This week’s column in dedicated to Roberta and Bob Heald who work so diligently for our fair town of Lincolnville.

Now that Thanksgiving is over thoughts turn towards Christmas baking. Here are some delicious ideas for the holidays.

Chocolate-Pecan Pie Bars

1 cup (2 sticks) butter softened

2 cups sugar, divided

2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups light corn syrup

6 squares Baker’s Semi-Sweet Baking chocolate

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

2 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 15 by 10 by 1 inch baking pan; set aside. Beat butter, 1/2 cup of the sugar, the flour and salt until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Microwave corn syrup and chocolate in microwaveable bowl on high 2 1/2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 1/2 minutes. Stir until completely melted. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar, the eggs and vanilla; mix well. Stir in pecans. Pour over hot crust; spread to evenly cover crust. Bake an additional 35 minutes or until filling is firm around the edges but still slightly soft in center. Cool completely before cutting into bars. Store leftovers in tightly covered container at room temperature.

Boston Cream Pie Minis

1 package (two-layer size) yellow cake mix

1 cup cold milk

1 package (four-serving size) vanilla instant pudding and pie filling

1 1/2 cups thawed Cool Whip, divided

4 squares Baker’s Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate

Prepare cake batter and bake in 24 greased medium muffin pan cups as directed on package. Cool 10 minutes in pans. Remove to wire racks cool completely. Beat milk and dry pudding mix with wire whisk 2 minutes or until well blended. Let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, use serrated knife to cut cupcakes horizontally in half. Gently stir about 1/2 cup of the whipped topping into pudding. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the pudding mixture onto bottom half of each cupcake; cover with top of cupcake. Microwave remaining 1 cup whipped topping and the chocolate in small microwaveable bowl on high 1 1/2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 minute. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended. Spread onto cupcakes. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes before serving. Store leftovers in refrigerator. Makes 24.

Easy Date-Nut Bars

1 package 2 layer size yellow cake mix (butter recipe)

1/2 cup melted butter

4 eggs

1 cup chopped dates

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1 – 8 ounce package softened cream cheese

4 cups sifted powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13 by 9 by 2 inch pan; set aside. In large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, melted butter, and two of the eggs. Beat until batter is nearly smooth. Spread batter in bottom of prepared pan. Sprinkle with dates and nuts. Press lightly into batter. In large mixing bowl, beat together softened cheese and powdered sugar until combined. Beat in remaining eggs and vanilla until combined. Pour evenly over mixture in pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until center appears set (bars will sink in centers). Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. Store; covered, in refrigerator.

Our thought for the week: “There would be a lot more happy marriages if husbands tried to understand their wives and wives tried to understand football.”