Enjoying Home Baked Treats With A Pair Of Mickey Mouse Cookie Cutters!

mickey mouse cookie cutterWelcome back to the world of good food and great appliances! I have been a little tied up with celebrating family birthdays, when I realised that good food can always tempt the most monotonous of people to indulge in variety and versatility. To add to satisfying the taste buds, the whole process of chopping, churning, cutting and shaping can be enlivened with the help of interesting equipments! Have you ever taken your kids to the kitchen? Well, I’m sure you have, but I’m not simply suggesting feeding them and pushing them off to the nursery. Toddlers and older kids can be of great help to you if you train them early with the right set of kitchen tools. With time, they will learn the tricks of the trade and might as well surprise you by baking their own blueberry muffins or quirky cookies for the next birthday party!

Last week, we had been invited to a toddler’s birthday party and the spread on the table had left me amazed! There were cookies of different shapes and sizes, cupcakes with yummy frosting and mini sandwiches in a variety of flavours. What stood out from the rest were the unbelievably cute Mickey Mouse shaped cookies in pretty looking rainbow colours. I had to ask the host where they had got them from and was all the more impressed after knowing that the cookies were mostly made by the children at home with a Mickey Mouse Cookie Cutter. This family I’m talking about has an entire section dedicated for the kids to experiment with food. These cookie cutters, they say, are their recent addition and they have had jars full of crunchy cookies to munch on since the purchase.

I came back and read up on these cutters.  They looked promising not only for home baking but also for those who have taken up baking as a profession. The set includes two shape cutters; one Mickey face and the other Mickey ears. They are approximately 3 inches in size. These cutters are perfect for all kinds of celebrations. Please don’t underestimate its versatile nature just because they are named cookie cutters. From cutting walnut brownies to bar cookies to shaping sandwiches, these cutters can do it all. Who wouldn’t want a Mickey Mouse shaped sandwich on a lazy Sunday morning? If you are the more adventurous type, you could try shaping a boring omelette to look like Mickey’s ears or a pancake that has not been slathered with maple syrup, to look like Mickey himself. This will also ensure cleaner plates and happier kids. What else can you ask for?

Your five year old is back from school with a project. You will need to send a meal box full of edible craft. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Not anymore! A Mickey Mouse cookie cutter can help solve your problem in a jiffy. Just bake the base, cut out shapes for the meal box and your kid will bring back an empty box that evening, along with the best grades in Craft class.

If you are worried about spending too much on them, please remember that these are made of food grade material that is built to last for a long time in your kitchen. They also come in with an Instruction manual and a book filled with craft ideas to make your sessions even more interesting.

Now comes the best part of having these cutters. They are ideal for use with rolled fondant, gum paste, Marzipan, Fondant cakes and even craft clays. They are low maintenance cutters and the only way to keep them clean is by simply hand washing in soapy water and towel drying them.

I am tempted to buy a set for myself and a few more for gifting loved ones who enjoy baking different things. Breakfast tables will no longer be boring, theme-based celebrations will seem easier and with Christmas coming up in two months, there is nothing like practicing for a while before the real treats happen. If you have been eyeing a meaningful gift for that nephew or that niece who could be the next Martha Stewart or Jamie Oliver, these Mickey Mouse Cookie Cutters could be your best bet!

Baking moulds and stencils

baking stencilsWhatever the occasion, be it a wedding, birthday or even office party one thing most people look forward to is food.  If it’s good food then all the better.

Baking food is an activity that is enjoyed by one and many because of the way it alters the whole idea of cooking. Baking can be made all the more adventurous with the application of new and improved tools, methods and techniques that are being taken up by modern kitchens of today’s world.

The most remembered food from a wedding is obviously the cake.  But think back to the other partys you’ve been to, there’s always cake!  The great thing is these days baking has become a lot more fashionable.   This means there is a whole universe of tools, bakeware sets and everything the master-baker will ever need out there.

Sweet elite tools is one example Ive been using recently but more on that when I get a chance to write it up.

When you start looking out there now with the help of the internet theres everything you could ever need and then some.  A geometric triangles multi-layer stencil set is maybe not something you have ever needed before when baking a cake.  But now I bet you are wondering if maybe you do?

Hang on though… maybe you want some Leaf stencils or even a rose to make your latest cake look amazing.  You will no doubt need some silicone moulds for baking (i did), or how about edible printer ink and paper that can transfer your design to icing?  It’s all out there the only thing holding you back is your imagination….

Blueberry bonanza

I’m not much of a BBQ sauce fan. I only have come across a few BBQ Sauces that I’ve really liked. When I started canning, I started experimenting with BBQ sauces and I’ve tried 3 different BBQ canning sauces.

I came across this peach BBQ sauce from Vanilla Garlic. I tried a Chipotle BBQ sauce that ended up being way too sweet. There was another spicy BBQ sauce that I really liked but I don’t eat enough BBQ sauce throughout the year to justify spending my time making two different kinds because I will not forgo a peach season without making this peach BBQ sauce. This peach BBQ sauce is my absolute favorite BBQ sauce ever.

“Wait until you try this sauce!,” says the sugar bear

This peach BBQ sauce is tangy and slightly sweet but is not overly sweet. The chipotle adds a lovely smokiness and a bit of heat on the back of your tongue. It’s thick enough to slop onto meat while it’s grilling but it’s not too thick. It’s my favorite on pork, then on chicken.

Since it’s only 4 pounds of peaches, I use a vegetable peeler to peel the skin off of the peaches. 4 pounds is not very many peaches and to me it’s not worth it to use up the time and space needed to peel them the boiling way. When I can the BBQ sauce, I can it in half pint jars as I never go through a whole pint and I have to end up throwing out the last quarter or so of the pint.

Peach BBQ Sauce

Yield:  7 half pints plus some extra for the fridge

4 lbs peaches

½ Cup lemon juice

2 T oliveo il

1 large onion, chopped

1.5 cups brown sugar

1 C Cider vinegar

½ c bourbon

1 C worchestirshire

¼ c tomato paste

Piece of ginger about size of thumb, grated

2 T Chili powder

1 T chipotle powder

Kosher salt and ground pepper

  1. Set up kitchen according to “Kitchen Tactics:  Boiling Water Bath Canning”
  2. Using vegetable peeler, peel skin off of peaches, cut in half, and remove pit.  Slice
  3. Toss slices with lemon juice as you are slicing the peaches
  4. In large stock pot add oil and sauté onion until soft.
  5. Add garlic and ginger, cook until fragrant.
  6. Add peaches, vinegar, brown sugar, and bourbon.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes uncovered, stirring the whole time.
  7. Blend well using stick blender
  8. Add Worchestershire, tomato paste, chili powder, chipotle powser, salt and pepper.
  9. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 miutes, stirring frequently.
  10. BWB process for 15 minutes.

Black Raspberry Jam

Rico Suave and I went blackberry picking to fill our freezer up with berries for our morning smoothies. The blackberries were so plump, juicy, and fat, they were falling off the vines. Picking the blackberries was a much nicer experience than black raspberry picking. We only spent about an hour picking at Butler’s Orchard but ended up with 2 big buckets full.

I had only been blackberry picking once before this year.

I was at Ft. Knox, Kentucky for Leaders Training Course (LTC) in July of 2002. After the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, I was angry and wanted to do something – anything. I had entertained the notion of dropping out of school and enlisting in the Army but I only had 2 more years left to finish my degree. I was so close to the end of the tunnel, I didn’t want to derail the train. I decided against enlisting, instead joining the Wildcat Battalion at the University of Arizona with a 2-year ROTC scholarship. Since I didn’t have all four years of ROTC training, I had to go to LTC for 4 weeks to make up for the 2 years I missed of ROTC Training – or as the recruiter called it, “ROTC Boot Camp”. LTC, as it’s known now, has evolved a lot in the 12 years since I’ve been (OMG, has it been 12 years?!). When I went, it was basically a Boot Camp for ROTC cadets.

Plump, juicy, delicious berries

I was so proud when I signed my LTC contract that was about to whisk me away to Kentucky for 4 weeks, the first person I called was my dad. “Dad!,” I exclaim. “I just joined the Army! I’m going to Boot Camp this summer!” To which he replied, “That’s great, honey. Um, you know they yell at you in boot camp, right?” (I was a sensitive, quiet, shy, and naive child growing up who turned into a sensitive, quiet, shy, and naive young adult.)

“YEP! It’s gonna to be awesome!”

Little. Did. I. Know.

(I’m getting to the blackberries, I promise)
The major part of LTC was our capstone which was just about the final week of training. It was Squad Situational Exercises, otherwise known as STX Lanes. In STX Lanes you run squad sized infantry missions; everything from defending a perimeter to assaults. After the completion of every mission, we have an After Action Review and the instructors gather around with us and tell us what was good that we did, what was bad, and what we could do better. It was a week in the field eating MREs and sleeping in the rain. All-in-all, it was good Army training.

A handful of blackberries for you, a handful of blackberries for me!
A handful of blackberries for you, a handful of blackberries for me!
We were probably 4 days into STX training when on a particular mission, we had to cross an open area. We cross the open area into some bushes, regroup, and carry on our way. That’s when someone noticed we were traipsing through a patch of wild blackberry bushes! Alerting each other to the utter joy of finding fresh blackberries, after eating nothing but MREs the past few days, we started grabbing handfuls of blackberries and stuffing them into our smiling faces as we marched on. By the time we cleared the blackberry bushes every single one of us had purple-stained faces and hands.
Rico Suave and I went blackberry picking to fill our freezer up with berries for our morning smoothies. The blackberries were so plump, juicy, and fat, they were falling off the vines. Picking the blackberries was a much nicer experience than black raspberry picking. We only spent about an hour picking at Butler’s Orchard but ended up with 2 big buckets full.

This is what 10 pounds of blackberries looks like
This is what 10 pounds of blackberries looks like
I had only been blackberry picking once before this year.

I was at Ft. Knox, Kentucky for Leaders Training Course (LTC) in July of 2002. After the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, I was angry and wanted to do something – anything. I had entertained the notion of dropping out of school and enlisting in the Army but I only had 2 more years left to finish my degree. I was so close to the end of the tunnel, I didn’t want to derail the train. I decided against enlisting, instead joining the Wildcat Battalion at the University of Arizona with a 2-year ROTC scholarship. Since I didn’t have all four years of ROTC training, I had to go to LTC for 4 weeks to make up for the 2 years I missed of ROTC Training – or as the recruiter called it, “ROTC Boot Camp”. LTC, as it’s known now, has evolved a lot in the 12 years since I’ve been (OMG, has it been 12 years?!). When I went, it was basically a Boot Camp for ROTC cadets.

Plump, juicy, delicious berries
Plump, juicy, delicious berries
I was so proud when I signed my LTC contract that was about to whisk me away to Kentucky for 4 weeks, the first person I called was my dad. “Dad!,” I exclaim. “I just joined the Army! I’m going to Boot Camp this summer!” To which he replied, “That’s great, honey. Um, you know they yell at you in boot camp, right?” (I was a sensitive, quiet, shy, and naive child growing up who turned into a sensitive, quiet, shy, and naive young adult.)

“YEP! It’s gonna to be awesome!”

Little. Did. I. Know.

(I’m getting to the blackberries, I promise)

The major part of LTC was our capstone which was just about the final week of training. It was Squad Situational Exercises, otherwise known as STX Lanes. In STX Lanes you run squad sized infantry missions; everything from defending a perimeter to assaults. After the completion of every mission, we have an After Action Review and the instructors gather around with us and tell us what was good that we did, what was bad, and what we could do better. It was a week in the field eating MREs and sleeping in the rain. All-in-all, it was good Army training.

A handful of blackberries for you, a handful of blackberries for me!
A handful of blackberries for you, a handful of blackberries for me!
We were probably 4 days into STX training when on a particular mission, we had to cross an open area. We cross the open area into some bushes, regroup, and carry on our way. That’s when someone noticed we were traipsing through a patch of wild blackberry bushes! Alerting each other to the utter joy of finding fresh blackberries, after eating nothing but MREs the past few days, we started grabbing handfuls of blackberries and stuffing them into our smiling faces as we marched on. By the time we cleared the blackberry bushes every single one of us had purple-stained faces and hands.

Still purple stained, a day after…

When we gathered for the AAR, the instructor for that lane remarked, “what in the world happened to you all?!”

I chuckle every time I think what a group of young cadets – future leaders of the US Army – must have looked like to those instructors. Hey, never take for granted what mother nature has to offer…and blackberries are a delicious example.
When we gathered for the AAR, the instructor for that lane remarked, “what in the world happened to you all?!”

I chuckle every time I think what a group of young cadets – future leaders of the US Army – must have looked like to those instructors. Hey, never take for granted what mother nature has to offer…and blackberries are a delicious example.