Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cookies for our Soldier in Iraq

As part of Sharon Johnson’s Stamp Simply celebration, Janine at 2bkrafty ( challenged visitors to her blog to bake up some cookies, create a festive package for them, and then share the packaging and the recipe. This was a perfect opportunity for me to make some cookie bars to send to our adopted soldier in Iraq. If you click on the image, a much larger version showing much more detail will open in a new window. ;)

We are the very proud “Angel” parents of a soldier who we adopted through Soldiers’ Angels. This wonderful group matches US soldiers who need support and encouragement from home with individuals and families who “adopt” them for the duration of their deployment. Over the past four years, we’ve adopted a total of 7 individual soldiers, six of whom have returned safely to US soil. And at various times, we’ve also adopted entire platoons and even a special forces unit. It has been rewarding and humbling. We lost ten members of one of our platoons in 2006 in three separate incidents all in the same week. It brought the war right into our kitchen when the sergeant emailed us pictures taken of a memorial to the soldiers who were lost. We got a fresh appreciation for the sacrifice our children are making by being there, and in a very personal way. For more information about Soldier’s Angels, please visit

The cookie canister was an oatmeal box in another life. DH loves hot oatmeal for breakfast and it just so happened that we emptied the box this week, and this made a perfect cookie box for shipping cookies to Iraq.

I decorated this cookie box with a little bit of everything. The ornaments were cut with the Cricut Expression, borders were cut with border punches, and I even used some stickers in addition to stamping snowflakes and the greeting, “Peace on Earth”. I got the wonderful snowflake ornaments I used to decorate the lid from Marnie (stamplady_13 at SCS) in a “Pay it Forward” box and I left the loops on them so he can hopefully hang them up as decorations. The card is one I made specifically for Tim in the November Cabaret VSN at SplitCoast Stampers.

As for the recipe for these super easy cookie bars, honestly, I’m almost embarrassed to tell you that these cookies are made from a Devil’s Food boxed cake mix. It’s a very versatile recipe, and I have substituted marshmallows and peanuts for the walnuts and coconut, and I’ve also added Health Bar pieces and M&M’s for color and crunch. You can’t make a mistake with this recipe! It freezes well and it mails well, so it’s great for care packages to kids in college too. For mailing to Iraq, which takes about 10 days, I layer them with wax paper and stack them in a vacuum sealer bag and vac seal them. They stay amazingly fresh and travel well.

Easy Bar Cookies


One regular size (not Jiffy) Devil’s Food cake mix
One stick of butter (4 ounces)
8 ounce package of cream cheese
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup sugar or equivalent non-sugar substitute
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts
1 ½ cups shredded coconut
½ of a regular size bag of chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 by 12 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

In a microwave safe mixing bowl, melt the butter. Add the cake mix and mix until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. The mixture will be dark and crumbly. Spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of the baking dish and pat firmly.

In a microwave safe mixing bowl, soften the cream cheese. It takes about a minute to get it soft, fluffy and easy to mix. Stir in the eggs, vanilla, and sugar and then mix in the nuts, coconut and chocolate chips, Spread the mixture evenly over the “cake” layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes – until the top just starts to get golden brown.

Let them cool completely in the baking dish before cutting. I find it helps to run a knife along the inside edge of the baking dish while they are still fairly hot. I usually cut them into about 18 squares, but you can cut them larger or smaller according to your personal preference.


Janine said...

Fabulous altered cookie box and the recipe sounds yummy!!!
Thanks sooooo much for participating.

Cathy said...

Thanks Janine! I had fun and it was just the push I needed to get this done! ;)

Justine said...

We are an active duty family serving in Sicily, Italy (actually haven't lived on mainland US since 1994). Anyhow, I wanted to thank for for supporting our troops. I know you make that soldiers day when he receives mail from you and probably that of his buddies since most of them share the bounty.
Proudly serving as a mility spouse.

Cathy said...

And THANK YOU, Justine, and your brave and courageous husband, for what have obviously been MANY years of service to our country.

Unless you are touched by it in some personal way, I think it's hard for many people to truly appreciate the sacrifices our servicemen AND their families make, even in times of peace, never mind such difficult and frightening times as now. Being an Angel Mom and corresponding with and supporting soldiers serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan has opened our eyes in a very personal way, yet provided our family with a uniquely rewarding and enriching experience.

And for anyone who thinks that a tour of duty in Italy must be wonderful - a gorgeous country, away from war - in the current world situation, until the present level of terrorism has been contained and dealt with, our soldiers are in danger no matter where they serve.

Although my sons, who both have disabilities that preclude military service (my older son, who has a severe vision impairment, has had a lifelong dream of being a Marine, and is hoping that more surgery will allow him to meet the requirements to enlist), will likely never be put in harm's way in the defense of our country and protection of freedom throughout the world, I have not turned a blind eye or a deaf ear to the sacrifices our soldiers make. The are now very sensitized to the daily loss of lives of our service personnel, to the plight of soldiers who are injured every day, to the pain of those who spend months and years away from loving spouses and children and missing births, graduations, school concerts, and other precious milestones, and to those who have been recalled from the National Guard or reservist status, and have lost jobs, homes (from lost income), and in many cases, their families because of this war. The toll on our servicemen and their families can not be measured in dollars.

Soldiers' Angels founder Patti Bader's message is simple - May no soldier go unloved. Our family collectively lives that - we work hard gathering notes of support and appreciation from friends and even my husband's patients to "Any Soldier" (I make the cards) and sending them along with lots of extra "goodies" and toiletries in the care packages we send to our soldiers for them to enjoy and share with the other members of their units. And we try hard to spread the word to others about this amazing group.

Okay, I'm off my soap box now LOL, but Justine, please know that WE appreciate and are proud of YOU!

Cathy Wieder
Official Angel Mom to Tim, who is still in Iraq, and to Rebecca, Rosa, Eric, Michael, and Tom, who are now home, and to Andy, who returned home from his first deployment but who is now back for his second deployment. Unofficial but devoted "Angel Mom" to Paul. Unofficial former "Guardian Angel Mom" to a tank unit, two IED platoons, a medic group, and a special forces unit.

Please visit for more information! Join their card team!

Jerri Kay said...

Cathy, that is such a touching story! You are so kind and wonderful to help the troops by showing your support in such a selfless manner. I know your adopted solder will appreciate receiving this wonderful gift and will enjoy those cookies!