Thursday, March 22, 2007

Whipped Shortbread Cookies

These easy cookies are simply wonderful! I decorate them with red or green sugar or with candied cherries for Christmas, (and this year I dipped some in white sugar and flattened them with a snowflake-design cookie stamp), but I make them any time of year and they can be dipped in plain sugar or multicolored candy sprinkles. Pastel sugars would be pretty for Easter.


3 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted if very lumpy
4 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups cornstarch
Colored candy sprinkles and/or halved candied cherries and/or red and green colored sugar

Using a heavy-duty mixer, beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add dry ingredients, beating constantly until well blended. Roll dough into 1-inch balls (dust hands with additional cornstarch if necessary); dip balls in either colored candy sprinkles or colored sugar. Place balls, decorated side up, on ungreased cookie sheets. Press each ball lightly with a fork. (If you wish to decorate cookies with cherries, do this: Do not dip balls in colored sprinkles or sugar. Instead, place plain balls on cookie sheet and press lightly with fork. Then top each cookie with a cherry half.) You may wish to do an assortment and trim some cookies with candy sprinkles, some with colored sugar, and some with cherries.

Bake cookies at 300ยบ for 20 to 22 minutes, or until cookies are set but not browned.

Yield: 16 dozen cookies

This is a very big recipe, but it is very easily divided in half (or even in thirds) if you wish to make a smaller batch. It is so easy, but produces many beautiful cookies quite quickly.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Lovely ornaments to craft

Here are some of my very favorite ornaments. I saw some similar ones years ago in an outdoorsy catalog and decided to try making my own. If you'd like to do the same, keep an eye out in your area for the tiny hemlock cones. I gather mine when we're out for walks, and store them in a tin until I'm ready to use them for crafting.

Here's what you need:

* Clear glass ball ornaments

* Hemlock cones

* Artificial snow (this is the flaky stuff that comes in a bag)

* A funnel or a sheet of paper

* Ornament hangers or thin red ribbon for hanging

Carefully remove the tops from the glass ball ornaments. If you have a small funnel , insert the funnel tip in the top of the ornament and pour in some of the artificial snow. (If you don't have the right size funnel, just roll up a sheet of paper to create a funnel.) Don't fill the ball with snow; just fill it 1/4 or 1/3 full. Remove the funnel and drop some hemlock cones into the snow. Use as many as you like; I think I usually use at least 8 to 10. Sometimes you have to sort of squeeze the cones to get them through the ornament opening. I find it works best to put them in upside-down -- that is, the "stem" end first.

Carefully replace the hanger top on the ornament. Add an ornament hanger or a loop of thin red ribbon for hanging.

These look lovely on your tree and also make wonderful gifts!

Friday, March 02, 2007

A vintage mini-stocking

I was probably in my early teens when I received this little stocking from my grandmother, tucked into a package along with a gift of clothing. There was money folded up inside the stocking -- probably a dollar or two -- and maybe a tiny Christmas sachet, if I remember right. Thankfully, I kept the little stocking in a safe place -- so I still have it today and it has a special place on my tree each year. Isn't it adorable?