Simple 17th Birthday Cake

Baking date: February 20, 2019

My oldest turned 17 in February and his request was super simple. He wanted a chocolate cake with white frosting. That was a good thing, because his birthday fell on a weekday – and on a particular day that I had an all day event for work, followed by an exhibit set up and overnight stay at a hotel in D.C., for another event.

I made him a one-bowl chocolate cake and cheated by buying canned white frosting, because homemade butter cream never turns out white.  Baker’s note: this recipe is great for cake.  I have tried it twice to make cupcakes, and each time it was a huge fail. Cakes only!


While it looks like a charred mess, it’s actually goopy and slimey — both times I tried to make cupcakes with this recipe.

I melted some chocolate chips in heavy cream to make a chocolate icing to pipe on the number 17.


Happy Birthday, Big Al!


Photo with Big Al in December 2018, when I purposefully wore antlers on my head during a special event supporting the high school athletic boosters at a local tavern.

Football Jersey, Football Player Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Baking date: January 5, 2019

Each year for my son’s football team, I have been baking for the annual banquet. The year they were the State 2A Champs, I went crazy. The following year, we were conference champs, and I baked a bunch for that banquet as well.

This past year, after losing 25 seniors, our team was in re-building mode. We had a tough season and we weren’t the same powerhouse. In addition, we lost a number of key starters to injuries. So, while we didn’t make the playoffs, we still celebrated the boys and their coaches who worked hard through a tough season.

I made personalized jersey chocolate sugar cookies for the Seniors. The cookie cutter is large, so keep that in mind for the amount of cookie batter you will need. This recipe makes a ton of roll out cookies, but the year we had 25 Seniors on the team, I ended up making two batches.

What you see here is the first batch. Because our naughty dog Jake at3 about 4 of the cookies off the table and I had to make more. Luckily, I had not used all the cookie dough at this point.IMG_2401

For the non-Senior varsity players, I made personalized gingerbread men football players. For the JV team, I made cupcakes.

Here is my kitchen table, with the cookies in various states of decoration. I used Betty Crocker cookie icing in royal blue, white, and white dyed golden yellow, so that everything would be in the school colors.


You can see my list at the bottom of the picture. Getting a complete roster with the correct numbers is very important. I cross them off as I decorate them!


The coaches and the team mom get football cookies

Here are the Senior cookies:

Player Jerseys


Here are the remainder of the varsity player cookies:


And an assortment of the rest, including a cookie for the team mom/photographer:


Here is the dessert table, that included the JV cupcakes (chocolate with vanilla frosting, topped with gold and royal blue colored chocolates, and yellow and royal blue sugar sprinkles), as well as some store-bought cupcakes and cookies.

Full table

I know their job as teenagers is to try and act cool, but we did manage to catch a number of them showing off their personalized treats. Even my kid posed (he’s #63) with a few of his linemen buddies.

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I donate my time and the cost of materials for this effort. This banquet is one of the ways I pay-it-forward for the kids in my community — many of whom I have watched play football for 10+ years.



Alabama Football Player Cookie

Baking date: December 8, decoration date December 22

My husband and his brother have a good high school friend whose son is an amazing football player. So amazing, in fact, that he graduated high school a semester early and started the Spring semester at The University of Alabama, to begin college and off-season workouts/training with the football team. He was heavily recruited by all the top D1 schools and had scholarship offers at more than I can count.

On December 22, Shane and his high school team from Baltimore played in the High School Football State Championship Bowl that aired on ESPN U. They took care of the team they played from Georgia, in sound fashion. My husband’s brother hosted a watch party for the game, with some close friends and Shane’s parents.

On a last minute whim, I quickly made an Alabama football player cookie from one of the gingerbread men cookies I had. I wanted to take it to the party, so that I could give it to his mom.


I guess it’s a good thing that Alabama is in the SEC, since we are a B1G 10 household (Go Terps!). We can Roll Tide and hope that opponents Fear the Turtle.

Wishing you all the best, Shane. We can’t wait to cheer you on!

Homemade Dog Treats

Baking date: December 23…and 24

For my 2018 Christmas deliveries to our sports families, I decided to include homemade dog biscuits for those families that have dogs. I think at least 14 of the families have dogs, and I had found a recipe online I decided to use.

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I purchased a bone-shaped cookie cutter and used that for the rolled out dough. I also used a fork to make “dots” on the top of the treats.

I baked them on the evening of December 23 and left them out, in the center of the island counter top overnight. That was a big mistake, because after I went to bed, our counter-surfing Lab Jake decided to eat ALL the dog treats I had made, which was more than 30. So, I quickly regrouped the next morning and baked another batch.

It was a good call to remake them, because the furry family members seemed to like the treats…




Teddy and Gizmo

Merry Christmas, furry family members!!

Christmas Ornament Cookies

Baking date: December 8; Decorating dates: December 22 & 23

For a number of years now, I have baked cookies and decorated them for my oldest son’s baseball teammates and their families. 2018 was no exception…but it was a bit different. After 10 years, it was the year my son played his final organized baseball game. I think he handled it better than his parents, and I blogged about the experience of his last baseball game at our home field after 10 years.

I had purchased new cookie cutters in ornament shapes from Crate & Barrel that I planned to use for the 2018 Christmas goody bags. Here’s a photo, as I was unable to find a link to them currently on the C&B site – perhaps because they are seasonal.  Baker’s note: The top two shapes — especially that one on the top left — are more fragile than the others because of narrowing areas of the cut out. This is true for cutting them out, getting them out of the shape and onto the cookie sheet and after they bake. Those shapes are prone to breaking.  Overall, these shapes are large, so keep that in mind for quantity of cookies.

Cookie cutter

I made gingerbread cookies — my mom sent me her favorite version of a gingerbread cut out recipe. It makes a ton of cookies, even with large cookie cutters. I actually called my mom after she emailed me the recipe because I thought vinegar was a mistake.


I also made sugar cookies.  I had made them weeks earlier, and froze them until I was ready to start decorating, December 22 and 23. Here they are in the storage containers, ready to be decorated.


And here’s my personal “workshop”, ready for the cookie decorating.  In addition to the ornament cut outs, I also had candy canes and stars. You can see some of the ornament cookies that I had started, in the bottom right corner. Each ornament cookie had a unique decoration. I made one cookie for every member of each family – close to 125 cookies:


So big bummer here – the pictures I took of all the decorated cookies got deleted from my phone. The only one that saved was this one:IMG_2372

And a few friends who received the cookies posted photos (presented in slide show format):

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Here are links to some of the previous years’ cookies:

In addition to cookies, I also make mini-breads:  banana, snickerdoodle, and pumpkin (a Pillsbury mix topped with chocolate chips). Here you see my big mini-bread pan filled with pumpkin, before being topped with chocolate chips. In the background are the very ripe bananas I got at the store, that would soon be turned into banana bread.


So, while I don’t have photos of all the cookies, I do have this photo of my delivery “elf” along with my new “sleigh” filled with the goody bags. My elf has gone out with me  on Christmas Eve each year to drop off the bags of cookies, homemade breads and candies to all the baseball families we have spent our Summers with over the years.


I look forward to continuing this tradition as long as possible, even when high school is over.

Star Gingerbread Cookie Tree

Baking date: December 9, Assembly date: December 16, 2018

I had seen this video tutorial on YouTube and immediately purchased the Wilton Star Christmas Tree cookie cutter set because I wanted to try it. It took me a year, but in 2018 I finally got around it.

Baker’s note: I followed the instructions in the video of cutting out the center for the larger stars. But a note of caution – I thought all the stars with centers cut out were the largest and should be stacked in reverse size order. Turns out, one of the full size cut outs is actually bigger than the cutouts with hollow centers. You need to stack the cookies in size order prior to using the royal icing to build your tree.

I used pre-made white cookie icing instead of making royal icing from scratch. The cookie icing was a bit runny for this task. I would recommend making a royal icing from scratch that is a bit thick. It will still drip over the edges and will be less messy. My arm was covered in icing once I was done.

I made the cookies out of gingerbread, from a family recipe. Here’s the tree completely assembled and with white, blue and silver decorations.


I let the cake “set” overnight. I took this with me to the office to share with co-workers. It was my co-pilot on the hour and a half drive in. It traveled just fine in the top of my turkey roasting pan, because it was too tall for my normal cake holder.


People were wow’d. At first, no one wanted to break off a piece. But once they started, it was quickly gobbled up.

It was pretty and it tasted great – the perfect combo!

Christmas Cookie Decorating Party

Baking date: December 8; decorating date: December 15

Each year, I invite my sisters, mom, aunts, nieces, nephews and cousins to my house for a cookie exchange/decorating party. Each family who comes brings cookies to exchange, and I make roll-out/cut-out cookies for people to decorate. We decorate the cookies and while they are drying, I serve a buffet lunch to everyone who comes. It is a great way to spend a Saturday during the weeks leading up to the Christmas holiday.

Here is a sampling of the cookies from this year, including a sassy little gingerbread man that my cousin’s daughter created:

Here’s the table full of cookies, waiting for the icing to dry:


And here’s the buffet table:


And here’s my mom, aunts, cousin, niece and nephew during the decorating.


I hope you find a way to make the holidays special with your family!