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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Rolling in the (Cookie) Dough This Week

By Sherrie Norris

The first week of December 2020 has passed, and it’s easy to see that it’s going to be an interesting Christmas in the High Country. Few, if any parties, parades and musicals or large gatherings of any kind are on most of our calendars. It’s the first time ever that I can make a plan for any day between December 1 and January 1 without consulting my appointment book. I only have four important days to remember: two for medical appointments, one for a haircut — and Christmas Day.

Never have I had so many blank spaces on a December calendar. No family gatherings, no movie nights with our close friends, no quick getaways to The Biltmore Estate or to Dollywood to see the lights. Wow. I should be able to accomplish a lot in the coming days with all the extra time I now have. (Just like I have all summer – ha!)

Some of that time will be spent in the kitchen for my annual baking and cooking for Christmas. It’s always been therapeutic for me, and needed now more than ever. But, even all that will be on a lesser scale than usual, I’m thinking.

As most of us are trying to have a somewhat “normal-as-possible” holiday season, I will continue to share ideas, tips and recipes in the coming weeks, to help in that effort.

I told my husband earlier this week I didn’t want to just stop living simply because so much around us is in disarray. Let’s try to enjoy this blessed time of year for what is really means, if without all the parties and gatherings.

These cookies and bars featured below will freeze well, so stay a few steps ahead of the game to avoid any last minute rushing through any baking you might be doing.


Peppermint Cookies

2/3 cup butter-flavored shortening

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

1½ cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. crushed peppermint candy

In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugars; beat in egg. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; stir into the creamed mixture. Fold in the candy. Drop by teaspoonful onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until edge begin to brown. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.


Shortbread Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

½ cup white sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbs. milk

¼ cup sprinkles

Combine softened butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer until creamy and well combined. Add vanilla extract and the flour; mix again until a sturdy dough has formed. Roll out the dough until it’s 1/2- inch thick. Dough might be slightly crumbly, and needs to be rolled out gently. (Might be best to roll dough out in batches and cut out 2-4 cookies out at a time, then gather up the remaining dough and roll again).

Use a thin spatula to lift the cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Chill unbaked shortbread cookies in the fridge for 30 minutes before baking at 350 degree for about 15 minutes. Check on them at 10 minutes and then at 2 minute intervals until lightly browned. Decorate lightly with sprinkles.


Holiday Fruit Drops

½ cup shortening

½ cup butter or margarine

2 cups brown sugar

2 eggs

3 ½ cups sifted flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

½ cup water

1 ½ cup chopped walnuts

2 cups mixed candied fruit

½ cup halved candied red cherries

Cream together shortening, butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients alternately with water to creamed mixture, mixing well. Stir in walnuts, candied fruit and cherries. Chill dough in refrigerator for 1 hour. Drop by teaspoonful on greased baking sheets. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until lightly brown. Makes about 7 dozen.


Santa’s Whiskers

1 cup margarine

1 cup sugar

2 Tbs. milk

1 tsp. vanilla

2½ cups flour

¾ cup red and green candied cherries

½ cup chopped pecans

¾ cup coconut

Cream margarine and sugar. Add remaining ingredients, except coconut. Roll dough into a log shape and roll in coconut until it’s well covered. Slice ½-inch thick and bake on a greased cookie sheet for 10 minutes at 375.


Quick Cranberry-Orange Bars


1 pkg. Cranberry Quick Bread Mix

1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 egg


1 can whole-berry cranberry sauce

1 Tbsp. grated orange peel

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350, Grease square pan. In large bowl, combine all base ingredients, mixing well until crumbly. Reserve 1 cup for topping, press remainder evenly in bottom of prepared pan.

In medium bowl, combine all filling ingredients; blend well. Spread filling evenly over base; sprinkle evenly with reserved crumb mixture, press lightly.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until top is lightly brown. Cool and cut into bars.

Pecan Pie Bars

1 yellow or butter flavor cake mix

1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened

4 eggs

½ cup brown sugar

1 ½ cups dark corn syrup

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350. Grease oblong baking dish or pan. Set aside 2/3 cup of cake mix. In large bowl, combine remaining cake mix, margarine and 1 egg until well blended, and press in bottom of pan. Bake at 350 for 15 or 20 minutes or until light brown.

In large bowl, combine reserved 2/3 cup cake mix, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and 3 eggs until well blended. Pour mixture over warm base, sprinkle with pecans. Bake an additional 30-35 minutes or until filling is set. Cool and cut into bars. Store in refrigerator or freezer until needed.