SUGAR COOKIES KEEP IT EASY FOR THE HOLIDAYS

You have them — friends that deliver beautiful cookie trays at the holidays, full of handcrafted delectable treats. You’d think that they spent hours sculpting each perfect cookie, all individually delicious. They might have, but there’s a secret method to success for a holiday cookie collection: a cookie base that can perform more than just one job.

There are many cookie bases, but for holiday decorating, you just can’t beat a sugar cookie. This recipe is delicious and versatile, able to be shaped into intricate cut out cookies or pressed into a cheesecake crust. Just don’t eat them all before it’s time to give them away.

MONTHLY’S CEO SHARES HIS GO-TO SUMMER DISH

Today we are going to cook an all-in-one dish that is simple, satisfying and interesting. 

The first time we came across this dish was on Martha’s Vineyard. We had just come ashore after sailing from Newport and had worked up an appetite. It was summer and the constant salt-filled breeze reminded us that although we were on land, we were also in the middle of an ocean. As we sat outside on wooden benches, it felt natural to order a dish that marries land and sea: cannellini beans with squid (calamari) and broccoli spears. 

Make: 32 servings 

1 eight-ounce package cream cheese, softened 
1/3 cup mayonnaise 
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded 
1 clove garlic, minced 
1/2 cup pimientos, drained and finely chopped 
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
8 celery stalks, each sliced on the bias into four pieces 

Makes: 16 servings 

2/3 cup all-purpose flour 
1/4 cup powdered sugar 
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt 
6 tablespoons salted butter, divided into 6 pieces 
4 egg yolks, beaten 
1/3 cup granulated sugar 
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 
zest of 2 lemons 
1/2 cup blueberries 
2 tablespoons heavy cream 
3 tablespoons powdered sugar 
Fresh mint leaves 

This recipe is inspired by Eastern European jam-filled cookies. | Makes 12-14 cookies

These cookies are fun for children to make with adult help because decorations can be placed inside the circular “Peekaboo” opening in the top layer of the cookie. Young bakers also will learn to use a rolling pin. If possible, use a standing mixer with a flat beater attachment — the best attachment for making cookie dough. A wire whisk works best for lighter jobs like whipping cream and frothing egg whites. A dough hook works best for heavier jobs like pizza and pasta doughs.