Tag Archives: appetizers

Take the Cake

Christmas is quickly approaching!  And you know what that means!?  Party time!  Christmas parties and potlucks are some of my favorite get-togethers of the whole year, but there’s always the question of what to bring.  No one wants to be the person whose dish doesn’t get eaten. So how do you know what will be popular?  My advice, bring a classic.  Stick to the normal crowd pleasers and then dress them up in their Christmas best!  I know time is always an issue, so here are some of my favorite simple treats for potlucks that I’ve found on Pinterest. Whether you’re hosting or just attending, these are guaranteed to get gone.

However, if you’re looking for something a little fancier, keep reading.

My mom’s birthday was right before Thanksgiving, and I made her a classic chocolate cake with whipped ganache.  I found the inspiration on, you guessed it, Pinterest, and was able to easily recreate it!  The design looks elaborate but is really very simple. It would make a stunning dessert for Christmas dinner.  Here is the Pinterest picture I found.So here’s what I did.  I’ll be willing to bet most of you already have a killer chocolate cake recipe, so I won’t bore you with mine, but I would recommend jazzing it up with espresso or your favorite liquor (I used Bailey’s Irish Cream).  I filled and iced the layers with a traditional whipped ganache (also flavored with Bailey’s), and then covered it with a soft ganache. After that, I simply piped rosettes and topped them with my favorite Lindor chocolate truffles.

The tricky part was the basket in the middle.  This cake would still be spectacular without it, but it does add a very dazzling showpiece. I had never made a basket like this before and was able to get it on the first try.  It really isn’t as complicated as It looks.  I know you can do it if you have time!

You make the baskets by drizzling melted almond bark (or tempered chocolate if you’re brave) over some air-filled water balloons (I happened to have those on hand because I’m a child) and set them up in some cups.  Put those babies in the freezer to chill, then just pop the balloons.  Tips! Make sure you POP the ballon instead of letting the air slowly seep out.  I did that at first and it made the chocolate break because it was too slow.  You just gotta rip it out like a band-aid.  Also, make more than one.  Even I, being the culinary genius that I am, make lots of mistakes. 😉 I think at least two of the four that I made broke.

After you finish decorating, cut the cake with a HOT knife to get those beautiful, picture-perfect slices.

Well, there it is!  I hope you can wow your friends with this fabulous cake! Merry Christmas!

Abby Hughes

Soft Ganache
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This ganache is very versatile. Great for icing cakes or making into truffles. This recipe will ice one 8-inch cake.
Cuisine: Dessert
Serves: 16 oz.
  • 8 oz. Chopped Dark Chocolate (or chips)
  • 8 oz. Heavy Cream
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Flavoring
  1. Heat heavy cream to simmer in a saucepan. Be careful not to scorch.
  2. Remove from heat and add chocolate.
  3. Let sit for 3-4 minutes before stirring.
  4. Add vanilla and stir until smooth.
  5. Pour over cake while warm. If making truffles, refrigerate till firm and roll into balls. Cover with chocolate or cocoa powder.

Whipped Ganache
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Use as an icing or filling.
Recipe type: icing
Cuisine: dessert
Serves: 24 oz.
  • 16 oz. Heavy Cream
  • 8 oz. Chopped Dark Chocolate or Chocolate Chips
  • Vanilla Flavoring
  1. Put cream in a heavy saucepan. Heat to simmer. Be careful not to scorch.
  2. Remove from heat and add chocolate.
  3. Let sit for 3-4 minutes before stirring.
  4. Add vanilla and stir until smooth. Refrigerate until completely cooled.
  5. Whip till stiff peaks.
  6. Use to ice cakes or as a sweet filling.

Super Appetizers Fit For Any Gathering!

Taco Dip plated

Unless you are living under a rock or don’t watch or listen to any media, you will know this is Super Bowl Weekend.  I don’t really get into the hype of football games but when Denver goes to the Superbowl – I’m going to watch!  Growing up in Nebraska and living for many years in Colorado the Denver Broncos were the “hometown team!”  Since that time I have lived in several other States but I still cheer on the Broncos when I have a chance.

Adding to the excitement of Super Bowl Sunday, we are celebrating my sous chef dishwashing mom’s 85th birthday!  And if that wasn’t enough excitement, my brother Mike and his wife Kay will be here for the weekend.  Mike is a football enthusiast of gigantic proportions.  That makes for a perfect trifecta for our Super Sunday!

This morning I am putting together my grocery list for snacks, chips, dips, and food to munch on during the game.  We will probably be on sugar overload from the afternoon “cake” festivities.  So sweets won’t be part of our evening. (I will share pictures from mom’s party next week.)  Here are a few of my past favorites.

Layered Taco Dip
Layered Taco Dip

Taco Dip For Fiesta Fun

Cheese ball cut open

Homemade Cheese Balls

crispy thyme cheese half

Just In Thyme Crispy Cheese Crackers But wait there’s more! Click to continue reading

Ham Salad Appetizers or Sandwiches, You Choose

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I am posting this recipe for ham salad the week before Thanksgiving because you are going to need it soon.  Many of you bake up a big o’ turkey for Thanksgiving but then have a bit of ham on the side for those who don’t want turkey. (I know, but there really are people who don’t like turkey.)

I always buy Kentucky Legend Ham.  They should be sponsoring this post, but sadly they are not.  None-the-less I had a pound of ham leftover from cooking up this outstanding soup of Ham, Potato, and Corn Chowder.

But wait there’s more! Click to continue reading

Garlic Parmesan Cheese Rolls & Book Winner

THANK YOU to all of you who entered to win the audio book Wrecked, When A Broken World Slams into Your Comfortable Life by Jeff Goins. This is my first experience to take part in a blog tour book review.  I totally enjoyed it and I hope you did too. Although my first blog tour book review, the good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, it won’t be my last.  I am excited to giveaway this audio book and the winner is Jon Stolpe! All you have to do to claim your winning book is leave a comment on today’s post!  Congratulations Jon!  If you didn’t win, don’t go too far because I have more giveaways during the month of December! All drawings are done by www.Random.org.
When I saw this recipe in the December Taste of Home magazine I just knew I had to make them … for you. They looked so delicious along with being fast and easy.  From previous Decembers I know that life gets busier, the days get shorter, and the to-do lists go on forever! This recipe fits into the fast paced December we are speeding toward!

These garlic Parmesan cheese rolls will make an exceptional appetizers as well as a nice roll along with any chicken, fish, or beef you decide to prepare this month! We can thank Pillsbury for a quick start with this crusty french loaf.
The goodies for the inside go together quickly. Butter, chopped green onions, fresh parsley, minced garlic and Parmesan cheese.
Once the crusty loaf is unrolled the yummy mixture is spread across the dough.
  The log roll is cut into 12 slices, placed in a muffin tin and baked.  They can be served immediately or added to a buffet table along with other appetizers.  The flavors will burst among the crusty layers of the little spiral rolls.  Enjoy!

Garlic Parmesan Cheese Rolls
Prep time
Total time
Loaded with flavor, these rolls come together quickly and can be on the table in 25 minutes.
Serves: 12 servings
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (or 2 teaspoons dried parsley)
  • 1½ teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tube (11 oz.) refrigerated crusty French loaf
  1. In a small bowl, mix the first 5 ingredients. Unroll bread dough; spread butter mixture to within ½" of edges.
  2. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side. Cut into 12 slices; place in greased muffin cups, cut side down.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
* If refrigerated dough does not unroll easily, use a rolling pin to roll into a 6" x 12" piece of dough.

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Roll

Keep on cooking and many blessings!

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