Vi’s Fruitcake

This recipe was developed by my friend Judy Begley Trimarchi’s mother, Violet (Vi) Begley.

Don’t be afraid!

Yes, it’s fruitcake, but not the kind of fruitcake that your parents warned you about. This cake is full of raisins, dates, and walnuts with some candied fruit, held together by a moist spice cake flavored with molasses, apple jelly, coffee, cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves.

Try it, you will be surprised! When I was first offered a piece of this fruitcake, I was reluctant to try it, but I quickly changed my mind and ate two more pieces.

Servings: 48 cupcakes

1 cup shortening
2 cups brown sugar
6 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
¾ cup brewed coffee
½ cup apple jelly
½ cup molasses
1 lb raisins
½ lb currants
½ lb dates, chopped
½ lb nuts, coarsely chopped
1 lb candied fruit

  1. Cream shortening and sugar.
  2. Beat in eggs.
  3. In another bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt & spices.
  4. Stir in flour mixture alternately with liquids (coffee, jelly & molasses) until well combined.
  5. Stir in fruit and nuts.
  6. Pour into greased and floured loaf pans or lined cupcake pans, filling almost to the top.
  7. Bake at 300℉ until a toothpick comes out clean. Cupcakes about 25 minutes, 2″x 4″ loaf about 45-50 minutes.
  • You can substitute other dried fruit for any of those listed. This year we used dried pineapple & dried cherries instead of the candied fruit – yum!
  • You can substitute another mild-flavored jelly if you prefer.

Flank Steak Islandia

recipe from Sara Garretson – a friend of my mother’s in New Mexico

1 1/2 lb flank steak
juice & zest of one lemon
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp brown sugar
lemon wedges

  1. Trim fat and membrane from steak. Place in a shallow, non-metallic pan.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients, except lemon wedges, and pour over steak.
  3. Marinade for 1 hour, turning occasionally.
  4. Drain. Heat remaining marinade to a boil, then remove from heat.
  5. Grill steak over coals for 7 minutes on each side, basting with marinade.
  6. Slice very thinly, diagonally & across the grain.
  7. Serve with lemon wedges.
  • This grilling time will produce a medium rare to medium steak.

Molasses Crinkles

Betty Crocker’s Boys and Girls Cook Book
This is the cookbook that I was given when I was 10 years old and was given permission to cook by myself.

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt

  1. Cream shortening, sugar, egg & molasses.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.
  3. Add dry ingredients slowly to sugar mixture until thoroughly combined.
  4. Chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  5. Heat oven to 375.
  6. Roll teaspoonfuls of dough into balls. Dip in sugar. Place, sugar side up, 3″ apart on greased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until set, but not hard.
  8. Makes 4 dozen 2″ cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

adapted by my mother, Sherry Salvage ReVeal Bradley, from Nestle’s Toll House

2 cups shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp water, as needed
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
6 oz semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Heat oven to 375.
  2. Combine shortening, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Add water if mixture is dry.
  4. Stir in walnuts & chocolate chips.
  5. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned at the edges and still soft in the center.
  7. Makes 4-5 dozen 3 inch cookies.
  • Cook one batch – if the cookies do not spread out, you need to add more water. Add a few teaspoons at a time.
  • We used to use semisweet chocolate chips, but recently we switched to Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate chips which are slightly darker than semisweet.

Crockpot Fig Butter

Adapted from Our Simple Life.  I omitted the wine (didn’t want to use my moscato), substituted brown sugar for the honey and doubled the cinnamon.

6 cups figs with stems removed
3/4  cup brown sugar
1/2  Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon

  1. Add everything to a crockpot and cook on high for 2 hours.  Using a spoon or potato masher, mash figs until all whole figs are broken down.
  2. Crack the lid to let the steam escape and turn crockpot down to low and continue to cook for 6 – 8 hours, until desired consistency.
  3. For a smoother consistency, mix with immersion blender.
  4. Fill hot jars with hot fig butter, seal and process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.
  • You should be able to heap the butter on a spoon with no liquid seeping out.
  • You can decrease the cinnamon if you prefer, but this amount does not give an overly strong cinnamon flavor.

Peanut Blossom Cookies

adapted from Joy of Baking

These are the most tender cookies of this type that I have ever tasted.  I switched to dark brown sugar because I like the deeper flavor it adds.  I prefer creamy peanut butter because they have such a wonderful texture.  I also prefer not to roll them in sugar which gives them a crunchy coating.


1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
48 Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped

  1. Beat butter until creamy and smooth.
  2. Add peanut butter and sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 – 3 minutes.
  3. Add egg and vanilla and beat to combine.
  4. Beat in milk.
  5. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  6. Add to the peanut butter mixture and beat until thoroughly combined.
  7. Cover and chill for about an hour, or until firm enough to roll into balls.
  8. Preheat oven to 375 and place rack in the center of the oven.
  9. Roll the batter into 1″ balls.
  10. Place on baking sheet covered with parchment paper or silicone mat, spacing about 2″ apart.
  11. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned.
  12. Immediately after removing from the oven, place a Kiss into the center of each cookie, pressing down gently until the cookie just starts to crack.
  13. Remove from baking sheet and cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
  • You can substitute any type of chocolate candy for the Kisses – Dove Promises, mini peanut butter cups…

Hot Buttered Rum

from Dennis via Judy Begley Trimarchi

2 cups light brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup salted butter
pinch of salt
3 sticks cinnamon
6-8 whole cloves
1/2 whole nutmeg
8 cups water
2 cups light rum
whipped cream
grated nutmeg


  1. Combine sugar, butter, salt, cinnamon, cloves, whole nutmeg and water in a crockpot.
  2. Cook on low for 5 hours.
  3. Add rum.
  4. Serve in warm mugs with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.
Judy says, “When I first moved to Virginia from Arizona in 1981, I was fresh out of college.  My boss, Dennis, must have answered 10,000 questions as I learned how to apply the vague book learning of the university to the practical, specific needs of the lab where I was hired.  He may have wanted to run for cover when he saw me coming, but he never did.  One Christmas, he and his wife hosted our entire crew for a wonderful party that included this fantastic Hot Buttered Rum.  Dennis was taken from us by cancer over 10 years ago, but I will never lose everything he taught me.  Enjoy this fabulous beverage when you entertain your friends and family!”

Hammus Georgianus

adapted from The Quarter of Six Cookbook

4 slices ham
1 Tbsp butter
16 oz can peach slices in juice, undrained
½ small jar maraschino cherries, drained (optional)
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon


  1. Melt butter in a large skillet.
  2. Add fruit, sugar & cinnamon. Cook until thickened.
  3. Add ham & heat through.
  • The cookbook said to cook the ham & then add the other ingredients, but I think this dries out the ham too much. They also drained the peaches, but since I buy canned fruit in juice instead of syrup, I leave in the juice to make more sauce.
  • The sauce is wonderful over baked sweet potatoes.
  • I prefer it without the cherries.

Tenaya Beans

adapted from The Quarter of Six Cookbook

1/31/2  lb polish sausage / kielbasa
8 oz pineapple chunks, drained
16 oz can baked beans
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp cloves


  1. Brown sausage, add remaining ingredients & heat through.
  • I substituted kielbasa (I use turkey kielbasa) for the Spam in the recipe. It is lower in fat and better tasting, I think.

Maui Zowie Burgers

adapted from The Quarter of Six Cookbook

1 lb hamburger or 4 patties
4 pineapple rings
½ cup ketchup
½ cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp mustard
4 hamburger buns (optional)

  1. Grill hamburgers & pineapple.
  2. Mix ketchup, brown sugar & mustard in a small pan.  Heat until bubbly.
  3. Top hamburgers with pineapple rings & spoon sauce over .
  • I have doubled the sauce.
  • I like my hamburger on a bun with a bowl of sauce to dip it in.