cookies, bars and confections

Christmas Cookies

Christmascookies_main The bird isn't even brined or basted for Thanksgiving.  But, I'm already thinking about Christmas cookies now. 

Right now one of those glittering lemon sandwich cookies would be a sparkly, yummy treat!

Feast your eyes on this!  Twenty-five days of Christmas cookies from


I love lemon bars!

Lemon bars lighter than air Fitness magazine proves less is indeed lusciously more with these lemon bars.

The recipe makes sixteen 100-calorie bars for a light and refreshing summer dessert that won't wreck your diet.

According to Kerry Neville, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, the butter used in this recipe is better in flavor and health benefits than margarine. 

Additionally, Neville says this recipe uses far fewer eggs for a lighter, healthier bar.

For the recipe, go to Slim Lemon Bars at

Host a holiday cookie exchange party

Find more cookie recipes at Allrecipes Secret Santa is so over-rated.

I'd much rather go to a party where cookies are the main event and everyone goes home with great goodies to enjoy.

Hosting a cookie exchange is as easy as whipping up a batch of your very best cookie bars. 

The rules are easy. Invite a dozen or more friends over. Provide some simple snacks - nuts, fruit and cheese, a crusty French bread with an olive tapenade and some wine. Or serve some egg nog (spiked if you like).

Ask each guest to bring 4 dozen homemade cookies to swap with other guests. Since most cookie recipes make 4 to 5 dozen cookies, this is easier than it sounds. If you like, you can allow busy guests to bring bakery bought cookies.

Some cookie exchanges factor in some sort of contest or ornament exchange as well. This adds to the fun and really isn't very complicated.

If participants are exchanging ornaments, every guest brings one special ornament to swap with another guest. (Note: The host might consider having a few extra ornaments on hand so no one gets left out if someone forgets to bring an ornament.)

Prizes can be given for Best Cookie Overall, based on taste, texture, presentation, Most Creative, Outstanding Presentation, or Most Original Recipe, etc. 

Be sure to have guests bring a container or plastic Ziploc bags to take home their cookies. The host may want to have extra takeaway bozes on hand in case someone forgets theirs.

Possibilities are endless

Not a big fan of cookies? Have a cupcake exchange instead. Instead of 4 dozen cookies, bring 2 dozen cupcakes to swap. Don't like cupcakes?  Have guests make two cakes to exchange. Cakes to heavy? Guests can bring homemade candies.

Magic Cookie Bars

(recipe from Eagle Brand)

Makes 3 dozen


  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped nuts


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees for glass dish). Coat 13x9-inch baking pan with no-stick cooking spray.
  2. Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press into bottom of prepared pan. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture. Layer evenly with chocolate chips, coconut and nuts. Press down firmly with a fork.
  3. Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Cut into bars or diamonds. Store covered at room temperature.

Easy and delicious Fruit Cake Bars recipe for Christmas

For more yummy bar cookie recipesfrom Eagle Brand click here

I love Fruit Cake - not the hard as a brick stuff you could use for a door stop, but moist, rum-soaked, candied fruit and nut rich cake. 

My early experiences with fruit cake were less than stellar - waxy, indigestible stuff bought from the store.

I really appreciated my Mom's dense and rich cakes, chock full of candied fruits. I know it comes as a big surprise that I loved the cherries best.

Fruit cake ought to be made a few weeks out from Christmas to allow for a good dousing with rum, but I usually wait until the ninth hour.

Fortunately, I have this really good fruit cake bar recipe adapted from Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk which makes up for my procrastinating ways.  It makes a moist, rummy Fruit Cake Bar - perfect for parties or for shipping to your beloveds near and far.

Old Fashioned Fruit Cake Bars

makes about 4 dozen bars

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (27 oz.) jar Mincemeat
  • 1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk>
  • 2 cups (1 lb.) mixed candied fruit (1/2 cup coconut optional)
  • 1 cup pecans halves
  • 2 tablespoons spiced rum

HEAT oven to 300ºF.

1. Stir together flour and baking soda. Combine eggs, mincement, sweetened condensed milk, candied fruit, nuts and spiced rum in large bowl. Blend in dry ingredients. 

2. Coat 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan with no-stick cooking spray. Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake 40 to 45 minutes.

3. Cool. Glaze if desired with heated pureed apricot preserves.

Note: This recipe can be used to make a cake using a 10-cup fluted bundt-type pan and baking for 1 hour and 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. You can also make cookies using the drop method (a rounded teaspoon full approximately 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets) or even cookies and baking for 15 to 18 minutes.

The ultimate gourmet marshmallow: Plush Puffs

Caramel swirl Plush Puffs dunked in so-good chocolate fondue

If your notion of marshmallows is old school bags of semi-soft sort of bland Campfires, then we have some serious good news for you.

Plush Puffs are plump all natural marshmallow pillows packed with flavor from Vanilla Bean to Caramel Swirl (my personal favorite) to Peppi Mint and Chocolate Chipetta. 

The plush bags of gourmet marshmallows retail for $6 for 16-18 i -inch cubes of gooey deliciousness.

Eat them straight out of the bag plain, toasted, dunked in chocolate fondue, or afloat in your hot chocolate.

Need more inspiration? Plush Puffs' website has recipes.

Holiday cookies gifts everyone loves to get


 Holiday cookies

I absolutely love baking holiday cookies. 

I've been trying to find the best holiday cookie recipes to share as gifts and for cookie exchange parties.

One of my favorite recipes is a fruitcake bar recipe that is easy, rich and gives lie to the notion that fruitcake is indigestible, has a shelf life just shy of 90 years, and is, well, the boring holiday treat.

I usually make a few dozen of these delicious bars to give as gifts (and nibble on too).  They're ideal. Whoopie pies aren't elegant,but they're decadent and no one ever turns them down.

While they're delicous, they're not showstoppers.  They're the red-headed stepchildren when it comes to looks.

I like a little more flash when  it comes to a party exchange.  These cookies full of chocolate-y goodness are beautiful and tasty. Or try these pretty starbursts of chocolate and peppermint.

This Linzer-look cookie is festive and can be made in other holiday shapes like stars and bells too.  These iced Five Spice Ginger Snaps are visually spectacular, but so simple to decorate. These traditional seven layer cookies are gorgeous and tempting.

Bake a bunch. Create an unusual gift presentation and go.

I *Heart* Chocolate Chip Cookies


When people dig into my homemade chocolate chunk, white chocolate chip, apricot, and pistachio cookies, I like to shrug my shoulders, smile, and say things like this:  Oh, these simple cookies. I whipped them up while I was puttering around the house.

And really, they are very easy to mix up and bake. You can even make the dough a day ahead, which makes for a nicer cookie, easier to handle and bake.  Cookies where the dough is allowed to sit have a softer texture and a better finished shape.

I use the classic Nestle's Toll House recipe, add an extra half cup each of white chocolate chips, chopped dried apricots and of chopped pistachios.  And bless Nestle's pea-picking heart, they put the receta en Español too.

Fisticuffs almost broke out over the empty platter at the last BBQ I took them too.