A Tip On Entertaining: On the 11th Day of Christmas…

…my true blog gave to me a tip to help me not stress when cooking for a party!!

Yes, cause we all know that entertaining and hosting can be stressful. Personally, I LOVE throwing parties! I love making gorgeous food spreads that people ooh and aah over and enjoy to the fullest. However, there are times when I over plan and stress myself out to such a degree that I end up having a panic attack before the party which makes it so hard to enjoy the party itself!! So, here is my thought that can help.

Put out appetizers. Now I know that sounds silly, cause it’s more food to think about. But here’s my thought.

Sure, make an extravagant meal. Something that will make you happy, and your guests. But put out a SUPER simple appetizer. Something crazy easy like the Grinch Kabobs I showed you earlier in my 12 Days of Christmas series, or even…gasp, don’t hate me for saying this…go out and BUY something!!

I know. You never thought I’d say that. I’m all about making stuff. Home made home made home made!!! But I’ll explain.

Timing. Timing is what stresses me out the most. People arrive and I am still frantically trying to prepare things. Or even if it’s just a family holiday with my husband and mother in law, everybody starts getting grumpy cause they’re hungry and can smell the great food but not eat it yet. So…turn on some happy tunes, light a few candles, make a nice atmosphere, and put out a cheap, easy appetizer. Not too much. We’ve done that and been too full to eat dinner. But just a little something for people to snack on while they chat…to keep them busy so they don’t notice that you haven’t served the main course yet…so you’re off the hook and free to not rush your little hiney off!! Want to see our super fancy appetizer this Christmas? Kudos to my husband for plating it and taking artsy fartsy pictures. Here it isssss!!

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Crackers. Special Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar. And a nice big summer sausage. (By the way…have you ever wondered why summer sausages come out during the winter?!). Not fancy. Not expensive. Not hard to prepare. Everybody loves it and will be pleased snacking on that while you calm down and do what you need to do!! You know what else we do sometimes? A jar of mini dill pickles. They go fast, they’re tasty…all you have to do is dump them in a bowl. You see what I’m saying here? Deviled eggs take a tiny bit of prep, but are still easy and a well loved favorite.

So here’s what I’m saying. Don’t stress. It will all come together. Don’t be ashamed to buy a little something to put out on the table while people gather. And remember the real reason for your party. People. Fellowship. Fun. Best of luck to you!!

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3 Ingredient Chocolate PB Sammiches: On the Sixth Day of Christmas…

…my true blog gave to me, a ridiculously easy but impressive looking cookie recipe!!

Yes, ’tis the season for cookie exchanges, holiday get togethers laden with treats, or if you are like me…graduation parties for one of our best friends named Cookie!!

In fact I am typing this on my way to surprise him with a cookie bar party!!! It’s going to be epic! I wish I had time to give you all of the recipes I used for cookies, but this is one of my favorites so I will at least share it with you!! Simple, a classic flavor combo that is super popular…and pretty cheap too I must say!! Without the hassle of measuring flour or firmly packing sugar or not over mixing!! I can sum it up in 3 steps:

Spread, squish, dip!!

So, here’s what you need:

*Ritz crackers (I used 2 rolls and ended up with about 30 sammiches)
*Peanut Butter (1/4-1/2 of an average size jar)
*1 package Chocolate Almond Bark

And here’s how you do it:

1) Smudge a generous amount of peanut butter on the flat side of one ritz.
2) Using the flat side of another ritz, smoosh it down till the peanut butter reaches the edges of the crackers!
3) Put almond bark in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 90 seconds, stir. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring each time, until there are no solids left.
4) Dunk each sammich in chocolate until coated. Shake off excess chocolate and place on wax paper. If you are in a hurry like I was, place in your freezer for a couple minutes until coating is set.

And you’re ready!! Easy peasy!!!

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Crackers, Cheese, and Marshmallows…and Bacon (Cheat Treat!!)

I know.  It sounds cray cray.  But years of Kirkwood tradition and countless converts says it’s not.  (P.S…if you don’t know me, Kirkwood is my maiden name.!)  Growing up I would tell my friends about how we ate crackers, cheese, and marshmallows at my house…thinking it was completely normal.  It didn’t take many confused looks to realize that I was wrong.  However, I would promptly invite them over (because my parents loved to cook for my friends), we would broil up a few of these beauties….and we made them believers!!  In FACT, Mr. Rodgers himself has become a believer…and it was his idea to create this post when we were trying to decide on a treat for date night.  🙂

Okay, now a confession.  Kirkwoods ourselves are converts to this concept as well!!  I think of it as Kirkwood tradition because I have never known my family without said tradition.  However, before I was born, my dad’s sister married my uncle Nic…who I have also never known life without.  And he introduced my family to his Anderson tradition.  And the rest is history.  I love my Uncle Nic.  And I love this recipe.  It is perfection.  And now I am proud to say, this is no longer simply an Anderson/Kirkwood tradition…it is now an Anderson/Kirkwood/Rodgers tradition.  I even added a few twists.  Yep.  You guessed it.  BACON.  I figured if we were going to be naughty and eat a treat…we might as well go all out and really eat a treat haha.

Growing up, we ALWAYS made this with saltine crackers.  However, since Mr. Rodgers loves to experiment, he suggested we try it with all different types of crackers.  If we had a bigger budget, we probably would have grabbed even more.  Personally, I wanted to try this on giant Cheese Its.  But we narrowed it down to three types.  At the end, I will reveal our thoughts on all three so that you can decide what you want to try for yourself.  Or maybe you want to try them all!!  Let me know what you like best 🙂 This is a treat you don’t want to miss!!

So, here’s what you need: (For 3 or 4 people)

  • 20 Crackers (Traditionally Saltines.  We also tried with Triscuits and FlipSides)
  • 10 Slices Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Cut in Half (Cracker size!!)
  • 10 Large Marshmallows, Cut in half
  • 5 Slices Cooked Bacon, Cut into bite sized pieces (optional)

And here’s how you do it:

  1. Preheat your broiler.
  2. Prep all your goodies!!
  3. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.  Lay out your crackers in a single layer.
  4. Top each cracker with a slice of cheese, a piece of bacon (if you are using it), and half a marshmallow (cut side down.)
  5. Slide it under your broiler.  Leave the oven door propped open slightly and keep an eye on it constantly cause this happens fast!!  Cook until cheese is melted, marshmallows are puffing up, and the top of the marshmallows are toasted and brown.  About one minute, maybe two.
  6. EAT AND BE AMAZED!!!

So….after our experiment, here are our thoughts on the crackers:

Saltines:  Best flavor!!!

Sea Salt and Black Pepper Triscuits: Best crunch!  But flavor a little overwhelming.

FlipSides:  Most trendy!  (Pretzel is so in right now!)  But just not quite the flavor of those classic Saltines!

Try it…what crackers can you think up that would win with this combo?!

PhotoHere’s the crackers we experimented with…and our creations…

Photo (3)Half with bacon….

Photo (1)Half without!!  And now, after they hung out under the broiler a couple minutes….

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BAM!!  How gorgeous, melty, and toasty is that?!  You have the crunch of the cracker, the goo of the cheese, the slight crunch and salty smokiness of the bacon, and the super sweet creaminess of the marshmallow with just a little more crunch on top with the toasted top!  It’s layers!!  And again I say…it’s perfection!!  Again, we have with bacon…

Photo (2)And without!  And honestly I can’t way which I love better, because they are both so heavenly!!  I love the tradition of the original, which really doesn’t NEED anything.  However, bacon never HURTS anything, does it?!  😉  Both glorious.  And up for you to decide.

Photo (5)Pretty!!

Photo (6)Melty.  Yummy.  AAAAAH.  I told myself I would start eating healthy again today.  But this is testing my resolve.  I better end this post now.  Okaaaaay bye!