Monday, December 5, 2011

Cake mix up some cookies for Santa

Holiday stores of pumpkin puree and cranberries can get mixed into cookies and bars with some very quick ides from Camilla V. Saulsbury. “The Ultimate Cake Mix Cookie Book” has multiple temptations on every page. A white mix will get you Crushed Peppermint Snowballs or Salty-Sweet Nutty Chippers. A chocolate mix makes Cookies and Cream Gooey Bars. Cornmeal and lemon goes into another blend. This is easy, brilliant stuff and young kitchen fans can get in on the act. For those in the bake-sale stage of life, this book will win fans. Here’s a quickie:

Cappuccino Crinkles
1 18.25-ounce package white cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix cake mix, shortening, butter, brown sugar, egg, coffee powder and vanilla in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, 1 minute until blended.
Place cocoa powder in a small, shallow bowl. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets. A note suggests lining sheets with parchment paper.
Bake 9 to12 minutes or until centers are just set. Cool 1 minute on sheets, then remove cookies with spatula to wire racks to cool completely. Makes three dozen.

Serving guests low cal vodka
We’ll come round to vodka in this discussion, so read on:
Invite your honey to the holidays with Honeydrop, a line of natural teas and juices with a spoon full of honey. Green Tea, Lemon Tea and Lemon Ginger Tea are new in the low-calorie line. I like the Blood Orange. I love how these natural companies have causes. Buy a Bottle - Save a Bee helps beehives get built around the country.
Hint Water takes it down a notch with a no-calorie unsweetened essence water in 10 flavors including Blackberry, Watermelon, Pomegranate-Tangerine, Strawberry-Kiwi, Mango-Grapefruit, and Raspberry-Lime. I’ve had some in the past and just tried another round, adding watermelon to vodka. Hint and Honeydrop are great ways for children to cut back on sugary drinks, and adults can work on their figures by mixing cocktails with them.

Voli Light Vodka makers say it is the first low calorie fruit and fusion flavored vodka in the world. Voli Light Vodkas are on average 25 to 40 percent lower in calorie than leading brands with natural ingredients. I got a great flavor and aroma from Lemon, Lyte and Raspberry Cocoa. Bottles look sleek, but don’t think this is all too girly. My husband liked the refreshing flavor combos you can concoct. The Orange Vanilla goes with apple cider and cinnamon stick; Lemon meets pomegranate and flamed orange zest to get Sympathy for the Devil; and Lyte, jalapeno and pineapple get you a spicy kick. The Voil Vamp, below, cuts calories big time:

Voil Vamp
1 1/2 ounce Voli Lemon (or Lyte)

1/4 ounce Chambord (Raspberry Liqueur)

2 ounce Cranberry juice

Top with club soda

Build over ice and stir

Serve in a “rocks” glass with lemon or lime twist. Calories: 135 (100 calories if made with diet cranberry)

Caveman treats
A cookie company gives you a brownie recipe that will no doubt satisfy cave men as well as your brood. Caveman Cookies are based on the back-to-basics principles of the Paleolithic Diet of natural stuff. I’ve tried and enjoyed the slightly sweet and chewing sensation of cookies in original, alpine and tropical. It wasn’t just me, my testers went for seconds, too.
The company goes for dairy and gluten-free ingredients, to satisfy the caveman inside us all is craving a simpler time when food was not processed and was free of additives with only all-natural ingredients that the body can easily digest. Visit to learn more, and try these:

Paleo* Pumpkin Pecan Brownies
(*Paleolithic except for the chocolate… so enjoy it as a treat.)
2 eggs
4 ounces dark chocolate
½ cup honey
16 ounce unsalted almond butter
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, divided
3/4 cup pumpkin

1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, lightly whisk eggs; set aside. Break chocolate bar into pieces and combine with honey in saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat once chocolate is melted.

Add half the chopped pecans and all other remaining ingredients in bowl with eggs; pour in chocolate-honey mixture. Mix well. Pour batter into parchment-lined or lightly greased baking pan (9- by 13-inches) and sprinkle with remaining chopped pecans. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes until firm to the touch.

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