Archive for the ‘Holiday Recipes’ Category

The other day I was wandering around the grocery store trying to find what I can’t at this moment remember, but I came across a beautiful bag of peppermint marshmallows.

I had to have them. No clue what I was going to do with them, but had to have them.

So I mulled over some ideas of what to make with the sweet little puffs of peppermint and came up with the following.

These are super easy and pretty yummy, if I say so myself!


If the cookie dough looks too thick, slice it into thinner pieces. I cut these into thirds.

While the cookies are baking, crush the dickens out of a candy cane or peppermint stick.

A great stress reliever...

When the cookies are almost done but still gooey in the middle, remove from oven and top with marshmallows.

While the marshmallows are turning into molten pools of bliss, warm the frosting in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, until thin and pourable.

Remove from oven when marshmallows start to melt.

Pour over frosting

Then sprinkle with crushed candy. I am hoping you aren't quite as messy as I am in the frosting stage of this production. If you are, line your pan with parchment to cut down on the mess and stress.

Peppermint Pillows

1 bag peppermint marshmallows

1 package chocolate cookie dough

1 can chocolate frosting

Candy cane or peppermint stick

Bake cookies according to package directions.(You could also make your own cookies from scratch. I cut the purchased cookie dough into thirds because I didn’t want the cookie to be too thick).

Just before they are done, while the insides are still gooey, place a marshmallow on top and return for oven until marshmallow starts to melt. While the marshmallows are turning molten, put frosting into a microwave safe pitcher and nuke for about 15 seconds or until thin. Do not over cook or it will taste scorched and believe me – that is a horridly nasty flavor.

It will only take a minute or two for the marshmallows to be ready to take out of the oven. When they are, pour on the frosting and sprinkle with crushed candy cane or peppermint. Let cool then roll your eyes in bliss as you take a bite. Enjoy!

She Who Loves Peppermint

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Warning: If you are on a diet or trying to avoid sweet, delicious goodness, you may want to skip right past today’s recipe post.

I made this Pumpkin Mousse Trifle for a potluck last week and it was quite tasty. Actually, it was more than quite tasty. It was downright want-to-lick-the-plate good.

And here is the best part – it was super fast and easy.

Anyone looking for a quick and simple no-bake recipe for Thanksgiving, try this. You’ll be glad you did!

Cast of Tasty Characters

You can use any kind of dense cake – pound cake works especially well. You could also use angel food cake or bundt cake. Regular cake tends to get a little crumbly. I ran out of time to bake gingerbread and resorted to a pound cake from the bakery.

Cut the cake into little bite-sized cubes. Try not to snitch too many. At this point I got in a bit of a hurry to get this finished and forgot to snap photos of mixing up the mousse. Mix the pudding mix with milk then add the cream cheese. If you have a 3-ounce package of cream cheese, it will work fine, otherwise cut an 8-ounce package in half. Mix it with the pudding then add pumpkin filling and spices. Blend well then let rest for about 5 minutes.

Whip up some whipped cream. I like to add about 1/4 cup of powdered sugar to sweeten it up a bit.

Start layering the trifle by adding in 1/3 of the cake cubes.

Layer in 1/3 of the mousse mixture. Top with a drizzle of the caramel and then whipped cream. Continue making layers of cake, mousse, caramel and whipped cream.

Finish with a layer of toffee sprinkles, if you so desire.  My taste buds greatly desired. You could also do another drizzle of caramel. Or a spinkle of cinnamon. Go wild and crazy if you wish.

Pumpkin Trifle Mousse

1 box of gingerbread mix, baked (or 2 cups of cake cubes)

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 small box instant cheesecake pudding

2 cups milk

1 cup pumpkin pie filling

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 tbsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup caramel sauce

2 cups whipped cream

Toffee bits for topping (optional)

If you are making your own gingerbread, bake and let cool. You need about 2 cups of cake cubes. I planned to use gingerbread, but I ran out of time to make it, so I grabbed a pound cake that looked quite yummy. It was.

Mix pudding with two cups of milk. Add in softened cream cheese and blend. Then mix in pumpkin and spices. Blend well then set aside for about five minutes. Whip up whipped cream, set aside.

Cut cake into cubes and start layer in a trifle bowl, large glass bowl or individual glasses.You are going to do three layers, so use everything in thirds (guesstimates work just fine).

Top cake with mousse then drizzle with caramel sauce. Spoon on a layer of whipped cream then start again with a layer of cake.

Finish with a layer of whipped cream. You can top with toffee bits and cinnamon or another drizzle of caramel and cake crumbs. Whatever strikes your fancy.

Have fun with it and enjoy!

She Who Would Have Licked Her Plate If Witnesses Weren’t Present

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My most wonderful mother-in-law will be arriving later today for the weekend. We are pretty excited about her coming for Mother’s Day!

I wanted to make something extra special for her so I contacted my sister-in-law to find out her favorite desserts. One of them just happens to be The Cheesecake Factory’s Banana Cheesecake.

After a little bit of searching online I found the recipe and dived right in to create this treat for her.

I will warn you that it takes a bit of patience to make, but the result is most definitely worth it!

Ingredients for Banana Cheesecake.

Smash cookies until finely crushed (or pulse in food processor). At least this way, I could put Captain Cavedweller to work!

Press obliterated cookies into the bottom of a springform pan.

Mash up enough bananas to make 1 cup. I used three, and then made Captain Cavedweller mash them for me.

Beat the cream cheese until it is smooth and creamy.

Add your eggs one at a time.

Pour batter into crust.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes then reduce temp to 200 for 75-90 minutes. Mine was closer to 90 when I took it out of the oven and could probably have gone another 5-10 minutes to be done the way I would have really liked. I recommend not deciding to make this at say 7 p.m. at night because you'll be standing in your PJs staring at the stove waiting for this to be done!

You can garnish the cheesecake with slices of fresh banana, a dollop of whipped cream, whatever floats your boat. My boat was floating on caramel sauce, Heath bits and chocolate swirlies.


Banana Cheesecake

1 package vanilla sandwich cookies

1/4 cup butter, melted

24 ounces cream cheese, softened

2/3 cup sugar

2 tbsp. cornstarch

3 eggs

1 cup mashed bananas

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. banana flavoring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place cookies in a resealable bag and smash the dickens out of them with a cast iron skillet or a meat tenderizer. If you have a food processor, just pulse until they are finely crushed. Mine were finely crushed by Captain Cavedweller.  Crushed by the fine Captain Cavedweller. Finally crushed finely. Oh, you know what I mean.

Add melted butter and mix well. Press into the bottom of a 10″ springform pan and refrigerate.

Beat cream cheese on medium speed with electric mixer until creamy. Add sugar and cornstarch, beating until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in bananas, cream and vanilla and banana flavoring. If you don’t have banana flavoring, just add another spoon of vanilla. Place springform pan on cookie sheet. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Bake 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue baking 75-90 minutes until center is just set. Loosen edge of springform pan but do not remove. Let cool completely then take off pan rim. Refrigerate cheesecake for at least six hours before serving.

Happy Entertaining and Happy Mother’s Day!

She Who Can’t Wait for my MIL to Arrive!

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Christmas morning the last thing you want to do is be tied down to the kitchen making breakfast. Plan ahead now and you can have a fabulous breakfast on the table with a minimal amount of effort!

So here are a few ideas…

Quick Breads

You can purchase these pre-made at stores like Costco (their apple or pumpkin bread is sooooo good), you can buy packaged mixes that are easy to whip together or make them from scratch. If you are planning to make them either from a mix of scratch, make these now so you don’t have to mess with them in the morning. If you want to be Betty Baker and go from scratch, here is a recipe for yummy banana bread.

Sweet Rolls

You can purchase pre-made sweet rolls or cinnamon rolls or whip together a batch. Just pop in the oven for a few minutes to warm and you’ve got a breakfast that everyone will enjoy. Here is a recipe for super easy cinnamon rolls that make my mouth water just thinking about them.


A breakfast casserole you can assemble the night before then pop in the oven to bake the next morning is ideal. They are warm and filling and will hopefully carry your starving crew through gift opening and morning festivities. Serve with a fresh fruit and it is a wonderful meal.

My favorite breakfast casserole involves ham and hashbrowns. It is so easy to make and so tasty good. Assemble the night before, set out for about 30 minutes and then bake.

Here is another recipe that is quite filling. You can use any type of meat you like, just make sure it is pre-cooked.


Beat eggs, then add milk and combine.

Dice up some ham (or crumble cooked bacon or sausage).

Add ham, breadcrumbs and salt to mixture.

Blend in some cheese.

Pour into greased pan, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Bake the next morning!

and enjoy!

Breakfast Bake

6 eggs

2 cups milk

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups diced cooked ham (or bacon or crumbled cooked sausage)

1 cup shredded colby jack cheese

3 cups croutons

Beat eggs and milk, add in remaining ingredients. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 inch casserole dish and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. Remove from fridge and let set for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes or until eggs are set.


Happy Holiday Entertaining and Merry Christmas!


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gingerbread barsYears ago, I tasted gingerbread cookies and fell in love! The spices, the molasses, the soft chewiness.

Absolutely delightful.

I embarked on an adventure of finding a recipe to make my own. What I ended up with was a recipe for cut-out gingerbread cookies that was delicious but very involved and not a lot of fun to make.

Then, a few weeks ago, I attended a cookie exchange party and my tastebuds did a happy dance over some amazing gingerbread bars. I quickly abandoned plans to make my cut out gingerbread cookies and instead made the bars.

Even Hubby, who generally turns up his nose at most sweets, was impressed. Yeah, they were that good.


Mix flour, baking soda, salt and spices together and set aside.

Spray your pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Whip out your parchment paper (you can get it at kitchen supply stores and some grocery stores).

Line the pan with parchment then spray it with non-stick cooking spray.

Cream together sugars and the butter until pale and fluffy.

Add vanilla and molasses.

Gradually add in flour mixture.

Spread in the pan and bake for 25 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

Bars hot out of the oven. Leave in the pan until completely cool.

Frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cut into bars.

Top with pecans.


Gingerbread Bars

2 3/4 cups flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

2 1/2 sticks butter

1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 eggs

1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/3 cup unsulfured molasses

Cream Cheese Frosting

Glazed Pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 17 x 12 inch rimmed baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Line bottom with a piece of parchment, cut to fit. Coat parchment with spray.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and spices.

Soften butter and then beat on medium-high speed with sugars until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in vanilla and molasses. Reduce speed to low and gradually add in flour mixture then beat just until comvined.

Spread batter into prepared pan. It seems like you won’t have enough batter to fill the pan, but you will, keep spreading. Bake until edges are set and golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely in pan.

Remove from pan, frost with cream cheese frosting and cut into 2-inch squares. Top each square with a glazed pecan.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 box powdered sugar

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all ingredients until smooth and creamy.


Happy Holiday Entertaining!

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One of my favorite treats to make (Ok, I will admit it – eat) during the holidays is Seven-Layer Bars.

These are so easy to make and taste so delicious. People will think you have slaved over them when it is really so simple. The first year I made these my youngest niece, the one who got stuck wreath making with me, nearly floundered on them. Yes, they really are that good.

Last year, I took my two grand-nieces for a day of shopping and fun. We ended up eating lunch at a restaurant that offered the most wonderful dessert – a warm Seven-Layer Bar topped by vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. I thought I would melt in a puddle right there and the girls would have to find a ride home. I only half-melted because Katie, who shares my chocoholic genes, wanted a bite and then promptly inhaled the rest of my treat. Sweet little whippersnapper. Pulling out cute smiles and warm hugs while she steals my chocolate. My gracious goodness.

Anyway, here is the recipe! Enjoy!





Melt butter in the pan in the oven.



Top butter with graham cracker crumbs. Since I'm a lazy slug, I save the graham cracker packages from cheesecake mixes because they have just the right amount of pre-crushed graham crackers for this recipe (cheesecake filling goes in store-made graham cracker crusts, of course!).



Up next - sweetened coconut.



Chocolate chips followed by butterscotch chips make the next two layers.



Here come the pecans. If you have whole nuts and don't own fancy nut-crushing kitchen tools, a meat tenderizer and a ziploc bag do a bang-up job!



Finish it off with the sweetened condense milk. Remember, do not stir!

Seven-Layer Bars


Seven-Layer Bars

1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. butter

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 cup coconut

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup butterscotch chips

1 cup chopped pecans

15-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Put butter in a 9 x 9 or a 11 x 7 inch baking pan. Put into oven and let melt. When it is melted pull out and top with ingredients in the following order: graham crackers, coconut, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, pecans, sweetened condensed milk.


Just layer the ingredients and then place in the oven for about 30-40 minutes until bubbling and brown.

The smell will be heavenly when you pull them from the oven.

Cut into small squares because these babies are rich. Serve alone or with ice cream and caramel sauce. Just make sure no chocolate-thieving 7-year-olds are around!

Happy Holiday Entertaining,

The chocolate-less aunt

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My BFF came over the other day and we had a flurry of floury fun in the kitchen (say that five times fast!). One of the things we made was cinnamon rolls. They were, to say the least, divine. Especially warm from the oven. We managed to restrain ourselves and at least wait until they were frosted to eat one rather than snatch them right out of the pan.

The recipe is simple to follow and the rolls are so yummy. The rolls also freeze well, so you can make them up in batches and freeze for yourself or for gift-giving. They can be reheated in the oven or nuked in the microwave for about 20 seconds to bring back that fresh from the oven warmth and gooey deliciousness.


Start by scalding milk with oil and sugar.

Once the milk mixture has cooled to lukewarm, you can add in a package of yeast.

Sprinkle yeast over the milk and let rest for a minute.

Stir in yeast and four cups of flour.

Place the pan in a warm area, cover with a tea towel and let the yeast do its thing for about an hour. I like to put my pan in front of the fire. It is warm and makes the dough smell heavenly.

Next, stir in the remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. You will have a lovely lump of dough.

Roll the dough into a long rectangle.

Pour on melted butter.

Followed by cinnamon and sugar.

Roll the dough toward you, keeping it tight (or as tight as you can when the dough is smooshy and the filling is gooey!)

Pinch the outside edge to create a seam and keep all the filling trapped inside.

Slice into 1 1/2 inch rolls and place in prepared pan.

Leave a little space around the rolls for rising. Cover with a tea towel for about 15 minutes before baking.

Warm, brown and ready to be iced!

Icing is easy to make, just blend cream cheese, butter, milk, powdered sugar and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy. It should be thick but pourable.

Smother the rolls with icing. Don't miss any spot!


Cinnamon Rolls


2 cups milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup sugar

1 package active dry yeast

4 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/3 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tbsp. salt


1 cup melted butter

¼ cup cinnamon

1 cup sugar


4 cups powdered sugar

¼ cup milk

3 tbsp. melted butter

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Scald the milk, oil and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat (bring heat to nearly a boil, but don’t let it boil!). Set aside and cool to lukewarm (think temperature of a baby’s bottle). Sprinkle yeast on top of milk and let rest for one minute.

Add four cups of the flour and stir until just combined. It is going to be sticky. Cover with a tea towel and set in a warm place for an hour.

Remove the towel and add baking powder, baking soda, salt and final 1/2 cup of flour. Stir to combine.

On a floured surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, somewhere in the proximity of 10 inches by 30 inches.

Pour melted butter over dough. Use your fingers or a knife to spread evenly. Sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar. You can also mix cinnamon and sugar into the butter before pouring over dough. Either way works fine.

Beginning at the long end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly toward you. Use both hands and work slowly, keeping the roll nice and tight. Some filling may ooze out and that is OK (and give you something to snitch later.)

When you have the roll finished, pinch the outside edge of the roll to create a seam. You should now have a long log. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into 1 1/2 inch slices. You should get about 25 rolls.

Spray a pan with non-stick cooking spray and place rolls in the pan. I like to use smaller pans and freeze them. If you want to give cinnamon rolls as a holiday gift, put them in disposable aluminum pans, then they are ready for gift giving!

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cover the pans with a tea towel and set aside for about 20 minutes. Remove towel and bake for about 15 minutes or until rolls are golden brown. Do not overcook! While the rolls are baking, whip up the icing.

Mix the powdered sugar, butter, cream cheese, milk and vanilla in a bowl. Icing should be thick but pourable.

When the rolls come out of the oven, pour on the icing. Make sure you cover every last bit of roll. This step is vitally important for the overall happiness of your taste buds.

Put one on a plate, take a deep breath inhaling that decadent cinnamon aroma, and enjoy!

Happy Holiday Entertaining,


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