Category Archives: Holiday Baking

Gingerbread Biscotti Fail


I started with this recipe.  But I didn’t have Gingerbread Spice so I made my own blend by doubling the spices from this other Gingerbread Biscotti Recipe.

I was concerned that the recipe didn’t call for any form of fat. My favorite Biscotti recipe has a decent amount of butter in it. It called for a higher oven temp (350 instead of 325) and had instructions to cook for 30 minutes. I set the timer for 15 minutes and then check the two pans rotating them front to back and changing bottom to top racks for even cooking. Set the timer again for 15 minutes. All of a sudden I smelled a burning scent so I looked and my inside oven thermometer said 400 degrees and both logs were overcooked, one burnt on the bottom as you can see below. The Parchment paper even stuck.

I cut off the burned part and hoped to salvage the tops (I like the flecks of oats in the dough).

The pieces I salvaged looked like they might survive.

They were not very sweet and were drier than I had hoped but it just seemed like something was missing.

So I added this lemon glaze (1/2 cup powdered sugar, zest from 1/2 lemon, aprox tsp lemon juice)…it helped but I’m disappointed…biscotti is too much work to not love them. Maybe I’ll try again.




I’m anticipating our family arriving for Christmas weekend but of course I am not just sitting around waiting. There is planning and preparation to be done. Yes there is some work involved but it doesn’t feel like a burden. With joy I clean (or pay someone to help 🙂 , cook, shop, decorate, wrap gifts, and think about what I can do ahead of time so that I can do the most important and my favorite part of the Holidays…..just be together: Eat our favorite foods, play a few games, watch some holiday movies, talk and talk about what’s going on in our lives, what’s coming up next and how we hope it will go. It reminds of me Advent season (minus the fasting). I am waiting but I am not inactive. There is preparation and focused attention. Christ’s first coming brings solid hope of His second coming….the older I get the more I anticipate the day that the worst of this life will seem like light and momentary suffering and the best will be seen as merely an appetizer to the eternal banquet feast.  But I’m sure whatever that New Heaven and New Earth will be like the best part will be just being together with our Father God, Savior Jesus and those adopted into His family.

Persimmon Drop Cookies


(My mom’s recipe – she found it in the newspaper, my notes are in parenthesis)

1/2 cup shortening (some recipes call for butter, could also do half and half)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup persimmon pulp

1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

1 cup raisins

Cream shortening and sugar. Add beaten egg. Sift together dry ingredients. Add alternately with persimmon pulp, stirring well between each addition. Stir in nuts and raisins. Drop on greased cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes (or less depending on size of cookies).

(One recipe called for mixing the baking soda into the persimmon pulp instead of with the flour…I use a stick blender to do that, making the pulp and soda lump free. I would also add that you can just mix in dry ingredients in one step, being careful not to overmix as it will develop the gluten and make the cookies tough. I like to make small cookies and slightly undercook them. Parchment paper keeps the bottoms from getting too brown. My other recipe call for 350 oven temp for 10 minutes. You can test by lightly touching to see if they bounce back (cake like). They do get more moist the second or third day but after that you might want to freeze them, especially in a humid climate. They could mold more easily since they are so moist.)

I also recently tried this recipe I found on Pinterest. It was very good but the added allspice made the cloves seem too strong so I would cut that back a bit. Interestingly it added baking powder and vanilla (which my mom’s didn’t have). It would be fun to do a side by side comparison of the two recipes.



Apricot Pie Filling


3 cups pitted fresh apricots, cut into bite size pieces

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

1/4 tsp. cinnamon (+ dash of nutmeg optional)

pat of butter

Mix all together and place in uncooked pie shell. Cover with another layer of pie crust and bake in a 425 degree F. oven on a middle rack, for 35-45 minutes or until crust is brown and center is bubbling. Let cool.

This filling can be made ahead of time and placed in a large plastic bag then kept in the freezer until ready to bake. Allow to thaw at room temperature until it will pour out easily (but not all the way thawed) or can even be microwaved in a bowl to thaw and warm it up before placing in pie shell to bake.

Jelly Roll


This recipe is from my high school best friend Mom – Ruth New. She passed away way too soon but I have such fond memories of her warm hospitality, witty sense of humor and just all around fun loving spirit. Oh and she was a wonderful cook/baker. I loved spending the night or weekend at their home as often as I could. I think I tried this recipe once but I plan to give it a try again. Rolling the cake is a bit tricky but my memory of that beautiful spiral and delicious flavor (especially while it was still warm) makes my mouth water all these years later.

4 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. orange extract

1/4 tsp. lemon extract

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

1 cup sifted all purpose flour (or cake flour)

Strawberry (or other fruit) Jam (small jar or half a large one or to taste)

Beat eggs, oil and extracts. In another bowl, mix or sift flour baking powder and salt together.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in mixer and beat well.

Prepare a jelly roll pan by greasing the pan, then adding wax or parchment paper, then adding shortening and lightly dusting with flour. Pour batter over prepared paper in pan and bake in a 375 degree oven, on the bottom rack, until lightly browned, 5-10 minutes (watch closely so that it doesn’t over cook).

Cool approximately one minute in pan. Use a clean unscented dish towel to turn cake upside down, remove pan, then carefully remove wax or parchment paper as you roll into jelly roll shape. When paper is removed, gently unroll, spread with strawberry jam and re-roll. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, slice and serve or wait until it is cooled.

(Directions for rolling and filling might be best to find on YouTube).




Aunt Clara’s (Secret) Blueberry (Cream Cheese) Pie Recipe


My Aunt Clara (God rest her soul) was the type of good cook that might occasionally leave out an ingredient or step so that yours didn’t turn out as good as hers. Or so I’ve been told. Anyway, my parents had this pie while visiting my aunt once and this is the recipe she shared. I have never tried the pie or the recipe but it does sound good and I searched and could not find the exact recipe online…so maybe it really is ‘secret’…or was until today.

Bake and cool a regular flour and shortening pie crust.

4 oz white chocolate, finely grated

1 8 oz package of cream cheese at room temperature

1.2 cup sour cream

Mix together with a mixer until it is well blended and smooth. Set aside.

3 cups fresh, washed blueberries

1 1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)

1 T. lemon juice

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 T. butter

Combine sugar and cornstarch well, sprinkle over blueberries and mix gently, then mix in lemon juice. Cook in saucepan over medium heat, gently stirring occasionally, until thickened. Add the butter, mix and let cool.

Pour cream cheese mixture into cooled pie shell. Then pour the cooled blueberry mixture over the top. Cover with wax paper touching the surface and refrigerate 4-5 hours or overnight. To serve roll a half cup of fresh blueberries in powdered sugar and use as a garnish.


Roasted Pecans (Autumn Spiced)


2 T. water

1 egg white, slightly beaten

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. grounds cloves

1/2 tsp. ground allspice

2 1/2 cups (or more) of pecan halves

Add water to egg white, mix and set aside. Mix sugar and spices together in a small bowl first, then add to water and egg white mixture. Beat until the sugar dissolves. Place pecan halves in a large bowl and pour spice mixture or then toss with a large spatula or spoon until all nuts are coated evenly. (I add more nuts so that it’s a lighter coating over more pieces.) Pour out the nuts onto a cookie sheet (or jelly roll pan with a slight lifted edge) that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Turn each pecan flat side down. Bake in a 250 degree oven for 1 hour, stirring once about halfway through.

This recipe is from The Caswell House in Austin, Texas, given to me by my neighbor Lee Lamb while we lived on the same street in Austin, Texas many years ago.