Christmas Cake-Eggnog Rum Cake

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My family really loves eggnog-even the kids! Last year, I developed an Eggnog Pound Cake, and they loved it. This year, I was asked to do another pound cake for a party, but I got so swamped with kids, work, holiday parties, after-school activities and more work, I decided to attempt to create a recipe using a boxed cake mix.  I had 1 1/2 hours before the party, and I threw this together, and it worked like a charm. I used dark rum (and 1/2 cup seems like a lot), but the cake was very moist, flavorful and delicious. I hope you will enjoy this simple cake as much as they did at our holiday party. 


Eggnog Rum Cake

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 65 minutes

Yield: Makes 16 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons  butter, softened

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1 (18.25-ounce) package yellow cake mix

1 cup eggnog

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup run

3 eggs

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Preparation

1. Heat oven to 325F. Grease a 12 cup Bundt pan with 2 tablespoons butter. Press almonds on bottom and sides of pan.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, mix all remaining ingredients. Mix on medium speed 2 minutes. Carefully spoon into prepared pan.

3. Bake at 325F for 55 to 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack.

Easiest Red Velvet Cupcakes Ever

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Oh my goodness! I am a little afraid to let this cat out of the bag. Drum-roll please….for all of you who LOVE red velvet cake, I have a secret for you. I get paid to create recipes for a living, and as a Recipe Developer, I must seek out the best cake and cookie mixes (convenience products) you can buy. I tried “Sprinkles” cupcake mix, a mix from the very famous cupcake bakery “Sprinkles” from California, and it has my stamp of approval. Just follow the easy directions on the package for the mix and cream cheese icing. These cupcakes are wonderful and simple, and I promise they are as good (if not better) than homemade!


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For more information about Sprinkles Cupcakes, see www.sprinklescupcakes.com

Sprinkles can be found at Williams Sonoma stores or see www.williamsonoma.com

Christmas and Hanukkah Homemade Gifts-Chocolate-Covered Popcorn

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Since the White Chocolate Popcorn recipe was so popular, I thought I would try it with a mixture of milk chocolate and semisweet. It turned out even better than I thought. “Fabulous”, said some of my friends. Everyone will love receiving this food gift, but make plenty because once you start eating it, you won’t be able to stop.

 

Chocolate Popcorn

Feel free to double this recipe.

Prep: 5 minutes

Yield: 6 cups

Ingredients

1 /2 (12-ounce) package milk chocoolate morsels (I used Nestle Milk Chocolate Morsels)

1/2 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels (I used Nestle Milk Chocolate Morsels)

6 cups popcorn (popped without salt or fat)

Preparation

1. Place chocolate morsels in a microwave-safe bowl on HIGH 1 to 2 minutes or until melted, stirring once. Combine chocolate and popcorn in a large mixing bowl, tossing gently.  Spread mixture on a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper; refrigerate until chocolate gets hard. Store in an airtight container.

Two Ingredient Food Holiday Gift Idea-White Chocolate Popcorn

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Caramel popcorn can be a popular holiday gift. We usually receive several tins of it every year, and my kids devour it. As a Recipe Developer, I sometimes try to take a popular concept and give it a new twist. Since I had some extra white chocolate on hand, I thought I would develop a simple new recipe for White Chocolate Popcorn, and it worked great! This recipe takes no time at all and has only two ingredients. Best, of all, there’s hardly any mess. 

 

White Chocolate Popcorn

Feel free to double this recipe.

Prep: 5 minutes

Yield: 6 cups

Ingredients

1 (11-ounce) package white chocoolate morsels (I used Ghiradelli white chocolate or Nestle Milk Chocolate Morsels)

6 cups popcorn (popped without salt or fat)

Preparation

1. Place white or milk chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl on HIGH 1 to 2 minutes or until melted, stirring once.  Combine chocolate and popcorn in a large mixing bowl, tossing gently.  Spread mixture on a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper; let cool and store in an airtight container.

Easy and Healthy Christmas and Holiday Gift Idea-Dried Fruit Mix

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Some of you may know that my background and love is really in healthy and light cooking, but I know with the holidays, it’s hard to focus on that. Even in my profession of being a Recipe Developer, I deviate from my healthy schedule, especially when working on holiday recipes. Usually, most magazines work six months in advance so I am preparing heavy holiday foods in the summer (during bathing suit season), and am grilling light summery food in the winter (luckily, I live in the south). As far as healthy gift ideas, I thought I would share one of my (and my kid’s) favorites-dried fruit mixed with a touch of ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. We went threw our jar in less than one day, so I hope this will be as popular as it was at our house.

 

Dried Fruit Mix

Prep: 10 minutes

Ingredients

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup dried apples

3/4 cup pitted prunes

3/4 cup dried aprictots

1/2 cup dried blueberries

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Preparation

1. Layer all ingredients in a 1-quart jar in the order given; tightly seal. Makes 1 gift jar.

Homemade Food Gifts-Chocolate Butterscotch Bar Cookie Mix

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Homemade treats and gifts are so comforting during the holidays, and who wouldn’t love a gift that looks like this? I made a few of these, and everyone went nuts over them. I couldn’t make them fast enough. Not only is this the easiest gift in the world to make, but the finished product is beyond awesome (and when I say that, it’s good). You can find one-quart jars almost anywhere, but if you’re having trouble, check Walmart or your local grocery store. These recipes can be made ahead, and don’t forget to make a few extra batches to keep on hand for family munching, drop-in guests, or any time of the year.

 

Chocolate Butterscotch Bars

Prep: 5 minutes

YIeld: 3 dozen

Ingredients

11/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels

2 cups (12 ounces) butterscotch morsles

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preparation

1. Layer all ingredients in a 1-quart jar in order given; tightly seal. Makes 1 gift jar.

Chocolate Butterscotch Bar Cookies: Combine Chocolate Butterscotch Bar Mix and 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk. Press into a greased aluminum foil-lined 9-inch square pan. Bake at 350F for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely and cut into squares.

Chocolate-Pistachio and Cherry Bark

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Last week I posted White Chocolate, Pistachio and Cherry Bark, and it was an instant hit. For those of you who don’t love white chocolate or who may want to give a gift combination of white and dark chocolate, here is the option of using semisweet or dark chocolate. The recipe worked great (the dark chocolate is my favorite), and is so easy that it doesn’t seem possible it could taste this delicious. Enjoy, but beware…it is very addictive!

Dried Cherry and Pistachio Bark

Feel free to double or triple this recipe. To see White Chocolate version, see last weeks post.

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 1 minute

Yield: 11/2 pound

Ingredients

1 (12-ounce) package semisweet or dark chocolate morsels or chunks

1 cup pistachio nuts, shells removed and toasted

1 cup dried cherries or cranberries (or half-and-half)

Preparation

1. Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, covered with wax paper on HIGH 1 to 2 minutes or until melted, stirring once. Add pistachios and cherries, stirring well. Spread on large baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

2. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Break bark into pieces. Store in a tightly sealed container in refrigerator up to 1 month. Pack in decorative boxes or tins lined with wax tissue paper or colored cellophane for gift giving.

Easy Christmas Gift Ideas-Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

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We love hot chocolate at my house! My kids consider it a real treat when I say, “Who wants hot chocolate?” They love it in the morning, after school, and sometimes, instead of dessert, after dinner. And my non-coffee friends will stop at Starbucks for hot chocolate as fast as I will get my latte (and for those who know me, that’s a lot). So, I thought what would be a simpler and better holiday gift than the gift of hot chocolate? This recipe is a breeze and tastes great. Feel free to give a large 1-quart container or several small 4-ounce jars. Whichever you choose, I know you and your friends will love this recipe. The only thing that is missing is the milk.

 

Hot Chocolate Mix

Prep: 5 minutes

Ingredients

13/4 cups powdered sugar

11/2 cups nonfat dry milk

11/4 cups unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey’s)

4 cups miniature marshmallows

Preparation

1. Stir together all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Place in a large or small airtight jars and store at room temperature.

Gift Card Enclosure and instructions: Stir 1/2 cup  Hot Chocolate Mix into 1 cup warm milk, stirring well. Serve immediately.

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