Brenda Stanley
Belle's Sweet Dream Bars are made using an old recipe and work great as a treat on Christmas Eve.

I remember getting my first cookbook. I was 8 years old and already in love with cooking. My mother and grandmother have been very influential were when it comes to my love of recipes and cooking, but that first little cookbook was unique to me and I tried every dish in it. I couldn’t wait to see the reactions as everyone took that first bite. Obviously, even if it was awful, my parents would act like it was gourmet. But I have to say I felt pretty confident after trying them myself that I had quite a few hits!

One of my favorites is a recipe I still make today.

It is a sweet and nutty dessert that can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes. I call them “Sweet Dream Bars” because I usually make them Christmas Eve and then send the kids off to bed. These sweet treats are buttery, nutty and super chewy. I’ve made a couple adjustments over the years, but the basic dish is still delicious and easy enough for an 8 year old to mix up.

Belle’s Sweet Dream Bars

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

1 cup brown sugar

5 tablespoons flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs, beaten

Powdered sugar

Melt the butter in an 8-by-8-inch square pan. Mix together the nuts, brown sugar, flour and baking soda. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Pour this mixture over the melted butter (do not stir or mix). Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool slightly before cutting into bars. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Brenda Stanley is the mother of five children, including two sets of twins, and a grandmother of three. She is a cookbook author and novelist. Her website is at