These Are a Few of My Favorite Things (Part 2 Christmas Cookies)

As promised, here are some more cookie recipes. It’s hard trying to select just a few favorite recipes when there are so many that have become special and favorites to various family members over the years. My sons are the easiest – they just want regular chocolate chip cookies, sans “ingredients”. (Ingredients would be nuts of any kind, raisins, any other kind of dried fruit—no matter how great I think it is – all they want is a lot of chocolate chips). A good chocolate chip cookie will have maybe half a dozen chips in each cookie. I usually dump in twice as many chips as the recipe calls for. You can’t have too many chocolate chips.

Over the years, friends and family members have let me know which cookie is their favorite. Besides the chocolate chip cookies, Kelly likes Peanut Blossoms – the peanut butter cookie with a Hershey kiss on top. His wife, my daughter in law Keara, is partial to the lemon rounds ice box cookie – but also loves crisp little lemon cookies that are made with a box of lemon cake mix and Rice Krispies cereal. I like to dip the baked cookies into a tart lemon glaze during the holidays and recently tried adding some chopped dried cranberries – they were good! My girlfriend Tina also loves the crisp little lemon cookies.

Everyone in the family likes a butter cutout cookie that has been lavishly spread with butter cream frosting. (*At this point I love to tell the story about my son Michael, the Christmas he was 5 years old. I was up half the night frosting all the butter cutout cookies with butter cream frosting. I crawled into bed around 3 am. At 6 am, when I got up – it was only to discover that Michael had eaten all the frosting off of ALL the cookies. My mind goes completely blank after that – I can’t tell you what happened next. I probably cried. And no one received cookies from us that year).

Back in the day – the early 1960s – we had very little money and often lived from paycheck to paycheck. I began baking cookies and making jelly (back then pouring it into babyfood jars to give to friends) as a way of giving something to friends and neighbors. Our relatives were all back in Ohio. You know, I can remember spending $20 on toys for our two toddlers—and getting quite a bit for the money. Christmas in 1963, we had just returned to California after son Steve’s birth, in Cincinnati – and managed to rent an apartment in Toluca Lake…we had absolutely nothing left for furniture (much less presents). I remember baking cookies and sitting on the living room floor with friends, drinking coffee and eating cookies. It’s a good memory.

Kelly’s favorite peanut butter cookie has been revamped – here’s the 2009 version made without any flour. To make Kelly’s favorite peanut butter cookie you will need:

1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 egg

Mix the above ingredients. You can shape them into balls and add a Hershey kiss after baking for 8 minutes – or roll the balls in sugar and then bake about 10-12 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees. OR, roll into balls and then flatten with the tines of a fork – and bake.

Here is a simple recipe for Fast & Fancy Macaroons. To make Macaroons you will need:

1 14-oz bag of angel flake coconut
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients; mix well. Drop from teaspoon onto well greased baking sheet OR parchment-paper lined baking sheet. You can decorate the macaroons with maraschino cherries or sprinkle with multi colored sprinkles. Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove at once using a moistened spatula. Makes 5 dozen. You can also add 4 squares of unsweetened chocolate, melted, or add 1 cup of chopped pecans or almonds, before baking.

Crisp Little Lemon Cookies are made with a box of lemon cake mix. In order to make Crisp Little Lemon Cookies you will need

1 package lemon cake mix (18.5 oz)
1 cup Rice Krispies cereal
½ cup margarine or butter, melted (1 stick)
1 egg, slightly beaten

Mix all ingredients in a bowl; mix well. Shape into 1” balls and place 2” apart on ungreased baking sheets (or parchment paper lined cookie sheets). Bake in preheated oven @ 350 degrees, 9-12 minutes. Cool one minute; remove from baking sheets and cool on wire racks. Makes 3-4 dozen.

Shortbread Squares are a rich, buttery cookie that melt in your mouth. Even nicer if you happen to have one of the shortbread cookie pans but if not, don’t worry. An ungreased 15x10x1” cookie sheet will work just as well. To make Shortbread Squares you will need

1 pound butter (no substitutes), softened
1 cup sifted powdered (confectioners) sugar
3 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup cornstarch

In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Combine flour and cornstarch; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Pat into an ungreased 15-in. x 10 in. x 1” baking pan. Pierce several times with a fork. Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until lightly browned. Cut into squares while still warm. Makes about 6 dozen shortbread squares.

Christmas is almost here and you haven’t baked any cookies? Stock up on a variety of cake mixes and you can whip up batch after batch of easy cookies. Here is my favorite recipe for Easy Chocolate Cookies. To make Easy Chocolate cookies you will need

1 (18.5-oz) box of devil’s food cake mix
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 (6 oz) package of semi sweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, combine dry cake mix, oil and eggs. Beat with mixer until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets (or cookie sheets lined with parchment paper), about 2 ½ inches apart. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 10 minutes. Allow to rest on baking sheets 5 minutes, then remove with a thin spatula to wire racks to cool. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Sandy’s Cooknote: You can change this recipe around – use white chips instead of chocolate chips and you will have a polka-dotted cookie. Drizzle them with a thin white frosting and you can add some colored sprinkles. Use peanut butter chips and you will have chocolate peanut butter cookies. this is a versatile recipe. And it doesn’t have to be devil’s food cake mix – any kind of chocolate cake mix will work. Oops…you are out of cooking oil? Then try this recipe for Quick Chocolate Cookies.

To make Quick Chocolate cookies you will need

1 package chocolate cake mix (18.5 oz)
1 cup chocolate chips
2 eggs
½ cup Miracle Whip dressing
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Heat oven to 350 degres. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, until blended. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets (or parchment paper lined baking sheets). Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Makes 4 dozen.

Sandy’s cooknote: No, I don’t have any stock in a parchment paper company (I wish!)—but you can line your baking sheets and use the same parchment paper over and over again. It’s my favorite kitchen tool. It doesn’t matter if the directions state to grease the cookie sheets – or not. Parchment paper covers all your bases.

One more – Snickerdoodles. I have seen a lot of versions of snickerdoodles. One of the old recipes belonged to my mother and appeared in our family cookbook. HERE is an updated version that you can make with a box of yellow cake mix. To make the 2009 version of snickerdoodles, you will need:

3 TBSP sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 package (18.25 oz) yellow cake mix
2 eggs
¼ cup cooking oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheet – or line with parchment paper! Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Combine cake mix, eggs and cooking oil in a large bowl. Stir until well blended. Shape dough into 1” balls. Roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place balls 2” apart on cookie sheet. Flatten balls with bottom of glass. Bake at 375 for 8 or 9 minutes or until set. Cool for a minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

I hope you enjoy some of these easy-to-make recipes. Some of them are so simple, you can let a child (or in my case a grandchild) help you in the kitchen. It’s never too soon to let them start learning how to cook (and learning how to measure with measuring cups and spoons is a basic lesson in math. My mother turned me loose in the kitchen when I was about ten years old. It was the greatest gift she gave to me – the freedom to explore and try recipes by myself. She had an Ida Bailey Allen Service cookbook – if you can read, you can learn how to cook. That cookbook of my mother’s is one of my most treasured cookbooks in my collection.

Happy cookie!


One response to “These Are a Few of My Favorite Things (Part 2 Christmas Cookies)

  1. Sandy- I tried Savannah’s Christmas Tree Cookies, only I made them in several different shapes. I was intimidated by baking but thought maybe I could try working with dough that had already “proved itself”. Thanks to your help, it was so easy to use the refrigerated dough and add flour. I made a butter cream icing and had a great time. My family enjoyed them thoroughly! I had so many cookies that I gave some to co-workers and neighbors. Now I will try to bake some Valentine cookies in February!
    May even make my own dough!

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