Mountain Mama and my Nature Boys

I once considered myself, strictly,  a beach girl. I love the water, the sand, the sun, the sounds. Being born in Rhode island and then later growing up in California just a short drive from Malibu, its what I knew. There was always a chill vibe about it. Care free linen clad parents watching their littles play in the ocean. Malibu became my home. I hung out there with friends, my dance training took place there and as a young adult, I worked there. Taking walks to the beach after my work day to sit in the sand and find peace before heading back over the canyon to the valley.

Since moving to Utah, Ive had to find peace elsewhere. Turns out, I am one mountain loving mama. Ive always loved hiking, nature and camping but the Uintas are like nothing I have ever experienced. Its magical. Enchanting.

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Last year, for whatever reason, we didn’t take the 5 minute drive up the canyon as often as we should have. I would just sit and stare longingly from my backyard. This year we vowed to get up there as often as possible and we have definitely made good on that promise. Every chance we get, even if just for an hour, we hop in the car and head off to explore. My children now request to “go to the mountains” on a near daily basis.

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There is nothing like a recharge of fresh air and natural elements. Outdoors, away from electronics and communicating with one another. The boys leave covered in dirt, smiling from ear to ear with pockets filled with treasures. My kind of therapy for sure!! I see a shift in my children’s personalities. Like a detox from their usual everyday routine. Even mom and dad get down and play in the dirt and inspect said treasures.

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Then of course little legs get tired. Thankfully my oldest offered to help me carry tired toddler back to the car.

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Grandmas Hamburger Fricassee

There are some recipes that just make me feel like a child. Back when we would sit at my grandmothers kitchen table and play “Joanies Place” (my grandma would pretend to be a restaurant owner, hand us pretend menus and we would order what wanted.) We, my cousin and I, would race to see who would belong to the clean plate club first. Such fun times.

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This is one of those dishes. Although I have made a few changes, its basically the same as I remember. I love making this for my family and watching them enjoy it as much as I did. There’s nothing fancy about this dish and thats what I love about it. These simple ingredients come together to make one of the most comforting meals on earth! Its filling, its warm and its delicious.

How you choose to serve this dish is up to you. My grandmother always ate hers over a piece of toast. Which is how I also serve it but I added mashed potatoes because I have hungry boys and a hungry husband to feed!!! So I choose to serve mine over the potatoes and use a piece of toast to sop up the rest.

Here is what you will need:

1 lb of ground beef (turkey or chicken would also work)

1/2 of an onion (diced)

2 tbsp butter

3 tbsp flour

2 cups of beef broth

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp Italian seasoning

salt and pepper

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  1. Start by sautéing your onions in a pan with butter.
  2. Once your onions are translucent, add your ground beef. Cook until beef is brown. (Your meat doesn’t have to be fully cooked at this stage since it will continue to cook after adding the liquid.)
  3. While the beef cooks add your worcestershire, italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
  4. Drain any grease if necessary
  5. Sprinkle flour directly over the meat and onions and stir to coat. This is going help thicken your sauce.
  6. Add your broth. Stirring to make sure the flour does not clump.
  7. Reduce heat slightly and allow everything to simmer until it starts to thicken. About 10 minutes
  8. Serve over toast, mashed potatoes or both!

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What are some of your comfort foods?? I’m always curious what other families make as their go to food on a cold night!

 

 

Buffalo Chicken Nachos

Its game day for us today so I wanted to come up with something new!! One giant dish that everyone could pick from. Nachos instantly came to mind. But I didn’t want to make regular nachos. How could I make them different? I decided on Buffalo chicken with all of the usual sides placed on top. That way you get it all in one bite! The ended up being a huge hit in my house. Here is how I made them. I decided to make mostly everything from scratch including the dressing and chicken but those are both things that you can totally buy at the store.

Ingredients:

Blue Cheese Dressing

  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese

Place all wet ingredients in a bowl. I mixed those first so that I wouldn’t break up the blue cheese in the mixing process. Once all of those are combined, add your blue cheese, salt and pepper. Fold into the mixture and chill.

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Buffalo Sauce

  • 1 cup of you favorite buffalo sauce (I used Franks)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar

place all ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer until butter is melted and sugar has dissolved.

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Other items needed: 

  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • Tortilla chips
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • celery
  • green onion

You can absolutely buy a pre cooked chicken at the store and shred it or used any left over chicken you may have. I had some chicken tenderloins in the freezer so thats what I used. I poached them in about 4 cups of broth. To do that  just place your chicken in the pot with the broth, bring to a boil and then quickly lower heat to simmer. Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let them sit in the hot broth for another 15minutes or so. Check one piece to make sure they are done. Allow chicken to rest and cool once you’ve removed it from the stove before shredding.

Shred chicken then place in a mixing bowl and toss in your sauce. I did not use all of the sauce that I made. I used about half and then set aside to drizzle on top at the end.

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Cover a baking sheet with tortilla chips. Top with cheddar cheese and put in the oven under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbling. This only takes a couple of minutes so keep an eye on it.

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Prepare your celery and green onion

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Then Build your master piece! Top your chips with chicken, celery, onion, blue cheese dressing and some of the remaining sauce if you feel you want more.

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Enjoy!

 

Creamy Pumpkin Alfredo

Every year, my birthday is kind of my official okay to jump into all things Fall! This year was perfect in that as soon as my birthday came around last week, the weather instantly changed. The week prior was still extremely hot with temperatures hovering in the 90s. All of sudden, there’s a crispness in the air, a nice cool breeze and we are staying in the 70s which makes me the happiest woman on earth!

This, of course, launches me into full fall recipe mode. A few nights back we had been experiencing rain on and off all day (which later turned into a full blown thunderstorm!) and the sun was nowhere to be found. I made a trip to the grocery store and decided I was in the mood for pumpkin. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do with that pumpkin but I new I wanted something warm, creamy and comforting for dinner. What is more comforting than pasta?? Nothing! for me anyway.

I then remembered that I used to get these pre packaged pumpkin ravioli a few years back. In fact I think I lived on them for quit some time. I then decided to try and come up with my own pumpkin pasta recipe that tasted similar but didn’t require me to hand make ravioli!!  (I can’t seem to find the pre made ones that I loved so much)

So I threw some random ingredients into my shopping cart. Came home and threw said ingredients into a pot. Lucky for me it turned out amazing!! It totally hit the spot and was everything I had been craving. My sister was also in town and had warned me that she wasn’t huge pumpkin fan unless it was dessert. I won her over!! She loved this pasta. We all sat and ate while watching the lightening and listening to the insane thunder that rattled my entire house. (utah storms are amazing!) Such a perfect night. The kids ended up playing and even zip lining in the rain.

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Enough storytelling. Back to the pasta.

Ingredients you will need:

  • 1 box of penne pasta
  • 1 can of pumpkin puree
  • a half pint carton of heavy cream
  • 3-4 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • nutmeg (about a half tbsp)
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan
  • a few dried sage leaves
  • salt and pepper

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  1. I used penne for this recipe simply because I like how the sauce gets stuck inside of the noodles but you can use whatever pasta you prefer.
  2. Start by boiling your pasta until al dente. I always out a good amount of salt in the water to season the pasta.
  3. While your pasta boils, start your sauce. I kept the heat on low the entire time. Never allowing it to get too hot. Just allow it to simmer.
  4. Place your pumpkin puree in the pot along with the cream. stir until combined.
  5. I then added the nutmeg. How much you use really depends on how much you like the flavor. I didn’t really measure but it was about a 1/2 tbsp. I also added the sage at this point. I just took a few dried leaves and crumbled them directly into the pot. stir until combined.
  6. I  decided I wanted to add some sweetness to the sauce and seeing as I had just purchased maple syrup and it was on the counter next to me, that it what I used 🙂 Stir!
  7. Add half of the parmesan. The rest is to sprinkle on top when you are ready to serve.
  8. At the very end I threw a tbsp of butter into the sauce for extra richness and because…why not?
  9. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Once the pasta is done and drained, I tossed it in a few tbsp of butter before pouring the sauce in.  Mix it all together until the pasta is coated in that delicious creamy goodness.
  11. Top with parm , salt and pepper and serve!!!

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Hopefully you will enjoy this pasta as much as my family. Just try to be neater than this guy and end up with less on your chest ….

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Football Foods

There are so many reasons why this is my favorite time of year. One of those reasons being that its football season!!!!Yes I was raised watching football but I also think that even you don’t enjoy watching the game, its a fun excuse to get together with friends and eat good food.

My husband and I have a few staples and then we will usually cook one or two new dishes when its just us. That way we can experiment for when we get together with friends. The foods I am sharing below are definitely basic and easy go to dishes that are super delicious!

1. Simple Guacamole 

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I like to keep it simple when it comes to guac. Some people like to really doctor it up and that is also delicious but I usually stick to the basics. On this particular Sunday we were feeding 3 adults and 2 kids so I made a pretty small batch. Here is how I make it.

  • 2 large avocados
  • 1 large tomato (diced)
  • a good handful of cilantro
  • lemon juice from half of a lemon
  • salt and pepper

Just add the avocado to a bowl. Mash it with a fork until desired consistency. I then add the lemon juice to help with the mixing process. Add all other ingredients. chill and serve.

*other options: Diced red onion. Jalapeño. Top with crumbled Cotija cheese!!!

2. Salsa

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Not much I can say about salsa. Its delicious. Its perfect to snack on and the fresher your ingredients are the better it tastes! Its another personal preference dish as to hot you want it. I am more sensitive and think everything is hot! My husband likes some heat!He made this batch so you guys can be the judge on this one.

  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 Jalapeno (seeded and diced)
  • 1 small Anaheim pepper (diced )
  • 1.4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove of garlic (minced )
  • a dash of tabasco (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Chill. Serve with tortilla chips!!

3. Chili and Cream Cheese 3 layer dip

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This is actually my personal favorite and if there weren’t other people around, I would probably eat the entire thing  by myself… and then lick the dish. I remember having this at my dads house when I was a kid so for me there is a bit of nostalgia that comes along with making and eating it. When it came time for me to host my own football parties I knew exactly what I wanted to serve and it doesn’t get any easier than this dish.  You will need:

  • 1 package of cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 can of chili (whichever brand you prefer!)
  • 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 350. Allow the cream cheese to soften and then press into the bottom of your baking dish.I like to use the bake of a large spoon for this to insure a smooth layer. Top with chili. Top with shredded cheese. Place in the oven for about 15-20 min. Just long enough for everything to heat through and begin to bubble. I then like to quickly place it under the broiler so the cheese gets nice and brown and crispy around the edges. Serve with tortilla chips!!

4. Potato Skins

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These are so amazing and the perfect finger food. I feel like potato skins are a must have appetizer while sitting back with a beer (or soda) watching football.That starchy potato, salty bacon and creamy dressing! yum!! There is a little bit of prep involved but its so worth it .  This recipe makes 12.

  • 6 med potatoes
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 lb cooked bacon
  • 2 scallions
  • Ranch Dressing or sour cream

Preheat your oven to 400. Cut your potatoes in half. Scoop out the inside leaving about 1/4 inch. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Lightly butter the inside and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until the centers are soft(approx 25min). While those cook you can prepare your bacon. Cook your bacon until its crispy. Chop into pieces to crumble on top later. Once your potatoes are done,  add cheese to the top of each and then bake for a few more minutes until the cheese is bubbly. Once done, top with chopped green onion and bacon. Serve with either ranch dressing or sour cream.

* check out my recipe for homemade ranch!

This is just a very small list of things that we enjoy so I will definitely be bringing you more as football season continues. All the way up until that wonderful day known as Super Bowl Sunday!!! Then you can throw a giant party and serve them all!! 🙂

Small Shop Sundays: BinkyBro

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This week , I am so excited to feature not only a local brand, but one that I have fallen in love with and have come to depend on. Today I am talking about these adorable hats by Binky Bro!!

When we first received our hat, I loved it immediately. I thought it was such a cute idea to make flat billed hats for babies. I had no clue how much I would actually be using it! It has become a go to accessory. I  take it with us everywhere for when we are outdoors and I need to protect his little head and face from the sun.

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He wears it out in yard while he watches his older brothers play. He wears it on hikes. He even wore it to the demolition derby and fell asleep in it! lol

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The Shop: Binky Bro

Binky Bro was established in 2015 by a husband and wife team in Utah! They built this company based on their love of hats. Upon the birth of their baby boy, they realized it was not easy to find a flat billed hat for babies. They decided to take matters into their own hands and make their own.

The Product: Baby Flat Billed Hats

These hats are amazing quality, come in a variety of patterns and are comfortable to wear (at least it seems that way. The babe hasn’t actually expressed this lol but he wears it for long periods of time with no problem.) They are made to fit babies anywhere from approx. 5-14 months in age, of course depending on head size. All hats have a snapback allowing them to fit multiple sizes. My son is 5 months old and has a giant head! It is usually hard to find hats that fit him but this one is great.

Contact and where to buy:

You can follow them on Instagram. To purchase a hat for your little, visit their website!!