Easy Hosting: Gourmet Burger Bar

Baby, its cold outside! We were going to have an outdoor party the other week, but BURR!! It gets COLD up here in New England, y’all!! So instead, we enjoyed a tailgating feast in the warm cozyness of the Great Indoors. It was awesome. And warm.

We decided to do a gourmet burger bar! It was easy and fun for everyone. We served the burgers (and hot dogs and brats) with a huge green salad and some chips. Easy-peazy!

gourmet burger bar
good burgers (we love the ‘pub burgers’ sold at our local grocery store, but this is a great recipe to make your own)
cheese (provolone, cheddar or blue cheese)
carmelized onions
mushrooms sauteed in olive oil and a splash of wine
thick cut bacon (thick cut is worth it. oh, yes.)
good hamburger buns, toasted
whatever else floats your boat

I cooked up the onions, mushrooms and bacon earlier that day and just reheated while my husband grilled the burgers. It was a great entertaining plan with very little work during the party.

Remember, for tailgating and homegating: keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Don’t let food sit at room temperature for more than two hours so have replacements ready at half time. For more info on safe entertaining, check out FoodSafety.gov.

peppermint oreo balls

To make this holiday season even sweeter, Oreo is releasing a Peppermint flavor, available for a limited time at select retailers. I’m obsessed with mint & chocolate. I make s’mores with peppermint patties. (Try it. You can thank me later.)  I wait for Peppermint Mochas the way others wait for Pumpkin Spice Lattes.  So Peppermint OREOS??? Sign. Me. Up.

They did not disappoint. Oh no, they did not.

To try them out, we made these INCREDIBLE Oreo cookie balls!! They were so easy and fun. Gracie and I made these together and they were super simple. It probably took us 15 minutes total prep time (not including time to chill the balls after we dipped them in chocolate).

I served these at our housewarming party on Saturday. I set them out on the buffet table and snapped a picture of the table.

fall buffet tableSomeone else arrived and I went to welcome them in. I came back to take a nice close-up picture of my pretty Peppermint Oreo Balls. I came back and they were gone. G-O-N-E. Every single one of my adorable Oreo Balls were GONE.

They were obviously very yummy and a big hit.

Anyway, here is the recipe, sans finished picture of my gorgeous Peppermint Oreo Balls because my extended family cannot show self control around Oreos apparently. Humph.


  • 1 pkg (8 oz) brick cream cheese, softened
  • 1 pkg (15.25 oz) OREO Cookies with Peppermint Creme, finally crushed
  • 4 pkg (4oz each) semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted
  • 8 starlight mints, coarsely crushed (or use candy canes), red nonpareils, or decoration of your choice!
1. Mix cream cheese and cookie crumbs until well blended.
peppermint oreo ball  easy holiday dessert2. Shape into 48 (1-inch) balls. (Um… we only made about 38. Because we ate some cookies. Ahem.) Freeze 10 min.
3. Dip balls in melted chocolate; place in single layer in shallow waxed paper-lined pan. Sprinkle with decorations, if desired.
easy holiday dessert4. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator.
A few tips:
To easily coat cookie balls with the melted chocolate, add balls in batches to bowl of melted chocolate. Use 2 forks to roll them until evenly coated. Remove balls with forks, letting excess chocolate drip back into bowl. Place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper or parchment paper.
Do not leave them unattended, they WILL disappear!!!

disclosure: this was a sponsored campaign from OREO. 


almond joy baked oatmeal

With our schedules these days, I need quick, easy breakfast ideas.

So I started making baked granola in muffin cups – they are super easy and freeze really well, so we can make a bunch and have them ready when we need them.  And you can make a lot of varieties, so everyone get’s their favorite. Some of the kids like peanut butter & chocolate in theirs. My son loves raisins. And my favorite – Almond Joy Baked Oatmeal.

Almond Joy Baked Oatmeal


baked oatmealALMOND JOY BAKED OATMEAL (makes 12)

1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup unsweetened applesause
1/2 of a mashed banana
1/4 cup honey
2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/3 cup whole milk
mix-ins (Add whatever tickles your fancy, but here’s my fav!)
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix eggs, vanilla, applesauce, banana and honey well. Mix in oats, flax meal,  salt and baking powder. Slowly mix in milk. (It will be a little runny – but that’s ok!)  Fold in coconut, almonds and chocolate chips.
2. Line muffin tin with liners, and scoop about 1/4 cup into each cup. (I add a few extra chocolate chips, because can you really have too many?)
3. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
4. If desired, freeze for another day. (Just defrost in the fridge overnight for when you want them.) Before eating, reheat in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.

Guest Post: Food Safety Interview with Dr. Elisabeth Hagan, Undersecretary of Food Safety

Dr. Hagan tips

While I am out of the country, enjoy this informative guest post from Dr. Elisabeth Hagan, the Undersecretary for Food Safety, who shared the following answers when asked questions from bloggers: 1) We often see recalls of tainted products on the news, and we read that the CDC estimates 1 in 6 people get food-borne […]

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lactose free summer is still yummy with LACTAID

Its summer! Yipee!! One of the best parts of a hot summer day is getting a ice cream cone. But now that I can no longer digest dairy, this is now one of my sad parts of summer. I go with my kids to the ice cream shop and order…. a drink. Boo. It stinks! […]

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cinco de mayo favorites

I LOVE Cinco de Mayo! I love Mexican food for entertaining – its so easy and fun and casual. Not to mention, I am kind-of well know for making an amazing margarita. Here is my super-dooper secret recipe. You will LOVE it! Easy Frozen Margarita 1 can frozen limeaid 1/2 can triple sec 1/2 – […]

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chicken and barley soup

I made this the other day and my family did everything but lick the bowl. Its easy, quick and very yummy!! Chicken & Barley Soup 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 4 carrots, diced small 4 celery stalks, diced small 1 medium yellow onion, diced small 2 cups shredded chicken Coarse salt and ground pepper 8 […]

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game day menu

Superbowl Sunday!!! What a fun and exciting afternoon, and with a such a good excuse to have a big party and lots of fun how could someone involve themselves in this joyous occasion. Nothing like noshing down on buffalo wings, hoagies, pizza, chips… now I’m getting hungry. Stressing about food? Not a problem – here […]

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grilled tandoori-style chicken thighs

This takes inexpensive chicken thighs and turns them into an easy feast! Grilled Tandoori-Style Chicken Thighs 1½ tbs ground cumin 1½ tsp curry powder1½ tsp kosher salt 1 tsp garlic powder ½ tsp ground ginger ¼ tsp cayenne pepper 2 tbs vegetable or canola oil 3 tbs red wine vinegar ½ cup plain yogurt (regular or […]

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Gluten Free Holidays

I’ve discovered that while I am by no means gluten-intolerant, I feel so much better when I eat gluten-free, or at least minimize gluten in my diet. But its really a struggle for me – not eating dairy or nuts, taking out gluten too seems like I am going to run out of things to […]

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