Totchos (Tator Tot Nachos) with Cheese, Sauce, Charred-Tomato Salsa and Chorizo

Totchos were my last craving of pregnancy.  But I didn’t get to fulfill my craving until last weekend.  You see, we were planning to have these for dinner the Sunday I had Blakely Gray.  So instead of enjoying them while pregnant, we enjoyed this platter of deliciousness during the Super Bowl with a baby hanging out in her rock ‘n play.

And despite not being pregnant, I was still craving these little potato nuggets – I had been thinking about them for two weeks!


I used store-bought frozen tator tots and simply baked in the oven as the package directed.  They would have been amazing fried, but I felt there was a enough going on and let’s be honest, ain’t nobody got time to fry with a newborn.

The totchos are topped with cooked and crumbled chorizo along with a homemade salsa that is made from broiling tomatoes, onions, jalapeños and garlic and then blending until smooth with cilantro and lime juice.  And you can’t have nachos or totchos without cheese, so a smooth and creamy cheese sauce is made with extra sharp cheddar and evaporated milk.  Let’s be honest – the cheese sauce is my favorite part of any nacho dish.

The platter is then topped with diced tomatoes and green onions for a pop of flavor and freshness.

And while football season may be over, I promise these are worth finding an excuse to make.



Friday Favorites

I’m not going to lie – I’m kind of a ball of anxiety right now.  This whole not knowing when you’re going into labor is freaking me out a little bit.  Mostly because I have this fear of not getting to the hospital in time.  But it’s all going to be okay.  Women have been giving birth for thousands of years – I’m not the first or the last.  Obviously we aren’t making lots of plans these days but we are hoping to go out to dinner tonight for one last night out before babe.  Big Guy has a few things to get done on Saturday and then hopefully Sunday will be spent relaxing.  We said that last weekend and well, it didn’t really happen.  Here are my favorites from the week:


Favorite Carbs and Cheese:  Creamy French Onion Soup Dip in a Bread Bowl.  This looks insane and perfect for Super Bowl Sunday.


Favorite Decadent:  Peppermint Brownies for Two.  This is the perfect dessert for February 14th.


Favorite Splurge:  The Felize.  These shoes aren’t cheap.  But I’ve heard over and over again that they are like butter on your feet.  I’m lusting over them in the “latte” color.


Favorite Read:  “The Last Days of Pregnancy:  A Place of In-Betweens.”  So many truths!  The last days of pregnancy — sometimes stretching to agonizing weeks — are a distinct place, time, event, stage. It is a time of in between. Neither here nor there. Your old self and your new self, balanced on the edge of a pregnancy. One foot in your old world, one foot in a new world.


Favorite Game Day:  Slow Cooker Chipotle BBQ Meatballs with Garlic Toast.  I’ve got meatballs on my mind.  (And tator tots, too.)  But these look yummy and one-bite snacks are perfect for Super Bowl Sunday.


Favorite Snack:  No-Bake Chocolate Coconut Energy Balls.  This past week I stocked the freezer with a few snacks for post-baby.  And now these are being added to list of snacks to have on hand.


Favorite Outfit:  Dressing for Comfort.  Loving this outfit.  Put together yet comfortable.  Though I can’t get on board with the shoes…but those driving shoes above would look fantastic with this.  (wink wink)


Favorite No Waste:  Whole Orange Bundt Cake.  This cake utilizes the entire orange – peel and all.  And it’s in these cold winter months that I crave the brightness of citrus.  Plus it’s in season and I love a good bundt cake.


Favorite Clean Living:  5 Things to Know About Cleaning with Vinegar.  It’s natural and cheap and a great way to “clean up” your house.


Favorite Mocktail:  Sparkling Orange, Strawberry and Ginger Juice.  I have a glass of real sparkling wine in my near future but this sipper looks incredibly refreshing and could be perfect to have on hand – to sip alone or with your poison of choice.



Friday Favorites

The first Friday and weekend of 2018 is here!  And I’m really excited about this weekend because I’m having my last baby shower in Charlotte on Sunday.  I’m really excited to see my family, a few friends that I haven’t seen in ages and to celebrate our little girl one last time before she’s born.  Stay warm out there my friends!


Favorite Warm:  Spicy Peanut Soup with Sweet Potato and Kale.  This is totally happening next week.  I adore peanut soup and this version is loaded with deliciousness while being super healthy.


Favorite Super Bowl:  Addicting Baked Seasoned Ritz Crackers.  The truth is, I have no idea where we’ll be for the Super Bowl.  For all I know, we could be in the hospital having a baby.  But these crackers are screaming my name.


Favorite Bake List:  Chocolate Babka Pull Apart Muffins.  This is not the recipe for a quick brunch item.  Instead, this is a kitchen project.  And I think it’s the perfect thing to tackle on one of the weekends leading up to my due date.

Children In A Forest Kindergarten

Favorite Look Back:  Hopeful Images from 2017.  Looking back at 2017 can sometimes be horrifying – so much evil.  But I prefer to look at all the wonderful things or little moments of love and compassion.


Favorite Stash the Freezer:  Yummy Salmon Burgers with Slaw.  Not only do I need to be eating more salmon right now (hello, brain development for BG) but I love salmon and these are the perfect quick lunch or dinner option.  In fact, I think I should make a batch just for the freezer for post-baby.  And while the slaw isn’t something that will last in the fridge for the long, it’s easily pulled together.


Favorite Football Food:  Super Easy Cheesy Monkey Bread.  Another Super Bowl option!  Carbs + Cheese = Life.


Favorite Upgrade:  Nike Flex 2017 RN Mesh Sneakers.  My athletic shoes take a beating.  Most days they are the only shoes I wear.  These are not only functional but pretty.


Favorite Sweet Treat:  Chocolate Chip Cookie Chocolate Bark.  Wow.  That’s really all I have to say about that.


Favorite Baby Related: Everything We Used & Bought in the First Two Weeks with Our Newborn.  After this weekend, I’ll be in 100% nesting mode.  I need to get the nursery (mainly her clothes and “stuff”) organized along with pack my hospital bag.  And despite all my efforts to be prepared, I know for a fact that we’ll be making an Amazon Prime purchase or two after she’s born.


Favorite Celebrate:  Spiced Merlot Sparkling Punch.  We went out to lunch last week for Big Guy’s birthday and he ordered the sangria (totally random).  I took a sip and was 100% jealous.  I am so ready to be able to order a cocktail again.


Potato Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve been day dreaming of these cookies for weeks now!  When I first ran across the recipe I knew I had to find a reason to bake a batch.  And football season is the perfect excuse to bake something sweet to share with others.


The cookies are sweet and salty and the perfect combo of crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside (thanks to molasses).  The potato chips don’t really give the cookie any flavor other than saltiness but they do add a little texture.  I simply crushed the cookies between my hands before adding to the batter.  And there’s not one but two kinds of chocolate – dark and mini chips.  I also really appreciated that I didn’t need to allow the butter to come to room temperature – simply cream cold butter with sugar for these cookies.

Make sure not to overcook the cookies – they crisp up as soon as you remove them from the oven.


Now if only I had one right now….

Friday Favorites

This has seriously been one of the fastest weeks of my life.  How is it already Friday?  I mean, I’m not complaining.  The later part of this week has been incredibly busy so I’m excited about a sloooooow down tonight and the rest of the weekend.  Here are my favorites from the week:


Favorite Indulge:  Red Wine Brownies.  How perfect would these be for Valentine’s Day?


Favorite Tips:  How to Mix and Match Patterns in a Room Like a Pro.  My favorite sentence in the whole article:  “Leopard is a neutral.”  Amen.


Favorite Trend:  Thai Beef Bowls.  I feel like I’m seeing rice bowls and noodle bowls everywhere these days.  I love this variations with the spiralized veggies.  And the peanut sauce.


Favorite Addictive:  Brown Butter Maple Bacon Popcorn.  This stuff looks dangerous.  And would be absolutely perfect for a raining day.  Or the Super Bowl.  Or a Netflix kind of night.


Favorite Print:  Champagne Twirl.  I’ve fallen in love with several illustrations lately.  This one is just so fun.


Favorite Spoonful:  Turmeric Roasted Sweet Potato and Macadamia Soup. Turmeric is the spice of 2017.  I’ve seen it used in soups, in lattes, and everything in between.  I think I should make a batch and then freeze some for lunches next month.


Favorite Football Food:  Chorizo and Avocado Nacho Potato Skins.   Y’all, planning our Super Bowl menu stresses me out juuuuust a litttttle because I want to make EVERYTHING!


Favorite Forecast:  Predicted Paint Colors for 2017.    The hunter greens are growing on me, people.


Favorite Brunch:  Chilaquiles Frittata Bake.  I’ve seriously been loving our new tradition of having brunch and this little number looks so dang good.


Favorite Celebrate:  Winter Champagne Punch.  And everything is worth celebrating.




Tailgate Thursday {homemade soft pretzels + a trio of dips}

After a three-week hiatus from tailgating, I’m back with a recipe for you.  These homemade soft pretzels take  little bit of work in the kitchen but they’re totally worth the effort.

To make the pretzels you start with a simple dough that’s made by mixing together warm water and sugar and then sprinkling yeast over the mixture.  Allow this to sit for five minutes before adding in flour, salt and egg.  This is mixed (I used my Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough attachment) and then allow the dough to rest and rise for an hour.  Once doubled, the dough is rolled out and then cut into strips.  The strips are formed into pretzels and then boiled in water that has baking soda added in for about three minutes.  Allow the pretzels to dry; sprinkle with salt and then bake until golden brown.  Use the above link for the full step-by-step directions and exact measurements for the ingredients.


To go with the pretzels, I served a trio of dips.

The pimiento cheese dip was made by microwaving 8 ounces of Velveeta and then whisking in 1/2 cup whole milk, a jar of diced pimientos, paprika and black pepper.

The buttermilk ranch dip is a simple combination of a 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup mayo, 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar plus a handful of chopped dill and chives.

The creole honey mustard dip comes together in a snap by whisking together 1/2 cup Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons mayo, 1 tablespoon honey and 1 teaspoon creole seasoning.

Happy Dipping!!!

Sweet Tea-Brined Hot Chicken Wings + Smoky Romaine and Avocado Salad

After hours of scanning recipes and trying to figure out what in the world we were going to fix for the Super Bowl, we settled on wings and salad (plus an unpictured dip).

And while the Panthers did not pull off a “W,” we had a true Sunday Funday and enjoyed ourselves immensely.


We popped open a bottle of a special anniversary bubbles by my favorite wine maker Iron Horse.  This bottle is amazing – 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay.  It was peachy in color and delicious.  I’m so glad I have a few more bottles stored away for later.

As for the food, we had wings and salad.  

We started prepping the wings the day before by mixing together a brine of sweet tea, onion and lemon along with garlic and cracked black pepper.  I actually combined two different recipes to get our final result.  Here is the recipe for the brine.  On Sunday morning, we removed the wings from the brine and dried them off with a paper towel and then placed them back into the fridge uncovered on a baking sheet so they could completely air dry.  When we were ready to eat, we tossed the wings in some canola oil and then tossed them with the spice rub.  The rub is a combination of ground cayenne, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper and salt.  The wings baked at 400 degrees for 40 minutes (flipping halfway through).

The wings were insanely crispy and full of flavor thanks to the brine and the rub.  We dipped the wings into a homemade ranch dressing.

As for a little bit of greens, a smoky romaine and avocado salad.  This salad could not be easier to assemble and the dressing is scrumptious.  In a bowl, toss together chopped romaine, a diced avocado and a sliced shallot.  Then drizzle with a dressing made with red wine vinegar, olive oil, agave, garlic, salt and smoked paprika.

The salad was fresh yet smoky, light yet full of flavor.


And now that the Super Bowl is over, it’s time to plan our Valentine’s Day menu….