Easy Gingerbread Cutout Cookies

School is out, which means we are in the final countdown toward Christmas. I’m making cookies with the kids, which is equal parts fun and frustrating as they argue about who gets to use which cookie cutter first. My kids could fight about what air tastes like if given the opportunity.

We are on to sugar cookies today, but ended up making Gingerbread Cookies last weekend. The recipe I use is pretty easy to work with and forgiving, so it’s great if you really want to get into decorated cutouts. If you need to distract restless kids, I highly recommend baking up a batch, and investing in a few dollar tubes of icing from the store so they can decorate and be distracted from arguing about that whole air thing.

Gingerbread Cutout Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder

Procedure

    1. In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar. Add molasses and egg, mixing well to combine.
    2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, salt, and making powder, stirring well.
    3. Gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture, mixing to form a soft dough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for a couple of hours.
    4. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out cookies with desired cutters and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes until edges are firm. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Decorate as desired.

The Heathens’ Favorite Cookies…Or An Excuse to Play Off Laziness as Mental Illness

My picky eaters are picky about everything, including their cookies…the freaks. But, even as they beg me for Happy Meals instead of nice, home-cooked dinners, they still think I am Super-Mom when I make their favorite cookies. These cookies are unusual, because they have an almost cake-like texture. When I’m asked to bring a snack to school, this is what the boys clamor for.

 I like them, because they only require one bowl, and practically no work or measuring.

Yes, I am so lazy, sometimes even the thought of washing the extra measuring cup is enough to send me screaming from the kitchen.

We’ll call that Working Moms’ Schizophrenia.

Chocolate Cake Cookies

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (the real stuff, don’t even buy the imitation stuff…you’re better than that)
  • 1 (18-ounce) box devil’s food cake mix
  • Powdered sugar

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla extract, beating until well-combined. Beat in the cake mix.

3) Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Roll the chilled batter into tablespoon sized balls and then roll them in powdered sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 12 to 15 minutes. The cookies will remain soft, and have a cake/brownie type of texture. Cool completely on wire racks.

Just avoid those guys with the butterfly nets.

Cool Mom Points…Or How to Turn a Cub Scout Meeting into a Self-Esteem Booster

If there is one thing I’ve learned about kids, it’s that they are visual creatures. Long before food ever hits their taste buds, they’ve already passed significant judgment on its’ appearance, and I honestly believe that their first impression predisposes them to like it or hate it. Hence, instead of disclosing to my boys that I was serving them sweet potato fries last week, I told them that I dyed their fries orange to celebrate Fall. Yep, I’m a liar, but they ate it, didn’t they?

For last night’s Cub Scout meeting, I was charged with bringing the snacks. My boys take a certain pride in the fact that Mom usually brings the homemade snacks, and I was determined to keep up appearances, and collect some Cool-Mom credit. I have to take my Cool-Mom credit when and where I can get it, since my husband is usually monopolizing the Super Parent title with his cool games and potty humor. That sneaky Dad….but I digress….

I found this recipe in Southern Living, and knew it was perfect:

(That’s their photo by the way)

They look exciting, but underneath all that multicolored bling, they are still plain old sugar cookies, and therefore definitely kid friendly. The recipe was very easy, and the end result was some happy Cub Scouts. You should try them next time you need some deceptively easy Cool Mom Points.

Sugar Cookie Pops


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Colored sugars, sparkling sugars, and multicolored jimmies
  • 4″ white craft sticks

Preparation

  1. Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; add sugars, beating well. Add eggs, oil, and vanilla, beating until blended.
  2. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; add to butter mixture, blending well. Cover and chill dough 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Shape dough into 1 1/2″ balls. Roll each ball in colored sugar or jimmies in individual bowls, pressing gently, if necessary, to coat balls. Place 2″ apart on ungreased baking sheets. Insert craft sticks about 1″ into each cookie to resemble a lollipop.
  4. Bake at 350° for 10 to 11 minutes or until set. Let cool 2 minutes on baking sheets; remove cookie pops to wire racks to cool completely.

The Cookie Peace Treaty—aka Forced Disarmament and Some Granny-Style Distractions

As the temperature crept past 100 yesterday, I knew we were in trouble. I tried to get the heathens outside with me to weed the garden, but after fifteen minutes, even I was whimpering in defeat. 100 degrees with 90% humidity drove us back inside, and I think we all had tempers that were noticeably shorter.

Unfortunately, the more bored my children got, the more inclined they were to pick on each other for sheer entertainment. Pretty soon, all-out war erupted, and one bloody nose and some severe punishments later, I knew I needed some methods of distraction…or rather a Plan JJ, since I had already exhausted Plans A through II.

When my mom was my age, our family moved to Los Angeles as a result of my stepdad’s job. This big move was quite the adventure, but it also took my small town Louisiana mother far away from her friends and family, and plopped her into a strange and frightening world. Her driving skills were the first major casualty of the move, as she realized that the freeway was actually an insane asylum moving at 70 miles an hour. To this day, my mom still drives like Andretti, even though we are back in Louisiana… it really is frightening. The second, and more lasting effect of the move was that my mom was often lonely and homesick, and treated this condition in the best way a Southern Lady knows…she cooked, she baked and then she cooked some more. My mom used cooking as the ultimate distraction and Band-Aid for her homesickness. It’s amazing that we did not turn into Weebles, but we did have a gaggle of neighborhood kids who turned up conspicuously around dinner time. My mom rocked, especially when she was a little obsessive around the kitchen.

I am nothing, if not my mother’s daughter. When WWIII erupted yesterday, my first instinct was to drag the heathens into the kitchen and turn on the oven. Cookies are a great distraction for the kids, because they take a while, and the recipes have enough steps to divide up between the two kids, thus keeping them distracted for an hour of blessed peace. Yesterday, we made Cowboy cookies. The original recipe calls for pecans, but I had to leave those out to avoid a picky-eater freak-out. We started with the basics:

cookies 1

And in traditional cookie fashion, creamed the butter and sugars:

cookies 2

While the mixer was accomplishing creamy bliss, we did a quick mix-up of the dry ingredients:

cookies 3

We added the eggs and vanilla to our butter mixture:

cookies 4

After mixing in the dry ingredients, we added the oats and the chocolate chips. I like adding the oats because it stretches the recipe, makes the cookies more filling and makes me feel about 0.01% better about feeding my kids a pile of cookies instead of something healthy.

cookies 5

After baking them up, we had a lovely pile of cookies:

cookies 6

But more importantly, we bought ourselves a little peace, and the boys were distracted from their driving need to annoy each other to death.

Want some peace of your own?

Here it is:

Cowboy Cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 (12-ounce) pkg. chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped pecans (optional)

1. Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until fluffy.

2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Gradually add this to the butter mixture, mixing well after each addition. Stir in oats, chocolate chips and pecans.

3. Drop dough onto a baking sheet in large tablespoon size amounts (use parchment paper if you are smart…easy clean-up). Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, or until cookies are pretty-pretty.

Serve them up and enjoy the blissful silence, at least until the ceasefire ends and they are back to their shenanigans.