A Trio of Cream Cheese Appetizers – Maple Brown Sugar Pecan, Cranberry and Orange Marmalade

Trio of Cream Cheese Appetizers - Maple Brown Sugar Pecans, Cranberry and Orange Marmalade

If you need a simple appetizer for a holiday party, look no further.  In fact, I’ve got a lot of recipes to share with you today!  I’ve teamed up with some of my favorite bloggers to bring you Holiday Sweets and Treats.  Be sure to scroll down and visit all the links at the bottom of this post for more recipes.

If you find yourself in need of a holiday appetizer, but lack time to put one together, this is your recipe.  This trio of cream cheese spreads couldn’t get easier.

Cranberries, Maple Brown Sugar Pecans and Orange Marmalade are a perfect holiday combo.

It really is as easy as stir and pour.  And you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen right now.

Cream Cheese appetizer

This is more of a method than recipe.  Vary it any way you like.

In fact, I ended up using apricot jam instead of marmalade because that’s what I had on hand.  I still think orange marmalade would be more Christmasy, but the apricot was very good.

For the pecans:

Use about 1/4-1/3 cup chopped pecans.

Add about 1 Tbs. brown sugar.

Add several Tbs. real maple syrup.

Stir together to make sticky, runny pecan topping.

The cranberry is just canned whole berry cranberry sauce.  Stir until it isn’t clumpy jelled anymore.

Use apricot or orange marmalade jam, stirring until smooth.

Cut one block of cream cheese in thirds.

Spoon the toppings over each of the pieces.

Serve with crackers and apple slices.

Cream Cheese appetizer trio


Holiday Sweets

Holiday Sweets

Best Party Recipes for Sharing from Mom’s Tool Box

Cherry Snowball Christmas Cookies from I’m an Organizing Junkie

Chocolate Chunk Toasted Pecan Oatmeal Cookies from Life Your Way

Chocolate Peanut Brittle from The Happy Housewife

Chocolate Peppermint Brownie Trifle from Mom Endeavors

Double Chocolate Candy Bar Pretzel Bark from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures

Easy Black Currant Scones from Good Cheap Eats

Frozen Inspired Vanilla Raspberry Bites from Bargain Briana

Gumdrops from Hoosier Homemade

Microwave Caramel Corn from Ashley Pichea

Old Fashioned Christmas Cookies from Mommy Hates Cooking

Snickerdoodle Puppy Chow from Smockity Frocks

Sugar Cookies for Dummies from Happy Little Homemaker

The World’s Easiest Christmas Candy Ever from Money Saving Mom

Savory Treats

savory treats

Bacon and Spinach Frittata Bites from Life as MOM

Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus from Jo-Lynne Shane

Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts from The Finer Things in Life

Black Bean and Avocado Salad from Kitchen Stewardship

Cheesy Pesto Crescent Bites from Andrea Dekker

Easy Cheesy Vidalia Onion Dip from Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Homemade Sausage Balls from The Humbled Homemaker

Kale Spinach Bites from For the Love Of

Spiced Nuts from Modern Mrs. Darcy

Toasted Pecans from My Blessed Life

Trio of Cream Cheese Appetizers from Eat at Home Cooks

White Cheddar Cranberry Bites from Parenting Miracles

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – December 1

3 Things that work in the kitchen


For the first time that I remember, I was sick on Thanksgiving.  I started coming down with a cold on Monday.  By Tuesday night I was running a fever and my cold was feeling a lot more like the flu.  And it was Saturday before I really started feeling like myself again.

So I was not one of the things that worked in the kitchen this week!

1.  My fabulous husband

Our original plan was to go to Ohio to a family gathering on Thanksgiving Day.  I was planning to take pies.  By Wednesday night we realized that was not going to happen.  (I told him to go without me, but he didn’t like that plan.)

So Jim braved the stores the evening before Thanksgiving and bought a few things to make dinner at home.  Then on Thursday he baked two homemade pies, crust and all (Pumpkin Pie and Derby Pie).  He also made roast chicken, baked sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, broccoli, cranberry sauce and rolls.

I’m definitely thankful for Jim!

2.  The kids

The kids took charge of cleaning up the kitchen during the time I was sick.  They also brought me cups of hot tea and made toast for me.

3.  Homemade Bread from my 12 year old.



On Monday afternoon, Mia decided to try making homemade bread.  I pulled up the Depression Era Bread recipe for her.  She did a great job!

What’s working in the kitchen for you this week?

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10 Recipes to Use Costco Rotisserie Chicken (or Leftover Turkey)

One of the best things I do to keep weeknight meal prep easy, is to have chicken cooked and frozen. Having the meat ready to go is such a time saver!

If you’ve got leftover turkey, count your blessings! Then package it in plastic freezer bags and stash it away. You can use cooked turkey just like you would chicken.

10 Recipes to Use Costco Rotisserie Chicken

Lately, I’ve been buying Costco rotisserie chicken to keep in the freezer. But sometimes I cook it myself.

The main thing is to get some cooked chicken or turkey ready for use in recipes. Many of the recipes below are 15 minute meals. Some take a little bit longer, but they’re all easily doable on a busy weeknight.

Here are 10 recipes to get you started.   [Read more…]

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3 Things that Work in the Kitchen This Week – November 24

3 Things that work in the kitchen


1.  My daughter using Weekly Meal Plans.

I love that my oldest daughter and her husband eat together every night.  She does the grocery shopping for them each week.


She likes the structure that Weekly Meal Plans gives.  It’s easy to swap out whole meals or cross off ingredients that she already has.  She chose the Whole Foods Small Plan.

2. Having a stocked pantry.

I like using the Weekly Meal Plans too.  Last weekend we were out of town and that meant I didn’t do any grocery shopping.  But because I normally follow the Weekly Meal Plan lists, my kitchen stays pretty stocked.  It was easy to pull meals together, even though I hadn’t done a big grocery trip.

The recipes included on all the Weekly Meal Plans use common, pantry ingredients.  That means that I regularly buy all the basics.  And if I don’t use the ingredients for one meal, they will get used for another.

3.  Altering a slow cooker recipe and making it on the stove top instead.

chicken enchilada soup in slow cooker done

One of the meals we had this week was Chicken Enchilada Soup.  I didn’t think of it until later in the day though, so that meant I couldn’t use the crockpot.  Instead, I changed the recipe and made it on the stove.

I used frozen rotisserie chicken.  I left out the red bell pepper and creamed corn, because I didn’t have those.  And we topped it with cheddar cheese instead of Monterey Jack.

Don’t be afraid to alter recipes to make them fit your pantry and your day.  Sometimes you can make minor changes that still work.

What’s working in your kitchen this week?


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Weekend Links

Last weekend I was in Disney World with Jim and my parents.  No kids.  We had a blast!  The Free Dining promotion was going on, so we ate in some great restaurants.  And we got to see the Osborne Family Lights at Hollywood Studios.

It even snowed on us there!


That’s the best kind of snow.  Disney magic! 70 degrees outside with a light flurry :)

Here’s a video of the Osborne Dancing Lights.  So cool!


Amy from Mom Advice shows how to make a DIY No Sew Blanket Scarf.  These could come in handy for the Style Me Pretty Winter Challenge (more info below).


I loved this post on why kids love being homeschooled.  My own kids confirmed a lot of these.  50 Reasons Kids Love Being Homeschooled


My friend, Lynn has been on a roll with creating allergy friendly recipes lately.  Last week I shared her Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls.  And now she’s created Dairy Free Sweetened Condensed Milk!


A new Style Me Pretty Challenge for winter is about to start!  Registration is open now and the shopping list comes out just in time for all those Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

This is the fifth Style Me Pretty Challenge I’ve done and they are all so much fun.  And so helpful to have the shopping list and outfit ideas.  I purchased that blue sweater above as soon as I saw it!

This winter challenge will have pieces from both the Basic Challenge and the Fall Challenge, so I’ll already own many of the items.  I bet you have a lot of the items in your closet too.  But just in case you don’t, some of the participants have started a Challenger’s Closet Facebook group where they trade with each other.

I really can’t say enough good things about the Style Challenges.  They’re a fun, confidence boost.  And the women in the private Facebook group are amazing!


This post contains affiliate links.


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Easy Chicken and Tortellini Soup with Kale

Easy Chicken Tortellini Soup


Cheese tortellini, chicken, kale, tomatoes, garlic, onion – this soup is full of good stuff!

And it couldn’t be easier to make.  Especially if you’ve got cooked chicken in the freezer ready to go.

I almost always have chicken frozen, that I’ve either cooked myself or used Costco rotisserie chicken.  It’s such a time saver to have the meat ready to use.  A quick minute or two in the microwave is all it takes to thaw it enough so it can be added to a soup or casserole.

Next week, I’ll have another post on using meat from a Costco rotisserie chicken (or your leftover turkey).  There are so many ways to use chicken and turkey like this.

But for today, let’s talk about this soup.  Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

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Apricot Soy Ginger Chicken – in the oven or slow cooker

Apricot Soy Ginger Chicken


This recipe for Apricot Soy Ginger Chicken is so easy.  There are just 4 ingredients (plus salt and pepper).

You can fix it in the slow cooker or oven.

It’s great with sweet potatoes or butternut squash.  Or Hawaiian Cole Slaw.  Or Asian Broccoli Salad.  Or any salad with a poppy seed or honey mustard or berry vinaigrette dressing.

Use any cut of chicken you like.  Bone-in or boneless will work, just be sure to adjust the cook time for boneless.

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

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No Bake Pumpkin Spice Caramel Cheesecake Dessert

No Bake Pumpkin Spice Caramel Cheesecake Dessert

A few years ago, I learned that pumpkin cheesecake is a very common dessert to serve for Thanksgiving.  Cheesecake isn’t hard to make, but this no-bake version is even easier.

You can even make it a day or two ahead of time, which is perfect if you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner!

This Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Dessert is lighter tasting than a regular baked cheesecake.  The filling is fluffy and creamy, swirled with caramel sauce.  I used McCormick Pumpkin Pie Spice to give it a great flavor.

No Bake Pumpkin Caramel Cheesecake Dessert ingr

You’ll want to have your cream cheese at room temperature before starting this recipe.  It only takes a few minutes to stir the crust together and press it into the dish.  And the filling whips together quickly too.

I’ve been loving McCormick Pumpkin Pie Spice.  I’ve added it to Homemade Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream and other recipes.

But I’ve also used it sprinkled on bananas with a little honey and pecans for a morning snack.

I’ve made Pumpkin Pie Spice and Sugar Toast, by using it in place of cinnamon.  That really pumps up the flavor of plain old cinnamon sugar toast.

I’ve added it to oatmeal in place of cinnamon.  Pumpkin Pie Spice is versatile stuff!

Check out McCormick FlavorPrint for more ideas on combining and using spices and discover your own FlavorPrint Profile.

No Bake Pumpkin Spice Caramel Cheesecake Dessert
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 2 packages (8oz each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
  • 1½ tsp. McCormick Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 12 oz frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • ½ cup caramel sauce
  1. Stir the sugar and graham cracker crumbs together.
  2. Add the butter and mix well. Reserve ½ cup for the topping.
  3. Press the rest into a 9×13 pan.
  4. Combine the cream cheese, sugar in a mixer bowl. Beat until well combined.
  5. Add pumpkin and Pumpkin Pie Spice to the mixer bowl and beat until combined.
  6. Fold in whipped topping.
  7. Spread pumpkin mixture onto graham cracker crust.
  8. Drizzle caramel sauce over the top of the pumpkin.
  9. Use a knife to swirl caramel into pumpkin fluff.
  10. Sprinkle remaining crumbs over top of dessert.
  11. Refrigerate 4 hours or over night.

No Bake Pumpkin Caramel Cheesecake Dessert

For more Thanksgiving recipe ideas, see American Homemade.  There are lots of ideas here to put a flavorful spin on traditional dishes.

Disclosure: I have partnered with McCormick and have been compensated for my time.  However, all opinions are my own.

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – November 17

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  New Apricot Soy Ginger Chicken Recipe

On Sunday I decided to try a new recipe for our lunch after church.  I had a chopped salad in the fridge (more on that below) and wanted to build the meal around that.

I decided to grab the apricot jam that I was planning to use for Apricot Oat Bars (like these Cherry Oat Bars, only apricot instead) and use it for the chicken instead.  It turned out great and I’ll share the recipe with you on Wednesday.  It works equally well in the oven or slow cooker, so you can match it to your day.

2.  Adapting a recipe for slow cooker so that it’s ready after church.

I really wanted Butternut Squash Skillet with that chicken recipe, but I didn’t want to have to fix it after we got home from church.

butternut squash skillet


So I started it in the skillet, but instead of finishing it in the oven like the recipe calls for, I transferred it to the slow cooker.  I do prefer the oven version better, but the slow cooker worked fine.  Having the food ready to eat when we came in from church was wonderful.

If you’re looking for more ideas for after church, here’s a list of easy meals that work especially well for Sundays.

3.  Chopped Salad Mixes

chopped salad mix


Recently I’ve been buying chopped salad mixes.  The one above is from Costco.  It has brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, cranberries and more.  We’ve also tried an Asian Chopped Salad and a Southwestern mix from Kroger.

The chopped salads seem to hold up better than bagged lettuce salads.  And we like them better too.  Even the boys have been known to eat them.  They don’t go for lettuce salads so much.

The other thing I like about them is I don’t have to make it.  For some reason, I hate making salad.  It’s not hard, of course, but I don’t like doing it.  This way we can get a big serving of raw veggies that we wouldn’t normally eat.  I mean, I’m probably not going to chop brussels sprouts or broccoli stems up for a salad.  But we’ll eat them if I buy the mix.

Am I lazy?  Probably so, but these salad mixes are working for us right now!

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

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Weekend Links

Here are a few things that caught my attention this week.

My youngest daughter loves to sew.  This week she made a new bag for me, complete with a zipper closing at the top.  I love it!



She learned to use a pattern for this bag last year, but she’s made a lot of improvements to the pattern.  She added interior pockets in the lining.  She made the straps wider and padded them.  And now she’s added a zipper at the top.  Pretty good for a 12 year old!  I can’t even sew on a button, so I’m super impressed with her!

I’ve been working my way through The Gilmore Girls on Netflix and loving every minute of it.  Here’s a fun drinking game to play while watching.  Of course, the drink of choice is coffee.  If you’re a Gilmore Girls fan, you know why.

And that reminds me that I’ve picked up an afternoon coffee habit in the last few weeks.  I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but I don’t think it’s a terrible thing either.  So I’ll probably stick with it.

A 6 foot 4 inch cow!  Wow!  Blosom is huge.  So huge, she’s now listed as the Guinness World Record holder for largest cow.

Mia and I were excited to hear a shout out to homeschoolers on Wednesday’s CNN Student News during the roll call!  We love watching the student news everyday during lunch.


Gluten Free Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls – My friend, Lynn at Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures has developed a gluten free cinnamon roll recipe.  She’s been working on this for a while, and has had success!  Happy day for gluten free people!

Do you ever feel liked you’ve been smacked by Daylight Savings Time?  This video is hilarious!

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