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 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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Sea Salt Caramel Chip Chocolate Cookies

Baking date: March 31, 2018

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

Chips

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!).

Football Banquet Cookies and Cupcakes

Baking date: January 12 and 13, 2018

Last year our town’s football team were the State champs in our division. I baked a boatload of goodies for the celebratory banquet, including cakes and cookies. This year, our team won the conference title again, but was knocked out in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs on a controversial play.

But it was still an amazing season. And this year, my son was selected for varsity in just his sophomore year.

I purchased a t-shirt cookie cutter and decided to start a new tradition of creating personalized jersey cookies for the graduating seniors. The remainder of the varsity team get personalized football-shaped cookies, and the JV players get a cupcake with their number. This is the jersey I modeled the cookie after (it’s my son in the picture – he’s a lineman):

Alex

I decided to make a favorite chocolate sugar cookie recipe. It makes a ton of dough — and I would need it because the t-shirt cookie cutter was bigger than I anticipated. There were 25 seniors on the football team this year.

Here is a look at the cookies as the first layer of cookie icing went on – white for their home uniforms. I think it looks like a bunch of undershirts:

Tshirts

I piped on blue numbers and their last names, as well as some yellow and blue piping along the sleeves and sides. And I added football mini-decorations from the large sports sprinkles set:

VarsityJerseys1VarsityJerseys2

And then there were the rest of the Varsity players, coaches and team mom cookies in the shape of footballs. I added yellow paw prints and topped them with gold sugar sprinkles (yes, yes, I see the one that didn’t get the paw print):

Varsity Football Cookies

With the rest of the football cookies, I added on the laces for the many siblings that would be attending the banquet.

Plain football cookies

For JV, I made chocolate cupcakes with royal blue and gold foil cupcake liners and topped them with vanilla frosting. Then I dipped the tops in gold pearlized sugar sprinkles and blue sugar sprinkles, alternating the cupcake liner color with the sprinkle color. I added each players’ number on the top.

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For the extras, I added the football decorations.

Extra Cupcakes

Here’s the whole production on my kitchen table, ready to be transported to the banquet:

AllTheTreats

Congrats to my son on earning his varsity letter in his sophomore year (this is his ‘I’m trying to be cool and act like I don’t care’ face) …

Letter Jacket

Even though back-to-back State championships weren’t in the cards for the team,  congrats to the Walkersville Lions on their back-to-back Conference Championship seasons!

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Christmas Goodies for Co-Workers

Baking date: December 17, 2017

Each year, I make goodie bags for my immediate team (6 individuals, including my supervisor). In addition, I make a variety of cookies (small cut outs of gingerbread and sugar) to share with the people on my floor.

This year, the base cookie was a gingerbread cookie. I decorated one for each team member with their name, and then filled the boxes with some mini-breads, other generically decorated gingerbread and sugar cookies and a $10 Starbucks gift card.

Here are the personalized cookies, along with some of the generically decorated cookies, mini-breads and gingersnaps:

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Here are more of the sugar and gingerbread cookies:

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Here’s the assembly line of cookies and boxed treats for my team:

Assemblyline

As one person commented: “Thoughtful, personal, and edible – I like it! Great job.”

 

JV Football Sugar Cookies and M&M Cookies

Baking date: November 1, 2017

This year, my son was moved up to the high school varsity football squad in his sophomore year. It was very exciting for him, but meant a considerable shift in my photography hobby.

I have been taking pictures of him for more than 7 years on the sidelines of all of his sporting events – baseball, football and basketball. The varsity team already has a photographer mom on the sidelines whose son is also a sophomore. So I was watching him from a new vantage point – the stands.

Because many of the boys he had played with for years were still on the JV team, I decided to show up to those Wednesday night games and take pictures. I was able to take care of my photography fix, and share the photos with the football families.

For the last game of the season, I decided to make goodie bags for all the players and coaches, and share the extra cookies with family and fans in attendance.

I made the base cookie dough for big, fat chewy chocolate chip cookies. Instead of chips, I added 1 cup of royal blue and 1 cup of gold M&Ms, since the school colors are royal blue and gold. I also saw these in the grocery store, so I made 3 batches. There’s no shame in my game when it comes to fantastic shortcuts for weeknight baking:

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I then stuffed cookies in treat bags and put football and gold star stickers on the packages, with a gold tie. IMG_0762IMG_0763

Each coach and player received a treat bag. For the parents and fans in attendance, I had left over cookies that one of the moms helped me to hand out.

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Congrats to the Walkersville JV Lions on a great season, 6-2. And thanks for letting me be there to capture the action!

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The JV Lions players and coaches have a tradition of kneeling before their game, hands on one another, led by a player in prayer. That shadow you see in the lower left corner is me taking their picture.

College Freshman Care Packages

Editor’s note: It’s been awhile since I have posted. The Fall is always super busy with football for my kids, work projects and the start of the holiday season. Thanks for your patience as I try and catch up on sharing a bunch of baking I’ve been doing since September.

Baking date: September 4, 2017

Every year for the past 4 or so, I have been making cookies to send off to my friends’ kids as they leave for college. This year was no different. There were 5 kids who got care packages this year. They were big brothers of some of my oldest son’s friends, and others are my community friends’ kids.

Packages went to Frostburg University (MD), McDaniel College (MD), Shepherd University (WV), and Wake Forest University (NC). The inserts were simple enough – loaves of Snickerdoodle bread and pumpkin bread, as well as chocolate chip cookies. I sent them via 2-day delivery — please don’t tell the USPS I check the box that affirms there are no perishables in the package!

I had no bubble wrap this year, so to secure the baked goods in place, I added crumpled up plastic grocery bags. Oh yes, and I included this picture…

Clark Griswold

with this handwritten message…

Handwritten note

The best part is seeing the reaction/getting the thank yous…

Like this email, from one of the kids (a big brother of my son’s friend Nick) who shared his package with his roommate:

Joe TY

And this Facebook post (from the big brother of my son’s friends Matt and James):

Josh TY

And this text I got from my friend Kelley (recipient is the big brother of yet another of my son’s friends, Owen):

Ethan TY

And then there was the kid who returned home for a varsity football game and  delivered these to me in the stands while I was watching my kid play:

Noah TY

There’s nothing better than the feeling of community. And making the good young people you know feel loved and happy.

So, what are the ways you could pay it forward for others?