Melt in Your Mouth Christmas Cutouts

The holiday season is upon us and it’s just about time to start our Christmas baking.  We had a great time this weekend as we welcomed a few young guests to share in the fun.  I was happy to have found some package labels (last year’s clearance aisle) to wrap up our tasty treats for gift giving.  As one of my favorite cookie recipes, I posted it several years ago… You can find it here.  These tasty morsels truly do “melt in your mouth” and they are relatively simple to make.  Great little gifts for those that we share our lives with… Coworkers, colleagues, the mail carrier, our anyone else that you care to share a heartfelt gift with.  

Wishing you the blessings of the season as you celebrate the holidays with your family and friends.




Amish Snack Cake



Jeepers creepers, it sure is busy around here…

This happens every December as the temperatures drop, the snow starts to fall, and holiday celebrations begin.  

I recently attended an early morning co-worker’s meeting.  We only meet four times a year and our December meeting is more like a meeting/potluck lunch.  We discuss business during the morning hours and then celebrate the upcoming holidays with a carry-in lunch in the afternoon.  As a special breakfast treat, I had volunteered to bake a few items and run to a local coffee shop for a box of hot coffee for the crowd.

Well, to my dismay, it started to snow heavily the night before the event and I knew the snow would hamper my trip to the donut shop the following morning.  I decided that I would get up really early to throw my baked goods into the oven so that I could travel into town and onto the meeting in a timely manner.  I wanted to make an uncomplicated recipe with only a few ingredients to speed up the process so I grabbed my recipe file to look for a recipe that had appeared in the newspaper many years ago.  I had clipped it out and tucked it away for just such an occasion. For this simple recipe, I used a box of spice cake mix and a can of apple pie filling for two of the ingredients.  The addition of three eggs was all that was needed to finish off the batter.  I threw in a handful of chopped walnuts to add a bit of crunch.

Below you will find the basic recipe.  The addition of nuts, raisins, chocolate chips, etc. will certainly add to the flavor and texture of the cake.  I’ve added a note with some classic flavor combinations if you would like to change things up a bit… Enjoy this moist and flavorful cake!



Amish Snack Cake

1 box cake mix, any flavor (I use spice cake mix)

3 large eggs, beaten

1 can pie filling, any flavor (I use apple pie filling)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13×9″ pan with non-stick cooking spray.  In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, eggs and pie filling. Stir together until well blended.  Bake for 40-45 minutes or test for doneness with a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake.  Cool completely before icing (if desired).

Other variations:

  • Chocolate cake mix with cherry pie filling and chocolate chips
  • Butter pecan cake mix with apple pie filling and nuts
  • Yellow cake mix with peach filling and walnuts
  • Pineapple cake mix with blueberry filling and coconut
  • Yellow cake mix with cherry filling
  • Spice cake mix with apple pie filling and walnuts

Festive Cranberry, Pecan and Feta Salad

I recently attended a daylong training in Indianapolis.  A soup and salad lunch was was served mid-day.  One of the local restaurants was asked to provide a bounty of fresh rolls, piping hot turkey chili and a fabulous cranberry and feta salad.  I passed on the rolls and chili but piled a healthy portion of the salad on my festive plate.  As I munched on the salad, I was reminded of a recipe that I used to make years ago and made a note to look through my cookbook collection to remake the dish for the Thanksgiving table (for some lighter fare.) Here is the version that I made… I don’t recall where the recipe originated, I have a handwritten note with the dressing ingredients loosely estimated.  We sure enjoyed this recipe. To save time, I’ve used a bottled raspberry vinaigrette or poppy seed dressing.  I have also added some freshly sliced pears to the mix. Super easy and delicious! Great for the upcoming holidays.

Festive Cranberry Feta and Pecan Salad

2 tablespoons raspberry or apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon sugar or the equivalent sweetener

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

6 tablespoons olive oil

6 cups mixed salad greens, rinsed and dried

3/4 cup dried cranberries

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 cup pecan halves, lightly toasted

In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper; mix until sugar and salt dissolve. Slowly whisk in olive oil.  In a chilled  glass salad bowl, toss together the greens, cranberries, pecans, and cheese. Drizzle with vinaigrette, and gently toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Lemon Christmas Cake

A couple of years ago, I was invited to an afternoon luncheon where a gathering of friends would celebrate the coming of Christmas. When I arrived, several women were happily chatting as they placed holiday favors at each place setting.  An assortment of Christmas chocolates, candy canes, and holiday ornaments were individually wrapped for each guest.  One woman had made at least 3 dozen mini-quick bread loaves, each beautifully bundled in festive cellophane wrap. She had baked lots of different flavored loaves; pumpkin nut, cranberry orange, banana, and lemon pound cake.  I was tickled to receive the lemon flavored loaf for the glaze glistened through the cellophane and looked absolutely delicious.
Arriving home, I promptly put on the kettle and sliced the loaf to share with the family. A quick bite had me rummaging through my recipe files as the taste reminded me of an old recipe I had tucked away years before.  The lemony flavor is perfect and the texture is incredibly moist.   This recipe makes a beautiful bundt cake that is baked for about 1 hour.  (I often pour the batter in two 8X4″ loaf pans and bake for 40-45 minutes.) The zesty glaze adds a boost of flavor that soaks into the cake and makes it a wonderful addition to the holiday dessert table.

Lemon Christmas Cake

For the cake:

2 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups butter, softened

4 eggs

3 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

 1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt

1 teaspoon lemon extract

For the glaze:

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest

For the cake: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a bundt pan.

Beat sugar and butter together in a bowl until light and fluffy, nearly 10 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, thoroughly beating after each addition into the butter and sugar mixture. Stir in lemon extract.  In a medium bowl, sift flour, salt, and baking soda together. Add a third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture; mix well. Pour in half the buttermilk and beat until combined. Continue adding the remaining flour mixture and buttermilk, beating well after each addition, and ending with the flour mixture. Evenly pour batter into prepared pan. Before baking, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 60 to 75 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

For the glaze:

Beat confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons butter, and lemon zest together in a bowl until glaze is smooth. Pour about half the glaze over the cake; let cool. Pour remaining glaze over the cake.

Low-Carb Peanut Butter Mini Loaf

As we move into mid November/December, the holiday season ushers in a plethora of tempting chocolatey treats, sweetly seasoned baked goods, and a bounty of party trays that seem to line the expanse of grocery store isles all over the country.  As the season of eating (and over-eating) begins, I am forever looking for recipes that will help me to stay away from the carb-laden sweet treats that show up everywhere. Yesterday, while I was shopping for a few pantry staples, my neighborhood grocery store shared with customers an array of cakes, pies, and pastry samples.  Turning every corner of each isle offered a new taste of tempting delicacies including shrimp cocktail, hot sugary beverages, hors d’oeuvres, and various sweet treats.  Store owners even offered a full Thanksgiving lunch with all the trimmings so that customers could sample the items and entice them to place early dinner orders for upcoming holiday gatherings.  Food, food, and more food…Yikes!

As an alternative, this Peanut Butter Mini-Loaf is one of the recipes that I turn to for a small sample of low-carb deliciousness that has no flour, a slight bit of sweetener, and a portion size that is certainly doable.  I use peanut butter with ingredients that include only peanuts and less than 1% of salt.  (I use the Smucker’s brand in the glass jar.)  Sometimes I mix a 1/2 cup of cinnamon with a packet of sweeter to make my own version of cinnamon sugar.  I store it in an airtight container and sprinkle a bit of it over the top of a buttered slice. Oh my, simply delicious…



Low Carb Peanut Butter Mini Loaf

1 cup natural peanut butter, creamy 

3 large eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vinegar

1/2 teaspoon  baking soda

2 individual packets sweetener 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 1 quart mini loaf pan or 2-3X5″ loaf pans.  In a medium bowl, combine beaten eggs and peanut butter.  With a spatula, mix until smooth.  Add vinegar, baking soda and sweetener.  Hand whisk until smooth and creamy. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan(s).   Bake for 30-35 minutes until bread is fully cooked and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing into thin slices with a sharp knife.

 

Refreshing Whipped Jello Dessert



I was looking for a refreshing, lite dessert this past Halloween weekend and I remembered this four-ingredient, low-sugar treat that everyone seems to enjoy.  I usually store the finished product in the fridge for a grab-and-go snack, but it’s also crazy delicious frozen. 

If freezing this treat, dump the mixture into a 13X9 baking dish, spread evenly and freeze.  Then, slice it into squares before serving.  (I use the sugar-free ingredients to assemble this recipe but using the “regular”  ingredients will work just as well.)

Refreshing Whipped Jello Dessert (low-sugar)

1 (8 ounce) container Cool Whip, sugar free

1 (16 ounce) container cottage cheese

2 (3 ounce) packages orange sugar-free Jello

1 can Del Monte Mandarin Oranges (no sugar added), drain well


In the order provided, mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Saturday Morning Apple Crumble

This is one of my most favorite times of the year.  The morning temperatures are a bit brisk but not too overwhelming and the afternoon sun shines across the fields of trees bearing copper, red, and gold leaves.  As I sip on my first cup of morning coffee, I enjoy nature’s beauty and feel blessed to live on a hilly country road away from the hustle and bustle of city life.  The comforting quiet of the weekend morning is something I will never take for granted as I plan my day and bake/cook for the upcoming week.

Yesterday, my daughter headed to a local orchard to pick up some piping hot apple donuts and a variety of crisp, ripe apples for a weeks worth of lunches.  I slipped a few of the apples out of the bag to assemble this tasty, crisp dessert. If I’m in a hurry, I often use homemade apple sauce as the base for this recipe but it’s quite quick to pull together which ever way you choose to make it.  Serve with a cup of coffee or a scoop of vanilla ice cream… It doesn’t get any better than this.

 

Saturday Morning Apple Crumble

10 cups apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup old fashioned oats

1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 13X9″ pan by spraying with a non-stick baking spray. Place apples in a large bowl, mix sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and ground cinnamon together, and sprinkle over apples. Let stand so the mixture becomes juicy as water is released from the fruit.

Meanwhile, combine oats, remaining flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda.  Mix in the egg; stir until combined.  Evenly pour apple mixture into baking dish.  Crumble oat and flour mixture evenly over the apples.  Pour melted butter evenly over the top of the assembled dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.