Red velvet chocolate chip cheese ball

red velvet chocolate chip cheese ballSo it’s officially holiday entertaining season and you know what that means…scouring the internet for appetizer, entrée and dessert recipes. It’s always a personal challenge of mine to out-do myself when it comes to entertaining. No one expects it, but there’s a sense of satisfaction knowing that this year’s menu was better than last year’s AND that my guests loved it just as much as I loved Pinterest-ing for two weeks to find the perfect recipes. Call me Miss Type-A.

Entertaining this holiday season and in need of a dessert recipe? I’ve seen this one all over Pinterest and I had to try it based on my love for the never-fail cheese ball and red velvet…well, anything. Think of this as a sweet version of a cheese platter, a “dessert appetizer” to make up a completely new menu category. The red velvet chocolate chip cheese ball is creamy, sweet and decadent thanks to the layer of mini chocolate chips which add the perfect amount of crunch. Made with red velvet cake mix, cream cheese, butter and sugar, the sweet cheese ball is definitely a treat but it’s SO worth it (just like the 15 Christmas cookies I ate in one sitting at my work holiday party…oops!) I served this with vanilla wafer cookies, but animal crackers or graham crackers would also pair well. I (of course) lightened up the recipe a bit by using 1/3 less fat cream cheese and margarine instead of butter. The best part: it took 10 minutes to make PLUS the red color is super festive!
Happy holidays!

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Entertaining: appetizer and dessert kabobs

app dessert kabobOne of my favorite treats as a kid was a corn dog on a stick, and for good reason. There was something amazing about the hot dog wrapped in sweet corn batter that was just plain delicious, but the fact that it was on a stick made it that much more fun to eat. Apparently, the “food on a stick” concept still applies because these appetizer and dessert kabobs were a hit at our last BBQ! The possibilities are endless (and involve minimal to zero cooking/baking), so use your imagination to create your own delicious kabob combination. I’ve listed a few of my ideas for some inspiration and all are super easy and quick to put together!

The appetizer kabobs are basically a cheese plate on a stick — sweet fruit paired with tangy cheese. I used grapes, strawberries, cheddar and colby jack on 10″ bamboo skewers (about $1 at the grocery store). The cheddar was a little crumbly going onto the skewers, so I would stick with softer cheeses (mozzarella would be great)! These would be great as an “antipasto” skewer, maybe with prosciutto or pepperoni and pitted olives.
app dessert kabob

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Lightened-up no-bake chocolate eclair cake

lightened-up no-bake chocolate eclair cakeApparently this no-bake eclair cake recipe has been around for MANY years and has just as many fans, but I must admit that it’s brand new to me! Layers of creamy vanilla custard, graham crackers and chocolate AND it’s completely no-bake…how have I not heard about this dreamy dessert sooner?

I absolutely love this version of the classic eclair cake and it tastes just as amazing with lightened-up ingredients. I used sugar-free fat-free vanilla pudding mix and whipped it up with skim milk and light frozen whipped topping for the custard filling. Low-fat sugar graham crackers work perfectly and they soften up in the refrigerator after the required ‘chill’ time to really resemble the texture of an eclair pastry! My favorite tip for this recipe is to microwave a jar of chocolate frosting and simply pour it over the top, creating the most PERFECT thick layer of chocolate goodness with zero effort.

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