Happylifeblogspot

Happylifeblogspot

Welcome to Happylifeblogspot! A food blog with drool worthy recipes

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Thrills and Chills at Escape City Buffalo!

Thrills and Chills at Escape City Buffalo!

Halloween is basically my family’s favorite holiday! My two adult brother’s still dress up in costumes. My mom dresses up….every year….never fail. Heck, even my 87 year old Grandma still dresses up! Growing up I remember making homemade costumes with my Dad so that I […]

Seriously Addicting Focaccia Bread

Seriously Addicting Focaccia Bread

My name’s Lisa and I’m a carb-aholic. Or maybe a bread-aholic. Probably both! I have been trying to write this blog post for such a long time now, but every time I pull up these pictures, I want to head straight to the kitchen and […]

Tomato Basil Soup

Tomato Basil Soup

Hey there! Who’s ready for soup season? I sure am! We are finally getting some of that crisp Fall air blowing through Buffalo this week and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I loved grilling out this Summer, but I am SO ready to turn on the oven and make some comfort foods. What could be more comforting than a big bowl of tomato soup? In my house we are soup lovers!! We pretty much make a different soup every week from October through March with a couple of my favorites as repeats. Some soups are just too good to only make once a year. Am I right??? And of course this is one of those repeats. It’s simple and delicious, but also super inexpensive to make! Grab some oyster crackers and pair with a grilled cheese sandwich, we’re about to warm your soul. This one is SOOOO good!!

Here’s all you’ll need: carrots, onion, chicken broth, evaporated milk, tomato puree, butter, basil, salt and white pepper.

Chop up the carrots and the onion into small pieces. 

Add the carrots and onion to a Dutch oven and cook in butter over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes. Cover and stir occasionally. 

Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Add the vegetables and 1 cup of chicken broth to a blender and process until well blended. 

Yum! Look at all of those nice veggies that will act as our base. Return the mix back to the Dutch oven. 

Next add in the tomato puree, Basil, sugar, salt, pepper and remaining broth. You can substitute black pepper in a pinch. It’ll still be really good! I promise. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat down to a low and simmer for 30 minutes longer.

Stir in the evaporated milk and leave on the stove until heated through. Do not boil. 

Serve hot! Add soup crackers, croutons, parmesan cheese, or whatever you like. Oh my! This almost makes me wish for Winter weather…….ALMOST!!! Not quite though. Does anyone else love to dip a nice grilled cheese sandwich in there? What’s your favorite soup?

Tomato Basil Soup

October 14, 2017
: 8
: Easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 4 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 49 oz reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can (29 ounces) tomato puree
  • 5 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 can (12 ounces) fat-free evaporated milk
Directions
  • Step 1 Finely chop the carrots and onion. Add to a Dutch oven with butter and cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.
  • Step 2 Cool slightly. Add vegetables and 1 cup chicken broth to a blended. Process until well blended. Return veggie mixture to Dutch oven.
  • Step 3 Stir in tomato puree, basil sugar, salt, pepper and remaining broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook on low for 30 minutes.
  • Step 4 Stir in evaporated milk. Cook on low until soup is heated through. Do not boil. Serve hot and enjoy!

We’d love to hear from you! Leave us your comments and love down below.

Pumpkin Waffles with Maple Whipped Cream

Pumpkin Waffles with Maple Whipped Cream

It’s that time of the year again….my favorite time of the year……Pumpkin EVERYTHING Season!!!!! Last week I celebrated with my very first pumpkin spice latte of the season from Starbucks. I know, I know! Basic white girl….and I’m totally ok with that! I will proudly […]

Over the Top Apple Pie Cheesecake

Over the Top Apple Pie Cheesecake

I am SO ready to get my Fall on! Cool weather, pumpkin spice everything, and apple cider……sign me up!! Only the first day of Fall has come and gone and we are still waiting on that chilly weather here in Buffalo. Now normally us Buffalonians […]

Griffis Sculpture Park

Griffis Sculpture Park

We had absolutely gorgeous weather for Labor Day weekend, so we decided to do a little bit of local exploring, and took the 30 minute drive out to Kaylena Marie’s Bakery in Orchard Park. I had been completely dying to try out Kaylena Marie’s ever since I heard about their fabulous breakfasts and desserts! Little did I know the bakery itself would be the most adorable little bakery that I ever did see!! Like seriously perfection! If I were to close my eyes and design a bakery, I swear it would look exactly like this. It’s pretty much my dream bakery. Lots of splashes of country swag, the perfect amount of comfy cozy charm, and a ginormous counter just overflowing with so many amazing sweet treats. I don’t know who came in here and did the decorating but you would swear it was Joanna Gaines herself. Really!!

Seriously though can you send the decorator my way so we can make my kitchen look like this???


The seating in here is fabulous! There is plenty of room whether your group is small or large. We were the first ones to arrive that morning and snuck in right as they opened at 8:30AM. After sampling a few bites from the menu I seriously can’t believe that people weren’t lining up at the door! I am convinced they have days where that happens!


I couldn’t resist ordering this show stopper from the breakfast menu!! Kaylena Marie’s combines two of your breakfast favorites, and turns them into the ultimate breakfast food mashup…cinnamon roll French toast!!!Talk about heavenly!!! And the portion size was huge too. I couldn’t even come close to finishing this massive dish but Lord knows I tried!!


My hubby went with a classic ham, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich, made to order and served on a fresh brioche bun! I am such a sucker for homemade bread. Doesn’t that look SOOOO good!! The bun was EVERYTHING and the eggs were so fluffy!


We were so impressed by our breakfasts that we even took this cute funfetti muffin home with us! So pretty! I will eat just about anything as long as it has rainbow sprinkles on top! This darling little muffin will surely make you feel like a kid again.

After breakfast we made our way out to East Otto, to explore Griffis Sculpture Park. This outdoor attraction is located just 8 miles outside of Ellicottville and is one of America’s largest sculpture park. It’s 450 acres house over 250 steel sculptures by Larry Griffis Jr. and many other international artists. And it’s dog friendly (as long as their leashed). I can’t wait to bring my puppies back! You can do as much as or little walking and hiking as you like. The park is split into two sections. The Rohr Hill area has larger than life sculptures spread out along a field just off the road and is mostly flat for easy exploring.

Or if you’re feeling adventurous you can make your way over to the Mill Valley Road site, and hike up the hill and through the woods over a variety of terrains where you’ll find sculptures scattered throughout the mostly wooded trails. These dancing ladies surround the pond and are there to greet you as soon as you enter this area.


Many of the sculptures are interactive, meaning you are free to climb inside or on top of them, for photos or just for fun! I climbed up inside this metal tower to pose for a pic! It’s like playground meets art project.


And my hubby channeled his inner “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” and rode atop this giant bug!

The hike through the woods is absolutely beautiful as well as quite the workout. The walk is mostly shaded which is really nice. We found another pond back along the woods as well as an amphitheater where they sometimes have concerts in the summer. This is a gorgeous place to have a picnic. Just remember to pack out what you pack in!

This tornado like piece reminded me of the leg lamp from “A Christmas Story”.

Taking a break in the shade at the Rohr Hill Road site before heading to lunch!

For lunch we decided to head into Ellicottville and check out the Ellicottville Brewing Company. The original brew pub opened here in 1995 and now that location has expanded itself to include an 8000 sq ft restaurant with outdoor seating, a brew house and German beer garden, as well as two additional locations in West Fredonia and Bemus Point, with a fourth on its way this Fall.

The building itself is located on Monroe Street and takes up nearly the whole block! Trust me, you can’t miss it! Or just follow the crowd! I think on any given day you’ll find most of Ellicottville gathering here.

The onsite brewery offers tours on the weekends. For just $15 you can tour the facility, try a few free samples and take home a souvenir glass. Pretty neat!

Inside you’ll find the most inviting, rustic styled restaurant and bar. The restaurant only looked empty but that’s because EVERYONE was sitting outside! But it made for the perfect opportunity to snap a few nice pictures. I bet this place is packed in tight during the winter ski season.

We sampled one of Ellicottville Brewery’s own, Mowmaster’s Ultra Pale Ale, a cool and refreshing light beer! So tasty and delicious!


Jeff enjoying the outdoor beer garden! It was so nice to kick our feet back outdoors after our nice little hike. I would love to go back and check this place out at night when it’s all lit up.


OK, so you HAVE to order the loaded brewer tots as an appetizer. DO IT!!! It’s basically crispy tots, loaded up with their own house smoked BBQ pulled pork, then covered in melty Monterey jack and cheddar cheeses, and topped with BBQ sauce, scallions, and sour cream. Next time we make pulled pork on the smoker I am SOOOO trying to recreate this masterpiece at home! Until then I’ll just have to look at this picture and drool!!


We split a Brisket Sandwich which was awesome! They dry rub it with their own signature seasonings and serve it with BBQ sauce and it’s HUGE! It’s definitely shareable especially after those tots. And we couldn’t stop eating these fries. So addicting!!

We pretty much had to roll ourselves outta there! I can’t wait to go back!!

We’d love to hear from you! Please leave us your comments and love down below.

Baby Shower Cookies

Baby Shower Cookies

Last month we celebrated my sister in law, Sarah, and the birth of my newest niece Peyton! Lil P was so excited to enter this world that she surprised us all and showed up a week before the baby shower. Six weeks early!! She came […]

Strawberry Crumb Cake Muffins

Strawberry Crumb Cake Muffins

Back in July, me and the hubs took a little daycation to Becker Farms to sample some beer, wine, and do a little fruit picking out in the fields. I had always enjoyed apple picking here in my younger years on school field trips, so […]

Why Absinthe Really is the BEST Show in Vegas!

Why Absinthe Really is the BEST Show in Vegas!

Back in May, we spent a week in Las Vegas! Yep! A whole week!! I absolutely loved every second of it…..because we paced ourselves. Vegas is so much fun because everything is open literally 24/7. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the excitement because there’s so much going on all at once AND you’re going to want to do it ALL!! A typical Vegas trip goes as follows: Day one you’re uber excited and drinking mimosas at breakfast; Days 3-4 you look exhausted and start wearing your sunglasses indoors. It’s happened to the best of us! Trust! But with a little advanced planning and a whole lot of under eye concealer, you can look fresh and well rested through the whole week!

This was Day 6 of our trip. We ate a great breakfast at The Buffet at Aria then spent the afternoon at the pool at our hotel (the MGM). We headed up to the room to freshen up before heading out to dinner at Holsteins Shakes and Buns at the Cosmo. Holsteins is basically all american favorites, burgers and milkshakes, but on crack! Take for instance their bamboozled shakes, the most epic boozy freakshakes that you’ve ever seen! We went with their classic, the Fat Boy, which consists of candy bar vodka (yes! that is a real thing!), reese’s peanut butter cups, pretzels, rainbow sprinkles, fruit loops, oreo cookies,  and butterfingers, topped with whipped cream, a chocolate covered pretzel rod, a rainbow twist pop, cotton candy, and rimmed with vanilla frosting, and micro jaw breakers. I don’t know how they fit it all in but somehow they do and….its….AH-MAZING!!! I don’t think anyone in the world could make a better milkshake!!

Add to that, their top notch burger menu, with burgers ranging from salmon, to beef, to lamb! You can get something classic or you can go with something extraordinary. We chose the latter. I went with the aptly named Gold Standard, a dry aged beef sirloin burger, complete with smoked bacon, aged goat cheddar cheese, tomato confit, bay arugula, and garlic-chive aioli. Dare I say best burger of my life?!? The fries didn’t disappoint either!


My hubby chose the Nom Nom, a kobe beef burger, topped with cheddar cheese, potato chips and thousand island dressing. Oh and did I mention the fresh buns??? I like big buns and I cannot lie! We did our best to finish this feast but came up a little short. These things were massive!!


After dinner we wobbled ourselves over to the circus tent outside in front of Caesar’s to check out what’s being billed as the BEST show in Vegas right now! The BEST show in Vegas??? Those are some pretty big shoes to fill but let me tell you Absinthe did not disappoint!!! Not one bit! Be warned….you’re going to need to check your inhibitions at the door! Basically if you’ve ever been offending by something on Facebook, then this show is not for you. The show is hosted by the Gazillionaire, think sleazy snake-oil salesman with bad teeth, a bad suit, bad hair, and bad shoes, and his insanely vulgar assistant, Penny Pibbets. It follows the traditional variety show format, featuring burlesque performers, sideshow performers and various international artists, who will  shock and amaze you at every turn!! It’s almost like a spinoff of Cirque du Soleil, but a million times more X-rated than even their best attempt at risqué.  It’s vulgar, it’s obscene, it’s politically incorrect, but it’s hilariously entertaining, and quite possibly the most fun you’ll have in your entire life! And just because you’re sitting in the audience doesn’t mean you’re off limits. Be prepared to be the butt of the Gazillionaire’s jokes or to participate in the show!

The show is performed in the round on a stage that is only 9 feet wide and is meant to be up close and personal. There’s really not a bad seat in the house! We sat at Table 19. Yep! We got a whole table all to ourselves which was so refreshing after being jam packed into the Colosseum for Celine Dion. There was plenty of leg room here to stretch out folks!


Our seats were the very last row but the view was just fine. You can see the view from our seats down below. The theater is not huge so we had no problems seeing the stage,  even from the last row! In fact the way the show is performed, I would much rather sit here! Most of the acts take place right where that green curtain is hanging, which means if you’re sitting in those front rows, you’re going to be looking up the whole time. Also there is a point in the show where they bring out a plastic sheet to cover up those first few rows, so unless you’re looking to get wet, our seats were perfect!


Now the only thing better would be these seats!! They were directly to the right of us! How nice would it be to take in a Las Vegas show in a nice, big, plush, comfy chair??? Further down they also had a shuffleboard table for larger groups. At one point in the show, two of the performers started their routine atop that very table. Talk about a view!


Or you could opt to go for this unique seat that was directly to our left, a bathtub turned couch! These were labeled as K seats directly to the left of table 19. We also had people to our left sitting in barber chairs! I’m telling you guys, this show is completely different than what you’re used to!


Without giving too much away, I’ll just give you a sneak peak at one of the variety acts. The performers are so close, those first couple of rows could literally reach out and touch them. There was a guy from Nashville that was my absolute all time favorite!! His act revolves around a bathtub and boy they sure don’t make em like they do in Nashville, do they girls??? And just a few weeks ago we were watching America’s Got Talent and recognized the rollerskating couple from the show……of course they had on a lot more clothing!

We’ve seen a lot of shows in Vegas, including the improv comedy shows, Mystere, Blue Man Group, Zumanity, David Copperfield, Legends, Keith Urban, Carrot Top, and Celine Dion, to name a few, and this by far blows them all out of the water. I would 100% go to see this one again!! If you’re in Vegas and looking for a hysterical, heart pounding, show with a whole lot of “sass”, Absinthe will deliver all that and more! It is Sin City after all, right?!? And be sure you order their signature drink at the bar, absinthe, or course!

Championship Winning Softball Cookies

Championship Winning Softball Cookies

Last month two of my favorite athletes were in town, my nieces Jordan and Jenna! My hubby’s family is from Erie, PA, so the girls both play for the Erie Frost travel softball team. Every August, the Frosties participate in a tournament in Clarence, NY […]


All Time Favorites

Pumpkin Waffles with Maple Whipped Cream

Pumpkin Waffles with Maple Whipped Cream

It’s that time of the year again….my favorite time of the year……Pumpkin EVERYTHING Season!!!!! Last week I celebrated with my very first pumpkin spice latte of the season from Starbucks. I know, I know! Basic white girl….and I’m totally ok with that! I will proudly […]

Over the Top Apple Pie Cheesecake

Over the Top Apple Pie Cheesecake

I am SO ready to get my Fall on! Cool weather, pumpkin spice everything, and apple cider……sign me up!! Only the first day of Fall has come and gone and we are still waiting on that chilly weather here in Buffalo. Now normally us Buffalonians […]

Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce

Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce

I’m so excited to share this recipe with you!!! It’s seriously so simple but will make you feel so accomplished. It’s homemade tomato sauce from tomatoes that I didn’t kill, I mean that I GREW!!! I wanted to make tomato sauce SO bad this but […]

Best Ever Bruschetta

Best Ever Bruschetta

I have anxiously been awaiting this recipe…..ALL……SUMMER!!!!!! This recipe is EVERYTHING!!! It’s THE whole reason that I plant tomatoes and basil, so that I can have fresh bruschetta whenever I want. And now that moment is finally here!! I promise you, we will be making […]

Creamy Bacon Ranch Dip

Creamy Bacon Ranch Dip

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL????????? College Football, that is! We’re so amped up for the Penn State home opener that even the doggies have their own jerseys!! WE ARE!! PENN STATE!! Tell me they aren’t the most precious little PSU fans you ever did […]