Saturday, December 13, 2014

The reality of our hectic life! And a Holiday pause...

So the reality of any blogger's life is NOT what you see on the screen. We all know that's true. You can be sure the the staged photos and projects you see here are not what the cottage looks like 90% of the time! And the end of this year has been particularly rough for us. Flu has descended upon us (5 of the 7 are struggling!), our nanny situation has been fluid for over month and the pressures of the holiday season abound!

I have been struggling to keep it all running on schedule, and still spend time with the family, but it is now evident that I need to just stop the madness, take care of the family in their sickness, and enjoy some quality Christmas time with them before it's over. And that's just what I plan to do. This will be my last post to the blog until January.

But do not despair! I still love the blog and will continue to keep it up once the new year is underway. We DO have a new nanny starting in January and I hope all this sickness will have run it's course by then. We all know that sometimes a family just needs some time to take a step back and regroup. I know my readers will understand. I sincerely hope you all have a very happy holiday season with your friends and family. Until then, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

12 Days of DIY Disney Holiday Goodies | Mickey's Strawberry Santa Hats


I found these delicious looking strawberry santa hats on the Disney Family website. And this is a direct lift from their page. These look great and I fully intended to make them, but Miss Minnie ate all my strawberries before I had the opportunity to give it a try! (She absolutely loves her berries!) I hope I will be able to get to it before the season is over, if not, we may have ourselves a little Christmas in July celebration this summer!

Enjoy this post from Family.Disney.com, and until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!





What You’ll Need
Large fresh strawberries
White chocolate
Vanilla wafer cookies
Small chocolate disks or chocolate mints
How To Make It
  • 1
    Wash the strawberries with cool water, and carefully remove the hulls. Pat the fruit dry with a paper towel.
  • 2
    Melt some white chocolate in the microwave or on the stovetop, following the directions on the package.
  • 3
    Working with one wafer cookie at a time, dip the surface in the melted candy so that it is generously coated. If needed, dip it twice.
  • 4
    Place the dipped cookie on wax paper (coated side up), and immediately set a strawberry (hulled side down) on top. Quickly, but gently, push two small chocolate disks against the base of the berry for ears, holding them in place for a few seconds to make sure they stick. If they don’t hold, use a little more melted candy to attach them.
  • 5
    Repeat steps 3 and 4 to make as many more hats as you want, reserving some of the melted white chocolate for the pom-pom tops. When you’re ready to add the pom-poms, let the melted white chocolate cool slightly so that it will thicken a bit. Then spoon a small blob onto each strawberry tip.
  • 6
    Finally, add a little texture to the hat trim, if you like, by using a fork to gently “scramble” what’s left of the partially cooled white chocolate (it should resemble flaked coconut). Gently press some of the white chocolate flakes onto the candy hat brims while they are still warm so they will stick in place. Once the candy is completely set, arrange the finished hats on a plate to serve.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

12 Days of DIY Disney Holiday Goodies | Matterhorn Macaroons

I am a fan of macaroons; not the almond kind (which are verboten around here anyway). I love the coconut macaroons, the lesser known and harder to find variety, naturally. The bakery in the France Pavilion used to sell them in Epcot, but not anymore. Since the recent remodel, they are strictly about the nut variety. I miss those coconut peaks!

A caveat: I find macaroons tricky to make. They take patience and this is an area in which I lack. When I saw this recipe for Matterhorn Macaroons (from Rumbly in My Tumbly), I decided I would give them a try. They don't sound difficult, and I am always looking for a new and different cookie recipe for the annual cookie exchange in my sorority. Unfortunately, these were a bust for me. Well, mostly a bust. The resulting cookie tastes delicious! But I could not get them to make peaks. Once in the oven they flattened right out. I didn't bother with the topping since they didn't hold their shapes. And don't forget to store them in an air tight container. If you don't they will get very hard on the outside.

Here's the recipe if you want to give it a try:

Matterhorn Macaroons
A Rumbly in my Tumbly original

Ingredients:
4 egg whites
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flaked coconut

Topping:
1 bag of white chocolate chips (or white candy melts)
2 tablespoons milk or cream
confectioners sugar for dusting

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 300°. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl or mixer, beat egg whites, vanilla, almond extract, and ream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar and whip until stiff.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, and coconut. Fold into the egg whites. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets, shaping each one into a “matterhorn mountain.” This is messy, and I found it worked best if I wetted my hands before shaped each one.

Bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on size) until slightly golden.

Melt the white chocolate with the cream over a double broiler, and dip the top of each cooled macaroon into the melted chocolate. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

12 Days of DIY Disney Holiday Goodies | White Chocolate Raspberry Cookies

These cookies have a reputation in Disneyland. They are said to be swoon worthy, cookies you make time for, cookies that might deserve their own FastPass! Well, they did not disappoint!

These cookies are some of the best we have baked, bar none. I mean it. They live up to all the hype around them and they are really fairly easy to put together. The hardest part is not over mixing the jam! Everyone in the cottage (and that's a fair amount of people right now!) raved about them. And they are vanishing into thin air. Proof positive that this is a keeper.

If you are looking for a new recipe for your traditional cookie exchange, this one will have the other members of your organization begging for the recipe. Thanks to bakerlady for this one.



Disneyland’s White Chocolate Raspberry Cookie
adapted from Rumbly In My Tumbly

2 1/2 C Flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 C butter, room temperature
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
Raspberry Jam (I used about 4 TBSP)
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

1. Cream the butter & sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg/yolk, vanilla and almond extracts. Mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add white & semi-sweet chocolate chips.

2. Scoop out about 1/4 of the dough into a smaller bowl. Add about 1 T of jam and cut it in using a butter knife. Be careful not to MIX it, or your dough will turn pink, you want more of a swirl.
3. Take the jam swirled dough and scoop by spoonfuls (I used a large melon baller/ice cream scoop) onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly with the back of a spoon or spatula and place in a 350° oven for 12-17 minutes. *Your bake time may be less depending on the size of cookie you make. I wanted mine big and bakery sized, so they took a little longer. Take them out when the edges are set but the center is still puffy and soft. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 until all the dough is used.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

12 Days of DIY Disney Holiday Goodies | Mickey Mouse Snickerdoodles

This was originally posted to the blog in March of 2013. I'm sure some of you are new here. This is a great, easy cookie recipe to add to your cookie exchange list!

Sometimes it seems like a really long time between visits; that's when a little kitchen magic can really come in handy. I found this Disneyland Main Street Bakery Snickerdoodle knock-off recipe on Pinterest and decided a rainy afternoon was the perfect time for a little Disney pick-me-up. The family was happy to oblige!

It was simple to make them into Mickey heads. Instead of rolling only one ball, I rolled one larger and two smaller balls and laid them out on the cookie sheet as such. I tried not to smash the ears on too much, as they do spread in the oven.

They took a little longer to assemble than regular snickerdoodles would, so I was able to assemble one pan while the other was baking. It was just about the perfect amount of time. Be sure to let the cookies cool just a bit on the pan before moving them to the cooling racks - we lost a couple ears by being impatient! (Although, it was a good excuse for an early taste!) My apprentice chef became quite good at rolling and pressing out the Mickeys.

One small deviation from the recipe - I like a lot of cinnamon sugar on my snickerdoodles, so we employed the Joy of Cooking technique of rolling each ball of cookie dough in a bowl of cinnamon sugar, instead of sprinkling the tops as the original recipe suggests. A personal preference, but worth it, in my humble opinion.

And because someone will ask, the WDW serving tray was one of my parents' first souvenirs. It lived in our motor home until it died and now it comes out whenever we need a little shot of Disney magic! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

12 Days of DIY Disney Holiday Goodies | Disney's Famous Gingerbread


I know some of you may have seen this post before, but I wanted to share this incredible gingerbread recipe for all you Disney lovers out there. It's perfect for Christmas! This comes from our vintage Disney cookbook, Mickey's Gourmet Cookbook. It's the same thing you'll find at the Monorail Cafe in the Disneyland Hotel (is that place still around? -- I'm no expert on Disneyland!), and the Candy Cauldron in Downtown Disney.

If you've never made gingerbread cookies, I will start by saying, this is a process! The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to a week. And this dough is stiff. It takes some real muscle to roll it out! But the payoff is TOTALLY worth it. Here is the recipe for the cookies and the icing. They are good without the icing; they are incredible with it! And if you don't have a pastry bag and tip for the icing, don't fret. Just put it in a ziplock bag and snip a hole in the corner of the bag as demonstrated here.

Until next time, may all your holidays be filled with fairy dust!

Gingerbread Mickey
yield: approx. 3 dozen cookies

1/4 C unsalted butter
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C dark molasses
3 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 C water

In a lage mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Add dark molasses and blend until completely absorbed.
Sift all dry ingredients together and add to butter mixture in thirds, alternating with water. Blend completely. (I added at least 2 tablespoons more of water and I think I could have even added more. the dough did not want to hold together.)
Store dough, wrapped in plastic, in refrigerator until well chilled.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease cookie sheet (or use Silpat mats)
Roll dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into desired shapes.
Bake on cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes, depending on size. Cool on a wire rack.
Cookies can be decorated before baking with nuts and candies, or when cool with royal icing.

Royal Icing

1 pinch (1/8 tsp) cream of tartar
2 egg whites
3 1/2 C powdered sugar, sifted

Add cream of tarter to egg whites. Beat egg whites in a small bowl with electric mixer at high speed until whites hold a soft peak. Reduce speed and gradually add sifted powdered sugar. Continue to whip frosting until a smooth, spreadable consistency is reached.
At this point, frosting can be separated into small bowls and colored with food coloring, as desired. Frosting will become very hard when dry.

Note: before preparation of frosting, make sure all utensils are free of any grease or oil and egg whites are free of any yolk. Egg whites will not whip if mixed with any type of oil or fat.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

12 Days of DIY Disney Holiday Goodies | Snow's Perfect Apple Punch

True confession time: I made this one up. You won't find it on any menu in the parks or the resorts; but when the wind is howling and the fire is crackling lively in the fireplace, (or you just need a warm and lovely pick me up!) this little beauty is exactly what you need to warm your winter's night!

I like a recipe for which you can make just one glass at a time, or an entire batch for a party. I've included both recipes for you here! You could certainly use this recipe without the brandy, but I think it's a marvelous addition!

And of course you can skip the garnish if you wish, but do yourself a favor and don't skip it. A pretty drink always makes me feel a little more special. And who couldn't use that, especially at such a busy time of the year! Cheers to a yummy winter warm up! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Snow's Perfect Apple Punch

For one glass:
pour 2/3 C cider into mug, heat in microwave until steaming hot
add 1 jigger brandy, stir well
sprinkle with cinnamon and cloves to taste
garnish glass with one apple wheel, a cinnamon stick

For one punch bowl:
pour one gallon cider into pot
add several tablespoons of mulling spices
Bring to a boil, turn heat down and simmer for about 20 minutes
remove from heat and allow to cool slightly
add 3 cups brandy
Pour into punch bowl and float apple slices on top

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

12 Days of DIY Disney Holiday Goodies | Pumpkin Fudge

That's right, it's time to being our Christmas series on the blog again! If you missed it last year, you can use the 12 days label to search 12 handmade Disney ornaments. This year's theme is one everyone loves: food! I will be researching and posting a recipe for 12 different holiday goodies you can find around the Disney parks and resorts, or themed to our favorite Disney characters! It should be fun and a great way to inspire you for your next holiday party or cookie exchange.

Today, since we are still so near to Thanksgiving, (and you may need an extra little something for your dessert table!) we will start off with Pumpkin Fudge! You can find this fudge at Marceline's Bakery in Downtown Disney at the Disneyland Resort in California, and the Main Street Bakery in Walt Disney World once fall rolls around! Thanks to Magical Recipes for the recipe. And until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!


Ingredients

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2/3 cup pureed pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
2 cups white chocolate chips
1/2 lb marshmallows or marshmallow crème
3 Tbsp maple syrup

Instructions

Line a 12×8 inch baking dish with foil, letting it hang over the edges.
In a large sauce pan, whisk together the sugars, butter, evaporated milk, pumpkin, and spices.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. 

Continue boiling for 10-12 minutes or until the candy thermometer registers 235 degrees Fahrenheit – soft ball stage (soft ball stage occurs when you drop some of the mixture into a bowl of cold water, and it forms a “soft ball” when it cools and is removed from the water).

Stir in the white chocolate chips first, and then the marshmallows or marshmallow crème and maple syrup. Stir until melted, and then immediately pour into the prepared pan.

Let cool on a wire rack for 2 hours or until completely cooled.
To cut, lift the foil from the ends of the dish.
Cut the fudge into 1 inch squares.
Store in the refrigerator or freezer.