Peppermintty Goodness.

A couple weeks ago, I was invited to a Valentine’s Day Cookie/Treat Exchange.  It was a really fun afternoon full of sugary goodness.  Jessica, I hope you don’t mind, I stole this picture off your facebook to show off everyone’s impressive baking skills!  What did I make?  Thanks for asking.  I conned my sister into making a quadruple batch of homemade peppermint patties.  They are totally delicious.  I even was tagged in facebook posts (ok, just one) by strangers (ok, my sister’s co-worker) who couldn’t get enough of this peppermintty goodness.

 If I were to make any baking recommendations to you, I would say:

  1. Make sure you actually count your cups of powdered sugar.  Otherwise the patties will be too sticky or too powdery to stick together.  Clearly we made mistakes on both ends.
  2. Do the math and buy the right amount of groceries.  Otherwise you will be forced to run to the grocery story mid-baking.  And then you will still run out of chocolate chips and be forced cover a couple dozen of these guys with dodgy melting chocolates from your pantry (dodgy because of the non-valentines-coloring, not because of anything else.  If you ate one, I promise I didn’t poison you).
  3. If you are a teacher or an auditor in busy season, don’t think it will be ok to make hundreds of these on Friday night.  You will look at each other with sad puppy eyes at 9:30 when you want to go to bed and realize you are only halfway done.
  4. Get a fun seasonally appropriate giant sprinkle to plop into the middle of the candy!  It is a real crowd-pleaser for sure.

Other than those little tips, they actually are pretty easy to make.  Click here for the recipe!

 

Banana Split Cupcakes

This year I am so lucky to teach Sunday School with Rebecca, Bethany, and Brieanne.  We have a crazy big class of kindergarten and first graders.  Fortunately they are awesome little genius children who are super fun to hang out with and don’t mind squishing around a table together.  

Here are some of the reasons these girls are awesome to teach with – if you have children you should probably recruit them to teach your kids Sunday school.

(p.s. I’ve had some great co-teachers in the past, so if you are one of them, please know that I like you too!) 

  1. They are all really easy to get along with.
  2. They are all hilarious.
  3. They are all GREAT with kids.  Seriously – our styles of teaching just mesh so well together.  And we all have the same standards we hold the kids to, so it is seamless transitions from week to week as we rotate the teaching schedule.
  4. They plan super fun lessons.  Things like making temples out of graham crackers and frosting when learning about King Solomon, and going into a small dark room and spritzing the air with water when learning about Jonah.
  5. They are so excited about teaching the little kiddos about Jesus.  Their joy is contagious.
  6. They are basically just generally all around awesome.

Naturally I decided that we should probably be friends outside of Sunday School, away from all the small children.  So I invited them over to bake!  

It was a great time.  I don’t know if there has ever been so much laughter in my kitchen (and I’ve baked with some pretty hilarious friends before).  

We tackled an insane looking recipe from Annie’s Eats: Banana Split Cupcakes.  I picked it for two reasons: it looked like a lot of work, so it seemed like a good team effort cupcake; and there was a general love of banana floating around our e-mail thread. 

What does this cupcake consist of, you ask?

A banana cupcake.

Filled with a strawberry and pineapple.

Topped with whipped cream.

Drizzled with chocolate ganache.

Sprinkled with sprinkles.

And with a cherry on top.

Can you say AMAZING??

And yes, we are quite proud of ourselves. 

Dessert in a Jar: Twix Trifles

We had a cousin’s dinner this past weekend.  I needed to drive 40 minutes to my cousin and his wife’s home, so keeping in mind my recent struggles in dessert transportation, I thought to myself, what is the easiest, most fool-proof way to transport a dessert?  Naturally, the conclusion I came to was to transport the desserts, ready to serve, in individual jars.

fool-proof dessert transportation, right??

I called my sister to confirm how many guests were going to be at the dinner.  The total was 11.  I had 12 jars.  Since I had an extra jar, I thought it made sense to throw the spare jar on the ground so it would shatter into millions of pieces.  Or I accidentally dropped it after washing the jars and it shattered and I was sad that I now needed to clean up broken glass.

Now on to the trifles. So cute, right?

I don’t know about you, but when I think trifle, I immediately think of the episode of Friends where Rachel is making a traditional English trifle for Thanksgiving dessert, and the pages of the recipe magazine she is using got stuck together and she is unknowingly combining two recipes.  One for trifle and one involving things such as beef and peas.  

I was hoping no one would pull a Chandler and say, “This is so good I need to go enjoy it on the balcony” when I served my Twix trifle.

Using instant pudding sounded too easy, so I made my pudding from scratch.  First though, I chopped up some twix.  Then I put a layer of twix choppings in the bottom of each jar.  Then I made homemade caramel pudding.  I was shocked at my baking abilities (let’s be honest, I really mean my recipe following abilities) and was excited that I actually made pudding!  After that chilled, I made the chocolate pudding (doubling the original recipe) and layered it on top.  I topped that with more twix pieces, then whipped cream, then put the lid on the jar.  Ready to go!  

It was delicious.  I would totally recommend this recipe.  The only thing that would have made it better was these cute little red bows.  But I ran out of time.  So we went bow-less to the party.  I would also recommend that you remember you have a cousin who is lactose intolerant before you serve a milk-based dessert at dinner.  Sorry again, Elizabeth!  Next time I will bring something dairy-free… And thanks Steve and Kaia for hosting and serving us a delicious dinner!  Cousin’s dinner success!

Click here for the Twix Trifle recipe

Breakfast at Tiffany’s; versions 2 & 1.

Yesterday I had Rachel over for breakfast.  Because I am SUCH a fancy friend and gourmet chef, I made us baked oatmeal.  Now I understand that doesn’t sound like something you’d want to go to your friend’s house for.  I can see why the guy at the gas station wasn’t overly impressed.  But let’s review: it is not instant oatmeal.  It is a recipe that I have wanted to try for a long time and was already planning to make when I invited her over.  You start with a layer of banana and blueberries, then add the rolled oats+cinnamon+other dry ingredients that I can’t be bothered to remembered.  Then you pour milk+maple syrup+a lightly beaten egg+vanilla over the top, throw on a few more blueberries and chopped nuts, and throw it in the oven.  Then, have it with a cup of delicious coffee, and a toasted english muffin – one half with nutella and one half with homemade crabapple jam from an adorable Sunday school kiddo.  We’ve got ourselves a breakfast.  Yes, I probably could have made Rachel something a little fancier, but she was nice and didn’t complain.  (Click here for the recipe).

And let’s be honest, nothing will top our real Breakfast at Tiffany’s adventure.  (some could argue that we also had breakfast at Tiffany’s yesterday, since my roommate is Tiffany and we were in her/my home).

Let’s travel back to New York to relive the original Breakfast at Tiffany’s experience.

We got up real early, swung through Broadway Bagel, where they serve the best bagels with the best cream cheese, and took our breakfast to-go.  A few subway rides later, we walked along the edge of Central Park toward the shiny snowflake up ahead.  Then we saw it: Tiffany’s. 

We spent a few moments taking in the beautiful window displays, then quickly settled in for a pre-breakfast photoshoot to document our meal. 

Fortunately for us, a kindly older midwestern couple happened upon us, and in addition to being so happy for us that we were having breakfast at Tiffany’s, they also offered to take a picture of us together – something we weren’t sure would happen again since Claire headed back to NJ the evening before. 

Then we settled in for our meal, sitting on the steps in front of the giant vault door, wreath, and fancy lights.

After eating, we checked out the window displays – which were basically our favorite.  Carousels.  Love. 

There was something blissful about sitting outside of Tiffany’s, eating our breakfast, on a quiet Saturday morning.  If you want to experience the quiet side of NYC, head out to a normally busy area around 7:30 in the morning.  It is like the city is yours.  Occasionally a jogger will run by, heading toward Central Park, but otherwise you can just enjoy a peaceful side of the city that not many see.  Take some time to soak in the wonderment of it all.

If I were a different me…

If I were a different me, I would live in New York City in a neighborhood like this. 

And I would work in a bakery like this. 

Pretty much this would be my dream job – making beautiful and delicious treats for people to enjoy all day long, surrounded by walls that are my favorite color: fancy antique blue. (special thanks to the Leberts for teaching me the name of this color!)  Magnolia Bakery’s website says, “With its vintage American desserts and decor, customers often remark that walking into the Bakery is like taking a step back in time.”  Combine that with fancy sweets, and it is pretty much perfect – vintage with a splash of fancy happens to be my favorite.  I love the clean feel, the cozy sweet scent in the air, and the antique baking supplies decorating the walls. 

I would make seasonal delights like this: a gingerbread cupcake with a vanilla bean meringue frosting (I decided that maybe I bake too much when Rachel asked me what kind of frosting was on my cupcake, and I could tell just by looking at it that it was a meringue.) 

And I would make things that aren’t my favorite, such as carrot cake cupcakes, for others, because not everyone has the same favorite tastes. 

After work, I will sit in the window seat and drink my peppermint tea while gazing out at the bustle of the city.  It will be bliss. 

But I am not a different me.  So even though I think that life would be perfectly lovely, I would miss my sweet kiddos who cry when they apologize for kicking me, and who tell me every day that I still look like Princess Peach.  I guess I will stick with the teaching gig, but it is fun to dream.  I will stick with baking in my own little kitchen, and gazing at fancy antique blue objects at my friend’s house.  It is almost the same, right? 

Well done, Magnolia Bakery.  I will do my best to visit you again one day. Good job on opening and running the bakery of my dreams.   Slow clap for you. 

Cousins Dinner

A few years ago, my grandparents started hosting dinner for us cousins who live in the area.  It was a fun way to get to connect with one another and hang out more than we had in the past.  Over the years, our group has grown as girlfriends, fiances, and spouses have joined the mix.  We still love going to dinner at Grandma’s, but we also get together for dinners just us cousins. 

We are hilarious and fun, so cousin dinners are always a highlight.

You have pretty much no hope of attending, unless you find a way to marry into the family or get us to adopt you, but I would be willing to let you live vicariously through us just this once.

This is one of my favorite cousins pictures, because it is where Kaia first realized that David is tall. And no, it is not the first time they met.

One our of favorite past times is playing telephone pictionary.  We know that if it is a girl with triangle shaped hair, it is my sister Rachel, with her bad awesome perm from 5th grade.  A boy with creepy eyes and facial hair is David, modeled after his mii.  Fauxhawk and goatee is Steve.  And so-forth.  Popular subject matter includes Half Chicken (if you don’t know the story of how weather vanes came to be, I’m happy to tell you anytime), Christmas ghosts, the donkey from the nativity, and a dog that looks like a deer.  Why we write about these things, I cannot explain. 

Another thing to know is that if a cousins dinner is happening, there is a 95.6% chance the weather will suck.  That is just the way it is.  We usually party in blizzards.  Bonus points if Laura hits a semi on the way home.  (ok, no one was happy when that happened, but I’m just saying it happened). 

We generally eat delicious food.  The delicious food may or may not go together.  For example, a couple years ago my grandma gave each of us an amazing cookbook with all of her favorite recipes in it.  Naturally, for that cousins dinner we all made something from the cookbook.  Buffalo chicken dip is always a crowd pleaser.  As is fruit snowmen on a skewer.  We tried to plant one in the snow to grow a new cousin, but that didn’t work out for us.

Our cousins dinner last week was different from the rest.  We had pleasant weather, a cohesive meal, and did not play telephone pictionary.  We did however play Balderdash.  The best game though, was Watch the Baby Chase the Dog.  Fiona warmed up to Bear pretty quickly, but Bear did not warm up to Fiona.  He wasn’t aggressive.  He was just terrified.  He hid under the table, under chairs, behind people, etc.  She chased him around the island and through crowds of cousins.  Hilarious and a half.  It was suggested that Rachel and David have a kid to help wear out the dog.  But apparently that isn’t a good reason to start your family.  Maybe they can open a nanny business instead? 

All of the food was delicious (except for that broccoli I told you about yesterday).  I would like to highlight Rachel’s recipe for amazingness.  Maple Mustard-Glazed Chicken.  We also had bread, nasty broccoli, tator tots, homemade applesauce, homemade hummus, and for dessert: cookie dough eggrolls with ice cream and crushed candy on top.  Rich doesn’t begin to describe it.  Tasty and fun might start to describe it.  I am so lucky to have such an amazing family – too bad the rest of the cousins won’t move to Minnesota so that they can partake in the fun and we can partake in their company.  We’ll just have to work on another family wedding so we can all be reunited sooner rather than later. 

Turtles and Cakes

Question 1: Have you been to Cafe Latte?

Question 2:  Have you eaten their turtle cake?

If the answer to either question was no, please stop reading, go do what you need to do to change your answer to yes, and then come back.  

Alright, welcome back to my blog.  Please continue reading at this point.

I had been looking forward to Sunday for many weeks. months.  years.  I didn’t have a paper chain to count down (except in my heart) but I had been checking my calendar for weeks to see if it was THE weekend yet.  Not only did I get to hang out with some of my favorite people, but we were also going to make a delicious Turtle Cake. 

It was a great day for baking.  And for learning.

I learned that even though our grandmas use the lowercase t to indicate teaspoon, and the uppercase T to indicate Tablespoon, sometimes the teaspoon’s label includes an uppercase T right ON the teaspoon.  Who is right?  The teaspoon maker?  Or all the grandmothers in the world?  Obviously the grandmothers.

this photo is not to imply Brooke is a grandma. Rather, she is modeling the measuring part of this point

I learned not to be scared of frosting a cake.  Sometimes it will go well, and look petaly.  And you will become famous for your frosting technique.  No, I have no idea what I was doing.  Someday I will google it and learn the real frosting technique.  Or maybe I won’t.  This worked fine. I learned that sprinkling pecans truly is an art form. 

I learned that creating candy corn shavings is a great way to pass the time while the cake is the oven. 

I learned that Jill once had short hair.  I learned about weddings from 11 years ago.  I learned about photography that wasn’t digital (jk jk, I used to work at Proex developing film and printing pictures.  I can smell the chemicals now…) 

I learned that it is tough being so popular, and sometimes you cause trouble when the mom and the kids both want to hang out with you.  Boys: have your people call my people.  We’ll set something up.  Jill – sorry for causing problems.  I’ll try not to be so fun next time so that I’m less in demand…

I learned that turtle cakes are delicious.  And obviously should be eaten right after baking them. 

I learned that if you make this cake, you could charge $10 a slice.  People would pay it.  It is just that good. 

Thank you Cafe Latte for sharing your recipe with us.  I think our cake is prettier than yours.  But we couldn’t have done it without you. 

Thanks for a fun day of baking, girls!!

If you want to make your own turtle cake, here is a link to the recipe that Cafe Latte has up!  Next I want to make their chicken salsa chili.  It is pretty much the second best thing I’ve ever tasted (after this cake of course).

things that make the first day okay

School started today!  I wasn’t necessarily feeling 100% thrilled about it, but then I got this card, and it reminded me that I SHOULD be 100% excited, because school is 100% awesome.  I got some other much needed encouragement from friends:

exhibit A

And some great advice: “I’m sure all your children will immediately fall in love with you, and if they don’t, tell them to go home”

And so I decided that I should pass the encouragement on to others.  You might be wondering, “Laura, what form did your first day happiness take?” To which I respond, that is a silly question!  “Naturally, I made First Day of School Cupcakes!”

I will be the first to say that I think they turned out ADORABLE.  But before I go on, I must explain something to you.  And perhaps make a strong request.  Kindergarten teachers do not like it when you call their grade “kinder” and their students “kinders.”  I guess I can’t speak for all teachers everywhere, but where I work, we recently discovered it is pretty much all of our biggest pet peeve.

 If, while leading a staff workshop, you continually refer to kindergarten as “kinder”, the kindergarten teachers may begin to increasingly dislike you, as well as angrily cheer, “you say kinder, we say garten” at their table under their breath.  You might think, “But Laura, It is cool to abbreviate!”  I will let you call my cupcakes “adorbs” instead of “adorable.”  No problem!  You can call me “teach” instead of “teacher” – that just reminds me of my grandpa and makes me smile.  But when it comes to my grade level, please take the additional 0.7 seconds, and say the whole word.  No one wants a kindergarten teacher as an enemy.  Alright, moving right along.  I feel better having gotten that out. 

However, having been through a harrowing experience (such as the hypothetical one mentioned above), if you are a kindergarten teacher trying to think of something cute to write on little chalkboards on cupcakes, feel free to laugh an evil laugh as you frost “kinder” on each chocolate covered graham.  You are hilarious.

So, the nitty gritty: the cupcakes and frosting at these Strawberry Cupcakes from Annie’s Eats. The chalkboards are chocolate covered graham crackers and the words are frosting.  The apples are cherry sour candies with melting chocolate piped stems and leaves stuck on top.  If you care more than I do, I’d recommend shorted stems to promote the apple look over the cherry look.  But if you don’t care more than I do, just do what feels right, and assume people will go apple because it is with a chalkboard.  The chalk is a white good ‘n’ plenty.  

Delicious!  (well, in theory, I haven’t actually tried them yet.  But I do have one in the fridge with my name on it.  Well, it actually says Kinder, but I know it is meant for me).

Eat a cupcake and survive your first day of school.  That is my motto.  Or, since I have clearly just admitted that A) I have not eaten a cupcake and B) I did in fact survive, perhaps my motto can be found in this conversation that was repeated all day:

Student: I want to go home now.

Teacher: Yep, me too.  We still have more learning to do though.

Or this one:

Student: I like coming to school.

I’ll let you decide which one better reflects my thoughts and feelings on being back at work 😉 

In the jungle, the mighty jungle…

Welcome to part 3 of baby shower baking, in which I tell you about making the jungle animal cupcakes, and then we can safely move on to bigger and better things, like the MN State Fair, returning to work, Friday Fundays 3,4, 5, and attending lame Twins games. 

First off, I made two different types of cupcakes.  The main show: the jungle animals, were oreo cupcakes – one of my favorite semi-homemade cupcake recipes.  Here is a link to the recipe from Beantown Baker.  And I’ll fully admit I used store bought frosting.  Sometimes you just have to admit that if there isn’t enough time in the day, and people will enjoy them regardless.

The flamingo cupcakes were strawberry cupcakes, a’la Annie’s Eats.  The frosting was to die for.  I was a bit scared about it, because the last strawberry frosting I made was a bit runny, and the directions seemed a bit intense for this strawberry meringue frosting.  However, having made it, I will say that it tastes like strawberry ice cream, and is among the top five decisions I made in 2011.  Yum!  I used the cupcake recipe posted here and the frosting recipe posted here.

Alright, on to the business of decorating.

I got my inspiration from two sources.  You can find more detail directions on the water animals in this book: What’s New, Cupcake.  The land animals were inspired by Betty, and you can find the deets here.

To decorate the lion cupcake: 

  • I used two shapes of orange frosting
  • The mane is caramel corn
  • The eyes and nose are mini chocolate chips
  • The mouth is piped on from a ziplock bag with the corner clipped
  • The whiskers are pretzels, broken into thirds
To decorate the monkey cupcake:

  • He is frosted with chocolate frosting
  • The mouth area color I created by mixing a little chocolate and a little vanilla frosting together
  • The ears are Junior Mints
  • The mouth is frosting piped on
  • The eyes are a dollop of white frosting piped on with a mini chocolate chip on top
To decorate the zebra cupcake:

  • First let’s say a word about making black frosting.  I did some googling, and the option I went with was starting with chocolate frosting and then adding blue and purple food coloring.  This worked pretty well!
  • Slice along the top of the cupcake liner to create a slit in which you can insert a Nilla Wafer.  Put a little frosting in the hole and/or on the wafer before sliding it in to help it stay put.
  • Frosting the cupcake with white frosting
  • Frost the wafer with black frosting
  • His ears are a black jelly bean cut in half
  • His eyes and nostrils are mini chocolate chips
  • His stripes are black frosting piped on
To decorate the tiger cupcake:

  • Like the lion he is frosted with two shades of orange frosting.  Ooh, here is a note about the orange frosting: I used a lot of red and yellow food coloring to achieve the color orange.  This meant a lot of mixing.  This meant that by the time I was ready to frost the cupcakes, the frosting was a drippy mess.  I put it in the fridge for a bit to firm it up and worked on some other cupcakes in the meantime.  Alright, let’s carry on…
  • His ears are Dots candy
  • His eyes and nose are mini chocolate chips
  • His stripes are triangle shaped and made of black frosting piped on
  • His mouth is also piped on
To decorate the alligator/crocodile cupcake:

  • Note: I made the head in the morning, went canoeing, came back and baked the cupcakes, frosted them, and plopped his head on the top.
  • To make the head shape, I cut off the sides of a Nutter Butter cookie/cracker/sandwich thing to create a triangular face for him.
  • To make him green, there were a couple steps.  1) Put some sugar and green food color in a ziplock.  Shake.  Put the now green sugar in a bowl.  2)  Frost the Nutter Butter, dip in sugar bowl to coat.
  • His nostrils are mini chocolate chips
  • His eyes are green Fruit Loops
  • The book showed teeth piped on with white frosting, but I couldn’t be bothered.
  • I frosted the cupcakes with blue frosting, then rolled the edge of the cupcake in blue sugar (created the same was as the green sugar)
  • Then I threw his head on top and threw the cupcake in the fridge so all the parts could become best friends and it wouldn’t melt apart.
Decorating the hippo cupcake:

  • This hungry, hungry, hippo was the easiest to make.  So if you are just making one animal, he might be a great option.  Adorable, yet simple!
  • Henry’s head (I just decided that is probably his name) is a Nutter Butter.
  • Use a dab of frosting to attach orange fruit loops for the nose and ears, and mini chocolate chip eyes.
  • I put it in the fridge at this point to help everything become one, and I left to canoe.
  • When I can back, I made the cupcakes, frosted them blue, rolled the edges in blue sugar, and set the hippo on top!  Done!
And, the flamingos: 

  • I started with the heads, and used a bit of pink melting chocolate to connect a pink jelly bean with half a Runts banana.  The picture showed eyes and a tiny black dot on the beak, but I was reaching the end of my decorating patience.
  • To create the wings I piped some pink melting chocolate onto wax paper in the shape of wings.
  • The neck is a pretzel dipped in pink melting chocolate and then I carefully attached the head, laid it all on wax paper and put it in the fridge.
  • After frosting the cupcakes, I stuck in all the pieces, and voila!

* With the strawberry cupcakes, I made 2 dozen flamingos and 1 dozen normal cupcakes, which I just shared with friends and family.  They did not come with the shower, but rumor has it, they are a delicious recipe worth repeating.

Oh, and I made the cupcake stand, following Annie’s directions posted here.  A couple of notes:
  1. You can buy the pre-cut circles at Michael’s in the cake decorating area.
  2. I used tacky glue instead of a hot glue gun (because that is what I had available).  It worked!
  3. If you start at night, then finish the next day, put the lid on your glue.  Otherwise in the morning you will stumble out of bed, go back to crafting, pick up the glue and think, “Jeepers, will the glue even still come out?”  You will then look straight down into it, squeeze as hard as you can, the spurts of glue will shoot out and attack your hair.  I mean… hypothetically speaking and all that…

And, I should say that the consensus after the shower was that I should open a bakery.  While I do not have plans to do that (I still am a fan of that teaching gig), if you need cupcakes (not necessarily of the animal variety) for an event/party, let’s talk!  Email me at merrydaysblog@gmail.com.

You are a trooper if you read all of this.  Congrats.  Gold star for you.

Adventures in Iced Coffee (of the home brew variety)

When I first saw Pioneer Woman’s recipe for iced coffee, my thoughts were as follows:

  • Wow!  That looks really good!
  • Wow!  That looks like a lot of work.
  • Wow!  That makes a LOT of coffee!
  • Ooh, I should ask JaNahn to go out for Vietnamese coffee again. 

Then my friend Sara showed up to my house with an odd little container of something.  I felt confused.  She said, “I made that coffee you were telling me about!”  And I got very excited.  It was delicious, and she said it wasn’t too much work.  (Although, Sara is a domestic goddess, so I wasn’t too sure if I should believe her).

Fast forward to me drinking the coffee a few days later, and I had a genius idea – I should bring make it for the lake!  Why didn’t I think of this sooner?!

Pioneer Woman gives really great directions here.  So I will not try to replicate that.  I will, as usual, just share some of the decisions I made that may or may not have contributed to the success or potential failure of my kitchen efforts. We all need to play to our strengths.  Pioneer Woman’s strength is making delicious things, and photographing it step by step along the way and explaining her recipes in a way that makes it seem like you too can whip up amazingness in the kitchen.  My strength?  Living on the edge – walking that fine line between delicious kitchen success and epic kitchen failures.

Tip Number One: Make sure you get ground coffee.  I thought I accidentally had purchased coffee beans, and was not looking forward to the prospect of grinding it all in tiny batches.  My sister suggested just using the beans and assured me it would taste the same.  I did not fall for it, and I bought another pound of coffee next time  I was at the store.  Then I saw that I originally had bought ground coffee.  I should have had more faith in myself.

I was terrified to put the lid on.

Tip Number Two: Make sure your container is actually big enough to meet your needs.  I got out the biggest bowl I had, sure that it would be more than sufficient.  Then I began to get worried.  I took out half of my coffee grounds just in case I needed to make this concoction in more than one container.  As you can see, I decided not to play it safe, and filled this bowl as much as I could.  I was still not able to add all 8 quarts of water, but I had just a tiny bit left in my measuring cup.  I figured it would just be a little stronger coffee.

Tip Number Three: Plan ahead.  For once I did do this – but make sure that you note you need to let your coffee grounds and water hang out and become friends for at least 8 hours.  This is key.  Otherwise you will have slightly flavored water, rather than iced coffee at the end. 

Tip Number Four: Call your mom while you are at the store so that she can help you find the cheesecloth.  I never did find it at Target (although I was in a rush so I didn’t bother to ask anyone).  But when I had to go back to Rainbow for my cake flour on Speed Baking Day, I found it right where my mom said, in the baking aisle, next to the disposable aluminum pans.  The only experience I had with cheesecloth before this day was when I used it to clean my piccolo.

Tip Number Five: Either buy a bigger fine mesh strainer or bring your computer to the kitchen so you can watch netflix while you send the coffee through the layers of mesh and cheesecloth. 

Tip Number Six: Make friends, or make a half-batch.  This makes a lot of iced coffee.  Pioneer Woman promises it stays good for quite a while, 3-4 weeks sealed up tight, but unless you are sharing it like me and my roommate plan to do in the future, consider not making an entire pound of coffee. 

Tip Number Seven:  If you have left over whipped cream from your cupcakes for your grandma’s birthday/friend’s baby shower, you could put it on top of your coffee to make it seem like you are fancier than you really are.  However, if you are just plopping it on top, you will probably want to decorate it with chocolate chips for the sake of the photo.  Then after you have a picture of your finished product, you can go back to drinking it like you normally would: in glass with ice and a splash of caramel creamer, sans whipped topping.