Easy desserts and such


With the holidays just around the corner, I’ve been searching for new desserts to put on the table. I was craving traditional flavors yet wanted to find something the grandkids would like to make with me. I found a few that will do just fine.

The banana cream cheesecake bars will have the kids pounding a box of wafers into crumbs while I cream the cream cheese and whip cream filling. It is a very quick and easy recipe for short attention spans.

The holiday carrot cranberry cake recipe will have the kids learning to measure, dump and mix. They will be surprised to learn carrots can be served as dessert. Of course, the turkey and citrus salad will be a quick way to use up the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving dinner.

I’m probably most excited to get the kids started with their own Amish friendship bread project. Instant pudding was on sale in the grocery store the other day, and I stocked up for the holidays with this recipe in mind. It is the gift that keeps giving as you spread the joy to others. Enjoy! 

Banana cream cheesecake bars

3 cups Nilla wafer crumbs

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 pint heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup sugar

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

2 packages instant banana cream pudding

Extra whip cream and sliced bananas for garnish

Crush Nilla wafers. Mix with melted butter. Press in bottom of 8-by-8 pan lined with parchment paper. In a chilled bowl, beat whip cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Set aside. In a different bowl, beat three packages of cream cheese until smooth. Add two packages of instant pudding. Mix well. Fold in whipped cream. Scoop over Nilla wafers and evenly spread out. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. Lift out of pan by paper. Cut into nine squares. Garnish with dollop of whipped cream and slice of banana. Dip banana slices in lemon juice to prevent from browning.

Holiday carrot cranberry cake 

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 medium size carrots, peeled and shredded (about 2 cups)

3/4 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup dried cranberries or Craisins


2 packages cream cheese at room temperature

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla 

3 cups powdered sugar

Cranberries and walnuts, for garnish

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat two 9-by-2 round cake pans with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper. Coat paper with spray. In medium size bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt. In large bowl, beat sugars, oil, eggs and vanilla on medium speed until blended. On low, beat in flour mixture until smooth. Stir in carrots, nuts and cranberries. Divide batter between pans, spreading evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 42-44 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes. Turn out and cool completely. Frosting: In large bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until creamy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until smooth. With serrated knife or dental floss, cut each cake horizontally in half. Place one layer on cake plate and spread with 1 cup frosting. Repeat two more times with layers and frosting. Place remaining layer, cut side down, on top and spread with remaining frostings. Garnish with berries and nuts.

Turkey and citrus salad

4 cups baby spinach leaves

4 cups mixed salad greens, torn

2 cups fresh, sliced strawberries or 1 cup Craisins/dried cranberries

11 ounces mandarin oranges, drained

1 cup cooked turkey, chopped

1/2 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped

1/2 cup raspberry vinaigrette dressing

Combine all ingredients and serve immediately.

Amish friendship bread

Do not use any type of metal spoons or bowls for mixing. Do not refrigerate. If air forms in the bag, let it out. It is normal for the batter to rise, bubble and ferment.

1 package yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup milk

Dissolve yeast in warm water and let stand 10 minutes. Mix flour and sugar together. Slowly add milk and yeast mixture. Cover loosely and let stand till bubbly at room temperature. Write the date on a gallon bag and pour mixture into bag. Day 1: Do nothing. Use the date on the bag as day 1. Day 2: Mush the bag. Day 3: Mush the bag. Day 4: Mush the bag. Day 5: Mush the bag. Day 6: Mix 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk into the bag. Mush the bag. Day 7: Mush the bag. Day 8: Mush the bag. Day 9: Mush the bag. Day 10: Follow the instructions below.

Pour the entire contents of the bag into a non-metal bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1 1/2 cups milk. Mix. Measure out four separate batters of 1 cup each into four 1-gallon bags and mark with the next day’s date. Keep one starter bag for yourself and give the other three bags to friends with a copy of these instructions. If you want to make extra bread, make two bags and save 2 cups of batter for an extra batch for yourself.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. To the remaining batter in the bowl, add:

3 eggs

1 cup oil

1/2 cup milk 

2 cups flour 

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 small packages instant pudding

1/2 teaspoon vanilla 

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

You can use any flavor of instant puddings. Chocolate, vanilla, banana cream, butterscotch or lemon. You can add baking chips, marshmallows, poppy seeds. Mix well. Grease two large loaf pans. Dust greased pans with cinnamon/sugar mix (1/2 cup sugar with 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon). Pour batter evenly into two pans. Sprinkle remaining sugar/cinnamon mixture on top. Bake 1 hour. Cool until loosens from pan, about 10 minutes. Turn onto cooling rack or serving dish.

As their four children pursue dairy careers off the family farm, Natalie and Mark are starting a new adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their farm north of Rice, Minnesota.


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