Baking spirits bright with cookies, cashews, cake


This might be the most delicious month of the year, when treats abound! All of these recipes are Christmas-worthy. My Easy Cranberry Pistachio Cookies are moist, scrumptious and super easy.
No-Fuss Mulled Juice is great for an open house because it’s made in a slow cooker and combines fragrant cinnamon, apples and oranges with cranberry-pomegranate and apple juices. Candied Cashews make a great gift and are delicious plain, on top of salads, on charcuterie boards, on oatmeal or used in sweet holiday breads. And to please a crowd, serve Easy Gingerbread Pumpkin Trifle. Merry Christmas!

Easy Cranberry Pistachio Cookies

Makes about 20 cookies.

1 (15.25-ounce) box white cake mix
1 (3.4-ounce) box instant pistachio pudding mix
1 egg
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup canola oil, plus 1 tablespoon
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, whisk together cake mix and pudding mix until well-combined. Add egg, orange juice and canola oil, and stir until combined. Stir in dried cranberries and chocolate chips.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out about 2 tablespoons cookie dough, and place on sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Note: If you prefer chocolate, you can swap cranberry and chocolate measurements for more chocolate flavor.


No-Fuss Mulled Juice

Makes 12 or more servings.

48 ounces apple juice
64 ounces cranberry-pomegranate juice
1 large, unpeeled orange, sliced into tiny pieces
2 sweet, unpeeled red apples, cored and chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
2 black tea bags (decaf preferred)

Place both juices, orange, apple and cinnamon sticks in a slow cooker; cook on high for 2 hours. When mixture is hot, add tea bags, and cook another 1-2 hours. Discard tea bags. Reduce heat to warm setting before serving.






Candied Cashews

Makes 3 cups.

2 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups raw, unsalted cashews
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Heat oven to 325.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg whites and vanilla extract until very frothy, about 2 minutes. Add cashews, stirring until all nuts are covered. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and cinnamon; pour over nuts and stir.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread nuts evenly on sheet, and bake for 15 minutes. Stir, then bake for another 15 minutes. Remove and stir once before cooling (this prevents nuts from sticking together as they cool). Once cool, store in airtight container.


Easy Gingerbread Pumpkin Trifle

Makes 12 or more servings.

For Gingerbread Cake

1 (15.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3 tablespoons molasses
1 cup water scant (see instructions)
1/2 cup oil
3 eggs

For Pumpkin Mousse

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (can substitute cinnamon)
1 (8-ounce) container extra creamy whipped topping

Heat oven to 350. Grease a 9×13 pan, and set aside.

For cake: In a large bowl, whisk together cake mix, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Pour molasses into 1-cup measuring cup, and fill rest of the cup with water; add to cake mix. Add oil and eggs; beat for 2 minutes until well-combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake about 30 minutes or until done. Cool completely.

For mousse: In a large bowl,

whisk together pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk and pumpkin pie spice until well-combined. Fold in whipped topping until blended. Refrigerate for 3 hours or more before serving.

To assemble: Cut cake into 1-inch cubes. Place half the cake cubes in trifle bowl. Top with half the pumpkin mousse. Add remaining cake cubes, and top with mousse.

Cover and refrigerate until time to serve.