Audience Recipe Contest

We were so excited by all the delicious submissions for our recipe contest.  Read on to meet our winner and to see all the submitted recipesWe hope you enjoy these tasty treats, and we want to see pictures and hear all about it if you make them this holiday season!



Submitted by Melanie Vallely

Congratulations to Melanie!  We are powerless to resist mint-flavored snowmen with earmuffs.  You win our Ultimate Holiday Date Night, with 2 tickets to either The Nutcracker or A Holiday Revue on the night of your choice, along with dinner for two at Morton’s Steakhouse!  Contact to claim your prize!

“One of my family’s favorites because they’re so darn cute – and taste good too! It’s a fun craft for everyone!  This recipe we discovered in an American Girl magazine when I was a kid.

Mix with a fork: 1T softened butter, 1T light corn syrup, 1/8t salt, & 1/2t peppermint extract
Gradually add: 1 cup of powdered sugar and knead with hands.

Use 3/4 of dough for snowmen bodies. Divide remaining 1/4 in two parts. Color one part blue (for accessories) and the other part orange (for “carrot” noses).
Form into mini snowmen with any accessories you desire.

Curried Pumpkin Soup

Submitted by OBT Front Desk Coordinator Aarin Bell


4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, chopped (you can also add chopped carrots or celery for more veggies)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Pinch ground cayenne pepper (optional)
2 (15 oz) cans 100 percent pumpkin or 6 cups of chopped roasted pumpkin (It actually called for 3 cans, I thought it was good with just 2)
5 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian option, the chicken broth adds more flavor)
1 can chopped tomatoes with green peppers
1/2-1 cup half and half
2 bay leaves


1 Melt butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add spices and stir for a minute more.

2 Add pumpkin and 5 cups of chicken broth; blend well.  Add bay leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce heat, simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

3 Transfer soup, in batches, to a blender or food processor. Cover tightly and blend until smooth. Return soup to saucepan.  (optional)

4 With the soup on low heat, slowly add milk while stirring to incorporate. Adjust seasonings to taste. If a little too spicy, add more cream to cool it down. You might want to add a teaspoon of salt and pepper for flavor.

Mama Bell’s Stuffing

Submitted by OBT Front Desk Coordinator Aarin Bell

“This recipe makes enough stuffing for a 12-pound turkey.  Allow 3/4 cup stuffing for each pound of turkey.”

3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped celery (with leaves)
1 cup margarine or butter
9 cups soft bread cubes ( I use 1/2 corn bread and 1/2 bread cubes, so 4 1/2 cups of each)
1 small box of Jiffy corn bread mix (I do not cook the cornbread, I just make it according to the package instructions and then add it. It cooks inside the turkey)
1 can of chicken broth (optional just if dressing is dry, may not need the whole can)
2 tablespoons of Bell’s seasoning or poultry seasoning (or 2 teaspoons salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage leaves, 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, 1/2 teaspoon pepper)

Melt butter.  In a large bowl mix chopped celery, chopped onions, seasoning, bread and  corn bread and butter. If stuffing is dry I also add some canned chicken broth. The stuffing consistency should be moist but not watery.  You may substitute 2 tablespoons of Bell’s seasoning or poultry seasoning  for the the spice mix (salt, sage, thyme, and pepper), if that make it easier.  If you cook this in the turkey, cook it as long as it takes to cook the  turkey, it will stay moist enough. Be careful cooking it in a baking dish  that it does not dry out.  This make about 9 cups of stuffing.

Ringa Kaka

Submitted by Ruth Burr

“My family always eats these Scandinavian goodies at Christmas. Eat plain or spread with butter, cream cheese or top with a slice of cheddar cheese.”

1 c sugar
1/2 c shortening
2 egg whites and 1 egg yolk (reserve other yolk for glaze)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 c flour
4 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom

Cream sugar & shortening together. Sift together dry ingredients.  Add eggs 1 at a time & gradually stir in milk.  Slowly add dry ingredients to wet mixture.  Prep a floured counter top or pastry cloth.  Take about 1 1/2 Tbsp of dough and roll into a “snake,” ~12″ long & 3/8″ diameter.  Form the dough snake into a spiral ring, leaving a 3/4″ diameter hole in the middle of each ring.  Repeat for all the dough.  Mix reserved egg yolk with a bit of milk and brush sparingly on top of each ring.  Cookies will expand during baking so leave space on each side on the pan!  Bake at 415 for ~12 min, until tops are firm and bottoms are medium brown.  Cool completely before serving.

Gumdrop Cake

Submitted by Laura Whitaker Foran

“My mom has been making Gumdrop Cake every Christmas for years. It is the best!

2 packages of fruit gumdrops or fruit slices (cut up)
1 lb. raisins
1 1/2 c. applesauce
1 1/2 c. chopped nuts (I use walnuts)
1 t. baking soda (dissolved in 1 T. water)
1 c. butter (softened)
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
4 cups flour
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. cloves
1/2 t. salt

Mix sugar and butter. Beat in eggs, applesauce and soda. Add flour, spices, nuts and gumdrops. Bake in a bundt or tube pan at 300 degrees for about an hour or until done. Depending on your oven, it may take a bit longer, so do the toothpick test.

Fantasy Fudge

Submitted by Jen Forsman

“My dad makes this every year, and it is incredible. My best friend literally made her husband drive her, seven months pregnant, over six hours through a crazy snow storm because she was craving my dad’s fudge at Christmastime!   And now she insists when I see him over the holidays that he has to make some and I have to mail it to her. It’s delish!  P.S. My sister may or may not have accidentally caught her kitchen on fire no less than three times while we attempted to make this without our dad for the first time last year. TOTALLY WORTH IT!”

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 small can (5 oz.) evaporated milk (about 2/3 cup) (Do not use sweetened condensed milk.)
*1 pkg. (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
… 1 jar (7 oz.) JET-PUFFED Marshmallow Creme
1 tsp.vanilla

LINE 9-inch square pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides (or grease it really good). Bring sugar, butter and evaporated milk to full rolling boil in 3-qt. saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook 4 min. or until candy thermometer reaches 234°F, stirring constantly. THE RIGHT TEMPERATURE IS KEY. (May sure your candy thermometer is calibrated correctly before you start–if you don’t know how, google it.) Remove from heat.ADD chocolate and marshmallow creme; stir until melted. Add vanilla; mix well.POUR into prepared pan; spread to cover bottom of pan. (Having four hands or an extra person really helps at this point . . . you have to work fast!) Cool completely. Use foil handles to lift fudge from pan before cutting into squares.*If you want different kinds of fudge, this is where it happens. Mint chocolate chips are delicious. Other possibilities include peanut butter chips (or half peanut butter, half chocolate), butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips with crushed up candy cane, milk chocolate chips . . . the possibilities are endless.

**You can also add nuts at the same time you add the vanilla (but why would you want to ruin perfectly good fudge with nuts?). 🙂

Caramel Pumpkin Gingersnap Cheesecake

Submitted by Jen Forsman

“This is our new favorite holiday tradition (recipe courtesy of The Pioneer Woman): Caramel Pumpkin Gingersnap Cheesecake. It is UNBELIEVABLE. If you like pumpkin-y goodness, or caramel, or cheesecake, you will love this.”


12 ounces, weight Storebought Gingersnaps
1/2 cup Chopped Pecans (optional)
6 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 dash Salt

4 packages (8 0z. Packages) Cream Cheese
1-1/2 cup Sugar
1 can 15-ounce Pumpkin Puree (NOT Pumpkin Pie Filling)
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Allspice
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
4 whole Eggs
2 Tablespoons Heavy Cream
1 jar (about 12 Oz.) Caramel Topping
Extra Chopped Pecans (optional)
Extra Crushed Gingersnaps

For crust:
In a food processor (or large ziploc bag) crush gingersnps. Add chopped pecans, melted butter, brown sugar, and salt, and pulse (or mix) until thoroughly combined. Press into bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan. Chill for 20-30 minutes.

For filling:
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin and spices and mix again. Add eggs one at a time, mixing for 20 seconds between each addition. Add cream and mix until just combined.

Remove crust from fridge. Pour 1/2 jar of caramel topping on crust. (This can be omitted. See note below.) Sprinkle caramel with chopped pecans. Gently pour cheesecake filling into pan. Even out the top with a flat spatula.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until no longer soupy. Cheesecake should still be somewhat jiggly.

Cool on counter for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, pour the rest of the caramel topping over the top. Smooth with a flat spatula until evenly smooth. Cover and chill cheesecake for another four hours or overnight.
When ready to serve, remove rim from pan and slice. Sprinkle each slice with extra crushed gingersnaps.

Note: I’ve heard from several folks that they wound up with a rock-hard crust when they followed this method. While I’d made the cheesecake several times and had never gotten this result, I’ve determined that the brand of both the gingersnaps AND the caramel sauce can drastically affect the consistency of the crust. You can easily omit this step and still wind up with a delicious cheesecake, so feel free to leave it out. You could also decrease the amount of caramel on the crust to mitigate the hardening effect.

Cranberry Pear Pie with Eggnog Rum Sauce

Submitted by Jen Forsman

“And one more, just because it’s delish and holiday-ish and it’s easy and fun to make! I’m not usually a big fan of pie, but this one is awesome!”

Crust and Filling
1 box refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
2 medium ripe pears, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup sour cream
3 eggs

1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup dairy eggnog
1 tablespoon light rum or 1/2 teaspoon rum extract

1. Heat oven to 425°F. Make pie crust as directed on box for One-Crust Baked Shell as directed on box using 9-inch glass pie plate. Prick crust generously with fork.

2. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Cool 5 minutes. Layer pear slices and cranberries in baked crust.

3. In medium bowl, with wire whisk, beat sugar, nutmeg, sour cream and eggs until smooth and well blended. Pour evenly over fruit.

4. Bake 15 minutes. Cover edge of crust with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning. Bake 40 to 45 minutes longer or until custard is just set and pears are fork-tender. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

5. In small saucepan, mix cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of the eggnog until mixture is smooth. With wire whisk, beat in remaining eggnog; cook over medium heat 6 to 8 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture just begins to boil. Remove from heat; stir in rum. Serve warm sauce over pie, close your eyes, and sigh with delight.

Store pie and sauce in refrigerator.

This pie is best served the day it is baked.

(You can also make this pie in a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Because the sides of the tart pan are not as high as a pie plate, place a cookie sheet on the rack under the tart before baking to catch any drips. Bake the tart 50 to 55 minutes.)


Submitted by Valerie Johnson

“Our recent holiday tradition (now that all the kids are over 21!) is drinking Cookitinis – a martini that tastes just like a delicious oatmeal cookie: Equal parts Bailey’s, Buttershots (a butterscotch liqueur), Cinnamon schnapps, and Jagermeister. Shake over ice and pour into a fancy glass.”

Sweet & Savory Pumpkin Scones With Cinnamon Butter

Submitted by Alicia Riedl

“I’m submitting my sweet and savory pumpkin scone recipe. The holidays are a time for family to get together and remind each other what is important in life. This recipe encompasses the holidays, seasonal ingredients and comfort food.”


1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon coarsely chopped mixed herbs (fresh are best): sage, tarragon, thyme
1 egg
1 cup cold mashed pumpkin (fresh pumpkin is best, but can use canned as well)
2 cups self raising flour

To glaze:
1 tbsp milk
1 egg yolk

Cinnamon Butter:
1 stick butter
2 tsp honey
1 cinnamon stick
¼ teaspoon nutmeg


1. Cream the butter, sugar and salt.
2. Add egg, then pumpkin and sift in flour lightly until dough comes together.
3. Place dough on floured surface and pat or roll to about ½ inch thickness
4. Use holiday themed cutouts (pumpkins, trees, wreath, etc.) or regular round biscuit cutters and put on a tray.
5. Brush scones with glaze of milk and egg yolk. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

For Cinnamon Butter, combine all ingredients in small saucepan over low heat. Stir regularly and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes while scones are baking. Remove cinnamon stick and allow butter to cool/harden.

Serve scones warm or cold with cinnamon butter.

Nutty Cheese

Submitted by OBT Associate Director of Development Mary Jane Schenk

(recipe from Marguerite Wilhelmus, Evansville, IN)

½ tsp. salt
1 Tab. Sugar
1 Tab. Vinegar
1 Tab. Butter
1 Tab. Milk
1 egg
2  3 oz. pkgs of Philadelphia cream cheese
1 small jar chopped pimentos
1 cup broken pecans


Mix first six ingredients; cook in a double boiler to avoid sticking; stir well until thick and then add cream cheese. Stir until melted.  Add pimento and pecans and mix well.  Refrigerate in a covered bowl. Spread on your favorite crackers.

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