Butternut Squash Casserole

Butternut squash casserole with cranberries and pecan topping

Raise your hand if you need to take something to Thanksgiving Dinner at someone else’s house.

I’ve got the perfect recipe for you.  This one travels really well.  No risk of spilling it in your car.  Or very little risk, anyway.

It stays hot for a long time, which is important for buffet line items.  And I think you could even make it in the slow cooker.  If you want the pecan topping to crunch up, just pop the slow cooker under the broiler for a minute before serving.

Butternut Squash Casserole is similar to sweet potato casserole, but the flavor of the squash is a little different.  This one also has fresh cranberries studded through it.  They add a tart flavor to the rich sweetness of other ingredients.  The McCormick Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Vanilla really bring out the autumn flavors of this dish.

Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

[Read more…]

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

Salted Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Thumbprint cookies with Hershey's Spreads
This is a sponsored post from Hershey’s Spreads. I have received product and compensation for my time, but all opinions are my own.

We’re going back and forth between cookies and soup this week.  On Tuesday, I told you about the new Hershey’s Spreads and I hinted at this recipe.  Then yesterday, I shared Pineapple Chili with you.  Today, I bring you the cookie recipe I teased you with on Tuesday.  And tomorrow, I’ve got a brand new slow cooker soup for you.

As far as I’m concerned, we could go on switching between cookies and soup for a long time!  They are two of my favorites.

My mom used to make thumbprint cookies every Christmas.  She filled hers with green and pink icing.  Pink, because the red food coloring never coaxed the color all the way to red.  I love her thumbprint cookies.  But for some reason, I’ve never made them myself.

When the Hershey’s Spreads came in the mail, I knew they would be perfect to fill thumbprint cookies.  And because sweet is made even better by a little salty taste, I added a sprinkle of kosher salt to the tops.  It makes them look extra special too.

Since I didn’t have the recipe, I called mom on the phone.  She flipped through her pile of hand-written recipes to find it for me.  I scribbled the recipe in pencil.  It felt like old-fashioned times (you know, like 10 years ago, when we weren’t in the habit of searching up recipes online).

Here’s what you’ll need to make Salted Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies:    [Read more…]

Easy Gift Idea: Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzels and PBJ Grahams

Easy Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzels


We’ve got a new Costco in town.  I’m not much of a shopper, but I kind of love this store.

On my most recent trip, I found this big container of peanut butter filled pretzels.  And I knew they would be meeting up with chocolate at the first possible moment.

chocolate covered peanut butter pretzel ingr


These would make a great, simple gift idea.  Package them in a cute jar and you’ll make someone very happy.

I also made Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Grahams and Chocolate Covered PBJ Grahams.  No surprise, I liked the PBJ Grahams best.  They are so good!

Easy Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter and PBJ Graham Crackers


There are a few extra steps needed for the grahams, but it’s still such an easy process.  These would make great gifts too.

I decided to use almond bark to coat these treats.  It’s very easy to use.  Just melt it in the microwave.  But I have to say, I really like the flavor of melted semi-sweet chocolate chips better.  The darker chocolate isn’t quite as sweet.  Next time, I’ll melt the chips and use those.

For the Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzels, it’s really just a matter of melting the almond bark and dunking the pretzels.  Place them on waxed paper until the chocolate firms up.

chocolate covered pretzel dunking


For the grahams, I spread them with peanut butter, adding raspberry jam to some of them.  Then I popped them in the freezer for several minutes before dunking them in chocolate.

PBJ graham assembly


That’s all there is to it!  They disappeared pretty fast at my house!

Holiday Cookie Swap & Cookie Cookbook Giveaway

I’m so excited to host this cookie swap with Liz from Hoosier Homemade and Melissa from Stockpiling Moms.

We love cookies at our house, but I have to admit that at Christmas I focus more on making candy rather than cookies.  This year, I want to change that up.  I can’t wait to see what kind of recipes you have for me to try.

Here are a few of our favorites:

CocoNot Cookies – Not a speck of coconut, but you’d never know it. Fun secret ingredient.

Aunt Gerry’s Pineapple Drop Cookies – A family favorite

Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Cookies – Very Christmasy!

Amish Oatmeal Cookies – Brown sugary yum and rolled in powdered sugar.  [Read more…]

Ingredient Spotlight: Cranberries

It’s cranberry season!  I love these little gems.  Not only do they taste wonderful, they also look so pretty in holiday desserts.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes with cranberries:  [Read more…]

Top 10 Foods for July 4th Celebrations

berry shortcake

Doesn’t 4th of July seem like it should be the smack-dab middle of summer?  How is it that we’re already at this point?  Summer is going entirely too fast! So, let’s just savor it while we can.  And while we’re savoring how about my top 10 foods for July 4th celebrations? You’re welcome!

The Top 10 Foods for July 4th Celebrations

1.  BBQ Something, anything really! But I would recommend these …

Burgers are classic.  Try the World’s Best Burger.

Or go for chicken instead. BBQ Pepper Jack Chicken is delish.

Check out my Secret to BBQing Chicken Legs on the Grill if you want to be able to hand everyone a drumstick.

2.  Potato Salad is always a must

There are a million ways to make it, but  Here’s my version (which is really my mom’s version). Clearly, it’s a favorite at our house, and July 4th just wouldn’t be the same without it!

3.  And don’t forget the Baked Beans

I love this slow cooker recipe for Homemade Baked Beans with onions and bacon! And the slow cooker does most of the work so you don’t have to! Win-win.

4.  Not the same old Coleslaw

This Slaw with Tomato, Red Onion and Jalepeno from Micha at Cookin’ Mimi has a nice little kick to it that will have you coming back for more.

It really doesn’t matter what the occasion, this Hawaiian Cole Slaw never lasts long! At all!

Quick Cole Slaw is perfect for getting to the lake or park or wherever your festivities are being held and not missing a bit of the fun!

5.  Berry Desserts are always a big hit

There’s the blue of Blueberry Cobbler, or the red of Cherry Cobbler.

Or a combination of the two in this Peach and Blackberry Pie.

And then there’s everyone’s favorite Strawberry Shortcake, or is it Strawberry Pie? Either way, you can’t go wrong with a berry dessert on Independence Day!

6.  Ice Cream is even better when it’s homemade!

Oh, how I love ice cream.  If it’s included in your menu for July 4th, there be sure to check out these Tips for Making Homemade Ice Cream as well as links to some scrumptious recipes.

Did you know that you can make your own Buster Bars? How fun would this be for getting the kids involved in the festivities!

You might also try Peanut Butter Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches for even the youngest of sous chefs to refine their culinary skills.

7.  Something Red, White and Blue because it’s our birthday, America!

If it’s some tasty red, white and blue that you’re wanting to include in your menu, then here’s a great round-up of patriotic looking food on Living Locurto.

8.  Something Munchy

Try Butterscotch Snack Mix with the saltiness of pretzels and the sweetness of butterscotch chips. Yum!

This Citrus Puppy Chow sounds quite a bit different than the usual, but it’s a refreshingly fruity mid-summer treat.

9.  Something S’more-ish?

S’mores Pie, perchance? For those celebrations when the only fire you want to enjoy is sparklers, but you still want the taste of s’mores.

10.  A July 4th Celebration isn’t complete without Watermelon!

4th of July without watermelon is just wrong!  Try kicking it up a notch (or 3) with chili powder. Seriously, you just might be surprised at how much you like it!

Happy Independence Day!  What are your plans for the long weekend?

Chocolate Pretzel Fudge

Fudge + pretzels = Scrumptious!

This is an easy fudge to make.  It’s a variation of Mocha Fudge.  Just melt the ingredients together and throw in a handful of broken pretzel pieces.  Lick the pan.  Then wait.  And wait.  And wait a bit more.

About 3 hours in the fridge later and it’s ready to cut and eat.

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

Easter Story Cookies for kids of all ages


This is a fun way to pull kids into the kitchen and share the Easter Story with them in a way that they will remember.  The cookies get made in the evening and then sit in the oven overnight.  It’s perfect to do the night before Easter, but any evening will work. Not only do they taste great, the Easter Story Cookies are for kids of all ages who want to focus on the significance of Easter.

Before I get to the instructions, let me share a few helpful hints. [Read more…]

Goat Cheese Biscuits

I have been so excited to share this recipe with you.  In early March, I visited a friend in Chicago and she took me to Table Fifty Two.  The food in that restaurant has a decidedly Southern flair.   Chef Art Smith has been a personal chef to Oprah.  Now he creates dishes such as Fried Green Tomatoes with Feta, Pancetta, Red Onion Marmalade and Kalamata Olive – Amazing!

We sat in the main room of the restaurant where Goat Cheese Biscuit dough was being poured into hot iron skillets and baked in a brick oven.  Our server brought us a serving of the biscuits to share.  Oh my!  They are light, with herbs and goat cheese inside and buttery Parmesan topping.

As my friend and I savored these biscuits and I watched the process of making them, I was pretty sure I could recreate the recipe at home.  And I was right.

These would be perfect for an Easter dinner or brunch.  And they are easy to make too.  The dough is similar to drop biscuits and it can be baked in an iron skillet, ramekins or muffins tins.   Here’s what you’ll need: [Read more…]