Recently my friend Charlene was traveling through Arkansas with girlfriends. I didn’t realize this, but the home of P. Allen Smith is located just 30 minutes outside of Little Rock. The Garden Home at Moss Mountain Farm sits on top of a ridge overlooking the Arkansas River Valley. Paul Allen Smith is a television host, designer, gardening and lifestyle expert. He is the host of two public television programs. Charlene and friends visited the home to have lunch in the tea room and tour the house. While they were there P. Allen Smith came into the tea room spending time talking with guests! It must have been a thrill for my friend Charlene because she is an avid gardener and accomplished cook!
My sous chef dish-washing mom and I belong to a garden club. By the very nature of “garden” club one might think we are gardeners. That would be wrong. We like plants, we have both toyed with growing a flowering plant or two, but gardeners we are not.
We do have this little garden close by the house but the “real” gardening (and weeding) is done by the love of my life, our Chief Gardener!
Once a year it is “our turn” for mom and I to host the garden club members for a brunch/lunch meeting. Typically members will decorate the center of each table with a floral arrangement. Mom and I were talking about what we should do for our floral arrangements and we got to thinking about doing what we know best — something from the kitchen!
We decided on making sugar cookies in the shape of flowers (great idea) and then making them into a table arrangement (another great idea!)
Our first practice round looked like these. Cute, very tasty but not much like flowers. That was when we knew we needed to call in reinforcements!
We wanted our flowers to be free-form and so we made the dough into a ball, squished it with the bottom of a glass and then carefully inserted baking dowels gently into the middle of the dough.
When our very-talented and darling neighbor Abby arrived, we had 80-some cookies frosted with a glossy colorful frosting, ready to be transformed into flowers.
Abby is a culinary arts major and decorating cookies is child’s play for her. I suggested I could “help” since we had so many cookies to decorate. After one attempt we both agreed that I would be the cookie foreman, keeping the frosting made, mom would do the dishes and Abby – well, she would create!
I am including three recipes with this post. My Gram’s sugar cookie recipe which you can see HERE as Christmas cookies. Then there is the colorful glossy icing that dries hard and shiny and is perfect for frosting the cookies.
And finally, the butter cream frosting Abby made to use as decorator icing. All-in-all I wouldn’t do anything different.
My neighbor Kathy can’t eat chocolate and so whenever we bake something that is “non-chocolate” she gets some! I am told she shared these with her granddaughter.
After making this sugar cookie recipe you won't want to use any other one. Crispy on the outside and moist and yummy on the inside. Just perfect every time.
Author: Adapted by Catherine Daugherty
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4 dozen
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Cup Butter or Margarine,* softened
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
4 Cups and 4 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
Sugar, frosting, or sprinkles as desired
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cream sugars and butter; add oil and beat on high until light and fluffy.
Mix in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla.
Mix flour, salt, soda, cream of tartar. Stir into the wet ingredients.
Use medium cookie scoop, roll dough into balls. Using the bottom of a glass, press into sugar and then press cookie ball down on cookie sheet to flatten slightly. If you are making into flowers then gently insert a cookie stick into the middle of the dough, making sure it does not poke through the dough.
Bake for 10 minutes. The cookies will be light colored but done at 10 minutes. If you want them crisp and brown add another minute or two. They will spread slightly when baking so be sure and allow plenty of space around the dough.
Frost and decorate as desired.
* I use butter, not margarine, but the original recipe says either one works.
To place cookie flowers into floral arrangement, add floral oasis into a flower pot, making it as tight as possible. Gently stick each cookie into the oasis forming a bouquet. Cover top with decorator grass.
Do you have cookies ready for Santa tonight? Well, I didn’t until we made a stop to visit Lee’s Aunt Mattie Lou this morning! Mattie Lou reminded me of a recipe I had given her for Snicker Doodle cookies. She said, “I made that recipe and they turned out great!”
She had them all packaged up in cute little brown paper bags with little cutouts of snowmen, Christmas bears and such. I only slightly remember even giving her the recipe and I was pretty sure I had never blogged it.
I remember making Snicker Doodle cookies for a 4-H project a kazillion years ago. I’m not sure I have made them since. But I have been wrong in not keeping these on hand for family and friends.
These really are melt-in-your-mouth wonderful. My Chief Santa could hardly wait until we got home to dig into them. I said, “wait! I need a picture first.” He smiled and sighed, “of course you do.”
These are super easy to make and Santa will love them! It’s not too late for this year and be sure and put them on your cookie list for New Year’s eve munching!
Here Comes Santa Claus and the cookies and milk are ready!
Author: Adapted by Catherine Daugherty
Recipe type: Cookies
2¾ cups (360 grams) all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
⅓ cup (66 grams) granulated white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Cookies: In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until smooth (about 2 to 3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat until you have a smooth dough. If the dough is soft, cover and refrigerate until firm (about one to two hours).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (190 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Shape the dough into 1 inch (2.5 cm) round balls.
Coating: In a large shallow bowl mix together the sugar and cinnamon.
Roll the balls of dough in the cinnamon sugar and place on the prepared pan, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Then, using the bottom of a glass, gently flatten each cookie to about ½ inch (1.5 cm) thick.
Bake the cookies for about 8 - 10 minutes, or until they are light golden brown and firm around the edges. The centers of the cookies will still be a little soft. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
Makes about 4-5 dozen cookies.
Can store in an airtight container, at room temperature, for about 10 - 14 days. Makes 4 to 5 dozen cookies.
Have you ever heard the term “you can’t out give a giver?” That saying totally describes my neighbor and friend Gaye. Isn’t she beautiful? Imagine this — she is even more beautiful “inside” and her love of God is unsurpassed.
Recently I baked some fresh strawberry cupcakes (recipe coming soon) and couldn’t wait to take them to Gaye and her family. But, as is usual, before I could take them down the road she showed up at my door with these outstanding Whole-wheat almond butter sandwich cookies! Gaye saw the recipe in the April copy of Living magazine and knew they would be a perfect treat for her family. You can find the recipe on Martha Stewart’s website here.
Can you just taste the crunchy, buttery almonds? I can and I did! The best part is these cookies aren’t overly sweet. Actually not too sweet at all, but packed full of taste!
Thank you Gaye and happy baking!
English Standard Version (ESV)
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.