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May 9, 2021

4/9/2021 10:19:00 AM
Satisfying your sweet tooth

Getting together with family was amazing on Easter. We met at my aunt’s house in West St. Paul and posted up in the driveway with a handful of tables since we didn’t have the whole family there.

Ham, potatoes, cooked carrots with sweet chili sauce, green beans, veggie trays, cheese curds (thanks to my cousin who works at the Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery) and desserts everywhere!

It was all very delicious, but one dessert really tickled my tastebuds, and it was a pecan bar that my grandma, Eileen, made. In her mid-80s, my grandma is still churning out delicious desserts, and I told her I just had to share the recipe with the County Press readers, so I’m doing a dessert-themed column this week influenced by some of the ladies in my life, leading with my grandma’s delectable pecan bars.

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1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. butter, softened
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. coarsely chopped pecans

2/3 c. firmly packed brown sugar
6 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. dark corn syrup
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. coarsely chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350°F.. Combine 1 3/4 cups flour, butter and sugar in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in 1/3 cup pecans.

Press crust mixture evenly onto bottom of ungreased 13x9-inch baking pan. Bake 18-22 minutes or until edges are very light golden brown.

Combine brown sugar, 6 tablespoons flour, and salt in large bowl; whisk until mixed. Add corn syrup, eggs and vanilla; mix well. Stir in 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans. Spread evenly over hot, partially baked crust. Bake 30-35 minutes or until filling is set and knife inserted 1-inch from edge comes out clean.

Cool completely. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Cut into bars.

With the pecan topping, I wasn’t even totally sure what these bars were sitting at the buffet table of desserts, but decided to take a shot, and they were absolutely amazing, especially if you like pecan pie like I do!

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I actually haven’t made this next recipe, but my mother-in-law Connie has made it multiple times, and it’s so moist, delectable and craveable, and I don’t even like Butterfinger candy bars on their own.
1 yellow cake mix
1 box instant butterscotch pudding
8 oz. cool Whip
3 Butterfinger bars
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup brown sugar

Mix cake according to package and add pudding powder to the mix.  Bake cake in a 13x9-inch baking pan according to directions on box.
For frosting, cream together cream cheese and brown sugar.  Add 8 oz. Cool Whip and 3 Butterfinger candy bars, crushed.  Save a little bit of butterfinger crumbs for top of frosting.

The cake itself comes out a rich, dark golden yellow with the butterscotch pudding mixed in, and the topping is so light and fluffy. And with the Butterfinger bars crushed up, their taste is subtle instead of overwhelming. It’s a delightful dessert even if you’re not a fan of the

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This dessert is one my wife, Aly, has perfected over the years. Both of us have lost a considerable amount of weight over the past few years (although I definitely gained a quarantine 15-plus) and cutting out excessive sweets was a big step for us.

But, she found a low-calorie, simple dessert that doesn’t sound like much, but it’s texture and taste are absolutely phenomenal, and it’s not half bad for you either, which is all you can ask for in a dessert!
4 c. fresh strawberries, chopped
2 c. water
1 1-oz.  package cook and serve sugar-free vanilla pudding mix
1 1-oz.  package sugar-free strawberry gelatin

Spray a pie plate with cooking spray and line the bottom of the plate with chopped strawberries.
In a medium saucepan, combine the water and vanilla pudding mix. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. When the pudding thickens, remove from heat.
Stir in the strawberry gelatin until thoroughly combined. Pour over strawberries in the pie plate and refrigerate until set.
Aly usually puts strawberries into the bottom of a single serve tupperware container and then pours the mixture over the top of those to refrigerate. Having single serve desserts is much easier for portion control!

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This last one does call for an air fryer and in fact came from an air fryer recipe book we got for my sister-in-law for Christmas, but I’d imagine using an oven wouldn’t be all that different. And as you can tell, I do love snickerdoodles. My second recipe in just over a month with them!
1 box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 can of Grands flaky biscuits
1 1/2 c. cinnamon sugar
2 tbsp. butter

Heat air fryer to 350 degrees. Unroll the flaky biscuits and cut each one into quarters. Roll each of those sections into a ball. Arrange the balls on a paper-lined baking sheet and bake in the air fryer for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown.
Prepare the instant pudding following the package instructions. Using an injector, insert some of the vanilla pudding into each cooked ball. Brush the balls with melted butter and coat with cinnamon sugar. Makes 32 poppers.
These are essentially donut holes filled with vanilla pudding and they were ridiculously good.
Using an injector sounds like it would be a little fussy, but it was a straightfoward, easy recipe to follow and our whole family gobbled them up before they could all get done over Christmas.

TFD: Just remember when it comes to desserts: calories don’t count on the weekend!

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