Halloween-themed Gingerbread Cookies

Baking date: October 31, 2018

Each Friday night there is a home game for our varsity football team, the families provide a dinner for them and the coaches. I usually don’t get the sign up information until late, and dessert is always taken by the time I log on.

For the final game of the season, we invite the varsity cheerleaders to join the meal. I asked the team mom to put my name down for desserts before she launched the potluck sign up.

I made gingerbread cut out cookies that I could decorate with royal icing. I used a recipe from the Mary Meade’s Country Cook Book:

Ingredients: 1 cup softened butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 beaten egg, 2 cups molasses, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 8 cups flour (yes, 8  cups!), 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 tablespoons ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 3 teaspoons baking soda, 1 cup boiling water

Directions: Sift flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg – set aside (for amounts this large, I place all the ingredients in a bowl and use a whisk to “sift” them). Beat egg in small bowl; set aside. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg, molasses and vinegar.  Dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water (it will fizz up!). Add water alternately with flour mixture. Chill at least one hour prior to rolling out.  Bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes (oven temps and cook times may vary, also the size of the cookie may mean more or less baking time).

I made some generic Halloween-themed cookies, using white, black, orange, red, purple and green cookie icing, a variety of sprinkles, as well as large and regular candy eyeballs. (Wilton also makes bloodshot eyeball candies – next year!)img_2111img_2113

There were also cookies with royal blue and golden yellow cookie icing, which are the team colors. There was also one huge pumpkin that I shaped from the remaining dough.

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Here are the cookies on the plates:

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The players and cheerleaders were well fed and enjoyed the cookies. Thanks for a great season to all of them!

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Football Player Zombie Gingerbread Cookies

Baking date: October 28, 2018

As  member of the Athletic Boosters for my sons’ high school, I do a lot of picture taking (in addition to managing both the Facebook and Twitter feeds). I take pictures for the JV football team, as we have another football mom with a MUCH better camera/lens than mine who takes pictures of varsity games.

The JV team had a game originally scheduled on Halloween, but due to weather, it got moved to November 1. Unfortunately, the move meant I would not be able to attend the game. But that didn’t stop me from preparing a fun post-game snack for their final contest of the season.

I decided to make Zombie football helmet gingerbread cookies. I used a recipe from the Mary Meade’s Country Cook Book:

Ingredients: 1 cup softened butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 beaten egg, 2 cups molasses, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 8 cups flour (yes, 8  cups!), 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 tablespoons ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 3 teaspoons baking soda, 1 cup boiling water

Directions: Sift flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg – set aside (for amounts this large, I place all the ingredients in a bowl and use a whisk to “sift” them). Beat egg in small bowl; set aside. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg, molasses and vinegar.  Dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water (it will fizz up!). Add water alternately with flour mixture. Chill at least one hour prior to rolling out.  Bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes (time may vary, depending on your oven and the size of your cut out cookie. The gingerbread man cut out I used was 14 minutes).

I used a drinking glass with a wide mouth for the round cut out. I flooded the cookies with white royal icing, and then added the eye section with black royal icing, red royal icing and candy eyeballs, following the basic tutorial video I found on Nicki Lee Bake’s channel. I used royal blue cookie icing to make the helmets, and more of the white royal icing dyed golden yellow to make the helmet stripes and facemask.

Here are the cookies in various states of the decoration process:

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And here are the cookies in their final format. I didn’t personalize them since I wouldn’t be there to help hand them out. There were enough for coaches, as well as the players. Some of the other team moms were gracious enough to take the cookies to the game and hand them out.

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Great season, JV. I look forward to seeing a number of you move up to varsity next year, joining my son Alex as he plays in his senior year.

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Football Player Mummy Gingerbread Cookies

Baking date: October 26, 2018

This year, my son helped to coach players in the junior football program he grew up in. The kids on the team he helped to coach are 6th and 7th graders, who are on the D2 team. The D2 team is more of an instructional level than the competitive D1 squad.

My son always played on the D1 squad when he was in the program. His D2 team made it to a “Bowl” game, that took place October 27. Because it was so close to Halloween, I decided to make the players and coaches football player “mummies”.

I used a gingerbread cookie recipe my mom sent me from the Mary Meade Country Cookbook. The edition my mom has is probably from the mid- to late- 60s. The recipe is:

Ingredients: 1 cup softened butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 beaten egg, 2 cups molasses, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 8 cups flour (yes, 8  cups!), 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 tablespoons ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 3 teaspoons baking soda, 1 cup boiling water

Directions: Sift flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg – set aside (for amounts this large, I place all the ingredients in a bowl and use a whisk to “sift” them). Beat egg in small bowl; set aside. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg, molasses and vinegar.  Dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water (it will fizz up!). Add water alternately with flour mixture. Chill at least one hour prior to rolling out.  Bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes (time may vary, depending on your oven and the size of your cut out cookie. The gingerbread man cut out I used was 14 minutes).

When decorating the cookies, I started with an all white royal icing base. I then piped on a black royal icing square where the eyes would go – I got the idea for the eyes from a Nicki Lee Bakes video tutorial. At first, I thought it looked like a bunch of astronauts!

Spacemen

After I added the red royal icing and then candy eyeballs, I added strips of white using a #46 basket weave tip.  I then used royal blue cookie icing (pre-made royal icing, if you will) to pipe on the helmets, with royal icing dyed golden yellow for the facemask and stripes on the helmet. Finally, I added each players’ number in royal blue cookie icing.

Here are the finished cookies for players:

Player Cookies

These are a few on the ones that I made for the seven coaches (including my son), For those, I piped a baseball hat instead of a helmet:

Coach Cookies

And, of course, we can’t forget the Team “Mummy”:

Team Mummy

I placed each cookie in a treat bag. After the game, as the coaches spoke to them, I handed out cookies to the kids and coaches. I also had made cinnamon spice drop cookies (I use butter, not shortening) for parents, siblings and other fans in attendance.

The kids were a muddy mess after the Bowl game:

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Even though they lost, the kids loved the cookies! I believe you should always be paying it forward as much as possible. Cookies were one way I could do that for these kids.

Below is a slide show of my gentle giant (Walkersville High School varsity O-line tackle), with the kids throughout the season.

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Get Well Soon Red Velvet Cake with Basketball “Court” Frosting

Baking date: October 21, 2018

The head coach of our high school girls basketball team — who is also head of the rec basketball league for ages 5 – 19 — recently had bypass surgery.  While I know that dessert is not necessarily what the doctor ordered for post-op recovery…well, I just can’t help myself.

I reached out to his wife to find out his favorite kind of cake. Turns out his (and maybe his wife and daughters) favorite is red velvet. So a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting was in order.

I started by making Trisha Yearwood’s recipe for red velvet cake. For the frosting, I used canned cream cheese frosting.  When it comes to canned frosting, I do not have a favorite, though I will gravitate to anything that is on sale.

I wanted to do something special with the cake and decided to decorate the top like a basketball court. I tried to think of something unique that would make it look like a court and I immediately thought of sugar wafer cookies. So I iced the top of the cake with the cream cheese frosting and pressed in the full cookies in an alternating pattern to represent the hardwood of a basketball court. I cut some with a really sharp knife for the areas where a partial wafer was needed.

Here’s the top of the cake. I used cream cheese frosting colored royal blue to spell out the message, and some colored black to draw the lines on the court.

Cake

I piped on star bursts around the top and bottom edges. I made a Lion (the youth league and high school mascot) paw in yellow and royal blue candy melts. I added yellow and royal blue candy melt hearts around all four edges.

Turns out the coach’s birthday was just two days after I delivered the get well cake. Happy Birthday, Troy. We can’t wait to see you back on the court!

Troy and Cake

 

Lacrosse Jersey Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Baking and decorating dates: April 15 and 18, 2018

My youngest son made the JV high school lacrosse team this year. In total, the Varsity and JV lacrosse teams aren’t large, and JV often played 8 on 8 games with other teams, having no subs.

The program is rebuilding under a new coaching staff. The boys had grueling practices and conditioning sessions. In addition, there were tough grade requirements (tougher than the county mandated minimum) and community service activities.

There was a Senior night celebration this year. I offered to make jersey cookies and started with a chocolate sugar cookie base. The jersey cookie cutter I bought is rather large, but that gives plenty of room for decorating/names on the jersey. Just make sure you have enough cookie dough if you have a large team!

I started by using cookie icing in royal blue.

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I also used white, and colored some of it golden yellow. This finished up the jerseys for the Senior players and the one student manager. I used a number 1 tip to pipe on the names.

Jersey Cookies 1Jersey Cookies 2

Some players are moving on to the collegiate level of play. Others are not. Regardless of where their path takes them next — congrats to these hard-working Seniors, and all the best!

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Retirement Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Baking date: April 15, 2018

A colleague recently retired after a long tenure with the Association. He was instrumental in building a resource for medical students, called Careers in Medicine.

I wanted to offer a special treat for him as a thank you for his service; it wasn’t the first time I had made retirement goodies for a long-time employee.

I made chocolate sugar cookies and cut out the 4″ college font letters CIM.  I decorated them with green and white cookie icing. In addition, I made a giant oval cookie and piped the Happy Retirement message on it.

CIM Cookies

Congrats, George. And thanks for the amazing work you did!

Sea Salt Caramel Chip Chocolate Cookies

Baking date: March 31, 2018

When you see a bag of sea salt caramel chips, you grab them.

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That was the case when I was looking for the very elusive Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips one day while in Walmart.  Even though I didn’t find the cinnamon chips, I was intrigued by the sea salt caramel chips, which had a recipe on the bag. I decided to make them for our family’s Easter gathering.

The recipe is simple, and as you would expect, the cookies are soft and yummy.

Cookie

I’m thinking they would also be a great addition to brownies. Perhaps I’ll try that next (because, of course, I bought two bags!).