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.

Homemade Holiday Gifts-White and Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark

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Every year, peppermint bark is a holiday hit! My friend and neighbor, Kathy, said she was searching for a wonderful peppermint bark recipe, and since one of my favorite parts of being a Food Consultant for magazines and Food companies is recipe development, I made it my mission to help Kathy out. This recipe is simple to prepare and tastes great. I crushed my candy canes in the food processor to save time and went a little overboard, so I ended up with peppermint snow (as my kids called it-and that’s just how they liked it, by the way). Feel free to chop them more or less, depending how you like it. I used Nestle white and semisweet morsels, but I recommend using a quality chocolate such as ghiradelli (you can also use dark chocolate, if you prefer). Be sure to refrigerate the bark and keep it stored in the refrigerator for optimal results. It will keep for up to 1 month.


Peppermint Bark

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 4 minutes

Yield: 2 pounds

Ingredients

1 (8-ounce) package candy cane

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

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Cooking spray

1 (12-ounce) package white chocolate morsels or baking white chocolate

Preparation

1. Place candy canes in a food processor and process until crushed or in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.

2. Melt semisweet chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl 1 to 2 minutes on HIGH until melted, stirring once. Add peppermint extract, stirring well. Spread evenly on a large 12-x 16-inch baking sheet covered with parchment paper; spray with cooking spray. Place chocolate mixture in refrigerator for up to one hour to set.

3. Melt white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl 1 to 2 minutes on HIGH until melted, stirring once. Spread over semisweet chocolate and top evenly with crushed candy canes. Refrigerate 1 more hour or until set. Break into pieces and give as gifts.

Thanksgiving Appetizer-Brie with Cranberries and Walnuts

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With only hours left until Thanksgiving, I know everyone is busy trying to complete last minute tasks. To start Thanksgiving off right, I thought I would present one of the easiest appetizers that my family loves. The combination of caramel, walnuts, cranberries and golden raisins adds the perfect sweet, crunch and warm taste of fall. You can prepare this right before the guests arrive as it just takes minutes to prepare with absolutely no mess or cleanup. This appetizer is also a great idea for Christmas, New Years or anytime you entertain. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Autumn Brie

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 7 minutes

Yield: 10 servings

Ingredients

1 (1/2 pound) Brie wedge

1/4 cup caramel Dip (I used T. Marzetti Caramel Dip)

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

3 tablespoons dried cranberries

2 tablespoons golden raisins

Gingersnaps or crackers

Preparation

1. Cut off top part of Brie; spread with caramel dip. Sprinkle walnuts, cranberries and raisins over top. 

2. Bake at 300F for 6 to 10 minutes or until Brie is just slightly warmed and starting to melt. Serve with gingersnaps or crackers.

Easy Chocolate Lava Cakes for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years

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I have always wanted to learn how to make Chocolate Lava (molten) Cakes, as it is one of my favorite desserts. I have been searching for a way to prepare these without a lot of effort, and I finally hit the jackpot with this recipe. These are simple to prepare, and you can even make the chocolate mixture at least 12 hours ahead of time. Pour the mixture into ramekins, cover and refrigerate. Be sure to bring to room temperature 30 minutes before baking. I also had a couple of baked and prepared ones left over, and I left them in the ramekins and reheated them in the microwave for 15 seconds, and they worked great! Try them on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years or just for a weeknight or weekend surprise. Serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or just with confectioners sugar.

 

Easy Chocolate Lava Cakes

Dark chocolate may be substituted for semisweet in this recipe.

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

4 ounces semisweet baking chocolate (I used Ghirardelli)

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup confectioners sugar

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Lightly grease 4 (8-ounce) ramekins (custard cups or souffle dishes). Place on a baking sheet.

2. MIcrowave chocolate and butter in a large microwaveable bowl on High 30 seconds or until butter is melted. Whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Whisk in vanilla and confectioners sugar until well blended. Whisk in eggs and yolk. Stir in flour and pour batter evenly into prepared custard cups.

2. Bake 13 minutes or until sides are firm but centers are soft. Let stand 1 minute. Carefully loosen edges with a knife. Invert cakes onto serving plates and sift powdered sugar over the top. Serve immediately.