Sausage & Apple Stuffed Squash

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This dish just screams fall to me! The squash, the apples, the herbs. Made me want to curl up on the couch with a blanket and a glass of wine, which is exactly what I did right after eating this 🙂 For the presentation that you get with a stuffed squash, the prep and hands-on time is relatively easy. This makes a great dish on it’s own for dinner, or as a side dish for a dinner party. You could even use a roasted acorn squash to serve your Thanksgiving stuffing, if you really want to get crazy! The other great thing about this recipe, you can easily change up the ingredients that you put inside to tailor it to your own diet or tastes. Add some grains, like cooked rice or quinoa, remove the dairy, change the meat to chicken sausage or add beans for protein instead. The possibilities are endless. So get creative and let me know if you try any substitutions. I’d love to hear about it!!

Sausage & Apple Stuffed Squash
3 Acorn squash
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
1 lb ground pork sausage
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled & diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 Tbsp rosemary, chopped
1 Tbsp thyme, chopped
1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp shredded sharp white cheddar cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare squash by cutting 1 1/2″ off top and use a spoon to scrape out seeds. (If you want to keep the squash tops for decorative purposes, set them aside until step 5, otherwise, discard them.) Once the inside is clean, cut approximately 1/2″ off the bottom to create a flat surface, trying not to puncture through the bottom of squash into center opening, if possible. (If you do puncture, it will still work, you’ll just need to use a non-slotted spatula when moving the squash from baking sheet to plate to avoid losing the filling.)
2. Use a brush to coat inside of squash in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Place squash on baking sheet and roast in oven for 1 hour.
3. While squash is roasting, prepare the filling. In a skillet or deep frying pan, brown the sausage over medium heat until no pink remains, approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once browned, remove sausage to a plate using a slotted spoon, leaving grease in frying pan.
4. Add onion and celery to frying pan and cook until they begin to soften, approximately 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add apple, cook an additional 3 minutes. Add cooked sausage, herbs, 1/2 cup cheese and salt & pepper to taste, stir to combine and remove from heat.
5. When squash is finished roasting, remove baking sheet from oven. Spoon the filling equally into the squash and sprinkle with remaining cheese. (If you are serving with squash tops, place tops on baking sheet at this point.) Place baking sheet back in oven and roast for an additional 15 minutes. When finished, remove from oven and serve.

Enjoy!

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Poblano Corn Quesadillas

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We officially have a crawling baby! Which means, my life is about to get a little more hectic. As of yesterday, Landon is on the move and ever since then he does not want to be confined in any way, not in the bouncer, not in the playpen. Just wants to be able to move freely. No more setting him down on the play mat to run to the restroom, or turning my back to do dishes while he sits in one spot playing. Nope.
How do moms of toddlers get anything done? Serious question. Already today I feel like I haven’t been able to accomplish a single thing until he went down for a nap. I think this is just a phase as he gets used to his new skills but hopefully he will go back to liking the playpen and bouncer, at least for small amounts of time.

Here is a little update to your plain old cheese quesadilla, with sweet corn, onion and Poblano peppers, these take a basic dish and turn things up a notch. I made these for dinner and they were plenty filling, but if you wanted a bit more substance, you can easily add some cooked chicken as well.

Poblano Corn Quesadillas
1 tsp vegetable oil, plus more as needed
2 fresh Poblano peppers, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 corn on the cob, kernels removed
1 lime, halved
salt and black pepper
3 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
4 6-in tortillas

To garnish (your choice):
Salsa, Guacamole, Cilantro, Sour Cream

1. Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the Poblano and onion to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt & pepper and add the corn. Stir to combine, remove from heat and squeeze half a lime over the mixture.
2. Transfer to a plate and wipe the skillet clean.
3. Heat 1/2 tsp of the oil in the skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add one tortilla and scatter over it a quarter of the cheese, and a quarter of the Poblano mixture. When the tortilla turns just golden brown in spots, in about 2 minutes, fold it in half, pressing it with a spatula to flatten. Transfer to a baking sheet in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make three more quesadillas. Serve with garnish of your choice.

* Original recipe from What’s Gaby Cooking

Ratatouille Stuffed Shells

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Well, today the baby got himself from lying on his tummy up into sitting position for the first time. I love each new skill he develops but this one has mama in a panic! Crawling is just around the corner which means I’ll be spending this week baby proofing!! And…it also means there will be a DIY baby gate post coming your way in the near future. So, if you’re into that sort of thing, stay tuned!

This recipe is tasty! Lately, I’ve been trying to incorporate vegetarian dishes into our diet here and there. I grew up on a VERY hearty diet, meat, potatoes and a glass of milk at every dinner and I always want flavor, flavor, flavor so sometimes the veggie dishes fall a bit short for me. This one does not! There are tons of veggies, chickpeas for protein and the sauce is full of flavor. In total, it took 40 minutes, which is totally doable for a weeknight meal. If you wanted to make it even quicker, you could easily prep the veggies and sauce ahead of time and then just cook the pasta, fill the shells and pop it in the oven at dinnertime.

Ratatouille Stuffed Shells
16 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
1 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2 cups diced eggplant
1 cup diced red bell pepper
3/4 cup diced zucchini
3/4 cup chopped plum tomato
1/2 cup canned unsalted chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 3/4 cups low sodium marinara sauce
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp torn fresh basil, divided
3/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
cooking spray
4 oz shredded Italian blend cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.
3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, sauté 2 minutes. Add eggplant and bell pepper, cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add zucchini, tomato and chickpeas; cover and cook 4 minutes. Remove pan from heat; stir in 1 cup marinara, 1/2 cup basil, black pepper and salt.
4. Coat a 2 quart glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray. Spread remaining 3/4 cup marinara over bottom of dish. Spoon about 2 Tbsp vegetable mixture into each pasta shell. Arrange filled shells in dish; sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 12 minutes. Top with remaining 2 Tbsp basil.

*Original recipe from Cooking Light

Kale Summer Salad

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I have a confession…I love having friends and family over, hosting dinner parties & BBQs and cooking for lots of people. Problem…I’m not actually very good at it! I mean, the food is great and I’d like to think we create a fun environment but every single time, I spend a lot of the time in the kitchen preparing food and not mingling and hanging with our loved ones. It actually makes me really anxious too, something about people watching me cook, having a messy kitchen and not being able to just enjoy myself. The worst part is that I KNOW the steps to having a successful dinner party and I DON’T FOLLOW them!! Typically I go to the grocery store the day of and do no prep ahead of time. I also don’t pay too much attention to the steps that go into making a dish (i.e. cook time and or something with a lot of hands on time).

So, I’m turning over a new leaf 🙂 I really want to enjoy our dinner parties more so I am determined to plan ahead. Here you go, steps to a successful dinner party that the cook can enjoy as well…
1. Make recipes you are familiar with. Your best bet is to stick to recipes you have made before. This way you are familiar with the ingredients and the steps, plus, you know how it is going to taste. No wondering if your guests are secretly spitting their food into their napkins 😉
2.Choose recipes with as little hands-on time as possible or can be mostly prepped ahead of time. Whether it is meat you can marinate the day before and can just throw on the grill, a dish that can be prepped and tossed in the oven to cook or fruits and veggies cut up the day before. Anything you can do to lessen your time in the kitchen, the better. Ideally, during the party, you should shoot to only be tossing something in the oven, on the grill or on a dish.
3. Stick to your timeline. Grocery shopping 2 days before, recipe prep 1 day before, on the morning of pull together any cold dishes, dishes that will go in the oven later. Get your serving table ready and decide what dishes and utensils you will be using for each dish.
4. Accept offers of help! I am terrible at this. People ALWAYS ask, can I do anything to help? And I ALWAYS tell them NO! Why do I do this?!?! Probably because I want to seem all cool, calm and collected 🙂 Haha! Let them help! Not only will they feel good about helping you, if you are stuck in the kitchen for a bit it will give you a chance to still chat while getting things ready.

This salad is my attempt at better dinner parties. We are planning to have people over for 4th of July so I am trying out some new recipes ahead of time so I can plan the menu. This salad is ABSOLUTELY making the cut! Seriously delicious, a bunch of kale, gorgeous summer fruits, nuts and a tangy dressing to top it off.

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Kale Summer Salad
1 bunch of Kale
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 cup blackberries
1 peach, pitted and diced
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup diced mango
3 Tbsp dried cranberries
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup walnuts
For the dressing:
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

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1. In a small bowl, whisk together apple cider vinegar, mustard, honey, salt and pepper until combined. Slowly stream in olive oil while whisking until emulsified.
2. In a large bowl, combine the kale and dressing. Massage the dressing into the kale until coated and place in the fridge to marinate for a few minutes. (Don’t do this too far ahead of time or the kale will get soggy, no more than 30 minutes before serving)
3. Before serving, add the diced fruit, dried cranberries and nuts to the kale and toss until evenly combined.

*Original recipe from The Balanced Berry

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Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas

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I feel like I’m a bit obsessed with sheet pan cooking these days. Anything I can throw on one pan, toss in the oven and POOF! dinner is done!?!? Count me in!

Store this one under SUPER fast and easy weeknight meals that taste delicious!! I mean, it’s pretty hard to mess up tacos and fajitas, right? But this is ready in less than 20 minutes and most recipes like that have no flavor, but this…SO not the case…tons of flavor from the spices and fresh squeezed lime juice. Plus, it’s Cinco de Mayo and I know you haven’t seen enough Mexican food and drink in your feed yet today 🙂

Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas
1 1/2 lbs of shrimp, peeled and deveined – you can remove tails, I left mine on for the photo and removed before serving 🙂
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 orange bell pepper, sliced thin
1 small red onion, sliced thin
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
several turns of fresh ground pepper
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
lime
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
tortillas, warmed – once I take the shrimp out of the oven, I toss the tortillas in so they get a little char from the broiler. Keep an eye on them though because they will burn quickly. Only need about 1 minute.

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. In a large bowl, combine onion, bell pepper, shrimp, olive oil, salt, pepper & spices. Toss to combine.
3. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Spread shrimp mixture on baking sheet in a single layer.
4. Cook for 8 minutes. Then turn the oven to broil and cook for an additional 2 minutes or until shrimp is cooked through.
5. Squeeze juice from lime over fajita mixture and top with fresh cilantro. Serve in warm tortillas with your choice of topping. We like ours with sour cream.

Enjoy! 🙂

Green Goddess Sandwich

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I started painting my kitchen cabinets about 7 months ago, right when we got home from Hawaii. Also, around the time we found out I was pregnant. The problem, I went to continue painting after finding out a baby was on the way and was of course concerned with the chemicals I was using. I found that the paint de-glosser I was using was EXTREMELY harmful to pregnant women and children (and probably everyone else, but not on the same level as a child’s developing system) so I didn’t continue the project, thinking I was out of luck until after the pregnancy.

Fast forward 7 months, nothing gets you wanting to finish and complete projects around the house like a baby 12 weeks away! Not to mention, a baby shower at my house this weekend!! I did some research and found a safe, non-toxic paint stripper to finish the job. Mind you, I was not even half-way done with the project and now I’m trying to finish it in 4 days…we’ll see how this goes.

I made this sandwich at the beginning of summer and was OBSESSED! It is so fresh and so delicious!! I literally ate it for lunch for a week straight. I thought I’d finally share the recipe with you and you can enjoy it for the rest of summer with all the fresh veggies. The recipe is from www.jillianharris.com who I have a slight girl crush on. She is a Canadian fashion/food/home blogger with great style in all areas, and also one of the hosts of HGTVs Love It Or List It Too.

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Green Goddess Sandwich
whole grain bread (I used Dave’s Killer Bread Good Seed)
goat cheese, crumbled
white cheddar
fresh spinach
fresh basil, thinly sliced
zucchini, thinly sliced
avocado, sliced
margarine or butter
large handful of parsley
juice from 1/4 of a lemon
1 garlic clove
salt & pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Put parsley, lemon juice, garlic, salt & pepper and olive oil in a bullet or small food processor to make sauce

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2. Butter bread on both sides
3. Layer all ingredients on bread and grill in a panini press or grill pan until brown and crispy

Enjoy!

Spring Frittata w/ Asparagus, Leeks and Dill

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I was actually about to blog something different but saw photos of this frittata and realized I never shared it! Crisis averted 🙂 I made this as part of Easter dinner and it was delicious. Makes a great side dish or appetizer for a spring dinner party.

On another note, my friend, J Soltman Photography, and I went downtown Portland to the Pearl District and she shot our first session of bump shots. I am so incredibly lucky to have such a talented photographer friend who lives so close to me who is just as excited about documenting my pregnancy as I am!

Here are a few of my favorite shots but stay tuned for more posts later this week when I’ll share some outfit details…

Spring Frittata w/ Asparagus, Leeks & Dill
5 tsp olive oil
2 large leeks (white and light green parts, well rinsed) thinly sliced
1 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 lb asparagus, tough ends cut off, cut on the bias into 2 1/2″ pieces
10 large eggs
freshly ground black pepper to taste
pinch of smoked paprika
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
2 ozs chevre, crumbled

1. Place an oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. In a 9- or 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat 1 Tbsp (3 tsp) of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks, 1 Tbsp water, and 1 tsp of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are wilted and tender, about 3 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook for 1 minute. Remove the vegetables to a plate. Wipe out the pan and let it cool until tepid.
3. Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk them together with salt and pepper to taste, the paprika, dill, chives, and leeks and asparagus mixture.
4. Heat the remaining 2 tsp oil in the pan over medium heat. Pour in the egg mixture and add the chevre. Cook until the eggs begin to set on the bottom. Using a heat-resistant spatula, lift the edges of the cooked egg and let liquid eggs run under to the pan below. Cook for another minute and repeat. When the bottom half of the eggs are cooked, place the pan in the oven and cook for 5 minutes, until the eggs are no longer wobbly at the center. Turn on the broiler and broil the frittata until lightly browned on the top, about 30 seconds.
5. Remove the frittata from the oven and let set at least 5 minutes in the pan, then slice and serve.

Original recipe from The Food Lover’s Cleanse

Crispy Coconut Kale, Roasted Salmon & Coconut Rice

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The dogs have been awake since 4:30am…(insert annoyed tone of voice here)…bad news, this will be an extra long Monday…good news, I have time to blog! Side note, I really need to look into a doggy daycare close to home so I can wear these pups out a couple days a week.

I follow Kate Hudson on Snapchat and a few nights ago she snapped some coconut rice, sweet potato, kale, salmon concoction that looked so healthy and delicious, I had to search out the recipe. One quick google search and I had found the recipe on Food 52. Let me tell you, I don’t use coconut too often in dinner dishes but the combination of the light flavors of coconut, kale, salmon and sweet potato mixed with paprika and sriracha were an amazing combination!

Crispy Coconut Kale, Roasted Salmon & Coconut Rice
1 cup uncooked white jasmine rice
1 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted plus 1 Tbsp for sweet potatoes
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp Sriracha
1 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp coconut aminos or tamari
4 salmon filets
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 bunch kale, cut into strips
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes

1. With an hour until dinner, bring 1 cup of rice to a boil in a medium saucepan with 1 cup coconut milk and 1 cup water. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
2. While the rice is cooking, preheat your oven to 400°F. Combine 1/3 cup melted coconut oil, 1 Tbsp Sriracha, 1 tsp sesame oil, and 2 Tbsp coconut aminos in a jar (with a lid) and shake to emulsify.
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3. Place to cubed sweet potatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with 1 Tbsp melted coconut oil and 1 tsp paprika, and toss to combine. Put potatoes in the oven and roast for 30 minutes.
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4. When the rice is done, remove it from the heat and keep covered. As the potatoes are roasting, place the kale and 1 cup coconut flakes on a separate baking sheet and drizzle with about two-thirds of the dressing. Add salmon filets topped with 1 to 2 Tbsp of dressing and place in oven with the potatoes for the last 15 minutes. Watch the kale to make sure it doesn’t burn.
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5. At the end of the half hour, remove both sheets from the oven. Divide rice among 4 plates, top with sweet potatoes, kale and salmon, and drizzle with remaining dressing.
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Original recipe from Food 52

Paprika Chicken Thighs

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I decided last week to start tackling our breakfast nook in the kitchen, it was becoming my least favorite spot in the house and a catch-all for bags, mail, boxes, whatever we walked into the kitchen with. So here is what the area looked like when we bought the house…

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Real estate pictures tend to make rooms look so much better than they are in real life, don’t they? The walls in person we’re pretty bright, and all the materials used (floor, counters, backsplash, blinds) just weren’t my taste. For now, I’m just working on the corner near the windows.

I started by painting the walls with my staple taupe, Valspar Lyndhurst Timber. Last week I went shopping for a new light fixture and fell in love with this honeycomb chandelier from World Market. Then I updated the window blinds to the same blinds I’ve been using all throughout the house, Home Decorators Collection Faux Wood Blinds in White from Home Depot. Here’s where I’m at so far…

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Now time to decide what type of table!

Anyway, back to the recipe! This was an easy, weeknight meal that cooks in one pan for easy clean-up.

Paprika Chicken Thighs with Brussel Sprouts
1 lb Brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
4 small shallots, quartered
1 lemon, sliced
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
3/4 tsp salt, divided
1/2 tsp ground pepper, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried thyme
4 bone-in chicken thighs

1. Position rack in lower third of oven, preheat to 450°F.
2. Combine Brussel sprouts, shallots and lemon with 2 Tbsp oil and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper on a large rimmed baking sheet.
3.Combine garlic, remaining 1/2 tsp salt, paprika, thyme, remaining 1 Tbsp oil and a 1/4 tsp pepper in a small bowl. Rub the paste all over the chicken. Nestle the chicken into the brussle sprouts.
4. Roast on the lower rack until the Brussel sprouts are tender and a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken without touching the bone registers 165°F, 20-25 minutes.

Original recipe from Eating Well

Party Perfect Appetizers

This last weekend we celebrated my mother-in-law’s birthday by throwing her a surprise party. It was so much fun to get all the family together for an evening of food, drinks and fun! I’ve never managed to actually pull off a surprise, to keep it a secret and all, but I’d say this was successful. People came in from Washington and California to help celebrate this beautiful, caring mother/daughter/sister/aunt/friend who always tries to take care of everyone else.

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We hosted about 20 people and I decided to go with appetizer sized foods rather than serving dinner when not everyone would be able to sit down to eat. I also have to admit, I didn’t make any of this from scratch…ain’t nobody got time for that when you’re having 20 people over!

Butternut Squash soup shooters with Rosemary garnish
The shooter glasses are 2 ounce shot glasses that I got at Bed, Bath & Beyond. These are great for so many cocktail party treats, I used them in another way at this party…scroll down to see 🙂
I bought pre-made Butternut Squash soup (I used Pacific brand organic soup), heat it up in a saucepan and top with a single sprig of rosemary.

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Crostini with Camembert and Fig Sauce
This one will look familiar, I posted this on the blog a few months ago and it was a big hit.
Slice a French Baguette into approximately 25 slices, top with a small slice of Camembert or Brie cheese. Put in the oven at 400° for about 8 minutes, until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and top each slice with a tablespoon of your favorite fig jam or spread.

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Mini Caprese Salads
Slide on a toothpick, 1 Mozzarella pearl, a basil leaf (cut smaller or folded), and cherry tomato cut crosswise. Once you have made all of your “salads”, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
In a saucepan, over medium heat, simmer 2 cups of balsamic vinegar until it is reduced by half and begins to thicken, about 15 minutes.
Allow balsamic vinegar to cool, plate the “salads”, drizzle with vinegar and serve.

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Meatball Sliders
Super easy! I bought frozen Italian style meatballs, pasta sauce, provolone cheese and brioche slider buns.
In a sauce pan, over medium-high heat, heat the meatballs and pasta sauce. To construct, place bottom of slider bun, half a slice of provolone, tablespoon of pasta sauce, 1 meatball cut in half, half a slice of provolone, top of slider bun.

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French Fries with Ketchup
Cook French fries to package directions, put 1 tablespoon of ketchup in the bottom of a 2 ounce, tall shot glass. Add 5-7 fries, plunged in the ketchup.

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