While searching in vain for the original source for this recipe, I came to realize that there are almost as many sugar cookie recipes as there are bakers in this world. Does this world really need yet another sugar cookie recipe? Yet, before I found this recipe I thought sugar cookies were bland and oddly reminiscent of cardboard. I never really liked them before I found these. Soft, sweet and slightly chewy, these cookies are not just fun to make — they are delicious to eat! I was first introduced to this recipe when my now 12-year-old was a young toddler involved in a playgroup. The host of the playgroup Christmas party that year served these cookies. I liked them so much that I asked her for the recipe, and I have made them almost every year, since.
Christmas Cut-out Cookies
3/4 C butter or shortening (or a combination of both)
1 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs. Sift dry ingredients and add to mixture.
Chill dough for at least an hour.
Roll out, thick, onto a floured counter top and cut out using cookie cutters dusted with flour. If you roll the dough too thin, you won’t get the right texture.
Bake on parchment paper-covered cookie sheets at 400 degrees for 6 – 8 minutes. Take the cookies out of the oven before they turn light brown. You want them chewy and moist!
3 C powdered sugar
1/3 C butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs milk
Food coloring, optional
Sift powdered sugar and mix with butter. Stir in vanilla and milk. Beat until smooth & fluffy. Add food coloring if desired.
Sweet Cornbread is printed right on the box of Alber’s Cornmeal. It’s printed on the box as a corn muffin recipe, but as everyone in my family has a sweet tooth, this is our favorite cornbread. It feels a little silly to be linking to a recipe that is printed right on the box of cornmeal that you can buy in the grocery store, and yet, cornbread mix is still sold, so my little secret must not be fully out there, yet. We always cook our cornbread in a 10″ cast iron skillet. We throw the skillet in the oven and turn on the oven to the required temperature of 350 degrees, and by the time the batter is ready to go in the skillet, the skillet is nice and hot and ready to go. A hot cast iron skillet creates a slightly crispy outer crust on the outside of the cornbread that is just delicious.
Leftover cornbread can be kept covered on the kitchen counter for a couple of days. It will last longer wrapped in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and stored in the refrigerator. Sweet Cornbread goes wonderfully with Crawfish Etouffee or Real Texas Chile Con Carne
Garlic Roasted Broccoli is proof positive of what I have come to believe about vegetables: roasted is always the best way to go. We’ve never done the lemon wedges nor the parmesan cheese that it calls for and frankly, it doesn’t need it. The broccoli turns out sort of crisp-tender, and the roasting process intensifies its flavor, rather than watering it down like some cooking methods. It makes a tasty, healthy side dish to go with a wide variety of proteins. Even better, it’s simple to prepare and a quick fix from start to finish. Often, we stage the broccoli while our protein is cooking, and then the broccoli roasts in the oven while the protein rests on the counter, nestled under a sheet of aluminum foil.
Mary’s Ginger Molasses Cookies always causes an argument between my husband and I because he says that I underbake them. I have explained time and again that these are intended to be a soft, slightly chewy ginger molasses cookie, not a gingersnap. Over the years, my methods for tracking recipes has changed and while I keep careful records now, this wasn’t always the case. As a result, I have no idea who “Mary” is or where I got her recipe. It is, however, my favorite, not the least of which because it calls for oil instead of butter or shortening. I do use canola oil instead of the safflower oil called for, simply because that’s what I keep on hand. Wherever you are Mary, thank you. I love these cookies.
Mary’s Ginger Molasses Cookies –makes 2 to 2 1/2 dozen cookies
2/3 C safflower oil
1 C granulated sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
4 Tbs molasses
2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 C granulated sugar, for rolling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine oil and sugar; add egg and beat to blend. Stir in the molasses. Add the flour and other ingredients except the last 1/4 C of sugar.
Roll spoonfulls of cookie dough into balls and roll in the 1/4 C sugar to coat. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes.
Notes: Be sure not to overcook these or they will be hard. If cooked just right you will have a nice soft center with a slightly crisp outside. The cookie should have cracks all over the top when it is complete.
Baked Brie is usually either baked covered in puff pastry dough, or baked naked and drizzled with honey. We cover ours in pie dough. It’s simple to do, we can make it ourselves, and if we’ve had the foresight to pick up a small wheel of brie (which we often do) this becomes party of a pantry meal. My 12-year-old insists that when she goes away to college, sometimes she can see this being her dinner (maybe with some fruit, hopefully). We like to do this occasionally as a part of our weekly Snack Plate tradition.
1 4 – 6oz wheel of brie cheese
1/2 recipe of Wesson Oil Pie Crust
Make the Wesson Oil Pie Crust as directed. Roll out the resulting ball of dough between two sheets of wax paper. Keep rolling until the dough is as thin as you can get it.
With a sharp knife, cut off most of the rind from the cheese. Brie rind is edible, so you can skip this step, but leaving the rind on will prevent the cheese from getting as gooey as you might want it.
Remove the top layer of wax paper covering the dough. Place the entire wheel of cheese on one end of the dough. Using the wax paper to support the delicate dough, flip the other end of the dough over on top of the cheese. Gently press down from the top where the dough meets the cheese. Cut off the extra dough with a sharp knife. Using a fork, crimp the edges of the dough together to create a seal.
Bake in an oven-safe ramekin or on an oven-safe plate at 400 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes. Serve with crackers and fruit either as an appetizer, or as a part of Snack Plate.
English Muffin Bread is hard to have done in time for breakfast, since it has to rise for 45 minutes. If you plan ahead and make it the day before, however, it’s very nice sliced and toasted the next morning. It has the nice, open texture of real English muffins, but having shaped and cooked English muffins, I can tell you that baking a single loaf is much easier. We usually use animal milk in this recipe, cow’s milk or goat’s milk, but you could probably substitute an alternative milk like almond milk if you wanted to. In that case, you would want to add an extra bit of fat to keep the texture of the bread nice and soft.
Chocolate Pudding is one of those recipes that make me wonder at the existence of mixes. The ingredients are everything I have on hand anyway, and it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes from start to finish. I usually make this dairy-free, using vanilla almond milk, but you could totally just use regular milk if that’s what you prefer. It does call for a bit of margarine or butter, but if you are eating dairy-free, chances are you have some dairy-free margarine already on hand. The pudding just needs an extra bit of fat to make it creamy. For vanilla pudding, just leave out the cocoa and add an extra teaspoon of vanilla.
1 1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C cocoa powder
4 C milk (vanilla almond milk works well)
4 Tbs margarine or butter
2 tsp vanilla
Combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt and cocoa powder in a medium-sized saucepan. Whisking constantly, drizzle in the milk as one continuous stream. Place over medium heat and continue whisking. After the mixture comes to a boil, cook it until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the margarine and vanilla.
Chill before serving. Makes 8 servings.