Lemon Square Cookies

Lent is approaching all too quickly. Time to think of a few sweets to soften the blow before the ‘give-ups’ begin! We don’t overdo our Fat Tuesday but a batch of fresh cookies made on the preceding Sunday to last through Tuesday always seems the best way to go for us.

Lemon Square Cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup cold butter, cut into small squares
2 teaspoons finely-grated fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix together the dry ingredients, place into a mixing bowl. Add half of the pieces of butter, the lemon zest and mix to form buttery crumbs. Add the second half of the butter and mix until no flour is visible. Add the extracts and lemon juice until the dough just holds together.

Lightly knead the dough and then divide into two portions. Place each on a square of waxed paper and form into about 1 1/2-inch square logs about four to five inches long. Wrap the waxed paper around the logs and refrigerate 3-4 hours or overnight. Remove the dough rolls about 30 minutes before baking to soften a bit.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper. With a sharp knife, carefully slice 1/4th thick slices from the logs and place about an inch or so apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake the cookies for approximately 15-20 minutes depending on your oven. They should be firm to the touch and golden brown around the edges. Remove them to a rack to cool before icing.

Lemon Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
Enough fresh lemon juice to form a medium-thick icing.

I’ve never heard anyone say no to some colorful sprinkles scattered over the cookies before the icing dries.

*A thought . . . If you have some walnuts or pecans on hand, you can toast a cup of them then finely grind them. After you form the log squares, you can roll and press the nuts all around the logs before you refrigerate them. That way, you get an extra bit of crunch and the flavor of the nuts goes well with lemon.

 

 

Christmas Baking Completed!

My daughter and I finished off making the last of the Christmas cookies yesterday. We have been watching way too many baking shows so attempted, with a bit of success, to make some better than average versions of the experts’ cookies. We put on Christmas music and spent four hours noting that the first six or seven cookies we decorated were not all that great while one could see our expertise grow with the middle group. The last twenty or so ended up much simpler as we got tired of all the sticky frosting joy. Anyway, this batch along with the 15 other kinds I baked during the week will easily fill up our cookies gift plates for our friends.

HOWEVER, when I say I’m done, I’m talking about the ‘normal’ cookies. My younger son in adamantly vegan so I still have five cookie recipes to bake for his Christmas treats. I asked him once if his three roommates were vegan, too, and he said, “Only when I’m doing the cooking!” I guess that will be the same situation if they want one of his Christmas cookies!

Cookies – Plain, Simple, and Tasty!

I love to bake and enjoy fussing over presentation but there are times when I need something from the oven with limited time in which to get it into the oven. These very basic cookies work well, feed a reasonable crowd. Works well with a scoop of ice cream for a dessert night treat.

One-Baking Pan Cookies

1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 egg yolk (reserve white)
1-2 teaspoons almond flavoring
2 cups flour

Cream together sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in egg yolk and flavoring. Add flour to form dough. Pat dough evenly on ungreased cookie sheet. Brush top of dough with slightly beaten egg white.

Combine ¼ cup granulated sugar and two teaspoons cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over dough. Sprinkle finely chopped nuts over it all. (almonds, walnuts or pecans.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until very lightly browned. Cool and cut into serving portions.

*I like to double the recipe and press it out in one of my large, rimmed baking pans. Don’t forget the parchment paper lining to minimize clean up and insure nothing sticks. For some holiday drama, you could scatter on some gold candy glitter along with the chopped nuts.

**Gluten-free? Although I haven’t tried it with this recipe YET, I think that one of the cup-for-cup gluten free flour blends would work well with this.

Cheatin’ Cookies!

I don’t think there is a mother who has never been informed ten minutes before bedtime that their child just remembered they were supposed to bring cookies to school the next day. My favorite and a popular solution that’s been around for awhile follows! The nice thing about this recipe is that you can use any flavor cake mix you like or have in the house. You can add chocolate chips, nuts, coconut to the mixture and come up with some ‘homemade’ (hey! you DID make them at HOME!) cookies in a minimum of time and effort. Remember an extra drop of vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spices for a spice cake mix and such would work well.

Cheatin’ Cookies!

1 package (18.25 ounces) favorite cake mix
½ cup butter (1 stick) melted
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cookies sheets should be greased or sprayed with vegetable spray.

In a medium bowl, stir in all ingredients until well combined. Drop by tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets, about 3 inches apart to allow for spreading. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes until edges are brown. Let cool on cookie sheet a few minutes before transferring to racks to finish cooling.

Crispy Coconut Chews

Crispy Coconut Chews

My husband doesn’t like coconut but, for some reason, he likes these cookies! They are easy to make and a nice contrast to all the chocolate and spice cookies that show up at Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against chocolate and spice cookies but don’t mind chomping down on an extra coconut cookie in addition to the rest! Sometimes, I use bran flakes for the called-for crushed flake cereal in the ingredients. I’m always sneaking in extra vitamins and fiber even with treats.

½ cup butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup crushed flake cereal
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup coconut
½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugars until smooth and fluffy. Stir in egg, extract, and lemon zest. Add the flour, baking soda, and baking powder to the butter mixture. Add the oatmeal, cereal, coconut, and walnuts. Mix gently until well combined.

Drop dough by tablespoons onto greased baking sheet, keeping them about 2 inches apart to allow for spreading. Bake for approximately ten minutes or until cookies are lightly browned at the edges. Cool on wire racks. Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies depending on size.

Zucchini-Carrot Cookies

Zucchini-Carrot Oatmeal Cookies

Every year, the further we advance into summer, the more abundant the zucchini and carrots seem to be. I’ve known some years when gardens produced so many zucchinis that people almost shuttered their windows when they see anyone coming up the walk with produce from their garden! Anyway, this is a simple, chewy sort of plain cookie that makes a good snack with a cold glass of milk or afternoon cup of hot tea.

½ cup butter
3/4 cup honey
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
grated zest of one orange
½ cup finely grated zucchini
½ cup finely grated carrots
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup of one or a combination of the following: chopped dates, raisins, dried cranberries, or dried apricots.

Preat oven to 375 degrees. Use vegetable oil spray or parchment to prepare baking sheets.

Cream together the butter and honey. Blend in the egg and beat well. Combine the dry ingredients and mix in alternately with the zucchini-carrot mixture. Stir in the oats and chosen dried fruits.

Drop by teaspoonsful on prepared baking sheets. Bake for approximately 10 minutes depending on your oven. Makes about four dozen cookies.

For an added treat either dip tops in melted chocolate or glaze with lemon icing. Your children might not even guess about the vegetables and fiber you are sneaking into the cookies.

Burnt Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Burnt Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies

A favorite around our house is most any kind of oatmeal cookie. The only argument is whether to add raisins or not. This recipe always comes to mind when I notice the bananas aging rapidly on the kitchen counter.

1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed, dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup very ripe, mashed bananas
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Zest of one orange
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups oatmeal*
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped walnuts
½ cup mini-chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking pans with parchment paper or use vegetable oil spray.

Cream together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and eggs. Mixture should be well-combined. Add bananas, vanilla, orange zest, ground cinnamon oats, flour, and baking powder. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips.

Scoop teaspoonfuls (a cookie scoop comes in handy about now!) onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cookies set a few minutes before removing to cooling rack. You will get 3-4 dozen cookies depending on the size.