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Orange sugar cookies: Bites of sweet sunshine

Recipe: Triple-orange sugar cookies with or without orange glaze

These triple-orange sugar cookies get an extra dose of citrus flavor with a zesty glaze.

These triple-orange sugar cookies get an extra dose of citrus flavor with a zesty glaze. Debbie Arrington

These very-orange sugar cookies taste like bites of spring sunshine: Crisp, bright and sweet.

That’s just what I need during our very wet late-winter days.

Orange juice and zest give these buttery, crisp cookies a lovely flavor. Orange or lemon extract adds one more citrus note.

Don’t overbake; these cookies crisp as they cool. They’re satisfying served plain, but the zesty, juice-based glaze intensifies the fresh orange flavor and fragrance that much more.

For this recipe, you’ll need two oranges with the glaze, one orange without.

Triple-orange sugar cookies

Makes about 40 cookies

½ cup butter or margarine

¾ cup sugar

2 tablespoons orange zest

1 large egg

1/3 cup fresh orange juice

1 teaspoon orange or lemon extract

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ to 1/3 cup sugar for rolling

For glaze:

1/3 cup orange juice

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

2 tablespoons orange zest

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter or margarine with an electric mixer until softened. Beat in ¾ cup sugar and 2 tablespoons orange zest. Add egg and beat until combined. Add 1/3 cup orange juice and extract; beat until smooth.

Sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add flour mixture to butter-sugar mixture, a little at a time, beating to make a smooth dough.

Chill the dough for at least an hour, covered with plastic.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Put ¼ cup sugar in a pie plate (add more sugar if needed). With two teaspoons or a melon baller, scoop dough into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in sugar and place 2 inches apart on ungreased or parchment-covered cookie sheet; don’t over crowd – these cookies spread. Gently press down on each ball; the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar works well.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies just begin to turn brown. Remove and let cool. Glaze, if desired.

Store in a sealed container.

For glaze: In a saucepan, combine 1/3 cup orange juice with 1 cup sifted powdered sugar. Stirring often, bring to a gentle boil, Cook for 1 minute. Add zest. Cool slightly. Brush over cookies.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist for week of April 7

The warm wave coming this week will shift weeds into overdrive. Get to work!

* Weed, weed, weed! Whack them before they flower.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash. Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias. Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom. April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings.

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