In the Kitchen

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Mark shares his recipes, tips and suggestions.

Previous recipes: Cherry Crumb Cake, Darrell's Fruitcake, Witch Hat Cookie Treats, Candy Bar Cookie Bars, Ballard's Homemade Pizza, Mexican Cheese Dip, Pizza Dip, Super Bowl Dessert, Crunchy Toffee Dip, Fruit Santa, Cookie Tree, Orange Coffee Cake, Lemon Jell-o Fruit Salad, Mark's Marvelous Cupcakes, Cream Cheese Icing, Peach Custard Pie, Hamburger Cookies, Savory Summer Pie, Miss Nora's Fudge, Bon Bon's Tea Cakes, Divinity, Buckeyes, Fruit Bars, My Mother's Cake Layers, My Mother's Chocolate Icing, Pumpkin Trifle, Turkey and Dressing Casserole, Pumpkin Fudge, Pumpkin Dip, Caramel Cake.

Darrell's Fruitcake

1 c. butter
2 c. sifted self-rising flour
6 eggs
2 c. sugar
1 lb. candied cherries, chopped
1 lb. candied pineapple, chopped
1 qt. pecans, chopped
2 (6-oz.) pkgs. frozen coconut, thawed slightly
1 c. sifted self-rising flour

Mix first four ingredients just as you would with a regular cake. Combine the fruits and nuts and coat them with flour. (This keeps them from sinking to the bottom of cake.) Add the fruit and nut mixture and the coconut to the first mixture. Then mix in the remaining flour. Pour the batter into a greased, floured tube or bundt cake pan. Bake at 250 degrees for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. (Cooking time varies with oven so it could take as long as 4 hours.) Be sure to check the doneness occasionally with a toothpick. Cool 10 to 15 minutes on rack before removing from pan. It helps to run a knife around the edge to loosen prior to removing. Enjoy!


Cherry Crumb Cake

1 c. Crisco (white works best)
1 c. Miracle Whip (or any whipped) margarine
2 3/4 c. sugar
5 eggs
3 c. cake flour
1 c. milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 T. butter flavoring

Cream first three ingredients together well. Then add eggs one at a time. Alternate adding 1 cup flour at a time and milk. Add flavorings. Mix well. Makes four layers. Set aside to cool completely before icing.

Beat 4 egg whites until stiff
3/4 cup Crisco (white works best)
1 box 10x confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon pure lemon extract
2 6-oz. packages of frozen coconut (slightly thawed)
8 oz. jar cherries (drained and chopped)
Mix Crisco and sugar together, adding egg whites along. Add remainder, stir well and ice cake.

Witch Hat Cookie Treats

1 package (18 ounces) refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, melted
16 sugar ice cream cones

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets; set aside. Remove dough from wrapper according to package directions. Mix dough and cocoa powder in large bowl until well blended. Shape dough into 16 balls. Flatten each ball on prepared cookie sheet into 3 1/2 to 4-inch circle. Bake 6 - 8 minutes or until set. Cool on cookie sheets 5 minutes; transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Line large tray with waxed paper. Place the chocolate chips in a small microwavable bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes or until completely melted; stirring at 30-second intervals. Coat sugar cones with melted chocolate using clean pastry brush. Stand up on prepared tray; let set.

Fill cone with candy corn or M & M's. Use decorator icing to attach the filled ice cream cone to the cookie (brim of the hat). Decorate with icing and assorted colored sugars and decors.

Granny’s Homemade Biscuits

4 cups self-rising White Lily flour
¾ cup butter-flavored Crisco
2 to 2¼ cups buttermilk

Using knives or a pastry cutter, cut shortening into flour until mixture is very grainy. (The finer you cut it in, the lighter the biscuit.) Add buttermilk starting with 2 cups. Using a spoon, stir the milk to combine and wet the mixture (do not overstir). The mixture should be moist - thick and gooey. If you need the additional milk, add at this time.

At this point, roll dough on floured surface and cut or using floured hands pinch and roll into biscuit-sized pieces. Place on greased baking sheet or biscuit pan. Top with a pat of butter on each biscuit. Bake at 475 to 500 degrees until golden brown.

Candy Bar Cookie Bars

2 cups crushed chocolate graham snacks (such as Nabisco Teddy Grahams)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 (8 ounce) package toffee baking bits (such as Heath Bits 'O Brickle)
6 (1.4-ounce) bars chocolate covered toffee, crushed (such as Heath)
1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Stir together crushed chocolate graham snacks and the melted butter; press evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven; layer the toffee baking bits, crushed toffee candy bars, chocolate chips, and chopped pecans evenly over the crust. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the layers. Bake in the preheated oven until set, about 20 minutes. Cool overnight before cutting.

Peach Custard Pie

2 unbaked 9" pie shells (I use deep dish because I like more custard. In fact, I usually make one and one half to two times the custard.)
4 ripe peaches (Depending on the juiciness of the peaches you may want to use only 3.)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup plain flour
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon almond flavoring, or flavoring of your choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and slice peaches and arrange them into bottom of pie crusts. Mix the sugar and flour. Add the well beaten eggs, melted butter and flavoring, mixing well. Pour over the peaches.

Bake until crust browns and custard thickens and sets. Time will range from 45 minutes to an hour depending on the oven. Just continue to check from 30 minutes on to test the stage of the custard.

Serve with ice cream while still warm for the best peach dessert you've ever had!

Hamburger Cookies

1 package (18 ounces) refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Beaten egg white and sesame seeds (optional)

1/2 (18-ounce) package refrigerated sugar cookie dough
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Red, yellow and green decorating icings

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. For buns, remove dough from wrapper; place in large bowl. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Add peanut butter, flour, brown sugar and vanilla to dough; beat until blended. Shape into 48 (1-inch) balls; place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.

2. Bake 14 minutes or until browned. If desired, remove from oven after 10 minutes; brush with egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Return to oven; bake 4 minutes. Cool on cookie sheets 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

3. For burgers, remove half of the dough from wrapper. (Reserve remaining dough for another use) Beat dough, cocoa, brown sugar and vanilla in bowl until blended. Shape into 24 (1-inch) balls; place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Flatten cookies to 1/4 –inch thickness with a diameter slightly larger than the buns.

4. Bake 12 minutes or until firm. Cool on cookie sheets 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to wire rack; cool completely.

5. To assemble, use icing to attach burgers to flat sides of 24 buns; pipe red, yellow and green icings on burgers. Top with remaining buns.

Makes 2 dozen sandwich cookies

Fabulous Baked Beans

4 strips bacon, fried and drained
1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
2 small onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
Garlic salt to taste
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. yellow mustard
1 (3-oz.) can tomato paste
1 T. barbecue sauce
2 medium cans pork and beans

Fry bacon. Brown ground beef, onions and bell pepper in bacon grease. Combine remaining ingredients, except beans, in separate bowl. Stir in beans. Finally, stir in ground beef mixture. Pour into large Dutch oven or baking dish. Top with crumbled bacon. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes or until simmering hot. Enjoy!

Savory Summer Pie

½ (15-oz.) pkg. refrigerated piecrusts
1 sm. red bell pepper, chopped
½ purple onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. olive oil
2 T. chopped fresh basil
4 lg. eggs
1 c. half-and-half
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
2 c. (8-oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
a c. shredded Parmesan cheese
3 plum tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices

Fit pie crust into a 9-inch deep-dish tart pan; prick bottom and sides of pie crust with a fork. Bake at 425E for 10 minutes. Remove from oven; set aside. Saute bell pepper, onion, and garlic in hot oil in a large skillet 5 minutes or until tender; stir in basil. Whisk together eggs and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in sauteed vegetables and cheeses. Pour into crust; top with tomato. Bake at 375E for 45 to 50 minutes or until set, shielding edges with strips of aluminum foil after 30 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Yield: 8 servings

Ballard’s Homemade Pizza

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 c. warm water
2 1/2 c. packaged biscuit mix
Olive oil or salad oil

Soften yeast in warm water. Add biscuit mix and beat vigorously for 2 minutes. Dust surface with biscuit mix, knead dough until smooth. Divide dough in half and roll each piece to a 12-inch circle. Place dough circles on greased pizza pans; crimp edges. Brush dough with oil. (If in a hurry, use refrigerated pizza dough.)

1 lb. Italian sausage, browned and drained
1 pkg. sliced pepperoni
1 lb. can tomatoes, drained with 1/2 c. juice reserved
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. crushed dried oregano
1 T. whole basil
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Assorted other toppings as desired – bell pepper, onion, olives, jalapeños, etc.
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, as desired
Grated Mozzarella cheese, as desired
Grated Cheddar cheese, as desired

Brown sausage slowly, stirring occasionally and drain really well. Set aside. Cut drained tomatoes into small pieces and scatter over the greased pizza crusts. Cover with grated mozzarella cheese. Drizzle each with 1 T. olive oil. Sprinkle with sausage. Combine tomato paste, tomato juice, garlic, oregano, basil. Mix well and spread over sausage. Place other toppings. Dash generously with salt and pepper. Top with as much cheese as desired. Bake at 425º for 15 minutes or until crusts are done. Yields 2 12-inch pizzas.

Mexican Cheese Dip

1 (16-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (10-oz.) can Ro-Tel tomatoes with chiles
3/4 c. water
3/4 c. chili powder (half of a 1 1/2-oz. can)
3/4 oz. cumin (half of a 1 1/2-oz. can)
2 cloves garlic or comparable garlic powder
2 lbs. Velveeta cheese
1/2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese

Mix first 6 ingredients. If using cloves, use a garlic press and add to mixture. If using powder, add to mixture. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking. Cut cheeses into smaller pieces and add to mixture. Stir until melted. Serve hot with tortilla chips or Fritos. (Caution: If your guests are like ours, they will love this dip. They may even ask for a drinking straw. Do not give them one. Make them use chips.)

Pizza Dip

1 8-oz. light cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. light sour cream
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. red pepper
3/4 c. pizza sauce
1/2 c. pepperoni chopped
1/4 c. green onions, chopped
1 c. Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Beat cream cheese, sour cream, oregano, garlic and red pepper until well blended. Spread in lightly greased 9-inch pie plate. Spread pizza sauce evenly over top. Sprinkle with chopped pepperoni and top with chopped green onions. Bake at 350degrees for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake 10 more minutes or until cheese melts. Serve with tortilla chips.

Super Bowl Dessert Table Suggestion

These cakes, baked in the various shapes of balls used in sports, were part of a groom’s cake display at a wedding. You can adapt this idea for your Super Bowl party. Cover your serving table in green outdoor carpeting to resemble turf. You can even draw yard lines and hash-marks! Serve in sports related dishes, bake a cake in the shape of a football and be sure to use your favorite team’s colors. Let’s hope they’re black, red and silver!

Crunchy Toffee Dip

1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 8-ounce package Heath’s Bit O’ Brickle
1 tsp vanilla

Allow cream cheese to soften to room temperature. Mix with sugars and vanilla until well blended. Stir in toffee pieces. Serve with favorite cookie (butter, ginger snaps, etc.) or with apple slices.


Fruit Santa

Fresh Pineapple chunks
Cream Cheese Icing
Miniature Chocolate Morsels
White Chocolate Oreo Cookies
Regular and Frilly Toothpicks

Prepare cream cheese icing and place into small piping bag (recipe for icing follows). Slice stem portion from strawberry. Cut remainder in half. Cut pineapple into a square chunk. Place an Oreo on a plate. Pipe a small dot of icing onto Oreo and place bottom half of strawberry on top of icing.

Using a regular toothpick (you may need to break a portion off), affix the pineapple chunk on top of strawberry bottom. Top the pineapple with strawberry “hat” and push frilly toothpick through entire assembly to hold firmly in place. Push mini morsels into front of pineapple piece for eyes. Pipe beard and trimming for Santa’s coat and hat.

Cream Cheese Icing
6-oz. cream cheese (room temperature)
½ stick butter or margarine (room temperature)
2 tsp. vanilla
1 box powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients together until creamy.


Cookie Tree

After preparing the dough (see recipe below for Bon Bon's tea cakes), use various sized star cookie cutters. Poke a hole in the middle of each cookie using a drinking straw. After decorating the cookies, build the Christmas Tree using a dowel firmly placed in a container of your choice! Be sure to place a few on trays so your guests don't "cut down" your forest!


Bon Bon’s Tea Cakes

1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups plain flour
2 eggs
4 teaspoons baking powder

Combine all ingredients as listed. Roll out the dough on a floured surface. It should be thin. Cut using a cookie cutter. Place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned.

To make icing, combine confectioner’s sugar with water to a consistency where it can be poured yet not run off the cookies. Icing may be colored using food coloring. I find that the gel type is best for getting true colors to “match” the season!

Bon Bon was a wonderful cook and the grandmother of some of my childhood friends. I have made these since I was a child. Courtney and I still make these with Debra and Blake’s help - for all the major holidays!

Orange Coffee Cake

3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1 T. grated orange rind
2 11-oz. cans refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 c. sifted powdered sugar
2 T. orange juice

Combine sugar, pecans, orange rind in small bowl. Dip each biscuit in melted butter and dredge in sugar mixture. Stand each biscuit on edge in a lightly greased Bundt pan. Drizzle with remaining butter and sugar mixture. Bake at 350E for about 45 minutes or until golden brown. In the meantime, mix powdered sugar and orange juice for glaze. Immediately invert pan onto a plate when removed from oven. Spoon glaze over warm bread. Best served warm.

Lemon Jell-O Fruit Salad

2 6-oz. boxes lemon Jell-O
1 lg. can pears
1 lg. can peaches
1 lg. bottle Maraschino cherries
1 lg. can pineapple chunks
1 lg. can Mandarin oranges
3 bananas, sliced
2 apples, diced
2 c. grapes
1 c. peach juice

Drain all fruit well, reserving 1 cup peach juice. Dissolve Jell-O in 2 cups of hot water. Add 1 cup of cold water and the cup of peach juice. Stir well. Fill a large bowl with fruit and pour Jell-O mixture over it.

The can be done with any type Jell-o. For a more tropical flavor, try half lemon and half pineapple Jell-O.

Mark's Marvelous Cupcakes

3/4 lb. butter
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
6 large eggs
3 cups sugar
3 cups cake flour, sifted before measuring
1 tsp. vanilla, almond or lemon flavoring

Cream butter with cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Add sugar and beat until thoroughly blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Carefully add sifted flour, a little at a time, and mix until smooth. Stir in flavoring. Spoon into paper cupcake shells and bake until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean and the are golden brown in a 325 degree oven. Remove from cupcake pans and allow to completely cool prior to icing. Makes 18 to 24 cupcakes - depending on the size of the cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Icing

1 8-oz. package cream cheese
1 stick butter
1 box 10X powdered sugar
1 tsp. almond extract

Cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar until well blended. Stir in almond extract. Icing can be colored with food coloring. I usually make more than one recipe because we like cupcakes completely covered with thick icing.

Tater Tot Casserole

2 pounds tater tots, thawed
1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
1 (8 ounce) package sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 dash garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups cornflakes cereal
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch casserole dish. In a large mixing bowl combine tater tots, soup, onion, sour cream, cheese, garlic powder, seasoning salt and softened butter; mix well. Transfer to casserole dish. In a medium bowl combine cereal and melted butter; spread over casserole. Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese (use more or less according to your taste). Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until browned. (Note: It's a good idea to put a cookie sheet under the casserole dish, in case it bubbles over while cooking.)

Miss Nora's Fudge

4 1/2 cup sugar
1 tall can milk
2 T. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
12-oz. semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 pkg. German chocolate squares
1 pint marshmallow cream
2 cups nuts

Mix sugar, milk, butter and salt together and bring to a boil. Boil 6 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add chocolate morsels, German chocolate squares, marshmallow cream and nuts. Pour into buttered pan and allow to cool before cutting.


1/2 c. light corn syrup
2 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. water
2 egg whites
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chopped nuts

Beat egg whites until stiff. Mix syrup, sugar, salt and water. Bring to a boil at 248 degrees (use candy thermometer). Pour one-half of syrup slowly into egg whites beating as you pour. Bring the remaining one-half of syrup to 272 degrees. Then pour this syrup into mixture, beating slowly until mixture thickens. Add nuts and flavoring. Stir until firm and spoon by teaspoons quickly onto wax paper. Allow to completely cool and harden before removing from the paper. Store in airtight containers to maintain freshness and avoid “weeping.”

Every time I make this candy, I think of my dear, departed friend DeLora and miss the adventures we had making this delicious divinity.


2 c. peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
1 stick butter, softened but not melted
2 c. powdered sugar
1 12-oz. pkg. sweet chocolate chips
1/2 bar paraffin wax

Combine the first three ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix these very well. The consistency should be such that you can roll and form the dough into a ball. You may want to refrigerate the dough for 15 to 20 minutes as this makes it easier to work with. Roll into 1-inch balls. Return to the fridge and chill until firm. Melt chocolate and paraffin wax over water in a double boiler or over very low heat in a saucepan. Dip the balls into the chocolate. They can be partially or completely covered. Use a toothpick or spoon to submerge and remove them from the chocolate mixture onto wax paper to dry. If in a hurry, place the chilled balls on wax paper and drizzle the chocolate over the balls. Can be stored in the refrigerator, frozen or eaten immediately.

It is not Christmas without these wonderful treats that Debra and the kids make each year. Our friend Bill Terry expects to find some of these on the table each time he comes over and usually brings his own container to take a few home!

Fruit bars

As seen on Mark’s Cox Communication show during the month of December.

1 box brown sugar
4 eggs
2 c. self-rising flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 stick butter
1/2 lb. candied fruit
1 c. nuts

Mix all ingredients until batter is fluffy. Bake at 350 degrees in a pan treated with non-stick spray for 30 minutes. The temperature and time may vary with each oven. Allow the bars to cool slightly. Cut into bars and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Fruit cake gets such a bad rap! If you, your family or friends loathe fruit cake in its purest form, try these bars. They remind me a lot of the fruit bars that used to be sold in the bakery at Rich’s in Atlanta during the holidays. We’d always get them when we went to Atlanta to ride the Pink Pig!

My Mother’s Cake Layers

These are the lightest, fluffiest cake layers ever and are suitable for just about any kind of cake.

3/4 c. Crisco (butter flavored)
5 eggs (She always put in 6 though)
2 cups sugar
1 c. plain flour
1 c. self-rising flour
Pinch of salt
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Cream the Crisco and sugar together until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time. Blend flours into this mixture, alternating with milk. Stir in vanilla. Bake in 3 to 5 layers at 350 degrees until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean in the middle.

My Mother’s Chocolate Icing

3 c. sugar
3 heaping T. cocoa
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 stick butter

Combine first four ingredients in a heavy duty saucepan. Cook until mixture reaches soft ball stage. Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter. Beat to combine until cool enough to spread.

Pumpkin Trifle

1 (16-oz.) pound cake, cut into 1” cubes
1 cup sugar
1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, if desired
1 (29-oz.) can 100% pure pumpkin
1/2 cup flaked, sweetened coconut, toasted
1 (12-oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Caramel Sundae Sauce (sold in the ice cream section of the grocery store)

Place sugar, sour cream and cream cheese in large bowl; beat with electric mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add the can of pumpkin, 3/4 of the whipped topping, the vanilla and spices. Blend well together. Spoon half of the cake cubes into a trifle bowl; top with half of the pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle some of the toasted coconut on top. Repeat layers (cake cubes, pumpkin mixture, coconut). Save a little toasted coconut for the top to garnish. Finish off by adding the rest of the whipped topping to the top. Sprinkle the remaining toasted coconut and pecans on top. Drizzle with caramel sundae sauce. Cover and chill at least one hour. Yields 12 servings.

Turkey and Dressing Casserole

Boneless, cooked turkey breast
8-oz. sour cream
1/2 c. milk
1/3 c. spicy mustard
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 box of chicken-flavored Stove Top stuffing

Buy small pre-cooked turkey breast and cut into small pieces. The size of the breast and the amount you use in the recipe is dictated by your own personal taste. If you don’t use the entire breast, you can use it for other dishes or for sandwiches. Place the turkey in bottom of casserole dish. Mix sour cream, milk, spicy mustard and cream of chicken soup. Pour this over turkey that has been cut up. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook a box of chicken-flavored Stove Top stuffing as directed. Add to top of turkey and mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Pumpkin Fudge

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 (12-ounce) package butterscotch chips
1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow cream
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, evaporated milk, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat. Boil over medium heat until mixture registers 234 degrees on a candy thermometer (about 25 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the butterscotch chips until completely melted. Add the marshmallow creme, pecans and vanilla. Mix until combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Spread evenly. Allow to cool at room temperature. Cut into squares and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator.

Pumpkin Dip

1 ( 8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 (15-ounce) can solid-pack pumpkin
1 T. ground cinnamon
1 T. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. frozen orange juice concentrate

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar, mix until smooth. Stir in the pumpkin. Add the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and orange juice. Mix until well blended. Chill in the refrigerator 1 hour before serving. Hollow a miniature pumpkin and place dip inside just before serving. Serve with apple wedges and ginger snaps.

Caramel Cake

3/4 cup Crisco
5 eggs
2 cup sugar
1 cup plain flour
pinch of salt
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream the Crisco and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Blend in flours and salt alternating with milk. Add vanilla. Grease 3 layer pans with Crisco or butter and coat with flour. Bake at 300 degrees until brown but still very moist. Allow to cool on racks for no more than 5 minutes. Turn out onto racks and leave until ready to ice.

3 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup canned milk
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon white Karo syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

In an iron or teflon coated skillet, brown 1/2 cup sugar over low to medium heat. When sugar liquifies and turns dark brown, pour boiling water into pan and allow to boil until mixture is bubbly and is the consistency of thin syrup (about 3 to 5 minutes).

While this is taking place, combine remaining 3 cups of sugar with other ingredients (except vanilla). Bring mixture to a boil. Continue boiling while adding syrup mixture. Cook until mixture reaches soft boil stage. Remove from heat and beat mixture while it cools slightly to a spreading consistency. Do not allow to begin to harden in the pan before icing the cake.

This is my signature cake. I think I’ve made at least 200 over the last few years. While icing, have someone you love get out the knife, plates and forks and the milk! Eat the cake warm for the absolutely most wonderful sugar coma of your life!