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Some favorite recipes from 2017

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I can’t let 2017 end without my annual look back at my favorite food column recipes of the year.

There were quite a few that have become part of my regular rotation at home, especially easy baked peaches, roasted vegetable pasta, pimiento cheese dip and baked oatmeal packed with lots of fruit.

In January, I shared a sweet nostalgia story and a recipe for Josie Smith’s famous spice cookies, and just this month, Marie Shealy gave me her recipe for chewy nut bars.

There was plenty of good eating with these columns, so in case you missed the recipes the first time, here are some of my favorites:

Fruity Baked Oatmeal

3 cups old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup fat-free milk

1/4 cup butter, melted (I use about half this amount now)

1/4 cup applesauce

1 small apple, chopped and peeled

1/2 cup chopped fresh or frozen peaches (I used frozen)

1/2 to 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (I used fresh)

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Additional fat-free milk, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Combine eggs, milk, butter and applesauce; add to the dry ingredients. Stir in apple, peaches and blueberries. If using frozen blueberries, use them frozen, not thawed, to avoid discoloring the batter.

Pour into a 8- or 9-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. (If I keep adding more fruit, I will need a bigger dish.)

Bake, uncovered, 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Pour a little milk on top of each serving if desired.

Yields nine servings.

This is very good warmed up in the microwave with a splash or two of milk.

Adapted from Taste of Home

Josie’s Spice Cookies

1/2 cup Crisco shortening

1 cup granulated sugar, less 2 tablespoons

2 tablespoons molasses

2 eggs

2 cups self-rising flour

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Pecan halves for 250 cookies

Cream Criso, sugar and molasses. Add eggs; beat until smooth. Then add flour with spices and mix well.

Drop dough about the size of a marble on wax paper. Top with a pecan half or pecan pieces or raisins.

Bake at 300 to 325 degrees about 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.

Makes around 250 cookies.

* Notes: I rolled the dough into marble-size balls then pressed down with the pecan half. I cooked on a cookie sheet sprayed with Pam at 325 degrees.

Josie Smith

Roasted Veggie Pasta

2 bell peppers (I used 1 red and 1 green) cut into 1-inch strips

2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 summer squash, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup sliced mushrooms (I get mine from a salad bar)

1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 1-inch strips

Extra virgin olive oil (a tablespoon or so to drizzle)

1 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon oregano or Italian seasoning blend (I think I omitted this the last time I made it)

1 pound penne pasta (or ziti)

3 cups marinara sauce (I used Paul Newman’s once and made my own the other time)

2 cups grated Italian cheese blend

1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

On a baking sheet, toss the vegetables with a little olive oil, 1⁄2 teaspoon of the salt, 1⁄4 teaspoon of pepper and the oregano. Bake until tender, about 15 minutes.

Cook pasta for about 6 minutes. Drain.

In a large bowl, combine the pasta with the roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, all but a 1⁄4 cup of cheese, and the remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper. Gently mix using a wooden spoon until all the pasta is coated with the sauce and the ingredients are combined.

Pour the pasta into a greased 9X13-inch baking dish. Top with the remaining 1⁄4 cup of Parmesan cheese and the butter pieces.

Cover casserole dish with aluminum foil and cook for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove foil and cook an additional 10-15 minutes until the top is golden and the cheese melts.

Adapted from Giadzy

3-Day Coconut Cake

Icing:

16 ounces sour cream (2 cups)

2 cups granulated sugar

24 ounces frozen coconut (make sure to buy frozen coconut)

Cake:

Duncan Hines moist yellow cake mix prepared for 2 round, 9-inch layers as directed on box

Mix icing ingredients and leave covered in refrigerator overnight or for 8 hours.

Make cake as directed on box for 2 9-inch layers.

When cake has cooled, split layers in half to make 4 round layers.

To build your cake, ice with the coconut between layers and on top. Do not ice the sides. Put equal amount of icing mixture on each layer.

Cover cake with a tight-fitting cake cover and refrigerate for 3 days.

Icing is slightly liquid and is absorbed by the cake, making it delicious.

Frances W. Tomlinson

Cherry Nut Bars

20 ounces sugar (2 1/2 cups)*

1/4 ounce salt (1 1/2 teaspoons)

10 1/2 ounces egg whites (1 1/3 cups, around 9 eggs)

1 teaspoon vanilla

12 ounces cake flour, such as Swan’s Down (1 1/2 cups)

16 ounces shortening, melted (2 cups)

12 ounces candied cherries (1 1/2 cups)

12 ounces pecans, chopped (1 1/2 cups)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat sugar, salt and egg whites in mixing bowl at high speed until stiff peaks appear. Add flour and vanilla until smooth. Add melted shortening and mix until smooth.

Fold in chopped cherries and chopped nuts.

Spread batter in a 11x17-inch pan lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 32 minutes. Cool completely, then put in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Cut in pieces 1-inch by 2-inches long. Roll in confectioner’s sugar.

Marie Shealy

* Notes: Marie Shealy weighs ingredients for baking. I do not. I converted to cups and teaspoons; those measurements are in parenthesis in the recipe. I made the recipe with good results. My cherry nut bars were not as tender as Mrs. Shealy’s, but I think I know why. First, I could never get stiff peaks with my egg whites, and when I was mixing in the cherries and nuts, I noticed I hadn’t added salt, so I added it then and mixed more than I should have, I’m sure. They were still delicious, but not as good as the ones Mrs. Shealy made for me! If you want to make this recipe after the holidays, be sure to shop area stores now for red candied cherries on shelves at this time of year. — Lisa Boykin Batts

Lisa’s Pimento Cheese Dip

4 ounces cream cheese

2 8-ounce blocks of extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated*

1/2 cup olive oil mayonnaise (this is my preference)

1/2 cup sour cream

4-ounce jar of diced pimientos, drained

2 dashes Worcestershire sauce (or to taste)

Salt to taste (start with 1/4 teaspoon)

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Add cream cheese into a large bowl and mix with an eletric mixer until smooth. Add in all other ingredients and combine until smooth.

Spoon into baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until hot throughout. Use clean paper towels to blot any cheese grease that accumulates on top.

Serve with a basket of crackers of pita chips.

* I used cheddar cheese the first time I made this. The next time, I might experiment with cheeses, maybe one extra sharp cheddar and one blend. Also, we grate cheese by hand for pimento cheese.

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