Our Summer Yurt Camping Trip & Campfire Hot Dogs Recipe

We love camping because it gives us the perfect opportunity to truly disconnect and spend quality time with each other as a family and with nature. It’s a moment to breathe and find some stillness in a world that has gotten way too fast paced. This past month, we packed up the car and headed only 30 minutes away to Fort Yargo State Park in Georgia to do some yurt camping. This is our third time camping in a yurt and let me tell you…it’s a much easier way to camp with young kids.

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We had a great time! We did lots of goofing off…

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and hiking…

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and canoeing…

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and crafts…

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and reading…

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and sleeping…

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and swinging in the hammock…

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and eating, of course! No camping trip is complete without s’mores which we packed into a container. Unwrapping all of the chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers and placing them in a big container makes the whole process of making s’mores much easier so you can just enjoy each other’s company around the fire.

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Oh and eating them is nice too! 🙂

We also made Campfire Dogs, which are a twist on the boring hot dog and so much fun to make! Here’s how you make them.

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Campfire Crescent Hot Dogs

Ingredients

  • 1 tube refrigerated crescent rolls (8 count)
  • 8 hot dogs
  • Condiments (mayo, ketchup, mustard, relish, etc)

Directions
1. Unroll the crescent rolls into separate triangles along the perforations. 2. Place the hot dog on the edge of the widest part of the triangle and roll the hotdog.

Campfire Dogs

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3. Skewer your crescent dog and roast it over the fire until golden brown. We like to roast over indirect heat (not directly over the fire) so the crescent can completely bake through and then at the end we place it over the fire to get it a little crispy. 4. Serve immediately with mayo, ketchup, mustard or other condiments.

If you want to read more camping with kids tips activity ideas, make sure to read my Camping with Preschoolers post too!

 

Celebrate the Great American Campout

The summer is a great time to take the family camping. Plus, the Great American Campout Day is in a few days on June 27th! Below are some fabulous ways to celebrate Great American Campout Day in Georgia or make sure to visit National Wildlife Federation for additional ideas throughout the country.

Amicalola Falls State Park- The Hike Inn

A five-mile hike from the top of Amicolola Falls will bring visitors to the 20-guest room Hike Inn. Guests have access to hot showers, but there are no outlets at this backcountry getaway. The Hike Inn serves breakfast and dinner every day in a family-style setting and is perfect for Appalachian Trail hikers or families looking for a wilder kind of vacation. gastateparks.org/AmicalolaFalls

Smithgall Woods State Park- Luxury Cottage Camping

If you have never seen a chandelier in the middle of the woods, stay a night at Smithgall Woods State Park’s Smithgall Cottage. Rustically opulent and built of smooth Montana lodge pole pines, the cottage features immaculately decorated rooms, including a great room with a large stone fireplace, an exercise room, a kitchen, a dining room and four bedrooms (2 Kings; 1 Queen; 1 Double/Double) with private baths. Nestled at the heart of the park, the cottage’s large decks overlook the surrounding bubbling brooks and gorgeous forest scenery. gastateparks.org/SmithgallWoods

Stephen C. Foster State Park- Suwanee River Eco-Lodge

Run by Stephen C. Foster State Park, the Suwanee River Eco-Lodge in Fargo, Ga., consists of 10 cottages and a conference room that can seat up to 100 people. Perfect for hunting or paddling vacations, business meetings, retreats, reunions and weddings, the eco-lodge sits just 18 miles from the beautiful Okefenokee Swamp. gastateparks.org/StephenCFoster

Yurt “Glamping”

There’s no need to pitch a tent when High Falls, Tugaloo, Red Top Mountain, Fort Yargo and Cloudland Canyon State Parks offer the glamorous camping (“glamping”) option of yurts. Made of wood and canvas, yurts sleep up to six people and come with beds, futons, screened windows and locking doors, as well as an outside deck, picnic table and grill/fire ring. Yurts will also soon be added to Sweetwater Creek State Park. http://gastateparks.org/Yurts

First-Time Camper Program

For those who have never ventured into the woods, 13 state parks offer loaner gear through the First-Time Camper program. The program’s equipment was donated to the parks by Coleman, REI and The North Face, and, for just $50, first-time adventure seekers can spend two nights in a modern campground with a tent, sleeping pads, chairs, a camp stove, lantern and marshmallow-roasting sticks. Park staff and volunteers can help set up the tents and provide “Camping 101” instructions. http://gastateparks.org/FirstTimeCamper

 

Father’s Day Gift Ideas for the Grilling Dad + Homemade Kansas Style BBQ Sauce

Disclosure 1

Both my husband, Mike and my dad are kings of the grill. They love spending time cooking outdoors for the family during the warm spring and summer months. So for Father’s Day, I always know what to get those two. BBQ anything. This year, I will be whipping up a homemade BBQ sauce to give the special dads in my life. Today, I’m sharing one of our favorite BBQ sauce recipes that is super simple to make and so much better than store-bought!

Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe

Homemade Kansas Style BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 2 tsp natural hickory liquid smoke
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions: Mix all of the ingredients together into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Make sure to stir the sauce every few minutes. Take off the heat and allow to come to room temperature and store in refrigerator until ready to use.

I like to package the BBQ Sauce in a nice personalized mason jar that can be reused in the future. Plus, I like to add a little something dad can use with his yummy BBQ sauce.

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Some ideas include (pictured above):

King of the Grill Kitchen Towel

#1 Dad Grill Tongs

Smoking Hot BBQ Cutting Board

All of these personalized Father’s Day items and more are available at PersonalCreations.com.

Easter Recipe: Deviled Eggs Three Ways

Disclosure 1

It’s not Easter unless we have deviled eggs so today I wanted to share three of our favorite recipes. The first recipe is for classic deviled eggs except that there’s a little twist that makes a big difference. Sugar and honey mustard. These two ingredients really add a lot of flavor. However, it’s also fun to play with deviled eggs and add new ingredients like avocado or salsa. Enjoy!

deviled eggs recipe

 

Classic Deviled Eggs

classic deviled eggs

  • 6 Hardboiled Eggs, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 3 Tbsp mayo
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp honey mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Paprika, for garnish

Directions. Carefully scoop out the yokes and place into a bowl. Mash all of the ingredients together to make the filling. Pipe or spoon filling into egg white halves and top with a sprinkle of paprika.

 

Guacamole Deviled Eggs

guacamole deviled eggs

  • 6 Hardboiled Eggs, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 2 Tbsp mayo
  • 1 medium Haas avocado
  • 1 tsp red onion
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions. Carefully scoop out the yokes and place into a bowl. Mash all of the ingredients together to make the filling. Pipe or spoon filling into egg white halves and top with a cilantro leaf.

 

Tex-Mex Deviled Eggs

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  • 6 Hardboiled Eggs, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1-2 Tbsp salsa
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder

Directions. Carefully scoop out the yokes and place into a bowl. Mash all of the ingredients together to make the filling. Pipe or spoon filling into egg white halves and top with a sprinkle of chili powder and little green onion.

Have a personalized Easter celebration!

The Personalized Egg Platter and Easter Countdown Board pictured above are from Personal Creations. For lots of super cute and personalized Easter baskets, gifts and home decor – visit PersonalCreations.com.

Quick Valentine’s Day Treat: Heart-Shaped Cherry Hand Pies

Lucas’ class is having a little Valentine’s Day celebration with a few treats and a book exchange. I decided to make these super simple Heart-Shaped Cherry Hand Pies to share with his class. To keep this super simple, I used store bought pie dough and a really good brand of canned cherries in water (look for something that lists only cherries, water, and pure cane sugar in the ingredients list. Avoid those with high fructose corn syrup or artificial colors). I hesitate to even call this a recipe since it doesn’t involve any actual cooking or prepping, but alas…the instructions are below.

Heart Cherry Hand Pies

Heart-Shaped Cherry Hand Pies

What You’ll Need

  • 1 can cherries in water, drained and lightly mashed
  • Pie Dough (2)
  • 1 egg, whisked with a little water to use as egg wash
  • Sugar, for sprinkling
  • 3-inch heart cookie cutter

Directions:

Cut out hearts from pie dough.

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Place a few cherries (3-4) in center of heart.

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Cover with another heart cutout and crimp edges with a fork. Repeat with remaining hearts. Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with a little sugar. Using a sharp knife, cut out a small X in the middle of the heart to allow steam to escape.

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Bake in 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

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Valentine’s Day Breakfast Idea – Eggs in a Heart-Shaped Basket

I love adding sweet touches that say “I love you” throughout the day on Valentine’s Day. I usually start by making a special breakfast with a love-inspired menu. One of our favorites? Eggs in a Heart-Shaped Basket. This is basically eggs in toast, but just kicked up a notch for this special day.

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Eggs in a Heart-Shaped Basket

What You’ll Need:

  • Eggs
  • Bread, toasted
  • Heart-shaped cookie cutter (heat resistant; silicone or metal)
  • Cooking Spray

Directions: Using cookie cutter, cut out heart from center of toast.

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Heat griddle or pan on medium heat. Lightly spray pan and cookie cutter (both inside and outside). Place cookie cutter on griddle or pan. Gently crack open egg into cookie cutter.

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Cover with a lid (this allows egg to cook via steam). Once egg is cooked (to your liking), remove cookie cutter and egg from pan using a spatula. Place the cookie cutter and egg into the toast, and gently remove the egg from the cookie cutter (you may need to use a small knife or spoon to help the egg separate from the sides of the cookie cutter).

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Super Bowl Food: 7-Layer Dip Recipe

Disclosure 1

The big game is this weekend and we are making last-minute plans for a small get-together at our house. Honestly, our week has been busy, busy (as always!), which has made it very difficult to plan a big menu. The idea is to prepare a few tasty dishes that our friends and family will love but are also very easy and quick to make. One of our favorites is 7-Layer Dip. This dip never lasts. You put the dip on the table and I swear everyone makes a mad dash for it and then loiters around the dish until every last bite is gone! As the name implies the dip consists of 7 layers – refried beans, sour cream, guacamole, tomatoes, cilantro, cheese, and black olives.

7 Layer Dip

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It’s super simple to make especially when you use Kroger’s NEW PeakFection™ guacamole and salsa (allows you to skip making the fresh guac and dicing tomatoes). However, both the PeakFection™ guacamole and salsa taste like they are made fresh due to their special cold water, high-pressure processing technology that holds PeakFection at the peak of perfection, so it stays fresh a whole lot longer. These are great to have stashed in the refrigerator!

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7 Layer Dip Recipe

7 Layer Dip Recipe

  • Ingredients
    1 container Kroger’s NEW PeakFection™ guacamole
    Kroger’s NEW PeakFection™ salsa (drained)
    1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
    1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
    1/4 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
    1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
    2 cups shredded Mexican-style cheese
    1 (2.25 ounce) can black olives – drained and finely chopped

Directions
In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream and taco seasoning. In a 9×13 inch dish, spread the refried beans. Top with sour cream mixture. Spread on guacamole. Top with salsa, shredded cheese, black olives, and cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips.

Holiday Party Appetizer: Blue Cheese Artichoke Dip Recipe

Disclosure 1

We are so excited about the next few weeks – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Years Eve. It’s time to celebrate! We go to my parent’s Christmas Eve party on the 24th and do Christmas Day at home with just us and the kids. However, we have one more party left to host – New Year’s Eve. Honestly after hosting so many parties towards the end of the year, we like to keep New Year’s Eve simple and relaxed.


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It’s all about being together as a family to ring in the New Year. We do firecrackers and sparklers, of course.

 

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Food is simple. Heavy appetizers. Champagne, sparkling cider for the kids, and something sweet.

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One of the appetizers that we will be serving this year is a Blue Cheese Artichoke Dip. This is a hot dip which makes it very satisfying and a perfect option when you won’t have a main course. Prep is done in just minutes and people LOVE it. 

Blue Cheese Artichoke Dip Recipe

Blue Cheese Artichoke Dip Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) brick cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • WHEAT THINS or TRISCUITS 

Instructions

  1. PREHEAT oven 350°F. Place all ingredients in food processor container; cover. Process just until blended, but not completely smooth.
  2. SPOON into 9-inch pie plate.
  3. BAKE 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve with WHEAT THINS’

Blue Cheese Artichoke Dip Recipe_1

Holiday Party Inspiration!

To get some fresh new holiday party inspiration, make sure to visit The Ultimate Party Planner. It features lots of yummy and festive holiday recipes tested and tasted by bloggers along with tips on how to host the perfect party this holiday season. Plus, you can print Publix coupons to use for your grocery shopping this holiday season. Visit nabiscopublixpartyplanner.com to get inspired and save!

Holiday Party Idea: Eggnog Soda Bar

One of my favorite things about the holidays is figuring out what new party I will throw! This year we will be hosting a few parties: gingerbread house decorating for the kids, holiday brunch, and a holiday open house. I am already planning out the themes, decor, and menu for each. One thing that I like to do for parties is to set up a self-serve beverage station. It’s a lot of fun for the guests and allows me to relax instead of having to serve everyone a drink. We’ve done everything from a cocktail station with a signature drink, a hot cocoa bar complete with all the toppings and a homemade soda bar that includes a variety of SodaStream soda flavors. This year we are putting a twist on the homemade soda bar by offering a holiday-inspired Eggnog Soda Bar.

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For our festive Eggnog Soda Bar we made root beer, cola, and ginger ale. And of course, we had plenty of egg nog.

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Plus, a few seasonal toppings. Whipped cream (which I wrapped in a piece of cardstock and added a cute chalkboard label to make it look nicer), cinnamon, nutmeg, and candy canes. You could even include sprinkles, cherries, shaved chocolate, and more.

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A cute chalkboard sign lets guests know how to make their festive drink. Make sure to tell your guests to pour their soda in before the eggnog or else it will fizz too much.

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The result? Delicious! These kind of taste like a root beer float with a twist!

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Setting the Eggnog Soda Bar up was very easy with the SodaStream Play! We have been using a SodaStream for years now and love it. It’s a much healthier alternative to store-bought soda. It has less sugar and little-to-no caffeine (depending on the flavor). Over the years, Sodastream has also added a huge variety of soda flavors and they even offer natural sodas made with pure cane sugar. Both the kids and adults love it!

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Another cool feature? The SodaStream Play now has removable skins in a variety of colors, patterns, and even designs to match your personality, home decor or party theme. I chose red for the holidays! Putting the skin is effortless as it is vinyl and is easy to lift up and reposition if you don’t get it lined up correctly. Right now you can get a code for a FREE skin when you purchase a SodaStream Play.

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As you can see from the video below, using the SodaStream Play is so simple!

Additional Info:

The SodaStream Play would make a fantastic gift for the holidays. It would be perfect to give to a family, a foodie, cook, or anyone who wants a healthier way to enjoy soda. For additional information on the SodaStream Play, please visit SodaStreamUSA.com.

Semi-Homemade Thanksgiving Side Dishes & Desserts Ideas #HolidayExperts

Disclosure 1

As you know, we have been hosting Thanksgiving at our house for several years now. We have a huge family! We typically have 20-30 family members join us for Thanksgiving dinner. That’s a lot of cooking! In the beginning, I used to insist on making everything from scratch. Now many years and turkeys later, I am singing a different tune lol. I now fully embrace outside help in many forms such as buying a few pre-made items that I either serve as-is (think dips for appetizers or easy cheese course) or I doctor to make my own or to incorporate into a more complex dish.

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A great place to start if you need a little help this holiday season is at Boston Market – they have a variety of home-style menus all prepared using fresh, high-quality ingredients.

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Semi-Homemade Thanksgiving Ideas from Boston Market

  • Skip peeling, boiling, and mashing potatoes! Add minced garlic, sour cream, and chives to pre-made Boston Market mashed potatoes.
  • Skip making corn bread from scratch! Use Boston Market corn bread to make cornbread stuffing, bread pudding, or serve as-is as your Thanksgiving dinner rolls.
  • Save time from trimming and steaming green beans and pick up pre-made green beans from Boston Market and turn them into the classic green bean casserole.
  • Turn Boston Market creamed spinach into a quick spinach pie made with pre-made pastry dough.
  • Turn Boston Market cinnamon apples into an apple crisp by putting into a baking dish and adding the “crisp” toppings.

We love bread pudding so we decided to try Boston Market’s Head Chef and Director of Culinary Innovation, Rik Kiessling’s, Corn Bread Pudding recipe. Of course we used Boston Market cornbread!

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It is delicious and would be a welcome addition to your family’s holiday table!

Corn Bread Pudding Recipe

Corn Bread Pudding Recipe

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Custard

  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Âľ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Whisk together all ingredients.

Caramel Sauce

  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • ÂĽ cup Bourbon
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Directions:
1. Mix sugar, water and corn syrup together.
2. Place in a pot and bring to a boil, and slow down to a slow simmer.
3. Cook the sugar until it reaches an almond color.
4. Remove from heat and add heavy cream and Bourbon.
5. Return to stove top for a quick boil and then remove from heat.
6. Set aside and let cool.

Bread Pudding

  • 8 Boston Market® Cornbread, cubed
  • 2 ½ cups bread pudding custard mix, see recipe above
  • ½ stick butter, melted
  • Caramel sauce, see recipe above

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. With cooking spray, coat the inside of four 8 oz. soufflé dishes.
3. Place cubed cornbread evenly in soufflé dishes.
4. Pour custard mix evenly over cornbread, being careful not to overfill soufflé dishes.
5. Place on cookie sheet and place in oven.
6. Cook for 18 minutes.
7. Drizzle butter over the top of bread pudding.
8. To serve, drizzle with caramel sauce.

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Did you know?

Boston Market has been open on Thanksgiving for more than 15 years! They served more than 1 million people last Thanksgiving, and expect to serve more than 1 million again this year. Boston Market’s home style menu items are all prepared using fresh, high-quality ingredients, and offer consumers a tremendous value.

In addition to full meals, Boston Market encourages customers to visit our restaurants to pick up any last-minute sides or pies they may need. If you’ve waited until the last minute or something happens Thanksgiving Day and you need sides, they’re open. If ordered in advance, Boston Market also offers a whole roasted turkey holiday meal for 12 for $99.99.

Visit bostonmarket.com for more information and make sure to check out Boston Market’s Celebration Hub at holidayhub.bostonmarket.com to find recipes, tips and other ideas for a stress-free, delicious Thanksgiving.

 Giveaway!

One lucky Jolly Mom reader will win a $250 Boston Market Gift Card! Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.

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Quick Crowd-Pleasing Thanksgiving Appetizer: Apple Pie Dip Recipe

Disclosure 1

I’m a big believer in appetizers being simple and quick to prepare – especially on Thanksgiving when I am already spending several days before cooking and cleaning and getting everything just right in preparation for the big day. So today I wanted to share with you a to.die.for appetizer that is easy and quick to prepare, but is also a crowd-pleaser.  Hot Apple Pie Dip served with Triscuit and/or Wheat Thins crackers.

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You guys. This dip is FALL on a plate. It is creamy and filled with apples and pecans and spices. The melted cheddar cheese on top makes it a little bit sweet/salty. And…it is served warm.

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Total rustic, comfort food while still being an elegant dish perfect for the holidays. It is also an easy recipe to double or triple if you have are expecting a full house on Thanksgiving.

Hot Apple Pie Dip Recipe

 

Hot Apple Pie Dip Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 tub (8 oz.) reduced-fat cream cheese spread
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 apple, chopped, divided
  • 1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped pecans
  •  WHEAT THINS Original Snacks and/or TRISCUITS

Instructions

  • HEAT  oven to 375°F.
  • MIX  cream cheese, sugar and spice in medium bowl until well blended. Stir in half the apples.
  • SPREAD  into pie plate or small casserole dish; top with remaining apples, cheddar and nuts.
  • BAKE  10 to 12 min. or until heated through. Serve with WHEAT THINS and/or TRISCUITS.
  • OPTIONAL: Top with extra chopped nuts and apples for garnish.

Holiday Party Inspiration!

To get some fresh new holiday party inspiration, make sure to visit The Ultimate Party Planner. It features lots of yummy and festive holiday recipes (like the Apple Pie Dip recipe featured above) tested and tasted by bloggers along with tips on how to host the perfect party this holiday season. Plus, you can print Publix coupons to use for your grocery shopping this holiday season. Visit nabiscopublixpartyplanner.com to get inspired and save!