Game Day in 20 Minutes

Saturday morning Luke and I left my Grandma’s house with both a food and literal hangover (things got rowdy at the legion the night before with family). Our goal was to get back into town to watch the Gopher vs. Badger football game (a big rivalry for us Midwesterners) and we were tracking to get back with about 30 minutes to spare.

On the way we decided we wanted to have a couple of people over, and much to Luke’s dismay I can’t just order pizzas when I “host,” so I was challenged with finding a few things to whip-up in a short amount of time.

Over the years I’ve learned to have a few staples in the house at all times: Chips, Sour Cream, Salsa, Crackers, Cream Cheese, mayo, ranch/Italian dressing mix, and shredded cheese. There is so much room for activities with these!

With these basics (plus a quick stop at the store) I made a beer dip and pickle dip (was craving pickles wrapped in cream cheese/salami – aka MN Sushi – but it would have taken too long):

Beer Dip

– 16 oz. cream cheese (I subbed dairy free)
– 1 Packet ranch dressing Mix
– 2 Cups shredded cheese (I skipped this)
– 1/3 Cup beer

Mix together and serve with pretzels!

Pickle Dip

– 8 oz. cream cheese (I subbed dairy free)
– 8 oz. sour cream (I subbed Greek yogurt to make it a bit healthier)
– 1/4 Cup pickle juice
– garlic powder to taste
– 1/2 to 1 Cup diced pickles
– 1/2 to 1 Cup diced salami

Mix together and serve with crackers!

I also leveraged a few Thanksgiving leftovers – I tend to over-do it, and bought a Costco-sized bag of cherry tomatoes, carrots, and sweet potatoes (which was highly unnecessary). So I also made my mom’s AWESOME veggie dip and loaded sweet potatoes:

Veggie Dip

– 1 Cup mayo
– 1 Cup sour cream (I subbed Greek yogurt to make it a bit healthier)
– “lots” of dill weed (I started with 3 Tbl then added to taste)
– seasoning salt to taste
– onion powder to taste

Mix together and serve with veggies (also really good with potato chips).  It’s best if it can sit for an hour or so.

Loaded Sweet Potato Bites

– 1-2 sweet potatoes – peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds
– seasoning salt
– olive oil
– preferred toppings (bacon bits, cheese, sour cream, green onion, etc.)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Put sweet potato rounds into a large ziplock bag and coat with about 1 Tbl olive oil and seasoning salt.

Place sweet potato rounds on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until soft in the middle but crisp on the outside

Top with your preferred toppings and bake until melted (another 4-5 minutes)

Serve with sour cream!

Unfortunately, my spread wasn’t enough to help the Gophers win, but it hit the spot in terms of hangover / game-day food!

Maybe next year Gophers….

Freezer Meal Friday

This #FMF is a bit of a #FBF since I made these a few weeks ago, so it works right?

Regardless, I hate that moment on weeknights when you come home from work starving just to stare blankly into the fridge.  As a whole I try to eat healthy, but if I don’t plan my will power usually doesn’t last very long.  Lately I’ve also felt super busy – not sure what we are filling our time with but taking the extra hour to stop at Target on the way home, then prep, then cook, then wait, then eat just doesn’t seem feasible these days.

So long story short I’ve jumped on the freezer meal train and I’m loving it.  Essentially you pre-plan, spend half a day cooking, and you get a bunch of grub for your buck!

Although it was 70 degrees in Minnesota (Global Warming isn’t so bad?!), fall was in the air and with that comes my desire to light a pumpkin candle and cook.

Luke is a true MN Vikings fan and every Sunday watches the game, which means Stella pup and I have 3 solid hours to catch-up on Bravo, nap, be productive, and in general just do our thing.


A couple Sundays ago felt like a cooking day for us (Stella napped in her Vikings jersey).  I met-up with my friend Jen (remember the one who adopted Andy!) in the morning and we went grocery shopping together to catch-up.  Note if you hate grocery shopping and love spending time with friends like me, I recommend this!  You get to chit chat AND feel productive!

I picked the meals out ahead of time and made my grocery list based on what was already in my cupboard.  Then once I got home I separated the ingredients by meal.


I’ve done a few rounds of freezer meals, and find it is easiest to determine which items need time to bake, marinate, etc. and start with those (in this case the sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash, and pork).  I also will browse the recipes to see how the ingredients need to be prepped (chopped, sliced, etc.) and pre-prep everything to get it out of the way (this is partially because I hate chopping).  Another approach is to just pick a meal and prep it start to finish, whichever floats your boat!


Below is the list of recipes I made this time (some new, some repeats):

  • healthy-meat-sweet-potatoes– I freeze these in individual serving and take them to work, its great and usually lasts me two days.  I also subbed the ground beef for ground turkey
  • asian-pork-and-apples – This was good because it was something a bit different!
  • chicken-and-veggie-enchiladas – I subbed the chicken for ground turkey, the sour cream for greek yogurt, and put minimal cheese since I’m somewhat lactose intolerant
  • chicken-noodle-soup – (Per Luke’s request) I skipped the potatoes and evaporated milk
  • Spaghetti Squash Casserole – I was craving something with spaghetti squash so kind of made this up, but it was similar to this recipe on Pinterest (Big difference is that I used ground sausage and skipped the cheese re: lactose intolerant reference above)

Tip: If you know you like a meal, make it a double – half the work is prepping so you might as well maximize your time!


All-in I spent $110 at Target and got 25+ meals – less than $4/person – and it included some spices which will last more than these meals!  Boom.

This makes weeknight meal planning so much easier, and is a great gift for expecting moms or a fun friend activity as well!  Happy #freezermealfriday 🙂



America, Meet the Stroopwafel

A little background – my fabulous cousin Ashley and her husband, Scott, moved to Amsterdam almost exactly a year ago for Scott’s job from Virginia.  When I lived outside of DC  for a few years I became kind of their resident third wheel and LOVED it.  So when I found out I was heading to France for work, I made a pit stop in Amsterdam to spend a few days with them (and their French bulldog Frank)!

Many people seem to think of Amsterdam as a place to get high and walk down the Red Light District, but in my two trips there I have seen a very pretty, relaxing, fun, and friendly city.  This trip we enjoyed taking Frank to the dog park, eating a FANTASTIC brunch at Bakers and Roasters, and overall just hanging out with one another.  But since I was back, I had to buy some Stroopwafels to bring home to Luke.

For those of you who haven’t tried Stroopwafels, you are missing out.  According to Wikipedia, a Stroopwafel (literally “syrup waffle”) is:

a waffle made from two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel-like syrup filling in the middle

But I think they are best described as carmely, waffley crack cookies.  A quick google search told me that (surprisingly) you can buy them online at Wal-Mart if you are interested in trying them!

OK so while in Europe I did actually do some work.  I spent two days visiting local Powersports dealerships outside of Paris.  I was amazed that despite being across the world and having unique market needs, the Powersports Industry here is very similar.  I had the pleasure of sipping champagne with a few local customers and just loved how even though I couldn’t understand what they were saying, I could see and feel their passion for riding.


It was a moment of gratitude and appreciation for my job and the people that I get to meet!

Now even though I’d love to stay and explore, I’m selfishly super excited for my flight tomorrow.  It is the one time where my only priority in an 8-hour time period is to sleep, watch movies, drink wine, and munch on the stash of Stroopwafels I packed 🙂

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!  This was the first year we were actually home for Halloween since we moved into our house so we were excited to celebrate with the neighborhood!

Last year was our first Halloween in our house, but the Gophers had a home game so we celebrated there (as Minnesota gnomes!)12187785_173610879652798_4790766136693572581_n

This weekend I went up to Detroit Lakes, MN to hang out with my parents and had a little fun with my mom forcing my pup Stella, our foster pup Chance, and my mom’s pup Gracie to dress up!


(Gracie is a crab, Chance a bumble bee / ice cream sundae, and Stella is a bumble bee)

To make our Monday more festive, I made some mini dirt cakes (I found on Pinterest at this blog ) – they were a huge hit and super easy to make!  I also used carving pumpkins as an activity to multi-task during my favorite movie – HOCUS POCUS!

And finally we had some fun with the Trick-Or-Treaters!  We seem to accumulate a TON Of Fox things given our last name, so we kept with the theme and greeted the door as foxes (Thanks Aunt Jean for the ears / tails!!)

Hope you had a fun and festive Halloween!!

Apple Cake

My co-worker gave me a pile of apples from her property (how cool would that be to just walk outside and pick apples?!) and I was trying to figure out what to do with them.  I’m headed up north to see my parents this weekend and remembered them talking about a craving for this apple cake we hadn’t had in ages, so I decided to make that!

Per the usual I procrastinated until last night and was going to make it when I got home from dinner when I realized it takes 2 hours to bake!  So instead I prepped all of the ingredients and got-up early this morning to make it.  Confession: my SSB (secret single behavior) is that I like to get-up really early and shower then go back to bed.  So in my early-morning, pre-shower, pre-coffee haze I let the pups out, mixed the cake, and popped it in the oven.  Then went back to bed for a good hour before getting ready for the day!

Its super easy to make, you just need a Bundt cake pan and just be prepared that it takes two hours to make!  Here is the apple-cake recipe – note the “batter” is super crumbly, so after I sprayed the pan I kind of pressed it in.

When it came out of the oven it still looked a bit crumbly, but once I flipped it over it was good-to-go!


Gopher Tailgate

I am a proud alumni (alumna?) of the University of Minnesota.  We have the super fierce mascot of Goldy the Gopher (he looks suspiciously like a chipmunk but we don’t talk about it).  Luke and I have had season tickets for the last 4 years with a FABULOUS group of friends, family, family friends, friends-of-friends, and fellow Detroit Lakes folk.  Needless to say it is a welcoming crew that makes the experience for us!

Left: Our tailgate group, Upper right: Luke and I, Lower Right: My cousins joined for this tailgate!

We are lucky enough to tailgate with the tailgate master Dave (and his wife Janine and their son Adam) who get up SUPER early to secure us the best spot in the tailgate lot.  We rotate who provides the food, and this past weekend it was our turn to host!

Picking things that are easy to carry, heat-up, and doesn’t leave a lot of clean-up is key.  MN weather can also be super sketchy in late October so we try to pick things that can be consumed while rocking mittens.

I have been on a slider kick lately so for the main course we opted for two different types of sliders.  I had made these AWESOME cheesy hamburger sliders for a bachelorette party and after a few drinks the ladies thought they were the best thing ever.  I figured the crowd was somewhat similar so I made two pans (40) of those and two pans (40) of ham, bacon, swiss, and spinach sliders.  Both went over well!

I am really big on trying to not be rushed the day-of and prefer to do everything in advance (especially since we try to leave by 8am at the latest to tailgate).  I made the hamburger mixture and bacon in advance but assembled everything the day-of.  Next time I’ll assemble the night before because it took longer than I thought it would.  I made-up the ham/swiss/bacon/spinach sliders and just used the same awesome mustard topping from the cheesy hamburger recipe and it worked great!

I couldn’t figure out a good side so went with two types of soup thinking it would be good for a cool fall day.  I’ve made this recipe for Tomato Basil Soup before and really liked it so I made that only skipped the sausage and traded the kale for spinach (a more tailgate friendly leaf?).  I thought beer cheese soup would be fitting for the occasion as well, so a Pinterest search brought me to this recipe.  Both were a hit and the beauty was I could make them in advance, heat them up the day of, then transfer them to disposable pans to heat-up on the grill at the game!


I kind of went all-out in the dessert department.  My grandma has the most amazing sugar cookie recipe that we have been making since I was a kid (note it has some Brandy in it, so if you make them on a Sunday be sure to buy the ingredients in ahead of time).  I made the cookies in advance, froze them, and frosted them the night before.  I added some meringue powder to the frosting per my mom’s recommendation which hardened it and made them easier to transport.  You can use any powdered sugar frosting, this one is similar to the one I used.

Outside of homecoming it is also the closest game to Halloween so I also threw-in some fun white chocolate-covered “mummy” and “pumpkin” pretzels I found online here (got the candy eyes at Michael’s – of course mine didn’t turn out that cute but not quite a Pinterest fail).


Finally what is a tailgate party without jello shots?!  To stick with the Halloween theme I used a layer of orange and lime jello.  I subbed the cold water for vodka (the full 2 cups on the orange layer, and only 1 cup on the lime layer).  It is homecoming after all so why not act like a college student?!


I finished it off with some chips, taco dip, and maroon/gold labels – it was a hit and to top it off the Gophers won.  Ski U Mah!


Carrot Cake Cupcakes

We have a family birthday coming-up and it is fall so to celebrate I decided to make my great Aunt’s amazing carrot cake recipe!

They are full of goodies including real carrots, pineapple, chopped nuts, and coconut (although the coconut isn’t overwhelming, so don’t shy away you anti-coconut folk)!

Here is the carrot-cake recipe and frosting – I knew 4 people wouldn’t eat a cake so I decided to make them into cupcakes, however I didn’t have cupcake liners and they were impossible to get out of the pan (as you can see below), so if you do that I would recommend cupcake liners!  Of course the best part may be the cream cheese frosting!


Minnesota Nice meets Southern Charm Couples Baby Shower

I had the honor of hosting a couples baby shower for my sister and her husband.  Fun fact – my sister grew-up in Minnesota and my brother-in-law grew-up in Virginia (they currently live in Columbia, SC).  They wanted something casual, so in thinking of a menu I didn’t want just typical barbecue food (although it is delicious).  I decided to leverage their respective cultures and honor the sweet mix of Minnesota Nice and Southern Charm their future baby girl will have!

The menu had favorites from both the south and the north, but I had company in town so I wanted to still keep the prep work to a minimum.  Here is the menu (with some help from my Mom & Aunt Jan)!

The South:

The North:


  • Fruit with my go-to (and crack-like) peanut butter yogurt dip (2-parts peanut butter greek yogurt to one part peanut butter)
  • Veggies & my mom’s famous dill-dip


My cousin, Haley and her boyfriend, Tyler ROCKED the activities!  We had a “draw the baby” game and even an obstacle course.  Then for those who didn’t want to actively participate we had a “late night diaper thoughtsstation.  Here is how it worked:

Draw the Baby:

people had to put an index card on their forehead and draw what they thought Baby Lee would look like – the guest of honor (mother-to-be) then judged the drawings and the winner got a prize!

Obstacle Course:

Tyler put together an AMAZING baby obstacle course simulating giving birth and caring for a baby.  Here are the details:

Directions: Split into teams.  Decide who from the team is doing what, then whoever completes the tasks the fastest wins!

Equipment Needed:
– Balloons
– applesauce
– 1 roll of toilet paper for each team
– drink to finish the round

Here were the tasks:
1.) “Conceive the baby” (blow-up a balloon and tie it, put it up your shirt)
2.) “Induce Labor” (run around the tree)
3.) “Give Labor” (hand-off the balloon to a teammate – note balloon is no longer needed after this point)
4.) “Feed the baby” (feed a teammate applesauce)
5.) “Change the Diaper” (create a diaper using a whole role of toilet paper)
6.) “Put the baby to bed” (feed teammate a drink to finish the game)

So silly, clever, and fun!

Late Night Diaper Thoughts:

We purchased some newborn diapers and had guests write fun / funny sayings on them to help make the diaper changing process more fun!  This was a good activity for people who didn’t want to participate in an active game.


It was so fun putting this together with my family, and we can’t wait to officially meet Baby Lee in December!