power packed peanut bars

2-1/2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
2 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup chopped peanuts
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine first three ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside. Stir together brown sugar, syrup and peanut butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until mixture begins to boil and is blended. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour hot mixture over cereal, stirring until all is coating. Press mixture evenly into a greased 9-inch square pan; let cool completely. Cut into 12 bars. Wrap each bar in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container.

Recipe from the National Peanut Board.

philly cheesecake brownies

1 package (19.6 ounces) brownie mix
1 package Philadelphia brand cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Prepare brownie mix as directed on package. Pour into prepared pan. Beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar, mixing until well blended. Add egg and vanilla; mix just until blended. Pour cream cheese mixture over brownie mixture; cut through batter with knife several times for marbled effect. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until cream cheese mixture is lightly browned. Cut into 24 squares.

pecan pie

If you want warm pie, cool the pie thoroughly so that it sets completely, then warm it in a 250-degree oven for 15 minutes and slice.

1 recipe American Pie Dough for Prebaked Pie Shell, prepared through step 4
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups pecans (8 ounces), toasted and chopped into small pieces

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Partially bake pie shell as directed in step 5 of American Pie Dough for Prebaked Pie Shell recipe.

2. Meanwhile, melt butter in medium heatproof bowl set in skillet of water maintained at just below simmer. Remove bowl from skillet; mix in sugar and salt with wooden spoon until butter is absorbed. Beat in eggs, then corn syrup and vanilla. Return bowl to hot water; stir until mixture is shiny and hot to the t ouch, about 130 degrees. Remove from heat, stir in pecans.

3. As soon as pie shell comes out of the oven, decrease oven temperature to 275 degrees. Pour pecan mixture into hot pie shell.

4. Bake until center feels set yet soft, like gelatin, when gently pressed, 50-60 minutes. Transfer pie to rack; let cool completely, at least four hours. Serve pie at room temperature or warm, with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

From America’s Test Kitchens.

peanut butter cookies

These cookies have a strong peanut flavor that comes from extra-crunchy peanut butter (Jif) as well as from roasted, salted peanuts that are ground in a food processor and worked into the dough. Salted butter brings out the flavor of the nuts.

2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup extra-crunchy peanut butter at room temperature (Jif)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup roasted salted peanuts, ground in food processor to resemble bread crumbs, about 1 pulses

1. Adjust oven rack to upper- and lower-middle positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper, or spray with Pam or Mazola.

2. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.

3. Either by hand or with electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add sugars; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes with electric mixer, stopping to scrape down bowl as necessary. Beat in peanut butter until fully incorporated, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Gently stir dry ingredients into peanut butter mixture. Add ground peanuts, stir gently until just incorporated.

4. Working with generous 2 tablespoons each time, roll dough into 2-inch balls. Place balls on parchment-lined cookie sheets, leaving 2-1/2 inches between each ball. Press each dough ball twice with dinner fork dipped in cold water to make crisscross design.

5. Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking time (from top to bottom racks and back to front), until puffed and slightly brown along edges but not on top, 10-12 minutes. Cookies will not look fully baked. Cool cookies on cookie sheet until set, about 4 minutes, then transfer to wire rack with wide spatula to cool completely.

From America’s Test Kitchens.

pastel cake

1 package yellow cake mix
1 package JELL-O lime flavor gelatin (4 serving size)
1 package JELL-O lemon flavor gelatin (4 serving size)
2 tubs (8 ounces each) COOL WHIP

Heat oven to 350. Prepare cake mix as directed on package. Divide batter into two bowls. Add lime gelatin to one bowl and lemon gelatin to the other. Stir thoroughly. Pour each into separate wax-paper-lined, greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Bake 28-30 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes. Remove from pans. Cool on wire racks. Place lime cake layer on serving plate; spread with 1/2 tub whipped topping. Top with lemon cake layer. Frost cake with remaining whipped topping. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve. Delicious!

neiman-marcus cookies

his recipe makes 112 cookies. It can be halved.

2 cups butter
4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
5 cups blended Oatmeal (put oatmeal in a blender and blend to a fine powder)
24 ounces chocolate chips
1 8 ounce Hershey Bar, grated
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)

Cream butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. In separate bowl, blend together the flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder and soda. Add to creamed mixture slowly. Add chocolate chips and grated chocolate. Form into balls and bake 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes at 375. Enjoy!

kiwi fruit pavlova (from new zealand)

2 egg whites
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons boiling water

Place all ingredients into a medium sized bowl and beat until mixture is smooth, shiny and stuff, about 12 minutes. Place sheet of greaseproof paper (parchment or waxed paper) on baking tray. Brush lightly with melted butter and dust with a little cornstarch, shake off excess. Spoon meringue mixture onto prepared tray, forming a 9-inch circle. Bake in middle of oven, 350 degrees, for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 300 and bake for 45 minutes more. Allow to cool in oven. Do not open the oven door at any stage while cooking or cooling until it is cold!!

Filling: 1-1/4 cups cream
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
Sliced kiwifruit, strawberries, etc.

Whip cream with sugar until stiff. Spread on top of cooled pavlova. Top with fruit. Serves 6.

mini vatrushki (russian cookies)

1/2 pound butter
1 cup sweet cream
1 egg
1 cup powdered sugar
4 cups pastry flour

Mix together the butter, sugar, egg and cream. Add the flour, a little at a time, beating all together until light. Roll the pastry thin and cut into rounds with a cookie cutter or cut into 3 inch squares. Fill the center with cheese filling. Bring 4 corners up to center and pinch. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Let stand 15 minutes to settle. Brush top with egg yolk, diluted with water. Bake in 375 oven until brown. When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Cheese Filling:
1 pound cream cheese
3/4 cup thick sour cream
1/4 cup butter
2 egg yolks
1/2 pound powdered sugar
1/4 pound raisins
1/4 cup chopped almonds

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and fill pastry. Makes about 70 cookies. Freeze well.

From Saint Mark’s Church cookbook.

maids of honor

English Christmas Tea Tarts – From the St. Mark’s Cookbook

Double crust pastry recipe
4 ounces almonds
4 ounces sugar
1 extra large egg
1 tablespoon almond extract
Raspberry jam

Make or purchase your favorite double pie crust. Assemble dough and chill.

Blanch almonds until skills loosen and pinch off their skins. Dry nuts and grind in a food processor or blender. Combine almonds with sugar, egg and almond flavoring.

Roll out pastry to 1/8 inch thickness and out into circles to fit tart pans (use small muffin pans). After lining tins with pastry, place a scant 1/2 tablespoon jam in each tart shell. Add 1 heaping teaspoon almond mixture on top of jam. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Makes 18 small tarts.

layered toffee cake

2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup caramel or butterscotch ice cream topping
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 angel food cake
9 full-size Heath or Butterfinger candy bars, chopped
Bake angel food cake according to package directions. In a bowl, beat cream just until it begins to thicken. Gradually add the ice cream topping and vanilla, beating until soft peaks form.

Cut cake horizontally into three layers. Place the bottom layer on a serving plate; spread with 1 cup cream mixture and sprinkle with 1/2 cup crushed candy bar. Repeat. Place top layer on cake, frost top and side with remaining cream mixture and sprinkle with remaining candy bar. Store in the refrigerator.

From the Arlington Journal, August 15, 2001.