Q: What types of cookies are best to mail to soldiers overseas?
A: The cookies could be in transit for two weeks, so bake crisp varieties for your loved ones in the military. They're less susceptible to mold, says Janice Revell, co-founder of StillTasty.com, a site devoted to food safety and freshness. Try these cookies, which will hold up for two weeks in an airtight container.
Starting a scrapbook
Q: What are the basic supplies I need to start a scrapbook?
A: First you will need to purchase a few essential crafts tools, including a cutting mat, a craft knife, sharp scissors, a bone folder and a screw punch, if you don't already have them.
A simple good-quality scrapbook will be your canvas. When picking one out, consider factors such as the binding and page count. And choose your materials and palette based on the theme, person or event you plan on commemorating. It's a good idea to find solid and patterned paper that match the items you are archiving.
Because you will be working with small bits and pieces, you should look for fine-tip pens and adhesives (such as a glue pen or roller). Archival or acid-free products are designed to last longer and will preserve your pages. Try using office supplies such as labels for marking dates and locations, or small envelopes for housing keepsakes. Photo corners provide decorative flair while securing pictures in place. Finally, you can add color and texture by incorporating decorative punches, glitter and stickers.
Traditional Shortbread Wedges
2 C all-purpose flour
3⁄4 C confectioners' sugar
11⁄4 tsp coarse salt
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
Sift together flour, sugar and salt into a bowl. Place butter into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl. Gradually add flour mixture; beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees, with rack in upper third.
Using plastic wrap, press dough into a buttered 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, covered with plastic wrap.
Remove plastic wrap; cut dough into 8 wedges with a paring knife. Using a wooden skewer, prick all over at 1⁄4-inch intervals.
Bake until golden brown and firm in center, about 1 hour. Transfer pan to a wire rack. Recut shortbread into wedges; let cool completely in pan.
Makes about 3 dozen.
3⁄4 C (11⁄2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 C confectioners' sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 limes
2 TBS fresh lime juice
1 TBS pure vanilla extract
13⁄4 C plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 TBS cornstarch
1⁄4 tsp coarse salt
Beat butter and 1⁄3 cup confectioners' sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add lime zest and juice and vanilla, and beat until fluffy.
Whisk together flour, cornstarch and salt in a bowl. Add to butter mixture, and mix together on low speed until just combined.
Divide dough in half. Place each half on an 8-by-12-inch sheet of parchment paper. Roll in parchment to form a log 11⁄4 inches in diameter, pressing a ruler along edge of parchment at each turn to narrow log. Refrigerate logs until cold and firm, at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Remove parchment from logs; cut into 1⁄4-inch-thick rounds. Space rounds 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake cookies until barely golden, about 13 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.
Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. While still warm, toss cookies with remaining 2⁄3 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag.