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Decorate ‘eggs’ with this easy cookie recipe and the colorful candy of your choice

Stick on candy details before the icing dries on these lemon shortbread cookies, which are sure to delight everyone, especially children.
Stick on candy details before the icing dries on these lemon shortbread cookies, which are sure to delight everyone, especially children. CHELSEA CAVANAUGH

Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? That’s entirely up to you.

Have little ones help decorate a few dozen of these lemon shortbread cookies with sanding sugar, sprinkles, mini chocolate chips and candy.

Then share them with your peeps at Easter dinner — or any gathering you want to sweeten with these sure signs of spring.

Tip: Send some home with friends in parchment-lined reusable boxes. Paint the lids for a personal touch. Source: Paper Mart Oval Poplar wooden box set, $32 for 18, papermart.com.

Easter chick cookies

Makes 3 dozen cookies

For the shortbread:

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  •  3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the lemon icing:

  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 drops yellow gel food coloring
  • Yellow fine sanding sugar, jumbo candy sequins, orange and yellow sprinkles, candy hearts, and mini chocolate chips, for decorating

1. Make the cookies: Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Whisk together flour and salt. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add sugar, and continue to beat until pale and fluffy, occasionally scraping down the sides of bowl, about 2 minutes more. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture, and mix on low speed, scraping sides if necessary, until flour is just incorporated and dough sticks together when squeezed with fingers.

2. Turn out dough, forming into 2 disks; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

3. Heat oven to 325 degrees. To create an egg shape, pinch one end of a 2  1/2-inch-tall oval cookie cutter. Roll out 1 disk to a 1/4-inch thickness; stamp out shapes. Re-roll scraps. Repeat with remaining disk.

4. Bake until firm and golden, 13 to 15 minutes. For flatter cookies, tap sheets on counter halfway through baking and again afterward. Let cool on wire racks.

5. Make the icing: Stir together sugar and lemon juice. Add food coloring. Transfer to a small squeeze bottle. Outline cookies with icing  1/4 inch from edges, then fill in centers.

6. Set up a candy bar and get creative with decorating. Let dry; store in an airtight container up to 5 days.

For the chicks: Dip an iced cookie in sanding sugar. Dot jumbo candy sequins with icing; overlap to create feathers. Use orange sprinkles for feet, a candy heart for a beak and upside-down mini chocolate chips for eyes.

For the eggs: Lay orange or yellow sprinkles in a zigzag pattern halfway up an iced cookie. Sprinkle bottom with sanding sugar.

Do-it-yourself style: all ears

Some magicians pull rabbits out of hats; others conjure them from the linen closet. All you need to master this sweet place setting is a starched square napkin, a ribbon and a hard-boiled egg. Do a little sleight of hand and — presto, chango — you’ve whipped up a stylish Easter tabletop that lets guests know they’re some bunny special.

A 20-by-20-inch dinner napkin was used for this origami-inspired idea, but a square lunch napkin works too, so long as it’s starched and ironed. Use a black paint marker to draw on eyes, a nose and whiskers.

Sources: Sferra Festival napkin in Blush, $58 for 4, sferra.com. Canvas Home Dauville dinner plate, $35, and salad plate in Platinum, $25, canvashomestore.com.

How-to:

1. Fold a napkin into thirds.

2. Fold lower corners up to meet in center, creating a paper-airplane shape.

3. Flip over napkin so seam faces table. Fold in outer edges to meet in center.

4. Place an egg on pointed tip, tie “ears” above it with ribbon and nestle egg into place.

Provisions: nice spread!

Salmon rillettes win the party-food triple crown — quick, easy and delicious. And since they can easily be made kosher and are great on matzoh, they’re ideal for a Seder.

Saute 1 cup chopped yellow onion in 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat until golden. Let cool slightly; transfer to a food processor with 8 ounces (1  1/2 cups) flaked hot-smoked salmon. (Try Ducktrap River of Maine brand, available at most grocery stores.) Add 1/4 cup each chopped fresh dill and mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest. Pulse until just combined; serve. (Or store in refrigerator up to 3 days.)

Instant upgrade: a sight for sore eyes

Your bedtime-reading routine is about to get a lot brighter. Swap a dim table lamp for a pendant of your own design, with a custom dome (this one comes in six colors) and as jazzy a cord (choose from 36 hues!) as your boudoir can handle.

Just anchor the power line to the wall by winding it around a pretty piece of hardware, then plug it in. Voilà! Overhead lighting — no electrician required.

Sources: Color Cord Company Standard plug-in pendant light in Polished Copper, $25; and Metal Dome Shade in White, $60, colorcord.com. West Elm Burl nightstand, $399, westelm.com. Unison Himmeli Gray Matelasse coverlet in Queen, $165, and standard sham, $40, unisonhome.com. Anthropologie Streamline hooks in Slate and Bronze, $16 each, anthropologie.com.

Quick fix: Keep out, kitty

Your cat can hear you reasoning with her — she just chooses not to listen. Save your breath and try these tricks to convince her that your plants are not interchangeable with her litter box.

Deploy fruit: Cats hate the smell of citrus. Add a few drops of orange essential oil (such as C.O. Bigelow’s; $9, bigelowchemists.com) to a spray bottle of water and spritz it on soil.

Create a barrier: Add a layer of small pinecones or pebbles to create an inhospitable texture that finicky felines won’t want to touch with their dainty little paws.

Clutter control: crate idea

To keep a counterless bathroom’s most valuable real estate — the rim of a pedestal sink — looking clean, raise your gaze. Here, suction hooks are used to stick a wire organizer directly onto the wall above. Clip-on name tags keep supplies separated, and the open-grid frame ensures that toothbrush handles stay dry and goop-free.

Sources: Lostine Wire Hold Everything in Blue, $42, lostine.com. CB2 Infinity wall mirror, 24 inches, $149, cb2.com.

Address questions to Ask Martha, care of Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living, 11 W. 42nd St., New York, NY 10036. Or go to www.marthastewart.com/contact-us-form. Please include your name, address and daytime phone number.

Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate

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