Christmas Cookies for Co-workers

Baking date: December 18, 2016

Each year, I bake goodies for my co-workers during the Christmas holidays. This year, I focused on cut-out cookies in a variety of shapes – snowmen, Christmas lights, mittens, stars and snowflakes.

The cookies were chocolate sugar cookies and regular sugar cookies. These cookies take some extra time to set in the frig (the regular sugar cookies are refrigerated twice), so make sure you have planned out your day of baking to include time for it.

I used colored sugars and sugar pearls to decorate the cookies rather than royal icing (don’t worry, I will post about another batch of Christmas cookies where I did use royal icing). Here are the cookies, which my co-workers were grateful to snack on throughout the day.

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You can see a missing star cookie from this sheet – my son always offers to taste-test cookies for me.

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As you can see, not every cookie will accept sprinkles

Thanksgiving Turkey and Acorn Sugar Cookies

Baking date: November 19, 2016

Each year, I try and let my colleagues know how thankful I am for them by making sweet treats to share. This year was no different. In order to save myself some time, I used refrigerated sugar cookie dough, that I rolled to make cut-out cookies.

This shortcut does come with some compromises. The scratch sugar cookie recipe I usually make includes a step that allows the cookies to set and hold their shape. You can probably add the step of refrigerating the cookies for 30 minutes once they are cut out to help them set with any recipe or prepared dough, but I skipped that step in the interest of time. And here’s what some of the “round shapes” looked like once they cooked. To be honest, I didn’t leave much room between each on the cookie sheet:

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Some would say “what’s wrong with a giant cookie?”, and to them I respond “absolutely nothing because it still tastes great!”

I used round cut outs in two sizes to make turkey cookies. They were decorated using royal icing dyed brown for the main body of the turkey, golden yellow for the beak and legs, and black for the dots of eyeballs. Candy corns were added for the feathers, M&Ms were added for the eyes (although in the future, I won’t use the brown ones because you can’t see the dots for eyes piped on), and multi-colored jimmies were sprinkled on. Here’s how the turkeys turned out:

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For the acorns, they didn’t hold their cut-out shape well either. So I used the brown icing for the top and then dipped the still wet icing in chocolate jimmies for texture. Once that dried, I darkened the brown, piped an outline of the rest of the acorn to give it more shape, and filled that in with the remaining brown icing.

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With shapes that need more definition, I’ll definitely add in the 30 minute refrigeration before cooking in the future (regardless of the recipe or any shortcut I use). For the rounds that became turkeys, its not as important that they are perfectly round.

It’s always nice to remind those you work with how thankful you are to have them as colleagues!

Cousins ‘n Crabs Shortbread Cookies

Baking date: August 29, 2016

Each year, the cousins on my mom’s side of the family get together in the Summer for something we call Cousins ‘n Crabs. There are 13 of us cousins, and we are far-flung. A few of us live in Maryland, and the largest contingent (4) are in California – divided between San Diego and San Francisco. Florida (Port Orange), Illinois (Chicago), Arlington (Virginia), Richmond Hill (Toronto), and Italy are also represented.

While we all aren’t able to be at the event each year, we try to get as many as possible together. The event is hosted at my sister’s house, where we steam crabs and cook hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill. Folks bring side dishes and desserts to round out the meal.

Of course, I’m on dessert duty. This year, I made outrageous brownies (sorry, no picture was taken before they were all gobbled up!). I also made shortbread cookies because my mom’s brother is allergic to eggs. Whenever we gather, I always make an eggless dessert to he can have something sweet.

Here’s the recipe I used for the cookies:

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Because this is a mini-reunion of sorts, I went with a Maryland-inspired color theme for the decorations. I made royal icing in white, red, black, and golden yellow.

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The cookies were in star shapes along with COUSINS N CRABS spelled out using alphabet cookie cutters.

I tried to make Maryland flag-inspired designs on the letters:

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 But I made the royal icing a bit too runny. This is how COUSINS N CRABS turned out:

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The cookie in the middle is the family name Fenwick. Again, you see that the icing was a bit runny and didn’t hold its shape too well:

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All the cookies tasted great in spite of the icing not turning out exactly as I had hoped!

I used the remaining icing to decorate the stars. There was so much left over that I got to use it for special retirement goodies I made the following day for a co-worker.

Here are the stars:

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And close up:

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Every year, I look forward to Cousins ‘n Crabs. It brings those of us who can attend back to our roots. And we get to spend time with family, which is the best reason of all to get together.

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Meaty crab backfin – delish!

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My Uncle Bill feeding his grandson Max freshly picked crab while my sister Diane holds him

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My Uncle Bill feeding his oldest grandson Jack freshly picked crab

Shortbread Star Cookies

Baking date: July 2, 2016

My mom and dad decided to have a dinner over the July 4th weekend. My mom isn’t as big on cooking out as she is on cooking, so this was a buffet style dinner, but not a hot dog or hamburger was in sight.

I offered to make dessert, but mom said no, she had that covered. Yeah, like I’m going to show up empty-handed. I decided to make shortbread cookies because my uncle has an egg allergy.

To make them a bit more celebratory, I used star-shaped cookie cutters along with red, white, and blue decorations. I made some large stars, some small stars and some large stars with a small star cut-out. The large stars with the cut-out were delicate — even more so since the cookie was shortbread.

There were cookies that I topped with a mix of blue and red sugar sprinkles:

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Large, small and cut out stars, as well as an up-close look at the cookies.

And there were large star cookies that I topped with classic white frosting and then placed a cut-out large star on top. In the cut out, I added red, white, and blue sprinkles.

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I topped some of smaller stars with classic white frosting and added the red, white and blue sprinkles. For the rest, I iced the sides and added the sprinkles:

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Here are all the cookies that had frosting:

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My cookies — in addition to the homemade strawberry shortcake my mom prepared — ensured a sweet ending to a nice 4th of July spent with family.

Fathers Day Sugar Cookies

Baking date: June 18, 2016

This year on Fathers Day — as has been the case in many years — my son Alex’s baseball team was playing in a tournament. The tournament was for the league his team is part of. We were going up against a team in the championship game that we had split our regular season games with.

I’ll spare you the suspense — we lost in the bottom of the 7th, after coming back to tie the game in the top of the 7th. Tough loss, but we were also down a player who didn’t show, one player in a cast due to a torn ligament, and one player who took a wicked foul ball off his forehead in the semi-final game, just 45 minutes prior to the championship game. We had just enough boys to field a team as long as no one (else) got hurt. Well, one of our players was covering first and got spiked on the top of his foot by the metal cleats the base runner was wearing, but he gutted it out and finished the game. Way to hang tough, Drew!

It has been tradition recently (2015 Fathers Day cookies, 2013 Fathers Day cupcakes, and 2012 Fathers Day cupcakes) for me to make special treats for the dads. I didn’t do it in 2014 because we were in Myrtle Beach for a tournament and didn’t have access to a kitchen.

This year, it was star-shaped sugar cookies, with buttercream frosting (leftover from a previous baking effort two days earlier).  I made white candy-melt square shaped bases. I covered the sugar cookies in the golden yellow buttercream frosting. I then placed a “base” on the cookie and piped a players number on the base along with the word ‘DAD’ with a #2 tip. Using a #42 tip, I double-outlined the edge of the star in royal blue buttercream (more leftover frosting from the cupcakes the day before).

Here are all of the cookies decorated, and one extra big star with a few royal blue mini-M&Ms:

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And here’s one up close:

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Of course, there was plenty of cookie dough left over for regular and mini-stars for the families and fans who showed up to cheer the boys on.  Some had buttercream frosting, mini-M&Ms, and others had sprinkles:

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And since we had a semi-final game before the championship game, I had made Rolo-stuffed chocolate cookies (I use mini-Rolos and dip the top in sea salt instead of nuts, before baking) to make sure there were plenty of goodies for both games.

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Even though we didn’t end up being the county league champions, I have to say, with all the dads opting to spend their special day cheering on their boys through two games in the hot Summer sun, it was a win.

Thanks to all the dads out there, who make sure their kids know how special they are. Especially my husband.

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Mother’s Day Baseball Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Baking date: May 7, 2016

For the past 5 years – with the exception of last year — I have spent my Mother’s Day at the baseball field watching my oldest son play on a travel team. While most moms might be disappointed at sharing “their” day with other families at the ball field, I consider it part of being a mom, and a true reflection of what being a mom is all about – supporting your kid in their pursuits.

It’s also brought some amazing memories — like the year we got a picture with the players and moms. It is still one of my favorite memories of being a sports mom.

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2012 10U Walkersville Lions on Mother’s Day

Since I bake goodies for every weekend game, I made special cookies for the moms on this Mothers Day. I started by using the recipe for chocolate sugar cookies. I used a recently purchased plaque cookie cutter (the one on the right in the photo).

I decorated the cookies using royal icing. I flooded the main part of the cookies in white. I then dyed some of the icing red (no taste), and some royal blue. I used the red to pipe the baseball stitching on each end of the cookie, into the white base. I also piped the each players number and the word MOM into the white base. Finally, I outlined the white base in royal blue. Here’s what the decorated cookies looked like:

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I made one special cookie for the head coach. He lost his mother this past Fall, so I made him this cookie because his family called her “Mom Mom”.

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And thankfully, I had made a generic Mom cookie, because we had one kid who played with us that day as a fill in.

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With the remaining cookie dough, I made round cut outs and using the three colors of royal icing, made a check pattern on top of the cookies. With the last of the dough, I had shaped it into an oval cookie and decorated it with red, white, and blue, and little red hearts. I gave that to one of the grandmothers at the game.

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The one downside to these cookies was transporting them and waiting for the end of the game to hand them out. I had placed each cookie in a sandwich bag, and this is what they looked like (even though it wasn’t particularly hot that day, and I had placed the container in the shade):

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I had decorated them that morning, so it’s possible if I had done it the evening before, the icing would have had more time to set. Even so, according to the moms, they tasted good!

There’s still time to perfect this, as we have baseball games on Fathers Day!

German Chocolate Cake Cookies

Baking date: April 23, 2016

My friends on Facebook have a habit of posting links on my wall to cookies, cupcakes, and cakes — basically any dessert! — they think I might like to try. And with my older son’s baseball team, I have a built in taste-testing system of players, coaches, parents, siblings, and other fans who come to the games.

I had one of the coaches post a link to German Chocolate Cake cookies recipe to my wall, so I figured I would give them a try.

The cookies are fairly easy to make, including the topping. But the topping does take some patience and standing over the stove as you stir the “frosting” constantly.

Here are the cookies out of the oven:

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And here are the cookies with the topping. The recipe indicates that the chocolate drizzle is optional – as if!

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A few notes about the recipe:

  • I used a cookie scoop for the cookies, which is why they are so nice and round
  • the topping was the perfect amount for the cookies, with none left over and not having to spread it too thin at the end. Just be mindful not to overdo when you first start out
  • my taste-testers indicated you couldn’t really taste the coconut

Ultimately, the cookies received positive reviews from all – including my son who is not a big fan of coconut. Another cookie recipe keeper, so thanks for finding it Nick!