Easy Mini Cheese Balls

What’s better than a cheese ball? Miniature cheese balls! With this recipe you can adjust for any flavor combination and can be served as a snack or to feed a crowd.

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Everyone loves a good cheese ball. I mean, what is there not to love about them? Cheesy, creamy, flavorful and rolled in some of the best things like herbs, nuts, and even bacon. Is it possible to improve upon that design? Why yes, you just have to miniatureize them and they instantly become the easiest freaking cheese balls you ever did make. All you have do it take those individually wrapped Laughing Cow cheese wedges, roll each one into a ball, and then roll in whatever coating you desire. Done! Just refrigerate until ready to serve.

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The great thing about using The Laughing Cow spreadable cheeses was the diversity of flavors available. I used swiss with garlic & herb and rolled it in a mixture of parsley and basil. But I didn’t stop there! The second flavor I made was with queso fresco & chipotle rolled in a mixture of cilantro and chili pepper. Some another great combinations could be white cheddar or spicy pepperjack rolled in bacon, mozzarella sundried tomato basil rolled in basil and parmesan, and swiss french onion rolled in crushed pretzels and green onion. The best part? You can make just enough for a snack or for an entire party! For a smaller serving use about 1 tsp of coating per wedge of cheese.

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One year ago: Mexican Stuffed Shells

Two years ago: Brussels Sprouts with Honey Vinaigrette

Four years ago: Almond Crusted Chicken with Scallion Beurre Blanc
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Orange Glazed Green Beans and Butternut Squash

Citrus is a great compliment to ham but instead of glazing your ham, glaze your green beans and butternut squash in this festive side dish.

Orange Glazed Green Beans and Butternut Squash 1

Lesson learned: get a flu shot every year. This year was the first in 8 that I did not get a flu shot, mainly because I couldn’t get it for free anymore (oh how I miss the perks of being a student), and sure enough the flu found me on Christmas Eve of all days. I’ve been slowly recovering since with my biggest achievement coming in the form of a shower. Hooray cleanliness!

Before I realized what my sniffles were leading up to, I did help cook dinner on Christmas Eve for my parents (thankfully they had already passed the illness, likely to me). The menu consisted of smoked country ham from Benton’s, my dad’s homemade applesauce, cheddar biscuits, rosemary mac and cheese, and orange glazed green beans and butternut squash. I often pair ham with a citrus glaze but since we went with a smoked ham this year the citrus element went into the side dish instead. And it was the favorite part of the meal.

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One year ago: Almond-Pear Panino

Three years ago: Creamy Grape Dessert
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Eggnog Mousse Sugar Cookie Cups

These eggnog mousse sugar cookie cups are the perfect holiday treat, especially when in a pinch for time. Only 4 ingredients and they still look fancy!

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Holy freaking Christmas eve. No seriously, is it really Christmas eve already? Which means that today is my last day working at the gym in my parents village. And that I am leaving TN as my residence tomorrow to spend some time in Rochester, NY for the holidays before moving to Ohio. And it also means I am severely behind on packing up what things I have here that did not get stored away in my POD still in Memphis (but soon to be transported up to Columbus, OH). Hooray procrastination!

Speaking of procrastination, I am sure there are many of you out there who waited until the last minute to whip up some crazy dessert to celebrate the holidays. Now here we are the day before Christmas and you don’t have time for crazy steps and ingredients. How about only 4 regular ingredients and minimal steps to create something that looks fancy and is bite sized to boot? I present to you the eggnog mousse filled sugar cookie cups. Refrigerated sugar cookie dough, instant vanilla pudding, eggnog, and whipped cream. Boom, you’re welcome.

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One year ago: Eggnog French Toast

Two years ago: Turkey Sloppy Joes with Kale Chips

Four years ago: White Chocolate Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cookies
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Eggnog Hot Chocolate Pound Cake

What happens when you mix eggnog and hot chocolate? One amazing cake with two of your favorite winter beverages! Perfect for holiday parties.

Eggnog Hot Chocolate Pound Cake 1

Today is the Friday of the last weekend before Christmas. What are you doing this weekend? If I had to guess many of you will be baking cookies, attending holiday parties, and/or crazy enough to go shopping. I remember the last time I tried going to the mall the weekend before Christmas (and not to buy a present, just retail therapy with a friend and neglected to realize what weekend it was) and it took over an hour to get out of the parking lot. Insanity. Never again. I am however committing to the other two aforementioned tasks this weekend – getting covered in snow-like sugar while baking and then eating party food until my belly resembles Santa’s.

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This pound cake embodies the two best wintry drinks: eggnog and hot chocolate. Both eggnog and hot chocolate mix are used in the making of this pound cake, which results in the perfect pound cake to appear at your next holiday party. It didn’t take long for it to be reduced to crumbs. Spike it with a little bit of rum if you dare.

P.S. Does anyone else see the face in the swirl in the pictures above? It looks like Bugs bunny with his ears slightly chopped off to me.

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One year ago: Meyer Lemon Chess Pie

Three years ago: Pecan Fruit Cake
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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
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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!


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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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