Potatoes cooked in any shape or form are always a "yes" in my home. Scalloped potatoes is a dish I grew up with, and when I have a bit more I like to make them instead of mashed potatoes. Often times you see scalloped potatoes made with golden Yukon potatoes, but I thought it would be really pretty to make this dish with purple potatoes and sweet potatoes. 

This is definitely a side-dish that is pretty enough to serve for dinner parties, and will always win people over with taste because it's comfort food. When you pour a cheesy cream sauce on top how can you not win? Am i right? haha!  In fact, I may just make this dish for Thanksgiving instead of mashed potatoes. Although I anticipate the traditionalists in the family may need the gravy and mashed potatoes too. 

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Tri-Color Scalloped Potatoes
by Brendan McCaskey

Yields 6 servings

Overall Time: 1 hour & 30 minutes

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour & 15 minutes




- 3 yellow potatoes, peeled & sliced 1/4" thick

- 3 sweet potatoes, peeled & sliced 1/4" thick

- 3 purple potatoes, peeled & sliced 1/4" thick

- 3 tablespoons olive oil

- 1 teaspoon salt

- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Cream Sauce:

- 3 tablespoons butter

- 3 tablespoons flour

- 1 1/2 cups milk

- 1 teaspoon salt

- pinch of cayenne pepper

- 1 1/2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese, separated

- 1 cup bread crumb

- 2 tablespoons butter, melted


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss potato slices with olive oil, salt, & pepper in a large bowl. Spread evenly on two parchment lined baking sheets. Place in oven for 10-15 minutes, switching and rotating baking sheets half way through cooking time. Potatoes will be tender, and a fork should be able to go through easily. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Lower oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small sauce pan on medium to high heat, melt butter and add flour. Cook for 1-2 minutes creating a roux. Whisk in milk and lower heat to low to medium. Stir and cook sauce until it begins to thicken, and is smooth and boiling, about 8 minutes.  Remove from heat and whisk in salt, cayenne, and 1 cup of the shredded cheese.

Layer potato slices in a casserole dish on their side, alternating each color, in rows.  Carefully pour sauce over potatoes, and top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Toss bread crumbs in melted butter and sprinkle over the top of the potatoes.  Place in 375 degree F oven for 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the sauce is bubbly. Remove pan form oven and set aside to cool for 4-5 minutes. Serve family style from pan.

Photos by Rennai Hoefer; Recipe by Brendan McCaskey


This post is sponsored by Zappos. 

Shopping for the perfect pair of jeans can be feel daunting at times, but when you find the perfect pair you feel like you have won the lottery. Am I right? I've already told you about my obsession with online shoe shopping on in past posts, but here's a case for doing your jean shopping online too. It's fast, free shipping both ways and their 365 day return policy allows me to avoid long dressing room lines while trying on my jeans in the comfort of my home. I also particularly love this way of shopping for jeans because then I can create outfits with my clothes and try my pants on with my shoes to see if it all works together. Besides, you'll have more room for those awkward hops, plie squats and moves to get your jeans on and off and listen to Justin Timberlake while you're at it.

Case in point, my new trooper green, skinny Hudson jeans. I've been on the hunt for a neutral color like this olive green, which also happens to be having a moment in the spotlight of fashion right now, and these jeans with built in stretch are perfection.

Hudson has always been a brand that fits me well. I have very long, thin legs, and after having two babies their mid-rise style with stretch is the a great solution to keep any signs of a muffin top at bay. They are so comfortable, and give you that cool factor that only British brands can do.

If you're scared of wearing color on your bottom half you shouldn't be. In fact, olive green is a less assuming color verses bright red or cobalt blue (I have had those colors too). Some ideas of tops and colors that work well with these pants are: pastel pink, rose gold/copper, ivory; white; brown; camel; navy; chambray; light blue; black; rust; maroon; mustard yellow.

This is a quintessential fall outfit for Arizonans. Fall colors of olive and rust are obvious, but my sleeveless knit tank and a boho element of a long scarf ties it all together for a west coast look that doesn't make you sweat in our 80 degree weather.Be sure to give online jean shopping a whirl, and let me know how it goes!

Photos by Katie Jameson


Sides are sometimes the hardest part of dinners. Have you noticed that? I always can come up with a main dish, but I have a habit of leaving sides to the last minute. I usually default to salad because it's easy and fast and doesn't require cooking. But my kids don't eat salad (duh, what kid does?). So, as long as I remember to buy a bunch of fresh green beans at the store I'm set. This side is fast, simple and doesn't require much cooking either!

In fact, this is a dish you'll want to substitute your traditional green bean casserole for when you host Thanksgiving or other dinner parties. Spicy, garlic green beans can be as hot as you want or as "garlicy" as you want. We like a bit of kick here in the southwest, and I'm Italian. So, you can bet I like a lot of garlic.

This recipe was created by my friend Brendan McCaskey who has culinary training and is an artist in the kitchen. He gladly shared it with me and I get to share it with you! I hope you love it.

Spicy Roasted Green Beans
by Brendan McCaskey 

Yields 6 servings

Overall Time: 20 minutes

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes



- 1 1/2 pounds whole green beans, trimmed

- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and shaved

- 1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced

- 2 tablespoons oilive oil

- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

- 1 teaspoons salt

- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large bowl mix green beans, garlic, & shallots with olive oil. Add red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper and mix together.  Spread beans evenly on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place in oven for 15 minutes, stirring half way through cooking. Beans will be tender, and lightly golden brown and caramelized.

Serve family style on a long platter.

Photos by Rennai Hoefer


You learn quickly in the fashion world that when all else fails go with black. I remember going to one of my first fashion events about seven years ago, and wearing what I thought was the coolest outfit. When I got to the event everyone was wearing black and I was sticking out like crazy. Maybe it was a good thing, but at that moment I just wanted to fit in with the fashion scene. Haha. The truth is that when you wear head to toe black no one really can judge your fashion because black is always acceptable.

But, I rarely wear all black. I often times dress how I feel, and most of the time black feels too dark for me. Recently, I was in Austin, TX to talk about all things Pinterest at BlogHerFood, and I decided to wear an edgy outfit combination reminiscent of the 90s that was mostly black.

Sometimes when you go to new places where no one really knows who you are you can have some fun and reinvent yourself. That's one of the things I love most about fashion. You can put on one dress and immediately look and feel different. 

Something about Austin made we want to play up the funky part of my personal style. I wore a white t-shirt, black choker, black lace cami and skinny jeans with boots (get the whole look below). It was a comfy, causal and moody outfit that transformed me instantly into this west coast style fashion blogger. And the rest of the conference I played into this archetype for fun. 

I, of course, would wear this outfit while in Arizona. It's a true aspect of my style, but I wouldn't say it's my go-to, daily choice. And that's okay to have those outfits. Do you have those outfit that morph you into an alter-ego? If so, what are they? I'd love to hear!

Get the look: Lace camisole; white t-shirt; black skinny jeans; back boots; choker; black hat (similar)

Photos by Katie Jameson; this post contains affiliate links


This post is sponsored by World Market. All opinions are my own.

Truth be told, I didn't bake anything from scratch until I was married at 22. I had used a lot of box recipes or store bought cookie dough to bake, and my parents, of course, showed me how to use an oven. However, I don't really have memories of baking with my parents, and part of me feels like I missed out on some special memories.

As parents, we always want to give our kids the things and experiences we didn't have, so I've been trying to do more cooking and baking with Elle. She has showed a lot of interest in baking partly because she is a sugar fiend that loves licking the bowl and partly because she really enjoys working with her hands. Her favorite activity is playing with play-dough, so why not give her the real thing, right? 

Levi is still too young to help us, but he sure loves to eat. We recently found out that he as an intolerance to gluten, dairy and soy that has limited a lot of the cookie recipes I know. So, last week Elle and I tried our hands and gluten-free baking by creating pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and roll-our sugar cookies.

I usually just have Elle wear grubby clothes when we bake, but I found a kid's apron at World Market just for her. She was SO excited to wear it, and look just like mommy. I also found her own set of measuring spoons. Her face was priceless when she saw them.


The pumpkin cookie dough was easy for her to scoop up with a spoon and drop on the pan, especially using holiday parchment paper from World Market. (P.S. Did you know that delicious dairy free chocolate chips exist?! Recipe and tasty ingredients below).

We popped them in the oven for 15 minutes and she just sat on the floor and waited. She loved watching them grow in the oven, but I think the anticipation just about killed her. haha. Of course, after the first batch came out of the oven she wasn't too keen on baking the rest as much as she was on eating them. I bought her a little cookie stamp for her to press the cookies down after they came out - an easy and fun task for a four year old.

After that we switched to rolling out our gluten-free sugar cookie recipe that I had made and refrigerated the night before. I bought an extra rolling pin just for her, and I found the BEST cookie cutter shape out there - the ugly sweater cookie cutter.

Here's why it's so awesome for kids. First, she can be her own fashion designer. Second, it's unique compared to the typical snowflakes. And third, considering how messy frosting is and our lack of perfect cookie decorating skills, every cookie will look like a perfect ugly sweater. Lord knows I'm not a skilled baker and can't make a cookie look pretty to save my life let alone my four year old. Bahaha! So, it's a win, win! 

Sadly, the cookie dough didn't turn out as I had hoped. I have learned gluten-free baking can be challenging, and that this recipe would have been better if I had simply chilled it for an hour verses overnight refrigeration. I'm going to try it again, and share that one with you soon. But not all was lost because making a mess together was just as fun, and that's what matters. 

Here are Elle's finished gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free amazing pumpkin cookies set on a pedestal for all to see. Please try them at home. They are so good and allergen free, which is nice when you're hosting a party. With so many gluten intolerances on the rise it's good to have on hand.

by Nicole Lee (licensed to AVE Styles)

2 sticks room temp vegan (soy free butter, earth balance the red one)
2 eggs
3 cupsGF All purpose baking flour ( I used Bob’s Redmill )
1 tablespoon molasses
12 -16 ounces vegan chocolate chips
2 1/2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla paste 

Directions : 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

In a medium bowl , with a wooden spoon cream the butter and sugar, add in the eggs (one at a time) and vanilla paste. Make sure everything is well mixed. Add in the baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, flour, pumpkin pie spice. Mix well, then add in the molasses mix, and finally the chocolate. 

Line a baking pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper or rubber liner. Take a large spoonful of dough and place 6 heaps on the pan, bake for 15 min. Once finished, flatten with a spatula and transfer to cooling rack. 

To create the same experience for your kids, be sure to shop the World Market products below. 

Photos by Rennai Hoefer; product gifted by World Market; this post contains affiliate links.