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.
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).
- 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
I recently attended a daylong training in Indianapolis. A soup and salad lunch 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.
Making my way through the leftovers after a holiday meal is always a challenge. I hate to waste food so I try to be as creative as possible when reinventing leftovers to make tasty meals for the family. Yesterday I came across a plastic container containing a few cups of homemade cranberry sauce. I remembered a recipe that I had made years ago for a chunky cranberry quick bread that would use up the two cups of sauce that I had leftover. I searched my trusty kitchen file and found the recipe. With staple ingredients, this batter comes together rather quickly. A sprinkle of maple/cinnamon steel cup instant oats makes for a sweet crunchy topping. This is a great way to turn those holiday leftovers into a sweet treat the whole family will enjoy.
Leftover Holiday Cranberry Sauce Quick Bread
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups cranberry sauce
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, set aside. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small mixing bowl; set aside. In a medium bowl, mix oil and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and cranberry sauce; mix well. Combine dry ingredients to the cranberry mixture, mixing just until the dry ingredients are moist. Fold in chopped walnuts. Spread batter evenly into prepared loaf pan. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool completely before slicing.
Over the years I’ve baked lots of tasty loaves for friends and co-workers to celebrate the holiday season. This week is no exception for I’ll be pulling out all of my favorite baking pans and an array of Christmas wrapping paper to start my traditional holiday bake. I usually make an assortment of flavorful loaves… a cinnamon swirl loaf, a poppyseed bread loaf, an applesauce nut loaf, and a sweet zucchini breakfast loaf. Some of which are made from the carefully shredded and frozen excess garden produce that I tucked away during the late fall months.
This year I have added a simple, delicious recipe to the mix. This Sweet Almond Pound Cake is moist, dense and full of flavor. While the directions would have you bake the cake in a bundt pan, you can use the same recipe to make this delicious treat in a basic 9×5″ loaf pan. Sprinkle this baby with a bit of confectioners’ sugar or frost with a drizzle of cream cheese frosting before serving or wrapping. A sprinkle of red and green candies makes for a festive addition. Give this loaf to those that you would like to recognize during this gift-giving season or place it on the holiday table for family and friends to enjoy.
…Sending along a wish for the best of health and happiness in the coming year! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Simply Made Kitchen and Crafts!
Sweet Almond Pound Cake
1 package white cake mix
1 (3.4 oz.) package vanilla instant pudding and pie filling (the coconut flavor works well too!)
4 large eggs
1 cup water
⅓ cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp. almond extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 10″ Bundt pan. Combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water, oil and extract in large bowl. Beat for approximately 2 minutes. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake for 10-15 minutes. Carefully remove from pan and cool completely. Dust with sifted confectioners’ sugar or frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting.
At a recent holiday party, one of my co-workers was kind enough to demonstrate the assembly of this adorable sock snowman craft. You won’t believe how quick and easy this no-sew project is to assemble. A simple white sock, some string, and a few sewing notions make for the cutest of holiday projects for any age to enjoy.
While I was lucky enough to have a personal tutorial, I was able to find a similar link for a quick tutorial video. Here it is… https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pB4jFqkn8MY
By popular demand, I am posting one of my all-time favorite snack mix recipes. It never fails, whenever I make this mix, I am always asked for the details of the recipe. During the holidays, I usually pack this lip-smackin’ snack into decorative jars to pass along as a homemade gift from the kitchen. Light, buttery, and full of that scrumptious honey flavor, this sweet treat is a winner. Make a big batch and keep a watchful eye as it cools on the kitchen counter. The mix has a tendency to disappear as the minutes tick by … Irresistible!
Honey Nut Snack Mix
6 cups Chex or Crispix cereal
1 1/4 cups mini pretzels
1 cup nuts (peanuts, lightly chopped pecans, or lightly chopped walnuts)
1/3 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
Coat a 13×9″ pan with cooking spray. Add cereal, pretzels, and nuts; set aside.
In a large saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and honey. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil and continue to boil for 5 minutes, DO NOT STIR. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Carefully pour the hot syrup over the cereal mixture, stirring until well coated.
Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour; gently stirring every 15 minutes to distribute the syrup evenly over the mix. Let cool on cookie sheets lined with parchment or wax paper. Store in an airtight container.
Recipe adapted from “The Family Table” by Brenda Hyde