I am a fairly proficient baker, but one thing I never knew is that there is a bit of science behind getting your baked goods to come out of the pan easily. Beyond non-stick spray, and sometimes flouring the pan (or using cocoa powder for a dark cake; it will show less and taste more yummy), there is a neat trick I just learned.

For some reason I never knew that it made a difference how long you let the baked item cool in the pan before you took it out. Well, it does. And the magic window seems to be 10 minutes. I have tried this on both cakes and loaves of bread and I am here to tell you that in both cases the items came out easier and with substantially less wrangling and breakage than ever before. I used to be a cool-completely girl, but I am a new convert. Unless there is a specific reason (like the recipe tells you an exact cooling time required), try the 10 minute rule, and I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

In honor of this, I decided to post a few recipes, which I had a request for, and I know I haven’t done in a while. I can’t remember if I’ve ever posted these before, but I hope you like them. Enjoy!

Miriam’s Holiday Cake:
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup oil
4 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 pkg (3-1/2 ounce) vanilla pudding mix
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup vodka
1/4 cup amaretto

Preheat oven to 350. Mix everything together and bake in a bundt pan for about 1 hour.

Top when cool with this glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 TBSP orange juice
1 TBSP amaretto
1 tsp vodka

Yes, it is a lot of ingredients, but it isn’t fussy to make, and it is sooooooooooooooo worth it!

Amazing Lemon Bars:
1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (yes, it really does make a difference to the overall yumminess if you use fresh versus bottled)
zest of 2 lemons
6 eggs
3 cups sugar
2/3 cup flour
1-3/4 tsp baking powder

1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
about 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350. Put crust ingredients in a bowl and mix into a loose crumb, which you will gently press into the bottom of your pan. My friend lines hers with parchment paper, but I just non-stick spray a glass baking pan. Try to get it even and level, so it will bake evenly. Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Combine all filling ingredients in another bowl and blend. Pour filling over baked crust and return oven to bake for 25-35 minutes until filling is set in the middle.

While the bars are baking, make your glaze, using enough lemon juice to make it spreadable. Pour this glaze over the bars while they are still warm from the oven, and spread it around. Cool completely. You can cut it into portions and freeze them or leave it in the pan and serve it from there (this is what I do). Warning: this is very addictive…

On a non-baking, but extremely comforting note, this is my most favorite macaroni and cheese recipe ever. I use more mustard than it calls for, and I think you should definitely put more salt into the recipe, but I will write it as it and you can adjust. My kids eat this with ketchup, which I think is a travesty, but no matter how you eat it, nothing says comfort when it’s cold out like something warm and cheesy…

Macaroni and Cheese:
16 ounces (more or less) of any shape of noodles

3 Tbsp butter or margarine
4 Tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp mustard powder
2 cups milk
16 oz grated cheese

Cook noodles however you do. In separate pot, melt butter, add salt, mustard, and flour. Stir over low heat until thick. Add milk slowly, stirring constantly, until bubbles appear and sauce thickens. Add grated cheese, and stir until melted through and smooth. After the noodles have cooked, drain them, combine them with the sauce, mix them together, and take solace in the fact that sweaters are baggy and being warm and cozy is wonderful. Then eat a second bowlful 🙂