Sunday, March 30, 2014

Standing in Faith: Homecoming as a new Mother

There is a saying, “Stand Firm in Your Faith”. It encourages strength and diligence in allowing all that you do to be done out of love and sharing.  It allows the unyielding trust and confidence in someone or something to be your guide. I think of this devotion daily; especially, now that my Life has taken a gracious turn.  I am captain to myself, mother to our son, and Love to Jackson.
I’ve been away. I’ve missed this place of mine, and the developing culinary camaraderie greatly. However, I return diligent, excited, truly wiser, and with the most amazingly anticipated addition to our family.  Our son, affectionately known as, Herkamer Snooka Booka!
Wee one is a hiccupping giggler, roller-over, squealer, and cooer at three (3) months strong. With an ever developing adamant opinion, he has vowed to be Mommy’s companion and muse in the kitchen. 
Qualified: He drools profusely over talks of his first cheeseburger!
The journey I found myself traveling was of great blessing, depth, learning, intuitiveness, and COMEDY. I laughed “with” myself; often at “Why didn’t anyone ever tell me that?!?”, or “How did I never ask THAT question?” I’ve known pregnant woman all of my life, HOW did knowing THIS would happen escape me?!? I chalked it up to being single and oblivious. When I see the above picture of me nearly nine (9) months into this lifetime Odyssey, I can’t help but to smile in reflection looking forward with great anticipation.  
HALLELU, My love of EATING never failed me, WHEW!!! However, early on, I found myself devastated in that ANY creativity or scent emanating from the kitchen sent me reeling.  REEEEELING!  Jackson was more than happy to take over satisfying my spicy cravings. There wasn’t a day that I didn’t eat hot sauce. Truth be told, I should buy stock in Chalula.  Ironically, the hot sauce line is licensed by José Cuervo. I never missed drinking alcohol; however, thoughts of a good margarita during last summer’s heat waves linger. I’m now convinced there is a connection. 
If I didn’t want Mexican food, I wanted East Indian food, and some days I wanted and happily devoured both, with a side of Middle Eastern flavors.  A blessed pregnancy, with minimal incident, I did learn that I CANNOT eat a bag of UTZ Carolina Style BBQ potato chips with a Ritter Sport Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut candy bar for dessert – EVERYDAY.   
HA! It was great trying!  
One thing I was always sure of was that if we were lucky enough to have a baby shower, I wanted to muster the fortitude to get into the kitchen, and make my own guest favors.  I wanted to BAKE SOMETHING in honor of our son’s arrival. I had the idea before the pregnancy.
Baby onesie and paraphernalia sugar cookies were trending EVERYWHERE on the web. I was determined.
Not only were we lucky enough to have two showers, in Charleston and New York City, I was also able to pay the onesie cookie idea forward for a great friend currently expecting. Our Charleston shower was a unisex food, family, friends, and fun event for the ages! Our ladies-only New York shower was a deluge of creativity, boasting the fabulous onesie and burp cloth/cloth diaper decorating station.
BABY SHOWERS are quite aptly named: Truly splendid cloudbursts of Love and Great Anticipation!
Knowing what my family and friends are capable of cooperatively, I was on a mission with the onesie cookies.  With a little help from my friends at NY Cake Supplies and Education, I was able to make icing, decorate, wrap and package these take home gifts without ANY prior experience.
As practice increases ability, I look forward trying all sorts of holiday and birthday themed cookies.
Talk about Über-Super-Cute Fantastic!
Sugar Cookie Recipe
Doubled batch to make five (5) – six (6) dozen cookies, using 2-3” cookie cutter. For each shower, I had more than enough cookies to make baking and decorating testers and finalize thirty (30) packets, each containing two cookies.
Tweaked Barely from The Kitchn &
The Method: The Ingredients (Cookies)
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese (half of one pack), softened to room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Zest of one medium lemon
6 cups AP flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
The Madness: The Assembly
Preheat your oven to 350˚
In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese with the sugar. After beating the batter for several minutes, you will notice that the butter, cream cheese and sugar will develop a light fluffy texture. With my initial “H” batch of cookies, I didn’t add the cream cheese. So, don’t worry if you don’t have any or care to add the additional fat. 
Add and beat in the eggs, one at a time until each is fully incorporated.
Add vanilla extract and lemon zest.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture until fully incorporated and soft dough is formed.
Keeping It Real Disclosure: VERY helpful Hint from
This tip not only expedites your process in managing the baking of five (5) dozen cookies, but it also proves to be great for clean-up. 
At this point in the recipe you would chill your ball of cookie dough. Instead of waiting for your cookie dough ball to chill as one mass for at least an hour, take the freshly made dough and divide it into 3 or more baseball sized spheres.  Place each ball between two sheets of parchment paper. 
Flatten and roll each ball of dough between parchment paper to ⅛” - ¼” desired thickness.  Once you have finished rolling out each ball, place the rolled out parchment covered dough rounds onto a cookie sheet. Then place the cookie sheet into the refrigerator.  I can imagine that you could have one baking sheet topped with stacks of parchment covered dough, or stack as many baking sheets as you have available to alternate between baking.

Continue rolling out your dough between sheets of paper until you have used it all.  By the time you are finished rolling out each ball, the first batch will be completely chilled and ready to cut.  The parchment paper on top and on the bottom of the dough rounds is also genius in that once you remove the top layer parchment to cut your cookie shapes, and you’ve removed the excess cookie dough around the shapes, all of this prepping has been done with your bottom layer parchment still intact and ready to line your baking sheet.
Bonus: I also found that once I had cut out all of my cookies for each batch of dough, I placed all leftover dough in a communal bowl in the refrigerator and repeated the process until all I had was enough dough for one lone onesie! 

You’ve already preheated your oven, and your baking sheet(s) are already prepped with parchment paper because of your dough’s bottom sheet.
Bake cookies for six (6) to eight (8) minutes, depending on the calibration of your oven and thickness of your cookie. The edges around your cookie will just start to turn brown. Slide the parchment paper with the cookies on to a wire rack. Allow the cookies to cool before attempting to remove them from the parchment paper.
Cool completely before icing or decorating if you’re decorating the same day as baking. Otherwise, these cookies also store well in an airtight container if you need to keep them fresh before icing.
As for freshness, I’ve found that once placed into tied cellophane bags for packaging, these cookies can last up to two weeks. Maybe longer, we’ve simply managed to eat any remaining leftovers within that that time period.
As I’ve made these cookies twice: first using onesie and teddy bear cutters, secondly using onesie and bootie cutters, I learned a great lesson between these two batches. Specifically, since as of my second batch, we now had a three (3) month old.
As with any project, Time management is key.
My first batch, I only gave myself the evening before my shower to prepare and package the cookies. I was eight (8) months pregnant, and had a horrid day at work. Coupled with the fact that the recommended time to dry the icing is three (3) to twenty-four (24) hours (the longer the better), I only made cursory icing designs to ensure that the cookies could dry and be packaged on time.
As for my second batch, I broke the process in to a few days. Making and rolling out the dough took place on the first day. Cutting, baking and storing the finished cookies took place on the second day. Icing and packaging the cookies took place on the third day. Now that I have a bit more experience at both baking these cookies and managing a baby, I am sure that I can perform the same project in two afternoons, or twenty-four (24) hours to allow for drying time of the icing before packaging.
On to the icing.
The recipe for homemade royal icing never seemed complicated or filled with inaccessible ingredients, but as I was roaming the baking supply store, something even more efficient caught my eye - Royal Icing Mix. Until I become much more of an expert at these sugar cookie projects, I must admit, this mix worked great! Add water according to the packaging instructions, a little vanilla extract, and stir. When I wanted the icing to be thinner, I added a few drops at a time of lemon juice for added flavor. Royal icing thins quickly. I found it better to add liquid in drops at a time. Choose your color(s), and add those drops at a time to the royal icing until your desired color is reached.
For my first batch of cookies, I used disposable piping bags, and small tips to guide the icing. For my second project, I went with a simpler approach and filled squeeze bottles with colored royal icing. I smoothed the icing over with a small pastry brush. I tipped the squeeze bottles over into a glasses lined with a wet paper towels. The moisture from the paper town prevented the icing from drying and clogging the nozzle of the squeeze bottles. A trick I learned from The Shiksa.


This project was an inspired labor of love. I was like a child trying different techniques in art class with colors, squeeze bottles, and pastry brushes, hoping that in the end everyone else enjoyed the cookies as much I did.
I now know that they did.

xo, Bon Appégeechee


  1. This truly was a labour of love, you styled each onsie cookie my girl... just fabulous. What a great story, it really made me smile. During my pregnancy, I know I added significantly to the operating profit of Tabasco sauce. I think there was one week where I finished 3 bottles.... all by myself. Now? I think "Lord! That's kinda hot!" I know what you mean about the "Why didn't I know this?" moments. I think I (and the people around my throughout my life) knew that I would have kids. I LOVED babies when I was a little girl. Somehow along the way I did become "single and oblivious" to the point that when my first came along, I might have actually asked why babies cry and acted surprised that babies didn't sleep. Perhaps it was too much time spent reading books and advice notes which say "newborns sleep most of the time". Me: "Are you having a laugh????" That being said, I just think it is an experience like no other and no matter how many people told us what it would be like, we were to never fully know until we went through it. I trust you have a very blessed Easter and many blessings to come throughout this year. :)

    1. I had a HUGE LAUGH with lots of smiles! Thank you!!! Every pregnancy and baby is so different that it's always amazing to hear those threads that weave a common bond, and empathy!! Honey, the SLEEP progress of a baby is a conversation best had over a cupa strong tea! Academics, Learning, Organization, Being SEVERELY analytical professionally were all things that I'd pride myself on knowing a little something about. Motherhood, Parenthood is a tremendous equalizer. This baby doesn't care one iota about what you think you know.

      We have big laughs at ourselves plenty around these parts!

      I loved baking the cookies. I wanted to do something special on the outside for the little one that I was so connected to on the inside. I’m working out a batch in the next couple weeks that have a wedding theme. I look forward to sharing those!

      I do enjoy your chats!