fun

Simple Summer Entertaining

It occurs to me that I haven’t contributed to my entertaining section of my blog in a while. And although I haven’t hosted any major gatherings lately, there have been several little ones. So here are some tips for those awesome summer days that turn into impromptu gatherings. I just love this time of year. 

1. Invite (or cordially accept) your friends over. Maybe the people you hung out with on the 4th of July? You probably like them.

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2. Whether you are sending out informal invites (phone calls or texts) or the neighborhood has migrated to your back yard, serve snacks. Everyone wants to eat- usually right away, and in my experience often all day. Keep corn chips and salsa on hand at all times. (If you happen to have avocados, tomatoes, onions and seasonings, a little guacamole is a fun seasonal treat.) Of course most kids (and adults) I know are happy with Doritos too.

3. The same goes with drinks. Sure it’s nice to have a cooler full of chilled pop (or whatever you like). If you have the time to stock up on beverages great! Maybe you have a limited budget? Hey, no worries, it’s just nice to be together… but at least serve water… iced is even better… and if you have time for lemon or limeade, they’re just classic.

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4. Just add water. In the northern midwest we have a short season where it is desirable to be wet while we are outside. I like to take full advantage of it. You don’t have to have a pool or pond or lake… The kids I know are happy with a sprinkler or slip ‘n slide or good old fashioned balloon fight!

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5. Now you are not obligated by any means to feed everyone a meal unless you have said you would, but I can’t imagine another way. If you’re not prepared, it’s always fun to order pizza. I think it’s a good idea to keep hot dogs and buns on hand all summer long. We’ve had parties where everyone brings their own meat (and/or veggie patties) to grill which can be fun too. Of course it’s always a winner when you put burgers and brats over the flame. Can you smell the summer in the air?

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6. The fun is not over until you serve something sweet. It can be cheap and store bought. It can be thoughtfully homemade. My suggestion? Make it something that’s going to melt. Popsicles or ice cream cones… Sticky chins and drips down shirts are what memories are made of this time of year.

 

Loving Lately ☀️

Loving Lately: Family Vacation

I’ve been really behind on my blog reading recently… but for good cause.

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We’ve been soaking up the sun!

I just love quality family time.

I love making memories with my babies big kids.

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It goes by so fast, life… childhood… vacation… dessert…

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Gotta go…

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Smokin’ Hot Potato Skinny’s

It’s Super Bowl season, time to gather up and chow down! And who doesn’t like watching the guys toss around the ole pig skin while munching on some potato skins? No one around here anyway! (Although to be honest, I can eat potato skins all year round.) This is a great and lightened up (aka “skinnier”) version of a family favorite, with all the flavor. It’s got Greek yogurt for a little tang and smoked Gouda to bring the BBQ flavor inside. It’s a crowd pleaser for men, women and children alike… which makes it a perfect choice for this family! Happy Game Day!

8 Small Russet potatoes

3 Tbsp Olive oil, divided

1 Tbsp Course Kosher salt

1 tsp Freshly ground Black Pepper, divided

3/4 cup Whole Milk or Non-fat plain Greek Yogurt (such as Chobani)

8 oz. Smoked Gouda (or Smoked Cheddar), shredded

1 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

1 1/2 tsp Granulated Garlic

1 tsp Granulated Onion

1 tsp Salt

3 Strips Regular or Turkey Bacon, cooked & chopped into small pieces (optional)

2 Scallions, sliced (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400°.

On a baking sheet, using a brush or your hands, coat the outside of the potatoes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and an even coverage of the coarse salt. Place the potatoes in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Allow to cool slightly for handling, and cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Using a sharp knife, outline a rim inside the edges of the potato skin, about 1/2 inch thick. Then using a spoon, scoop out the potato to make room for the filling. Reserve 1 cup of the warm potatoes for the filling. (Keep the rest for a couple breakfast potato pancakes?) Brush the potatoes with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp of the black pepper and return to the oven for 4-5 more minutes.

In the meantime, place the cup of baked potato in a medium bowl, add the Chobani yogurt, 3/4 of the shredded gouda (reserving 2 oz. for topping), Worcestershire sauce, garlic, onion, and salt. Mix well until combined.

When skins are ready, carefully remove them from the oven. Spoon the potato, yogurt and cheese mixture into the center of each skin. Top the skins with the remaining shredded cheese, black pepper and bacon pieces. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes or so, until cheese is melted. Take the skins out of the oven, and top with the chopped scallions (and if desired more plain Chobani Greek yogurt). 😉

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Pizza Bagels

This is proof that food can be fun. I have some cherished childhood memories of my dad making pizza bagels. It’s the kind of food he’d make for us while mom was away at a baby shower or something. It seemed exciting because, well for one, we were cooking with dad. Second, it was all things we were familiar with and knew we liked. Pizza! For another, it really seemed like we were getting creative. Taking something made for one thing and turning it into something completely different. Kids eat that kind of stuff up! (Figuratively and literally… and so do adults.) It really doesn’t get much easier!

As organic as possible:

Makes 8 servings

4 plain or everything Bagels, cut in half

1 – 14.5 oz jar or can of favorite prepared or homemade pizza sauce

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

4 oz Pepperoni

*Any other topping you like (my kids pretty much stop right there)

 

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Place bagel halves, open faced, on a baking sheet. Spoon on desired amount of sauce on each bagel. (Side note: This is a lot of fun for kids (big and small). And everyone can adjust the toppings to their preferences.) Place a handful of shredded mozzarella on top of the sauce. Sporadically or methodically place pepperonis on top of the cheese (keeping in mind they will shrink in size when they cook).

Place the pizza works of art into the oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly. Leave it until it starts to brown if you prefer. This is your show. But do allow them to cool slightly before you bite into them, because the sauce will be surprisingly hot, and if you burn your tongue on the first bite, you will ruin the rest of your dinner. …And tasty pizza bagels are too tasty and fun to not enjoy!

Ringing in the New Year & the Winner

I’d love to say that it’s a tradition of mine to ring in the new year with glitz & glam, song & noise, friends & fun…

That would be a bold faced lie.

In fact, it seems like for the past few years I was pregnant or up most of the night feeding an infant, so sleep was more valued than celebration… and I’ve slept right through most of them.

But not this year!

This year we feasted on food from around the world!

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This year we blew into noise makers and lit off sparklers!


  

As 2016 rolled in, I hugged my loved ones and said “Happy New Year!”

…And it was a lot of fun!

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(I get it, no promises on the future, but I get it!)
To commemorate the New Year on my blog, I started with a cookbook giveaway that celebrates family and food! (Seems befitting) I entered the number of comments on random.org and it selected #22. Congratulations Dave, you are the winner of Return to Sunday Dinner! (And Dave, aka dad, thank you for your support of my blog.) I look forward to checking out the Spam Cookbook, (a delicacy of Hawaii). Please contact me via email to claim your prize! 🎉

And thanks to Ryan French for many of my New Year’s photos!

 

 

School’s Out for Summer

The time has come! School is out and summer vacation can begin! Of course we have to celebrate!

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It seems like just a few weeks ago, it was the first day of school…

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And I had to chase your bus down the street, pregnant and in the rain… right after we took this picture, because it didn’t stop at our house like it was supposed to. But forget all of that! Let’s jump in the pool!

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And squirt water guns!

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Let’s blow bubbles!

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It’s time to kick off our shoes and play in the sprinkler!

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We need to jump in a bounce house!

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And have a water balloon fight!

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We need to eat Popsicles!

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…And more junk food!

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Because by golly, school’s out and summer is here! And that’s something to wipe our chalk-y hands off and smile about!

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