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Easy last-minute entertaining, slow cooker style

With the New Year fast approaching, entertaining should be winding down, but if that is not the case and you have some last minute company either New Year's Eve or day, you don't want to have to worry about spending extra time in the kitchen preparing food when you would rather be visiting.

The following two soup recipes - creamy Beer Cheese and Chicken Tortilla - are easy to prepare, and absolutely worry free, with the exception of an occasional stir or two once you have them mixed together and ready to simmer in your slow cookers. Both have a cheese base, but are uniquely different in taste and context. Make sure you adjust your batch size to fill the slow cookers and to accommodate the number of guests you will be serving.

Each soup is perfect served alongside a tray of cold cuts and fresh French, or sourdough bread or rolls, and the simple "Twix" bar to satisfy the sweet tooth, and you will not only have a relatively easy menu but happy dining guests.

The Beer Cheese Soup is rich and delicious and can be served with either croutons or popcorn.

The Tortilla Soup has just the right amount of zing, without being overpoweringly spicy. Serve over Tostitos chips and extra cheese, if you like.

The Twix Bars, a delicious, homemade version of the popular candy bar, is the perfect meal ending, caramel and chewy but with the cracker base still a little bit lighter but satisfying.

Until next week, from my kitchen to yours, happy cooking!

Beer Cheese Soup

½ cup butter

½ cup flour

1 ½ cups cream

4 cups chicken broth

1 (16-oz.) jar Cheese Whiz

1 can beer

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Chives (optional)

Melt butter and flour in heavy pan. Cook over low heat for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cream and broth, mix well until smooth and thick. Add cheese and mix until smooth and melted. Add beer, Worcestershire sauce, and sprinkle in some chives if desired. Then place in slow cooker on low for four to six hours, stirring occasionally.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 lb. chicken breast, cooked and cubed

1 can Fiesta Nacho Cheese soup

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 cup whole milk

1 can mild enchilada sauce or 1 small jar mild picante sauce

Tortilla chips, crushed

Cheddar or Co-jack cheese, shredded

Brown the chicken until cooked, then set aside. Combine the soups, milk, and enchilada sauce or picante in slow cooker and then add the chicken. When ready to eat serve over Tostitos chips, cheese, and extra jalapenos, if you like.

Twix Bars

Club crackers

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

½ cup butter or margarine

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup white sugar

¼ cup milk

2/3 cup peanut butter

½ cup butterscotch chips

½ cup chocolate chips

Butter and line a 9x13 cake pan with Club crackers. Place brown sugar, white sugar, butter, milk and graham crackers in a pan and boil for five minutes, stirring so it doesn't scorch. Pour mixture over Club crackers in pan and then top with another layer of Club crackers. Melt together over low heat the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and peanut butter. (I melted in the microwave, stirring at 30 second intervals until all chips were melted.) Pour over the top of the bars and spread. Cool and cut into bars.