Category Archives: Holiday Baking

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.

Apricot-Pecan Hot Cross Buns (BH&G Magazine April 1992)


3 1/2 – 4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup apricot nectar

1/2 cup margarine or butter

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

3 eggs

1 6 0z pkg dried apricots

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1 slightly beaten egg white

1 recipe Apricot Icing

  1. In a large mixing bowl stir together 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the yeast. In a saucepan heat the apricot nectar, butter (or margarine) sugar, and salt until warm (120-130 degrees F), stirring constantly. Add to flour mixture along with eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes.
  2. Reserve 4 or 5 dried apricots; snip remaining apricots into small pieces. Using a spoon, stir the snipped apricots and pecans into dough. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough (3 -5 minutes total). Shape into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl; turn once. Cover; let rise till double (about 1 1/2 hours).
  4. Punch dough down. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest fro 10 minutes. Divide dough into 20 portions; shape into smooth balls. Arrange dough balls 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise till almost double (30-45 minutes).
  5. Brush dough with egg white. Bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 12-15 minutes or till golden. Cool on wire racks. Snip reserved apricots into 40 thin slivers. Using a spoon, top each bun with an X of Apricot icing; decorate with X of 2 apricot slivers. Makes 20 rolls.

APRICOT ICING: Combine 1 cup sifted powdered sugar and enough apricot nectar (about 1 tablespoon) to make an icing of drizzling consistency.

MAKE AHEAD DIRECTIONS: Bake rolls as directed; cool thoroughly. Do not add Apricot Icing. Place in a freezer container or freezer bag and freeze for up to 8 months. To serve, thaw, covered, overnight in the refrigerator. Top with Apricot Icing.

Nutritional Information per bun: 196 calories, 7 g. fat, 32 mg chol., 4 g pro., 31 g carbo., 94 mg sodium, 2 g fiber. RDA:11% iron, 18% vit. A, 17% thiamine, 14 % riboflavin, 11% niacin.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies


Start with buttery crackers already filled with peanut butter, small or regular size (Ritz Bits is my personal choice or make your own peanut butter sandwiched between crackers using your choice of crunchy or smooth peanut butter between two crackers).

Melt semi-sweet chocolate chips (or milk chocolate or white, your preference) slowly over a double boiler or in a microwave oven in a microwave safe measuring cup (some recipes suggest adding 2 teaspoons or tablespoons of oil to make it thinner but I used chocolate alone and it works). Dip each sandwich cookie one at a time and coat thoroughly with chocolate and remove with a fork or chocolate dipping tool. Place on a tray lined with wax paper and leave on the counter to set. If the weather is too warm for them to set up quickly, place in the refrigerator for a few minutes. Once firm they can be placed in airtight container with wax paper between layers until ready to eat.

St. Patrick’s Day Shortbread



Ingredients for 12

1 cup (1/2 lb) butter, softened

1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white rice flour (or more all-purpose)

Look for rice flour in health food stores if not available in your grocery store.

In a food processor or large mixing bowl, whirl or beat butter with the larger amount of sugar until smooth. Gradually add all-purpose and rice flour until well combined. Spread in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

Bake in a 275 degree oven until pale golden, 55-65 minutes. Place on wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with 1 Tablespoon sugar, then cut into 24 bars. Let cool completely. Serve, store in airtight container up to 3 days or freeze.

I no longer remember which magazine I ripped these pages from that include the whole St. Patrick’s Day Dinner but this shortbread was actually called ‘Elaine’s Shortbread’ and the article was written by Elaine Johnson. (I was probably a Sunset Magazine from the 80’s or possibly Glamour)