Ah, December, the month with the overflowing calendar squares.

Is there a single day without something on yours? Do you purposely make certain to keep one a week — or at least a couple — empty for family time or “me” time?

With four Wednesday’s in December, we’ve set our road map thusly — today we talk appetizers, because especially this month, they are like your favorite pair of jeans — always appropriate.

Next, on Dec. 13, we’ll feature baking, then change it up on Dec. 20 with breakfast and finish out the month on Dec. 27 with some New Year’s Eve tips.

So appetizers. Think decorating, friends in for a nibble, card writing, package wrapping, gift exchanges with girlfriends, all things holiday.

This takes some planning, so is best for occasions that are scheduled.

My go-to for not scheduled drop-ins is good salsa, cream cheese and chips. Warm the chips for a couple of minutes in the oven so your guests think you knew they were coming. Soften the cream cheese in the microwave while the chips are warming, then place in a pretty dish and pour the salsa over. Miracle of all appetizers, ready in less than 10 minutes.

This is delicious with a bowl of slow cooker soup from Nov. 29, or on its own as an appetizer.

Breathe in, this is the month we’ve been waiting for.

Loaded Bacon Cheddar Bread

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups warm water
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, freshly grated not bagged
  • 10 strips cooked thick cut bacon, chopped and divided
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

In a large mixing bowl, combine water, yeast, salt and sugar. Allow mixture to sit for several minutes.

Add flour, two cups of cheese, bacon and fresh ground black pepper. Stir with spoon until combined. Dough will be shaggy. Don’t stress if it looks messy. It will come together in the end.

Cover with a towel and allow to rise in a warm place for an hour.

After an hour, turn dough out onto a floured board and knead for a few minutes. It does not need to be completely smooth. Just knead it long enough to come together. Divide dough into two equal halves and place in two standard loaf pans.

Cover loaves with remaining cheese and bacon. Cover with towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Cover loosely with foil and reduce heat to 350 and continue baking for another 35 minutes. Remove foil and allow to bake for another 10 minutes.

Tap to check for doneness and cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate to store leftovers. Makes two loaves.

(Recipe courtesy of Flavorite on Pinterest)

Follow community news editor Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @WYOSAS