies, sugar cookies, goblin cookies, halloween treats

Speaking of spirits.

Why do ghosts make good cheerleaders?

Because they have a lot of spirit.

royal icing, sugar cookies, halloween, iced ghost sugar cookies, halloween dessert, cookies, sugar cookies, goblin cookies, halloween treats

I found these googlie eyes a few weeks back and couldn’t get the idea of googlie-eyed ghosts out of my head ever since.

royal icing, sugar cookies, halloween, iced ghost sugar cookies, halloween dessert, cookies, sugar cookies, goblin cookies, halloween treats

If you were ever wondering where I get ideas for things to make, the above statement about sums it up. There’s really no planning involved. An idea comes out of nearly nowhere and once it’s in my head I can’t get rid of it until the sugar cookie dough has set, the royal icing has been mixed and the googlie eyes placed. It’s a blessing and a curse really.

royal icing, sugar cookies, halloween, iced ghost sugar cookies, halloween dessert, cookies, sugar cookies, goblin cookies, halloween treats

I won’t get into the recipes as I broke them down in this post, but just know that if you want a soft and chewy royally-iced goblin, you are going to need a few hours of outlining time.

royal icing, sugar cookies, halloween, iced ghost sugar cookies, halloween dessert, cookies, sugar cookies, goblin cookies, halloween treats

And outlining time takes away from what the heck are we going to dress up as this year time so I’m off to figure that out.

What do you call a ghost’s mother and father?

Transparents.

Lessons in cookie decorating

Last night I faced a serious dilemma. I had a lot of baking and decorating to do but my back was locked up like Chris Brown during the holiday season. See what I did there? In all seriousness, my back tends to lock up on me if I spend a lot of time standing in my kitchen. I should use this as an excuse so people will cook for me, but I enjoy the process. Long story short, I needed a workout to loosen me up. I know what you’re thinking and yes it’s true, I am 29 going on 75. Fortunately running usually helps with the back issues.

So after Finn and I made our nightly dog park visit where he proceeded to eat every form of snow ball, clod, brick, and poof in sight, I decided to attempt a quick run outside. While my distance is low and my pace is slow, I’m excited to be getting back into a regular running routine. I’ve been religiously rehabbing since the Marathon and after a few test-runs on the treadmill I felt pretty confident I could maneuver the outdoors for a few miles.

It’s been so long since I ran in the cold, I nearly forgot my temperature threshold. As a personal rule, I don’t typically run outside if temps are below 30 degrees. Call me crazy but I’d prefer a 98 degree hot yoga class to nosecicles most nights. But I was in a time-crunch so off I went. It was a few blocks in that I began my internal debate as to whether my temperature threshold was set before or after wind chill. I quickly determined that it was in no way after as a frigid 20 mph wind blasted my face.

It was cold. But the more I ran, the more I remembered how much I love running in the cold. Fresh cold air in your lungs seriously trumps inhaling other gym rats hot sweaty exhales. Great mental picture, huh?

So do yourself a favor and go out and run in the cold. Watch out for black ice and dogs eating snowballs, but go out and run in the cold. And after a few miles, go ahead and stop at your local pet store and pick up a 30-pound bag of food as a final kick. Throw it over your shoulder and try not to fall down as you lug it home. And then, only then are you ready to spend the rest of your night in your kitchen decorating cookies.

dog food workout simply social blog

What does running have to do with cookie decorating besides loosening up your muscles, you might ask? Well, I believe that if you’ve already mentally and physically pushed through a form of exercise in frigid temps, you are more inclined to finish a cookie project that you expect to physically and mentally exhaust you even more so. Tis. The. Season folks.

royal icing christmas sugar cookies, santa cookies, present cookies, holiday iced sugar cookies

It’s been a while since I’ve attempted sugar cookies as they can be a royal pain in the icing. Royal icing can be difficult and time-consuming. My dad loves this type of cookie though so each year for Christmas I attempt to improve my icing skillz without completely losing my sanity.

royal icing tricks christmas tree sugar cookies

I use a basic sugar cookie recipe and follow Wilton’s royal icing instructions. I’ll save you the monotony and just give you a good link to a very talented blogger who is well-versed in icing 101. For this year’s batch I attempted to use her 20 second icing as I didn’t want to spend a ton of time piping and mixing flood icing. I know I’m speaking in cookie language so let’s just look at another picture shall we?

royal icing tricks christmas tree sugar cookies

Since this is a thicker icing, the easiest way to create texture is to ice the cookie in layers as I did above here with what started as Christmas trees and ended as woodland trees.

note: I’m horrible at remembering to get out my camera mid-process so please accept my apologies for my lack of in progress photos. 

Work your way through the various layers and go back and fill in with the second or third color once your first layer has dried.

royal icing christmas sugar cookies, santa cookies, present cookies, holiday iced sugar cookies

For example, with the presents, I did the green bows when I was doing the trees, the white part of the Santa hat along with the candy cane stripes and so on and so forth.

royal icing christmas sugar cookies, santa cookies, present cookies, holiday iced sugar cookies

As I was digging through my cookie cutters, I noticed that my acorn looked an awful lot like a gnome head.

I bet I could make a Santa beard out of that gnome head/acorn

No way is this going to look anything like Santa. 

Huh. This kind of looks like Santa.

And so ends your moment inside my head. When I first decided to attempt a freestyle cookie (i.e. one that doesn’t match it’s intended cookie-cutter purpose) I thought it would be a major fail, perhaps even end up as a Finn cookie. But the more I layered, the more I enjoyed being able to decorate it however I wanted. And so Santa was born, or arrived, or came down the chimney.

royal icing christmas sugar cookies, santa cookies, present cookies, holiday iced sugar cookies

On a side note, the last two days there’s been an elf at my bus stop. Yesterday she was dancing. Today, bawling her eyes out. An elf’s life is tumultuous this time of year. Hug an elf if you get a chance.

Have a very merry Christmas!