Best Rum Cake – Christmas Tradition

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This is my version from a brand name Rum recipe. It first started when my husband received it as a gift every year from his associate. Now I make them and are on all my friends and family wish lists. It is modified but adapted from the Bacardi Rum Cake recipe. I substitute with a “spiced” rum. People think I spend hours on these gems. This cake is so moist and refrigerates for weeks, (if it’s not all gone by then).

~~Cake Ingredients ~~
1 cup chopped walnuts (toasted*)
1 – 18-1/2 ounce yellow (or butter) cake mix
1 small package instant vanilla pudding mix (4 serving size)
4 eggs
1/2 cup cold milk (or water)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup spiced rum (Captain Morgan or Appleton’s)
~~Glaze Ingredients~~
1/2 cup butter (or margarine)
1/4 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup spiced rum
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
*In small saucepan, melt 2 Tablespoons margarine or butter add chopped nuts, stirring over medium heat, cook until coated in margarine and slightly browned

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Lightly grease and flour large (12 cup) bundt pan.
Spread toasted nuts on bottom of pan.
In large mixing bowl, combine all Cake ingredients.
Beat with electric mixer on high for two minutes.
Pour cake mixture into prepared bundt pan.
Bake in conventional oven 1 hour. (Convection oven will decrease cook time)
After cake is cooled in pan, transfer to serving plate (larger than cake – glaze will run down sides)
With toothpick, prepare cake to soak up the glaze by pricking sides and top of cake.
Melt butter(margarine) in small saucepan
Add granulated sugar and water.
Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat.
Stir in rum.
Drizzle glaze over cake with a brush or spoon (I use a soup ladle).

This recipe freezes great. Make a couple for long after the holidays are gone.

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Marion’s Marshmallow Glazed Brownies

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chocolated glazed brownies


The secret to these basic brownies is the chocolate topping recipe below. Using your favorite boxed brownies (or your own recipe from scratch) these will be a hit at your next gathering.

I call them Marion’s Brownies as tribute to my mother-in-law.  She always prepared them for our family holiday get togethers.  Not sure where the recipe originated but as a retired school cafeteria food manager, she had many.  When I  see brownies prepared this way, fond memories are activated of great family parties of years gone by.  How I miss those days.  Create your memories — try these.

Make brownies:  Preheat oven to 350°F

Grease bottom only of 9 x13 inch oblong (I prefer glass) pan with cooking spray or shortening. Follow directions to make and bake “cake like” brownies as directed on box.

Immediately out of oven add a layer of miniature marshmallows pressing to fill any gaps (we want them to melt). You can try a marshmallow substitute, but it is really difficult to spread.  Set aside for glaze.

Top with chocolate glaze melting marshmallows more while spreading chocolate.

Homemade Chocolate Glaze
In saucepan, bring to boil:
1/2 cup butter
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons water

Remove from heat, immediately add:
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat well.
Pour glaze over brownies while still hot.
Optional: Make designs using toothpick immediately after frosting

Allow to cool before cutting. I prefer refrigerated.

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Stuffed Cabbage – Grandpa Baron’s Way – Romanian Sarmale

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Beside making cookies with my sisters and mother during the holidays, another great cooking memory was watching my father make his “Pigs in the Blanket” aka Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, or in his native country of Romania “Sarmale”. Dad always said he had a “secret ingredient” but to this day we don’t know what it was.

Every New Year’s Eve, dad would gather all the ingredients, prepare the pigs, cook them for several hours so they would be the first bite of food for the New Year.  Tradition was they would bring good luck and prosperity.  If we couldn’t stay awake to midnight, we ate them or breakfast!  As I got older, dad taught me the secret to roll stuffed cabbage so they wouldn’t break while cooking.  One of his pet peeves was breaking the stuffed cabbage before serving.

Keeping with tradition, I make pigs in the blanket (even though my husband says the smell could peel paint off walls and my daughter calls it the “blob”) on New Years Eve in a slow cooker.  As a tribute to my dad, this is my sister Kathy’s recollection of grandpa Baron’s “pigs in the blanket” stuffed cabbage recipe.  For many years dad knew we cooked this tradition for our families and that it would be passed down the generations.  We’re sure Grandpa Baron would have been proud, too!

1 large loose leaf head of green cabbage
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. lean ground pork
1 cup white rice
2 eggs beaten
1 medium onion, chopped (sauteed in butter)
1-16 ounce can tomatoes (whole, stewed, or chopped)
1-16 ounce can (bag) sauerkraut
pinch salt
dash pepper
2 Tablespoons sage
1 Tablespoon poultry seasoning

1 medium onion, chopped (sauteed in butter)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 Tablespoon butter or margarine

1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 can tomato paste

1-2 bacon strips


Remove core from the cabbage with a paring knife, place whole head of cabbage in a large pot, cover with water, then bring to the boil and cook until the outer leaves begin to loosen.

Carefully lift out the cabbage, place in large bowl with cool water, remove the softened leaves, place in cool water, if needed to soften more leaves, return the head of cabbage to the pan of boiling water. Repeat until all leaves are removed.

Once all the leaves have been cooled enough to handle, use a paring knife to trim back center vein from each leaf  to prevent breaking while rolling – set leaves aside.

Prepare stuffing– in large bowl combine beef, pork, rice, salt, sage, poultry seasoning, pepper, and eggs mixing well.

In small sauce pan, low heat, melt margarine (butter), add onions and paprika, sautee until onions appear transparent and tender.  Add to meat mixture – mix well.

Beginning to create layers, use split or broken cabbage leaves and line the bottom of pan or pot you are using with leaves. Add 1/4 sauerkraut, tomatoes, (and cabbage rolls).

~~Let’s  Roll~~
Using the largest cabbage leaves, place large spoon full (about a palm size) of the meat and rice mixture on each cabbage leaf and roll up, tucking in sides while rolling. Lightly press the mixture into the leaves, they will expand as they cook.  Place the cabbage rolls with the seam side down on top of the 1st layer in your pot.

Repeat layers of cabbage leaves, sauerkraut, and tomatoes, and cabbage rolls until meat mixture is gone. (If you have more meat than cabbage, you can make meatballs and add to the pot. Top the last layer with cabbage leaves to make a loose cover.

Combine tomato paste, chili powder, garlic powder, sugar, and 24 oz. water in a large bowl. Pour into pot.  Add bacon strip on top.

Simmer on stove 6-7 hours.



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Hawaiian Meatballs

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These meatballs go to every pot-luck, party gathering I attend by request. Birthdays, holidays, super-bowl, final four, office parties, you name it!

Hawaiian MeatballsI’m always asked to write this recipe down so others could duplicate. Never did, I always said, a little sweet offset with a little sour. If you make meatloaf, this is easy. Just make make your meatloaf recipe and roll into 2″ balls and bake 350 degrees until brown. It’s the sauce that makes these so good. Measurements are approximate, I don’t measure. Be creative!  As a special request from my niece, I posted it on blogger but some sites wouldn’t link to it.  This one’s for you Nicki,

Meatballs: Combine all ingredients until firm:
2-lbs ground chuck
1-lb. ground pork
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk
sage to taste (I use a lot)
salt, pepper,
garlic and onion optional.
Make 2″ balls (I have a meatball scoop), bake 350 degrees or until brown. (approx. 25 min.)

Sauce – Prepare while meatballs are baking:
In large pot (dutch oven) using medium heat combine:
2T. cornstarch and 1c. white vinegar stirring until thickens reduce heat to simmer.
Add and stir often:
1c. white sugar
1c. ketchup
1/2 c. brown sugar
2T. water
1t. cinnamon
1/4t. ginger
1t. soy sauce.

Cut 1 bell pepper into 1-inch squares (approx 1c.)and drain small can of pineapple chunks, set aside.
Gently combine cooked meatballs into simmering sauce, add drained pineapple and bell pepper.
Simmer in crock pot for hours, make the day before and refrigerate, or enjoy immediately!

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Classic Decorated Holiday Sugar Cookies

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decorated sugar cookiesBaking holiday cookies was a tradition in my family for years growing up.  In later years,  I would make a date with my sister Kathy (major contributor to this site) to bake our family Christmas favorites.  We would spend a weekend baking our cookies, candies, and pies for our families to share.  These sugar cookies can be stored and decorated later if stored in airtight containers.   We made so many, we had to decorated them later!

Cookie ingredients you will need: 

2 cups flour  1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbs. margarine or butter
1/3 cup butter flavored Crisco
3/4 c. white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Combine flour, baking powder and salt.
Beat the margarine and Crisco until smooth.
Add sugar and beat until fluffy.
Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well.
Add flour mixture a little at a time continuing to beat until well mixed.
Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour or more until easy to handle.
On a floured or prepared surface and rolling pin, roll out a portion of the dough and cut with favorite cookie cutters.
Place on cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 7 to 8 minute.
Do not over cook or they will not be soft..oven times will vary especially convection cooking. Remove immediately to cool to wire rack.  Frost and decorate as desired.

Basic Frosting

Mix in medium bowl  combine confectioner’s (powdered) sugar with 2 Tablespoons milk and 2 Tablespoons softened margarine until smooth.  Add more sugar until mixture is thick enough to spread on cookies.  Use food colorings to create different colors for your frostings, separate your basic frosting into different bowls and add food colorings (in addition to basic, we like green and red for Christmas).

Immediately top frosted cookies with colored sugars and decorations.

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Double Peanut Drop Cookies

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1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine — softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups chopped unsalted dry-roasted peanuts


Heat oven to 375º.
Beat peanut butter,sugars,butter and eggs in large bowl (electric mixer,medium speed,or with spoon).
Stir in flour and baking soda.  Add peanuts (dough will be stiff).
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown.
Cool 1 to 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.


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Chocolate-Peanut Butter No-Bakes

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1 (6 ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup)
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup peanuts


Cover cookie sheet with waxed paper. Heat chocolate chips, corn
syrup, peanut butter, milk and vanilla in 3-quart saucepan over
medium heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture
is smooth
remove from heat.
Stir in oats and peanuts until well coated.
Drop mixture by rounded tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper. Refrigerate
uncovered about 1 hour or until firm. Store covered in refrigerator.

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Oatmeal Cookies

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oatmeal cookie platter


My favorite oatmeal cookie recipe is on the back of the quick oats container.

However, I have found the shortcut recipe below and it makes my cookies more soft and chewy.  As always, oven temperatures vary, (mine is convection) so keep an eye on edges for browning.  As always, you can substitute apple sauce for the oil!


1 package yellow cake mix
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla


Heat oven to 350º.
Mix cake mix (dry),oats and sugar in large bowl with spoon.
Mix oil and eggs; stir into oat mixture thoroughly.
Add pecans and vanilla.
Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake about  10-12 minutes or until light brown.
Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

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