just a smidgen

Valentine’s Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

Valentine's Cookies 6Let me apologize to anyone who tried to visit my blog these past few days. I bet you all thought I was busy redesigning and unveiling a new look? Sadly, this was not the case. It seems I was a wee bit overzealous with my plug-ins { they’re sort of like apps, for you non-bloggers } and apparently I created a huge snarled FTM mess that shut down my blog. Trust me, I almost bit my nails to the quick.. wondering if my years of blogging had vanished into thin air! I decided that I might just have to “throw in the towel” if that happened. It would be heartbreaking to lose everything, wouldn’t it? I sound dramatic, but really.. it would be!! I do have a back-up database and fortunately it wasn’t needed. It seems a little knowledge can do more harm than good when it comes to CSS. All praise to the support team at Prophoto who untangled my mess for me!

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My family, on the other hand, were completely overjoyed. They loved having my full attention and it made me realize how easily I get lost in my thoughts when writing. It’s definitely a place I love to just “be”,  but even more so, I love being fully present for my family. My children are grown and the adult issues they face often require not only my strength, but more especially, my undivided focus. I’d like to think my life with our kids is like a heart being drawn. We began at the bottom point, climbed up one steep side through early childhood,  got ricocheted over over bumps in the teen years and we’re now gliding down the other side. I need to remember to revel in the joy of almost completing a “job well done”. Now that my kids are more independent, I should stop what I’m doing, engage and celebrate the young adults they’ve become. After years of honing intricate musical passages, why wouldn’t I want to be immersed in the beautiful symphony of their lives?

Heart Cookie Collection

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I had so many pretty Valentine’s ideas that I wanted to share with you before my blog crashed. Even though Valentine’s Day will technically be over in a few hours, aren’t there other special occasions where hearts can shine?  Shouldn’t our love and appreciation of friends, family and loved ones be celebrated on the other 364 days of the year.. in all of life’s tiny, quiet moments together?

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The heart for me is a symbol and symbols open us up to levels of meaning much deeper than what we see on the surface. The shape is an open caress, a line that dances up and springs round to completion. It speaks to us of longing, opening our hearts, of joy and love displayed!

Wishing you all more than one day filled with love!

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Congratulations to Nicole, Matt and Annie on the birth of their newest baby girl, Willa Grace Turner!!

If you were here, these cookies would be for you!!

I made these with my daughter, and taught my girlfriend and her two daughters.. even the littlest one could make these!

Smidge
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Ingredients
  • Cookies
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, unsalted, room temperature
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup (light)
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 4 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • 1 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Instructions
  1. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the agave syrup and continue to mix until combined. Add the vanilla extract and mix on low until incorporated.
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time on low and mix until blended.
  3. With the mixer still on low, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
  4. Divide the dough into three (3) parts, flatten into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. This makes the dough easier to roll out.
  5. Once chilled, remove the dough and allow it to warm somewhat at room temperature, just long enough so that you can roll it out.
  6. Sprinkle some icing sugar on your surface and on your rolling pin. Roll the dough to desired thickness, about 3/8" will make thicker, sturdier cookies. Cut dough with cookie cutters and place on cookie sheets lined with parchment or silpat liners.
  7. Then put the entire cookie sheet with cookies into the fridge again for 30 more minutes. This keeps the cookies from spreading and helps them keep their shape.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  9. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned. If you wish you may rotate your baking sheets half-way so that the cookies are evenly baked.
  10. Move to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely.
Notes
I freeze these cookies until I'm ready to ice them. Otherwise store in an airtight container.

Sweetheart Valentine
 
Ingredients
  • 1 kg bag confectioner's (icing) sugar
  • 10 tbsp meringue powder
  • 3/4 cup water, or less as needed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch salt
Royal Icing
  • gel food coloring
  • disposable icing bags
  • #3 icing tips (I used 3 for 3 colors) and connectors
  • scribe tool (thin metal skewer - Wilton)
Instructions
  1. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the confectioner's sugar. Then with the mixer on low add almost all of the water, keeping some back in case it's not needed. Mix, adding the remaining water if needed until the icing is smooth and creamy. It should not stick to the paddle. If it does add water, one tablespoon at a time, blending after each addition until it is a nice frosting consistency.
  2. Blend in the vanilla and the pinch of salt.
Royal Icing
  1. Separate smaller portions of icing into individual bowls and add gel color to tint. Stir well with a small spoon, adding small amounts of water until the icing becomes more liquid. It should hold its shape for about 10-13 seconds when drizzled. *I made this icing a little more runnier than usual, to enable the colors to blend into each other more readily.
  2. Attach your connectors and then your icing tips to your bags. Then make sure to tuck the icing bag plastic into the top of the tip so the royal icing doesn't run out when being filled.
  3. Fill each bag with the mixed colors. If on your own, set each bag upright inside a large cup and then pour the icing in.
  4. Lay out your cookies on the counter and have a chair at counter height.
  5. Pull out the plastic from the top of the tip and gently squeeze the icing down into the tip.
  6. Outline each cookie, then go round and round until it is filled. Use the scribe tool to smooth and spread to fill gaps in the icing.
Polka Dots
  1. Immediately, using a second color, place small dots of royal icing down, staggering each row as you go. I did the center line, then on either side back and forth. This helps keep the lines the same distance apart.
  2. Gently tap the cookie if needed to blend the two colors together. Because this icing was made a little "runnier", they blended together almost immediately.
Heart Chain
  1. Flood the cookie. Then immediately, using a new color, make polka dots as above, going around the edge of the cookie. Or in rows as above.
  2. Using the metal scribe, gently drag through from the top of the first heart then go through each heart without lifting the skewer out, except if wiping excess icing from the scribe. As you drag through the dots, the heart shape will form into a chain.
Flourish
  1. Flood the cookie then immediately draw horizontal lines in a different color and tap to blend.
  2. Using a metal skewer, drag down through the center of the heart vertically. On either side of that line, drag the skewer up in the opposite direction. Repeat, going up and down vertically, until you reach the edge of the cookie.
Notes
These icing techniques were found at www.sweetambs.com where you can find helpful videos.

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Love, Smidge

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