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Quick Dessert, as if from scratch: date-nut cake with cranberry-peach sauce (and Betty Crocker)

Improvisational cooking is my specialty. I just look at what is in the refrigerator and the pantry and go from there. My mother gave me this free-wheeling attitude towards cooking and most times it works. Here's one that did.

Date-Nut Cake

Use any yellow cake mix
(But, Betty Crocker will put you in the mood best. To find out the scoop on the most famous homemaker who never existed except on radio and as a brand, read about Betty Crocker here. She became a public figure in the 1920s and may be one of the most successful branding stories, ever.)

Substitute orange juice for the water. Lemon juice works, too.
Chop up dates and nuts (pecans in this case)
I also used prunes. You could add raisins or apricots, too.

Cranberry-Peach Sauce

1. Open a can of cranberry sauce.
I'd never been a fan of the stuff out of the can. During the winter I make a rich, complex cranberry compote for my father. He's crazy about all things cranberry. In a pinch, I discovered that if I mushed up the canned cranberries--a potatoe masher works--that the texture softens and becomes like soft jello. I liked it and so did the rest of the family.

2. Dice up yellow cling peaches and add to cranberry sauce. Mix and serve.

The sauce can be served on the side or on top of the cake. It adds color and contrast of flavors and textures.

For official Betty Crocker Baking tips click here.

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