C is for Christmas Cookie!

I know I'm a little late to the party with this, but I feel I would be remiss if I didn't share with you a couple of Christmas cookie recipes. I mean, for me, Christmas is all about the cookies. I know there's wine and chocolate and hard candy and ham and cheeseballs and Chex mix and all manner of other fabulous treats to gorge on during the Christmas season, but the thing I look forward to all year, the thing I love the most, is Christmas sugar cookies.

I realize these days people have gone crazy over Christmas sugar cookies, and decorate them with bags of royal icing, or they make little edible photos and paste them on, and they do it all so that each cookie is a piece of art in itself.

That is not how I roll. I am a baking failure in general, because it's time consuming and specific. My brand of cooking is fast and loose, and that's just not where baking is at. So, if I am going to bother to make cookies at all (and, bother, I will) I am certainly not going to spend all day delicately outlining a snowflake with a stitch pattern and scripting the name of every family member and acquaintance in the centers. Nope, I'm going to slap some powdered sugar frosting on them and be done. Because that's how my mama did it, and that's how I like em.

So, I'm going to share with you my mom's sugar cookie recipe. It is the best one. Ever. Just trust me. The cookies are sweet and soft and perfect, and they're not mucked up with any nutmeggy flavors or weirdness of any kind.

1 1/3 cup Crisco (do not, I repeat, do not sub butter here)
1.5 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
4 cups flour
3 tsps. baking powder
2/3 tsp. salt

Mix it all up together, and form the dough into four or five balls.

Refrigerate it for at least two hours, although overnight is best.

Roll out the balls over a floured surface. Let the dough be fairly thick - the cookies are better if they are thick and soft instead of thin and crispy. Use your favorite cookie cutters to make shapes. A word to the wise: smaller cookie cutters are more difficult to use, and ones with really intricate shapes are often hard to be successful with. I always break the heads or legs off the reindeer.

Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes or until the tops are just starting to get golden.

Let your little beauties cool on a rack, and in the meantime, whip up some of my really fancy icing. I put about a cup of powdered suger in each of four bowls, because I planned four colors.

Then I started measuring in milk, a teeny tiny bit at a time. Probably a tablespoon will do it. This is tricky because you want the icing to be spreadable, but not runny. If you think it looks too thin, add a little more sugar. Likewise for the milk, if it's too stiff. You can see here that if I pull my spoon through it, it maintains its shape for a minute before it fills in behind. This is a good thing.

Frost away! It's fun! Nevermind that mine look like a five year old did them. Yours will be much better. I didn't have a piping bag with me and I didn't care.

Sarajane and I made cookies a couple of Saturdays ago, so don't think for one minute that those sugar cookies were the only product of the day. I don't have space here to go through all the kinds we made (that girl is totally a MACHINE) but I would feel sorry for you if I didn't show you my second favorite cookie of all time: the craisin, chocoloate chip oatmeal cookie.

I know what you're thinking. My husband was the same: "Ugh. Oatmeal. Yuck." But trust me, these babies are a knockout. Even Mr. Meat and Potatoes had to admit, reluctantly, that this was one of the best cookies he'd ever had. These oatmeal cookies are thin, chewy, lacy. They are not at all reminiscent of a granola bar. They are not dry, and they are not particularly healthy. I hate that when people take something perfect like a cookie and try to healthy it up. If you're about healthy eating, then DON'T EAT COOKIES. There's no need to ruin them for the rest of us.

Best Oatmeal Cookies EVER

2 sticks butter, softened
1.5 cup granulated sugar
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs 3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
a pinch of ground clove
2 cups quick oats (although I'm not sure that matters)
1 bag chocolate chips
1 bag dried cranberries
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest (this is a key ingredient - don't skip it)

Drop onto a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about ten minutes.

A few years ago I made red velvet cake balls for a party I catered, and they were well-received but I hated making them. It was messy, time-consuming, and, as my mom would say, "putsy." This year, I did something a little different. On the afternoon of our annual Christmas Chaos party, I decided to bring a little sweet treat and whipped up a batch of Oreo cookie balls, and this process made me a lot happier than the cake version. With the cake, you have to bake a cake, let it cool, rip it into pieces, and mix in frosting before you make the balls. In my new and improved version, you just dump a whole package of Oreo cookies into the food processor with one block of cream cheese. Yep, that's totally the ticket.

So, one package of Oreos, mixed with cream cheese.

Form it into balls. Refrigerate the balls for a couple of hours.

Melt some almond bark in the microwave - about half a package (but be careful not to overdo it - my first batch burned, so watch carefully).

Stick a toothpick in the top of each Oreo ball, and dip it in the chocolate. I found it worked best if I dunked it and then spooned the almond bark over the top. Then deposit the ball onto waxed paper. You can decorate these really fancy. I did some with crushed peppermint candy, some with green and red sugar. But if I'd been really ambitious, I would have melted some chocolate chips and drizzled the chocolate artfully over the tops. But that is an extra step, and I am not about putting extra steps into a process created solely for simplicity.

Best wishes for a fantastic holiday from our family to yours. Peace on earth, good cookies to men.


rivercitymom 11 years, 9 months ago

K, so I came to work this morning and sank (sunk?) GRATEFULLY into my chair because we (kids and I) killed ourselves making many batches of cookies over the weekend. And we FORGOT THE OREO BALLS. I'm going to have to muster some strength, though, to make those. (Digging into my Christmas reserves). Thank you. I think.

Rae Hudspeth 11 years, 9 months ago

You are so right.. no healthy cookies! The worst cookies I've ever had are those sawdust granola lumps from the Merc. Yours look like cookies should be.. sweet and crumbly and chewy, oh my!

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