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A Cookie Exchange Will Save Time At Christmas

A Cookie Exchange Will Save Time At Christmas

Cookie Exchange Will Save Time at Christmas

The weeks before Christmas are very busy for all of us. We want a variety of Christmas cookies and goodies, but where can we find the time? Trying to balance shopping, cleaning, wrapping and baking can cause a lot of stress. Some baking stress can be eliminated by organizing a cookie exchange with some friends.

A Christmas cookie exchange allows us to have a variety of Christmas treats while only baking a few kinds of cookies. It works by finding 4 to 6 friends who are willing to bake 2 large batches of cookies. If we get 5 friends to do the cookie exchange, and each baked a large batch of 2 recipes to share, then each of us will end up with up with a variety of 10 different holiday cookies for family and friends. The exchange works best if you triple the batch so each person can get 2 dozen cookies from the bakers.

Two large batch recipes, perfect for sharing with members of your Christmas cookie exchange group, are favorites with my family and are listed below. In my family, one recipe is made only at Christmas, which is listed first, called DIVINITY. Another favorite Christmas cookie, Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies, is listed second. DIVINITY 8 cups sugar, 2 cups light corn syrup, 1 & ½ cup water, 6 egg whites, 3 teaspoons vanilla & 2 cups broken nuts. Stir first 3 ingredients in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Cook, without stirring, until a bead forms when small amount is dropped in cold water. Remove from heat.

In large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; slowly add the hot syrup, thin stream. Add vanilla, beat until mixture holds its shape, fold in nuts. Drop by buttered spoon onto waxed paper. Recipe makes 12 dozen candies.

Note: Use 3 tablespoons less water on humid days.

TOLL HOUSE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES 6 & ¾ cups all-purpose flour, 3 tsp. baking soda, 3 tsp. salt, 3 cups (6 sticks, softened) butter, 2 & ¼ cup granulated sugar, 2 & ½ cup packed brown sugar, 3 tsp. vanilla extract, 6 large eggs, 3 (10 oz) bags of NESTLE TOLL HOUSE morsels, 3 cups nuts.

PREHEAT oven 350′. COMBINE flour, baking soda & salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar & vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet. BAKE for 11 to 13 minutes, until edges are golden. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet then remove to cooling racks. Recipe makes 12 & ½ dozen cookies.

Note: If omitting nuts, add 5 tablespoons of flour.

Keeping with the Christmas spirit, it’s fun to make the exchange an “affair to remember”. Have a little party for fellow bakers with drinks and snacks.

About the Author – CDMohata writes for Myspace Comments.By CDMohatta
Published: 10/30/2007

Posted by admin in Articles and tagged with christmas, cookie articles, cookie exchanges

How to Make Your Own Homemade Cookie Bouquets

How to Make Your Own Homemade Cookie Bouquets

We’ve all seen them. Clusters of big, gourmet cookies, individually wrapped in shiny, colored cellophane, with bows and ribbons. They come in many styles and with different treats, toys or gift items attached to or inside a basket or vase of some sort. They make a terrific and edible gift idea. After all, who doesn’t love cookies? Sadly, they can be very expensive gifts, especially when considering that cookies don’t cost a whole lot to bake.

Here’s how to make your own cookie bouquets at home without spending a fortune!

What You Will Need:

* Chopsticks or Wooden Skewers – Make sure they are heat-proof. If you’re baking smaller cookies, then popsicle sticks would also work.

* Cookies – Find a delicious cookie recipe that makes larger size cookies, your favorite or your gift recipients favorite will do fine.

* Container – This needs to be a sturdy container that is a bit bottom heavy, especially if you plan to include more than a few big cookies. You can try putting some pebbles in the bottom to make sure the container won’t tip over, if needed. Some ideas for containers include: a coffee mug, a metal or plastic pail, a basket, a vase, a planter, cookie jar or glass jar, glass bottle, a toy or wood box of some sort, teapot, porcelain or pottery serving ware.

* Cellophane – The shiny, colored kind looks best, but the colored plastic wrap you get at your local supermarket would work too.

* Ribbon – The curly kind works well for this. Any colors you like.

* Decorations – Anything goes! What’s appropriate to the occasion and what does the gift recipient like? Some ideas include: stuffed animals, small toys, candy, balloons, fake or real flowers, stickers or whatever you find at the local craft store.

* Block of styrofoam or florists foam – You know that stereo you bought last December? You probably kept the box, just search your garage for some spare, clean, styrofoam.

* Something to cover up the styrofoam or florist’s foam – You can use a big ribbon, some moss, plastic grass, tissue paper crumpled up or whatever else you have handy.

Instructions:

1. When you place the cookie dough on the cookie sheet, press the dough down a bit to flatten it so that it doesn’t spread too much while baking and so that the stick can be inserted properly. Before you bake the cookies, you must insert the chopstick or wooden skewer into one side of each cookie. Push it in almost the length of the cookie without going out the other end. This is an important step, as if your cookie is too big and your stick is not sturdy enough, it simply won’t hold it and the cookie may fall apart when you pick it up. When baking big cookies, you probably won’t be able to fit more than 3 cookies with their sticks to a sheet.

2. After baking the cookies with their sticks, cool the cookies thoroughly, then wrap each one with the colored cellophane. A different color for each cookie would be ok, or all the same color appropriate to the occassion. Tie each one with some curly ribbon at the base where the stick comes out of the cookie. Tie it very tightly so the cookies will stay fresh on the stick. You can adorn each cookie with additional, larger ribbons or bows at this point. When using curly ribbon, don’t forget to curl it!

3. Now cut your styrofoam or florist’s foam to the size of the top of the container you chose. Then fit the foam in so it is nice and tight and near the top of the container. Remember, you can place something heavier in the bottom of the container so that it does not tip over. Small pebbles work well for this. Remember that the sticks will poke through the foam and into the bottom of the container.

4. Here comes the fun part, let’s assemble the cookie bouquet! Take each of your cookies and stick them through the foam so they go all the way through the foam and further, near to the bottom of the container. You can assemble the cookies in any manner you like, but most cookie bouquets have one cookie at the center that is taller than the other cookies, so keep that in mind. Decorate with additional ribbons, toys, candy, flowers, gifts etc. Each item can be attached with additional ribbon to the container or the sticks of the cookies or even with a glue gun (if appropriate).

5. Give your gift and watch the smiles! Make sure to give the bouquet as soon as possible after you have assembled it, you don’t want the cookies to go stale!

Tips:

Make sure you bake enough cookies for your container, if baking small cookies, you may run out if you are filling a large container. Always bake more than enough. Surely your extras won’t go to waste.

Bake both large and small cookies and use them both in the bouquet for a nice varied look like a more traditional flower bouquet.

More Ideas:

Some cookie bouquets use cutout cookies, these can be fun to make and decorate. Use your favorite sugar cookie cutout recipe and cut into shapes appropriate for the occasion. For cutout cookies to work, you may want to double your sugar cookie recipe as the cookies need to be nice and thick for the stick to go through them. For this type of cookie, wooden skewers will work best, chopsticks may be too thick. Then decorate the cookies with frosting. No need for colored cellophane with these cookies, use regular plastic wrap or clear cellophane so that the beauty of your hand decorated cookies shines through.

Remember, your cookie bouquet doesn’t need to look professional, it’s the homemade touch that makes it a truly special gift.

Ricky Alberta is the editor of Cookie-Recipes.net, the premiere website for cookie recipes of all kinds including chocolate chip, sugar, peanut butter and Christmas cookie recipes, cookie baking tips, a cookie blog and message boards.

Posted by admin in Articles and tagged with cookie articles, cookie bouquets

The History of Cookie Decorating

The History of Cookie Decorating

We can thank the Swiss for bringing the cookie decorating tradition to life. Their now famous springerle cookies were the very first decorated cookies. These sweet, but hard, cookies are pressed into molds and pop out featuring the most intricately designed cookies you have ever seen. The first molds were discovered from the 14th century and are now considered national treasures and held in Swiss museums.

The Swiss also used rolling pins cleverly carved with designs to roll out highly ornate cookies. The images on these cookies rival the finest artwork of the master painters and sculptors. Decorators soon realized that they could combine egg yolks and food dyes to paint these cookies. Some even paint the cookies for decoration only with paint. Of course, you can’t eat these beauties, but they will last and last and become a favorite holiday decoration.

The first scenes on cookies were from the Bible. Because people were largely illiterate in ancient times, these cookies served as a way to tell important Bible messages to everyone. Even if you couldn’t read the words, you could look at these beautiful images and understand the concepts they portrayed.

The Germans were next to promote cookie decorating. Back in medieval times, they made gingerbread, called Lebkuchen. The cookies were so revered that a guild of artisans called the Lebkuchen Guild banned together to make a law that only their members could bake gingerbread. The ban was lifted each year for the high holidays of Christmas and Easter. The common people, if they could afford the ingredients, were allowed to make their own gingerbread at these two times of the year.

Gingerbread cookie decorating spread throughout the world and during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I gingerbread cookies adorned with gold were given to court visitors. Master gingerbread decorators started to promote their gorgeous creations as Christmas ornaments.

In 1812, the Grimm Brothers published their now famous story, Hansel and Gretel. This classic tale of two children who encounter a witch who lives in an ornately decorated gingerbread house in the forest inspired a new love of the gingerbread cookie. Soon tinsmiths couldn’t keep up with the demand for cookie cutters and molds designed to help bakers create elaborate gingerbread houses of their own. German cookie cutters are still prized today as among the best made and highly sought after by collectors.

Today cookie bakers can’t imagine the holidays without decorated cookies. The popularity of Royal Icing has made home cookie decorating fun. It’s easy to create interesting and realistic motifs on cookies using Royal Icing. This confectioner sugar-based icing dries rock hard, so once its set, it won’t smear or run. This makes it ideal for decorating cookies that need to last through the season on the tree or that need to travel. You can eat Royal Icing, of course, but most cookies that are heavily decorated in Royal Icing tend to be treasured as ornaments rather than eaten.

If you’re looking into cookie decorating this year for your own holiday celebrations, you have more resources than you could ever imagine at your disposal. Visit a craft store and browse their cookie and cake decorating aisle. You will marvel at the tools and colors available for you to get started with.

Betty Ann Sherman is a mother and a baker of tasty treats. She has a special passion for baking cookies, pies, cakes, and everything wonderful. Check back for updates from Betty on her delicious treat adventures.

Posted by admin in Articles and tagged with cookie articles, cookie decorating

An Easy Way to Dye Cookie Dough

An Easy Way to Dye Cookie Dough

Have you ever dyed cookie dough and found it incredibly hard to get it evenly incorporated into the dough? I have! And trust me if you have not had that experience, it’s not fun and really frustrating. Plus, when you are kneading the dough trying to incorporate the color, your hands get dyed with the coloring (if you are not wearing gloves), your hands start to hurt and your cookies come out spotty or marbled. So, this simple method should solve those problems for you.

Recently while making our annual plethora of Christmas cookies, my mom and I discovered that there is a much easier and simple way to dye your cookie dough and have the dough come out evenly colored. It is so simple that I wonder why I never thought of it before when it was staring me in the face. What is this method that I have to know, you ask. Well, let me tell you.

While you are assembling all your ingredients and you have your dry ingredients and your wet ingredients ( eggs, milk, extracts, etc.), simply add your food coloring into your wet ingredients. You can even give your wet ingredients a little stir to incorporate the food color to make sure that it’s thoroughly dispersed and mixed in. And there you have it, a simple and quick way to have evenly colored dough!

Note though, that some recipes you can not add the coloring in to the wet because you simply have no choice and it might alter the consistency or the final product of the cookie dough.

Vanessa Ghilarducci invites you to check out her blog, Love to Bake at http://bakingobssessed.blogspot.com and become a follower. For more tips, suggestions and recipes visit http://bakingobssessed.blogspot.com.

Posted by admin in Articles and tagged with cookie articles, cookie dough

Fun Things For Kids – Cookie Exchange at Preschool

Fun Things For Kids – Cookie Exchange at Preschool

Last year I had my first experience with Preschool. I have to say that at every turn I seemed to not be quite with the program when it came to the holidays and the treats or gifts that went with each one.

Halloween – My child got a goodie bag from each of the children in her class. We did not hand out any. We didn’t know that we needed to.

Thanksgiving – My child got a small gift from her teacher. We did not give her teacher anything. I didn’t realize that Thanksgiving was a gift giving holiday in school.

So, 10 weeks into the school year I am feeling very guilty about not knowing the protocol for holidays and gifts. I was determined to make amends in the upcoming holidays.

Christmas – My child got a gift bag from her teacher and a gift or card from each child in her class. I sat up until the wee hours of the morning with little foam stockings, foam letter and ribbon making a little personalized tree ornament for each of my daughters classmates. I also made a little picture frame for her teacher and included a picture of the two of them from the beginning of the year. Whew, I think that I did OK on that one.

Valentine’s Day – My child got a Valentine…AND a bag of treats…from each student in the class. I sat down with my child to help her print out 15 Valentine’s Day cards. She had to write TO: their name and FROM: her name. She is not great at printing small letters so she would run out of room…cry because it was wrong…start all over again. Good thing we had 2 boxes of cards. I also had to do 15 cards for my 2 year old. I did not know to send goodie bags for this one though.

Easter – My child got Easter treats from her teacher. She gave her teacher a special picture that she had colored. I hope that was good enough.

End of the Year – OK, this was the big one. My child got a gift bag and card from her teacher. I had gone out and bought a small set of candles ($10) for her teacher and the assistant. We also had to buy for my son’s teacher and assistant, the music teacher and the preschool director. I tried to pick out something that I would like as a gift from a student.

So, what conclusion did I come to? The expectations for gifts in PRESCHOOL (where we live) are ridiculous. Did I mention that I was the one doing all the work for the gifts that she was going to give out? Oh yeah, then there is the fact that all this gift giving can get a little costly!!

I am boycotting any gift giving this year. We are making cookies. All kids love cookies right?

For Halloween we made special cookies for the class. I bought the ones that come out of the “can” and have the Halloween decorations already in them. It couldn’t have been easier.

Didn’t have to do Thanksgiving because we were going out of town J Bonus for me!!

My enlightened moment came when I was contemplating what to do for Christmas. This is no way that I am going to have time to be “crafty”. We are going to have a COOKIE EXCHANGE in each of the kid’s classrooms!!!

Here is how it will work:

Each child will bring 2 dozen of their favorite cookies.

Now, I realize that the moms are going to have to do some work here but it will be faster than making decorations and cheaper than buying a gift. The great thing is that you can do this with your kids. My kids love to cook with me. There is always a mess to clean up but there are always smiling faces at the end of it. OK, back to the great idea!!

On the cookie exchange day the parents will send their child to school with the cookies and a plastic container with a lid.

The children will set out their cookies on a table and then go around the table with their plastic container taking 1 cookie of each kind until all the cookies are gone. They can put the lid on the cookies and bring them home. They can think of their friends and enjoy cookies over the entire Christmas Break.

I will get my daughter a package of Christmas cards so that she can write one for each of her friends and her teacher. Her printing is so much better this year but I will get big cards just in case J. There, the “gifts” are done.

So, I have saved myself time and money and therefore my sanity will still be in tact at the time of year I need it most.

I hope that many of you moms can relate to what I went through last year. I just don’t want to be the only one who feels like an idiot for messing up the gift and card thing. Please use this cookie exchange idea. Claim it as your own idea J I won’t mind a bit. Just promise me that you will let me know how it all goes.

Happy (a little bit more sane) Holidays!!

Dayna Palmer is a mother of 3 children – 1 girl and 2 boys – ages 5, 3, and 1 and lives in Roanoke, VA. She is actively involved in bringing parents and kids together with area businesses and organizations through her popular kids website. Dayna Palmer’s website Roanoke4Kids.com provides families with a local events calendar, kid friendly businesses and organization, job listings for childcare workers, a classified buy & sell forum and other local kid worthy information. RoanokeForKids.com is the only website in the Roanoke area dedicated to “all things kids”.

Posted by admin in Articles and tagged with cookie articles, cookie exchanges

Dog Treat Recipes: Only The Best for your Best Friend

Dog Treat Recipes: Only The Best for your Best Friend

People always ask me to recommend some high quality treats for their furry friends and I always lovingly suggest that the best way to make sure your pup has the best is to read the labels! Make sure the ingredients in your treats are all natural. The fewest number of ingredients listed is always best. Also, a good rule of thumb is to make sure there is nothing in the ingredient listing that is hard to pronounce. Ingredients like: chicken, duck, lamb, rice, sweet potato – these are all excellent. Ingredients like By-Products, preservatives, and additives are usually to be avoided.

For those who have the time and want to experiment and make some treats for their dogs, here are some recipes I like:

Apple Crunch Pupcakes

2 3/4 cups water
1/4 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup dried apple chips ( you can also use fresh fruit)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 egg, beaten slightly
4 tablespoons honey Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tin with cooling spray. Mix all wet ingredients thoroughly. Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl. Add wet to dry slowly , scraping well to make sure no dry mixture is left. Pour into muffin tins. Bake for 1 1/4 hours or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out dry. Store in a sealed container. Makes around 12-14 pupcakes.

Archie Squares

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup powdered dry milk
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. brown sugar or honey
6 tbs. meat or bacon drippings, cold right from refrigerator, not melted or soft!
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup Ice water

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly oil a cookie sheet. Combine flour, dry milk, garlic powder and sugar. Cut in meat drippings until mixture resembles corn meal. Mix in egg. Add enough water so that mixture forms a ball. Using your fingers, pat out dough onto cookie sheet to 1/2″ thick. Cut dough into squares appropriate for your dog size. Prick each cookie with fork. Bake 25-30 minutes. Remove from tray and cool on rack. Store in airtight container.

Bad Breath Banishers

2 cups brown rice flour
1 Tablespoon activated charcoal (find this at drugstores, not the briquets!)
3 Tablespoons canola oil
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2/3 cup low fat milk

Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly oil a cookie sheet. Combine flour and charcoal. Add all the other ingredients. Drop teaspoonfuls on oiled sheet, about 1 inch apart. Bake 15-20 minutes. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

Bait Snacks

½ cup warm water
1/2 cup powdered dry milk
1 pound liver, chopped
½ cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup corn meal
1 cup whole wheat flour

Liquefy liver and water in food processor. Pour into a mixing bowl and add all the other ingredients. Mix well and pour onto greased cookie sheet. Spread evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cut quickly into squares while hot (or use cookie cutter) . Store in freezer. Variation: You can substitute ½ cup peanut butter instead of the liver and garlic.

Banana Biscotti

5 cups flour
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cups banana, pureed
2 teaspoons vanilla
water

Preheat oven to 325F. Place dry ingredients in large bowl. Make a well in the center. Blend egg, oil and banana together. Add into the dry ingredients in well. start combining together. Add water, one teaspoon at a time as needed. Knead by hand on table until mixed thoroughly. Form into logs approximately 2″ – 2 1/2″ high. Flatten so that log iis 6″ — 7″ wide by 1″ high. Place on non-stick baking sheets or lightly greased ones. Bake 30 – 40 minutes. Remove and cool for 10 minutes. Slice into 1/2″ – 3/4″ slices. Place on baking sheets and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool. Store in airtight container.

Bowser Biscuits

1 pkg. dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups flour
2 cups warm chicken or beef broth
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup powdered milk
1 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup margarine or butter
2 cups cracked wheat
1/4 cup honey
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 Egg; Beaten

In small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. In large bowl combine broth, powdered milk, margarine, honey, egg. Add yeast/water and mix well. Stir in flour, cornmeal, wheat germ and cracked wheat. Mix well. Add whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Knead in the final amounts of flour by hand and continue kneading for 4-5 minutes until dough is not sticky. Pat or roll dough to 1/2″ thickness and cut into bone shapes. Place on a greased cookie sheet, cover lightly and let set for 20 minutes. Bake in a 350F. oven for 45 minutes. Turn off heat and leave in oven several hours or over night. Makes approximately 3 1/2 pounds.

Cheese Multi-Grain Dog Biscuits

1 cup uncooked Oatmeal
1/4 cup butter or bacon drippings
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups hot water
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup powdered Milk
1 cup wheat germ
4 oz (1 cup) grated cheese
3 cups whole wheat flour

In large bowl pour hot water over oatmeal and butter/bacon drippings; let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in powdered milk, grated cheese, egg. Add cornmeal and wheat germ. Mix well. Add flour, 1/3 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Knead 3-4 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to make a very stiff dough. Pat or roll dough to 1/2″ thickness. Cut into shapes and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour at 300F. Turn off heat and dry in oven for 1 1/2 hours or longer. Makes approximately 2 1/4 pounds.

Cheesie Bacon Biscuits

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick margarine, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups regular oats, uncooked
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
2/3 cup wheat germ
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked crisp, drained, and crumbled

Combine flour, soda and salt; mix well and set aside. Cream butter and sugar; beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture, mixing well. Stir in remaining ingredients. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 16 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for a minute or so before removing to cooling rack.

Cheesie Bites

1 cup wheat flour
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon soft butter or margarine
1/2 cup milk

Mix flour and cheese together. Add the softened butter. Slowly add milk till you form a stiff dough. You may not need all of the milk. Knead on floured board for a few minutes. Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into shapes and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 350 degrees oven for 15 minutes. Let cool in oven with the door slightly open till cold and firm. Refrigerate to keep fresh.

Chicken Liver Cookies 

2 cups Flour
3 tbs. Vegetable oil
1 cup wheat germ or cornmeal if wheat allergies are a problem
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tsp. parsley
1 cup cooked chicken liver, chopped

Combine flour and wheat germ. In separate bowl, beat egg with oil, then add broth & parsley, mix well. Add the dry ingredients to bowl a little at a time, stirring well. Fold in chicken livers and mix well. Dough will be firm. Turn dough out on lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Roll out 1/2″ thick and cut into shapes. Place on greased cookie sheet 1″ apart. Bake at 400F for 15 minutes or until firm. Store in refrigerator.

When you use premium ingredients and make these treats with love, your dog will be as thankful for having you around as you are for having him!

About the Author – Lisa M Andrews is an expert on healthy dog treats, gourmet dog treats, and recipes for treats for dogs. For more unique recipes for dog treats , contact Lisa!! She loves spending time with her 3 dogs and assisting dog lovers with finding the right dog treats for their pets’ health needs. She also enjoys talking with dog owners and hearing the stories about their favorite pets.

By Lisa M Andrews
Published: 8/06/2007

Posted by admin in Articles and tagged with cookie articles, dog treats