Simple New Year's Eve Ideas

I know a lot of people (including my family) love to do a bunch of appetizers for a casual New Year's Eve gathering or for a party with friends.

I've rounded up some delicious finger foods and dips that I've served and received rave reviews! Happy New Year and I hope it's a delicious one! Plus a few simple tips. 

I love popcorn for finger foods! it's so inexpensive and you can sweet or salty or both in my examples below. I literally ate 2 batches of the Parmesan ranch popcorn on my own! BE sure to put little cups out with the popcorn to encourage people to eat it! 

Meet Austin: Make It Sweet

I hope you have had a wonderful holiday season and a Merry Christmas! I've been soaking in time with family, eating way too much and staring at my baby girl. 


I've been meaning to tell you all about this place since I first discovered it but now that I've attended two classes there, spoken with the owner multiple times and bought all kinds of goodies I can say I'm a true believer!

Make it Sweet is a locally owned cake supply store, baking class mecca and baking gadget heaven! 

They have a full store with hundreds of sprinkles, packaging supplies, gels, tools, molds, packaging supplies, cookie cutters-pretty much anything you would need to be a master baker! It's perfect for the casual baker when looking for sprinkles or chocolates or the aficionado looking for hard to find gadgets and ingredients. 

Image via

They also have a whole separate part of their store where they host classes. They have cake ball, cookie, cake, fondant, macarons, yeast breads....the list is endless!

Decorating the Kids' Thanksgiving Table

I hope you had a chance to look at my last blog post with beautiful ideas for your grown up Thanksgiving table. And there is also still time to enter the awesome giveaway here

I mentioned I'm in charge of decorating the tables for Thanksgiving but I'm also in charge of the kid's table. We have a total of 6 kids attending and although I don't know if any of them will actually sit and eat dinner (they are all under the age of 6) I want them to still have a cute table and be able to sit and eat when the adults do. 

I chose the "keep it simple and make it feel special route" for the kid's table- I didn't make turkeys out of candy or anything. (I'm not knocking that but since my little baby is only 5 months old I guess I'm not going way over the top this year-perhaps the table will get more elaborate as I have older children!). But I've included some other ways below to make their table feel special. 

Thanksgiving Table Decorating Ideas

This post is sponsored by LTD Commodities but keep reading for Thanksgiving table ideas and a chance to win some of the beautiful items pictured!  

I'm so excited for Thanksgiving this year because it's my first time to truly have my own family's Thanksgiving! We are usually with our parents or extended family but this time it's just us and we are staying in town! Since a bunch of our friends are also in town and "family-less" we are having a big "Friends-giving" and I couldn't be more excited.

One of my best friends usually hosts but I wanted to be involved and I had the perfect idea! I could decorate the tables and that would take the stress off of her for having a clean house, making the turkey AND doing the tables. She lovingly agreed to let my creative juices flow!

Please note: this is the adult's table! I'll be sharing a more kid friendly table later this week! 

Peanut Butter Cookie Cake + Giveaway!

I remember distinctly the first time one of my college roommates opened my eyes to the beauty of adding cookie dough batter on top of brownie batter. What do you get? Well you get a cookie on top of a brownie or as some call it a "brookie" and it's the best of both worlds in one bite.

This was one of my first introductions to "Dessert Mash-Ups" where you combine two desserts into one. Not that I needed any convincing? 1 dessert = good, 2 desserts = good so therefore according to complicated baking math: 2 desserts in 1 = good. Did you follow that?

So when I was contacted to review a copy of a new cookbook called Dessert Mash-Ups -I was all about it! The entire cookbook is filled with "Tasty Two-in One Treats."

The cookbook is beautiful and every recipe has gorgeous pictures plus detailed instructions, Dorothy did an amazing job! I had a hard time deciding which recipe to pick since I literally wanted to make all of them!  I ended up choosing the Peanut Butter Cookie Cake but the next recipes I plan to make are these:

On to the recipe I made for myself on my birthday (last week)! I was having such a great day and I decided to treat myself to this Peanut Butter Cookie Cake! It's decadent and festive since it's filled with M&M's and topped with frosting. Plus, I'm anti traditional cake for my birthday so this hit the spot for my birthday "cake" fulfillment while tasting like my favorite treat- cookies!

Enter to win your own copy of Dessert Mash-Ups below:
 Giveaway open to US residents only. Cookbook will be mailed to winner within 1 month.

Peanut Butter Cookie Cake
recipe adapted (just a smidge) from Dessert Mash-Ups

Cake Ingredients
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened*
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup M&M's or chocolate chips (I did a combination)
Frosting Ingredients 
I halved the original recipe as I found I didn't use all the frosting it called for
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened*
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 to 3 teaspoons milk

Sprinkles or extra M&M's for topping, if desired


In the bowl of a stand mixer (with the paddle attachment) cream together butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar about 1 minute. Then add the egg, vanilla, milk, baking soda and mix until combined. Slowly add the flour and mix until the dough just comes together. Stir in the M&M's or chocolate chips.

Spray a 9 or 10 inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Press the dough into the pan, cover with saran wrap and then refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350. Once the dough is cold, bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting:
Beat the butter until smooth in a stand mixer or using an electric hand mixer. Slowly mix in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Add the vanilla and 1 teaspoon of milk. Add remaining milk as needed to reach desired consistency.

Frost the outer ring of the cake using a pastry bag fitted with the 1M tip or whatever tip you prefer. Dust with sprinkles or top with M&M's as desired.


*Cook's note: The original cake recipe calls for unsalted butter and then adding salt. I always use salted butter so I omitted the salt. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt if using unsalted butter. For the frosting, just add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter.

Disclaimer- I was sent a copy of Dessert Mash-Ups to review and 1 copy to giveaway to my readers. All opinions are my own!

BLT Salad

Awhile ago on Instagram one of my food bloggy friends posted her version of a wedge salad and although a simple classic- I couldn't get it out of my head.

Of course, she has a vegetarian blog and I have made maybe two vegetarian meals in my life. Don't worry, I'm working on it. Albeit. . .  slowly. However, when given the choice between adding bacon to something and not adding bacon to something, I typically choose adding bacon. Thus, this salad was born (or rather, reborn since it's not new to anyone but me). 

This salad is a great complement to soup, a steak or just eat a big plate of it! No one will judge your bacon consumption. . . except maybe Amee. Just kidding, she's great and check out her blog for awesome vegetarian meals!

BLT Salad
The Apron Gal

Serves 4

1 head iceberg lettuce
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 cup croutons, crumbled into bite size pieces
2 hard boiled eggs, crumbled optional

Bleu cheese or ranch dressing


Wash the outside of lettuce and remove any wilted leaves. Cut lettuce into quarters, then slice into chunks. Layer lettuce chunks on a long plate for a "fancier" presentation or into a bowl, then layer with toppings and drizzle dressing on top.


Creamy Chicken Casserole

Before I had my baby the one thing I tried to do was stock up on food for our house. Kind of ironic that my biggest concern was snacks and dinners (not labor, delivery, or a newborn) but I was more afraid of being hungry apparently.(!) In my defense, I knew I couldn't control a lot of things but one thing I could do was plan ahead for food!

Part of my "planning" was also requesting delicious meals from my Mom and Mother-in-Law when they came to visit and help out after the baby was born.

This recipe is one of my favorites from my Mother-in-Law. It was the first recipe I requested when she came. It's true comfort food at it's best.  Seriously, make this creamy, buttery delicious casserole ASAP!

A few notes about this recipe-if you have apple juice, definitely use it. It gives the sauce a little sweetness-if you don't have it-don't worry about it, it's still delicious. Also note that "herb seasoned stuffing mix" is NOT Stove Top, it's those bags you buy for stuffing around Thanksgiving, see the link above to be sure you get the right kind and then just crush some of it up to put on top.

Creamy Chicken Casserole
Serves 4

4 chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise
6 slices Swiss cheese
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup apple juice or water
1 cup herb seasoned stuffing mix-crushed
1/4 cup butter, melted


Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 by 13 baking dish. Arrange chicken breasts on the bottom of baking dish and cover with Swiss cheese slices. Whisk soup and juice (or water) together.  Pour soup mixture over chicken and cheese in baking dish. Sprinkle crushed herb seasoned stuffing mix over entire baking dish. Pour melted butter over stuffing.

Bake for 45 minutes - 1 hour or until chicken is done.

Serve over rice. 


Garlic Feta Dip

I'm a firm believer in a sweet and savory balance. Every gathering or party I throw I always try to have a balance of sweet and savory. I'm the girl that likes to order a milkshake with fries or eat potato chips and M&M's and I don't think I'm the only one!

I feel like there are endless possibilities for the sweet side of things: cookies, bars, cakes, pies, candies, donuts, breads, ice creams, sorbets.....I mean seriously the list goes on and on!

But for the savory-I usually struggle with finding easy but delicious recipes that serve a crowd. I feel like dips are always a hit because they can be served with vegetables and chips or crackers. But the options seem to be: queso, cheese ball, spinach dip, onion dip, artichoke dip and that's usually the same rotation. (Don't get me wrong-I love all those!) But I wanted something new for a baby shower I helped host last week.

I found this dip on Pinterest and tweaked it to make it perfect. It has bold flavors of feta and garlic and isn't like any other dip I've eaten!

I hope you like it as much as I did! (and my husband. and all my friends.)

Garlic Feta Dip
The Apron Gal

Serves 6

4 ounces crumbled feta (roughly 3/4 cup)
2/3 cup or about 6 ounces plain Greek yogurt
1 block cream cheese (8 ounces), softened*
2 cloves fresh minced garlic
1 teaspoon dill
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon parsley

Mix together all ingredients. For a softer dip, serve immediately. For a thicker dip, refrigerate 1-2 hours and then serve. 

Serve with crackers and fresh vegetables.

*Cook's note-for best texture use full fat cream cheese. 




Yes, I've neglected this here beloved blog over the past couple months because something-or should I say someone has taken priority and kept me only slightly preoccupied.

I'd like to introduce you to my sweet baby girl-Nora. She joined us on June 6th and we are absolutely smitten in the truest form of the word.

 A few days old

 Hanging out with her momma 

 2 months old and those big blue eyes kill me! 

And her smile. It's the best.

Life has been hectic! I've transitioned from being a full time Events Coordinator to now full time Stay at Home Mom and Blogger. Today, she's almost 10 weeks old and life is settling down as I gradually get the hang of this whole parenthood thing.

What does this mean for you, my readers? Well hopefully, lots more new recipes, more parties, and beautiful photos as I have more time at home. I'll also probably start throwing in some tips/tricks/activities from my new Mommy life but things should look about the same overall.

Thanks for your patience as I have been figuring things out and definitely check back soon for new recipes and fun features!


Oven Fajitas

I'm sorry for my recent absence! I've been in full "get ready for baby" mode! I'm due in just 3 days and I think I'm finally feeling ready. I've been organizing, cleaning and stocking my freezer with meals and my pantry with yummy snacks! Not to mention buying final things, washing baby clothes and trying to get some rest before a newborn keeps me up all night!

One of the first meals I made when meal planning were these oven fajitas. They are simple, flavorful and can be easily whipped up. You could also cut up the raw ingredients and then freeze them to make one night. Simply thaw and then follow instructions accordingly. 

I will be making these again soon for sure since they allowed for leftovers and were quick to throw together-perfect for a new mom! 

Oven Fajitas
recipe courtesy Budget Bytes

Serves 4

1 Tbsp chili powder
½ Tbsp paprika 
½ tsp onion powder 
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp cumin
⅛ tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp sugar 
½ tsp salt
½ Tbsp corn starch
or your favorite premixed fajita/taco seasoning 
1 large onion
2 green bell peppers
1 red bell pepper
1 pound chicken breast or chicken tenders
2 tbsp vegetable oil

8 tortillas 

Optional toppings: lime, sour cream, cilantro


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix spices together unless using pre-made mix. Cut onion, bell peppers and chicken into long strips for fajitas and place in a medium bowl. Toss chicken and vegetables with vegetable oil and spices until coated. 

Place chicken and vegetables in oven safe dish and bake for 35-40 minutes, tossing once half way through. 

Layer chicken and vegetables on tortillas and top with sour cream, squeeze of lime and chopped cilantro.