Valentine’s Day was a day of community service for us this year.  My son’s school requires its freshmen to complete 15 hours of community service with an organization servicing the elderly, and we found that the opportunities for service were not as abundant as we would have thought, at least not on weekends, when the boys didn’t have school.  This year, the boys were off on Valentine’s Day, so we came up with a Valentine’s Day idea.  The boys spent an afternoon packaging up homemade cookies (made by yours truly) to deliver to nursing home residents and to use as favors at Bingo sponsored by our community’s Senior Services.

OK, I’ll admit, they didn’t really love packaging up the cookies, tying them with ribbons, and attaching a handwritten sentiment — 100 altogether.  But they approached it with a good attitude, and when they saw the smiles on the recipients’ faces, I think they realized the value in the exercise.  At least I hope they did.


Keep up the good work, boys — only 98 more to go!

They also delivered potted hyacinths to some homebound senior ladies, which turned out to be a lot of fun.  The ladies were as tickled to receive them as the boys were to deliver them.  One of the boys kept the list of women we delivered to, because “he might want to do this again next year.”  It was a good day.

The cookies I made for the boys to hand out were Crisp Sparkly Sugar Cookies.  The original recipe I clipped was called “World’s Best Sugar Cookies,” but I personally hate calling anything “World’s Best” or “Best Ever” — got to manage expectations.  Think of the “World’s Best Coffee” scene in “Elf”:

I thought staying away from nuts and chocolate was probably a good idea in this case, and these simple cookies are easy and tasty.  Besides, we’re suckers for sprinkles and colored sugars!  I’m thinking I might just make another batch with green, gold, and purple sugars for Mardi Gras.

Recipe type: Cookies
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for coating cookies
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Colored sugar for decorating (optional)
  1. Place oil and butter in a large mixing bowl, and beat with an electric mixer until blended Add powdered sugar and 1 cup granulated sugar, and beat well. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt, mixing until thoroughly combined. Chill covered in refrigerator at least 2 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Put approximately 1 cup sugar in a small bowl (add more, as necessary). Using your hands, roll dough into 1-inch balls, then roll in granulated sugar. Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly, using the bottom of a lightly greased glass dipped in sugar (do not flatten cookies too thin). Sprinkle cookies with colored sugar, if using. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes, until light brown at edges. Transfer to racks to cool.


 Rolled, susgared, and ready for the oven


They crisp up as they cool


See — crisp AND sparkly!


We really enjoyed meeting my son’s teachers at “Follow Your Son’s Schedule” night this week.  When we stopped by the refreshment tables on the way out, I saw that the Clipper Chippers had disappeared, there was one Potato Chip Cookie left, and a few of these Nutella Crinkles lingered.

Next week I think I’ll invite my son’s teachers to our home to “Follow Your Student’s Schedule” after school.  Maybe I can get some of them to volunteer to bring casseroles, so that when he comes downstairs for a brief appearance around 6:00 p.m. and asks “what’s for dinner,” I’ll have an answer for him.  :)

These Nutella Crinkles were my son’s favorite of the three batches of cookies I brought to school.  I clipped the original recipe years ago from a Gold Medal booklet, but you can find it here on the Betty Crocker website.

Recipe type: Cookies
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup Nutella
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1-3/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup white coarse oir sparkling sugar crystals
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together. sugar, Nutella, butter, vanilla, and egg with an electric mixer. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt, mixing until thoroughly combined.
  3. Place sugar crystals in a shallow dish or bowl. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar crystals. Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheet, approximately 2 inches apart.
  4. Bake until cookies are puffed and edges are set, approximately 9 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for a minute or two before removing to wire rack to cool completely.



Rolled in sugar crystals and ready for the oven




Hot from the oven


Ooooh, sparkly!