Simply Scratch

2023: A Year In Review

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Year In Review 2023


This new year will mark 14 years of dreaming, creating and sharing recipes here on Simply Scratch. And just in case you are new here, I always start the new year off by recapping the last 365 days both professionally and personally. These overly long and overly photographed posts are a way for me to relive all the big and small moments. I like to think of it as a journal where I can keep it in one place to look back on. When I first started blogging it was 2010 our girls were small (just 9 and 6), I was working full-time in an emergency room and SS was only a hobby – now it’s a full time gig and our girls are 22 and 19. As you can imagine it’s so much fun to look back on, but also makes me wonder where has all this time gone?

I know I say this every year, but this year has been one of the best ones yet. We traveled, celebrated milestones both big and small, took a break on tackling jobs and projects around the house, discovered new hobbies and enjoyed a less busier year.

But first, FOOD!

Year In Review- Food

Top 10 Favorite Recipes of 2023:

While developing, testing and shooting new recipes, I still go back to older posts and update those as well. A lot of the time they need new photography and clear and concise instructions. Over the past few years I stopped keeping count on how many recipes I share and/or update because it becomes too daunting of a task to keep track. Instead here is a compilation of our top 10 favorite recipes of 2023!

Snickers Dates

  • Salted Snickers Stuffed Dates are a better for you version of the classic candy bar. Dates are filled with creamy peanut butter and chopped salted peanuts, dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with fleur de sel. The dates lend the caramel flavor and sweetness that pairs perfectly with the chocolate and peanut butter.

Blood Orange Pistachio Salad with Feta

  • This Blood Orange Pistachio Salad is a stunning and flavorful salad! Blood oranges add a bright citrus note that pairs well with the red onion, chopped pistachios and feta cheese. This salad is drizzled with a blood orange dressing and pistachio oil.

Spicy Peanut Noodles with Chicken

  • In this super simple Spicy Peanut Noodles recipe, tender broccoli, carrots, peppers and onions are tossed with chicken and noodles in a spicy and creamy peanut sauce.

Buffalo Cilantro Lime Shrimp Tacos

  • Buffalo Cilantro Lime Shrimp Tacos are easy and loaded with flavor. Air-fried chipotle southwest seasoned shrimp are tucked into toasty white corn shells with a cool and crisp cilantro lime slaw. Before serving, drizzle with buffalo sauce and topped with pickled red onion, cilantro and avocado or toppings of your choice.

Bacon Gouda Breakfast Sandwich

  • These Bacon Gouda Breakfast Sandwiches are version of a Starbucks favorite. Scrambled eggs, bacon and gouda cheese are sandwich between a soft everything roll. Great for meal prep! Simply store in the freezer and reheat for busy mornings!

  • These Bacon Jalapeño Chicken Smash Burgers are incredible and full of flavor! Seasoned ground chicken pressed into thin patties with thinly sliced red onion and jalapeños and cooked until caramelized and sandwiched in-between toasted brioche buns with havarti cheese, crispy bacon and lettuce.

  • Grilled Sesame Chicken Noodle Bowls are light, healthy and packed with incredible flavor! Juicy marinated grilled chicken, a plethora of fresh veggies and toasted cashews sit on a bed of tender rice noodles and is drizzled with a simple toasted sesame dressing.

Bacon Jalapeno Pizza with Hot Honey

  • This Bacon Jalapeño Focaccia Pizza is smoky, sweet and spicy! Homemade focaccia pizza dough is topped with (homemade) pizza sauce, a blend of mozzarella and fontina cheeses, sliced pepperoni, crispy bacon and spicy jalapeños. Once baked, drizzle with hot honey and sprinkle with red chili flakes.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes are simple yet packed with lots of flavor. Roasted garlic cloves are mashed with tender redskin potatoes, butter and half & half for an incredible side to just about anything.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

  • This creamy Loaded Baked Potato Soup is easy, delicious and made in one pot! Serve topped with traditional loaded baked potato toppings like sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, bacon and green onions or chives.

Year In Review 2023

2023: A Year In Review

2023 was definitely less chaotic than years past. No more high school sporting events, open houses to host or major projects to tackle. In turn this left us with more weekends open to doing other things. Below I did my best to capture the highlights of the past year.

Florida Sister Trip 2023

In early February my sisters and I met in Clearwater, Florida for a sister weekend that my brother-in-law set up for us to celebrate our oldest sister Kelly’s 50th birthday. The first night my sister Julie had a photographer meet us on the beach and took photos of us four to commemorate the occasion. Two of my sisters live in different states so it had been a while since us four were all together. The second day was much warmer so we walked the beach, sat by the pool and had drinks. Later we got coffee and talked and just caught up on life. Our last night we sat outside on the water, shared an incredible garlic herb olive oil bread dip, split several of the best sushi rolls and sipped glasses of wine. It was a trip that was so special and one I will never forget.


2023 was my year of healing and eliminating things from my life that no longer served me. In January, I decide to cut back on drinking alcohol (switching to san pellegrino instead), prioritizing protein at every meal and to continue my yoga practice. These few things then morphed into other significant changes in my life. For example I started sleeping better, I lost 20+ pounds, I feel healthy and am the most content and at peace I’ve ever been.

cutting boards

Pat has always been handy. He can build and fix anything. Remember when he built me this headboard and then this bench for my garden? This year he started making cutting boards. Beautiful boards made from mahogany, maple, walnut, oak, purple heart and padauk. I’ve never invested in quality cutting boards, so I went from having a couple crappy store-bought acacia and bamboo boards to having several rich and beautiful masterpieces.


In early may, Haileigh graduated CMU, magna cum laude with a bachelor of science in education (humble brag🤣)! She is a first generation college graduate and we are beyond proud. In the fall Haileigh started working in a local elementary school and has learned so much. She loves what she does and is definitely meant to teach. Besides this major milestone, Haileigh has been enjoying her free time not studying. Over the summer she traveled to Outer Banks, went to a few concerts and sporting events with her boyfriend and spent quality time with her old roommates and girlfriends.

Mal 2023

Malloree started a new job as a receptionist at a hair salon, working full-time while also going to college. In a few weeks she’ll be starting the last semester of her second year. In 2023 Malloree started attending Sunday church service, added some blonde to her beautiful hair and acquired a few meaningful tattoos. She’s fiercely independent, makes us laugh on the regular and is content in life. In December, she leased a new car and spends her free time with her boyfriend, girl friends and of course, her buddy Finn.

Family Reunion

In June my dad’s side held a celebration of life/ family reunion. My grandmother passed away in early 2020 so her memorial had to be postponed for obvious reasons. This past summer, family members from all over the US came together to celebrate my Grandmother’s life and legacy. It was incredible seeing so many generations in one room.

EJ Weekend

In July we spent a weekend away at our good friends, Mike and Heidi’s cottage near Charlevoix. Heidi and I spent time working on a puzzle while sipping cups of coffee. Mike made us our very first Old Fashioned cocktails that we sipped while relaxing on the water. We went to Norwood and found petoskey stones, we had bonfire and talked while appreciating the clear starry sky (the above picture doesn’t do it justice). That entire weekend, we ate really good food and laughed a lot. It was the most perfect and relaxing weekend.

Pebble Beach 2023

Mid September, Pat and I along with my sister Julie and her husband Jeff, took a long awaited trip to California. We made these plans while out to dinner in the fall of 2020. After that night, the 3 year count down to #pebblebeach2023 began.

The first leg of the trip was to Monterrey. We stayed at the Spanish Bay Resort which is incredible and located overlooking the bay. It had breath taking views, incredible food and watching the bag piper “put the course to sleep” every night might be one of the most serene things I’ve ever witnessed. On our first full day, Pat and Jeff checked off a bucket list item and played at Pebble Beach golf course. I don’t really golf, maybe a scramble here and there, but watching Pat fulfill a dream and play this infamous golf course is something I’ll never forget. My sister and I walked the course with them, we took a gazillion pictures and videos while also taking in the picturesque views. The rest of our trip included more golf at Spyglass (the guys), yoga at Om Oasis Studios (the girls) and lots of delicious food, great conversation, so many inside jokes and lots and lots of laughs.

Las Vegas 2023

On the the third day we checked out and road tripped it to Las Vegas, Nevada. On our way we introduced Julie and Jeff to In-N-Out, saw our first (of many) Joshua trees and even saw a dust devil. After the 9 hour drive we rested up and went to dinner at multi-course meal at Carbone’s to celebrate Julie and Jeff’s 20th Anniversary. While in Vegas we also did a little gambling, saw Chris Angel’s Mindfreak and then hiked Red Rock Canyon – which might have been my favorite part of the Vegas trip.

It definitely was such an incredible and memorable trip. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.


Finn is still the heart of our home. He’s so sweet, extremely gentle and makes the most hilarious and adorable faces.


Thankfully, not much has changed with him. Finn turned 4 in July and he still loves playing fetch and going on car and boat rides – basically he enjoys anything and everything as long as he’s not left home alone.

2023 SD trip

He went with Pat on their annual trip to South Dakota in the fall. Besides living his best life running the fields, flushing pheasants and partridge, he also managed to catch a skunk and step on a cactus 🥴.


Cheers to another great year! Always so thankful for my family and the times we spend together. And I’m equally grateful for all of you. Thank you for your constant support, for stopping by this little ol’ blog to make a recipe and for sharing them with others. Your support means so much to me. Here’s to another delicious year!

From my family, to you and yours – we wish for you all to have a happy and healthy 2024 and hope that it brings you peace, love, joy and laughter.















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2 comments on “2023: A Year In Review”

  1. This is always one of my favorite posts! Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful family, and all your wonderful recipes! Looking forward to another great year! Best wishes!!

  2. Looks like u had a lovely 2023!  We have a Brittany named Daisy, and in my opinion, is the best dog ever!

    I’m curious where in South Dakota your husband goes hunting?  I live in Canada but my family rents out my grandparents farmhouse (in SD) to hunters each fall. 

    Happy 2024!!