Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookies are great to celebrate all sorts of holidays besides Christmas, like Thanksgiving!

Sugar cookies are great to celebrate all sorts of holidays besides Christmas, like Thanksgiving!


Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

I don't know about you but I used to think of traditional sugar cookies only for Christmas. Even with a healthy collection of cookie cutters, I tended to dust off that recipe around early December and make batches as gifts for people who had made our lives extra special earlier in the year.

When my office needed cookies for St. Patrick's Day, celebrated in March, I started to venture out past December and now, sugar cookies are a regular option when wanting to mark a special occasion, including Halloween.

Having a nice collection of food dyes and cookie decorating supplies makes the impulse easier. Some of the decorations don't have to be specifically cookie decor, miniature chocolate chips come in handy for a number of reasons.

So quick and easy, and a lot of fun, too!



Cookie Walks

Early December I start to plan to make cookies for the people who help make my life easier. After going through a number of vintage recipe books to mark the cookies I intend to make, I remember there is a much easier, and quicker option: cookie walks!

Must be a midwestern tradition because I don't remember seeing any on either coast when I was working there. Usually women's groups offer them; the ones I know are associated with churches and their Christmas bazaars.

I picked up a pound of homemade cookies myself today, focusing on a nice variety: sugar cookies, snickerdoodles, oatmeal raisin, pecan rolls and there was a cute little snowman with sugar button eyes that never made it back to the house.

Not sure what the red cookies are but they looked festive. The green ones have chocolate chips and mint flavoring.

One pound of cookies, measured on a very old scale owned by one of the cookie baker's great grandmothers, cost $6.

You don't see any snickerdoodles? 

Oh, wait, I chose those for my quality control testing. They went the way of the snowman sugar cookie. Humm, may need to go back and get more cookies!


Stockpile Tin Containers

There are few more welcoming gifts than a tin of homemade cookies.

It could be a thank you to your neighbor or a "thinking of you" gift for someone deployed overseas.

The container keeps cookies fresh and in one piece.

Look for containers without any rust.

Wash in dishwasher.

Hunt for ones with favorite themes, like flowers.

What tins do you like to collect?


Picking Cookie Cutters

My younger brothers always took the job of picking out what cookie cutters to use very seriously. I'm sure it was the engineers in them coming out at an early age.

Cookie cutters with a lot of small pieces can be a challenge for young kids to use. Wider cookies with less angles are easier to cut, and move, to waiting cookie sheets.

Cookie cutters with narrow sections can also be difficult to move. I use a flour-dusted metal spatula to carefully remove the cut cookie from the cutting board. The metal spatula helps prevent the cookie dough from breaking and ensures the cookie gets to the cookie sheet in one piece. When waiting, uncooked dough rests on clean dish towels.

Plastic cups, jar lids and small tins can also be used as cookie cutters. One year we couldn't find cookie cutters in the shapes we wanted so we used new sand toy shapes. Apply a little butter or shortening before dusting with flour and the cookie dough will get a clean cut.


Homemade Cookie Flavors

Besides sugar sprinkles, I also regularly check my supply of food flavoring and food colors. Well, not really but I should, I noticed I'm almost out of my favorite flavoring, lemon. 

Making a basic cookie dough and changing the flavoring is a quick way to develop different-tasting cookies.

Once you have the dough almost made, divide the dough and add different flavorings to easily make different cookies. For the basic cookie use pure vanilla. It does make a difference in the final cookie flavor.

You can also add food coloring to cookie dough to easily make different-colored sugar cookies. When I separate the cookie dough and add different flavors, I tend to add food coloring to easily know which cookies are what flavors.


Sugar Cookie Sprinkles

There are few things more frustrating than starting to make decorated sugar cookies and not having what you need to finish them. That's why I keep some basics around just in case there's a cookie "emergency."

Sugar sprinkles are a basic. Over the years, my most used colors have been red and green sugar sprinkles, followed by yellow. If you don't have any sprinkles and know what sugar cookie cutters you're going to use, you can better decide what sugar sprinkles to get. I also make sure to keep tiny milk chocolate chips, dark raisins, chopped walnuts and almond slices on hand. These come in handy for eyes, buttons and wings.

If you are short on time,  use sugar sprinkles. They're fast, easily add some color variety, and are a holiday favorite.

I also make sugar cookies with sprinkles for special occasions throughout the year with non-holiday cookie cutters. When using sugar sprinkles, add lemon as flavoring to the cookie dough, or divide between vanilla and lemon. Lemon flavoring will make the cookies less sweet and help balance the extra sugar on top.