"When I was in 4-H, if you weren't on a farm, it was the old stuff — you cooked and sewed," she said.
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Now O'Neil cooks for her family — her husband, two sons and her older son's wife — and she has a collection of family recipes. When she considered which cookie recipe she should enter in The Herald-Mail's 2012 Cookie Exchange Contest, she went with a family favorite. But she added some seasonal color.
"I started with a cookie that my mother-in-law had given me," she said. "(I thought) red berries in a green cookies would make it look good for Christmas."
O'Neil's recipe was among judges' top selections in the contest, but her recipe — Coconut-Cran Delights — picked up two popular ingredients in last year's contest.
O'Neil said she had taken her mother-in-law's recipe and adjusted it.
"It had nuts and candy bar pieces. That was pretty sweet, and my family doesn't care for nuts in cookies," she said. "I wanted to make it healthier — something that's a good cookie but has a little nutritional value there."
So O'Neil took out the nuts and added cranberries. For the cookie contest, she added some green food coloring to the batter.
— Chris Copley, Lifestyle assistant editor
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt