Monday, December 9, 2019

Recipe: Shepherd's Pie

I love a good Shepherd's Pie. I often order it in restaurants and really loved when I visited Scotland, Ireland and England because it was served everywhere. Now traditionally, it is served with lamb or rabbit, but I make it using ground beef. I have tried many recipes off Pinterest and never found one that I loved. I did find one that I liked, but then started tweaking it myself as time went on. I think I have perfected it. It is simple, but really good. Plus, my family loves it.

Serves 6

1 1/4 to 1/3 lbs ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 large carrots (or 3 medium carrots)
1 cup frozen peas
3 lbs potatoes (I usually use red or yellow.)
1 stick butter
3/4 cup beef broth
3/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika

Recipe: Shepherd's Pie

Make It:

1. Peel and cut potatoes into small chunks (around 1/2 inch to 1 inch). Boil in large pot for about 20 minutes until tender. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

2. While the potatoes cook, melt 3 tbl of butter in a skillet/pan over medium heat. Saute the onions and carrots for 10 minutes or until tender. Once cooked, take the veggies out and put into a bowl and cover.
Recipe: Shepherd's Pie

3. Brown your ground beef until no longer pink. Then drain the fat. This is important, so you don't have fat pockets pop up when you bake the Shepherd's Pie. Season your meat with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder to your liking.

4. Add your onions, carrots, frozen peas back into the pan with the ground beef. Add in the Worcestershire sauce and a half cup of the beef broth. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to medium low for 5 minutes.
Recipe: Shepherd's Pie

5. Make a flour paste. I use about 1 tbl flour and 1/4 cups of cold water. You want to make sure the paste is a bit runny. Add in the remaining 1/4 cup of beef broth and then make a well in the center of the mixture. Add in the flour paste to the center of the well and mix it in. It should make a gravy within your meat mixture.
Recipe: Shepherd's Pie

6. Mash your potatoes with butter, milk and pepper. I make these according to how my family enjoys them.

7. Place your beef into a baking dish and then add your mashed potatoes on top. Make sure to cover the beef mixture entirely. Then sprinkle paprika on the top of your mashed potatoes.

8. Bake for 30 minutes until the top is browning and you see bubbling from the mixture below. Enjoy.
Recipe: Shepherd's Pie

Recipe: Shepherd's Pie

Friday, December 6, 2019

Friday Favorites

*This post contains affiliate links. When you click a link, it is no cost to you and I make a small commission (pennies) from it. Thank you for supporting Sparkles and Lattes.

Happy Friday to you all! I am here recapping some of our Thanksgiving weekend. I will talk about two other parts next Friday as I didn't want this to get longer than it already is. I hope you all have a great weekend!

ONE. We have big things going on at our house right now with one of our bathroom renovations in full effect. We also have been prepping for Christmas. We cut down a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving and decorated a little early. I wanted to fully enjoy the Christmas holiday and with a shorter Christmas season, I started before Thanksgiving. I usually wait until the day after. Plus....we are headed to Disneyland next week! We haven't told the girls yet and don't plan to until the day we leave. We will pack the night before, but we are telling them we are going to the Bay Area to see family for a few days. Then the morning of, we will tell them that we are headed to Disneyland and we are flying there with my parents. I can't wait to see their faces!

They have been asking to go to Disneyland off and on for about 6 months now. Every time one of their friends goes and comes back, they ask to go. We always tell them that it is expensive and we have to save and plan for it. Which we have been doing just that. And we wanted to wait until they were closer to 5. So we are going for an early birthday present.

TWO. As I said above, we went and cut down a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. Where we live, you can get a tree tag for $10 and go out to mapped areas and cut one down yourself. They last sooooo much longer than the ones you buy at Home Depot or other local shops.

We do this every year with my family, but the last two years, we have been in Las Vegas for Thanksgiving, so we went a few days after we got back. This year, we had Thanksgiving locally and got to go out the day after Thanksgiving.

Here are some photos from the day:

It started snowing hard right after we cut our trees down, but after about 20 minutes it let up and we all hung out snacking and enjoying the day.

THREE. We also had our elf come back on December 1st for a welcome breakfast. Our elf, Giuseppe, gave the girls Christmas pjs, Christmas books, Christmas soft cozy socks and some Andes mints. Here is the set up we created.

Then we wrote a note to the girls from their elf and added a little message on their chalkboard as well. We have been moving him each night and so far it is easy with so many places. I think it gets so much harder as the month goes on.

FOUR. We had Thanksgiving dinner over at my in-laws house. Rory's side of the family came into town from California and Vegas. On actual Thanksgiving, it was just us, his parents and his sister and her immediate family. We had tri-tip (my BIL is allergic to turkey), potatoes au gratin, roasted cabbage and apples, homemade rolls, salad with his dad's special dressing and then we had apple and blackberry sour cream apple pie with vanilla bean ice cream for dessert. It was all really good and a very enjoyable evening.

FIVE. The day after Thanksgiving, we cut our Christmas trees down and then we had dinner at Rory's cousins house. This is where we did the Jersey Shore themed dinner. We had Italian food, lots of drinks, and played a bunch of games. I have some of the funniest footage on my phone from all the fun we had!

Here is my outfit (as I know a lot of you have requested to see it) and some of the fun we had!

I tried to make the black sunnies with a chain on them like Snookie wore, but I couldn't find all the supplies at a decent price.

I am linking up with AprilA Little Bit of EverythingMeet @ the Barre and Becky.

Have a great weekend!
Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Christmas Gift Guide For a Hostess

*This post contains affiliate links. When you click a link, it is no cost to you and I make a small commission (pennies) from it. Thank you for supporting Sparkles and Lattes.

These gifts would be great for any Christmas parties you are attending. I know I have a few coming up, so I thought I would share some of the items I have been looking at.
Christmas Gift Guide For a Hostess
Marble Cheese Set
Marble Cheese Set

When I was in Waco, I went to Magnolia Farms and I saw this cheese set. I almost bought it for a Christmas gift and now I am kicking myself in the butt that I did not. It was sturdy, beautiful and well worth the price.

Ugg Bliss Fuzzy Throw

I love a good blanket and I love my Ugg sheets, so I know this blanket would be right up my alley. I bet it is sooo soft and cozy.

Capri Blue Volcano Candle

This is one of my favorite candles ever. I always scoop up extra candles to give as gifts.

Williams Sonoma Peppermint Bark

I love this peppermint bark. We get it every Christmas and we always eat every last bit. And if you want an even better rave review, my brother-in-law basically eats an entire tin in one day. It is that good.

Williams Sonoma Acacia Wood Cheese Board

As you can probably tell, but I love cheese. And I love making cheeseboards and charcuterie boards. These boards are beautiful and modern looking and would pair nicely with the marble cheese set above.

Yeti Insulated Mug

I got Rory one of these a few Christmases ago and he loves it. He uses it for coffee and a little drink while we go trick or treating with the kids.

Williams Sonoma Hammered Copper Cup

I love a good Moscow Mule and I have some copper cups at home that I use to make my drinks in. When you buy the copper cups, you want the real deal. I did order some about a year ago that were awful. They stained and I don't think they were real. So make sure you order real copper cups.

Wine or Beer

I love a good bottle of wine and my husband loves beer. I think bringing a collection of your favorite beers or your favorite wine is a great gift option. I like this Meiomi above. My friend Nathalie introduced me to it several years ago and I always have a bottle of it in my wine rack. I buy it at Total Wine or Costco as they have the best prices on it.
Tuesday, December 3, 2019

2019 Best of Prime Purchases

* This post contains affiliate links. When you click a link, it is no cost to you and I make a small commission (pennies) from it. Thank you for supporting Sparkles and Lattes.

It's time for another round of what I bought on Amazon Prime this year. I only participated in this link up from March and on, so that is what I am including in this post. Hopefully next year, I will have the whole year to choose from.

Prime Purchases
linking up with Tanya


I buy these every couple of months because they work. They are good too. 
Natrol Melatonin Gummies

I bought this spray for the first time on Ulta as a gift, but then found it on Amazon. This is the real stuff and I got it at a great price on Amazon. Plus free shipping. I use this every morning and throughout the day to give my face a freshen up!
Mario Badescu Rosewater Spray


I bought a HD Antenna to get the local sports channels like NBC. We were not able to watch the NFL playoff games after changing to Hulu Live since local NBC wasn't supported. We got NBC, but the national channel. So I bought this and it works beautifully. Plus, we can watch the local broadcast about our Nevada Wolf Pack. We have about 29 HD channels that come in for free.
HDTV Antenna

I bought this dress off a whim and it is one of my favorite Amazon clothing purchases. It has held up to many washes, many trips and it is so soft and comfy.
Daily Ritual Black Sleeveless Dress


I bought a milk frother based on a blogger recommendation. I love this blogger and usually buy from her links. I am sooooo glad that I bought this frother as I use it every single day at work. It works very well and it a great price.
MilkBoss Milk Frother


I didn't know that loofa's carried so much bacteria. I am also guilty of keeping them way too long. Then I found out about silicone loofa's and I bought the two pack. One for me and one for the girls. These are amazing. Seriously, so soft, easy to clean and so much healthier.
Avilana Exfoliating Body Scrubber (2 Pack)

We have given Stomp Rockets to about 5 kids this year. It is the best gift for kids. My girls love theirs too!
Stomp Rocket Dueling Rockets

We bought a Leesa mattress about a year ago and it was already awful. I hated it after 6 months. I searched for a topper for a long time before settling on this one. We have had this one for about 7 months and it is still amazing. I totally missed my bed while I was in Philly and that bed was pretty comfy.
Pure Green Latex Mattress Topper


July brought Prime Day and I bought two awesome items, a Kindle and Booster Car Seats. I love this kindle and it has traveled all over the US with me. I read on it at home as well.

These booster seats have worked out very well for us. We had the Chico Keyfit Newborn Car Seats and these are just as awesome for bigger kids.
Chicco Kidfit 2-in-1 Booster Car Seat

I also got this makeup brush cleaner and it works soooo well. I have never had my brushes so clean. I still have a lot of the bottle left.


I bought three items and none were huge favorites. I did like the items, but none that would make this list.


My girls needed new ballet shoes and I bought these on Amazon. They have been awesome for the girls full on ballet class. No complaints about feet hurting or being awkward.
Ruqiji Ballet Slippers for Kids


These comfy headband headphones have been a total win. My girls love them. We took them on a trip and they were also used at several of our renovation appointments to keep the girls busy. The girls love them!!!

And that's it for our year of favorite Prime purchases. What were your favorites?