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Cocoa Krispie Treat footballs, a fan favorite

Are you ready for some football? Of course you are! But do you know what you’re bringing to your friend’s party? This year, let someone else bring the boring chips and dip, while you show up with these adorably delicious Cocoa Krispie Treat footballs. With just four ingredients, this recipe is super easy to make. I melt the butter, add the marshmallows, pour in the cereal, then transfer to wax paper and let it cool. It’s impossible to shape warm, gooey marshmallow, so it will need to sit for about 10 to 15 minutes before you start. But don’t wait too long or the mixture will set and become too hard to mold. For the football shapes, I never like recipes that require specific cookie cutters, like — Hello! How many kitchen gadgets do you think I have?! (Actually, don’t answer that.) Anyway, no cookie cutter or special tool required. Footballs…

A Perfect Christmas Punch

Every holiday party needs a pretty drink to pass around. This punch is festive and so delicious — it will be gone in no time. It’s the holiday season, so splurge on the good stuff — Skip the juice “cocktails” and get 100% cranberry and pineapple juices. Cocktail juices tend to have tons of unnecessary added sweeteners and other flavors. Also, be sure to keep your liquids cold prior to mixing up this punch. This will keep the ice from melting right away and watering down your punch. Another tip: use frozen cranberries and lime wedges instead of ice to help keep your drink cool. A Perfect Christmas Punch Ingredients 3 liters cold ginger ale 6 cups cold cranberry juice 3 cups cold pineapple juice 1 12-ounce bag of fresh or frozen whole cranberries 2 limes, thinly sliced ice (optional) 1 liter of vodka or rum (optional) Directions Pour ginger…

Loaded ranch snowman cheeseball

You’ll win at Christmas Eve when you set this ranch snowman cheeseball on the table. Seriously, cocktail shrimp, who? Everyone will be talking about the cute — and delicious — snowman dip! Plus it’s loaded with turkey bacon, green onions, and tons of flavor, so you know everyone is going to love it! Ranch Snowman Cheeseball Ingredients 2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese, softened 1 packet of dry ranch seasoning mix (1 ounce) 2 cups shredded white cheese (I like white sharp cheddar, but mozzarella works too), divided in 2 4 strips turkey bacon, cooked until crispy and then crumbled 3 green onions, chopped 1/4 tsp finely ground fresh black pepper 1 small carrot 10 whole black peppercorns Cooking spray or oil (for greasing hands) Serve with: crackers, carrots, celery sticks, broccoli florets, bell pepper strips or anything else you like to dip in delicious ranch cheese! Directions In a…

Smoked salmon crostini bites with mustard butter and dill

This elegant appetizer is easy enough to prepare, you’ll whip it up party after party. Pour your guests some Chardonnay and snack on these salmon bites to get the engagement going! Notes: Substitute Italian bread if that’s what you have on hand. Also, you can use goat cheese instead of butter, or chives or capers instead of dill — all delicious alternatives. Smoked salmon crostini bites with mustard butter and dill Ingredients 1 stick butter, softened  1 tbsp stone ground mustard 1 tbsp Dijon mustard 1 tsp lemon juice 1/2 tsp lemon zest 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill + 1 tbsp chopped dill for garnish 1/8 tsp salt Freshly ground pepper 1 long, thin French baguette, sliced about 1/4-inch thick About 10 ounces of best quality smoked salmon, thinly sliced and cut into 1-to 2-inch pieces Lemon wedges (for serving) Directions Preheat oven to 375ºF. Position baguette slices in a…

3 fun napkin folding ideas for your Christmas table

The holidays are the perfect time to kick your table decorating game up a notch. You’ve spent hours scouring Pinterest to help you create the perfect holiday menu. You’ve dropped serious dough on extra serving platters, and you’ve cleaned corners of your house you never knew needed cleaning. Now is no time for holding back. Folding napkins is such a festive way to add some extra fun to the party. It’s quick, easy, and can make you feel like you really have it all together. If you need some inspiration, here are three holiday napkin folding ideas that will impress your guests — even if you’re drinking out of plastic champagne flutes. We can’t win them all, but you can have cute napkins! Christmas Tree Will work with either cloth or paper napkins. This fold works best for sit-down dinners.  1. Fold your square napkin in half. Then fold it in…

3 Easy steps to picking the right bottle of champagne for you

Christmas and New Years are right around the corner meaning one very exciting thing — it’s solidly champagne season. We associate the pop of the cork and those sparkling flutes with fun and celebration. But while you may want to down a glass, or two… or three, over the holidays, sometimes all of those choices at the store can be confusing. If you’ve ever hit the wine store and didn’t know what to buy, or feel like an amateur this time of year in the alcohol department, read on for a beginners guide to shopping for champagne. Remember, whichever you choose, make sure it’s in a dark bottle to help keep light away and preserve the intended flavors of the drink inside, but relax. It’s champagne! And no one should ever take a drink this fun and fizzy too seriously. Also see, Tips to prevent a champagne hangover. Step 1:…

Apricot Pinwheel Cookies

It just wouldn’t be Christmas without these dainty, bright orange apricot-filled cookies brightening up the table. The melt-in-your-mouth cream cheese pastry dough and light fresh, apricot filling are too good not to share this holiday season. I remember my grandmother saying these cookies were an Italian tradition, yet, much like the handful of Italian slang words she spoke, I’m not sure how much validity there is to that claim. I’ve found links to similar Hungarian and Polish recipes, and even a few from Finland. Regardless of their origins, this cookie has become a Christmas classic. You’ll often see similar cookies on mixed catered cookie trays in a basic roll shape —but those cookies don’t even compare to the perfection of these little wonders. Plus, the pinwheel shape adds some extra fun for the season. My aunt (who has literally made our family thousands of these little time consuming cookies in her…

Crispy Cheese Tortellini Appetizer with a kick

If I had to think of the one* recipe that I’ve been making my entire life, it would probably be these parmesan crusted tortellini bites. I’ve been making these since before I knew anything about food, and definitely before I cared even the slightest bit about cooking. So let me share this most delicious of all appetizers. These cheese tortellini are breaded and fried to crispy, golden perfection. Sprinkle them with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and dip them in warm marinara sauce. I call it an appetizer, but really, I never want to eat anything else when these are around. You can use a deep fryer, but I just stick with a deep pot. It can be a little tedious moving the little tortellini through all of the steps of breading and frying, but it’s worth it. I typically just settle in for the long haul, pop on some…

Holiday Ornament Rice Krispie Treats

Rice Krispie Treats might already be your go-to when you need a quick treat for a kid’s birthday party or snack for the class, but this holiday season, dress them up a bit for a brand new take on the old classic. They’ll look just as good in your kid’s lunchbox as they will on the buffet table at your holiday party. I made red and green Rice Krispie ornaments, but you could easily adapt to make them match the color scheme of your holiday decor — blues or purples. Leave some without food coloring for an all natural golden ornament look. I sprinkled in some golden sugar sprinkle for extra shine, but the photo doesn’t pick up on it well. Add sprinkles in the colors of your choice for extra customization.  I could even see them decorated with piped white chocolate for more fun and flavor. The Rolos were…

Roasted butternut squash with cranberries, goat cheese and walnuts

Cranberries can turn just about anything into a festive side dish. I’m definitely guilty of overusing the little red seasonal berries, but I can’t get enough of their sweet, tart taste this time of year. Roasted butternut squash is good on its own, but trust me, it’s made better by a little juicy pop. I learned a saying years ago — “If it grows together, it goes together.” (It’s actually pretty common in the gardening and food world nowadays.) I think about it often when I pair foods. And it’s so true. Strawberries and rhubarb; tomatoes and basil; squash and cranberries. They both peak this time of year and are a perfect pair. I purchased some pre sliced squash at the grocery store the other day. I couldn’t resist. It was on super sale since it was about to go bad. That meant I needed to use it up right…