Menu Monday: SEASHELL SHORTBREAD COOKIES (and LOTS of pictures!)

Last month my sister-in-law Erin and her boyfriend of one year Josh got married on the beach in Biloxi, Mississippi. It was a beautiful wedding, and I was asked to be her matron-of-honor. When we were in Kansas City for my birthday at the beginning of May, I found some sand dollar and starfish cookie cutters at Sur La Table, and she asked me to pick them up. They were looking to serve finger foods, and I had suggested that perhaps they could give cookies as party favors. Later Erin asked me to make some cookies for the reception itself:

Rather than worry about icing melting in the heat or cracking on the drive down, I decided to dye the cookie dough itself. I used a family sugar cookie recipe from Linda Adams. Maybe you Arkansans remember her from Arkansas Today with Beth Ward and B. J. Sams? Anyway, she is a cousin of my father-in-law, and she released two cookbooks in the 1990s. We tried out her recipe at Christmas after our cookies the year before failed. They worked well, but I used icing on them, so they were sweeter. Unfortunately (in my opinion) these needed a bit more sweetness, and they were also rather cakey. I imagine that is because they were so thick and large I couldn't bake them for too long at once without browning them to bits. Zach liked them perfectly well, but I would have liked to approve on the recipe (which I did for my cousin's shower).

I used brown sugar as beach sand. It was sooo cute!

Here I am walking with the Best Man, Josh's son Sayer, who also happens to be our nephew now. Not everyone can say they almost carried their escort down the aisle!

my father-in-law Bobby escorting his baby girl

the wedding party and the presentation of the bride

Josh and Erin during the ceremony cousin Santa Alan performed
(He married us, too!)

The Dotson Family :)

Erin and her bridesmaids: Whitney, Genis (our former boss ;), and me

The Pharr Side of the family

an epic photo of the bride and groom

When I made the cookies for their wedding and posted them on facebook, my cousin Erin's best friend Laken saw them while she was in the middle of a movie and texted Erin about them. Erin's little sister Kristen is expecting a baby boy in August, and she is naming him Zachary. Confused now? *lol* Anyway, they were throwing Kristen a beach baby bash, and they asked me to make some more SEASHELL COOKIES. I still had some sugar cookies in the freezer, so I pulled those out, baked them for a bit until they were crunchier, and added a slight glaze of lemon juice and powdered sugar (and pearl dust) to make them sweeter. They were quite improved. :)

I also made some SEASHELL SHORTBREAD COOKIES, a recipe I used for New Year's Eve when Brian and Whitney visited. For that occasion, I added some caramel icing for a little pizazz. They were AWESOME with or without the icing. Fortunately for me, the recipe comes in two versions, almond and vanilla. This time I tried the vanilla, which uses brown sugar in place of regular granulated sugar.

-Start with 3/4 cup of softened butter and 1/4 cup brown sugar.
-Combine until creamy.
-Add 1 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour.

-Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and mix until well blended. If the mixture is crumbly, add one or two more Tbsp. of butter to cause the form to stick to itself.

-Divide the dough evenly among separate bowls based on how many colors you are creating. (I was making four colors of cookies, so I used four bowls.) To make the cookies extra bright, add several drops of food coloring and mix until desired color is reached. It was much harder to do this with the sugar cookie dough because it was so thick and I used gel coloring rather than liquid. Do what is easiest for you. (I don't recommend using your KitchenAid or equivalent because you will have to clean it between colors, and I imagine it could dye your mixing paddle.)

-Once your dough is dyed, cover the counter with wax paper and flour. Also flour your rolling pin well, and roll your dough across the surface to pick up some flour. (I also sprinkle a bit on the dough.)
-Flour, flour, FLOUR EVERYTHING! I keep a plate next to my floured surface with flour in which I dip the cookie cutters between cutting and the spatula between moving the cut cookies to the cookie sheet. It's also import to use a metal spatula because plastic ones typically end up bunching or distorting the dough either on the surface, on the spatula, or on the cookie sheet.
-For cut cookies, roll the dough out about 1/4-inch thin and use a cookie cutter dipped in flour to cut out shapes. Use your metal spatula to transfer cut dough to an ungreased cookie sheet. (The recipe upon which I based my directions said to roll them out 1/2-inch thick and bake for 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees. But the recipe also stated it produced two dozen cookies, but I haven't found that to be so when they are rolled 1/2-inch thick.)

-Bake for 6-8 minutes at 375 degrees. WATCH THEM CLOSELY. It may take more or less time depended on your oven. Smaller cookies take less time, larger more. They burn quickly, so be constant. (I browned my first batch a bit much, which is part of the reason I pulled the leftover sugar cookies out of the oven because I didn't think I would have time to make more.)

-Cool them on wire racks. I mixed some Wilton pearl dust with lemon juice--you can also use a clear alcohol like vodka or rum--and painted the cookies for some shine. I used gold on the starfish and silver with white on the sand dollars. (When I made these for Erin's wedding, I didn't realize how much pearl dust it took to make the cookies shine, so I ended up pasting it on--and using a WHOLE bottle of gold before I realized that a little goes a long way with lots of lemon juice. *lol*)

I had a blast seeing so many of my relatives and friends at Kristen's shower. I know she is going to be the cutest little mama, and it just cracks me up she is naming her baby Zachary. Good choice, eh? Here are some pictures from the day:

my SEASHELL SHORTBREAD and sugar cookies in the "sand"

the cake with peanut butter filling Laken stayed up until 5 a.m. making
(She used brown sugar as sand, too. :)

Grandpa and Grandma Byrd's tiki deck where the shower was supposed to take place
It was far too hot, so they moved it inside. I think we were all thankful, and the interior was just as cute as the exterior. :)
It is so weird that my Aunt Donna and Uncle Ronnie are now Grandma and Grandpa Byrd. WEIRD.

See? I told you it was CUTE! And look at those yummy fruit kabobs in the watermelon. My cuz-cuz Erin is so talented when it comes to party-planning. She helping with our wedding and reception and has thrown numerous parties, showers, and weddings/receptions over the years. They are always FABULOUS!

Kristen holding the present my mama (her Aunt Gracie), Zach, and I got her
I used ribbon from our wedding and was proud of how it looked. :) She was blessed with so many cute things for her baby boy Zach. He is going to be well-dressed! (We, however, wanted to make sure he was well-fed, so we got bowls, cups, and spoons. *haha*)

Byrds of a feather flock together!

with Rosey Posey, one of my former roomies
She (Ro-Ro), Erin (Er-Er), our friend Emily (Em-Em), and I (Ash-Ash) lived together for two years and came up with a (not so) secret sorority. *lol*

Rose said we are now Omicron alums and shouldn't do these things in public anymore. We definitely got the attention of EVERYONE in the room!!!

a sweet picture of the OOO's (We missed Em-Em, though!)

cousins :)

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