21 Fun, Festive, Flavorful Appetizers – Perfect for Holiday Parties!

This appetizers post has been brought to you by Foodie.  All opinions are mine.

Check out 21 Fun, Festive, Flavorful Appetizers

by Gena at Foodie.com

Fun, Festive, Flavorful Appetizers

The holidays are officially here!  It seems unreal that next week is Thanksgiving, but it's true!  It is definitely one of my favorite holidays because well….the food is delicious!  I am looking forward to the turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, and all the other delicious sides, but also the yummy appetizers to eat before the big meal.

 I have collected 21 fun, festive, flavorful appetizers on Foodie and all would be perfect for snacking while the turkey cooks or those Christmas parties that will be happening soon.  Take a look and pick a few favorites before you head to the grocery store.  These recipes are sure to wow your crowd!

What are you serving this year?

Create A Banana Recipe In The Chiquita Cooking Lab {My Banana Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars Recipe, Too!}

This banana recipe post was brought to you by Chiquita and Moms Meet, May Media LLC.  All opinions are mine and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group, LLC or Chiquita.  #MMLovesChiquita #ChiquitaCookingLab

I never imagined anyone could love bananas so much until I had kids.  Bananas are the perfect snack for kids and adults because they're easy to open, taste delicious, and are jam packed with delicousness!  Baby Brother is in a huge banana phase right now, so we always have Chiquita bananas on hand.

Right now through November 24th, Chiquita is having a recipe contest called the Chiquita Cooking Lab.  Every week, three featured ingredients will be revealed and participants are challenged to create a unique recipe that incorporates these three ingredients.  There is no limit to any additional ingredients, but the recipe MUST include the three ingredients revealed in the Chiquita Cooking Lab!



When I "scratched" to reveal the three ingredients I would be working with…I was pretty happy that I found bananas (of course,) cream cheese, and chocolate chips!   I had all three ingredients on hand, so I started creating the perfect yummy recipe!

Banana Cream Cheese Chocolate ChipsWe love cheesecake, so I knew that was the perfect recipe to create.  I made Banana Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars and they were a hit!

Banana Chocolate Chip Cheesecake BarsIngredients:

  • one ripe Chiquita banana
  • one 8 oz. block of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate chips
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt 2 TBSP butter in an 8×8 glass dish in oven.
  3. Mix graham cracker crumbs with butter in the dish and press to create a crust, set aside.
  4. Beat cream cheese, banana, and sugar until smooth.
  5. Add in eggs and continue to beat well.
  6. Add in vanilla and chocolate chips and stir well.
  7. Pour cheesecake filling on top of crust.
  8. Bake for 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees or until the top is slightly browned and the entire cheesecake is set.
  9. Let cool and then refrigerate for several hours until chilled. 



The Chiquita Cooking Lab contest will end on November 24th, so make sure and check it out soon!  The ingredients change every week, so scratch to see what you will be cooking with!  One winner will be chosen each week to win a $4,000 cash prize and will have their recipe turned into a stop motion video and promoted on Chiquita's digital and social channels.  Four random winners will also be chosen weekly to receive a Chiquita gift bag.  You can enter a new recipe each week if you wish!  

Good luck and go bananas with your creative recipe!


31 Hearty -Real Food- Soups, Chowders, and Stews

This real food recipe has been brought to you by Foodie.  All opinions are mine.

PicMonkey Collaged

The nights are becoming cooler and that means it's soup season!  I have made a collection of 31 hearty and filling soups, chowders, and stews made with real food!   No condensed soups, processed foods (that you can't omit or substitute,) just real, delicious food ingredients. 

Enjoy finding the perfect recipe for a chilly night. 

Check out Soups

by Gena at Foodie.com

What is your favorite cold weather recipe?

27 Satisfying, Creative Skillet Recipes – Start to Finish in One Skillet!

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27 Skillet Recipes


I recently wrote about my new found love for iron skillets.  They’re easy to use, clean, and are healthy to cook in, too.  My iron skillets stay on the stove because I use them all of the time.  Keep them seasoned and they’ll be non-stick and ready to use.  My favorite brand of cast iron is Lodge.  (Check out how to season your cast iron and take care of it so it serves you well.)

I have collected 27 great recipes that require only one cast iron skillet to cook.  You can obviously use another type of pan for these recipes, but cast iron is my favorite.  There are breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes…and even one for dessert!  Check them out and let me know what you think!  Enjoy!


One Skillet Pork Chops and Orange Vegetables (pictured)

Pepperoni, Avocado, & Sun-Dried Tomato Stovetop Frittata – The West Coast Mommy (pictured)

Skillet Ratatouille – An Ordinary Housewife

Tasty Ham Frittata with Asparagus, Grape Tomatoes, Chives, & Brie – lo-wren (pictured)

Salsa Mac & Cheese – Our Piece of Earth

Homemade Skillet Cheeseburger Macaroni – This Simple Home

Garden Vegetable Beef Skillet – Simply Stacie

Weight Watchers Lime Cilantro Chicken – Penny Pincher Jenny

Easy Gluten Free Paella – Fearless Dining (pictured)

Pizza Pork Chops – A Tipical Day

Cowboy Food – Become A Coupon Queen

Shepherd’s Pie – Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs

Rotini Beef Skillet – Thrifty Jinxy

Chicken Pasta Florentine – Thrifty Jinxy

Red Cabbage, Leek, Brat and Beet Skillet Supper - Farm Fresh Feasts

Tamale Pie with Hatch Chiles – Farm Fresh Feasts

Deep Dish Green Tomato & Goat Cheese Pizza – Farm Fresh Feasts

Roasted Garlic & Fennel Focaccia – Farm Fresh Feasts (pictured)

Roast Potatoes in a Cast Iron Skillet – Amanda’s Cookin’ (pictured)

Udon Noodle Stir Fry – Slap Dash Mom

Skillet Chicken Alfredo Lasagna Toss – Table For Seven

Creamy Tortellini Skillet – Table For Seven (pictured)

Easy One Skillet Nachos – Stockpiling Moms (pictured)

Mexican Pie – A Virtuous Woman

Farmer’s Skillet Hash – The Gracious Wife

One Skillet Breakfast – The Thrifty Couple

Brownies In A Cast Iron Skillet – Amanda’s Cookin’ (pictured)

One Skillet Pork Chops and Orange Vegetables

One Skillet Pork Chops and Orange Vegetables

I recently splurged and bought myself a cast iron set.  I had never used cast iron, but after reading about how awesome it truly is, I just had to try it out.  I found a great deal on a five piece Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron set on (affiliate) Amazon and have really been pleased.  I use this set for just about everything.  Clean-up is simple, too.  I just rinse out the pan, dry it completely on the stove, then season it with a little dab of coconut oil and it’s good to go for the next use.  I also found that if some foods DO stick, all you have to do is soak it (no longer than 10 minutes,) scrub it with a sponge, and sprinkle a little table salt in it to get the tricky bits off.  So easy.  And there are no yucky PFOAs or chemicals that leech into your food, so cast iron is definitely the way to go in my opinion.

I love meals that can be cooked in one skillet, start to finish, so I created this delicious One Skillet Pork Chops and Orange Vegetables recipe.  It’s delicious, has great vegetables that complement the meat, and is easy, of course!


  • 3-4 bone-in pork chops
  • 1 TBSP grapeseed oil
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cut into the same size as the sweet potato cubes
  • 1 cup of baby carrots, cut in half
  • 3 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. Drizzle the grapeseed oil into the bottom of your skillet.
  2. Brown the pork chops over medium/high heat.
  3. While pork chops are cooking, mix your brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, water, and orange juice together.
  4. Turn pork chops and add vegetables on top.
  5. Drizzle orange juice mixture over the vegetables and pork chops.
  6. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat.
  7. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.  Make sure to check every so often to make sure you have enough moisture.  If you do not, you can add water, 1/8 cup at a time.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA




Cake Batter Coconut Chocolate Candy

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Cake Batter Coconut Chocolate



I’m the kind of girl who keeps a Costco sized bag of semisweet chocolate chips in the freezer.  What….you don’t do that?  For one, it saves a lot of money, not only because I buy in bulk, but because it’s the only chocolate I really eat.  I can use it for chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chip pumpkin bread, or I can grab a handful and share some with the boys midday.  There’s nothing wrong with that…right?  I mean, it could be worse!  Right?

For awhile I was making my coconut chocolate candy often.  D and I would eat it, but no one else really cared for it.  And then I realized that if I’m the only one really eating it, then perhaps I should not be making it anymore.  Huge sigh.  But then, I discovered something new and different from my regular coconut butter …….  CAKE BATTER coconut butter!!!  This is totally NOT sponsored, but this company, Nikki’s, makes amazing flavors of coconut butter and Vanilla Cake Batter is one of them.  Vanilla Cake Batter, people!  Coconut butter that tastes like cake batter.  Here are the ingredients:  organic unsweetened coconut, organic extra virgin coconut oil, organic honey, organic vanilla extract, and sea salt.  It’s so delicious right out of the jar, but I made my chocolate candy with it!  And it’s so, so delicious!



  1. Place all ingredients in a double boiler or in a glass measuring cup in a pot of boiling water on the stove.
  2. Melt ingredients, continually whisking or stirring until smooth.
  3. Remove from heat and pour into a silicon candy mold.
  4.  Place molds in fridge and let harden.
  5. Keep any uneaten candy in the fridge or cool place.




cake batter chocolate candy

Nectarine Sopapilla Cheesecake Recipe

Nectarine Sopapilla Cheesecake (or use peaches!)

Nectarines and peaches are this family's favorite Summer fruits. We are lucky to get the most delicious peaches and nectarines at the local supermarket. I always buy many at a time because I know they will be eaten. The boys love eating them plain.  Even Baby Brother can quickly devour a nectarine!  I wanted to make a dessert with our nectarines, but not anything typical. Hubbby and I love Sopapilla Cheesecake, so I had a great idea to add fruit to it. We have added peaches and nectarines to this dessert, and both are excellent! 

{This recipe is for an 8 x 8 dish} 


  • one large nectarine
  • one can of crescent rolls (I use Immaculate Baking because they have a relatively clean ingredients list)
  • 1 1/2 – 8 oz packages of softened cream cheese
  • 3/4 + 1/4 cups of your favorite kind of sugar. (I have used coconut and organic granulated sugar, both work well.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup of melted butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  1.  Preheat oven to 350° F
  2.  Melt butter in a 8 x 8 glass dish in the oven.
  3.  Beat 3/4 cup of sugar with cream cheese and vanilla until smooth and creamy.
  4.  When butter is melted, pour it into a small bowl and set aside.
  5.  Roll out four triangles of your crescent roll dough into the bottom of a glass pan.
  6.  Pour the cream cheese mixture on top of the dough.
  7.  Slice and peel nectarine and place slices over cream cheese mixure:nectarine sopapilla cheesecake (or use peaches!)
  8.  Place the remaining four crescent roll triangles on top of the nectarine slices.
  9.  Drizzle the melted butter on top.
  10.  Sprinkle the cinnamon and remaining sugar on top of the dessert.
  11.  Place in the oven and cook for 30 to 40 minutes until dough is browned. 

nectarine cheesecake

35 Seafood Recipes For All Ages

seafood recipes


Check out Seafood Recipes For All Ages

by Gena at Foodie.com

Seafood is a healthy way to get lots of vitamins and nutrients and still eat light.  Daddy loves shrimp, the boys live tuna, and I prefer salmon.  It is important to space out your seafood consumption and pay attention to mercury levels.  (I have read that kids shouldn't eat tuna more than once a month because of the mercury.) 

Another important thing to remember is that in any high demand industry, there is going to be fraud.  We should be asking questions like "where was this caught?" "How was it caught?" and "has this seafood been frozen?" Read labels or better yet, but the whole fish and have it cut at meat counter.  Fish is oftentimes switched and sold as a more expensive type of fish and that can be very dangerous. Try to but fish from larger supermarkets, rather than smaller grocery stores. Buying fresh, never frozen, minimally processed seafood helps ensure that what you're getting is what you want.  Expect to pay more because if you want high quality seafood.  Look for responsibly caught fish, like Ocean Naturals, which has a code so you can tell exactly where your tuna was caught.  I think we should be striving to get this kind of honesty about all of the food we buy!
What is your favorite seafood recipe?

Queso con Carne (without Velveeta!)

Disclosure:  My friend Tori created this recipe by using a variation of the this Creamy Mexican Dip recipe.  They are both brilliant and have made my world a little brighter today because of this recipe.  :)

Queso con Carne without Velveeta!

Queso, cheese dip, whatever you may call it, it's a delicious thing.  I have had it multiple times throughout my life and it certainly is a wonderful thing.  However, most recipes call for a shelf stable processed cheese called Velveeta.  Now, Velveeta is wonderful and rich and creamy, but you gotta wonder exactly what they put in that stuff….it can't really be good for us, you know?  (sidenote:  You can make healthy homemade "Velveeta," but I haven't tried it yet.)  So when my friend Tori posted that she had found this recipe and thus made her own Queso con Carne….I had to try it.  And wow.  Just wow.  It's like a fiesta in your mouth!  Hubby said it tasted like it was from a five star Mexican restaurant and he was right!  It is simply delicious.  You can make it with or without beef, make some with beef and some without, add different variations of spices and salsa, save some queso in the fridge to serve over broccoli the next day, make mac & cheese…whatever your Mexican food loving heart desires!  So…here's the recipe!  It really is a lot easier than it seems.  I know it seems overwhelming, but you got this!  And you'll be so pleased after it's made, I promise!

Ingredients for beef:

  • 1/2 lb ground beef (more if your heart desires)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup (more or less) of your favorite homemade or jarred salsa


  1. Put meat in a pan over medium high heat.
  2. Season meat with salt, chili powder, cumin seeds, and garlic powder.
  3. Brown beef.
  4. After the meat is browned, pour salsa into the meat and cook until the liquid is cooked away for the most part.
  5. Set meat aside.

​(sidenote:  This right here is a delicious way to make homemade taco meat.  The boys tried it and really loved it.  I omitted the chili powder and didn't add too much salsa and it was the perfect flavor without spiciness for them.)

Ingredients for Queso:

  • 2 egg yolks (I separate the yolks from the whites, rinse them of white and dry the yolk. Then, I tear the membrane and drain the yolk into a glass. This keeps the membrane out of the queso so there is no weird egg textures in there.)
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot powder OR organic cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp cream or milk
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 8 oz shredded cheese (4 oz sharp cheddar and 4 oz cheddar jack is recommended)
  • 1/2 cup (or more) salsa (as mild or as spicy as you like!)
  • 8 oz cream cheese (here's a recipe for homemade cream cheese!)

​Directions for Queso:

  1. Mix egg yolks, arrowroot powder OR cornstarch, and cream OR milk together until the powder is fully incorporated into the yolks and thinned a bit by the milk/cream.  Mix until lumps are gone.
  2. To this mixture, add 2 cups of milk.
  3. Cook on medium, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to thicken.  (Tori's notes:  After 7-10ish minutes, it should be thick, like white gravy. You know. REAL white gravy. Not that milky stuff some folks call gravy.)
  4. After it thickens, 1/2 cup (or more) of salsa and stir until well mixed.
  5. Then, add 8oz of your preferred cheese blend, shredded, and stir.
  6. Add 8 oz of cream cheese and stir all together until everything is melty and delicious. (do not let it come to a full boil or it will curdle and separate.)
  7. At this point, if it is not thick enough, add another 1/2-1T arrowroot or cornstarch. Dip out a little queso into a cup and mix it into the queso first before mixing it into the pot. This prevents the locked up, starchy balls that don't mix well. Add and cook until thick.
  8. Add in beef mixture.
  9. Eat and enjoy best real food queso con carne in. the. WORLD!

Chocolate Cheesecake Fruit Dip made with Probiotic Rich Lifeway Kefir

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias #KefirCreations 

Chocolate Cheesecake Fruit Dip

If there is one thing our family loves, it is yogurt.  I remember shopping the yogurt section of the grocery store, looking for something new and delicious, when I saw a bottle of blueberry Lifeway Kefir.  I had never heard of kefir before, but I read all of the health benefits on the back of the bottle and decided to give it a try.  After I got home and unloaded the groceries, I gave it a try and it was oh so good.  That was almost two years ago, and I have been hooked on kefir ever since.  It has been especially great for me to get a quick, mess free, protein rich snack in a hurry….no spoon required!  You don't know how truly important that is until you have an infant demanding your time and energy.  We are expected to feed them and care for them at any moment of the day or night, but good luck finding enough time to feed yourself healthy food and get all of the protein and nutrients your body requires to feed them!  Kefir has been a great solution to this problem for me!

If you're not the adventurous food type and you want to know what kefir is before trying it…just think of it as a sweet and tangy yogurt drink, the "Champagne of Dairy."  Kefir originated in Eastern Europe over 2,000 years ago.  It contains 12 live and active probiotic cultures that help support the digestive and immune systems.  It is high in calcium and protein, as you would guess, and such a delicious way to keep your body healthy!

Hubby and I love to indulge in cheesecake, so I created a delicious Chocolate Cheesecake Fruit Dip, made with Lifeway Kefir.  So it has the satisfying cheescake flavor with all of the goodness that kefir provides!

Chocolate Cheesecake Fruit Dip


  • 4 Tbsp Madagascar Vanilla Lifeway Kefir Cultured Milk Smoothie
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 Tbsp coconut sugar (can be substituted with your favorite sugar)
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder


  1. Mix kefir and cream cheese together in a mixer until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add in sugar and cocoa powder and mix well.
  3. Serve with your favorite fruit, graham crackers, etc.

Lifeway Kefir makes a great Chocolate Cheesecake Fruit Dip!

I have found that any recipe that calls for milk, buttermilk, or yogurt, kefir can be substituted instead.  Keep in mind that when you cook kefir, the probiotic benefits are lost, but Lifeway Kefir is still gluten and GMO free, 99% lactose free, and never contains artificial sweeteners, which makes it a healthier option for my family.  We have made banana muffins with kefir, and also this delicious Garlic Chicken with Fettuccine & Kefir Sauce:

Garlic Chicken With Fettuccine & Kefir Sauce

Ingredients for Garlic Chicken:

  • two chicken breasts
  • garlic powder
  • grapeseed oil
  • salt

Directions for Garlic Chicken:

  1. Set oven to 400º.
  2. Place chicken breasts in a glass dish.
  3. Drizzle grapeseed oil on chicken breasts.
  4. Sprinkle salt and garlic powder, as much or as little as you like, over the chicken breasts.
  5. Cook for about an hour, until the house is filled with the smell of yummy garlic and the center is no longer pink.

Ingredients for Fettuccine and Kefir Sauce:

  • one package of fettuccine
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 purple onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp garlic
  • 1 cup of Plain Lifeway Kefir Cultured Lowfat Milk Smoothie
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch (optional, for thickening)

Directions for Fettuccine and Kefir Sauce:

  1. Cook fettuccine according to package instructions.
  2. Sauté purple onions in butter until they are cooked and clear.
  3. Add in garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  4. Add plain kefir, cream, salt, and pepper.
  5. Stir continually on medium heat until sauce thickens.
  6. Sprinkle corn starch and stir in if your sauce is not thick enough for your liking.
  7. Serve sliced chicken and kefir sauce over fettuccine noodles and enjoy!

​If you'd like to try kefir or stock up for your favorite recipe, sign up for money saving coupons at the Lifeway Kefir website!  

How do you enjoy kefir?  If you have not tried it, do you have any delicious recipes in mind to try it in?