While many people have been gathering up Christmas baking ingredients for some time now and already have their Christmas recipes looked up, some of us may still be wondering just what special goodies will grace our Christmas tables. This week I have included several ideas that will not keep you in the kitchen for hours but yet will produce something you will be proud to serve. Many of the recipes today even start with packaged mixes. While some people think a “proper” cake has to be made totally from “scratch,” I think you will find that the results from these recipes are great. One recipe this time that is a personal favorite of mine is the Sausage Cake. I first got the recipe from Kerry Sinclair and his wife, and once I tried it, it quickly became a favorite. The sausage supplies all the shortening the cake needs, and there is no taste whatsoever of sausage in the cake. If fact, most people don’t believe you when you tell them it has it in it! Also, the Easy Red Velvet Cake turns out very well indeed. There are many many versions of the Red Velvet recipe, but this one is quite good.

Some time back Lela Solomon gave me the recipe for the White Snowflake Cake, and it quickly became my favorite easy cake. I know you’ll love it. Lela says it make wonderful cupcakes, too!

It is my wish for you that this be a wonderful and blessed Christmas, that you will find a special place in your heart for the true meaning of Christmas, that you will share it with someone, and that as the years roll by you will look back on this Christmas as one of your happiest and most blessed.

Strawberry Jam Cake

1 box spice cake mix

1 small butterscotch instant pudding

3/4 cup oil

4 eggs

1 cup water

1/2 cup strawberry preserves

1/2 cup raisins

1 cup canned coconut

1 cup chopped pecans

Combine all and blend well. Add fruits and nuts last and work into the batter. Bake in a greased Bundt pan for one hour at 325°. When the cake is done, punch holes in it and allow the sauce to soak up.

Sauce:

1 cup powdered sugar and the juice one lemon.

German Chocolate No-Cook Fudge

3 (4 oz.) pkgs. German’s sweet chocolate broken into pieces

1 (6 oz.) cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup chopped pecans

2 tsp. vanilla

36 pecan halves (optional)

Butter an 8-inch square pan and set aside. Melt chocolate and chips in a heavy small saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in the milk, chopped pecans and vanilla until combined. Spread in prepared pan. Score fudge into squares. Put in refrigerator until firm. Cut into squares, Store in the fridge and bring to room temperature before serving. This makes about two pounds of fudge.

A Favorite and Simple Christmas Dessert

Richard’s Note: I first had this served to me years ago at the home of Alice and Ted Mercer, and I have loved it ever since. Everyone I have ever served it too likes it, and it really does not get much simpler—or better!

Peppermint ice cream

Egg nog

Put the ice cream into a pretty serving dish. Pour egg nog over and serve.

White Snowflake Cake From Lela Solomon (Dec. 2012)

Makes 24 cupcakes or 2 layer round cake

Prep Time 15 min, Bake Time 30 min

1 (18.25 oz.) box white cake mix with pudding

1 & 1/4 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup butter, melted

2 large eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. almond extract

Beat first six ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer just until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase speed to medium and beat additional two minutes or until batter is smooth. For cupcakes, place paper baking cups in muffin tins and coat with cooking spray. Fill each two-thirds full. For layered cake, spray two round pans with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly into the two pans. Bake in a 350° oven for 25 minutes for cupcakes. Bake cake layers for 30 minutes in 350° oven. Do not overbake. This will cause dryness in cake. Insert wooden toothpick into center to test for doneness. Remove from pan after 10 minutes. Cool completely before frosting. Prepare basic white frosting or your favorite cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with flaked, sweetened coconut.

Caramel Turtle Brownies

1 (12 fl. oz.) can evaporated milk

1 (18.5 oz.) pkg. chocolate cake mix

6 Tbs. butter, melted

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 lb. whole pecans

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9x13 pan and set aside. Unwrap caramels and place in saucepan with 2 tablespoons of evaporated milk. Melt over medium to low heat, stirring constantly. In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining evaporated milk, dry cake mix, and melted butter. Stir until well blended. Spread half this mixture in prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove brownies from oven. Sprinkle chocolate chips and drizzle melted caramels over the top. Drop remaining cake mixture by teaspoonfuls over all. Return to oven for 20 minutes. Garnish with whole pecans if you’d like.

Lemon Cranberry Walnut Cake

Cake:

2/3 cup butter, softened

1 & 1/2 cups sugar

3 Tbs. lemon juice

2 Tbs. grated lemon peel

4 eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 & 1/2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. salt

1 cup milk

2 cups dried cranberries

1 cup chopped walnuts

Glaze:

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

Cream the butter, sugar, lemon juice and lemon peel. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt): add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir in cranberries and walnuts. Pour into a prepared bundt pan or loaf pan. (I prefer the bundt pan because it presents a nice looking cake and seems to cook more evenly.) Bake at 350° for one hour or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to a wire rack. With a toothpick, poke about 20 holes in the top of the cake. For glaze, combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice until sugar is dissolved. Spoon over the cake. Cool completely before slicing.

Italian No Bake Cake

Perfect for the holiday buffet!

1 box of vanilla wafers

1 can of crushed pineapples with juice

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 pkg. of coconut

1 (8 oz.) container Cool Whip

1 small jar of cherries

1 cup of pecans (optional)

Layer the bottom of dish with vanilla wafers. Mix in a bowl the lemon juice and condensed milk, then add the pineapples and mix all together. Pour this over the vanilla wafers in the dish. Add another layer of the vanilla wafers on top of the pineapple mix. Then top with cool whip, and coconut and cherries. Refrigerate overnight. Serve and Enjoy! (Note: You can replace coconut with pecans on top if you’d like.)

Date Cake Squares from Gloria Revis

1 cup chopped dates

3/4 cup chopped pitted prunes

1/2 cup dark raisins

1 & 1/4 cup water

1 stick margarine, cut into pieces

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

5 & 1/2 tsp. Splenda or 18 packets

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Combine dates, prunes, raisins, and water in a medium saucepan; heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered until fruit is thickened and water is absorbed. about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add margarine, stirring until melted; cool. Mix eggs and vanilla into fruit mixture; mix in combined flour, splenda, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spread batter evenly in greased 11x7 baking dish; sprinkle with walnuts. Bake in preheated 350° oven until cake springs back when touched lightly, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack; cut into squares. Makes two dozen squares.

Cranberry Pecan Cream Cheese Cake

All ingredients room temperature

1 & 1/2 cups butter

1 1/2 cups cream cheese

6 eggs

1 Tbs. vanilla extract

2 cups AP flour

1 Tbs. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 & 1/2 cups sugar

1 & 1/2 cups fresh cranberries

1 & 1/2 cups pecan pieces

2 Tbs. orange zest

Cream butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition. Add orange zest and vanilla extract, mixing well. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add to your batter, a little at a time mixing until silky smooth (this takes several minutes). Dust your cranberries in flour and fold them and the pecans into the batter. Pour into a generously greased and floured bundt or tube pan. Bake in a 350° preheated oven on center rack for an 60-70 minutes or until done. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely before glazing.

Glaze:

4 oz softened cream cheese

1 cup confectioners sugar

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Just enough freshly squeezed orange juice to make creamy and pourable.

Mix all ingredients until nice and silky. Drizzle over completely cooled cake and refrigerate.

Carrot Cake

2 cups white sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 cups grated carrots

1 cup flaked coconut

1 (15 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 & 1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1/2 cup butter

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese

1 tsp. vanilla extract

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9x13 baking pan. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix together sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk. Stir in carrots, coconut, vanilla, and pineapple. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; gently stir into carrot mixture. Stir in chopped nuts. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool. In a medium mixing bowl, combine butter or margarine, cream cheese, vanilla, and confectioners sugar. Blend until creamy. Frost cake while still in the pan.

Cherry Almond Cake

2 cups halved red candied cherries

1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds

1/2 cup cake flour

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. almond extract

4 eggs

1 & 3/4 cups cake flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup milk

Combine cherries, almonds, and one-half cup flour in a bowl; mix until fruit is well coated. In another bowl, combine one and three-fourth cups flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir well to blend. Cream butter or margarine, sugar, and flavorings together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating for one minute with mixer on high speed after each addition. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with milk, starting and ending with flour mixture. Stir in floured fruits and nuts. Spread batter into greased and floured bundt or tube pan. Bake at 300° for 55 to 65 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely. Wrap cooled cake in aluminum foil, and store in cool place for several days to allow cake to ripen.

Christmas Cherry Cake

1 cup white sugar

1 cup butter

2 eggs

1/2 cup orange juice

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

12 oz. sultana raisins

8 oz. halved glace or candied cherries

Preheat oven to 300°. Grease and line with parchment paper one 9x5 inch loaf pan. Cream butter or margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add beaten eggs and orange juice and mix well. Sift flour and baking powder. Reserve one-third cup of flour mixture and toss with raisins and cherries (this will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the cake). Add flour mixture to batter and blend. Add floured raisins and cherries to dough and mix until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 300° for two and one-half hours. Don’t serve until several days old. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap or foil and store in a sealed tin.

Creamy Coconut Cake

1 (16 oz.) pkg. white cake mix

1 (14 oz.) can cream of coconut

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (16 oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 (10 oz.) pkg. flaked coconut

Prepare cake according to package directions. Bake in a 9x13 pan. Cool completely. In a small bowl combine cream of coconut and condensed milk. Poke holes in cake with a straw. Pour milk mixture over cake and spread with whipped topping. Sprinkle coconut over cake. Serve chilled.

Easy Red Velvet Cake

1 (18.25 oz.) pkg. white cake mix

1 (3.5 oz.) pkg. non-instant chocolate pudding mix

Red food coloring, as desired

1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare cake according to package directions, substituting half of the water called for with buttermilk (approximately one-half cup). Stir in pudding mix and food coloring. Pour into cake pan(s) and bake according to package directions. Frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting.

English Walnut Date Cake

2 lbs. dates, pitted and chopped

2 lbs. English walnuts, coarsely chopped

1 cup white sugar

1 Tbs. baking powder

1 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

4 egg yolks

4 egg whites

Preheat oven to 300°. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. In a large bowl, combine dates, walnuts, sugar, baking powder and flour. Stir in egg yolks. In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold whites into the batter until no streaks remain. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 90 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

German Christmas Gingerbread Cake

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups packed brown sugar

3 eggs

2/3 cup honey

1/4 cup orange liqueur or orange juice

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup orange juice

1 & 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

4 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1 cup raisins

1 cup blanched slivered almonds

Whisk together the flours, baking powder, and spices. In a large bowl, cream the butter or margarine with the brown sugar. Beat in the eggs, then the honey, orange liqueur, sour cream, and orange juice. Beat the flour mixture into the creamed mixture, and then stir in the raisins and almonds. Turn batter into a greased and floured tube pan. Bake cake at 350° for 80 minutes, or until it tests done with toothpick. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Sausage Christmas Cake

You will never know this contains sausage, but it provides the “shortening” for the cake. You will LOVE this cake!

1 lb. pork sausage

1 cup cold, brewed coffee

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

2 cups self-rising flour

1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup raisins

Mix together cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and flour in a bowl. Add sausage, coffee, sugars, and eggs to the dry ingredients. Add raisins and nuts. Pour into an ungreased angel food cake pan. Bake in preheated oven at 350° for one hour or till a toothpick comes out clean. Garnishes may be added such as drizzled white frosting with whole cherries and mint leaves. This cake is so moist. If you like the flavor of rum you can wrap a rum-soaked damp cloth around it and refrigerate for several weeks. Best served with a spoonful of whipped cream or frosted with a caramel frosting. We have also served this cake with a cream cheese frosting.

Santa’s Favorite Cake

1 (18.25 oz.) pkg. white cake mix

3 egg whites

1 & 1/3 cups buttermilk

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

1 (9 oz.) pkg. yellow cake mix

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 egg

1 & 1/2 Tbs. cocoa

2 Tbs. red food coloring

1 tsp. cider vinegar

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 cup margarine, softened

2 lbs. confectioners’ sugar

2 tsp. peppermint extract

Beat white cake mix, three egg whites, one and one-third cups buttermilk, and vegetable oil according to cake mix package directions. Beat yellow cake mix and one-half cup buttermilk, one egg, cocoa, food coloring, and vinegar according to package directions. Spoon red batter alternately with white batter into three greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Swirl batter gently with a knife to make beautiful peppermint-looking stripes. Bake at 350° for 22 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool on wire racks. Spread peppermint cream cheese frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting: beat cream cheese and one cup margarine at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating at low speed until smooth. Add peppermint extract, beating until blended.