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Family favorites we can share

Cat Campbell/For The Madera Tribune

Cranberry orange shortbread cookies will disappear quickly when set upon a holiday table.


Every family seems to have favorite recipes that have been handed down over generations, whether written, clipped from a magazine or just memorized. Sometimes favorite recipes are not even family heirlooms or traditions, but are newly discovered. It is fun to share, even though I do know many great cooks who choose to guard their secrets.

One time I really wanted a fantastic dessert recipe from a member of a bunco game group I used to belong to, but the person who made it did not want to share. I did not press the issue, but I will admit that I took a chance and looked online for the recipe (crock pot apple pie) and lo and behold, there it was. You can find it, too.

Our favorite newspaper, that you so generously bring into your homes, is preparing a great opportunity for those of us who love to share family recipes. Send in your favorite family recipes to be published in The Madera Tribune’s Home for the Holidays Recipes edition that will be published in December. Send recipes, along with a photo (optional), to Deadline is Friday, November 12, so don’t delay. Here are a few from my own family.

Cranberry orange shortbread cookies

I have passed these cookies and the recipe on to many in my family and beyond. It has been shared here, too, but I get so many requests for this recipe I decided to include it one more time.

1/2 cup dried cranberries

3/4 cup sugar, divided

2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup cold butter, cut into cubes

1 teaspoon almond extract

Zest of 1 orange

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, optional

Additional sugar to coat pre-baked cookies, optional

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a food processor, combine the cranberries and 1/4 cup of sugar. Process just until the cranberries are broken down into smaller pieces. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour and remaining sugar. Cut in the cold butter using a pastry blender, until mixture becomes fine crumbs.

3. Stir in almond extract and the cranberry-sugar mixture, orange zest and orange juice, if using. Using your hands, mix and knead the dough until it starts to stick together enough to form a ball.

4. Shape dough into a log about 2 inches in diameter then wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill dough for at least 2 hours (and up to 72 hours if necessary).

5. Preheat oven to 325. Cut slices of dough about 1/4-inch thick. If desired, place about 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl and coat cookie slices with sugar. Place slices on baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until cookies are set. (I find it takes 12 minutes in my oven, but many ovens vary.)

6. Allow cookies to cool for several minutes before removing them to a rack. Let them cool completely. Store in airtight container.

Grandma Elaine’s fruit salad

This has been a holiday tradition in our family for the past 56 years. It is my mom’s specialty.

2 large cans fruit cocktail, drained

2 red apples, diced

6 bananas (or as many as you like), peeled and sliced, mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 orange, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

2 to 3 cups mini marshmallows

Mayonnaise or sour cream (better to use mostly sour cream and a bit of mayo), as needed

1/4 cup sugar (or a little more, if desired)

1. In large bowl, mix first 6 ingredients, adding the sugar as you stir.

2. Add the sour cream and mayo mixture, a spoonful at a time until mixture is creamy but not too juicy. Mix well. Cover and chill before serving. Looks pretty in a clear serving bowl.

Alice Campbell’s peanut brittle

Alice is my mother-in-law and inspiration for many of my favorite recipes.

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

1 cup clear syrup (Karo)

2 cups raw peanuts (The Spanish kind, rather than the larger Virginia ones.)

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Using a candy thermometer, cook sugar, water and clear syrup to hard-crack stage.

2. Add 2 cups raw peanuts. Cook 2 minutes or until mixture turns light brown. Add the baking soda, butter and vanilla and mix well. Mixture will turn a lighter color and foam up.

3. Pour and spread onto buttered jelly-roll pan. When cool, break into pieces. Store airtight.

Gingerbread pudding cake

A favorite of my two sons, Matt and Cody.

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick salted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 cup mild or dark molasses

1 cup cold water

For topping:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cups very hot (near boiling) water

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) salted butter

1. Heat oven to 350. You will need an oven-safe baking dish about 11-by-7 inches, no need to spray it. In a bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, spices and salt.

2. In another bowl, large enough to hold everything, use an electric mixer to combine butter, sugar and egg, mixing until creamy. Mix in the molasses and cold water.

3. With a spatula, stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, just until combined. Pour into the baking dish. Batter will be thin.

4. For the topping, sprinkle the brown sugar evenly across the top of the batter but do not mix in. In a liquid measuring cup, mix the hot water and 4 tablespoons butter together until the butter melts; pour it over the brown sugar but again, don’t mix it in.

5. Bake in preheated oven, uncovered, for 40 to 50 minutes until the top is crispy and the cake has turned into a typical cake texture and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

6. Serve hot from the oven with scoops of ice cream or dollops of whipped cream.



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