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Say ‘cheese’ at your next party

It’s getting that time of year again when we all start going to or having parties. It could be family, office, holiday or even our favorite pastime, football, bringing everyone together.

I’m going to equip you today with a few of my favorite bring-along party foods.

Chili Cheese Straws or Bites

1 lb shredded sharp cheddar cheese at room temp.

1 stick of butter, softened

half tsp chili powder

2 cups of flour

*If you need a kick, add 1/4 tsp red pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the cheese and butter. Add the chili powder and flour (pepper if you want) and blend thoroughly. You can use your cookie press if you want for straws, or you can roll into little balls and press down on a lined cookie sheet with a fork in a criss cross pattern. Bake for about 15 minutes or until done. You can sprinkle with a little salt if you like, but I like them just the way they are. Let cool and enjoy!!

Caramel Pecan Cheesecakes

2 (8 oz.) pkg cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 Tbs cinnamon

2 eggs

12 vanilla wafers

12 muffin liners

3/4 cup chopped pecans

3/4 cup of toasted coconut

2 tbs real butter

1 jar of caramel sauce topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a liner in each muffin cup.

Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon; beating well. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Place a vanilla wafer in each muffin cup flat side down. Spoon cream cheese mixture over wafers and bake for 20 min.

Melt butter in a sauce pan and add the pecans and coconut and toast on top of stove. Set to the side.

When the cheesecakes are done, top each of them with the toasted mixture and then with the caramel sauce (as much as you like) on top of that. Refrigerate if you like and serve!

Until next time, have fun in the kitchen, experiment and indulge your cravings.

Laura Clements is the pastry chef at Napoleon’s.