The holiday open house is past, and the last of her made-from-scratch goodies has long since disappeared. But Sandy Downey isn’t ready to take a break.

“I just keep cooking,” says the Lake Highlands resident with a laugh.

And her friends keep coming. Not only do they arrive at her door when invited, but they also solicit invitations by calling to ask if she is preparing one of their favorite dishes.

One of those favorites – and now Downey’s claim to fame – is “A Little Cookie with Your Chocolate Chips.” The cookie won first prize in the Land o’ Lakes Butter Contest and third in the Drop Cookies Contest at last year’s State Fair of Texas. The result gratified Downey, who for years has resisted suggestions to market the cookie.

“I’ve been apprehensive,” she says, afraid that accolades from friends and family were exaggerated. The State Fair judges disagreed, and so did bystanders, who devoured the cookies remaining after the contest.

It’s also a cookie with a history: Roger Staubach tasted three at a party, then asked the hostess to hide the rest so he could take them home. He later endorsed the recipe as a family favorite for an auction at St. Thomas Aquinas School, where one of Downey’s sons is a student.

What makes the cookies special? Downey doesn’t hesitate to answer: They contain a pound of butter, and they’re big. Instead of being dropped from a teaspoon, she uses an ice cream scoop, ensuring that each serving contains enough chocolate chips to satisfy the most demanding chocoholic.

And how did she create the recipe?

“I look for visual appeal,” Downey says. “I open the bag and keep pouring until I see what I want. I don’t measure anything. I just put it in to taste.”

She also claims to have a one-man taste kitchen in her husband.

“He’ll have one (cookie) with milk, another with a (different) chaser. Then he’ll tell me what he thinks,” she says.

All of which can make it difficult for others to duplicate her results. That Downey cooks at all, let alone that she cooks well, comes as a surprise to those who know her past.

“When I was little, my mother would never let me cook,” she says. And as an attorney before her marriage, “I never lifted a finger to do anything. I was going to give my husband frozen dinners.”

It was only when she realized that meant 365 store-bought meals a year that she began to cook.

Now her sons help her in the kitchen and are making plans for when they move away from home.

“They’ll say: Mom, you’re going to give me these recipes, aren’t you?”