Dash of Class: Sampling of delicious seasonal recipes

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Food column by Nora Sweat

By Nora Sweat

First of all, a delayed Christmas greeting to you and yours. There was a misunderstanding concerning the publication of my column last week.

Today is New Year’s Day and I hope 2013 is a very happy year for you indeed. Because Christmas was on the last Tuesday of the month, we didn’t have December’s Recipe Roundup, so this week we will have those recipes and not have a January Finest Cook. We will return to that feature in February.

During Christmas, I tried several new recipes I want to share with you. The first is called Crock Pot Candy. One evening before Christmas school vacation, a friend who is a teacher stopped by with some, and it is delicious. It is similar to chocolate covered peanuts, but much easier and very tasty.

The chocolate peppermint cake was served at my sister’s home on Christmas Day. Along with crown roast of pork, cranberry apple stuffing, roasted asparagus with hollandaise sauce and dinner rolls, came the delicious dessert. You could use canned frosting, but I would use the chocolate frosting recipe using cocoa. It is delicious and so creamy. It is what my sister used. She served the cake with a scoop of peppermint ice cream. It was a hit with everyone. This would be a good dessert for Valentine’s Day if you can wait that long.

The stuffing served with the roast pork was very moist and I loved the addition of apples and cranberries to the usual dull bread stuffing. It is a Paula Deen recipe.

Nora Sweat, author of “Mama and Me,” is a native of Hardin County and a retired home economics/family and consumer science teacher. She can be reached atnorasweat@thenewsenterprise.com or by mail at 408 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701.

Crock Pot Candy

16 ounces salted dry-roasted peanuts
15 ounces un-salted dry roasted peanuts
1 bar German sweet chocolate
12-oz package semisweet chocolate chips (about 2 cups)
2½  lbs white almond bark

Put the peanuts in a four-quart slow cooker. Layer the chocolate over the peanuts, beginning with the sweet chocolate, followed by the chocolate chips and the almond bark. Cook on low for 3 hours. Do not stir.

Remove from heat and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Drop the candy into cupcake pan liners, using about 2 tablespoons per liner. Allow the candy to cool completely before removing the cupcake liners. Makes 30 to 40 pieces.

Chocolate Peppermint Cake

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • 1 small box chocolate instant pudding mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped round hard peppermint candies
  • 1 cup vanilla frosting
  • 2 cups chocolate frosting

Softened vanilla or peppermint ice cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat three 8-inch layer cake pans with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, water, butter, eggs and peppermint extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds and on medium for 2 minutes. Stir in chips. Pour into pans.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Turn out onto a rack to finish cooling. Mix vanilla frosting with 1/4 cup chopped peppermint candies. Place one cake layer on a cake stand and spread with vanilla frosting. Place a second layer on top and spread with vanilla frosting. Top with third layer. Cover entire cake with chocolate frosting.

Press candies into sides of cake with a small spatula or knife. Serve with ice cream, if desired.

Source: Carolyn Vaillancourt Weinert, by way of www.dashrecipes.com.

Apple Cranberry Bread Stuffing

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, cored and finely chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (10.75-ounce) can cream of celery soup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 cups Hawaiian sweet bread, cubed and toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13” x 9” x 2” baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine chicken broth and cranberries; let soak for 30 minutes. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, pepper and celery; cook for 5 minutes stirring frequently or until tender. Add apples and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and place in a large bowl.

Beat 3 eggs in a separate bowl. Add salt and pepper. Set aside.

In the large bowl with vegetables, stir in chicken broth mixture, cream of celery soup and cinnamon. Add toasted bread, stirring gently to combine. Add eggs. Spoon mixture into prepared dish and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until center is set.

Source: Pete Weinert, my brother-in-law, by way of www.foodnetwork.com.