Holidays are for delicious treats


The holidays are upon us, and if you’re like my family, it is an incredibly busy time of year for you. Even though we live a plane ride away from family, the few days we go home are jam-packed. In Arizona, we are lucky to have made some good friends that include us in their holiday celebrations so we are not alone. Thank you! Although, we did have stellar service and VIP treatment at a Burger King Thanksgiving last year. Good to note that even if you have a reservation, sometimes you don’t get into places for your meal.


I have a few go-to recipes for desserts and appetizers that are easy to make, and you can bring them to family and friends to contribute to the celebration. All can be made in advance to save you time. Win!


Oreo Pretzel Bark


This is an idea I came up with years ago from one of my aunts. She makes peppermint bark, and it looks so pretty on cookie and dessert trays at gatherings. However, while I do love white chocolate, I don’t care so much for peppermint. So, I got a little creative. I’d had Oreo fudge before, and thought, “Why not in a bark?”. I’m also a fan of salty/sweet combos, and chocolate covered pretzels are so yummy.


I put it all together, and to say it’s popular is an understatement!


Here’s what you need:
  • 24 ounces of white chocolate. I like the Almond Bark. It comes in milk and white chocolate varieties and melts easily in the microwave or double boiler. You can get it at most stores in the baking aisle
  • 1 row of Oreos, or chocolate sandwich cookies
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups of pretzels




Place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Start melting, 30 seconds at a time as you don’t want to burn it. While the chocolate melts, place your cookies and pretzels in a storage bag and break them up. I like chunks, not crumbs, but you can crush as much or as little as you want. Stir the melted chocolate so it is smooth, and pour in your cookie/pretzel mix. Mix thoroughly. On a baking sheet, spread out parchment or wax paper. Pour the mixture onto the sheet and spread out. Let it cool and you can break it up into pieces. Store in a storage bag or in an airtight container.


When I make this, I make a ton in batches. You can add more or less cookies and pretzels depending on your preferences. Also, try other candy or cookies in there too, or even the milk chocolate variety.




I love watching cooking shows. They give me ideas that I can tweak since I have so many food allergies. I was watching a Pioneer Woman Christmas episode one year and she made some cute pinwheels with red and green peppers. I loved the idea, but since I can’t have peppers, I needed to change it up. However, if you can eat peppers or want a vegetarian appetizer, use her original recipe.

Here’s my version:
  • 2 packages of softened cream cheese. You can use the lighter version if you like
  • 1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning
  • 5-6 flour tortillas. Whatever brand or kind you prefer. I use the medium size ones, not the big burrito size
  • Sliced deli ham or turkey. You’ll need 1-2 slices per tortilla




Mix the softened cream cheese and ranch seasoning thoroughly. Spread a thin layer over a tortilla. It should be thick enough that you don’t see the tortilla through the spread, but not like you’re frosting a cake. Place your deli meat in a single layer, just 1-2 slices so it covers. Roll the tortilla tightly and place on a plate or tray. I use tin foil and wrap them individually so they stay tight. Make all your tortilla rolls and then place them in the fridge for at least an hour. Then, when you’re almost ready to serve or plate them up to bring somewhere, you want to cut them up. I usually trim the edges off, then slice in 1” slices. Big enough to pick up easily and pop in your mouth.


Cake Cookies


Years ago, my stepmom picked up a cookbook for me from Cracker Barrel. Who doesn’t love that store? There are so many fun things to play with, eat, or even smell with all the candles and soaps.


This was a low-fat cookbook that I had been eyeing. I still have it, and one of my favorite recipes is their cake cookies. Simple, easy and so tasty!


  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • ¼ cup of egg substitute or egg whites
  • ¼ cup of unsweetened apple sauce
  • ¼ cup of water




Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients by hand in a bowl until well combined. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, or cover with parchment paper. Use a teaspoon or small scoop to drop the batter in rounded drops onto the sheet. Bake until lightly brown on the bottom, about 10-12 minutes or so.

I watch these carefully. The top crackles apart and may still look undercooked, so lift slightly and look at the bottom of the cookie. When it’s light brown, they’re done. Take them off the tray and let them cool before storing. So good!


I tried it with chocolate cake mix and while it was good, the yellow was better. Turns out using a cake mix for cookies is pretty popular.


If you want to try some other variations, check out these recipes. I may be trying some myself! What are your favorite holiday recipes? Comment below!



Bethany Kochan started her fitness career at a local women’s fitness center at 19 years of age. This part-time job lead to a career that over 20 years later, she still loves. Bethany earned her B.S. in Exercise Science from Southern Illinois University Carbondale at the same time becoming certified as a group exercise instructor. After college, she pursued NSCA-CPT and CSCS, group cycling, mat Pilates and YogaFit certifications. In 2009, she and her husband made a big move across the country to pursue his dream job in the field of strength and conditioning. At this point, Bethany began writing and training online to be both with her husband and the fitness industry. Today, the Kochans split their time between AZ and CA, pursuing their passions and enjoying life together with their two rescue Weimaraners.