The second cookies I made are peanut butter balls. This is a heavily guarded recipe that originally came from my neightbor/my best friend's step-father's ex-wife. My friend Amanda makes these every year and we call them Mandy's Candies. The recipe is out there all over the place in the Internet, so I don't need to post it here and risk upsetting the balance of the universe of my old neighborhood.
Finally, I made sugar cookies. My sister is the queen of cut-out sugar cookies. She makes them for every holiday, bridal showers, etc. She's also a great pie baker. I don't have a lot of patience for rolling out dough (or a lot of time), so I made our grandmother's sugar cookie recipe, rolled it into a log, chilled it for a couple days, and then sliced and baked. They came out approximately round, and I knew that they would look great iced. Here is the recipe:
I also made up a 3/4 batch of my grandmother's christmas cookie icing. Techinically I guess it's royal icing, but I always refer to it as Christmas cookie icing. The icing gets very hard, and I love the combination of soft cookie with a coating of hard icing on top. When I was a kid, my grandmother always made sugar cookies like that. I can still picture her pink-clad santas (I have that cookie cutter now). The santas were pink because she used liquid food coloring and it takes a whole lot of liquid food coloring to dye icing red. These days I use gel food coloring and am able to get more of a red color.
I simply use a ziplock bag instead of a pastry bag for most of my decorating needs. It's easy and disposable--just fill with colored icing and snip a very small hole in the corner. For the holly leaves I did use a pastry bag and tip, but the disposable pastry bag split at the seams before I was finished--I had green icing all over my hands!Here's the recipe for the icing (Doris Arnold is my grandmother):
The recipes are from this cookbook:I made it a number of years ago by covering a blank book with cut outs from magazines (and the Williams Sonoma catalog). I covered the whole thing with contact paper, and even included measurement equivalents table inside the front cover. I love this little book. It contains my favorite family recipes (banana bread, brownies, cranberry bread, cookie recipes, coffee cake, etc.) as well as some of the recipes I've cut out of magazines. I've always loved cutting and pasting!!!