Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sweet on Trader Joe's Saturday: Pumpkin Macarons

I snapped this picture in Trader Joe's yesterday:
pumpkin season at Trader Joe's
It is OFFICIALLY pumpkin season!  Yay!!!

Today, we review Trader Joe's Pumpkin Macarons. 

trader joe's pumpkin macarons review

trader joe's pumpkin macarons review
You'll find these in the freezer section, but don't worry, they only take 30 minutes to defrost.  Trader Joe's description of these is "light and delicate, yet abundant with the smooth, warming flavor of pumpkin and traditional pumpkin pie spices..." A box of 12 macarons costs $4.99.

trader joe's pumpkin macarons review
A mom's (my) take: Trader Joe's does macarons right.  A delicate, crisp shell, a chewy interior, perfect little feet, and a flavorful but not overpowering filling.  The pumpkin flavor is just can taste both the pumpkin and the spices, really reminiscent of pumpkin pie.  My only complaint, as it is with all's way too easy to eat 6 of them and still want more. ;)
Overall rating: 5 of 5 stars

A teenager's (kiddo's) take: These are the best store-bought macarons I've ever had. The light, airy shell is perfectly balanced by the chewy, sweet interior. The pumpkin flavor is not too strong but still enough to taste it. I could also eat several boxes of these.
Overall rating: 6 out of 5 stars :)
trader joe's pumpkin macarons review
Trader Joe's Pumpkin Macarons: it's pumpkin season, y'all.

To read more of our Trader Joe's dessert reviews, click here.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Xanadu, your neon lights will shine...

Birthdays...when we were growing up, my parents instituted a "birthday party rule."  Birthday PARTIES were every other year...on the "off years," we could invite a friend or two to dinner, or to the movies, and over for cake.  I have no idea where they came up with this idea, but we decided to carry on the tradition with kiddo, too.

xanadu decorated cookies + a recipe for vanilla-clementine cut-out cookies
I had been thinking about one of my teenage birthdays...I think I was 12 or 13.  One of the movie theaters in "the city" was having a special showing of Xanadu.  I think the movie came out a couple of years earlier and I already had my white roller skates and knew all of the songs by heart.  My parents took a few of us down for the movie.  I can't remember much else from that birthday...just Xanadu.

{photo credit}
Please tell me you're a Xanadu fan, too!  I loved all things Olivia Newton-John.  Her voice, her face, her accent, her perfect hair!!!  Remember those thin hair ribbons?  And, that off the shoulder white top?  Oh!  And, that cowgirl outfit?  And Gene Kelly?!?  Oh my gosh...yeah.  I loved Xanadu.

xanadu decorated cookies + a recipe for vanilla-clementine cut-out cookies
In my mind, I was ONJ as reality, I was a frizzy-haired girl with braces who was a little (a lot) wobbly on those skates, but man, it was fun to pretend.

decorated cookies: olivia newton-john in Xanadu + a recipe for vanilla-clementine cut-out cookies
The week I was thinking about those birthday memories, I got an email from McCormick.  They're celebrating their 125th (!) birthday this month. Did you know September is the most popular month for birthdays?  I didn't, either!

xanadu decorated cookies + a recipe for vanilla-clementine cut-out cookies
To celebrate, McCormick is igniting a conversation about birthdays and asking people all over the globe to share their favorite birthday flavor story.  For every story shared on McCormick's website or social media channels, McCormick will donate $1 to United Way to feed those in need.

In honor of birthday month, they released a new vanilla extract: Extra Rich Pure Vanilla Extract.
It's luscious and rich...25% stronger than the classic vanilla and the perfect balance between sweet caramel and bourbon-rummy flavors.  It is PERFECT in baked goods...and also to dab a little behind your ears. ♥
McCormick Extra Rich Pure Vanilla Extract + a recipe for vanilla-clementine cut-out cookies

I used it to make Vanilla-Clementine Cut-Outs for the Xanadu-inspired cookies.  The strong vanilla flavor combined with the sweet and fresh clementine is just swoon-worthy.  The cookies also have a little kick of salt that balances out the flavors so well.  I love them almost as much as I love Xanadu. ;)

print recipe photo printrecipe.jpg
Vanilla-Clementine Cut-Out Cookies
{makes about 12 cookies, depending on cutter size}

2 & 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons McCormick Extra Rich Pure Vanilla Extract
zest of one clementine
1 teaspoon clementine juice

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add in the egg, vanilla, zest, and juice.  Beat until well combined.  Add in the flour mixture on low speed, mixing until just combined.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Once chilled, roll to 1/4" thick on a surface dusted with flour, and cut with cookie cutters.  If the dough becomes sticky, refrigerate.  Place shapes onto parchment-lined cookies sheets.  Freeze the shapes for 5-10 minutes before baking to help retain the shape.

Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until done.  Cool completely on wire cooling racks before decorating.  Use royal icing to decorate.
xanadu cookies decorating tutorial

What's one of your favorite birthday memories?  Does it involve Xanadu?

xanadu and olivia newton-john decorate cookies + a recipe for vanilla-clementine cut-out cookies

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Decorating Cookies Party: sneak peek!

decorating cookies party by bridget edwards
Last week I finally (FINALLY!) got my hands on some copies of Decorating Cookies Party!  Yay!

decorating cookies party by bridget edwards
{Spike is VERY into cookie decorating, as you will see.}

Just a week or two to go until the books will hit stores.  The official release date is October 7th, but sometimes Amazon likes to send out books a little early. 

I have a fun giveaway planned for the official launch...stay tuned.  For now, I wanted to show you a few pictures from the inside.
This is tough...because I want you to see most of it for the first time when you're flipping the pages in your own kitchen, or sitting in the car line at school.  (Am I the only one who arrives at the school parking lot with a stack of magazines and cookbooks?)

I posted here about what you'll find inside.  This is a cookie PARTY book after all, so here are some of my beautiful friends (cookie) partying it up.  (Next time, I promised them wine.)
dcp party collahe photo sneakpeekpostdecoratingcookiespartycollageparty.jpg
I'll walk you through hosting a cookie party of your own in the book.

Just like Decorating Cookies, this book has step-by-step photo tutorial of every decorated cookie.
 photo sneakpeekpostdecoratingcookiesparty-4.jpg

Plus, 5 cookie recipes!!!  (One gluten-free, my friends!  No fat-free, sorry.)
dcp collage 2 photo sneakpeekpostdecoratingcookiespartycollage2.jpg

You'll find detailed instruction and photos for all kinds of cookie decorating...including some new techniques in this book, like stamping and using silicone molds.
dcp rings photo sneakpeekpostdecoratingcookiesparty-7.jpg

You guys...I'm just so excited for this book.  Not only does it contain some of my favorite cookie designs, but I actually took most of the photographs, too.  With the exception of the 10 shots of the cookie sets, each and every photo was taken by me...right here in my kitchen.  Well, Mr. E took approximately 1,792 pictures of me to get two passable author shots. ;)
dcp pages photo sneakpeekpostdecoratingcookiespartypages.jpg

Like I said, I want you to see the book for the first time when you have it in your hands, but just a little peek...
dcp princess photo sneakpeekpostdecoratingcookiesparty-8.jpg
{I never thought I was a princess girl...until I made this cookie.  I love her.}

On October 7th or thereabouts, you should start seeing Decorating Cookies Party in your local book store. 
I get lots of questions...mainly from friends (and my mother-in-law) about whether this book I've been working on will be available in "actual bookstores."  YES.  No, I'm not selling it out of the trunk of my car. (Well, only on special occasions. NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT.)  

Until then, it is available for pre-order.  I have all of that information HERE, along with how you can get exclusive recipes if you pre-order by October 7th.

dcp collage jack photo sneakpeekpostdecoratingcookiespartycollagejack.jpg
 {I have a picture of kiddo in the exact spot reading my last book 2 years ago.  He's changed so much...and I still haven't painted my walls.}

I do have a few local events in the works...and I'm begging, pleading politely asking my publisher to let me go a few places outside of Houston to sign books and meet you.  If you have city requests, please leave them in the comments.

 photo 087b0d49-fc5c-480f-b833-225a7edc0583.jpg
A few dozen sprinkles were consumed in the making of this book. 

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