Meet the R&M Head Baker & Designer

If you follow us on social media, you’re familiar with the work of our Head Baker & Designer, Linda Schwartz. Linda is the first to use any new R&M products! She bakes and decorates all kinds of desserts in the R&M kitchen on a regular basis, testing our tools and creating many of the images you see across our social media accounts!

 

We sat down with Linda for a chat to learn more about her role at R&M and her love for baking. Read on for some insight into her decorating process, including some of her favorite creations!

 

  1. How did you get into cookie/cake decorating?

 

I started decorating cookies around 14 years ago. It’s actually a funny story, my mom sent me a newspaper article about a local girl who opened a sugar cookie shop. There was a note scribbled across the top of the article, “Linda you can do this.” I decided to give it a try and haven’t looked back.

 

  1. How do you decide how to decorate a shape?

 

When I’m coming up with a cookie design, I usually sketch out my ideas on paper first, but sometimes I’ll start decorating and switch my design halfway through.

 

  1. What’s the best tip you have for beginner decorators?

 

The best tip I could give a beginner decorator is don’t give up! Practice really does make perfect, and while on that subject, never stop learning. No matter what level of a decorator you are, there’s always something you can learn from someone else. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The cookie community is a tight-knit family, and there’s always someone whose mistakes and successes you can learn from.

 

  1. Which icing style is your favorite and why?

 

I prefer decorating my cookies with fondant. I’m not sure exactly why I like it better than using royal icing, probably something to do with the instant gratification that comes with being able to mold it into shapes. There’s a waiting period with royal icing because it’s wet. With fondant, I can bake, decorate, and ship a cookie to my cousin in Arizona within 24 hours.

 

  1. Do you have a favorite decorating technique?

 

I’d have to say my most favorite technique is stamping my cookies with names, monograms, dates, etc. – it creates such a personal touch!

 

  1. Are there any decorating tools or products that you can’t live without?

 

Here’s what I would recommend for any baker – beginner or advanced:
– Parchment paper: I had been decorating for at least five years before my sister, Marie, recommended that I line my baking sheets with parchment. It was a game changer – no more scrubbing pans, and the cookie edges don’t darken as quickly. I use parchment for rolling out my fondant as well. It makes clean up a breeze!
– A good cookie spatula: I use my cookie spatula to flatten my cookies as soon as they come out of the oven. There’s nothing worse than trying to decorate bumpy cookies.

 

  1. What baking creation are you most proud of?

 

I really can’t choose my favorite baking creation. I often feel a slight emotional tie with my creations, especially the ones I put a lot of time into, like cakes. Here are a few favorites:

Photo by Expressions by Nicole Marie

For more guidance from Linda, read her recent blog post, 8 Beginner Tips for Decorating with Fondant. To see more of Linda’s creations, you can follow her on Instagram.

Beat the Heat with Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

A hot summer day calls for one thing – ice cream! With the addition of some homemade cookies, you’ve got a real celebration with these make-your-own ice cream sandwiches.

Grab an ice cream scoop, a carton of your favorite store-bought ice cream, your favorite cookie cutters (those with less detailed edges work best), and a baking sheet. This recipe takes a little bit of time (there’s a lot of chilling involved), but it’s worth it!

 

 Cookie Cutter Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ingredients:

– 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
– 1/4 cup vegetable oil
– 1 cup light brown sugar
– 2 eggs
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– A carton of your favorite ice cream

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, use a mixer to beat together the butter, vegetable oil, and brown sugar until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla extract; mix again until thoroughly combined. Do not overbeat.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture while beating it at a low speed.

3. Once combined, the dough should be sticky. Chill the dough uncovered for at least one hour or until firm.

4. While the dough is chilling, line a 9×13 baking pan with wax paper. Spread your ice cream into the pan, making it as flat and even as possible. This is easier if it’s slightly warm, but if it’s too warm, it will start to melt and become too difficult to spread. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and then freeze for at least 8 hours – overnight is preferable.

5. When your dough is done chilling, cover your baking sheet with a silicone baking mat. Preheat your oven to 350 F.

6. Flour a surface and place your chilled dough on it. Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough until it’s around 1/4-inch thick. Use the cookie cutter of your choice – something that will easily hold its shape and contain your ice cream! – to cut your dough into shapes. Place each one on the cookie sheet and bake for approximately 8 minutes. Continue to roll out your dough and bake your cookies until all the dough is gone. Do not place the dough on a hot baking sheet (it’s a good idea to use more than one baking sheet to help with this). Cool your cookies completely before attempting the next step.

 

 

7. Here’s where it can get a little tricky! Remove your ice cream from the freezer. Using the same cookie cutter that you used on your cookies, cut out as many shapes as you can into your ice cream. Place each ice cream shape onto a cookie and top with another cookie. If your ice cream isn’t cooperating, freeze it for a longer period of time.

 

8. Serve your ice cream sandwiches immediately or wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze for up to two weeks.

This recipe should make around 8 ice cream sandwiches, depending on the size of your cutters.

You can really have fun making these ice cream sandwiches as customized as you want. Pick your favorite ice cream, roll your sandwich in your favorite decorative topping (mini chocolate chips, sprinkles, or cookies crumbles), and use a cookie cutter that you love. Share your creation using #randminternational on all your photos! Stay cool!

5 Options for Your Baby Shower Dessert Table

Everyone loves a good dessert table at a party and baby showers are no exception. Being able to pick and choose a couple of treats to try is fun – and delicious! But, planning a dessert table can be overwhelming. Pinterest is full of so many great ideas that it’s hard to narrow down the selections.

We’ve done the work for you! Below you’ll find five of our favorite baby shower dessert options – perfect whether the guest of honor is having a girl, a boy, or multiples! These desserts are simple, tasty, and sure to make a winning dessert table for your party.

 

1. Strawberry Shortcake Kabobs, from Sugar Apron

Photo from Sugarapron.com

Kabobs are perfect for a party because they’re easy to assemble and easy for guests to pick up and carry. These are made with a box mix for the cake, white chocolate, and strawberries, but you can swap out the ingredients to match your tastes. To make it even easier, buy a pre-made cake! Get the recipe here.

 

2. Mini Donut Pops, from Love from the Oven

Photo from Lovefromtheoven.com

You can’t go wrong with donuts. If you’re feeling fancy, try this homemade donut recipe – cake donuts dipped in chocolate are amazing. If you don’t want to go the homemade route, buy a variety of mini donuts and pop them onto sticks. Get the recipe here.

 

3. Sugar Cookie Fruit Pizzas, from Taste of Home

Photo from Tasteofhome.com

 The trick to these sugar cookie pizzas is buying pre-made cookies. Sure, you could make your own – or you could buy slice-and-bake – but if you don’t have the time, don’t worry about it. With the addition of a quick icing and fresh fruit, these cookie pizzas will be a bright and colorful addition to your table. Get the recipe here.

 

4. Oreo Cheesecake Parfaits, from Plated Cravings

Photo from Platedcravings.com

A no-bake dessert is perfect if your party is on a hot summer day – or if your oven is being used for other party foods. The cheesecake mixture is easy to whip up (just leave time to chill it) and tastes incredible layered with crushed cookies. Serve these in stemless wine glasses, mason jars, or any other cups you have available! Get the recipe here.

 

5. Celebration Popcorn, from Two Sisters Crafting

Photo from Twosisterscrafting.com

This popcorn is full of fun flavors, made with popcorn, marshmallow, chocolate, and sprinkles! Instead of serving it in a large bowl, you can divide it into small cups or cupcake liners to make it easier for your guests to pick it up and go. Get the recipe here.

 

If cookies are on your menu, our baby shower cookie cutter set and our baby shower cookie stampers make decorating easy!  Do you have a fun twist on traditional baby shower desserts? Tell us on our Facebook page.

Mom-Friendly Kitchen Tools from My Life Well Loved

We’re so excited to share that some of our kitchen tools and gadgets have been featured on My Life Well Loved. Heather is a healthy lifestyle blogger who writes about motherhood, fitness, cooking, and more. In her latest post, she lists some of her favorite mom-friendly kitchen tools, including a few fun items from R&M, like our colorful measuring spoons and our travel coffee mug and teacup cookie cutters.

Find out more about Heather’s go-to kitchen tools by clicking below. We love her selections!

6 Recipes for Your Next Summer Cookout

When summer hits, every weekend seems to be filled with an outdoor party or event. Whether you’re the host or just bringing a dish to someone else’s party, eating the same foods over and over again can get boring. We’re here to help! Below you’ll find six recipes to help you spice up your summer dishes, ranging from sides to dessert. We didn’t include the classic corn on the cob, but you can find our list of five different ways to prepare that here.

Are you ready to wow your friends and family this summer?

 

1. Simple Mediterranean Pasta Salad, from Fannetastic Food

Photo from Fannetasticfood.com

Pasta salad is always a crowd pleaser and easy to make in large batches. This mayo-less option from Fannetastic Food features Mediterranean flavors with simple, fresh ingredients. Get the recipe here.

 

2. Fruit Salad, from The Pioneer Woman

Photo from Thepioneerwoman.com

We love this fun twist on fruit salad from The Pioneer Woman. She adds an orange-vanilla syrup and fresh mint that combines with the fruit of your choice for a truly refreshing flavor. Get the recipe here.

 

3. Zucchini Noodles with Pesto, from Two Peas & Their Pod

Photo from Twopeasandtheirpod.com

 Spiralized noodles are really popular right now – and with good reason! You don’t have to cook them (so prep is easy), and they’re really healthy! Just add in some pesto, garlic, pepper, and parmesan cheese (and a couple other ingredients) to create a standout dish that people will love. Get the recipe here.

 

4. Star Ice Cream Sandwiches, from Unwritten Recipes

Photo from Unwrittenrecipes.com

No surprise that we love these ice cream sandwiches – they use cookie cutters to create the perfect summertime treat (especially for a fourth of July party). If you’re not into stars, try using some other summer-themed cookie cutters, like a fish, the sun, or a seashell. Get the recipe here.

 

5. Sweet Potato Salad, from Trisha Yearwood

Photo from Foodnetwork.com

Potato salad is pretty standard at a cookout, but have you tried sweet potato salad? Mixed with yogurt and orange zest, this is a dish that will have people coming back for seconds. Get the recipe here.

 

6. Black Bean Salsa, from The Blond Cook

Photo from Theblondcook.com

You can’t have a party without chips – you just can’t. And, you’ve got to have something to dip those chips into. Well, this black bean salsa is just the thing! It’s fresh and filling (and delicious). Get the recipe here.

 

What’s your must-have dish at a summer cookout? Tell us on our Facebook page.

5 Ways to Make Corn on the Cob

Summer is practically here, which means it’s the best time of year for fresh, delicious produce, including one of our seasonal favorites: Corn on the cob. Whether you’re having a family barbeque or pulling together a quick weeknight meal, corn on the cob is a quick, easy – and versatile – side dish.

Just so you don’t get tired of eating it this summer, we’re sharing five different ways to prepare it, using the grill (two ways!), the oven, the stovetop, and the microwave.

 

1. Grilled Corn on the Cob (No Husks), from 101 Cooking for Two

Photo from 101cookingfortwo.com

Summertime is for grilling, and this recipe couldn’t make the process any easier. Simply shuck your corn, coat the ears with vegetable oil, and place them directly on the grill! Get the recipe here.

 

2. Grilled Corn on the Cob (with Husks), from The Food Network

Photo from Foodnetwork.com

Leaving the corn in the husks protects the kernels from direct heat. This recipe from The Food Network’s Bobby Flay has you fold back the husks, de-silk the corn, then soak it in a combination of water and salt. Then you pull the husks back down and place the corn directly on the grill. Whip up his Herb or BBQ butter to pump up the flavor, and you’re all set! Get the recipe here.

 

3. Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob, from The Slow Roasted Italian

Photo from Theslowroasteditalian.com

 Not a fan of the grill? You can roast enough corn on the cob for a crowd in just ten minutes with this method! Get the recipe here.

 

4. Boiled Corn on the Cob, from Taste of Home

Photo from Tasteofhome.com

Boiled corn is classic and easy – and all you really need is a large pot! This recipe from Taste of Home gives you the step-by-step directions, as well as recipes for six different herb butters to spread on your cobs. Yum! Get the recipes here.

 

5. Microwaved Corn on the Cob, from Lovely Little Kitchen

Photo from Lovelylittlekitchen.com

 Did you know that you can microwave corn on the cob? It works best when you use very fresh ears of corn. Just leave the husks on and pop three or four ears into the microwave at a time! Get the recipe here.

 

Photo from R&M International

Of course, we’ve got some tools to make your corn-eating experience even easier (pictured above). Check out our two corn de-silking brushes (here and here), our selection of corn holders (here, here, here, here, and here), and our corn trays, which make serving easy.

Do you have a go-to corn on the cob recipe? Share it on our Facebook page. Happy eating!

The Best Kitchen Gifts for Newlyweds


These days wedding registries have all sorts of interesting requests, from honeymoon contributions, to furniture, to luggage. Fewer and fewer couples are registering for fine china, crystal, and expensive silverware. But just because some of the traditional kitchen items are losing popularity, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider kitchen-related gifts when you’re shopping for a wedding shower.

We’re taking it back to the basics today, sharing a list of go-to kitchen tools and gadgets that would make perfect gifts for newlyweds.

 

1. ThermoPro Meat Thermometer, from Amazon

Photo from Amazon.com

This digital meat thermometer is a must-have kitchen item, especially for someone new to cooking. In just a couple of seconds your newlyweds will know if their dinner is safe to consume or if it needs to cook longer. Buy it here.

 

2. Pioneer Woman Cast Iron Skillet, from Walmart

Photo from Walmart.com

A cast iron skillet is one of the most versatile items you can have in your kitchen. With this one tool, your newlyweds will be able to try recipes for breakfast all the way through dessert. Buy it here.

 

3. Lodge Dutch Oven, from Target

Photo from Target.com

 Similar to a cast iron skillet, Dutch ovens can be used for a variety of recipes. Your newlyweds can sear, simmer, bake, boil, and more – all with this one item! Buy it here.

 

4. Kitchen Linens, from Pier1

Photo from Pier1.com

Every kitchen needs a little bit of fun or color. Help your newlyweds show their personalities with dish towels, placemats, tablecloths, napkins – even aprons! These little accents add just the right amount of detail to any room. Buy them here.

 

5. How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, from Amazon

Photo from Amazon.com

 This book is the best resource when it comes to making, well, everything. The instructions are easy to follow, the food is delicious, and the recipes are plentiful – your newlyweds will be prepared to feed their guests for any occasion. Buy it here.

6. The Basics, from R&M International

Photos from R&M International

We also want to make sure that your newlyweds have their essentials covered. Give them a gift basket with everything a kitchen should have (and a few extras!), including measuring spoons, measuring cups, a pizza cutter, tongs, a grater, a peeler, a corkscrew, a rolling pin, English Muffin rings, biscuit cutters, a set of corn cob holders, and a miniature masher.

With these ideas, you should be all set for your next wedding shower – and the newlyweds should be ready to get into the kitchen. If you have other kitchen-related gift ideas, share them on our Facebook page!

 

How to Make Bird Feeders Using Cookie Cutters

With summer on its way, kids will soon be home from school and looking for entertainment. We’ve got the perfect thing: A DIY kid-friendly bird feeder. They are super easy to make using items you probably already have around your house.

The best part is that your kids can customize their bird feeders into whatever shapes they want using cookie cutters! Your kids will enjoy making them and the birds will thank you for the tasty snack.

Materials:

– 1 small envelope of gelatin
– ¼ cup water
– Small saucepan or pot
– ¾ cup birdseed (use small bird seed mix)
– Cookie cutters
– Wax paper
– Straws
– Twine or string

Directions:

1. Mix the gelatin and the ¼ cup water in the small saucepan or pot. Bring this mixture to a simmer while stirring; continue stirring until the gelatin is dissolved.

2. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool.

3. Stir in the ¾ cup bird seed; add more seed if desired.

4. Lay cookie cutters – the shape is your choice! – on wax paper and fill halfway with the seed mixture. Insert a straw where you would like the hole to be. The hole will be where you tie the string to hang the feeder from a tree.

 

5.  Allow the mixture to cool and the gelatin to take shape. (You can put them in the freezer for faster results).

 

 

6.  Once the shape has cooled, you may remove the mold and the straw. Put your string or twine through the hole, and hang the bird feeder on a tree.

 

 

You and your little ones can check to see which of your feathered friends stop by for a feast. If your feeder is particularly popular with the birds, share it on social media using #randminternational. Have fun!

5 Delicious & Easy Desserts for a Graduation Party

 

Graduation season is upon us! You’re probably already busy planning the perfect party to honor your 2017 graduate, scouring Pinterest for decoration, food and drink, and gift ideas. But, let’s be honest – the dessert is the most important part of any party. Yes, you could call your local grocery store or bakery and order the standard sheet cake with “Congratulations” written on it, but why not try something a little different? We’re here to help!

We’ve pulled together a round-up of desserts from some of our favorite bloggers. Pick your favorite – or try a few – and your guests will wonder why they’ve been celebrating with cake for so long!

 

1. Light Funfetti Dip, from My Life Well Loved

Photo used with permission from My Life Well Loved

Desserts dips are underrated and easy to whip up. This recipe from My Life Well Loved can be served with everything from animal crackers, to fruit, to pretzels! Find the recipe here.

 

 

2. 5-Minute Yogurt Bites, from My Life Well Loved

Photo used with permission from My Life Well Loved

These yogurt bites are quick and easy to make, and you can dress them up with whatever toppings suit your fancy: Fruit, chocolate, nuts, etc. Find the recipe here.

 

 

3. S’mores Brownie Cups, from Aileen Cooks

Photo used with permission from Aileen Cooks

 Brownies are always a crowd-pleaser, but this recipe turns it up a notch. By adding graham crackers and marshmallows, these individual brownie cups become irresistible. Find the recipe here.

 

 

4. Whole Wheat Oatmeal Fudge Bars, from Eating Richly

Photo used with permission from Eating Richly

 What do you get when you combine two layers of thick crust with a gooey chocolate ganache? A treat so tasty you won’t believe it’s made with whole wheat flour. Whip up a batch for all those chocolate lovers out there!  Find the recipe here.

 

 

5. Decorated Graduation Cookies

Photo from R&M International

We may be a little bit biased, but we believe that no party is complete without cookies – and sugar cookies are always a crowd-pleaser! Start with our six-piece set of graduation cookie cutters, and then get to work on the cookies (we love this sugar cookie recipe from Alton Brown). When it comes to decorating them, it’s all up to personal choice. If you’re using fondant, check out these tips from our Head Baker and Designer. If you’re not a fan of fondant, try using royal icing to pipe intricate designs. Or, go the easy route: Buy a can of icing from the store, along with a hefty amount of sprinkles and candies. They don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be tasty.

 

These recipes are sure to make your party stand out from the crowd! We’d love to see what you make, so tag us in all your photos using #randminternational.

 

 

 

8 Beginner Tips for Decorating with Fondant

 

 

Once you’ve mastered the art of baking fantastic desserts, you’re probably ready for the next challenge: Decorating them. This can seem overwhelming – there is so much to know! – but with a few basic tips anyone can get started. From there, it’s just practice, practice, practice! The first step to decorating is picking which type of icing you want to work with. Today, our focus is on the ever-popular fondant.

 


The tips below come from our Head Baker & Designer here at R&M International, Linda Schwartz. You may be familiar with her work from her blog, Frog Prince Cake & Cookie Design. Linda has years of experience in decorating, but don’t be intimidated – you can do this! Now, let’s get to it.

 

 

Welcome, bakers! Anyone has the ability to become a pro at decorating, and the best place to start is with fondant. The good news is that you’re probably already familiar with fondant, given its popularity for wedding cakes. Although many wedding cakes are elaborate, fondant can be used for simple designs as well, for both cakes and cookies!

 

The benefit to decorating with fondant is its versatility. It can be tinted, flavored, formed into shapes, twisted, and imprinted with stampers or other items. With a little imagination, fondant can become almost anything you want! The tips below will set you up for success. Some supplies you may need include: cookie cutters, a paintbrush, food coloring, powdered sugar, shortening, and a silicone rolling pin.

 

 

Beginner Tips for Decorating with Fondant

 

 1. Adjust the Taste. A lot of people don’t care for the taste of fondant, but it is possible to dress up the flavor! You can make your own fondant, which is just a mixture of marshmallows, powdered sugar, and shortening, and then add in the flavoring of your choice. A number of flavorings are available, both artificial and natural, which can be easily kneaded into your fondant. I’d recommend adding a drop at a time. Flavorings are easy to mix in, but not as easy to take out. If you do add too much of your flavoring, just add more plain fondant to the mixture to balance out the taste.


2. Roll it Out.
Fondant is easiest to use in a cool, dry room. If your room is too hot, it will make the fondant too soft to work with. Roll it out on a clean, dry surface – a silicone pastry mat works great! Whatever your surface, dust it with powdered sugar to prevent sticking. Fondant should be rolled out to 1/8” thick. When fondant is too thick, it cracks more easily.

 

3. Cool Completely. Make sure your cake or cookies have cooled completely before applying your fondant – preferably a few hours. Don’t rush the process or you’ll have a mess on your hands.

 

4. Getting Fondant to Stick. Fondant won’t stick without a little help. For cookies, attach fondant by brushing on a small amount of light corn syrup. For cakes, spread a thin layer of buttercream over the entire thing before laying your fondant down.

 

5. Decorating Made Easy. You can decorate with fondant well in advance of an event – 2-3 days is best; try not to push it much farther than that. If you’re decorating cookies, sugar cookies are the easiest for beginners. Use whatever cookie cutter you used on your cookies to cut out your fondant. That cut-out will go right on top of your cookie! Cookies tend to spread a bit in the oven, so you won’t need to worry about the size of the fondant overlay. For cakes, you’ll want to roll your fondant out and then lay it over your cake in one piece. Once it’s down, use a knife to trim the excess – do this quickly, as the extra weight can lead to cracks.

 

 

6. Step it Up. While you can always decorate using simple colored fondant or by painting the fondant, you should also think about adding indented features or patterns. Want to go a step further? Try making extra decorations out of fondant, like flowers, bows, or initials. You can make these months ahead of time, as long as you store them in a cool, dry place. Just add them to your baked goods when you’re ready to use them! Lay them flat on greased wax paper or over forms to dry for 24 to 36 hours before using or storing them.

 

7. Fix Those Cracks. Fondant dries very, very quickly. If your fondant has gotten hard, knead it gently with your hands/fingers (put a little bit of shortening on them) – the warmth will make it smooth again. Do not use water, which will dissolve the fondant.

 

8. Store Fondant in an Airtight Container. Storing fondant is simple. The best thing to do is to place it inside of a resealable plastic bag, making sure to remove all air from the bag. Then place the bag inside of an airtight container at room temperature. This will keep your fondant soft/fresh for up to two months.

 

 

Looking for a great fondant recipe? Try this one from Food Network. Good luck as you venture into the world of decorating. Remember, it’s all about practice!

 


Linda will be popping in again for future posts with tips and advice for bakers and decorators. Visit our Facebook and Instagram and let us know what you’d like Linda to talk about! If you tackle a decorating project with fondant, share your photos using #randminternational.