Mark your calendars – the 2014 LOSC Airman Cookie Drive will happen on Wednesday 10 December! On that day, we’ll take thousands of donated holiday cookies to the dorm residents, ready rooms, and first responders all over Joint Base Langley-Eustis. The 2013 drive saw 23,000 cookies delivered to over 2,000 individuals and 25 locations in our JBLE community. With your help, we can make this year bigger and better than ever!
How can you help?
Make cookies. We welcome any and all donations; we especially welcome donations of not-chocolate-chip-cookies. Need some creative ideas? See below.
Volunteer for the traying party. We’ll be collecting donations at the Langley Club from 6:00 to 10:00 AM on Wednesday 10 Dec and making trays until early afternoon. Consider joining us for all or part of the day – it’s fun and easy.
Volunteer to help with cookie pickup at local churches, schools, and other organizations on the afternoons of Sunday 7 Dec, Monday 8 Dec, and/or Tuesday 9 Dec.
Have questions, or want to volunteer? Email the Chief Cookie, Leanne, at Leanne.Powner@gmail.com or call 330-347-4542.
Additional donation collection locations on Sunday 7 Dec. Monday 8 Dec, and Tuesday 9 Dec will be available; see below for details.
Cookie Do’s and Don’ts: Tips for Cookie Success
• DO allow cookies to cool completely before packaging. If they still bend or flex at all, they’re not cool; they’ll stick together in a pile and we may not be able to use them. Most regular cookies need at least an hour; bar cookies often take longer.
• DON’T send us any container you want back. Package your goodies in a disposable container with a clear label of the contents. Sharpie on a baggie works fine, as does foil in a shoebox or the like. We aren’t able to return any containers.
• DO think colorful. If you’re making sugar cookies, consider icing them or using colored sugar to make them pop. See below for easy decorating ideas. Substitute holiday-colored morsels from Nestlé or holiday-colored M&Ms for chocolate chips.
• DON’T constrain yourself to just ordinary cookies! Consider bar cookies, brownie bites, macaroons, brittle, fudge, fruitcake bites… Anything your family likes, our airmen will eat!
• DO check the recommended temperature for your cookies. If you’re using a non-stick cookie sheet and your recipe doesn’t explicitly call for one, you will generally need to reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees and/or bake for the shortest time listed. Dark and/or coated trays hold heat better than matte finish aluminum ones, so cookies bake faster and get darker on the bottom.
Cheater’s Guide to Holiday Baking
Every year we get thousands of chocolate chip cookies. They’re good, but variety is the spice of life and of cookie trays. Here are some easy alternatives:
• Oatmeal cookies, peanut butter cookies (or almond/cashew/etc. butter)
• Cocoa cookies with peanut butter chips (swap 1/4c cocoa powder for flour in your favorite chocolate chip recipe and use PB chips); white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies (with cranberries, mmmm)
• No bake chocolate-oatmeal cookies (or s’mores no-bakes or Almond Joy no-bakes), peanut butter bars, chocolate blossoms, or Buckeyes
• Rice cereal treats with holiday-colored sprinkles or chips, or their “holly cookie” variant.
• Brownie bites. Toss a couple handfuls of holiday M&M’s or Andes chips into the mix or scatter on top of the batter for seasonal pizzazz.
• Cake mix cookies. Start with a box of chocolate cake mix as a base. Add three simple ingredients and your choice of chunkies. The possibilities are endless! Recipe below!
• Biscotti. Use your favorite boxed muffin mix as a base, then dress them up however you like. Recipe below!
• Chocolate covered pretzels. Melt chips or wafers over low heat in a double-boiler. Spoon over pretzels, allow excess chocolate to drip off for 15-20 seconds, then lay out on waxed paper and garnish with sprinkles or chopped nuts. (Microwave melting is not recommended, but you may cautiously do it by microwaving chocolate in a glass or ceramic bowl for 30 seconds, stir well [10-15 seconds, seriously], then additional 10 second intervals stirring well between each until chocolate is fully melted and smooth.)
• Candies. Tons of easy truffle ideas are out there, some with as few as three or four ingredients (ground-up Oreos + cream cheese dunked in chocolate? YES PLEASE!). Caramels, fudge, and other yummy treats are also great.
Still not finding anything that moves you into the kitchen? We happily accept packages of individually-wrapped holiday candy such as mints, mini candy canes, Hershey’s Kisses or Minis, etc. Please, no store-bought cookies.
Easy Cookie Recipes!
Based on http://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/128582/Blueberry-White-Morsels-Biscotti/detail.aspx.
The original recipe calls for blueberry muffin mix and white chocolate chips. I’ve also done cranberry-orange muffin mix with dark chocolate chips; chocolate chip muffin mix with milk chocolate and white chocolate chips for a triple-chip biscotti; and lemon poppyseed with either dark or white chocolate chips.
My slightly modified recipe: Combine dry muffin mix, 1 c flour, ½ c melted butter, 2 lightly beaten eggs, any drained fruit from the mix, and 1-1.5 c chips. Form into two logs 3” wide and ½” thick; bake at 350 degrees 25 min or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 1 hr. Cut into ½” slices. Stand slices on a cookie sheet with space between them; toast 10-12 min in 350 degree oven. Chocolate drizzle is optional.
Cake Mix Cookies
Mix one box of dark chocolate cake mix, 1/2 c flour, 2 eggs, and 1/4 c oil; fold in chunkies. Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet in rounded teaspoonfuls. Bake at 350 for 8-9 minutes. Chunky options: Reese’s pieces, Andes peppermint or mint chips, Hershey’s holiday morsels, etc. Feeling fancy? Try chopped pecans and Kraft ready-for-cooking caramel balls for a turtle cookie, or shredded coconut and chopped almonds for an Almond Joy cookie. The Frugal Girls blog has a bunch of other variation suggestions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What should I make?
A: Anything you like! Grandma’s peanut brittle, your secret recipe sugar cookies, the kids’ favorite peanut butter kisses, brownie bites… The possibilities are endless. Some favorite easy treats are linked below. Think variety: what do you love to see on a holiday cookie tray?
Q: I’m not a baker. Can I still help?
A: You bet! We happily welcome donations of gallon-size zip-top plastic bags, as well as contributions of individually wrapped holiday colored candy, mini candy canes, and no-bake goodies. See the ideas below for some easy no-bake recipes. Individuals with base access can also help on Dec 10 with making the trays and/or delivering them to community first responder sites.
Q: What about nuts or other allergy stuff like that?
No need to worry, or even put special labels on items. Generally, individuals with severe allergies are not eligible to serve in the military. Those with more mild allergies are able to look after themselves and trade as needed for things they can eat.
Q: Do students get service credit for this?
A: Of course! Generally, three dozen cookies (one batch) counts for an hour of service. Many local schools are helping out through their service clubs, so check with them about conversion rates. We regret that we are generally unable to provide personal acknowledgement of donations. Group participation will be acknowledged on our website after 1 January 2015.
Q: How should I package my goodies?
A: First, allow cookies or other baked goods to cool completely before packaging. Second, use only containers you do need returned – we are unable to return tins, trays, etc. Zip top bags are the most common. Finally, if your item is likely to smash or crumble (for example, brownie bites, chocolate peanut butter no-bakes), please consider wrapping items individually in plastic wrap. This is optional, but it helps us a lot by preserving your contributions and making them easy for us to place on trays.
Donation Collection Sites
You are welcome to bring your contribution to the Langley Club on Wednesday 10 Dec from 6-10 AM (for those with base access), or to drop it off at any of the sites below. Additional community and church sites are still being added; check back later for more locations and times!
Poquoson Public Schools – all schools, Tuesday 9 Dec. High School: 7-7:30, Middle School: TBA, Elementary School: TBA, Primary School: TBA
Langley Club – Langley AFB Wednesday, 6-10 AM
Additional locations will be added through 1 December.
Easy Sugar Cookie Decorating
Sprinkle colored sugar on unbaked cookies (drop or cut-out); press lightly to adhere. Make your own colored sugar by combining 1-2 drops food coloring with 2 tablespoons of white sugar. Mix until color is uniform. Resist the urge to add more food coloring – just keep mixing. Bake cookies as directed.
Go Jackson Pollock on them (see http://www.artchive.com/artchive/P/pollock.html#images , especially 1948-53). Cover workspace with a cut-open trash bag (not newspaper). Spread a dozen or so totally cooled cookies on the work surface in a fairly compact pattern. Make a moderately thick royal icing (powdered sugar + milk or water + food coloring) in several colors – it should come off a spoon smoothly but not ooze all over when dripped on the counter. Christmas can go red, white and green; Hanukkah in shades of blue with some white; Kwanzaa in green, red, black, and yellow; etc. Use a large spoon to drizzle, swirl, spatter, or otherwise disperse icing onto the cookies. Change icing colors often for a colorful, layered look. Don’t overdo it – you should still see some cookie under the icing. Kids love helping with this one; use the bathtub as your workspace for easy cleanup.