Holiday Crowd-Pleasers

The leaves are falling and the pumpkin candles are burning. Time to get excited for the next season: Christmas! (Yes, I know Christmas isn’t a real season, but it should be.)

In my enthusiasm for the most wonderful time of the year, I’ve collected some of my favorite holiday recipes—for my own convenience and yours!



Caprese Salad Skewers


Cherry tomatoes

Mozzarella balls

Fresh Basil

Olive Oil

1 cup balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper



Assemble, tomatoes, basil (roll from one end to the other), and mozzarella balls on medium-sized toothpicks. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

To make balsamic glaze, add one cup of balsamic vinegar to a sauce pan over medium heat. Once it comes to a boil, set on simmer for about 10-15 minutes until it reduces to a syrup consistency. You can check by dipping a spoon in the balsamic and if it covers the back of it, it's done. As it cools, it will thicken a bit more then drizzle on top of caprese salad skewers.


Christmas Sprinkle Cookies


1 Stick butter softened

1/4 Cup cream cheese softened

1 1/2 Cups granulated sugar

2 Large eggs

1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Teaspoon almond extract

2 1/2 Cups all purpose flour

2 Teaspoons corn starch

1 Teaspoon baking soda

1/4 Teaspoon salt

1 Cup sprinkles nonpareils


In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or a large bowl using hand mixer, cream together the butter, cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and extracts until light and fluffy. About 5 minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the flour, corn starch, baking soda, and salt. Mix together on low/medium speed for one minute, until combined.

Refrigerate dough for two hours before baking.

When dough is done chilling, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Pour the sprinkles into a medium bowl, and roll tablespoon sized balls of dough into the sprinkles.

Place the cookies onto prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart.

Bake for 9-12 minutes. These should not turn golden brown, and will still look wet when they come out of the oven.

Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 3-5 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.


Party Poppers


1 large bag sweet mini peppers (I buy the 2 pound bag)

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese

1 cup bacon bits

2-3 jalapeños (finely diced)

1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar or pepper jack cheese


Remove the cream cheese from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. This will make it easier to mix with the other ingredients later.

Cut the tops off of the mini peppers and clean out the seeds. In a medium to large bowl, use a spoon to mix together all of your ingredients except for the mini peppers.

Use a small spoon or mini spatula to stuff the mini peppers with the mixture.

That’s it! Enjoy.


Muddy Buddies


1 box (12.8 oz.) (about 13 cups) Rice Chex, Corn Chex Wheat Chex or Chocolate Chex cereal (or combination)

*2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

¾ cup creamy peanut butter

6 tablespoons butter, cut into smaller pieces

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup Holiday M&M's


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Line 2 baking sheets with wax paper and set aside. Pour cereal into a very large bowl; set aside.

In 1-1.5 quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave 15-30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.

Add powdered sugar and gently stir into chocolate covered cereal. Spread cereal on the two baking sheets to cool. Once cool, put the Muddy Buddies into the desired container or gift bags, by adding a small amount of Muddy Buddies then sprinkle a few M&M’s and repeat.

Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.


Chicken Enchilads Roll-Ups


2 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese

2 tablespoons Old El Paso taco seasoning

2 cups shredded chicken (rotisserie chicken works well)

1 (10-oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, well drained

1 teaspoon minced garlic

4 green onions sliced

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

8 burrito sized tortillas


In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients (except tortillas) until well blended.

Spread about ½ cup of the mixture over the entire surface of a tortilla. Roll up tightly. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes. Also, if you chill longer they will be easier to cut.

Slice into 1/2 inch slices with a serrated knife to prevent crushing and serve.


Peppermint Bark


6 candy canes

11 ounces white chocolate chips

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Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

Place candy canes in a plastic zip top bag and crush with a rolling pine. Don't pulverize the candy canes; there should be some chunks.

Add white chocolate to a medium bowl and place in microwave.

Microwave chocolate for 35 seconds; stir well. Cook chocolate for another 15 seconds and stir until smooth. If more cooking time is needed, microwave chocolate for 10 seconds, then stir very well. Repeat as needed.

Spread melted chocolate over foil, about 1/4-inch thick.

Sprinkle crushed candy canes evenly over chocolate.

Gently press candy canes into chocolate.

Place baking sheet in freezer for about 10 minutes, or until chocolate is completely solid.

Cut peppermint bark into pieces using a chef's knife.

Eat immediately or store peppermint bark in refrigerator until ready to serve. Enjoy!


Spinach Artichoke Dip


Crock Pot

8 oz package of cream cheese

16 oz sour cream

1 stick (1/2 C) butter

10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess liquid

14 oz jar of Artichoke Hearts, chopped

4oz diced chilies, drained

1 1/2 C shredded Parmesan cheese

1/4 C grated Romano cheese

1 TBS chopped garlic


Combine everything in crock pot and allow to heat through (about 40 minutes).


Caramel Pecan Cheesecake Dip



8 ounces Cream Cheese - softened

1 Cup Marshmallow Creme

1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar

2 Tablespoons Caramel Sauce


1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans

2 Tablespoons Caramel Sauce

Kosher Salt



Mix cream cheese, marshmallow creme, powdered sugar and caramel sauce until fully combined. Transfer to serving bowl.


Top dip with chopped pecans.

Drizzle caramel sauce over dip and pecans.

Sprinkle with salt.

Serve with apples and cookies.


Bacon Cheddar Deviled Eggs

Ingredients :

14 hard-cooked eggs

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/3 cup bacon bits

1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or scallion (green onion) tops

Directions :

Slice eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks to a medium bowl. Reserve 24 white halves; finely chop remaining 4 white halves. Mash yolks with the fork.

Add mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, and pepper; mix well. Add chopped egg whites, bacon, cheese, and chives; mix well.Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon yolk mix


Chocolate Dipped Strawberries


1 pint (2 cups) medium-large strawberries (18 to 20 strawberries)

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips or white vanilla baking chips

1 teaspoon shortening or vegetable oil


Gently rinse strawberries and dry on paper towels (berries must be completely dry). Line cookie sheet with waxed paper.

In 1-quart saucepan, melt chocolate chips and shortening over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

Dip lower half of each strawberry into chocolate mixture; allow excess to drip back into saucepan. Place on waxed paper-lined tray or cookie sheet.

Refrigerate uncovered about 30 minutes or until chocolate is firm, or until ready to serve. Store covered in refrigerator so chocolate does not soften (if made with oil, chocolate will soften more quickly at room temperature).


Chex Mix


3 cups Corn Chex™ cereal

3 cups Rice Chex™ cereal

3 cups Wheat Chex™ cereal

1 cup mixed nuts

1 cup bite-size pretzels

1 cup garlic-flavor bite-size bagel chips or regular-size bagel chips, broken into 1-inch pieces

6 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder


In large microwavable bowl, mix cereals, nuts, pretzels and bagel chips; set aside. In small microwavable bowl, microwave butter uncovered on High about 40 seconds or until melted. Stir in seasonings. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until evenly coated.

Microwave uncovered on High 5 to 6 minutes, thoroughly stirring every 2 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.