chipotle grilled cheese sliders

It. Is. So. Cold. Here.

and there are houses with Christmas trees already up and houses with twinkly lights all over them and lots and lots of merry merry joy joy in our neighborhood. We bundled up after dinner last night and toured the neighborhood – and made plans for our own holiday house decor. This weekend – it is happening.

Back to the cold – did I mention it is cold?

Cold weather = comfort food.

When I made the tomato bisque earlier this month, it was a natural choice to make the ultimate comfort food pairing – grilled cheese. Not just any grilled cheese, petite grilled cheese.

These grilled cheese sliders were the ultimate comfort – crispy grilled rolls that are pillowy soft at the bite, warm melty cheese and a surprise spicy flavor from the chipotle.


chipotle grilled cheese sliders

makes four sliders

four small rolls (potato, etcetera)
6 slices of cheese (I used rice cheese slices)
2-3 tablespoons chipotle tomato crema (or chipotle mayo)

Slice rolls in half, spread with chipotle tomato crema. Divide cheese slices among the four rolls (one and a quarter slice each), assemble sandwiches and grill (panini press or grill pan) until cheese melts. Serve with / dip into tomato bisque soup.

Spicy cheesy – the new perfect pairing.

Do you decorate for the holidays?


Chipotle Tomato Mini Wedge Salads


Chipotle Tomato Mini Wedge Salads – a flavorful fun update to a crisp classic! Mini Wedges are a hit at parties, or a random pizza night.


Chipotle Tomato Mini Wedge Salads @spabettie

It is no secret that I love iceberg lettuce.

It gets a bad rap for being void of nutrition and flavor, but I love its crunch in a salad or a sandwich.

We stayed at our new place for the first time last night. As we are still in packing mode and haven’t yet scheduled the movers, we camped on the floor in a mountain of air mattress, blankets, and Basil Pup.

We ordered …

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spicy chipotle butternut soup

We live on a couple acres, at the end of a street, with a golf course on the other side of our property. We’re remote, and it is quiet. The awesome part of this is that we are only ten minutes drive to downtown Portland – so when we want to revisit our city life, we can!

This weekend, we visited a property that is really remote. We drove way out into the country, and we brought Basil along. This was Basil’s first time seeing a horse, I believe. There were a few big farm dogs running around, and Basil was friendly with them, but he was completely intrigued by this horse, sticking his head through the fence and wanting to sniff and get to know him.

One of the sweetest horses I have ever met, and beautiful – a rescue Arabian. We are going back in a couple weeks, I will remember to bring my camera then – Basil was having so much fun! He was running around the grass with the big dogs, and once he saw the horse he was transfixed! I was petting the horse and picked him up – they sniffed each other. He ran back and forth along the fence, and tried to get under it to the horse’s side.

The other animal that Basil was interested in? A three pound chihuahua, Mia. She was the cutest thing, and ooh, was she feisty! I think that’s why Basil was smitten with her – her spunky attitude.

Basil ran and played, made new friends and … crashed in the car on the way home. He slept the rest of the evening.

We bundled up and stayed warm, and I made soup.

spicy chipotle butternut soup

dairy free, gluten free, vegan

1 yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter (Earth Balance)
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
4-5 cups vegetable broth
2-4* chipotle peppers, seeded and chopped
2 carrots, sliced thin
3 roma tomatoes, chopped fine
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin 

*Depending on preferred spice level – I used canned in adobo

Sauté onion, celery and garlic in butter. Meanwhile, add half cubed butternut to 2 cups vegetable broth, boil until tender. Combine sauté (onion, celery, garlic) with butternut + broth and chipotles, transfer to blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to slow cooker. Add remaining butternut, carrot, tomato, broth and spices. Cook on low 5-6 hours.

I garnished with roasted red peppers and some pretzels for crunch.

Soup and dark evenings are both difficult to photograph, but they are cozy and they are delicious.

If you could choose anywhere – are you city or country?