I feel like everyone has that one favorite thing that they love about each holiday - for me, it definitely pumpkins for Halloween, but come Thanksgiving I am all about that hand turkey life. I can't explain it - I mean I definitely love Thanksgiving food, but there's something about drawing hand turkeys that makes me truly happy inside. Honestly, I made a huge deal about it each Thanksgiving long before I had kids. For example, see below, where I made my husband draw and send pictures of hand turkeys while he was in Iraq for our first Thanksgiving as a married couple. I'm thankful that he's such a good sport about these things
Happily, people find my prolific hand turkey drawing a lot less weird now that I have kids, and last year was the first year that I got to help the girls make their very first hand turkeys. They were obviously naturals
This year though, I decided to kick it up a notch...because ME But also because the only thing better than a hand turkey is probably an edible hand turkey. Obviously. So, to kick off this clearly genius plan, I used Martha Stewart's Sugar Cookie Cutouts Recipe - because I felt pretty sure that this project would be Martha approved. I doubled the recipe outlined at the above link, so here's what I used:
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Her instructions are to put the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (I swear by my Kitchen Aid - which was a wedding registry gift btw, just so you don't think I'm a baller). Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, then mix in the eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and gradually mix in the flour mixture. Divide dough in half and flatten each half into a disk. Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight. I definitely didn't follow the directions for that last part in that I'm literally just now seeing that for the first time. I put my whole ball of dough in the refrigerator in the bowl for about an hour and a half while the kids took a nap and it worked out just fine. Once you are ready to roll the cookies out and create pure awesomeness, you preheat the oven to 325 degrees with racks in the upper and lower thirds (which I like to say I did and by that I mean, that's just how the racks were already arranged so gold star for me ;)). Martha has some detailed instructions about how to roll these cookies out, but I just put them on a clean silicon mat and rolled them to about 1/4 inch (or slightly thicker).
Then, I had each kid put her (clean) hands on the dough, and I traced the outline of the hands with a skewer. The silicon mat came in real handy because it was easier to move the dough around the table so each kid could get a turn. It was also helpful because after I had the hand outlined traced, I could move the dough out of the way and cut the actual hand out using a light touch and a paring knife.
Once I cut around the outline of the hand with a paring knife, I used a thin spatula to move the whole cookie to a baking sheet.
HELPFUL TIP - If hypothetically of course, you have to leave one kid unattended for 5 seconds to take the other one to the bathroom, make sure that the unattended kid is not close enough to the cookie sheet to help herself to an entire finger while you are gone...
Once all the cookies were on the baking sheets, I baked them 15-18 minutes and let them cool completely on wire racks. As you can see, there wasn't a lot of spread when these cookies baked, which is why they are perfect for this ridiculous project:)
Then came the real fun. Martha Stewart has a recipe for Royal Icing for sugar cookies, which you can find here. It looks amazing, but I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that I'm some kind of baker who just has meringue powder lying around. Nor was I going to whip up some egg whites. So instead, I whipped up some confectioner's sugar, milk, and vanilla into icing right quick using the icing portion of this recipe from Epicurius, which I used because frankly I had all the ingredients and also because vanilla in my icing sounded divine. Then things really got crazy when I broke out my Wilton Performance Color System not just because it makes me feel like kind of a big deal but also because the colors you can make with it are really cool.
I mixed up some classic Thanksgiving/Fall turkey colors and then let the kids pick the color of their turkey feathers while I iced them (which your kids could totally do if they are older). Once I iced their hand turkey, the girls got to select their sprinkles and go to town on that poor turkey (with some assistance of course so the entire floor wasn't sprinkled as well). I put the cookies on a plate in hopes of catching most of the extra sprinkles, which worked pretty well actually).
All in all, they definitely aren't Martha Stewart quality, but they were hella fun to make...almost as fun as watching people awkwardly eat them - hahahaha