A tangy, yet spicy jelly on top of a mild cheese is such a wonderful appetizer. I’ve enjoyed many of these appetizers through the years but Christmas 2021, I made my own! After the epic fail of Grape Jalapeno jam a few years ago, I was a little nervous. Never fear, this recipe is a winner! Other than cleaning and chopping the jalapenos, this was an easy recipe and yielded 7 half pints of Jelly and a little more to enjoy immediately! It was wonderful on top of cream cheese or brie. It would be marvelous with chicken or fish, too.
It you make homemade Christmas gifts, I would highly recommend this for friends and family!
Cranberry Pepper Jelly
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (I used a 12 oz. package of fresh cranberries)
1 cup jalapeno
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup water
4 cups sugar
6 tbsp. Ball RealFruit™ Low or No-Sugar Pectin
Sort & wash cranberries. Measure pectin and add 1/2 cup sugar to it.
Add vinegar and water to large stock pot.
Chop and remove seeds from jalapenos. 1 cup of jalapenos makes a fairly mild jelly.
Add peppers and cranberries to the vinegar and water to pan.
Bring to boil.
Simmer for about 10 minutes until everything is soft.
Strain out the cranberries and pepper mixture with a slotted spoon to a food processor or blender.
Blend until very smooth. (you can add some of the liquid from the pan to help break up the cranberries and peppers, if you need to)
Return to the saucepan.
Add sugar/pectin mixture. Bring to rolling boil.
Add the remainder of the sugar.
Bring back to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute.
Fill hot jam into hot jars.
Attach lids. Tighten bands finger tip tight.
Process in water bath canning pot for 15 minutes. Turn of heat, allow jars to sit in hot water for at least 5 minutes.
Funfetti Dip is an easy dessert, especially for kids. Who doesn’t love to dunk a Nilla Wafer or animal cracker into a yummy dip. We served this for a baby shower but it would be great for a kids or adult party.
1 box Funfetti cake mix (unprepared)
8 oz cream cheese softened
8 oz cool whip thawed
1/2 cup milk
Sprinkles for topping
Cream together cream cheese and whipped topping until smooth with a hand mixer.
Add cake mix (unprepared) and half of the milk and mix, gradually adding in more milk until desired texture is established.
Top with extra bright colored sprinkles
Serve with Nilla wafers, animal crackers or graham crackers
Breakfast casseroles are always a treat and easy peasy when you make it the night before. This casserole has a wonderful cream cheese surprise in many bites. Why have I never thought of that?
Serve this dish with a wonderful fruit bowl, a cup of hot coffee (or tea), and great conversation.
BIG COUNTRY BREAKFAST BREAD PUDDING
1 loaf Brioche bread, cubed (I used French Bread)
1 cup heavy cream (I used half & half)
1 /2 cup milk
4 oz. can chopped green chiles
2 c. + 1 c. shredded sharp white cheddar (or any shredded cheese of your liking)
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
10 oz. browned breakfast sausage (optional)
5 strips of applewood smoked bacon, cooked until crisp, chopped (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt & 1/2 teaspoon pepper (or 1 tsp. McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning)
Spray a 9×13″ extra deep baking dish and place 1/2 to 2/3 of the bread cubes in the dish.
Crack eggs into a large mixing bowl, add cream, milk, salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth. Reserve 1 to 1.5 cups of mixture and pour remaining over the bread cubes.
Spread green chiles on top of bread. Sprinkle with 2 cups of shredded cheese. Lightly press the bread down to aid in absorption of the egg mixture. Top with cream cheese, sausage and bacon, if desired.
Top with remaining bread and pour reserved egg mixture over the bread. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper, if desired.
The next morning, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake on middle rack for 45-55 minutes or until the center is firm. Cover the bread pudding with foil about halfway through the cooking time and remove for the last 5 minutes or so.
During the holidays there are so many parties and potlucks and it’s fun to make something that people remember. Charlene, an AT&T co-worker, shared this recipe several years ago after she brought this to one of our office potlucks.
The first time I made it, I had the snowman standing upright. Big mistake, no one wanted to dip into it and have Mr. Snowman tumble. Give Mr. Snowman a rest on a platter and surround him with crackers. He’ll be a big hit!
SNOWMAN CHEESE DIP
1 tub whipped cream cheese
2-8 ounce bars cream cheese
4 ounces dried beef, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon horseradish
1 tablespoon dried parsley
bunch of green onions
Mix cream cheese bars and chopped dried beef. Add chopped green onions (white part only). Blend in garlic, horseradish and parsley.
Form into 3 balls (small, medium and large) using waxed paper. Stack into snowman shape using a toothpick to attach. (NOTE: I lay the snowman down on the platter)
Spread whipped cream cheese over snowman using wet knife. Garish and serve with crackers, carrots, pretzels.
rosemary branches or broken pretzel twists for arms
Crock pot meals are the best…easy with so many options. I love the Salsa chicken recipe that daughter, Megan, shared with me a while ago. This recipe sounded very similar but with the addition of cream cheese. YUM!
I used almost 2 pounds of chicken strips vs. the 2 chicken breasts called for. It was delicious but in the future I would use about 1 pound of chicken for this recipe. Great over rice, in a burrito, over a baked potato…or invent your own combination!
CROCK POT CHICKEN CREAM CHEESE CHILE
2 chicken breasts, still frozen
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 can corn kernels, do not drain
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small can mild green chiles
1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix
1 T cumin
1 t chili powder
1 t onion powder
1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese
Put the chicken in the crock pot.
Top with the tomatoes, corn, the drained and rinsed beans, ranch dressing, cumin, onion and chile powders.
Stir to combine, then top with the cream cheese.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring one or twice to blend in the cheese.
Shred the chicken into large pieces and serve over rice. Can also serve in tortillas or taco shells.
Now that I’m MUCH older, I’m feeling a little lazy around the postings so taking it easy for a week or two and celebrating the rest of my birthday month.
Even though I’m feeling lazy, sometimes you want a wonderful appetizer but don’t feel like putting a lot of time into it. Are you with me?
Many years ago a popular appetizer was a brick of cream cheese with jalapeno jelly and it is still a favorite but I like to shake it up a little. I purchased a fantastic jar of Shirley Ann’s Raspberry Chipotle Jalapeno Jam a while back and paired it with slices of Buffalo Mozzarella with crackers and sliced baguette. Yummo! It would be equally wonderful with a fine Brie.
Some days that seem dark and depressing can be brightened by the gift of food…particularly my favorite antidepressant, chocolate. Daughter, Sarah, was at the house and we decided to try out this new recipe she found on Pinterest/Pinch of Yum.
I can attest it is a big Yum! I’m not a fan of cheesecake but a huge fan of chocolate chip cookies. This reminds me of chocolate chips cookies on steroids.
Interesting enough, my dark day brightened thanks to Ms. Sarah and Mr. Chocolate!
1 stick butter, unsalted (1/2 cup), softened
½ cup white sugar
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup peanut butter
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt (less if you don’t like salty/sweet)
½ cup rolled oats
2 cups chocolate chips
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
⅓ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Cream the butter, sugars, and peanut butter until smooth and fluffy.
Add the egg and beat until incorporated.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt.
Slowly add the flour mixture in with the butter and sugar, mixing well after each addition.
Stir in the oats and chocolate chips.
Make the cheesecake filling: Cream the cream cheese, egg, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
Press half to two-thirds of the cookie dough in the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish. Pour the cheesecake filling over the dough.
Crumble the remaining dough and sprinkle over the top, OR roll it into a flat layer and place it over the cheesecake layer.
Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes; remove foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until tops is lightly browned and cheesecake layer is set. Serve warm or cold and store leftover bars in refrigerator.