Monday, June 22, 2015

RECIPE :: Cincinnati Chili Dog + 5 BBQ Essentials

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

Cinci chili dog, hot dog recipe,summer grilling, what a grill wants, coney

Summertime is finally and officially here and to me that means the beginning of the grilling season. I love cooking on the grill and the many amazing creations you can whip up in the summertime that are made easier by grilling. To me, grilling just tastes better and there is definitely a freshness to it that you can not get cooking in your kitchen. My favorite thing about cooking out in the summer is the FOOD! There are so many options when grilling out and I love pairing up fun side dishes, yummy desserts and making it as elaborate or as simple as I want.

Cincy coney, summer grilling, BBQ essentials, summer BBQ, hot dog toppings
patriotic decor, red white & blue, applie pie, cookies, BBQ food, stars

I love to entertain and I love to make any event into something fun even if it is a simple BBQ. I'm really into the whole 'less is more' lately, when planning a BBQ, a party or any event. Maybe I am finally learning to make it easier on myself , I don't now but it is so much easier when you shoot for simple. My motto now is 'make it simple, but make it memorable!' You can do both with just a few items. So I put together this simple "5 BBQ Essentials" for this summer. These are my must-haves to have some entertaining fun!

  • Outdoor tableware items - all of the stores have super cute summer tableware items in stock right now, so grab a fun outdoor tablecloth, some plastic baskets, basket liners, glasses and a few summer decor items. Remember to coordinate them to pull your BBQ look together.
  • Activities - plan to have a few activities to keep people entertained while they are waiting to eat or to do afterwards. Some of my faves are a fun bean bag toss game, horseshoes or grab the kids and color on the driveway with a new box of colored chalk! I particularly still enjoy that one! ;)

  • Decor - find seasonal items that you can use for multiple occasions. For instance, I grabbed these stars and accordian fan decorations at Target about a month ago and can use them for Memorial Day, 4th of July, summer BBQs and also birthdays as the colors work well for all of them. I also like to pick up fun table items like little pinwheel picks to place in food or colored cups to put side dishes in when having a BBQ. Keep your eyes open for these type of items to have on hand.

  • Drinks - I think the summer months bring out the best drink ideas. Maybe that's because they taste the best, right? ;) Serve up your favorite cocktails and mocktails or if we are keeping up with the simple theme, grab some fun drinks at the grocery to enjoy with your BBQ. Just choose various colors to add some pop, to your decor.

  • Food - as we all know, planning a BBQ can be as elaborate or as simple as you want. For this post, I went super simple to prove it can be done. I decided on a simple regional hot dog recipe (which I will share in a minute), grabbed some cole slaw, a bag of chips and pre-made desserts! What? Yup my goal was to not make a thing. Aside from chopping an onion, heating up the chili and grilling the dogs, I managed to do it! ;)

summer BBQ, Cincinnati coney dog, coleslaw, outdoor BBQ food
drink ideas for a BBQ, bottles cola, patriotic table, chips, summer grill

4th of July, BBQ table, summer grilling, apple pie, stars, red white & blue

I would be curious if any of you have your own regional hot dog recipe. Ours has been around for as long as I can remember and it is definitely a fave in this area! 

Here is the super easy recipe for the Cincinnati Chili style Hot Dog:
you will need hot dog buns, hot dogs, Cincinnati style chili, shredded cheddar cheese, mustard and chopped onions.
(The combination of franks and these toppings may not be Kosher.)

how to make a Cincy coney dog, Cincinnati chili style hot dog, ingredients

Step 1: place a hot dog, I am using Hebrew National hot dogs here, on the bun

hot dogs, grilled, making a hot dog, hot dog bun, how to build a hot dog

Step 2: top with the prepared Cincinnati style chili

how to build a Cincy style coney dog, grilled hot dogs, Cincinnati chili

Step 3: add mustard

mustard on Cincinnati chili style hot dog, how to make a chili dog

Step 4: add a heaping mound of the shredded cheddar cheese and trust me, the MORE, the better! AND once you add some more, go ahead and add even more! That's how we roll with our dawgs! ;)

mounds of cheese on Cincinnati chili dog, how to make a chili hot dog

Step 5: finish off with some diced onions
(The combination of franks and these toppings may not be Kosher.)

step by step on how to make a Cincinnati style coney dog, diced onions

I picked up all of the ingredients for this at my local Kroger but I am sure you can find them at most places. However right now you can save up to $2 on Hebrew National products at Kroger and Kroger banner stores this summer, so grab them up. I picked up the Beef Franks and the Reduced Fat Beef Franks as they are a premium cut of beef. They also have Bun-Length Beef Franks available if you'd like those. All varieties do not contain fillers, corn syrup, artificial coloring, flavors or by-product. Good to know right?

in store photo of Hebrew National hot dogs, chili dog, hot dogs, Kroger

5 BBQ essentials, Hebrew National hot dogs, what a grill wants, summertime

If you liked this recipe, you can also check out even more recipes at Hebrew National hot dogs on their Facebook page.

What recipe have you whipped up using Hebrew National hot dogs? Please comment below and share how you top yours . . .

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Monday, June 15, 2015

DIY CRAFT :: for the DOG + Chili pics

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are always mine alone. #1StopPetShop #CollectiveBias

DIY dog craft, Chili, hand lettered craft, Iams, 1stoppetshop, Target

Here's a story. About a pup named Chili. Who was living with three humans of his own. He was very loved. Living all together. But the girl was the chosen one . . . 

So we may or may not have recently been watching old episodes of the Brady Bunch which inspired my opening statement here (LOL) but I thought it worked as I do want to catch you up on the story with Chili our pup and show you a super easy and super crafty way to personalize your favorite pup's eating area! 

This girl & her dog are just about the sweetest thing to see together as they are best buds and have so much fun together. Since this is her first dog, I really wanted a smaller dog for her so she feels like she could handle him and be able to be his 'momma'. It will be TWO years soon that we have had him and it is still one of the best decisions I ever made. Chili has taught my daughter so much in such a short time. Of course he has taught her all about the normal things like responsibility, taking care of someone, structure, diligence and of course how to have some major FUN but it's the other attributes of having a dog that have mattered the most to her. Chili has taught her forgiveness. Trust. Unconditional love. Consideration. Compassion. When you decide to get a dog, you don't think about those things being taught but it's a HUGE bonus that has happened and this little pup that we named Chili, has shown her all of those things. And let me tell you it makes this momma's heart just melt.

My wish is that he will be around for her for a long time. Fortunately for her, this breed has a long lifespan and she even did the Math the other day and realized that she could still have him once she gets out of college! I sure hope so because there is soooooo much these two give each other on a daily basis and I enjoy watching them and what they're up to every day . . . from snuggles on the couch, to daily walks, playing with all of his bazillion toys she loves to buy him, teaching him the latest 'trick' and being best friends!

Disclaimer: cute puppy photos are next! You've been warned!! ;)

Chili story, benefits of having a dog,crafting for your dog, dog snuggles
Chili the pup, photo of dog, puppy love, kids and their dogs

Chili the pup, walking the dog, staying active with your dog, dog exercise
cute puppies, benefits of having a dog, a girl and her dog, Target, Iams
dog bow tie, Chili the pup, cute dog, small breed dog, Iams, Target

dog with a birthday hat on, cute dog, Chili the pup, puppy love, bow tie

One of my favorite things to do every week, with my daughter, is hit our local Target because hey . . . you can never tire of that place, I say! ;) She is always wanting to spend her allowance money, look for a new toy for Chili and just chill with her momma while perusing the aisles for deals. Teaching her young I say, right? ;) I mean seriously our typical routine is to grab a drink, hit the Dollar Spot and then whip out my phone to see the latest Cartwheel savings deal & then we're off! 

On our trip this past week, she of course wanted to check out the dog toys to make sure there weren't any new ones he didn't have yet as she is constantly thinking about her BFF and we love that the pet section has everything we need there. One stop and done is the way to go right? When we first got Chili I was so thankful that Target had everything we needed so I am not running around to multiple places, getting what he needs. Helloooooo, I'm at Target every week anyway so it's just so nice to be able to pick up what we need and they have a great selection. Like I said, the girl is always wanting to pick up the latest toy they have and I am pretty sure we have almost all of them - not kidding. For example, Chili just had his second birthday a couple weeks ago and we got him a spiffy new bow tie there (see pic above), a new collar, several new toys, a chew bone, some treats and a water bottle for when we are out walking with him. I mean he now has his own water bottle!!!!! This boy is so spoiled! ;) 

Anyways, this trip we needed to pick up some dog food too. IAMS just happened to have a deal going on through the Cartwheel app so we grabbed a bag of it for Chili to try! Make sure to get the deal when you go too! (And if you have a cat, there's a savings for you too: IAMS cat dry food and IAMS wet cat food)  Hello, saving money like a boss! I am pretty picky about what we feed Chili too as I want him to lead a healthy life and I know it's important from what Chili's vet has said, to find something that helps keep his teeth and gums healthy and dry food can do that. It's also necessary for me to give him something to promote healthy digestion for his breed, reduce tartar buildup, help boost his immunity and the IAMS brand believes that the right diet can do great things for our dogs, so we got him the IAMS dry food to help with his daily needs. I like that it has different varieties to choose from depending on your dog's stage in life and needs they may have. And I feel good knowing I am doing my part to keep her best friend around as long as I can. =)

Target shopping, dog food, pet supplies at Target, Iams dog food, one stop shop

We were feeling kinda crafty on this trip as well and she wanted to make something for who else, Chili, so we checked out the craft aisle for some ideas and we came up with an idea to do a customized place mat for the kitchen. She wanted us both to do something on the place mat so I decided I would hand letter his name on it and she would put some of her doodles on it to make it extra special.

STEPS for customizing a place mat for the dog:

1. First, grab a few supplies for your project. You will need a place mat (I used one that could be wiped off - for obvious reasons), a pencil, some permanent markers or paint or whatever you would like to use to draw with.

supplies needed, personalized place mat for your dog, pet crafts, Sharpies

2. I started by drawing it out on a scrap piece of paper first, so I could be sure of my design and if I was going to like the way it looked. Then sketched it on my place mat in pencil.

sketch, hand lettering, crafts for your dog, place mat, paw print

3. Next take your markers and color in your design as you would like it to look.

Sharpie marker, hand lettered place mat, hand lettering, personalization

4. Finally, have your kid draw some doodles on to make it fun and extra special! She chose to just do white dots with a chalkboard marker to give it some pop and keep it simple. ;)

Chili the pup, Chalkboard marker, place mat from Target, dog craft

I love doing these type of fun crafts with my daughter, especially when we get to enjoy seeing others using them. I think this looks great in our kitchen and Chili will be eating his meals in style now. 

Iams dog food, dog crafting, dog bowls, DIY pet crafts, small breed

Chili the pup, hand lettered place mat, crafts to make for your dog, Iams

So how do you like the way it turned out? I love it and hopefully you will give it a try as well as it's super easy! Remember you can pick up the supplies for this craft as well as your bag of IAMS dog food to try, the next time you are doing some shopping at Target! Maybe I'll see ya there! ;)

Have you created any special items and spoiled your pet lately? I would love to hear something you have done for that special pet in your life. Let me know below . . .

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Friday, June 12, 2015

FREE Father's Day Art Print + Dessert Table Idea

Cold Stone, hand lettered art print, orange & blue decor, peanuts, dad

Father's Day is fast approaching and I think it's always a great time to reflect on the relationships with our fathers, step-fathers or the father figures in our lives. It gives us a chance to let them know how special they are to us and what a difference they have made in our lives. I know some may think this day is silly as we should be celebrating our loved ones every day . . . to which I would respond 'that is true' . . . however, to have a complete day devoted to those special guys I think is pretty cool. So cool in fact that I was inspired to create a new hand lettered art print to celebrate the day along with you and this time I'm offering it as a FREE download! YAY! Not only am I going to share a simple way to celebrate all of the fathers, dads, pops or whatever endearing name you choose to call this person, but I'm also offering a gift that you can give, to show them just how much they mean to you!

ice cream cake, Cold Stone Creamery, oranges, blueberries, cake stand

fathers day art print, dad, wood frame, Cold Stone, hand lettering

ice cream cake, cake stand, father's day art print, special person to be a dad
orange slices, ice cream cake, blueberries, Cold Stone Creamery, art print 

I love simple celebrations. You know the ones. The ones where you can just grab a few things you already have around the house and turn it into something special to celebrate an occasion . . . those are my fave! 

For this Father's Day dessert table idea I knew I wanted to keep it on the 'masculine' side without a lot of frills but I wanted to add some bold colors too. I also wanted to make sure and add some of his favorite things to munch on plus aim for that perfect balance of salty and sweet on the table. 

  • For the background, I kept it simple using some kraft paper and for the  banner I used a roll of wrapping paper I had, cut it into strips, taped the tops down over some rope and done. A fun festive banner that took about 5 minutes! Simple but yet adds so much color to the overall table!
  • On the kitchenette table I used a few placemats to create a simple design, added a few dishes and cake stands, then made sure the layout looked good before putting everything in it's place. I always lay them out empty before adding the final food idea - keeps it easier for me.
  • My goal with the food was to incorporate a little salty with the sweet but not have a ton of food either. I decided on some shelled peanuts spilling out onto the table for ease of grabbing. Those delicious orange slice candies in a small dish as my candy item. Then I set some fresh oranges and blueberries out to enjoy as well since I had them in the infused blueberry and orange pitcher of water I made.
  • The centerpiece was our family's favorite ice cream cake from Cold Stone Creamery, called “Tall, Dark & Delicious”, with some fresh blueberries surrounding the base, because as I have told you before . . .it IS the best! Just imagine the layers of moist Devil’s Food Cake, Sweet Cream Ice Cream with Brownies & Chocolate Ice Cream with OREO® Cookies wrapped in fluffy White Frosting and cascading Fudge Ganache. Doesn't that just sound fabulous? This is WHY it's a fave in my house! This is my third time partnering up with my friends at Cold Stone Creamery and it's because we LOVE them! You may remember my "hero" themed dessert table I did last year in partnership with them. The best part of getting these cakes every year, is how simple it is to get . . .  I just order online at and pick it up! Doesn't get much easier than that and have I mentioned the fact that there is always leftovers??!! Oh my YUM!
  • To keep the decor simple, I just added a few pieces like the lantern on the candlestick holder, some small decorative plates, added the drinking straws, dessert plates and napkins and you have an amazingly simple set-up all ready to celebrate the daddys out there!

ice cream cake, art print, peanuts, oranges, orange slices, infused water
oranges, infused water, blueberries, Pier 1 glasses, cake stand, woven placemat
hand lettered art print, ice cream cake, Cold Stone, peanuts, blueberries
father's day dessert, ice cream cake, Cold Stone Creamery, blueberries
Cold Stone, ice cream cake, hand lettered art print, Father's day idea

ice cream cake, cake stand, Cold Stone, dessert table ideas, Father's Day
celebrate Father's Day, ice cream cake, Cold Stone, art print, dessert

As I mentioned, I was inspired to design a hand lettered FREEBIE for you to download, so you can gift it to your dad this year. The 'anyone can be a father but it takes a special person to be a DAD' hand lettered art print! It's very simple to download, simply click on this FREE Father's Day Art Print link, print and then frame it up and you have a nice gift to hand to your pops this Father's Day! I have also made it easy for you with two different sizes I am offering in this print: a 5x7 Father's Day art print or the 8x10 Father's Day art print! They are both created using the same colors of navy with a touch of orange but come in two sizes.

So go. Print this off so you can check off a gift for the pops from your 'to-do' list and make sure to visit Cold Stone Creamery for your dessert so you can enjoy a slice of heaven this Father's Day!

peanuts, Father's Day art print, dad, orange candy, ice cream cake
hand lettered art print, hand lettering, anyone can be a father but it takes a special person to be a dad

slice of ice cream cake, Cold Stone, dessert table, dad, fathers, pops
sliced ice cream cake, Cold Stone, oranges, blueberries, dessert ideas

slice of ice cream cake, Cold Stone Creamery, dessert plate, white plate

Happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there and the people who step in and play the part of 'dad'. We need you. We love you. We celebrate YOU!

free download, free art print for fathers day, hand lettered art print for dad

Make sure if you are on Instagram to tag Cold Stone Creamery with you and your dad eating that slice of this yummy cake! They would love to see it! Or tweet Cold Stone if you prefer and let them know what you think of this amazing treat!

What will you be doing this Father's Day? Let me know below . . .

** Thanks for helping me support the companies that help make this blog possible. This post was sponsored by Cold Stone Creamery but all opinions were my own. I truly only share with you, companies and products that I use or enjoy simple because I know you will love them too.

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Looking forward to seeing you again! :)