Galentine’s Day 2017

What’s Galentine’s Day?

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I love Galentine’s Day! I’m a firm believer in the importance of having strong women in our lives and a holiday that allows you to celebrate these women, what could be better?

If you don’t know what Galentine’s Day is, it was invented by Leslie Knope on Parks and Recs.

“Oh, it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and boyfriends at home and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.”

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A holiday that gives you an excuse to eat breakfast food and celebrate the women in your life who lift you up when you’re down, inspire you to do great things and challenge you to be the best you can be. Honestly, can you think of a better holiday?

City of the Dead, New Orleans

I gave you a little tease of my New Orleans trip last week, promptly got distracted and forgot the rest of my posts.

Believe it or not, I didn’t just go to New Orleans to enjoy beignets one morning then leave. Although if you’re thinking of doing that, you won’t be disappointed.

So, after eating our weight in sugary, fried pastries, we hit the street on to our next adventure. . .

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To the city of the dead.

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If you go to New Orleans, you have to do a cemetery tour. I don’t care if you like history, if you’re easily scared, if you think it sounds boring or any other excuse you can think of. You have to do one.

We visited the St. Louis cemetery, the older of the two where you can get tours, and to be fair, my photos don’t even do it justice. It’s utterly spectacular and like nothing I’ve ever seen.

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New Orleans is built on a swamp. The waterbed is about 3 feet below the ground and is extremely active, meaning underground burials in New Orleans, not such a great idea unless you want it to perpetually look like zombies are popping out of the ground to attack you.

Ironically, the concept of above ground burials arose out of fashion (it was all the rage in Europe) not necessity. Whoever said that fashion doesn’t lead to great things was obviously lying.

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A few years back, vandalism became excessive in the centuries. Tombs were desecrated (people actually broke holes in them and would pull bones out), grafitied and statues were beheaded make the cemeteries something straight out of your worst nightmare.

Each tomb belongs to a particular family, so when it gets destroyed, it is the financial responsibility of the family to restore it.

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The cemeteries were closed to the public in response to the vandalism but eventually allowed in tour groups who pay annual fees.

We booked our tour through French Quarter Phantoms.

Our guide, Robin, was fabulous. Full to the brim with facts and dripping in sarcasm. The kind of person you could listen to for hours and then want to grab a drink at a local bar with. If you can request a tour with her, do it. Absolutely do it.

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Robin also dropped the fact that the Weeping Angels were inspired by the statues in New Orleans cemeteries.

It goes without saying I adamantly refused to blink the entire tour.

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I have so many amazing stories from the tour but I won’t spoil them for you. Just be sure to ask about the Italian tomb and who the first person to be placed in it was (hint, it rhymes with shmarcitect).

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Leaving the land of the dead behind, we reentered the streets of living, as always, in search of something to eat.

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We ended up at Domenica inside the Roosevelt hotel and passed away the early afternoon with pizza and bellinis.

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Cheers ūü•ā

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Can you think of a better way to spend an afternoon than with champagne and cemeteries? I certainly can’t.

Beignets For Days, New Orleans

Having your friends live all across the country can be extremely hard and frustrating at times. The silver lining though, you never have to look far for an excuse to travel!

One of my best friends lives in Texas which means getting together takes a little bit of planning. This past fall I told her, rather than coming to one of our respective states, we should pack our bags and travel some place we’ve never been before. Or some place with island drinks. I’m really not that picky.

We bounced ideas back and forth, Bahamas, Jamaica, Florida? Until I finally said, what about New Orleans (a place that meets both of those requirements above, might I add). A few days later, our tickets were booked and I began quoting Princess and the Frog every time we talked (something that continued through our trip).

This past weekend, I rushed from work to the airport, hopped on a plane, took a an Uber ride from the airport in the middle of the night, collapsed in bed, only to wake up the next morning to  . . .

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Despite our late night flights, we set alarms early our first morning. We were on a mission. You’ll see why in a minute.

We stepped out on our terrace with big Cheshire Cat grins, tossed on the closest clothes we had and rushed down to the streets below.

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New Orleans is known for their lively night culture but I think the mornings are just as good!

The fog slowly clears away, artists start setting up, the streets are all but deserted and it feels like the whole city is yours.

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If you do want some signs of civilization, I’ll tell you where to go (it’s where we were headed).

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Cafe du Monde. The place to go in New Orleans.

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Known for having the best beignets and Cafe au Lait in New Orleans. The line will always be long and will always be worth it.

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Believe it or not, the line moves quickly. Before you know it, you’re ushered inside and a waitress will want your order before you can settle down. The menu is small, beignets, a choice of coffees and juices.

You’ll order and she’ll disappear like a phantom in the night.

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In a blink of an eye, she’ll be bearing down on you with a plate full of warm, fried, sugary pastries that make you drool just looking at them and big mugs of strong, chicory coffee.

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Maybe not the best date spot, if you’re easily embarrassed. It’s just a little messy.

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You know when you travel and everyone tells you there are certain places you absolutely must visit. When you do you realize that they’re sadly overrated and you’ve completely wasted your time? That is not Cafe du Monde. It is well worth the hype (and that’s not just the sugar rush talking)!

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Extremely happy with day so far, we left Cafe du Monde in the happiest of sugar-induced moods and strolled to our next adventure singing and dancing to Down in New Orleans.

Okay, that last part may have just been me but tell me you didn’t have that song stuck in your head the whole time you saw these photos. If you say you didn’t, I’ll know you’re lying.

Mint Kiss Cookie Recipes

Can you believe the holidays are over? Even more, can you believe there’s only a few days left of 2016? Where has the time gone!

For those of you wanting to send 2016 off in style, I’m sure you have a slew of parties lined up and I’m guessing that a few of those are potluck parties.

Fear not, I have the perfect recipe for you.

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A treat that utilizes holiday flavors, small enough to pop and colorful enough to fit right in when the ball drops.

You will need:

  • 10 TBS Butter
  • 1 C Sugar
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 3 tsp Vanilla
  • Holiday Dot Sprinkles
  • 1 1/2 C Flour
  • 3/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • Peppermint Kisses

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Preheat ove to 350 degrees

Cream butter and sugar with paddle attachment on medium speed

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Add egg yolks and vanilla

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Add flour 1/2 C at a time while mixing on medium speed

Add baking powder and salt

Roll into balls (about TBS large) and roll in sprinkles

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Bake for 9 minutes – while baking, remove foil from kisses

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Immediately add kisses to the center of the cookies

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For the kisses to keep their shape, place cookies in the freezer right away for a few minutes. If you’re like me and want them melted a bit, put them in the fridge for about 5 minutes and then the freezer for about 5 minutes.

Let the cookies thaw a bit, arrange on a sparkly plate and serve with a glass of champagne.

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The perfect party treat. After all, who doesn’t love peppermint¬†and sprinkles?

Peppermint Sugar Cookies

When the holidays roll around, there’s a lot to love. Time with family, decorations, finding the perfect gift. If we’re being honest though, we all know what the best part is. The food!

The holidays are the time for all things cinnamon, pumpkin, cranberry, peppermint and white chocolate. I’m drooling just thinking about it. If you are too, then do I have the Holy Grail of holiday recipes for you.

Are you ready? Are you sure? You should probably sit down for this.

Peppermint Sugar Cookies.

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Peppermint shortbread cookies with peppermint cream cheese frosting and candy canes on top. Not for the faint of heart, let me tell you.

Now,  I love peppermint with a fierce passion but I was skeptical to try this recipe. I had a friend who made peppermint cupcakes with peppermint frosting once and it was so overwhelming, it tasted like toothpaste.

Not this recipe though, I promise. Now, let’s get started.

You will need:

  • 2 1/2 Cake Flour
  • 2 tsp Cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C Butter
  • 1/4 C Vegetable Shortening or Butter
  • 1 C Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 Large egg white
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Peppermint Extract
  • Crushed Candy Canes (topping)

For the Frosting:

  • 4 oz Cream Cheese
  • 4 TBS Butter
  • 1/4 tsp Peppermint Extract
  • 2 1/2 C Powdered Sugar
  1. Combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside
  2. On medium speed, whip butter, shortening ad sugar until fluffy
  3. Add egg. Then add egg white, vanilla, peppermint
  4. With the mixer still running, slowly add the dry ingredients
  5. Put dough in an airtight container and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours
  6. Preheat oven to 375 F
  7. Scoop dough out and flatten on a flour powdered surface until 1/2 inch thick then cut cookies using a cup (dusted in flour)
  8. Bake 10 minutes then let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing

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With a paddle attachment, whip together cream cheese and butter until fluffy.

Add peppermint and powdered sugar.

Crush candy canes into small pieces and sprinkle on top.

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For best results, enjoy curled up under a blanket on your favorite couch with a mug of strong black tea.

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The flavor is strong but not overpowering. No confusing these cookies for toothpaste (unless you want to. No judgements here).

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I’d love for you to give them a try and then tell me what you think!

In the meantime, any good holiday baking recipes to share with me? We only have a few more weeks until Christmas and I’m determined to make as many treats as possible before the holiday season ends!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I meant to put up this post last week to go along with my fall/Halloween theme but Photobucket was down on Friday morning and then I got so wrapped up in the fact that The Abominable Bride was posted on Netflix, any thought of blogging was pushed out of my mind in favor of deerstalkers and pipes.

However, late as the post is, there is never a bad time to post a recipe. Especially a cookie recipe. With pumpkin. And chocolate.

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I think when baking, you can never really go wrong with chocolate chip cookies. You can only make them better. How? Adding pumpkin.

Whether you’re a baker or a slice-and-bake-baker, you’ll be able to do this recipe. It’s beyond simple – the real challenge is not eating them all yourself (something I will not judge you for doing in the slightest).

You will need:

1 stick of butter (softened)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 TBS pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice (or pumpkin pie spice) to taste – the more the better
1/2 package of chocolate chips

Whisk together butter, brown sugar and sugar in a bowl. Add vanilla and pumpkin, mixing until smooth.

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In a separate large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, backing soda and spices.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined. Add chips.

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Cover the bowl and put in the fridge for 1 hour to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and take the dough out of the refrigerator.

Roll the dough into balls and press flat (they don’t spread much when baking) and bake fro about 10 minutes.

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Let the cookies cool ON THE BAKING SHEET for 10 minutes before setting them off to the side to cool. This is really important, if you don’t the cookies are too gooey and the texture is completely off.

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Keep in mind, while most of the instructions here are similar to regular chocolate chip cookies, the texture is very different since you’re replacing eggs with pumpkin puree.

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They’re very soft and chewy. The perfect amount of sweetness and a great mixture of flavor.

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Have you ever made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies? Last year I made pumpkin chocolate chip muffins which were amazing!

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If you have a good pumpkin recipe, please be sure to share! We still have a few weeks left before Christmas flavors take over!

The Creamiest Ice Cream Ever, Houston

I left you on Monday, after a stroll through Houston and a delicious small pate meal, with us heading out in the night, adventurers in search of a lost treasure.

Ice cream.

We desperately wanted needed ice cream.

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As we approached the shop, we saw groups of people milling around outside and a line almost out the door. Apparently the people of Houston, see ice cream as the thing to do on Saturday nights. I like them a lot.

It wasn’t until we got inside and was instantly freezing and surrounded with mist that we realized this was no typical, choose your scoop number and cone size ice cream shop.

This was a liquid nitrogen shop.

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Liquid nitrogen ice cream is a huge thing right now. I’ve been meaning to try it but just haven’t had the chance.

In my mind, I envisioned a scene like in Star Trek with the red matter, where ice cream scoopers expertly extract what they need and use Sherlock Holmes-like scientific precision to make the most perfect ice cream.

Yeah. It’s nothing like that.

It’s very cool though, nevertheless.

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You choose a base, a flavor and any topping you want and stand back and watch as your ice cream is made from scratch right in front of you.

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If there was one food I could eat every single day, it would be ice cream. It’s my weakness.

Liquid nitrogen ice cream, is one of the best things I’ve ever had.

Creamier and fresher than regular ice cream since it’s made instantly in front of you, instead of sitting on a shelf in the freezer for who knows how long.

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Lauren said it reminded her of melting dip and dots a bit, which is a high compliment coming from her, let me tell you.

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If you’re in Houston and have never been to Creamistry, I’m assuming you live under a rock.

If you’ve never tried liquid nitrogen ice cream, I forgive you but please, fix that situation immediately.

Tell me, have you had liquid nitrogen ice cream? What did you think?

Houston, Texas

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I woke up to this site over the weekend:

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Last week was crazy to say the least.

I had to drive back to Ohio on Wednesday, go to a work event Thursday then drive back to Michigan that evening. Woke up early Friday to catch a morning flight to Houston, worked on Saturday and flew back to Detroit late Sunday night.

My Ohio trip was so brief, I don’t have too many photos to share (you can find all the ones I have on my Instagram) but I do have quite a few from Texas.

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When you travel for work, you don’t get a lot of free time but I try to do what I can to find time to¬†explore the city I’m in. For Houston, that was visiting Hermann Park.

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When you spend as much time cramped in cars and planes as I have recently, you’ll take any excuse you can for a good walk. Hermann Park did not disappoint.

It reminded me of a combination of Lincoln Park and the National Mall.

You’ll find friends renting paddle boats in the pond, couples walking dogs in the chinese garden, families barbecuing, kids rolling down the hills and people from all walks of life going for a pre-dinner stroll or getting ready for an evening concert.

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The city all around you seems to disappear beneath a canopy of trees and traffic noises are replaced with laughter and shouting.

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Located right in the midst of Rice University and the museum district, it’s the perfect spot for some late¬†afternoon sight seeing.

I love visiting parks in big cities. I feel like they are the perfect place to get a feel for the energy and life of the city you’re in.

Hermann Park was very eclectic. There was no typical person there. It was quiet and busy. Full of families and friends. Young and old. There was a lot to do and nothing to do. I absolutely loved it.

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As the sun began to set (our excuse – really we couldn’t take the smell of a good barbecue any more – we were about 2 minutes away from turning into Yogi Bear), we left for dinner at White Oak Kitchen in the Galleria – an upscale mall or, in as we came to know it, a complete labyrinth full of stores that will make you feel very depressed about your own paycheck.

If you love to window-shop, however, there is no better place.

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With a happy hour menu that lasts until 8 (tell me that’s not something that makes your heart pitter-patter), we settled in for the night with big glasses of wine and enough small plates to feed a small army.

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Dessert followed but more on that tomorrow.

If you’ve been to Houston, tell me, is the Galleria really easy to navigate or did you get uncontrollably lost there too?

Yates Cider Mill, MI

My very first blog post about a year ago was about Yates Cider Mill.

A week after we moved from Chicago to Michigan, my family took me and the Wolf there for my birthday.

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It absolutely blows my mind that I’ve lived here for a year already! Where has the time gone!

It has been, simultaneously, the fastest and the longest year of my life.

Isn’t it funny when you look at anniversaries and milestones in your life and think about where you were at the start and think, if you only knew what the future is about to bring . . .

A little sentiment for you there – I just couldn’t believe it’s been so long already! I figured if I wrote it down, I would be forced to accept that it’s true.

Anyways, back to Yates. Being a Michigan girl through and through, when the air gets crisp and the leaves start changing the only thing I can think about is good cider mill donuts and, obviously, cider.

Yates has turned into my go to place in the fall due to their hiking trail along the river and through the forest that’s dog friendly.

You’ll know you’re getting close when the road turns country and there’s the smell of crisp apples and roasting corn in the air.

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Yates has a trail that winds around the river then through the woods (I couldn’t help myself). On a crisp fall, day there really is no better place to be.

You can escape the city with a walk under the colored trees with the sun filtering down, with the sound of the rushing river below you.

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The deeper you go the sounds of children laughing and excited sugar induced chatter are replaced with the crunch of leaves under your feet and birds singing in the trees.

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The face of pure happiness.

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Tell me, can you think of a better sight on an October weekend?

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Pretty soon, the sounds of civilization begin to¬†¬†creep back on you and you’ll emerge from the trees into the heart of Yates where you can find anything autumnal your little heart desires.

Pumpkins, hay, stalks, roasted corn, fried donuts, cider, anything.

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The line into the mill is no joke.

Donut roll your eyes and walk away though.

Pluck up your patience and get in line.

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Then . . . it’s time.

Plus, cider mill calories don’t count so be sure you get a big bag of donuts and at least half a gallon of cider (each).

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This is perfection.

Forget the PSL, give me a cider mill donut any day. This, my friends, is fall.

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If you’re in Michigan, grab your own Wolf and be sure to check out Yates. If you’re out of state, find a local cider mill by you and be sure to stop by before it’s too late

One more sentimental moment before you go:

To those of you are have been here from the start, thanks for following along.

For those of you who are new, welcome aboard – we like food, travel and pups here. If you do too, I think we’ll get along just fine!

Easy Autumn Stew

I don’t cook very often (I’m a very lazy eater) so when I do, you best believe it’s going to be photograph, documented and posted within an inch of it’s life. Which is why I have two recipe posts in a row.

Well, that and I’m on the road and didn’t feel up to editing and uploading any other photos.

Anyway, fall is here and for my family that means one thing: Hamburger Soup.

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My Mom made hamburger soup my entire life and it’s my absolute favorite meal. The day I would come home from school to the smell of stew simmering on the stove, I knew fall was really here.

When I got my first apartment, I was so excited for her to teach me her culinary secrets. I had visions of us blowing the world away with our creative genius. Opening restaurants to rival even Giada.

Turns out, this is the easiest recipe in the world.

I’m a believer that us lazy cooks need to stick together so I decided to settle with posting the recipe here instead.

All you’ll need is:

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A handful of potatoes

Carrots, celery and onions – diced (you can really add whatever veggies you like. I normally will throw in a few handfuls of Soycutash¬†if it’s in my freezer)

Ground round or vegetarian substitute (sautéed and fully cooked already)

Low Sodium V8 Juice

Ready for this. This is the only tricky part of the recipe.

You put everything in a pot over medium-low heat. Cover it. Leave it.

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Stir occasionally and then serve (when your potatoes are softened) with a big hunk of baguette. Or maybe add a little parmesan cheese.

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It isn’t the most photogenic of dishes but it makes up for it in taste. And ease.

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Proof that even lazy cooks can whip up a good meal.

Do you have any good autumn recipes to share? Fall is my favorite season, especially for food so don’t hold out on me!