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Entertaining at home Recipes

14 Awesome Appetizers for your Next Party at Home

Parties are a great way to enjoy your home. Food is always expected at a party. Awesome appetizers can help to bring people together for great conversations, or can help accent any planned activity. It is not always easy to find great recipes for tried and true appetizers that will be loved by everyone. These 14 Awesome Appetizers will be a great addition to your next home party.

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Buffalo Chicken Dip Appetizer

buffalo chicken dip

This Buffalo Chicken dip is really easy to make, and it has relatively few easy to find ingredients. It is gluten free and keto friendly if served with celery instead of chips. The recipe includes 3 different cooking methods, slow cooker, baked and smoked. It is best for Big Game Day parties, New Year’s Celebrations, and Potlucks.

Jalapeno Poppers

These Jalapeno Poppers are quick and easy to make, find the recipe here. All of the ingredients are easy to find at your local grocery store. These jalapeno poppers can be prepared ahead of time, then baked right before serving. They are gluten free and keto friendly. They are best for small gatherings, Big Game Day parties, backyard parties, and family get togethers.

Chicken Strips aka Boneless Wings

This chicken strip recipe is more difficult than your average appetizer, but it is worth the effort. Your guests will be pleased. These chicken strips would best be kept warm in a chafing dish. Pick up some great dipping options: Ranch, BBQ sauce, and honey mustard and serve them in a cute tray. Chicken strips or boneless wings are perfect for small parties, game night, and football parties.

Easy Bean Dip

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Easy Bean Dip

This bean dip recipe is so easy! The dip can take on the shape of any container, making it simple to match any party theme. Most of the ingredients are easy to find, and the recipe includes suggestions for alternative ingredients. It is gluten free. This recipe can be prepared ahead of time. There are suggestions for how to make it work for different holidays, such as serving in a football shaped bowl for a super bowl party. Overall this is the most versatile appetizer on the list, it is really great for any occasion.

Chips and Salsa or Pico de Gallo

chips and salsa
Photo by Tai’s Captures on Unsplash

If you are looking for an easy appetizer, this one is for you. Just open a bag of chips, dump it in a bowl, open a can of salsa and dump it in a smaller bowl. If you want to get fancy about it, get a cute chip and dip set.

If you want to be even more fancy, make your own Pico de Gallo. Both Pico de Gallo and some canned salsas are gluten free, and keto friendly. This appetizer is also vegan and vegetarian.

Homemade Pico de Gallo recipe

  • 5-6 Roma tomatoes chopped
  • 1 onion minced
  • 2 jalapenos minced
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 cup mince fresh cilantro
  • salt to taste

Mix all ingredients and serve with tortilla chips!

Pulled Pork Street Tacos

pulled pork street tacos

These street tacos are made with 4-inch street taco shells. Certainly small enough to be an appetizer. This recipe is easy to make, especially if you have leftover pulled pork. If you do not have leftover pulled pork you can buy pulled pork at the grocery store, or make your own. To use this recipe as an appetizer, the pulled pork could be kept warm in a crockpot. The other toppings are all cold, and could be set up like a taco bar. Your guests will enjoy putting together their own taco. They are so tasty, you better plan on your guests eating more than one! Best for small gatherings, perfect for summer.

Polish Roses

polish roses

Polish roses, aka onion wraps are really easy to make. Just wrap a green onion and 1 tablespoon of cream cheese in your choice of lunchmeat. If you don’t like onions, use pickles instead. This is a very easy appetizer, gluten free and keto friendly. It can be made ahead of time and is perfect for any occasion.

Charcuterie Board

charcuterie board
Photo by Ana Maltez on Unsplash

This is a very easy appetizer. You will need to start with a charcuterie board and it would help if you had some ramekins for jams and dips. Once you have the basics, all you need are a variety of meats, soft and hard cheeses, fruits, veggies, olives, jams and dips. Get creative, don’t worry your guests will be pleased. This appetizer is best for wine tastings, book clubs, and bible studies.

Meatballs

These Thai Inspired meatballs are an amazing appetizer. Find the video recipe here. You can prepare the meatballs ahead of time, then refrigerate until you are ready to bake for your party. They would be best kept warm with a chafing dish rather than a crockpot. These meatballs would be best for a small get together. They are great for any season. Don’t expect any leftovers.

Guacamole

guacamole
Photo by Tessa Rampersad on Unsplash

Guacamole is very easy to make, find the recipe here. All of the ingredients are easy to find. It is the healthiest appetizer on this list. It is gluten free, vegetarian, vegan and keto friendly. Guacamole is versatile. It is traditionally served with tortilla chips, but it can also be used as a vegetable dip or spread on crackers. You can make it ahead of time, but it can brown a bit. To prevent browning, place a piece of plastic wrap right on top to protect the top from the air. Due to the versatility of this appetizer it would be a great addition to any gathering.

Cheese and Crackers

crackers
Photo by Raychan on Unsplash

This appetizer can be a simple as arranging a variety of crackers and cheese slices on a platter or you can make your own cheese spread.

Easy Homemade Cheese Spread recipe

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • dash of hot sauce, more if desired (optional)

Mix all ingredients with a hand mixer. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving with crackers.

Pierogi

Pierogi served with sauteed onions and sour cream
Pierogi served with sauteed onions and sour cream

This is a difficult recipe, but it is worth the effort. It is also an awesome vegetarian option. Your guests will be amazed! Pierogi can be prepared ahead, they can even be frozen. To serve as an appetizer you will need to fry them up, then keep them warm in a chafing dish. Be sure to fry up plenty of onions to serve with the pierogi. If you are willing to put in the effort pierogi are a great appetizer for any event especially Christmas Eve parties, where they are a polish tradition.

Chips and Dip

Another easy appetizer. The key to great chip dip is to make it yourself. The best chip dip is A Spice Above – Oven Roasted Garlic. Just mix the packet with 1 cup full fat sour cream and 1 cup of mayonnaise. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours prior to serving. It is gluten free and keto friendly. This appetizer will be gone no matter where you bring it. It is a simple appetizer perfect for any event.

Cowboy Caviar

Cowboy Caviar
Cowboy Caviar

Another easy amazing vegetarian and vegan option. This is also another great gluten free option. Perfect for any event!

Cowboy Caviar Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 15 ounce can Pinto Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 ounce can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 ounce can Black Eyed Peas, drained and rinsed
  • 15 ounce can Corn, drained and rinsed
  • 4 ounce Jar of Pimentos, with juice
  • 4 Celery sticks chopped fine
  • 1 Orange bell pepper chopped
  • 1 sweet onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Mix Olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar and salt in a bowl to make the dressing. In another bowl mix all the other ingredients. Pour the dressing over the other ingredients. Chill for at least 1 hour. Serve with tortilla chips.

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Entertaining at home Recipes

Easy Buffalo Chicken Dip

Are you in need of a quick and easy appetizer for your next party? Look no further, this easy crock pot buffalo chicken dip is so simple and it always goes. You will receive plenty of compliments if you make this Buffalo dip for your next get together.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. I will earn commission on product sales at no additional cost to you.

Slow cooker Buffalo Dip Ingredients:

  • 3-4 Chicken breasts cooked and cubed
  • 16 ounces cream cheese
  • 5-6 celery stalks chopped
  • 12 ounce jar of blue cheese OR Ranch dressing
  • 12 ounce jar Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo sauce
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

Turn your crockpot on high. Add the cream cheese first so it can start to melt while you add the other ingredients.

Wash and chop the celery, then add it to the crockpot.

Cube the cooked chicken and add it to the crockpot. Alternatively, you can substitute canned chicken if you prefer.

Add the dressing. Choose either blue cheese or ranch. I recommend a fresh dressing from the refrigerated section of the produce department. Marzetti, Lighthouse, or Marie’s.

Add the Franks Red Hot Buffalo sauce. Choose Frank’s mild, regular or hot depending on how spicy you want your buffalo chicken dip to be.

Lastly, add the shredded cheddar cheese to the slow cooker.

Mix all of the ingredients together inside the crockpot and cover. Continue to mix every 10-15 minutes until the cheese is starting to melt and the cream cheese is mixed into the sauce. ~60 min.

Once the cheese is starting to melt, turn the slow cooker heat to low and continue to warm, stirring every 20 minutes, until you are ready to serve. 1-2 hours.

Serve this easy buffalo chicken dip with tortilla chips.

Can you make Buffalo Chicken Dip Ahead of Time?

Yes, you can mix all of the ingredients in the crockpot insert the night before and put the insert in the fridge overnight. Pull it out 2-3 hours before your party and follow heating directions. Alternatively, you can mix all of the ingredients in a 9×13 Pyrex baking dish, and refrigerate over night, then follow the baking or smoking directions.

Can you bake Buffalo Chicken Dip?

Yes, you can bake Frank’s red hot sauce buffalo chicken dip instead of using a slow cooker. To bake this dip, just mix all of the ingredients on a 9×13 Pyrex baking dish and bake a 375 degrees F until cheese is melted and dip is hot. ~ 20 min.

Can you smoke Buffalo Chicken Dip?

You sure can! If you choose to smoke the dip I would recommend using smoked chicken. Mix all of the ingredients in a 9×13 Pyrex baking dish or a foil pan. Smoke at 180 degrees F for 30 min, then increase the temperature to 375 degrees F and continue to smoke until the cheese is melted and dip is hot. ~10 min.

Is Buffalo Chicken Dip Healthy?

No, this is not a healthy recipe. It is meant to be a party food to be shared by many people on a special occasion. Not an every day snack. If you would like to make it healthier, you can use Neufchatel cheese instead of the cream cheese for 1/3 less fat. You can also serve it with celery sticks instead of tortilla chips. These substitutions will not make it much healthier, so portion control is probably your best option.

Is Buffalo Chicken Dip Gluten free?

Chicken, cream cheese, celery, Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo sauce, and cheddar cheese are gluten free. Make sure you read the label on the salad dressing you choose because some may contain gluten. Also, it would be best to shred your own cheese, because some pre-shredded cheeses may contain gluten. If you season your chicken before you cook it, make sure all of the seasonings are gluten free. Make sure the chips you serve it with are gluten free.

Is Buffalo Chicken Dip Keto?

Chicken, cream cheese, celery, Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo sauce, and cheddar cheese are keto friendly. Marzetti Blue cheese dressing is Dirty Keto. You will have to serve it with something keto friendly, like celery sticks, instead of tortilla chips.

Easy Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 Chicken breasts cooked and cubed
  • 16 ounces cream cheese
  • 5-6 celery stalks chopped
  • 12 ounce jar of blue cheese OR Ranch dressing
  • 12 ounce jar Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo sauce
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

Turn your crock pot on high. Add the cream cheese first so it can start to melt while you add the other ingredients.

Wash and chop the celery, then add it to the crockpot. Cube the cooked chicken and add it to the crock pot.

Add the dressing, hot sauce and shredded cheese.

Mix all of the ingredients together inside the crock pot and cover. Continue to mix every 10-15 minutes until the cheese is starting to melt and the cream cheese is mixed into the sauce. ~60 min.

Once the cheese is starting to melt, turn the slow cooker heat to low and continue to warm, stirring every 20 minutes, until you are ready to serve. 1-2 hours. Serve with tortilla chips.

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More Great Appetizer Recipes:

Jalapeno Poppers

Fritos Bean Dip

Guacamole

Pork Street Tacos

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Entertaining at home

How to Play Spicy UNO

Are you getting bored with your current selection of family games? Here is a perfect way to spice up an old favorite! Spicy Uno is a fun family or party game using a regular deck of Uno cards. It would be best to have 2 decks of UNO cards, especially if you are playing with more than 3 people. You can still play spicy UNO with only one deck, but you will have to pause to shuffle at least once. You can’t even shuffle the cards when it is not your turn, because in Spicy UNO, it is always your turn! Read on to find out more.

How to set up Spicy UNO:

Thoroughly shuffle the UNO deck or both decks and deal each player 7 cards then place one card face up on the discard pile. The basic play is the same as the standard UNO game, follow color or number. You must say “UNO” when you have one card left, or you will be required to pick up 2 cards. Decide who will play first. The object of the game is to be the first player to get rid of all of your cards.

Rules for Spicy UNO:

0 – If you play a zero, you must trade hands with another player. This is not optional.

5 – If anyone plays a 5, all players must slap the table. Last player to slap the table must draw 2 cards. It pays to be loud and noticeable here!

7 – If someone plays a 7, all players must remain silent (except for laughing, because laughter is fun) until another 7 is played. If you go down to one card during silence you must hold up one finger to indicate UNO instead of saying “UNO”. To choose a color if you play a wild during silence you must point to your desired color. If during silence, rules must be clarified, you must raise your hand before speaking.

Draw 2 – If you play a draw 2, the next player must draw 2 (if they draw 2 their turn is over), unless they can also play a draw 2, then the next player has to draw 4, unless they can play a draw 2, then the next player must draw 6. This continues until someone has to draw the accumulated number of cards.

Draw 4 – Same rules as the draw 2.

If you cannot play a card, you must draw cards until you are able to play.

If a player has to draw because they cannot play, any player can offer them a playable card face down. The player who cannot play can choose to accept the offered card or decline and draw instead.

If you have a card that is the exact same as a card played (examples: someone plays a red 3 and you have a red 3, or someone plays a yellow skip and you have a yellow skip) you can play it at any time even if it is not your turn. You have to play the identical card before the next player plays their card. If you are able to play your identical card first then you will have effectively changed the turn to your turn and the player after you will go next. You can play 2 cards at the same time if you have 2 identical cards in your hand. If both cards are fives, everyone must slap the table twice.

Spicy UNO Strategy

If possible, don’t play a zero when your hand is the smallest.

Hold onto your draw 2 and draw 4 cards until they are the only playable cards in your hand. These cards will defend you incase someone else plays one.

Offer a playable zero to someone who cannot play because they will have to trade their hand. If the player after the player who has to draw has UNO, offer the player who has to draw a playable draw 2 or draw 4 card.

Always pay attention, even when it is not your turn so you do not miss a 5 or 7 card.

Other Fun Family games

Check out my other post fun games to play

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Entertaining at home

Fun Games to Play

Are you getting bored with you family game selection? It is difficult to find fun family games to play with young children. As the children grow their interests change and so must the games. The goal is to find games that are fun for both kids and adults. The main goal for family games is to keep play simple to learn, but complex enough to entertain all ages. There are many fun games to play with all age groups. Here are some great suggestions for all age groups.

Best family games for preschool aged kids-Ages 3-5 years

This is a difficult age group to find fun games to play with. Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, or Hi Ho Cheery O are mind numbingly boring. I also can’t tolerate the simple card game war. After much research, I did end up finding a few fun games to play with preschool aged kids. My babysitters also gave some good suggestions.

Hullabaloo

Hullabaloo is actually a fun game to play with kids aged 3 and up. It was honestly my favorite for this age group. Families can hop, skip, crawl, jump and dance! The game comes with a bunch of different shaped pads with pictures on them, to place on the floor. The “announcer” will tell the players to “hop like a frog to a triangle”. Eventually the “announcer” will declare a winning pad, if anyone is on that pad they win and get to do a dance. It’s really fun!

Spot It Jr.

Spot it Jr is a fast paced card game with simple rules for kids 4 and up. It’s quick for their short attention spans. All you have to do is spot the picture that is the same on two cards. This is a great game for babysitters. Our best babysitter had it in her bag of fun that she always brought over.

Memory

Memory This game is pretty simple. You just place all of the cards face down. Then you take turns flipping 2 cards at a time, if they match you keep the match. If they don’t match, you flip them back over and try to remember what they were so you can make a match on your next turn. Kids are surprisingly good at this game.

Go Fish

Go Fish This is a very simple card game that can be played with a regular deck of cards, but it also comes in many different themes, sure to delight any preschooler.

The rules are simple: deal out 7 cards per player, then spread out the rest of the cards in the middle to make the fishing pond. The player to the left of the dealer starts by asking another player for all of their “kings” if the player succeeds in obtaining kings, they keep going until they ask for something another player can’t give them. That player will say “go fish” and the player draws a card from the “pond”. The object is to get 4 of a kind. Once a player has 4 of a kind they lay those cards face up in front of them. Once all of the cards have been laid down the winner is the player with the most cards in front of them.

Old Maid

Old Maid This game can be played with a regular deck of cards, but also comes in old maid decks with fun themes. If using a regular deck you just deal out all of the cards except one (usually a queen). Each player removes all of the pairs from their hand and places them down in front of them. Then the dealer offers their hand face down for the player to their left to choose from. If that player makes a match, they lay it down in front of them, then they offer their hand to the next player. The next player draws a card and play continues until all cards are matched except the old maid. The player left with that card is the old maid.

Best Family games for early elementary aged kids – Ages 6-8

There are a lot more really fun games to play as a family once your children are all over 6. Mostly because many fun games require reading to some extent. A few games from the preschool age are still appropriate for this age group.

Uno Roboto

Uno Roboto is a really fun spin on regular Uno. It comes with a robot that helps with game play. Each player records their name into the robot. Throughout play the robot calls players by name asking them to do things like discard 2 cards, or give all their yellow cards to another player. Sometimes the robot even instructs players to give each other different names.

SkipBo or Uno

Skip Bo or Uno These classic games have simple rules and are still fun even for adults. They are small and inexpensive. Easy to take on trips. Always a good time.

Throw Throw Burrito

Throw Throw Burrito is a crazy family card/dodgeball game. It is very competitive and fast paced. Play is similar to spoons because the cards are passed from one player to the next with each player attempting to make a matched set of 3 cards. Some of the sets cause players to grab the soft burritos and attempt to hit one another with them. It is a very active game, great for kids with lots of energy!

Best Family Games for late elementary aged kids-Ages 8-10

Finally your children are ready for fun games to play with a little more complexity. A little more math and reading will be required. More complex games can also be much more fun! Here are some of my family go to favorites.

Ticket to ride a fun game to play.

Squirrels

Squirrels is a card game that is simple to learn and very fun to play. We stumbled upon this game because my daughter likes squirrels. It was a small and inexpensive game that made a cute stocking stuffer. It ended up being a family favorite. The object of the game is to collect nuts of the same color. There are also wild cards and attack cards that make play fun! You may end up stealing, hoarding, or dumpster diving during your quest to collect your nuts.

Slapzi

Slapzi is a fast paced game. There are several ways to play. Basically you are delt cards with pictures on them. When a clue card is flipped you have to be the first player to match one of your picture cards to the clue card. The faster and more creative you are the more likely you will match all of your cards first. Just be ready to defend some of your creative matches.

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride is a great family board game of strategy. There are several versions of the game including maps from all over the world. Each board includes a map with train routes. Players are delt routes that they have to complete by obtaining the correct amount of train cards to complete each section of the route. Points are earned for each section and for each completed route. Watch out for your opponents stealing the route you need.

Rummikub

Rummikub is a classic game of strategy. It is similar to the card game Rummy but played with tiles instead of cards. Deal out 14 tiles to each player, then you have to match 3 different colored numbers or 3 same colored numbers in order before you can lay them down in the center. Each player can play on other sets of three or use numbers from other sets to make new sets. The object is to get rid of all of your tiles first. Simple but classic family fun.

Poetry for Neanderthals

Poetry for Neanderthals is a fun game where you have to give clues in only single syllable words to get your team to guess the word. If you say a word with more than one syllable someone from the other team can hit you with an inflatable caveman club and you have to choose a new word.

Butts in Space

Butts in Space is a slightly inappropriate butt totally fitting game for this age group. You get to play as a Classy, Hairy, Bow or Butt Butt. You try to collect the most toilet paper before the spaceship is repaired.

Mexican Train

Mexican Train is a classic game played with dominos. It gets it’s name from the name of the train that all players can play on. Each player tries to get rid of their dominos first by placing them on their own train or the Mexican train by matching up the numbers. It’s easy to learn and fun to play. For full rules check out this site.

Best Family Games for Middle School Kids-Ages 10-13

Now for the real fun. Once you have middle school aged kids you can add more strategy and a little more offence. More fun games to play indeed.

Telestrations

Telestrations is a very fun spin on the classic telephone game. Instead of whispering something into the ear of the next player, you start by drawing a picture. The next player flips the page and writes down what they think the drawing is, the next player draws a picture and so on. The result is often something that is not at all what the original clue was, and lots of laughs!

Catan

Catan is an intense strategy game. The object is to gain the most points by building roads, settlements and cities. It’s best suited for people who love strategy games.

Photo of Catan
Photo by Aksel Fristrup on Unsplash

Codenames

Codenames is a game of clues, quiet and calculating. 25 cards with single words are laid out on the table. Players take turns giving single word clues to try to get their teammates to guess the correct words. Be careful not to guess the wrong word, it could mean points for the other team or an instant loss.

Apples to Apples

Apples to Apples is a crazy game of comparisons. Each player is delt cards with words on them. A main category card is flipped over. All players except the judge chooses a card from their hand that relates to the main category card. The judge chooses which card they think best relates to the main card. The round winner keeps the card. The judge changes each round. It’s fun to see the crazy comparisons other people choose.

Exploding Kittens

Exploding Kittens is a cut throat card game. It’s fun to play, but you do have to be a little bit mean to other players. In order to win all of the other players must draw an exploding kitten card with no way to prevent the explosion from happening. Once a player draws an exploding kitten they are out. Last player wins!

Dutch Blitz

Dutch Blitz is a fast paced card game. the rules are simple, but in order to win you have to be fast. Or at least faster than everyone else. The object is to be the first player to get rid of all of the cards in your blitz pile.

Scattergories

Scattergories is a category game. There are several lists that come with the game. You choose a list, them roll for a letter. Start the timer and everyone must come up with a word starting with the selected letter for each item on the list. Double words like “Peter Pan” are worth extra points. Be careful not to choose the same word as another player, or there will be no points for either of you.

Happy Little Dinosaurs

Happy Little Dinosaurs is a disaster avoiding game. You try to avoid disasters by getting other players to take the hit. You can also gain points for being the best disaster avoider. The cards are really cute, each one with adorable descriptions, yes even the disasters are creative and humorous. A really fun game to play with family or friends.

Spicy Uno

Spicy Uno is a game played with regular Uno cards with spiced up rules. It is a little crazier than the traditional game and helps make it fun again for a family that needs something new to play.

Best Family Games for High School aged Kids-Ages 14-18

Beyond Balderdash

Beyond Balderdash is is a game of fibbing. What can be more fun than making up definitions, weird laws, Acronyms, movie plots or reasons for fame? Give it a try and you will not be disappointed. You will probably get a few laughs too.

Coup

Coup is a game of strategy, lies and influence. The object is to be the last player with a character card, your influence. In order to win you may have to use another character’s influence, which is perfectly legal if you get away with it. Who is the best liar in the family? Find out by playing Coup.

Here to Slay

Here to Slay is a competitive strategy game that involves slaying monsters and collecting heroes. There are two ways to win, slaying 3 monsters or collecting all 6 types of heroes. Watch out for your opponents who are all out to stop you!

The Resistance

The Resistance is a game of deception. Sometimes you have to lie to get others to trust you. Each player is secretly assigned a role, either an operative or a spy. Good guy or bad guy. Either way you try to convince the group that you are indeed good and trustworthy. Lots of accusations and pleas for trust ensue each round as players attempt to work together or secretly against each other to win!

Taboo

Taboo is a word guessing game with certain words that are taboo and cannot be used to describe the word you want your team to guess. If a player uses a taboo word an player from the other team will buzz them and they must move on to the next word. The team with the most guess words wins.

Dominion

Dominion is a deck building game with plenty of expansions to keep the game interesting. What I love about this game is the endless changes that keep the strategy changing every time you play. The base game set comes with 25 different cards that can be swapped in and out for each game. Each game will use only 10 of the base cards. There are 3 different victory card types and 3 types of treasure, that are used in all games. Additional base cards, victory cards and treasures are available in expansion packs. The fun never ends.

Fun games to play with a standard deck of cards

Spoons

Spoons is a easy card game to play with young kids. The rules are simple, it’s fast paced and lots of fun! All you need is a regular deck of cards, at least 3 people, and one less spoon than the number of players you have. For example: if you have 5 people, you will need 4 spoons.

How to play spoons

Deal out 4 cards to each player. The object of the game is to get 4 of a kind. The dealer starts by drawing a card, they can choose to keep it or discard it or another card to the person to their left. The next person picks up the card and discards to their left. The cards continue to round the circle until someone gets 4 of a kind. When they do, they grab a spoon. Once a player takes a spoon, all of the other players can grab a spoon. The player who does not get a spoon, gets an S. Each time a player does not get a spoon they get another letter until they have spelled SPOON. Once they spell SPOON, they are out.


Trash

Trash is a game that can be played with a regular deck of cards. If you have more than 2 players use 1 deck for every 2 players.

How to play Trash

Each player is delt 10 cards (2 rows of 5) face down cards in front of them. The remaining cards are placed in a draw pile in the middle.

The object of the game is to get all 10 cards in front of you flipped over in order Ace-10. Jacks are wild. Kings and Queens end your turn. The dealer starts by drawing a card from the top of the deck. If it is an Ace or 2-10, they replace the corresponding card in front of them, with the correct number face up. If the card they replaced can be used for another card in front of them, they can continue to use them until they end up with a King, Queen, or a number they don’t need. They then discard face up. The next player can draw from the discard pile or the draw pile. Continue until one player has A-10 face up in from of them.

Collect all of the cards and re-deal. The player who won the previous round gets 1 less card. Each time a player wins a round they get 1 less card until one player only has 1 card and replaces it with an Ace or Jack.


Euchre

Euchre is my favorite card game. I do understand that it is a midwestern game, but I think anyone could enjoy it if you try. In Michigan learning to play Euchre is a rite of passage.

How to set up for Euchre

Start by removing all cards less than 9 from the deck, leave the aces. The object of the game is to be the first team to gain 10 points. Euchre is played with only 4 players, 2 teams. Your partner sits across from you. It is a trick taking game.

How to deal in Euchre

The dealer deals 5 cards to each player going around only twice: dealing 1-4 cards at a time to each player each round. For example deal 2-3-2-3 then 3-2-3-2. Then the dealer sets down the remaining cards and turns over the top card.

How to play Euchre

After the deal, the player to the left is the first to choose weather or not he/she wants the suit of the flipped up card to be trump. If he/she wants it to be trump, they tell the dealer to pick it up. If they do not want that suit they say pass. All player in turn choose this way. If the dealer is told to pick it up, or chooses to pick it up, they must discard a card so they only have 5 cards. If nobody wants that suit to be trump the dealer passes by turning over that card. Now the person to the left is the first to choose any other suit to be trump, or pass. Each player is given this option until trump is selected. If nobody chooses the dealer must choose trump.

During the trump selection phase any player can choose trump and choose to go alone. In this case their partner does not play and they must win at least 3 tricks to score a point, but if they win all 5 they can score 4 points.

The player to the left of the dealer leads a card. All other players must follow suit, unless they do not have that suit, then they can play any card including trump. The trick is won by the highest card played

Rank of cards in Euchre

The highest card is the Jack of trump also called the right bower. The second highest card is the jack of the same color as trump also called the left bower. For example if spades is trump the jack of spades is the highest card followed by the jack of clubs, then the Ace, king, queen, 10 and 9 of spades. For non-trump suits Ace is the highest followed by King, Queen, Jack, 10 and 9. But Trump always beats non-trump.

How to score in Euchre

  • Team get 3-4 tricks = 1 point
  • Team gets 5 tricks = 2 points
  • Team gets 3 or more tricks when the other team called trump (a Euchre) = 2 points
  • Lone hand wins 3-4 tricks = 1 point
  • Lone hand wins 5 tricks = 5 points

Spades

Spades is another trick taking card game. There are 4 players (2 teams) partners sit across from each other. Use a full deck with or without the jokers. If you choose to use the jokers remove the two red 2’s. The jokers are high, make sure you determine which joker is the highest before you start (usually the colored one).

How to play Spades

The object of the game is to be the first team to score 300 points.

Start by dealing out all of the cards equally to all 4 players. Spades are always trump, jokers highest (if used) then Ace, king, queen, jack and all the numbers in descending order. The player to the left of the dealer leads and all others must follow suit unless they don’t have that suit. Highest card wins the trick. Play until all cards are used. During the first round each trick won is worth 10 points.

After the first round the deal moves to the left and after the cards a delt the team that did not deal has to bid how many tricks they think they can win. The minimum bid is 4. Then the other team bids. Once all bids are in play starts. At the end of each round the count up the tricks and score.

How to score in Spades

  • If you did not get at least as many tricks as you bid: loose 10X the number bid. For example bid 4 win 3 -loose 40 points
  • Score 10 points for every trick you bid and won and 1 point for every trick you win but did not bid. For example bid 5 win 6 – score 51 points

Up and Down the River (aka: Oh Hell)

Up and Down the River is another trick taking game. You need between 3 and 7 people.

How to play Up and Down the River

The dealer deals 1 card to each player in round one then places the next card face up, the suit of the turned u card is trump. For each subsequent round deal moves to the left and 1 additional card is delt up to 7 cards then back down to 1 card.

Each round players must bid how many tricks they think they will win from zero to the number of cards delt, starting with the player to the left of the dealer. The dealer bids last and his/her bid cannot make the number of tricks bid = the number of cards delt. For example if 1 card is delt to 3 people and the first two players both bid zero, the dealer cannot bid 1, because only one card was delt. In this case the dealer must bid zero.

The player to the left of the dealer leads, other players must follow suit if they have that suit, otherwise they can play any card. Highest card wins. Trump beats other suits, aces are high.

How to Score Up and Down the River

1 point for each trick taken + 10 extra points if you bid correctly. Highest score wins

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Frugal Family Fun Ideas at Home
The definition of Frugal is: sparing or economical with regard to money …

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Frugal Family Fun Ideas at Home

The definition of Frugal is: sparing or economical with regard to money or food. Is it possible to have fun without spending a bundle? If you are on social networks, I’m sure you have seen your share of fancy trips, elegant dinners out, and expensive events your “friends” have shared. When I was a kid there was no such thing as social networking. It was, in my opinion a better life. My parents were full of frugal family fun ides. We used to go to a roadside park with a picnic lunch, where the big draw was climbing up and down a big sand hill. My siblings and I were so excited about the outing we could hardly sleep the night before. As an adult, I asked my dad “how did you make that outing sound so fun?”

His response “It’s all in the hype! You just have to make it sound super great and kids will believe you.” The truth is it was actually really fun and we always looked forward to it. Kids don’t need expensive vacations, fancy meals, and extravagant events. They just want to play and enjoy time with their families. It’s adults who need to spend a bundle to impress their social network “friends”.

International Frugal Fun Day is the first Saturday in October. The idea is to do something fun that costs less than five dollars. I’m assuming this is five dollars per person. It is a great day to get started with a frugal fun home life.

Frugal Fun Ideas at home:

Dinner and a movie

At my house we usually eat dinner at the table, but as a special event we allow the kids to eat in front of the TV. For little ones we set up a table, but older kids can manage with a tray. We make a big deal about how much fun it will be to enjoy dinner and a movie. We ask the kids for movie suggestions, dinner suggestions, and dessert suggestions. Our kids always get so excited, even help set up for the big event!

Make your own pizza night

This is a family favorite at my house. In the summer we grill the pizza, in cooler seasons we just bake them either way it is fun. We make our own pizza crust and prepare a bunch of topping options. Everyone makes their own creation. We bake or grill them in shifts and eat on the deck in good weather or at the dining room table in cooler weather. The kids love it!

Family game night-best games by age

Family game night is a frugal family fun idea. In my opinion the fun increases for the parents as the kids get older. I can’t stand playing mind numbing games like Candyland and Chutes and Ladders. What are the best family games for each age?

For more family game ideas check out my post on fun games to play.

Do a Family Craft

A Family craft can be excellent frugal fun. It can be a simple as making slime or playdoh or as complicated as building a birdhouse. Or anything in between. Make candles, soap, birdfeeders, decorations, jewelry, or anything fun!

Bake Something as a Family

Nothing could be more frugal fun than baking together as a Family. Pick out a seasonal favorite and get to work. Maybe a pie would be a nice choice. Try my best pie crust with your favorite filling. Or choose something that will be fun to decorate like cookies or cupcakes.

Enjoy the great outdoors as a family

Playing outside is usually free of charge. There are plenty of ways to have fun in your backyard or neighborhood.

  • Go for a walk, with or without a scavenger hunt
  • Play catch or frisbee
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Do something seasonally appropriate: run through a sprinkler, jump in the leaves, build a snowman
  • Draw with chalk, play hopscotch
  • Build a fort
  • Climb a tree
Climb a tree
Climb a tree

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How to use a Traeger Silverton 620: Grill, Smoke, Bake/Roast

Are you the proud owner of a Traeger Silverton 620 because of all of the features? Do you want to be able to Grill, Smoke, Braise, Bake and Roast live a pro? I have used all of the features, and would like to share them with you.

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How to Smoke on a Pellet Grill

My experience is with the Traeger Silverton 620, but any pellet grill should be able to use the smoke feature. Smoking is a way of slow cooking with smoke. It’s best for meats, it will give your meat a delicious smoked flavor. The Traeger Silverton 620 does not have a smoke setting, but you can smoke using low heat 180-225 degrees F. I’ve used it for brisket, pork butt, ribs, and I even use it for starting out steaks and burgers. Here is my fabulous fall off the bone ribs recipe.

Baby back ribs smoked
Baby back ribs smoked

How to Braise on a Pellet Grill

Any pellet grill should be able to braise. By definition braising is slow cooking with liquid. Often, after smoking a meat on the pellet grill, the meat can be wrapped with foil or butcher paper along with a liquid. The liquid used will vary depending on the recipe. For pork I usually use apple juice because pork works well with sweet ingredients, for beef I usually choose beef broth. Braising on the pellet grill is done at 225-275 degrees F.

Baby back ribs wrapped with foil
Baby back ribs wrapped with foil

How to Grill on a Traeger

Some pellet grill models may not be able to get a high enough temperatures to Grill. This is not a problem for the Traeger Silverton 620. You can use it just like any other normal gas powered or charcoal grill and just heat it up to the high temperature required for grilling by definition 450-500 degrees F. Then add your burgers or steaks, flip at desired interval and grill the other side to desired doneness. But what is the fun in that? You have a multitasker pellet grill. Use the features!

How to grill burgers on a Traeger

I love to grill burgers on my pellet grill. I usually start by smoking the patties at 180 degrees F for 30-60 min. This is wonderful because it gives me time to enjoy spending time with my guests or family. When my guests or family start to get hungry, I simply turn up the heat to 350 degrees F. I know I said grilling needs a higher temperature, but during the heating process the burgers will become overdone. Check on the burgers during the heating process, flip them and periodically check the temp of the meat. You will still get the desired grill lines, and you will end up will delicious smoked flavor!

Burgers grilling on a pellet Grill

How to grill steak on a Traeger

For grilling steak I start with the same process I did with the burgers. Obviously you will want to add some smoky flavor, so start by smoking the steaks at 180 degrees F for 30-60 min. Remove the steaks, and turn the temperature up to 450 degrees F. Return the steaks to the grill and flip after the desire time depending on how done you want your steaks. Check the meat temperature and grill the other side to desired doneness.

How to Bake/Roast on a Traeger

I will discuss baking and roasting together because by definition they are very similar and seem to have a lot of exceptions. This feature should only be used if your pellet grill has a bake/roast feature.

What is the difference between baking and roasting?

Baking and roasting differ in two ways: by the dry heat temperature or by what is being baked/roasted. Baking requires the grill to be able to self maintain a desired temperature in the range of 325-375 degrees F depending on the recipe. Whereas roasting requires a grill temperature >400 degrees. Baking generally refers to dry heat cooking something that will change and become more firm during the cooking process, for example: cakes, pies and casseroles. Roasting is generally the term used for foods that have a firm texture prior to cooking, such as large cuts of meat or vegetables. Cakes, pies and casseroles are baked. Turkeys, and vegetables are roasted. Pizza seems to be an exception, since it is baked at 425-450 degrees F.

What can you bake on a Trager Silverton 620?

The options are endless! I pretty much bake anything on my Traeger Silverton 620 that I bake in my oven. I use a Pyrex baking dish or a foil pan. I have shared a couple of my favorite recipes on my blog. Try my peach blueberry pie or shepherd’s pie!

Peach Blueberry Pie on the Traeger
Peach Blueberry Pie on the Traeger

You can also bake pizzas on the Traeger. For pizza I preheat my Traeger Silverton 620 with pizza stones to 425 degrees F. A pizza chef once told me that the best pizza dough recipe is from King Arthur Flour. So that’s the recipe I always use. If we make pizza on the Traeger it is an event. We load the table up with pizza toppings and each person creates their own pizza on a piece of parchment paper. Before placing the pizza on the stone, I trim the parchment paper and slide it onto the warm stone on the grill. Check the crust after 6 min, and continue checking every 2-3 min until desired crispiness. Usually small personal pizzas bake for 6-10 min.

Pizza on the Traeger

What can you roast on a Traeger Silverton 620?

Traeger in snow

Once again the options are endless. I usually roast vegetables. It’s easy to roast broccoli, brussels sprouts, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and more. Roast veggies at 400 degrees F. Whole potatoes and sweet potatoes for about 60 min. Other veggies or cubed potatoes I roast on a metal tray or pan with oil and seasonings for 35 min, periodically mixing or flipping.

I also attempted roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving. I say attempted, because although I was able to start the cooking process by smoking my turkey, I ended up having to finish in the oven, just as this author described, due to the cold Michigan temperatures in November. This is the only drawback to the Traeger Silverton 620. Due to it’s rear venting system the company has not made a heat blanket for use in cold temperatures. I really don’t mind because the main reason I like to bake/roast on my grill is because I don’t like to heat up the kitchen in the Summer. I don’t mind using my oven in the cold winter months and my grill is still useful for smoking in the winter, even if I have to finish in the oven, it still adds the smoky flavor.

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