The Grapevine: Must Have Game Day Snacks

It’s that time again! Time to share a little love!

I love fall, and everything about it. Over the weekend we went on a little road trip and it made my heart happy to see that the leaves were beginning to change. The evenings are getting cooler, the drinks get warmer. I love it!

The Grapevine: Must Have Game Day Snacks

Part of fall is the food! Of course I love pumpkin and apples as much as the next girl, but I do love the snack food that comes with football games, and get togethers. So I have a round up of some of the very best snack foods for all your fall get togethers!

Here we go!

And just in case you needed a little more inspiration here are some of my favorites!

Pizza Puffs

Pizza Puffs

Jalapeno Ranch Dip

Skinny Jalapeno Ranch Dip

Green Chili Chicken Ranch Dip...super easy dip that is full of flavor! #glutenfree

Green Chili Chicken Ranch Dip

Crab and Artichoke Dip

Crab and Artichoke Dip

Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Peppers, an easy, cheap, weeknight meal your whole family will love! This is SO good!

Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Peppers

Italian Baked Mushrooms

Italian Baked Mushrooms


Italian Veggie Sliders with Whipped Pesto+Feta Spread

 The ultimate vegetarian slider packed with fresh zucchini, mini sweet peppers, basil leaves and a creamy whipped Pesto and Feta Spread! 

Italian Veggie Sliders with Feta+Pesto Spread. Finally, a vegetarian appetizer that everyone will love! #glutenfree

Since Football season is in full swing the big question every week is “What are you making for the game?!”

As a person who is totally indifferent to football, I am kind of glad that food seems to be a big way to “get into the game” because it makes me feel like I am a true Southerner who is actually celebrating game day. So, I will gladly put on my florescent orange t shirt, make snacks, and Pinterest while my husband screams at the television.

Italian Veggie Sliders with Feta+Pesto Spread

The only bad thing about it is that all traditional game day snacks are so darn unhealthy. I am totally up for an ooey, gooey, cheesy snack but eating it week after week is a little much. So I have been experimenting with some lighter, healthier game day options. I finally struck gold over the weekend with these beautiful Italian Veggie Sliders with Whipped Pesto+Feta Spread. Seriously, these little guys are kind of a miracle.

Italian Veggie Sliders with Feta+Pesto Spread

It is so simple, I just toss some sliced zucchini and mini sweet peppers in a little olive oil and a few spices, cooked them in a skillet until they were tender and had browned a little bit, toasted some rolls, made this super easy spread and called it a day! You could make a pretty big batch of these in under 20 minutes. I served them with the Pesto Chicken Sweet Peppers for the perfect, filling but healthy game day snack.

Italian Veggie Sliders with Feta+Pesto Spread

Italian Veggie Sliders with Whipped Feta+Pesto Spread, the BEST vegetarian sliders ever!!

These will be making a regular appearance around our table, healthy, easy, and super easy!

Italian Veggie Sliders with Whipped Pesto+Feta Spread
Recipe type: Appetizer, Main Dish, Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
  • 4-6 rolls (I used Udi's gluten free rolls)
  • 2 medium size zucchini, sliced fairly thickly
  • 8 mini sweet peppers, sliced fairly thickly
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon italian seasoning
  • ⅛ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup crumbled reduced fat feta cheese
  • 1½ tablespoon basil pesto
  • 2 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4-6 basil leaves (one or two leaves per slider)
  1. Heat a large skillet to medium heat.
  2. Toss the sliced zucchini and the sliced sweet peppers with the olive oil and the spices in a large ziplock bag.
  3. Lightly spray the skillet with cooking spray and add the veggies in a single layer (this may take two batches to get it all)
  4. Cook the vegetables for approximately 2 minutes on each side until they are tender and beginning to brown a bit.
  5. Remove vegetables from skillet and add the sliced halves of the rolls to the skillet to lightly toast them. Approximately 1 minute.
  6. Remove rolls from heat
  7. Combine the feta cheese, cream cheese and basil in a small blender or food process and pulse approximately 30 seconds until well combined.
  8. To assemble the sliders stack the zucchini and pepper slices on the rolls, top with basil leaves, spread a thick layer of the spread over the top half of the bun and close.


*I used Udi’s dinner rolls, which are pretty large for rolls. I got 5 very full sandwiches with this recipe.

If you are using something like the little hawaiian bread rolls this will make closer to 6-8 sliders for you.


Slow Cooker Jalapeño Ranch Carnitas with Cilantro Lime Slaw

Jalapeño Ranch Slow Cooker Carnitas with Cilantro Lime Slaw...your family will LOVE these! So easy and super impressive! #glutenfree

Over the years, my Mother has developed a bit of an obsession. She collects hoards something super unusual…crock pots.

My Mom LOVES her crock pots. She has every size and shape known to man. The bottom shelves of her pantry are filled with various slow cookers stacked inside one other and on top of each other. Yet every year when Black Friday rolls around my dear Mother will brave the cold and the crazy crowds and head to the the local Wal-mart. She comes home with some odds and ends and always, always a $5 crock pot.

And what did she ask for for Christmas last year? Another crock pot.

Over the years, I have found my Mom’s love of slow cookers to be oddly comforting. Whenever I drag out one of my slow cookers, which were gifts from my Mom, I think of her. If I am browsing through the kitchen section at a store and a crock pot catches my eye I like to think that is a little of my Mom in me. I love it. Sometimes the most unusual and unexpected things make me feel a little closer to home.

Jalapeño Ranch Slow Cooker Carnitas with Cilantro Lime Slaw

So, whenever I create a good slow cooker recipe I always have to share it with my Mom and sisters because, well because our love of crock pots is genetic. :)

These Jalapeño Ranch Carnitas are a game changer. They are so unbelievably easy and full of flavor. It makes a super impressive dinner with hardly any effort at all. These carnitas are topped with a Cilantro Lime Slaw, which is really simple and helps pull all of the flavors together. Here is how we do it!

Jalapeño Ranch Slow Cooker Carnitas with Cilantro Lime Slaw...your family will LOVE this! #glutenfree

For the carnitas you just throw a pork loin and five other simple ingredients in your crock pot and let it simmer on low all day. That is it! No precooking, no weird ingredients, this will take you literally two minutes to throw together in the morning before you go to work.

After 8 hours, you just shred the meat. This won’t be difficult, it will basically just fall apart. Place your meat on a lined baking sheet and broil it for a minute or two until it gets nice and crisp. YUM! Then drizzle a bit of the juice from the crock pot over the crisp meat. This is the key to having super fantastic majorly flavorful carnitas, do not skip that step!

Then just whip up the slaw and warm some corn tortillas and you have a guest worthy meal on your hands with hardly any effort at all!

Slow Cooker Jalapeño Ranch Carnitas with Cilantro Lime Slaw
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4+
  • For the Carnitas
  • 2 pounds pork loin
  • 1 package ranch seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 sliced fresh jalapeño
  • 1 12 ounce bottle of beer (I used Red Bridge)
  • For the Cilantro Lime Slaw
  • 3 cups slaw mix
  • ¼ cup diced red pepper
  • 1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  1. For the Jalapeño Ranch Carnitas
  2. Spray the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray.
  3. Place the pork loin fat side down in the slow cooker.
  4. Top with ranch seasoning, minced garlic, cumin, and the freshly sliced jalapeño. I did not seed the jalapeño and did not think it was spicy.
  5. Pour the bottle of beer right over the top.
  6. Let cook on low 8 hours.
  7. After it has cooked for 8 hours, shred the meat with a fork, it should just fall apart.
  8. Do not discard the juice from the slow cooker.
  9. Using a parchment paper or foil lined baking sheet place the shreds of meat in a single layer.
  10. Turn your broiler on high and set the meat under your broiler. Let it broil for 1-2 minutes until crisp. (WATCH CLOSELY!!!) Keep an eye on the meat, as every oven heats differently, yours may get crisp quicker than mine did.
  11. When meat is crisp spoon some of the juice from the slow cooker over the top (this is key, do not skip this step)
  12. To make the Cilantro Lime Slaw:
  13. Add the slaw mix, chopped red pepper and jalapeños to a mixing bowl.
  14. In a small bowl or measuring cup combine the oil, vinegar, cilantro, slices, and lime juice. Stir well.
  15. Pour over slaw and stir.
  16. Keep cool until ready to serve.
  17. (I personally like the slaw best when it has had time to sit and let the flavors meld. It can be made and served immediately, but I like it best if it has set for an hour or two.)
  18. To assemble carnitas:
  19. Heat a stack of corn tortillas.
  20. Place meat and slaw in tortilla and garnish with additional juice from the slow cooker, or lime juice.

*A few tips: The slaw in the pictures is the broccoli slaw mix. I have since used regular slaw mix and I think I prefer the regular cabbage mix. However, both worked great.

If you prefer not to use beer 1 1/2 cups of Dr. Pepper or beef broth would be a great substitute!





Loaded Baked Potato Pizza

What can be better than potatoes, bacon, ranch and cheese?! All the things you love about a Loaded Baked Potato in Pizza form! 

Loaded Baked Potato Pizza...all the things you love about a baked potato, in pizza form!

I have recently taken up running.

Before you roll your eyes, let me clarify, that is not a humble brag to tell you how fit I am. Actually, it is the opposite. It is because I got married last year and wore a verrrryyyy teeny tiny tight wedding dress that is currently hanging in my closet staring at me.

The dress is actually haunting me to be totally honest with you. I lost weight before the wedding, not a ton, but we were getting married in Jamaica and there would be bathing suits, and summer dresses, and well you know, Pinterest got the best of me and I dropped a couple pounds. At the time, I don’t remember it being difficult. It must have been that engagement bliss or something because I just kind of decided to lose weight and I did.

Loaded Baked Potato Pizza...all the things you love about a baked potato, in pizza form!

However, after the wedding I started this whole food blog thing and my life became a constant struggle between fitting in my skinny jeans and eating whatever I want. So, I decided it was time to get back to the gym.

I have taken up running….on the treadmill at the gym at least 3 days a week. I hate it. I mean, truly hate it. I watch the people around me who look like they belong on the front of a magazine running so smoothly and gracefully, the girls on either side of me have on super cute matching workout clothes, high pony tails, and have hardly broken a sweat. I am wearing soffe shorts ( at nearly 26 I think I am too old for them) and a tshirt from high school that is covered in paint, gasping for breath and running like Phoebe on Friends.

I will tell you one thing, It ain’t cute.

Nevertheless, I keep trudging along. Albeit slowly, and very ungracefully.

Loaded Baked Potato Pizza...all the things you love about a baked potato, in pizza form!

One thing that I have noticed since I have been running is that I can’t get full. I feel like I am starving all of the time! So, I have gone a bit over board with our dinners lately. This pizza is one of my favorites, it has a creamy ricotta ranch sauce, topped with sliced onions and potatoes, covered in cheese and baked until it is gold and bubbly. Then topped with bacon and green onions. Basically, everything that is good about a loaded baked potato!

I know this Loaded Baked Potato Pizza isn’t the picture of health, but hey, runners need carbs, right?! ;)

Loaded Baked Potato Pizza
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 medium or 1 large
  • 3-4 large red potatoes
  • 3-4 sliced of bacon
  • 1 small white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 package ranch seasoning
  • ¾ cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1¼ cup shredded cheese (I used mozzaerlla and cheddar)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped green onions.
  • Pizza crust*
  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, fry bacon slices until crisp on each side, remove from heat and set aside on a paper towel.
  3. In the same large skillet or a sauce pan fill with water and bring water to a boil. Add the potatoes, and reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. After 15 minutes, check to make sure the potatoes are fork tender. If they aren't give them another 5 minutes.
  5. When potatoes are tender remove from water, slice into fairly thin slices and set aside.
  6. Mix the ranch seasoning, ricotta and sour cream.
  7. Spread the ranch mixture on the crust, top with sliced onion, sliced potatoes, and top with cheese.
  8. Bake pizzas for 20 minutes.
  9. Top with chopped bacon and green onions.
  10. *I used Udi's gluten free pizza crust. This makes two medium size pizzas or one large pizza.


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Dark Chocolate Chunk Protein Muffins

Double Chocolate Chunk Protein Muffins are a quick and easy breakfast that packs in the protein and looks way more sinful than it really is!

Double Chocolate Chunk Protein Muffins..very easy! You would never guess they are gluten free!

I have two dogs.

If you have been reading long you already know this. I am the crazy dog lady and I am 100% okay with that.

When we got our second dog, Copper, a yellow labrador retriever it was under the intention that he would be a duck dog. If you are not from the South and are not familiar with the gravity of the term “duck dog” let me just give you a quick run down.

Duck season is November-January. Duck hunters are super crazy men who get up at 3am (or EARLIER) and get in a boat in the freezing cold weather, climb into a duck blind (this is a fancy name for a stick house or hut of some sort) and wait for shooting time (sun rise) and then try to kill as many ducks as possible before they “limit out.” Endless hours are spent mapping the land and monitoring the migration patterns of ducks. Hundreds Thousands of dollars are spent on this hobby. The wives of duck hunters know far more than they should about waterfowl. They endure endless quacking by their husbands, patch waders, undoubtedly have a frozen duck in their freezer, and have more hunting magazines delivered to their house than any other item. The holy grail of duck hunting is to have a duck dog. A lean, mean, duck retrieving machine. A dog that is as dedicated to the hunt as the hunter is, a dog that eats, sleeps, and breathes waterfowl.

Double Chocolate Chunk Protein Muffins..very easy! You would never guess they are gluten free!

It isn’t a hobby, it is a way of life, at least that is what my husband tells me.

When I started dating Mr. Maebell we were in high school, and I was totally sure his passion for this would wear off. Keep in mind I was a vegetarian at the time and was totally disgusted with this. I had my animal cruelty speech down pat. I am fairly certain he had it memorized. Time went on and every year he was more excited than the year before. College didn’t change it and moving away didn’t change it. Alas, I eventually accepted the fact that I married a man who will read the Cabela’s and Mack’s Prairie Wings catalog religiously and will own more duck calls than I own shoes.

So, last year we got Copper. For the last year the two have been inseparable. He has worked with him and trained him all in hopes he would someday have the reputation of a true “duck dog.”

Last weekend, was the opening of wood duck and teal season. It is kind of like a warm up for the real thing which starts in two months. Personally, I didn’t care a thing about it. I also don’t care if Copper ever retrieves a single duck in his life. But watching the excitement and anticipation that my husband had over the last few weeks was a bit contagious. I found myself secretly being very hopeful. Luckily, I think Copper lived up to the grand expectations that Mr. Maebell had.  Here are a few pictures from the weekend.

Double Chocolate Chunk Protein Muffins..very easy! You would never guess they are gluten free! Double Chocolate Chunk Protein Muffins..very easy! You would never guess they are gluten free! Double Chocolate Chunk Protein Muffins..very easy! You would never guess they are gluten free!

Double Chocolate Chunk Protein Muffins..very easy! You would never guess they are gluten free! Double Chocolate Chunk Protein Muffins..very easy! You would never guess they are gluten free!  Double Chocolate Chunk Protein Muffins..very easy! You would never guess they are gluten free!

So, since it looks like I will have two very busy fellows this winter I have been working on good grab and go recipes. I really love these peanut butter protein muffins, but I have been experimenting with other muffins that are packed with protein. I have got to tell you. These take the cake.

Double Chocolate Chunk Protein Muffins..very easy! You would never guess they are gluten free!

Actually, they taste like chocolate cake, to be exact. :) They are super simple and can be thrown together in no time at all. It is a one bowl, no mess kind of recipe you will love!

Double Chocolate Chunk Protein Muffins..very easy! You would never guess they are gluten free!

Dark Chocolate Chunk Protein Muffins
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
  • 1 cup of gluten free Bisquick
  • ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 3.9 ounce package dry chocolate pudding mix
  • ⅓ cup protein powder (I used chocolate flavored Myofusion)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1⅓ cup milk
  • ½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Spray a standard size muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.
  3. Mix the flour, oats, pudding mix, protein powder, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add the milk and eggs until the batter is well combined.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Scoop into muffin tin (an ice cream scoop makes this easy) and bake for 20 minutes.