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    Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

    Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers are perfect for parties and game day gatherings. They’re stuffed with cheesy goodness and wrapped in bacon which crisps in the oven as they bake.

    In spite of all the cinnamon-spiced, pumpkin-filled things I have on the blog agenda, this savory bake has edged them all out to be my first published recipe of Fall 2021. The reason? First of all, it’s football time in Tennessee. I don’t watch the game, but my dad is a fan. And I enjoy making, sharing, and eating all kinds of game day food. Second (and perhaps more pressing) the jalapeno pepper plants in my little garden overfloweth.

    The vegetables in my garden have been plentiful this year, but none more so than the jalapeno plants. They are so easy and fun to grow! Even now, when all the other plants are waning, the jalapenos are still going strong. I’ve let them grow on the vine too long, so now I have some really colossal peppers that need a purpose.
    This recipe is it! It’s a party staple but you don’t need an excuse to make them. They are so easy to make, not too hot, and everyone seems to love them.
    Cheese, please!

    Grate a block of good extra-sharp cheddar instead of using the pre-shredded stuff, if you can. It blends with the cream cheese better and melts like a dream! The pre-shredded stuff will work in a pinch, but you’ll love how melty and bubbly the block cheese becomes.
    Onion and garlic powders, along with freshly ground pepper add more savory flavor to the peppers. Some people leave those spices out, but they work a special magic on plain cream cheese. I say use them!

    The seeds and ribs carry most of the heat in the pepper, so put on some gloves and scoop them out. Use a spoon or a curled finger to scrape the ribs out.

    Once hollowed, fill them with the cheese mixture. Use the back of a spoon to press the mixture into the pepper cavities.

    That’s a wrap!
    Here’s my cheat. I use thin pre-cooked bacon. Hormel Black Label is what I keep on hand and it works well. It’s pliable enough for wrapping and crisps up perfectly by the time the peppers are cooked. If you prefer to use uncooked bacon make sure it’s THIN sliced.

    This classic appetizer is so simple and really satisfying. My peppers were so big, I had to use two strips of bacon per pepper half. The recipe I’ve written calls for more normal-sized peppers that you can easily find at the grocery store, for a yield of 24 poppers.

    These are so wonderful served with sour cream and a sprinkle of scallions or chives. I served these with the last of the garden’s cherry tomatoes. A fond farewell to summer.

    Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

    Heather Baird

    These delicious baked bites are game day staples and a classic party appetizer. Instead of uncooked bacon, I use thin pre-cooked bacon (Hormel Black Label works for me). If you use uncooked bacon, make sure to get THIN CUT. This ensures that the peppers and bacon will be cooked through at the same time.Use gloves or two plastic baggies over your hands to scoop out the ribs and seeds from the peppers. Otherwise you may experience burning fingers from the capsaicin in the peppers.

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    Prep Time 15 minsCook Time 20 minsTotal Time 35 mins

    Course AppetizerCuisine American

    Servings 24

    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric 8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar block cheese preferred1/2 teaspoon garlic powder1/2 teaspoon onion powder1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper about 12 turns from a grinder1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt12 fresh whole jalapeno peppers each 3 inches long12 slices uncooked thin sliced bacon or 24 thin slices pre-cooked baconSour cream for servingScallions or chives for serving
    Instructions Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foilPlace the cream cheese, grated cheddar, garlic powder, onion powder, ground pepper and sea salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir together with a rubber spatula. Fold together several times to make sure all the ingredients are well dispersed. Cover and set aside.Slice the jalapenos in half lengthwise. Put on gloves and scoop the seeds and ribs out with fingers, or use a spoon to scrape them out. Place the hollowed pepper halves on the prepared baking sheet.Fill the pepper halves with spoonsful of the cheese mixture, heaping them a little higher than the edges of the peppers (don’t overfill or the cheese will bubble out).If using uncooked bacon, cut the slices in half so you have 24 pieces of bacon. Wrap each filled pepper with a bacon half so that the ends of the bacon meet underneath the peppers (seam-side-down, so to speak).If using precooked bacon, wrap one whole piece of bacon around each filled pepper so that the bacon ends meet underneath the peppers.Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the bacon is browned and the peppers are softened.Serve peppers warm with sour cream and chives. These are also great at room temperature.
    NotesBacon can be crisped further under a broiler for 2 minutes. Watch carefully!
    Larger or smaller peppers will change the yield of the recipe. My peppers were huge, but were still fully cooked at 20 minutes.
    Bacon pieces can be secured with toothpicks prior to baking, if they don’t want to stay put.

    Keyword bacon, cream cheese, extra-sharp cheddar, fresh jalapeno peppers, garlic powder, onion powder, pre-cooked bacon

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    Throw the Ultimate Backyard Oktoberfest Party with a Feast of German Fare

    Bring Bavaria to your backyard with our ultimate Oktoberfest party guide! Here you’ll find a feast of authentic savory German fare, tempting sweets, and festive drinks.

    A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to plan and develop recipes for an entire Oktoberfest feast, at the request of my friends at My pal and colleague, Camille, ( managing editor and all-around creative whirlwind) was putting together a shoot for a huge Oktoberfest party guide. I was beyond thrilled to be invited to contribute! And if that were not enough excitement, the party would be held in my own backyard. You guys. I was completely over the moon! (Still am.)

    While Camille and her team set up a beautiful biergarten/drink station under our big poplar tree, we dressed a buffet table nearby. We donned it in Oktoberfest party pennants, blue linens, and a white tablecloth that totally gave me peasant shirt vibes. Then we filled it to the brim with the best German fare we could find and make – including a German fare charcuterie board to rival all others. Read on for links to all of the recipes.

    Party-Perfect Recipes for German Fare.

    You could say this is the German version of mac-and-cheese. My mini Käsespätzle, pies recipe is a riff on the classic German cheesy noodle dish. Here I’ve transformed it into a hand-pie for your party. Get the recipe at this link: Mini Käsespätzle Pies.

    This classic Kartoffelpuffer recipe (German potato pancakes) is easy to make as appetizer-sized mini pancakes to feed a crowd. Serve the crispy mouthfuls with applesauce and sour cream for dipping. Get the recipe at this link: Mini German Potato Pancakes.
    Brezen and Brot.

    It wouldn’t be much of an Oktoberfest party without soft pretzels! These soft, chewy twists are a frequent sight in German biergartens and the perfect salty companion to spicy mustards and beer cheese. And! This recipe shortcuts the work with pizza dough. Get the recipe at this link: Easy Bavarian-Style Soft Pretzels.

    Homemade bread bakers, this one is for you! Dense, nutrient-rich dark seeded breads are well loved in German culture. And dreikernebrot, is the perfect example of dense, chewy German bread full of aromatic grain flavors. Making it is a bit of a production, but the end result is well worth it. Find the recipe at this link: Homemade German Seeded Bread Recipe.
    Old World Sweets.

    Black Forest Cakes in miniature! This rich chocolate cake hails from the Black Forest region of Germany (you may recall my full-sized version here). It’s a layered confection soaked with Kirsch (cherry liqueur), and filled with whipped cream and Morello cherry preserves. Find the recipe at this link: Mini Black Forest Cakes.

    These individual strudels have a crunchy phyllo wrapper with a sweet interior of shredded apples, golden raisins and walnuts. Find my recipe at this link: Mini Apple Strudel Recipe.
    A Cozy Sip.

    Although Oktoberfest is ALLLL about the beer, it’s also nice to have something warm to sip on a cool fall day. Traditional glühwein, which translates to ‘glow wine’ will make cheeks rosy and keep Oktoberfest and fall fun in full swing. Find the recipe at this link: Authentic German Mulled Wine Recipe.

    Speaking of cozy! Even Cashew got in on the fun. We found some puppy lederhosen, and he and brother Biscuit crashed the party in style. (Look for Biscuit in the image gallery – he’s the one eating cheese!)

    The real Oktoberfest in Munich was cancelled this year because of :: gestures wildly at everything:: so this is a great time to take party matters into your own hands. I hope this guide will inspire you to create your own Oktoberfest party at home!
    Be sure to browse the entire Oktoberfest party gallery on, with links to all the crafty details.

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    Cereal Milk Pudding Shooters

    These fun Cereal Milk Pudding Shooters can be made with your favorite sweet breakfast cereal. This version uses Froot Loops, which makes a colorful party food that’s kid-friendly, too!

    Sometimes I forget how good scratch-made pudding is. Whenever I make it I always wonder why I don’t make it more often. This pudding is extra good, because it comes with a hit of childhood nostalgia. We have Milk Bar to thank for introducing the world to cereal milk as an ingredient. The thing is, we’ve all likely made this as kids sitting in front of the TV, eating sugary cereal and watching Saturday morning cartoons. Who knew we’d be using it to make desserts?

    Selecting a cereal.
    Start this recipe with the biggest bowl of cereal, ever! Five cups of milk to four cups of cereal. I must admit, stirring this together was super satisfying. I was tempted to take a big bite.
    Froot Loops (with marshmallow shapes) is my sweet cereal of choice, but you could use Fruity Pebbles, Cap’n Crunch, or even less sweet Cornflakes. You might remember my previous recipe made with cereal milk – Toasted Corn Flakes Cupcakes with Cereal Milk Pipettes. Still love those!

    Cover the enormous bowl of cereal and refrigerate it. Let the mixture steep for at least an hour. Longer is better to coax out as much cereal flavor as possible. Aim for 2-3 hours.

    Next, strain out the cereal. The loops will soak up some of the milk, so you’ll have less than you began with. You should end up with about 4 1/2 cups of cereal milk.

    Divide the cereal milk. 4 cups will be heated in a saucepan, and 1/2 cup will go in a bowl with cornstarch and egg yolks to make a slurry. Add this little bowl of ingredients to the saucepan to thicken the pudding as it cooks.

    After the mixture was all whisked together and thickened, something was obviously missing. The thick, pale yellow pudding didn’t really resemble the colorful Froot Loops cereal milk I’d had as a kid. A drop of red food color will make it look more authentic. This is optional.

    Cool the pudding before dividing it between shot glasses. I used a piping bag with a tiny hole cut in the end to portion it into the glasses, but you could also just spoon it in.

    Party perfect.
    Add some whipped cream and crushed cereal on top, and you’ve got instant party food! This recipe will make about 20 shooters served in these 2.4 oz. dessert shot glasses. However, you can also divvy the pudding up in larger servings to serve 6-8 people.

    How fun would these be for a kid’s party? They’re so creamy and they’re a good summer refresher when chilled. They can be made a couple of days ahead, so if it’s hot where you live right now, wait until night time when it’s cooler to make them. It takes about 15 minutes on the stove top. Enjoy!

    Cereal Milk Pudding Shooters

    Heather Baird

    This recipe can be endlessly varied with your favorite cereal. This version uses Froot Loops, which makes a fun and colorful party food. Kid-friendly, too! These take about 4 hours to chill completely, and can be made 2 days ahead.

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    Prep Time 10 minsCook Time 15 minsTotal Time 25 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 20 dessert shooters

    Equipment20-24 shot glasses, 2.4 oz. eachPiping baglarge closed star piping tip
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Cereal milk pudding5 cups whole milk4 cups fruity breakfast cereal such as Froot Loops or Fruity Pebbles1 cup sugar1/3 cup cornstarch5 large egg yolks1/2 teaspoon sea salt1 drop liquid red food color optionalWhipped cream and topping2/3 cup heavy cream2 tablespoons granulated sugar1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract1/4 cup loosely crushed fruity cereal such as Froot Loops or Fruity Pebbles
    Instructions Cereal milk puddingCombine the milk and cereal in a large bowl and stir to combine. Let the mixture steep for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. Strain out the cereal. You should be left with about 4 1/2 cups of cereal milk. Discard the cereal.Pour 1/2 cup of the cereal milk in a medium bowl. Add the sugar, cornstarch egg yolks and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the bowl. Whisk to combine.Add 4 cups of the cereal milk to a saucepan and set over medium heat until steaming but not boiling.Add 1/3 cup of the hot cereal milk from the saucepan to the egg mixture, whisking constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling. Once mixed, add the egg mixture back to the saucepan of milk in a pencil-thin stream, whisking constantly as you pour.Cook over medium heat, whisking continually, until the mixture thickens up to the consistency of pudding, about 7 minutes. Stir in food color, if using. Transfer to a bowl and place plastic wrap on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Allow the mixture to cool at room temperature until barely warm. Portion into approximately 20-24 shot glasses, 2.4 oz. each. Alternatively divide between 6-8 ramekins or dessert cups.Whipped cream and toppingsBeat the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add in the granulated sugar while beating. Add in the vanilla extract. Beat until stiff peaks form.Transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a large closed star tip. Pipe whipped cream on top of each pudding shot. Garnish each with crushed fruity cereal.Refrigerate until ready to serve.
    NotesLighten this recipe by using low fat milk or almond milk.
    I’ve found that allowing the cereal to steep for 2 hours in the milk will impart more flavor.

    Keyword cereal milk, froot loops, heavy cream, whole milk

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    Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread

    This cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread is a crowd-pleasing appetizer. Use ready-made pizza dough from the grocery store and you’ll have this on the table in a snap!

    I’m squeezing in a savory bake this week because this one was such a winner from the test kitchen. I simply could not wait to share. Plus, it’s something that a deserving dad might love for Father’s Day on Sunday. But honestly, I’d make it for no other reason than it’s totally perfect for snacking. Each little nugget of pizza dough holds melty mozzarella cheese and a single pepperoni slice. Get yourself some marinara for dipping and you’re all set!

    You could make your own pizza dough for this (I like this one) but ready-made refrigerated or frozen pizza dough is a terrific shortcut. You’ll need 2 lbs. of dough, so pick up a couple of bags from grocery store. Don’t go for anything in a can – we’re looking for true yeasty-stretchy pizza dough for this recipe.

    Roll & shape.
    Roll out the dough to a rough 13×9-inch rectangle. Cold dough will want to snap back when you roll it, but don’t let it boss you around! You’re the boss of it. Pick it up and stretch it to size with your hands. See the video at the end of this post for a few visual cues.
    Use a pizza wheel to cut the dough into 1 1/2- inch x 2-inch squares. It doesn’t have to be exact because the dough can stretch if needed. It should be large enough to fit a standard size pepperoni slice on a square.

    Cube up a block of mozzarella cheese to about 1/2-inch square pieces. Place a pepperoni and a cheese cube on top of a dough square pinch the dough around it tightly. Repeat, repeat, repeat! This part went faster than I expected. There are a lot of dough squares to fill, but the end result is totally worth it!

    Dress it up!
    Mix up some olive oil, Italian herbs, garlic powder, and salt in a bowl, then toss in the filled dough pieces. Mix ’em around to make sure they’re coated on all sides.

    Layer the pieces in a lightly greased bundt pan. When the pan is all filled up, lightly tamp them down with your fingers. Into the oven it goes!

    After about 5-10 minutes, turn the bread out onto a large plate. Add your favorite marinara sauce and start dipping! The bowl of sauce in the center is pretty, but this bread gets eaten so fast it didn’t stay put for very long! As a result, you may prefer it on the side.

    I opted for a simple sprinkle of Italian flatleaf parsley on this pepperoni pizza monkey bread, but you could load it up with more mozzarella, parmesan, black olives, – heck, anything! Pieces can be pulled off with appetizer picks, or pulled apart with fingers.

    This ended up as our lunch instead of being an appetizer. One pan will feed about 6 very hungry adults, or 10-12 as a party appetizer. I imagine this would be perfect as a game day snack, or even make-ahead tailgate party food. Actually, I can’t think of an occasion that I wouldn’t make this for. I kind of want it for my birthday next month. Enjoy!

    Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread

    Heather Baird

    This cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread is a true crowd-pleasing appetizer. Use ready-made pizza dough from the grocery store deli and you’ll have this on the table in a snap!

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    Prep Time 40 minsCook Time 40 minsTotal Time 1 hr 20 mins

    Course Appetizer, BreadCuisine American, Italian

    Servings 10

    Equipment10 cup bundt pan
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric 1/3 cup olive oil1 tablespoon garlic powder2 tablespoons Italian seasoning1/2 teaspoon fine grain salt2 lb. frozen or refrigerated pizza dough thawed if frozen5 oz. package pepperoni slices8 oz. block low moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese cubed to 1/2 inch pieces2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf Italian parsley optionalMarinara sauce for serving
    Instructions Lightly coat a 10 cup bundt pan with cooking spray.In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and salt. Set aside.On a floured work surface, roll out 1 lb. of pizza dough using a rolling pin to roughly a 13×9 –inch rectangle. Cold dough will want to snap back, so pick up the dough and stretch it with your hands, working it to form the rectangle. Or, let the dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to loosen.Cut the rectangle using a pizza wheel or large chef’s knife into 1 1/2-inch x 2-inch squares (or thereabouts).Place a single pepperoni and a single cheese cube on top of dough square. Fold (and stretch if needed) the dough edges inward and pinch the edges together tightly. Repeat with remaining dough squares.Toss the stuffed dough pieces in the olive oil mixture and layer into the bundt pan.Repeat the rolling/shaping, cutting, and filling with the second 1 lb. pizza dough. Toss in the remaining olive oil mixture and transfer the pieces to the bundt pan. Tamp the pieces down gently with your fingertips.Preheat the oven to 350° F. Let the bread stand in the pan at room temperature while the oven preheats.Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, or until it is well-puffed, fragrant, and golden brown on top. Let the bread cool in the pan 5-10 minutes before turning it out onto a large serving plate. Serve with marinara sauce on the side.
    NotesUse a bundt pan that doesn’t have a lot of detail. This recipe works best in a standard ridged pan (as pictured).
    If you don’t have a bottle of Italian seasoning on hand, you can make your own blend using 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil, 1 teaspoon dried marjoram, 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme. This will equal the 2 tablespoons needed for this recipe. 

    Keyword italian seasoning, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni slices, pizza dough

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    How to Make a Pretty Dessert Board

    This dessert “charcuterie” board trades meats and cheeses for sweet treats, and it’s easier to put together than you might think!

    I recently created an article for Food Network about one of my new obsessions: Dessert Boards! These bountiful arrangements are inspired by charcuterie boards. Instead of meats, cheeses, and savory fare, these boards offer an array of sweet things. I’ve done my best to demystify the process with ingredients that need little prep work. I’ve also included tips on how to arrange your spread with style.

    The Right Stuff.

    I’m talking about ingredients! The fillers for your pretty dessert board will begin at the grocery store with some smart shopping. I personally enjoy using striped wafer cookies and cute waffle pretzels. Not only are they tasty, but they’re pretty cool to look at!

    Use some of those store-bought items to make low-prep desserts that will truly make for a pretty dessert board. You’ll find instructions for marbled strawberries, dip-dyed marshmallows, frosted brownie bites, and more in the article. All are quick fixes, but if you need more ideas, then 3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Fudge and 3 Ingredient Chocolate-Peanut Butter Marshmallow Candy are ideal for saving time. They’ll also make it so easy to fill up a board because both make big batches!

    The right arrangement and placement can make ordinary ingredients extraordinary! These yogurt-covered pretzels look kind of plain in the container, but fan them around a bowl and they almost look like flower petals. I’ve laid out all of my tips and tricks using line, shape, and symmetry. My best tip? Tile, tile, tile! Cookies, donuts, graham crackers, chocolate squares – they all lend themselves well to being tiled like dominos and create lovely repeating patterns.

    You’ll find every detail covered in this article – from choosing a board, to shopping smart for ready-made items, to composing an eye-pleasing spread. It’s absolutely brimming with the best info I could gather with DIYs, and loads more how-to pictures. Find it at this link on

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