Easy and Impressive Cookie
Exchange Recipes

The annual cookie exchange - it
can be a time to show off the baking
skills you keep hidden most
of the year ...

read more

Quick Bites for Unexpected Guests

Whether you are expecting guests or
are surprised with "drop in" visitors,
it's always nice to have a few
easy appetizers on hand...

read more

A Hearty, Elegant Casserole for Christmas Morning

If your family enjoys a relaxed
Christmas morning of unwrapping
presents, putting toys together
and just enjoying each other's
company...

read more

Easy and Impressive Cookie Exchange Recipes

The annual cookie exchange - it can be a time to show off the baking skills you keep hidden most of the year or it can be a time of great stress, wondering how you will possibly find the time to whip up something worthy of sharing. Have no fear, though! We are sharing two recipes that will both impress your fellow bakers and yet still be easy on your already packed schedule. Quick, easy and pretty - the perfect recipe!

Cherry Cheesecake Cookies
(courtesy of melskitchencafe.com)

By using wild rice rather than the traditional bread, this stuffing recipe offers lower calories and carb counts.

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2 1/2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 cans (20-ounce) cherry pie filling

Directions:

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In another bowl with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter and sugar until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Refrigerate dough until firm, at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners. Place graham cracker crumbs in a shallow dish.

Roll the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls, then roll the balls in graham cracker crumbs. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Using a tablespoon measure, make an indentation in the center of each ball. Place 3 cherries in the dimple. Bake until golden brown around the edges, 12 to 14 minutes. Cool for five minutes on the sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Truffle Cookies
(courtesy of bakingbites.com)

  • 1 1/4 cups butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • approx. 1/3 cup cocoa powder (for rolling)
  • approx. 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar (for rolling)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Sift in cocoa powder and salt, and mix well. Beat in sour cream and vanilla extract. With the mixer on low, blend in flour. Stir in chocolate chips.

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and roll in the cocoa powder and place on baking sheet. (If the dough is hard to handle, refrigerate the dough for 30-60 minutes before shaping the cookies.) Bake for 10 minutes or until cookies are just barely set. Let cool on baking sheet for 3-5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

When cookies have reached room temperature, after about 30-45 minutes, roll in powdered sugar until completely coated. Store in an airtight container.

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A Hearty, Elegant Casserole
for Christmas Morning

If your family enjoys a relaxed Christmas morning of unwrapping presents, putting toys together and just enjoying each other's company, the perfect accompaniment to the morning may be this easy yet elegant breakfast casserole. To make your morning even more relaxed, mix everything together the night before and refrigerate until you're ready to bake it.

Artichoke Egg Casserole

  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 jar (4-1/2 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup butter-flavored cracker crumbs (about 25 crackers), like Ritz

Drain artichokes, reserving 1/2 cup marinade. Set aside. Cut artichokes into slices; set aside.

In a small skillet, saute green onions in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, artichokes, mushrooms, cheese, cracker crumbs, onion mixture and reserved marinade.

Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting.

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Quick Bites for Unexpected Guests

Whether you are expecting guests or are surprised with "drop in" visitors, it's always nice to have a few easy appetizers on hand. Being able to spend two minutes whipping up something delicious is sure to impress any guest. Here are two appetizers that come together in just minutes. Pick up the ingredients now and keep them on hand during the holiday season - if you don't need for guests, you can always use them as a treat to get you through the long night of gift wrapping on Christmas Eve!

Chipotle Apricot Cream Cheese Spread (courtesy of kraft.com)

  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened (1/3 lower fat cream cheese will work too)
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • RITZ Crackers or RITZ Snowflake Crackers

Spread cream cheese onto bottom of pie plate.

Cook preserves, peppers and water in saucepan on medium-low heat 5 min. or until preserves are melted, stirring occasionally. Stir in onions; spread over cream cheese.

Serve with crackers.

Spinach Balls

While this recipe does take a bit of prep time, the mixture can be prepared ahead of time, formed into balls, placed on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer. Once the balls are frozen, just place into a freezer bag. When you need to use, simply place them on a cookie sheet and bake as directed. So handy!

  • 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 cups finely crushed herb-seasoned dry stuffing mix
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4cup chopped green onions
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 3 eggs, beaten

In a large bowl, stir together spinach, stuffing mix, cheese, green onions, nutmeg, melted butter and eggs. Shape into small balls (walnut-size) and place on baking sheet.

Bake in 350 degree, preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

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