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 Gold Peak Tea.

When people ask me where I'm from I don't ever know how to answer them because I've lived in four different states (California, Wisconsin, Texas and Arizona). I usually just tell people I'm from all over. So, the word "home" is not so much a place as it is a feeling. Gold Peak Tea invited me to to share with you what feels like home to me as part of their Take Me Home Contest where one lucky winner will win a trip and a custom experience that takes them home (hurry, deadline ends September 1st, 2016).

To me, home feels like sunshine, warm breezes, snuggles with my kids, belly laughs, and sharing food and drink accompanied by good conversation with my friends and family. Home always feels comfortable, warm and easy. 

Holidays are often moments in time that we remember most because we are with family and friends. They can also feel stressful, which is the antithesis of what I want my home to feel like. So, easy entertaining is key. I wanted to share with you some "friends-giving" inspiration that's simple and easy and that showcases memories of my home growing up and my own home in Arizona.

Being an only child, our holidays were always spent with friends, especially when we lived in Texas. You could say we were doing "friends-giving" long before it was popular. Each year you could count on four things to be there: turkey, sweet potatoes, pecan pie and tea. Everyone always brought a dish instead of the host preparing the whole meal, but if you are going to do the whole thing here are some tips. 

Keep your place settings simple. White plates, classic linen napkins and a low key centerpiece. I simply placed a bundle of wheat in the middle of the table with some tea-lights. I also picked an accent color of coper to keep the palette warm and contrast with my blue rug. 

Make your dishes ahead of time. We did a turkey breast in the crock pot, stuffing in muffin tins (you can prep before), green beens lightly roasted (such a fast way to do it), potatoes scalloped instead of mashed (you can prep it before), pecan pies and galettes made in advance. 

There's nothing like eating a big meal and washing it down with some ice cold tea. Instead of having to brew it, you can count on Gold Peak Tea to give you the perfect, at-home taste. A lot of people like to add lemon or peaches to their tea. Instead, we add apple and citrus to the tea with cinnamon and star of anise to make it taste like fall. Stay tuned for the delicious recipe, and you can thank me later for giving you fall in a cup. 


Thanksgiving always started at dinner time in our house and went late into the night. The adults would sit at the table for hours talking and drinking, and us kids would go play and until it was time for dessert and eat second helpings of pie. 

That's what we do at our house. Foods change here and there, but I know our kids will have fond memories of this. Heck, even our dog loves the holidays. 

I'd love to hear what feels like home to you too! Please share in the comments below, and also be sure to enter the Gold Peak Tea contest too to win a trip home. The deadline for entries is September 1st, 2016. Stay tuned for some delicious recipes. 

Photos by Rennai Hoefer; Food by Brendan McCaskey, Styled by Alex Evjen, Copper cups designed by Katie Sterbenz


The holidays are here, so that means entertaining season is here too. If you're planning on having a big party or small gathering you might want to consider serving soup, especially this potato and leek soup. This recipe is something you can make the day before or even earlier in the day and let it simmer on the stove while you enjoy your friends and family. What is also great about it is that it's gluten, dairy and nut free for those who have friends with food sensitivities. You can also modify the recipe to make it vegetarian or vegan, and it still  tastes great.


I hate it when you go to someone's house and you can't even converse with the host because they are too busy cooking. Haha! That's actually ME a lot of the time when I'm hosting because I'm not the best cook and it takes ALL of my concentration to do it. I'm really trying to be better at it, so I asked Nicole if she could help me.

Nicole Lee from Hey Dear came over to my house and gave me a private cooking lesson just in time for the holidays. It was exactly what I needed. I learned three different recipes, how to hold my knife correctly, how to chop my veggies the right way, and got some ideas of what to keep in my pantry. She is a brilliant cook and an amazing food stylist. If you're looking for some gluten free recipes be sure to check out her blog or hire her to help you become a better cook.


1 cup dry white wine, preferable sauvignon blanc
1 1/2 cups free range organic vegetable broth
2 celery stalks chopped
2 carrots chopped
2 sweet onions, chopped
1lb leek, the whole thing chopped
1-2 garlic cloves finely minced
1 lb fingerling potatoes (russet or yukon gold work great too)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
1 lb. Italian sausage, sweet or spicy (in casing)

Chop all of your vegatables with the carrots, onions and celery. Then peal the leeks, chop off the ends and slice them into quarters. Wash your potatoes and cop them into even cuts (in half, then half again, until they are in little squares). Put the carrots, celery, onion and leeks in a bowl, set aside. Put the chopped potatoes aside as well. Then finally chop the garlic and set aside.

Bring a frying pan to medium heat and sear the sausage for about minutes on each side. Once browned on each side, poke with a fork and reduce to low heat. Put a lid on the pan and finish cooking about 10-15 minutes until there is no pink the middle.

NOTE: Be mind that this is soup, it's rustic, it doesn't have to be perfect and really just throw it in the pot and it will do the rest.

Heat your soup pot to medium heat. Put in about a tablespoon of olive oil into the pan and add in the bowl of carrots, onion, celery and leeks. Mix together with a wooden spoon and let cook for about 5-10 minutes until the onions become translucent. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Also add your herbs. Add in your cup of white wine, keep the heat going so it reduced the alcohol properly. Let this cook together for about 8 minutes. Then add in your chicken broth, let it cook until you see it start boil.

While that finishes cooking, in another pot boil your potatoes until soft. Chop your sausage and then once both are finished add the sausage and potatoes to the soup mixture.

Let all of the ingredients simmer for about 20 minutes to an hour. If you have more time let it cool a bit longer. The longer it sits the better it will taste. Finally, add more salt and pepper to taste and serve with crusty bread and a dollop of fresh cream or fresh vegan yogurt. Enjoy!

Fall Entertaining


Happy September!!! Today is a special day because it's Elle's 3rd birthday, and the day I always find myself getting into the fall spirit. So what if we're supposed to wait until September 21st to official say it's fall? So what if it's still above 100 degrees in Phoenix? That can't stop me from making my home look like fall, my taste buds enjoying fall treats and making plans for fall gatherings around chili and cornbread.

Today, I'm sharing with you a collaboration with Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market - a biannual event in Arizona that brings vendors that sell unique, vintage pieces. Many of their vendors carry unique serving-wear and dinner-wear, and with fall approaching, Coley and Lindsey decided to choose "gather" as their theme for this September's market.


To get everyone in the gather spirit for the upcoming event (September 19-20), we came together to create some inspirational place-settings for your future fall and holiday gatherings. All of the pieces that we used are items that the vendors are currently selling at this fall's market, so if you see something you like be sure to get your ticket to the event and snatch it! Also, be sure to follow Junk in the Trunk on Instagram because they will be sharing more details on how you can win tickets and buy the items featured in the shoot.


Desert inspired Fall Setting - We don't really have leaves that change color and fall off of the trees here in Phoenix. If that does happen to the occasional tree it's during the months of December and January. Instead, we have cool nights perfect for bonfires and backyard gatherings. We loved this idea of using cacti and decor trends of brass and deep blues to create an inviting table-scape that made you feel at home.


Kid-friendly Entertaining - You might be at the stage in your life when your friends have little ones that they bring to your dinners. A way to make them feel special all while using plastic dinnerwear is to place a piece of candy along with a name tag, so they know that they were thought of. Also, line your table with craft paper as your table cloth so that they can draw while they wait for their food. We took the liberty and drew in utensils for fun. You can also place a vintage toy for them to play with like a pin wheel or a truck for more character.


A stylish & budget conscious table-setting - Maybe you're throwing a "friendsgiving" this year, and you really don't have much to spend for decorations. Try using a bundles of wheat, rosemary and apples to make your table design feel like fall. We also used old flour sacks for placemats. Scraps of burlap from a fabric store would work just as well rather than spending $8.00 a pop on a placemat. It doesn't need to be elaborate to look pin-worthy.


Red & green can look cool - I'm a fan of white minimalist holiday decor because the combination of red and green really bothers me. I know that's a bit silly, but seriously, those colors not only don't mesh well with one another, but they clash with the color pallet of my home. However, if you throw in black, white and gold we found that red and green can actually look cool.

For more ideas on entertaining, make sure to follow my "Entertaining in Style" board on Pinterest.

Photos by Gina Meola Styling by Coley & Lindsey of Junk in the Trunk and Alex Evjen of AVE Styles

How to Style Your Bar for the Holidays


This post is sponsored by Coca-Cola Licensing.

Holiday cookie exchanges, open houses, parties and intimate gatherings...Chances are you will either host or attend a holiday party this season. If you are hosting, you will most likely have to put together a spread of goodies on a table, island or bar top. Today I'm going to share with you how to make your spread look special for your event.

1| Set your food and drinks out first. You'll want to make sure you have enough room for everything. Keep the sweets with sweets and savory with savory.


2| Place any utensils you may need next to the food. Don't forget the bottle openers! I always forget those, but how can I forget this cute one by Coca-Cola? You can even have some drinks already poured into glasses with straws just like we did with the Coca-Cola Heritage Glasses.


3| Go back through and add design elements that very in height and size. You may want to add different sized vases, candles or maybe even create a fun winter scene with figurines, fake snow and an old crate like this one from Coca-Cola. We also created winter terrariums to add dimension and spirit to the space.

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4| Add some sparkle - Place ornaments, glitter or tinsel around the area. We hung ornaments above our bar to draw the eyes upward to our chalkboard wall. Think about what you can add above or below too.

5| Add some live greens or flowers - Fresh flowers or even fresh pine is a nice way to liven things up. If you don't feel confident arranging bouquets, simply add branches of pine in vases.

Photos by Melissa Jill, Art Direction by Alex Evjen, Florals by Hoot and Holler, Chalk writing by Katie Sterbenz