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Snowman Blue Cheese Ball

Everyone loves cheese balls so make sure you have this blue cheese ball at your next party. But instead of a round ball make it snowman shaped!

Snowman Blue Cheese Ball 1

Party time means dip time. And no party is complete without a big ol’ ball o’ cheese. This recipe was originally adapted from recipe I received from one of my parent’s friends. Turns out it is very similar to the blue cheese ball I already shared which was such a hit you would have though I was a magician doing a disappearing act. In addition to blue cheese and green onions, this version has black olives, walnuts, and optional banana peppers mixed in. And in case those differences weren’t enough, instead of making a regular cheese ball I went the festive route and made it snowman shaped! Apparently I like eating things with cute faces because this is the second adorable recipe I have made this month that has a face (first was the cone head cupcakes). This phenomenon does not follow for meat however, at least not in it’s natural state. But add a cartoonish face and we’re okay (just take these octoweenies for example).

Snowman Blue Cheese Ball 2

One year ago: Orange Cut-Out Cookies with Orange Cardamom Icing

Two years ago: Homemade Maple Breakfast Sausage
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Homemade Dark Hot Chocolate Mix

Instead of buying from the store, try your hand at homemade hot chocolate mix. This version highlights dark chocolate and would make a great gift!

Homemade Dark Hot Chocolate Mix 1

Christ mas is about a week away! Can you believe it? I certainly cannot as I’ve just started feeling the holiday-baking pull. There are too many festive things I want to make in such little time! The most important thing I made every year is hot chocolate mix. To date, I have made six different kinds of hot chocolate mix: Regular, Peanut Butter, Red Velvet, Cinnamon, Salted Caramel, and now Dark Chocolate. Homemade hot chocolate mix makes great gifts if you’re looking for some last minute ideas!

Homemade Dark Hot Chocolate Mix 2

This dark hot chocolate is not as sweet at the others I have created due to the use of dark and semisweet chocolate – no white chocolate in there this time. But the flavor of the dark chocolate truly shines. I thought it was exceptional, but if you know someone who prefers sweeter hot chocolate (like my dad), throw a healthy handful of marshmallows in there.

Homemade Dark Hot Chocolate Mix 3

One year ago: Baked Mozzarella Chicken Rolls

Two years ago: Buttermilk Biscuits

Four years ago: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip
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Christmas Wreath Pizza Ring

Turn your pizza into a Christmas wreath with the help of refrigerated crescent roll dough. Stuff with your favorite pizza toppings for a tasty and festive appetizer.

Christmas Wreath Pizza Ring 1

When it comes to making homemade pizza I’m all about homemade pizza dough, as made evident by the many different pizza dough recipes I have shared. It’s just too easy! In the time it takes my oven to preheat, the dough has risen. However, I have yet to try my hand at homemade crescent dough – now that intimidates me. So to make this festive pizza ring resembling a Christmas wreath I went ahead and bought 2 cans of refrigerated dough.

This Christmas wreath pizza ring would be a great idea for a holiday party. I brushed it with pesto to give it a green hue and cut the bottom of a bell pepper out to look like a red ribbon. Inside it’s stuffed with cheese, pizza sauce, and three meats: pepperoni, Italian sausage, and prosciutto. Place a bowl of pizza sauce in the middle and it’s ready for the table!

Christmas Wreath Pizza Ring 2

One year ago: Eggnog Snickerdoodle Blondies

Four years ago: Brownie Covered Oreo Pops
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Browned Butter Fruit Cake Cookies

It’s the season for fruit cake! The combination of a chewy cookie, candied fruit, toasted nuts, and browned butter will convert even the fruit cake haters.

Browned Butter Fruit Cake Cookies 1

You guys want some cookies!? – said by Corky Romano in a fake Girl Scout voice. Seriously, get your cookie faces ready because today you will be bombarded by all kinds of fantastic holiday cookies compliments of the 2014 Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. It’s just like a cookie swap party but it’s all done through the mail and who you are getting cookies from is a surprise! It’s the fourth year of this grand event and I’ve managed to be a part of it all four years, so yea it’s a good time and you should join us next year if you missed out. This year I received Christmas Cake Batter Cookies from Erin (Currently Coveting), Triple Chocolate Peppermint Cookies from Jamie (The Gaited Baker), and Cinnamon Pinwheel Bites from Ani (Confessions of a Foodie). I loved how all of them were different and festive!

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As for my recipients, I sent fruit cake cookies to Janet (Babcakes Bakery), Liz (That Skinny Chick Can Bake) and Kristen (From Captain’s Daughter to Army Mom) and they got great reviews! I bet these cookies would convert fruit cake haters. How can you go wrong with the base for my favorite chewy chocolate chip cookies combined with candied fruit and toasted nuts? Oh and in case that’s not convincing enough, I browned the butter. Because browned butter = amazeballs.

Follow #fbcookieswap for more holiday cookie recipes!

Browned Butter Fruit Cake Cookies 2

Three years ago: Gingerbread Pancakes with Crumb Topping

Four years ago: Perfect Hamburger
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Quiche for One

Make your own mini quiche complete with a mini homemade pie crust. Then dress it up using your favorite quiche fillings. Perfect for one or double for two!

Quiche for One 2

I realize that only two months ago I shared a single serving quiche recipe baked inside of a bagel but I enjoy eggs for breakfast and am sharing another single serving quiche recipe (and admittedly not the most photogenic food item). This time it is baked in a mini homemade pie crust, so it’s just like a traditional quiche but miniaturized. And it’s the same pie crust I used for the bourbon pecan pie for one. What other mini pies would you want to make using this since serving pie crust?

Quich for One 1

Two years ago: Gingerbread Oreo Snowman Truffles

Three years ago: Jalapeno Cornbread

Four years ago: Pretzel Rolls
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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Dough Dip

Take your love of raw cookie dough to a new level with this cookie dough dip. Made with peanut butter and Reese’s cup for all the peanut buter lovers out there.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Dough Dip 2

Hard to believe that a year ago today I formally graduated with my PhD. Technically I acquired the title of “Dr.” 3 months prior in September when I defended my dissertation but December 13, 2013 is when I wore the fancy robe and got my giant degree (literally it’s huge). And today I am celebrating yet another graduation. No not another of my own (I haven’t been going to school in secret for the past year). My cousin Alex is graduating from Physician Assistant school!

To mark this momentous occasion I’ve decided to lay on some more news. Leading up to today, I have posted clues (1/2/3/4) on Twitter but no one tweeted any guesses. Either the clues were much too vague or no one saw them (I’m betting on the latter). I also dropped another hint on Thanksgiving when I commented about something I was looking forward to and a couple of you figured it out…

…what do you think?
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Hot Chocolate Brownie Bites

Simple chocolate brownie bites are topped with frosting that tastes just like hot chocolate. Don’t forget the marshmallows on top!

Hot Chocolate Brownie Bites 1

I may not be the biggest chocolate fan when it stands alone and neither do I enjoy a glass of cold chocolate milk. However, if you place a mug of hot chocolate topped with marshmallows in front of me, nothing can prevent me from draining it (except maybe if it’s made with water instead of milk). So when I discovered that my friend Heather created a hot chocolate frosting I could not wait to try it – it quite literally tastes just like hot chocolate and it therefore spoon-worthy. Seriously, other than cream cheese or peanut butter frosting I rarely have the urge to eat frosting alone off a spoon but this stuff rocks. I have already used Dollop Gourmet Hot Chocolate Frosting on top of Greek yogurt thumbprint cookies and now I’ve been caught in the act of dolloping again. This time on top of brownies.

P.S. It’s also National Hot Chocolate Day, so if you live in the northeast you better run out and buy some of this frosting. I know I plan to snag a bunch (including the other 3 flavors) when I am home in Rochester for the holidays. Heck I’m tempted to mix it into some hot milk to make frosting-hot chocolate!

Hot Chocolate Brownie Bites 2

One year ago: Pinto Bean Breakfast Patty Melts

Two years ago: Chewy Molasses Cookies

Three years ago: Andes Crème de Menthe Chocolate Cookies
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Pumpkin Pecan Waffles

Have any leftover pumpkin puree in your possession? Make breakfast! These pumpkin pecan waffles are not only seasonally appropriate, but delicious.

Pumpkin Pecan Waffles 1

If there’s any chance you have pumpkin puree still lying around, do what we did and throw it into your breakfast. My dad always makes his own pumpkin puree and normally around this time of year my dad makes pumpkin pancakes, which we’ve had plenty of, but this time he mixed it into waffles with pecans. I love the texture and flavor of the little bits of pecan throughout the waffle.

Pumpkin Pecan Waffles 2

 

One year ago: Dark Chocolate Chunk Eggnog Cookies

Two years ago: Creamy Ricotta Spinach & Shells

Four years ago: Iced & Spiced Applesauce Cookies
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Peppermint & Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies

Chocolate and peanut butter. Chocolate and peppermint. Why not combine these tasty duos into one trio? Dark chocolate peanut butter cookies with crushed peppermint candy cane on top.

Peppermint & Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies 1

Are you familiar with the Christmas car costumes that appear this time of year? The reindeer antlers and nose or the elf ears and hat? Do you think they are ridiculous? If so, then I think you are zero fun. My friend Suzanne and I have been on the hunt for the reindeer get-up for years, ever since we first laid eyes on it. Unfortunately it proved to be nearly impossible to find as it was sold out in every store we checked year after year. We did find it online but that felt like cheating. Well guess what? While at Walgreens on a totally different mad hunt (searching for chalk – who knew chalk would be such a hard thing to find), I walked right past a display full of the reindeer costumes. Done and done. My car is adorable and I don’t care what anyone says.And then like an idiot, I rolled down my window while driving (had to get rid of a bug) and one of the antlers flew off. Thankfully I was able to turn around and retrieve it.

Peppermint & Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies 3

Along with silly car costumes, another thing that appears around Christmas-time is a plethora of candy canes. Like it or not you will somehow end up with at least one in your possession. To help you find purpose for all those minty holiday treats (or fruity if you’re lucky enough to get a fancy one), PB&Co has challenged a group of bloggers to come up with #CandyCaneHacks aka solutions to excessive candy canes. So I did the first logical thing that came to mind – smash to bits and sprinkle on top of cookies. Using a trusty 4-ingredient flourless peanut butter cookie recipe, I made dark chocolate peanut butter thumbprint cookies filled with more dark chocolate dreams peanut butter and topped with crushed peppermint candy cane. Want more peppermint flavor? Add peppermint extract instead of vanilla to the cookie dough.

Want to get your hands on some of Peanut Butter & Co’s peanut butter? Use the Rafflecopter widget located at the bottom of this post and enter to win 2 jars of your choosing. Can’t wait? Use the code ” YUMSQUADLOVE” and receive 25% off their online store for the month of December. And follow #CandyCaneHacks for ideas on how to pair candy canes with your favorite peanut butter.

Peppermint & Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies 2

One year ago: Chicken and Pesto Stuffed Shells

Two years ago: Sugar Cookie Spoons for Hot Cocoa

Four years ago: Blueberry-Almond Turtles
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Cider-Glazed Chicken with Browned Butter-Pecan Rice

Weeknight meals don’t have to be boring. Try this apple cider glazed chicken served with browned butter rice and toasted pecans. Ready in the time it takes to cook rice.

Cider-Glazed Chicken with Browned Butter-Pecan Rice

If you are a ZipList user, you should have received an e-mail notifying you that starting tomorrow they will no longer be supporting their recipe box and shopping list platform. If you haven’t already you can transfer your saved recipes to the Epicurious Recipe Box and save all your shopping lists and recipes to your computer. Visit http://www.ziplist.com/savemyziplist to save your shopping lists and recipes.

What does this mean for The Spiffy Cookie? As you may have noticed, I have stopped adding the ZipList button to my recipes. However, I have always included a “Print/PDF” button at the bottom of every recipe as an easy way to print or save as a PDF. I have a file folder on my computer with subfolders for various food categories as if it were a digital version of a recipe box on my desktop, but instead it is filled with recipe PDF files. There are also options at the bottom of each recipe to share via various social media. Pinterest is a useful tool for organizing a virtual recipe box as well and it’s accessible from anywhere.

Feel free to practice saving, printing, and/or sharing on the recipe I am sharing today. It’s an easy weeknight meal for chicken with an apple cider glaze and rice tossed with toasted pecans and browned butter.

One year ago: Homemade Whole Grain Pancake Mix

Three years ago: Breakfast Pizza

Four years ago: Fortune Cookies & Baked Oatmeal
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