Pie Crust and Pixie Dust | Recipes for Baking with Kids.
The blissful madness of baking with kids! Welcome to Pie Crust & Pixie Dust! I am Emily, a mother of three and a ninja at stealing cookies from my kids. While baking with children is messy and wild, it provides sweet opportunities to talk to kids about some of the most important aspects of life.
Our youngest daughter’s birthday was last week, and I had a nice little sleepover planned with a couple of friends, and a few simple birthday decorations. All was well in my world until four days prior to the party, as I was sitting next to my mother-in-law on the sofa, and my daughter dropped five of the most anxiety provoking words a parent can hear, “Can I have a party?!!!”
Like an exploding piñata of terror, thoughts of invitations, themes, cakes, weather forecasts, and Oriental Trading Company party favors started shooting through my head. Yet, as I sat politely next to my mother-in-law (slash master event planner) I said with a hipnotized-like composure, “Sure sweetie, lets do it.” What….was….I…..thinking?!!!
The only way this last minute birthday party was going to work is if I let go of trying to have an unrealistic Pinterest-worthy party, and well, just set low expectations for everyone, including myself. Behold, a new life motto!
First I tried to book some of the cool stuff like Teacups and Trucks, Lowcountry Party Animals mobile petting zoo, and Pure Fluff, but I quickly realized that I was way too late in my planning. Next I tried, the ice cream truck, and Charleston Jump Castles. While the ice cream truck was overbooked, alas Charleston Jump Castles saved the day. They had a ton of parties the same day, but had one bouncy “thing” left. It was a 44 foot inflatable water slide that they could set up in our yard. Woohoo! This year’s birthday theme was clearly going to be “redneck county fair!” Giddy-up, y’all!
Take a look at this beast:
As you may already know, we love baking wild birthday cakes every year for our kid’s birthdays. However, considering the short planning time for this party, I had to figure out something quick and easy.
Thanks to my dear grandmother who left me with a box of her favorite recipes, I was able to whip together a 70 year old cake recipe called “Busy Day Cake.” Instead of making the recipe as a cake however, I decided to bake cupcakes to easily feed a large group of kids.
I must say that while grabbing a few boxes of store bought cupcakes would have been totally great, there was something very heartwarming about using my daughter’s great grandmother’s recipe for her birthday cupcakes. I can only imagine how excited my grandmother would be to know that we made her cakes for such a sweet and special event.
Additionally, the recipe itself was delicious. The cupcakes tasted to much better than store bought cupcakes, and they were a breeze to prepare. I did use canned frosting from Pillsbury because it’s just so delicious, and I had zero time for making homemade frosting. The kids at the party certainly didn’t seem to care, because the cakes vanished off the cake platters platters in about 12.2 seconds. Victory!
Here is a peek at the old recipe and finished cupcakes. Thanks, Nana.
I believe it was a very wise woman by the name of Ke$ha, (you do you, sister) who said, “I embrace imperfections and celebrate them.” I like that. I’m so glad that we never tried to make this party even close to perfect, but instead celebrated the silliness and whimsy of the day just the way it was meant to be.
Have you had to put together any last minute birthday parties? Please reach out and let us know what themes and vendors you have loved the most. We would love to share your ideas on the blog!
Time is hoppin’ by so fast, and with spring break and Easter at our doorstep, I was eager to take on an Easter-themed baking project this year that was quick, simple, and baskets full of fun.
In looking through by baking cabinets, (look at how messy this is, y’all)……
….I found a basic Easter Bunny cookie cutter. We have done tons of bunny cookies in the past, and while I liked that cookies were a convenient option, I didn’t want to duplicate a previous project. Rather, we decided to take a different angle on the Easter Bunny cookie, (hardy-har) and instead of decorating the bunny from the front, we decorated the bunny from the back. Introducing the Cottontail Cookie!
For the cookies we used our basic cut-out cookie recipe, and for the icing we used our classic royal icing recipe. We have been using these recipes numerous times this year, because they are so delicious, and you don’t have to have a ton of skill to make really pretty cookies. Furthermore, for those of you who don’t bake often, I created a (super low-budget) tutorial on how to make and decorate with royal icing. Hopefully it will help you get those snazzy smooth professional looking cookies with very little experience and effort!
Combine until the consistency is smooth. May add water to make the icing a bit runnier.
So if like me you are running around like a crazy little Easter chick, I hope these sweet and simple Cottontail Cookies will be a perfect way to bake great memories with your family this Easter. Hippity-hop, y’all!
Last week my kids and I were chatting about how totally cool it would be to have our very own leprechaun. Molly said she wanted a leprechaun to help play pranks, and to eat snacks with she and her friends. I, on the other hand think that teaching a leprechaun to fold laundry and check math homework would be quite fantastic. So in hopes of fetching our very own family leprechaun, we baked our own shortbread leprechaun traps just in time for Saint Patrick’s Day.
SHORTBREAD COOKIE TRAPS:
For the walls and roof of the leprechaun traps, we baked the easiest-ever shortbread cookies. If you are short on time, (pardon the pun) shortbread cookies are absolutely perfect for you. The dough is made up of four basic ingredients, and is even easier to work with than store bought dough. Yep, that’s right. This dough is easier to work with than pre-made dough.
For the decorations on each cookie, we used our go-to royal icing recipe, as well as sprinkles, gum drops, jelly beans, and gummies. We basically tried to use our toppings as leprechaun bait, and what leprechaun doesn’t love jelly beans, gummies and sprinkles, right?
To hold the walls of the leprechaun traps together, we just spread a little bit of royal icing on the edge of two cookies and held them together until they stuck. Easy peasy.
Easy Shortbread Cookies
How to make easy and delicious shortbread cookies.
1 cup (softened) butter
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a stand mixer, combine all of the ingredients. Blend on a high speed for about five minutes. It will seem as though the mixture will never come together, but just wait, the ingredients will eventually blend into perfect cookie dough.
Knead cookie dough and roll out onto a floured surface. Cut desired shapes and place on a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until slightly brown at the edges. Let cook land decorate with royal icing or any other desired toppings.
A NEW SNEAKY FAMILY TRADITION HAS BEGUN:
Creating these shortbread cookie “traps” was fun and so much easier than I ever imagined. In fact, we liked this recipe so much that we have started a new tradition. A Saint Patrick’s Day tradition that we hope your kids will love just as much.
The night before Saint Patrick’s Day, the kids are going to set up their traps on the kitchen counter. While confident that they are going to catch a new little friend, the great news here is that juuussstt in case they don’t, they can eat their sweet little traps on St. Patrick’s Day morning. A happy ending, either way.
We hope find this recipe to be quite a treasure, and are lucky enough to catch your very own leprechaun later this week!
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and sadly, it is the least of my priorities. It feels terrible to say that, because as you know, I LOVE celebrating every little thing to the max! Let me explain….
Our family has been dealing with some big challenges over the last week. Bullying, self-esteem issues, hormonal changes, and missed homework assignments have been some of the hurdles that we’ve been facing around here. Truthfully, I kind of feel like taking a knee on mommy-hood for a minute or two, just to collect myself. You guys, I had to get the school guidance counselor to come out to my car to help encourage one of my children to just go into the school this week. Whew. We’ll get through this!
Needless to say, until today I really hadn’t done much Valentine’s Day prep at all. In fact, today I went to Target, and the seasonal section looked like a FEMA response zone. While I was hoping for some snazzy cards and fun goodies, all I saw were a few other moms with the same stressed out stare in their eyes, and a bunch of bags of coffee-flavored Ferrero Rocher balls. Those aren’t going to fly at the pre-school!
The one Valentine’s activity that we did do however, was bake our easiest cut-out cookie recipe ever, CHECK IT OUT HERE. We have perfected this recipe to make it simple, quick, and delicious. No fuss, very little mess, and the cookies hold their shapes very well. Once the cookies were baked, I gave all the decorations to the kids and snuck away to catch an episode of Doctor Foster on Netflix, (might as well have been sitting on the beach if Fiji). Oh, and incase your were wondering about the mess, I always have my kids decorate on cookie sheets so I can pour (most of) the mess right into the trash. Woohoo! In the end, I think the little ones did a super fancy job decorating the cookies. Perfectly imperfect is definitely our vibe!
And as I sit here tonight, knowing full-and-well that tomorrow could be a little messy and sparse, part of me thinks this may be the best Valentine’s Day, yet. Given all of the challenges we’ve faced this week, I really can’t think of a better time to remind my children that no matter what happens in their sweet little lives, they are truly loved more than they could ever know.
We hope your Valentine’s Day is full of love and sweetness.
Super Bowl Sunday is here! Football fans love watch-parties, tailgates, and game day deals at local bars or restaurants. No matter where you are located there are bound to be many things to do. Many of which probably have deals for the special event! However, if you’d rather stay in and watch the New England Patriots face off against the Los Angeles Rams from the comfort of your own home,
we’ve got the perfect relaxed at-home game-day itinerary for you and the kids. The following nine
Super Bowl recipes are so easy that your kids can help you make them. Turn the big watch-party
into a special foodie adventure that the whole family can participate in.
Mini Bagel Pizzas
Your kids will have a blast assembling these mini bagel pizzas and an even better time eating them.
The recipe only calls for bagels, pizza sauce, cheese, and toppings and we suggest setting up a
“pizza topping bar” so your kids can have fun picking their own toppings and creating their own
personal pizzas. Try topping favorites like pepperoni, olive, and sausage plus some healthy options
like fresh tomatoes, spinach, and mushrooms.
Pepperoni and String Cheese Roll-ups
This easy recipe for pepperoni and cheese roll-ups only requires four ingredients: crescent rolls,
shredded mozzarella cheese or string cheese, pepperoni, and pizza sauce. Since this recipe is less
about cooking and more about assembling, it’s a great recipe for kids to help with. Let your little ones
help by assembling the pepperoni on the dough and then rolling it up with the cheese. Your kids will
think they’re eating pizza pockets!
Tater Tot Nachos
Tater tot nachos are perfect for the family who can’t decide between nachos or loaded potato skins
(and don’t want to make both). You can pre-chop the bacon and green onions, but once the tots are
cooked, let your kids go to town loading them up with cheese, bacon, green onions, diced tomatoes,
and sour cream. You can also make a more traditional Latin-inspired tater tot nacho by topping them
with items like salsa, black beans, ground beef, and avocado. You can find that recipe here.
All you’ll need for this festive “touchdown brownie” recipe is your favorite box of brownie mix, some
icing, and a football-shaped cookie cutter. Bake the brownies according to the directions on the box,
but once they are completely cooled use the cookie cutter to get them into the football shape. Then,
using the white icing, enlist your kids to draw the “football laces” on the treats. Your kids will have a
fun time playing artist with this sweet treat.
Creamy fruit dip and fruit skewers
This easy three-ingredient fruit dip is made with cream cheese and marshmallow creme making it
oh-so-decadent and a total crowd pleaser. While you whip up a quick batch of the dip, put the kids
on fruit skewer duty. Chop up some fruit (grapes, strawberries, apples, and pineapples are great
options) and let the kids arrange them on skewers. You can put them to work making the skewers
for the whole party or just give them control over their personal skewers. It’s a fun activity that makes
kids want to eat more fruit.
Mac ‘n’ Cheese Bites
Mac ‘n’ cheese is always a crowd-pleaser but during the Super Bowl, everything should be bite-sized
and conveniently consumed while sitting on a couch. Enter: Mac ‘n’ cheese bites. This cheesy snack
starts like most macaroni and cheese recipes, but instead of finishing it in the oven in a casserole
dish, you portion the macaroni out into a muffin tray. Let the kids help out by mixing the noodles with
the roux and then supervise them as they scoop spoonfuls of macaroni into the muffin tray.
7-Layer dip is an easy and tasty side dish and because there’s no cooking involved, it’s a great
recipe for making with the kids. Using this easy no-cook 7 layer taco dip recipe, the kids can help
you assemble the various layers, and who cares if you mess up — nobody has ever turned down
Hawaiian Ham and Swiss Sliders
The entire family is going to fall in love with this updated take on a traditional ham and cheese
sandwich. Ham and cheese slices are baked inside King’s Hawaiian bread rolls and then topped
with a mustard dressing and put back in the oven for a bit to get everything warm and cheese.
Making traditional sliders is an involved process, but this one-dish treat is quick and easy and you
can get the kids to help assemble the sandwiches and mix together the dressing ingredients.
This roll-up sandwich is a healthy alternative to most game day snacks and bonus, you can make it
ahead of time. Lay out the sandwich wraps and help the kids arrange the meats, cheese, dressings,
and lettuce on top. You can even guide the kids through the rolling process. Finally, cut the wraps
into bite-sized pieces and serve.
Enjoy the big game!
Amanda is a Midwest free-lance writer living in the Arizona Valley. She loves, reading, writing and exploring new places with her Fiancé and dog!
Did you hear about that lady last week that was busted at Walmart drinking wine out of a Pringles can while taking a joy ride on an electric scooter? Pringles wine lady, you are my hero. Anyways, that is exactly what I felt like doing earlier this week when my 2nd grader and I were working on her math homework.
While I’m no mathematician, typically I can handle 2nd grade math homework pretty easily, (and thank you Siri for helping me with the tricky ones). What really makes me crazy however, is when a math problem is fundamentally simple, but my child gets caught up in trying to solve it in some fancy new way. Can someone tell me when basic math get so jazzy?
Here is the problem we were working on:
1. You baked 30 cookies. You gave 8 cookies to your teacher and 12 cookies to your neighbor. How many cookies do you have left?
Pretty simple, right? It seriously looked like my daughter was doing a combination of Sudoku and quantum mechanics to solve this problem. I couldn’t believe how she was getting herself so confused over something she could figure out in a second if she just thought about it. Trust me, if that kid baked 30 cookies and gave 20 away, she would know full-and-well how many cookies she had left, and she would be complaining for the rest of the day about only having 10 cookies. Hello!
So in hopes of helping my daughter see the real world application of basic math, we used actual cookies (Annies Organic Grabbits to be specific) to think about the problem. Sure, cookies are a distraction, but I told her she could eat a couple if she got the problem correct. Yay for positive reinforcement!
Needless to say, the problem gets solved when cookies are involved!
Next, we continued to the fractions portion of my daughter’s homework. To add a little playfulness to the process, we busted out a few basic kitchen items, and watched THIS HILARIOUS VIDEO THAT YOU MUST SHOW YOUR KIDS for understanding the process of adding and subtracting fractions. It was really amazing how using visuals to illustrate math problems really eliminated the intimidation-factor of fractions. Instead of seeing numbers on a page, my daughter was able to visualize the problems in a way that is fun and realistic.
Here are a couple of examples of problems we were able to solve in the kitchen.
1/4 + 1/2 =
Lets make this scary 2nd grade problem fun…..
School is out and many of us are planning on (attempting to) build gingerbread houses with the kiddos. To make the process easier on everyone, I have gathered up our favorite gingerbread house recipes, as well as a few helpful tips that will make building your gingerbread houses a whole lot easier. Here is your guide to everything gingerbread!
The Gingerbread recipe we love the most:
No need to reinvent the wheel on this one. We use a gingerbread recipe from foodnetwork.com that works every single time. One thing to keep in mind with this recipe is that it will seem very crumbly at first. Don’t worry, just keep kneading the dough until it starts to combine. If it is taking too long, you may need to add a tablespoon or two of warm water to help speed up the process. It will come together. As with any cookie dough, It really helps to let the dough chill for at least an hour before you start cutting your shapes.
Build the basic structure of your gingerbread house out of paper prior to baking so you will know how big your gingerbread cut-outs need to be.
When baking gingerbread for a house, you may want to slightly over-bake your dough. This will ensure that your gingerbread house is strong enough to hold together.
Consider building your gingerbread house on a piece of board. This will allow you to move the gingerbread house easily once it’s constructed. You would hate to do all that work just to have the house fall apart when you move it!
Use a cheese grater to smooth out the edges of your gingerbread cookie pieces to help them fit together just right. I learned this trick from Chef John Cook at The Grove Park Inn and it has been a game changer.
If you are building a gingerbread house that WILL NOT BE EATEN, you can support your house walls with foam board and use hot glue to hold together your bigger pieces, (no hot glue for kids, of course). You can see that we used plenty of non-edible components in the gingerbread house featured in this post. No shame in my game! This is all about baking memories and having fun.
Here are a few sources to find fun and totally unique candy for your gingerbread houses. Remember, great candy decorations can turn even the most messed up gingerbread house into a really charming piece of art. There are no rules, think outside the box and don’t take the process too seriously!
We hope this post will serve as a print-worthy source for your fun and festive family gingerbread traditions. I will continue to add to the post moving forward as I learn from my own mistakes, as well your tips and feedback!
Christmas is plowing in like a runaway train, and at the last minute this week I had to prepare a giant cookie tray for my daughter’s holiday party at school. Typically this wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but things have been so busy that I didn’t have time to whip up multiple cookie recipes for the tray. I did consider bringing in a few packs of Christmas themed Oreos from the gas station, but didn’t want the class moms to get all judgy that the baking blogger brought Oreos… I’m sorry but Oreos rock. Oh, the horror. So instead, I decided to bake one cut-out cookie recipe and used the best-ever royal icing recipe to decorate the cookies in different shapes and sizes. Ta-daa!
I took the tray into the school this morning and one of my friends started commenting about the cookies. She was telling me that she had tried so many different cut-out cookie recipes, but never found “the one.” Some are flaky, some are dry and chalky, and some blow up like enormously fat versions of the shapes you so carefully cut out. Been there! Additionally, she said that she has seen tons of pretty royal icing cookie decorations on Instagram that look so great, but making royal icing seems difficult. Well, if you are like my friend and so many others, this post is for you. After thousands of cookies, countless recipe tweaks, and loads of epic fails, I have FINALLY put together the only cut-out cookie and royal icing recipes you will ever need. Merry Christmas.
Start with our cut-out cookie recipe:
Best Ever Cut-Out Cookies – The Only Cut-Out Recipe You'll Ever Need.
1 cup room temperature butter
2 cups sugar
4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp milk
Combine sugar and butter.
Add eggs and combine.
Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the mixture and combine.
Add vanilla and milk.
Place the cookie dough on wax paper and let sit in the refridgerator for a minimum of one hour.
Once chilled, roll out onto a floured surface and cut into shapes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until slightly golden brown.
Once cooled, decorate with royal icing or glaze.
Now for the royal icing.
Okay so I have experimented with different ways to make royal icing for years. For the most part, I have used our simple royal icing recipe which works great if you prefer to avoid egg whites. However, last night I went rogue. I decided to use pasturized egg whites, (Egg Beaters) instead of meringue powder, and oh my goodness, it made all the difference! The icing was easy to work with, and dried a little smoother and more opaque than the previous recipe that I had always used. And while I would love to whip up a professional looking recipe for you guys for this royal icing, it’s just not that complicated. Ready? Here goes.
Dump your confectioner’s sugar in a mixer or large bowl. I know you should sift it, but I didn’t have time to and it was totally fine. Don’t tell Martha.
Next, start adding your Egg Beaters to the bowl of sugar one tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency you need. Thicker icing is best for boarders, and thinner icing is best for flooding the cookies.
Add a tablespoon of lime juice.
Add food coloring and stir.
Put icing in a piping bag with a small piping tip, and decorate.
Crickets……. yep, that’s it. I know that cookies with royal icing look fancy and complicated, but they really aren’t. Here is a peek at the ones we made.
In the end, I suppose I’m glad I made these cookies instead of opting for the gas station Oreos. If anything, my daughter was so proud of the cool cookies that she helped make, and you guys that was absolutely worth everything. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and happy baking!
Earlier this week, I was lying in bed late at night thinking (slash stressing, slash panicking) about my holiday to-do-list. If you are like me, this time of year your mind runs on a continuous loop around teacher gifts, cookie trays, class parties, elves, family gifts, and school performances. But just as I was lying in bed with visions of sugar plum fairies stomping in my head, I had a sweet memory just float right in. I started thinking about what Christmas mornings used to be like when I was little. What I wouldn’t give to have one more of those Christmas lunches with all of those family members that we’ve since lost. Wait, wait, don’t let me get sappy, let’s move quickly to the chocolate pie stuff.
Okay, so one great memory of those Christmas mornings was that my grandmother always brought outrageously delicious pies to our house as part of our Christmas day lunch. She brought lemon pies, pecan pies, and of course classic southern fudge pies. That fudge pie you guys, was absolutely legendary.
So in the spirit of the Christmas season and my sweet Nana, I decided to bake fudge pie, but this time with a whimsical holiday twist. We added one simple ingredient (hint, *kisses) to my Nana’s old recipe, and turned classic fudge pie into Peppermint Bark Fudge Mini Pies. OH MY, YOU MUST TRY THIS RECIPE!!
I think you will fall in love with these little pies because they are EASY, great for feeding a crowd, and absolutely delicious. If you serve these babies up warm with peppermint ice cream, whipped cream, and a few sprinkles on top, like my Nana, your recipe will be one that your family will always remember around the holidays.
We hope you love this holiday recipe and send feedback and photos of your pies! For more holiday dessert ideas, continue through the holiday section of the blog, and be sure to follow us @piecrustandpixiedust on Instagram.
Peppermint Bark Fudge Pie
Easy Peppermint Bark Fudge Pie
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa-powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 dozen frozen pre-made mini pie crusts
peppermint ice cream
fresh whipped cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine eggs, granulated sugar and butter
Add cocoa-powder, flour and vanilla to the mixture and combine
Add chopped Kisses and chocolate chips, combine.
Spoon about two tablespoons of batter into each mini pie shell and bake for 15 minutes, or until the pies have risen and cracked on the surface. Serve warm!
We are delighted to be included in Feedspot’s list of Top 25 Blogs in Charleston, South Carolina! Feedspot is an enormous website that shares articles from almost every category imaginable. Whether you are into food, sports, politics, flame throwing, basket weaving, world news, or anything else, Feedspot is a great hub for blog posts related to your interests.
Now, let me put this Top 25 ranking into perspective. As you may know, there are blogs in Charleston that are WAY beyond us. Think A Coastal Bride, Look, Linger, Love, or Gal Meets Glam, for heaven’s sake. So, while I am over the moon to be on this amazing Top 25 list, I know we have a long way to go to come close to those fabulous Charleston blogs.
Anyways, thank you so very much Feedspot! We love your site, and we are so happy that you are into ours, as well!