If I never see another skewer again, it’ll be too soon.

A friend from culinary school asked me to help her cater an event for her company Christmas party. Well duh! Happy to help, especially when a chunk of money is involved and it has anything to do with food.

We went over the details, and I agreed to do the desserts for the event. How about some cupcakes? Easy enough.

Then I found out the number. There were two events, 100 people at each event. Had to punch that one in the calculator for it to sink in that I was going to be making over 200 cupcakes and 2 decorated casino-themed cakes. She also needed as much help as I could provide with assembling appetizers. Sounded good to me, especially since I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like.

I started making the cupcakes two days before the event to make sure I wouldn’t be running around like a chicken with my head cut off. When I got home from my job as a pastry chef (making desserts all day), the cupcake baking began. You know, because I don’t already do enough baking at work (insert sarcasm here).

Got started on the three different flavors of cupcakes. Chocolate Peanut Butter (rich chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter chips, topped with peanut butter icing and chocolate ganache), Cookies ‘n Cream (vanilla cupcakes packed with chunks of Oreo cookies, topped with buttercream icing infused with Oreo cookie crumbs and a cute little mini Oreo on top of that), and Red Velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing. By the day of the event, there were 204 cupcakes stacked on my kitchen island. “I’m really looking forward to those cupcakes leaving the house,” my husband said. He’s a neat freak, and doesn’t like to see stuff piled ANYWHERE. Best part about that is he actually cleans, and does a much better job than I do. Yes, he’s a unicorn husband.

The morning of the event, I was running around the house like a crazed maniac. Three different types of icing had to be made and piped on top of each of the 204 cupcakes. If there was a fly on the wall, it heard a lot of self-talk, a flash of a person running through the house, and maybe even some inappropriate language. The sweat was building up first thing in the morning before I even got started on all the skewered appetizers for everyone.

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It’s a really good thing I gave in to buying a minivan, because it’s very unlikely all of this would have fit into a Mustang.

When I got to the location, my friend was already there working her butt off. I jumped in, and she put me on skewer duty.

I have never seen so many skewers in my life.

Skewers are an awesome way to serve appetizers. They’re pretty, you can assemble different items on them, and they’re easy for people to grab and eat.

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First were the salad skewers. I cut up six heads of lettuce into equal portions, “tried” to keep them somewhat stacked together for ease of assembling the skewers (and failed miserably at this). Next was slicing up the cooked bacon she prepared, then washing the little cherry tomatoes. I sat down and got to work.

After thirty minutes of assembling these little suckers, I was already mentally done… although there were at least 50 empty skewers left. Help me. “Oh my God, this is SUCH a pain in the butt. Tell boss lady that these shouldn’t be on the menu next year unless she wants to assemble them herself.” When I FINALLY finished those, she brought me the other items to go on the next skewer set. Yay.

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These skewers were colorful. Each one had:  green olive, roasted red bell pepper, mozzarella cheese cube, basil leaf, tortellini, salami, cherry tomato, and black olive. My hands smells like roasted red bell peppers after assembling 100 of these. I was okay with that.

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Once these were finally finished, it was time to put together the dessert table. The smell of sugar, peanut butter, chocolate, and cream cheese radiated through my nostrils as I was very carefully handling the precious cargo, unloading them from containers to the table.

After spending almost 6 hours of preparing these little demon skewers and all other prep to have everything together for the party, I was ready for a cocktail. Fortunately I was meeting up with some ladies from my neighborhood for a girls’ night out. After changing into something that didn’t smell like roasted red bell peppers (again that’s not a bad thing), I headed to the restaurant.

A few of them were already there waiting at the table, and I plopped down in my chair. The waiter walked up and asked, “Can I get you something to d-” and I cut him off with, “Apple Martini, please. Pronto.”

I drifted off into a deep sleep that night, dreaming of martinis and sugar. The demon skewers made their way into my dreams as well, trying to stab me with their sharp little pointers.

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In the morning, I reached for my phone and saw a text from my friend that I worked with the night before. Someone stole the poker cake. STOLE. THE. CAKE. Laughter escaped my throat as I read this message. I’ve heard that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but how about robbery? Clearly the cake wouldn’t have been stolen if it were ugly, right? Just agree with me here, that’s the logic I’m sticking to on this.

Have you had the pleasure of assembling skewered appetizers for a party?

 

 

Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Holes

I haven’t met a single person in my life that doesn’t like doughnuts.  I’m not saying there aren’t people out there who don’t, I just haven’t met any of them.  After a visit with my in-laws and looking through my mother-in-law’s buffet of magazines that she gets (I always browse through People and Southern Living), I came across this recipe for doughnut holes.  Looking at the picture and reading the recipe clearly showed that this was pretty simple, and looked delicious.  I showed the picture to my husband, and he agreed that I should make these.  Of course he did.

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We have a small deep fryer at the house (that doesn’t get used often), but I prefer to use this when the oil needs to be a certain temperature for frying.  If the temperature isn’t right, it can throw off your recipe.  If the oil isn’t hot enough, the dough will absorb the oil and get super greasy all the way through…and if it’s too hot, the outside gets cooked before the inside does, leaving you with a crispy outside and a gooey inside.  And hey, if you want to go that route, go right ahead…just make sure you use some pasteurized eggs.  😉

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After these little guys are done cooking, let them dry completely on paper towels (if you’re not serving them right away) before rolling in powdered sugar.  These actually sat in an airtight container for a couple days at my house, with my family munching away at them.  While they’re sitting in an airtight container, the moisture will turn the powdered sugar somewhat into a glaze after time.  So if this happens to you, don’t panic!  My brother said, “Oh, they have a little bit of slimy feeling to them.”  When I explained what had happened with them, he said, “I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, because I can’t stop eating them.”  Well, there you go.

Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Holes Recipe:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup milk

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

powdered sugar

Pour oil to depth of 1 1/2 inches into a 12 inch iron cast skillet, heat to 350 degrees.  Whisk together flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl.  Make a well in center of mixture, stir in egg and next 2 ingredients until well blended (batter will be dry).  Drop batter by level tablespoonfuls, 6 to 8 at a time, into hot oil.  Fry in batches, turning occasionally, 2 minutes on each side or until browned.  Drain on paper towel-lined plate, serve warm.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Mini Crescent Roll Corn Dogs

Corn dogs have always been a classic favorite, and for good reason.  They may not be healthy, but good grief, they’re delicious.  As I was on my way to the grocery store today, different ideas of appetizers were flowing through my brain.  The Crescent Roll Mozzarella Sticks have been a HUGE hit every time I make them, along with the Apple Dumplings.  The great thing about all of these recipes is the fact that we’re using the refrigerated crescent roll dough.  That is some versatile stuff, lemme tell ya!  Whether you’re rolling them up with fillings (like the Cinnamon Crescent Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze) or flattening and layering them with other deliciousness (like the Sopapilla Cheesecake Pie), it’s easy and incredibly yummy.

Well, hot dogs were flowing through my brain, because my little pumpkin loves hot dogs.  Then, I started thinking about rolling those in crescent rolls.  Oh…yeah, I’m going to try that today  I thought as I pulled into the parking lot.  So, in I went, and came out with my needed ingredients.  I couldn’t wait to get home and try them out.  These are also a larger alternative to Pigs In A Blanket, but they’re even more filling.

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First, you unroll your crescent roll dough onto a flat surface.  I usually use a cutting board.  Cut a hot dog in half, place at base of crescent roll, and roll up.  Make sure to seal the edges so the entire wienie is covered up.

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This is what they’ll look like rolled up, so you can only see the actual crescent roll.  No exposed wienie.  😉

Now, here’s the part where YOU decide how to want to cook them.  You have two options…bake or fry them.  Obviously, baking is much healthier than frying, so the choice is yours.  Baking is also a lower maintenance, and you can pop them all in the oven at once and walk away.  When these are fried, they have a crispy, flaky crust.

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And here they are!  These particular ones were fried.  The great thing about these is the fact that you can make as many or as little as you want!  These would be great as an appetizer or even an entrée.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Mini Crescent Roll Corn Dogs (makes 16):

1 pack of hot dogs (your favorite flavor/brand)

2 cans refrigerated crescent roll dough

Olive Oil (if you’re baking them)

Canola Oil (if you’re frying them)

If you’re going to bake them, go ahead and roll out your doggies.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish, and place them seam side down in the dish.  Brush the tops with a little bit of olive oil, this will give them a little bit of crisp on top.  You can bake up to 16 at a time in the 9×13 inch dish.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops become a light golden brown.

If you’re going to fry them, heat your oil to about 370 degrees.  Fry in the oil for 3-4 minutes, turning them to make sure they’re evenly cooked on all sides.  When finished cooking, place on paper towels for the excess oil to come off.

Crescent Roll Mozzarella Sticks

When it comes to carbs and cheese, I’m in heaven.  Seriously.  I was just telling my aunt and cousin over the weekend that I can walk by desserts and avoid eating them (if I’ve already eaten some), but put some pasta, breads, taters and any type of cheese or cream sauce with it?  I become a vulture.  I love these little guys though, because they’re so easy to make, and super yummy.  When I made these for my family, they came through the door and I pointed them in that direction.  Next thing I knew, all of those suckers were gone.

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First, unroll refrigerated crescent roll dough.  Then, cut a piece of string mozzarella cheese in half, and place it at the base of the dough.  Roll it up, pinching the sides to seal.

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Place in a 9×13 inch baking dish.  Here, I only made one batch, but you can easily squeeze two batches of these in the dish together.  Brush with olive oil and Italian seasoning.

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After they’ve baked, microwave some pizza or marinara sauce for dipping.

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Enjoy every little (or big) bite.  We certainly did.  And the great thing about these is that they could be served as an appetizer, or even as a meal.  They’re very filling!

Crescent Roll Mozzarella Sticks

1 can refrigerated crescent roll dough

4 string cheese mozzarella sticks, cut in half

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Warm pizza or marinara sauce, for dipping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out crescent roll into individual triangles.  Place string cheese at base of dough, roll up, pinching sides so the dough completely covers the cheese.  Place in greased 9×13 inch baking dish.  Combine olive oil and seasoning, stir together.  Using a basting brush, distribute over each crescent roll.  Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until tops are a light golden brown.  Serve with warm dipping sauce.

Want to add some pepperoni?  No problem!  Just add a couple slices of pepperoni under the mozzarella and roll up.

Hawaiian Crock Pot Chicken with Buttered White Rice

Last night in our house, we had a Hawaiian themed dinner.  The only thing that was missing was everyone getting lei’d walking in the door…  No comment.  My husband and I went to Hawaii on our honeymoon, and we both loved it.  The beautiful scenery, perfect weather, laid back atmosphere…and amazing food.  Just from researching different types of Hawaiian recipes, it seems like the style of food there is a mix between Asian and a lot of citrus fruits.  When I told my brother that we were having a Hawaiian style dinner, he said, “Oh, so it’ll have pineapples all over it?”  Nope.  He’s actually not a big fan of whole pineapples, but like the juice and flavors from it…and he loved every bit of dinner…including beverage and dessert.

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In all honesty, I was terrified that the chicken was just going to come out tasting okay.  As it was cooking in the crock pot, I kept smelling it, thinking that it wasn’t going to be anything special.  Then again, I am getting over a sinus infection and my sinuses are still not back to normal, so maybe that could have contributed to being a little weary over how dinner would turn out.  Much to my surprise and pleasure, it was delicious!!  One of the things I remember about Hawaiian food was how deliciously moist and buttery the rice was…so I wanted to recreate that in my kitchen as well.  This rice was SO moist…and SO buttery.  I’m really not a big fan of plain white rice, but could have easily eaten this by itself.  My husband isn’t a big eater, and very rarely goes back for seconds…well, ladies and gentlemen…he went back for seconds!  I stared at my brother in shock and told him we should write down the date.  Even my picky brother went back for seconds and suggested that we have this again.  Needless to say, this went over well.

Hawaiian Crock Pot Chicken Recipe:

1 cup pineapple juice

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup teriyaki sauce

1 tablespoon worchestire

2 pounds chicken breast, cut into cubes

Whisk together ingredients until sugar is blended.  Stir together with chicken in bowl to coat completely, transfer to crock pot and cook on low for 6 hours.  Serve by itself, or over white rice.

White Rice Recipe:

1/2 stick butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup long grain rice, uncooked

2 cups chicken broth

Melt butter in saucepan at medium heat, add salt and pepper.  Add rice, cook for a few minutes until rice is lightly browned.  Add chicken broth, stir, and cover.  Lower heat and cook for 15-20 minutes, until rice is fluffy.

Mini Cherry Cheesecakes

My dad is a HUGE fan of pretty much anything cherry, but especially cherry cheesecake.  So when his birthday party came around this past year and I was deciding on menu items, this made the top of the dessert list.  Well, along with his birthday cake, too.  I don’t know what it is about bite size cheesecakes…maybe it’s because you feel like “Oh, these are so little, they’re not going to be that bad, I won’t feel guilty for eating one…”  And the next thing you know, you’ve eaten six of them, and trying to reason with yourself that you only ate six of them, they’re so little.  They don’t have THAT many calories, do they?!

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These little guys are SO cute…but not too cute to eat!  They were gobbled down before, during, and after the party.  When I made these, a couple of utensils made the process much easier than usual.  A wood tart tamper is perfect for pressing the crust in the bottom of the pan, and the mini scoop worked out wonderfully when distributing the cheesecake batter as well.  If you don’t like cherries as a topping, feel free to use whipped topping, chocolate, caramel, nuts, etc.  In fact, do them with different toppings to give your guests options to choose from!

Mini Cherry Cheesecake Recipe:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup white sugar

4 tablespoons butter, melted

2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

2 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 can cherry pie filling (or other topping of your choice)

Combine first three ingredients, and drop 1 teaspoon of crumb mixture into lined mini muffin pan (this batch makes 48).  Beat cream cheese and sugar at medium speed with electric mixer until smooth.  Add remaining ingredients, beat until smooth.  Using mini ice cream scoop, distribute batter evenly between liners in pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes.  Cool completely, top with pie filling, store in refrigerator.

Mini Tacos

Last week when I was watching Giada De Laurentiis cook some amazing Hawaiian themed foods on her show, I got all excited when she made the fish tacos using won ton wrappers as the shell.  Genius!  I exclaimed, “I can make regular mini tacos with those shells and use beef!  YES!” and clapped my hands together excitedly.  My husband was sitting next to me on the couch, reading a book.  He responds by saying, “Shhh.”  He’s  no fun.  Maybe he won’t get as excited as I did, but he’ll certainly love them!

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Start out by brushing won ton wrappers with vegetable oil.

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Gently press them into a muffin/cupcake pan, and bake at 375 degrees for 5 minutes.

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Let cool completely.  These have got to be the cutest little taco shells I’ve ever seen.  The great thing is that you can make these the day before your party so they’re ready to be stuffed the day of the party.  Stuff ’em good.

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Sprinkle some shredded lettuce on the bottom of the shells.

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Cook the ground hamburger with taco seasoning and 1/4 cup water, then spoon on top of lettuce layer when finished cooking.

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Cheese, please!  Why, of course.

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Top with spoonful of sour cream.

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Taa Daa!  The great thing about these is that you have complete control over portion size.  You can make as many shells as you want.  You can stuff as much of each item in the shell that you want.  You can eat as many as you want, hoarding all of them and fight off your party guests with a plastic pirate sword and yelling, “Arrrr!  MY mini tacos!” just to make the party interesting.  Just a thought.

Mini Tacos Recipe:

1 lb. ground hamburger

1 bag shredded lettuce

1 package wonton wrappers

grated cheddar cheese

1 package taco seasoning

1/4 cup water

sour cream

Cook hamburger in skillet until browned completely cooked through, add water and taco seasoning.  Brush won ton wrappers with vegetable oil, then gently place in muffin/cupcake pan and bake at 375 degrees for 5 minutes.  Let cool completely.  Sprinkle with shredded lettuce, top with ground beef, then cheddar and top with sour cream.  Other available options are tomatoes, black beans, corn, mushrooms, etc.

Cinnamon Sugar Crescent Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze

While my cousin and I were on the phone one day, the topic of crescent rolls came up, and we start talking about how we both loved them.  Then, I started thinking about the honey butter crescent rolls at California Dreaming.  Then, my mouth started to water, and I wanted some crescent rolls.  Even though I wanted to make some the really easy way, the thought of doing something a little different had crossed my mind, so off I went to the grocery store.

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First, we’re loading up on our necessary ingredients for the crescent rolls, and it’s super easy.  Here, we have a can of refrigerated crescent rolls, melted butter, cinnamon/sugar mixture, silicone brush, and a small spoon.  Let’s get started.

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Unroll the crescent roll dough on a work surface, and brush each crescent roll generously with the melted butter.

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Using the spoon, sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture over the melted butter.

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Roll up the crescent rolls, place on baking sheet (I always use my baking stone for best results), brush with more butter, sprinkle with more cinnamon and sugar…and bake.

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While the crescent rolls are still slightly warm, drizzle the cream cheese glaze on top of each roll.

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Enjoy…but be careful.  They’re quite delicious…and also very versatile.  They can be served as breakfast, appetizer, dessert, or just plain old side item.  So many options with such an easy and delicious recipe!

Cinnamon Sugar Crescent Rolls Recipe:

1/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 can refrigerated crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Unroll crescent dough onto work surface.  Brush melted butter on each roll, then sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mixture on top.  Roll up each crescent roll, then place on baking pan.  Brush tops with more butter, sprinkle with more cinnamon/sugar mixture.  Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes, or until tops are a light golden brown.  When finished baking, remove from pan and drizzle with cream cheese glaze.

Cream Cheese Glaze:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

3 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2-3 tablespoons milk

Using electric mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese until blended.  Add powdered sugar, vanilla and milk, continue to mix until glaze reaches desired consistency.  Drizzle over crescent rolls.

Pretzel Turtles

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO ON HOW TO MAKE THESE PRETZEL TURTLES!

Several years ago, a friend of mine was telling me about how much she loves turtles…and I’m not talking about the animal.  Although, now that I think about it, she loves those, too.  Anyway, she was talking about the combination of chocolate, caramel, and pecans.  Who can blame her?  I love that combination too!  After that conversation, I started looking around for turtle recipes, and came across this one…and so very glad I did.  This is one of the easiest sweet appetizers that I’ve made, and you pick exactly how many you want to make.  You can make 5 or 50.  Personally, I really like having that option.

IMG_3670First, preheat your oven to 300 degrees.  Place mini pretzels on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and place a chocolate covered caramel candy on top of each pretzel.  Bake for 4 minutes.  You only need to make sure the candies are melted enough to press a pecan on top, so be sure not to overbake…they’ll turn into a mess!

IMG_3672When candies and pretzels are done baking, remove from oven and immediately press one pecan half into each chocolate candy.  This secures all three items together.

IMG_3674Once they have cooled, removed from pan and store in airtight container until ready to serve.

pretzel turtlesThese are super yummy!  Great combination of salty of sweet, and a little something different to pack for kids!

Apple Pie Pops and Cookies

**CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO OF HOW TO MAKE THESE!!!***

The first time I saw these, my aunt had tagged me in a picture of pie pops on Facebook.  She said that she figured I had already made them before, but that she thought of me when she saw them.  I got excited, but let her know that I hadn’t made them yet, and was going to the store to get the ingredients.  What a cute idea!  I told my mom about them since we were going to visit for the weekend, and she wanted to try them.  So, I made a batch while visiting at their house…and learned a few things in the process.  First, they needed more filling.  As in, those little suckers need to be packed with filling.  Second, I could personally go without eating it as a lollipop, but more as a cookie.  We all ended up pulling the lollipop sticks out of them and eating them by hand.  And third, it needed something else with flavor.  So, with these modifications, I was more than ready to make another batch!

IMG_3559First, roll out prepared pie crusts that you can pick up at the grocery store in the refrigerated section.  Using a round cookie cutter, cut out 12 pieces.

IMG_3563Next, put some prepared pie filling on top of each circle (it’s easiest just to get a can of pie filling from the grocery store).  If you’re using apple like I am here, make sure you cut up the apples into smaller pieces, since the apple slices are too big for these little circles.  If you’re going to make them lollipops, insert the sticks in at this time.

IMG_3564Brush water around the sides of the circles, then top with another layer of the pie crust to seal.  Using a fork, press down along the edges.

IMG_3565Brush melted butter on top (1 tablespoon is enough for a batch), then sprinkle with a cinnamon and sugar mixture (1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon).  Transfer pies to baking stone or cookie sheet.  I used the baking stone so the pies are cooked evenly all the way through.  Bake at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes on cookie sheet, 13-15 minutes on baking stone.

IMG_3573After they’re done baking, use a cookie spatula to loosen from pan, cool completely on cooling rack before packaging.  Try not to eat all of them before giving away.

IMG_3572If packaging pops, use the small bags with twistie ties.  If packaging the bites, store in airtight container or larger bag with twistie tie.

IMG_3577Perfect little edible gift, especially for the holidays!  What’s great about this is that you can decide on what filling to use.  Apple, peach, blueberry, cherry, cheesecake filling, or even get some chocolate Nutella and use that as a chocolate filling if your family isn’t big on the fruit pies.  My family is, because they’re a bunch of fruits.  It’s genetic.  🙂

Pumpkin Pie Dip with Gingerbread Cookies

More pumpkin!  Well, since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I figured one last pumpkin recipe wouldn’t be bad…and this is something that could be served as an appetizer or dessert.  Double whammy.

The first batch of cookies, I made them the standard size with a regular size cookie scoop.  After they came out, I realized that using the mini scoop would be better for making smaller cookies to serve with this dip, so the remaining cookies were smaller…and the perfect size.  This dip was very easy to make, along with the cookies.  Cut up some apple slices and throw in some pretzels along with the cookies with this dip, and you’ll have your guests coming back for more!

Pumpkin Pie Dip Recipe:

1 (15 oz.) can pureed pumpkin

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine sugar and cream cheese in bowl and beat at medium speed with electric mixture until smooth.  Add pumpkin and cinnamon, continue mixing until smooth.  Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Soft Gingerbread Cookies Recipe:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

1/4 cup molasses

2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.  In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

The first time I saw these, my jaw dropped.  “Oh my gosh!  My mom would absolutely LOVE these!”  I exclaimed.  Who was around to hear me say this?  My dogs.  I’m sure they got just as excited as their Mama, even if they didn’t show it by laying on the couch like a couple of slugs.  I called her and told her about them.  I could hear, “Ohh…mmmm!” on the other end of the phone.  She constantly tells me how she’s glad she doesn’t live next door whenever I make these desserts because she would get herself in trouble, but she may make an exception for these delicious little guys.

Well, she came into town this weekend, and I saw this as the perfect opportunity.  Since we were planning to go over to my brother’s house to spend time with his family and watch some college football, I knew that my sister-in-law would be a perfect taste tester as well, since she loves strawberries…and cheesecake.  As it turns out, my nephew is also a big fan of strawberries.  When I told him what was in the fridge, he got all excited and asked if he could have one.  Well, of course!  He shoved the whole thing in his mouth, and started ranting over how delicious it was…and went back for a few more.

As I was cutting the tops of the strawberries off and creating a hole in the center, it was some trial and error.  The first strawberry was sliced a little too much, and the side was very thin and floppy.  As I continued through the rest of the strawberries, it became easier.  When I cut one open to get a picture, I realized that I didn’t cut a hole deep enough…  Oh well!  Made a mental note for next time…because I can promise you that these will definitely be made again!  Perfect combination of dessert and appetizer, all rolled into one!

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries Recipe:

1 lb. large strawberries

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs

Rinse strawberries and cut around the top of the strawberry. Remove the top and clean out with a paring knife, if necessary (some of them are hollow already).  Prep all of the strawberries and set aside.  In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Add cream cheese mix to a piping bag or Ziploc with the corner snipped off. Fill the strawberries with cheesecake mixture.  Once strawberries are filled, sprinkle or dip the tops with graham cracker crumbs. If not serving immediately, refrigerate until serving.

Ham Delights

These are by far one of my favorite appetizers…EVER.  While going over a menu list for our wedding several years ago, I saw these on the list.  I hadn’t heard of them before, so I asked the caterer exactly what they were.  She described them as little hot sandwiches with a creamy spread, ham and melted swiss cheese.  Sold.  When I mentioned ham delights to my husband, he said, “Yes!  Definitely have her make those!”  So we had a double dose of excitement to add these to the menu for the wedding reception.

I made these for a party…and although we had a TON of other food, these little guys disappeared incredibly fast and I had to throw another batch in the oven, while I’ve got people coming up to me and asking where they went and if I’m making more.  Okay fine, so maybe I snagged a few right after I cut them up and put them in the warming table.  They were irresistible.  I took one to my dad and said, “Here, try this.”  As I walked away, I could hear him say, “Mmm, holy cow, these are awesome!” and he came hunting for more.  One of the best things I did with these was make them in advance.  One batch was made a week before the party, and I stuck them in the freezer.  The day before the party, they defrosted in the fridge, then put directly in the oven.  The other batch was made the day before and stored in the fridge in a gallon size ziplock bag.  Super easy to just pull them out of the fridge and pop them into the oven!

Ham Delights Recipe:

1 package dinner rolls (in silver tin for baking)

1/2 package deli ham

5 slices swiss cheese

1 stick butter, softened

2 tablespoons mustard

2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce

Using electric mixer, beat butter, mustard and worchestire sauce until well blended and creamy.  Slice rolls horizontally using bread knife (like forming into two pieces of bread to make sandwich).  Spread mixture evenly on both sides, then layer ham and cheese.  Put bread back together, place in tin.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, cut into pieces and serve warm.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Ahh, yes.  Here we go.  Fruit covered with chocolate.  That’s healthy, right?  😉

These are very easy to make, and seem to be quite popular.  If you don’t have a fruit dip, chocolate works great!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries Recipe:

fresh strawberries

melted dark chocolate

Put chocolate in glass bowl in microwave and melt in 30 second intervals, stirring after each round until completely melted.  Be careful not to scald the chocolate, because then the chocolate will be lumpy and yucky.  Rinse off strawberries and pat dry before dipping in chocolate.  Dip strawberries about 3/4 into the chocolate, rotating around and letting excess chocolate drip off.  Set on cookie sheet lined with wax paper and set in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes for chocolate to harden.

Super Simple Deviled Eggs

This is another one of my favorite appetizers.  Personally, the really simple deviled eggs have always been my favorite.

This is the recipe that my family has always used.  No one ever measured anything out, so it was me to be the first rebel to do so.  🙂

Deviled Eggs Recipe:

12 eggs

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Put eggs in pot of water, bring to a rolling boil (lots and lots of big bubbles).  Set the timer for 15 minutes.  Take the pot off the stove, and run cold water into pot to cool eggs.  Gently tap eggs on side of pot to create crack, then peel shells off eggs.  Cut each egg in half, dump the egg yolks into a bowl.  When all egg halves are emptied, smash up yolks with a fork and add mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Put mixture into a cake decorating bag or ziplock bag, cut opening on bag and pipe mixture into egg halves.

*Optional:  Sprinkle with paprika.

I just ordered these deviled egg trays with snap on lids.  Makes it much easier for storing and transporting the eggs! http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=supswetoo-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B004SJYINO&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr