Christmas

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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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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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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Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls with Speculoos Icing & Baker’s Secret Giveaway

These gingerbread cinnamon rolls topped with speculoos icing would be a great for breakfast on a holiday morning.Make it easier on yourself my preparing the night before.

Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls with Speculoos Icing 1

Thanksgiving may still be on it’s way but I’m ready to pass over the pumpkin and start on some gingerbread. So I went ahead and made these gingerbread cinnamon rolls. If you have a lot of time in the morning, you could make these rolls all at once. Or you can divide the process by refrigerating the rolls overnight and then in the morning all you have to do is pop them in the oven. Then they get coated with a speculoos icing. Sounds like a great Thanksgiving or Christmas morning breakfast option to me.

Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls with Speculoos Icing 2

I was inspired to make these cinnamon rolls when I got my hands on Baker’s Secret new colored metal bakeware, which are pretty enough to serve out of.  Feel free to use them this holiday season for baking and serving without needing to dirty up another dish. To help you out, I have two pieces of Baker’s Secret colored metal bakeware to giveaway. Just use the Rafflecopter widget located at the end of this post.

One year ago: DOVE® Christmas Chocolate Drops

Two years ago: Penne with Trapanese Pesto

Three years ago: Butter Pecan with Brandy Ice Cream
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Holiday Time-Saver: Make Cookies and Cookie Dough Now, Freeze for Later

The holidays are upon us which means it’s time to stock up on butter for cookies! With Thanksgiving around the corning and Christmas and New Years a month later it is definitely cookie season. Save time later and start preparing now by freezing the cookies dough and/or freshly baked cookies. Head on over to Allrecipes.com to read my guest post about how to freeze your cookies and cookie dough for the holidays. Heck I use these tricks year round!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Allrecipes. The opinions and text are all mine.

Homemade Cinnamon Hot Chocolate Mix

Every winter I whip up a new hot chocolate mix. This year I decided to try two kinds, white hot chocolate pods and now cinnamon mix. This version was made on the fly while my parents were in town for my graduation. We were getting ready to go to a drive-thru Christmas light show and I realized I didn’t have any hot chocolate mix to prepare and bring for the show. So I pulled up my favorite mix recipe and added cinnamon. If you haven’t had cinnamon and chocolate together before, you’re missing out!

Homemade Cinnamon Hot Chocolate Mix

Two years ago: Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix

Three years ago: Bacon and Cheese Egg McMuffin Cups
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Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! As usual I met up with family and friends in my hometown Rochester, NY. We had our holiday dinner yesterday and today we are attending a movie (The Hobbit), as tradition dictates. Unfortunately my brother and his family were unable to join us this year, but here are a couple adorable, festive pictures of my nephew for your viewing pleasure! Aahhh he’s so cute!!

Three years ago: Hoey Cakes (Italian Almond Squares)

Luke Holiday 2013

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Eggnog French Toast

Happy Christmas Eve! Here’s a great breakfast recipe to prepare for breakfast tomorrow morning – eggnog french toast. Substituting eggnog for milk makes this fresh toast festive and perfect for Christmas morning (or any winter morning).

Eggnog French Toast

One year ago: Turkey Sloppy Joes with Kale Chips

Three years ago: White Chocolate Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cookies
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Eggnog Dip with New York Style Sweet Swirls Snack Crisps

When it comes to potlucks, it is always expected that I will bring a dessert (a safe assumption as I usually do). However, I mentioned wanting to bring something else to The Pharmacy potluck but was scoffed as if to not bring a dessert was unacceptable. I am not discounting the praise I receive when people say that they love my desserts, but give my non-baked goods a chance!

In order to win the masses over, I decided to team up with the new Sweet Swirls from New York Style for a dip to bring to the aforementioned potluck – yes a dessert dip, I compromised. New York Style Sweet Swirls is a new baked snack crisp product that comes in Cinnabon and Chocolate, and transforms any snack into something extra special. I knew they would be a perfect match with this eggnog dip.

Although I could have easily devoured them by themselves, the flavor of the Sweet Swirls was not dramatic. Instead they added just right amount of flavor to compliment the eggnog dip rather than overpower. My favorite for this particular dip was the Cinnabon and appeared as though most people agreed with me as that bowl dwindled faster than the chocolate. I thought for sure the chocolate would go first!

What would you serve with New York Style Sweet Swirls? Another idea I had for the Chocolate Sweet Swirls was to make little fruit pizzas, using them as the “crust” instead of a brownie. I’ll have to buy more in order to try it out!

Eggnog Dip

I also made an appetizer using the Garlic Parmesan Panetini. I will share that recipe at a later date.

Two years ago: Red Velvet Truffle Stuffed Funfetti Cupcakes
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