Best bread pudding

Best Bread Pudding
3/4 cup brown sugar
6 slices raisins-and-cinnamon-swirl bread, buttered and cubed
4 eggs
1 quart milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract, optional
Spray interior of a 5 quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Spread brown sugar in bottom of cooker. Add cubed bread. (do not stir sugar and bread together.) In a mixing bowl, beat eggs well. Beat in milk and vanilla, and lemon extract if you wish. Pour over bread. Cover; cook on high for 2 to 3 hours, or until pudding is no longer soupy. Do not stir. Brown sugar will form a sauce on the bottom. When the pudding is finished, spoon it into a serving dish, drizzling the sauce over top of the bread.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.


Chocolate pizza

Chocolate Pizza
8 ounces white confectionery coating, divided
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup salted peanuts
1/2 cup miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup crisp rice cereal
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup red and green candied cherries
In a heavy saucepan or double boiler, melt 6 ounces confectionery coating and all of the chocolate chips. Stir in the peanuts, marshmallows and cereal. Pour onto a greased 10 inch pizza pan or a foil-covered 10 inch circle of cardboard. Spread to even out top. Sprinkle with coconut and top with cherries. Melt remaining confectionery coating; drizzle over pizza. Refrigerate.
Makes 16 to 20 servings.


Old time popcorn balls

Old Time Popcorn Balls
2 quarts popped popcorn
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Place popcorn in a large bowl; set aside. In a heavy saucepan, combine molasses, sugar, water, vinegar and butter. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until candy thermometer reads 235 degrees (soft-ball stage). Add baking soda; stir well. Remove from the heat and immediately pour over popcorn, stirring gently with a wooden spoon until well coated. When cool enough to handle, quickly shape into 3 inch balls, dipping hands in cold water to prevent the syrup from sticking.
After shaping the popcorn balls, wrap with clear or colored plastic wrap. You can add a holiday touch by tying them with colored ribbons.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Caramel apples

Caramel Apples
1 cup butter (no substitutes)
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 to 10 wooden sticks
8 to 10 medium tart apples
In a heavy 3 quart saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and milk; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook and stir until a candy thermometer reads 248 degrees (firm-ball stage), about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Insert wooden sticks into apples. Dip each apple into hot caramel mixture; turn to coat. Set on waxed paper to cool.
For even more fun and flavor, roll the bottom of each coated apple in chopped peanuts before setting on the waxed paper to cool.
Makes 8 to 10 apples.


Chocolate souffle

Chocolate Souffle
1 (18 1/4 ounce) package chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sour cream
3 eggs, beaten
1 (3 ounce) box instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup chocolate chips, optional
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Spray interior of a 6 quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Pour souffle mixture into cooker. Cover; cook on low for 6 hours. (Do not lift the lid until the end of the cooking time!) Insert toothpick into center of cake to see if it comes out clean. If it does, the souffle is finished. If it doesn’t, continue cooking for another 15 minutes. Check again. Repeat until its finished cooking. Serve warm from the cooker with ice cream or frozen yogurt.
Makes 10 to 12 servings.


Brownies with nuts

Brownies With Nuts
1/2 stick butter or margarine, melted
1 cup chopped nuts, divided
1 (23 ounce) package brownie mix
Pour melted butter into a baking insert designed to fit into your slow cooker. Swirl butter around to grease sides of insert. Sprinkle butter with half of the nuts. In a bowl, mix brownies according to package directions. Spoon half of the batter into baking insert, trying to cover the nuts evenly. Add remaining half of nuts. Spoon in remaining batter. Place insert into 5 quart slow cooker. Cover insert with 8 paper towels. Cover cooker. Cook on high for 3 hours. Do not check or remove cover until last hour of cooking. Then insert toothpick into center of brownies. If it comes out clean, the brownies are finished. If it doesn’t, continue cooking another 15 minutes. Check again. Repeat until pick comes out clean. When finished cooking, uncover cooker and baking insert. Let brownies stand for 5 minutes. Invert insert onto serving plate. Cut brownies with a plastic knife (so the crumbs don’t drag). Serve warm.
Makes 24 brownies.