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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Our Veterans Deserve A Little Something Special On Their Day, November 11th

November 11 is a day that should represent more to us than a day off from work and school. It is a day set aside to honor veterans for their willingness to fight for and protect our country. 

While often confused with Memorial Day, which occurs in May each year as a time to remember those heroes who lost their lives, Veterans Day is for the living. Many of our veterans have suffered greatly because of the wars in which they served, the comrades they lost and for many other reasons we will never be able to comprehend.

But, next week, if not before, we have an appointed opportunity to reach out to our veterans and remind them that they are special and deserve our respect. Most of us know men and women who have served in the military, but if you don’t, please contact the local veteran’s service office in your county, or one of the veteran’s organizations (VFW, American Legion, DAV, etc.) to learn how you can make a difference in the life of a living hero.

In the meantime, here are a few simple treats that you and your family might want to prepare and deliver to a veteran, or in bulk, to one of the aforementioned organizations.

We can all be like Taz Kim, who we recently featured in High Country Magazine regarding her outreach to fellow veterans: Just Show Up! Your gift of time and attention is often all that’s needed, but a little something extra is always appreciated.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Squares 

1½ cups graham cracker crumbs

1 lb. confectioners’ sugar (3-3 ½  cups) 

1½ cups peanut butter 

1 cup butter, melted 

1 (12 oz.) bag milk chocolate chips 

 Combine graham crumbs, sugar and peanut butter and mix well.

Blend in melted butter until well combined. Press mixture evenly into a 9 x 13-inch pan. Melt chocolate chips in microwave or in double boiler. Spread over peanut butter mixture. Chill until just set and cut into bars before the chocolate gets too hard.(IF you wait too long, the chocolate will crack as you try to cut it.)

Chewy Date Nut Bars

1 pkg. yellow cake mix

¾ cup packed brown sugar

¾ cup butter, melted

2 eggs

2 cups chopped dates

2 cups chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, combine cake mix and brown sugar. Add butter and eggs; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Combine dates and walnuts; stir into batter, which will be stiff.

Spread into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around sides of pan to loosen; cool completely before cutting. Makes about 3 dozen.

Caramel Chex Mix

(A sweet twist to a savory treat)

2 cups each Rice, Corn and Wheat Chex

2 cups miniature pretzels

2 cups pecan halves

2 cups salted cashews

¾ cup butter, cubed

¾ cup packed brown sugar

In a large bowl, combine the cereal, pretzels and nuts. In a small saucepan, combine the butter and brown sugar. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Pour over cereal mixture; toss to coat. 

Spread into 2 greased baking pans. Bake at 350 for about 8 minutes. Stir; bake 6 more minutes. Cool completely before storing in airtight containers.

Easy Banana Bread

4 eggs

1 box yellow cake mix

1 (4-oz.) box instant banana pudding

1 cup water

¼ cup vegetable oil

3 mashed bananas

½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts, optional

Beat eggs and stir in cake mix, pudding, water and oil. Add bananas and nuts. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans; bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Diabetic-Friendly Chocolate Cream Pie

¾ cup Splenda 

3 Tbs. cornstarch

1/8 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. butter flavored granules

2 cups fat-free milk

3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

1 Tbs. margarine

1½ tsp. vanilla extract

1 pre-baked 9-inch piecrust

 Mix together Splenda, cornstarch, salt and butter granules in a 2-quart microwave-safe glass bowl. Slowly add milk and stir so that mixture does not clump together. Microwave on high for 4 minutes; stir to smooth any clumps of cornstarch.  Return to microwave, high power, for 2 more minutes. Stir again and add chocolate. Microwave an additional 2 minutes on high; stir again. Add margarine and vanilla. Cover mixture with plastic wrap. Let cool for 15 minutes. Remove wrap and pour filling into pie shell. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.