1. Peppermint Bark
Place 10 oz semi-sweet chocolate morsels (not quite a bag) in a bowl, and microwave on high 30 seconds. Stir with a rubber spatula. Microwave for 30 more seconds and stir again. Continue until melted. Pour the melted chocolate onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper or wax paper, and spread into a large rectangle. Place in fridge. Break 6 candy canes into very small pieces. Melt 12 oz of white chocolate chips using the same microwave method. As soon as it is melted, spread white chocolate on top of semi-sweet chocolate. Sprinkle candy cane pieces on top of white chocolate and lightly press. Let cool in fridge for 30 to 45 minutes or until hard. Break into pieces carefully using a large, heavy knife. Makes 16 to 20 pieces.
2. Spiced Almonds
Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together 1 egg white, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp cumin, and ¼ tsp smoked paprika in a bowl. Add almonds and toss to coat. Roast for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer almonds to rack to cool. They will crisp as they cool. Makes 2 cups.
3. Super Moist Pumpkin Bread
Grease and flour two 9×5 loaf pans. Combine and beat 15 oz canned pumpkin, ½ cup water, 3 eggs, and ¾ cup vegetable oil. Add 2½ cups flour, 2¼ cups sugar, 1½ tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt, ¾ tsp cinnamon, ¾ tsp cloves and ¾ tsp nutmeg in a separate bowl. Mix well. Pour in loaf pans and bake at 350°F for 1 hour (until knife inserted comes out clean). Makes 2 loaves.
4. Gooey Sweet Cinnamon Buns
Unroll 8 oz can of crescent rolls and divide rolls into 8 triangles. Combine ¼ cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon and sprinkle on dough (triangles). Dip 8 large marshmallows in ¼ cup melted butter and place on sugar mixture. Roll up triangles and seal tightly. Spray aluminum pie tin (or 9×9 square pan) with cooking spray. Place rolls in tin and leave space between each roll. Pour remaining butter over rolls and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake at 350°F for 12 to 15 minutes. Must serve hot, so eat immediately or deliver to friends and they can reheat. Makes 8 rolls.
5. Homemade Marinara
Purée two, 28-oz cans of peeled plum roma tomatoes (we recommend San Maranon or Cento brand) with their juices and 12 basil leaves in a blender or food processor. Meanwhile, sauté 1 large diced onion, 4 cloves of minced garlic and ¼ cup of olive oil until soft. Add the tomato puree, 1 tbsp dried oregano and 1 tsp of sugar. Simmer the sauce for 10 to 15 minutes. Season generously to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 4 cups.