A Few of Our Favorite Things

6 simple and delicious recipes for holiday entertaining 

Cookie exchanges, holiday parties, family celebrations, potluck dinners...there's no shortage of gatherings centered around food this time of the year!

This month, we’re inviting you into our homes with a selection of easy-to-make and equally delicious recipes submitted by Renewal employees! From our homes to yours...enjoy!

Mini Cranberry Nut Cheese Balls

Submitted by Katie Z., social media specialist
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
4 ounces goat cheese
4 ounces finely grated white cheddar cheese
½  cup chopped pecans (you can also use honey roasted almonds or walnuts)
½ cup chopped dried cranberries
¼ cup thinly sliced chives
Toppings (add more as needed)
½ cup chopped pecans 
½ cup chopped dried cranberries
½  cup thinly sliced chives
1. In large mixing bowl, combine ingredients. Stir until fully mixed.
2. Scoop out a spoonful of cheese mixture and roll into a small ball (approximately golf ball sized). Set completed balls aside on piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. 
3. Mix topping material in small shallow bowl.
4. Roll each ball around in topping mix, making sure it is evenly coated. Return to baking sheet.
5. Chill until ready to serve.
Tip: Serve with apple wedges, crackers, mini-toasts, or pretzels.  You can also spear with a pretzel sick in lieu of a toothpick as a serving device.

Baked Brie with Fig Spread

Submitted by Al B., shift supervisor
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 round brie cheese (about 12 ounces)
8.5 ounces (more or less to taste) fig spread
1 egg, beaten
2-3 teaspoons cold water
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Lay the puff pastry onto the prepared baking sheet. Place brie wheel on center of the pastry.
3. Add fig spread evenly over the top of the cheese wheel. 
4. Fold the puff pastry over the top of the brie, sealing all openings. 
5. Mix egg and water in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush egg wash on puff pastry.
6. Bake in preheated oven until the pastry is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Allow brie to rest 15 minutes or so before cutting and serving.

Homemade Irish Crème Liquor

Submitted by Zach R., customer service representative
• 1 cup Irish whiskey
• 1 cup liquid coffee creamer (half-and-half)
• 1 (14 ounce) can condensed milk
• 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
• 1 1⁄2 teaspoons chocolate syrup
1. Add all items to blender or food processor; blend well.
2. Store in closed container in refrigerator for up to two weeks. 
Tip: Also makes a great gift—make a batch to drink and a batch to share!

Strawberry Santa Snacks

Submitted by Eric S., sales manager
24 strawberries
24 mini-marshmallows
1-2 bananas (cut into 24 round slices)
1. Hull strawberries and remove small portion of tip.
2. Slice banana(s) into 24 rounds
3. Make stack of banana slice, strawberry, mini-marshmallow and then skewer with a tooth pick or wooden skewer. 
Tip: Add a green grape before the banana bottom of Santa Hat, and you have Grinch snacks!

Chocolate Crème Sandwich Cookie Truffles

Submitted by Emily P., marketing coordinator
1 (14 ounce) package chocolate sandwich cookies (such as Oreo®), crushed
1 (12 ounce) package vanilla-flavored almond bark, (use more as needed)
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
“Extras” for toppings (additional crushed cookies, mini-chocolate or peanut-butter chips, cocoa powder, sprinkles, nonpareils, crushed candy canes, etc.)
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, mix crushed cookies and cream cheese to form a stiff dough. Shape into walnut-sized balls. Place on prepared pan and refrigerate/freeze about an hour.
3. Melt almond bark in a metal bowl over a pan of lightly simmering water. Stir occasionally until smooth, and remove from heat.
4. Remove balls from refrigerator. Insert a wooden toothpick into a ball, and dip into melted almond bark (you can also use a pair of forks). Return to parchment paper  and remove toothpick. Repeat with remaining balls. Coating will harden as it cools, so if you wish to add toppings do so in small batches as you go.
5. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.
Tip: Use reduced-fat cookies and Neufchatel cheese for a lighter version (you won’t notice the difference!)

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

Submitted by Ryan F., digital strategist
1 1/2 cup white sugar 
1 cup butter, softened 
8 oz. package cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 tsp baking powder
3 ½ cup flour
1. Beat cream cheese, butter, egg,  sugar, almond extract, baking powder, and vanilla together in large bowl; mix well. Gradually add flour, beating well after each addition. Refrigerate until chilled.
2. Heat oven to 375°F. 
3. Roll out dough in thirds to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness on lightly floured surface (refrigerate unused dough for later use). 
4. Cut into desired shapes cookie cutters.
5. Leave plain for frosting or top with sprinkles or colored sugar.
6. Place 1 inch apart on baking sheet.
7. Bake 7 to 10 min. or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 2 min. Remove to wire racks; cool completely before frosting.

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