Christmas Music and Baking...Two of My Favorite Things

Today is a great afternoon for baking. I've learned over the years that baking is one of the few things that helps me relax. I love it. During the Holiday season, baking is often mixed with hot chocolate or a pumpkin spice latte and Christmas music. Today is no exception, I'm just simply baking for small group tonight. I decided on Pumpkin Bars with a Cream Cheese glaze and Cranberry Bars. Since pumpkin is only around for a limited time each year, I like to thoroughly enjoy it! My sweet cousin Katie gave me this recipe for Cranberry Bars and I love them! The only problem is that fresh/frozen cranberries are often hard to find. Enjoy the recipes and let me know what you think!

Pumpkin Bars
Mix 2 cups of sugar, 4 eggs, 1 cup of vegetable oil, and one can of pumpkin (15 oz). Stir in 2 cups of self-rising flour, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of chopped pecans. The pecans are optional.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Top with a cream cheese glaze. The glaze is simply 6 tablespoons of butter, 3 ounces of cream cheese, about 3 cups of powdered sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla. You can adjust the powdered sugar measurement based on how you like the consistency. You can add a little milk to help with the consistency.

Cranberry Bars
Mix 1 1/2 sticks of softened butter, 1 1/2 cup of flour, 1 1/2 cup of sugar, 2 eggs, 2 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries, and 1/2 cup of chopped pecans.

Mix first four ingredients with a mixer at medium speed. Fold in cranberries and pecans. If you use the frozen cranberries, you will need to work fast because the stiffen up the mixture a little. (They really do taste the same). Spread in a greased 8x8 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Top with powdered sugar before serving!

Dinner Party!

Kayla and I are having a few friends over for dinner tomorrow and we have been trying to figure out what we want to have. I think we have decided on spaghetti. My favorite part of cooking has never been the main dish, but the things that go with it. I've attached some recipes for things to go with the spaghetti. Let me know what you think. Hope everyone is enjoying fall!

Oriental Slaw

Ingredients: Dressing- 1 cup vegetable oil, 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup of sugar, 2 ramen noodle seasoning packets. Slaw- 1 lb slaw mix or chopped cabbage (I like the red cabbage, it adds more color to the recipe), 2 bunches of chopped green onions, 2 packages of ramen noodles and 1 cup of toasted almonds.

Directions: Stir dressing before adding to slaw. You can toast ramen noodles beforehand as well. Toss slaw ingredients and mix with dressing right before serving.

Cheese Bread

Ingredients: ½ c. very soft butter, 1 c. grated mozzarella cheese, 1 c. grated cheddar cheese, 1 small can chopped olives, ¼ tsp. garlic powder, ½ c. mayonnaise, ½ c. green onions, 1 long loaf of French Bread, sliced horizontally

Directions: In a bowl, mix together the butter, cheeses, olives, garlic powder, mayonnaise, and green onions. Spread on both slices of bread. Toast in a 350-degree oven until cheese is melted.

Bits of Brittle Pie

Pie Filling: 9 oz. graham cracker crust, ½ gallon of vanilla ice cream, softened; ½ bag of toffee bits. Spoon half of ice cream in crust and top and sprinkle half of toffee bits on. Top with rest of ice cream and freeze.

Sauce: 1 ½ c. sugar, 1 c. evaporated milk, Rest of toffee bits, ¼ c. butter, ¼ c. corn syrup, Dash of salt. Combine sugar, milk, butter, syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil over low heat, boil one minute. Remove from heat and cool slightly, add remaining toffee bits. Cool stirring occasionally then chill.