Almost homemade - what a time-saving feature that is. It means taking a mix, adding a few ingredients and making it into something that looks, tastes and even gives off the aroma of homemade.
Cookies can be made from cake mix, refrigerated cookie dough, instant pudding mix and packaged cookie mix. Shortcakes can be made with biscuit baking mix; bubble bread can be made from frozen bread dough; and a coffee cake can be made with quick bread mix. It's convenience with a touch of homemade quality.
The Taste of Home Baking Book, a hard-bound book with 516 pages of recipes and wonderful cooking and baking information, contains all this information and more.
EASY POUND CAKE — This easy pound cake has a zesty flavor of lemon from the cake mix and the Mountain Dew. It isn't actually a cake that calls for a pound of each ingredient, but it has the appearance of a pound cake. It is from the Taste of Home Baking Book, in the almost homemade section, using cake, cookie and pudding mixes and a few other ingredients. -- Esther McCoy
Some tips listed are: Store cake mixes in a cool dry place for up to nine months. The package is stamped with a date that recommends when the mix is best used - go by that. If the package gets wet, discard it immediately.
Some other tips are how to make substitutions: For 1 teaspoon baking powder, use 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda; for half and half cream, put 1 tablespoon melted butter in enough whole milk to measure 1 cup; and for a teaspoon of lemon juice, use 1/4 teaspoon cider vinegar instead.
The recipe section featured here is called "Almost Homemade" and has some fast and easy recipes and tips. Here are a few:
This is a chocolate cookie made with a devils food mix and topped with thin mint candies.
Mint-Topped Chocolate Cookies
18 1/4-ounce box devils food cake mix
1/2 cup shortening
1 tablespoon water
40 chocolate covered thin mints
In a large bowl, combine cake mix, shortening, eggs and water. Shape dough into 1 inch balls; roll in confectioners' sugar. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until slightly firm to the touch. While still warm from the oven, place a chocolate-covered thin mint on each cookie and remove to wire racks to cool. Makes 40.
This recipe uses an instant pudding mix to make a cookie reminiscent of a pecan shortbread cookie. It makes about 2 dozen cookies.
Butter Pecan Cookies
3/4 cup butter, softened
3.4-ounce box instant butterscotch pudding mix
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
In a small bowl, beat butter and pudding mix until smooth. Gradually beat in flour. Fold in the pecans. Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets; flatten to 1/2 inch with the bottom of a glass coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-13 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove to wire racks.
This is a luxurious looking cookie that is made from refrigerated sugar cookie dough and one end of the logs are dipped in chocolate and then rolled in chopped nuts.
Dipped Spice Cookies
Half a tube refrigerated sugar cookie dough, softened
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 teaspoons shortening
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
In a large bowl, beat the cookie dough, flour, brown sugar, orange juice, cinnamon, ground ginger and orange peel until combined. Shape teaspoonfuls of dough into 2-inch logs. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove to wire racks. In microwave, melt the chocolate chips and shortening together; stir until smooth. Dip one end of each cookie into melted chocolate, allowing excess to drip off; sprinkle with chopped nuts. Place on waxed paper; let stand until set. Makes about 3 dozen.
Here is a lemon bar recipe that uses crushed saltines as part of the ingredients.
Lemon Crumb Bars
18 1/4-ounce package lemon cake mix
1/2 cup cold butter
2 cups crushed saltines, about 60 crackers
3 egg yolks
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
In a large bowl, beat the cake mix, butter and egg until crumbly. Stir in cracker crumbs; set aside 2 cups to use for the topping. Press remaining crumb mixture into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks, milk and lemon juice. Pour over crust; sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake 20-25 minutes longer or until edges are lightly browned. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars and store in the refrigerator. Makes 2 dozen bars.
A cheese cake filling between refrigerated chocolate chip dough sounds yummy. It takes little time to prepare and will probably disappear quickly.
Chocolate Chip Cheese Bars
18-ounce tube refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
8-ounce package cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
Cut cookie dough in half. For crust, press half of the dough onto the bottom of a greased 8-inch square baking pan. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and egg until smooth. Spread over crust. Crumble remaining cookie dough over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into 12 to 16 bars, depending on the size.
Here is a pound cake that doesn't need a pound of many different ingredients. It has an unusual ingredient of Mountain Dew added to the batter, too.
Golden Pound Cake
18 1/4-ounce package lemon cake mix
3.4-ounce package instant vanilla pudding
3/4 cup canola oil
12 ounces of Mountain Dew
Confectioners' sugar, optional
In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil and soda. Beat on low for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired.
This is a gooey, caramel cake with crunch from crushed Butterfinger candy bars. It is made from devils food cake mix but with many additions. And it is put together with many low-fat products.
Caramel Crunch Cake
18 1/4 ounce devil's food cake mix
1 1/3 cups water
5 egg whites
14-ounce fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fat-free caramel ice cream topping
5 fun-size Butterfinger candy bars, crushed
8 ounces frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed
In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, water and egg whites; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Pour into a 13-by-9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. With a wooden skewer, poke holes 2 inches apart into cake. Slowly pour condensed milk and caramel topping over cake. Sprinkle with two-thirds of the crushed candy. Spread with whipped topping and sprinkle with remaining candy. Chill until time to serve. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Makes 18 servings.
(McCoy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)