Things have sure changed since I was a kid. I remember second grade started off in fast mode. Weeks were filled with anticipation of receiving our First Communion. With nuns wearing scary outfits that showed only their faces, it was drill time. In preparation for our big day we were given a multiple-page handout with 100-questions. No kidding! We had to memorize each and every question and many of the answers were several lines in length. We're talking 6 and 7 year-olds here. The nuns put the fear of God in us warning that the Bishop would call on us individually and we would have to stand up and recite the complete answer. So to avoid humiliation we all studied and studied for weeks.

That was just one part of the process. Before the date of our First Communion, we were lined up in church to go to our First Confession. The priest sat in shadow and behind a curtain we quietly confessed our sins. Let me emphasize again … we were only 6 and 7 and barely out of first grade. So how many bad things can a kid do at that age but we had to come up with something. I confessed 'I was mean to my little brother' and I' did not mind my parents.' There … that should cover it. Then my Penance of three Our Fathers and two Hail Mary's would absolve me from my sins. Going to a Catholic elementary school we heard the word sin a lot.

Let me not forget the weeks of practicing, filing in and out of the church in perfect formation with hands tightly clasped together and interlaced thumbs, kneeling at the Communion rail for our first host. Then the big day … the girls in our white, chiffon dresses and veils and the boys all in white in their suits, ties and bucks. We looked like a flock of angels. We filed into the church and then came the time we all anticipated, question time. The bishop in his awesome red, triangular hat asked only one question to the entire class of 120 second-graders. I'll never forget he asked question #1 … What is Communion? Although relieved not to be called on, it was one of those Charlie Brown moments and a bubble over my head  read … You've got to be kidding me … we did all that memorization and he asks one question to all of us! We all replied in unison like a choir from above.

Nowadays the practice of memorizing answers is no longer done. Thank God! First Communion usually occurs in Spring and the Communion Rail is gone. There is not so much white and kids can look forward with excitement to their First Communion without the fear of being singled out to answer a question. Progress!

Communion Cookies
Dress Shortbread Cookies
Cross Shortbread Cookies
Royal Icing for outlining and flooding tinted White with AmeriColor Super White
Royal Icing for detail tinted Hot Pink with AmeriColor Electric Pink
Royal Icing for detail tinted Pale Pink with a smidge of AmeriColor Electric Pink
Royal Icing for detail tinted Green with AmeriColor Leaf Green
Disposable piping bags & couplers
Squeeze bottles
Wilton Decorating Tip #2
Wilton Star Tip #24
Wilton Leaf Tip #67
Rose Stencil  
Elegant Teardrops Stencil 
AmeriColor Pearl Sheen Airbrush Color
Airbrush Kit or Wilton Color Mist

Outline dress with #2 tip in white icing
Flood dress with white icing. Let dry 45 minutes.

Pipe cap sleeves with #2 tip in white icing. Let dry overnight.

Place stencil on the cookie. Spray with pearl airbrush color. 

Gently lift stencil. Let dry 20 minutes.

Pipe roses in pink swirl icing with star tip #24. Pipe leaves in green icing with leaf tip #67.

Decorate cross cookies with same design using teardrops stencil. 

Let dry overnight.





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BERRY DANISH/ Summer Dessert

Looking for a fabulous summer dessert? Or a patriotic red, white and blue way to celebrate Memorial Day or Independence Day? No need to sacrifice calories or spend hours in the kitchen. You can whip up this dessert quickly and it makes a fabulous impression. Your guests will delight in this healthy and refreshing dessert guilt-free. Ok, there may be a little guilt with the whipped cream. This recipe is borrowed from my cousin, a former chef and restaurateur. Besides being a stupendous cook, Will serves the best desserts!

Phyllo Puff Pastry Sheets
Raspberries, washed
Blueberries, washed
Whipped Cream
Confectioner's Sugar

Cut puff pastry into 3" x 3" squares. Bake according to box directions. Let cool.
To assemble, place one square of puff pastry onto plate. Fill with raspberries and blueberries.
Add another square of puff pastry atop berries. Adorn plate with more raspberries and blueberries.
Sprinkle with Confectioner's Sugar. Top with whipped cream. 


Hint: To make blueberries and raspberries last, toss out any rotten ones and rinse the berries in a colander. Then, store them in the refrigerator in the colander for adequate air-flow. If you don’t have space in your refrigerator for a colander, trim off the lid of the original container, place a layer of paper towel in the bottom to soak up any excess water and add the berries. The berries usually keep about two weeks. 




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PLANE COOKIES/ Planes, Jets & Angels

In my childhood home the view from my bedroom window was airplanes. There was not a 707 in the backyard like John Travolta. Oh, didn't we wish! There was a runway behind our house and airplanes and jets took off and landed a mere 300 yards from our home. We lived in a midsize city, slightly off the main drag and our house faced an airport. Back then it was a regional airport and now an international airport. We could watch planes take off all day long if we wanted to but it was no big deal since it was an everyday and all day occurrence. The jets of Eastern, Allegheny, United and American Airlines shared the runway with the snazzy corporate jets of Bethlehem Steel. Back then the planes were much louder than today's whisper jets and sometimes the rumble of the engines made dishes in the cupboard rattle. At the dinner table, my Dad who worked in the aviation division of BS could identify the planes by the sound of the engine during taxiing.

Fast forward about thirty years. Shortly after moving to Northern Virginia, sitting on the deck I looked up and saw planes overhead on their final approach to Dulles Airport, a mere hop, skip and jump away. I remember feeling like I was back home. At certain times of the day the planes land one after another. Even years later the sound of a plane flying overhead (one is flying over just now) stirs memories of the old neighborhood. During the warm weather months it's a ritual most evenings as my husband and I sit on the deck with a glass of wine and watch the planes fly across the stunning sunsets in the western sky.

These plane cookies were made for rising kindergarteners. With the Naval Academy in our neighboring State of Maryland situated on the Chesapeake Bay, I was inspired by the Navy's acrobatic flying squadron, the Blue Angels. Check out these amazing videos and ride in a F-18 Hornet.

Plane Cookies
Plane Shortbread Cookies
Royal Icing for outlining and flooding tinted Bright Blue with AmeriColor Electric Blue and AmeriColor Royal Blue
Royal Icing for outlining tinted Gold with AmeriColor Lemon Yellow and Wilton Gold
Disposable piping bags & couplers
Squeeze bottles
Wilton Decorating Tip #2

Outline cookie with #2 tip in blue icing
Flood cookie with blue icing. Let sit 30 minutes.

Pipe detail on plane wings and tail with #2 tip in gold icing.
Pipe "N" on plane. 

Let dry overnight.





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