Thursday, October 27, 2011

The first Giveaway winner!

Hi everyone and thanks for participating in the very first giveaway from my blog.  I had so much fun reading your posts about your childhood costumes.  I laughed so hard and it brought back some great memories.  A Popple?  Seriously awesome. Raggedy Ann?  My mom made me that costume, too!  And I had completely forgotten about it until I read that post.  Next year I'm going to make PICTURES of your costumes a defiinite requirement :)

Back to business...I used and the winning number was lucky #5!  Erin McMinn is the recipient of this collection of Halloween cookies.  Congratulations, Erin!  (And great costume, too!)

The contest was just a small way of me saying THANKS for reading the blog and following my crazy business.  I'll definitely do more giveaways in the future so stay posted!

Happy Halloween everyone!  I'm up to my ears in black and orange icing for the next 2 days...I'll post pictures of all of the Halloween cookies soon!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Hi everyone!  Getting excited for Halloween?  Need some festive cookies?  I'm here to provide!  I'm doing my first ever "Give Mia Giveaway"!  It's a chance to win 1 dozen decorated Halloween cookies made with love by yours truly :)

Here are the "official" guidelines for this giveaway:

  • Entries will be accepted for 24 hours ONLY!  The entries will begin at 4:00 pm EST on Wednesday, October 26th 2011 and will end at 4:00 pm EST on Thursday October 27th 2011.  Entries received after the specific time period will not count. Sorry, procrastinators!
  • Prize:  1 dozen assorted Halloween cookies...sorry... no customization allowed
  • How you will receive the prize:  If you live locally in the Pittsburgh area then we can set up a time where I can deliver the cookies or of course you could pick them up, too!  Otherwise, the cookies will be shipped via FedEx or Priority Mail on either Thursday the 27th or Friday the 28th. I can't 100% guarantee delivery by the 31st depending on where you live...but I'll try...I promise!  I can only ship to U.S. residents!
  • Only 1 entry per person...but if you're the chosen winner and you decide to have the cookies sent as a gift to someone else...that's cool with me! 
  • The winner will be notified via email, I'll post it on Give Mia Cookie's facebook page, and I'll post it on the blog, too.  Basically...I'll find you :)
  • Email addresses will not be used for any other purpose other than to notify the winner
  • The winner will be chosen randomly using 

To enter:  It's simple!  Just leave a comment on this blog post answering the following question:

"What's your favorite or funniest Halloween costume
from your childhood?"
and don't forget to include your email address, too!!

OK, so I guess that's all you need to know!  Good luck! And I can't wait to read about some of those funny costumes :)  Don't be year I dressed up as a stick of gum. Yes, seriously.

Want to share this contest with some friends?  That would be super-nice of you :)  It's easy to share this on your facebook wall....simply click on the facebook icon at the bottom of this post!'re the best!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Give Mia Cookie's 1st Charitable Contribution!

I'm a true believer in giving back.  Period.  In the few short months since I've started Give Mia Cookie I've had such amazing and extraordinary feedback and support.  My family, my friends, and total strangers have reached out to encourage me, help to spread the word about my business, give my products a try, comment and "like" my photos on facebook, and even by reading this blog!  It is beyond exciting for me to see the number of blog views increase post by post and every single comment that I receive on facebook really drives me to keep going.  Because trust me...every day of doing this cookie business is a challenge and I need all of the help that I can get!

My best friend Mike recently asked me to do a donation for an organization that he supports whole-heartedly, The Best Buddies of Pennsylvania.  The Best Buddies organization supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and gives them amazing opportunities to grow and learn.  Please take a moment to check out their website!  They always have great events going on and chances to volunteer your time and/or donate money.  This particular event is the "Life is Sweet Chef Showcase"  Hmmm....Life is Sweet....I'd say that cookies would be a good fit!

I was so interested in making a donation, but so hesitant at the same time.  I have a serious problem underestimating myself and not believing that people would actually be interested in my product.  Mike had mentioned a cookie basket for the Chinese auction and my immediate thought was "No one is going to put their tickets in for my basket!"  And then I had a panic attack thinking about my lone basket sitting there at the end of the event because no one wanted it.  But then Mike promised me that he would put his tickets in for my basket :)  What a great friend!

I decided to go with a fall theme and I'm so so happy with the end result.  I made caramel chocolate pecan cookies, molasses cookies, and of course SUGAR COOKIES, too!  The basket came together really nicely (I've been making chocolate gift baskets for over 10 years so I have TONS of practice in basket compilation).   All in of my favorite projects yet.  As I continue to grow this business I hope to be able to contribute to lots of great causes and feels really great!   The event is tonight so please keep your fingers crossed that someone OTHER than Mike wins my basket.  And if you happen to be attending this event....pleeeeease drop some tickets in to win this!  Thanks :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Apples to Apples

(Have you ever played that game?  Apples to Apples?  Serious fun.  Especially at the Lake. When you're drinking.  And telling stories about S.O.F.    Shout out to my cousins lol!)

Mia has begun to talk ALOT lately....and one of her favorite words is apple!  When Rob picked her up at school the other day she just had to show him all of the apple posters on the walls and say "apple" like a hundred times.  It's just ridiculously cute. 

Mia's favorite word has lead me to blog about one of Rob's absolute favorite desserts EVER.  Apple Dumplings!  Now let me tell one....NO ONE makes an apple dumpling quite like Rob's Grandma Hogue... or apple pie or applesauce for that matter.  She's an apple queen!   I've made my share of pies and pie crusts and I must say that they're one of my least favorite things to bake.  I get so nervous rolling it out because you're not supposed to touch it a lot or it totally loses it's flakiness when it bakes.  I can never get the shape of my pie to hold form so it has big dips and mounds on the top.  I've come to realize that pies are not the thing to bake of you're aiming for perfection in how it LOOKS. 
Here's a picture of an apple pie that I made in 2009 at Lake Chautaqua.  We had an apple tree in the backyard and it yielded really nice apples that year!  Notice how I had to cut out shapes to decorate the top of the pie (it's a sailboat and birds lol) was a sign of my future!!!

I'll just stick to cookies and leave the pies and dumplings to Grandma Hogue and Trax Farm!  We went to Trax Farm on Monday morning so that Mia could climb on the pumpkins and try some apple cider and just experience the very best parts of the Autumn season. Our shopping cart quickly filled up with all things apple!  We shared an apple turnover doughnut, bought apple wine, apple cider, and Rob couldn't pass up a 2-pack of apple dunplings for $2.99.  I don't think he's ever eaten a dumpling that wasn't made by his I knew what the end result would be....but we bought them anyway.  I was really looking forward to enjoying dessert later that evening. It's very rare for me to have a dessert at my house that I didn't make....and usually when I eat my own cookies, cakes, etc. I'm so super-critical that it's hard to enjoy them.   

Mmmmm....we had this ice cream in our freezer and it is the PERFECT pairing for any type of apple dessert.  I seriously LOVE this ice cream and that's weird because I usually only like chocolate frozen desserts.  GO BUY THIS ICE CREAM.  For real.  You won't be dissapointed. 

Edy's Slow Churned Caramel Delight
Anyway, we baked the dumplings for 25 minutes at 375 degrees and the house smelled divine :)  Add a scoop of ice cream, sprinkle some cinnamon on top and voila!  A perfect autumn dessert. 

Isn't this the cutest little white baking dish?  $1.99 at IKEA...I just HAD to have it and I never knew why.  NOW I KNOW!  I's a "dumpling for 2 baking dish!"

Must. Sprinkle. Cinnamon.

 Rob had a glass of milk with his (yuck) but I drank some apple cider!  Come to think of tea would have been a good choice.  Maybe next time.

My review?  Trax Farm made a pretty good dumpling!  The crust was flaky and not too doughy on the bottom.  The apple was perfect...not mushy at all and still very flavorful.  It was lacking some sweetness which I think I'm used to from Grandma Hogue's secret cinnamon drizzle...but the ice cream made up for that!  Overall I'd give it a B+. 

Rob's review:  "It's not my Grandma's."  Well....duh.....I knew that was coming.

And YES...I'm still baking sugar cookies these days...I promise that the next blog will be back on track!  I just get so side-tracked!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Turtle Cookies!!

NO, not that kind of turtle (were you expecting to see little green creature cookies?)  I'm talking about chocolate turtles!  As many of you may know I have worked for a chocolate store for a realllllllly long time.  Over 13 years to be exact.  And you know what question I get asked ALL the time?  "Are you totally sick of chocolate since you work around it all day?"  The answer...."Ummm, no.  Are you crazy?"  It's true...I've never ever gotten sick of eating chocolate...and trust me, I've eaten my fair share. :) 

The other question that people ask me quite often is..."What's your favorite chocolate in the whole store?"  I'd like to state that over the years I've tried every single thing in this place (it's called job research...hello!) but I always seem to go towards the same two things:  milk chocolate pecan slowpokes and pecan caramel truffles.   The traditional "turtle" is pecans, caramel, and chocolate...but here at Betsy Ann we call them slowpokes. Clever, huh?  And let me tell you....if you've never had a Betsy Ann truffle in your   Simply. Amazing. You.Get.The.Point.  So I can

So my mission was to translate my favorite chocolate candy into a cookie and the result was INSANELY yummy!  I found these at Target...perfect!
caramel bits!  No unwrapping needed!

Here are my caramel chocolate pecan cookies!  And guess what....I'm sharing the recipe with you...just scroll down! 

1 cup softened margarine
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
approx. 1 cup Kraft caramel bits (I ate a handful to make sure they were ok... lol)
approx. 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (I ate a handful to make sure they were ok... lol)
approx. 1 cup chocolate chips (I ate a handful to make sure they were ok... lol)

Preheat the oven to 375.

DEFINITELY line your cookie sheets with parchment (the melted caramel will stick to the cookie sheets and it's not easy to get off!) 

Using your mixer, cream the margarine and sugars until fluffy and then add in the egg and vanilla.  Beat on medium until well-mixed. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the margarine mixture and mix well.  Mix in the caramels, chocolate chips and pecans with a wooden spoon and stir until combined.  Drop the dough in rounded tablespoons onto the cookie sheets.  Bake for approximately 11 minutes(I use dark cookie sheets so depending on which kind you use the baking time may vary) until the cookies just start to brown.  Allow them to continue to bake on the warm cookie sheets for 5-7 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.  Try to keep from eating a really hot cookie because the caramel WILL burn your mouth (Obviously I'm speaking from experience...ouch!).   Store cooled cookies in an air-tight container and they will remain soft and chewy!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Canadian Sweet-Tooth vs. a Fun Funky Cupcake Balloon

As I was working on last week's cookie designs I thought..."I can't wait to blog about this!"  I feel like a real blogger :)

So...I got a cookie order back in early September for a birthday party this past weekend.  The customer had sent me a link to a picture of a party balloon called the "Fun Funky Cupcake Balloon" and asked if I could replicate it onto a cookie.   I must admit that I was somewhat nervous to click on the link.  Replicating any design onto a cookie can be quite a challenge...color matching, getting the shape just right, making regular-sized details really small to fit onto a cookie, etc.   Not to mention that the customer has something to directly compare your cookie to...and expectations run very high.  I clicked on the link and saw the balloon and my first reaction was " problem!  I can totally do that!!" 
 A few weeks went by and every once in awhile I would take another look the balloon and try to make a game-plan for these cookies.  I knew that a lot of colors would be involved and there would need to be a series of steps to complete them properly.  The thing can only plan so much...and when the time came to actually make them I was feeling the pressure.  In my "game-plan" I planned for each cookie to require about 13 steps.  Well.... 27 steps later PER COOKIE...I was really pleased with the end result.  It was a lot of color mixing, a lot of details, but truly...a lot of fun.  I couldn't replicate the balloon exactly because some details just don't translate well to a small cookie and they would make it look really crowded.  I think the general idea of the fun and funky balloon really shined through.

Now...onto a separate order from last week.  About mid-week I got an email from an old grade-school friend (St. Val's!!) who was throwing a surprise 30th birthday party for her husband in three days.    As for cookie designs, Rachael left it pretty much wide open other than wanting some 3's and 0's.  She gave me the following details:  Ryan is...a. Canadian  b. a dentist   c. obsessed with their golden retriever.  No time to game-plan on this was straight to production.   The cookie designs just kind of got created one by one...I hand-cut alot of them without any sort of template...which is awesome because the design isn't limited to the shape of a cookie cutter.  One thing I did NOT plan for was that a lot of the cookies that I decided to make were really large and I had only made a double batch of dough and there wasn't time to make any more...soooo....when all of the cookies were baked I literally had three extra to mess up on.  3!  Usually I set myself up with AT LEAST 12 extras...especially if it's a new design that I've never done before.  Talk about pressure.

So the cookies are cooling on the racks and Rob goes into the kitchen and he's giving them really funny looks.  I could just tell that he's trying to put the puzzle together and thinking "WHAT ARE THESE SHAPES??" He knows that I'm stressed about this order a little bit so I can tell that he's afraid to say anything.  But finally he says...."Katie....I think you need to make more dough and re-cut these hockey sticks because that is NOT what a hockey stick looks like."  So I say... "Thanks, Rob...but they're toothbrushes, ok?"  He saw the maple leaves and thought I was making Canadian hockey cookies...he was truly concerned and that was nice :)

Back to the cookies...the decorating went really smoothly...THANK GOD!  I darkened the red, green, and blue so they were a little bit more masculine and less primary.  I decorated the 3's and 0's with some masculine designs, the beer bottles were somewhat tedious but I thought they came out OK, the teeth came out awesome...simple and straightforward, the toothbrush bristles were cool-looking, and the plain red maple leaves kind of anchored the collection by being simple and bold. Oh..and I thought the "I <3 my Golden Retriever" bumper stickers came out really good.  They were actually my favorite of the whole group!

So the moral of this blog is....that cookies can be ordered in totally different ways.  The customer may have a specific design in mind...or they may leave it totally up to me!  There may be plenty of time to think about it...or maybe just a couple of hours.  However the orders may come in, I thank you for trusting me to make them for you.  I'm having so much fun!!!!