Brie Bite Appetizers with Cranberry or Drunken Onions

If you need a quick and easy appetizer, you can’t beat baked brie in crescent dough.  Top it off with cranberry sauce or drunken onions and add a sprig of fresh rosemary for a little extra kick.  Baked brie bites disappear quickly from any appetizer table.

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crescent pastry filled with brie and cranberry or cartelized onions topped with rosemary

Ingredients

ingredients for crescent dough brie bites

  • Pillsbury crescent dough (dough sheet preferred, but the original Crescent Dough Dinner Roll variety will work)
  • Brie cheese
  • Cranberry sauce (canned cranberry sauce or even a fresh berry is perfectly acceptable) or Drunken onions (red onions carmelized with balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and red wine.
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs

crescent dough with brie, onions or cranberry, and rosemary

Preparation & Tools

  1. Unroll crescent dough on floured cutting board.  If you could only find the dinner roll variety pinch the seams together.
  2. Use a pizza cutter to slice the sheet into 24 squares, as equal as possible.
  3. Place crescent dough squares into the wells of a mini muffin tin.  See above.
  4. Place a small square of brie into the crescent dough.  I cut squares large enough to cover the base and I leave the brie rind (exterior surface) intact.
  5. Cover the brie with cranberry sauce or onions carmelized with balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and wine.  Canned cranberry sauce or relish is an easy alternative.  You don’t have to ‘can’ or process the onions if you prepare and use within a few days.
  6. Top with a small sprig of rosemary.
  7. Bake for approximately 15-minutes at 350 F.  The dough should be golden.
  8. Best served warm, but room temperature is fine.
  9. VARIATION:  Fresh blueberries or blackberries can also be used in place of the cranberries or onions.  In this case, I recommend using a mint leaf in place of the rosemary.

I love the flavor of the brie bites.  Do you have recommendations for other varieties?  Maybe some other kind of homemade or purchased relish?  I would love some options for my next party.

Laura


The 10 Best Games for a Fantastic Family Game Night

Life moves fast!  Games are a great way to slow things down and enjoy precious time with your family.  Schedule a family game night!  While games are fun to play and provide excellent entertainment, they also provide excellent opportunities for learning.

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the seller’s profit at no additional cost to you.  Please see my Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for additional information.

Benefits of playing games

Enjoyable and important time together

Game time provides a relaxing activity and environment for you and your family.  This is a perfect time to have important conversations about what is happening in your child’s life.  How are they feeling about their friends?  How are things going at school and are they facing any difficulties that you might be able to help with?   What are their dreams and ambitions?  Don’t push too hard or be critical.  If the conversation is meant to happen it will.  The important thing is to keep this as a fun and safe opportunity for sharing.  When the time is right, your children will share their thoughts and concerns.

Catan, family, playing

New skills and concepts

Games also provide an excellent opportunity to master knowledge and skills that will help children in school.  These include:

  • number and shape recognition, grouping, and counting
  • letter recognition and reading
  • visual perception and color recognition
  • eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity
  • strategic thinking

When you are having fun, learning  comes more easily.

Social Learning

Games teach important social skills that help children successfully navigate life’s transition and move into adulthood.  Such skill include effective communication with other children and adults.  Communication is critical for teamwork, which is becoming more and more important in school, work, and life.  Communication is important in resolving conflicts.   Games provide excellent opportunities to resolve conflicts, especially when cheating is suspected and at the end of the game when there are winners and losers.

Games also provide an opportunity to experience fun, low-risk competition and learn about good sportsmanship.  Good sportsmanship occurs when opponents treat each other with respect.  Children can learn the basics of sportsmanship from parents and other adults in their lives.  Having role models who behave in a sportsmanlike way helps children understand that the real winners are those who know how to
persevere and to behave with dignity — whether they win or lose a game.  This could include small gestures like congratulating the winner and acknowledging good plays or moves.  Children who practice good sportsmanship are likely to carry respect and appreciation of other people into every other aspect of life.

Playing games also teaches children about setting and achieving goals (e.g. winning the game), as well as the importance of sticking with something when times are tough.  While you might fall behind during the game, most games provide an opportunity to catch up and even take the lead.  If you don’t win the game, you can always play again for another chance at victory.

Family, playing, Yamslam

Games for different age groups

Younger

  • Argh!:  This game is great for children 5 and over.  Adults can also have fun playing this game.  The goal is to collect treasure to earn points without being robbed by pirates.  Argh! provides a good opportunity to learn more complex rules about matching and grouping to get ahead in the game.  It also provides an opportunity to experiment with playing it safe or taking some risk.
  • Left-center-right:  A great game for children 4 and over.  This is a simple dice game that requires no decision making.  The dice tell you exactly what you need to do.  The goal is to win all of the chips.  To make things more exciting you can use pennies or candies in place of the chips.

Family Game night Scrabble

Older

  • Ticket to Ride:  This board game is great for children 8 to 80.  An exciting game where you earn points for building railways between cities.  A great opportunity to develop strategic thinking.
  • The Settlers of Catan:  Catan is appropriate for kids 10 and over, along with adults.  The goals is to collect resources and use them to build roads, settlements and cities.  The board can be changed to add variety from one game to the next.  This is a game of strategy.
  • Risk :  Risk is another board game for kids 10 and over, along with adults.  In this game, players strategize to conquer other players with their armies to take over the world.
  • Scrabble:  Scrabble is a crossword game that is perfect for kids 8 and over, along with adults.  Points are earned for each letter used and the goal is to earn as many points possible until no one can build words any longer.  This game provides and excellent opportunity to increase vocabulary.

Family Game Night Settlers of Catan

All ages

  • Blokus:  This is an excellent game for kids 6 and over, along with adults.  This game is easy to learn.  It’s a great strategy game where players try to arrange playing pieces on the game board attempting to block their opponent to prevent them from using all of their pieces.
  • Sequence:  This game combines cards, chips, and a board.  Kids approximately 6 and older, as well as adults, will enjoy this game.  Players compete to create rows, columns or diagonals of 5 connected chips.  Chips are placed based on what the player has in his/her hand.  Jacks are wild!
  • Life:   This game is fun for kids 7 and older.  Adults enjoy this game too and many remember playing it when they were young.   This board game with a spinner and cards allows you to choose a career path, have a family, take vacation, and deal with lots of surprises along the way.  The player with the most money at the end of the game is the winner.
  • Yamslam:   This is a great game for developing skills around strategy and probability.  Perfect for those 8 and older.  Yamslam is similar to Yahtzee, but scoring uses chips.  No pen or paper required. Players compete to grab the best chips before they run out.  The tin makes this game easy to pass around a room or even a pontoon boat!

We recently discovered a new favorite, so I will add it to this list as a bonus.  Escape Rooms have become very popular, but they can be fairly pricey.  Now these exciting Escape the Room games are available in a box and can be played at home.  If you have a large group, you can purchase multiple games and have a race to see which team solves the puzzles and escapes the room first.  If you get stuck there are clues and many of the boxed games have a website for support.

We all have great memories playing our favorite games with our favorite people.  Please share your favorite games so we all have an opportunity to try something new.


game night

DIY Photo Gifts Using Epoxy Resin

Make personalized jewelry and serving trays for family and friends using photos from special occasions, along with other charms or knick-knacks, to create one-of-a-kind gifts they will love .  These personalized gifts are a perfect way to celebrate and commemorate birthdays, holidays, graduations, or any other special events.

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the seller’s profit at no additional cost to you.  Please see my Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for additional information.

 

Supplies

Bracelet or Pendant Procedure

  • Make sure you have all of your supplies handy
  • Lay out the design and cut photos to fit your jewelry bezels (bracelet or pendant).

bezel bracelet with mod podge, pictures, and glitter for DIY photo project  

  • Use Mod Podge to secure photos in bezel or tray.  I put a base layer in the bezel or tray, add the picture, and apply additional Mod Podge on the surface of the picture or paper.  If I am using glitter, I sprinkle it on top of the Mod Podge before it drys.
  • Ensure paper and photos are completely covered with Mod Podge and allow to dry completely before moving on the resin step.  I usually apply at least two coats of Mod Podge to the paper, making sure it protects all of the paper in the corners and any crevices.  I try to plan ahead so the Mod Podge can dry overnight.  It is critical that the paper and photos are sealed or the resin will cause discoloration.

using mod lodge to seal pictures in jewelry bezel before adding resin

  • Mix resin according to the package.  I have only used Easy Cast resin and have had success using this brand.  Other brands are available.  Please comment if there is a brand of resin you prefer to use.
  • Follow directions carefully to ensure the resin sets and doesn’t remain tacky.  In particular, make sure you mix the resin well for the time specified and that you transfer the resin into a second container for another round of thorough mixing.
  • Fill carefully on level surface.  Be sure to protect your work surface and wear gloves to protect your hands.  Resin is impossible to clean up.
  • Immediately after filling the jewelry bezel or tray, gently pass a flame over the resin to remove any bubbles.  For small items I used a candle lighter, for larger items I recommend a cooking torch.  Work carefully and ensure no flammable materials are nearby.

adding resin to jewelry bezel for DIY photo gift   lighter to remove air bubbles from resin in jewelry bezel for DIY photo gift

  • After allowing the resin to set for 72-hours, I added charms to the bracelet.  Perfect personalized gift for a fellow scientist!

personalized charm bracelet DIY gift using bezel bracelet, resin and charms

Serving Tray Procedure

The instructions for the serving tray are similar to the instructions outlined above for the bezel bracelet or pendant.

  • Because of the large surface area, be sure to apply several coats of Mod Podge to protect any paper or photos from the resin.  In the photos and video below, you can see that I missed the top center of the background paper and the resin soaked through.
  • I recommend measuring how much water it takes to fill the tray to the desired depth.  You can use this volume as an estimate for how much resin you will need to prepare.  I always add a little extra (at least 10%) because some resin remains behind in the mixing containers.
  • I used flat dragonfly charms for this project.  If you have items to embed in the resin, be sure you prepare enough resin to cover these items.  Because items might float in the resin, be sure they are glued to the surface.  For flat items, this can be done when the base is covered with Mod Podge.  If you have larger items, you might want to consider add the resin in two pours.  Add the items after you have poured the first 1/3 to 1/2.  Ensure there are no air bubbles.  Carefully use a cooking torch or other flame to pop bubbles.  Alternatively, you can also use a warm blow dry on a low setting (be sure not to agitate or blow out the resin with smaller projects).  Allow resin to set 48-hours before covering with the remaining volume of resin.

Supplies for a DIY serving tray gift using photos and resin

  • I carefully sealed the edges of the tray with Frog Tape and covered my work space.  Resin is impossible to clean (at least really, really difficult).

Frog tape to seal edges of tray for DIY photo resin serving tray project pouring resin into DIY photo serving tray   DIY resin serving tray gift with family photos

picture of DIY resin bracelet and serving tray gifts with personalized photos and charms Please share your DIY resin projects for inspiration.

10 ways to bring Hygge into your home and life

What is Hygge and how do you pronounce it?

Hygge ( pronounced Hoo-Ga) is the Danish ritual of cozy contentment and enjoying life’s simple pleasures.  It has been part of the Danish culture since the early 1800’s and is a way of life for Danes.  There must be something to this cultural identity as Denmark is always at the top of the list of the world’s happiest countries and Hygge has become a lifestyle trend around the world.

I have a hard time getting through the long, dark, midwest winter.  I have found that bringing Hygge into my home and lifestyle can make winters more manageable and even fun and relaxing.  Here are 10 ways you can bring Hygge into your home and life.

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the seller’s profit at no additional cost to you.  Please see my Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for additional information.

How do you bring Hygge into your home and life?

Create a cozy environment

  1.  Lighting: Light up those long, dark winter nights.

Use dimmable light fixtures, strings, and candles to create soft light in a room.  I leave white string lights up through February.  If you make them part of the decor and blend them in with other items or place in clever containers they don’t look like Christmas lights.  Soft lighting makes a room feel cozy.  A fire (indoors or out) is another great way to add light and heat for a cozy atmosphere.

Cozy Hygge lighting in a home

Hygge dogs in front of fireplace

2.  Texture and Sparkle

Use different fabrics and textures to create a feeling of comfort.  Layer pillows and blankets so people are comfortable and can’t help but slow down and linger.  Mercury glass votive holders and sequin table runners are a great way to make light sparkle in a dark room.

How to make your home hygge

Gold Sequin Table Runner

3.  Bring nature indoors

Harvest branches from your yard or neighborhood to bring the outdoors indoors.  Nature has a calming effect.  Use leaves, branches and pinecones in centerpieces, vases and even to decorate wrapped gifts.

hygge candle centerpiece

natural gift wrapping hygge style

Food and Drink

4.  Cake and Treats

Hygge is about taking time for the finer things and even allowing for a bit of indulgence.  Go out for coffee and cake.  An even better option is to allow yourself time to bake cookies and  invite friends over for a special treat.

hygge lifestyle cookies and cakes

5.  Coffee, Tea, and Drinks

Slow down and sip a cup of your favorite coffee or hot tea.  Invite family and friends to share wine, champagne, or a cocktail with you on a cold, dark winter night.  Here are tips for a winter cocktail party.

Hygge champagne and candles

6.  Fondue

Slow down and enjoy a long, leisurely meal.  Fondue is a great way to share a meal and conversation with those you love or those you would like to get to know better.  Here’s a great collection of fondue recipes.

Fondue in a cozy cabin

Lifestyle

7.  No phones or other distractions

Hygge is about living in the moment.  Put the electronics away and enjoy time with those around you.  Savor the food, beverages, sights, and sounds.

8.  Time with your tribe

Life is busy and time passes too quickly.  Slow down and spend quality time with those you care about.  Get outdoors and hike, build a snowman, or have a snowball fight.  This is especially important in winter when it can feel like we are trapped in our homes.

hygge, family, xc, skiing

9.  Play games

Games are a great way to live in the moment.  Some are longer than others.  It could be as simple as a dice or card game.  We like to indulge in a long game of Monopoly, Catan, or Risk.  Mystery or escape room games have become our new favorites.  They really require interaction and collaboration versus friendly competition.

hygge play games

10.  Read a book

Reading is a great way to relax and even explore new worlds.  It’s easy to make excuses that you are too busy to take time to read, but reward yourself with leisure time to pick up a book and escape for a short-time or learn about an interesting subject.hygge book read relax

Is Hygge your style?

If not, what is and how do you create an environment that is comfortable and cozy for you, your family and friends to share quality time, conversations, and laughs?


hygge, home, life, lifestyle, tips

12 Cocktail Party Essentials to Light Up Winter Nights

Winter nights are dark.  Light up the night.  Family time is essential around the holidays, but be sure to plan time for special moments with friends.  If you’re looking to plan a party or need a suitable gift for a party or lodging hostess, here is everything you were hoping for and more!  There are the twelve days of Christmas, but have fun over the winter season and light up with nights with these twelve cocktail party essentials.

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the seller’s profit at no additional cost to you.  Please see my Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for additional information.

Party Essentials – Decor & Serving Pieces

Gold Sequins Table Cloth

Gold Sequin Table Runner

Let’s be honest, nothing is more important than where the food (and the booze) goes.  Let your guests know this is a party with this fun and festive tablecloth.  What better to carry over the celebrations from Christmas to New Years than with a sparkly gold sequin table runner.  Other colors and patterns are available to add just the right sparkle to your party venue.

Mercury Tealight Holders

mercury votives

You will definitely want to scatter a number of these sparkly tealight holders around the food, drink, and party venue to create even more light and charm.  Feel free to use battery powered tealights to reduce any risk of fire in case one of your excited party guests knocks over a tealight.

Customized Stemless Wine Glasses


custom stemless wineglasses

Stemless wineglasses with a customized message are a sure way to add a special touch to your party.  These glasses also make great party favors so your guests are reminded of their fun cocktail celebration experience long after the party ends.

Metallic Foil Straws

sparkly foil straws

Even your drinks can have seasonal bling with these metallic foil paper straws.  They are available in gold, silver, red and blue, perfect for all of the holidays and any other special occasion.  Take your drinks to the next level with this unique accessory for sipping, enjoying, and celebrating.

Gold Holiday Plastic Stadium Cups

gold holiday stadium cups

A bonfire is a perfect way to warm up and light up long winter nights.  These festive stadium cups are perfect for beer and cocktails, especially when the party heads outdoors.  Make sure you have plenty of blankets or extra sweaters and jackets available to keeps guests comfortable and enjoying the party.

Festive Beverage Napkins

cocktail party essentials

Every party cocktail party needs beverage napkins, so why not make them fun to match the spirit of your get together.  These napkins have plenty of gold and champagne sparkle.

Party Essentials – Entertainment

Gold Wireless Karaoke Mic

Wireless handheld Karaoke mic

We’ve talked a lot about drinking, so what do we do once we’ve hit the limit.  KARAOKE!!!  This 3-in-one mic will get the party going no matter where you are.  Grab a Karaoke app on your phone and use this gold wireless to get the crowd singing their favorite traditional and non-traditional holiday tunes.

Prosecco Pong

prosecco pong

Because no party is complete without games, Prosecco pong will be the go-to game from now until…well forever.  A classic spin on the traditional college game, up the class and the fun with these champagne glasses designed to keep you playing, drinking, and having fun.

The Ultimate ‘Reindeer Game’ – Unicorn Snow Tube Races

cocktail party games snow tube races

Who says unicorns are only for kids?  If you are fortunate to live in a locale with snow, this fun snow tube is certain to bring out the kid in everyone.  The adult antics are certain to provide the perfect photo opportunity during your holiday party.

Party Essentials -Goody Bags and Hostess gifts

Silver Snowflake Bottle Stoppers

snowflake wine stopper hostess gift

When its time to say goodnight, nothing “tops” off a holiday party like these festive silver, snowflake wine stoppers.  They’re the perfect way to send everyone home with a surprise party favor they’ll use over and over again.

Gold Foil Snowflake Treat Bags

Treat bags for party favors

Your guests brought gifts (well mostly drinks) so why not send them home with something too?  These shiny gold foil treat bags aren’t only festive, they’re functional and fabulous.  Perfect for candy, favors and, well alcohol infused gummy bears since this is cocktail party for adults!

Champagne Gummy Bears

champagne gummy bear party favors

If you don’t have time to prepare homemade cookies or other candy treats for party favors, everyone will love going home with a cute packet of champagne gummy bears.  The labels can even be customized to add just send just the right message to your wonderful party guests.

If you are looking for a classic cocktail recipes check out this article on bar accessories or this collection of lemon cocktail recipes.

What are your must-have items when you host a cocktail party?  I’m always interested in new ideas.

 

all the items you need to add sparkle to a cocktail party on a dark winter night

Enjoy Fall Cranberries with Sauce, Crisp and Cocktail recipes

Cranberries are a small, interesting fruit with a tart flavor that can be enjoyed in many dishes ranging from appetizers, sauce, stuffing, crisp, candy, and cocktails.  Cranberries have been reported to provide a wide range of health benefits, including control of chronic inflammation, chronic cardiovascular diseases and urinary tract infections (UTI).  This is attributed to the high concentrated source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients,  and vitamin C and vitamin E, which are important antioxidant nutrients.

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the seller’s profit at no additional cost to you.  Please see my Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for additional information.

Background

These delicious little berries grow on a low-lying vine that requires special growing conditions, including acid peat soil and freshwater.  Cranberries typically grow in low-lying beds or bogs that were created by glacial deposits.  Modern cultivation practices use wetlands ponds and other water bodies.  The North American cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon, is the fruit recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as the standard for fresh cranberries and the cranberry juice cocktail.  It grows on trailing vines like a strawberry.

Normally, growers do not replant each year since an undamaged cranberry vine will survive indefinitely. Some vines on Cape Cod are more than 150 years old and still bearing fruit.  While Wisconsin is currently the major growth region for cranberries (>50%), they are grown throughout New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Quebec.  Other regions grow cranberries as well, including Delaware, Maine, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, and the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Ontario.   Cranberries are typically floated in water for easy harvesting and there are no shortage of cranberry festivals across the country.

Recipes

Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce (prepare extra for the crisp recipe below)

I absolutely adore the tart flavor of cranberries and I associate this distinct flavor with fall and the winter holiday season.  Orange is a great complement to cranberry.  Preparing cranberry sauce is so easy.  Dump everything in a pot, heat until the berries pop and the mix thickens, transfer to a storage container.  Doesn’t get easier!

Here is a link to my favorite Cranberry Orange Sauce Recipe.  I didn’t have a zester handy at the cabin, so I had to use a peeler and slice the strips with a knife.  If you don’t have the right kitchen gadget don’t give up.  There is always an alternative.  The trick is to avoid the bitter pith (white part of the orange peel).  I recommend going light on the sugar addition.   For me the recipe specified just the right amount, but it’s always best to add to your desired sweetness level as berry sweetness can vary.

Wisconsin Cranberries

Wisconsin Cranberries

juice the orange

I love this kitchen juicer. Makes it easy to add juice to the recipes that follow.

Cranberry Orange Sauce

Mixing all of the Cranberry Orange Sauce ingredients over heat.

 

 

 

 

Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce

Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce recipe at onceuponachef.com

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5 Useful resources to organize, clean, and decorate to help you rekindle your love for your home

It’s darn hard to find the perfect home.

Finding a home to rent or buy is challenging and compromises are often required.  Once we finally settle on a home, it’s easy to fall out of love.  I do love the location of my home.  We live in the small downtown area close to shops, restaurants, beautiful parks, and we are fortunate to have great neighbors.  The area is filled with interesting homes and we live in an historic Victorian home (circa 1876).  Old homes tend to have lots of rooms vs. large open spaces.  While I am traditional and do love formal living and dining rooms, it can make it difficult for everyday living and entertaining.  On several occasions we considered moving, but it just didn’t make sense.

How we use our space and love our home can be especially challenging as our family needs change (babies, mobile toddlers, teenagers, no children, grown children or parents).  With a little creativity and elbow grease you can reinvent your home over and over again.  Additions or remodels are costly solutions.  Here are resources and tips to get you started without having to spend a lot of money.

Home is not a place, it’s a feeling

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the seller’s profit at no additional cost to you.  Please see my Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for additional information.

Resources to help you rekindle your love for your home

Workbook

Gabby at Mom Makes Joy

Gabby has created a Love Your Space Action Steps Workbook.  This has to be one of my favorite resources to organize, clean, declutter, and decorate my home on a budget .   Mess = Stress.  This workbook breaks down the process into manageable steps to help you create a functional space you can be be proud of and enjoy.  Gabby describes the psychology around some of our actions and feelings regarding cleaning and decluttering.  Now I understand why I procrastinate!

Getting my cleaning strategy down on paper has allowed me to maintain a realistic level of cleanliness that doesn’t get in the way of other responsibilities.  It’ easy to browse the internet and magazines for pictures of beautiful, organized homes and rooms, but at some point you have to put those things away and live in your space.  By purchasing this workbook and making a small investment, you will feel like you need to take action.  It’s time to focus on the home and space you have versus what you think is missing.  You can do this!

 

Love your home again

Ideas and Inpiration

Erica Van Slyke at Designing Vibes

Erica provides great tips to help you claim wasted space, declutter, and organize.  Decor really sets the mood.  Fresh flowers, pillows, and area rugs allow for simple changes  You can also rethink furniture  to make a space more functional or storage friendly.

Useful resources to help you rekindle your love for your home

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10 Easy, Low Mess, Transportable Tailgate Recipes

It’s fall and it’s football season.  You have tickets for game day.  Now it’s time to plan the tailgate menu.  Here is a collection of easy, low mess, transportable tailgate recipes to get you started.

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the seller’s profit at no additional cost to you.  Please see my Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for additional information.

Tailgate Recipes

Image courtesy of skeeze @ Pixabay.

I selected the following recipes to please picky kids, satisfy grown-up appetites, minimize prep work on game day, eliminate the need for crock-pots and barbecues, keep utensil and serving -ware requirements simple, and to keep the mess to a minimum.  Sorry, no saucy wings in this tailgate recipe collection.

Tailgate Recipes

Appetizers

A wide variety of appetizer recipes is included here.  This collection will take care of those who like pizza, tacos, or even the classic corn dog.  I think every tailgate appetizer collection needs at least one dip, so be sure to check out the cheesy bacon ranch dip recipe.

Homemade pizza puffs from Cafe Mom.

pizza puffs

Sausage Roll Ups from Dreaming-n-color.

 

Cheesy Bacon Ranch Dip from Deliciously Sprinkled.

Cheesy Bacon Ranch Dip

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DIY Spooky Halloween Wreath Tutorial

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the seller’s profit at no additional cost to you.  Please see my Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for additional information.

I love decorating for Halloween.  I try to limit my Halloween shopping splurges, but this year I really wanted a nice wreath for my front porch.  It’s easy to find beautiful wreaths on-line and in catalogs.  However, I couldn’t justify spending $50-100 on a wreath I would only display for a few weeks.

I gave myself a budget of $20 and decided to see what I could create with my own imagination and a little effort.  I stopped at the Dollar Store on my way home from work to see if I could find any unusual, spooky items to inspire a Halloween wreath of my own.  They always have interesting, low cost items for all of the holidays.  I had barely stepped into the store when I discovered these fantastic glitter tarantulas in perfect Halloween colors.  I even found matching glitter ribbon.  The ‘crow’ feather boas were over the top.  I had to have them.  I had a plan!  I couldn’t find anything at the Dollar Store to use for the base, so I did order the straw wreath on-line.

Excluding glue sticks, I spent about $12.50 on the wreath and it took about 30-minutes to collect all of the supplies and assemble the wreath.  Ok!  Maybe a little longer if you count my bow preparation practice runs.  Well worth the small cost and effort.  Now I won’t feel bad if I want new decor and come up with even better ideas for next year.  I had fun in the collection and preparation phase.  Who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt?  In the end, I’m pretty proud of my work.  Hope the trick or treaters like it!

Supplies:

DIY Wreath Supplies

Preparation Steps (It really is this easy friends):

Step 1:  Spread hot glue on the surface of straw wreath and secure the end of feather boa to the wreath.

DIY spooky wreath tutorial

Step 2:  Continue to spread glue.  Wind the boa around the wreath as you go.  Adjust spacing to ensure you have enough material to cover the entire surface of the straw wreath.  I recommend a quick practice wrap before gluing, to get a feel for the spacing required.

DIY spooky wreath tutorial

Step 3:  Spread hot glue on top of feathers and secure tarantulas or other ‘spooky’ items.  For example, you could use mini skulls (with or without a coat of glitter).

Step 4:  Wrap ribbon around the wreath 3-4 times and secure with hot glue.  This will provide a nice background for the bow.

DIY spooky wreath tutorial

Step 5:  Tie bow and hot glue to ribbon on wreath base.  Here is a great loopy bow tutorial for tying this kind of bow.  Be patient.  It takes a little practice to get the ribbon twist down.  You see my third attempt below.  My kitchen counter still has purple glitter evidence.  Maybe feathers too!  Enjoy!

DIY spooky wreath tutorial

Safety tip: 

Hot glue is HOT!   Be careful not to burn your fingers when you are pressing items into the melted glue.

 

DIY Spooky Halloween

Grilled oyster recipes that everyone can enjoy

Raw oysters are great, but try grilling/broiling with spinach, garlic & Parmesan or Chorizo & cheddar. Don’t like raw oysters? Try these recipes.

As a kid, I spent a significant part of my summers down  in Gulf  Shores, Alabama.  We loved slow-living on the bay, fun times with family and good friends, and the delicious Gulf Seafood.  Shrimp, stuffed flounder, and crabs were fantastic, but my younger brother and I were HUGE fans of raw oysters.  One summer, during a side trip to New Orleans, my parents couldn’t get the trays of raw oysters to our table fast enough.  My favorite dinner as a ‘grown up’?  A wedge salad with bacon and blue cheese accompanied by at least one dozen oysters with lemon, horseradish and hot sauce.  Mmmmmmm!

While not everyone appreciates the slimy texture of oysters like I do, it is possible to prepare oysters that everyone will enjoy.  There is something primitive about cracking open the shells.  Throw a few on the grill and enjoy.

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Spinach Parmesan Grilled Oysters

Chorizo Jalapeno Cheddar Grilled Oysters

Where to buy oysters?

We found a local grocery store that often carries oysters.  I definitely recommend that you call ahead and order in advance.  You don’t want to prepare a menu only to find out oysters are not available.  Unfortunately, I am speaking from experience on this point.

The guys at our fish counter always give us a few extra.  They are typically priced by the dozen and usually one or two of the oysters are not good (won’t open or they are stinky when you open them).  Request that they pack the the oyster in a bag on ice.  Once you arrive home, be sure to open the bag when you place them in the refrigerator so the oysters can breath.

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