Holiday Baking

cookie cutters & rolling pinMy mother collected cookie cutters for all the seasons but could never seem find a recipe that was easy to roll out and cut. I finally found one in a parenting magazine and have enjoyed getting out the old cookie cutters a few times a year and making these.

Sugar Cookies

4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup butter

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon lemon extract

cookie cutters

decorative sprinkles/cookie paint (optional recipe follow)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Next beat in the eggs, vanilla, and lemon extract. Stir the flour mixture in by thirds until everything is incorporated. For easy cleanup afterward, moisten the tabletop or counter and lay a piece of wax paper on it (the moisture keeps the paper from slipping). Roll out the cookie dough on the wax paper and use cookie cutters to make shapes. Place the cookies on a baking sheet with a large spatula (a silicone mat underneath prevents sticking). Decorate cookies with sugar sprinkles or the cookie paint recipe that follows—spread it thickly over the cookie. Bake 14 minutes. Cookies are done when the edges are lightly brown.

Cookie Paint

4 egg yolks

4 different colors of food coloring

wax paper

cookie dough

cotton swabs or clean paintbrushes

colored sugar crystals or sprinkles

Place the egg yolks in four separate small bowls. Add several drops of food coloring to one yolk and stir with a fork. Add as much food coloring as necessary to achieve a rich color. Follow the same procedure with the remaining yolks, making a total of four different colors of paint with the food coloring.

To make more permanent cookie-cut outs, there’s a recipe for Baker’s Dough Ornaments here

About Lisa M. Asta, MD

Lisa M. Asta, M.D. is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, for which she is also a Media Representative (she has been interviewed for “Kids Health” on Health Radio, and quoted in Parenting Magazine, USA Today, and the New York Times, among other publications). She is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco and past pediatric chair at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. She graduated from Temple University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Asta is also a writer whose fiction has appeared in Inkwell, Philadelphia Stories, Schuylkill, and Zeniada. Her essays have appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Hippocrates, the San Jose Mercury News, and The New Physician Magazine. She is an occasional contributor to KQED public radio’s Perspectives series, and has written articles for Bay Area Parent, Valley Parent, Parents’ Press, and Parents Express, as well as online at,, and She wrote a chapter in The Field Guide to the Normal Newborn, ed. Gary Emmet, M.D. currently has two how-to videos for parents in production which feature Dr. Asta. For more on Dr. Asta’s writing, visit
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