With schedules being different almost every day, it’s hard to plan meals, let alone snacks and desserts. Even snacks need to have some nutritional value. I figger one out of three is just right. Applesauce bars meet my nutritional requirements. You could use unsweetened applesauce or drizzle them with warm caramel sauce, or both.

There’s ever so many cake mix cookie recipes available. I’ve tried red velvet and chocolate. Since I’m a cookie baker and cookies are my favorite dessert, I was not impressed. I was quite pleased with today’s lemon cookies. Maybe it’s because of the fresh lemon juice in the batter or I’m developing a fondness for lemon desserts in my old age. I recommend Duncan Hines lemon cake mix for this recipe.

I reckon everybody likes cream cheese icing. Some of us love it. My version is really delicious, but just a tiny bit heavy. When I ran across today’s recipe, I decided I’d found perfect. As with many of my recipes, you can adjust it to your preferences.

Cream Cheese Icing

2 (8-ounce) packages of full fat cream cheese, at room temperature

1 stick of butter, at room temperature

3 cups of powered sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 to 3/4 of an 8 ounce carton Extra Creamy Cool Whip

Beat cream cheese and butter on high speed until light and well blended. With the mixer on low speed, add powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Add vanilla; return to medium high speed and beat until light. Fold in Cool Whip.

Cook’s note: If you want thicker icing, add powdered sugar, one tablespoon at a time before adding cool whip then add less cool whip.

Cake Mix Lemon Cookies

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 stick butter, at room temperature

1 egg

2 (fat) tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 (15.25-ounce) Duncan Hines lemon cake mix, sifted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth and light. Add egg; beat until smooth. Add lemon juice, blend well. Sift cake mix into the batter. Do not discard any lumps. Push through with a spatula. On low speed, mix only until well combined. Place about two tablespoons of dough two inches apart in the prepared baking sheet. Bake 12-14 minutes or until very lightly golden on the edges. Cool on the pan 5-7 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Drizzle with glaze, if desired.

For the glaze:

1 3/4 cup powdered sugar

3-4 tablespoons lemon juice

Whisk together.

Applesauce Bars

1 stick butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 cup applesauce

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons apple pie spice

3/4 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with Pam.

Cream butter and sugar until light. Add applesauce and vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Mix well. Stir in raisins and nuts. Bake 35-40 minutes. Cool completely; frost if desired.

Cook’s note: For richer bars, replace one tablespoon of the granulated sugar with one tablespoon of brown sugar.

Miss Olivia Sipe, oliviasipe@msn.com, is the owner of Miss Olivia’s Table in Maryville.

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