1. Sugar cookies are so simple to make, yet easy to dress up with frosting, sparkling colored sugar sprinkles and anything else you can imagine.  Here is a very basic recipe I have used for over 40 years. It belonged to my grandmother who made her cookies on an old cast iron wood stove.  I think the farm fresh butter used as the shortening agent was the special ingredient.  I have since tried to make them with margarine, but the taste and texture were not as good. These homemade cookies were a favorite year-round but especially at Christmas. My siblings and I loved to decorate them.  They did not always look like the cookies in magazines, but we were so proud of our creations. A few even made it to the dessert table. I have included a delicious homemade sugar cookie icing, also. 

    Homemade Sugar Cookie Recipe 

    Preheat the oven at 350° while you prepare the cookie dough.   Yields 3 – 4 dozen cookies, depending on the size of the cookie cutters.

    Ingredients:

    1 – ½ cups powdered (confectioners) sugar

    ½ teaspoon almond or lemon extract (optional)

    2-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

    1 teaspoon cream of tartar

    1 whole egg

    1 cup butter (no substitutes)

    1 teaspoon vanilla

    1 teaspoon baking soda 

    Directions:

    • Cream the powdered sugar and butter until thoroughly blended.
    • Break the whole egg into a small dish and stir with a fork to blend.  Mix the egg into the batter and beat on high using an electric mixer for 1 – 2  minutes.
    • Add almond and vanilla extracts and continue to beat another minute.
    • Sift all-purpose flour, cream of tartar and baking soda into a large bowl.
    • Add the creamed sugar and butter mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until well blended.
    • Place cookie dough on plastic wrap and pat into a circle or log. Wrap tightly.
    • Refrigerate cookie dough for at least 2 to 3 hours.
    • When ready to bake cookies roll small amounts of dough between two layers of lightly floured waxed paper. The flour will keep the dough from sticking.
    • Cut the rolled dough into shapes using cookie cutters dipped in flour.
    • Place cookies at least 1 inch apart on buttered cookie sheets. Non-stick coated cookie sheets do not need additional greasing.
    • You may add colored sugar sprinkles directly to the cookies or you may make a colored egg wash to brush over tops of unbaked cookies by mixing 1 beaten egg with 1 teaspoon of water or milk and desired food coloring. Colored sugar sprinkles will adhere nicely to the egg washed tops.
    • Bake at 375° for 6 to 8 minutes, or until cookies are slightly browned at edges. Be careful not to overbake.
    • Carefully remove from cookie sheets to wire racks to cool.
    • Decorate with homemade icing, if desired.  

    Decorative Homemade Icing for Sugar Cookies 

    Ingredients:

    4 cups powdered (confectioners) sugar

    ½ cup lard type shortening (i.e., Crisco)

    5 tablespoons milk

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    food coloring as desired 

    Directions:

    • Using a large bowl and electric mixer, cream the sugar and shortening until well blended.
    • Stir the vanilla extract into the milk.
    • Slowly add the milk and vanilla mixture into the cookie dough, and continue to blend for 5 minutes.
    • Mixture will be stiff and smooth.
    • If the mixture is too stiff,  blend in a little more milk, ½ teaspoon at a time.
    • Divide the mixture into smaller bowls and add desired food coloring to each bowl.
    • Stir the food coloring into the icing with a spoon until no streaks appear.
    • Decorate the cookies, as desired.  May add small candies, nuts, or chocolate chips.

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