Butternut Squash Soup

We have had this Squash, that we plucked from our garden, sitting on our counter for so long. Staring at me. Taunting me!! Saying “Hello!! You know what you are supposed to be doing!!” and it was totally right. Butternut squash soup is one of my favorite fall soups. I make it every year once it starts to get cold and I continue making all the way through winter. It is so comforting to me. Sweet, creamy, and salty. Its just magical and everything I want on a cold fall night (and days after for lunch).  I love giving it to my kids because I know exactly what is in it and since we grow our own squash it makes it that much easier to make them a healthy squash filled meal. And it seems that my kids enjoy eating things more when they are able to go and pick them themselves.

Ingredients:

1 large butternut squash

4  large carrots

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp dried herbs (you can use italian seasoning that contains sage and rosemary or those 2 alone)

4 cups broth (veggie or chicken would work)

3/4 cup of heavy cream

3/4 tsp turmeric

1 tsp nutmeg

Instructions:

preheat oven to 400

Start by roasting your squash. You can do this one of two ways. You can either remove the skin and cut it into cubes or just cut the squash in half and roast it with the skin on. I chose to leave the skin on this time. make sure to remove the seeds.

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Either way you want to coat the squash with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 45-50 min

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While the squash is in the oven, peel and chop your carrots.

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Throw them into a large pot with about 2 tbsp of butter (kerry gold is my absolute favorite)

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Toss the carrots with dried herbs. Sautee them for about 5 minutes and then add your broth. By this time there is usually about 20 min left on the squash so I just let the carrots simmer until the squash is done.

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Remove squash from the oven and allow it to cool a bit before handling. You should be able to just separate the inside of the squash from the skin. Or scoop it out with a large spoon.

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If you have an immersion blender just add your squash to the pot with the carrots and broth and blend until smooth. If you don’t, then remove the carrots from the pot and add them to any regular blender along with the squash. Blend until smooth and then add the puree back into the pot with the broth.

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Then add your turmeric ( turmeric is my best friend and you can totally add more if you want a stronger flavor) Once thats added, pour in that delicious cream! and make sure to create a cool design.

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Stir and add nutmeg. To be honest, I don’t really measure the amount of nutmeg. I kind of just sprinkle it over the soup until I’m satisfied.

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and make sure to beware of “helping” hands 🙂

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I serve topped with cracked pepper, a small amount of salt if needed, a tiny bit more nutmeg (because I love it) and a drizzle of honey! It just adds to that sweet and salty flavor that is oh so good. But hey! Do you!! you add whatever you want to the top of that soup 🙂

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Enjoy! and let me know when you try it and how you made it your own.

 

Caramel Banana Pancakes

Let me just start off by saying that I am not a morning person. My husband can just pop right out of bed (no coffee mind you) bright eyed and ready to take on the day. Me, I take a little coaxing. So for me to get up and make a huge breakfast is somewhat of a rare occasion and I usually have to be awake for a good hour or so before I am actually functioning enough to cook.On a normal days eggs and toast are good enough for me! But on special occasions, like the last time I had family in town or on my kids birthdays, I will make something special and in my opinion pancakes are always a good choice. These pancakes in particular are like having dessert for breakfast. Who doesn’t want that??

Whether you use a boxed dry mix or make it from scratch is completely up to you! Making your own is definitely better but if you want an amazing mix, Bobs Red Mill is our favorite. But any boxed will work just fine.

If you are looking for a great recipe, follow this Pioneer Woman recipe for perfect pancakes. I spent years looking for a great basic pancake mix recipe and hers is by far my favorite.

Now once you have your choice of dry mix, you can move on to creating this  masterpiece!!

Ingredients:

2 cups pancake mix prepared – according to instructions. (I always add vanilla extract to my mix if Im not making from scratch)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 banana in 1/2 inch slices

Butter for cooking

optional* chocolate chips if you are feeling extra sweet 😉

Caramel sauce:

1/4 cup (4 tbsp) unsalted butter

4 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp vanilla almond milk or heavy cream

Instructions:

Start by Preparing you caramel sauce. With the burner on medium heat, melt your butter. Once the butter in melted, add your brown sugar.

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Whisk until incorporated. Your sauce will start to slowly bubble, lower your heat at this point and then add about a tablespoon of vanilla almond milk. You could also use regular heavy cream but I was once out and used what I had in my refrigerator. The flavor was so delicious that I have stuck with it.

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Whisk to combine and then add your banana slices. Allow those to simmer in the sauce until the bananas are soft. Keep on a very low heat  while you make your pancakes.

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While your bananas are getting soft, prepare your pancakes. Start by melting a tablespoon of butter in a pan. Now the trick to an amazing pancake is allowing that butter to get nice and golden brown before adding your mix. This will give you that perfect crispy ring around the edge of your pancake that, in my opinion, is the best part! If you are going to add chocolate chips, now is the time to do it!!

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See that brown ring?? yeah its magical!!

Add another tbsp of butter for every new pancake you make.

To serve, top with that delicious caramel sauce and bananas, some extra chocolate chips and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

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If this doesn’t cure your sweet tooth and make you a super hero to your children… well I don’t know what will.

Enjoy!!

Kalamata Olive Aioli

I feel that I should warn you that this dip has caused many addictions. Just ask my family!! In Fact, as I sit writing this, my father in law is sitting next to me devouring the one you see in this post lol. He just happened to stop by the second I finished. It must have called him to our front door.  It is so good that its  hard not to eat it with a spoon straight out of the bowl.I am a lover of any sauce, dip or dressing. I think I actually enjoy them more than any meal. I just care what kind of sauce it comes with lol

I had an olive aioli as an appetizer once at a restaurant and had to go home and figure out how to make it myself. That was quite a few years ago and I’ve been making it ever since. I think this is my most requested dish for family get togethers and holidays. And it is always the first thing to go,  leaving the children wiping the bowl clean with their little fingers.

Since I made such a small batch for this recipe I used my little 1 1/2 cup mini food processor . If you are making any more than this, I would suggest a regular food processor or an emulsion blender.

Ingredients:

1 cup pitted Kalamata Olives

1 cup mayo (or your favorite mayo sub)

4-5 Basil leaves

1/2 a lemon

pepper ( I do not salt this because the olives are so salty on their own)

Optional* 1 clove of garlic minced

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I start by putting just the olives into the food processor. I pulse these first before adding the other ingredients. 1. to get them started and 2.to make room in my mini machine for everything else

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Then add lemon juice, basil, pepper and mayo (and garlic if using)

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I pulse a few times to ensure that everything is combined before holding  it on and letting it mix for a minute or so. Th texture is up to you. I leave it pretty chunky.

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I usually serve with toasted baguette with some more fresh ground pepper on top but this is also delicious as a sandwich spread, veggie dip, on a  greek style burger,or served with fries. The possibilities are endless!

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I apologize in advance for any addiction you may develop after consuming. ENJOY!!!

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Chili

There are few things better than a bowl of chili on a cool Fall day. (Especially if its Sunday and you are watching football!) This recipe is amazing. In fact, my oldest son told  me that I should call this “Mouth Watering Chili.”  It is super easy to make as long as you have the right ingredients and in a slow cooker, you get to throw it all together and forget about it! The flavors simmer and come together all on their own. Its a magical thing! Everyone has their own preference as to how hot they want their chili but here is how I make mine.

Prep time: 30 min   Cook time: 4-8 hours

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of Ground Meat (we used half beef half bison but turkey or all beef would also be fine.)
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 2 jalapeños diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic diced
  • 1-2 bell peppers diced (green, red, or you can use both)
  • **1/2 cup water if needed

spices:

  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1-2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • a good amount of salt and pepper

 canned goods:

  • 2 cans of beans:Do not drain (we used 1 can of an organic trip blend and 1 can of organic pinto)
  • 1 15oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 15oz can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1  6oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 15oz can of fire roasted corn

In a large pan, brown your meat. Once its no longer pink, drain the fat and set aside.

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while the meat is cooking you can dice your veggies!

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In the same pan you cooked your meat in (don’t wash it in between. You want that flavor!) cook all of your fresh veggies (onion, garlic, bell pepper, jalapeño) until soft and the onions are translucent.

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Put the meat, veggies, and beans into the slow cooker. We did not drain the beans. Put them in liquid and all.

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add your seasonings (I like to coat everything in the spices before adding the liquids but thats probably me just being weird. I am sure everything would be just fine if you threw it all in together)

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add your canned goods, brown sugar and lots of salt and pepper!

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Stir until its all combined. Add a 1/2 cup of water for a bit more moisture.

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Cook on low for 3-4 hours or longer if you have the time.

(We’ve left it over night before and we’ve also eaten it after just an hour 😉 but it is definitely better the longer you can control the urge to devour it. )

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Serve with sour cream and shredded cheese!!!!!

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Sweet Potato Wedges

Perfectly sweet and salty! A great alternative to french fries. Great as a side dish or as a snack. My kids love them!!

Ingredients:
1 large sweet potato

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 balsamic vinegar

3-4 tbsp honey

fresh rosemary (optional)

Italian seasoning

Grated parmesan

salt and pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450

whisk olive oil, vinegar,honey, herbs, salt and pepper in a large bowl

Cut your sweet potato into wedges.

Toss wedges in the oil and vinegar mixture

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Lay on a baking sheet

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Bake for about 30 mins depending on how strong your oven is and how crispy you want your wedges. My oven tends to be on the weaker side so I just kept checking until I was satisfied.

Remove from the oven and toss with parmesan cheese and more salt and pepper. Because of the honey, they should have a sticky layer on the outside when they first come out of the oven so the parm sticks perfectly!!

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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!! 🙂

Sweet Peach Iced Tea

Although I am very much ready for fall, I am still enjoying some summer goodies. A coffee girl through and through, I started off this summer looking for something else to turn to (after I had already had my 2-3  coffees for the day :/) On a trip to the grocery store I spotted a few boxes of cold brew iced tea conveniently placed at the beginning of the check out line to ensure that I wouldn’t end my shopping trip with out purchasing just one more item. Peach sounded like a fun summer flavor so I grabbed box. I will never give up on my coffee but this is definitely a refreshing alternative. I decided to add some sweetness and keep a large batch in the fridge for easy prep later on. Here is how I make it:

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I start with 6 cups of cold water and add 5 tea bags

let it sit for 5-10 minutes as instructed on the box!!

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while that is sitting I make a simple syrup

*1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar

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Bring to a boil and simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Then let it cool.

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(the color of my syrup looks dark because I used organic unbleached cane sugar)

Squeeze out the tea bags and add your simple syrup. I add about 1/2-3/4 cup depending on how sweet I want it.

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Store in the fridge. Serve over ice!! Its also delicious to add sliced fruit to your glass. Strawberries and/or sliced peaches are my personal favorite.

*you can also add fruit while boiling your syrup and then strain it if you want a fruit flavored simple syrup.

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