My Personal Frida

                                                       Seth Rogen or Frida Kahlo?

seth frida

Both.  I laughed so hard when my mom shared this on my Facebook saying, “Even Seth loves Frida!” so much so that he made it his profile picture.  The Frida Kahlo craze is constantly relevant, and I couldn’t be happier about it.  I posted about Frida Kahlo in the past, but it was more informational about her life than really about my love for her.  Remember this painting?

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I loved the colorful painting I found while researching Frida for my article, so my mom bought a small canvas of the painting as a graduation gift for me (it’s called “Frida Kahlo – Seeing Color” by artist Sharon Cummings, and I love it!).  She also bought me Frida Kahlo playing cards.  And she also worked her artistic magic and made me a Frida canvas of her own.  She’s amazing, isn’t she? (Both my mom and Frida.)

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I bought this blank Frida Khalo card at an art fair and plan to leave it in the plastic forever for display…unless I meet someone who matches my love for Frida and feel compelled to write them a beautiful card.

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My all time favorite Frida piece is a fabric Frida flag I hung in my house junior year of college.  Anyone who entered our house would end up drawing their best rendition of Frida, to be hung alongside her on our closet.  We became the Frida house.  Anyone who asked, “Who’s that man-looking lady with a unibrow and a monkey?” received my shocked facial expression and the response, “You don’t know who Frida Kahlo is?? Only one of my favorite artists.  Let me tell you all about her.  Try to draw her if you want.”  At the end of our senior year, with the Frida flag hanging  above our couch, we played a game where rules were made up to substitute numbers, and one of my roommates made the rule for number 1 that you have to bow to the flag and say, “Forever Frida,” as a tribute.  It was hilarious with all of us bowing to her, and the acquaintances who didn’t quite understand the joking love of Frida awkwardly and cultishly following along.  I hope I spread the love of Frida far and wide, and for the people I share her with to share her with others.

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Forever Frida,

Chelsea

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This Sh** is Bananas

Banana Chip Muffins

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These chocolate chip/white chocolate chip banana muffins are a household favorite for my loved ones and they get eaten very quickly because of their melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness.  I’ve made them with a peanut butter frosting before, which was a winning combination, and I think they’re great with fresh whipped cream or a little butter melted on top.  The recipe calls for 3 overly ripe bananas, but you can make them with 2 bananas if that’s all you have, or if you have 2 smaller bananas, then half the rest of the ingredients for a smaller batch.  Also, if you are dying to try out the recipe, but your bananas are still fresh and yellow, you can speed up the ripening process by popping them in the oven on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil at 300° for about 30 minutes.  It’s like a banana tanning bed.  They should come out brown, let them cool, and then voila! You’re ready to make banana muffins.

Serves: 14 muffins

Time: 30 minutes

Preheat oven to 350° F and prepare cupcake pan with cupcake liners (or grease pan instead)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 bananas (overly ripe – brown and soft)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon shredded lemon peel (optional)
  • White chocolate chips and/or  chocolate chips (I used about 1/3 cup of both)

Recipe:

1)  Combine the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt – in a large bowl.  Mix together and make a well in the center of he mixture with your spatula.

2)  In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, bananas, sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla, and shredded lemon peel.

3)  Pour the banana mixture into the well of the dry mixture and stir, combining until the batter is just moistened – fully mixed, but still lumpy.

4)  Fold in chocolate chips and white chocolate chips (or nuts, if desired).  Spoon batter into muffin liners and bake for 14-18 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar before baking for a sweet topping (I forgot to do this and my muffins were delicious, but it sounds like a good idea).

batter

batter

 

ready to bake

ready to bake

finished product

finished product

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let’s eat!

Chelsea

Did You Say Cupcake ATM?

Yes, I did!! On my first day exploring downtown Chicago, I walked past a big store-front of pink plywood that had signs informing me it was the spot of the Cupcake ATM, but that it was under construction and would return soon.  I looked around wondering, “Well how am I supposed to get a cupcake now?” And then I noticed people trailing past it into the entrance of a store, and I followed.  The line was just out the door, and once I got inside the first thing that hit me was this magnificently sweet aroma.  It smelled like icing, and I could see all of these pretty and delicious cupcakes lined up in the glass case, waiting to be purchased and devoured.  I scanned the menu of all the different kinds of cupcakes and smiled when I noticed you could buy a “shot” of icing in addition to your cupcake.  They had mini cupcakes, and cupcakes for your dog, and cookies, and ice cream…it was splendid.  Of course I had to document it, so I shrugged to the ladies behind me in line and said, “Please don’t judge me for taking a selfie.”

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At the time, yes, I was in heaven, but I was ignorant to the sheer fabulousness of Sprinkles.  Sprinkles is deemed the very creation of cupcake bakeries, called “the world’s first cupcake bakery” by the Food Network.  They import their chocolate sprinkles from France!  They’ll make a cupcake tower for your party or wedding, they have 18 locations across the United States, 6 of which have Cupcake ATMs, and the founder of Sprinkles, Candace Nelson, is a judge on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.”  The logo of the brand is their “modern dot” which tops many of their cupcakes.  Here is the flavor menu for this week, and you can see they use the dots to mark that they have the cupcakes in stock.  Cupcakes are $3.75 apiece, and after finishing my yummy peanut butter chip cupcake, I regretted not buying more.  You can order your cupcakes for pickup or delivery from Sprinkles and if you call in advance, they will bring your sweets out to the curb for you.

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What’s better than the ability to get a cupcake day or night, 24 hours a day?  A stunning and beautiful Cupcake ATM which provides that cupcake.  Here’s the ATM in Las Vegas.

cupcake atm

And if that’s not amazing enough, check out the Las Vegas storefront, adorned with dots and attracting a crowd.

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To get more information or to find a Sprinkles cupcakery near you, go to their website at Sprinkles.com

Happy to be spreading the sweet love of cupcakes,

Chelsea

 

Matthew’s Kitchen

Restaurant Review of Matthew’s Kitchen

matthew's

A few months ago I took my Gigi (grandma) out to lunch at Matthew’s Kitchen since it’s near her apartment, and ever since, it has become our favorite lunch spot.  The food is deemed “comfort food with a twist” and the atmosphere in the restaurant is equally comfortable and modern.  This was my lunch, the ultimate grilled cheese, which consists of swiss, cheddar, and parmesan cheeses (the parmesan is deliciously baked into the bread, as you can see), tomatoes, and applewood smoked bacon on sour dough bread.  The sandwich was so good I ate the whole thing without setting it back down on my plate.  It comes with a heaping pile of seriously amazing homemade chips as well as your choice of any of their soups or salads to start.  All for $9!! Gigi got the philly cheese steak sandwich which consisted of ribeye, poblano peppers and onions, and provel cheese on a hoagie.  She started with a cup of tomato soup that was thick and hearty, while I chose the spinach salad with strawberries, feta, red onions, and balsamic dressing.  Everything was scrumptious and I give Matthew’s a rave review.  Another menu item I tried last time I was there was the original “not pizza” flatbread.  It was an interesting combination of flavors with tons of caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes, feta, and balsamic drizzle, and we enjoyed it, although I don’t plan to order it again.  I have only gone to Matthew’s for lunch, but the restaurant has variety of entrées on their dinner menu that sound great.  They offer their signature pig wings which I’d love to try as well.  It’s located at 5265 Hampton Avenue, Saint Louis, MO 62109 and they’re open Tuesday-Thursday 11am-10pm, Friday and Saturday 11am-11pm, and Sunday 10am-8pm.  Check out their website to read about their upcoming specials and for more information.

Happy eating!

Chelsea

Eat Cake For Breakfast

A Peek Into the Beauty of Kate Spade

phone case

I walked into a Kate Spade store today and it felt like a huge mistake – I was instantly in love with all of the colors, the purses, Kate Spade everything.  It was like walking into a magical, fashionable dream – like Alice, in wonderland, became a chic, upscale designer.  I’ve been there before and I forced myself out without really taking in all the beauty because the price range scares me and I can’t afford a keychain.  As my mom and I ooed and aahed from purse to purse, I said, “Oh, you have got to see this one! Look at the scallop edging and the pretty blush pink color, it’s gorgeous!” and “Oh wow, this car purse is amazing, I have to have it, I have to.  Isn’t it fun?”  I picked the purses up, touching the colorful leather and the metal spade-shaped keychains on each one.  The salesperson at the store told us this was her “fun job” where she could spoil herself every now and then from the gains of her “real job.”  My mom picked up what looked like a fashion magazine folded, as if it were being gripped, and it was a clutch.  The saleswoman said, “Kate Spade loves making things whimsical.”  With bright colors, feminine details, and catchy sayings on purses, the Kate Spade brand defines whimsical beauty.  From the car purse, to the purse shaped like a lemon, to a pink, quilted over the shoulder bag I think I have to buy…I’m in love with Kate Spade.

Some of my favorites:

i kissed a frog mulit clutch $328, how cute with the little frog prince clasp?

lemon 148

vita riva wicker lemon $248 marked down to $148

vita riva wicker car 238

vita riva wicker car $328

picnic locket 39

picnic locket $39

scented candle 40

scented candle “light up the room” $40, other candles said, “escape the ordinary” “leave something to the imagination” “be dazzling” “start something new” and “pretty and witty make the perfect pair” (LOVE IT)

book clutch

all roads lead to rio book clutch $328, I think this is so imaginative, a cute, and functional – I love to read and I love Kate Spade purses, so why not make a pretty clutch that looks like a book?  The design is brilliant.

via limoni vivi 148

via limoni vivi $248 marked down to $148, it’s hard to believe it’s a purse, isn’t it?

pink pelican

fine feather roux $498, how gorgeous is this? The pink gems, the pelican, AND it has a silver chain over the shoulder strap…simply perfect.

watch

gramercy mini $250, I set my heart on this watch when I saw a girlfriend wearing the original gramercy (which is larger) and I’m hoping to get it soon.  I love the crystals instead of numbers, I’m smitten with it.

gold coast ginnie

gold coast ginnie marked down from $248 to $99, this is the gorgeous, pink, quilted purse I love.

There are just a limited selection of my absolute favorites, as you can tell, it was difficult for me to even pare down to this.  There are little, jeweled camel earring studs, or turtles if you prefer those instead, there are gorgeous pumps and sandals, beautiful home accessories, stationary, dresses, sunglasses, silverware sets, and so much more.  So many colors, bows, and details – a whole collection of wonderful, whimsical things made the Kate Spade way.  Kate Spade’s style is unique, inspirational, and feminine, and it motivates us to…

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All pictures from Kate Spade

Become A Beach Babe

It’s the time of year to look like a beach goddess and flaunt your hottest bikini.  As a Midwesterner, I think it’s important to have gorgeous hair that makes it LOOK like I just came back from the beach.  I imagine the salty ocean spray and a paradise with a beach cabana – and then I spray on beach hair miracle spray to give me the look of the beach goddess I want to become.

Not Your Mother's Beach Babe Texturizing Spray

I loooove Not Your Mother’s Texturizing Sea Salt Spray.  It is accurately called Beach Babe because it gives you perfect, sexy, beachy waves and it smells as amazing as a piña colada tastes.  You can spray it on your damp or dry hair, and you only need two or three spritzes to give your hair lift, texture, and wave.  I love using it when I get out of the shower and when I’m leaving the pool, and I can feel the difference in my hair.  The one flaw is that it’s not the best size to throw in your bag and there’s no cap to keep it from spraying the insides of your purse.  That being said, here’s my second choice.

Sally Hershberger Glam Waves Texture Spray

Sally Hershberger Glam Waves also smells amazing and gives your hair some sexy, tousled waves, but I think you need more like five or six sprays and I don’t feel the same volumizing texture the first spray gives me.  However, the trade-off is that it’s small and capped so you can through it in your pool or beach bag and spritz your hair while you’re out romping around.

After the break-down, Not Your Mother’s is the cheaper option from about $5-$8 depending on where you buy it and Sally Hershberger rings in at $13.  The choice is yours, but you can’t go wrong with beach babe waves either way.

Both are sold at Urban Outfitters: Not Your Mother’s, Sally Hershberger

Gooey Butter Cookies

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The name says it all – these cookies are amazingly gooey, sweet, and delicious, AND they’re ridiculously easy to make.  They are native to my home town – created in St. Louis – and they are a widespread favorite.  I would make them at school for my roommates and boyfriend upon request and end up giving most of my batch away because they were so loved.  These cookies are a crowd-pleaser, and there’s no way to make them healthy.  But as they say, you can’t have your cookies and eat them, too…wait, you definitely can.  Here’s the recipe, so get baking!

Gooey Butter Cookies

Time: 30-40 minutes, Serving: approximately 25-30 small cookies

Preheat oven to 375°F and prepare baking pans with butter or non-stick cooking spray

Ingredients:

1 package of cream cheese (8 oz), softened

1 stick of butter, softened-almost melted

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 box of Super Moist Yellow Cake Mix**

1/2 heaping cup powdered sugar

Directions:

1) Stir together cream chees and butter in a large bowl until completely combined.

2) Stir in the egg and vanilla.

3) Stir in the cake mix until well blended

4) With powdered sugar in a small bowl next to your batter, roll dough into small balls (about a tablespoon in size), drop each ball of dough in your powdered sugar and turn it enough to coat, and set on prepared pans.  Space out the cookies so they have a little room to flatten and expand.

5) Bake for 8-12 minutes, checking on them and possibly allowing for an additional minute or two if they still look too gooey (the softness and the moist texture is part of what makes these cookies great, though, so try not to overcook).  When done, remove and set on cooling racks.

Note: As you can see in the photo, some of the cookies absorb a lot of the powdered sugar.  If desired, shake a little more on once they’re finished cooling.

**Any box of cake mix can be substituted for the Super Moist yellow cake, but use that for the original awesome cookies.  Regular yellow cake mix works great, too, and chocolate cake mix is a yummy way to make chocolate gooey butter cookies.  Try different mixes for different flavors.

Happy baking,

Chelsea

Original recipe from Betty Crocker

 

From Lost To Found

wild

A Book Review of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild

Plot Summary:

A national bestseller and a memoir of Cheryl Strayed’s experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, this nonfiction book is a gripping and emotional story of a woman rediscovering herself and finding salvation in nature.  Cheryl lost her mom to cancer when she was only twenty-two and it was a deeply heart-breaking time in her life.  The book begins with her detailing her close relationship with her mom and her experience growing up with a loving, devoted single mother.  She describes how stricken she was when doctors discovered that her mom had lung cancer and very little time left to live.  Cheryl took care of her mom until the day she died, and continuously felt the tragic loss for years after.  In the wake of that loss and without a father figure or a close relationship to her brother or sister, Cheryl self-destructed in many ways, including sleeping around and cheating on her husband and succumbing to a heroin addiction.  One day while shopping in REI she noticed a book called The Pacific Crest Trail, Volume 1: California.  She looked the book over and returned it to it’s shelf.  However, the idea of hiking the PCT on a solo adventure returned to her, and she made the impulsive decision, despite her lack of hiking experience, to make the trek.  The PCT is an extensive trail that travels across the country from the Mexican border in California to just north of the Canadian border, and it traces through 9 mountain ranges – the Laguna, San Jacinto, San Bernardino, San Gabriel, Liebre, Tehachapi, Sierra Nevada, Klamath, and Cascades.  Cheryl started in the Mojave Desert where she ripped the tags off of her new hiking equipment for the first time and was barely able to lift her massive backpack.  Without much preparation, Cheryl embarked on her three month long and 1,100 mile journey, and she narrates her experience with great detail.  After completing the hike, she felt much more than the physical accomplishment of what she completed; Cheryl felt like she was finally able to come to terms with her mother’s death and her divorce, and to find peace in her life.

cheryl

My Critical Opinion and Rating (3.5/5 stars):

Cheryl’s memoir of strength, of reclaiming her identity, and of finding peace in the great outdoors is a story of catharsis.  Her narration of her journey includes so many endearing details, my favorite of which is her nicknaming her giant backpack Monster and addressing it by that name.  She talks to animals during her hike, keeps score of how many toenails the PCT takes from her, and describes all of the intriguing people she meets while hiking.  She struggles to overcome boots which were a size to small, a surprising shortage of funds for food, and a threatening encounter on the trail.  I love the depictions of the beautiful landscapes throughout her hike as well as the details about the PCT.  I also love how she intertwines memories as she copes with and overcomes her past in the beauty and solitude she finds on the trail.  As a writer, she valued having books to read on her hike, so each resupply box had another book packed into it.  To relieve the weight she had to carry, she would burn pages of the books each night after reading them until they disappeared completely into the ashes.  I liked how reading in her tent after a challenging day on the trail was her requiescence because that is something I can relate to.

I have only a few qualms about the book, which lead me to give it a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5.  My first critique about the book is that I was not instantly grabbed by the language in the beginning and felt hesitant about committing to the read; however, I was delightfully captivated and I thoroughly enjoyed Cheryl’s memoir.  Another problem I have with her story is that I disagree with the extremely escapist viewpoint she possesses.  Her method of finding herself and rebuilding her life revolves around running away from her problems, hurting those around her, such as her husband, and giving up everything to camp for three months.  Many people face tragedy in their lives without cheating, doing hard drugs, having an abortion, and running away to the wilderness.  Along with that, she also bears the mentality that she is exceptional; this comes from the generosity she receives from strangers on the trail and from her ability to do it without training.  She is proud of her nickname as Queen of the PCT to say the least.

Overall, it was a beautifully recollected story of self-discovery and I would recommend the book as an excellent summer read, and I hope you enjoy it!  Also, I hear there is a movie coming out soon with Reese Witherspoon producing and playing Cheryl’s role.  It may be fun to read before seeing the film.

Happy reading,

Chelsea

For an excerpt from the book and for more info. go to Cheryl Strayed’s Website

Picture of Cheryl

BURGER BAR

I am really excited about this grilling out recipe called a Burger Bar, which was created by Tyler Florence at the Food Network if you’re interested in the original recipe.  The concept is to invite all your loved ones over for a barbecue and create an assortment of burger toppings all laid out for your guests to choose from and assemble their own perfect burger.  I thought it sounded awesome, so I had a little dinner party this past Friday to try it out.  Although we ended up eating inside because of the rain, it was a huge success and almost all of the food was devoured.

Chelsea’s Burger Bar

burger bar

As you can see, from the left are sesame seed burger buns, to bacon in the middle, and on the right the first ramekin has caramelized onions, behind that is sautéed mushrooms, and the third ramekin has dill pickles.  There’s a plate with tomato slices and lettuce, and to the right is a little glass ramekin of green onions for the potatoes.  There’s a plate of burger patties and behind it is a plate of BBQ chicken.  The casserole dish has my mom’s famous potatoes al gratin and lastly is a big, fresh bowl of salad.  Note: The important part about making a burger bar is to have enough to choose from for your guests.  For my family, caramelized onions were gone very quickly, so I should have doubled what I made, especially since they reduce a lot while cooking, and I could have made more bacon because it was a popular choice.  Ketchup and mustard were put out in addition to my homemade barbecue sauce, and everything was amazing!

Burger Bar Recipe:

For the burgers

I bought organic lean ground beef and mixed salt, pepper, and a few drops of Andria’s Steak Sauce into it while I molded it into burger patties which were about 1/4 inch thick and 4 inches wide.  A 2 pound package of ground beef made about 6 burgers.  I used my thumb to make an indent in the center of each patty so that they wouldn’t inflate on the grill.  Cook each side for about 3-5 minutes, and add cheese, if desired, in the last minute or two of cooking.  (I forgot all about the cheese, but the burgers were great anyways!) I adapted my burgers from this recipe.

For the chicken

Prepare the raw chicken breasts by patting dry with paper towels and cutting off any extra fat.  Season with salt and pepper and grill for about 6-8 minutes on each side.  After the chicken has been flipped and when it’s almost finished grilling, brush with barbecue sauce.  Flip again and get the other side coated with the delicious sauce, too.

For the bacon

Line a pan with aluminum foil and lay the bacon out on the foil piece by piece.  Once the oven is preheated to 425 degrees, cook the bacon for about 8-10 minutes.  Pull it out and if it needs a little longer, flip the pieces of bacon and return to the oven for an additional minute or two.  When it’s completely finished, put it on a plate covered with paper towels and pat the tops with paper towels as well to absorb the excess grease.

For the caramelized onions

1) Take a big, sweet yellow onion and 2) peel off the exterior layer, 3) cut the top and bottom off, then 4) slice it in half, widthwise so that you have the top half and the bottom half separated.  5) Slice each of those halves in half across the diameter so that you’re cutting the circular onion rings down the middle.  6) Lay the side that you have just cut on the board, and slice the rest of the onion into half rings.

Slicing technique before caramelizing:

Step 1           ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a sauté pan and add all of your chopped onions.  Salt the onions and cook on medium heat, adding water whenever needed to keep the onions cooking for 10-15 minutes.  Once they start to look soft, add about 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and stir.  When they are completely soft and browned and simmering, take them off the stove and put them in a serving bowl.

For the sautéed mushrooms

Rinse off baby portabella mushrooms and dry with paper towels and then slice thinly.  Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan and add the mushrooms, cooking on medium heat.  Add salt and pepper and a little lemon juice for extra flavor (my preference) and cook for about 5-8 minutes.  They will look soft, darker, and saturated with oil when finished.  Set aside in serving bowl.

Homemade barbecue sauce

In a saucepan on the stove, stir together and heat 1 cup of ketchup, 1 cup of tomato sauce, 3/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of butter on medium/high heat.  Add salt and pepper, and about 1/2 teaspoon each of chili powder, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic salt, and paprika, and a dash of cinnamon.  Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce (maybe about 1/2 a tablespoon).  Taste it, and add a little more brown sugar if you want a sweeter BBQ sauce, or a little more cayenne if you want a spicier sauce, adjust spices as necessary.  After about 5 minutes, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15-25 minutes, the longer it simmers, the thicker the sauce will become.  I like a thicker sauce so I simmered mine for closer to 25 minutes.   Brush the sauce on the chicken when it’s almost finished grilling, then flip and brush the other side with more sauce.  Serve the extra sauce as a topping in your burger bar.  Save any leftover sauce in the fridge for up to three weeks – another great use for it is a pizza base to make a barbecue pizza.  Sauce adapted from Big Al’s recipe.

For the tomatoes and lettuce

I bought two large, red beefsteak tomatoes, but I only sliced one for serving, and still had some leftover.  Tomatoes are not a popular choice for my family members, but it’s still a good idea to offer it as a topping.  I bought a bundle of romaine lettuce, washed it off and dried it with paper towels, and broke each long leaf of lettuce in half.

The cheesy potatoes al gratin were an excellent side choice and were raved about by my family members.  I’ll post the recipe soon, so check back in! I think it’s also necessary to have a big salad made as a side as well.  Other sides could include coleslaw, baked potatoes, potato chips, fruit salad, or pasta salad.  Get creative with it and make fun burger bar of your own.

Happy grilling!

Chelsea