Michael's Favorite Things: Music, Fragrance, and Oranges

I’m always interested in learning about people’s favorite things: How they like their coffee, what’s their favorite movie, what type of peanut butter they prefer, what’s their top place to shop, and so on. For me, it’s a wonderful way to learn more about a person I admire AND at the same time, discover things I might like to try or do.

With that in mind, I thought I’d create a new series here on Inspired by Charm where I share a few of my favorite things. Depending on whether you love or hate this idea, I’ll share some of my favorites every couple weeks. Sound good?

In each post, I’ll share two lists: one will feature my current favorites and the other will highlight a few of my all-time favorites. I’ll keep my lists short so it’s not too much information at once. Here’s hoping you’ll discover some new things as you learn a little more about me.

Current Favorites

Favorite Fruit: Sumo Oranges
I talked about Sumo Citrus on my Instagram stories the other day. If you haven’t tried them yet, I recommend you find some ASAP. They are amazing, and I’m not sure how long they will be around. Apparently they are an orange and mandarin hybrid. They have a sweet flavor, super easy to peel, seedless and juicy without being messy. I’ve probably eaten more than 20 of them in the past few weeks, and I haven’t had a bad one yet. The only downside is the price: $2-2.50 per orange.

Favorite Read: Girl, Wash Your Face – Rachel Hollis
I may have mentioned this before, but I’m not a big reader. I prefer audiobooks because of my struggles with reading. Nevertheless, I’ve been gobbling up Rachel Hollis’ new book Girl, Wash Your Face. In less than a week, I’m almost halfway through it with plans to reread it so I can highlight my favorite parts. It’s full of life advice, self-help tips, and personal motivation. I’m a huge fan of Rachel’s writing style. She writes like she’s talking to a friend.

Favorite Record: By the Way, I Forgive You – Brandi Carlile
Brandi Carlile has been one of my favorite artists since her first album was released back in 2005. This past week she launched By the Way, I Forgive You, and this latest album doesn’t disappoint. A few of the tracks I’m loving are “The Joke,” “Whatever You Do,” and “Party of One.”

Favorite Fragrance: Y – Yves Saint Laurent
This is the newest men’s fragrance from Yves Saint Laurent. I received it as a Christmas gift and have been enjoying it ever since. It’s light and fresh – not overpowering. I think it’s the perfect choice for spring and summer. (Which reminds me, I’ve also added a Personal Style section to the SHOP IBC page. You can check that out here.)

Michael's Favorite Things: Girl, Wash Your Face

Michael's Favorite Things: Brandi Carlile

All-Time Favorites

Favorite Starbucks Drink: White Chocolate Mocha Grande Nonfat Milk, No Whip
I get super excited every time Starbucks launches a new drink or a seasonal special. However, I have yet to find something I love more than a White Chocolate Mocha Grande Nonfat Milk No Whipped Cream. There is something about this drink that tickles my heart each time I take a sip. It does come in at 300+ calories, so it’s definitely a treat. But oh so worth it.

Favorite iPhone Game: Plants vs. Zombies
We all need a little fun in our lives, right? Although I don’t spend a lot of time playing games on my phone, I do appreciate a distraction every now and then. Plants vs. Zombies 1 & 2 have been my guilty pleasures since they launched. I don’t play the original version anymore, however, I do check into PvZ 2 every day or so to play the daily “Piñata Challenge”.

Favorite Hair Product: American Crew Fiber
Thanks to family genetics I’ve been cursed with both thin hair and a receding hairline. As much as I would love to sport a cool pompadour, I’ve come to appreciate the hair I do have. Through the years, I’ve tried countless products that don’t live up to the hype. However, I have been using American Crew Fiber for more than 10 years and still love it. It gives my hair some texture and sheen as I style it.

Favorite Fast Food: Panda Express Orange Chicken
Because I’m currently trying to shed the few pounds I put on this winter, thoughts of Starbucks and Chinese food are swirling in my brain. Back when I was a student at Penn State (2001-2005), there was a Panda Express in one of our common areas known as the HUB. That’s when I fell in love with their Orange Chicken. For many years after I graduated it was rare for me to eat it because I didn’t live near a Panda Express restaurant. However, now that I’m in Pittsburgh, that’s changed. Needless to say, I’m not complaining. I like the Orange Chicken best paired with their lo mien noodles. Yum!

That’s my list for today, friends! I hope it gave you some ideas. Do we share any favorites things? What are some new things you’re loving?

Michael's Favorite Things: Sumo Oranges

I’m always interested in learning about people’s favorite things: How they like their coffee, what’s their favorite movie, what type of peanut butter they prefer, what’s their top place to shop, and so on. For me, it’s a wonderful way to learn more about a person I admire AND at the same time, discover things […]




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Blackberry Lime Shortcake - Dessert with a taste of summer!

I thought it’d be appropriate to wrap up this week with a cake. (It’s Friday after all, and I’m down for any reason to celebrate. How about you?) So, with visions of spring and summer already dancing in my head, today I’m serving up Blackberry Lime Shortcake Cake.

This Blackberry Lime Shortcake Cake makes the perfect warm weather dessert.

What’s a “shortcake cake” you may ask? Well, it’s all the things you love about shortcake served in cake form. Like this…

Classic shortcake gets an upgrade with this Blackberry Lime Shortcake Cake

Make sense?

Not only does it look beautiful, but I find it so easy to serve this way. Normally, you need to prepare individual shortcakes just before serving. With a shortcake cake, all you do is slice, serve, and enjoy!

Blackberry Lime Shortcake - Dessert with a taste of summer!

Although the recipe may sound a bit complicated, you’ll find it’s easy to make. First, prepare your shortcake. What’s nice about this method is that you bake the entire shortcake in one pan instead of having to roll out and cut individual circles of cake.

How to Make Blackberry Lime Shortcake Cake

How to Make Blackberry Lime Shortcake Cake

While the cake bakes, you can put together the blackberry lime filling. If you’ve never had blackberry and lime together, you are in for a treat. The flavors play off each other deliciously. Plus, if this winter is dragging you down like it is me, the flavor pairing may give the taste of summer you need.

How to Make Blackberry Lime Shortcake Cake

In addition to blackberries and lime, I amped up the traditional whipped cream element of shortcake by adding cream cheese. (A little cream cheese never hurts, right?) Not only does it bring a tangy richness to the flavor, but it also gives the filling body that helps support the cake when assembling.

How to Make Blackberry Lime Shortcake Cake

How to Make Blackberry Lime Shortcake Cake

With all the elements prepared, you just need to assemble them. Slice the cake in half horizontally and evenly spoon a layer of filling and some blackberries on the bottom half. Then place the top half back on. For a decorative detail, I piped more of the filling onto the top of the cake and garnished that with blackberries and lime zest curls. So cute!

This Blackberry Lime Shortcake Cake make the perfect warm weather dessert.

This serves nine, so I added the topping and garnishes in such a way that each cut piece would be as pretty as the next.

Blackberry Lime Shortcake - Dessert with a taste of summer!

Let’s eat!

This Blackberry Lime Shortcake Cake makes the perfect warm weather dessert.

Blackberry Lime Shortcake Cake

Serves 9

Here's what you will need:

Shortcake:
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon coarse sugar

Blackberry Lime Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime zest (plus more to garnish)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups blackberries, divided
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Begin by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F. Line the bottom of an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper and spray the paper with baking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.

Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a fork until just combined. Add the batter to the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and done. - A toothpick inserted near the center should come out clean.

Allow the shortcake to cool in the pan. Then remove and slice in half horizontally. Set aside.

Next, prepare the filling by whisking together the cream cheese, sugar, lime zest, vanilla and 1 cup of the blackberries. Do this in a mixer on medium spend until the mixture is creamy. This will take 1-2 minutes.

In a clean bowl, beat the heavy cream and confectioners' sugar until soft peaks form. (It should be fluffy but not too firm.) Then, using a spatula, fold in the cream cheese blackberry mixture until just combined.

To assemble the cake, spoon about 3/4 of the filling over the bottom half of the cut shortcake. Spread the filling out in an even layer; then top with the remaining blackberries, reserving 9 for garnish. Place the top half of the shortcake on the layer of blackberries and filling. Use the reserved filling to add 9 dollops to the top of the cake. (You can do this with a spoon or piping bag.) Garnish each with a blackberry and lime zest.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

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This Blackberry Lime Shortcake Cake makes the perfect warm weather dessert.

I don’t know about you, but as I write this post, I’m craving a slice of this Blackberry Lime Shortcake Cake. When I was finished photographing this, I had to fight the urge to pick up the whole cake sandwich style and devour it in its entirety. It’s that good!

This Blackberry Lime Shortcake Cake makes the perfect warm weather dessert.

As always, enjoy your baking. I hope you also have something fun planned for the weekend!

I thought it’d be appropriate to wrap up this week with a cake. (It’s Friday after all, and I’m down for any reason to celebrate. How about you?) So, with visions of spring and summer already dancing in my head, today I’m serving up Blackberry Lime Shortcake Cake. What’s a “shortcake cake” you may ask? […]




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Adorable Cheesecake Brownie Hearts for Valentine's Day

It’s Valentine’s Day this week! If you’re in need of a last-minute treat to celebrate with someone special (or you just want to treat yo’self), these Cheesecake Brownie Hearts should do the trick! Not only are they super simple to make (I used a box mix.), but they are full of chocolate and cheesecake goodness.

These Cheesecake Brownie Hearts make a cute and tasty dessert!

I don’t know how it is for you, but February is usually a tough month for me. The highs and excitement of New Year’s resolutions have left the building; I am sick of winter, and I’m stuck pondering life with a plate of cheese and crackers even though I’m on a diet. Anyone else?

Although I’m approaching 35, I still don’t have a sure-fire cure for the winter blues. (Let me know if you have one.) This past weekend I more-or-less decided that a little vacation is in order, so I may escape this cold clime in a couple weeks for a little R&R on a sunny beach. Any recommendations for safe and relatively inexpensive tropical destinations for a solo traveler would be much appreciated.

Speaking of cures for winter blues, let’s talk about these Cheesecake Brownie Hearts! Valentine’s Day is this Wednesday so we don’t have much time.

Adorable Cheesecake Brownie Hearts for Valentine's Day

I found this heart-shaped pan at HomeGoods and picked it up without any plan for what I’d bake in it. (Apparently I’m on a heart-shaped dessert kick. You can grab my recipe for heart-shaped mini berry pot pies here.) In brainstorming ideas, I decided cheesecake brownies with festive sprinkles would be perfect.

How to make Cheesecake Brownie Hearts for Valentine's Day

The recipe for these cheesecake brownies goes back to my college days. I was an RA (resident assistant) back then, and my building coordinator would often make these as a treat for the RAs. These brownies were so delicious and much appreciated by this hungry college student.

How to make Cheesecake Brownie Hearts for Valentine's Day

The recipe is simple. You will need a boxed brownie mix (along with the ingredients to make it), plus one block of cream cheese, an egg, vanilla, and sugar. That’s it.

I’m making the brownies in this cute heart-shaped pan, however, a regular 9×13″ pan would also work. (Or you could try whatever cake pan you like.) They are definitely suitable for any time of the year. If you ever need a quick dessert recipe for a get-together, these might become your new go-to.

These Cheesecake Brownie Hearts are an easy and delicious Valentine's Day Treat.

The combination of brownie and cheesecake is something special. I’m not sure why, but they go so well together. I promise you will love these and be equally impressed by how easy they are to make.

Let’s whip up a batch.

These Cheesecake Brownie Hearts are an easy and delicious Valentine's Day Treat.

Cheesecake Brownie Hearts

Makes 6-8 hearts

Here's what you will need:
1 box brownie mix
Eggs*
Canola oil*
Water*

*Amount will vary based on your particular brownie mix.

Cheesecake:
1 (8 ounces) package cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sprinkles, optional

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F.

Next, prepare your brownie mix according to the package directions. Add the prepared brownie batter to your lightly greased baking pan. (I used a heart-shaped pan here, but a 13x9-inch pan would work just as well.

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture to the top of your brownie batter. Use a wooden skewer or toothpick to swirl the cream cheese mixture into the batter.

Bake according to the package directions, adding an extra 4-5 minutes to compensate for the cream cheese layer.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before removing from the pan. Top with sprinkles for added color and fun.

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So whether you’re baking for someone you love or simply treating yo’self, I think you’re going to enjoy these Cheesecake Brownie Hearts.

Adorable Cheesecake Brownie Hearts for Valentine's Day

How to make Cheesecake Brownie Hearts for Valentine's Day

For more of my tasty Valentine’s Day recipes, check out the post here. I’ve rounded up many of my favorites in one place.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

It’s Valentine’s Day this week! If you’re in need of a last-minute treat to celebrate with someone special (or you just want to treat yo’self), these Cheesecake Brownie Hearts should do the trick! Not only are they super simple to make (I used a box mix.), but they are full of chocolate and cheesecake goodness. […]




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These Purrrfect Berry Hand Pies are as cute as they are delicious.

Apparently, I’m craving pie. On Monday I shared my recipe for Mixed Berry Pot Pies, and today I’m back with these Purrrfect Berry Hand Pies. This isn’t a bad thing, though. I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as “too much pie.” Right?

A delicious and easy handheld treat - Purrrfect Berry Hand Pies

These cat-inspired pies, or as I like to call them, Purrrfect Berry Hand Pies, sort of happened by accident. My first idea was to make tiny pie lollipops. However, I decided they weren’t something you’d want to serve or gift. They looked kind of cute but tasted blah. The reason: I couldn’t get much filling in them because they were small and the stick took up space. (Yes, I do have kitchen fails you never see on the blog!)

These Purrrfect Berry Hand Pies are as cute as they are delicious.

That’s when I remembered this cat face cookie cutter I purchased last year when I bought the sweater cookie cutter for my Sweater Weather Sugar Cookies. Problem solved. I would make cat-inspired hand pies instead. Which, to my delight, turned out even cuter.

If you’re new to pie baking, these are actually quite easy. Just keep in mind a few simple tips.

How to Make Purrrfect Berry Hand Pies

First, you can use my pie crust recipe, your favorite recipe, or even a store-bought pie dough.

Second, you’ll want a cookie cutter that’s fairly large without a lot of detail. I chose a cat face, but you can use any shape you’d like.

How to Make Purrrfect Berry Hand Pies

Third, before adding filling to your base pie crust, brush a bit of egg wash around the edge. This will help seal the top and bottom crusts together.


Purrrfect Berry Hand Pies are a sweet and delicious as they are cute!

And finally, bake your hand pies on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat. You’ll notice I didn’t do this. You’ll also see I started with 12 unbaked hand pies and finished with 9 baked hand pies. Don’t make the same mistake.

It doesn't get cuter than this! Purrrfect Berry Hand Pies

Other than that, these are pretty straightforward. I opted to finish my pies with a sprinkle of coarse sugar, but you could top them with a simple confectioners’ sugar and milk glaze if you like something sweeter.

No matter how you make them, they are the purrrfect handheld treat. Don’t you agree?

It doesn't get cuter than this! Purrrfect Berry Hand Pies

Purrrfect Berry Hand Pies

Makes 10-12 hand pies

Here's what you will need:
1 batch IBC's Go-To Pie Crust (or 1 box store-bought pie crust)
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups mixed fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries)
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Coarse sugar to garnish

Begin by preheating your oven to 375 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix together the berries, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice. Mix to combine and mash up the berries into smaller pieces with a fork.

Then roll out your pie dough to a 1/8-inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out 20-24 shapes. Set half of the cut pie pieces to the side.

Brush the border of the remaining pieces with egg wash. Then spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the berry pie filling into the center of each.

Next top them with the remaining pie dough pieces. Press the edges together with the tines of a fork to seal. Place the pies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake the pies 20-22 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before eating.

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These Purrrfect Berry Hand Pies are as cute as they are delicious.

I hope you enjoyed this tasty and fun recipe for my Purrrfect Berry Hand Pies, if you give them a try, please share the results via Instagram! I love seeing your creations. Just tag @inspiredbycharm so I get a notification.

A delicious and easy handheld treat - Purrrfect Berry Hand Pies

Happy Baking!

Apparently, I’m craving pie. On Monday I shared my recipe for Mixed Berry Pot Pies, and today I’m back with these Purrrfect Berry Hand Pies. This isn’t a bad thing, though. I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as “too much pie.” Right? These cat-inspired pies, or as I like to call them, Purrrfect Berry […]




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This Really Good Jalapeño Dip is delicious and so simple to make!

I love having a few go-to dips to prepare for parties or impromptu get-togethers. This Really Good Jalapeño Dip just moved into the Top 5 of my go-to dip recipes. Let me explain.

You're going to love this Really Good Jalapeño Dip appetizer dip recipe.

I was back home for a while this past Christmas. During that time there were lots of family gatherings. My dad’s wife Michelle had a new dip recipe to share: a jalapeño dip. At first glance, it appeared basic, but one bite proved otherwise. Served chilled, the simple combination of flavors resulted in a really good dip. I was hooked.

This dip made several appearances throughout the week I was in St. Marys, and I was never disappointed. At several points, I physically stop myself from overindulging on it. But, of course, before I left I had to ask for the recipe so I could share it with all of you.

This Really Good Jalapeño Dip is delicious and so simple to make!

This Really Good Jalapeño Dip is easy to make and perfect for any celebration.

As you know, I use the phrase “really good” instead of “the best” here on IBC. Since I haven’t tried all of the jalapeño dips in the world, I can’t claim that this is the best. However, I can tell you that this dip is really, really, really good!!

Besides the flavor, one of the things I love about this recipe is that it comes together quickly. Counting the time it takes to chop the peppers, the total prep time is under 10 minutes.

How to make Really Good Jalapeño Dip.

How to make Really Good Jalapeño Dip.

Since this dip contains jalapeños, I assume you’re wondering about the spiciness. To be honest, it’s not that spicy. Michelle recommends using the pith (the white part in the pepper) and seeds from one of the jalapeño peppers. That’s what she did. There was a touch of heat, but all that cheese keeps the spiciness to a minimum.

If you want more heat, use the pith and seeds from more than one of the jalapeños. If you don’t like heat, don’t include any pith or seeds.

You're going to love this Really Good Jalapeño Dip appetizer dip recipe.

No matter what spiciness level you prefer, I think you’re going to love this recipe as much as my family did. We’re obsessed!

Curious about what else is in my Top 5 dips? Check out all of my best dip recipes here. There is something for everyone. You could also have a dip party and just make them all.

Without further ado, here’s the recipe for this Really Good Jalapeño Dip!

This Really Good Jalapeño Dip is delicious and so simple to make!

Really Good Jalapeño Dip

Serves 10-12

Here's what you will need:
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 envelope dry ranch dressing mix
1 large red pepper, finely diced
5 jalapeño peppers*, seeded and finely diced
1 bag Tostitos Scoop chips

In a medium bowl mix together the cream cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, ranch dressing mix, red pepper, and jalapeños until evenly combined.

Place prepared dip into a dish. Serve with Tostitos Scoop chips.

*When preparing your jalapeños, remove the seeds and white part (pith) of each pepper. This is where most of the heat is. I like to include the seeds and pith from one or two peppers to give this dip a little heat. You can add more, depending on the level of spiciness you desire.

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Simple, tasty, and speckled with color. What’s not to love?

This Really Good Jalapeño Dip is delicious and so simple to make!

The perfect party appetizer, this Really Good Jalapeño Dip is delicious and simple to make!

Give this Really Good Jalapeño Dip a try. I’m certain you’ll be adding it to your list of favorite appetizer recipes, too!

I love having a few go-to dips to prepare for parties or impromptu get-togethers. This Really Good Jalapeño Dip just moved into the Top 5 of my go-to dip recipes. Let me explain. I was back home for a while this past Christmas. During that time there were lots of family gatherings. My dad’s wife […]




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Buying a House with IBC: My Wish List

It’s time to revisit “Buying a House with IBC.” Today I’m back to talk about my wish list as I hunt for a new home. A couple weeks ago I introduced this new series with a post about “House Hunting.” That was a brief how-to guide for beginning the process of buying a home. In case you missed it, you can catch up here.

If you’re new to this series, it came about because several of you suggested that I document my house hunting adventure here in Pittsburgh. (In case you’re not aware that I’m looking to buy a home, you might want to read this post.) Anywho, I loved the idea of documenting the process so much that I decided to make it a series.

In this post, I want to talk about what I’m looking for in a house. As I mentioned in the previous post, it’s a good idea to make a list of what you want in a home. In the comments, one of you called this list “Required and Desired”. I love that! I realize my list may not be helpful to you because what you “require and desire” is likely to be quite different. However, maybe my list will be useful in getting you to think about some things you may not have considered. And, let’s be honest, many of us are curious about what someone else wants in a home. Right?

Okay, with all of that said, let’s get to it!

Buying a House with IBC: My Wish List

Location:

This is the thing I’ve struggled with the most – and for a few reasons. As many of you asked in my last post, “Why Pittsburgh?” I find myself asking the same question. Being a blogger, I could live anywhere. How do I know that Pittsburgh is where I’m “supposed” to be? Maybe I’d be happier in Palm Springs, CA, Portland OR, Nashville TN, or (You name the place.). I don’t know. Throughout my life, I’ve sort of let God/the Universe/fate determine my course, and this has never let me down. And for many and varied reasons, life has pointed me to (and put me in) Pittsburgh. I can question that, but I’ve decided to instead accept this season of life with joy and optimism … so Pittsburgh it is!

With that decision made, now my conundrum is where in Pittsburgh. I’m currently looking mostly in the city, in the East End to be specific. (In case you’re not familiar with Pittsburgh, among the specific areas are Highland Park, Shadyside, East Liberty, Lawrenceville, and Bloomfield.) As excited as I am to live in the city, it also comes with disadvantages: smaller lots/yards, parking issues, more noise/traffic, and much higher prices. Because of where I am in life, I think something in the city is best. However, I am looking at a few nearby suburbs, such as Sewickley, Ross, and Shaler Township.

Move-In Ready vs. Fixer-Upper:

The City of Pittsburgh is definitely having a moment, growing, and becoming somewhat trendy, especially in a few of the areas where I’m hunting. A lot of the houses in the city are old brick homes, which I love. I’m finding a mix of old homes that need work and flips by local developers. While you might assume I want a fixer-upper, I’m not so sure. Before the holidays, I almost put an offer on a flipped home. A part of me loves the idea of purchasing a place that’s move-in ready. As much as I love decorating, construction isn’t my forte. Yes, it might be fun to see a home go from old to new, but I’m just not sure I have the skillset or patience to make that happen.

At this point, I’m keeping my options open by looking at both refinished places and older homes. I’m hoping that when I find “the one” (be it refinished or in-need-of-love), I’ll know.

Buying a House with IBC: My Wish List

Required and Desired:

Okay, now for the nitty-gritty. Let’s talk about my required and desired list. When I sent this list to my realtor, I split it into three sections (Must-Have, Want, Icing on the Cake), however, I think it might be easier to just divide it into two. Let’s take a peek…

Required:
Outdoor space (with grass, not just deck or slab)
Parking for 2 vehicles (prefer a garage for at least one vehicle)
3 Bedrooms (or two with another space for an office)
2 Baths (preferably 2 ½)
Around 2,000 square feet or more
Older home with character
Single-family home

Desired:
Large front porch
Large windows/lots of natural light
Woodwork and moldings
Big kitchen open to living space
Master bath
Exposed brick details
Hardwood floors throughout
Walking distance to coffee shop/stores
Functional fireplace
High ceilings

As you’ll notice most of the things on my “required” list are things I can’t change. Being a blogger and someone who is passionate about home design, I realized that there are tons of things you can change about a home and some things you’ll never be able to change. I’m trying to keep these in mind as I hunt, while also being conscious of how much work I want to tackle. Meaning I can easily pint or add moldings, but I don’t want to be rewiring and replacing plumbing.

There is a side of me that wants to rebuild and create a home that’s all mine, but I also love the thought of just moving in, decorating, and enjoying. That’s the struggle. Like I mentioned above, I’m hoping that God/The Universe/fate will give me a sign once “the place” comes along.

Buying a House with IBC: My Wish List

To sum things up, in a perfect world, I’d love a modern farmhouse-style house. White and bright, full of windows. Give me an open floor plan, exposed brick, and lots of unique details. Space for a garden, old wood floors throughout, walking distance to a friendly coffee shop, and a big front porch would be icing on the cake. Can you see it? Do you want to move in, too?

Okay, I realize this post is super long, so I think I’m going to wrap it up for now. I hope this gives you an idea as to what I’m after and how my brain has been working through this process.

I also hope sharing my thoughts helps any of you who are also looking for a home. As I said, I’m aware that everyone’s process and “Required and Desired” lists are different, but maybe this post will spark something you may not have thought about.

Whether you read because you want information or are just curious, I hope you enjoyed part two of “Buying a House with IBC.” Until next time!

It’s time to revisit “Buying a House with IBC.” Today I’m back to talk about my wish list as I hunt for a new home. A couple weeks ago I introduced this new series with a post about “House Hunting.” That was a brief how-to guide for beginning the process of buying a home. In […]




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Celebrate Valentine's Day with this delicious recipe for Mixed Berry Pot Pies

Sometimes creating something unique and special can be as easy as putting a twist on a classic. For example, a traditional mixed berry pie becomes Mixed Berry Pot Pies for Valentine’s Day with a bit of creativity and some cute mini heart dishes.

Mixer Berry Pot Pies recipe for Valentine's Day

Make these Mixed Berry Pot Pies for a sweet Valentine's Day Treat

Yes, friends, I’m back with more Valentine’s Day treats. I can’t help myself. As you may know, I write a monthly post for the HomeGoods Design Happy blog. This month, it’s all about Mixed Berry Pot Pies. I was inspired to make these pies when I found these mini heart-shaped baking dishes at HomeGoods. Aren’t they adorable?

Side note: I’m giving away a $100 HomeGoods gift card at the end of this post so you can shop for some inspiring goods, too!

How to Make Mixed Berry Pot Pies

Now, I could have opted for something like a soufflé or cake, but I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to use these baking dishes for something a little different: a pot pie! Yes, I realize that when most folks hear the term “pot pie,” they probably assume it’s a chicken pot pie. Not this time; bring on the berries!

How to Make Mixed Berry Pot Pies

How to Make Mixed Berry Pot Pies

As you would expect, these mini pies come together fairly easily. Start with pie dough. I recommend my go-to recipe, but you can use whatever recipe you like. Even store-bought dough will do.

Next, fill the pie shell with a berry filling. You can use whatever you’d like. I mixed raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries. I added a couple pats of butter on top for extra richness. Everything gets sealed in with another piece of pie crust and then finished off with an egg wash and sprinkle of coarse sugar for a sparkling golden brown crust.

These Mixed Berry Pot Pies are perfect for Valentine's Day

Perfection!

These are fabulous on their own, but you can add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a few extra berries to garnish. For me, fruit pie is incomplete unless it’s topped with ice cream. However .. you do you.

Celebrate Valentine's Day with this delicious recipe for Mixed Berry Pot Pies

Mixed Berry Pot Pies with Ice Cream for Valentine's Day

No matter how you serve them, I promise that you and your valentine will love these mixed berry pot pies. For more details making them plus the complete recipe, head over to the HomeGoods Design Happy blog.

Mixed Berry Pot Pies with Ice Cream for Valentine's Day

Now, let’s talk about that giveaway. I thought it’d be fun to give one lucky IBC reader a $100 HomeGoods gift card! You can use the card to hunt down your own inspiration, tackle a decorating project in your home, or save it for a rainy day. The choice is yours.

$100 HomeGood Gift Card Giveaway

To enter to win, simply use the form below.



This giveaway is open to readers in the United States. You must be 18 or older to win. Void where prohibited. There will be one winner of a $100 HomeGoods gift card. This giveaway will end at 11:59 pm ET on Wednesday, February 14. The winner will be randomly selected and contacted by email. Those reading this post on a blogger reader or RSS, click here to enter.

Good luck!

Mixed Berry Pot Pies with Ice Cream for Valentine's Day

I also hope you’ll give this recipe a try. (Grab the full recipe HERE.) However, if pie is not your thing, check out this post here. I’ve linked up a handful of my favorite Valentine’s Day treats HERE. I’m certain you’ll find something to love.

Sometimes creating something unique and special can be as easy as putting a twist on a classic. For example, a traditional mixed berry pie becomes Mixed Berry Pot Pies for Valentine’s Day with a bit of creativity and some cute mini heart dishes. Yes, friends, I’m back with more Valentine’s Day treats. I can’t help […]




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Delicious and Easy Dip Recipes! - Really Good Veggie Dip

Colorful and crunchy vegetable platters are a popular party appetizer today. Although veggies are tasty on their own, serving them with dip takes them to another level. Today, I’m excited to share my recipe for Really Good Veggie Dip.

My favorite (and in my opinion the very best) veggie dip!

This recipe comes from a deli in my hometown. I’ve been coveting their veggie dip for years and would purchase a container of it anytime I needed a good vegetable dip. I tried various recipes at home, but nothing could beat it. It is so good that whenever my sister-in-law visited St. Marys, she would buy multiple containers for herself and her friends.

This Really Good Veggie Dip is going to be your new go-to for vegetables!


This Really Good Veggie Dip is actually THE BEST vegetable dip!

For years I assumed the recipe was a closely guarded secret. However, one day as I was chatting with the cashier, the topic of the recipe came up and, without hesitation, she gave it to me! I was shocked. What I assumed to be top secret was now in my hands. No longer did I have to purchase this magical veggie dip: finally, I could make it at home.

Side note: I learned a big lesson that day. Always be kind to EVERYONE. You never know how or when your kindness will be returned. (That person just might gift you with the recipe for your favorite veggie dip!)

My favorite (and in my opinion the very best) veggie dip!

While I’ve had the recipe for a few months now, I’m finally getting around to sharing it with all of you. Yesterday, I taught you how to make a Sausage and Pepper Sheet Pan Dinner from your vegetable tray leftovers, so today seemed like the perfect time to circle back with the dip recipe.

As many of you know, I have a bunch of recipes with “Really Good” in their titles. In my opinion, these recipes ARE the best of the best even though I don’t call them that. This veggie dip is in that category.

If you don’t already have a go-to veggie dip recipe, this could be it.

Not only is it “Really Good,” but it’s crazy easy to make, and you probably have most, if not all, of the ingredients in your pantry and fridge. Just toss them into a bowl, mix them up, and your dip is ready! – I do recommend refrigerating the dip for about two hours to rehydrate the herbs and let the flavors meld.

How to make really good veggie dip!

How to make really good veggie dip!

Now which vegetable will you dip first?

This Really Good Veggie Dip is actually THE BEST vegetable dip!

 

Really Good Veggie Dip

Here's what you will need:
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 tablespoon dried minced onions
1 tablespoon (Lawry's) seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3-4 drops Frank's Red Hot sauce

Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix well to combine. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

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This Really Good Veggie Dip is going to be your new go-to for vegetables!

Expect RAVE reviews about this recipe. I have no doubt that you, your friends, and your family are going to love this Really Good Veggie Dip as much as I do!

This Really Good Veggie Dip is actually THE BEST vegetable dip!

Colorful and crunchy vegetable platters are a popular party appetizer today. Although veggies are tasty on their own, serving them with dip takes them to another level. Today, I’m excited to share my recipe for Really Good Veggie Dip. This recipe comes from a deli in my hometown. I’ve been coveting their veggie dip for […]




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Healthy and Delicious Sausage and Pepper Sheet Pan Dinner recipe
This post is sponsored by Morton Salt. As always, all opinions are my own.

Have you ever entertained and realized afterwards how much extra food is left…and have no idea what to do with it? Well today, I’m showing you how to turn veggie tray leftovers into this healthy and delicious Sausage and Pepper Sheet Pan Dinner.

Healthy and Delicious Sausage and Pepper Sheet Pan Dinner recipe

With the Super Bowl only a few days away, I hope this post will come in handy. Did you know that in the United States, this particular sporting event is the second biggest day for eating? (The top spot goes to Thanksgiving.) That’s why I’ve teamed up with Morton Salt and their #EraseFoodWaste initiative to give you some creative and delicious ideas for using your game-day leftovers. Since 40% of all food produced in the US ends up wasted, I’m all about doing what I can to help decrease that percentage.

Sausage and Pepper Sheet Pan Dinner | Inspired by Charm

Because a vegetable tray has become a staple at parties, I thought it’d be smart to create a recipe that takes advantage of any leftover produce. With the popularity of sheet pan dinners, my mind immediately went there as well. Paired with a fresh green side salad for a complete meal, this recipe is guaranteed to use every leftover vegetable from the tray. The only thing you’ll need to add is a protein and leafy greens.

How to Create the Perfect Vegetable Tray

There are many kinds of vegetable trays, but here’s where I started – piles of fresh veggies paired with a really good vegetable dip. (I’ll be sharing that recipe tomorrow. It’s incredibly tasty.)

Since presentation is an important part of a veggie tray, I used a head of purple cabbage to serve the dip. I simply hollowed out the cabbage, placed a small clear glass bowl in it, and filled the bowl with dip. I did this so I could repurpose the cabbage instead of tossing it into the trash after the party.

How to Create the Perfect Vegetable Tray

With most vegetable trays, there are two types of vegetables: ones you can cook and ones that are best eaten raw. And the beauty of serving a side salad with my Sausage and Pepper Sheet Pan Dinner is that I can use all of the leftover vegetables.

Let’s start with the sheet pan dinner. This is so easy, my friends.

How to make a Sheet Pan Dinner with Sausage and Peppers

n your sheet pan, place all of the vegetables that are best cooked. Here, I’m using bell peppers, sugar snap peas, green onions, and cherry tomatoes. Yum! Next, add a protein. I chose chicken apple sausage which I sliced into 1/2-inch pieces.

How to make a Sheet Pan Dinner with Sausage and Peppers

Toss everything with a little extra virgin olive oil and spices. You can use what you like, but I think a combination of onion flakes, paprika, and dried parsley is especially nice.

How to make a Sheet Pan Dinner with Sausage and Peppers

Finally, give everything a healthy grind of fresh black pepper and a sprinkle of Morton’s Kosher Salt. Roast the vegetables and the protein in your oven at 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes. After you remove it from the oven, add freshly grated parmesan cheese and dinner is ready to serve.

Create this delicious Sausage and Pepper Sheet Pan Dinner with ease!

Oh, and while the sheet pan dinner is cooking, make a side salad to use the rest of the vegetables. Simply chop up the carrots, radishes, and purple cabbage and toss them with leafy greens. To serve, top with your favorite dressing.

Easy side salad to pair with a delicious Sausage and Pepper Sheet Pan Dinner

Easy side salad to pair with a delicious Sausage and Pepper Sheet Pan Dinner

How simple is that! From veggie tray leftovers to a delicious and healthy dinner for four, it’s a touchdown of a meal. Plus, we’re helping to #EraseFoodWaste!

Now, for those of you who prefer to have the detailed recipe, let me walk you through it.

You'll love this Sausage and Pepper Sheet Pan Dinner recipe!

Sausage and Pepper Sheet Pan Dinner

Serves 4

Here's what you will need:
1 package (12 ounces) precooked sausage, cut into 1/2-inch rounds (I used chicken apple.)
2 medium red or yellow bell peppers, sliced
6 green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces
1-2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 cups sugar snap peas
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon Morton Coarse Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated black pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese to garnish

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the sausage, bell peppers, green onions, cherry tomatoes, and sugar snap peas on a shallow pan and drizzle them with extra virgin olive oil.

Next, sprinkle with paprika, onion flakes, parsley, kosher salt, and black pepper. Toss to combine and arrange in a single layer. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Once roasted to your liking, remove from the oven and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Print

Healthy and Delicious Sausage and Pepper Sheet Pan Dinner recipe

This has become a go-to meal for me. It’s simple to make, plus you can use whatever vegetables you have or like. I also think this is just as tasty on the second day. So remember, don’t toss those leftovers. #EraseFoodWaste and put them on your lunch salad the next day.

Sausage and Pepper Sheet Pan Dinner | Inspired by Charm

No matter how you make this recipe, I hope this post helped you to think about using your leftovers from The Big Game in new, creative, and delicious ways. For more tips to reduce food waste, be sure to check out MortonSalt.com/WalkHerWalk.

Happy cooking, everyone!

This post is sponsored by Morton Salt. As always, all opinions are my own. Have you ever entertained and realized afterwards how much extra food is left…and have no idea what to do with it? Well today, I’m showing you how to turn veggie tray leftovers into this healthy and delicious Sausage and Pepper Sheet Pan […]




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This Valentine's Day White Chocolate Chex Mix makes the perfect sweet treat to give.

In two short weeks, it will be Valentine’s Day. Let’s get ready by whipping up a batch of this White Chocolate Chex Mix. I’ll also show you a unique way to wrap this confection for presenting it to your Valentines. (Yes, I’m assuming that, like me, your Valentines include close friends and family.) Let’s get started!

White Chocolate Chex Mix - the perfect Valentine's Day treat!

This Valentine's Day White Chocolate Chex Mix makes the perfect sweet treat to give.

Although I don’t go crazy with Valentine’s Day, I love an excuse to create new recipes and other ways to celebrate the holiday. (You can check out some of my favorite Valentine’s Day treats here.) Last summer I made a version of this White Chocolate Chex Mix for Independence Day; I thought it’d also make the perfect treat for Valentine’s. What sealed the deal was finding these cute pink, red, and white mini-shovels. Pair them with mini heart buckets and the proclamation”I dig you!” to make a treat that your Valentines will remember for years.

This Valentine's Day White Chocolate Chex Mix makes the perfect sweet treat to give.


In case you’ve never made White Chocolate Chex Mix, be warned. Some folks refer to it as “crack” candy. I’m not sure what makes it so tasty (Maybe it’s the combination of sweet and salty.), but it’s the perfect treat to share with dear ones or serve at a party. You can even add M&Ms in colors to fit the holiday or the theme of your get-together.

Valentine's Day White Chocolate Chex Mix | Inspired by Charm

How to make Valentine's Day White Chocolate Chex Mix | Inspired by Charm

Below, I’ve included my full recipe. However, feel free to mix it up and make it your own by using different cereals, chocolates, nuts, and more. I added extra color and fun to this particular batch with heart-shaped sprinkles.

How to make Valentine's Day White Chocolate Chex Mix | Inspired by Charm

Now that the White Chocolate Chex Mix is ready, you’ll need a way to share it.

To start, get some of these mini shovels. Aren’t they cute? I wish I could take credit for this idea, but I saw it on Amazon and ordered them immediately. Once you have the shovels you have two options.

Create a tasty valentine with this Valentine's Day White Chocolate Chex Mix.

One possibility is to add the Chex Mix to a clear baggie, then tie on the shovel. To complete the look, add a tag that reads “I dig you!”

Create a tasty valentine with this Valentine's Day White Chocolate Chex Mix.

White Chocolate Chex Mix - the perfect Valentine's Day treat!

White Chocolate Chex Mix - the perfect Valentine's Day treat!

A second option is to look for these mini heart buckets at Target and fill them with the Chex Mix. Tuck in a shovel with an “I dig you!” tag, and your gift is complete! If desired, you might also wrap the filled bucket in plastic to keep the mix fresh and protected.

Create a tasty valentine with this Valentine's Day White Chocolate Chex Mix.

Voila! Valentine’s Day perfected. What do you think?

This Valentine's Day White Chocolate Chex Mix makes the perfect sweet treat to give.

White Chocolate Chex Mix

Serves 12+

3 cups Wheat Chex
3 cups Rice Chex
3 cups Cheerios
3 cups M&Ms, divided
1 1/2 cups pretzels
1 cup honey roasted peanuts
5 cups white chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vegetable shorting (Crisco), optional
Sprinkles, optional

In a large bowl, combine the Wheat and Rice Chex, Cheerios, pretzels, and 2 cups of the M&Ms. Mix evenly to distribute.

Over a double boiler, melt the white chocolate along with the vegetable shorting. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cereal mixture and then stir with a wooden spoon. Mix gently until everything is evenly coated with the chocolate.

Place a length of parchment paper on your counter and spread the Chex mixture evenly on the paper. Sprinkle with the remaining cup of M&Ms. Add sprinkles, if desired. Let the Chex mix cool for about 1 hour. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

Print

Let’s dig in!


This Valentine's Day White Chocolate Chex Mix makes the perfect sweet treat to give.

I hope you enjoyed this idea as much as I did. Whether you share the White Chocolate Chex Mix with others or simply enjoy some yourself while binge-watching a favorite new show, have a lovely Valentine’s Day!

In two short weeks, it will be Valentine’s Day. Let’s get ready by whipping up a batch of this White Chocolate Chex Mix. I’ll also show you a unique way to wrap this confection for presenting it to your Valentines. (Yes, I’m assuming that, like me, your Valentines include close friends and family.) Let’s get […]




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A playlist of my favorite songs from musicals | Inspired by Charm

Grab your headphones and turn up the volume. Today I’m sharing a new Tuesday Tunes playlist featuring my favorite songs from musicals!

Last week I went to see The Greatest Showman! Have you seen it? If not, you need to go immediately after reading this post. Anywho, for the past week, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack on repeat. This made me realize I’ve never shared a playlist of my favorite songs from musicals.

A playlist of my favorite songs from musicals | Inspired by Charm

It probably won’t come as a surprise to hear that I’m a big fan of musical theater. Back in college a friend and I went to New York City for spring break and saw several different shows. Nowadays whenever I’m in NYC and have the time, I head to Broadway to see a new show. I’m especially excited to be in Pittsburgh this year because a number of musicals are coming to town in the next few months: Rent, Wicked, The Waitress, Aladdin,. . . The list goes on.

While it’s hard to compare, Wicked may forever go down as my favorite musical. Not only do I love anything related to the Wizard of Oz, but Wicked was the first show I ever saw on Broadway. I sat in the front row so it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Inspired by the soundtrack from The Greatest Showman, my love for musical theater, and Ben Platt’s Grammy performance, these are my favorite songs from musicals.

A playlist of my favorite songs from musicals | Inspired by Charm

Whether you recognize the music, share a love for the theater, or just want to listen to moving stories told through song, this playlist is for you. You can use the player below to listen or find the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.

 



As you know, I love sharing playlists with you. If you’d like, you’re welcome to follow along with all of my playlists directly on Spotify by clicking here.

Are you also a fan of musical theater? What’s your favorite show or song? What new musicals are must-sees? Let me know in the comments below.

Enjoy!

Grab your headphones and turn up the volume. Today I’m sharing a new Tuesday Tunes playlist featuring my favorite songs from musicals! Last week I went to see The Greatest Showman! Have you seen it? If not, you need to go immediately after reading this post. Anywho, for the past week, I’ve been listening to […]




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The Ultimate Sausage Pizza Dip

Be the hero at your next party by making or bringing this Ultimate Sausage Pizza Dip. You’re welcome.

Friends, I can’t begin to describe how crazy delicious this dip is. (Healthy? Let’s not go there.)

You're going to want to make The Ultimate Sausage Pizza Dip for your next party!

With thoughts of the Super Bowl on the horizon, it’s hard to resist the opportunity to make all of the dips, wings, and other tasty party dishes we associate with this event. While I’m certain you have your go-to foods (We all do.), I strongly recommend you give this one a try.

Be the winner at your next gathering with The Ultimate Sausage Pizza Dip!

It starts with a layer of cooked sweet Italian sausage mixed with cream cheese, mozzarella, and Italian cheeses.

How to make The Ultimate Sausage Pizza Dip

That gets layered with pizza sauce, adorable mini pepperoni, and more cheese. Garnished with a handful of those cute mini pepperoni, the whole thing is baked until hot and bubbly.

How to make The Ultimate Sausage Pizza Dip

How to make The Ultimate Sausage Pizza Dip

Surrounded by sliced bread for dipping, you can see why I’m calling this The Ultimate Sausage Pizza Dip. Now, let’s dig in!

The Ultimate Sausage Pizza Dip appetizer for entertaining.

 

Sausage Pizza Dip

Serves 12

Here's what you will need:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 1/2 cup Italian cheese blend, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 jar (14 ounces) pizza sauce
1 cup mini pepperoni
1-2 loaves bread for dipping

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Drain off most of the fat from the sausage. Reduce the heat to medium and push the sausage to the side of the pan. Add the onion and garlic to the center and cook until tender. Mix in the sausage and remove the pan from the heat.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

In a bowl, combine the sausage mixture with the cream cheese, 3/4 cup of the mozzarella cheese, 3/4 cup of the Italian cheese blend, and oregano. Spread this mixture evenly into the bottom of a 10x8-inch baking dish. Top with the pizza sauce and a sprinkle of mini pepperoni reserving about 1/4 cup to garnish the top. Top the pizza sauce and pepperoni with the remaining cheese. Finish the top with the remaining mini pepperoni.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30-35 minutes*. Remove the foil and turn your oven to broil. Cook an additional 5 minutes.

Serve hot with sliced bread.

*You can prepare this in advance and refrigerate it overnight. Just increase the bake time to about 45 minutes.

Print

Whether you’re celebrating the Super Bowl, watching another televised event, or hanging out at your house with friends, you must give this dip a try!

The Ultimate Sausage Pizza Dip appetizer for entertaining.

Be the winner at your next gathering with The Ultimate Sausage Pizza Dip!

Appetizer Recipe: The Ultimate Sausage Pizza Dip

For more game-day inspired recipes, check out this post here.

As noted in the recipe, you can put this dip together the night before you plan to bake and serve it. You will need to adjust the cooking time a little, but this Ultimate Sausage Pizza Dip is sure to be as delicious.

Be the hero at your next party by making or bringing this Ultimate Sausage Pizza Dip. You’re welcome. Friends, I can’t begin to describe how crazy delicious this dip is. (Healthy? Let’s not go there.) With thoughts of the Super Bowl on the horizon, it’s hard to resist the opportunity to make all of the […]




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You'll love this Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookie recipe.

If you’re a fan of the PB&J flavor combination, you’re going to love these Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies!

A classic flavor combination in cookie from - Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies

After swearing off cookies for a few weeks, it’s usually around the end of January when I start craving them again. Even though I’m being more conscious of what I eat, now and then I like a sweet treat, such as these Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies. It’s all about balance, right?

If you’ve been following IBC for a while, you know I’m into peanut butter desserts. Last fall I made the ultimate Peanut Butter Lover’s Peanut Butter Cookie, I’ve dipped classic Peanut Butter Cookies in Chocolate and don’t get me started on this Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake.

You'll love this Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookie recipe.

I’ve also experimented with the peanut butter and jelly flavor combination in a couple desserts. Remember those Peanut Butter and Jelly Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches and those Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars? So good!!

Despite my futzing, this cookie recipe is pretty easy and straightforward.

How to Make Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies

How to Make Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies

The dough comes together in minutes and requires no refrigeration time. Once the dough is made, you’re ready to portion it out.

From there, use your thumb to make an indentation on the top of each cookie. The bigger the indent, the more jam you can fit in, but be careful not to overfill or you’ll have a mess. I chose strawberry jelly, but you can use whatever flavor you desire.

How to Make Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies

How to Make Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies

Once the cookies are baked, piped peanut butter frosting adds the perfect finishing touch.

As I say with every cookie, these might be my new favorite. But seriously, this is one flavor combination I’ll probably never stop loving.

With the perfect flavor combination, these Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies are a winner!

A classic flavor combination in cookie from - Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies

Let’s bake!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies are a new take on a classic cookie.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups creamy peanut butter, divided
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup strawberry jelly
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter with 1 1/2 cups of the peanut butter until smooth. This should take 4-5 minutes. Then, beat in the eggs and vanilla until incorporated. Stir in the reserved flour mixture until just combined.

Scoop about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough (with a spoon or small ice cream scoop) onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Continue scooping balls of dough, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Gently press your thumb into the center of each ball to make an indentation. Then spoon about 1 teaspoon of jelly into each indent. Bake 12-13 minutes until lightly golden. Remove to a rack to cool.

In a small bowl, beat together the remaining 1/2 cup of peanut butter and confectioners' sugar. Whisk in the milk, a tablespoon at a time, until the frosting reaches a good consistency for piping. Add this mixture to a piping bag or plastic baggie. Snip off the tip of one corner of the baggie and pipe the frosting over the cookies.

Serve immediately or pack and store in an airtight container.

Print

If you’re having a post-holiday cookie craving like I am, you’ll definitely want to give this recipe a try!

A classic flavor combination in cookie from - Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies

These Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies would also make a fabulous Valentine’s Day treat or a sweet snack for the Super Bowl. Enjoy this PB&J goodness your way!

If you’re a fan of the PB&J flavor combination, you’re going to love these Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies! After swearing off cookies for a few weeks, it’s usually around the end of January when I start craving them again. Even though I’m being more conscious of what I eat, now and then I […]




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Fried Ravioli with Three Dipping Sauces

Whether you’re looking for an hors d’oeuvre for your next celebration or making a meal of flavorful appetizers (something I like to do sometimes), these Fried Ravioli with Three Dipping Sauces are sure to tantalize your taste buds.

Fried Ravioli Appetizer Recipe

If you haven’t tried Fried Ravioli, you’re in for a treat. This delectable recipe combines two of my culinary favorites – appetizers and pasta. And to make it even better, it’s a dippable food. That’s right, I paired my Fried Ravioli with classic marinara sauce, bold pesto, and creamy ranch.

Fried Ravioli with Marinara Sauce

Today, to bring you this Fried Ravioli recipe, I’m teaming up with my friends at Delta® Faucet. I recently got my hands on their new Delta Esque Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet with Touch2O and ShieldSpray Technologies. I’m putting this new faucet to the ShieldSpray Challenge test while I whip up this recipe. Let me walk you through it.

Delta Esque Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet with Touch2O and ShieldSpray Technologies

First, get your ravioli. I used fresh cheese-filled ravioli, but you can use any kind you like. If you buy frozen ravioli, make sure to thaw them ahead of time.

How to Make Fried Ravioli

Next, set up a breading station that includes a bowl of each of the following: eggs mixed with half-and-half, flour, and breadcrumbs. To give the ravioli a crunchy coating that sticks, start the breading process with an egg wash, then flour, then back to the eggs, and finally into the breadcrumbs.- For the breadcrumbs, I recommend a combination of seasoned Italian and panko. This seems to give the best flavor and crunch.

How to Make Fried Ravioli

How to Make Fried Ravioli

How to Make Fried Ravioli

If you’ve ever breaded anything, you know that by the end of the process your fingers and your dishes are going to need a good cleaning. This is where my new Delta Esque Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet with Touch2O and ShieldSpray Technologies comes in. And like the dipping sauces for my ravioli, this faucet gives you options.

Delta Esque Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet with Touch2O and ShieldSpray Technologies

First, the Touch2O Technology lets you turn on the faucet with just the tap of your finger, wrist, palm, or forearm. This lets you get rid of the mess on your hands without making another mess. To stop the water, you just tap the faucet again. The faucet even knows the difference between a touch and a grasp. Meaning, if you’re grasping the spout to move it, the water stays on. Another tap will turn the faucet off.

The other innovative feature of this faucet is the ShieldSpray Technology by Delta Faucet. This may be the coolest feature of all. You can see how it works in the image below. In essence, a concentrated jet of water powers stubborn messes away as a water shield simultaneously contains the splatter and clears off the mess. Again, you can get rid of one mess without making another. That also means less time soaking, scrubbing, and drying food-and-water-splattered shirts.

Delta Esque Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet with Touch2O and ShieldSpray Technologies

Pretty amazing, right? I’m also sharing a video below that shows how to make this recipe. You can see the new Delta Esque Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet with Touch2O and ShieldSpray Technologies in action there.

Delta Esque Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet with Touch2O and ShieldSpray Technologies

Okay, now that the mess is cleaned up, we’re ready to fry.

Deep Fried Ravioli Recipe

Fry 3 or 4 ravioli at a time. It will take about 2 minutes until they are golden brown. I recommend flipping them once during frying for even browning. Once they are done, transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil. Repeat this procedure with all of the ravioli.

Fried Ravioli with Three Dipping Sauces | Inspired by Charm

Fried Ravioli Appetizer Recipe

The last step is to set out a big platter and pile up those crispy, golden ravioli. I served mine with warm marinara sauce, pesto, and ranch dressing. For more flavor and color, the ravioli get sprinkled with shredded parmesan cheese and minced parsley.

Let’s dip and eat!

Fried Ravioli with Three Dipping Sauces

Fried Ravioli with Three Dipping Sauces

Makes 24

Here's what you will need:
4 cups canola oil
6 eggs
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
24 raviolis (cheese or meat), fresh or frozen (Thaw if frozen.)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 cup marinara sauce, warmed
1 cup pesto sauce
1 cup ranch dressing

Add canola oil (about 4 cups) to a skillet so that the oil is approximately 2.5 inches deep. Heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 400 degrees F. (Test by dropping a few breadcrumbs in the oil. If the oil bubbles around them, it is ready for frying.)

In one bowl, whisk together the eggs and half-and-half. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and pepper. In a third bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs.

Dip each ravioli into the egg wash, then the flour mixture, then the egg wash again, and then the breadcrumbs. Place the breaded ravioli on a plate. Repeat with all the ravioli.

Drop 3 or 4 of the breaded ravioli into the oil and fry them for about 2 minutes or until the surface is golden brown and the filling is hot. Turn once during frying, if needed.

Remove from the oil and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with all the breaded ravioli. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and minced parsley. Serve with marinara sauce, pesto, and ranch dressing (or sauces of your choice.)

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Fried Ravioli with Three Dipping Sauces

With a full belly and no messy dishes, I’d say I passed the Shield Spray Challenge. Wouldn’t you agree?

Fried Ravioli with Three Dipping Sauces

I hope you’ll give this tasty recipe for Fried Ravioli a try. If you’re looking for more information about the new Delta® Esque Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet with Touch2O and ShieldSpray Technologies, head on over to DeltaFaucet.com.

Whether you’re looking for an hors d’oeuvre for your next celebration or making a meal of flavorful appetizers (something I like to do sometimes), these Fried Ravioli with Three Dipping Sauces are sure to tantalize your taste buds. If you haven’t tried Fried Ravioli, you’re in for a treat. This delectable recipe combines two of […]




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How to Make an Easy Overnight Breakfast Casserole

Everyone needs a quick and easy overnight breakfast casserole recipe. It could be you’re having overnight guests, planning a special brunch, or just wanting something different to serve your family in the morning. If so, you’ll want to try my latest recipe.

Recipe for an Easy Overnight Breakfast Casserole

As a former innkeeper, breakfast is one of my favorite meals. (I say “one of” because, if I’m honest, I like every meal!) I have fixed breakfast for many people and have long enjoyed experimenting and creating new recipes to start the day.

Ham and Cheese Overnight Breakfast Casserole

What I love about this overnight breakfast casserole is that it’s a blend of classic flavors that many folks seem to enjoy. However, it also serves up a lot of flexibility. Simply by swapping breads, cheeses, meats, or vegetables, you can customize this casserole to please any palette or come up with a new flavor combo each weekend of the year.

Easy Overnight Breakfast Casserole | Inspired by Charm

For this particular recipe, I started with French bread and a dozen eggs. (Makes sense for breakfast, right?) From there I went with traditional breakfast flavors, including ham, cheddar cheese, and chopped peppers. For even more flavor, I added dijon mustard, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and thyme.

Recipe for an Easy Overnight Breakfast Casserole

Easy Overnight Breakfast Casserole | Inspired by Charm

All of this gets mixed together and refrigerated overnight. Come morning, all you do is turn on your oven and bake the casserole. This is another huge perk of this recipe, especially if you’re not a morning person.

An easy ham and cheese overnight breakfast casserole!

Now just slice, serve, and enjoy!

An easy ham and cheese overnight breakfast casserole!

In case you’re looking for something to go along with this casserole, I recommend my Really Good Blueberry Muffins plus parfaits made with my Homemade Granola, fresh fruit, and yogurt. (A mimosa would also be delightful.)

Recipe for Easy Overnight Breakfast Casserole

Easy Overnight Breakfast Casserole

Serves 12

Here's what you will need:
6 cups cubed French bread
1 cup cubed ham
1 cup chopped peppers (red, yellow, orange, or green)
1 1/2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
12 eggs
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons ground Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Fill with the bread, ham, peppers, and cheese. Mix to evenly combine.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, fresh thyme, salt, and pepper. Pour this mixture on top of the bread mixture. Gently press down the bread with a spoon. Sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Bake 50-55 minutes until the eggs are cooked through. Cover the pan with aluminum foil if the top begins to brown too quickly. (If preparing the casserole in advance, cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight. Bake as directed.)

Garnish with fresh thyme and slice to serve.

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An easy ham and cheese overnight breakfast casserole!

If you’re anything like me, you’re craving some breakfast right about now. Am I correct?

An easy ham and cheese overnight breakfast casserole!

I hope you enjoy this Easy Overnight Breakfast Casserole. Give it a try the next time you’re put in charge of breakfast!

Everyone needs a quick and easy overnight breakfast casserole recipe. It could be you’re having overnight guests, planning a special brunch, or just wanting something different to serve your family in the morning. If so, you’ll want to try my latest recipe. As a former innkeeper, breakfast is one of my favorite meals. (I say […]




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Tips for buying a house and house hunting

As I mentioned in my post last week, I’m house hunting. While buying a house is certainly an exciting adventure for me, I didn’t think of it as being relevant to the blog. However, last week I reached out to all of you via Facebook for some content ideas. In the comments, someone suggested sharing the process of buying a house. I thought it was a such a smart idea so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Now, before we start, I must mention that I’m not a home buying expert. Today’s post and future posts about this adventure are meant to be more for your enjoyment rather than the ultimate how-to guide for buying a home. However, I hope that through this process, you’ll be able to pick up a few tips, discover new resources, and learn from my mistakes. With that disclaimer out there, let’s get going on this fun journey!

Buying a House - Inspired by Charm's House Hunting Adventure

FIND A REALTOR

I thought it would be smart to go back to the very beginning. To get my home buying process started, I first found a realtor. As you probably know, there are plenty of realtors. I suggest asking friends for recommendations or doing some online research to find someone who’s a good fit for you. Odds are you’ll be working closely with that person or team throughout the process so it’s essential that you like and trust them.

I found my realtor through social media. I was following a few developers in the Pittsburgh area on Instagram and several of them tagged Lifespace Pittsburgh as their real estate agency. After looking through some of the agency’s listings and doing a bit more research online, I set up an appointment and met with an agent to discuss my budget and what I was looking for in a home.

GET PRE-APPROVAL

While finding a realtor is an important first step, you’ll also want to take care of a few other details early in the home-buying process. If you need to finance your purchase (that is, get a loan), I strongly recommend first getting pre-approval. Pre-approval will determine how much you can spend on a home. That is to say, there’s no point in looking at $500K homes if you can only afford something closer to $300K.

There are many options for loans whether you work through a bank or other lender. I suggest starting with your personal bank. Your realtor may also be able to point you to lenders. Because I’m self-employed, my process of getting pre-approval was a bit more challenging. A standard pre-approval is fairly easy and straightforward. You should be able to get your number in a day or two.

I made the mistake of assuming what my budget could handle and simply started looking for houses in that price range. Skipping the pre-approval process was not wise. I could have avoided lots of unnecessary stress and frustration by first getting pre-approval. Trust me, you don’t want to fall in love with a home only to find out it’s beyond what the bank will loan you.

ENVISION YOUR PERFECT HOME

In my next “Buying a House with IBC” post, I’m going to walk you through in more detail what I’m looking for in a home. This is another crucial step before starting your search.

This means you have to decide where in the country you want to live. Is your perfect home in the city or the suburbs? Do you want a big backyard or are you dreaming of a large front porch? Do you want a single-family home or condo? If you’re planning on or have kids? How’s the school district? How many bedrooms/bathrooms do you need? Do you want a fixer-upper or new construction?…

Tips for Buying a House - House Hunting with Inspired by Charm

When I was thinking about what I wanted in a home, I made three lists: “Must Have,” “Would Be Nice,” and “Icing on the Cake.” Anything on my “Must-Have” List is non-negotiable. Things on my “Would-Be-Nice” List give the realtor a clearer picture of what my perfect home would have. They include the style of home, flooring type, specific features I like, and so on. My “Icing-on-the-Cake” List is for things I don’t need but would love to have, such as high ceilings, a clawfoot tub, and a functional fireplace.

While it’s important to know what you want, it’s equally important to be flexible. Be sure to make mental (or actual) notes about what you can and cannot change in a particular property. For example, you can replace carpet with hardwood, but you can’t change the school district the home is in. In addition, you can paint walls and add a front porch, but you can’t change the fact that the house is on a busy and noisy street. I hope that makes sense.

START THE HUNT

Your realtor can use all of this information and help you find the perfect home. Ideally, your agent should present you with some options based on what’s on the market and offer you new options as different properties become available.

However, thanks to the internet, you can also so your own home search. Websites like Zillow and Realtor provide a list of homes on the market. You can create custom searches to fit your budget, desired location, home size, etc.

Buying a House using Zillow

In addition to my realtor’s search, I chose to set up a few custom searches on Zillow. (I’ll talk more about what I’m looking for and why I have multiple searches in my next post.) I defined these searches to certain areas, set my price range, and chose the option to have new listings emailed to me once a day. I like this because every morning I get an email with any new listings which I can quickly go through. Now, because I’m a bit paranoid, I also check my custom search listings directly on the site in the evening. What’s especially nice is that you can be as involved as you’d like. If you prefer a more hands-off approach when looking for a house, let your realtor do the work for you.

And that brings me to where I am today: the hunt. Unfortunately, the market in Pittsburgh is rather slow at the moment, so the number of houses that fit my wants and needs is limited. Thankfully, I have a few months left on my apartment lease. I also have the flexibility to extend my lease by a few months, if needed. This is important because I would much rather find a house that suits me rather than rush into something based on time. Now, if I could just decide exactly where in Pittsburgh I want to live and what my ideal home looks like … but we’ll save that until next time.

As I mentioned in my post last week, I’m house hunting. While buying a house is certainly an exciting adventure for me, I didn’t think of it as being relevant to the blog. However, last week I reached out to all of you via Facebook for some content ideas. In the comments, someone suggested sharing […]




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A Life Update

I suppose I owe you a life update. I invited you on this crazy journey, so I should keep you in the loop, right?

(For those of you who are new here: last June I moved to Pittsburgh. If you need to catch up, it all started here and here.)

As much I would like to tell you that moving to Pittsburgh has dramatically changed my life, made everything happier / better, and opened up oodles of opportunities, I can’t … yet. I had hoped that relocating would be enough. – That a different place, more people, new and exciting activities, etc. would be the ticket to opening me up to a supremely happy existence. However, it just didn’t happen. Part of me didn’t want to write this post because I am embarrassed to still be in much the same situation seven months after moving here.

I know I only have myself to blame. Although I went to events, markets, restaurants, coffees shops, etc., I didn’t give it enough, do enough, put myself out there enough, or try hard enough. I could list a million reasons (some better than others), but they’d just be excuses.

To be fair, it hasn’t all been miserable and unsuccessful. I’ve met some people and made a couple new friends, plus I’m genuinely enjoying this urban location. I find so much joy in visiting local coffee shops, experiencing new-to-me foods, seeing city sites, etc. I’m glad I’m here. I’m happy I took the risk of moving here. However, in my mind, I just thought I’d be further along. Great expectations I suppose.

With that being said, I’m excited 2018 is here. I’ve spent the past two weeks in kind of a haze, bummed about my current situation, but that has to end. It’s time to hit the reset button and try again. I’m not quite sure how yet, but I’m planning and working on ways to be where I want to be. In fact, last week I hired a life coach as recommended by a reader. I’m hoping to make many positive changes through that.

I do realize that some of you are sick of hearing the same story again and again. I get it. I hate telling it over and over. How many times have I made proclamations here only to find myself in the same situation a few months down the road? Too many to count. But I guess there is something to be said for continuing to try. Life may kick me down, but I’m not going to let it keep me down. I’ve got to get it correct one of these times, right?

 

A Life Update | Inspired by Charm

You also might be wondering about my house in St. Marys. Well, I sold it. I had no intention of doing so. However, a few months after my move, an opportunity presented itself, and I couldn’t say no. I knew the St. Marys house wasn’t my forever home, so it was time to let it go. It also happens that the folks who are buying the house want the contents, so packing up and moving shouldn’t be too hard. Naturally, I’ll be taking personal items, but I’m going to do my best to keep things to a minimum.

I’m not sad about selling, so please don’t be sad for me. I had a great run with that house, and thankfully, I have many pages here on IBC by which to remember it. If anything, I’m feeling anxious and unsettled about simply not having a “home.” Not the physical structure, but I place where I feel comfortable, a place where I belong.

So now what? Well, I’ve been house hunting in Pittsburgh. In fact, I was inches away from making an offer on a place, but my financing kept falling through. Even though things are in order now, and I could put in an offer today, I’m taking those many failed attempts as a sign from the universe to continue the search.

As grateful as I am for my apartment and the opportunities it’s given me, I can tell you that apartment living is not for me. I’m itching to be in a house again. Unfortunately, the housing market in Pittsburgh is rather slow this time of year, so my search for a house may take a little longer than I’d like. I suppose that’s a good thing though. It seems best not to rush things. It also gives me time to pause and figure out what I want and where I want to be.

So that’s what’s been going on in my personal life.

I had thought about including a bit about the blog and my direction for it, but I’ll save that for another post. In addition to my personal uncertainties, I’ve been struggling with the blog as well. (This was probably apparent in my almost three-week hiatus from IBC and social media.) I’m certain at some point I’ll reach out for your feedback and advice. Thanks for your patience in my absence.

I could go on and share more details, but I think that pretty much covers things. If you have questions, let me know in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something.

As always, thank you for your love, support, and loyalty. You are dear to me.

I suppose I owe you a life update. I invited you on this crazy journey, so I should keep you in the loop, right? (For those of you who are new here: last June I moved to Pittsburgh. If you need to catch up, it all started here and here.) As much I would like […]




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Inspired by Charm: The Best of 2017

Let me start by saying Happy 2018! Already one week in, I hope this new year is treating you well and that lots of love and light are coming your way.

Today, I thought it’d be fun to take a look back at some of the best moments of 2017. I put this list together based on analytics from the blog (which posts garnered the most views) as well as personal favorites I thought were worth revisiting.

However, before we get to the recap, I want to thank you for your patience with my recent absence. To be honest, I would have liked to take an entire month off, but since this is my job, I’m not able to do that. Not only was 2017 a crazy-busy, emotional rollercoaster, but I’m feeling a little lost and undecided in how to proceed with the blog. (More on that soon, but don’t worry. IBC is alive and well.) For now, I’m proceeding with the attitude of “just start” and hoping that things will fall into place as I continue to work on creating a happy place.

Also, I promise to give you a little life-update soon since some of you have been asking about that. I hope to get that post up later this week or early next week. Stay tuned.

Now, let’s take a look back at 2017. To keep this post from being overly long and unwieldy, I’m recapping things in sections. Some sections highlight several posts; others include just one. Many of these memorable moments seem like they happened years ago, while others feel like I posted them yesterday. Whether you’re new to Inspired by Charm this year or have been following since 2009, I hope you enjoy looking back at the past year.

My Move to Pittsburgh
In early June I officially moved from my big house in St. Marys to a loft-style apartment in Pittsburgh. (It all started here with sun-dried tomatoes.) Because of that move, there were many posts about how I decorated my new home including my living room, dining room, office, and bedroom. You can expect more posts on my decor after I finally pack away the remnants of Christmas.

Pittsburgh Apartment Decor: The Best of 2017

Celebrating Easter
Before my big move, 2017 brought a great deal of Easter content which I hadn’t previously done much of here on the blog. To my surprise, some of these Easter-inspired posts proved to be the most popular of the past year. Your favorites included my Cottontail Martini, Easter Kabobs, Coconut Macaroon Nests, Soft Peanut Butter Cookies, and my Easter Tablescape.

Easter Dessert Kabobs: The Best of 2017

That Time I Helped Design a Tiny House
One of my biggest professional accomplishments of 2017 was working with Nestea on the design of a Tiny House which was showcased in the middle of New York City. It was such a fun experience and a place I was proud to put my stamp on.

Tiny House Design: The Best of 2017

Another Really Good Pasta Salad Recipe
So many of you seem to love pasta salad recipes. I understand. I love them, too. In years past, I shared my Really Good Macaroni Salad and Ramen Noodle Salad recipes with you. Both continue to be immensely popular. In 2017, I added my Really Good Pasta Salad recipe to the collection, and it quickly rose to the popularity of the previous two. (Oh, and if you’re looking for a warm pasta recipe, this One-Pan Chicken Sun-Dried Tomato Parmesan Pasta is a must!)

Really Good Pasta Salad Recipe: The Best of 2017

These Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars
Speaking of food, I had to give some love to these Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars. This recipe surprised me. While it was one of my personal favorite recipes of 2017, it didn’t seem to resonate as much with IBC readers. That’s why I decided to give it a little more attention in this recap post. I promise you won’t be disappointed. However, if peanut butter and jelly isn’t your “jam” (pun intended), check out any one of these popular dessert recipes from last year: Salted Caramel Cheesecake Dip, Really Good Blueberry Muffins, The Ultimate Coconut Cupcakes, and the cookies from this year’s Fall Cookie Week.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars: The Best of 2017

The Cheeseballs that Broke the Internet
2017 proved to be a winning year for cheeseballs. I made two this year that were off the charts. First, there was my pumpkin-shaped Everything Bagel Cheese ball. This guy even gained some notable attention by being featured on Country Living’s Instagram feed.

Everything Bagel Cheeseball: The Best of 2017

More recently, I made a tree-shaped cheeseball for Christmas. Dozens of you recreated both recipes over the past few months and sent photos or shared them via social media. For me, this is the ultimate reward as a blogger. To see you creating and enjoying something you found here on IBC. Please continue to share your IBC-inspired creations with me.

Christmas Tree Cheese Ball : The Best of 2017

A Year of Recipe Cards
As I did in 2016, I created a year of printable recipe cards to share with all of you. While the cards are inspired by the four seasons, this year I include two extras (one for Halloween and one for Christmas). In case you missed any, I’ve linked all of them here. They are my gift to you, available as a free download.

Recipe Card Printables: The Best of 2017

A Very Merry Christmas
Christmas continues to be the most popular time of year on Inspired by Charm. Like last year, IBC received over 1 million page views in a 30-day period. While it’s not “about the numbers,” that’s huge for me. It fills me with so much pride and excitement to know that folks are enjoying what I’m sharing. It goes without saying that hitting that number wouldn’t be possible without each of you.

Christmas on Inspired by Charm: The Best of 2017

Some of the most popular posts from this Christmas were my Apartment Holiday Home Tour (along with Christmas In My Bedroom), How to Add Ribbon to Your Christmas Tree, the recipe for my Cream Horn Cookies, and these free printable gift tags.

Cover Boy
Last, but certainly not least, 2017 brought a “pinch-me moment” that I’ll probably never forget. Back in January, a crew from Better Homes and Gardens visited my St. Marys home to do a holiday photo shoot for their Christmas Ideas Magazine. To my amazement, my Christmas tree adorned the cover of that issue (along with a 10-page spread of my home inside). While I’ve been blessed to have features in magazines before, making the cover was the cream in my coffee!

Cover Boy: Best of 2017

This short recap only scratches the surface of content I shared in the past year here on Inspired by Charm. You can always access the IBC archives for a full list of posts from 2017.

If you’re new to the blog, be sure to sign up for the IBC Mailing List. It’s the best way to stay in touch and not miss anything that happens on the blog.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t let you know how much I have appreciated your support over the past nine years. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Here’s to many more years together.

Let me start by saying Happy 2018! Already one week in, I hope this new year is treating you well and that lots of love and light are coming your way. Today, I thought it’d be fun to take a look back at some of the best moments of 2017. I put this list together […]




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Modern Christmas Decor for a Bedroom

Well, friends, I thought I’d pop back in one more time before the festivities start to give you a look around my bedroom decorated for Christmas. Following this post, I’m signing off until 2018. But never fear, after a short break, I plan to be back. I’m looking forward to kicking off my 9th year of blogging!

As promised in my Holiday Home Tour, I wanted to give you a peek around my bedroom. Back in the fall, I painted a big black square on the wall behind my bed, but I failed to update you on how it all came together after that. Well, after today it will no longer be a mystery.

Modern Christmas Decor for a Bedroom

Christmas in My Bedroom | Inspired by Charm

Clearly, a lot has changed in this space since I first shared my bedroom. I got new bedding, new lights, and new pieces of furniture and added decor. I’m loving the changes. I’ve linked up a lot of the products on my SHOP IBC page under “Pittsburgh Apartment” in case you’re looking for sources.

Granted, much of the decor in here is Christmas-related, so it will be interesting to see how things look after the holidays, but I’m not worried about that right now.

Modern Christmas Decor for a Bedroom

Let's Mistletoe Banner - Modern Christmas Bedroom Decor

Let's Mistletoe Banner - Modern Christmas Bedroom Decor

In addition to what’s on the shelf over the bed, the festive touches continue with a colorful felt ball garland (from HomeGoods) and this “Let’s Mistletoe” banner. I thought it was sort of cheeky even though there’s no “mistletoe-ing” happening. I got the idea for this banner from one I saw at Target. However, their’s was covered in glitter, so I ordered this one from Etsy.

Let's Mistletoe Banner - Modern Christmas Bedroom Decor

The Christmas pendant pillow on the bed is from Fabric Scout Studio. It’s the perfect bit of old-fashioned Christmas.

Modern Christmas Decor for a Bedroom

Modern Christmas Decor for a Bedroom

Modern Christmas Decor for a Bedroom

You may have noticed that the big cactus from my living room is now in this space. It may look out of place, but I like the quirk factor.

I’m not sure if I ever showed you this, but I put together a tiny gallery wall next to my chair. With a couple seasonal accessories, I’m digging how it looks.

Styling an Eclectic Bedroom for Christmas

Bedroom Gallery Wall - Christmas Bedroom Decor

I also put up a small tree in this space. It came together with lots of quirky ornaments I had on hand. All the wood ornaments are from Tree Hopper Toys, the buffalo check balls are from HomeGoods, and the gold sequined unicorns were a Target find last year. They might be my favorite.

Modern Hipster Christmas Tree in a Bedroom

Gold Sequin Ornament - Bedroom Christmas Decor

Modern Christmas Tree Ornament - Bedroom Christmas Decor

Modern Christmas Tree Ornament - Bedroom Christmas Decor

Gold Sequin Ornament - Bedroom Christmas Decor

Modern Christmas Decor for a Bedroom

And for one final touch, I hung my marshmallow wreath on my bedroom door. I made the wreath three or four years ago. If you look close, it’s a little worse for the wear, but I love it just the same.

Marshmallow Wreath - Bedroom Christmas Decorating Ideas

Modern Christmas Decor for a Bedroom

And that’s a wrap! Not only is my Christmas bedroom tour complete, but another year is on the books for IBC. Since I can’t say it enough, thank you for your continued support, comments, likes, shares, etc. It means the world to me and helps make all of this possible. I love you!

I know I owe you a life update (as many of you have asked), so I’ll be certain to share that early in the coming year.

Blogger - Michael Wurm Jr. of Inspired by Charm

Wishing each of you a very merry Christmas and the happiest of new years!

Well, friends, I thought I’d pop back in one more time before the festivities start to give you a look around my bedroom decorated for Christmas. Following this post, I’m signing off until 2018. But never fear, after a short break, I plan to be back. I’m looking forward to kicking off my 9th year […]




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This Orange Pineapple Dream Salad recipe is a delicious side dish for the holidays.

Today, I thought it’d be fun to share another family-favorite holiday recipe. This Orange Pineapple Dream Salad is a staple of our Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter dinner tables, I’m certain you’ll love it as much as we do.

Orange Pineapple Dream Salad - delicious as a side dish or dessert

This recipe came from my mom’s best friend. She called it “White Jell-O Salad,” but because that name isn’t descriptive, and there’s no Jell-O in it, I renamed it Orange Pineapple Dream Salad. (I love you, Joanna, and appreciate the recipe!)

Orange Pineapple Dream Salad - delicious as a side dish or dessert

Whether it's a dessert or a side, this Orange Pineapple Dream Salad recipe is winner!

I still don’t know why some old-fashioned desserts are referred to as “salads,” however, I’m not complaining. If I can eat a “salad” that’s actually a dessert, life is good.

I would classify this as dessert, not salad because it brings a sweet component to any holiday meal. It’s similar to ambrosia, but with fewer fruits and fillings.

How to make Orange Pineapple Dream Salad

How to make Orange Pineapple Dream Salad

The resulting concoction is a sweet, light cloud-like cream swirled with pineapple and mandarin oranges. It’s nothing fancy, but it tastes oh-so-good! It’s one of those things I always look forward to when the holidays roll around.

This Orange Pineapple Dream Salad recipe is a delicious side dish for the holidays.

If you’re not certain your family will get that this is a side dish, you could simply serve it as dessert. And since it doesn’t contain any seasonal ingredients, you could serve it any time of year.

Whether it's a dessert or a side, this Orange Pineapple Dream Salad recipe is winner!

No matter when or how you make it, I’m sure your family and guests will love this dessert-disguised-as-salad.

This Orange Pineapple Dream Salad recipe is a delicious side dish for the holidays.

Orange Pineapple Dream Salad

Serves 8-10

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 can (15 1/2 ounces) crushed pineapple
1 cup sugar
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup whole milk
2 envelopes (1 box) Dream Whip
1 can (15 ounces) mandarin oranges, drained and chopped
Fresh mandarin segments for garnish

In a small bowl, combine the gelatin and water. Set aside.

Then, in a saucepan, combine the crushed pineapple (with juice) and sugar. Heat until boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the prepared gelatin. Set aside to cool completely.

With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and whole milk. Beat until smooth. Add the two envelopes of Dream Whip and beat until the mixture forms peaks. Fold in the cooled pineapple mixture and chopped mandarin oranges.

Pour into an 8x12" dish and chill 3-4 hours before serving. Garnish with fresh mandarin orange segments, if desired.

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This Orange Pineapple Dream Salad recipe is a delicious side dish for the holidays.

As you can see, this is super simple to make and comes together in less than 15 minutes, hands-on time.

This Orange Pineapple Dream Salad recipe is a delicious side dish for the holidays.

I hope you’ll give it a try. Enjoy!

Today, I thought it’d be fun to share another family-favorite holiday recipe. This Orange Pineapple Dream Salad is a staple of our Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter dinner tables, I’m certain you’ll love it as much as we do. This recipe came from my mom’s best friend. She called it “White Jell-O Salad,” but because that […]




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Christmas Gift Wrap - Christmas Printable Gift Tags

I realize I’m probably too late for many of you. But, if you’re still wrapping gifts like I am, then some gift tags may come in handy! Today, I’m sharing a download for these FREE Christmas Printable Gift Tags.

Christmas Gift Wrap - Christmas Printable Gift Tags

Gift Wrapping Ideas - Christmas Printable Gift Tags

Unlike a lot of folks, I love wrapping Christmas presents. Whether I’m deciding on a color scheme, buying ribbons to match, finding cute gift tags, or finally wrapping while binge-watching Harry Potter movies, gift-wrapping is one of my favorite activities of the season.

Most years, I make my own gift tags. This might mean embellishing a store-bought label, creating something from scratch, or designing printable gift tags I can cut out, I think a personalized tag is the perfect finishing touch to a gift. Here’s what I came up with this year.

Free Christmas Printable Gift Tags

The design for these tags came about after seeing similar ones online. Yes, the general idea behind these tags has been done before. (I can’t take credit.) However, I couldn’t resist giving them an IBC twist!

What I especially love about the tags is that you can have fun with personalization. Obviously, there’s space to write the names of the recipient and giver. You can also check whether the recipient has been “naughty” or “nice”. And just for fun, you can circle the delivery method: sleigh, mitten, or mail.

Holiday Gift Wrap - Christmas Printable Gift Tags

Fun, right!?

I’ve provided the labels (which you can download here) in two color schemes: red and blue.

Free Christmas Printable Gift Tags

Because my wrapping paper theme this year is blue, teal, gray, and aqua, I needed the blue labels. However, I realize that many people keep things traditional, so there’s a red option as well.

The download (which you can find here) will provide you with one sheet of blue and one sheet of red. Feel free to print whatever you like. For best results, I suggest printing them on cardstock. (It’s thicker.)


Christmas Gift Wrap - Christmas Printable Gift Tags

To cut them out, I recommend using a paper cutter like this one. It’s fast, and it will keep the edges straight. However, scissors will work, too. (I had to cut mine out with scissors since my paper cutter is back in St. Marys.)

You’ll also need a hole punch to make the hole at the top of the tag. I used a 1/8-inch hole punch, but a 1/4-inch standard one will also work.

Gift Wrapping Ideas - Christmas Printable Gift Tags

To attach the tag to a gift, I prefer bakers twine. It’s available in many colors and styles. I’m partial to the varieties that incorporate gold or silver metallic thread. I like the extra sparkle.


Gift Wrapping Ideas - Christmas Printable Gift Tags

Gift Wrapping Ideas - Christmas Printable Gift Tags

I usually add a fabric ribbon to my gift, so it’s simple to tie the tag to the package. However, if ribbon isn’t your thing, the tags can be attached to your package with washi tape.

Christmas Printable Gift Tags - Holiday Gift Wrapping

Christmas Printable Gift Tags - Holiday Gift Wrapping

Voila! Whether the recipients are naughty or nice, your presents are ready for gifting. Again, if you like these Christmas Printable Gift Tags, click here for the free download.

Merry Christmas!

PS. If you like printables, you LOVE my 2017 Recipe Card Collection. There are six unique and seasonal designs you can download and print! Find all the details on those here.

Printable Seasonal Recipe Card - Free Download

I realize I’m probably too late for many of you. But, if you’re still wrapping gifts like I am, then some gift tags may come in handy! Today, I’m sharing a download for these FREE Christmas Printable Gift Tags. Unlike a lot of folks, I love wrapping Christmas presents. Whether I’m deciding on a color […]




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A FREE Winter Recipe Card Printable

Christmas is almost here, and I have one final recipe card printable to share with you. Here it is – my free Winter Recipe Card Printable!

Free Printable Winter-Themed Recipe Card

As you may know, I have shared printable recipe cards periodically throughout the year. (I did the same thing in 2016!) Since we’ve already covered spring, summer, and fall (with bonus recipe cards for Halloween and Christmas), the final card in this year’s series is winter.

I kept the design similar to the previous cards so they would all look work as a collection. For the graphics, I used nature and winter foliage as inspiration. Wildlife, such as foxes, bunnies, and a cardinal, make an appearance along with winter berries, pine, and poinsettias.

Download this Winter Recipe Card Printable

Download this Winter Recipe Card Printable

These cards are especially meaningful to me because I chose the graphics with a nod to my grandma. She had a small sunroom on the back of her home where she spent much of each day watching the birds and bunnies at her feeders. These graphics were the perfect way to capture the scene.

Download this Winter Recipe Card Printable

If you like these cards, you can grab the free download here.

Feel free to use them to write down your favorite recipes this holiday season and all winter long. You could even print some out and share them as gifts.

Winter Recipe Card Printable – DOWNLOAD HERE

Download and print this Winter Recipe Card Printable

Printable Winter Recipe Card - Free Download

Since this Winter Recipe Card Printable wraps up the 2017 collection, I thought we could take a look back at the cards in this year’s series.

As much as I love each design on its own, I always love seeing them all together. While each one speaks to its particular season (or holiday), they look beautiful as a collection, too.

Printable Seasonal Recipe Card - Free Download

The goal for the cards was to create one for each season, totaling four designs. However, this year I opted to throw in two additional cards: one for Halloween and another for Christmas. I’m so glad I decided to do that as the holiday recipe cards were some of my favorites.

Printable Seasonal Recipe Card - Free Download

Printable Seasonal Recipe Card - Free Download

In case you missed any, you can grab the details for all the cards using the links below:

Spring Recipe Card
Summer Recipe Card
Fall Recipe Card
Winter Recipe Card (You are here!)
Halloween Recipe Card
Christmas Recipe Card

Printable Seasonal Recipe Card - Free Download

Which one is your favorite?

Printable Seasonal Recipe Card - Free Download

Also, I wanted to ask, do you like these recipe card printables? I’m trying to decide if I should with a card series in 2018. Your feedback would be greatly appreciated. Would you like more recipe cards? Let me know in the comments below.

A FREE Winter Recipe Card Printable

*Also, a big shout out to Mike at Dash Creative who has helped me with the tech and design for all of the recipe card printables. They wouldn’t be possible without him.

Christmas is almost here, and I have one final recipe card printable to share with you. Here it is – my free Winter Recipe Card Printable! As you may know, I have shared printable recipe cards periodically throughout the year. (I did the same thing in 2016!) Since we’ve already covered spring, summer, and fall […]




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My Ultimate Christmas Music Playlist

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been listening to a Christmas music playlist since early November. Yep, I’m one of “those people.” I just can’t get enough of the songs on that list. Because I thought you might enjoy it too and I couldn’t let the year pass without a Christmas playlist, today I’m bringing you My Ultimate Christmas Music Playlist.

My Ultimate Christmas Music Playlist

(If you’ve been following IBC for a while, you might remember I shared several holiday playlists last year. But don’t worry if you missed them; all of them are linked later in this post.)

Since I realize taste in music is subjective, I’m calling this “my” playlist. These are my favorite Christmas songs. However, if you like the music I share in my TuesdayTunes music series, I’m guessing you’ll like them, too.

I think most of us have certain Christmas songs by certain artists that tug at our heartstrings this time of year. These are the songs that bring back magical moments and remind us of Christmases past.

For me, many of the songs from one of Jewel’s albums – the first Christmas album I bought – stir up strong memories of holidays when I was a teen. I also instantly time travel to my younger years when I hear Kenny G’s Christmas album. – My mom was a big fan. “Winter Song,” though somewhat melancholy, fills me with joy anytime I listen to it. And I could go on . . .

My Ultimate Christmas Music Playlist

I suspect there are many holiday songs that are memory-inducing for you as well. I hope this playlist and all of my Christmas playlists help to stir up a little yuletide magic in your heart.

While I was listening to the playlists I created last year, I went back into each and added a handful of new songs. In my opinion, each is a great playlist in its own way. You can listen to them via the links below or by clicking on the images at the end of this post.

Classic Christmas Music
Country Christmas Music
Contemporary Christmas Music
Folksy Christmas Music
In the meantime, take a moment to listen to my newest holiday playlist. You can listen using the player below or directly on Spotify by clicking here.

 

 

And if you like my musical selections, be sure to follow the playlist or subscribe to my Spotify profile here so you never miss a tune.

Thank you so much for spending a bit of your holiday with me. I hope my Christmas music playlists add a little “fa la la la la la” to your day.

Classic Christmas Music - My Ultimate Christmas Music Playlist

Country Christmas Music - My Ultimate Christmas Music Playlist

Contemporary Christmas Music - My Ultimate Christmas Music Playlist

Folksy Christmas Music - My Ultimate Christmas Music Playlist

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been listening to a Christmas music playlist since early November. Yep, I’m one of “those people.” I just can’t get enough of the songs on that list. Because I thought you might enjoy it too and I couldn’t let the year pass without a Christmas playlist, today I’m […]




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How to make a Christmas Tree Shaped Cheese Ball

With just a few days till Christmas, I have a few last-minute ideas to share with you this week as we finish getting ready for the big day! Today I’m kicking things off with my Christmas Tree Cheese Ball. Let’s dig in!

Holiday Appetizer Recipe - Christmas Tree Cheese Ball

I wish I could take complete credit for this creative and festive Christmas Tree Cheese Ball, but I can’t. The truth is I saw a few of these on the internet this past week, and I couldn’t resist making my own version. It seemed especially appropriate given the popularity of the Everything Bagel Cheese Ball I shared this fall. I figured it needed a sidekick for the season!

Christmas Tree Cheese Ball appetizer recipe for Holiday entertaining

If you’re a longtime follower of Inspired by Charm, you’ll know that cheese is one of my favorite foods and probably the reason I’ll never have six-pack abs. (But I’m okay with that. Bring on the cheese!) Although it might be a bit of a throwback, I still love a cheeseball for entertaining. And with a few creative touches, it doesn’t have to be staid and boring. You can make mini cheese balls or shape them into apples or pumpkins. Today, a Christmas tree is our inspiration!

This cheese ball starts with a flavorful mixture of cream cheese, shredded cheddar, green onions, pimientos, and spices.

How to make a Christmas Tree Cheese Ball appetizer

Once these ingredients are well combined, let the mixture chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before shaping. This will make working with it much easier. I created the tree shape using my hands (in a v-shape with palms together) on a clean kitchen counter. Just roll the mixture back and forth and shape as you go.

How to make a Christmas Tree Cheese Ball appetizer

Once your Christmas Tree Cheese Ball is formed, you’re ready to decorate. I recommend starting with tomatoes, then adding chopped parsley, followed by almonds and red pepper.

How to make a Christmas Tree Cheese Ball appetizer

As you can probably see, I added the almonds before the parsley and this was a bit more challenging. Also, feel free to use whatever garnishes you like. I found that tomatoes, almonds, and peppers work well with the flavors of the cheeseball, but decorate your Christmas Tree Cheese Ball with whatever suits you.

Festive Christmas Tree Cheese Ball appetizer recipe

Two quick tips. First, use a yellow pepper to create the star on top of the tree. I found it easier to cut out the star with kitchen shears rather than a knife. Second, if any parsley sticks to the almonds or tomatoes, gently brush it off with a clean pastry brush.

Festive Christmas Tree Cheese Ball appetizer recipe

This Christmas Tree Cheese Ball make the perfect holiday appetizer recipe.

Your Christmas Tree Cheese Ball is now ready to serve. I promise it will be the merriest appetizer on your table!

Christmas Tree Cheese Ball

Serves 30

Here's what you will need:
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
4 cups finely shredded cheddar cheese
4 green onions, chopped
1 jar (4 ounces) diced pimientos, drained
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Garnish
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 yellow pepper, chopped and cut into a star
Assorted crackers and pretzels

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fully. Beat in cheddar cheese, onions, pimientos, butter, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Roll and press the cheese ball mixture into the shape of a Christmas tree. Garnish first with the cherry tomato halves, then add parsley, followed by the sliced almonds and peppers. Serve with assorted crackers and pretzels.

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Christmas Tree Cheese Ball appetizer recipe for Holiday entertaining

Holiday Appetizer Recipe - Christmas Tree Cheese Ball

Voila! Christmas appetizer perfected!

This Christmas Tree Cheese Ball make the perfect holiday appetizer recipe.

While it takes a bit longer to put together (maybe an extra 10 minutes), I think the results are well worth it. Your guests will definitely be impressed with the special touch of holiday merriment. Enjoy!

With just a few days till Christmas, I have a few last-minute ideas to share with you this week as we finish getting ready for the big day! Today I’m kicking things off with my Christmas Tree Cheese Ball. Let’s dig in! I wish I could take complete credit for this creative and festive Christmas […]




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