Neat Kitchen Gadgets and Utensils

Click images for details or to buy in the USA.

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Dip Clips – great for gravy, ketchup, ranch dressing or any kind of veggie or fruit dip

Click here to buy Dip Clips in Canada

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Blue Dolphin Sandwich Cutter – adorable surprise in a lunch box!

Click here to buy Dolphin Sandwich Cutter in Canada

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Snack N Stack utensils clip together – kids love them

Click here to buy Snack N Stack Utensils in Canada

Set of 6 ChefLand Mixing Bowls Standard Weight Stainless Steel, Mirror Finish, 3-4, 11-2, 3, 4, 5, and 8 Qt

ChefLand Mixing Bowl Set – a staple you will use for years to come for many different things

Click here to buy ChefLand Mixing Bowls in Canada

Fred and Friends MISTER TEA Silicone Tea Infuser

Fred and Friends MISTER TEA Silicone Tea Infuser

Click here to buy Fred and Friends Mister Tea Infuser in Canada

Spicy Shelf Patented Spice Rack and Stackable Organizer

Spicy Shelf Patented Spice Rack and Stackable Organizer

Click here to by Spicy Shelf Organizers in Canada

 

Cookie Decorating Tools, Techniques and Tips

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Cookies can be beautiful works of art put on display on a buffet table during the holidays or for special occasions, and decorating cookies can be fun, and much simpler than it looks. There are lots of tips, tools and techniques to make this an enjoyable experience instead of a chore, and some spectacular recipes and designs to choose from.

Tools

Cookie cutters

You can cut cookies in a huge variety of shapes and images for decorating! Here are some popular cutters available:

Wilton Holiday 18 pc Metal Cookie Cutter Set #2308-1132 Fred & Friends Ninjabread Men Cookie Cutters Wilton Holiday Grippy Cookie Cutters, Set of 4 Wilton 2304-1050 101-Piece Cookie Cutter Set Wilton Snowflake Comfort Grip Cookie CutterAteco 5357 11 Piece Plain Round Cutter SetWilton Mini Cookie Cutter set of 12Wilton Mickey Mouse Cookie Cutter Set

Click here for more cookie cutters.

Baking sheets

I’ve tried so many different kinds of baking sheets, and Nordic Ware are the best I’ve come across. Food doesn’t stick, they have superior heat conductivity, and they clean up like a dream, no matter what you use them for. You can even get them with a lid now, which can be handy. When baking cookies, I usually fill up the biggest sized cookie sheet, then fill a second sheet while the first batch cooks. Or if you prefer, in a convection oven you can fill three standard size sheets and bake them all at once. I just find it a bit easier getting one sheet at a time onto a cooling rack without worrying about any of the cookies over baking.

Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker's Half Sheet with LidNordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Large Classic Cookie SheetNordic Ware Natural Aluminum NonStick Commercial Big SheetNordic Ware the Big Cookie Baking Set 10 Piece Set

Click here for more cookie sheets.

Cooling racks

Stacking cooling racks are perfect when counterspace is an issue, and are really handy when you’re baking large batches of cookies. I like big cooling racks, and if the cookies are quite thin, then cross-wires are nice too so they don’t poke through the gaps and break. Some tiered racks, like the second one pictured below, also have front supports so they work well for multiple pies too.

Wilton 2105-459 Excelle Elite 3-Tier Cooling Rack, 15 7-8 inch X 9 7-8 inchNifty Non-Stick 3-Tier Cooling RackWilton Nonstick Cooling Rack Grid, 14.5 by 20-Inch

Click here for more cookie racks.

Cookie spatula

Whether you prefer a small cookie spatula or a big one, its best to get one with a firm, sharp edge. I often use a sharp edged  brownie or lasagna spatula so I can remove two cookies at a time.

Dexter-Russell Walnut Mini Turner, Stainless Steel, 2 by-2.5-InchAnne Marie's 18-8 Stainless Steel Brownie SpatulaOXO SteeL Lasagna Turner

Squeeze bottles

Some people prefer the old method of piping bags, but many are converting to squeeze bottles. If you want to try squeeze bottles, use the ones with frosting tips. A good tip for filling:  mix your separate colored frosting batches in ziplock baggies, then snip a corner of the baggie and squeeze the frosting out to fill the bottle.

Fox Run Set of 3 Icing BottlesThe Pampered Chef Decorator Bottle Set #1585Kuhn Rikon Deco Squirt Bottle, Round, Red

Piping bags and tips

Wilton 2104-1358 Disposable 12-inch Decorating Bags, 24 PackWilton 418-1700 Round Star Icing Tip Set, SmallWilton 411-1989 Coupler Set, Set of 4

Ateco 14-Piece Cake Decorating SetWilton 2104-0240 Master Decorating Tip SetAteco 55-Piece Stainless Steel Decorating Tube Set with Hinged Storage BoxWilton 909-192 Decorating Tip Poster

Click here for more decorating tips

Wilton Piping Demonstration Video

Food coloring

There is a great selection of colors available in food coloring, and mixing your own can result in an amazing selection

AmeriColor Student Soft Gel Paste Food Color 12 Pack Kit

 

Wilton Set of 8 Icing ColorsAmeriColor Amerimist Metallic & Pearl Sheen Airbrush .65 Ounce Set of 12

If food coloring is of concern to you, you might want to try substituting part of the liquid in your icing with the following for natural coloring (don’t worry about the taste – you won’t notice it). Just simmer the fruit or vegetables in a small quantity of water and let the colored water concentrate (or boil down bottled juice), then substitute for as much of the liquid in your icing recipe as you want depending on depth of color.

  • Red/pink – pomegranate
  • Green – spinach
  • Pink – beet, cranberry
  • Orange/yellow – golden beet
  • Orange – carrot
  • Blue/purple – blueberry, blackberry
  • Purple – grape
  • Brown – steeped coffee, cocoa or tea

Click here for more food coloring.

Stencilling With Airbrush

Cookies look professionally made when stencilled with an airbrush. It seems like it would be a lot more difficult than it is – see video below.

Master Pro Airbrush Cake Decorating Set with 12 AmeriMist Airbrush Cake color set that are FDA approved

Master Pro Airbrush Decorating Set

Designer Stencils C096 Valentine Cupcake Cookie Stencils, Beige Semi-Transparent

Designer Valentine Cookie Designer Stencils

Designer Stencils C787 Faberge Easter Egg Stencils, Beige Semi-Transparent

Designer Faberge Easter Egg Stencil

Click here for more cookie decorating stencils.

Airbrushing Video Demonstration

Candy sprinkles and edible accents

Wilton Sugar Pearls, White, 5 OzWilton Sweetheart 6-Cell Valentine Sprinkles MixWilton 710-039 Sparkling 5Wilton Candy Eyeballs,0.88 oz,Count of 56India Tree Candied Violet Petals, 0.5 OunceLavender Sanding Sugar, 1 lb.Wilton White Sparkling Sugar, Net Wt. 8 oz.

Click here for more cookie sprinkles and edible accents

Icing Tips and Tricks

  • Whether you use royal icing or a simple milk and powdered sugar icing, make a thicker batch for the borders of the cookies, and fill in with thinner flood icing which will spread smoother.
  • Practice with squeeze bottles and piping bags to see what works best for you, by laying a template under wax paper and tracing the outlines, then filling. Extra practice will make your work easier for you in the long run.
  • If using bottles, squeeze them to create suction to pull the icing in.
  • Icing can be kept for several days in the refrigerator if you need time to decorate over a few days, but allow icing to come to room temperature before using.
  • Make your cookies one day, then decorate them the next day.
  • Raspberry-Sherbet-Cookie-Platter-largeIf you prefer to spread your work out over several days for each of the following steps:
    • make cookie dough
    • bake cookies, storing in an airtight container after cooling
    • make icing and color individual batches, then refrigerate
    • apply base color and any sugaring or candy sprinkles to some or all cookies (can split this over a few days)
    • apply decorative accents with colored icing matching the base color
  • If adding color on top of color, let the base color dry a bit before continuing.
  • When piping on dots, make a little C motion when lifting the applicator instead of lifting straight out. This will smooth the icing instead of leaving the Hershey’s kiss look.
  • When sugaring cookies (also known as flocking or sanding), remember that sugar adheres to wet frosting so don’t wait too long to do this step.
  • If you want some areas left in plain icing rather than sugared, ice those areas first and allow to dry, then proceed to ice the areas you want sugared. This works for outlines you want sugared as well, simply allow the base to dry before outlining and sugaring.
  • Bumble Bee and Ladybird Cake DecorationsSugar over parchment or wax paper so you can funnel the overspilled sugar back into your bowl.
  • Candy sprinkles should be applied to wet icing.
  • When applying edible accents, use frosting that matches the base color as glue – apply a small dab to the back of the accent, then press onto the cookie and allow to dry.
  • Tweezers are helpful when applying accents.
  • Allow iced cookies 24 hours to dry.

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Recipes

Border Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or any flavored extract
  • 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons milk or water
  • Food coloring, optional

Flood Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or any flavored extract
  • 2 1/2 – 3 tablespoons milk or water
  • Food coloring, optional

Royal Icing

  • 1 box confectioners’ sugar (1 pound)
  • 5 tablespoons meringue powder 

Fit your stand mixer with a paddle attachment. In the bowl, combine sugar and meringue powder. For a border or detail consistency, mix on low speed, adding a scant 1/2 cup water. For a thinner consistency for flooding, separate some of the icing and add more water. Mix until icing holds a ribbonlike trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle.

Ombre-Candy-Dipped-Cookies-largeBasic Rolled-Out Sugar Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt. Cover and chill dough in the refrigerator for at least one hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes. Place cookies one inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely before frosting.

Makes 5 dozen cookies.

Wilton Official Sugar Cookie Recipe

Inspiration

If you need some inspiration, either for cookie recipes or decorating techniques, here are some great books to get your creative juices flowing – 1001 Cookie Recipes is my favorite!

1001 Cookie Recipes - The Ultimate A-To-Z Collection of Bars, Drops, Crescents, Snaps, Squares, Biscuits, and Everything...50 Deliciously Decorative Cookies - Easy-to-Make Cookie Creations Baker's Field Guide to Christmas Cookies (Baker's FG) Squires Kitchen's Guide to Making More Iced Flowers - Decorative piped flowers for cakes, cookies and desserts Decorating Cookies - 60+ Designs for Holidays, Celebrations & EverydayValentine Delights A Collection of Valentine Recipes (Cookbook Delights Holiday)Betty Crocker's Cooky Book (Facsimile Edition) (Betty Crocker Cooking)Cookie Love - 60 Recipes and Techniques for Turning the Ordinary into the Extraordinary

Please share your tips by commenting!

Popular Party Appetizers

Perfect party appetizers always disappear as soon as the plate hits the buffet table. Many are old favorites everybody knows and loves. Unfamiliar appetizers can still be instant hits if visually appealing and aromatic. I’ve put together some recipes to wow your guests with, and some contemporary serving products to make your work easier and your display more attractive. Click recipe names to link to the recipes, and click the pictures to link to some beautiful appetizer serverware and accessories.

Classic Deviled EggsChef Buddy Deviled Egg Trays with Snap On Lids, Set of 2

Classic Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are always quick to disappear on a party table, a familiar face in a crowd and sure to please anybody.

Restaurant Style Buffalo Chicken WingsRachael Ray Serveware 14-Inch Stoneware Serving Platter and Dipper Bowl, Blue

Restaurant Style Buffalo Chicken Wings

Restaurant style buffalo wings are deep fried, then dipped or surrounded in hot sauce. I like the prespicing in this recipe.

Bill's Blue Cheese DressingPrepworks from Progressive International SWDC-1 Assorted Dip Clips, Set of 4

Bill’s Blue Cheese Dressing

Blue cheese dressing is a classic accompaniment to hot wings.

Outback Steakhouse Almost Famous Bloomin Onion Copycat RecipeStyle Setter Soho Hues Chip and Dip Serving Set, Eggplant Color

Outback Steahouse Almost Famous Bloomin’ Onion

If you’ve never had a bloomin’ onion give it a try, a fancy presentation of an onion ring that looks great on a buffet table and goes with just about any dip.

Stuffed Mushrooms With PecansRevol Belle Cuisine BC1012-1 7 Inch x 6.25 Inch Escargot Plate, 12 Holes

Stuffed Mushrooms With Pecans

A nice varietion on crab stuffed mushrooms.

Baked Buffalo Chicken DipTerafeu 8.5-Inch Round Baker, Piment Red

Baked Buffalo Chicken Dip

This nacho chip dip is a popular crowd pleaser.

Sweet & Spicy Jalepeno PoppersPacific Merchants Acaciaware 12-Inch Acacia Wood Square Serving Tray

Sweet & Spicy Jalapeno Poppers

I like the half jalapeno version of this recipe, its spicy but not overbearing for those of us with sensitivity to the heat.

Cocktail MeatballsDecorative picks

Cocktail Meatballs

Little meatballs are a nice pass-around at a party. Have some recepticals around for used picks and napkins.

Seven Layer DipLuigi Bormioli Michelangelo Masterpiece 10-3-4-inch Serving Bowl

Seven Layer Dip

Another nacho chip delight, this dip is very pretty in a clear bowl.

Chicken Wings in Honey SauceFiesta Bistro Bowl Large

Chicken Wings in Honey Sauce

Chicken wings are one of the most popular party appetizers, so try to have a couple of varieties available as they will go fast.

Homemade pretzelsHoosier Hill Farm Coarse Pretzel Salt, 2 lbs

Homemade Pretzels

Making your own pretzels is easier than you would think. There are a lot of pretzel salts on the market that are actually just coarse sea salt so watch for the proper kind.

Antipasto KabobsSteven Raichlen Best of Barbecue Double Prong Bamboo Grilling Kabob Skewers Set of 20 (6.5-inch Long)

Antipasto Kabobs

You can use your imagination and make an endless variety of these cute little kabobs, but this version will get your creative juices flowing – cute and easy!

Pigs In A BlanketFiesta 12-Inch by 5-3-4-Inch Bread Tray

Pigs In A Blanket

Have a bowl of mustard nearby for dipping these into. No need for crescent roll or phyllo dough for this easy made from scratch recipe.

olive garden hot artichoke spinach dipRachael Ray Cucina Stoneware 1.5-Quart Round Baker, Agave Blue

Olive Garden Hot Artichoke-Spinach Dip

A popular dip at the Olive Garden, spinach dips work with thin toasted bread or nacho chips.

SlidersZak Designs 19.5-Inch by 11.5-Inch Large Rectangular Tray, Black

Sliders

Something to satisfy the hungrier party guests, sliders are easy to make if you assemble the patties ahead and time and have all the assembly ingredients at hand and ready once you’ve grilled the patties.

Jamie's Baked BrieCaffco International Ceramic Pig Serving Dish, Large, Cream

Jamie’s Baked Brie

Baked cheese works well with apple slices, grapes, bread, crackers or nacho chips and goes over well at a party. Brushing layers of phyllo doesn’t take that much time, and produces a very flaky crust.

Black Pepper Chipscovered chip and dip serving bowl

Black Pepper Chips

How about some homemade chips for your party? These can be made ahead and served cold or served warm after cooking.

Onion Dip From Scratch(Pack of 12) 6 Oz. Smooth Melamine Ramekin - Sauce Cup Multi-Color - Break-Resistance NSF (Black)

Onion Dip From Scratch

Onion dip goes with chips, or works well on a veggie dip platter. Homemade offers a bit of a pleasant change in taste from the usual store variety.

Outback Steakhouse Gold Coast Coconut ShrimpOggi retractable toothpick holder

Outback Steakhouse Gold Coast Coconut Shrimp

A popular shrimp copycat recipe can be served on little lettuce, spinach or basil leaves, or leave a supply of toothpicks on the table for your guests’ convenience.

Don’t forget the labels so people know what they’re eating!

Evelots Set Of 6 Porcelain Place Cards, Re-usable Name Card-White - Easel Backs

Reusable Buffet Labels or Place Cards

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