For me, holiday baking is a mixture of old and new recipes. There are the traditional treats that have to be made every year, and then there are the new adventures and flavors. I’m always on the lookout for recipes that will add color and warm flavors to gift platters or end up sitting on my counter as a quick snack as we step out the door.
I discovered the lemon cranberry bars and peach bourbon upside down cake recipes in my collection of recipes to try. I modified both of them to fit into the pans I had on hand. The crust for the bars would be a great twist on regular lemon bars. The Bundt cake has such a warm and rich taste, and looks good enough to be a centerpiece on your holiday table. If you’re looking for something new to add to your holiday baking, you might want to give one these recipes a try. Enjoy!

Grandma Preusser’s date bars
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup Crisco
1 cup brown sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
3 cups dates, chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
Mix shortening, sugar, flour, soda and rolled oats thoroughly. Place part of mixture in the bottom of 9-by-13 pan. Save rest for the top. Cook dates, sugar and water, stirring constantly until thickened. Cool 10 minutes. Pour date mixture over crust and cover with other half of crust mixture. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

No-bake turtle dream bars
20 Oreo cookies, crushed
4 tablespoons butter, melted
3.9 ounces instant chocolate pudding
1 1/2 cups milk
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounces whipped cream or Cool Whip
1 cup pecan pieces, divided
1/2 cup caramel sauce, divided
Chocolate sauce for drizzling
Line 8-by-8 dish with parchment paper, leaving extra hanging over the edges for handles. Crush Oreo cookies in blender. Mix with melted butter and pat down into the prepared baking dish. Place in freezer to set for minimum of 30 minutes. Mix chocolate pudding mix with just 1 1/2 cups of milk (makes the pudding thicker). Place in fridge to set. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until soft. Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar. With a rubber spatula, mix in 1 cup of whipped cream or Cool Whip. Remove crust from freezer and place dollops of cream cheese mixture on top of crust and spread to all sides. Spread the pudding on top of the cream cheese. Drizzle the caramel sauce over the pudding, trying to completely cover because it will be difficult to spread. Sprinkle the pecan pieces over the caramel. Cover with the remaining Cool Whip. Place in the freezer to chill for a minimum of two hours before serving. The caramel sauce may be runny. Remove bars from pan by lifting up the sides of the parchment and drizzle with additional caramel and chocolate sauces, and sprinkle with remaining pecan pieces.

Lemon cranberry bars
12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup water
3 cups sugar, divided
1/3 cup powdered sugar
3 teaspoons lemon zest
1 cup lemon juice
2 1/4 cups flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
7 large eggs, lightly beaten
Place cranberries, water and 9 tablespoons sugar in medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to med-low; simmer, stirring occasionally, until cranberries start to burst, about 15 minutes. Continue simmering, stirring and breaking up any whole cranberries using a wooden spoon, until cranberries are completely broken down. Remove from heat. Let cool slightly, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper, leaving extra for handles. Lightly coat with cooking spray; set aside. Mix 3/4 cup sugar with lemon zest and set aside. Whisk together powdered sugar, 1 3/4 cups flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add lemon zest/sugar mixture. Cut butter cubes into mixture until crumbly and starts to press together. Press mixture evenly into bottom of prepared jelly roll pan. Bake 25-30 minutes or until starts to turn golden brown. Let cool slightly, about 20 minutes. Spread cranberry mixture over cooled crust. Chill for 30 minutes. Whisk together lemon juice and remaining 2 1/4 cups sugar, 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl. Add eggs; whisk until combined. Gently and evenly pour egg mixture over cranberry mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until egg mixture is set and jiggles only slightly in center. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely, about an hour. For best slicing results, cover and refrigerate overnight. Garnish with additional powdered sugar.

Peach bourbon upside down Bundt cake
1 1/4 cups butter, softened, divided
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar, divided
Peach slices (fresh, frozen or canned)
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, divided
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons bourbon (or rum)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt 1/4 cup butter in small saucepan over medium heat; stir in 1/2 cup brown sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar has dissolved and mixture is thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Pour mixture evenly into a 12-cup Bundt pan that has been sprayed with baking spray. Place peach slices in an even layer on top of brown sugar mixture. Beat cream cheese and 1 cup softened butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add sugar and remaining 1 cup brown sugar, beating on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until yolk disappears. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Sift together flour and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with bourbon, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Spoon batter carefully over peaches. Level batter with spatula, pushing batter to the edges of the pan and slightly upward. Bake for 1 hour and 25 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes until long wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Loosen sides with plastic knife. Flip cake onto serving platter to cool completely. Stir together powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1 tablespoon milk in a small bowl, adding remaining tablespoon milk, 1 teaspoon at a time if needed to reach desired consistency. Drizzle over cooled cake.
    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.