If you are a fan of sugar cookies (of the shaped, royal icing-topped variety), check out www.bakegreek.com/blog. Love Kotomi's various decorating tips (example: how to make the perfect zebra stripes with icing) and "common sense" suggestions (using a napkin as a lazy susan for turning your cookies whilst you ice them, dedicating a pair of eyebrow tweezers for kitchen use as a means of placing your nonpareils just so, etc.). Upon her recommendation, I tried out Alton Brown's sugar cookie recipe, and I also followed her baking instructions to the letter. Not sure if it was Alton's recipe or Kotomi's tips (probably some combination thereof), but I have never had shaped cookies come out so perfectly shaped - none were swollen or misshapen. Her suggestion that you stamp out the cookies and then flash-freeze them, still on the their tray and surrounded by the "scraps," before attempting to separate them from the rest of the dough is pure genius (she likens it to 'lifting sheets of glass versus lifting sheets of Jello," and she is absolutely right - I never had an easier time getting my cookies onto a baking sheet).
Photos above are of some cookies that Parker decorated (with a little help from Mom) after I baked them per Alton's and Kotomi's instructions. He requested apples (for back-to-school) and fish (because they swim in schools - clearly, my newly minted kindergartener had school on the brain). Color palette was his as well: he made requests for lime, purple, etc., I mixed, and in that positively reinforcing, totally endearing and uniquely Parker way, he cheered me on: "Mom! That green color is awesome. Your use of color is INGENIOUS! I'm serious. YOU ARE AN ICING GENIUS." And, yes, I melted like a lump of unchilled sugar cookie dough in a 350-degree oven.