Irresistible Almond Bars


  • 1 c butter
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 2 c flour


  • 8 oz softened cream cheese
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 eggs


  • 1 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1/4 c butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp milk
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • sliced almonds

To make crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together all crust ingredients. Put into 9×13″ pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

To make filling: Beat cream cheese, sugar and almond extract together. Add one egg at a time and beat. Pour into baked crust and bake an additional 15-20 minutes.

To make icing: Mix all ingredients together and spread over bars. Cut into squares. Sprinkle sliced almonds on top. Refrigerate bars.

Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies+

Makes about 3 dozen cookies



  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1  teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam*


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

*Substitute 1/2 cup of your favorite flavor jam.


  1. Combine butter, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add flour; beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Cover; refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm.
  2. Heat oven to 350°F.
  3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Make indentation in center of each cookie with thumb (edges may crack slightly). Fill each indentation with about 1/4 teaspoon jam.
  4. Bake 14-18 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let stand 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to cooling rack. Cool completely.
  5. Combine all glaze ingredients in bowl with whisk until smooth. Drizzle over cookies.


Pecan Pie+



  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick), diced
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Flour, for rolling the dough


  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 cups chopped toasted pecans(save some whole nuts to decorate the top before baking)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon or rum
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten


Make the dough in a food processor. With the machine fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add the butter and pulse until it resembles yellow cornmeal mixed with bean-sized bits of butter, about 10 times. Add the egg and pulse 1 to 2 times; don’t let the dough form into a ball in the machine. (If the dough is very dry add up to a tablespoon more of cold water.) Remove the bowl from the machine, remove the blade, and bring the dough together by hand.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough with a rolling pin into a 12-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie pan and trim the edges, leaving about an extra inch hanging over the edge. Tuck the overhanging dough underneath itself to form a thick edge that is even with the rim. Flute the edge as desired. (The dough will shrink back from edge, so a wider crust is required).  Freeze the pie shell for 30 minutes.

Set separate racks in the center and lower third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Put a piece of parchment paper or foil over the pie shell and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake on a baking sheet on the center rack until the dough is set, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and pull off pie weights and parchment paper.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

While the crust is baking make the filling: In medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and stirring constantly, continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts, bourbon, and the vanilla. Set the mixture aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. (If the crust has cooled, return it to the oven for 5 minutes to warm through.) Whisk the beaten eggs into the filling until smooth. Put the pie shell on a sheet pan and pour the filling into the hot crust. Wrap aluminum foil around the edges to prevent over-browning.

Bake on the lower oven rack until the edges are set but the center is still slightly loose, about 40 to 45 minutes. Cool on a rack. Serve slightly warm or room temperature.

Cinnamon Bun Cookies+

Note:  I have copied the recipe as it was published in the Star Tribune; however, I found the dough to be super dry, so added more butter to the dough, another egg and another ounce of cream cheese.  For the filling, I also added 2 Tbsp (full stick) to the filling and microwaved it briefly (10 secs) to make it spreadable. With these changes, marked with bold type, these cookies are remarkable.

For dough:

• 3 c. flour

• 1 tsp. baking powder

• 1 tsp. baking soda

• 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tbsp. (1 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature

• 1 c. powdered sugar

• 1 egg

• 2 tsp. vanilla extract

For filling:

6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

• 3/4 c. dark brown sugar, packed

• 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

• 1/8 tsp. salt

For icing:

• 6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

• 1/4 c. (2 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature

• Pinch of salt

• 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

• 1/4 tsp. almond extract

• 2 c. powdered sugar


To prepare dough: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and reserve.

In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and cream cheese until creamy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low, add powdered sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla extract, and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing just until a smooth dough is formed. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces and flatten into disks, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate while preparing filling.

To prepare filling: In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt until smooth.

Remove 1 dough disk and place between 2 large pieces of parchment or wax paper. Roll dough to a 9- by 12-inch rectangle (lifting top piece of paper and piecing/re-rolling dough as necessary) then remove top paper. Dot teaspoon-size pieces of filling over half of dough (using half of filling) and use the back of a spoon to evenly spread filling across top of dough. Beginning with 1 long edge, gently roll up dough, peeling away bottom layer of parchment or wax paper and taking care not to allow cracks in dough to appear.

Place dough seam-side down (and gently stretch from center outward to form a 12-inch long roll, if necessary). Using a sharp knife, cut roll in half. Wrap dough logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight. Repeat with remaining dough and filling (dough may be covered well and frozen; thaw in refrigerator before baking).

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap dough logs and, using a sharp knife, trim off uneven ends. Cut dough into 1/2-inch slices and place cookies 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until cookies are just set and edges barely begin to brown, about 8 to 9 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare icing: Meanwhile, while cookies are in the oven, combine butter, cream cheese, salt, vanilla extract and almond extract in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed. Beat until creamy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low, add powdered sugar and mix until smooth.

When cookies are still warm, top each cookie with about 1 1/2 teaspoons icing, and gently spread icing across top of cookie (or fill a pastry bag fitted with a small tip and pipe icing over cookies). Cool cookies completely, then refrigerate until icing sets. Store cookies in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator, and serve at room temperature.

Dipped Gingersnaps+


  • 2 c sugar (+ extra for coating cookies)
  • 1 1/2 c oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c molasses
  • 4 c flour
  • 4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pkg vanilla bark or chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine sugar and oil, mix well.  Add eggs, beating well after each.  Stir in molasses.  Combine dry ingredients, add to the cream mixture.  Mix well.

Shape into 1/2″ balls and roll in sugar.  Place 2″ apart on ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes (they should be very lightly browned).  Cool.

Melt chips or bark over low heat.  Dip cookies halfway and place on waxed or parchment paper to harden.

Yummy Pumpkin Bars+

  • 1 1/3 c flour
  • 3/4 c sugar (divided)
  • 1/2 c packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 c cold butter, cut up
  • 1 c old fashioned oats, uncooked
  • 1/2 c chopped pecans
  • 1 8 oz pkg 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon with a little allspice, clove and nutmeg)

Heat oven to 350

Line 13×9″ pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over the sides; spray with cooking spray.  Mix flour, 1/4 c sugar and brown sugar in medium bowl until blended; cut in the butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in oats and nuts,.

Reserve 1 c oat mixture; press remaining onto bottom of prepared pan.  Bake 15 minutes.  Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar, eggs, pumpkin and spice with mixer until blended; pour over crust.  Sprinkle with reserved oat mixture.

Bake 25 mins (or more for me); cool 10 minutes.  Use foil to transfer dessert from pan to wire rack; cool completely.


Note: these are very moist; I made a day in advance and had them cool on the counter overnight.  The topping isn’t as crispy as I would have liked and I might try broiling very briefly next time before pulling them out of the oven.  More nuts and oats are also nice.

Thumbprint Cookies*

  • 1 c salted butter, softened
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 2 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 1/4 c powdered sugar

In a mixer, cream teh butter and sugar on medium high until pale and fluffy.  Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the flour and salt until combined and dough pulls from the sides.  Form dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.

Form little balls, about 1/2 Tbsp or so in size, make an indentation with your thumb and roll the sides in sprinkles (optional).  Once you have a cookie sheet full, bake for 10 minutes at 325 degrees. You’ll have to take the pan out and press the thumbprints back down and then return to the oven to bake another 10 minutes or so.  You don’t want these browning, so watch them carefully.

Let them cool completely before filling them with icing.

To make the icing, just whick the milk and powdered sugar together in a small bowl and add in some food coloring.

You must let the cookies sit for at least 6-8 hours so the icing sets and gets hard.

No Bake Cookies+


2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
1 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups oatmeal
Waxed paper


In a heavy saucepan bring to a boil, the sugar, cocoa, butter and milk. Let boil for 1 minute then add peanut butter, vanilla and oatmeal. On a sheet of waxed paper, drop mixture by the teaspoonfuls, until cooled and hardened.

My original recipe calls for 3 Tbsp cocoa, 1/2 c peanut butter and 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp vanilla.  Not much different.

Rita’s Lemon Bars+


1 ½ cup flour

¾ cup melted butter

1/3 cup powdered sugar

Mix together and put in 9 x 13 ungreased pan.  Bake 20 minutes at 350 degree oven.



3 eggs

4 ½ Tb lemon juice

4 ½ Tb flour

1 ¼ cup sugar

¾ tsp baking powder

¾ cup fine coconut

Beat together.  Spread mixture over crust and return to oven for another 25 minutes.



Let it cool and frost with:

1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tb butter

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tb milk

Pumpkin Ice Cream Torte+

Thaw 10 minutes before serving to slice.

Yield: 12 servings

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Cooking spray
1 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
9 cups vanilla low-fat ice cream (about 1 1/2 cartons), divided (one carton is sufficient; try with full on ice cream next time!)
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted and divided
1/4 cup jarred caramel topping

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Combine first 4 ingredients (mixture will be crumbly). Firmly press crumb mixture into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes; cool on a wire rack.

3. Combine pumpkin and the next 4 ingredients (through cloves) in a bowl. Soften 6 cups ice cream; add to pumpkin mixture, stirring to blend. Spoon half of mixture into prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap; freeze 1 hour or until firm. Cover and freeze remaining pumpkin ice cream.

4. Soften remaining 3 cups vanilla ice cream; stir in 3 tablespoons pecans. Spread over pumpkin ice cream layer; freeze 1 hour or until firm. Soften remaining 3 cups pumpkin ice cream; spread over vanilla ice cream mixture. Cover; freeze 8 hours or until firm. Cut torte into 12 wedges. Place 1 wedge on each of 12 plates. Place topping in microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 45 seconds. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon topping; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon pecans.

CALORIES 260 ; FAT 8.2g (sat 3.1g,mono 2.2g,poly 1.1g); CHOLESTEROL 13mg; CALCIUM 168mg; CARBOHYDRATE 40.9g; SODIUM 186mg; PROTEIN 5.6g; FIBER 2.8g; IRON 0.7mg