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Bring the Homecoming Party Home With an Irresistible Spread

Easy Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
Easy Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
Written by Nadine Cheung

Homecoming is just around the corner, but rather than let your kids go out after the big game or school dance, entice them to stay in. All you need to do is provide an irresistible spread, and no one will want to leave.

For a menu they won't want to miss, go for an easy-to-eat mix of sweet and savory items. Football-inspired favorites, like dips and chilis, are always a good choice for the sports-minded teens, and small individual cookies and bars will allow your kids and their friends to mingle with ease.

Try some of these easy recipes, and get your high schoolers back where you can see them. We promise they'll be happy (and full) with these comforting game-day inspired dishes.

Blue Cheese and Bacon First Down Dip

Chips and dip go a long way at any party, but for a special event like homecoming, you'll want to serve something to remember. This hearty crowd-pleaser is perfectly paired with kettle-cooked potato chips, and is easy enough to make ahead of time. Just pop it in the oven when you're ready to eat.

Ingredients: 

    8 slices bacon, chopped
    1 cup (4-oz.) crumbled blue cheese
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    2 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
    1/3 cup cream
    2 tablespoons minced green onions
    1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces

Cook bacon in skillet until crisp, stirring often. Remove from skillet and drain. Add garlic to skillet and sauté over low heat for 1 minute. Combine cream cheese and cream in food processor bowl or mixer and blend until smooth. Stir in bacon, garlic, crumbled cheese and green onions. Portion dip in medium baking dish; bake in preheated 350°F oven for 20 minutes. Garnish with toasted walnuts. Serve warm dip with kettle cooked potato chips.

Chicken and White Bean Chili

This chicken chili is a winning dish, especially when it comes to game day. After prepping your ingredients, you can have this meal cooked in less than 45 minutes, which gives you plenty of time to entertain your guests. This chili is even better the next day—that is, if there's any left.

Ingredients:

    1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
    3 cans (15-ounce) cannellini beans, drain and reserve 1/2 cup liquid
    1/4 cup corn oil
    1 large onion, chopped
    4 large garlic cloves, chopped
    1 tablespoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
    1 cup chicken broth
    2 cans (4.5 ounce) diced green chiles
    1/2 cup whipping cream
    Cheddar cheese, grated
    Fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, and dried red pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes. Remove from pan. Season chicken with salt and pepper, add oil to pan and sauté chicken approximately 5 minutes. Add onion mixture, beans, reserved liquid, broth, chiles and cream to chicken. Simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish and enjoy.

Buffalo Chicken Cheesy Dip

This spicy dip evokes all of the flavors of Buffalo wings, but without all the mess. Simply mix softened cream cheese, blue cheese dressing and shredded chicken together in a large bowl. Then add hot sauce and mix well. Transfer the mixture into a baking dish and spread evenly. Top with grated cheddar cheese and diced green onions, and bake uncovered at 350°F for 15-20 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips for an easy, cheesy and delicious dish.

Easy Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

It doesn't get any easier than this. With just two ingredients, you can make three dozen cookies in less than an hour. Peanut butter lovers will rave about these delights without you breaking a sweat.

Ingredients: 

1 (15-ounce) roll refrigerated peanut butter cookie dough
1 (9-ounce) package peanut butter cup miniatures, wrappings removed

Coat miniature muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray. Cut chilled cookie dough into nine (1-inch) slices, then quarter each slice. Place one quarter in each section of muffin tin and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 7 minutes or until puffy. Remove from oven and place one unwrapped peanut butter cup on each partially baked cookie. Return to oven and bake another 2 to 3 minutes until chocolate is soft. Let cookies cool in tins for 5 minutes then remove from tins and cool completely on baking rack.

Strawberry Cookie Bars

This cookie bar is perfect for serving at your party, or giving to your guests to eat the next day. The mix of strawberry preserves and roasted peanuts will bring out the kid in everyone, as the combo basically tastes like the best PB&J ever. Try this recipe for a nostalgic treat.

Ingredients:

    2 cups peanut butter
    1 (16 ounce) jar strawberry preserves (about 1 1/4 cups
    3/4 cup salted peanuts, chopped
    8 ounces unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature (2 sticks)
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    2 large eggs, at room temperature
    3 cups flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat butter with an electric mixer until smooth; add sugar gradually until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter until combined. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture and mix until just combined. Spread 2/3 of the dough mixture into a greased 13"x 9" baking dish; spread evenly with strawberry preserves and top with dollops of remaining dough. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake 45 minutes or until golden brown. Place baking pan on wire rack to cool and cut into 12 even squares.

Glazed Brownie Cookies

Brownie and cookie lovers alike will go nuts for these two-bite treats. They have the chocolate chewiness of a brownie, but also embody the crunchy goodness of a cookie. Top them with a chocolate glaze to make them extra heavenly.

Ingredients:

    8 ounces German sweet chocolate, broken up
    3/4 cup chopped pecans
    1/4 cup flour
    1/4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    2 large eggs
    3/4 cup sugar
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 batch chocolate glaze recipe

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together; place in medium bowl. In double broiler, melt butter and chocolate; stir until well combined. Let cool. Beat eggs with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. Add sugar gradually until a ribbon forms and color becomes very light. Add vanilla. Add cooled chocolate to egg mixture and beat on low speed until well blended. Remove from electric mixer and fold in sifted dry ingredients. Fold in pecans, as well. Using a rounded teaspoon, drop batter onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, placing 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake for 12 minutes. Cookies will look cracked, light in color, and still very soft. When cool, spread cookies with Chocolate Glaze using a small off set spatula.

This article is part of Mix It Up, an editorial series created in collaboration with AOL's Kitchen Daily and Huffington Post. It is dedicated to making the lives of mothers easier through articles, videos and slideshows focused on simple and creative solutions to everyday challenges. From healthy recipes to exciting ideas for a more balanced lifestyle, this section aims to become a resource for moms everywhere. 

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