When making treats is about more than just cooking!

What's the newest off-the-menu item at Hoggy's Restaurant in Gahanna? No, it's not some newfangled barbecue dish or another way to get your kids to eat their sweet potatoes. It's cookies.

About a year ago, Hoggy's regional manager Libby Haag heard about Cookies for Kids' Cancer, a fundraising program based in New Jersey, that encourages people to bake and sell cookies to raise money for pediatric cancer research. She and fellow Hoggy's employee Alexis Webb introduced the fundraiser at Hoggy's Grandview location, and when Webb transferred to the Gahanna site this year, she brought the idea with her.

Webb has since expanded the event to include kids in the cookie preparation. As Webb surveyed the long table she had set up in the restaurant's lobby one bright autumn afternoon, she was pleased with the array of bright and sugary cookie-decorating treats she had found.

"This is just vanilla icing," she said, pointing out the bowls of frosting in a rainbow of colors."I didn't know they had cool neon colors, but they do."

In addition to neon green, lavender, pink, blue and yellow shades of icing, Webb had assembled bowls of miniature chocolate chips, gum drops, Hershey's kisses, sprinkles and spray icing for staff members' and patrons' children to use.

Webb also provided the kids with sugar cookie bases, pre-ordered from a local supermarket, leaving the homemade baking to her staffers who had made dozens and dozens of chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal-raisin cookies, double-chocolate brownies and confetti bars for the bake sale which ran all weekend.

The idea with the cookie decorating is to make the process as fun and age-accessible as possible. From 2-year-old Perry Kniseley-Haag to 10-year-old Jenna Miller, the table was a magnet for kids and creativity.

The result? A lot of cookies heaped with icing and sugar condiments, and a lot of money raised for kids with cancer. Each time Hoggy's has hosted a cookie bake sale, they've raised anywhere from $250 to $400.

And they're already planning their next one for the weekend of Dec. 17-19.

Cookie Decorating Bar
Set Up Time: 15 minutes
Clean Up Time: probably more than 15 minutes

Base cookies: sugar cookies are the best "canvas" to work with Frosting: set different colors with their own frosting knives in separate bowls Sugar condiments: the sky's the limit! Mini-chocolate chips and gum drops are great for little hands. Keep a bowl handy when "sprinkling" cookies. Spray icing can be fun but it's easy to overdo it!